Judges 2

CHAPTER II

An angel comes to the Israelites at Bochim, and gives them

various reproofs, at which they are greatly affected, 1-5.

They served the Lord during the days of Joshua, and the elders

who succeeded him, 6, 7.

Joshua having died, and all that generation, the people revolted

from the true God and served idols, 8-13.

The Lord, being angry, delivered them into the hands of

spoilers, and they were greatly distressed, 14, 15.

A general account of the method which God used to reclaim them,

by sending them judges whom they frequently disobeyed, 16-19.

Therefore God left the various nations of the land to plague and

punish them, 20-23.

NOTES ON CHAP. II

Verse 1. An angel of the Lord] In the preceding chapter we have

a summary of several things which took place shortly after the

death of Joshua; especially during the time in which the elders

lived (that is, the men who were contemporary with Joshua, but

survived him,) and while the people continued faithful to the

Lord. In this chapter, and some parts of the following, we have an

account of the same people abandoned by their God and reduced to

the heaviest calamities, because they had broken their covenant

with their Maker. This chapter, and the first eight verses of the

next, may be considered as an epitome of the whole book, in which

we see, on one hand, the crimes of the Israelites; and on the

other, the punishments inflicted on them by the Lord; their

repentance, and return to their allegiance; and the long-suffering

and mercy of God, shown in pardoning their backslidings, and

delivering them out of the hands of their enemies.

The angel of the Lord, mentioned here, is variously interpreted;

some think it was Phinehas, the high priest, which is possible;

others, that it was a prophet, sent to the place where they were

now assembled, with an extraordinary commission from God, to

reprove them for their sins, and to show them the reason why God

had not rooted out their enemies from the land; this is the

opinion of the Chaldee paraphrast, consequently of the ancient

Jews; others think that an angel, properly such, is intended; and

several are of opinion that it was the Angel of the Covenant, the

Captain of the Lord's host, which had appeared unto Joshua,

Jud 5:14, and no less than the Lord

Jesus Christ himself. I think it more probable that some

extraordinary human messenger is meant, as such messengers, and

indeed prophets, apostles, &c., are frequently termed angels, that

is, messengers of the Lord. The person here mentioned appears to

have been a resident at Gilgal, and to have come to Bochim on this

express errand.

I will never break my covenant] Nor did God ever break it. A

covenant is never broken but by him who violates the conditions of

it: when any of the contracting parties violates any of the

conditions, the covenant is then broken, and by that party alone;

and the conditions on the other side are null and void.

Verse 3. I will not drive them out from before you] Their

transgressions, and breach of the covenant, were the reasons why

they were not put in entire possession of the promised land. See

note at the end of this chapter. Clarke "Jud 2:23".

Verse 5. They called the name of that place Bochim] The word

bochim signifies weepings or lamentations; and is

translated by the Septuagint κλαυθυων or κλαυθυωνες, bewailings;

and it is supposed that the place derived its name from these

lamentations of the people. Some think the place itself, where the

people were now assembled, was Shiloh, now named Bochim because of

the above circumstance. It should be observed, that the angel

speaks here in the person of God, by whom he was sent; as the

prophets frequently do.

Verse 6. When Joshua had let the people go] The author of this

book is giving here a history of the people, from the division of

the land by Joshua to the time in which the angel speaks. Joshua

divided the land to them by lot; recommended obedience to God,

which they solemnly promised: and they continued faithful during

his life, and during the lives of those who had been his

contemporaries, but who had survived him. When all that generation

who had seen the wondrous works of God in their behalf had died,

then the succeeding generation, who knew not the Lord-who had not

seen his wondrous works-forsook his worship, and worshipped Baalim

and Ashtaroth, the gods of the nations among whom they lived, and

thus the Lord was provoked to anger; and this was the reason why

they were delivered into the hands of their enemies. This is the

sum of their history to the time in which the angel delivers his

message.

Verse 8. Joshua-died] See the notes on Jos 24:29, 30.

Verse 11. Served Baalim] The word baalim signifies

lords. Their false gods they considered supernatural rulers or

governors, each having his peculiar district and office; but when

they wished to express a particular baal, they generally added

some particular epithet, as Baal-zephon, Baal-peor, Baal-zehub,

Baal-shamayim, &c., as Calmet has well observed. The two former

were adored by the Moabites; Baal-zebub by the Ekronites.

Baal-berith was honoured at Shechem; and Baal-shamayim, the lord

or ruler of the heavens, was adored among the Phoenicians,

Syrians, Chaldeans, &c. And whenever the word baal is used without

an epithet, this is the god that is intended; and probably, among

all these people, it meant the sun.

