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Chapter Two. The Sin of the Nation.
This chapter gives an account of the sudden appearance of the angel of Yahweh and the rebuking of the children of Israel for their present misconduct, followed by an account of their previous good behaviour under Joshua, and the elders that outlived him, and of their subsequent idolatries, which greatly provoked the Lord to anger. Then it describes the goodness of God to them nevertheless, in raising up judges to deliver them out of the hands of their enemies, of which there are many instances in the following chapters, and about how, on the demise of such persons, they relapsed back into idolatry which caused the anger of God to be hot against them once more, so that He determined not to drive out the Canaanites utterly from them, but to leave them among them to try them.
The Angel of Yahweh Questions Why They Have Been Disobedient And The People Make a Show of Repentance (Judges 2:1-5 ).
Judges 2:1-2 a
‘ And the Angel of Yahweh came up from Gilgal to Bochim. And he said, “I made you to go up out of Egypt, and I have brought you to the land which I swore to your fathers, and I said, I will never break my covenant with you. And you shall make no covenant with the inhabitants of the land. You will break down their altars”.’
The Angel of Yahweh is previously spoken of in Genesis 16:7-14 and Genesis 22:11-18, both cases of crisis important in preserving children of Abraham. He then appeared in Exodus 3:2 as a flame of fire in a burning bush, with a view to delivery of Israel from Egypt and to Balaam the seer in Numbers 22:22-35, again with a view to the delivery of Israel, this time from Moab. Thus His appearance always had deliverance in mind. In all cases it is clear that He spoke with the voice of God.
The reference to Gilgal may well specifically have in mind the appearance to Joshua there of the captain of Yahweh’s host (Joshua 5:10-15). There too the coming deliverance was in mind and He spoke as Yahweh. Thus ‘came up from Gilgal to Bochim’ indicates simply the last place on earth that He was seen. Where He was in between no one knew. We are not told what appearance He took on here. Again it was possibly as captain of Yahweh’s host.
Alternately ‘from Gilgal to Bochim’ may refer to the movement of the Tabernacle with the Ark of the Covenant, the throne of God (see Judges 2:5 where it is mentioned that they sacrificed there to Yahweh).
Gilgal (‘rolling’) was the place where the reproach of Egypt was removed from their shoulders (Joshua 5:9). The coming to ‘Bochim’ (‘weepers’), so named because of what was to happen, was intended to do the same for the reproach of Canaan.
The visit in Joshua 5:0 was at the time of the Passover feast which they there celebrated for the first time in the land. This visit also must have been at one of the great feasts for all Israel is seen as gathered together.
So now in God’s mercy the angel of Yahweh appeared again when deliverance was needed, again speaking as Yahweh. Thus this situation is connected with the covenants first made with Abraham through both his sons, and with the deliverance from Egypt and from the seer at Moab. It was all part of the furtherance of His plan.
“And he said, “I made you to go up out of Egypt, and I have brought you to the land which I swore to your fathers, and I said, I will never break my covenant with you. And you shall make no covenant with the inhabitants of the land. You will break down their altars”.”
Note again the connection with the covenant and the deliverance from Egypt. The angel of Yahweh was intimately connected with both. He is God and yet distinguished from God, as the Son from the Father. (Note how in Zechariah 1:12, the angel of Yahweh communicates with God demonstrating intercommunion within the Godhead). And He was their Deliverer and will continue to be their Deliverer in accordance with the covenant.
He reminded them that it was He Who made them go up from Egypt, defeating Pharaoh and the gods of Egypt and humiliating the Egypt forces before them. And it was He Who had brought them safely to the land in the face of such enemies as the seer at Moab (Balaam), indeed in the face of all powers or gods whether in heaven or on earth.
He confirmed that He would never break the covenant that had been made with Israel, that sacred covenant that He swore by ‘Himself’ because there was no greater to swear by (Genesis 22:16).
But then He reminded them that their part in that covenant was not to make any covenants or treaties with the inhabitants of Canaan, and to break down the altars of Baal and Asherah (Asheroth - the plural ending ‘-oth’ representing the many images of Asherah, or Ashtaroth representing images of Astarte), and of all gods in Canaan. And they had failed in their part.
Judges 2:2 b
“But you have not obeyed my voice. Why have you done this?”
