Judges 2
Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges

Ch. Jdg 2:6 to Jdg 16:31. The History of Israel under the Judges

Ch. Jdg 2:6 to Jdg 3:6. Introduction

By way of general introduction to the Book of Judges proper, the section Jdg 2:6 to Jdg 3:6 takes a survey of the period from the death of Joshua to the death of Samson. It starts with a reference to the close of the preceding era, Jdg 2:6-10; and then goes on to indicate the religious significance of the period which follows, Jdg 2:11 to Jdg 3:6. It is not, however, a simple uniform composition of one writer. The history is interpreted from more than one point of view, especially that dominant feature of the age of the Judges—Israel’s wars with the native races. First (a) comes the theory of the Deuteronomic author, expressed in his characteristic phraseology (see Introduction § 2 A (a)), Jdg 2:7; Jdg 2:10-12; Jdg 2:14-16; Jdg 2:18-19 : no sooner had Joshua and his contemporaries passed away (Jdg 2:7; Jdg 2:10), than the Israelites began to neglect their national God, and go after other gods among the peoples round about them (Jdg 2:11-12); as a punishment they were sold into the hand of their enemies (Jdg 2:14); then they cried to the Lord for help, and He raised up a deliverer or judge (Jdg 2:16), but the deliverance was only followed by a fresh relapse (Jdg 2:18-19). Apostasy, subjugation, the appeal to Jehovah, the deliverance, repeated again and again, such was the dark outline of the history, to be filled in by the narratives which follow, Jdg 3:7 ff. Then (b) in Jdg 2:20-22 we have a different view; Israel’s sin lay in worshipping the gods of Canaan (Jdg 2:13); the nations in the midst of Israel were not driven out (Jdg 2:20-21); they were spared in order to test Israel’s moral strength (Jdg 2:22); and Israel did not stand the test (Jdg 3:5-6). Again (c) Jehovah left the nations in order to teach Israel the art of war (Jdg 3:1-3); there is no question here of moral reasons for the survival of the native population. It will be noticed further that Jdg 2:13 is a repetition of Jdg 2:12, Jdg 2:18 f. of Jdg 2:16, Jdg 2:20 a of 14a; Jdg 2:23 ‘neither delivered he them into the hand of Joshua’ can hardly come from the author of Jdg 2:21, which speaks of Joshua’s death; the two lists of nations in Jdg 3:3 and Jdg 2:5 are inconsistent (see notes). It is clear, then, that the introduction in its present form is the work of several hands. The oldest element is no doubt the nucleus of Jdg 3:1-3 (the nations left to teach Israel war); this forms a link with Jdg 1:1 to Jdg 2:5 and belongs to the same historical standpoint; it may be attributed to J. In Jdg 2:6; Jdg 2:8-9 we have an extract from E (Joshua 24:28-30), to which source may be assigned Jdg 2:13; Jdg 2:20-22, Jdg 3:5-6. The handiwork of D has already been traced in Jdg 2:7; Jdg 2:10; Jdg 2:12; Jdg 2:14-16; Jdg 2:18-19. The remaining verses, Jdg 2:17; Jdg 2:23, the larger part of Jdg 3:1-3, Jdg 3:4, are editorial expansions and adaptations of various dates. There is some difference of opinion among critics as to the sources of several details, and the analysis is not everywhere certain; but the main distinctions are evident. Apparently a writer of the school of E formed a collection of stories and furnished it with a preface before the Deuteronomic author took up the Book and composed his introduction; see pp. xviii–xx.

And an angel of the LORD came up from Gilgal to Bochim, and said, I made you to go up out of Egypt, and have brought you unto the land which I sware unto your fathers; and I said, I will never break my covenant with you.
1. the angel of the Lord] Not a prophet, as the Targ. and Rabbis interpret, and the LXX and Peshitto seem to imply when they insert the prophetic formula ‘thus saith the Lord,’ but the Angel who had led Israel to the Promised Land, Exodus 23:20-23; Exodus 32:34; Exodus 33:2. This Angel was the self-manifestation of Jehovah, sometimes identified with Jehovah as here and Genesis 31:13; Genesis cf.11, Exodus 3:6; Exodus cf.2, and alluded to as God or Jehovah Jdg 6:14 cf. Jdg 6:12; Jdg 13:21 cf. Jdg 13:22; at other times distinguished from Jehovah Genesis 16:11; Genesis 19:13, Numbers 22:31; though “the only distinction implied is between Jehovah and Jehovah in manifestation” (A. B. Davidson in HDB.i. 94).

