Yet whatever the pre-canonical development of the text, what is often missed is the literary coherence of the Judges narrative. In fact, the structure of chapter one seems to anticipate the narrative which follows.
In chapter 1, the territorial conquests and battles of the tribes of Israel are described in the following order:
Judah (vv. 2–20)Note the tribes appear in accord with their geographical distribution—specifically, the narrative moves from south to north.
Benjamin (v. 21)
The tribes of Joseph, Manasseh and Ephraim (vv. 22–29)
Zebulon (v. 30)
Asher (vv. 31–32)
Naphtali (v. 33)
Dan (v. 34)
Interestingly enough then, the order of the Judges described in the following chapters (3:7–16:31) seems to follow the same schema—the Judges come from various tribes. Their appearance follows the same South to North pattern.
Othniel: Judah (3:7–11)I find this fascinating.
Ehud: Benjamin (3:12–30)
Deborah: Ephraim (4:1–5:31)
Gideon: Manasseh (6:1–8:35)
Jephthah: Manasseh (10:6–12:7)
Samson: Dan (13:1–16:31)
That Dan comes in the last place is not surprising by the way. There seems to be a kind of shadow over Dan. Dan is not even mentioned in the list of those delivered from the twelve tribes in Revelation 7!