Scholars believe that Jud 17-21 is an additional product of pro-monarchical theology which attempts to provide the theological foundation of the monarchy in the kingdoms of Israel and Judah as well as a theological judgment upon the religious and ethical corruption of the period of judges, and that it was written after the period of Deuteronomistic redactional work. In other words, scholars believe that there is no Deuteronomistic editorial work in Jud 17-21. However, is Jud 17-21 really an additional text and without any relation to Deuteronomistic edition? The traditional viewpoint of Jud 17-21 as an additional text added after the Deuteronomistic edition was finished is not conclusive. There are some Deuteronomistic editorial statements such as “all the people did what was right in their own eyes” (17:6b; 21:15b), “residing” (17:7) and “Gershom” in chs 17-18, “in those days the tribe of the Danites” (18:1b), “Micah’s idols” and “Shiloh” (17:5), and “Levite,” “Bethlehem in Judah,” and “residing” (19:1). Previously, Jud 17-21 was not considered to be part of the work of the Deuteronomist because this text does not express the so-called Deuteronomistic theological viewpoint. Of course, Jud 17-21 does not follow the theological literary formation of “Israel’s corruption-YHWH’s rage-enemy’s invasion-suffering of the people and cry-salvation by Judge’s activity” as there is no judge in the text.
If we extend the outset of the Judges’ period to 1 Sam 7 when Saul’s dynasty was not yet born, the result is entirely different. In this context, 1 Sam 1-7 reports the transitional period from Judges to monarchy. Then, in the whole context of Deuteronomistic History, we need to connect 1 Sam 1-7 to Jud 17-21. 1 Sam 1-3 reports “Judge” Samuel’s young age and 1 Sam 4-6 (the first half of the Ark of God narrative) deals with the subjects of the Philistines’ invasion and the loss of the Ark of God, which is the symbol of YHWH’s presence. 1 Sam 1-7 is loosely connected with Judges’ theological formation. The Deuteronomistic understanding of history is to promote that the Israelites’ sin puts them into the hand of enemy, and judges sent by God save them, but the Israelites sin again. In that case, Jud 17-21 and 1 Sam 1-7 can be connected. At the end of the story of Samson (Jud 13-16), the text reports Samson’s death (Jud 16:31). 1 Sam 4-6 describes military devastation by the Philistines and the loss of the Ark of God. Based on Deuteronomistic History, Israel’s sinful behavior must appear between ‘judge’s death’ and ‘military failure’ because 1 Sam 4 does not mention any problem of religious corruption in Israel. Moreover, the subject of 1 Sam 1-4 is Samuel’s young age, suggesting that the religious corruption must occur before Samuel’s birth and early life.
Israel’s religious and ethical corruption in Jud 17-21, working as a model of unfaith, provides the basis of what the Deuteronomistic History criticizes. The episodes after Samson died are recorded as “a thing ever happened since the day that the Israelites came up from the land of Egypt until this day?” (Jud 19:30). Jud 17-21 works well in the theological formation of the Deuteronomistic History. The crime story in relation to the Levite is not a local scandal but a severe guilt which decisively brings Israel’s defeat by the Philistines.