Judges 18:30—How could this book have been written in the time or shortly after the time of the judges?

Problem: The events of the Book of Judges cover a period from circa 1380 to 1050 b.c.Judges 18:30 makes reference to the fact that the sons of Jonathan were priests in Dan “until the ... captivity of the land.” However, the captivity of the land took place in 722 b.c. How could this book have been composed during the time or shortly after the time of the Judges?

Solution: The phrase “until the day of the captivity of the land” does not necessarily refer to the captivity of the nation of Israel in 722 b.c. The context of the passage indicates that the term “land” in verse 30 is not a reference to the entire nation of Israel, but the land of Dan. Consequently, the captivity of the land would refer to an overwhelming defeat of the people of Dan by some foreign invader about 1000 b.c., not to the captivity of 722 b.c.

Second, the description of the sudden destruction of the people of Laish by the Danites (v. 27) indicates that this same type of destruction came upon the Danites because they “set up for themselves the carved image” (v. 30). The people had been warned on several occasions that if they turned back from following after the Lord, that He would bring upon them all the trouble that He had brought upon the inhabitants whom Israel had driven out of the land (Deut. 4:25ff, 31:1–29; Josh. 23–24). Although the Scripture does not specifically record this type of event in Dan, the context clearly indicates that this reference is to a devastating defeat and captivity of the people in the land of Dan.

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This excerpt is from When Critics Ask: A Popular Handbook on Bible Difficulties (Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books, 1992). © 2014 Norman Geisler and Thomas Howe. All rights reserved. Used by permission. Click here to purchase this book.