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Bible Commentaries

Lange's Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical
Judges 2

 

 

Verses 1-5

SECOND SECTION

The Religious Degeneracy Of Israel Which Resulted From Its Disobedient Conduct With Respect To The Canaanites, And The Severe Discipline Which It Rendered Necessary, As Explaining The Alternations Of Apostasy And Servitude, Repentance And Deliverance, Characteristic Of The Period Of The Judges

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A Messenger of Jehovah charges Israel with disobedience, and announces punishment. The people repent and offer sacrifice

Judges 2:1-5

1And an angel [messenger] of the Lord [Jehovah] came up from Gilgal to Bochim, and said, I made you to go up[FN1] 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 2 you. And [But] ye shall make no league [covenant] with the inhabitants of this land; ye shall throw down[FN2] their altars: but ye have not obeyed [hearkened to] my 3 voice: why have ye done this?[FN3] Wherefore [And] I also said, [In that case—i.e. in the event of disobedience][FN4] I will not drive them out from before you; but they shall be as thorns in your sides,[FN5] and their gods shall be [for] a snare unto you 4 And it came to pass, when the angel [messenger] of the Lord [Jehovah] spake [had spoken][FN6] these words unto all the children [sons] of Israel, that the people lifted up their voice, and wept 5 And they called the name of that place Bochim [Weepers]: and they sacrificed there unto the Lord [Jehovah].

TEXTUAL AND GRAMMATICAL

[ Judges 2:1.—אַעֲלֶה: Keil: “The use of the imperfect instead of the perfect (cf. Judges 6:8) is very singular, seeing that the contents of the address, and its continuation in the historical tense (וָאָבִיא and וָאֹמַר), require the preterite. The imperfect can only be explained by supposing it to be under the retrospective influence of the immediately following imperfect consecutive.” De Wette translates, “I said, I will lead you up out of Egypt, and brought you into the land,” etc. This supposes that אָמַרְתִּי, or some such expression, has dropped out of the text, or is to be supplied. This mode of explaining the imperfect is favored (1), by the fact that we seem to have here a quotation from Exodus 3:17; but especially (2), by the וָאֹמַר before the last clause of this verse, and the וְגַם אָמַרְתִּי of Judges 2:3, which suggest that the same verb is to be understood in Judges 2:1 a.—Tr.]

[ Judges 2:2.—תִּתֹּצוּן, from נָתַץ, to tear down, demolish. On the form, cf. Ges. Gram. § 47, Rem4.—Tr.]

[ Judges 2:2.—More literally: “What is this that ye have done!” i. e. How great is this sin you have committed! cf. Judges 8:1.—Tr.]

[ Judges 2:3.—Dr. Bachmann interprets the words that follow as a definite judgment on Israel, announcing that henceforth Jehovah will not drive out any of the still remaining nations, but will leave them to punish Israel. It is undoubtedly true that וְגַם אָמַרְתִּי may be translated, “therefore, now, I also say;” but it is also true that it is more natural here (with Bertheau, Keil, Cass.) to render, “and I also said.” To the citations of earlier divine utterances in Judges 2:1-2 (see the Comment.), the messenger of Jehovah now adds another, from Numbers 33:55, Joshua 23:13. It Isaiah, moreover, a strong point against Bachmann’s view that God does not execute judgment speedily, least of all on Israel. We can hardly conceive him to shut the door of hope on the nation so soon after the departure of the latest surviving contemporaries of Joshua as this scene at Bochim seems to have occurred, cf. the comparatively mild charges brought by the messenger, as implied in Judges 2:2, with the heavier ones in Judges 2:11 ff. and Judges 3:6-7. Besides, if we understand a definite and final sentence to be pronounced here, we must understand Judges 2:20 f. as only reproducing the same (as Bachmann does), although Israel’s apostasy had become far more pronounced when the first Judge arose than it is now. It seems clear, therefore, that we must here understand a warning, while the sentence itself issues subsequently (cf. foot-note3, on p62).—Tr.]

5 Judges 2:3.—Dr. Cassel translates: “they shall be to you for thorns.” Cf. the Commentary. The E. V. supplies “thorns” from Numbers 33:55; but it has to change לְצדִּים into בְּצִרֵּיכֶם or בַּצִּדִּים.—Tr.]

6 Judges 2:4.—Better perhaps, with De Wette: “And it came to pass, as the messenger of Jehovah spake, etc, that the people,” etc. On כְּ with the infin. cf. Ges. Lex. s. כְּ, B5, b.—Tr.]

EXEGETICAL AND DOCTRINAL

Judges 2:1. And there came a messenger of Jehovah. Israel had experienced the faithfulness of the Divine Spirit who, through Moses, led them forth from Egypt, and made them a people. In him, they conquered Canaan, and took possession of a noble country. In addition to this, they had the guaranty of the divine word (cf. Leviticus 26:44), that God would never forsake them—that the truth on which He had thus far built up their life and nationality, would endure. Reason enough had been given them to fulfill everything prescribed by Moses, whether great or small, difficult or pleasant, whether it gave or took away. They had every reason for being wholly with their God, whether they waged war or enjoyed the fruits of victory. Were they thus with Him? Could they be thus with Him after such proceedings in relation to the inhabitants of Canaan as Judges 1sets forth? Israel’s strength consists in the enthusiasm which springs from faith in the invisible God who made heaven and earth, and in obedience to his commands. If enthusiasm fail and obedience be impaired, Israel becomes weak. The law which it follows is not only its rule of duty, but also its bill of rights. Israel is free, only by the law; without it, a servant. A life springing from the law, exhibited clearly and uninterruptedly, is the condition on which it enjoys whatever is to its advantage. To preserve and promote such a life, was the object of the command, given by Moses, not to enter into any kind of fellowship with the nations against whom they were called to contend. The toleration which Israel might be inclined to exercise, could only be the offspring of weakness in faith ( Deuteronomy 7:17) and of blind selfishness. For the sake of its own life, it was commanded not to tolerate idolatry within its borders, even though practiced only by those of alien nations. For the people are weak, and the superstitious tendency to that which strikes the senses, seduces the inconstant heart. It cannot be otherwise than injurious when Israel ceases to be entirely obedient to that word in whose organic wisdom its history is grounded, and its future secured. Ruin must result when, as has been related, the people fails in numerous instances to drive out the heathen nations, and instead thereof enters into compacts with them. Special emphasis was laid, in the preceding narrative, upon the fact that for the sake of tribute, Israel had tolerated the worship of the lewd Asherah and of the sun, in Apheca, in the Phœnician cities, in Banias, and in Beth-shemesh. When the occupation of Canaan was completed—a date is not given—the impression produced by a survey of the whole land was not such as promised enduring peace and obedience to the Word of God. The organs of this word were not yet silenced, however. When the heads of Israel asked who should begin the conflict, the Word of God had answered through the priest; and ancient exegesis rightly considered the messenger of God who now, at the end of the war, speaks to Israel, to be the same priest. At the beginning, he answered from the Spirit of God; at the end, he admonishes by an impulse of his own. There he encourages; here he calls to account. There “they inquire of God;” here also he speaks only as the “messenger of God.” He is designedly called “messenger of God.” Every word he speaks, God has spoken. His words are only reminiscences out of the Word of God. His sermon Isaiah, as it were, a lesson read out of this word. He speaks only like a messenger who verbally repeats his commission. No additions of his own; objective truth alone, is what he presents. That is the idea of the מַלְאָדְ, the messenger, ἄγγελος, according to every explanation that has been given of him. The emphasis falls here, not on who spake, but on what was spoken. God’s word comes to the people unasked for, like the voice of conscience. From the antithesis to the opening verse of the Book, where the people asked, it is evident that no angel of a celestial kind is here thought of. Earlier expositors ought to have perceived this, if only because it is said that the messenger—

Came up from Gilgal to Bochim. Heavenly angels “appear,” and do not come from Gilgal particularly.[FN7] The connection of this statement with the whole preceding narrative is profound and instructive. The history of Israel in Canaan begins in Gilgal. There ( Joshua 4:20 ff.) stood the memorial which showed how they had come through the Jordan into this land (אֶל־הָאָרֶץ וָאָבִיא אֶתְכֶם). The name Gilgal itself speaks of the noblest benefit bestowed on them—their liberation from the reproach of Egypt. There the first Passover in Canaan had been celebrated. Thence also begin the great deeds that are done after the death of Joshua. As now the messenger of God comes from Gilgal, so at first Judah set out from thence to enter into his possessions. A messenger who came from Gilgal, did by that circumstance alone remind the people of Joshua’s last words and commands The memorial which was there erected rendered the place permanently suggestive to Israel of past events. From the time that Joshua’s camp was there, it never ceased to be a celebrated spot (comp. 1 Samuel 7:16); but that on this occasion the messenger comes from Gilgal, has its ground in the nature of his message, the history of which commences at Gilgal.

Judges 2:2-3. Why have ye done this? This sorrowful exclamation is uttered by the priest—according to Jewish exegesis, Phinehas, the same who spoke Judges 1:2—after he has exhibited in brief quotations from the old divine instructions, first, what God has done for Israel, and then what Israel has done in disregard of God. The eternal God has enjoined it upon you, not under any circumstances to enter into peaceful compacts with the idolatrous tribes and their altars among you, thereby authorizing them openly before your eyes to manifest their depravity and practice their abominations—what have ye done! The exclamation is full of sharp grief; for the consequences are inevitable. For God said ( Joshua 23:13): “I will not drive out these nations from before you.” Israel had its tasks to perform. If it failed it must bear the consequences. God has indeed said ( Exodus 23:29-30), and Moses reiterates it ( Deuteronomy 7:22), “By little and little I will drive out the Canaanite, lest the land becomes desolate.” And this word received its fulfillment in the days of Joshua and subsequently. But when Israel disobeys, God will not prosper its disobedience. It must then experience that which the messenger now with grief and pain announces: Since Canaanites remain among you, who ought not to remain, and whom ye could have expelled, had ye been wholly with your God ( Deuteronomy 7:17 ff.), they will hurt you, though they are conquered. It is not an innocent thing to suffer the presence of sin, and give it equal rights.