They had made their covenants and their treaties, with the Canaanites, and the Amorites, and the Jebusites. They had received tribute from them, made them slave labourers, allowed them to continue in their religion, flirted with it themselves, and even worse, in some cases participated in it. Now God reminded them that they had deliberately disobeyed Him and asked them, ‘why have you done this?’ Compare Genesis 3:13.
“ For this reason I also have said I will not drive them out from before you, but they will be as thorns in your sides, and their gods will be a snare to you.”
Because they had not fulfilled their part in the covenant, He would not in the short term fulfil His. While He would not totally desert them He would withhold His assistance and not drive out those whom His people had been unwilling to drive out. If we do not obey God we cannot expect Him to do for us what we fail to do.
And indeed the Canaanites did become thorns in their sides, always ready to retaliate when they grew strong, and always ready to side with others against them. ‘And their gods will be a snare to you’. They were dragged down morally and spiritually to the depths by their connections with Canaanite religion.
‘ And it happened that, when the Angel of Yahweh spoke these words to all the children of Israel, the people lifted up their voice and wept.’
Perhaps at this feast they had been enquiring of Yahweh why they were suffering failure against the enemy, and why things were going so hard for them. So here was God’s reply through His Angel, it was because they had sinned. It was because they had broken their covenant with Yahweh.
“The people lifted up their voice, and wept.” Why did they weep? Was it because they were brokenhearted over their own sinfulness, or was it because they felt that God might not be as much with them as before? There was probably a mixture of both, but with the emphasis on the latter. At such times as this, that was what they feared most, that the great God of deliverance would no longer deliver, that He Who had smitten the great Pharaoh of Egypt would no longer act against the people of the land and their gods. At least it awakened them to the importance of the covenant and their need to ensure their faithfulness to it. It was occasions like this that renewed their commitment to the central sanctuary, where they could hear the law of God, and make atonement before Him for their sin, and that for a time began to make them reconsider their duty to Him rather than to the gods of the land.
‘ And they called the name of that place Bochim, and they sacrificed there to Yahweh.’
“Bochim” means ‘weepers’. It was the place of weeping for sin. So there was a great renewal of the covenant at this feast of Yahweh, and the appropriate sacrifices were offered, and further sacrifices to denote their sense of guilt and gratitude.
It is probable that this was at Shiloh were the Tabernacle was, with Bochim being applied to the particular spot of their gathering. As it is never again mentioned it was probably a temporary name, as temporary as their repentance. But it may be that it is connected with Allon Bacuth (‘the oak of weeping’) in Genesis 35:8, which was at Bethel, where the Ark was in Judges 20:27, and where there was also great weeping then (2:26), see also Judges 21:2.
The importance of this incident lies in the fact that when in the future Israel looked back and asked themselves, ‘why has our God allowed this to happen?’ they would remember His words at Bochim and know that it was through their own fault that it was so, but that His revealed presence there demonstrated that He had not totally forsaken them.
A Flashback To The Days of Joshua And the Days of Faithfulness (Judges 2:6-9 ).
‘ Now when Joshua had sent the people away, the children of Israel went every man to his inheritance to possess the land.’
What a time of triumph and hope that had been. Joshua had sent them to their inheritances strong in faith. They had been confident that this was their inheritance from God through the covenant, and that nothing could finally stand against them. They must empty it of Canaanites and set up a new manner of life, the way of life of Yahweh. But that had been then. How different it was now. Doubt, and fear, and trouble through the years, with more troubles to come, as the book will demonstrate. And why? Because their ‘knowing of Yahweh’ had grown dim (Judges 2:10).
Faith to remain firm has to be constantly renewed. That was the purpose of their gatherings at the central sanctuary. But it had to be accompanied by obedience to remain afire. And that had been what was lacking. Their faith was half-hearted. Is ours?
‘ And the people served Yahweh all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders that outlived Joshua, who had seen all the great work of Yahweh that he had wrought for Israel.’
For forty or so years the people had remained faithful to Yahweh and His covenant, during which period Joshua had died, and then the elders who had served with him who had outlived him also died. Some few had, as children, seen the great works that God had wrought in Egypt and at Sinai and in the wilderness, others the great works since leaving Kadesh, including the continued provision of manna to keep them alive (Joshua 5:12). They had experienced the crossing of Jordan and the first unbelievable act of God at Jericho. And reminders of these things at the regular covenant feasts (see Joshua 24:0) had kept their faith alive.
‘ And Joshua the son of Nun, the servant of Yahweh, had died, being a hundred and ten years old.’
