Yahweh’s Emergence as “Judge” Among the Gods: A Study of the Hebrew Root špt

Author: Mafico, Temba L. J.
This book attempts to answer questions about the meaning of the Hebrew root špt; the status of a šopet; and how Yahweh could be called a šopet. An examination of past research shows that several scholars have argued against assigning špt (or its cognates) the basic meaning “to judge.”


“The monograph that lies before you has had a long period of gestation that began with Dr. Mafico’s graduate study at Harvard. At the heart of this research lies one of the basic tools at the exegete’s command – word study, and in this case word study that traces the meaning of the Hebrew word šôpet, usually translated "judge," in other ancient Near Eastern cultures ... Temba pursues the connotations of this word in Israel’s neighboring cultures, where its social setting is more detailed...With these few lines I am happy to play the role of mid-wife and celebrate the public birth of these new ideas.” – (from the Foreword) Professor Ralph Klein, Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago

“Because so much of the material that Mafico discusses here is contested, it is certain that many scholars will find various parts of his argument disputable. Nevertheless, his is a voice that needs to be heard. I think that the conversation his book will produce will be very productive for the discipline." - Professor Carol A. Newsom, Candler School of Theology, Emory University

“Dr. Mafico’s analysis of the scholarly biblical literature enables the reader to understand more fully an interpretation of the Hebrew Scriptures. Scholars, pastors, and lay people will benefit by this scholarly study.” – Professor David T. Shannon, Andover Newton Theological School

“I have found Dr. Mafico’s book quite enthralling and his analysis of the so-called judges of the Bible to be clear and refreshing; his description of the šôpet of the senior authority is quite convincing.” – Professor Dora R. Mbuwayesango, Hood Theological Seminary

Table of Contents

Foreword by Ralph W. Klein Abbreviations
1. A Review of Significant Research on the Root špt
2. The Root špt With Reference to the Appointment and Functions of the š?pitum in Mari
3. The t?pitu in Canaanite Myth
4. The sufes in Punic and Carthaginian Inscriptions
5. The Biblical šôpet With Special Reference to the Book of Judges
6. The Title šôp?t with Reference to Yahweh: Revelation for Israel’s Polytheistic Monotheism
7. Mišp?t: the Inviolable Attribute of Yahweh
8. Conclusion