Abstract

Surprisingly little attention has been paid to the Levite of Judges 17–18, perhaps because he is unnamed and not listed in the standard biblical encyclopedias. This study examines Judges 17–18 in order better to understand how the Levite is characterized in the narrative. By means of close textual analysis, the Levite is shown to be a complex and somewhat contradictory figure, being passive but ambitious, meek but confident, a thief as well as a servant of Yhwh, and a “father” with no sense of familial obligation. He is a type figure who still has a number of well-developed traits. For example, he is a wanderer with no destination, speaks when spoken to, and is a sojourner who is recognizably out of place. He is valued for his priestly capabilities but is nevertheless subservient to the men who seek his services. He is persuadable, self-serving, and ultimately disloyal. Therefore, even though his name is not known, the Levite of Judges 17–18 can still be considered one of the more richly drawn characters in the book of Judges and perhaps in the Hebrew Bible as a whole.

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