Compare Genesis 50:26. Here had been another Joseph. One hundred and ten years was seen by the Egyptians as the perfect life span, a tradition seemingly carried on in Israel at this stage. As with all numbers in these early narratives, they are not to be taken too literally. It is a round number indicating the perfect fulfilment of his life and only secondarily indicating a good old age.
“The servant of Yahweh.” Here was one man who had been true to Yahweh, no longer the servant of Moses but ‘the servant of Yahweh’, a type of the great Servant yet to come (Isaiah 52:13 to Isaiah 53:12). It had been the title of honour given to Moses at his death (Deuteronomy 34:5; Joshua 1:13; Joshua 8:31; Joshua 8:33; and regularly) and later to Joshua at his death (Joshua 24:29). It was the final accolade. It was given to no one else by man.
‘ And they buried him in the border of his inheritance in Timnath-heres, in the hill country of Ephraim, on the north of the mountain of Gaash.’
Timnath-heres is called Timnath-serah in Joshua 19:50; Joshua 24:30, the letters of "serah" being there inverted from "heres," which means the sun. This may have been in order to avoid connection with idolatrous religion of sun worshippers. There may have been a number of mountains called Heres for this reason (Judges 1:35; Judges 8:13; Isaiah 19:18 Hebrew).
The Continued Failure of The People Summarised With respect to the Days That Were Coming - His Attempts To Woo Them By Deliverance - And Their Continual Backsliding (Judges 2:10-23 ).
‘ And also all that generation were gathered to their fathers. And there arose another generation after them, who did not know Yahweh, nor yet the work which he had wrought for Israel.’
Thus ‘the elders that outlived Joshua’ were the elders of his generation. There were not two faithful generations. And they all died and were buried in their family tombs.
“And there arose another generation after them, who did not know Yahweh, nor yet the work which he had wrought for Israel.” They did not know Him in the sense that they had not experienced His powerful saving works and activity on behalf of His people. They did not know of Him as the One Who would be what He would be, the One ‘Who was there’ (the meaning of ‘Yahweh’). They knew of Him, they believed in His covenant, they looked to Him for help, but they had not had personal experience of His miraculous, powerful, saving acts, just as Moses had said of the patriarchs that the name of Yahweh was not ‘known’ to them (Exodus 6:3), for they too had not experienced His powerful, saving acts, only looking forward to them as a future expectation when He would fulfil His promises to them. ‘Blessed are those who have not seen, and yet have believed’ (John 20:29).
The message for Christians is that we cannot depend on the blessings of past days as a barometer of our situation. The only test is our living response to God today. Without that the glories of the past are irrelevant.
‘ And the children of Israel did what was evil in the sight of Yahweh, and served the Baalim.’
It was the ‘natural’ thing to do. The Baalim were the main god of the land represented in the form of statuettes of bulls, so easily satisfied and demanding nothing in return. They were like good luck charms to many Israelites, but they took them away from faithfulness to the covenant. They took their eyes off God. Others entered more boldly into Baalism, enjoying ‘worship’ with the sacred prostitutes, for Baalism was all about manipulating Baal through sympathetic magic by wild sexual orgies. And both equally did evil in the sight of Yahweh. For all that distracts man from his full obedience to God is evil. They failed to love Him with all their heart and soul and might (Deuteronomy 6:5).
So openly, publicly and boldly, in the very face of God, and amidst all the good things that they had received from Him, they trusted to good luck charms, to mascots and to manipulation of the gods and idols, and indulged in sexual orgies, and made men think that these things were the cause of their blessings, and not the God with Whom they had entered into covenant. And this was the very thing that God had known would happen and the reason He had told them to drive the Canaanites out of the land. Now God was being pushed into the background, was being upstaged, and that by clay models, wooden images and man’s evil heart.
‘ And they forsook Yahweh, the God of their fathers, who brought them out of the land of Egypt, and followed other gods, of the gods of the people who were round about them, and bowed themselves down to them. And they provoked Yahweh to anger.’
They ignored two things, God’s covenant with Abraham which alone gave them the right to inherit the land, and His great deliverance whereby He delivered them from Egypt by His mighty power.
Firstly they were ignoring the covenant, and the fact that their presence in the land was due to God Who had made unbreakable promises to their fathers. For they looked to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob as their fathers even though they were largely not related to them by blood. Many were descended from servants and followers of Abraham, even more were of the mixed multitude that came out of Egypt with Moses (Exodus 12:38), but all had taken ‘the fathers’ as their own, and now looked to them as their forefathers. And that was why they could inherit the land.
