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Judges 2:1 . An Angel of the Lord. Jewish writers in succession speak of this as a created angel: but no mere angel would dare to speak as Jehovah. It was therefore the Angel of the covenant, the same that had appeared to Moses and to Joshua. Exodus 3:2; Exodus 3:6. Joshua 5:13; Joshua 5:15. So the fathers with one consent expound his appearance at the bush, and on other occasions. This Angel was an ever-living Angel, clothed with omnipotence, and saying, “I will no more drive out these inhabitants from before you.” Theodoret however thinks, as some Jews have done, that this was Michael the archangel, and prince of the synagogues.
Judges 2:5 . Bochim; that is, in the plural, weepings, wailings, &c. Bochim was the camp near Shiloh.
Judges 2:6 . When Joshua had let the people go. The sacred writer here refers to the assembling of the people at Shechem, when Joshua delivered his dying charge.
Judges 2:10 . Another generation, which knew not the Lord. That was the fault chiefly of the priests, the levites, and the elders, who seem to have led the people into error. The poor durst not have set up an idol. Eight times in this book they publicly rebelled against the Lord, and eight times the bloody and galling yoke of contemptible heathen powers was thrown upon their necks.
Judges 2:13 . Baal and Ashtaroth. See on Joshua 23:7.
Judges 2:16 . The Lord raised up judges, having some resemblance to the αρκοντες , archontes among the Athenians; martial dukes who retained their civil and military powers for life, and were the special gifts of heaven to save and preserve their country.
We are truly astonished that the Israelites should immediately on the death of their elders, revolt to idolatry, and make covenants with the accursed nations. What a proof of the contamination of original sin; and what an argument for us to train up the new generation in the nurture and admonition of the Lord; for they are all born with propensities to seek their happiness in exterior objects, and to forget their fathers’ God. The charms of idolatry, it is true, were extremely beguiling to the less tutored among the Hebrews. The wine, the feasts, the music, the lascivious dances, and intercourse of the sexes, attendant on the worship of devils, induced the backsliding Israelites first to look on, and next to join in an oblation so pleasing to the flesh. And it should be well remembered that our theatres, our balls, our music-rooms &c. are to us those very altars of the demon, equally fatal to the soul.
What were the consequences of this apostasy, and all these covenants with the heathen? JEHOVAH the angel came to Bochim and said, I made you to go out of Egypt, &c. Seeing they had thus changed masters, he sentenced them to be scourged by those heathens, as he had sentenced their fathers at Kadesh. God will not suffer back-slidings and apostasy to pass with impunity: when he passes sentence on a people for their sins, repentance is unavailing; he despises tears at a certain crisis of obduracy. He will not alter the thing that is gone out of his mouth. The man who makes a covenant with his sins, will find them in the issue productive of destruction.
The case was similar in the primitive church. Even before the age of Constantine, the glory of the christian church was very much impaired. St. Cyprian, while in exile, was shocked to hear that the high road to Carthage was thronged with christians going to offer incense to the gods. And what shall we do to preserve our children from following the spirit and fashions of the world? By nature they are carnal and corrupt; therefore they must become regenerate, and be born of the Spirit. Let us endeavour to preserve the ministry pure; for an accommodating clergy, and a people having itching ears, will soon cause the most holy audience to degenerate into religious formality. Above all, let us preserve apostolic discipline by building up the church with real converts, and by the expulsion of all wicked and ungodly men. But oh, after all that men can do, shall our children become proud and vain? Shall they, despising our simplicity, conform to the world, become wanton in watering places, crowd the theatres, and bow to the desolating idol of profane pleasure? Shall they, dissipated in life and licentious in principle, ever make problems of the great truths which converted their fathers; or like the apostate descendants of the puritans, ridicule the Godhead and glory of Christ? Then surely the angel of the covenant, who in part abandoned Israel, will change the blessings of the covenant into anathemas, and chastise us with greater strokes than Israel’s. From the latter part of this chapter, which sketches the history of the Hebrews to the days of Samuel, we see on a broad scale, that they never forsook the Lord and bowed to idols, but he gave them into the hands of their enemies; and it is the same with backsliders; the Lord gives up one to his drunkenness, and another to his covetousness, so that he eats the fruit of his own doings.
Lastly, from the paternal character of the judges whom the Lord raised up, and from the calamities which befel the country, when no such protectors watched over the public weal, we see what invaluable blessings a nation derives from a vigilant and paternal government. How highly then ought we to value and revere a gracious king, an active magistrate, and a faithful minister; and mourn their removal, not knowing the character of those who may succeed.
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Sutcliffe, Joseph. "Commentary on Judges 2". Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments. https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 15 / Ordinary 20