Kenneth M. Craig, «Bargaining in Tov (Judges 11,4-11): The Many Directions of So-called Direct Speech», Vol. 79 (1998) 76-85
This article explores the subject of speech as mediated discourse in the bargaining scene between the elders of Gilead and Jephthah in the land of Tov (Judg 11,4-11). The episode consists of the narrator's frame in vv. 4-5 and 11 and five insets wherein the elders initiate and conclude the dialogue (elders- Jephthah-elders-Jephthah-elders). The narrator informs us that the elders approach Jephthah with a plan of taking (xql) him from the land of Tov. The taking is accomplished through speech that the narrator quotes, and the perspectival shifts in narration and quotation demonstrate the Bible's art of diplomacy. The speeches are tightly woven with the narrator interrupting only to shift our attention from one side to the other in this tit-for-tat interchange. But even here, the narrator is not completely effaced. The reception acts are staged in a way that remind us of the presence of all sides in this exchange. The bargaining thus proceeds through filtered words, and the resulting insets call attention to the web of perspectives and competing interests, the offers and counter offers in the world of give- and-take, and, from our side, the fun of it all.
because the narrator could, if he would, tell us much more from the omniscient point of view. But here the narrator delegates the storytelling responsibility to the characters themselves. The plot advances through their filtered words, and the resulting insets call attention to the web of perspectives and competing interests, the offers and counter-offers, and, from our side, the fun of it all.
The episode consists of the narrator's frame in vv. 4-6a and 11 (note the duplication of "going," Klh vv. 5, 11), and five insets wherein the elders initiate and conclude the dialogue (elders-Jephthah-elders-Jephthah-elders). The speeches are tightly woven with the narrator interrupting only to shift our attention from one side to the other in this tit-for-tat interchange. But even here, the narrator is not completely effaced; the reception acts are staged in a way that reminds us of the presence of all sides in this narrator-speaker-addressee exchange: and Jephthah said to the elders of Gilead / and the elders of Gilead said to Jephthah / and Jephthah said to the elders of Gilead / and the elders of Gilead said to Jephthah 6.
The elders of Gilead had judicial and political responsibilities, but they functioned primarily only in times of tranquil existence. In this state of emergency they find themselves without a military unit. The effect of Ammonite aggression against the clan of Gilead results in an unsettled and disorganized military, and the narrator stresses the point at the beginning with duplicated references to the Ammonites waging war against Israel. With a crisis on hand it is necessary to transfer power to a military leader who can mobilize the troops and wage war. Jephthah, it appears, is the only one within or outside Gilead who might be counted on for leadership. The very fact that they come to the man who had earlier been driven out of Gilead suggests their desperation, but the dialogue that follows shows, eager for assistance though they are, they still have the wits to buy Jephthah at the lowest possible price.
The scene's play of perspectives is obvious at the start. From the narrator's point of view, the issue of imminent war with the Ammonites is stressed both by the duplicate reference in vv. 4-5 and its prominent place before the forecasted taking of Jephthah. From the reader's side, this repetition is informational redundancy. Events in the world swell in the representation as more duplication yields less of what's new and sharpens the reader's sense of superfluity. The emphasis on war is modified in the perspectival shift of v. 6 as the elders introduce the idea of a prize and speak of the threat only once. They will make him General (Nycq) so that