They shall be thorns, and their gods shall be a snare unto you. The Hebrew text has וְחָיוּ לָכֶם לְצִדִּים: literally, “they shall be sides unto you.” צַד everywhere means “the side;” and the explanations which make “adversaries, hostes” (Vulgate), “nets” (Luther), “tormentors” (Sachs), out of it, are without any foundation. Arias Montanus, who gives in lateribus, follows therein the older Jewish expositors; but neither does the idea of “hurtful neighbors” lie in the word. From the fact that the Chaldee para phrast has מְעִיקִין, “oppressors,” it would indeed seem that he read צָרִים; for in Numbers 33:55 he also renders וְצָרֲרוּ by וִיעִיקוּן. The Septuagint rendering συνοχάς (the Syriac version of it has the singular, cf. Rördam, p69), might seem to indicate a similar reading, although συνέχειν occurs perhaps only twice for צוּר ( 1 Samuel 23:8; 2 Samuel 20:3). None the less does it appear to me to be against the language and spirit of Scripture, to read צָרִים here. For not only does צָרִים occur but once in Scripture ( Lamentations 1:7), but it is expressive of that hostility which arises in consequence of the state of things here described. Only after one has fallen into the snare begins that miserable condition in which one is oppressed by the enemy, while all power of resistance is lost. The following considerations may assist us to arrive at the true sense: Every sentence, from Judges 2:1 to Judges 2:4, is in all its parts and words a reproduction of utterances by Moses and Joshua. Verse 1 is composed of expressions found as follows: אַעֲלֶה, etc, Exodus 3:17; וָאָבִיא, etc, Joshua 24:8; נִשְׁבַּצְתִּי, etc, Deuteronomy 1:35; לָֹא אָפֵר, etc, Leviticus 26:44. Verse 2 likewise: לאֹ תִכְרְהוּ, etc, Exodus 23:32, Deuteronomy 7:2; מִזְבְּחוֹתֵיהֶם, תִּתֹּצוּן, Exodus 34:13, Deuteronomy 7:5; לֹא שְׁמַעְתֶּם, Numbers 14:22. The case is similar with Judges 2:3, and it is to be assumed that the parallel passages may be used to throw light on the text. Now, as the first parallel to the expression, “and they shall be to you for tsiddim (צִדִּים),” we have the words in Numbers 33:55 : “and they shall be to you for pricks in your eyes and thorns in your sides (לִצְנִינִם בְּצִדֵּיכֶם).” Not for “sides,” therefore, but for “thorns in the sides;” and we can as little believe that the same meaning would result if the expression were only “sides,” as we can imagine the idea to remain unaltered if instead of “pricks in the eyes,” one were to say, “they shall be to you for eyes.” The second parallel passage is Joshua 23:13 : they shall be to you for “scourges in your sides and thorns in your eyes.” The enemies are compared, not with “sides” and “eyes,” but with scourges and thorns by which sides and eyes are afflicted. Now as our passage as a whole corresponds entirely with those of Numbers and Joshua, save only that it abridges and epitomizes them, the threat which they contain appears here also, and in a similarly condensed form. It was sufficient to say, “they shall be to you for thorns;” accordingly, instead of צִדִּיכ we are to read צִנִּים (tsinnim for tsiddim), a change as natural as it is easily accounted for, since both words occurred not only in each of the other passages, but in one of them were joined together in the same clause. Emendation in this instance is more conservative than retention, for it rests on the internal organic coherence of Scripture.[FN8]Tsinnah, tsinnim, tseninim, are thorns, spinœ, pointed and stinging. The figure is taken from rural life. 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, smooths 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 who has said, “Thou shalt not serve strange gods.”

Judges 2:4. When the messenger had spoken these words, etc. It is most likely that the few sentences here given, are but the outlines of the messenger’s address. But every word rests on the basis of instructions delivered by Moses and Joshua. The people are sensible of the surpassing reality of the blessings which they have received, and for that reason are the more affected by the thought of the consequences which their errors have brought upon them. For the fulfillment of the law of truth as to its promises, guarantees the same as to its threatenings. Their alarm on account of sin is the livelier, the less decidedly active their disregard of the Word of God has hitherto been. They have not yet served the gods whose temples they have failed to destroy—have not yet joined in sin with the nations whom they suffered to remain. It was a weak faith, but not yet full-grown sin, by which they were led astray. God’s messenger addresses “all the sons of Israel,” for no tribe had formed an exception. In greater or less degree, they all had committed the same disobedience. The whole nation lifted up its voice and wept.

Judges 2:5. And they called the name of the place Bochim (Weepers). The messenger of the divine word, when he wished to address Israel, must have gone up to the place where he would find them assembled. Israel had been commanded, as soon as the Jordan should have been crossed, and rest obtained, to assemble for feasts and sacrifices at a sacred place ( Deuteronomy 12:10). This order applied not to Jerusalem merely, but to “the place which the Lord your God shall choose in one of the tribes.” Thither they are to go up, trusting in God and dismissing care. It was only at such festal assemblies that Israel could be met. There was the opportunity for preaching and admonition. The chosen place at that time was Shiloh. There the tabernacle had been set up ( Joshua 18:1); and there the people assembled (cf. Joshua 21:2). Thither they went up from far and near, to attend festivals ( Judges 21:19), and to offer sacrifices ( 1 Samuel 1:3). The whole progress of Joshua was a going from Gilgal to Shiloh. Accordingly, the messenger of God can have found Israel at no other place. His discourse produced a general outburst of weeping (cf. 1 Samuel 11:4). And only because it was a weeping of penitence and shame before God, did the place where it occurred receive and retain the name Bochim. It was not a place otherwise nameless. How could the place where such an assembly was held be without a name! And how could it occur to the people to assemble at such a place! In Shiloh itself, some spot—perhaps that where the priest was accustomed to address the people—received the name Bochim. This name served thenceforth to recall the tears which were there shed. So do they show to-day in Jerusalem the “Jews’ wailing-place” (El Ebra, Ritter, xvi350 [Gage’s Transl. iv50]), where every Friday the Jews pray and lament. “And they offered sacrifices there.” After repentance and reconciliation comes sacrifice.

HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL

Faith and repentance come from preaching. God’s messenger preaches, and Israel hears. The people acknowledge their sins, and weep. At that time only a divine admonition was needed to make them sacrifice again to their God. To fall is possible even for one who has received so much grace as Israel had experienced in the lifetime of Joshua and after his death; but he rises up as soon as the messenger of God touches his heart with the preaching of repentance. A generation which experienced divine miracles, and recognized them as divine, can be brought to repentance by that miracle which in the proclamation of the word of God addresses the souls of men.

Therefore, let not the preaching of repentance fail to address all the people. But the preacher must be (1), a messenger of God; and (2), must not shun the way from Gilgal to Bochim,—must not wait till the people come to him in the place for preaching, but must go to them, until he find a Bochim, a place of tearful eyes. But as God’s messenger he must give heed that the weeping be not merely the result of affecting words, but of a penitent disposition; that it be called forth, not by the flow of rhetoric, but by memories of the grace of God hitherto experienced by the congregation.

Starke: How great concern God takes in the salvation of men, and especially in the welfare of His church, appears clearly from the fact that He himself has often reasoned with them, taught them, admonished and rebuked them.

The same: The Word of God has the power of moving and converting men.

The same: To attest our repentance by tears as well as reformation, is not improper; nay, repentance is seldom of the right sort, if it does not, at least in secret, weep for sin.

Gerlach: He reminds them of earlier commands, promises and threats, and shows them how their own transgressions are now about to turn into self-inflicted judgments. The people, however, do not proceed beyond an unfruitful sorrow in view of this announcement.

[Henry: Many are melted under the word, that harden again before they are cast into a new mould.

Scott: If transgressors cannot endure the rebukes of God’s word and the convictions of their own consciences, how will they be able to stand before the tribunal of the holy, heart-searching Judge.

The same: The worship of God is in its own nature joy, praise, and thanksgiving, and our crimes alone render weeping needful; yet, considering what we are and what we have done, it is much to be wished that our religious assemblies were more frequently called “Bochim,” the place of the weepers. “Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted.”

Wordsworth: The Israelites called the place Bochim; they named it from their own tears. They laid the principal stress on their own feelings, and on their own outward demonstrations of sorrow. But they did not speak of God’s mercies; and they were not careful to bring forth fruits of repentance; they were a barren fig-tree, having only leaves. Their’s was a religion (such as is too common) of sentiment and emotions, not of faith and obedience.

The same: Reproofs which produce only tears—religious feelings without religious acts—emotions without effects—leave the heart worse than before. If God’s rebukes are trifled with, His grace is withdrawn.—Tr.]

Footnotes:

FN#1 - Judges 2:1.—אַעֲלֶה: Keil: “The use of the imperfect instead of the perfect (cf. Judges 6:8) is very singular, seeing that the contents of the address, and its continuation in the historical tense (וָאָבִיא and וָאֹמַר), require the preterite. The imperfect can only be explained by supposing it to be under the retrospective influence of the immediately following imperfect consecutive.” De Wette translates, “I said, I will lead you up out of Egypt, and brought you into the land,” etc. This supposes that אָמַרְתִּי, or some such expression, has dropped out of the text, or is to be supplied. This mode of explaining the imperfect is favored (1), by the fact that we seem to have here a quotation from Exodus 3:17; but especially (2), by the וָאֹמַר before the last clause of this verse, and the וְגַם אָמַרְתִּי of Judges 2:3, which suggest that the same verb is to be understood in Judges 2:1 a.—Tr.]

FN#2 - Judges 2:2.—תִּתֹּצוּן, from נָתַץ, to tear down, demolish. On the form, cf. Ges. Gram. § 47, Rem4.—Tr.]

FN#3 - Judges 2:2.—More literally: “What is this that ye have done!” i. e. How great is this sin you have committed! cf. Judges 8:1.—Tr.]

FN#4 - Judges 2:3.—Dr. Bachmann interprets the words that follow as a definite judgment on Israel, announcing that henceforth Jehovah will not drive out any of the still remaining nations, but will leave them to punish Israel. It is undoubtedly true that וְגַם אָמַרְתִּי may be translated, “therefore, now, I also say;” but it is also true that it is more natural here (with Bertheau, Keil, Cass.) to render, “and I also said.” To the citations of earlier divine utterances in Judges 2:1-2 (see the Comment.), the messenger of Jehovah now adds another, from Numbers 33:55, Joshua 23:13. It Isaiah, moreover, a strong point against Bachmann’s view that God does not execute judgment speedily, least of all on Israel. We can hardly conceive him to shut the door of hope on the nation so soon after the departure of the latest surviving contemporaries of Joshua as this scene at Bochim seems to have occurred, cf. the comparatively mild charges brought by the messenger, as implied in Judges 2:2, with the heavier ones in Judges 2:11 ff. and Judges 3:6-7. Besides, if we understand a definite and final sentence to be pronounced here, we must understand Judges 2:20 f. as only reproducing the same (as Bachmann does), although Israel’s apostasy had become far more pronounced when the first Judge arose than it is now. It seems clear, therefore, that we must here understand a warning, while the sentence itself issues subsequently (cf. foot-note3, on p62).—Tr.]

FN#5 - Judges 2:3.—Dr. Cassel translates: “they shall be to you for thorns.” Cf. the Commentary. The E. V. supplies “thorns” from Numbers 33:55; but it has to change לְצדִּים into בְּצִרֵּיכֶם or בַּצִּדִּים.—Tr.]

