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III. Summation: Community In Chaos (17:1–21:25)

Jdg 17-21 culminates the process of deterioration narrated in 3:7-16:31 and demonstrates the thesis advanced in 1:1-3:6. Chs. 17-18 resume the narrative of failed conquest broken off in 1:34-35 and depict the only “conquest” of which the Danites were capable. Chs. 19-21 depict an outrageous breach in the covenant community, matching the covenant-breaking of 2:6-3:6. Israel's failure finds expression not in claims of continued apostasy, but in the observation that everyone did as he saw fit (17:6; 21:25). These stories feature no charismatic judges but make a powerful statement on leadership by constantly reminding the reader that in those days of self-annihilating anarchy, in which everyone did as he saw fit, Israel had no king (17:6; 18:1; 19:1; 21:25).