Judges 2 Commentary


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Judges 2:1 Now the Angel of the LORD came up from Gilgal to Bochim:. And he said, "I brought you up out of Egypt and led you into the land which I have sworn to your fathers; and I said, 'I will never break My covenant with you,

Angel of the LORD
Gustave Dore Woodcut
(Click to Enlarge)

NOW: To when does this time refer? It's hard to discern with absolute certainty but it is probably referring to a time during the period of Judges and certainly a time when they had had ample opportunity to drive out their enemies but failed to do so. This event therefore could be the postscript to Jdg 1 and would be God's assessment to His people of how well they had followed His instructions and commands in Dt 7, 9, Jos 23,24 given before they came into the promised land.

Spurgeon - "if you turn aside from God’s words by a hair’s breadth you know not where it will end. The rail diverges but a little where the switches are turned, but before long the branch line is miles away from the main track. Backslide a little and you are on the way to utter apostasy. The mother of mischief is small as a midge’s egg: hatch it, and you shall see an evil bird larger than an ostrich. The least wrong has in it an all but infinity of evil. You cannot say to sin, “Hitherto shalt thou go, and no farther, and here shall thy proud waves be stayed.” Like the sea when the dyke is broken, it stretches forth its band to grasp all the surrounding country. The beginning of sin is hike the beginning of strife, and that is said to be as the letting out of water: no man knows what a flood may come when once the banks are burst. So Israel went aside farther and farther from God because they regarded not their way, and did not in all things obey the Lord."

THE ANGEL OF THE LORD (Jdg 6:12; 13:3; Genesis 16:7-10,13; 22:11,12; 48:16; Exodus 3:2-6; 14:19; 23:20; Exodus 33:14; Joshua 5:13,14; Isaiah 63:9; Hosea 12:3, 4, 5; Zechariah 3:1,2; Malachi 3:1; Acts 7:30, 31, 32, 33) (Jos 5:13, 14, 15, Jdg 5:23, 6:11-24, 13:3ff):


Click the discussion of Angel of the LORD. Although not everyone agrees, I think the evidence is overwhelming that this "Angel of Jehovah" represents a "theophany" and specifically an appearance of God (Jesus) in visible and bodily form.

John MacArthur agrees writing that this is…

One of 3 pre-incarnate theophanies by the Lord Jesus Christ in Judges (cf. Judges 6:11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18; 13:3-23). This same Divine Messenger had earlier led Israel out of Egypt (cf. Ex. 14:19). (MacArthur, J.: The MacArthur Study Bible Nashville: Word or Logos)

The Bible Knowledge Commentary agrees writing that..

The Angel of the Lord was not merely “an angel”; He was a theophany—an appearance of the second Person of the Trinity in visible and bodily form before the Incarnation. (Walvoord, J. F., Zuck, R. B., et al: The Bible Knowledge Commentary. 1985. Victor)

CAME UP FROM GILGAL TO BOCHIM (v5, - the weepers): (Jos 4:19, 20, note meaning in Jos 5:9,10)

Bochim was probably located between Bethel and Shiloh, some 20 mi from the Dead Sea. Gilgal was the first place Israel had camped after entering the Promised land and there they set up 12 memorial stones for there God rolled away their reproach and there they celebrated the Passover.

Gilgal was a place of OBEDIENCE and TRIUMPH but tragically Gilgal later became the scene of idolatrous worship (Hos 4:15; 9:15)!

I wonder what had happened to the 12 memorial stones (Jos 4:20-24)? Have you set up "memorial stones" in your family? It's a good thing to do, but it's even better to remember the past glorious acts of God on our behalf!

Alexander Solzhenitsyn in an address for another reason made some comments that speak to the road forgetfulness (3:7) that leads from Gilgal to Bochim:

"Over half a century ago while I was still a child, I recall hearing a number of older people offer the following explanation for the great disasters that had befallen Russia: 'Men have forgotten God; that's why all of this has happened.' Since then I have spent well-nigh 50 years working on the history of our revolution; in the process I have read hundreds of books, collected hundreds of personal testimonies, and have already contributed 8 volumes of my own toward the effort of clearing away the rubble left by that upheaval. But if I were asked today to formulate as concisely as possible the main cause of the ruinous revolution that swallowed up some 60 million of our people, I could not put it more accurately than to repeat: 'Men have forgotten God; that's why all this has happened.'"

And so too the forgetfulness of modern man continues to take him further and further from God and closer to the jaws of disaster and the pit of destruction. (Judges 3:7-note).


Spurgeon: "it must have been grand hearing to hear an angel preach, and grander hearing still to hear the angel of the covenant plead with the covenanted ones. Oh, what a sermon! What a sermon it must have been! Scarcely ever was such a preacher seen on earth. And yet that sermon did not do its much good as when the seafaring man, Peter, preached at Pentecost. The sermon at Bochim, if I were to sum up its results, ended in disappointment. Be not disappointed, servant of God, if sometimes you seem to fail. Do not say, “I will give it up.” Your bread has been cast upon the waters. Wait a while, for alter many days you may find it. If Israel be not gathered, God will reward you for your toil. It is yours to labor; it is God’s to give the results; and he does not always grant pleasing results to us at once. He did not allot great triumphs to this angel of the Lord, as we shall have to show you. It was a great congregation; it was a great preacher; and it was a great sermon, and yet there was not a great ingathering. Read the sermon through; and note that though it is a short one it is all the greater for its brevity. Sermons may grow little by being long, and a sermon may he great through being short, if it be big with thought as this angelic sermon was.."

I BROUGHT YOU UP OUT OF EGYPT AND LED YOU INTO THE LAND WHICH I HAVE SWORN TO YOUR FATHERS: (Exodus 3:7,8; 14:14; 20:2; Deuteronomy 4:34; Ps 78:51, 52, 53; 105:36, 37, 38 Ex 13:5, 20:2, 23:20, Dt 11:29) (Led - Genesis 12:7; 22:16,17; 26:3,4; Joshua 3:10; Psalms 105:44,45)

I brought you up - Jehovah - Jesus (see Jehovah = Jesus) is now speaking to Israel.

How did He lead them? Moses records…

And the LORD was going before them in a pillar of cloud (Shekinah glory cloud) by day to lead them on the way, and in a pillar of fire by night to give them light, that they might travel by day and by night. He did not take away the pillar of cloud by day, nor the pillar of fire by night, from before the people. (Ex 13:21-22)

But He led forth His own people like sheep and guided them in the wilderness like a flock (Ps 78:52)

C H Spurgeon- Brethren, this subject should most readily lead us to repentance,-that God should have dealt so well with us should make us grieve that we have behaved so ill to him. Do I address a backsliding child of God? I do not think that any exercise is more likely to benefit your heart than to remember what God did for you in years gone by. He took you up out of the horrible pit and out of the miry clay and set your feet upon a rock. He brought you out from the iron bondage of your despair and gave you liberty, he brake the yoke of sinful habits, and the chains of furious passions; and now are you wandering away from him? Are you making something else to be the god of your spirit? If so, be ashamed of your ingratitude, and let this first head of the angel’s discourse have power upon your mind. “You use no other friend so ill”; and yet you have not a friend who can be compared with your God. “I beseech you, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice” unto your God, and sin no longer against him."

AND I SAID 'I WILL NEVER BREAK MY COVENANT WITH YOU: (Genesis 17:7,8; Leviticus 26:42; Numbers 14:34; Psalms 89:34; Jeremiah 14:21; 33:20,21; Zechariah 11:10, Ps 89:34, Jer 33:20)

(Gen 17:7) “I will establish My covenant between Me and you and your descendants after you throughout their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your descendants after you.

(Gen 17:8) “I will give to you and to your descendants after you, the land of your sojournings, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God.”

(Jer 33:20-21) “Thus says the LORD, ‘If you can break My covenant for the day and My covenant for the night, so that day and night will not be at their appointed time, then My covenant may also be broken with David My servant so that he will not have a son to reign on his throne, and with the Levitical priests, My ministers. (See study of New Covenant in the Old Testament )

Comment: Yes, Israel has been intractably disobedient, stubborn and rebellious for centuries and even in our present century where most of modern Israel is secular, with a smaller per cent of Orthodox but unsaved and with an even smaller percentage of born again Jews (A number that by all reports is definitely increasing in recent years - the year of this writing is 2014). But God is faithful even in Israel's (and our) unfaithfulness. He is faithful especially to His Word, specifically to His Word of Covenant, the covenant which He cut (made) with Abraham and then with Isaac and then with Jacob. The New Covenant is the extension of the Abrahamic Covenant (See Covenant: Abrahamic vs Old vs New). That is why when Jesus inaugurated the New Covenant, He choose to do so in a "Jewish context," as He celebrated the Passover Feast ("Last Supper")…

And in the same way He took the cup after they had eaten, saying, "This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in My blood. (Lk 22:20)

To wit (that is to say), Jehovah is not finished with the Nation of Israel as is commonly taught in many evangelical churches today. The Church has not replaced Israel! See What is replacement theology?. See also discussion of the "touchstone" passage Galatians 6:16 - Israel of God

Jehovah is the Covenant Keeping God! This is good for all of us to remember.

Psalm 89:34 My covenant I will not violate, nor will I alter the utterance of My lips.

Spurgeon comments (on Ps 89:34): My covenant will I not break. It is His own covenant. He devised it, drew up the draft of it, and voluntarily entered into it: he therefore thinks much of it. It is not a man's covenant, but the Lord claims it as His own. It is an evil thing among men for one to be a "covenant breaker", and such an opprobrious epithet shall never be applicable to the Most High.

Nor alter the thing that is gone out of my lips. Alterations and afterthoughts belong to short sighted beings who meet with unexpected events which operate upon them to change their minds, but the Lord who sees everything from the beginning has no such reason for shifting his ground. He is besides immutable in his nature and designs, and cannot change in heart, and therefore not in promise. A word once given is sacred; once let a promise pass our lips and honesty forbids that we should recall it, -- unless indeed the thing promised be impossible, or wicked, neither of which can happen with the promises of God. How consoling it is to see the Lord thus resolute. He, in the words before us, virtually reasserts his covenant and rehearses his engagements. This he does at such length, and with such reiteration, that it is evident he takes pleasure in that most ancient and solemn contract. If it were conceivable that he had repented of it, he would not be found dwelling upon it, and repeating it with renewed emphasis.

Jeremiah 33:20 "Thus says the LORD, 'If you can break My covenant for the day, and My covenant for the night, so that day and night will not be at their appointed time,

This is still true -- God has not broken His covenant promises to Israel and will fulfill them fully in the Messianic Age when He reigns on earth. (See notes on Millennium Pt 1 - Millennium Pt 2 - Millennium Pt 3)

C H Spurgeon -Then the angel passed on to mention the mercies guaranteed to them: “I said, I will never break my covenant with you.” Oh, that is a blessed theme. If indeed you are a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord has pledged himself to make you perfect and to bring you home to himself with exceeding great joy. You shall not perish. Christ has said, “I give unto my sheep eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand.” You see the two bands-one inside the other, and you inside the middle one, enclosed within the palm of omnipotent faithfulness. Jehovah says, “I have loved thee with an everlasting love.” He will never break his covenant with you. Will you wander away from him who passes by your iniquity, transgression, and sin, and does not let his anger smoke against you for ever-he to whom you are joined in an everlasting wedlock which shall never know a divorce? Oh, cruel heart! cruel heart! Canst thou offend against such love as this? Canst thou break with God when he declares that he will never break with you? The angel pleads this longsuffering, eternally-enduring love, and pleads it well. I know of no two greater arguments than mercy received and mercy promised. Let us not sin against these. May the Holy Spirit hold us fast with these cords of love.


Sin will take you further than you ever wanted to stray,
It'll keep you longer than you ever thought you'd stay,
And will cost you more than you ever dreamed that you would pay!


Gilgal: they set up the altar after crossing the Jordan to commemorate the crossing. So that whenever the children of generations to come would see the altar, they would REMEMBER what God had done there. Jos 4:19, 5:1, 2 (circumcision), v10 (celebrated Passover), God appeared to Joshua at Gilgal v13 (Joshua found out that God didn't come to take sides but to take over).

In short, Gilgal was the place where the blessings were, where the victories were, where the people were surrendered to do what God had told them to do.

Bochim: means mourning or weeping.

Do you see the picture of the cost that comes when you choose to begin to entertain sin in your life, becoming partially obedient (that subtle, nominal Christianity that's invaded America) and you move from the place of victory, the place of blessing to the place of mourning, to the place of weeping.

Have you been at Gilgal in your life, only to move to Bochim and God had to come back to you again and bring you out of it?

(Judges - Cycles of Revival - Pdf - Roberts)

Watch out for that MOMENT YOU CHOOSE TO MOVE…

See Related Resources on Covenant:

Judges 2:2 and as for you, you shall make no covenant with the inhabitants of this land; you shall tear down their altars.' But you have not obeyed Me; what is this you have done?

AND AS FOR YOU, YOU SHALL MAKE (karath = cut) NO COVENANT WITH THE INHABITANTS OF THIS LAND: (Ex 23:32, 34:12, Dt 7:2, cp notes Judges 1:28, 1:30, 1:33, 1:35) (Exodus 23:32,33; 34:12-16; Numbers 33:52,53; Deuteronomy 7:2, 3, 4,16,25,26; 12:2,3; Deuteronomy 20:16, 17, 18; 2 Corinthians 6:14, 15, 16, 17 )

(LXX adds "neither shall you worship their gods… destroy their graven images,") (See Covenant: Summary Table)

Exodus 23:32 "You shall make no covenant with them or with their gods.

Exodus 34:12 "Watch yourself that you make no covenant with the inhabitants of the land into which you are going, lest it become a snare in your midst.

13 "But rather, you are to tear down their altars and smash their sacred pillars and cut down their Asherim

14 --for you shall not worship any other god, for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God--

15 lest you make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land and they play the harlot with their gods, and sacrifice to their gods, and someone invite you to eat of his sacrifice;

16 and you take some of his daughters for your sons, and his daughters play the harlot with their gods, and cause your sons also to play the harlot with their gods.

Numbers 33:51 "Speak to the sons of Israel and say to them, 'When you cross over the Jordan into the land of Canaan,

52 then you shall drive out all the inhabitants of the land from before you, and destroy all their figured stones, and destroy all their molten images and demolish all their high places;

53 and you shall take possession of the land and live in it, for I have given the land to you to possess it.

Deut 7:2 and when the LORD your God shall deliver them before you, and you shall defeat them, then you shall utterly destroy them. You shall make no covenant with them and show no favor to them.

3 "Furthermore, you shall not intermarry with them; you shall not give your daughters to their sons, nor shall you take their daughters for your sons.

4 "For they will turn your sons away from following Me to serve other gods; then the anger of the LORD will be kindled against you, and He will quickly destroy you.

Deut 12:2 "You shall utterly destroy all the places where the nations whom you shall dispossess serve their gods, on the high mountains and on the hills and under every green tree.

3 "And you shall tear down their altars and smash their sacred pillars and burn their Asherim with fire, and you shall cut down the engraved images of their gods, and you shall obliterate their name from that place.

In this context cutting a covenant with the Canaanites would be tantamount to making a peace treaty, a treaty which would entail common worship and intermarriage. Not a "good thing" for God's holy people to do.

Don't cut covenant with the enemy (remember covenant speaks of oneness, of identity with the one you are in covenant with). If you do cut covenant it will become a snare in your midst (Ex 34:12).

Even godly Joshua "blew it" on this one (Joshua 9:1-27, which had consequences 2Sa 21:1 - see in depth discussion under topic [scroll down] Covenant Solemn & Binding)

Ray Stedman applies Israel's mistakes to believers today asking that as…

We read this story, and we think, How foolish these Israelites were not to obey the commandment of God! But don’t we do exactly the same? Don’t we settle for less than complete victory over our sins and bad habits? Don’t we say, “Well, yes, I do have a problem with anger (or gossip, or swearing, or impure thoughts, or alcohol, or tobacco), but it’s just one little bad habit! I mean, we all need one small vice, don’t we?” No! God says that it is these little things that we accommodate ourselves to and compromise with that eventually defeat us and destroy us! We cannot afford to settle for anything less than complete victory. (Stedman, Ray: Adventuring through the Bible. Discovery House)


They disobeyed and even sacrificed their sons and their daughters to the demons [Ps 106:34, 35, 36, 37]

Psalm 106:34 They did not destroy the peoples, as the LORD commanded them, 35 But they mingled with the nations, and learned their practices, 36 And served their idols, which became a snare to them. 37 They even sacrificed their sons and their daughters to the demons

Matthew Henry - The miracles and mercies which settled them in Canaan made no more deep and durable impressions upon them than those that fetched them out of Egypt; for by that time they were well warm in Canaan, they corrupted themselves, and forsook God. Observe the steps of their apostasy.

They spared the nations which God had doomed to destruction (Psalms 106:34). When they had got the good land God had promised them, they had no zeal against the wicked inhabitants, whom the Lord commanded them to extirpate, pretending pity; but so merciful is God, that no man needs to be in any case more compassionate than he.

When they spared them, they promised themselves, that for all this, they would not join in any dangerous affinity with them; but the way of sin is down hill; omissions make way for commissions; when they neglect to destroy the heathen, the next news we hear is, they were mingled among the heathen, made leagues with them, and contracted an intimacy with them, so that they learned their works (Psalms 106:35). That which is rotten will sooner corrupt that which is sound, than be cured or made sound by it.

When they mingled with them, and learned some of their works that seemed innocent diversions and entertainments, yet they thought they would never join with them in their worship; but by degrees they learned that too (Psalms 106:36). They served their idols in the same manner, and with the same rites that they served them; and they became a snare unto them, that sin drew on many more, and brought the judgments of God upon them, which they themselves could not but be sensible of, and yet knew not how to recover themselves.

When they joined with them in some of their idolatrous services, which they thought had least harm in them, they little thought that ever they should be guilty of that barbarous and inhuman piece of idolatry, the sacrificing of their living children to their dead gods: but they came to that at last (Psalms 106:37, 38) in which Satan triumphed over his worshippers, and regaled himself in blood and slaughter. They sacrificed their sons and daughters, pieces of themselves to devils; and added murder, the most unnatural murder, to their idolatry; one cannot think of it without horror; they "shed innocent blood", the most innocent, for it was infant blood, nay, it was the "blood of their sons and their daughters." See the power of the spirit that works in the children of disobedience, and see his malice. The beginning of idolatry and superstition, like that of strife, is as the letting forth of water, and there is no villainy which they that venture upon it can be sure they shall stop short of, for God justly "gives them up to a reprobate mind" (Romans 1:28-note).

Spurgeon comments on Psalm 106:34-37

They did not destroy the nations, concerning whom the LORD commanded them. They were commissioned to act as executioners upon races condemned for their unnatural crimes, and through sloth, cowardice, or Sinful complacency they sheathed the sword too soon, very much to their own danger and disquietude. It is a great evil with professors that they are not zealous for the total destruction of all sin within and without. We make alliances of peace where we ought to proclaim war to the knife; we plead our constitutional temperament, our previous habits, the necessity of our circumstances, or some other evil excuse as an apology for being content with a very partial sanctification, if indeed it be sanctification at all. We are slow also to rebuke sin in others, and are ready to spare respectable sins, which like Agag walk with mincing steps. The measure of our destruction of sin is not to be our inclination, or the habit of others, but the Lord's command. We have no warrant for dealing leniently with any sin, be it what it may.

