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image of Biblical Interpretation

In Judges violence is a typical means by which Yahweh orchestrates justice. It becomes the end for the good (such as, likely, Jephthah's daughter), the bad (such as enemy Sisera) and the ugly (such as the thoroughly unpleasant Abimelech). Just as Judges asks the question, 'Who is going to lead Israel?', it also implicitly questions the value of the means by which Israel shall be led. Likewise, the Western film genre creates a dialogue about violence; who may use it and when. It is also about access to the land and its governance. These mutual concerns are explored in a developed comparison between the Ehud narrative (Judg. 3:12-30) and some of the ambiguously virtuous violent heroes of Western films (particularly Clint Eastwood's Spaghetti Western creation, 'the Man with No Name'). It is argued that Judges presents a stylized violence that functions to romanticize and entertain. Ehud becomes an idealistic focus through the rhetoric of his violent act, as well as through his establishment as a hero in the form of a witty, tough-talking monolith. The conclusion explores some of the legend-making processes of the Western film genre as well as the way that process has been recently questioned through film—all of this for the purpose of reflecting on the ideological presentation of violence in the Ehud story and the possibility of its functioning as social satire.


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