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Hebrew Studies 41 (2000) 286 Reviews A monograph is read once; rarely more. But a commentary is designed to be turned to over and over again. My judgment of a commentary is finally based on a simple question: Does it suit my needs, or does it offer the frustration of regularly failing to discuss the point I am interested in? Amit's approach suits me well. She does not always have an answer, but I have yet to ask a question that her commentary does not address, whether about a word (nl'WiEl), a phrase (o'ncm on,), a sentence ("the stars in their courses fought against Sisera"), or a pericope (the 300 drinkers in 7:1-8, the names Gideon and Jerubbaal). Despite her expressed frustration at being forced by the editors to produce a commentary "that one who runs may read," her overall view of the book is also extremely well-served here. If the other volumes of MUcra LeYisra'el match this standard, they will be a welcome addition to the scholar's bookshelf. Michael Carasik Philadelphia, PA 19147 THE BOOK OF JUDGES: THE ART OF EDITING. By Yaira Amit. Biblical Interpretation Series 38. pp. xvi + 427. Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1999. Cloth, $143.50. The entertaining tales which make up the book of Judges have long been a rich topic of scholarly study. Because of the book's cyclical structure and its conspicuously layered composition, they are a uniquely valuable focus for those who want to use critical methods to unravel the construction of an individual biblical work. Moreover, the fact that they are set at a key moment in Israelite history has made them a valuable resource for information about the nation's emergence. However, the author of this book, which originated as a doctoral dissertation at Tel Aviv University and was published in Hebrew several years ago (Jerusalem: Mosad Bialik, 1992), is not primarily interested in the history of either ancient Israel or the book of Judges. Instead, her goal is to understand the overall coherence of this biblical masterpiece in its present form. She understands that form to be theological and didactic. Its overarching theme is that Israel's history was a sign of God's concern; by putting past events into a systematic historiographic framework, its lessons could be transmitted to future generations. Because she is not, therefore, trying to determine how the book achieved Hebrew Studies 41 (2000) 287 Reviews its present fonn, the layers and sources which underlie the existing text are less relevant to her than the book's overall editorial orientation. That orientation revolves around the twin themes of signs and leadership, which emerge time and again throughout the book. In order to accomplish this, Amit has read widely and is well versed in previous scholarship from all periods of biblical interpretation. Her insights are woven into a coherent, if long, piece of work that is a thorough, competent, and valuable for what it contributes to our thinking about the book of Judges. The method is largely inductive, as we are taken through the book scene-by-scene, in the tedious manner of doctoral dissertations, in order to discern each episode's thematic focus. From that, Amit seeks to identify the larger theme which is shared by all the book's components. Her conclusion-that the monarchy was the overriding concern of the book of Judges-is unlikely to surprise those who have studied Judges; indeed, it is remarkably close to the view of Robert O'Connell's The Rhetoric of the Book ofJudges (SVT 63; Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1996), which sees the struggle between David and Saul as the book's central theme. Given this ahistorical approach, it is ironic that Amit concludes by trying to date the book's final redaction. She infers that this took place during the last century and a half of Judah's history, after the Northern Kingdom had fallen and before Deuteronomy was composed, when its emphasis on the importance of God and kingship would have been a dominating concern . Even odder is her argument that chapters 19-21 must have been a late addition inasmuch...


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