Verse 35 But were mingled among the heathen, and learned their works. It was not the wilderness which caused Israel's sins; they were just as disobedient when settled in the land of promise. They found evil company, and delighted in it. Those whom they should have destroyed they made their friends. Having enough faults of their own, they were yet ready to go to school to the filthy Canaanites, and educate themselves still more in the arts of iniquity. It was certain that they could learn no good from men whom the Lord had condemned to utter destruction. Few would wish to go to the condemned cell for learning, yet Israel sat at the feet of accursed Canaan, and rose up proficient in every abomination. This, too, is a grievous but common error among professors: they court worldly company and copy worldly fashions, and yet it is their calling to bear witness against these things. None can tell what evil has come of the folly of worldly conformity

Verse 36 And they served their idols: which were a snare unto them. They were fascinated by the charms of idolatry, though it brings misery upon its votaries. A man cannot serve sin without being ensnared by it. It is like birdlime, and to touch it is to be taken by it. Samson laid his head in the Philistine woman's lap, but ere long he woke up shorn of his strength. Dalliance with sin is fatal to spiritual liberty.

Verse 37 Yea, they sacrificed their sons and their daughters unto devils. This was being snared indeed; they were spell bound by the cruel superstition, and were carried so far as even to become murderers of their own children, in honour of the most detestable deities, which were rather devils than gods. "And shed innocent blood." The poor little ones whom they put to death in sacrifice had not been partakers of their sin, and God looked with the utmost indignation upon the murder of the innocent. "Even the blood of their sons and of their daughters, whom they sacrificed unto the idols of Canaan." Who knows how far evil will go? It drove men to be unnatural as well as ungodly. Had they but thought for a moment, they must have seen that a deity who could be pleased with the blood of babes spilt by their own sires could not be a deity at all, but must be a demon, worthy to be detested and not adored.

How could they prefer such service to that of Jehovah? Did he tear their babes from their bosoms and smile at their death throes? Men will sooner wear the iron yoke of Satan than carry the pleasant burden of the Lord; does not this prove to a demonstration the deep depravity of their hearts? If man be not totally depraved, what worse would he do if he were? Does not this verse describe the neplus ultra of iniquity?

And the land was polluted with blood. The promised land, the holy land, which was the glory of all lands, for God was there, was defiled with the reeking gore of innocent babes, and by the blood red hands of their parents, who slew them in order to pay homage to devils. Alas! alas! What vexation was this to the spirit of the Lord.

Even in these warnings against compromise, we see a picture of God’s grace.

Israel's willingness to carry out this command would show they are not merely hearers of the Word who delude themselves but that they were genuine, sincere, doers of the Word, who demonstrated their allegiance to God by their actions. Failure to do so would reveal an underlying lack of loyalty and eventually lead to assimilation to Canaanite religion and culture.

BUT YOU HAVE NOT OBEYED ME WHAT IS THIS YOU HAVE DONE: (Jdg 2:20; Ezra 9:1, 2, 3,10, 11, 12, 13; Psalms 78:55, 56, 57, 58; 106:34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40; Jeremiah 7:23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28; 2Thessalonians 1:8; 1Peter 4:17) (What is this - Genesis 3:11,12; 4:10; Exodus 32:21; Jeremiah 2:5,18,31, 32, 33,36)

What happened to Israel? Simply put they did not obey God. This is hearing with obedience, which they did not do.

Why have you done this?… there must have been a long pause and no one seems to have answered. The Angel of the LORD was not looking for excuses but desired that they repent and return and do the deeds they did at first (cp Rev 2:5-note). Why had they done this?

John Hunter -"… the awful truth of the reason why they had not driven out the inhabitants and destroyed their altars and their worship was simply this: they did not WANT to drive them out. They CHOSE to allow these people with their evil, lustful ways to remain. Something in God's people wanted what they saw in that world. Their fallen human nature responded to the wild degrading dances of the heathen worship. The prospect of involvement with male and female prostitutes made their blood tingle with excitement. That was a totally new way of life and all that was in them cried out for this new culture. So it was that no one drove out anyone." So it was not really because they were afraid of iron chariots, etc… the truth is that they did not want to drive out the enemy because the lusts of their flesh and the lusts of their eyes were attracted to the world (1Jn 2:15-note, 1Jn 2:16-note, 1Jn 2:17-note, Jas 4:4-note) when they should have been attracted to Jehovah.

Imitating the enemy (Jdg 2:1-13) This first section describes the danger. In this day of “pluralism,” when society contains people of opposing beliefs and lifestyles, it’s easy to get confused and start thinking that tolerance is the same as approval. It isn’t. In a democracy, the law gives people the freedom to worship as they please; and I must exercise patience and tolerance with those who believe and practice things that I feel God has condemned in His Word. The church today doesn’t wield the sword (Romans 13-note) and therefore it has no authority to eliminate people who disagree with the Christian faith. But we do have the obligation before God to maintain a separate walk so we won’t become defiled by those who disagree with us (2Co 6:14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 2Co 7:1-note). We must seek by prayer, witness, and loving persuasion to win those to Christ who as yet haven’t trusted Him.

The Jews eventually became so accustomed to the sinful ways of their pagan neighbors that those ways didn’t seem sinful any more. The Jews then became interested in how their neighbors worshiped, until finally Israel started to live like their enemies and imitate their ways. For believers today, the first step away from the Lord is “friendship with the world” (Jas 4:4-note), which then leads to our being spotted by the world (Jas 1:27-note). The next step is to “love the world” (1Jn 2:15-note) and gradually become “conformed to this world” (Ro 12:2-note). This can lead to being “condemned with the world” (1Co 11:32), the kind of judgment that came to Lot (Ge 19), Samson (Jdg 16:1-note), and Saul (1Sa 15, 31).

The disobedience (Jdg 2:1,2,3,4,5). In the OT the “angel of the Lord” is generally interpreted to be the Lord Himself, who occasionally came to earth (theophany) to deliver an important message. It was probably the Lord Jesus Christ, the second Person of the Godhead, in a temporary pre-incarnation appearance. (Ge 16:7) The fact that God Himself came to give the message shows how serious things had become in Israel.

The tabernacle was originally located at Gilgal (Jos 4:19,20), and it was there that the men of Israel were circumcised and “rolled away” the reproach of Egypt (Jos 5:2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9). It was also there that the Lord appeared to Joshua and assured him of victory as he began his campaign to conquer Canaan (Jos 5:13, 14, 15). To Joshua, the angel of the Lord brought a message of encouragement; but to the new generation described in the Book of Judges, He brought a message of punishment.

The Lord had kept His covenant with Israel; not one word of His promises had failed (Jos 23:5, 10, 15; 1Ki 8:56). He had asked them to keep their covenant with Him by obeying His law and destroying the Canaanite religious system—their altars, temples, and idols. (Ex 23:20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, note the association between the angel of the Lord and the command to destroy the false religion; cp Ex 34:10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17 and Dt 7:1-11, 25, 26.) But Israel disobeyed the Lord and not only spared the Canaanites and their godless religious system but also began to follow the enemy’s lifestyle themselves.

In His covenant, God promised to bless Israel if the people obeyed Him and to discipline them if they disobeyed Him (Dt 27,28). God is always faithful to His Word, whether in blessing us or chastening us; for in both, He displays His integrity and His love (He 12:1f-note). God would prefer to bestow the positive blessings of life that bring us enjoyment, but He doesn’t hesitate to remove those blessings if our suffering will motivate us to return to Him in repentance.

By their disobedience, the nation of Israel made it clear that they wanted the Canaanites to remain in the land. God let them have their way (Ps 106:15), but He warned them of the tragic consequences. The nations in the land of Canaan would become thorns that would afflict Israel and traps that would ensnare them. Israel would look to the Canaanites for pleasures but would only experience pain; they would rejoice in their freedom only to see that freedom turn into their bondage.

No wonder the people wept when they heard the message! (Bochim = “weepers.”) However, their sorrow was because of the consequences of their sins and not because the wickedness of their sins had convicted them. It was a shallow and temporary sorrow that never led them to true repentance (2Co 7:8, 9, 10, 11).

Judges 2:3 "Therefore I also said, 'I will not drive them out before you; but they shall become as thorns in your sides, and their gods shall be a snare to you.'"

THEREFORE: marks the verdict specifying the CONSEQUENCES of their disobedience. (See term of conclusion)

I ALSO SAID I WILL NOT DRIVE THEM OUT BEFORE YOU: (Jdg 2:21; Numbers 33:55; Joshua 23:13 )

Joshua had given this clear and horrible warning declaring…

know with certainty that the LORD your God will not continue to drive these nations out from before you; but they shall be a snare and a trap to you, and a whip on your sides and thorns in your eyes, until you perish from off this good land which the LORD your God has given you. (Jos 23:13)

Judgment in the OT and NT is similar… it is God giving you want.

"You will not drive them out,’’ says God, "and therefore I will not;’’ thus their sin was made their punishment. Thus those who indulge their lusts and corruptions, which they should mortify, forfeit the grace of God, and it is justly withdrawn from them. If we will not resist the devil, we cannot expect that God should tread him under our feet.

BUT THEY SHALL BECOME [AS THORNS] IN YOUR SIDES AND THEIR GODS SHALL BE A SNARE TO YOU (Ex 23:33, Judges 3:6, 1Ki 11:1-7) (Nu 33:55; Jos 23:13, Pr 22:5, cp Judges 3:1) (Jdg 3:6; Exodus 23:33; 34:12; Deuteronomy 7:16; 1 Kings 11:1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7; Psalms 106:36)

Exodus 23:33 "They shall not live in your land, lest they make you sin against Me; for if you serve their gods, it will surely be a snare to you."

A snare (moqes) literally was a noose used for catching or entrapping animals using bait to catch the prey. It follows that a snare metaphorically is something that allures one from his or her real purpose ("God's Will"), entraps and ultimately destroys the victim.

In 1 Kings 11 Solomon became ensnared by foreign women…

1 Now King Solomon loved many foreign women along with the daughter of Pharaoh: Moabite, Ammonite, Edomite, Sidonian, and Hittite women,

2 from the nations concerning which the LORD had said to the sons of Israel, "You shall not associate with them, neither shall they associate with you, for they will surely turn your heart away after their gods." Solomon held fast to these in love.

3 And he had seven hundred wives, princesses, and three hundred concubines, and his wives turned his heart away. (Note: You can know the truth, even write the truth and yet not do the truth! Solomon wrote "Do not be wise in your own eyes. Fear the LORD and turn away [not same Hebrew verb] from evil." Pr 3:7)

4 For it came about when Solomon was old, his wives turned his heart away after other gods; and his heart was not wholly devoted to the LORD his God, as the heart of David his father had been.

5 For Solomon went after Ashtoreth the goddess of the Sidonians and after Milcom the detestable (Lxx = bdelugma = extremely abhorrent, from bdeo = stink!) idol of the Ammonites.

6 And Solomon did what was evil in the sight of the LORD, and did not follow the LORD fully, as David his father had done.

7 Then Solomon built a high place for Chemosh the detestable idol of Moab, on the mountain which is east of Jerusalem, and for Molech the detestable idol of the sons of Ammon.

8 Thus also he did for all his foreign wives, who burned incense and sacrificed to their gods.

9 Now the LORD was angry with Solomon because his heart was turned away from the LORD, the God of Israel, who had appeared to him twice,

Saul attempted to to ruin David by giving him his daughter Michal in marriage so that she might become a snare to David (1Sa 18:21).

Gideon made an ephod out of the spoils from battle but sadly it became a snare not only to this great Biblical hero but his family, who began to actually worship the ephod (Judges 8:27-note)!

Dearly beloved son or daughter of God, is their a subtle (or overt) snare in your life, in your house, at your job, in your mind, etc? Beware for surely it will turn you away from being wholly devoted to your Lord! Cast it out today. Yes, it will hurt. It hurt Jesus to die on the Cross for us, and was we seek to follow Him and take up his Cross, in a sense, it is painful to put away that pet sin, that little sin from which we derive pleasure. Do not bury this "little sin" with the handle of the hatchet showing (cp Ro 13:14-note). Do not procrastinate. Do not delay! The only reason it has not caused you to stumble yet is because of God's great mercy and longsuffering. May we all (yours truly included) take heed to Peter's exhortation to "be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you; for as long as you practice these things, you will never stumble" (2Pe 1:10-note)

God charged the people to utterly destroy the inhabitants of Canaan so that they would not be tempted to serve their gods and abandon Jehovah and replace Him with worship and service to false gods who are really no gods at all (see Dt 7:16, 25; Ex 23:32ff; but cf. Ps 106:34ff)

Judges 2:4 And it came about when the angel of the LORD spoke these words to all the sons of Israel, that the people lifted up their voices and wept.


THAT THE PEOPLE LIFTED UP THEIR VOICES AND WEPT (1Samuel 7:6; Ezra 10:1; Proverbs 17:10; Jeremiah 31:9; Zechariah 12:10; Luke 6:21; 7:38; 2Corinthians 7:10; James 4:9)

Wept (bakah cp "Bochim" v1) LXX = klaio: 3PAAI: = expressing strong inner emotion = weep, cry, shed tears; wail or lament over w emphasis upon noise accompanying weeping Mt 2.18):

Wept (bakah) which is preceded here by the statement "they lifted their voice," refers to intense sorrow. The verbal combination "to lift up one's voice and weep," often refers elsewhere to sorrow associated with severe loss. It is used of sorrow over the death of a child or brother (Gen. 21:16; 2 Sam. 13:36) or Esau's loss of a blessing (Gen. 27:38).

In light of the context of Judges and subsequent events, these would appear to be tears of worldly sorrow not a godly sorrow which effects a true repentance (2Co 7:10,11, Esau - see Heb 12:17-note). In fact the word "repent/repentance" does not appear in the book of Judges! (However see Jdg 10:10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16-note for description of a response by the children of Israel that certainly looks like repentance… this is the only description that would qualify as true repentance in this entire book as best I can discern! We don't see any of the Judges call the people to repentance like Samuel did in 1Sa 7:3) These were almost surely tears of regret and most likely the sacrifices (see Jdg 2:5-note) were empty ritual. True repentance must go beyond tears of sorrow and achieve a right-about-face, a turning of one's entire life from sin to a walk that pleases the Lord. (Jdg 10:15, 16-notes) What they don't appear to have done is Joel 2:12, 13, 14.

Jameson, Fausset and Brown -The angel’s expostulation made a deep and painful impression. But the reformation was but temporary, and the gratifying promise of a revival which this scene of emotion held out, was, ere long, blasted by speedy and deeper relapses into the guilt of defection and idolatry.

Arthur Lewis -"True repentance must go beyond tears of sorrow and achieve a right-about-face, a turning of one's entire life from sin to a walk that pleases the Lord." Although there may have been some who truly repented (cp Samson's godly parents in Judges 13, Boaz in book of Ruth), the fact is that the refrain repeats that as soon as the judge died the people lapsed quickly back into their evil in the face of the Lord. So that some of those who had cried out to the Lord went right back into sin, which is hardly indicative of genuine repentance

For the sorrow that is according to the will of God produces a repentance without regret, leading to salvation; but the sorrow of the world produces death. 2Co 7:10

Matthew Henry-This was good, and a sign that the word they heard made an impression upon them: it is a wonder sinners can ever read their Bible with dry eyes. But this was not enough; they wept, but we do not find that they reformed, that they went home and destroyed all the remains of idolatry and idolaters among them. Many are melted under the word that harden again before they are cast into a new mould. However, this general weeping, "

Judges 2:5 So they named that place Bochim; and there they sacrificed to the LORD. SO THEY NAMED THAT PLACE BOCHIM (LXX = "weepings"): (Genesis 35:8; Joshua 7:26)

After the Lord spelled out the consequences of partial obedience (disobedience) and compromise, the people begin to weep as they realize that they will have to live with their decision not to obey and drive them out. One of the most certain facts of spiritual experience is that the path of partial obedience leads to Bochim. There is no joy in halfhearted spiritual experience.

Are you living at Bochim in your walk with the Lord, hearing Him say you have compromised My truth and so now you will have to live with the consequences?

The most miserable people are professing believers who will not commit to the Lord Jesus. They do not have the best of both worlds but the worst (See notes on Jesus' clear teaching on "two masters" Mt 6:24-note). If as Christians we try to walk the tightrope of compromise and partial obedience, we will not know spiritual victory and God's blessing. We will know the bitterness of defeat and frustration in our Christian lives.

Do you know spiritual victory in your life? Do you know God's blessing in your life?

If you don't then maybe you need to check out the pattern of obedience in your life. Remember: Halfhearted obedience is the path of misery. One of the most certain facts of spiritual experience is that the path of partial obedience leads to Bochim. There is no joy in halfhearted spiritual experience.

C H Spurgeon writes:

"Had be let them alone, to be given up to their idols, their case would have been hopeless. For mercy’s sake they must be punished for their transgression; but this was a gracious punishment, that they might not lie and wallow in their transgression and become altogether like the swinish nations that surrounded them. God began to punish them by their own sin. He suffered the Canaanitish nations to grow strong, so that they grievously oppressed Israel. He put the Israelites under the yoke of those nations which they ought to have utterly destroyed. If they would not be conquerors they should be conquered. If they would not lead captivity captive they should be led captives themselves. The Lord laid his blows upon them thick and heavy. But, before he did this, he sent a messenger to rebuke them. It is ever the Lord’s way to have space for repentance ere he executes vengeance.

The axes which were carried before the Roman magistrates by the lictors (ancient Roman officers who bore the fasces [fasces = a bundle of rods and among them an ax with projecting blade borne before ancient Roman magistrates as a badge of authority] as the insignia of their office and whose duties included accompanying the chief magistrates in public appearances) were bound up in bundles of rods. It is said that when a prisoner was before the magistrate the lictor began to untie the rods, and with these the culprit was beaten: meanwhile the judge looked in the prisoner’s face and heard his defense, and if he saw reason for averting the capital sentence, because of the repentance which the offender expressed, then he only smote him with the rod, but the axe remained unused. But if, when every rod was taken off, the culprit was still hardened, and the crime was a capital one and clearly proven, then the axe was used; and used all the more sternly because space had been given for penitence, and the rods had been used in vain.

When the rod is despised the axe is ready. It is certainly so with God: He waiteth to be gracious, but when patience cannot hope for penitence then justice takes her turn, and her stroke is terrible. (Woe! We might all want to read this description over several times until we have a clear conception in our mind's eye of the disciplining rod of the Lord. God is surely not mocked beloved. We are called to be holy - separate from the venomous sinfulness of this present evil age!)

AND THERE THEY SACRIFICED TO THE LORD: (Jdg 6:24; 13:19; 1 Samuel 7:9) (cp Isa 1:11, 1Sa 15:22, Jer 7:21, 22, 23, Ho 6:6, Mic 6:6, 7, 8, Zec 7:4, 5, 6, 7.

The constant urging is that God’s servants give their hearts and their lives in deep contrition and brokenness of spirit before they observe feasts, fasts, sabbaths or sacrifices. Rote religion can never substitute for purity of heart (Pr 22:11, Mt 5:8-note). It would have been more meaningful if it had said they broke down the altars, smashed the sacred pillars (Ex 23:24, 34:13, Dt 7:5), etc. thus bringing forth fruit in keeping with repentance (Mt 3:8)

Ralph Davis addressing the question of "repentance" at Bochim writes that…

the Angel of Yahweh’s speech Yahweh himself addresses Israel, as the repeated “I” shows. Yahweh accuses Israel of breach of covenant (Judges 2:2b) and announces the discipline and judgment they would endure (Judges 2:3). They have now forfeited the promised help in Judges 1:2, 4. The primary peril, however, will be spiritual (Jdg 2:3).