from Gilgal] where the mysterious appearance of ‘the captain of the host of the Lord’ had taken place, Joshua 5:13 ff. Gilgal, on the plains of Jericho, was the first halting-place (Joshua 4:19) of the tribes on the W. of Jordan, and for some time their camp, Joshua 9:6; Joshua 10:6 ff., Joshua 9:15; Joshua 14:6. The name denotes not rolling—the explanation given in Joshua 5:9 is merely a word-play—but a sacred circle of stones such as existed in other parts of the country; it has survived in the mod. Birket Jiljuliyeh, near Jericho. The presence of the Angel shews that Gilgal was a sanctuary; as at Sinai, the Deity manifests Himself where He has His dwelling-place. In the 8th cent. Gilgal was still much frequented, Hosea 4:15; Hosea 9:15; Hosea 12:11; Amos 4:4; Amos 5:5.

to Bochim] lit. ‘to the Weepers’; but here the name anticipates the account of its origin given in Jdg 2:4 f.; we should expect the older, well known, name to come first. There is little doubt that we should substitute to Beth-el, following the LXX ἐπὶ τὸν κλαυθμῶνα [i.e. Bochim] καὶ ἐπὶ βαιθὴλ καὶ ἐπὶ τὸν οἶκον Ἰσραήλ: ‘to Bochim and’ has been inserted to harmonize with the Hebr. text; ‘to Beth-el’ is original; ‘and to the house of Israel’ is suspiciously like a corrupt repetition of ‘to Beth-el,’ though in the form ‘and to the house of Joseph’ some critics would restore it to the Hebr. text. The sequel of this half of the verse Isaiah 5 b ‘and they sacrificed there unto the Lord.’

I made you to go up] The Hebr. has ‘I make you to go up,’ an historic present; but the tense, followed by ‘and I have brought you,’ cannot be right. The versions insert ‘Thus saith the Lord,’ without removing the difficulty. It has been proposed to read ‘I surely visited you and made you to go up,’ after Exodus 3:16 f.; this at any rate is good grammar. For the expression cf. Jdg 6:8; Leviticus 11:45 P; Deuteronomy 20:1; Joshua 24:17 E.

the land which I sware unto your fathers] The oath sworn to the forefathers (Genesis 22:16 f., cf. Genesis 26:3 f. JE) is frequently referred to in JE, Genesis 50:24; Exodus 13:5; Exodus 13:11; Exodus 32:13; Exodus 33:1; Numbers 11:12; Numbers 14:16; Numbers 14:23; Numbers 32:11; Deuteronomy 31:20 f., Deuteronomy 34:4; and particularly in D, e.g. Deuteronomy 1:8; Deuteronomy 1:35; Deuteronomy 6:10; Deuteronomy 6:18; Deuteronomy 6:23 etc., Joshua 1:6; Joshua 5:6 etc.—in Deut.-Josh. thirty-three times altogether. The promise is given in Genesis 12:7; Genesis 13:14 f., Genesis 15:18 ff. (Abraham), Genesis 26:3 f. (Isaac), Genesis 28:13 f. (Jacob).

I will never break my covenant] The allusion is not to the ‘oath sworn to the forefathers,’ but, as the phrases in the next verse shew, to the covenant at Sinai, Exodus 34:10 ff. For the expression cf. Deuteronomy 31:16; Deuteronomy 31:20 JE; Leviticus 26:44, Genesis 17:14 P; it is used rather frequently in the later prophetic style, e.g. Isaiah 24:5, Jeremiah 11:10, Ezekiel 44:7 etc.

