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.
Verse 1. - An angel of the Lord. Rather, the angel of the Lord, i.e. the angel of his presence, whose message consequently is delivered as if the Lord himself were speaking (see Genesis 16:7, 9, 11, etc.). A good example of the difference between a message delivered by a prophet and one delivered by the angel of the Lord may be seen by comparing Judges 6:8 with Judges 6:11-16. Bochim, i.e. weepers (vers. 4, 5). The site is unknown, but it was probably near Shiloh. The phrase "came up" denotes that it was in the hill country.
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?
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.
Verse 3. - I said, i.e. I now declare to you my resolve. It was this that made the people weep. Thorns in your sides. This is not a translation of the Hebrew text, which only has "for sides," but a partial adaptation of Joshua 23:13, where the phrase is "scourges in your sides and thorns in your eyes." Either the words for "scourges in" have fallen out of the text, or the word here rendered "sides" should be rendered, as some think, "enemies." A snare. See Judges 8:27, note.
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.
And they called the name of that place Bochim: and they sacrificed there unto the LORD.
Verse 5. - They sacrificed. A clear intimation that they were near Shiloh, where the tabernacle was.
And when Joshua had let the people go, the children of Israel went every man unto his inheritance to possess the land.
Verse 6. - And when Joshua, etc. The same words as Joshua 22:6, marking the identity of time.
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.
Verse 7. - And the people served, etc. This verse is the epitome of the religious history of Israel from the time of the expostulation of the angel till the dying off of all those who had been elders in the time of Joshua. It probably includes some forty or fifty years from the entrance into Canaan, viz., about thirty years of Joshua's lifetime, and ten, fifteen, or twenty years after Joshua's death. The record of the people's continuance in the service of the Lord connects itself with the promise made by them in Joshua 24:21, 24. All the great works, etc. Scarcely those prior to the crossing of the Jordan, though some might remember some of the events in the wilderness when they were mere children (Numbers 14:31), but the victories in Canaan. Verses 7-9. - These three verses are identical with Joshua 24:29-31, except that the order is slightly varied.
And Joshua the son of Nun, the servant of the LORD, died, being an hundred and ten years old.
Verse 8. - An hundred and ten years old. Caleb was eighty-five years old, he tells us (Joshua 14:10), when he went to take possession of Hebron, forty-five years after the spies had searched Canaan from Kadesh-Barnea, and consequently some time in the seventh year of the entrance into Canaan. Joshua was probably within a year or two his contemporary.
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.
Verse 9. - Timnath-heres. Probably, though not certainly, the modern Tibneh, six miles from Jifna. It is called in Joshua 19:50 and Joshua 24:30 Timnath-serah, the letters of which are identical, but the order is inverted. Timnath-heres is probably the right form. It means "The portion of the Sun." We have Mount Heres in Judges 1:35, near Ajalon. Ir-shemesh (city of the sun) and Beth-shemesh (house of the sun) are other instances of places called from the sun. Some have supposed some connection between the name Timnath. heres, as Joshua's inheritance, and the miracle of the sun standing still upon Gibeon at the word of Joshua (Joshua 10:12, 13). The neighbourhood of Timnath-heres to Ajalon (Judges 1:35) may give some countenance to this. The hill Gaash is only elsewhere mentioned as the birthplace of Hiddai or Hurai (2 Samuel 23:30; 1 Chronicles 11:32), but the exact site is unknown.
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.
Verse 10. - Which know not the Lord, etc. The memory of God's great works gradually faded away, and with this memory their influence upon the hearts of the people. The seductions of idolatry and the influence of heathen example were ever fresh and powerful. Had the people obeyed the voice of the Lord, the idolatry and the idolaters would have been out of the way. We may notice by the way the value to the Church of the sacrament of the Lord's Supper in keeping alive a perpetual memory of Christ's precious death until his coming again.
And the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the LORD, and served Baalim:
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.
Verse 12. - They forsook the Lord, etc. Here again there is a manifest allusion to Joshua 24:16, 17.
And they forsook the LORD, and served Baal and Ashtaroth.
Verse 13. - Baal and Ashtaroth. Ashtaroth is the plural of Ashtoreth, the goddess of the Zidonians (1 Kings 11:5, 33), just as Baalim (ver. 11) is the plural of Baal. The many images of Baal and Ashtoreth are, in the opinion of some, indicated by the plural; but others think that different modifications or impersonations of the god and goddess are indicated. Thus we read of Baal-berith, the god who presides over covenants; Baal-zebul, or Zebub, the god who presides over flies, who could either send or remove a plague of flies, and so on. "Baal (lord or master) was the supreme male divinity of the Phoenician and Canaanitish nations, as Ashtoreth (perhaps the star, the planet Venus) was their supreme female divinity. Baal and Ashtoreth are frequently coupled together. Many Phoenician names - Hannibal, Asdrubal, Adherbal, Belus, etc. - are derived from Baal."
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.
Verses 14, 15. - The anger of the Lord, etc. These verses contain an awful view of the wrath of God excited by wilful sin, and are a practical illustration of Exodus 20:5: "I am a jealous God." Compare Psalm 79:5, which shows how closely allied the notions of anger and jealousy are in Hebrew. He sold them. A forcible expression, implying the handing over of the people into the hands of their enemies, as if God had no more any property in them or concern about them; as if he said, "Ye are not my people, and I am not your God;" as if he said to the heathen, "Take them, and do as you will with them; they are yours, not mine" (see Leviticus 26. and Deuteronomy 28.). As the Lord had sworn, etc., showing that God fulfilled his threatenings as well as his promises.
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.
Nevertheless the LORD raised up judges, which delivered them out of the hand of those that spoiled them.
Verse 16. - Raised up judges. Hence the name of this book, which recites the names and exploits of those whom God raised up to deliver them out of the hand of their enemies. The title Judges (Hebrew, shophetim) is, as is well known, identical with the Carthagenian suffetes. Mark the riches of God's mercy.
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.
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.
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.
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;
I also will not henceforth drive out any from before them of the nations which Joshua left when he died:
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.
Verse 22. - To walk therein. The Hebrew has in them. Probably for way we should read ways, as Deuteronomy 8:6; Deuteronomy 10:12, etc. This verse does not seem to be part of what the Lord said, but to be the comment of the writer. The A.V. - that through them I may prove - inserts an I which is not in the original. Ver. 22 depends upon ver. 23. The literal rendering is, For the sake of proving Israel, etc.... the Lord left those nations. The writer, after rehearsing the Lord's reason for not completing the extirpation of the nations after the death of Joshua, adds the further information why they had not been delivered into Joshua's hand in his lifetime (cf. Joshua 3:1, 4). In Exodus 23:29, 30; Deuteronomy 7:22, an additional reason is given for the gradual extirpation of the Canaanites - "lest the beasts of the field increase upon thee."
Therefore the LORD left those nations, without driving them out hastily; neither delivered he them into the hand of Joshua.