FN#6 - Judges 2:4.—Better perhaps, with De Wette: “And it came to pass, as the messenger of Jehovah spake, etc, that the people,” etc. On כְּ with the infin. cf. Ges. Lex. s. כְּ, B5, b.—Tr.]

FN#7 - Nevertheless, Keil also, in loct, has followed the older expositors. [We subjoin the main points on which Keil rests his interpretation: “מַלְאַךְ יִהוָֹה is not a prophet or any other earthly ambassador of Jehovah, as Phinehas or Joshua (Targ, Rabb, Stud, Berth, and others), but the Angel of Jehovah, consubstantial with God. In simple historical narrative no prophet is ever called מַלְאַד יְהוָֹה; such are designated נָבִיא or אִישׁ נָביא, as in Judges 6:8, or אישׁ אֶלהִֹים, 1 Kings 12:22; 1 Kings 13:1, etc. The passages, Haggai 1:13 and Malachi 3:1, cannot be adduced against this, since there, in the prophetic style, the purely appellative significance of מַלְאָךְ is placed beyond all doubt by the context. Moreover, no prophet ever identifies himself so entirely with God, as is here done by the Angel of Jehovah, In his address Judges 2:1-3. The prophets always distinguish themselves from Jehovah by this, that they introduce their utterances as the word of God by the formula “thus saith Jehovah,” as is also done by the prophet in Judges 6:8. … Nor does it conflict with the nature of the Angel of Jehovah that he comes up from Gilgal to Bochim. His appearance at Bochim is described as a coming up to Bochim, with as much propriety as in Judges 6:11 it is said concerning the Angel of Jehovah, that “he came and sat down under the terebinth at Ophra.” The only feature peculiar to the present instance is the coming up “from Gilgal.” This statement must stand in intimate connection with the mission of the angel—must contain more than a mere notice of his journeying from one place to another.” Keil then recalls the appearance to Joshua, at Gilgal, of the angel who announced himself as the “Captain of the host of Jehovah,” and promised a successful issue to the siege of Jericho. “The coming up from Gilgal indicates, therefore, that the same angel who at Gilgal, with the fall of Jericho delivered all Canaan into the hands of the Israelites, appeared to them again at Bochim, in order to announce the divine decree resulting from their disobedience to the commands of the Lord.” With this view Bachmann and Wordsworth also agree. It must be admitted, however, that the appearance of the Angel of Jehovah, or indeed of any angel, in the character of a preacher before the assembled congregation of Israel is without a parallel in sacred history. Keil’s supposition that he addressed the people only through their heads or representatives, is against the clear import of Judges 2:4-5, and not to be justified by a reference to Joshua 24:1-2. Besides, an assembly of the heads and representatives, presents the same difficulty as an assembly of all the people. Angels appear only to individuals; to Israel as a nation God speaks through prophets.—Tr.]

FN#8 - Bachmann is not inclined to admire the “conservative” character of this emendation. He holds to the reading of the text, and finds in it a free reference to Numbers 33:55 and Joshua 23:13, by virtue of which “the nations themselves”—for, in his view, the לֹא אֲגָרֵשׁ ( Judges 2:3) refers rather to the nations of the unconquered border districts (cf. Judges 2:23; Judges 3:1), than to the scattered remnants of Canaanites within the conquered territories—“are described as (sides for Israel, i. e. as cramping, burdensome, tormenting neighbors.” But is it quite “conservative” to attach the idea of something cramping, etc, to the simple word “side.” which on no other occasion appears with such horrible suggestions of compression and suffocation as Dr. B. would give it here?—Tr.]


Verses 6-10

An extract from the Book of Joshua showing when and through what occasion the religious apostasy of Israel began

Judges 2:6-10

6And when [omit: when] Joshua had [omit: had] let the people go, [and] the children [sons] of Israel went every man unto his inheritance, to possess [to take possession of] the land 7 And the people served the Lord [Jehovah] all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders that outlived[FN9] Joshua, who had seen all 8 the great works of the Lord [Jehovah], that he did for Israel. And Joshua, the son of Nun, the servant of the Lord [Jehovah], died, being an hundred and ten years old 9 And they buried him in the border [district] of his inheritance in Timnath-heres, in the mount [mountains] of Ephraim, on the north side of the hill [north of Mount] Gaash 10 And also all that generation were gathered unto their fathers:[FN10] and there arose another generation after them, which knew not the Lord [Jehovah], nor yet the works[FN11] which he had done for Israel.

TEXTUAL AND GRAMMATICAL

1 Judges 2:7.—הֶאֱרִיךְ יָמִים, to prolong one’s days, usually means, “to live long;” but here the addition “after Joshua” shows that the expression is not to be taken in this ordinary acceptation, but according to the proper sense of the words: “they prolonged days (life) after Joshua,i. e. they survived him: not, “they lived long after Joshua,” cf. the remarks of Bachmann quoted on p15.—Tr.]

2 Judges 2:10.—The sing. suf. in אֲבוֹתָיו, although the verb is plural, arises from the fact that the expression אֶל־אֲבוֹתָיו נֶאֱסַף, and others of like import, are generally used of individuals. Habit gets the better of strict grammatical propriety.—Tr.]

3 Judges 2:10.—Dr. Cassel: die Gott nicht kannten, und [also] auch seine That nicht; i. e. “who knew not God (Jehovah), nor [consequently], the works.” The explanation of this rendering is that he takes “knew” in the sense of “acknowledge,” see below; so that the clause gives him the following sense: “they acknowledged not what God had done for them, and of course did not rightly value his works. But, as Bachmann observes, “לֹא יָרְעוּ conveys no reproach, but only states the cause of the ensuing apostasy. The new generation did not know the Lord and his work, sc. as eye witnesses (cf. Judges 2:7; Judges 3:2); they only knew from hearsay.”—Tr.]

EXEGETICAL AND DOCTRINAL

Judges 2:6-8. The penitence of the people at Bochim had shown that it had not yet fallen from its obedience to God, that it was still conscious of the blessings which had been bestowed upon it. The promise made to Joshua ( Joshua 24:24) had as yet been kept. They still served the Lord. Their position in this respect was the same as when he dismissed the tribes to take possession of their several inheritances. This dismission introduced Israel to the new epoch, in which it was no longer guided by Moses or Joshua. Hence, the insertion of these sentences, which are also found in Joshua 24, is entirely appropriate. They describe the whole period in which the people was submissive to the Word of God, although removed from under the direct guidance of Joshua. The people was faithful when left to itself by Joshua, faithful after his death, faithful still in the days of the elders who outlived Joshua. That whole generation, which had seen the mighty deeds that attended the conquest of Canaan, stood firm. Our passage says, “for they had seen,” whereas Joshua 24:31 says, “they had known.” “To see” is more definite than “to know.” The facts of history may be known as the acts of God, without being witnessed and experienced. But this generation had stood in the midst of the events; the movements of the conflict and its results were still present in their memories Whoever has felt the enthusiasm inspired by such victories and conquests, can never forget them. The Scripture narrators are accustomed, like the chroniclers of the Middle Ages, to repeat literally what has already been said elsewhere, in cases where modern writers content themselves with a mere reference. While we should have deemed it sufficient to appeal to earlier histories for an account of the death of Joshua, the narrative before us takes the more accurate method of literal repetition. Hence, the interruption of the course of thought commenced Judges 2:1-5, is only apparent. Judges 2:6-10 explain the pious weeping of the people which Judges 2:4-5 recorded. Joshua’s death, age, and burial are mentioned, because the writer wishes to indicate that Israel served God, not only after its dismission by the still living leader, but also after his decease. The less necessity there was for the statements of Judges 2:8-9, the more evident it is that they are borrowed from Joshua 24. And we may congratulate ourselves that by this means the name of the place where Joshua was buried, has been handed down to us in a second form.

Judges 2:9. And they buried him in Timnath-heres, in the mountains of Ephraim, north of Gaash. In Joshua 24:30, the place is called Timnath-serah (סֶרַח for חֶרֶס). The most reverential regard for the Masoretic text will not refuse to acknowledge many variations in the names of places, arising especially from the transposition of letters (as חֶבֶל and חֵלֶב, Joshua 19:29).[FN12] Jewish tradition, it is true, explains them as different names borne by the same place; but the name Cheres is that which, in Kefr Cheres, preserved itself in the country, as remarked by Esthor ha-Parchi (ii434) and other travellers (Carmoly, pp212, 368, 444, etc.). Eli Smith discovered the place, April26, 1843. A short distance northwest of Bir-Zeit (already on Robinson’s earlier map, cf. the later), near Wady Belat, “there rose up a gentle hill, which was covered with the ruins or rather foundations of what was once a town of considerable size.” The spot was still called Tibneh (for Timnah, just as the southern Timnath is at present called Tibneh). The city lay to the north of “a much higher hill, on the north side of which (thus facing the city), appeared several sepulchral excavations.”[FN13] No other place than this can have been intended by the Jewish travellers, who describe several graves found there, and identify them as those of Joshua, his father, and Caleb (Carmoly, p387). The antiquity of the decorations of these sepulchres may indeed be questioned, but not that of the sepulchres themselves. Smith was of opinion that hitherto no graves like these had been discovered in Palestine. Tibneh lies on the eastern side of Mount Ephraim, the same side on which, farther south, Beth-horon and Sârîs are found. “Mount Heres,” which not the tribe of Daniel, but only the strength of Ephraim, could render tributary, must have lain near Sârîs, east of Aijalon. It is evident, therefore, that the name Heres must have been borne by this whole division of the mountains of Ephraim; and that the Timnath in which Joshua was buried, was by the addition of Heres distinguished from other places of the same name. In this way, the peculiar interest which led Ephraim to administer justice on Mount Heres (cf. on Judges 1:35) explains itself.

Judges 2:10. And also all that generation, etc. Time vanishes. One generation goes, another comes. Joshua, who had died weary with years, was followed into the grave by his younger contemporaries. The generation that had borne arms with him, had been buried in the soil of the promised land; and another, younger generation lived. It had already grown up in the land which the fathers had won. It inherited from them only possession and enjoyment. It already felt itself at home in the life of abundance to which it was born. It could not be counted as a reproach to them that they had not seen the mighty works of God in connection with the conquest (hence it is not said לאֹרָאוּ); but in the triteness of possession they utterly failed to acknowledge (לֹא יָרְעוּ) their indebtedness for it to God. How Israel came into the land, they must indeed have known; but to “know Jehovah” is something higher. They did not acknowledge that it was through God that they had come thither. Their fathers had seen and felt that victory and freedom came to them from the Lord. But they, as they did eat, built goodly houses, and dwelt in them ( Deuteronomy 8:12), forgat God, and said ( Deuteronomy 8:17): “Our power and the might of our hands hath gotten us this wealth.” Modern German history furnishes an instructive illustration. The generation which broke the yoke of servitude imposed by Napoleon, “felt their God,” as E. M. Arndt sang and prayed. The succeeding age enjoys the fruits and says: “Our skill and arms have smitten him.” The living enthusiasm of action and strength, feels that its source is in the living God. It looks upon itself as the instrument of a Spirit who gives to truth and freedom their places in history. The children want the strength which comes of faith in that Spirit who in the fathers accomplished everything—and want it the more, the less they have done. Everything foretold by Moses goes into fulfillment. The later Israel had forgotten ( Deuteronomy 8:14) what God had done for their fathers—in Egypt, in the desert, in Canaan. The phraseology is very suggestive; they “knew not Jehovah, nor, consequently, the works which he had done for Israel.” Among the people, the one is closely connected with the other, as is shown by what follows.

HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL

One generation goes and another comes, but the word of God abides forever. It holds good for fathers and children; it judges ancestors and descendants. The new Israel had not beheld the deeds of Joshua and Caleb; but the God in whose spirit they were accomplished, still lived. They had not witnessed the recompense which was visited upon Adoni-bezek; but the Word which promises reward and punishment, was still living. Israel apostatized not because it had forgotten, but because sin is ever forgetful. When the blind man sins, it is not because he does not see the creation which God created, but because sin is blind both in those who see and in those who see not.

Therefore, no one can excuse himself, when he falls away into idolatry. Creation is visible to all, all have come up out of Egypt, all enjoy the favor of their God. Inexperience, satanic arts of temptation, temperament, can explain many a fall; yet, no one falls save by his own evil lusts, and all wickedness is done before the eyes of God ( Judges 2:11).

Starke: Constantly to remember and meditate on the works of God promotes piety, causing us to fear God, to believe in Him, and to serve Him.

Lisco: As long as the remembrance of the mighty works of God continued alive, so long also did active gratitude, covenant faithfulness, endure.

Footnotes:

FN#9 - Judges 2:7.—הֶאֱרִיךְ יָמִים, to prolong one’s days, usually means, “to live long;” but here the addition “after Joshua” shows that the expression is not to be taken in this ordinary acceptation, but according to the proper sense of the words: “they prolonged days (life) after Joshua,i. e. they survived him: not, “they lived long after Joshua,” cf. the remarks of Bachmann quoted on p15.—Tr.]

FN#10 - Judges 2:10.—The sing. suf. in אֲבוֹתָיו, although the verb is plural, arises from the fact that the expression אֶל־אֲבוֹתָיו נֶאֱסַף, and others of like import, are generally used of individuals. Habit gets the better of strict grammatical propriety.—Tr.]

FN#11 - Judges 2:10.—Dr. Cassel: die Gott nicht kannten, und [also] auch seine That nicht; i. e. “who knew not God (Jehovah), nor [consequently], the works.” The explanation of this rendering is that he takes “knew” in the sense of “acknowledge,” see below; so that the clause gives him the following sense: “they acknowledged not what God had done for them, and of course did not rightly value his works. But, as Bachmann observes, “לֹא יָרְעוּ conveys no reproach, but only states the cause of the ensuing apostasy. The new generation did not know the Lord and his work, sc. as eye witnesses (cf. Judges 2:7; Judges 3:2); they only knew from hearsay.”—Tr.]

FN#12 - As תוּשִׁים and אַלְגּוּמִּים,שׁוּתָם and שַׁלְמַי אַלְמֻנּים and שׁמְלַי. Cf. Bochart, Hierozoicon, lib1. cap20. tom2, p137.

FN#13 - Ritter16:562, Gage’s Transl4:246; [Smith’s “Visit to Antipatris,” in Bibliotheca Sacra for1843 (published at New York) p484.—Tr.] On the desire of the Bedouins to be buried on mountains, cf. Wetzstein, Hauran, p26.


Verses 11-15

The apostasy of Israel during the period of the Judges: Idolatry and its consequences

Judges 2:11-15

11And the children [sons] of Israel did evil[FN14] in the sight of the Lord [Jehovah], and served Baalim: 12And they forsook the Lord [Jehovah the] God of their fathers, which brought them out of the land of Egypt [Mitsraim], and followed other gods, of the gods of the people [peoples] that were round about them, and bowed themselves 13 unto them, and provoked the Lord [Jehovah] to anger. And [Yea] they forsook the Lord [Jehovah], and served Baal and Ashtaroth 14 And the anger of the Lord [Jehovah] was hot [kindled] against Israel, and he delivered them into the hands of spoilers that [and they] spoiled them, and he sold them [gave them up[FN15]] into the hands of their enemies round about, so that they could not any longer stand before 15 their enemies. Whithersoever [Wheresoever][FN16] they went out, the hand of the Lord [Jehovah] was against them for evil [disaster], as the Lord [Jehovah] had said, and as the Lord [Jehovah] had sworn unto them: and they were [became] greatly distressed.

TEXTUAL AND GRAMMATICAL

1 Judges 2:11—הָרַע: lit. “the evil.” The use of the article, however, scarcely warrants the stress laid on it by Dr. Cassel (see below), as הָרַע, although most frequently used of idolatry, occurs also of sin in general and of other sins, cf. Numbers 32:13; 2 Samuel 12:9; Psalm 51:6. The art, is probably used here as with other words denoting abstract ideas, cf. Ges. Gr. § 109, Rem1, c.—Tr.]

2 Judges 2:14.—Bachmann: “The giving up to the enemy is represented as a selling. The term of comparison, however, is not the price received, but the complete surrender into the stranger’s power.”—Tr.]

3 Judges 2:15.—The E. V. takes בְּכָל־מָקוֹם = בְּכֹל, and אֲשֶׁר as the accus whither, cf. Numbers 13:27. So also Bertheau, Keil, and most versions and commentators. Dr. Cassel takes אְשֶׁר as accus. where, as in Genesis 35:13, 2 Samuel 7:7. Dr. Bachmann thinks it safer “in accordance with 2 Kings 18:7 (cf. Joshua 1:7; Joshua 1:9), to understand the whole expression not of the place of the undertaking, but of the undertaking itself (cf. Deuteronomy 28:20 : מִשְׁלַח יָרְךָ אֲשֶׁר תַּעֲשֶׂה בְּכָל־, with Judges 2:19 :. … בְּבֹאֶדָ בְּצֵאתֶדָ): lit. “in all what = for what they went out,” i. e. (since the connection points to matters of war) in all undertakings for which they took the field. It is at least safe to say that 2 Kings 18:7 requires this interpretation of the phrase in question, cf. Thenius in loc.—Tr.]

EXEGETICAL AND DOCTRINAL

Judges 2:11-13. And they did the evil in the sight of Jehovah. In what the evil consisted, we are soon informed: they served other gods, not their God. These other gods of the nations round about them, are national gods. They severally represent the morals, inclinations, and aptitudes, of those nations. The heathen god is the embodiment of the spiritual life and character of the people that worships him. The God of Israel is the very opposite of this. He is the God of the universe, inasmuch as He created heaven and earth; and the God of Israel, inasmuch as He elected them from among the nations in order to be a holy people unto Himself. The law is the abstract representation of that divine morality which is characteristic of the holy nation, as such. Israel forsakes God, when it does not follow this law. It forgets God, when it ascribes to itself that which belongs to Him; when it explains the history of its wars and victories by referring them, not to divine guidance, but to its own strength. Hence also, as soon as Israel forgets God as the author of its history, it falls into the service of other gods, since these are the opposite of the absolute God, namely, the visible embodiment of the nation’s own self. The God of Israel is a God on whom the people feels itself dependent; the heathen deity, with its material representation, is the resultant of the popular will. The very moment in which the impatient Israel of the desert forsook God, it worshipped the golden calf, the type of Egypt. Now, in Canaan also, Israel is induced to forget God as its benefactor. It seeks to remove the contrariety which exists between itself and the Canaanites: to cancel the dividing-lines drawn by the law of the invisible God. It can have fellowship with the other nations only by serving their gods. Among the nations of antiquity no leagues found place except on the basis of community in sacred things; for in these the national type or character expressed itself. In the Italian cities, a union for joint-sacrifices was called concilium, and formed the indispensable prerequisite to connubium and commercium. The children of Israel, for the sake of their neighbors, forget their God. To please men, they do “the evil in the sight of the Lord.” Evil, רַע, is the opposite of what God wills. Whatever the laws forbids, is “evil.” “Ye shall not worship strange gods,” is the burden of the first, and the ultimate ground of all, commandments. Therefore, when Israel serves them it does what Isaiah, not simply “evil,” but “the evil” (הָרַע). The trains of thought of the simple sentences, are bound together by a profoundly penetrating logic. The new generation no longer knows the works of God in Israel’s behalf. Hence it longs for intercourse with the nations round about. For these have not been driven out. In order to gratify this longing, it serves their strange gods. But thereby it forsakes Jehovah, and provokes Him to anger.