Note the response. There are tears all over the place. “The people lifted up their voice and wept” (Hebrew, bakah, Jdg 2:4b). The place was even named for their tears — Bokim (“Weepers,” Jdg 2:1, 5). And the tears led to sacrifice (Jdg 2:5b). So far so good. It is usually a good sign when God’s people can still weep, when we can be moved to tears. Would that it would happen more often! We are either too sophisticated, too refined, too hardhearted, or, what’s worse, all of these, to cry over our sins. Yet the text keeps us hanging. There is no neat closing, no answer to “What happened then?” So they wept and sacrificed. What did all that produce? The Angel of Yahweh’s sermon induces weeping, tears, and profound impressions. Does anything go beyond Israel’s tear ducts? Is anything more lasting than water produced here?

While a pastor in Wales, Martyn Lloyd–Jones was accused of encouraging emotionalism. Lloyd–Jones’s retort was that

“it is very easy to make a Welshman cry, but it needs an earthquake to make him change his mind!”

Our response to Yahweh’s accusing word should be more than wet eyes. It is good to be moved to tears but better to be brought to repentance. God wants to produce “good grief” in us (cf. 2Cor. 7:8, 9, 10, 11). Yahweh’s demand via Joel keeps the perfect balance and needs no hermeneutical doctoring for the church: “Return to me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning, and tear open your heart, not your garments” (Joel 2:12, 13). (Ralph Davis Judges: Such a Great Salvation - Focus on the Bible)

Judges 2:6 When Joshua had dismissed the people, the sons of Israel went each to his inheritance to possess the land.

WHEN JOSHUA HAD DISMISSED THE PEOPLE: These words appear to be a continuation of Joshua's last charge to Israel in Josh 24 (see Jos 24:28).


This period that follows Joshua's death could be subtitled "Generation Degeneration"!

Gary Inrig sounds a note of warning about "good starts" (like the one Joshua had given to Israel in the promised land) in the example of the story of "Bonnie Prince Charlie" of Scotland…

In 1745, Charles Edward Stuart suddenly appeared at Glen-finnan in the Scottish Highlands. He was a tall, good-looking, young man and an exciting, dynamic leader. The heir of the Scottish kings and queens, Stuart had returned to Scotland to recapture the throne. George II, the British king, was an arrogant, cruel man, who spoke only German; and the Scots hated him. The Highlanders loved their Prince Charles and committed themselves to follow him and dethrone the foreigner.

At first they were successful in battle. But, suddenly, at the Battle of Culloden, their dreams came to an abrupt end. The Scots were crushed by the English army, and, although Charles escaped, his troops were slaughtered. The prince found his way to France to plan and dream about the day he would return to take his ancestral throne.

He never did. In fact, to meet Charles twenty years later was to confront a tragedy. He had become a hopeless alcoholic, his body and health broken. His life had become a record of disgrace and shame, a long trail of broken marriages, discarded mistresses, and public scandals. His former friends wanted nothing to do with him. The Scots may still sing about their "Bonnie Prince Charlie," but there was very little that was "bonnie" about Charles at the end of his life.

The life of Charles Stuart is the story of a great beginning followed by a tragic downward spiral into the slavery of sin. His life seemed to be one cycle of sin after another, taking him lower and lower and lower. Sin, unchecked in our lives, has a way of doing that to us. It is possible to begin brilliantly and end ignominiously. Some Christians are like the Russian satellite that went up on the back of a rocket, but came down like a rock and required a team of searchers in northern Canada to find the fragments. A good start does not assure a successful conclusion. (Inrig, G: Hearts of Stone, Feet of Clay. Moody) (Bolding added)

Ralph Davis - Judges 2:6-3:6 functions as a sort of visitors’–center film for the Book of Judges. It provides the necessary preview for understanding what is happening in the rest of the book, particularly chapters 3-16. This section is a summary which interprets for the reader the significance of the judges’ stories. If you want to understand Judges you must stop here for perspective, to get a handle on what to look for in the upcoming stories and how to understand the various episodes you read. In particular, Jdg 2:6–3:6 will show you what God is doing in the period of the judges — and, for understanding the Bible, nothing could be more crucial than that. (Ralph Davis Judges: Such a Great Salvation - Focus on the Bible)

Judges 2:7 And the people served the LORD all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders who survived Joshua, who had seen all the great work of the LORD which He had done for Israel.

AND THE PEOPLE SERVED THE LORD ALL THE DAYS OF JOSHUA (Joshua 24:31; 2Kings 12:2; 2Chronicles 24:2,14-22; Philippians 2:12):

When the knowledge of God and His greatness is preserved in a community, especially by those who have personally experienced God's power, faith is nourished and obedience flourishes.

If we as parents allow our children to grow up w/o this knowledge of God, we serve not only their ignorance and unbelief, but also their destruction. It is the solemn duty of all parents to teach their children and those in their sphere of influence who might be "young" in the Lord, about God and His saving work so that the next generation will know and be saved. The most important school the child will ever attend is the home. The most important and influential theological teachers they will ever (potentially) have are Mom and Dad.

AND ALL THE DAYS OF THE ELDERS WHO SURVIVED JOSHUA, WHO HAD SEEN (LXX = ginosko ~ they learned by experience):

It is only when we obey God that we really begin to experience Him personally. We may all about Him but yet we fail to experience fellowship which comes from whole hearted surrender to His sweet will.

Moses in Ps 103:7 who knew God's "ways", whereas the children of Israel only knew His acts! there is a big difference. Spurgeon comments on this Psalm 103:7…

Psalm 103:7 He made known His ways to Moses, His acts to the sons of Israel.

He made known his ways unto Moses. Moses was made to see the manner in which the Lord deals with men; he saw this at each of the three periods of his life, in the court, in retirement, and at the head of the tribes of Israel. To him the Lord gave specially clear manifestations of his dispensations and modes of ruling among mankind, granting to him to see more of God than had before been seen by mortal man, while he cornmaned with him upon the mount.

His acts unto the children of Israel. They saw less than Moses, for they beheld the deeds of God without understanding his method therein, yet this was much, very much, and might have been more if they had not been so perverse; the stint was not in the revelation, but in the hardness of their hearts. It is a great act of sovereign grace and condescending love when the Lord reveals himself to any people, and they ought to appreciate the distinguished favour shown to them. We, as believers in Jesus, know the Lord's ways of covenant grace, and we have by experience been made to see his acts of mercy towards us; how heartily ought we to praise our divine teacher, the Holy Spirit, who has made these things known to us, for had it not been for him we should have continued in darkness unto this day, "Lord, how is it that thou wilt manifest thyself unto us and not unto the world?" Why hast thou made us "of the election who have obtained it" while the rest are blinded?

Observe how prominent is the personality of God in all this gracious teaching -- "He made known." He did not leave Moses to discover truth for himself, but became his instructor. What should we ever know if he did not make it known? God alone can reveal himself. If Moses needed the Lord to make him know, how much more do we who are so much inferior to the great law-giver?


When Israel crossed the Jordan "the Lord of all the earth" cut off "the waters of the Jordan… and the waters which" were flowing down from above were made to stand in one heap. Alluding to this "great work of Jehovah" Joshua declared that…

"By this you shall know that the living God is among you, and that He will assuredly dispossess from before you the Canaanite, the Hittite, the Hivite, the Perizzite, the Girgashite, the Amorite, and the Jebusite. Behold, the ark of the covenant of the Lord of all the earth is crossing over ahead of you into the Jordan. (Joshua 3:10,11)

If you ask those who had walked across the Jordan River (which in fact was even at flood stage) on dry ground if they "knew" God and His great works what do you think they would say?

Oh how we need to see the mighty deeds of God in our generation… but it all has to do with obedience… if the Joshua the leader had balked and not obediently led them across or if the people had balked and said we're not going across, then they would never have experienced God's miraculous power.

Beloved, I ask to give serious attention to this question:

Is your disobedience (or even so-called "partial obedience") keeping you from seeing His power in your life?

Harness God's promises by immediate, unflinching obedience, stepping out in faith (not sight).

In Joshua 6 we see "the great work of the LORD"… Jericho's walls some say up to 18 feet thick came falling down. Why did they see the power of God?

"Obedience brought Blessing", as it always does. Because Joshua and company had obeyed the commands of God to march around the city He did exactly what He said He would do.

Judges 2:8 Then Joshua the son of Nun, the servant of the LORD, died at the age of one hundred and ten.

JOSHUA THE SON OF NUN: LXX of Joshua = iesous = ''Jesus" How would this fit with the key phrase in Judges ''No king in Israel… " (Jdg 21:25 -note). When Joshua died began the days when there was no king in Israel… surely he was clearly a type of Him who was to come as King of kings and Lord of lords!

THE SERVANT OF THE LORD: refers to a divinely chosen individual, normally a leader of the people, who has faithfully and obediently carried out the Lord's will and most often used to describe to Moses.

Gary Inrig comments that "This verse teaches an important lesson. One man, committed unreservedly to God and His Word, can make an enormous difference for good in the lives of God's people. One woman, living her life for Jesus Christ, can bring blessing to a whole group of people. If you will trust God and build your life on His Word, you can have a godly influence on your family, student group, or local church. That truth is written many times on the pages of Scripture." (Inrig, G: Hearts of Stone, Feet of Clay. Moody) (Bolding added)


The Greek Septuagint translates "died" with teleutao (means to finish, bring to a close, to come to an end or as we might say today "to bring down the curtain" on the "drama" of one's life) which is from teleo in turn from telos which means goal, end. Interesting to think of Joshua's death as attaining a "goal", the goal for which God had created him. How wonderful this would be for every believer to achieve the "goal" for which we were created.

It's as if Joshua had faithfully, obediently run the race with endurance and crossed God's "goal line". Surely he will hear "Well done, My good and faithful servant." May his tribe increase!

Judges 2:9 And they buried him in the territory of his inheritance in Timnath-heres, in the hill country of Ephraim, north of Mount Gaash.

AND THEY BURIED HIM IN THE TERRITORY OF HIS INHERITANCE IN TIMNATH-HERES: “extra portion” "portion/image of the sun". Synonymous with “Timnath-serah,” = double portion (Jos 19:50; 24:30).

The traditional site is at Tibneh, 17 mi NW of Jerusalem. Some scholars suggest that the consonants for Heres (hrs) were deliberately written backwards as Serah (srh) as a reminder of these pagan worship practices. Timnath Serah = Timnath Heres.


Judges 2:10 And all that generation also were gathered to their fathers; and there arose another generation after them who did not know the LORD, nor yet the work which He had done for Israel.


And all that generation also were gathered to their fathers - Referring to those who had responded to Joshua's last words in Joshua 24

If it is disagreeable in your sight to serve the LORD, choose for yourselves today whom you will serve: whether the gods which your fathers served which were beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living; but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.” 16 The people answered and said, “Far be it from us that we should forsake the LORD to serve other gods; 17 for the LORD our God is He who brought us and our fathers up out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage, and who did these great signs in our sight and preserved us through all the way in which we went and among all the peoples through whose midst we passed. 18 “The LORD drove out from before us all the peoples, even the Amorites who lived in the land. We also will serve the LORD, for He is our God.” 

This godly, obedient generation died. Joshua died in Judges 2:8. And now “that whole generation [was] gathered to their fathers”. This was the generation that had known victory, blessing, and forward movement. Then, abruptly in the middle of this verse we meet the next generation. 

There is another lesson for all of us (especially fathers) as we ponder the pervasive impact of Joshua's life on the people of Israel - 

One man, committed unreservedly to God and His Word, can make an enormous difference for good in the lives of God’s people! One woman, living her life for Jesus Christ, can bring blessing to a whole group of people (Read of Susanna Wesley's influence). If you will trust God and build your life on His Word, you can have a godly influence on your family, student group, or local church. That truth is written many times on the pages of Scripture. (Gary Inrig) This begs the question "Will you be that man or that woman?" 

Another generation after them - (Joshua and elders): (Ge 15:15; 25:8,17; 49:33; Nu 27:13; Dt 31:16; 2Sa 7:12; Acts 13:36)

The word for another is 'aher - The adjective is used in both normal situations and in comments referring to Israel's worship of other gods. For example, after giving birth to Seth, Eve declared in Gen. 4:25 that God had appointed, or granted, another seed for her in place of Abel. In Ge 8:10, it says that Noah waited another 7 days before sending the dove out of the ark. Ge 8:12 relates that Noah again waited another 7 days before sending out the dove. Deuteronomy 24:2 talks about a divorced woman becoming the wife of another man. In 28:30, it says that one of the covenant curses involved Israelite males being pledged in marriage to women who would be subsequently raped by other men. In verse 32, it says that Israelite sons and daughters would be given to another people or nation (cf. Dt 29:28). In Deuteronomy 31:18, it says that the Lord would hide his face from his wicked people because they had turned to other gods. (Complete Biblical Library Hebrew-English Dictionary)

The Septuagint translates another with the Greek adjective heteros which means another, but of a different kind, a qualitatively different generation specifically in regard to their spiritual condition or heart toward God.  

Without LEADERS the past history of God's acts and the future hope based on those acts can be easily forgotten. Lack of leadership and forgetting of history lead to self-centered life where wrong looks right… Black looks White… Upside down looks right sided up! (Jdg 21:25!)

Within only one generation after entering Canaan, the Israelites began to practice blatant idolatry. The lesson is clear to all of us -- Even within one lifetime, idolatry is always only a heartbeat away. Each generation must learn and remember what God has done to show He is truly the only God. This means that the parents must teach their children would Who the Lord is and what His works are. If not they are at risk of forsaking God and pursuing ungodliness! 

Who did not know the LORD(Jdg 3:1,2-note):


Did not - This is a sad refrain in the book of Judges (and I fear too often in our lives [including mine!] as believers!

Did not drive out = Jdg 1:21, 28, 30, 31, 32, 33-note

  • did not know the LORD = Jdg 2:10-note
  • did not listen to their judges = Jdg 2:17a-note
  • did not do as their fathers = Jdg 2:17b-note
  • did not abandon their practices or their stubborn ways = Jdg 2:19-note
  • did not remember the LORD their God Jdg 8:34-note
  • did not serve Him = Jdg 10:6-note

W A Criswell - And they forsook God and did evil in His sight [Judges 2:11].  I say that’s a sorry sentence, isn’t it?  That’s a sorry come to pass.  You feel penniless.  You feel historically impoverished when you read it.  A generation like that is the weight that time must carry.  A generation like that is the burden of the ages.  A generation like that lets history die.  And they forgot and forsook the God of their fathers [Judges 2:12].  They forgot about Abraham.  They forgot about Israel, Jacob.  They forgot about Moses.  They forgot about Joshua.  And they forsook the Lord.  It’s a sorry sentence, isn’t it?  And it’s a sorry generation. No wonder they fell into apostasy, and into skepticism, and into unbelief, and into endemic powerlessness.  For religion is historically conditioned and connected.  It happens in a time, and in a place, and in a day, and in a year.  It’s not something philosophical, or metaphysical, or peripheral, or intangible, but it is actual, and real, and it happens.  And when we forget the past, we’re unfit for the present or the future.  The real faith, the real religion of God binds us to the past in order that we may be ready for the future.  And no generation of people can forget their past and be worthy of any kind of a future.  And that is precisely and exactly what is happening today in America.  We have a generation rising up who says, "That is old hat.  This is the old establishment.  Let’s blot it out."  And they live as though time and life were just now.  And they are forgetting our forefathers and the God of our people.  Consequently, they have no other choice but to give themselves to sensuality, and promiscuity, and pleasure.  It is a sorry generation, a cheap one, for no people who forget their past is worthy of any kind of a future. (Sermon)

Know (03045)(yada) has the nuance meaning to "experience in a personal way." The Hebrew is translated in the Septuagint with ginosko which means to know by experience. They had no personal experience with Jehovah!

Why didn't they know Him? Because they didn't obey Him. They knew about Him but had not experienced Him in a personal way. They had heard the great works but they didn't know Him. Head knowledge had not become heart knowledge. They forgot God [Jdg 3:7-note ].

The second generation has a natural tendency to accept the status quo and to lose the vision of the first generation. Too often the second-generation experience is a secondhand experience. That syndrome operates in the spiritual realm as well as in the political. Church history is filled with examples of it, and, sadly, so are many churches. The parents' fervor for the Lord Jesus Christ becomes the children's formalism and the grandchildren's apathy.

In Joshua 4:22 Joshua instructs the people "you shall inform your children, saying, 'Israel crossed this Jordan on dry ground."

So what happened to all the godly generation that was alive when Joshua died (Jdg 2:10,11)? Did they not tell their children about the great works of God that the children would learn to fear God forever (Joshua 4:24)? Or did they tell them and the children were apathetic, hearing but not caring with the result being that they did not know God or His works. Why might they have been apathetic toward the things of God? It could be that the pleasures of the Canaanite lifestyle were simply too seductive and they couldn't resist and were ensnared by the passing pleasures of the pagan licentious ways. And as Jesus said over 1000 yrs later, one cannot not serve 2 masters, for he will hold to one and despise the other, love one and hate the other (Mt 6:24-note). And so they forgot their God and then they forsook their God. And the downward cycle of the book of Judges began.

See also the incredible parallel with [Pr 29:18] which could be paraphrased from the original Hebrew

Where there is no revelation of God's Word the people are undisciplined, out of control (cf Ex 32:25) and run wild! But fully satisfied (blessed, happy) regardless of the circumstances is he who guards the treasure of God's precious word.

This is why Paul was so adamant that Timothy entrust what he had heard to trustworthy men who would then be able to teach others also (2Ti 2:2-note). The Spirit anointed and empowered teacher is one of the vital links to pass on the "standard of sound words" (2Ti 1:13-note) to the next generation, and this call involves suffering and hardship (2Ti 1:2, 8, 16-see notes 2Ti 1:8, 1:2, 1:16)

Gary Inrig sounds a warning call against "second generation" Christianity writing that…

In 1963, John Gardner wrote a challenging little book, Self-Renewal. His words are addressed to motivate the renewal of societies and organizations, and he is not writing as a Christian. But he too is concerned with the second-generation syndrome, and his words deserve to be weighed carefully:

The renewal of societies and organizations can go forward only if someone cares. Apathy and lowered motivation are the most widely noted characteristics of a civilization on the downward path. Apathetic men accomplish nothing. Men who believe in nothing change nothing for the better. They renew nothing and heal no one, least of all themselves. Anyone who understands our situation at all knows that we are in little danger of failing through lack of material strength. If we falter it will be a failure of heart and spirit.'

That applies with even greater force to spiritual things. The challenge of the second generation is dynamic renewal and growth. The danger is apathy and spiritual rigor mortis. Which way are you going? Are you a spectator or a soldier? (Inrig, G: Hearts of Stone, Feet of Clay. Moody)

Had the people remembered Joshua's “farewell speech” given to the leaders and the people of Israel (Jos 23:12,13) and taken those speeches to heart, they would have known the Law of Moses; for in his final messages, Joshua emphasized the covenant God had made with Israel and the responsibility Israel had to keep it. When you forget the Word of God, you are in danger of forsaking the God of the Word, which explains why Israel turned to the vile, vicious, lascivious, licentious worship of Baal.

