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In those days there was no king in Israel, but every man did that which was right in his own eyes.

New Defender's Study Bible Notes

17:6 no king in Israel. Four times (Judges 17:6; 18:1; 19:1; 21:25), we are told in this book that “there was no king in Israel in those days,” indicating that the book must have been compiled either by Samuel or someone else of his or a later generation. The first and last of these add that “every man did that which was right in his own eyes.” With no centralized government, except for the spiritual center in the tabernacle at Shiloh, the judges were tribal leaders who managed to secure some following in tribes other than their own who would respect and follow their authority. Some of these judges (i.e., Jephthah and Samson) may well have exercised leadership contemporaneously over different groups of tribes in Israel. There are no clear chronological and genealogical summaries in Joshua and Judges, as there are in the Pentateuch.

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