Judges 17:6: "There Was No King in Israel..."

Verse 6:[1] (Judg. 18:1; 19:1; 21:25) In those days there was no king in Israel, (Deut. 12:8) but every man did that which was right in his own eyes.



[There was no king] The language of King is here taken broadly, so that it might also comprehend a Judge, or Chief Magistrate, as in Deuteronomy 33:5 and Judges 21:25 (Grotius, similarly Junius, Vatablus, Drusius, Piscator, Malvenda). Thus it is taken in Genesis 36:31 and Deuteronomy 33:5. For otherwise in the hands of avengers, concerning whom hitherto in this book, was not the ordinary administration and authority for governing: see on Judges 2:16 (Junius). Others explain: that is to say, These matters were not conducted in the times of the Kings, but of the Judges, whose power to restrain the people was not so great as that of Kings: thus Judges 18:1; 21:25 (Malvenda). I do not think that the Judges ought to be comprehended under the title of King. For in Judges 18:1 the same thing is said concerning that whole time in which the house of the Lord was in Shiloh, which includes the time of the Judges unto Saul, under whom it is read for the first time that the Tabernacle was in Nob[2] (Bonfrerius on verse 1). The sense of the passage: It is not strange that idolatry crept in, since there was no one that might efficaciously impede it, of which sort Kings were. But the Judges were compelling their own to their duty rather by exhortation and counsel, than by efficacious authority and punishments; as it is able to be gathered from Judges 2:16 and 1 Samuel 7:3 (Bonfrerius).



No king, that is, no judge to govern and control them. The word king being here used largely for a supreme magistrate; as Genesis 36:31; Deuteronomy 33:5. God raised up judges to rule and deliver the people when he saw fit; and at other times for their sins he suffered them to be without them, and such a time this was; and therefore they ran into that idolatry from which the judges usually kept them, as appears by that solemn and oft-repeated passage in this book, that after the death of such or such a judge the people forsook the Lord, and turned to idols. That which was right in his own eyes, that is, not what pleased God, but what best suited his own fancy or lusts.

[1] Hebrew: בַּיָּמִ֣ים הָהֵ֔ם אֵ֥ין מֶ֖לֶךְ בְּיִשְׂרָאֵ֑ל אִ֛ישׁ הַיָּשָׁ֥ר בְּעֵינָ֖יו יַעֲשֶֽׂה׃


[2] See 1 Samuel 21; 22.

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Dr. Steven Dilday holds a BA in Religion and Philosophy from Campbell University, a Master of Arts in Religion from Westminster Theological Seminary (Philadelphia), and both a Master of Divinity and a  Ph.D. in Puritan History and Literature from Whitefield Theological Seminary.  He is also the translator of Matthew Poole's Synopsis of Biblical Interpreters and Bernardinus De Moor’s Didactico-Elenctic Theology.

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