But now they were forsaking the One Who had made it all possible, the One Who in order to bring them to this land had delivered them with great power from the power and gods of Egypt, even from Pharaoh himself. The One Who had made His great covenant with them at Sinai. What ingratitude, and how foolish. And that was why they would need to learn their lesson. That there was only One Who was able to deliver.
“And followed other gods, of the gods of the people who were round about them, and bowed themselves down to them. And they provoked Yahweh to anger.” There were many such gods. Thus there were the gods of the Canaanites, and the Amorites, of the Phoenicians and the Hittites, of the Jebusites and the Hivites, who were round about them because they had not driven the peoples out from the places where it was possible.
God’s purpose was that they remain totally separate from the Canaanites. But they had ignored Him. And thus the purity of their relationship with Yahweh was being destroyed, and they were bowing down to idols, even while they sought to manipulate them. How great was the contrast between Yahweh the invisible, the omnipotent, the omniscient, and these toys of men. The One powerful to act, the other so-called gods trapped in the cycle of nature, as much doomed to sin and the vagaries of nature as men were themselves.
“And they provoked Yahweh to anger.” Yahweh was angry because of their ingratitude, because of their folly and blindness, because of their disobedience, and because of what they were losing by their foolishness. And because they had taken their eyes off Him and had forgotten the covenant. They were trading the living God, the One Who could act, for those who were powerless to achieve anything, for idols made of clay, wood and stone. And they did not realise it. For they maintained the cult at the central sanctuary and thought that that must be sufficient. Just as many of us today trade the living God for prosperity, and success, and fame, and luxuries, making men our gods because of their influence or power or music, or even having a transcendental relationship with our pets, or with nature, because we must worship something, and treat God as peripheral to our lives and worship Him on the sidelines.
But note the other side. God was ‘provoked to anger’. The One Who could act, would act. And He would bring on them the circumstances that would result in suffering and humiliation, and would make them rethink and turn back to Him. That is the danger of serving the living God, he takes notice of what we do and how we behave. ‘Anger’ is an anthropomorphism reflecting human reaction. But for God, anger was a reaction to what was harmful, evil and debasing for those Who were His by covenant. It spoke of His antipathy to, and hatred of, sin. And He was concerned for what they were losing, and causing others to lose, not for what He was losing. But it included judgment, for by their behaviour they were preventing others, especially their children, from enjoying their full covenant relationship with God.
‘ And they forsook Yahweh, and served Baal and the Ashtaroth.’
The repetitiveness is deliberate so that the words will be burned into the hearer’s hearts. We must not understand by ‘forsook’ that they ceased to look to Yahweh in some way as their God. They still accepted their part in the tribal covenant, at some times more firmly than others. They still recognised Him in feasts and sacrifices. But He had become One among others. To be called on but not to be followed fully. And their part in covenant obedience was overlooked. Just as among many Christians today.
“Baal and the Ashtaroth.” Baal means ‘lord, master’. He was widely worshipped and was the god of rain, storm and lightning. In the Baal myths it was through his death and being brought back to life again in a perpetual cycle, as nature died and lived again each year, that life went on and the fields were fruitful. They saw earth as caught up with the patterns of the gods, nature was but an aftermath of those patterns (This was in no sense a resurrection in the sense in which we understand the idea, it was a continual death and revival to life, a yearly cycle, as happens in nature).
Thus, by stimulating the gods, nature could be stimulated, and this could be done by ‘sympathetic magic’, orgies of sex which stimulated Baal into action. So sacred prostitutes and perverted sex were at the centre of Canaanite religion. They worshipped Baal, they sacrificed to him, they did anything that would move him, but most of all they tried to manipulate him through sexual activity.
But the noun ‘baal’ was applicable too to Yahweh, for He was Lord and Master (see Hosea 2:16, compare Jeremiah 31:32). Thus the dangerous practise arose of thinking of Yahweh as ‘Baali’ (‘my lord’) (Hosea 2:16) which could lead to all kinds of complications.