And they served Baalim. Baal (בַּעַל), as deity, is for the nation, what as master he is in the house, and as lord in the city. He represents and impersonates the people’s life and energies. Hence, there is one general Baal, as well as many Baalim. The different cities and tribes had their individual Baalim, who were not always named after their cities, but frequently from the various characteristics for which they were adored. The case is analogous to that of Zeus, who by reason of his various attributes, was variously named and worshipped in Greece. The Israelites, as they forgot their own God, apostatized to that form of Baal service which obtained in the tribe or city in which they happened to live, according to the manifold modifications which the service of the idol assumed. Our passage reproduces very closely the words of the Mosaic law (cf. Deuteronomy 17:2-3; Deuteronomy 29:25 (26)), except that it substitutes Baalim for im acherim, other gods. im acherim is of universal comprehensiveness. “Other gods” being forbidden, the false gods of all ages and countries, whatever names they may bear, are forbidden. Acher is “another,” not in any sense implying coördination, but as expressive of inferiority, spuriousness. It is used like ἕτερος, posterior, and the German after and aber. (Aberglaube [superstition] is a false glaube [faith], just as elohim acherim are false gods.[FN17]) Baalim is here substituted as being the current name of the country for the false god. And in truth the very name of Baal, in its literal signification, expresses the contrast between him and the absolute and true Elohim, Jehovah. For as Baal (i.e. Lord, Master), he is dependent on the existence of him whose Baal he Isaiah, just as he is no husband who has not a wife; whereas it is the nature of the absolute God to be perfectly free and independent of every extraneous object. These Baalim were the “gods of the nations who dwelt round about them.” Every word of Judges 2:12 indicates that what now occurred, had been foretold by Moses (cf. Deuteronomy 28:20; Deuteronomy 31:16; Leviticus 22:33). The chief passages which are kept in view, are Deuteronomy 6:10 ff; Deuteronomy 29:25 ff. Ver 13 begins with the same words as Judges 2:12, “they forsook God,” not to repeat but to strengthen the statement. It must astound the reader that they have forsaken God (עָזַב has the sense of our expression “to ignore one,” “not to notice him,” as one lets a poor mar stand and beg without noticing him), to serve “Baal and Ashtaroth.” Israel, the narrator wishes to say, was actually capable of giving up its own glorious God, who brought it up out of Egypt, for the sake of Baal and Ashtaroth! The statements of Judges 2:11-14 form a climax; for sin is not stationary, but sinks ever deeper. Judges 2:11 had said that “they served Baalim.” Judges 2:12 intimates that this was in fact nothing else than that which Moses, in the name of God, had described as the deepest and most radical crime of which the nation could be guilty. Judges 2:13 shows the blindness of Israel in its deepest darkness. The people has forsaken its God of truth and purity, for the sake of Baal and Ashtaroth! That has come to pass against which Deuteronomy 4:19 warned as possible: “Lest thou lift up thine eyes unto heaven, and when thou seest the sun, and the moon, and the stars, all the host of heaven, shouldest bow down to them and serve them.” The luminaries of the heavens are the original symbols of ancient idolatry. Baal answers to Zeus, the Greek Light god. Ashtaroth, in like manner, corresponds to Hera (according to the meaning of her name, a Baalah), the Star-queen. Ashtoreth means “the star” (אֶסְתֵּר, Persian sitareh, ἀστήρ, star); in the plural her name is Ashtaroth. This plural expresses the Scripture phrase “host of heaven,” in one collective conception. As Elohim in its plural form represents the Deity, so Baalim represents Baaldom, and Ashtaroth the shining night-heavens. (Just as cives and civitas, בְּעָלִים and בַּעֲלָה, are used to express all that is included in the idea of the State.) The Greek form of Ashtoreth, it is well known, was Astarte. Hence, names formed like Abdastartus[FN18] (Servant of Astarte), find their contrast in such as Obadiah (Servant of Jah), formed in the spirit of the Israelitish people. Astarte represents on the coast of Phœnicia the same popular conception, suggested by natural phenomena, which till a very late period Asia Minor worshipped in the goddess of Ephesus. The Greek conceptions of Hera, Artemis, and Aphrodite do not so coalesce in her as to prevent us from clearly finding the common source. From the instructive passages of Scripture, in which the language shows a relation of Astarte to the propagation of flocks ( Deuteronomy 7:13; Deuteronomy 28:4), it is evident that as luminous night-goddess she, like Hera, was a patroness of corporeal fertility, an Ilithyia, Lucina, Mylitta. On account of this idea, which is characteristic of both goddesses, the heavenly Hera (Juno cœlestis) coincides with Aphrodite Urania, so that Hesychius remarks concerning Belthis (Baalath), that she may be the one or the other. Astarte was worshipped as Ashtoreth, not only in Zidon ( 1 Kings 11:5; 2 Kings 23:13), but throughout Canaan; special mention is made of her temple in Askelon ( 1 Samuel 31:10). It is evidently this temple of which Herodotus (i105) speaks as dedicated to Aphrodite Urania, and which, as the national sanctuary of Askelon, the Scythians destroyed. It was on account of its national character, that the Philistines deposited in it the armor of Saul as trophies. They saw in its goddess the victor over the defeated enemy, just as at Ephesus the repulse of the Cimmerians was attributed to the aid of Artemis. Powers of resistance and defense were ascribed to all those Asiatic goddesses who presided over the principle of fecundity in nature. Their weapons protect pacific nature and that which she cherishes, against the hostility of wild and savage forces. The worship of the Ephesian goddess is founded and celebrated by Amazons. Juno, the celestial, is represented with lance in hand. The same conception is indicated by ancient representations of Aphrodite, in which she appears armed and prepared for battle. Astarte is at all events considered favorable to her nation in war; since trophies of victory hang in her temple, and the capital of the terrible warrior Og bears the name Ashtaroth ( Joshua 9:10; Joshua 12:4). This King Og of Bashan is regarded as a scion of the mighty Rephaim. These latter have their seat at Ashteroth Karnaim, where they are attacked by the eastern kings ( Genesis 14:5). Ashteroth Karnaim points to the horns of the crescent moon, by which also Astarte of Askelon is indicated on the coins of that city (cf. Stark, Gaza, p259). The armed Aphrodite in Sparta is the same with Helena or Selene, the moon-goddess,—a fact clearly demonstrative of her identity with Astarte. Moon and stars, the luminaries of the night-sky, are blended in Ashtaroth. She represents the collective host of heaven. Before this “host” Israel bowed down when it forsook its “Lord of hosts.” Baal and Ashtaroth stand for the whole national worship of Phœnicia, over against Jehovah, the God of the universe. They are the representatives of their nation’s prosperity; and it is therefore a profound conception, which Epiphanias says some held (Hœres. 55. cap2), which makes Hercules (Baal) to be the father, and Ashtaroth (or Asteria, τὴν καὶ ’Αστερίαν,) the mother, of Melchizedek. Thus when Melchizedek bowed himself before Abraham and Abraham’s God, the national spirit of Canaan submitted itself. When Israel prostrates itself before such symbols, it cannot fail to provoke the anger of its God.

Judges 2:14. And the anger of Jehovah was kindled against Israel. A climax appears also in the expressions concerning the displeasure of God. First, that which they do is evil in his sight ( Judges 2:11); then, they provoke Him to anger ( Judges 2:12; cf. Deuteronomy 4:25; Deuteronomy 9:18); finally, his anger is kindled ( Judges 2:14; also Numbers 25:3; Numbers 32:13).

And He delivered them into the hands of the oppressors [spoilers]—and gave them up into the hands of their enemies.[FN19] Thus far the phraseology has been literally quoted from Mosaic utterances, except that Baal and Ashtaroth were substituted for sun, moon, and stars. The above words occur here for the first time. They express the historical consequences of Israel’s wrong-doing. When Israel forsakes God and his law, it loses the basis of its nationality. With God and God’s law, and through them, it is a people; without them, it has neither law nor national power. The gods after whom they run, do not at all belong to them. On the contrary, they are the property of nations who are their enemies. Israel left Egypt a crowd of slaves. It was God’s own revelation of Himself, fulfilling his promise to the fathers, that made it free. If it give up this Revelation, it has no longer a basis of freedom. Freedom is henceforth impossible; for by serving the gods of other nations, it dissolves its own national existence. Hence, this faithlessness towards God, is the worst folly against itself. For the enemy who gave way before Israel’s God and Israel’s enthusiasm, will no longer spare the conquerors of Canaan when, like men without character, they kneel at strange altars. When God who elected Israel is not in the midst of the nation as its protector, it is like the defenseless hart which the hunter pursues. Such is the figure which underlies the expression: “and God gave them into the hands of their שֹׁסִים” The root שָׁכַס שָׁסָה, is not found in the Pentateuch, and occurs here for the first time. The shosim are enemies of the property of another, robbers, plunderers,—as the hunter robs his game of life and happiness. The word is kindred to the Greek χάζω, with the same meaning, although, to be sure, only the passive χάζομαι is in use. (It seems also that the Italian cacciare and the French chasser are to be derived from this word; but cf. Diez, Lex. der Röm. Spr., p79). Israel, having broken its covenant with God for the sake of men, was by these very men oppressed. They robbed it of goods and freedom. For God had “sold it,” like a person who has lost his freedom. What but servitude remained for Israel when it no longer possessed the power of God? It cannot stand before its enemies, as was foretold, Leviticus 26:37, in somewhat different words. A people that conquered only through the contrariety of its spirit with that of its enemies, must fall when it ceases to cherish that spirit. No one can have power to succeed, who himself destroys his sole vocation to success. Hence, Israel could no more be successful in anything. The measure of its triumph with God, is the measure of its misery without Him. Apostasy from God is always like a return to Egypt into bondage ( Deuteronomy 28:68).

Judges 2:15. As Jehovah had said, and as he had sworn unto them. By applying to their sin the very words used in the law, the narrator has already emphasized the enduring truthfulness of the divine announcements. Israel is to experience that everything threatened comes to pass; and with reason, for every promise also has been verified. But here he expresses himself still more plainly. The hand of the Lord ( Deuteronomy 2:15) was against them for evil ( Deuteronomy 29:20), as He “had sworn unto them.” No sentence evinces more plainly how closely the narrator keeps to the Mosaic writings. When God is said to swear unto Israel, it is almost always in connection with blessings to be bestowed. Only in two instances ( Deuteronomy 2:14; cf. Joshua 5:6), the Lord is represented as having sworn that to those who had not obeyed his voice, He would not show the land. In these, therefore, the oath is confirmatory of threatened punishment. The double form of expression also, that God spake and swore, is prefigured Deuteronomy 29:12 (13).

And they became greatly distressed, וַיֵּצֶר. Deuteronomy 28:50-52 describes the plunderers, who shall rob them of their cattle and their harvests. “Thou shalt be distressed in all thy gates” (וְהֵצַר לְךָ), is twice repeated in Judges 2:52. The narrator presupposes intimate acquaintance with the ancient writings, and therefore cites only their salient points.

HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL

After the judgment of the word comes the judgment of the sword. He who ceases to remember the works of God, ceases also to enjoy the power of God. For him who shuts his eyes, the sun affords no light. Men are judged by the truth which they despise, and betrayed by the sin which they love. Israel can no longer withstand the nations over whom it formerly triumphed, because it courts their idols and leaves its own God.

Thus men suffer through the passions which they entertain. They are plundered, when instead of God, they serve Baal-Mammon. The judgment of the word which they forsake, is confirmed Men lose the freedom of the children of God, when (1) they are no longer grateful to God; consequently, (2) remember Him no more; hence, (3) attend no longer to the preaching of repentance; and despite of it, (4) serve idols.

Starke: He who engages in another worship, forsakes the true God, and apostatizes from Him. But woe to the man who does this: for he brings himself into endless trouble. The same: God is as true to his threats as to his promises. Lisco: The people whom trouble and bondage had brought to a consciousness of their guilt, sank again into idolatry through levity and commerce with heathen, and thus new chastisements became necessary. Gerlach: The judgment affords a deep glance into God’s government of the world, showing how He makes all sin subservient to his own power, by punishing it with the very evils that arise from it.

Footnotes:

FN#14 - Judges 2:11—הָרַע: lit. “the evil.” The use of the article, however, scarcely warrants the stress laid on it by Dr. Cassel (see below), as הָרַע, although most frequently used of idolatry, occurs also of sin in general and of other sins, cf. Numbers 32:13; 2 Samuel 12:9; Psalm 51:6. The art, is probably used here as with other words denoting abstract ideas, cf. Ges. Gr. § 109, Rem1, c.—Tr.]

