Judges does what it says on the tin and focusses upon Judges.
The chapter finds us in the allocated lands which have now been apportioned into twelve tribes.
Our protagonist seems to side with some tribes who live in a way that pleases him. Anyone who does not is delivered to their enemies and occasionally murdered.
This is an extremely messy process as those who are allocated as Judges tend to do our protagonist’s bidding before becoming powerful, corrupt and therefore delivered to Judges in rival tribes and this pattern seems to keep repeating itself.
I’m not sure what the authors were aiming to achieve with this narrative, as surely, if our protagonist is capable of anything and everything, he should just nip this in the bud himself instead of giving irrational, power hungry, flawed, hotheaded individuals carte blanche to commit murder and sack lands.
There is also some more amnesia on the part of the authors, as many of the roles allocated in earlier chapters are completely ignored and not referred to. I think this is a folly of having more than one author writing such an epic story. They all have their own ideas and seem to ignore each other’s narratives. This makes for a chronology seriously lacking in cohesion.
During all of these stories of tribes irritating our protagonist and thus being sold to their rivals for judgement, some interesting sub plots emerge.
One character promises our protagonist that if he wins his battle, he’ll sacrifice the next person he comes into contact with. His daughter turns up, so he duly does as he promised.
Later, another character gains exceptional strength simply by growing his hair. He is to marry a lady from a rival tribe and for some reason, kills a lion, then bees make a nest in its carcass.
At the pre wedding feast, he asks members of her tribe to guess what happened to him the other day, by saying: “out of the eater, something to eat; out of the strong, something sweet.”
As you’d expect, nobody would deduce from that riddle that a man happened on a fully grown male lion, tears it open with his bare hands, leaves the carcass out in the sun, then bees do something that bees have never done and nest inside a dead animal.
The problem is, if they don’t guess the answer to the riddle within seven days, their forfeit is to hand over thirty items of clothing. If they do guess correctly, they receive that same prize from the lion mutilator.
Therefore, the tribe coax the lion mutilator’s future wife into begging him to tell her the answer for her to relay to them. She is successful in this betrayal, but he smells a rat when her tribe deliver the correct answer to him.
He duly pays his forfeit of thirty items of clothing by murdering thirty members of the tribe and delivering the blood stained clothes to them.
When the lion mutilator returns to his wife, she’s been married off to someone else by her father. He then reacts to this by taking the unusual step of setting fire to the tails of foxes who run through the tribe’s crops and burn them all.
The tribe return this favour by burning the house of his ex and her family with them inside it. The lion mutilator then goes on a horrendous killing spree clocking an impressive head count numbering into the thousands.
He flees the scene and takes refuge in a cave. He later falls in love with a woman who is given money by the tribe he has been warring with. They ask her to find the source of his freakish strength.
After much badgering, she discovers that his seven huge dreadlocks are where his strength resides, so she delivers a night of intense carnal passion which induces a deep slumber. Then the tribe send soldiers to cut all his hair off, which enables his capture (not before removing his eyes).
Some time later, the captors decide to wheel the lion mutilator out into their main temple to show off about how they eventually managed to capture their prized asset.
Foolishly, however, they managed to somehow forget that they needed to keep his hair shorn, and the lion mutilator pulls over two pillars holding the temple up and kills everyone in it, including himself.