The majority of the Jews of this new generation were not true believers ("did not know the Lord" and as assessed from their disobedience cp Heb 3:18,19 (see notes Heb 3:18; 3:19) for relationship of true faith and obedience), and they did not turn to the God of the miraculous deliverance from Egypt under Moses and the victorious conquest of the Promised Land under Joshua. Still, many of the judges did genuinely know the Lord, and some who did not live by faith eventually threw themselves on God’s mercy during oppressions.

For believers today, the first step away from the Lord is taking your eyes off of Jesus (He 12:2-note) and looking at (Pr 4:23-note) the "passing pleasures of sin" [He 11:25-note] the world is reveling in, just as Achan looked on the spoil that was under the ban of God (Jos 7:21). Achan looked. Achan coveted. Achan stole. Achan concealed.

Do not be deceived [led astray from truth by lusts of the flesh] beloved brethren (Jas 1:16-note, Jas 1:14-note). If we do not flee idolatry of the world and youthful lusts (1Co 10:14, 1Jn 5:21, 2Ti 2:22-note ,1Ti 6:11) we naturally (our old flesh "nature") gravitate toward “friendship (affection) with the world” (Jas 4:4NKJV-note), which then leads to our being spotted by the world (Jas 1:27-note). Then we “love (agapao = sacrificially love) the world” (1Jn 2:15-note) and progressively become more and more “conformed" to the corrupt mold of this world which is passing away, even its lusts (Ro 12:2-note, 1Jn 2:17-note). This can lead to being “condemned with the world” (1Co 11:32), the kind of judgment that came to Lot (Ge 19), Samson (Jdg 16), and Saul (1Sa 31:3,4, 15:35).

Nor yet the work which He had done for Israel - 

They did not even know of His mighty deeds [Ps 71:16, 106:2, 150:2; Lu 1:51; Acts 2:11]. Note how it is quite fascinating that those men who were first filled with and thus controlled by the Spirit in Acts2 spoke of God's mighty deeds. That should be our goal at all times, for as men see the Lord high and lifted up, and thus have a proper opinion of His holiness and majesty, then they are prepared to place themselves in proper perspective… BOWED down before His holiness.

O God, how we need men of the Book today, emboldened with Your Spirit O Lord, to speak forth about Your great and mighty deeds which You have done and will do again. Lord, let this tribe of godly, discerning men like those of the tribe of Issachar [1Chr 12:32] increase even in our day of apathy and anemic believism, while America rots away at her core. For Thy marvelous, mighty Name's sake Lord God. Amen.

Ps 111:2 Great are the works of the Lord; They are studied by all who delight in them.

Spurgeon's comment: The works of the LORD are great. In design, in size, in number, in excellence, all the works of the Lord are great. Even the little things of God are great. In some point of view or other each one of the productions of his power, or the deeds of his wisdom, will appear to be great to the wise in heart.

Sought out of all them that have pleasure therein. Those who love their Maker delight in his handiwork, they perceive that there is more in them than appears upon the surface, and therefore they bend their minds to study and understand them. The devout naturalist ransacks nature, the earnest student of history pries into hidden facts and dark stories, and the man of God digs into the mines of Scripture, and hoards up each grain of its golden truth. God's works are worthy of our researches, they yield us instruction and pleasure wonderfully blended, and they grow upon, appearing to be far greater, after investigation than before. Men's works are noble from a distance; God's works are great when sought out. Delitzsch reads the passage, "Worthy of being sought after in all their purposes," and this also is a grand truth, for the end and design which God hath in all that he makes or does is equally admirable with the work itself. The hidden wisdom of God is the most marvellous part of his works, and hence those who do not look below the surface miss the best part of what he would teach us. Because the works are great they cannot be seen all at once, but must be looked into with care, and this seeking out is of essential service to us by educating our faculties, and strengthening our spiritual eye gradually to bear the light of the divine glory. It is well for us that all things cannot be seen at a glance, for the search into their mysteries is as useful to us as the knowledge which we thereby attain. The history of the Lord's dealings with his people is especially a fit subject for the meditation of reverent minds who find therein a sweet solace, and a never failing source of delight.

Inrig explains that there are 3 main reasons the second generation failed…

1. They were satisfied with the status quo. After Joshua had led the people in some victorious assaults on the land of Canaan, God came to him and said, "Joshua, you are old and advanced in years, and very much of the land remains to be possessed." Then, through Joshua, God gave orders to each of the tribes to take their territory from the Canaanites. The first generation did conquer parts of Canaan, but they left pockets of the enemy untouched. Then the second generation came along. Their reaction was, "Why bother? We have all the land we need. Those Canaanites are not so bad. We can get along with them." God had given them a command to move out and take the land, but they refused to move out in faith. They were content and comfortable with the status quo.

There has never been a first generation, no matter how great it is, that conquered all the land, that has been all God wants it to be. But the great temptations are to believe that their experience is either the standard for our experiences or that their ideals are beyond our expectations, and we should settle for something less. That is wrong. God did not plan for the experiences of previous generations to be a diving board from which we go down, but to be a foundation on which we are to build. It is Satan's lie to make us believe that the status quo is all there is. His strategy allows us to say that it does not matter that the Canaanites have the valleys, as long as we have the high country… The first sign, then, of the second-generation syndrome is complacency about the status quo. Watch out for it! The second cause of the syndrome is equally dangerous, one God warned about years before it happened.

2. They took God's blessings for granted and did not acknowledge Him.

In Deuteronomy 6:10, 11, 12, God issued a warning to His people that still speaks to us, especially in the affluent West… The Lord God does not command us to give thanks because it makes Him feel good, but because it does us good. Praise, worship, thanksgiving, and acknowledgement of God's blessings are the greatest protections against the second-generation syndrome. The solution to the problem is not a joyless asceticism which turns its back on God's blessings. As Paul reminds us, "For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected, if it is received with gratitude" (1Ti 4:4). Our attitude toward our blessings and possessions is one of the most determinative factors in our spiritual health. To be ungrateful about grace is not only foolish, it is dangerous.

We need to recognize the subtlety of our sinful hearts. In our desperation, we call upon God to meet our needs, and, in His infinite grace, He does. Then, with a characteristic display of spiritual amnesia, we begin to take the credit for God's blessing. Israel looked at the land they possessed and said, "Look at what we did!" They became man-centered in their view of life, and, by their attitude of self-congratulation, they sowed the seeds of self-destruction. That is why the Word of God commands us to give thanks in everything. (1Th 5:18-note). This is God's expressed will for every Christian. As believer-priests we are to "continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name" (He 13:15-note). It is essential then, in our personal lives, in our families, and in our fellowship in the Body to cultivate and nourish a spirit of praise and thanksgiving. Apathy dies where praise flourishes.

3. They neglected God's Word. The third cause of the second-generation syndrome is painfully obvious in Judges. It is astonishing to discover almost no reference to the study of Scripture in this book. What was so central in Joshua is peripheral in Judges. The people possessed Scripture but chose to ignore it. It is almost as if it were not written at all. Ritually, the people did many of the things the Law required, but their obedience was based on tradition, not on personal biblical conviction.

There is an enormous difference between a direct and an indirect relationship to Scripture. An issue comes up in conversation, and two people give exactly the same answer. But on the lips of one, the answer is hollow. He is peddling secondhand convictions, something he has heard from parents or preachers or friends. The other person says the same thing, but his answer rings with the authority of personal conviction. He has been in the Word himself, studied and prayed about the matter, and heard the Shepherd's voice. That Christian know the fresh dynamic experience of walking with Jesus Christ. Beware of secondhand convictions and secondhand experiences. Don't neglect the Word of God! (Inrig, G: Hearts of Stone, Feet of Clay. Moody)

Judges 2:11 Then the sons of Israel did evil in the sight of the LORD, and served the Baals,

THEN THE SONS OF ISRAEL DID EVIL (an intentional evil which hurts those around) IN THE SIGHT OF THE LORD (Pr15:3):

Did evil in the sight of the LORD - a repeated phrase in Judges - Jdg 2:11, 3:12, 4:`, 6:1, 10: 6, 13:1 - see notes Judges 2:11, 3:12, 4:1, 6:1, 10:6, Judges 13:1

Hebrew word for evil is ra' which also describes the Tree of knowledge of good and evil! (Ge 3:5).

The phrase did evil is common in Judges and also 24x in 1 & 2 Kings, increasing in frequency in 2nd Kings! (click here for all 41 uses of the phrase "did evil" in the OT) It is as if the closer they got to judgment, the more evil they became. Just a thought to ponder. Note it is also interesting that this phrase "did evil" is not found in 1 & 2 Samuel. Could it be that the reason is that the leaders were godly men like Samuel and David? Note also that the evil began with Baalim (plural) but progressed to the point documented in Judges 10:6!

Five terms, simply but succinctly, capture the pattern of these verses. They also summarize the period of the judges because they describe the repeated cycle of 350 years. The terms are:


Spiral downward

It is as if the children of Israel refused to acknowledge the truth that God was teaching them, and, because they would not learn from the past, they were forced to relive it.

Wayne Barber comments on Judges 2:11: They adopted for themselves an Independent lifestyle. It is very important in our understanding of covenant to realize that you can’t live independently any longer. Example of Wayne’s marriage covenant with his wife… he better live like he is in covenant with his wife. He had better act like he is in covenant with his wife. Wayne’s wife is very quiet but she carries a big stick. He has no right whatsoever now to live independently of his covenant relationship… Wayne and his wife live dependent on one another. As you study covenant, you will see this principle that there is no such thing as an independent lifestyle. (Eve wanted to live independent of God and God called it SIN! Anytime we live independent of God the result is SIN.) The problem with Israel was that they did evil in the sight of God=they stepped out of line. This fits with the whole theme of the book of Judges: ‘’Everyone did what was right in his own eyes.’’ (LIVING INDEPENDENT OF GOD) The result of this action God called ‘’EVIL’’.

Let’s look at some of the words: EVIL: bad in contrast to good. The Greek translation of the Hebrew Old Testament, referred to as the Septuagint, translates EVIL with the Greek word ''poneros (see in depth word study) .''

Poneros-has several shades of meaning:

1. The effort: toilsome (a lot of sweat goes into evil conduct!), grievous and painful.

2. The intrinsic value of this evil: useless, worthless, of no good whatsoever. So you work hard all day… if you’re working at evil it’s worth nothing.

3. The effect: it always means that which is injurious and harmful to others.

Judges 2:11 says the Israelites did evil…

1. they worked hard at it

2. it was useless, worthless and of no good

3. and it harmed everybody that was around them… it was an injurious lifestyle.


What a picture… the result of them doing what was ‘’right in their own eyes’’=>EVIL.

Remember that although we might say that their evil was, for example, lust, immorality, etc., EVIL is what God says is EVIL! There are many today who do not understand their relationship with God… they do not understand the covenant of grace (when we get to Hebrews 8:6 you will get excited… when you begin to understand that the NEW COVENANT is something totally different than the other covenants and you begin to realize the worthlessness of what we can do in the flesh and you begin to recognize the beauty and purity of what God can do in and through us you begin to see the significance of this NEW COVENANT relationship… there are many who do not truly understand what this entails with the result that they are still working in their own way in an attempt to somehow please God… they are not those who live and abide and walk in the Word… they’ve got religious works stacked ‘’bigger than Dallas’’ and God calls it EVIL!

You may be the sweetest person in the room… why you would never commit adultery… you would never murder anyone… but in your heart there might be an Attitude that will not allow God to be God in your life and you are not willing to walk in ONENESS with Him. So whatever you call ‘’good’’ in your life, God calls it ‘’evil’’!

(From notes on Wayne's Lectures on Covenant - Covenant Precept Upon Precept -- The best course you will ever take -- take it then teach it and yes, pastors [jettison pride, put on the clothing of humility - 1Pe 5:5-note], take it and then preach it -- I can guarantee individuals will be saved, marriages will be saved [It saved mine! All glory to Jehovah, the Covenant keeping God - see Covenant: As It Relates to Marriage], and there may well be a Spirit energized spark of revival in your congregation from this powerful teaching.) (See also Covenant: Why Study It? See the "Related Resources" Index at took of the page - follows along with the Precept Course if you cannot take it -- at least go through the notes!)

AND SERVED THE BAALS (contrast Jdg 2:7): (Jdg 3:7; 10:6,10; 1Samuel 7:4; 1Kings 18:18; 2Chronicles 28:2; 33:3; Jeremiah 2:23; 9:14; Hosea 2:13, 14, 15, 16, 17)

Served (abad) is in the qal impf. The Septuagint translates abad with the Greek verb latreuo (from latris = one hired or latron = reward, wages) means to work for reward, for hire or for pay, to be in servitude, render cultic service. Latreuo was used literally for bodily service (e.g., workers on the land, or slaves), and figuratively for “to cherish.” In the NT the idea is to render service to God (in this context gods with a little "g"!), to worship, to perform sacred services or to minister to God in a spirit of worship (in fact in the NT uses below, note several passages clearly associate worship with serving.)

With the death of Joshua and the following generation, the last living link with Mount Sinai was gone, and the result was gross sin. The result is that were enslaved, (cf 2Pe 2:19-note, Jn 8:34, Pr 5:22-note) were in bondage to the Baals (ONE GOD <<>> many Baals!). Israel did not merely fall into sin and break some of God's laws. They threw themselves into the sin, the supreme sin, idolatry, the sin of all sins. The greatest sin a human being can commit is not murder or rape or other despicable acts of atrocity. It is to turn his back on the living God to serve man-made gods. And thus they were burdened by the Baals. And so it was that the Israelites gave in and sank to the level of the people they were commanded to destroy. What is not recorded here and you may not be aware of, is the fact that Baals and Asthoreths were sex deities and their worship of them involved not only bowing down before stone idols but also engaging in obscene sexual practices. So Israel soon sank into idolatry and gross immorality. Mark it down as a principle: Idolatry is almost always associated soon with immorality!

The Hebrew word Baal means to be master over another. Instead of allowing God to be their husband, His people followed "the Baals"

Jeremiah 2:23 "How can you say, 'I am not defiled, I have not gone after the Baals'? Look at your way in the valley! Know what you have done! You are a swift young camel entangling her ways"

The Canaanite religion was based on the idea that you worship your god by behaving as he does. The result was Baal worship which was perhaps the most degraded and degrading form of worship ever practiced on earth. The Canaanites engaged in temple prostitution, fertility rites, drunken sexual orgies of the most debased variety, idolatry, snake-worship, homosexuality, and even human sacrifice.

Baal worship was bad wherever it existed, but in Canaan it existed in its rawest form. Everything about it—its view of God, moral standards, ethics and values, rituals—stood in absolute and total contradiction to everything God had revealed about Himself to His people. However, the Israelites did the unthinkable. They did not stop speaking of Yahweh or forget Him entirely. Rather, they borrowed the rites, practices, and idols of Canaanite paganism and grafted them onto their existing worship, in a new syncretistic religion, forgetting that God said He was a Jealous God, and that He would not share His glory with another. They were tolerant of that which God commanded them to destroy. They accepted what God called them to hate, and they compromised when God called them to wholehearted obedience.


And thus the period of the Judges was a seemingly endless cycle of rebellion, punishment, lament, new leadership, and deliverance. Repeatedly Israel suffered because they refused to commit themselves to God alone. They wanted to worship Him along with the gods of their neighbors. Often the evil God's people suffer comes because we want to be God's people with minimum commitment. But beloved, commitment has only one level--total devotion. Anything else is not commitment.

Frances Ridley Havergal well expresses the essence of commitment writing

Take my life, and let it be Consecrated, Lord, to thee

Do we sing this hymn and mean it? Notice it is clearly a cry to God. Do we really understand what we are asking Him to do? Or do we just mouth the words, because everyone else is singing out so lustily? Are we sincere or sincerely hypocritical? (Click to play the entire hymn and ponder the words of Francis Havergal… if you're not convicted, then you didn't read every stanza!)

George Sweeting writes that…

God calls us to be 100 percent committed. His resources can make us willing to take a stand with our friends and neighbors against abortion. We can write our senators and oppose laws legalizing pornography and homosexuality. Ours need not be the day of the placid pulpit and the comfortable pew. Dante said, "The hottest place in hell is reserved for those who, in times of crisis, preserved their neutrality."

Lack of commitment and lack of devote, dedicated leadership led to loss of sense of God's holiness and His great works. In their deceived, stuporous condition they were ensnared by the demon gods and intoxicated by the lusts of the flesh and eyes so they lost the proper reverential awe and fear of Jehovah and wantonly pursued their goals and desires all the more becoming enslaved. Sounds like America, at the turn of the 21st century!

BAAL: (see notes) (KJV = Baalim = Hebrew ending "-im" = plural) Greek also = masculine plural. Like most of the world they rejected the "SHEMA" of [Dt 6:4] & became in effect "polytheists"! (see even the wise King Solomon in 1Ki 11:5, 7)

When you depart from the One True God it's amazing & frightening how far you will go from Truth! Cp 2Ti 4:3, 4- notes 2 Timothy 4:3; 4:4

Baals” not only refers to images of Baal but also to various manifestations of the god (cf. 8:33; 9:4; Nu 25:3). The Canaanites were addicted to Baal worship, which was conducted by priests in temples and outdoors, in fields and on hilltops called “high places.” Cult activities included animal sacrifice, ritualistic meals, and provocative dances. Near the altars the Canaanites placed symbols of fertility: the sacred pillar (massebah) and a wooden cult object (asherah). High places housed chambers where male prostitutes and harlots (qedeshim and qedeshot) practiced cult prostitution (cf. 1Ki 14:23; 2Ki 23:7). God had previously judged Israel for her association with Baal of Peor (Nu 22:41; 25:1-18; Dt 4:3, 4), but the Israelites were subtly attracted to the gaiety and provocative character of Baal worship.

The “Ashtoreths” (ashtarot) (see notes) were figurines and various manifestations of Ashtoreth (or Asherah), the Canaanite goddess of fertility and the consort of Baal. Closely associated with the Babylonian Ishtar, goddess of sensual love, maternity, and fertility, she also became identified as the patroness of war as well as sex. Her worship was early entrenched at Sidon (cf. 1Ki 11:5, 33; 2Ki 23:13), where she was identified as Astarte (Greek for her name). During times of spiritual decline and apostasy, Israel continually forsook the Lord God and served Baal and Ashtoreth (Judges 3:7; 10:6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16; 1Sa 7:3, 4; 12:10; 31:10; 1Ki 11:4, 5, 6, 7, 8; 2Ki 23:1-14).

Judges 2:12 and they forsook the LORD, the God of their fathers, who had brought them out of the land of Egypt, and followed other gods from among the gods of the peoples who were around them, and bowed themselves down to them; thus they provoked the LORD to anger.

AND THEY FORSOOK THE LORD: [Deuteronomy 13:5; 29:18,25; 31:16,17; 32:15; 33:17]

Forsook (left) (05800)('azab - see word study) means that they abandoned and neglected Jehovah.

Azab - 6x in Judges - Jdg. 2:12, 13, 21; 10:6, 10, 13

The picture of completeness of this act is shown by [Ge 2:24]. But here the Jews departed from Jehovah. They committed apostasy. God Who has everything and needs nothing sought man who is nothing without Him and yet who sought Him not! O what wondrous Love is the deep, deep love of God!

O God Who pursues us when we are so wicked as to spurn the precious infinite mysterious love of Calvary for that which perishes. Woe are we O God. Forgive us O God for we have run from Your favor, Your love, Your sweet tender mercies and constant bidding for us to 'Come'. Adulterers. Harlots, every one of us. Weep and mourn. Cleanse your hands you sinners. O God forgive us in "Christian" America. We have rejected You, the "Fountain of Living Waters". For Your Name's sake. Amen. [compare Daniel's prayer in Daniel 9:20]

Gary Inrig asks…

How could a people who had seen so much of the power of God drift so far from Him? It did not happen all at once. It never does.

