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Timeline of the Shofetim


Rabbi Yoel Lieberman

Elul 27, 5774
Rashi on Shofetim 11:26 gives a timeline. The Artscroll Stone Tenach gives a different timeline based on the Vilna Gaon. Where can I find different timelines based on the opinions of different commentators? Do any modern discoveries help clarify which commentator is correct?
ב"ה Shalom You touched upon a very interesting subject in regard to the calculation of times in the Tanach. It is a very broad subject so I will only touch upon a few points. With Rosh Hashana coming up, it may also interest you to know that there is a dispute between R. Eliezer and R. Yehoshua in the gemara in Rosh Hashana (10b) if the world was created in Tishrei or Nissan. In regard to the specific pasuk you are asking about ,there are other explanations of the times of the judges in addition to those brought by Rashi and the Vilna Gaon. (see Yalkut Me'am Loez ad loc.) . In general the purpose of the Torah is not to teach us history but mitzvoth, holiness, and ethical values. Nonetheless, the commentators at times go in to the trouble of explaining the time table in order to explain the simple explanation of the psukim, the "pshat". Indeed, we find other differences of opinion in regard to other time calculations. See for example Rashi and Ramban in regard to the time of the rainfall in the time of Noach. (See Rashi and Ramban Bereshit 8;40. The Ramban there is very fundamental in regard to Rashi's basis for calculation ) There is also a difference of opinion between Rashi and the Ramban in regard to sequence of events in regard to the sin of the golden calf. (see Rashi Shmot 31:18, 33:11 and Ramban Shmot 33;7). If you already mentioned the Artscroll commentary, you will also find in their commentary to Megillat Esther a discussion in regard to the miscalculation of Achasverush in regard to the time the second Bet Mikdash was supposed to be rebuilt. The differences of opinion stem from the commentators understanding of the Torah, and as we know there are "70 faces" to the torah, therefore I don't know if we can say who is more correct. Bringing evidence from historical sources doesn’t always solve the problem since we don't know the criteria the torah used for establishing the time table. Shana tova and Ketiva vechatimah tovah.
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