Bible critics try to use events from the early prophets to further their notion that the Torah post-dated the early prophets. Their logic is that the transgressions committed by characters would seem to indicate that the Torah was not yet given at that time. Their view is, how else could these characters have made such fundamental mistakes?
Written initially as Rabbi Allen Schwartz’s master’s thesis in 1985, “Conflict & Resolution in the Early Prophets” (Kodesh Press) lists over 100 violations of Torah law the in books of Joshua, Judges and Samuel that on the surface, would ostensibly indicate that the characters were unaware of the Torah laws. The Bible critics make their point that the laws were not given at the point.
Schwartz writes that these difficulties are not new, and were already known during the times of the Talmud, where they were dealt with. Many of the rishonim, who he quotes in-depth, also dealt with these issues.
Schwartz lists over 40 different types of Torah violations from over 100 different episodes. A cursory reading of the early prophets would make all of these characters seem quite guilty of these indiscretions. But careful and astute scholar that he is, Schwartz shows the real story, and how in most of them, they were dutifully aware of the Torah violations, which in many cases were not in fact violations.
He writes that usually, the rabbis of the Talmud try to justify any act of a biblical figure who is considered righteous. Occasionally, however, the rabbis resolve an unnoticed violation with the answer that the person did wrong, even if the person is considered righteous.
Schwartz has done a superb job of detailing these seeming infractions, and also creating a classification with six different types of outcomes to these stories.