FN#15 - Judges 2:14.—Bachmann: “The giving up to the enemy is represented as a selling. The term of comparison, however, is not the price received, but the complete surrender into the stranger’s power.”—Tr.]

FN#16 - Judges 2:15.—The E. V. takes בְּכָל־מָקוֹם = בְּכֹל, and אֲשֶׁר as the accus whither, cf. Numbers 13:27. So also Bertheau, Keil, and most versions and commentators. Dr. Cassel takes אְשֶׁר as accus. where, as in Genesis 35:13, 2 Samuel 7:7. Dr. Bachmann thinks it safer “in accordance with 2 Kings 18:7 (cf. Joshua 1:7; Joshua 1:9), to understand the whole expression not of the place of the undertaking, but of the undertaking itself (cf. Deuteronomy 28:20 : מִשְׁלַח יָרְךָ אֲשֶׁר תַּעֲשֶׂה בְּכָל־, with Judges 2:19 :. … בְּבֹאֶדָ בְּצֵאתֶדָ): lit. “in all what = for what they went out,” i. e. (since the connection points to matters of war) in all undertakings for which they took the field. It is at least safe to say that 2 Kings 18:7 requires this interpretation of the phrase in question, cf. Thenius in loc.—Tr.]

FN#17 - Cf. my Abhandlung über Wissensch. und Akademien, p38.

FN#18 - Compare Methuastartus (מתוצשתרת), formed like Methubaal, Methusalem, Man of (belonging to) Astarte. Compare אמצשתרת, “my mother is Astarte,” on the Sidonian Inscription of Eshmunazar. Rödiger (Zeitschrift d. d. m. Ges., 1865, p656) regards it as an abbreviation for אמתצשתרת, “maid-servant of Astarte,” wherein he is followed by others.

FN#19 - On these words Bachmann remarks: “This does not describe a twofold visitation, either simultaneous or successive: first spoiling, then servitude (P. Mart.), or roving robber bands and regular hostile armies (Schm.); still less (Cajet.) a threefold degree of calamity—spoiling, slavery, flight [the latter indicated by ‘they were no longer able to stand before their enemies’—Tr.]; but God in abandoning the people to the resistless violence of their hostile neighbors, does thereby deliver them into the hands of the spoilers.”—Tr.]


Verses 16-23

The interposition of God in Israel’s behalf by the appointment of Judges. Deliverance and the death of the Deliverer the occasion of renewed apostasy

Judges 2:16-23

16Nevertheless [And] the Lord [Jehovah] raised up Judges, which [and they] delivered them out of the hand of those that spoiled them 17 And yet they would not [But neither did they] hearken unto their Judges, but[FN20] they went a whoring[FN21] after other [false] gods, and bowed themselves unto them: they turned quickly[FN22] out of the way[FN23] which their fathers walked in, obeying[FN24] the commandments of the Lord18[Jehovah]; but they did not so. And when the Lord [Jehovah] raised them up Judges, then the Lord [Jehovah] was with the Judges, and delivered them out of the hand of their enemies all the days of the judge: (for it repented the Lord [Jehovah] because of their groanings [wailings[FN25]] by reason of them that oppressed[FN26] them and 19 vexed [persecuted[FN27]][FN28] them.) And [But] it came to pass, when the judge was dead, that they returned [turned back], and corrupted themselves[FN29] more than their fathers, in following other [false] gods to serve them, and to bow down unto them; they ceased not from[FN30] their own [omit: own] [evil] doings,[FN31] nor from their stubborn way.[FN32] 20And the anger of the Lord [Jehovah] was hot [kindled] against Israel; and he said, Because that this people hath transgressed my covenant[FN33] which I commanded their fathers, and have not hearkened unto my voice; 21I also will not henceforth [will not go on to] drive out any [a man] from before them of the nations which Joshua left when he died: 22that through them I may prove [in order by them to prove[FN34]][FN35] Israel, whether they will keep the way of the Lord [Jehovah] to walk 23 therein, as their fathers did keep it, or not. Therefore [And] the Lord [Jehovah] left those [these] nations [at rest[FN36]], without driving them out hastily [so that they should not be speedily driven out], neither delivered he them [and delivered them not] into the hand of Joshua.

TEXTUAL AND GRAMMATICAL

1 Judges 2:17.—Dr. Cassel has denn, “for.” “But” is better. On כִּי after a negative, cf. Ges. Gr. p272, at top.—Tr.]

2 Judges 2:17.—That Isaiah, as often as a Judge had succeeded in bringing them back to the way of their fathers, they quickly left it again. So Bachmann.—Tr.]

3 Judges 2:17.—לִשְׁמֹע: “in that they obeyed.” On this less regular, but by no means rare (cf. Judges 2:19, Psalm 78:18; 1 Samuel 20:20; etc.) use of the infin. with לְ, cf. Ew280 d.—Tr.]

4 Judges 2:18.—דָּחַק, only here and in Joel 2:8. If the clause were rendered: “before those that crowded (לָחַץ, cf. on Judges 1:34) and pressed upon them,” its metaphorical character would be preserved as nearly as possible.—Tr.]

5 Judges 2:19.—The E. V. is correct as to sense; but the Hebrew phrase, filled out, would be, “they corrupted their way,” cf. Genesis 6:12.—Tr.]

6 Judges 2:19.—לֹא הִפִּילוּ מִן: lit. “they caused not (sc. their conduct, course of action) to fall away from their (evil) deeds.”—Tr.]

7 Judges 2:12.—לְמַעַן נַסּוֹת. Grammatically this infin. of design may be connected either with לא֗ אוֹסיף, Judges 2:21, וַיּא֗מֵר, Judges 2:20, or עָזַב The first construction (adopted by E. V.) is inadmissible, because, 1. It supposes that Jehovah himself continues to speak in Judges 2:22, in which case we should expect אֶת־דַּרְכִּי, first per, rather than אֶת־דֶּרֶךְ יְהוָֹה. 2. It supposes that the purpose to prove Israel is now first formed, whereas it is clear from Judges 3:1; Judges 3:4, that it was already operative in the time of Joshua. This objection is also fatal to the construction with וַיֹּאמֶר, adopted by Keil. (That Dr. Cassel adopts one of these two appears from the fact that he reads: “whether they will (instead of would, see farther on) keep the way of Jehovah,” but which of the two is not clear.) It remains, therefore, to connect with צָוַב, against which there is no objection, either grammatical or logical. “For in such loosely added infinitives of design, in which the subject is not definitely determined, the person of the infin. goes back to the preceding principal word only when no other relation is more obvious, see Ew337 b (cf. Exodus 9:16). But that here, as in the perfectly analogous parallel passage, Judges 3:4, the design expressed by the infin. is not Joshua’s nor that of the nations, but Jehovah’s, is self-evident, and is besides expressly declared in Judges 2:23 and Judges 3:1. So rightly LXX. It. Pesh. Ar. Aug. (ques17), Ser. Stud. and many others” (Bachmann). The connection from Judges 2:21 onward is therefore as follows: In Judges 2:21 Jehovah is represented (cf. foot-note 3 on p62) as saying, “I will not go on to drive out the nations which Joshua left when he died.” To this the author of the Book himself adds the purpose for which they were left, namely, to prove Israel, whether they would (not, will) keep the way (אֶת־דֶּרֶךְ) of Jehovah to walk therein (כָּם, plur. “in them,” constr. ad sensum, the way of Jehovah consisting of the מִצוֹת יְהוָֹה, Deuteronomy 8:2.—Keil), as their fathers kept it, or not. “And Song of Solomon,” he continues, i.e. in consequence of this purpose, “Jehovah (not merely Joshua) left these nations (חָאֵלֶה, these, pointing forward to Judges 3:1 ff, where they are enumerated,) at rest, in order that they should not speedily (for that would have been inconsistent with the design of proving Israel by them, but yet ultimately) be driven out, and did not give them into the hand of Joshua.” But the “not speedily” of Joshua’s time had by Israel’s faithless apostasy been changed into “never.”—Tr.]

EXEGETICAL AND DOCTRINAL

The first two chapters indicate, by way of introduction, the laws of historical cause and effect whose operation explains the occurrences about to be related in the succeeding pages. They are designed to give information concerning that most important of all subjects in Israel,—the relation of the will of God to his chosen people. Since prosperity and calamity were both referred to God, it was necessary to explain the moral grounds of the same in the favor or wrath of God. It was most important, in view of the peculiar histories which were to be narrated, that the doubts which might be raised against the doctrine of God’s all-powerful and world-controlling direction, should be obviated. The connection between the national fortunes, as about to be related, and the declarations of the Mosaic law, was to be pointed out. The reader was to be informed why the purposes of God concerning the glory of Israel in Canaan, as unfolded to Moses, had been so imperfectly fulfilled. In Judges 1 a historical survey of the conquests of the tribes had been given, in order in connection therewith, to state how little heed had been given to the behest of the law to expel the nations. In that disobedience the germ of all subsequent misfortunes was contained. For by mingling with the heathen nations, the chosen people fell into sin. With Israel to fall from God was actually to fall back into bondage. In their distress and anguish, God ( Judges 2:15; Judges 2:18) mercifully heard their crying, as he had heard it in Egypt ( Exodus 2:24; Exodus 6:5). Now, as then, He raised them up heroes, who through his might smote the enemy, and delivered the people from both internal and external bondage ( Judges 2:16). This, however, did not remove the evil in its germ. Since the judgeship was not hereditary, the death of each individual Judge brought back the same state of things which followed the departure of Joshua and his contemporaries. The nation continually fell back into its old sin ( Judges 2:18-19). The history of events under the Judges, is the history of ever recurring exhibitions of divine compassion and human weakness. Hence, the great question in Israel must be one inquiring into the cause of these relations. If, the people might say, present relations owed their existence to the temptations occasioned by the remaining Canaanites, he on whom the first blame for not expelling them must fall, would be none other than Joshua! Why did not that hero of God drive them all out of the land? Why did he not secure the whole land, in all its extended boundaries, for a possession to Israel? If only sea and desert had bounded their territories, Israel would have had no temptation to meddle with the superstitions of neighbors. Left to themselves, they would have thought of nothing else than to serve their God. To this Judges 2:21 ff. reply: God is certainly the Helper and Guide of Israel, its Libera and Conqueror; but not to serve the sinfulness and sloth of Israel. The Spirit of God is with Israel, when the freewill of Israel chooses obedience to God. But the freedom of this choice demonstrates itself only under temptation. Abraham became Father of the Faithful because, though tempted ( Genesis 22:1), he nevertheless stood firm. Fidelity and faith approve themselves only in resistance to seductive influences. God in his omnipotence might no doubt remove every temptation from the path of believers; but He would not thereby bestow a boon on man. The opportunity for sinning would indeed be rendered difficult; but the evidence of victorious conflict with sin would be made impossible. Had God suffered Joshua to remove out of the way all nations who might tempt Israel, the people's inward sinful inclinations would have been no less, it would have cherished no greater love for God its benefactor, it would have forgotten that He was its liberator ( Judges 2:10); and the faith, the fidelity, the enthusiasm, which come to light amid the assaults of temptation, would have had no opportunity to win the approval of God or to secure the impartation of his strength. Unfaithfulness, to be sure, must suffer for its sins; but faithfulness is the mother of heroes. The Book of Judges tells of the trials by which God suffered Israel to be tried through the Canaanites, of the punishments which they endured whenever they failed to stand the tests,—but also of the heroes whom God raised up because they preserved some faith in Him. The closing verses do not therefore contradict the opening of the chapter. The pious elders weep when from the words of the “messenger from Gilgal” they perceive the temptation. The unfaithful younger generation must suffer the penalty because they yielded to the seduction. Joshua would doubtless have expelled all the nations; but God did not permit it. He died; but in his place God raised up other heroes, who liberated Israel when, in distress, it breathed penitential sighs. Such, in outline, are the author’s thoughts as to the causes which underlie his history. He uses them to introduce his narrative, and in the various catastrophes of the history constantly refers to them.

