JUDGES CHAPTER 2
The Changing Conditions.
THE REPROOF OF THE ANGEL OF THE LORD. — V. 1. And an Angel of the Lord, that is, the Angel of the Lord, who is equal to the Lord in essence, who had brought up Israel out of Egypt and led them to the Land of Promise, came up from Gilgal, where He had revealed Himself to Joshua as the Prince of the host of Jehovah, to Bochim, a place where the representatives of the people were assembled at that time, and said, I made you to go up out of Egypt, the speaker thus expressly identifying Himself with Jehovah, and have brought you unto the land which I sware unto your fathers; and I said, I will never break My covenant with you, Gen. 17, 7. V. 2. And ye shall make no league with the inhabitants of this land, never enter into entangling alliances with them; ye shall throw down their altars, utterly destroy all evidences of idolatry. But ye have not obeyed My voice, they had done just that against which they had been warned; why have ye done this? This is not merely a sorrowful exclamation, but a searching question, a call to repentance, a reproof because they had spared the Canaanites and had permitted their altars to remain. V. 3. Wherefore I also said, through the mouth of Joshua, Josh. 23, 13, I will not drive them out from before you, as a punishment of their disobedience, but they shall be as thorns in your sides, and their gods shall be a snare unto you, Ex. 23, 33. “Israel, in the conquest, has acted like a slothful gardener. It has not thoroughly destroyed the thorns and thistles of its fields. The consequence will be that sowing and planting and other field labors will soon be rendered painful by the presence of spiteful thorns. What will turn the Canaanites into stinging weeds and snares for Israel? The influence of habitual intercourse. Familiarity blunts aversion, smoothes away contrarieties, removes differences, impairs obedience. It induces forgetfulness of what one was, what one promised, and to what conditions one is subject. Familiar intercourse with idolaters will weaken Israel’s faith in the invisible God.” (Lange.) V. 4. And it came to pass, when the Angel of the Lord spake these words unto all the children of Israel, that the people lifted up their voice and wept, in deep alarm over their sin, with the bitter weeping of repentance. V. 5. And they called the name of that place, probably before Shiloh, where the people may have been assembled for one of the great festivals, Bochim (weepers); and they sacrificed there unto the Lord, sin-offerings and burnt offerings, for the purpose of obtaining forgiveness of their sins. After repentance and reconciliation comes sacrifice, also for a Christian who has so far forgotten himself as to seek the friendship of the world and has been brought to the realization of his sin.
THE CORRUPTION OF THE PEOPLE AND ITS PUNISHMENT. — V. 6. And when Joshua had let the people go, literally, “And Joshua sent away the people”; for here the narrative is continued from the last paragraph of the Book of Joshua, in almost the identical words, Josh. 24, 28-31, the children of Israel went every man unto his inheritance to possess the land. V. 7. And the people served the Lord all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders that outlived Joshua, literally, “that prolonged their days. after Joshua,” who had seen all the great works of the Lord that He did for Israel. They were firm in their faith, and their example served to keep all the people on the right way. V. 8. And Joshua, the son of Nun, the servant of the Lord, died, being an hundred and ten years old, Josh. 24, 29. V. 9. And they buried him in the border of his inheritance in Timnath-heres, or Timnath-serah, the name Heres apparently having been borne by this whole division of the mountains of Ephraim, in the mount of Ephraim, on the north side of the hill Gaash. V. 10. And also all that generation, all the contemporaries of Joshua, were gathered unto their fathers; and there arose another generation after them which knew not the Lord, nor yet the works which He had done for Israel. They had not been witnesses of, they had not personally experienced, the miraculous revelations of divine power in giving the Land of Promise to the children of Israel. They did not feel their indebtedness to God, they were not conscious of the fact that victory and freedom and riches came to them from the Lord. V. 11. And the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord, before His very eyes, and served Baalim, here said of all false gods, of the entire heathen worsip, for Baal was the chief male idol of all the Canaanitish nations. V. 12. And they forsook the Lord God of their fathers, the only true God, which brought them out of the land of Egypt, and followed other gods, of the gods of the people that were round