1. They lost fellowship with God by incomplete obedience. When Israel did not drive out the people as God commanded, they were sowing the seeds of their own spiritual failure.

2. They did not consciously remind themselves of the grace of God. They forsook God, when they forgot all that He had done for them. That is the reason we have the Lord's Supper in the New Testament. "Keep on doing this in remembrance of Me," the Lord said; and every time we come to the Lord's table, we confront ourselves afresh with the great truths of what He has done for us.

3. They rejected the Word of God. Israel began to look at life the way the Canaanites did. Instead of being controlled by the truths of Scripture, they were controlled by the opinions and impulses of their sinful natures. (Inrig, G: Hearts of Stone, Feet of Clay. Moody - Highly Recommended Resource)

THE GOD OF THEIR FATHERS WHO HAD BROUGHT THEM OUT OF THE LAND OF EGYPT: he had just said they "did not know the Lord" or "the work which He had done for Israel".

AND FOLLOWED AFTER GODS FROM (Jdg 5:8, 8:33, 10:6- see notes Jdg 5:8 8:33; 10:6)(Dt 6:14,15 )

Followed is used metaphorically here which conveys the idea of allegiance and loyalty. The expression "walk after other gods" is prominent in Deuteronomy, where it is used of idolatry,


Bow down (shachah) means to worship, prostrate oneself and was used to describe idol worship, such as the golden calf in the wilderness (Ex 32). (See the NT word for worship which has a similar idea of prostrating one's self - Worship [bow down] = proskuneo)

False gods of Canaan were everywhere: El (strong, powerful) = supreme Canaanite deity, of uncontrolled lust, bloody tyrant in writings at Ras Shamra in N Syria. Baal (“lord, possessor”) = son & successor of El, “lord of heaven,” farm god of rain & storm. Baal cult at Phoenicia = animal sacrifices, ritual meals, licentious dances.

There were Temple chambers for so-called "sacred" prostitution with both men and women (1Ki 14:23,24; 2Ki 23:7).

Anath, sister-wife of Baal = Ashtoreth (Astarte), patroness of sex and war, called “virgin” and “holy” but actually a “sacred prostitute.”


Provoked the LORD - Deut. 9:7f, 22; Jdg. 2:12; 1Ki. 15:30; 22:53; 2Chr. 28:25

Moses had clearly warned Israel of the consequences of idolatry declaring…

"You shall not follow other gods, any of the gods of the peoples who surround you, for the LORD your God in the midst of you is a jealous God; otherwise the anger of the LORD your God will be kindled against you, and He will wipe you off the face of the earth. (Deut 6:14, 15)

Is this conclusion any surprise. How long will God hold back His hand against any so-called "Christian" nation that leads the world in crimes, prostitution, drug abuse and world wide exportation of pornography?!

FAILURE - JUDGES RULE ISRAEL - C. T. Studd, the great missionary to China, India, and Africa, ended his life as a morphine addict. Despite all of his success, his last days were dark ones. His mission board dismissed him; he died a few weeks later.

Israel showed power and promise in escaping from Egypt. The people, however, unlike Studd, displayed their selfish addictions early. Trouble erupted only a few miles from Egypt. The faithless people, grumbling and carousing, played out a drama of disaster and death for forty years in the desert.

Joshua's leadership brought new hope to the nation when the people finally entered the Promised Land, but his successors, the judges, gave Israel a topsy-turvy season of success and failure.

Some judges ruled wisely and in peace, but others did not. And the people were mostly wicked during the whole period.

The failure of the judges led the people to demand an earthly king. Saul, David, and Solomon gave Israel some success, but many of the mad monarchs that followed wrote their stories of failure in blood.

For many, the last pretender to the throne was the greatest failure. He too wrote His story in blood—His own. But as King of kings, He turned failure into victory. (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)

Judges 2:13 So they forsook the LORD and served Baal and the Ashtaroth.

SO THEY FORSOOK (made a choice to abandon, to walk away from) THE LORD (Hebrew = Husband (ba'al) as in Isaiah 54:5):

Forsook ('azab - see word study) means abandoned, apostatized, departed from Jehovah even though He had given clear commands (Ex 20:3, 4, 5 cf Ro 1:25-note, Jer 2:5)

The children of Israel sought to be free by making themselves "god" and doing what was right in their own eyes.

You can mark it down beloved -

True Freedom is not the right to do as we please
but the power to do as we should.

Their attempts at "freedom" brought them even deeper into bondage!

Isn't our response to God often like rebellious Israel?

Let us repeat the axiom… lest we forget it…

SIN will take you further than you ever meant to STRAY,
Will keep you longer than you ever planned to STAY,
Will cost you more than you ever dreamed that you'd PAY!

AND SERVED BAAL AND THE ASHTAROTH: (Jdg 2:11; 3:7; 10:6; 1Samuel 31:10; 1Kings 11:5,33; 2Kings 23:13; Psalms 106:36; 1Corinthians 8:5; 10:20, 21, 22)

Ashtoreth (Astarte), is the singular noun and is the name of the patroness of sex and war. "She" was called “virgin” and “holy” but was actually a “sacred prostitute.” Figures of Ashtoreth (1Ki 11:5), the equivalent of the Phoenician goddess of fertility, Astarte (Dt 16:21), which were worshiped as idols during times of spiritual declension in Israel (Jdg 10:6-note; 1Sa 7:3,4; 12:10; 31:10; 1Ki 11:5,33; 2Ki 23:13).

The Hebrew form Ashtaroth (NIV, "Ashtoreths") is the plural of Ashtoreth. This name is a deliberate distortion of Astarte's name that vocalizes the last two syllables of the name to reflect the Hebrew word boset, "shame."

Modern readers often miss the import of Canaanite idolatry and how it so closely parallels sexuality being practiced in the "civilized" world of the 21st century. The worship of a Canaanite god or goddess was no minor blemish in Israel's history. Besides having a devastating and debasing effect on the practitioner, the acts of worship included male and female cultic prostitutes in hetero- and homo-sexual liaisons which were fundamentally opposed to the worship of the living God, and were acts of treason against His Covenant.

R. K. Harrison, after describing the gross and savage worship system of the Canaanites, concludes:

"its sordid and debased nature stand in marked contrast to the high ethical ideals of Israel. The absolute lack of moral character in the Canaanite deities made such corrupt practices as ritual prostitution, child sacrifice, and licentious worship the normal expression of religious devotion and fervor. In consequence there could be no compromise between the morality of the God of Israel and the debased sensuality of Canaanite religion"

Judges 2:14 And the anger of the LORD burned against Israel, and He gave them into the hands of plunderers who plundered them; and He sold them into the hands of their enemies around them, so that they could no longer stand before their enemies.


"Anger… burned". (Septuagint translates the Hebrew with the verb orgizo the verb derived from orge [see word study])

Anger is actually the Hebrew word for "nose or nostril" and so this verse could be more literally read as "His nose became hot" (glowed, was kindled, grew warm, burned). The KJV rendering as "the anger of the LORD was hot" is closer to the literal Hebrew, a most expressive metaphor for the anger and one of the most obvious examples of the anthropomorphisms (Anthropomorphism God relates to us in human terms) for God in the OT. This word is related to a rare Aramaic root meaning "to cause fire to burn". This word differs from other Hebrew words for anger in that it emphasizes the "kindling" of anger, like the kindling of a fire, or the heat of the anger, once started. It is used of Potiphar's anger burning against Joseph when his servants falsely accused Joseph of sexual assault on Mrs. Potiphar in Gen 39:19. This picture also recalls to mind God giving Himself the Name "Jehovah Who is jealous" God (Ex 20:5, 34:14).This name for Jehovah, does not refer to a shallow, childish human emotion, but instead emphasizes that God will not tolerate a divided loyalty.

And thus God's anger is not the petty anger of hurt feelings, but the holy anger of a righteous response to sin. It is the revulsion of a perfect God against evil, wickedness, and sinful rebellion.

In reverential fear and loving obedience those whom He has bought with a price ought to honor Him as the one true God and give Him something more than lip service for "no one (oudeis = absolutely no one) can serve two masters… " (Mt 6:24 -note)


For this same idea of giving one over to the power of another force see the verses and notes in Romans 1:24, 26, 28 (See notes Romans 1:24; 1:26; 1:28)

Gave them - Jehovah repeatedly gave Israel into the hands of their enemies. Jdg 2:14, 6:1, 11:32, 13:1- See notes Judges 2:14; 6:1; 11:32; 13:1)

Moses had prophesied that…

Jehovah will cause you to be defeated before your enemies; you shall go out one way against them, but you shall flee seven ways before them, and you shall be an example of terror to all the kingdoms of the earth. And your carcasses shall be food to all birds of the sky and to the beasts of the earth, and there shall be no one to frighten them away. (Dt 28:25-26)


The Hebrew idiom (lit., "sell into the hand of") pictures the Lord as the owner of his people who decides to sell them to another because of their unfaithfulness. See similar idea in [Jdg 3:8, 4:2, 10:7- See notes Judges 3:8, 4:2, 10:7, Ps 106:41, Neh 9:27]

Gary Inrig writes that…

As Christians, we must not forget that God and evil cannot coexist. Because of the Lord Jesus, we know that God's anger blazed out at Calvary, and we will never come under His wrath. We have been saved from wrath through Christ. But it is impossible for us to live in sin and have fellowship with God. The disciplining hand of God will work in our lives if we choose sin in deliberate disobedience to Him. Sin that is not confessed to the Lord brings servitude and bondage in our lives. The joy fades, and the frustration builds.

One of my favorite hymns is "Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing (play it now)." It is a great hymn of praise to God, but there is a sad story related to it. Two strangers were riding in a coach—a miserable-looking man and a happy-faced woman, who was reading the hymn. She showed the hymn to her unknown companion and told him how much the words meant to her. The man looked at it and suddenly broke into tears. Sobbing, he said to her, "Madam, I am the poor, unhappy man who wrote that hymn many years ago, and I would give a thousand worlds, if I had them, to enjoy the feeling I had then." Robert Robinson had drifted out of fellowship with God, and he knew the awful bondage that sin brings. (Inrig, G: Hearts of Stone, Feet of Clay. Moody)

Ray Stedman asks the question all believers need to consider…

Have you ever had the Lord’s hand against you? Have you ever sensed that He was against you in everything you did? What you thought you were doing in dedication and sincerity was so opposite to what He had said that you discovered His hand was against you. This is what Israel discovered: Nothing seemed to work out right. They found themselves in bondage. One after another of the tribes around them was allowed to rule over them. These tribes came in and made slaves out of them, year after year after painful year. (Ray C. Stedman. Adventuring through the Bible)

Israel’s enemies eventually became their masters! Solomon records that

"His own iniquities will capture the wicked, and he will be held with the cords of his sin." (Pr 5:22-see note)

Freedom of choice is one of the privileges God has given us, but He instructs us and urges us to use that freedom wisely. The laws of God are guideposts to lead us on the path of life, and He watches the decisions we make and the roads we take. (Pr 15:3). As long as we use our freedom wisely, we will mature in Christian character, and God can trust us with more freedom. But if we abuse our freedom and deliberately disobey His Word, our freedom will gradually become bondage, the kind of bondage that can’t easily be broken. Proverbs 5:22-note could have been used as an epitaph for Samson whom we encounter later in Judges 13-16. It is impossible to sin without potentially becoming bound. One of the deceitful things about sin is that it promises freedom but only brings slavery. (cp Jn 8:34, Ro 6:16-note) The cords of sin get stronger the more we sin, yet sin deceives us into thinking we’re free and can quit sinning whenever we please. As the invisible chains of habit are forged, we discover to our horror that we don’t have the strength to break them. Millions of people in our world today are in one kind of bondage or another and are seeking for deliverance, but the only One who can set them free is Jesus Christ. (Jn 8:36).

Judges 2:15 Wherever they went, the hand of the LORD was against them for evil, as the LORD had spoken and as the LORD had sworn to them, so that they were severely distressed.

WHEREVER THEY WENT THE HAND OF THE LORD WAS AGAINST THEM FOR EVIL: (Jeremiah 18:8; 21:10; 44:11,27; Micah 2:3 )

Have you ever had the Lord’s hand against you? Have you ever sensed that He was against you in everything you did? What you thought you were doing in dedication and sincerity was so opposite to what He had said that you discovered His hand was against you. This is what Israel discovered. Nothing seemed to work out right. They found themselves in bondage. One after another of the tribes around them was allowed to rule over them. These tribes came in and made slaves out of them, year after year after painful year.

AS THE LORD HAD SPOKEN: (Leviticus 26:15-46; Deuteronomy 4:25, 26, 27, 28; 28:15-68; Joshua 23:15,16)

For example in Leviticus Jehovah warned Israel…

"If you do not obey Me and do not carry out all these commandments, 15 if, instead, you reject My statutes, and if your soul abhors My ordinances so as not to carry out all My commandments, and so break My covenant, 16 I, in turn, will do this to you: I will appoint over you a sudden terror, consumption and fever that shall waste away the eyes and cause the soul to pine away; also, you shall sow your seed uselessly, for your enemies shall eat it up. 17 'And I will set My face against you so that you shall be struck down before your enemies; and those who hate you shall rule over you, and you shall flee when no one is pursuing you. (Lev 26:14, 15, 16, 17)

AND AS THE LORD HAD SWORN TO THEM: (Deuteronomy 32:40,41 )

(to repay) those who hate Him to their faces, to destroy them; He will not delay with him who hates Him, He will repay him to his face. (Dt 7:10)

"And it shall come about that just as all the good words which the LORD your God spoke to you have come upon you, so the LORD will bring upon you all the threats, until He has destroyed you from off this good land which the LORD your God has given you. (Joshua 23:15)

SO THAT THEY WERE SEVERELY DISTRESSED: (Jdg 10:9; 1Samuel 13:6; 14:24; 30:6; 2Corinthians 4:8)

"But it shall come about, if you will not obey the LORD your God, to observe to do all His commandments and His statutes with which I charge you today, that all these curses shall come upon you and overtake you… 53 "Then you shall eat the offspring of your own body, the flesh of your sons and of your daughters whom the LORD your God has given you, during the siege and the distress by which your enemy shall oppress you. (Deut 28:15, 53)


God Fights Against Us - In Joel’s book of prophecy, God declared: “I am in the midst of Israel … My people shall never be put to shame” (Joel 2:27). But earlier in the chapter God promised to fight against His people. A plague of locusts would descend like a ravenous army on the nation (Joel 2:2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11).

It’s hard to fathom that the Lord would fight against His chosen people. But Israel had given their affections to other gods.

In fact, God had fought against them before. “Wherever they went out, the hand of the Lord was against them for calamity” (Judges 2:15).

I have learned that if my own heart wanders away from God, I can count on Him to fight to bring me back. If I become proud and self-assured, if reading God’s Word and spending time in prayer seem like a waste of time, God will step in and deal with me.

God will fight against us for our good. He permits us to experience defeat so that we will listen to Him when He says, “Rend your heart, and not your garments; return to the Lord your God, for He is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness” (Joel 2:13).

Don’t wait for God to fight against you before you seek His face. Return to Him today. — Albert Lee (Our Daily Bread - God Fights Against Us)

Because our Father’s heart is grieved
Each time we go astray,
He lifts His chastening hand in love
To help us find His way. —D. De Haan

God’s hand of discipline is a hand of love.

Judges 2:16 Then the LORD raised up judges who delivered them from the hands of those who plundered them.

Then the LORD raised up judges (Jdg 3:9,10,15; 4:5; 6:14; 1Samuel 12:11; Acts 13:20 )

Judges (see note) equates with "saviors" for the Hebrew word "judge” = “save, rescue.” “judge” applied to only 8/12 people we commonly call “judges,” but all of them functioned as counselors and deliverers.

The 8 are Othniel (Jdg 3:9-note), Tola (Jdg 10:1-note), Jair (Jdg 10:3-note), Jephthah (Jdg 11:1-note), Ibzan (Jdg 12:8-note), Elon (Jdg 12:11-note), Abdon (Jdg 12:13-note), Samson (Jdg 15:20-note, Jdg 16:31- note).

Judges (08199)(shaphat) is a verb that means to judge or govern. While it frequently translated judge, this is somewhat misleading as shaphat is not typical of the modern concept of judge (as in a court of law), but is much more inclusive -- to function as ruler or governor - individuals (Jdg. 16:31; 1 Sa 7:16), king (1 Ki. 3:9); even God Himself (Ps. 50:6; 75:7) because He is the source of authority and will eventually conduct all judgments (Ps. 96:13).  In a judicial sense shaphat could refer to the arbitration of civil, domestic, and religious disputes (Dt. 25:1), fulfilled by the congregation (Nu 35:24), by individual judges (Ex 18:16; Dt. 1:16), by the king (1 Sa 8:5, 6, 20) or by God Himself (Ge 16:5; 1 Sa 24:12, 15). 

Swanson divides shaphat into 5 major groups - 

1. (qal) judge, decide, i.e., adjudicate a matter between two parties in a court or a less formal setting, implying both the authority to punish and finality of the decision (Ex 18:16); (nif) be judged (Ps 9:19);

2. (qal) lead, govern, judge, i.e., act. as a leader or ruler over a people with a special focus on the authority to punish and fairness of the leader, as an extension of being a courtroom judge (1Ki 3:9);

3.  (qal) give legal aid, defend a cause, vindicate, i.e., give legal arguments on behalf of the accused (Isa 1:17); (nif) litigate, argue a matter, be brought to trial (1Sa 12:7; Ps 37:33; 109:7; Pr 29:9; Isa 43:26; 59:4), note: NIV translates “confront with evidence”;

4. (nif) execute justice, i.e., obtain justice and rightness to one who has been wronged (2Ch 22:8; Isa 66:16; Jer 2:35; 25:31; Eze 17:20; 20:35, 36; 38:22; Joel 3:2);

5. (poel ptcp.) a judge, i.e., pertaining to one you plead before, who makes decisions, and executes judgment (Jdg 9:15) (Dictionary of Biblical Languages with Semantic Domains: Hebrew)

W E Vine on shaphat

In many contexts this root has a judicial sense. Shāpaṭ refers to the activity of a third party who sits over two parties at odds with one another. This third party hears their cases against one another and decides where the right is and what to do about it (he functions as both judge and jury). So Sarai said to Abram: "My wrong [outrage done me] be upon thee [in your lap]: I have given my maid into thy bosom; and when she saw that she had conceived, I was despised in her eyes: the Lord judge between me and thee" (Gen. 16:5, the first occurrence of the word). Sarai had given Hagar to Abram in her stead. This act was in keeping with ancient Nuzu law, which Abram apparently knew and followed. The legal rights to the child would be Sarai's. This would mean that Hagar "did all the work" and received none of the privileges. Consequently she made things miserable for Sarai. As the tribal and family head Abram's responsibility was to keep things in order. This he did not do. Thus Sarai declares that she is innocent of wrongdoing; she has done nothing to earn Hagar's mistreatment, and Abram is at fault in not getting the household in order. Her appeal is: since Abram has not done his duty (normally he would be the judge of tribal matters), "the Lord decide" between us, that is, in a judicial sense, as to who is in the right. Abram granted the legitimacy of her case and handed Hagar over to her to be brought into line (Gen. 16:6). Shāpaṭ also speaks of the accomplishing of a sentence. Both this concept and those of hearing the case and rendering a decision are seen in Gen. 18:25, where Abraham speaks of "the Judge [literally, "One who judges"] of all the earth." In 1 Sam. 3:13 the emphasis is solely on "delivering" the sentence: "For I have told him that I will judge his house for ever for the iniquity which he knoweth…."

