But the answer to that question of date does not tell us anything about the Israelites' testimony to God (theology).It is true that some of those historical answers may raise questions about some of the theological assumptions we often make about the text.It is not that these methods are not complimentary; it is that each of them serves a different purpose.
Another clue is what the text says, intentionally or unintentionally, about the author’s world. Deborah’s song just as clearly has a monarchic political state in mind.It addresses “kings” and “potentates”; describes those who answered her battle cry as “princes,” “holders of the marshal’s staff,” and “lawgivers”; and portrays Sisera’s mother as a royal figure, complete with “princesses” waiting on her. Before that, its population simply had no concept of such aristocratic titles as “prince” for Israelites.Hebrew is regarded as the spoken language of ancient Israel but is largely replaced by Aramaic in the Persian period. Honesty in biblical study compels us to ask the historical questions and use all the available methods at our disposal to address those questions.Archaeology tells us that ancient Israel first became a monarchy in the 10th or perhaps even the ninth century B. The views that the text expresses are also telling.
Importantly, Deborah’s song agrees on several major issues not only with the rest of Judges but also with the Former Prophets (the books of Joshua through Kings) as a whole.The Hebrew Bible credits Deborah not only with starting an uprising that freed Israel from oppression but also with composing and performing a song that celebrates the victory.Many scholars claim that this song, found in chapter 5 of the book of Judges, is one of the oldest existing biblical texts.Finally, it is a book of Faith that bears witness to us of God's work in human history, and what that meant in the lives of people, and through that what it means for us.So, here we will briefly survey some of the historical issues in these two books, look at a sampling of historical solutions as well as some of the literary perspectives, and then propose a theological reading of the books that does not place the historical issues as central.But that is one of the roles of the historical questions, to bring to light inadequate or mistaken linking of theological and historical concerns.