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In these two parallel sets of passages, why is the Book of Judges merely restating that which was stated in Joshua 15?

Joshua 15:15-19, NASB: Then he went up from there against the inhabitants of Debir; now the name of Debir formerly was Kiriath-sepher. And Caleb said, “The one who attacks Kiriath-sepher and captures it, I will give him Achsah my daughter as a wife.” 17Othniel the son of Kenaz, the brother of Caleb, captured it; so he gave him Achsah his daughter as a wife. It came about that when she came to him, she persuaded him to ask her father for a field. So she alighted from the donkey, and Caleb said to her, “What do you want?” 19Then she said, “Give me a blessing; since you have given me the land of the Negev, give me also springs of water.” So he gave her the upper springs and the lower springs.

And again here:

Judges 1:11-15, NASB: Then from there he went against the inhabitants of Debir (now the name of Debir formerly was Kiriath-sepher). And Caleb said, “The one who attacks Kiriath-sepher and captures it, I will even give him my daughter Achsah for a wife.” Othniel the son of Kenaz, Caleb’s younger brother, captured it; so he gave him his daughter Achsah for a wife. Then it came about when she came to him, that she persuaded him to ask her father for a field. Then she alighted from her donkey, and Caleb said to her, “What do you want?” She said to him, “Give me a blessing, since you have given me the land of the Negev, give me also springs of water.” So Caleb gave her the upper springs and the lower springs.

What am I missing? Are the passages in Judges 1 merely a recapitulation of Joshua 15, or did they occur at the same time and, thus, overlap one another? (I may have missed many other such passages.)

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    Hopefully I understood the question right--I modified the first sentence a little. But if I missed what you're asking or am answering the wrong question, I'm happy to roll back the edit! – Hold To The Rod May 21 at 22:49
  • @HoldToTheRod All good, thanks! – Xeno May 21 at 23:12
  • I may have missed many other such passages - Yes; the last chapter of Isaiah overlaps with one of the chapters towards the end of the Second Book of Kings; similarly for two other chapters, one in Ezra, the other in Nehemiah; etc. – Lucian May 22 at 18:34
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This one is an interesting bit of history.

There are numerous stories repeated in the Bible, for example:

  • Among the books of Samuel, Kings, and Chronicles numerous events are repeated
  • The Synoptic Gospels overlap significantly in form, stories, order, and even exact wording

When these books were written, the authors almost certainly did not know that someday their works would be compiled into a volume with other similar works. The Old Testament books of history were written by different historians but preserve much of the same history--they have overlap in content for the same reason that Tacitus, Suetonius, and Dio Cassius do--they're writing about the same time, place, and events, and sometimes are quoting/paraphrasing exactly the same source.

The Synoptic Gospels were written to different audiences (Matthew to Jews, Luke to educated Greco-Romans, Mark to Christians in Rome); they didn't see their works as identical repetitions of each other, but whoever wrote third almost certainly knew the work of 1 or 2 of the previous authors and intentionally retained much of the same material, albeit formatting it for a different audience.

I suspect the same is true of Joshua & Judges--the original authors saw their writings as free-standing texts, not as two subsets of the same book that would in later centuries be compared to each other. I cannot help but wonder how many other places this story was written down, but the account hasn't survived to the present day.

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  • The two passages are too similar to be two different renditions of the same event. They are more likely copies of eachother. Question is who copied whom. Most likely the authors of the two copies is the same person. – Constantthin May 22 at 0:44
  • @Constantthin I agree that one copying from the other is very likely--that or they both copied from the same source, hence the comparison to the Synoptic Gospels. Joshua & Judges admittedly don't correspond nearly so closely as Matthew & Mark, but where there's long verbatim (or very near verbatim) agreement, that seems a good reason to believe either A copied from B, B copied from A, or A & B both copied from C. I'd be interested if you've seen a broader argument that Joshua & Judges were written by the same person. – Hold To The Rod May 22 at 1:23
  • They could have copied from the same source. Good point. My statement was just a guess. The only support for my argument is that educated people who borrow material from another source tend to paraphrase the text. Comparing the two passages this is not evident. – Constantthin Jun 18 at 23:49

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