Ch. Jdg 2:1-5. The angel of Jehovah moves from Gilgal; he rebukes Israel’s unfaithfulness. Origin of Bochim

This section connects with ch. 1. The going up of the Angel of Jehovah from Gilgal to Beth-el marks the close of the period of invasion (Jdg 2:1 a); the settlement of the tribes in Canaan involves a transference of the sanctuary (Jdg 2:5 b); the intervening verses (1b–5a) connect the preceding narrative with the History of the Judges (Jdg 2:6 to Jdg 16:31). The latter verses were probably composed by the post-exilic editor who introduced ch. 1 into its present place, not by the author of the Introduction Jdg 2:6 to Jdg 3:6; contrast, for example, Jdg 2:3 with Jdg 2:22 f., and again with Jdg 3:1-3. The appeal to past history, and the tone of remonstrance upbraiding Israel’s neglect to exterminate the Canaanites, betray the later historian. Most of the phrases in Jdg 2:1 b–5a are borrowed from earlier writings.

And ye shall make no league with the inhabitants of this land; ye shall throw down their altars: but ye have not obeyed my voice: why have ye done this?
2. this land] After ‘this land’ the LXX inserts ‘nor shall ye worship their gods, but their graven images ye shall break to pieces,’ an addition of no critical value.

break down their altars] Exodus 34:13; cf. Deuteronomy 7:5; Deuteronomy 12:3.

hearkened unto my voice] Cf. Exodus 23:21 f., where the ‘voice’ is that of the Angel who was to lead Israel into Canaan.

why have ye done this?] what have you done, with emphasis on ‘what’; cf. Jdg 15:11, Genesis 3:13 etc. The reproof is grounded upon Israel’s failure to exterminate the Canaanites. In the ancient narrative, ch. 1, Israel’s failure is due to inferiority in battle; here it is ascribed to neglect of religious duty. The command to refuse all alliances with the native inhabitants, and to drive them out, is found in the old legislation (Exodus 23:31-33, part of the ‘Book of the Covenant,’ and Exodus 34:12 J), and thence incorporated into the Deuteronomic Code (Deuteronomy 7:2-4; Deuteronomy 7:16; Deuteronomy 12:29-31; Deuteronomy 20:16-18). This law originated at a period, long after the original occupation of Canaan, when it could no longer be obeyed literally; it stood, therefore, for an ideal, and witnesses to an intense conviction of the distinctive character of Israel’s religion, and to the constant danger which threatened it from contact with the Canaanites. The Books of Kings and the prophets give ample evidence of the deteriorating effect of Canaanite influences; and it is to be noted that the Codes which deal with this topic belong to the period before the exile.

Wherefore I also said, I will not drive them out from before you; but they shall be as thorns in your sides, and their gods shall be a snare unto you.
3. Wherefore I also said] Moreover also I said; perhaps referring to the warning in Joshua 23:13 D, Numbers 33:55 P, from which latter place the expressions in this verse appear to be borrowed. Others translate ‘and I have also said,’ a present, resolve in antithesis to the past promise ‘And I said, I will never break’ etc. in Jdg 2:1 b; but the antithesis is hardly to be extracted from the Hebr.

they shall be as thorns in your sides] Supplying ‘as thorns’ from Numbers 33:55, to make sense; cf. Joshua 23:13 ‘thorns in your eyes’; the word ‘as thorns’ may have been omitted here by accident. Instead of ‘they shall be sides (!) unto you’ (ṣiddim) the Vulgate and Targ. have ‘they shall be adversaries’ (ṣarim); the LXX, taking ṣarim as = ṣaroth, render ‘straits,’ ‘distresses,’ so Vet. Ital. in angustias, in pressura: these are probably only conjectures. It has been proposed to pronounce ṣiddim ‘sides’ as ṣaddim, and give it the sense of the Assyrian ṣaddu ‘a net, trap’; this would make a good parallel to ‘snare’ at the end of the verse; but the Assyr. form is not quite certain (? zaddu).

their gods … a snare unto you] Cf. Exodus 23:33; Exodus 34:12; Deuteronomy 7:16; Joshua 23:13.

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.
4. unto all the children of Israel] although, as ch. 1 has told, the tribes were dispersed in their various settlements. The expression, as indeed the whole situation presupposed in Jdg 2:1 b–5a, is influenced by later conceptions of national unity; cf. the editorial passages Jdg 6:8, Jdg 10:11.

lifted up their voice, and wept] Similarly at Beth-el Jdg 21:2.