We know this because godly men could call their sons ‘Ishbaal’ (1 Chronicles 9:39) and ‘Meribaal’ (1 Chronicles 9:40), a practise later altered when ‘Yah’ replaced ‘Baal’ in names. David called one of his daughters Beeliada (1 Chronicles 14:7), possibly originally meaning ‘one who knows the lord (Baal)’. Later writers, appalled at this, changed the name ‘baal’ to ‘bosheth’ meaning ‘shame’, thus we have Ishbosheth and Mephibosheth (Eshbaal and Mephibaal, sons of Saul).
“Ashtaroth.” The goddess of fertility, love and war (compare Ishtar, Astarte). Numerous plaques containing the figure of a naked goddess have been discovered at different sites in Palestine, many of which would represent Ashtaroth. Her worship too consisted largely in depraved sex. She was the goddess of reproduction.
When the bad years came to the Israelite farmers it was inevitable that they began to wonder whether it was because they had not paid due regard to these gods, and the temptation was thus to compromise and see what would happen if they paid due observance to Baal and Ashtaroth, and if things improved the following year, as could well happen, they then knew who was responsible. Thus did they inevitably begin to compromise their faithfulness to Yahweh. They served Baal and the Ashtaroth while keeping up a nominal obedience to Yahweh and the covenant at the central sanctuary which was, for some, far away. This was the result of not keeping separate from the Canaanites.
It reminds us that if we too are to remain faithful to God we must keep ourselves separate from anything that can lead us astray. If we find something that cools our fervour for the Lord we should do away with it, ‘drive it out’. Otherwise we may find that His anger comes on us. This is especially true of things that cause evil desire. From those we are told to ‘flee’.
‘ And the anger of Yahweh was kindled against Israel, and he delivered them into the hands of spoilers who 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.’
So Yahweh’s anger was kindled against them, and what follows in Judges 2:14 to Judges 3:6 is a summary of what will follow in detail in the remainder of the book. First the summary and then the detail revealing how the summary was worked out.
The first result of God’s anger and His withholding of His mercy was that they would become prey to their enemies round about. These were troubled times. In different nations weak kings would be succeeded by strong kings, and then neighbours, including the tribes of Israel, had to beware. For the strong kings trained armies and looked for booty and tribute. Thus came ‘the spoilers’. They sought their spoil and made other peoples tributary, as Israel had done to Canaanites. As they had done so was done to them. We will be looking at some of these spoilers in coming chapters. And because God was not with them and their covenant links had become weakened, they were not strong enough to stand before the enemy.
‘ Wherever they went out, the hand of Yahweh was against them for evil, as Yahweh had said, and as Yahweh had sworn to them.’
Because they had failed to drive out the Canaanites God would give them no more victories. When they now sought to expand they would face defeat after defeat, just as Yahweh had said (Judges 2:3). Indeed as He had sworn to them. The situation was similar to that when they had failed to listen to God’s warning previously, after they had previously failed to obey God. There too they had tried too late to remedy things and go forward, and had been repulsed and humiliated (Numbers 14:40-45). Yahweh was not only the God Who gave victory, He was also the God Who inflicted defeat.
‘And they were sore distressed. And Yahweh raised up judges, who saved them out of the hands of those who despoiled them.’
God did not totally desert them. He remembered His covenant with Abraham. So when things were at their worst He raised up ‘judges’, charismatic leaders, who delivered them out of the hands of the despoilers, as described in the following chapters. They would be men ‘filled with the Spirit of Yahweh’, and that is why they would be successful. Thus pride would be restored in the covenant and the people would once again become free and begin to prosper, and would recognise that after all Yahweh was the only God they could rely on.
‘ And yet they did not listen to their judges, for they went a whoring after other gods and bowed themselves down to them. They turned quickly out of the way in which their fathers walked in obeying the commandments of Yahweh. They did not do so.’
From now on there was an up-down situation. Having been delivered from their enemies and having begun again to walk in the commandments of Yahweh, they repaired the breaches in the covenant, and began to obey God.
But ‘they did not listen to their judges’, that is, in the long run. For the next generation again turned to other gods, the gods of the land. Again they ‘went a-whoring’ after them. The description is vivid and later taken up by the prophets. They sought and trusted in these gods and indulged in all the sexual uncleanness which was involved in their worship. They committed both spiritual and physical adultery. This was the result of not having driven them out.
‘ And when Yahweh raised up judges, then Yahweh was with the judge, and saved them out of the hand of their enemies all the days of the judge. For Yahweh relented because of their groaning as a result of those who oppressed them and vexed them.’
