Arrangement 21: Judges


A bipartite succession of 21 roundels. Dimensions: 8 wide by 9 tall. Liber Genealogus counterpart: section 31.

How the manuscripts show the Judges

In Roda (left) and Plutei (right), the first in the pair of sections swings away to the left. Intervals 7 and 15 are missing from both. The numbering scheme can be found tabulated in the Chronography appendix. The yellow line simply shows the intended reading order in the scriptural account.

the remodelling


The Judges succession is one of the great mysteries of the Great Stemma. The oddities in the content, such as the inclusion of Fua (a father and non-judge) and the duplication of the Shamgars, suggest the author of the primitive Omega hyparchetype of the Great Stemma used a chronology which has no counterpart in any of the extant Christian patristic writings.

Graphically, the succession is always broken up into two sections in the manuscripts. The clearest division, in Roda and Plutei, splits it thus: the first section, from Joshua to Jephthah, consists of 13 or 14 roundels, joined by connecting lines. The second section, from Esbon to the second Shamgar, comprises seven roundels which are not joined to one another by connecting lines.

To make clearer the weaving pattern of the chronological flow, the 21 roundels in the sketches are supplemented above by both Eli and Samuel (dotted lines), who are both priests rather than judges and are discussed separately in this apparatus: from hyparchetype Psi onwards they appear with their own clans in the diagram.

Why the series is interrupted with a large separation between Jephthah (16) and Esbon (17) may not be immediately evident. The downwards and leftwards direction of the first series might seem contrary to sense. But if we consult several other Great Stemma manuscripts, we find that even where these sweeping flows are lost, the split tends to occur at this same place. Here are columnar arrangements from the manuscripts of (from left) the San Millán bible, the Gerona Beatus and the Foigny bible:

the columnar manuscripts

Both San Millán and Gerona (an Alpha manuscript) keep the seven roundels 17-23 together in a loose vertical column. This can be taken as an indication these probably had a peculiar graphical status in whatever previous model was copied from. If we look at the issues which late antique chronographers discussed, we know that many of them placed great reliance on a statement at Judges 11:26 that the span of time from Joshua to Jephthah was 300 years. Late antique chronographers mainly engaged in controversy over the duration of the period from then to the advent of Eli. The dog-legged stretch to the left therefore represents those ascertained 300 years, while the vertical column 17-23 represents moveable counters as it were, of uncertain status open to debate.

The reconstruction relies on the manuscript which is the most orderly and complete of those extant: Plutei. One of the salient design features of Plutei is that it observes a fixed grid, where roundels are placed in ten rows, and line up in columns. The chart is less like creative modern visual-connection charts, and is closer in its modelling to a board-game, since that was the model which readers would intuitively comprehend.

Analysis of the Plutei model suggests in addition that an over-riding flow requirement for this section was to show Joshua as the successor of Moses. This junction could only be placed in row 2.

This positioning requires six roundels ending with Jephthah to be accommodated in a turn of some nature. Nowhere in Plutei do such turns swing upwards again. In fact, in every case except the descendants of Cain and of Nathan, the lines swing to the left. Indeed there is no room to the right of the Judges to accommodate such a turn: the free space under the families of Eli, Samuel and Saul may only be five roundels wide. At left, there is plenty of free space under the family of Levi. It would therefore seem that the arrangement in Plutei reproduces the original design of this dog-leg. If the designer was not concerned to show a flow of time that always proceeded rightwards, and moreover viewed the Judges period as two separate units, then such an arrangement would not be repugnant to the logic of such a layout.

The manuscripts generally show the final group of seven roundels 17-23 displaced so that their column top is higher than Joshua. This offset may be connected with the missing intervals, 7 and 15, which one infers were included in the Omega hyarchetype. These assert periods of rule by (7) the king of Canaan and (15) the Philistines. The sole extant source is the Liber Genealogus G, which represents the Judges Period with all 23 intervals, not 21 as in all our graphic manuscripts. There would have been enough space to extend the main line further to the left. Alternatively, the King of Canaan and the Philistines might conceivably have been included in the loose column as moveable entities. Two grey counters are added to the reconstruction frame on this page to show the latter option.

Next: Reign Spans in the Northern Kingdom

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