In some cases "judging" really means delivering from injustice or oppression. David says to Saul: "The Lord therefore be judge and judge between me and thee, and see, and plead my cause, and deliver me out of thine hand" (1 Sam. 24:15). This sense (in addition to the judicial sense), "to deliver," is to be understood when one speaks of the judges of Israel (Judg. 2:16): "Nevertheless the Lord raised up judges, which delivered them out of the hand of those that [plundered] them."

Shāpaṭ can be used not only of an act of deliverance, but of a process whereby order and law are maintained within a group. This idea also is included in the concept of the judges of Israel: "And Deborah, a prophetess, the wife of Lapidoth, she judged Israel at that time" (Judg. 4:4). This activity was judicial and constituted a kind of ruling over Israel. Certainly ruling is in mind in Num. 25:5: "And Moses said unto the judges of Israel, 'Slay ye every one his men that were joined unto Baal-Peor'" (1 Sam. 8:1).

The military deliverer was the head over a volunteer army summoned when danger threatened (militia). In the time of Samuel this procedure proved inadequate for Israel. They wanted a leader who would organize and lead a standing army. They asked Samuel, therefore, for a king such as the other nations had, one who was apt and trained in warfare, and whose successor (son) would be carefully trained, too. There would be more continuity in leadership as a result. Included in this idea of a king who would "judge" them like the other nations was the idea of a ruler; in order to sustain a permanent army and its training, the people had to be organized for taxation and conscription. This is what is in view in 1 Sam. 8:6-18 as Samuel explains. (Vine's Expository Dictionary of Old Testament and New Testament Words

Gilbrant on shaphat

Of the approximately 200 times shāphat is used in the Hebrew Bible, all but about eighteen verses are in the Qal stem. Those eighteen are in the Niphal, which can be simply the passive of judging or can mean "to enter into a dispute" with someone (Prov. 29:9; Isa. 43:26). This probably would have been a public legal case in the ancient Israelite community, but in their culture not as formal as a modern law court. The closest to the modern court case and the more serious scene is presented in Jer. 25:31 and Ezek. 20:36 where the Lord brings his people to justice for their violations of the Covenant. Ultimately, He brings all nations to the valley of judgment to deal with their sins (Joel 3:2).

The basic meaning of this verb in the Qal stem is "to make decisions" as a community leader, mainly in disputes between community members. Moses did this and followed his father-in-law's advice and appointed other leaders to deal with the lesser cases (Exo. 18:22). Such officials were to maintain justice in the land (Deut. 16:18). They were accountable to represent God in "righteous" (HED #6928; often shāphat is used with this word meaning "righteous") judgment (2 Chr. 19:6). God's wisdom enabled Solomon to do this (1 Ki. 3:28) and thus do mishpāt (HED #5122; from the root shāphat and often used with it) or justice, making good judgments or decisions. People would call on God to make a just decision between them (Judg. 11:27), especially between two groups or nations (Isa. 2:4). From the perspective of the one who considered himself innocent, this was a prayer for deliverance from an opponent and for vindication (1 Sam. 24:12, 15). David called on the Lord to declare him innocent (Ps. 26:1). People would also call for someone to get what they deserved, which meant judgment or punishment (Exo. 5:21; Ezek. 36:19).

There was no separation of the judicial branch of government from the executive or legislative branch in the ancient Near East. Judging was a function of all kinds and levels of leadership, including the king. In fact, the verb summarizes the functions of the ruler or leader (Exo. 2:14; 1 Sam. 4:18; 2 Chr. 1:10). God rules the world or "judges" it (Pss. 9:8; 96:13). The participle is used of judges in general. These could be various rulers or leaders, but especially those elders or officials who decided cases between God's people. The Lord is called the "Judge of all the earth" by Abraham (Gen. 18:25). A special use is for the charismatic leaders who were raised up as judges. They usually led in battles to free Israel from nations who harassed them in the land given to them by God (Judg. 2:16, the "judges"). The finite verb "to judge" is also used in some contexts of the judges for carrying out their form of leadership, such as that of Samson (16:31).

Beside the use referring to "the judges," other passages use the verb for "delivering from the power" of enemies (2 Sam. 18:19) and dealing with them (2 Chr. 20:12). In Isa. 51:5, God's judging of the nations is parallel to bringing them salvation. He vindicates the oppressed (Ps. 72:4) and defends the needy when He judges (Isa. 1:23). (Complete Biblical Library Hebrew-English Dictionary)

Shaphat - 200x in 182v -  acting like a judge(1), already he is acting(1), argue our case(1), decide(1), defend(3), deliver(1), Dispense(1), enter into judgment(6), entered into judgment(1), entering into judgment(1), execute judgment(1), executing judgment(1), freed(2), handed down(1), has a controversy(1), Judge(5), judge(93), judged(22), judges(36), judges decide(1), judges governed(1), judges...judged(1), judging(5), plead(1), pleads(1), pronounce judgment(1), rule(2), rulers(1), rulers...ruled(1), vindicate(6).

Gen. 16:5; Gen. 18:25; Gen. 19:9; Gen. 31:53; Exod. 2:14; Exod. 5:21; Exod. 18:13; Exod. 18:16; Exod. 18:22; Exod. 18:26; Lev. 19:15; Num. 25:5; Num. 35:24; Deut. 1:16; Deut. 16:18; Deut. 17:9; Deut. 17:12; Deut. 19:17; Deut. 19:18; Deut. 21:2; Deut. 25:1; Deut. 25:2; Jos. 8:33; Jos. 23:2; Jos. 24:1; Jdg. 2:16; Jdg. 2:17; Jdg. 2:18; Jdg. 2:19; Jdg. 3:10; Jdg. 4:4; Jdg. 10:2; Jdg. 10:3; Jdg. 11:27; Jdg. 12:7; Jdg. 12:8; Jdg. 12:9; Jdg. 12:11; Jdg. 12:13; Jdg. 12:14; Jdg. 15:20; Jdg. 16:31; Ruth 1:1; 1 Sam. 3:13; 1 Sam. 4:18; 1 Sam. 7:6; 1 Sam. 7:15; 1 Sam. 7:16; 1 Sam. 7:17; 1 Sam. 8:1; 1 Sam. 8:2; 1 Sam. 8:5; 1 Sam. 8:6; 1 Sam. 8:20; 1 Sam. 12:7; 1 Sam. 24:12; 1 Sam. 24:15; 2 Sam. 7:11; 2 Sam. 15:4; 2 Sam. 18:19; 2 Sam. 18:31; 1 Ki. 3:9; 1 Ki. 3:28; 1 Ki. 7:7; 1 Ki. 8:32; 2 Ki. 15:5; 2 Ki. 23:22; 1 Chr. 16:33; 1 Chr. 17:6; 1 Chr. 17:10; 1 Chr. 23:4; 1 Chr. 26:29; 2 Chr. 1:2; 2 Chr. 1:10; 2 Chr. 1:11; 2 Chr. 6:23; 2 Chr. 19:5; 2 Chr. 19:6; 2 Chr. 20:12; 2 Chr. 22:8; 2 Chr. 26:21; Ezr. 10:14; Job 9:15; Job 9:24; Job 12:17; Job 21:22; Job 22:13; Job 23:7; Ps. 2:10; Ps. 7:8; Ps. 7:11; Ps. 9:4; Ps. 9:8; Ps. 9:19; Ps. 10:18; Ps. 26:1; Ps. 35:24; Ps. 37:33; Ps. 43:1; Ps. 50:6; Ps. 51:4; Ps. 58:1; Ps. 58:11; Ps. 67:4; Ps. 72:4; Ps. 75:2; Ps. 75:7; Ps. 82:1; Ps. 82:2; Ps. 82:3; Ps. 82:8; Ps. 94:2; Ps. 96:13; Ps. 98:9; Ps. 109:7; Ps. 109:31; Ps. 141:6; Ps. 148:11; Prov. 8:16; Prov. 29:9; Prov. 29:14; Prov. 31:9; Eccl. 3:17; Isa. 1:17; Isa. 1:23; Isa. 1:26; Isa. 2:4; Isa. 3:2; Isa. 5:3; Isa. 11:3; Isa. 11:4; Isa. 16:5; Isa. 33:22; Isa. 40:23; Isa. 43:26; Isa. 51:5; Isa. 59:4; Isa. 66:16; Jer. 2:35; Jer. 5:28; Jer. 11:20; Jer. 25:31; Lam. 3:59; Ezek. 7:3; Ezek. 7:8; Ezek. 7:27; Ezek. 11:10; Ezek. 11:11; Ezek. 16:38; Ezek. 17:20; Ezek. 18:30; Ezek. 20:4; Ezek. 20:35; Ezek. 20:36; Ezek. 21:30; Ezek. 22:2; Ezek. 23:24; Ezek. 23:36; Ezek. 23:45; Ezek. 24:14; Ezek. 33:20; Ezek. 34:17; Ezek. 34:20; Ezek. 34:22; Ezek. 35:11; Ezek. 36:19; Ezek. 38:22; Ezek. 44:24; Dan. 9:12; Hos. 7:7; Hos. 13:10; Joel 3:2; Joel 3:12; Amos 2:3; Obad. 1:21; Mic. 3:11; Mic. 4:3; Mic. 5:1; Mic. 7:3; Zeph. 3:3; Zech. 7:9; Zech. 8:16

John MacArthur emphasizes that "A “judge” or deliverer was distinct from a judge in the English world today. Such a leader guided military expeditions against foes as here and arbitrated judicial matters (cf. Judges 4:5). There was no succession or national rule. They were local deliverers, lifted up to leadership by God when the deplorable condition of Israel in the region around them prompted God to rescue the people. (MacArthur, J.: The MacArthur Study Bible Nashville: Word)

God established and strengthened the "deliverers". The noun shopet ("judges") appears only in Judges 2:16-19, where it is used six times of those God raised up to “rescue” or “save” Israel from her enemies.

The Hebrew word for “judge” is shopet, meaning “ruler,” rather than magistrate, and is the source of the noun mishpat, meaning “judgment” or “justice.” Its cognates are found in Akkadian, Phoenician, Aramaic, and even Punic (cf. A. Harris, A Grammar of the Phoenician Language, p. 153). The basic concept of the word has to do with a verdict given by a judge and is descriptive of every phase of the judge’s work. Therefore, the noun mishpat means the judgment given by the shopet and, thus, may indicate justice, ordinance, or codified law (torah) given by God Himself, since Yahweh is the God of mishpat (Gen 18:25). Real judgment and justice cannot be separated from Him who is the basis of all ethical righteousness (cf. N. Snaith, The Distinctive Ideas of the Old Testament, pp. 74–77). Thus, to the Hebrew mind God’s justice (mishpat) was not a mere idea, but an activated principle in time and history. It was manifested in real and observable events because the real God acted with vindicating righteousness upon His people. When Israel sought the Lord, He raised up “judges” to accomplish His act of deliverance for Israel. Thus, the English title “judge” may often be misleading since it conveys the idea of acting mainly in the legal realm of arbitrating disputes, whereas, the biblical judges were primarily “saviors” or “deliverers” from their enemies (cf. G. Vos, Biblical Theology, pp. 270–75).

Actually, the noun shopet is not used to describe the men themselves, though the verb “judged” is used of the action of Othniel (note Judges 3:10), Deborah (note Judges 4:4), Tola (note Judges 10:2), Jair (note Judges 10:3), Jephthah (note Judges 12:7), Ibzan (note Judges 12:8), Elon (note Judges 12:11), Abdon (note Judges 12:13), and Samson (note Judges 15:20). Their main duty was the act of “judging” by which they delivered Israel from oppression.

As Cundall, in the Tyndale Old Testament Commentary (p. 15), has shown, the actual “Judge” in Israel was the Lord Himself; for He only is called the shopet! The individual judges were called by divine appointment and brought to prominence in the role of a deliverer through whom God administered His justice by empowerment with His Spirit (note Judges 3:10). Perhaps later they settled as civil leaders as well, since the years of each one’s “judgeship” are recorded after the initial deliverance of the people from oppression.


Deliver (save, help) (03467)(yasha' - see word study) is translated by the LXX with the Greek verb "sozo (word study)" which means to save (NT rendering 149 times) or saviour (15 times). So judges would move the people from distress to safety which would equate with deliverance and liberation to those in bondage to evil masters.

JUDGES 2:16 G Campbell Morgan "The Lord raised up judges". This brief sentence records the method of God during this period. It was a method made necessary by the repeated failure of the people. That should. be clearly understood. These men were not judges in our sense of the word. Neither were they appointed to rule in the normal way. The nation was a Theocracy, halting God as King. Its life was conditioned by His law, and His will was made known through His worship, and the teaching of the priests. The first sentences of the previous chapter reveal the nation inquiring of Jehovah on a matter of national importance. The answer was direct. It was sought and obtained by the use of Urim and Thum­mim by the priest (Ex 28.30). The peo­ple had no need of any other administrators in times of obedience. When through disobedience they passed into circumstances of difficulty and suffering, God raised up judges who became the instruments of Divine deliverance. The Hebrew word Shophetim is derived from a word meaning to put right, and so to rule, and this is exactly what these men did. In the earlier cases, when they had accomplished deliverance they retired again into private life. Gradually they came to retain office. Samuel judged Israel forty years. The need for them arose out of human failure: the provision was of Divine Grace. This principle runs through all the history of man. Man persistently fails, but God persistently overcomes man's failure in order to man's well-being. Priests, judges, kings, prophets, are all means by which God stoops to man's level in order to recover him. (Morgan, G. C. Life Applications from Every Chapter of the Bible)

Our Daily Bread - Unlikely Heroes - The book of Judges is an account of God’s people descending into spiritual indifference and rebellion. After the death of Joshua and his peers, the next generation “forsook the Lord God of their fathers, … and they followed other gods from among the gods of the people who were all around them” (Jdg. 2:12).

This dismal record of wavering allegiance hardly seems the place to find spiritual heroes, yet four people from Judges—Gideon, Barak, Samson, and Jephthah (Jdg 4–16)—are named in the New Testament book of Hebrews (He 11:32). Along with Noah, Abraham, Moses, and other notables, they are commended for their faith.

Judges, however, presents these men as flawed people who nevertheless responded to God’s call during a time of spiritual darkness in their culture. The Bible honors them for their faith, not for their perfection. They were recipients of God’s grace as surely as we are.

In every generation, God raises up people who are true to Him and to His Word. The measure of their lives and of ours is not the absence of failure but the presence of God’s gracious forgiveness and the faith to obey His call. All of God’s champions are unlikely heroes. — David C. McCasland (Our Daily Bread - Unlikely Heroes)

Heaven’s heroes never carve their name
On marbled columns built for earthly fame;
They build instead a legacy that springs
Out of a life lived for the King of kings. —Gustafson

Faith in Christ can make extraordinary heroes out of ordinary people.

Judges 2:17 And yet they did not listen to their judges, for they played the harlot after other gods and bowed themselves down to them. They turned aside quickly from the way in which their fathers had walked in obeying the commandments of the LORD; they did not do as their fathers.

AND YET THEY DID NOT LISTEN TO THEIR JUDGES: (1 Samuel 8:5-8; 12:12,17,19; 2 Chronicles 36:15,16; Psalms 106:43 )

Did not listen - Did not hearken. Did not listen with a view to obeying. We must have "ears" to hear what the Spirit is saying. They heard the words but did not heed the warnings!

This implies that the judges were giving instructions in godliness and righteous living and yet these "words of life" went in one ear and out the other so to speak as shown by Israel's rapid return to idolatry when the judge died.

FOR THEY PLAYED THE HARLOT AFTER OTHER GODS: (Exodus 34:15,16; Leviticus 17:7; Psalms 73:27; 106:39; Hosea 2:2; Revelation 17:1, 2, 3, 4,5)

Israel had been warned (that's one of the great purposes of God's Word - Are you reading it daily, looking for those "divine stop signs" so to speak?)

(Ex 34:13-16) “But rather, you are to tear down their altars and smash their sacred pillars and cut down their Asherim 14 –for you shall not worship any other god, for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous (qin'ah) God–15 otherwise you might make a covenant (karath beriyth) with the inhabitants of the land and they would play the harlot with their gods and sacrifice to their gods, and someone might invite you to eat of his sacrifice, 16 and you might take some of his daughters for your sons, and his daughters might play the harlot with their gods and cause your sons also to play the harlot with their gods (cf an example of this national travesty in Nu 25:1-11).

The KJV is more vivid rendering it as they went "whoring after other gods." They prostituted themselves.

Played the harlot (zanah) refers primarily to a sexual relationship outside of marriage and can thus encompass prostitution as well as adultery. In context the metaphor compares Israel to an unfaithful wife who has violated her marriage covenant and embraced other lovers (the Canaanite gods).

Remember that one translation of "Ba'al" is "husband" (speaking to Israel Isaiah 54:5 records "your husband [ba'al] is your Maker, Whose name is the LORD of hosts"; See also Jer 31:32) and that Jehovah was Israel's Husband, helps one understand the choice of language that pictures Israel's apostasy as marital infidelity or as an unfaithful wife.


The same phrase used of golden calf episode, where Moses declares…

And I saw that you had indeed sinned against the LORD your God. You had made for yourselves a molten calf; you had turned aside quickly from the way which the LORD had commanded you. (Deut 9:16)


The people wasted their suffering. They didn’t learn the lessons God wanted them to learn and profit from His chastening.

Ray Stedman sees some powerful lessons for believers in the book of Judges writing that…

The great lesson of Judges is that we must take God seriously, and we must take our enemy seriously. Jesus Christ has come to save us from our sins, not to help us to comfortably accommodate ourselves to them. He has come to drive those sins and habits out of us. If we do not take God seriously about these so-called little things, then step by step, gradually and imperceptibly, we will move away from God’s grace, and we will sink into moral and spiritual collapse.

Occasionally, we hear the story of an outstanding man or woman of God who suddenly, unexpectedly is found to be caught up in dishonest or immoral behavior. A scandal erupts, then widespread disillusionment. People shake their heads in bewilderment and ask, “How could this happen so suddenly? What caused this abrupt change in this person?” I’m convinced that in almost every case, there was nothing sudden about this behavior. Long before this seemingly sudden moral implosion took place, there was a long period of inner deterioration, gradual compromise, secret sins, little sins. They took their toll, day by day, until a major moral collapse became inevitable.

You may be asking yourself, “Is this happening to me? In some area of my life am I saying, ‘Lord, this really isn’t very important. Why bother me with this little matter? This isn’t very important, is it Lord?’ “ That is a dangerous attitude. If that is your attitude, you are exposing yourself to peril.

Listen to the message of Judges. Read the book carefully. Listen to God’s warning-yet-loving voice. If you read it closely, with an open heart, you will make the same discovery I did: The book of Judges is a mirror in which we are able to see ourselves and our condition more clearly. May God give us the courage and the wisdom to take the insights of Judges and apply them personally, so that the image we see in that mirror will look less like that of failed, deteriorating Israel and more like Jesus Christ. (Stedman, Ray: Adventuring through the Bible. Discovery House)

Judges 2:18 And when the LORD raised up judges for them, the LORD was with the judge and delivered them from the hand of their enemies all the days of the judge; for the LORD was moved to pity by their groaning because of those who oppressed and afflicted them.