And they called the name of that place Bochim: and they sacrificed there unto the LORD.
5. Bochim] i.e. ‘Weepers.’ The author sees in this name of the place a recollection of the Angel’s reproof and the people’s repentance. But such a form as Bochim, active ptcp. plur., is very unusual in a place-name, and it has probably been adapted to suit the present occasion. Originally the name may have been Bekaim ‘balsam-trees,’ cf. 2 Samuel 5:23 f.; Psalm 84:6 (see RVm.).

and they sacrificed there] i.e. in Beth-el; see on Jdg 2:1 a, to which this sentence belongs. The appearance of the Angel consecrates the place, and an altar henceforward marks it as a sanctuary; cf. Jdg 6:24, Jdg 13:15-20, 2 Samuel 24:16; 2 Samuel 24:18. Another ancient tradition carried back the consecration of Beth-el to the times of the patriarch Jacob, Genesis 28, 35; according to the later view of the Priestly writer the religious centre of Israel was not at Beth-el, but at Shiloh, Joshua 18:1; Joshua 19:51; cf. ch. Jdg 21:12 n.

And when Joshua had let the people go, the children of Israel went every man unto his inheritance to possess the land.
6. had sent the people away] and J. sent the people away (exactly as Joshua 24:28) from the great assembly at Shechem, at which the covenant had been renewed, and Joshua had delivered his parting exhortations, Joshua 24:1-27 E. The words were allowed to stand here in spite of their inconsistency with Jdg 1:1. Jdg 2:6-9 = Joshua 24:28; Joshua 24:31; Joshua 24:29-30, with minor alterations to suit the opening of a new book.

And the people served the LORD all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders that outlived Joshua, who had seen all the great works of the LORD, that he did for Israel.
7. the elders] or sheikhs, who, as the head men of families and clans, would take a leading part in maintaining the customs and religion of the people.

that outlived] lit. ‘that prolonged days after,’ a common expression in Deut., e.g. Deuteronomy 4:26; Deuteronomy 4:40, Deuteronomy 5:33, Deuteronomy 11:9 etc.

all the great work of the Lord] So Deuteronomy 11:7; referring to the exodus, the wandering, the invasion, here, as in Deuteronomy 11:2-7, regarded as having taken place within the life-time of one generation (Moore); instead of seen, Joshua 24:31 has the more general term known. This verse (= Joshua 24:31, where it seems to have been adopted from here) clearly comes from the hand of D; its position in the present extract from Joshua 24, disturbing the sequence of Jdg 2:6; Jdg 2:8-9, shews it to be a later insertion into the narrative of E.

And Joshua the son of Nun, the servant of the LORD, died, being an hundred and ten years old.
8. the servant of the Lord] Though not limited to Moses, this title is most frequently given to him, Deuteronomy 34:5, Joshua 1:1, and often in the Dtc. parts of Joshua. It is now transferred, with the leadership, to Moses’ successor. For Joshua’s age at his death cf. Genesis 50:26.

And they buried him in the border of his inheritance in Timnathheres, in the mount of Ephraim, on the north side of the hill Gaash.
9. in the border of his inheritance] i.e. within the district allotted to him, Joshua 19:49.

Timnath-heres] An early tradition, mentioned by Eusebius (Onom.Sacr. 261, 33) and Jerome, pointed out the tomb of Joshua at Thamna, a fortified place of some importance in Maccabaean and Roman times (1Ma 9:50; Jos., Ant. xiv. 11, 2, War iv. 8, 1), which, from the topographical notices of Josephus ll. cc., may be identified with the modern Tibneh, about 10 m. N.W. of Beth-el, in the Central Highlands. It is not unlikely that this was Timnath-ḥeres; remarkable tombs are still to be seen on the N. slope of the hill to the S.W. of the town. A later, mediaeval, tradition fixes the site at Hâris, about 9 m. S.W. of Shechem (Nâblus). Timnath-ḥeres, lit. ‘(sacred) territory of the Sun’ (cf. Mount Heres i. 35, Beth-shemesh), is written Timnath-seraḥ in Joshua 19:50; Joshua 24:30, and by Syr.and Vulgate here, perhaps to avoid idolatrous associations; cf. Isaiah 19:18, where ḥeres ‘sun’ has been changed to heres ‘destruction.’

