Judges 2

Confrontation and Repentance at Bokim

The Lord’s angelic messenger went up from Gilgal to Bokim. He said, “I brought you up from Egypt and led you into the land I had solemnly promised to give to your ancestors.
Heb “the land that I had sworn to your fathers.”
I said, ‘I will never break my agreement
Or “covenant” (also in the following verse).
with you,
but you must not make an agreement with the people who live in this land. You should tear down the altars where they worship.’
Heb “their altars.”
But you have disobeyed me.
Heb “you have not listened to my voice.”
Why would you do such a thing?
Heb “What is this you have done?”
At that time I also warned you,
Heb “And I also said.” The use of the perfect tense here suggests that the messenger is recalling an earlier statement (see Josh 23:12–13). However, some translate, “And I also say,” understanding the following words as an announcement of judgment upon those gathered at Bokim.
‘If you disobey,
The words “If you disobey” are supplied in the translation for clarity. See Josh 23:12–13.
I will not drive out the Canaanites
Heb “them”; the referent (the Canaanites) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
before you. They will ensnare you
The meaning of the Hebrew word צִדִּים (tsiddim) is uncertain in this context. It may be related to an Akkadian cognate meaning “snare.” If so, a more literal translation would be “they will become snares to you.” Normally the term in question means “sides,” but this makes no sense here. On the basis of Num 33:55 some suggest the word for “thorns” has been accidentally omitted. If this word is added, the text would read, “they will become [thorns] in your sides” (cf. NASB, NIV, NLT).
and their gods will lure you away.’”
Heb “their gods will become a snare to you.”


When the Lord’s messenger finished speaking these words to all the Israelites, the people wept loudly.
Heb “lifted their voices and wept.”
They named that place Bokim
Bokim means “weeping ones” and is derived from the Hebrew verb בָּכָא (bakha’, “to weep”).
and offered sacrifices to the Lord there.

The End of an Era

When Joshua dismissed
Or “sent away.”
the people, the Israelites went to their allotted portions of territory,
Heb “the Israelites went each to his inheritance.”
intending to take possession of the land.
The people worshiped
Or “served”; or “followed.”
the Lord throughout Joshua’s lifetime and as long as the elderly men
Or perhaps “elders,” which could be interpreted to mean “leaders.”
who outlived him remained alive. These men had witnessed
Heb “all the days of Joshua and all the days of the old men who outlived him, who had seen.”
all the great things the Lord had done for Israel.
Heb “the great work of the Lord which he had done for Israel.”
Joshua son of Nun, the Lord’s servant, died at the age of one hundred ten. The people
Heb “they”; the referent (the people) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
buried him in his allotted land
Heb “in the territory of his inheritance.”
in Timnath Heres in the hill country of Ephraim, north of Mount Gaash.
10 That entire generation passed away;
Heb “All that generation were gathered to their fathers.”
a new generation grew up
Heb “arose after them.”
that had not personally experienced the Lord’s presence or seen what he had done for Israel.
Heb “that did not know the Lord or the work which he had done for Israel.” The expressions “personally experienced” and “seen” are interpretive.


A Monotonous Cycle

11  The Israelites did evil before
Heb “in the eyes of.”
the Lord by worshiping
Or “serving”; or “following.”
the Baals.
12 They abandoned the Lord God of their ancestors
Or “fathers.”
who brought them out of the land of Egypt. They followed other gods – the gods of the nations who lived around them. They worshiped
Or “bowed before” (the same expression occurs in the following verse).
them and made the Lord angry.
13 They abandoned the Lord and worshiped Baal and the Ashtars.
Some English translations simply transliterate the plural Hebrew term (“Ashtaroth,” cf. NAB, NASB), pluralize the transliterated Hebrew singular form (“Ashtoreths,” cf. NIV), or use a variation of the name (“Astartes,” cf. NRSV).
The Ashtars were local manifestations of the goddess Astarte.


14  The Lord was furious with Israel
Or “The Lord’s anger burned [or “raged”] against Israel.”
and handed them over to robbers who plundered them.
Heb “robbers who robbed them.” (The verb שָׁסָה [shasah] appears twice in the verse.)
The expression robbers who plundered them is a derogatory reference to the enemy nations, as the next line indicates.
He turned them over to
Heb “sold them into the hands of.”
their enemies who lived around them. They could not withstand their enemies’ attacks.
The word “attacks” is supplied in the translation both for clarity and for stylistic reasons.
15 Whenever they went out to fight,
The expression “to fight” is interpretive.
the Lord did them harm,
Heb “the Lord’s hand was against them for harm.”
just as he had warned and solemnly vowed he would do.
Heb “just as he had said and just as he had sworn to them.”
They suffered greatly.
Or “they experienced great distress.”