The repetition compared with Judges 2:16 is deliberate. The process was repeated over and over and over again. Yahweh would continually raise up judges over the different tribes. He would be with the judges and save the tribes out of the hands of their enemies. Sometimes it would be one tribe, sometimes another, sometimes a group of tribes. Sometimes the judges would overlap. But He would do it because He was sorry for the people and the predicament they found themselves in. He heard ‘their groaning’ (compare Exodus 2:7; Exodus 2:24; Exodus 6:5 where we are also told He remembered His covenant with Abraham) and He relented from His hard stance and had mercy on them.
“Yahweh relented.” His covenant was firm, therefore He had to relent. It was in the nature of His promises. He did not really change His mind, it only looked like it from a human point of view. This is human language. Yahweh had always intended to finally relax His anger when the time was right.
‘ And it happened that, when the judge was dead, they turned back and dealt more corruptly than their fathers in following other gods to serve them, and to bow down to them. They did not cease from their doings, nor from their stubborn ways.’
The only result of God’s goodness and mercy was that they became worse. The more He helped them the worse they became. For a time they treated the covenant and the tribal confederacy seriously, until the delivering judge was dead, and then they turned back to idolatry with its sinful ramifications. This was the pattern of their existence. Sin and idolatry, trouble, judges raised up by Yahweh, deliverance, temporary gratitude and faithfulness, then further sin and idolatry. They would not cease from their stubborn ways. It was a wonder that He did not rid Himself of them. But then the same can be said of us. Why does He put up with our disobedience?
‘ And the anger of Yahweh was kindled against Israel, and he said, “Because this people have transgressed my covenant which I commanded their fathers, and have not listened to my voice”.’
Again we read of God’s anger kindled against them, compare verse 14. Everything is repeated to bring out either its heinousness or its severity. God had delivered their fathers and had made a covenant with them at Sinai. And they had renewed that covenant with Him time and time again, especially at the times when they had experienced His deliverance, meeting again at the central sanctuary and renewing their oaths. But they had not really listened for they soon broke that covenant, and neglected it, time and time again. They had sworn to have no other gods but Him, but as soon as the memory of their deliverances died down they were back to their old ways and forgot the covenant that they had renewed, flirting with Baal and Ashtaroth and the other gods of the land.
This continued repetition may seem a little tedious, but its purpose was to get over to the hearer the continual danger of relapsing into sin, and to remind him how easily and how often it could happen. If we are not aware that this describes many of our lives, we too are in danger.
“ I also will not henceforth drive out from before them any of the nations which Joshua left when he died.”
His patience was now finished. He would deliver them from outside nations, but the nations in the land were now to be their snares, and traps, and thorns and headaches. He would no longer help them to drive them out. Rather He would leave them there to test them out. There had been a limit to what Joshua could do, an understandable limit of time and manpower. But by now the work should have been near completion, were it not for the continued and deliberate disobedience of His people. So they must suffer for their disobedience.
“ That through them I may prove Israel, whether they will keep the way of Yahweh to walk in it, as their fathers kept it, or not.”
These nations would act as a continual proving ground, testing how faithful to the covenant Israel would be. Testing whether, like their fathers, they would be willing to walk in His ways. Or whether they would not.
‘ So Yahweh left those nations, without driving them out quickly, neither did he deliver them into the hand of Joshua.’
Here the writer makes plain the truth. Yahweh had known all along that His people would be unfaithful, for even in the days of Joshua when the people were relatively faithful to Him, He had not acted fully to drive out the nations with all speed. This was so that they would be a test to His people of their faithfulness, a test that they had miserably failed. He had been sovereign over affairs right from the beginning.
And yet, on the other hand, part of the reason for their not being driven out, as He has made clear, was because of the refusal of His people to drive them out. They had done so at first, but then they had slackened off. And as time past they had even made deals with them, becoming their taskmasters, receiving tribute from them, socialising with them, learning their sophisticated ways, when all the time they should have been concentrating on driving them out. Thus they had contributed to their own testing. This recognition of the fact that man’s failure was within Yahweh’s sovereignty is a feature of the historical prophets from Joshua to Kings, for everything was within His sovereignty.
It is also a picture of the Christian life in which Christians again and again compromise with sin and worldliness instead of driving them out and then wonder why they are till entrapped by them.
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Pett, Peter. "Commentary on Judges 2". "Pett's Commentary on the Bible ". https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 21 / Ordinary 26