Gaash] has not been identified; 2 Samuel 23:30 = 1 Chronicles 11:32 mention ‘the wadis of G.’

And also all that generation 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.
10. were gathered unto their fathers] This expression (as here only in 2 Kings 22:20 = 2 Chronicles 34:28), and the commoner ‘was gathered unto his people’ (P), referred originally to the family sepulchre; then to the shadowy life of Sheol, the Underworld; finally it was used as a euphemism for death.

which knew not the Lord] in the sense in which the previous generation had known Him, by personal experience of His work, see Jdg 2:7. According to this writer the death of Joshua marked a cleavage between the age of faith and the age of deterioration; the prophets Hosea (Jdg 9:10 ff.) and Ezekiel (16) take an even gloomier view.

And the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the LORD, and served Baalim:
11. The Deuteronomist’s rationale of the period of the Judges begins here. He starts with one of his recurring formulae, did evil in the sight of the Lord, Jdg 3:7; Jdg 3:12, Jdg 4:1, Jdg 6:1, Jdg 10:6, Jdg 13:1; 1 Kings 11:6; 1 Kings 14:22 and often; Deuteronomy 4:25; Deuteronomy 9:18 etc.

and served the Baalim] See on Jdg 2:13. The words anticipate the ‘forsaking of the Lord’ in Jdg 2:12, and Rd’s account of the false worship in Jdg 3:7; they look like a gloss on the first half of the verse.

And they forsook the LORD God of their fathers, which brought them out of the land of Egypt, and followed other gods, of the gods of the people that were round about them, and bowed themselves unto them, and provoked the LORD to anger.
12. Each phrase of this verse is characteristic of the Deuteronomic school; thus they forsook the Lord Jdg 10:6; Jdg 10:10; Jdg 10:13, Deuteronomy 28:20, frequently in the Dtc. parts of Kings and in Jeremiah, see also the next verse; the God of their fathers Deuteronomy 1:11; Deuteronomy 1:21; Deuteronomy 4:1; Deuteronomy 6:3; Deuteronomy 12:1 etc.; followed other gods Jdg 2:19, Deuteronomy 8:19; Deuteronomy 11:28; Deuteronomy 13:2 etc., Jeremiah 7:6; Jeremiah 11:10 etc.; the peoples round about them i.e. not the Canaanites remaining in the midst of Israel, but the nations outside its frontiers, Deuteronomy 6:14; Deuteronomy 13:8; provoked the Lord to anger Deuteronomy 4:25; Deuteronomy 9:18 etc., and often in Dtc. passages in Kings, and in Jerem.

which brought them out of the land of Egypt] Both in the Law (Exodus 20:2; Deuteronomy 5:6) and in the Prophets (Amos 2:10; Hosea 12:13; Hosea 13:4; Micah 6:4), the appeal is to the Exodus, as the birth-day of Israel’s religious life, a signal manifestation of Jehovah’s special providence, which carried with it His claim on Israel’s allegiance.

And they forsook the LORD, and served Baal and Ashtaroth.
13. This verse repeats the substance of Jdg 2:12; it continues Jdg 2:10 and leads on to Jdg 2:20. The repetition is explained if the verse belongs to E; for the expression forsook the Lord in E cf. Joshua 24:20, Deuteronomy 31:16.

served Baal and the Ashtaroth] Once settled in Canaan, the Israelites could not resist the temptation to adopt the worship of the native deities, on whom the prosperity of flocks and fields was supposed to depend. The God of Israel came from the desert; in the early days of the settlement His home was believed to be in Sinai rather than in Canaan (Jdg 5:4 f.); hence the popular religion, without ceasing to regard Jehovah as the God of Israel, felt it necessary to pay homage at the same time to the gods of the country. No doubt also the popular mind tended to identify Jehovah with the local Baals and Astartes, whose sanctuaries were scattered over the land. Such confusions gravely imperilled the distinctive character of Israel’s religion; they produced a degradation of faith and morals which led the prophets, and writers of the schools of E and D, stirred by the painful evidence of a later age, to charge Israel with having fallen into Baal-worship from the very day they entered into Canaan; the popular religion could only be described as a ‘forsaking’ of Jehovah.