English translation of the Septuagint (LXX): And because the Lord raised them up judges, so the Lord was with the judge, and saved them out of the hand of their enemies all the days of the judge; for the Lord was moved at their groaning by reason of them that besieged them and afflicted them.

AND WHEN THE LORD RAISED UP JUDGES FOR THEM, THE LORD WAS WITH THE JUDGE AND DELIVERED THEM FROM THE HAND OF THEIR ENEMIES ALL THE DAYS OF THE JUDGE FOR THE LORD WAS MOVED TO PITY BY THEIR GROANING: (Exodus 3:12; Joshua 1:5; Acts 18:9,10) (Jdg 10:16; Genesis 6:6; Deuteronomy 32:36; Psalms 90:13; 106:44,45; Jeremiah 18:7-10; Hosea 11:8; Jonah 3:10) (Exodus 2:24; 2Kings 13:4,22,23; Psalms 12:5)

Jehovah raised up Judges This verse teaches us 3 significant facts about the judges:

(1) God raised them up. They were not appointed by men or elected. As an aside, this is also an example of mercy (not giving Israel what they deserved) and grace (giving them what they did not deserve) -- remember that whenever you study Israel and are tempted to point a finger of condemnation at them, there are four fingers pointing back at you. Flesh is always going to be flesh, and Israel is just a vivid picture of our fallen flesh!

(2) God was with them empowering them to carry out the task He gave them.

(3) God worked through the judges who were the channels of His presence.

As long as the judge was alive, God brought freedom and victory to His people. One might say that during this period, Israel was essentially functioning as a theocracy for these leaders were directly raised up by God, empowered by God, and answerable to God, the King in Israel.

Groan (naaqah) means to utter sounds of despair, especially as a result of oppression. A groan refers to a non-verbal guttural noise of great physical pain and suffering.

"(Israel in Egyptian bondage) So God heard their groaning and God remembered His covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob." (Ex 2:24)

"And furthermore I have heard the groaning of the sons of Israel, because the Egyptians are holding them in bondage; and I have remembered My covenant. (Exodus 6:5)

Jehovah is still the same here in Judges (circa 1100bc) as He was in Egypt (circa 1400 bc) when Israel groaned under Egyptian slavery. Truly God's mercies never cease! Hundreds of years do not cool the warmth of His compassions. Truths such as these should cause of to read the Old Testament with a sense of anticipation and excitement at what we will discover about our infinite God.

God is not a man and so He does not break His covenants, and He does not desert His people. In fact, as the people experience their richly deserved judgment, we read He "was moved to pity by their groaning." What a beautiful picture of God's heart of compassion!

His people sin against Him even as a faithless wife commits harlotry with strangers. They rebelled, rejected Him, and spurned the love of He was a husband to them. God could easily and justifiably declared "That's enough" and justice would had have no complaint. But as God saw Israel wallowing in their bondage of sin, His heart was moved with pity and love. Judges is full of the grace of God, the same grace and love which ultimately sent the Lord Jesus to the Cross. If God allowed men to be destroyed in their sin, the angels would keep on singing their eternal song: "Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts." But God's love keeps reaching out, to be consummated in the ultimate cost of Calvary.


Oppressed (lachats) means to press, experience distress, crush, etc. There is no more graphic word picture of the meaning of this Hebrew verb than that of Balaam's donkey squeezing up against the wall and thereby crushing Balaam's foot ("crushed Balaam's foot" Nu 22:25).

F B Meyer
Our Daily Homily


F B Meyer commenting on "The Lord raised them up judges" writes…

This was better than nothing. It was better to have even the fitful gleam of deliverance than to settle down under a monotony of servitude; but how much better it would have been if their national history had been a steady progression from one degree of prosperity to another, like the sun rising towards the perfect day! It was of God’s kindness and grace that the judges created these temporary respites; it was the fault of their own infidelity and sin that they were not always delivered.

This fitful life is too often the experience of the believer. We have our Gideons, and Baraks, and Samsons; times of revival, times of deep and blessed experience, followed by backsliding and relapse; times when the flood-tide of grace rises high in our soul, to be succeeded by the ebb, with long stretches of desert sand. Thank God for the judges; but be on the alert for the reign of the kings, for David and Solomon, Josiah and Hezekiah — for the reign of the King.

The days of the judges were those in which there was no king over Israel. The fitfulness of our experience is often attributable to our failure to recognize the kingship of Jesus. We worship other gods — the gods of the nations around; the idols of the market-place, the studio, the camp, and the bar. The aims and practices of the worldly and ungodly too much engross our thoughts, and sway our behavior. Alas for us! Is it strange that God leaves us to reap much bitterness, recalling us when He can, but longing to be able to do some permanent work of salvation and edification? Oh, let us gladly accord Him what is his right, to “sit and rule upon his throne.” (Meyer, F. B. Our Daily Homily)

Judges 2:19 But it came about when the judge died, that they would turn back and act more corruptly than their fathers, in following other gods to serve them and bow down to them; they did not abandon their practices or their stubborn ways.

BUT IT CAME ABOUT WHEN THE JUDGE DIED THAT THEY WOULD TURN BACK: (Jdg 2:7; 3:11,12; 4:1; 8:33; Joshua 24:31; 2Chronicles 24:17,18 )

(Jdg 2:7) The people served the LORD all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders who survived Joshua, who had seen all the great work of the LORD which He had done for Israel.

(Jdg 3:11) Then the land had rest forty years. And Othniel the son of Kenaz died.12 Now the sons of Israel again did evil in the sight of the LORD. So the LORD strengthened Eglon the king of Moab against Israel, because they had done evil in the sight of the LORD.

(Jdg 4:1) Then the sons of Israel again did evil in the sight of the LORD, after Ehud died.

(Jdg 8:33) Then it came about, as soon as Gideon was dead, that the sons of Israel again played the harlot with the Baals, and made Baal-berith their god.

But - Always pause, ponder and query this strategic term of contrast. They reversed their direction, turning from good to evil.

Davis explains the problem that occurred when the judge died, noting that often we…

"discover the true nature of people by observing them when they are not bound by external constraints. Take a class full of second graders. Let the teacher leave the room and all Cain gets raised. They, like Israel, are showing their true nature. During a judge’s lifetime Israel tolerates an external righteousness. But let the judge die, let the “restraining one” be taken out of the way, and there is continual slopping back into idolatry. Even the kindness of God (Judges 2:16, 18) does not move the Israelites to faithfulness or repentance. They do not and apparently cannot keep themselves from the slavery of sin (Judges 2:19); they are held in sin’s grip; they have Baal in their blood. Sometimes we have difficulty understanding the slavery of sin (a key theme of Judges, by the way), understanding sin as power. There is a mystery about it… “When the judge died, they turned back and acted more corruptly than their fathers” (Judges 2:19). Why did they always do that? Why could they not break that pattern? It is mysterious; but Judges does teach us that that is the tragic tyranny of sin.

Sin is not simply an action you do or fail to do, that you can choose to do or not to do. Sin is a power that holds you in its grip. That is precisely what the apostle meant when he averred that all — both Jew and Gentile, both religious man and pagan man — are “under sin” (Ro 3:9-note), by which he means “under the power of sin” (RSV). And until the church gets a proper view of sin, we will never see salvation as much more than a moving religious charade rather than as an act of holy, vicious violence by which Christ wrenches his people out of the clammy clutches of the prince of darkness (cf. 1John 3:8).(Ralph Davis Judges: Such a Great Salvation - Focus on the Bible) (Bolding added)


Bow down (Shachah) means to prostrate one's self… vivid picture of what the Chosen people were doing in direct rebellion to God's very explicit command (see esp. Ex 20:5) in Ex 20:3, 4, 5, but be aware that we can do it in the NT as taught in Col 3:6 (greed = idolatry! Watch over your heart w all diligence).

Jeremiah 2:5 :… That they went far from Me And walked after emptiness and became empty? (NIV = They followed worthless idols and became worthless themselves.)

The Septuagint (LXX) translates "bow down" with the picturesque verb proskuneo (see word study) which conveys the basic sense to bow down and kiss someone's feet, garment hem, or the ground in front of him (picture God's people kissing the feet of gods which are no gods! - this is how far you can go when you abandon God!) and thus means to express in attitude or gesture one’s complete dependence on or submission to a high authority figure. It means to fall down and worship or to prostrate oneself before and reverence or welcome respectfully! This is what Israel was doing to the vile Canaanite idols which were associated with unspeakable depravity and wickedness.

THEY DID NOT ABANDON THEIR PRACTICES OR THEIR STUBBORN WAYS: (1Samuel 15:23; Psalms 78:8; Jeremiah 3:17; 23:17)

Stubborn (Qasheh) hardhearted, stiff-necked, obstinate..

Judges 2:19 has an unusual use of the Hebrew verb (naphal) which means abandon, cease = NIV renders it "refused to give up". The LXX translates naphal with aporripto which gives us a vivid picture for this same verb is used in the NT in Acts 27:43 to describe those who "should jump overboard" from a ship that would soon be wrecked! (Interesting thought to ponder in context of idolatry!) In Jdg 2:19 the root problem seems to be that they never made a clean break (note Greek verb is in the active voice which calls for a decision of our will to carry out a certain action) with the false gods… they chose not to "jump overboard" from this "ship of idols" even though it was bound for certain destruction.

What is the important lesson for believers today? These verses serve as a testimony and reminder that sin is always a serious matter to the children of God. If we do not deal decisively with sin in our lives, we will never experience the fullness of the Spirit and Christ's victory over sin. There must be no compromise and no peaceful coexistence with sin. If we try to go only part of the way in our commitment to the Lord Jesus, we will find ourselves bound up in a spiral that inexorably takes us downhill spiritually. The cycle of disobedience, discipline, despair, deliverance is seen today whenever God’s people turn away from His Word and go their own way.

The spiritual theme at this point is ether obvious: God gives the victory to all believers but only by faith and obedience do we enter fully into the victory He has made available. He is sovereign but He demands personal response and responsibility.

The antidote to the Judges complex is the constant application of 1 John 1:9 to our lives.

"If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." (1Jn 1:9)

That is God's provision for fellowship, and our opportunity for abundant, victorious living.

The pattern of Joshua-Judges serves as an excellent illustration of the conflicts of the Christian life. In Christ we have been guaranteed total victorious possession of “the land.” The inheritance of our salvation is assured, however, we must maintain our personal relationship to God by continually driving out our “enemies.” Therefore, separated and dedicated Christian living is necessary to maintain the victory which has been assured to us.

If you want to know just how up-to-date the Book of Judges is, listen to the words of the late General Douglas MacArthur: “In this day of gathering storms, as moral deterioration of political power spreads its growing infection, it is essential that every spiritual force be mobilized to defend and preserve the religious base upon which this nation is founded; for it has been that base which has been the motivating impulse to our moral and national growth. History fails to record a single precedent in which nations subject to moral decay have not passed into political and economic decline. There has been either a spiritual reawakening to overcome the moral lapse, or a progressive deterioration leading to ultimate national disaster.”

Judges 2:20 So the anger of the LORD burned against Israel, and He said, "Because this nation has transgressed My covenant which I commanded their fathers, and has not listened to My voice,

SO THE ANGER OF THE LORD BURNED AGAINST ISRAEL: (Jdg 2:14; 3:8; 10:7; Exodus 32:10,11; Deuteronomy 32:22 ) (Jos 23:16, Dt 4:24, 25, 26, 27, 28)

Anger of Jehovah burned - Literally "His nose became hot" (See Judges 2:14 Comments)

Jehovah's anger burned repeatedly in Judges…

(Jdg 2:14) The anger of the LORD burned against Israel, and He gave them into the hands of plunderers who plundered them; and He sold them into the hands of their enemies around them, so that they could no longer stand before their enemies.

(Jdg 3:8) Then the anger of the LORD was kindled against Israel, so that He sold them into the hands of Cushan-rishathaim king of Mesopotamia; and the sons of Israel served Cushan-rishathaim eight years.

(Jdg 10:7) The anger of the LORD burned against Israel, and He sold them into the hands of the Philistines and into the hands of the sons of Ammon.


Why did God punish Israel?

How did He punish them?

Is there any lesson for us, especially when we have a besetting ("pet") sin that we refuse to give up (enabled of course by the Spirit = Ro 8:13-note)?

Judges 2:21 I also will no longer drive out before them any of the nations which Joshua left when he died,


Again Israel had been clearly warned by Joshua (so it was not that long ago! How quickly our flesh forget truth! Little wonder Jesus advised daily intake of daily bread - Mt 4:4, Lk 4:4)

(Josh 23:13) know with certainty that the LORD your God will not continue to drive these nations out from before you; but they will be a snare and a trap to you, and a whip on your sides and thorns in your eyes, until you perish from off this good land which the LORD your God has given you.

God allowed the Canaanites to remain in the land

(1) to punish Israel's apostasy (Judges 2:20),

(2) to test Israel (Judges 2:22),

(3) to teach Israel how to fight (Judges 3:2).

Judges 2:22 in order to test Israel by them, whether they will keep the way of the LORD to walk in it as their fathers did, or not."

IN ORDER TO TEST ISRAEL BY THEM: (Genesis 22:1; Deuteronomy 8:2,16; 13:3; 2Chronicles 32:31; Job 23:10; Psalms 66:10; Proverbs 17:3; Malachi 3:2,3)


Solomon wrote

(Pr 17:3) The refining pot is for silver and the furnace for gold, but the LORD tests hearts.

Moses had warned Israel before they entered the promised land that they would be tested (Do you believe you will be tested? Do you chaff at God's testing times?).

"And you shall remember all the way which the LORD your God has led you in the wilderness these forty years, that He might humble you, testing you, to know what was in your heart (to reveal Israel's true character), whether you would keep His commandments or not. "And He humbled you and let you be hungry, and fed you with manna which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that He might make you understand that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by everything that proceeds out of the mouth of the LORD. (Deut 8:2-3)

In the wilderness He fed you manna which your fathers did not know, that He might humble you and that He might test you, to do good for you in the end. (Deut 8:16)

you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams; for the LORD your God is testing you (the test was to determine if Israel was loyal to the Lord) to find out if you love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul. (Deut 13:3)

Tested by them - Who is them? The pagan idol worshipping nations. By whom or what is God testing you beloved? Our hearts are prone to wander, so we are always in need of testing and refining of our hearts. The tests will not cease until we see the King face to face in glory. Maranatha!

Test (05254)(nacah/nasah; Lxx = peirazo) in most OT uses has idea of testing or proving quality of someone or something and doing so often through adversity or hardship. As the following context makes clear (note "to see," lit., "to know," in 3:4), the purpose of this divine test was to determine if Israel was truly loyal. An examination of parallel passages shows that such divine tests were designed to reveal otherwise hidden character qualities. Testing which shows what someone is really like generally involves difficulty or hardship.

Swanson sums up Nacah - 1. (piel) test, try, i.e., attempt to learn the true nature of something (1Ki 10:1); 2. (piel) attempt, try, i.e., exert oneself to do something (Dt 4:34); 3. (piel) test, try, i.e., cause or allow hardship or trouble in a circumstance, often with choices within the situation, implying a different outcome is possible (Jdg 2:22)

Baker - 5254. נָסָה nāsāh: A verb meaning to test, to try, to prove. Appearing nearly forty times in the Old Testament, this term often refers to God testing the faith and faithfulness of human beings, including Abraham (Gen. 22:1); the nation of Israel (Ex. 15:25; 16:4; 20:20; Deut. 8:2, 16; 13:3[4]; Judg. 2:22; 3:1, 4); Hezekiah (2 Chr. 32:31); David (Ps. 26:2). Although people were forbidden from putting God to the test, they often did so (Ex. 17:2, 7; Num. 14:22; Deut. 6:16; 33:8; Ps. 78:18, 41, 56; 95:9; 106:14; Isa. 7:12). Testing, however, does not always suggest tempting or enticing someone to sin, as when the Queen of Sheba tested Solomon’s wisdom (1 Kgs. 10:1; 2 Chr. 9:1); and Daniel’s physical appearance was tested after a ten-day vegetarian diet (Dan. 1:12, 14). Finally, this term can refer to the testing of equipment, such as swords or armor (1 Sam. 17:39). (Complete Word Study Dictionary- Old Testament)

Nacah - 34x in OT - See these use below. Translated in NAS = make a test(1), proved(1), put(1), put to the test(2), tempted(3), test(13), tested(9), testing(3), tried(1), try(1), venture(1), ventures(1).

Testing quality of someone or something through stress. Dt 6:16, 8:16, Ps 78:18 Lxx = ekpeirazo [1598]

KJV =“tempt” for “test” = confusing because "tempt" ~ “enticing to do wrong” yet God does not tempt man (Ja1:13), so rendering “TEMPT” became a problem.

In Ge 22:1 God was testing (REFINING) the character of Abraham & did the same with Hezekiah in 2Chr 32:31 because God wants us to walk more closely to His way (Ex 16:4; Dt 8:2; Jdg 2:22; Ps 26:12).


1). Nacah/nasah = an attempt to prove the existence of a particular quality in someone or something.

2). Tsaraph =“to refine,” usually indicating the purifying result of divine judgment.

3). Bachan focuses attention on an examination to prove the existence of some spiritual quality, such as integrity.

NOTE: Underlying each words is the conviction that even when a test involves difficulty or suffering, God intends His tests of our faith to bring us something good.

Attempt to do something. of attempting or venturing a word which might offend hearer Job 4:2; of venturing to touch one's foot to ground Dt 28:56; of trying to take a nation (Israel) fr another nation (Egypt) Dt 4:34

  • of TESTING VARIOUS THINGS armor and WEAPONS 1Sa17:39
  • PLEASURE Eccl 2:1; Eccl 7:23


Man is FORBIDDEN TO PUT GOD TO THE TEST Dt 6:16 but OT records that he did so. MASSAH ("TRIAL") = byword in this regard, often combined in a play on words with nasa, "to try" (Ex 17:2, 7; Dt 6:16; Dt 33:8; Ps 95:8, 9; cf. Dt 9:22). Those who put God to the proof in the wilderness would not see Canaan (Num 14:22-23). The hymns of Israel reflect this DEFIANT ATTITUDE (see Ps 78:18, 41, 56; Ps 106:14).

OF MAN PUTTING ANOTHER MAN TO THE TEST: Queen of Sheba TESTED SOLOMON with hard questions (1 Ki 10:1; 2Chr 9:1); chief of the eunuchs TESTED the appearance of DANIEL and his friends after they ate vegetables for ten days (Dan 1:12, 14); FALSE PROPHETS sometimes were the instrument for TESTING A MAN'S FAITH (Deut 13:3 [H 4]).

Often GOD IS RESPONSIBLE FOR TESTINGS AND TRIALS UPON MAN. God delivered Israel by sending "great trials" upon the Egyptians (Dt 7:19; Dt 29:3); but He later TESTED ISRAEL BY THE CANAANITE NATIONS (Jdg 2:22; Jdg 3:1, 4). GOD TESTED BOTH ABRAHAM (Gen 22:1) and HEZEKIAH (2Ch32:31). SUCH TESTING BY GOD, HOWEVER, WAS NOT WITHOUT INTENT. It was to REFINE THE CHARACTER of man that he might walk more closely in God's ways (Ex 16:4; Dt 8:2; Jdg 2:22; 2Ch32:31; Ps 26:1-3).

