Bible study 215 – Judges 5

This chapter is a poetic retelling of the story about Deborah from the previous chapter. Or rather, the prose description in chapter 4 is probably a retelling of this poem; poems tend to survive oral transmission better than prose, so when a poetic and prose account are similar, the poem is usually assumed to be older.

With that in mind, it seems to me that we are getting closer to history around this part of the Bible. The conquest of Canaan by Joshua is incredibly unrealistic in many ways, and not at all supported by archeological evidence; sure, the Jews must have gotten there somehow at some point, but the oral memories about Joshua are probably false ones. But now that the Jews are settled in Canaan, I can see how the transmitted oral memories that have been edited and written down in the Bible, could be very approximate and decorated descriptions of things that actually happened. The Jews could very well have been spread out between twelve different groups, with borders more or less as those described in Joshua. And they certainly fought with their neighbours.

And since this poem is likely an old oral transmission, describing events not that much older than itself, I can see how there could have existed a female leader/advisor named Deborah, or a Canaanite war chief called Sisera, who had a role in a conflict between Israelite and Canaanite tribes. We’re still not reading the history of Israel, but we are now reading plausible historical memories.

Judges 5:7
The peasantry prospered in Israel,
They grew fat on plunder,
Because you arose, Deborah,
Arose as a mother in Israel.

Full text.

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2 Comments on “Bible study 215 – Judges 5”

  1. Kjell Roger Soleim says:

    Hei Aleksander,

    Jeg sjekket flere norske, en engelsk og en fransk oversettelse av Judges 5, ingen av dem nevner noe om at bondestanden ble feite på plyndring. I den engelske Revised Standard Version fra 1952 heter det: “The peasantry ceased in Israel, they ceased until you arose, Deb’orah, arose as a mother in Israel”; og i den norske utgaven fra Det Britiske og Utenlandske bibelselskap i London i 1943: “”Det fantes ingen fører i Israel, nei, ingen før jeg, Debora, stod frem, før jeg stod frem, en mor i Israel.” Har du sjekket noen kommentarer til oversettelsen av dette verset?

    Hilsen pappa

    Fra: Aleksander <comment-reply@wordpress.com> Svar til: Aleksander <comment+ph8ibkaoy51_d6rn5uegtqb@comment.wordpress.com> Dato: lørdag 6. mai 2017 21:36 Til: Kjell Roger Soleim <kjell.soleim@uib.no> Emne: [New post] Bible study 215 – Judges 5

    aleksanderpwnz posted: “This chapter is a poetic retelling of the story about Deborah from the previous chapter. Or rather, the prose description in chapter 4 is probably a retelling of this poem; poems tend to survive oral transmission better than prose, so when a poetic and pr”

    • Oxford-bibelen min nevner at “peasantry” antagelig betyr “open (unwalled) cities”, men kommenterer ikke ordene “because” eller “plunder”.

      Men det er verdt å legge merke til at disse poetiske tekstene bruker mye eldre språk, og er mye vanskeligere å tolke enn prosa-tekstene. Det er derfor ikke overraskende at det er stikk motsatte tolkninger av enkelte vers. Oversettelsen som brukes i min bok (NRSV) er en oppdatert versjon av Revised Standard Version som du nevner over, og gjør blant annet bruk av nye funn av gamle manuskripter, som Dødehavsrullene (dog jeg vet ikke hvorfor de endret akkurat denne teksten). Oxford-kommentarene påpeker av og til at NRSV vektlegger konsistens fremfor nøyaktighet noen steder, men når de ikke engang gjør det (som i eksempelet over) regner jeg med at dette i hvert fall er en rimelig tolkning av originalteksten.

      Jeg prøvde uansett ikke å antyde noe dypt om Bibelens forhold til bønder eller plyndring med det sitatet – jeg ville bare vise at dette er en ganske rar tekst som er vanskelig å forstå.


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