16  The Lord raised up leaders
Or more traditionally, “judges” (also in vv. 17, 18 [3x], 19). Since these figures carried out more than a judicial function, also serving as rulers and (in several instances) as military commanders, the translation uses the term “leaders.”
who delivered them from these robbers.
Heb “and they delivered them from the hand of the ones robbing them.”
17 But they did not obey
Or “did not listen to.”
their leaders. Instead they prostituted themselves to other gods and worshiped
Or “bowed before.”
them. They quickly turned aside from the path
Or “way [of life].”
their ancestors
Or “fathers.”
had walked. Their ancestors had obeyed the Lord’s commands, but they did not.
Heb “…walked, obeying the Lord’s commands. They did not do this.”
18 When the Lord raised up leaders for them, the Lord was with each leader and delivered the people
Heb “them”; the referent (the people) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
from their enemies while the leader remained alive. The Lord felt sorry for them
The phrase “for them” is supplied in the translation for clarity.
when they cried out in agony because of what their harsh oppressors did to them.
Heb “the ones oppressing them and afflicting them.” The synonyms “oppressing” and “afflicting” are joined together in the translation as “harsh oppressors” to emphasize the cruel character of their enemies.
19 When a leader died, the next generation
Heb “they”; the referent (the next generation) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
would again
The verb שׁוּב (shuv, “to return; to turn”) is sometimes translated “turn back” here, but it is probably used in an adverbial sense, indicating that the main action (“act wickedly”) is being repeated.
act more wickedly than the previous one.
Heb “their fathers.”
The statement the next generation would again act more wickedly than the previous one must refer to the successive sinful generations after Joshua, not Joshua’s godly generation (cf. vv. 7, 17).
They would follow after other gods, worshiping them
Or “serving [them]”; or “following [them].”
and bowing down to them. They did not give up
Or “drop.”
their practices or their stubborn ways.

A Divine Decision

20  The Lord was furious with Israel.
Or “The Lord’s anger burned [or “raged”] against Israel.”
He said, “This nation
Heb “Because this nation.”
has violated the terms of the agreement I made with their ancestors
Heb “my covenant which I commanded their fathers.”
by disobeying me.
Heb “and has not listened to my voice.” The expression “to not listen to [God’s] voice” is idiomatic here for disobeying him.
21 So I will no longer remove before them any of the nations that Joshua left unconquered when he died. 22 Joshua left those nations
The words “Joshua left those nations” are interpretive. The Hebrew text of v. 22 simply begins with “to test.” Some subordinate this phrase to “I will no longer remove” (v. 21). In this case the Lord announces that he has now decided to leave these nations as a test for Israel. Another possibility is to subordinate “to test” to “He said” (v. 20; see B. Lindars, Judges 1–5, 111). In this case the statement recorded in vv. 20b–21 is the test in that it forces Israel to respond either positively (through repentance) or negatively to the Lord’s declaration. A third possibility (the one reflected in the present translation) is to subordinate “to test” to “left unconquered” (v. 21). In this case the Lord recalls that Joshua left these nations as a test. Israel has failed the test (v. 20), so the Lord announces that the punishment threatened earlier (Josh 23:12–13; see also Judg 2:3) will now be implemented. As B. G. Webb (Judges [JSOTSup], 115) observes, “The nations which were originally left as a test are now left as a punishment.” This view best harmonizes v. 23, which explains that the Lord did not give all the nations to Joshua, with v. 22. (For a grammatical parallel, where the infinitive construct of נָסָה [nasah] is subordinated to the perfect of עָזַב [’azav], see 2 Chr 32:31.)
to test
The Hebrew text includes the phrase “by them,” but this is somewhat redundant in English and has been omitted from the translation for stylistic reasons.
Israel. I wanted to see
The words “I [i.e., the Lord] wanted to see” are supplied in the translation for clarification.
whether or not the people
Heb “they”; the referent (the people) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
would carefully walk in the path
Or “way [of life].”
marked out by
“The words “marked out by” are interpretive.
the Lord, as their ancestors
Or “fathers.”
were careful to do.”
23 This is why
The words “this is why” are interpretive.
the Lord permitted these nations to remain and did not conquer them immediately;
Or “quickly.”
he did not hand them over to Joshua.

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