Baal] means lit. owner, possessor, e.g. of a house Jdg 19:22, of a town (‘citizens’) Jdg 9:2, of a wife (‘husband’) Exodus 21:3 etc.; applied to divine beings it is a title conveying the idea of ownership, or, less probably, of domination. There was no one god called Baal; each considerable town or district had its deity, the lord of that particular place. Hence the O.T. speaks of Baal (sing.) in a collective sense, as here and Hosea 13:1, Jeremiah 11:13 etc., or of Baâlim (plur.) Jdg 2:11, Jdg 3:7, Jdg 8:33 etc., meaning the aggregate of local or special Baals. The local Baal is often designated by the name of his town or sanctuary, e.g. B. of Hermon Jdg 3:3, B. of Tamar Jdg 20:33, B. of Meon Numbers 32:38 and Moab. Stone ll. 9, 30; or of some special aspect under which he was worshipped, e.g. B. of the covenant Jdg 8:33, Jdg 9:4, B. of flies 2 Kings 1:2 ff.; at Baal-Gad under Mt Hermon he was worshipped as Gad, the god of fortune. These usages are abundantly illustrated by the Phoenician and Aramaic inscriptions; e.g. we hear of the B. of Zidon, of Tyre, of Lebanon, of Tarsus; occasionally the actual name of the Baal is known—the B. of Tyre was Melḳarth, the Baalath (fem.) of Gebal was ‘Ashtart, the B. of Ḥarran was Sin; we meet with Baal under various aspects, e.g. ‘glowing’ (?ḥammân), ‘healing’ (marpç), ‘dancing’ (marḳôd), ‘of the heavens’ (shâmçm). Baal was a title of the deity who owned the land, the god of the cultivated field and its produce (see Hosea 2:5), of fertilizing warmth, perhaps, but not a sun-god. As denoting owner, lord, the title could be applied in a harmless sense to Jehovah Himself; this is seen in the proper names Jerubbaal Jdg 6:32 (note) Baal-yah 1 Chronicles 12:5, one of David’s mighty men, and, in the families of Saul and David, Esh-baal, Merib-baal, Beel-yada, 1 Chronicles 8:33-34; 1 Chronicles 14:7, altered to Ish-bosheth, Mephi-bosheth, El-yada in 2 Samuel 2:8; 2 Samuel 4:4; 2 Samuel 5:16. But the associations of the name were felt to be dangerous, as appears from the substitution of bôsheth ‘shame’ in the latter names; and the time arrived when Baal could no longer be used safely of the God of Israel, Hosea 2:16 ff.

Ashtaroth] plur. of ‘Ashtôreth, i.e. ‘Ashtart (LXX Ἀστάρτη) pronounced with the vowels of bôsheth—the goddess worshipped throughout the Semitic world, not only by the Phoenicians (1 Kings 11:5; 1 Kings 11:33), but all over Palestine and on the E. of the Jordan, by the Philistines (1 Samuel 31:10), by the Moabites (Moab. St. l. 17 Ashtar), in Bashan (Deuteronomy 1:4) etc. In Babylonia and Assyria she was called Ishtar, in Syria ‘Attar, in S. Arabia ‘Athtar (a male deity); by the Greeks she was identified with Aphrodite. The meaning of the name is obscure; with regard to the form it will be noticed that the fem. ending in t is distinctively Canaanite. ‘Ashtart was the goddess of fertility and generation. In the O.T. Baal and ‘Ashtôreth together stand for the false gods and goddesses native to Palestine; and as Hebrew has no word for goddess, ‘Ashtôreth is practically used instead. Here the combination of Baal (sing.) with ‘Ashtârôth (plur., i.e. the many local forms of the goddess) is unusual, and we should probably read (‘Ashtôreth, the sing., in a collective sense.