Judges 2:16-19. And Jehovah raised them up Judges, שֹׁכִּטים, Shophetim. This word occurs here for the first time in the special sense which it has in this period of Israelitish history, and which it does not appear to have had previously. שָׁפַט is to Judges, to decide and to proceed according to the decision, in disputes between fellow-country-men and citizens. Originally, Moses, deeming it his duty to exercise all judicial functions himself, was the only judge in Israel ( Exodus 18:16). But when this proved impracticable, he committed the lesser causes to trustworthy men from among the people, just as at the outset the Spartan ephors had authority only in unimportant matters. These he charged ( Exodus 18:21; Deuteronomy 1:16) to “judge righteously between every man and his brother.” For the future, he enjoins the appointment of judges in every city ( Deuteronomy 16:18). Their jurisdiction extends to cases of life and death, to matters of idolatry as all other causes ( Deuteronomy 17:1-12; Deuteronomy 25:2); and although the words are “thou shalt make thee Judges,” the judges are nevertheless clothed with such authority as renders their decisions completely and finally valid. Whoever resists them, must die ( Deuteronomy 17:12). The emblem of this authority, in Israel as elsewhere, was the staff or rod, as we see it carried by Moses. The root שָׁפַט is therefore to be connected with שֵׁבֶמ, staff, σκῆπτρον, scipio. שֹׁפֵט is a staff-man, a judge. In the Homeric poems, when the elders are to sit in judgment, the heralds reach them their staves (Il. xviii506); “but now (says Achilles, Il. i237), the judges carry in their hands the staff.”[FN37] Judicial authority is the chief attribute of the royal dignity. Hence, God, the highest king, is also “the Judge of all the earth” ( Genesis 18:25). He judges concerning right and wrong, and makes his awards accordingly. When law and sin had ceased to be distinguished in Israel, compassion induced Him to appoint judges again. If these are gifted with heroic qualities, to vanquish the oppressors of Israel, it is nevertheless not this heroism that forms their principal characteristic. That consists in “judging.” They restore, as was foreseen, Deuteronomy 17:7; Deuteronomy 17:12, the authority of law. They enforce the penalties of law against the sin of disobedience towards God. It is the spirit of this law living in them, that makes them strong. The normal condition of Israel is not one of victory simply; it is a condition in which חֹק וּמִשְׁפָּט law and right,[FN38] are kept. For this reason, God raises up Shophetim, Judges, not princes (nesiim, sarim). The title sets forth both their work and the occasion of their appointment. Israel is free and powerful when its law is observed throughout the land.[FN39] Henceforth, (as appears from Deuteronomy 17:14,) except shophetim, only kings, melakim, can rule in Israel. The difference between them lies chiefly in the hereditariness of the royal office—a difference, it is true, of great significance in Israel, and closely related to the national destiny. The Judge has only a personal commission. His work is to Revelation -inspire Israel with divine enthusiasm, and thus to make it victorious. He restores things to the condition in which they were on the death of Joshua. No successor were necessary, if without a Judges, the nation itself maintained the law, and resisted temptation. Israel has enough in its divinely-given law. Rallying about this and the priesthood, it could be free; for God is its King. But it is weak. The Judge is scarcely dead, before the authority of law is shaken. Unity is lost, and the enemy takes advantage of the masterless disorder. Therefore, Judges, raised up by God, and girded with fresh strength, succeed each other,—vigorous rulers, full of personal energy, but called to exercise judgment only in the Spirit of God. It has been customary, in speaking of the Punic suffetes, to compare them with the Israelitish shophetim. And it is really more correct to regard the suffetes as consules than as kings. Among the Phœnicians also the idea of king included that of hereditariness.[FN40] The suffetes were an elected magistracy, whose name, like that of the Judges, was doubtless derived from the fact that they also constituted the highest judicial authority. They sat in judgment (ad jus dicendum) when the designs of Aristo came to light (Livy, xxxiv61). It Isaiah, in general, by no means uncommon for the magistracy of a city (summus magistratus), as in the Spanish Gades (Livy, xxviii37), to be styled Judges, i.e. suffetes. As late as the Middle Ages, the title of Spanish magistrates was judices. The highest officer of Sardinia was termed judex.[FN41] The Israelitish Judges differ from the suffetes, not so much by the nature of their official activity, as by the source, purpose, and extent of their power. In Israel also common shophetim existed everywhere; but the persons whom God selected as deliverers were in a peculiar sense men of divine law and order. They were not regular but extraordinary authorities. Hence, they were not, like the suffetes, chosen by the people. God himself appointed them. The spirit of the national faith placed them at the head of the people.

Judges 2:20, etc.[FN42]I will not go on to drive out a man of the nations which Joshua left when he died. The purport of this important sentence, which connects chapters1,3historically and geographically, is as follows: The whole land, from the wilderness of Edom to Mount Casius and the “road to Hamath,” and from Jordan to the sea, was intended for Israel. But it had not been given to Joshua to clear this whole territory. A group of nations, enumerated Judges 3:3, had remained in their seats. Nor did the individual tribes, when they took possession of their allotments, make progress against them (cf. Judges 1:19; Judges 1:34). Especially does this explain what is said above, Judges 1:31, of the tribe of Asher. Israel, therefore, 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 (cf. Judges 1:21; Judges 1:27; Judges 1:30). These were the nations by whom temptations and conflicts were prepared for Israel, and against whom, led by divinely-inspired heroes, it rose in warlike and successful resistance With their enumeration, briefly made in Judges 3:1-5, the author closes his introduction to the narration of subsequent events. The historical and moral background on which these arise, is now clear. Not only the scene and the combatants, but also the causes of conflict and victory have been indicated.

HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL

The judgments of God are indescribable—his compassion is indefatigable. Whatever God had promised in the law, must come to pass, be it prosperity or distress. Apostasy is followed by ruin; the loss of character by that of courage. Heroes become cowards; conquerors take to flight. Shame and scorn came upon the name of Israel. The nation could no longer protect its cities, nor individuals their homes. In distress, the people returned to the altars which in presumptuous pride they had left. Old Israel wept when it heard the preaching of repentance; new Israel weeps only when it feels the sword of the enemy. And God's compassion is untiring. He gave them deliverers, choosing them from among Israel’s Judges, making them strong for victory and salvation. But in his mercy He chastened them. For Israel must be trained and educated by means of judgment and mercy. The time to save them by a king had not yet come. Judah had formerly led the van; but neither was the education of this tribe completed. Judges arose in Israel; but their office was not hereditary. When the Judge died a condition of national affairs ensued like that which followed the death of Joshua: the old remained faithful, the young apostatized. The Judges for the most part exercised authority in single tribes. The heathen were not expelled from the borders assigned to Israel; Israel must submit to ever-renewed trials; and when it failed to stand, then came the judgment. But in this discipline, compassion constantly manifested itself anew. The word of God continued to manifest its power. It quietly reared up heroes and champions. The contents of these verses form the substance of the whole Book. Israel must contend,—1, with sin, and2, with enemies; it experiences.—1, the discipline of judgment, and2, the discipline of compassion; but in contest and in discipline that which approves itself Isaiah,—1, the victory of repentance, and2, the obedience of faith.

Thus the contents of the Book of Judges afford a look into the history of Christian nations. They have found by experience what even in a modern novel the author almost involuntarily puts into the mouth of one of his characters (B. Abeken, Greifensee, i43): “Truly, when once the granite rock on which the church is reared has crumbled away, all other foundations crumble after it, and nothing remains but a nation of cowards and voluptuaries.” A glance into the spiritual life shows the same process of chastisement and compassion. The Apostle says ( 2 Corinthians 12:7): “And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the Revelation, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan, to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness.” A recent philosopher (Fischer, Gesch. der neueren Philos., i11) defines philosophy to be, not so much universal science, as self-knowledge. If this be correct, repentance is the true philosophy; for in repentance man learns to know himself in all the various conditions of apostasy and ruin, reflection and return, pride and penitence, heart-quickening and longing after divine compassion.

Starke: Fathers, by a bad example, make their children worse than themselves; for from old sins, new ones are continually growing, The same: Although God knows and might immediately punish all that is hidden in men, his wisdom employs temptation and other means to bring it to the light, that his justice may be manifest to his creatures. The same: Through tribulation and the cross to the exercise of faith and obedience, prayer and hope. And all this tends to our good; for God tempts no one to evil. The same: Though God permit, He does not approve, the unrighteous oppressor of the unrighteous, but punishes his unrighteousness when his help is invoked. Lisco: God’s judgment on Israel is the non-destruction of the heathen. Gerlach: From the fact that the whole history does at the same time, through scattered hints, point to the flourishing period of Israel under the kings, we learn that these constantly-recurring events do not constitute a fruitless circle, ever returning whence it started, but that through them all, God’s providence conducted his people, by a road wonderfully involved, to a glorious goal.

Footnotes:

FN#20 - Judges 2:17.—Dr. Cassel has denn, “for.” “But” is better. On כִּי after a negative, cf. Ges. Gr. p272, at top.—Tr.]

FN#21 - Judges 2:17.—כְּי זָנוּ, etc, cf. Deuteronomy 31:16.

FN#22 - Judges 2:17.—סָרוּ מַחֵר, cf. Exodus 32:8; Deuteronomy 9:12.

FN#23 - Judges 2:17.—That Isaiah, as often as a Judge had succeeded in bringing them back to the way of their fathers, they quickly left it again. So Bachmann.—Tr.]

