The Failure of the Family in Judges, Part 1: Jephthah
Published in Bibliotheca Sacra, 162 no 647 Jl-S 2005, p 279-298.
While "The literature on Judges is voluminous," one theme scarcely touched on in studies on this book is the role of the family. Women in Judges are often examined in relative isolation. These women need to be studied, however, not as stand-alone characters, but within the social context of their families. Also male characters in Judges should not be studied in isolation, but should be seen in the cultural setting as husbands, fathers, and leaders at various levels who are responsible to prepare the way for the future of Israel in successive generations.
A serious problem in Israel can be seen in the statement in Judges 2:10 that the generation after Joshua "did not know the LORD, nor yet the work which He had done for Israel." As a result of military compromises this new generation "played the harlot after other gods" (v. 17). They lived among the pagan nations "and they took their daughters for themselves as wives, and gave their own daughters to their sons, and served their gods" (3:5-6). The tragic events that followed in the book demonstrate that the absence of godly leadership in the family as well as in the nation resulted in everyone doing what was right in his own eyes (17:6; 21:25). Throughout the Book of Judges marriage and the family is a theme that needs to be examined.
Michael J. Smith. "The Failure of the Family in Judges, Part 1: Jephthah" Bibliotheca Sacra (2005).
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/michael_j_smith/2