Don Quixote and the Book of Judges

Don Quixote and Sancho Panza
by Wilhelm Marstrand (1847)

One of the greatest literary works that has ever been written and one which most people have never read is Don Quixote de la Mancha, written by Miguel de Cervantes in 1605 and 1612. The original title of Cervantes’s book was The Ingenious Gentleman Don Quixote of La Mancha.

According to the Wikipedia, the story of Don Quixote “revolves around the adventures of a member of the lowest nobility, an hidalgo from La Mancha named Alonso Quijano, who reads so many chivalric romances that he either loses or pretends to have lost his mind in order to become a knight-errant to revive chivalry and serve his nation, under the name Don Quixote de la Mancha.”

“He recruits a simple farmer, Sancho Panza, as his squire, who often employs a unique, earthy wit in dealing with Don Quixote’s rhetorical monologues on knighthood, already considered old-fashioned at the time, and representing the most droll realism in contrast to his master’s idealism.”

In one of his dialogues with Don Quixote, Sancho Panza tries to dissuade Don Quixote from his dream of becoming a knight. Sancho Panza said to his master if he wanted to read a great book full of adventure, he should read the book of Judges:

Come now, Don Quixote, take pity on yourself,
and restore yourself to the bosom of good sense,
and make use of the generous amount of it
that heaven has been kind to you,
by applying your splendid gifts of mind to different reading matter
that will benefit your conscience and increase your honor!
And if following your natural inclinations,
you still want to read books of adventure and chivalry,
take the Scriptures and read the book of Judges,
and there you will find great truths and deeds as authentic as they are brave.

“With these words Don Quixote’s squire, Sancho Panza, tries to dissuade the misguided knight from illusions of being enchanted. Ancient heroic deeds, both brave and true, are recommended instead to Don Quixote. The recommended readings begin with the Scripture and the book of Judges.”

The quote above was taken from the commentary by Mark S. Smith and Elizabeth M. Bloch-Smith, Judges 1: A Commentary on Judges 1:1 – 10:5. Hermeneia. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2021, page xv.

In an upcoming post, I will review this latest entry on the Hermeneia series. This commentary is a thorough exegesis of the book of Judges which studies every verse and almost every word of the first ten chapters of the book of Judges.

Claude Mariottini
Emeritus Professor of Old Testament
Northern Baptist Seminary

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