FN#24 - Judges 2:17.—לִשְׁמֹע: “in that they obeyed.” On this less regular, but by no means rare (cf. Judges 2:19, Psalm 78:18; 1 Samuel 20:20; etc.) use of the infin. with לְ, cf. Ew280 d.—Tr.]

FN#25 - Judges 2:18.—נַאֲקָתָם, from נָאַק, cf. Exodus 2:24; Exodus 6:5.

FN#26 - Judges 2:18.—לָחַץ, cf. Exodus 3:9.

FN#27 - Judges 2:18.—דָּתַק appears here for the first time. Cf. the Greek διώκω.

FN#28 - Judges 2:18.—דָּחַק, only here and in Joel 2:8. If the clause were rendered: “before those that crowded (לָחַץ, cf. on Judges 1:34) and pressed upon them,” its metaphorical character would be preserved as nearly as possible.—Tr.]

FN#29 - Judges 2:19.—The E. V. is correct as to sense; but the Hebrew phrase, filled out, would be, “they corrupted their way,” cf. Genesis 6:12.—Tr.]

FN#30 - Judges 2:19.—לֹא הִפִּילוּ מִן: lit. “they caused not (sc. their conduct, course of action) to fall away from their (evil) deeds.”—Tr.]

FN#31 - Judges 2:19.—Cf. Deuteronomy 28:20.

FN#32 - Judges 2:19.—קָשָׁה, with reference to Exodus 33:5 etc, where already Israel is called קְשֵׁה־עֹרֶף.

FN#33 - Judges 2:20.—Cf. Joshua 7:11.

FN#34 - Judges 2:22.—Cf. Exodus 16:4; Exodus 20:20; Deuteronomy 8:2; Deuteronomy 8:16; Deuteronomy 13:4 (3)).

FN#35 - Judges 2:12.—לְמַעַן נַסּוֹת. Grammatically this infin. of design may be connected either with לא֗ אוֹסיף, Judges 2:21, וַיּא֗מֵר, Judges 2:20, or עָזַב The first construction (adopted by E. V.) is inadmissible, because, 1. It supposes that Jehovah himself continues to speak in Judges 2:22, in which case we should expect אֶת־דַּרְכִּי, first per, rather than אֶת־דֶּרֶךְ יְהוָֹה. 2. It supposes that the purpose to prove Israel is now first formed, whereas it is clear from Judges 3:1; Judges 3:4, that it was already operative in the time of Joshua. This objection is also fatal to the construction with וַיֹּאמֶר, adopted by Keil. (That Dr. Cassel adopts one of these two appears from the fact that he reads: “whether they will (instead of would, see farther on) keep the way of Jehovah,” but which of the two is not clear.) It remains, therefore, to connect with צָוַב, against which there is no objection, either grammatical or logical. “For in such loosely added infinitives of design, in which the subject is not definitely determined, the person of the infin. goes back to the preceding principal word only when no other relation is more obvious, see Ew337 b (cf. Exodus 9:16). But that here, as in the perfectly analogous parallel passage, Judges 3:4, the design expressed by the infin. is not Joshua’s nor that of the nations, but Jehovah’s, is self-evident, and is besides expressly declared in Judges 2:23 and Judges 3:1. So rightly LXX. It. Pesh. Ar. Aug. (ques17), Ser. Stud. and many others” (Bachmann). The connection from Judges 2:21 onward is therefore as follows: In Judges 2:21 Jehovah is represented (cf. foot-note 3 on p62) as saying, “I will not go on to drive out the nations which Joshua left when he died.” To this the author of the Book himself adds the purpose for which they were left, namely, to prove Israel, whether they would (not, will) keep the way (אֶת־דֶּרֶךְ) of Jehovah to walk therein (כָּם, plur. “in them,” constr. ad sensum, the way of Jehovah consisting of the מִצוֹת יְהוָֹה, Deuteronomy 8:2.—Keil), as their fathers kept it, or not. “And Song of Solomon,” he continues, i.e. in consequence of this purpose, “Jehovah (not merely Joshua) left these nations (חָאֵלֶה, these, pointing forward to Judges 3:1 ff, where they are enumerated,) at rest, in order that they should not speedily (for that would have been inconsistent with the design of proving Israel by them, but yet ultimately) be driven out, and did not give them into the hand of Joshua.” But the “not speedily” of Joshua’s time had by Israel’s faithless apostasy been changed into “never.”—Tr.]

FN#36 - Judges 2:23.—Cf. Numbers 32:15.

FN#37 - A similarly formed title is that of Batonnier, given by the French to the chief of the barristers, and yet very different from the mediæval bastonerius.

FN#38 - Dr. Cassel’s words are: Gesetz und Recht. For the latter term, as technically used, the English language has no equivalent. It is Right as determined by law.—Tr.]

FN#39 - Dr. Bachmann (with many others) reaches an entirely different definition of the “Judges.” The Judge as such, he contends, acts in an external direction, in behalf of, not on, the people. A Judges, in the special sense of our Book, is first of all a Deliverer, a Savior. He may, or he may not, exercise judicial functions, properly speaking, but he is Judge because he delivers. This view he supports by an extended review of the usus loquendi of the word, and especially by insisting that Judges 2:16; Judges 2:18 admits of no other definition. “Why,” he asks, quoting Dr. Cassel, “if a Judge is first of all a restorer of law and right, does not Judges 2:11-19, which gives such prominence to the fact that the forsaking of the divine law is the cause of all the hostile oppressions endured by Israel, lay similar stress, when it comes to speak of the Shophetim, on the restoration of the authority of law, but, on the contrary, speaks of the deliverance of the people from its oppressors?” To which it were enough to reply, first, that Judges 2:16 intends only to show how Israel was delivered from the previously mentioned consequences of its lawless condition, not how it was rescued from the lawless condition itself; and, secondly, that Judges 2:18-19 clearly imply, that while military activity may (and from the nature of the case usually did) occupy a part of the Judge’s career, efforts, more or less successful, to restore the supremacy of the divine law within the nation engage the whole. Hence, the Deliverer was rightly called Shophet, whereas in his military character he would have been more properly called מוֹשִׁיעַ, cf. Judges 3:9. Dr Bachmann, it is true, explains the title Judge (as derived from the second of the three meanings of שָׁפַט, 1. to Judges 2. to save, namely, by affording justice; 3. to rule) by the fact that the O. T. views the assistance sent by Jehovah to his oppressed people as an act of retributive justice towards both oppressed and oppressor, cf. Genesis 15:14; Exodus 6:6; Exodus 7:4; but in such cases Jehovah, and not the human organ through whom He Acts, is the Judge.—Tr.]

FN#40 - Which Movers (Phönizier, ii1, 536) has improperly overlooked. As those who exercised governmental functions, properly symbolized by the sceptre, the Greek language could scarcely call them anything else than βασιλεῖς. Some good remarks against Heeren’s view of this matter were made by J. G. Schlosser (Aristoteles’ Politik, i195, 196).

FN#41 - It is only necessary to refer to Du Cange, under Judices. Similar relations occur in the early political and judicial history of all nations. Cf. Grimm, Rechtsalterthümer, p750, etc.

FN#42 - Dr. Cassel, in striving after brevity, has here left a point of considerable interest in obscurity. Judges 2:20 reads as follows: “And the anger of Jehovah was kindled against Israel, and he said, Because this people hath transgressed my covenant which I commanded their fathers, and have not hearkened to my voice, I also will not,” etc. How is this verse connected with the preceding? Judges 2:11-19 have given a bird’s-eye view of the whole period of the Judges. They have described it as a period of constantly renewed backsliding, calling down God’s anger on Israel, and not permanently cured even by the efforts of the Judges. Thereupon Judges 2:20 proceeds as above; and the question arises, to what point of time in the whole period it is to be referred. Dr. Bachmann argues that in Judges 2:20 the narrative goes back to the “sentence” pronounced at Bochim (see Judges 2:3). “ Judges 2:20, ” he says, “adds [to the survey in Judges 2:11-19] that, before God’s anger attained its complete expression in delivering Israel into the hands of strange nations ( Judges 2:14), it had already manifested itself in the determination not to drive those nations out; and with this the narrative returns to the judgment of Bochim.” Accordingly, he interprets the ןיֹּאמֶר, “and he said,” of Judges 2:20, as introducing an actual divine utterance, namely, the one delivered at Bochim. Without following the whole course of Dr. Bachmann’s argument, it is enough here to say that his conclusion is surely wrong, and that the source of his error lies in the view he takes of the words spoken at Bochim, which are not a “sentence” or “judgment,” but a warning, designed to obviate the necessity for denouncing judgment. The true connection, in my judgment (and as I think Dr. Cassel also conceives it), is as follows: When Joshua ceased from war, there were still many nations left in possession of territory intended for Israel, cf. Joshua 13:1 ff. They were left temporarily, and for the good of Israel, cf. Judges 2:22-23; Judges 3:1-2. At the same time Israel was warned against the danger that thus arose, and distinctly told that if they entered into close and friendly relations with the people thus left, Jehovah would not drive them out at all, but would leave them to become a scourge to them, Joshua 23:12 f. Nevertheless, Israel soon adopted a line of conduct towards them such as rendered it inevitable that the prohibited relations must soon be established, cf. Judges 1. Then came the warning of Bochim. It proved unavailing. Israel entered into the closest connections with the heathen, forsook Jehovah, and served Baal and Ashtaroth, Judges 3:6; Judges 2:11 ff. The contingency of Joshua 23:12-13 had actually occurred, and its conditional threat passed over into irrevocable determination on the part of Jehovah. The time of the determination falls therefore in the earlier part of the period of the Judges; but as the moment at which it went into force was not signalized by any public announcement, and as each successive apostasy added, so to speak, to its finality, the author of the Book of Judges makes express mention of it (allusion to it there is already in Judges 2:14 b, 15 a,) only at the close of his survey, where, moreover, it furnished an answer to the question which the review itself could not fail to suggest, Why did God leave these nations to be a constant snare to Israel? why was it, that even the most heroic Judges, men full of faith in God and zeal for Israel, did not exterminate them? The וַיֹּאמֶר of Judges 2:20, therefore, does not introduce an actual divine utterance. The author derives his knowledge of God’s determination, first, from Joshua 23:13, and secondly, from the course of the history; but in order to give impressiveness and force to his statement, he “clothes it in the form of a sentence pronounced by God” (Keil). The ו in וַיִּחַר denotes logical, not temporal, sequence. On the connection of Judges 2:22 ff. with Judges 2:21, see note7 under the text.—Tr.]

 


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Bibliography Information
Lange, Johann Peter. "Commentary on Judges 2:4". "Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/lcc/judges-2.html. 1857-84.

Lectionary Calendar
Thursday, August 22nd, 2019
the Week of Proper 15 / Ordinary 20
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