And the anger of the LORD was hot 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.
14. delivered them into the hands of spoilers] So 2 Kings 17:20. The Dtc. compiler summarizes in general terms the various nations who were allowed to chastise Israel; there were spoilers (Jdg 2:16) such as the Midianites, oppressors (Jdg 2:18) such as the Philistines. Spoilers, Hebr. shôsim, is the same word as the Egyptian name, borrowed from Semitic, for the robber Bedouin of the desert, shasu; Müller, Asien u. Europa, p. 131.

sold them] One of the compiler’s phrases, Jdg 3:8, Jdg 4:2; Judges cf. Jdg 2:9, Jdg 10:7; cf. Deuteronomy 28:68; Deuteronomy 32:30, 1 Samuel 12:9, Ezekiel 30:12. Perhaps it was suggested by Jdg 4:9, though its use in that older narrative is not quite the same as here.

their enemies round about] Cf. Jdg 8:34; Deuteronomy 12:10; Deuteronomy 25:19; 1 Samuel 12:11. The enemies are those on the frontiers of Israel; contrast Jdg 2:21 (from E), where the enemies are the nations in the midst of Israel.

Whithersoever they went out, the hand of the LORD was against them for evil, as the LORD had said, and as the LORD had sworn unto them: and they were greatly distressed.
15. For the threat of punishment in case of disloyalty see Deuteronomy 28:48-53 and Leviticus 26:17; Leviticus 26:36-39.

Nevertheless the LORD raised up judges, which delivered them out of the hand of those that spoiled them.
16. raised up … saved] Phrases of the compiler, cf. Jdg 2:18, Jdg 3:9; Jdg 3:15; Jdg 3:31, Jdg 10:12-13.

judges] not in the sense of magistrates, for there was no law or tribunal in our sense at a period when “every man did that which was right in his own eyes.” The “judges” were champions and leaders, called out to meet a special emergency, who vindicated Israel’s rights in battle, Jdg 3:10. The suffetes (Heb. shôfětim) of Carthage and the Carthaginian colonies bore the same title, but they held a regular magistracy, entirely different from the extraordinary office characteristic of this age; see. NSI., p. 115 f.

And yet they would not hearken unto their judges, but they went a whoring after other gods, 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.
17. they went a whoring after other gods] As notoriously after the death of Gideon Jdg 8:33 (cf. Jdg 8:27). This figurative expression occurs in the Pent., and especially in the prophets Hos. and Ezek., to denote forcibly Israel’s unfaithfulness to Jehovah. As prostitution was a common feature of Semitic cults, the words may have been used originally in a literal sense, and afterwards metaphorically.

their fathers] i.e. Joshua and his contemporaries, Jdg 2:7.

This verse interrupts the connexion between Jdg 2:16; Jdg 2:18, and the phraseology and thought are not so distinctly Deuteronomic as the rest of the passage. The verse “seems to be the exclamation of a reader rather than the reflexion of a compiler” (Lagrange).

And when the LORD raised them up judges, then the LORD was with the judge, and delivered them out of the hand of their enemies all the days of the judge: for it repented the LORD because of their groanings by reason of them that oppressed them and vexed them.
18. was with the judge] as He had been with Moses and Joshua, Joshua 1:5. The Hebrew tense here shews that the verbs was, saved, denote frequentative acts in the past, used to be, used to save; similarly, it repented the Lord means the Lord used to be moved to pity. Not that Jehovah abandoned His fixed intention to punish, but His compassion was roused by the people’s cries to mitigate His purpose.

oppressed … vexed] The first word is used characteristically of Israel’s oppressors, Jdg 4:3; Jdg 6:9; Jdg 10:12, 1 Samuel 10:18; cf. Jdg 1:34 n. The second word occurs only here and Joel 2:8; it is common in Aramaic, and may be a late gloss on them that oppressed. LXX. cod. A omits it.

And it came to pass, when the judge was dead, that they returned, and corrupted themselves more than their fathers, in following other gods to serve them, and to bow down unto them; they ceased not from their own doings, nor from their stubborn way.
19. when the judge was dead … they turned back] e.g. Jdg 4:1, Jdg 8:33; the whole period is a continual repetition of apostasy, subjugation, the cry for help, the deliverance—such is the Dtc. editor’s reading of the history; see note at the beginning of this section. As in Jdg 2:18, the tenses denote repeated acts; it used to come to pass, they used to turn back and deal corruptly.

than their fathers] i.e. their predecessors in the age of the Judges, not the godly fathers of Jdg 2:10; Jdg 2:17; Jdg 2:22.

they ceased not from their doings] Joshua could say before he died that not one of Jehovah’s good promises had failed of fulfilment (Joshua 23:14 D); the compiler bitterly remarks that Jehovah’s ungrateful people had let no kind of iniquity fail of performance. The same phraseology (‘bad doings,’ ‘way’) is used by Jeremiah 4:18; Jeremiah 7:3; Jeremiah 7:5; Jeremiah 18:11.