about them, principally Baal and Ashtaroth, the latter being the chief female deity of the heathen nations of Canaan, and bowed themselves unto them, in regular systematic worship, implying a conviction of the heart, and provoked the Lord to anger, deeply grieved Him. V. 13. And they forsook the Lord, the repetition of this statement serving to emphasize the heinousness of the transgression, and served Baal and Ashtaroth. There was no outright rejection of Jehovah, but a mingling of His worship with the Canaanitish nature cult. But this attitude is incompatible with the true religion; for since Jehovah is the only true God, beside and before whom there are no other gods, every mingling of His worship with the adoration of idols places Him on a level with these imaginary gods. That is the essence of all syncretism and unionism, not the elevation of falsehood to the dignity of truth, but the desecration of truth to the level of falsehood. V. 14. And the anger of the Lord was hot, was kindled, against Israel, and He delivered them into the hands of spoilers that spoiled them, and He sold them into the hands of their enemies round about, so that they could not any longer stand before their enemies. In abandoning the people to the resistless violence of their hostile neighbors, God took away from them the basis of their nationality and delivered them into the hands of nations that oppressed and robbed them at will. V. 15. Whithersoever they went out, the hand of the Lord was against them for evil, in not a single undertaking were they successful, as the Lord had said, and as the Lord had sworn unto them, Lev.26; Deut.28; and they were greatly distressed, they were put into tight places, severely oppressed. V. 16. Nevertheless the Lord raised up judges, which delivered them out of the hand of those that spoiled them, the purpose of this merciful manifestation being to cause them to return to the Lord in repentance and gratitude. V. 17. And yet they would not hearken unto their judges, namely, by desisting from idolatry which the judges tried to suppress, but they went a-whoring after other gods, for idolatry is spiritual adultery and immorality, and bowed themselves unto them; they turned quickly out of the way which their fathers walked in, obeying the commandments of the Lord; but they did not so. Even the presence of these men who were not the regular rulers, but extraordinary authorities, appointed directly by God, failed to work a permanent reformation in the people. V. 18. And when the Lord raised them up judges, then the Lord was with the judge, with every single one, and delivered them out of the hand of their enemies all the days of the judge, as long as he lived; for it repented the Lord because of their groanings by reason of them that oppressed them and vexed them, He always had sympathy with their sorry plight and turned back to them in kindness. V. 19. And it came to pass, when the judge was dead, that they returned, turned back to their former manner of thinking, and acting, and corrupted themselves more than their fathers, became guilty of the idolatrous customs of their fathers in a still higher degree, in following other gods to serve them, and to bow down unto them; they ceased not from their own doings, literally, they did not drop their peculiar manner of acting, nor from their stubborn way. Such was the ever-recurring story during the period of the Judges. V. 20. And the anger of the Lord was hot against Israel; and He said, Because that this people hath transgressed My covenant which I commanded their fathers, namely, to clear Canaan of the heathen nations and not to become guilty of idolatry, and have not hearkened unto My voice, v. 21. I also will not henceforth drive out any from before them of the nations which Joshua left when he died; for Israel was still surrounded by a circle of heathen nations living within its promised borders, to say nothing of those who with their idolatry were tolerated in the territory actually subjugated; v. 22. that through them I may prove Israel whether they will keep the way of the Lord to walk therein, as their fathers did keep it, or not. Cp. Josh. 23, 13. Thus the divine plan of a gradual extermination of the Canaanitish nations still remaining was suspended, the punishment being intended to lead the people to repentance. V. 23. Therefore the Lord left those nations, without driving them out hastily; neither delivered He them into the hand of Joshua. Thus the historical and moral background of the entire book has been given in these two introductory chapters. Note: The Lord makes use of the same patience and mercy in dealing with men today, but when all His efforts are rejected time and again, He finally withdraws His hand in anger and delivers them to the results of their own stubbornness.