Verse 12. Which brought them out of the land of Egypt] This was

one of the highest aggravations of their offense; they forsook the

God who brought them out of Egypt; a place in which they endured

the most grievous oppression and were subjected to the most

degrading servitude, from which they never could have rescued

themselves; and they were delivered by such a signal display of

the power, justice, and mercy of God, as should never have been

forgotten, because the most stupendous that had ever been

exhibited. They forsook HIM, and served idols as destitute of real

being as of influence and power.

Verse 13. Served Baal and Ashtaroth.] In a general way,

probably, Baal and Ashtaroth mean the sun and moon; but in

many cases Ashtaroth seems to have been the same among the

Canaanites as Venus was among the Greeks and Romans, and to have

been worshipped with the same obscene rites.

Verse 14. The hands of spoilers] Probably marauding parties of

the Canaanites, making frequent incursions in their lands,

carrying away cattle, spoiling their crops, &c.

Verse 15. The hand of the Lord was against them] The power which

before protected them when obedient, was now turned against them

because of their disobedience. They not only had not God with

them, but they had God against them.

Verse 16. The Lord raised up judges] That is, leaders, generals,

and governors, raised up by an especial appointment of the Lord,

to deliver them from, and avenge them on, their adversaries. See

the preface.

Verse 17. Went a whoring after other gods] Idolatry, or the

worship of strange gods, is frequently termed adultery,

fornication, and whoredom, in the sacred writings. As many of

their idolatrous practices were accompanied with impure rites, the

term was not only metaphorically but literally proper.

Verse 18. The Lord was with the judge] God himself was king, and

the judge was his representative.

It repented the Lord] He changed his purpose towards them: he

purposed to destroy them because of their sin; they repented and

turned to him, and he changed this purpose. The purpose was to

destroy them if they did not repent; when they did repent, his not

destroying them was quite consistent with his purpose.

Verse 19. When the judge was dead] It appears that in general

the office of the judge was for life.

Their stubborn way.] Their hard or difficult way. Most sinners

go through great tribulation, in order to get to eternal

perdition; they would have had less pain in their way to heaven.

Verse 20. The anger of the Lord was hot] They were as fuel by

their transgressions; and the displeasure of the Lord was as a

fire about to kindle and consume that fuel.

Verse 21. I will not henceforth drive out] As a people, they

never had personal courage, discipline, or hardihood, sufficient

to stand before their enemies: the advantages they gained were by

the peculiar interference of God. This they had while obedient;

when they ceased to obey, his strong arm was no longer stretched

out in their behalf; therefore their enemies continued to possess

the land which God purposed to give them as their inheritance for

ever.

Verse 22. That through them I may prove Israel] There appeared

to be no other way to induce this people to acknowledge the true

God, but by permitting them to fall into straits from which they

could not be delivered but by his especial providence. These words

are spoken after the manner of men; and the metaphor is taken from

the case of a master or father, who distrusts the fidelity or

obedience of his servant or son, and places him in such

circumstances that, by his good or evil conduct, he may justify

his suspicions, or give him proofs of his fidelity.

Verse 23. Without driving them out hastily] Had God expelled all

the ancient inhabitants at once, we plainly see, from the

subsequent conduct of the people, that they would soon have

abandoned his worship, and in their prosperity forgotten their

deliverer. He drove out at first as many as were necessary in

order to afford the people, as they were then, a sufficiency of

room to settle in; as the tribes increased in population, they

were to extend themselves to the uttermost of their assigned

borders, and expel all the remaining inhabitants. On these

accounts God did not expel the aboriginal inhabitants hastily or

at once; and thus gave the Israelites time to increase; and by

continuing the ancient inhabitants, prevented the land from

running into waste, and the wild beasts from multiplying; both of

which must have infallibly taken place had God driven out all the

old inhabitants at once, before the Israelites were sufficiently

numerous to occupy the whole of the land.

THESE observations are important, as they contain the reason why

God did not expel the Canaanites. God gave the Israelites a grant

of the whole land, and promised to drive out their enemies from

before them if they continued faithful. While they continued

faithful, God did continue to fulfil his promise; their borders

were enlarged, and their enemies fled before them. When they

rebelled against the Lord, he abandoned them, and their enemies

prevailed against them. Of this, their frequent lapses and

miscarriages, with God's repeated interpositions in their behalf,

are ample evidence. One or two solitary instances might not be

considered as sufficient proof; but by these numerous instances

the fact is established. Each rebellion against God produced a

consequent disaster in their affairs; each true humiliation was

invariably followed by an especial Divine interposition in their

behalf. These afforded continual proof of God's being, providence,

and grace. The whole economy is wondrous; and its effects,

impressive and convincing. The people were not hastily put in

possession of the promised land, because of their infidelity. Can

the infidels controvert this statement? If not then their argument

against Divine revelation, from "the failure of positive promises

and oaths," falls to the ground. They have not only in this, but

in all other respects, lost all their props.

"Helpless and prostrate all their system lies

Cursing its fate, and, as it curses, dies."

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