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, and have not hearkened unto my voice;
20–22. These verses are clearly not the sequel of Jdg 2:11-19; Jdg 2:20 continues Jdg 2:13 (see note); the opening words repeat Jdg 2:14; the nations in Jdg 2:21 are not on the frontiers, round about Israel (Jdg 2:14), but those left by Joshua in the midst of Israel; they are spared not only to punish Israel’s sin, but to test its loyalty. The change of view indicates a different hand: Jdg 2:20-21 seem to come from E; the source of Jdg 2:22 is not so evident, D (Moore, Nowack), half E and half D (Budde), a later gloss (Lagrange). The three verses have been worked over and expanded in the editorial process, but the main contents may be assigned to E. For hearkened unto my voice in E cf. Exodus 15:26; Exodus 18:24.

transgressed my covenant which I commanded] Joshua 7:11? Rje, Joshua 23:16 D; cf. Joshua 7:15, Deuteronomy 17:2, 1 Kings 11:11, Jeremiah 34:18. The covenant inaugurated at Sinai, renewed at Shechem (Joshua 24:24-25), imposed obligations upon Israel which practically amounted to commands; hence Jehovah could be said to “command His covenant,” i.e. the obligations involved in the covenant. Thus in Deuteronomy 4:13 the covenant is identified with the Decalogue, in ib. Deuteronomy 5:2-3 it is followed by the Decalogue; cf. Deuteronomy 33:9 ("" thy promise), Psalm 111:9.

I also will not henceforth drive out any from before them of the nations which Joshua left when he died:
21. I also will not … drive out] By worshipping other gods Israel had broken the terms of the covenant, Exodus 23:24 f., Exodus 23:32 f., Exodus 34:12-16; therefore Jehovah would not fulfil His promise to drive out the nations of Canaan, Exodus 23:27 f., Exodus 23:31; Exodus 34:11; Exodus 34:24.

which Joshua left when he died] Josh, Joshua 23:12 f.; when he died is not a translation, but a tacit correction of the original and died; LXX and he (i.e. Jehovah) left, as in Jdg 2:23.

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.
22. prove Israel] Jdg 3:1; Jdg 3:4, as He had proved them in the wilderness, Exodus 16:4 J, Exodus 15:25, Exodus 20:20 E, Deuteronomy 8:2; Deuteronomy 8:16; Deuteronomy 13:3. The purpose of God’s proving is to test man’s loyalty and to perfect the character, Genesis 22:1; Psalm 26:2; James 1:2-4. In Jdg 2:20-21 the nations were not driven out because Israel must be punished, in Jdg 2:22 because Israel must be tested. The two ideas are not irreconcileable in thought; but it is probable that Jdg 2:22 was not written by the author of Jdg 2:20-21; at any rate the form of the sentence whether they will keep … or not is Deuteronomic; see the refs. to Deut. just given. In the Hebrew way must be corrected to ways to agree with therein (plur.).

Therefore the LORD left those nations, without driving them out hastily; neither delivered he them into the hand of Joshua.
23. Taking this verse as the conclusion of Jdg 2:20-22, the emphasis falls on hastily, i.e. during Joshua’s life-time; the nations were not destroyed all at once, because Jehovah wished to test the fidelity of the succeeding generations. But this adds little to the thought of Jdg 2:20-22; and the last half of the verse takes us back to Joshua’s life-time, whereas Jdg 2:7-8; Jdg 2:21 presuppose his death. The word left (not the word for left in Jdg 2:21) seems rather to connect with Jdg 3:1, and most critics regard Jdg 2:23 a as leading up to Jdg 3:1-3, where the nations are left to teach Israel the art of war. If this is the case, Jdg 2:23 a, like the nucleus of Jdg 3:1-3, will belong to J, and form the close of ch. 1; these nations (not the nations in Jdg 3:3) will then mean the nations alluded to in ch. 1. The last part of the verse is a harmonizing gloss.

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