When a believer comes through a trial still trusting the Lord, he is assured that his faith is genuine (Ge 22:1-12; Job 1:20-22, 42:5,6 => Job's perseverance ultimately resulted in a clearer revelation of God and His awesome character.

Here are the 34 OT Uses of Nacah/nasah…

Ge 22:1 Now it came about after these things, that God tested (Lxx = peirazo) Abraham, and said to him, “Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.”

(Heb 11:17-note) By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises was offering up his only begotten son;

Ex 15:25 Then he cried out to the Lord, and the Lord showed him a tree; and he threw it into the waters, and the waters became sweet. There He made for them a statute and regulation, and there He tested (Lxx = peirazo) them.

Ex 16:4 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you; and the people shall go out and gather a day’s portion every day, that I may test (Lxx = peirazo) them, whether or not they will walk in My instruction.

Ex 17:2 Therefore the people quarreled with Moses and said, “Give us water that we may drink.” And Moses said to them, “Why do you quarrel with me? Why do you test (Lxx = peirazo) the Lord?”

Ex 17:7 He named the place Massah and Meribah because of the quarrel of the sons of Israel, and because they tested (Lxx = peirazo) the Lord, saying, “Is the Lord among us, or not?”

Ex 20:20 Moses said to the people, “Do not be afraid; for God has come in order to test (Lxx = peirazo) you, and in order that the fear of Him may remain with you, so that you may not sin.”

Nu 14:22 “Surely all the men who have seen My glory and My signs which I performed in Egypt and in the wilderness, yet have put Me to the test (Lxx = peirazo) these ten times and have not listened to My voice,

Dt 4:34 “Or has a god tried (Lxx = peirazo) to go to take for himself a nation from within another nation by trials, by signs and wonders and by war and by a mighty hand and by an outstretched arm and by great terrors, as the Lord your God did for you in Egypt before your eyes?

Dt 6:16 You shall not put the Lord your God to the test, as you tested Him at Massah. (Both Lxx uses = ekpeirazo)

Dt 8:2 “You shall remember all the way which the Lord your God has led you in the wilderness these forty years, that He might humble you, testing (Lxx = ekpeirazo) you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not.

Dt 8:16, “In the wilderness He fed you manna which your fathers did not know, that He might humble you and that He might test (Lxx = ekperiazo) you, (Why did He test them?) to do good for you in the end. (cf Heb12:5)

Dt 13:3 you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams; for the Lord your God is testing (Lxx = peirazo) you to find out if you love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul.

Dt 28:56 “The refined and delicate woman among you, who would not venture to set the sole of her foot (Literally = who hath not tried the sole of her foot ) on the ground for delicateness and refinement, shall be hostile toward the husband she cherishes and toward her son and daughter,

Dt 33:8 Of Levi he said, “Let Your Thummim and Your Urim belong to Your godly man, Whom You proved (Lxx = peirazo) at Massah, With whom You contended at the waters of Meribah;

Jdg 2:22 in order to test (Lxx = peirazo) Israel by them, whether they will keep the way of the Lord to walk in it as their fathers did, or not.”

Jdg 3:1 Now these are the nations which the LORD left, to test (Lxx = peirazo) Israel by them (that is, all who had not experienced any of the wars of Canaan;2 only in order that the generations of the sons of Israel might be taught war, those who had not experienced it formerly).3 These nations are: the five lords of the Philistines and all the Canaanites and the Sidonians and the Hivites who lived in Mount Lebanon, from Mount Baal-hermon as far as Lebo-hamath.4 And they were for testing (Lxx = peirazo) ISRAEL, to find out if they would obey the commandments of the LORD, which He had commanded their fathers through Moses.

Jdg 6:39 Then Gideon said to God, “Do not let Your anger burn against me that I may speak once more; please let me make a test (Lxx = peirazo) once more with the fleece, let it now be dry only on the fleece, and let there be dew on all the ground.”

1 Sa 17:39 David girded his sword over his armor and tried to walk, for he had not tested (Lxx = peirazo) them. So David said to Saul, “I cannot go with these, for I have not tested (Lxx = peirazo) them.” And David took them off.

1 Ki 10:1 Now when the queen of Sheba heard about the fame of Solomon concerning the name of the Lord, she came to test (Lxx = peirazo) him with difficult questions.

2 Ch 9:1 Now when the queen of Sheba heard of the fame of Solomon, she came to Jerusalem to test (Lxx = peirazo) Solomon with difficult questions. She had a very large retinue, with camels carrying spices and a large amount of gold and precious stones; and when she came to Solomon, she spoke with him about all that was on her heart.

2 Ch 32:31 (Read 2Chr 32:30 for context) (THE TEST =) A Even in the matter of the envoys of the rulers of Babylon, who sent to him to inquire of the wonder that had happened in the land, God left him alone only to test (Lxx = peirazo) him, that He might know all that was in his heart (Ed: Hezekiah showed the Babylonian envoys ALL of the treasuries! And Isaiah then prophesied that Judah would one day future be taken into captivity in Babylon. Hezekiah's son was evil Manasseh)..

Job 4:2 “If one ventures (tried) a word with you, will you become impatient? But who can refrain from speaking?

Ps 26:2 (Context Ps 26:1) Examine (bachan = to try like testing metals for their authenticity and purity. ) me, O Lord, and try (nasah/nacah; Lxx = peirazo) me; Test (Tsaraph = to refine; cast, goldsmith, melt, purge away, try. ) my mind and my heart. (All red verbs = commands).

Ps 78:18 And in their heart they put God to the test (ekperiazo) By asking food according to their desire.

Ps 78:41 Again and again they tempted (Lxx = peirazo) God, And pained the Holy One of Israel.

Ps 78:56 Yet they tempted (Lxx = peirazo) and rebelled against the Most High God And did not keep His testimonies,

Ps 95:9 “When your fathers tested (Lxx = peirazo) Me, They tried Me, though they had seen My work.

Ps 106:14 But craved intensely in the wilderness, And tempted (Lxx = peirazo) God in the desert.

Ec 2:1 I said to myself, “Come now, I will test (Lxx = peirazo) you with pleasure. So enjoy yourself.” And behold, it too was futility.

Ec 7:23 I tested (Lxx = peirazo) all this with wisdom, and I said, “I will be wise,” but it was far from me.

Isa 7:12 But Ahaz said, “I will not ask, nor will I test(Lxx = peirazo) the Lord!”

Da 1:12 "Please test (Lxx = peirazo) your servants for ten days, and let us be given some vegetables to eat and water to drink.'' 13 "Then let our appearance be observed in your presence, and the appearance of the youths who are eating the king's choice food; and deal with your servants according to what you see."14 So he listened to them in this matter and tested (Lxx = peirazo) them for ten days.


What was the purpose of the testing?

Affliction God allows or brings is good for our spiritual health…

Ps 119:71 It is good for me that I was afflicted, That I may learn Thy statutes. (cp Pr 6:23, Ps 94:12, Ps 119:67, He 12:5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11)

Judges 2:23 So the LORD allowed those nations to remain, not driving them out quickly; and He did not give them into the hand of Joshua.

So (KJV = "therefore") - term of conclusion

Joshua’s seven-year conquest is general in nature; much of the land remains to be possessed

Now Joshua was old and advanced in years when the LORD said to him, "You are old and advanced in years, and very much of the land remains to be possessed. (Joshua 13:1).

Judges 2:1-5
The Danger of Indecision
Charles Simeon…

WE admire the condescension of Jehovah towards his chosen people, in that he raised up prophets to instruct them, and not unfrequently sent angels also to minister unto them. But the person who is here called “an Angel of the Lord,” seems to have been no other than “the Angel of the Covenant,” the Lord himself. It is certain that Jehovah did sometimes assume the appearance of an angel; as when he visited Abraham, and informed him of the judgments that were about to be inflicted on Sodom and Gomorrha. And it is clear that the person spoken of in our text was no created angel; for if he had, how could he with any propriety use such language? It was not a creature that brought the Israelites out of Egypt; but Jehovah. It was not a creature that made a covenant with them; but Jehovah. It was not a creature to whom they were accountable for their disobedience, or whose threatened dereliction they had such reason to deplore, but Jehovah: and the circumstance of his being said to come up from Gilgal, which is supposed to militate against this interpretation, rather confirms it: for it was in Gilgal, near to Jericho, that this same divine person had appeared to Joshua, as an armed warrior. That he was Jehovah, cannot be doubted; because he suffered Joshua to worship him; and even commanded him to put off his shoe from his foot, because the very ground whereon he stood was, by reason of his presence, rendered holy. In his conversation with Joshua he had called himself “the Captain of the Lord’s host;” and therefore there was a particular propriety in his appearing now to the people, to inquire, “Why they had not carried his orders into effect? and to threaten that he would fight for them no longer. Besides, at Gilgal the people had revived the ordinance of circumcision, and had kept a Passover unto the Lord; in both which ordinances they had consecrated themselves to God afresh, and engaged to serve him, as his redeemed people. In coming therefore as from Gilgal, the Angel reminded them of their solemn engagements, and humbled them the more for their violation of them.

The particular address of the Lord to them, together with the effect it produced upon them, leads us to consider,

I. The danger of indecision—

The command which God had given to the Israelites was plain and express: they were “utterly to destroy the Canaanites, and to make no covenant with them:” (Dt 7:2) and on their performance of this condition was suspended the continuance of God’s interposition in their favour. But they were not careful to execute the divine command: and therefore God threatened, that the Canaanites, whom they had presumed to spare, should become a lasting source of pain to them; that they would gradually draw them into sin, and ultimately become instruments of inflicting on them the vengeance they had merited.

Such is the sin which God’s professing people still commit—

[The command to every one of us is to make no league with any one of our spiritual enemies; not with the world: on the contrary, we are to “overcome it;” to “come out from the people of it, and be separate;” to be “dead to” all its cares and pleasures, “being crucified to it, and esteeming it as crucified unto us:” we are “not to be of it, any more than Jesus Christ himself was of it.” With respect to the flesh also and our corrupt nature, no truce must be made with it, even for a moment: we must “mortify our members upon earth,” and “crucify the flesh with the affections and lusts:” we must not spare one evil desire, though it should be dear as “a right eye,” or useful as “a right hand;” we must “pluck it out with abhorrence, or cut it off, and cast it from us.” It is not sufficient to make them pay tribute: we must slay them; we must “shew them no mercy;” (Dt 7:2) our hatred of them must be irreconcilable and incessant.

But what is our state? Do we find in ourselves this zeal? Instead of proceeding to the utter extirpation of our spiritual enemies, are we not satisfied if they do not reign? Are we not contented to let them exist, provided they keep themselves concealed from public view? — — — What then is the declaration of God unto us? Does he not warn us, that the evils which we spare shall become “as thorns in our sides, and prove a snare unto our souls?” And do we not find that it is even so in our daily experience? Let the person who still associates with the men of this world, say, whether he does not find that they are a clog to him in his spiritual course? whether his endeavours to please them do not lead him sometimes into sinful compliances, and his fear of displeasing them do not keep him from testifying against their evil ways? Will any say that he has found it practicable for “light to have communion with darkness, or Christ with Belial;” or that the soul can flourish whilst it is engaged in such a foolish attempt as that of reconciling the services of God and Mammon? Let the person who is still too deeply immersed in the cares or pleasures of the world, say, whether he has not often been led to strain his conscience in order to prosecute his ends, and to adopt some practices which in his heart he disapproved? — — — Let the person who harbours some besetting sin, ask, whether it has not often risen up with a force that was almost irresistible, and nearly, if not altogether, involved him in some flagrant transgression? Let the person in whom pride, or lewdness, or covetousness, or passion is suffered to dwell, answer this question — — — He knows but little of his own heart, who does not know, that sin is a flame, which, if not extinguished, may speedily “set on fire his whole nature,” (Jas 3:6 with Dt. 32:2) and “burn to the lowest hell.” Lastly, Let the person who listens to the temptations of Satan, say, whether there be any way of making him flee, but by perpetual resistance? [Jas 4:7- note] — — —]

If such then be the danger of indecision, let us consider,

II. The duty of those who are convicted of it—

Two things were produced by the declarations of the Angel in the breasts of all the congregation of Israel; which also our own experience calls for; namely,

1. An humiliation of soul before God—

[The people “lifted up their voice and wept.” And who amongst us has not abundant reason to follow their example? Whether we consider our sin or our punishment, we have but too much reason to weep. Indecision is not so light a sin as some imagine: (Job 31:25, 28) it shews an insincerity of heart, which is most odious in itself, and most offensive to God. See in what a light the Israelites beheld it, when once a conviction of it was brought home to their minds! and is not the sparing of inveterate lusts as wicked as sparing the devoted Canaanites? Does it not betray an equal want of reverence for God, of love to his name, and of zeal for his honour? Behold then what is the duty of every one amongst us: “Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep; let your laughter be turned into mourning, and your joy into heaviness; humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, and he shall lift you up.” (Jas 4:9-note, Jas 4:10-note) Nor does the threatened punishment afford us less occasion to weep: for a subjection to sin is the greatest evil that can befall us. If God should once say, “He is joined to idols; let him alone;” it would be a heavier judgment to us than immediate death and immediate damnation; because we should live only to “treasure up wrath against the day of wrath,” and should perish at last under an accumulated weight of misery to all eternity. O that the dread of such a punishment might humble us all in dust and ashes!]

2. An application to God through the medium of sacrifice—

[“They sacrificed there unto the Lord;” and had recourse to the blood of sprinkling for the remission of their sin. Though their weeping was very general, and very bitter, insomuch that the name of the place, which was Shiloh, was called Bochim, or Weepers, from that circumstance, yet did they not hope to pacify their offended God with tears: they knew that an atonement was necessary; and they sought him. therefore in his appointed way. O that we might learn from them! Humiliation is necessary; but it is not sufficient: tears, even if we could shed rivers of them, could never wash away sin: the blood of atonement is necessary; “without shedding of blood there is no remission.” We must apply to the Lord Jesus Christ, and “go to God through him.” We must acknowledge our obligation to his sacrifice for all the mercy and forbearance we have already experienced; and must look to it as the only means of our reconciliation with God: it is his blood, and “his blood alone, that can ever cleanse us from our sin” — — — And here I would particularly remind you that the sin laid to the charge of Israel, was not of commission, but of omission; not some flagrant enormity, but a lukewarmness and neglect of duty: yet did they see the need of a sacrifice to atone for that. In like manner, though we should have no guilt imputed to us but that of omission and defect, yet must we apply to the blood of sprinkling, and seek for pardon through that one Sacrifice which was once offered for us on the cross.]

Learn then from hence,

1. The value of a faithful monitor—

[We do not like faithful admonitions, even from those whose special duty it is to reprove sin. We are ready to account them harsh and severe. But what is the office which a friendly monitor performs? Is it not that which the Angel of the Covenant himself executed, yea, and came from heaven on purpose to perform? But it may be said, that we alarm men, and make them melancholy: true; we shew them their guilt and danger, and try to bring them to a state of humiliation on account of it, and to an affiance in the Lord Jesus Christ for the pardon of it. But is this an evil? If the whole congregation were affected precisely as the whole congregation of Israel were, every one weeping for his sins, and seeking the remission of them through the great Sacrifice, would it be a matter for regret? No: we would to God that this very place might this day deserve the name of Bochim; and that the remembrance of it might never be obliterated from your minds! Sure we are that the congregation of Israel felt themselves deeply indebted to Him who thus sought their welfare; and we have no doubt but that, however an ungodly world may hate our reproofs, there is not a contrite sinner in the universe who will not regard his monitor as a father, and “receive him as an Angel of God, even as Christ Jesus.” (Gal 4:14) They will not hesitate to thank him, who, by bringing them to weep here, has kept them from weeping and wailing and gnashing their teeth in hell for ever.]

2. The danger of forgetting the admonitions that have been given us—

During the days of Joshua and the elders that outlived Joshua, the Israelites maintained some measure of steadfastness in their duty to God: but afterwards they fearfully declined, and brought upon themselves the most afflictive judgments. The whole remainder of the chapter from whence our text is taken, elucidates this truth. The impressions which were now made upon them gradually wore away; and the people relapsed into their former state of supineness. Of the unreasonableness of their conduct they were fully convinced: for, when the Angel asked them, “Why have ye done this?” they could not offer one word in extenuation of their guilt: but when they ceased to listen to the voice of conscience, they proceeded from one wickedness to another, “till there was no remedy.” And how often is this seen amongst ourselves! Many are deeply affected on some particular occasion: they will weep, and pray, and think of the Saviour; but in process of time they lose all their good impressions, and “go back with the dog to his vomit, and the sow that was washed to the wallowing in the mire.” The Lord grant that it may not prove thus with us! May our “goodness not be as the dew, or as the morning cloud that passeth away;” but rather as the sun, which shines brighter and brighter unto the perfect day. (Horae Homileticae - Judges 2:1-5 The Danger of Indecision)

F B Meyer

This was the first of many bitter remonstrances that were to come to Israel. "The messenger Jehovah" must be He of whom the prophet spoke (Mal. 3:1), the Word and Son of God.

Judges 2:1-3 There is a recital of the true cause of their failure. --It was due, not to any failure on God's part, but to a great failure on theirs. They had made a league with the people, and had not destroyed their idols. Was this guilty collusion due to any shame of their allegiance to an unseen God; or was it owing to their love of the sinful orgies which characterized the heathen festivities?

God's warning angels still come to men. Let us be on the outlook for them. But how bitter sometimes is their reproof? Have not we entered into covenant with forbidden things, avoiding His altar, and disobeying His voice. And this is the reason why we are hindered and injured by the thorn in our side and the snare for our foot (Judges 2:3). We, at least, may learn this solemn lesson, that the Church is no match for the world, so long as it is allied to the world; and that the way of separation is the only path of victory and safety.

Judges 2:6-9 The death of Joshua. -- The former part of this paragraph is identical with Joshua 24:29. There was a parenthesis of twenty years of rest, before the great warrior was summoned to his rest. During that time he exerted a great repressive influence, which waned when his sun set; and another generation arose.

Judges 2:10-15 The sins and sorrows of Israel -- What a marvellous relapse was here! How the heart of man abhors the spirituality and purity of God (Jer. 2:11-12). But those who turn from God lay themselves open to bitter sorrows. If your heart is not perfect with God, your best plans will be spoiled by spoilers, and you will be sold as a slave to the flesh.

In the light of Judges 2:14 and Judges 2:15 it cannot be too clearly or constantly repeated that failure in consecration and obedience always means defeat. When we follow other gods, and bow ourselves down to them, we can no longer stand against our enemies. Then the hand of the Lord is against us, and we become sore distressed. But even under such circumstances He does not forget His covenant. Though we believe not, He remaineth faithful, He cannot deny Himself. He therefore raises up judges, and saves us from the full measure of His wrath (Judges 2:18).

Judges 2:16-18 God's compassion. -- How touching is the account of God's pity (Judges 2:18). Even though we have brought grave sorrows on ourselves by sin, yet will God interpose to avert the full brunt of penalty. Though we believe Him not, He remaineth faithful. He cannot deny Himself. God can always find or make deliverers in the most degenerate age of the Church; so we find here that He raised up judges which delivered His people.

Judges 2:19-23 The madness of their apostasy. -- After a while God left the people to the results of their own choice, and, as they had permitted the Canaanites, they were allowed to suffer from them, and the discipline which refined them came through the results of the sin, from which they were to be set free. (F. B. Meyer. CHOICE NOTES ON JOSHUA THROUGH 2 KINGS)