Judges 2:17 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Judges 2:17, NIV: Yet they would not listen to their judges but prostituted themselves to other gods and worshiped them. They quickly turned from the ways of their ancestors, who had been obedient to the LORD's commands.

Judges 2:17, ESV: Yet they did not listen to their judges, for they whored after other gods and bowed down to them. They soon turned aside from the way in which their fathers had walked, who had obeyed the commandments of the LORD, and they did not do so.

Judges 2:17, KJV: And yet they would not hearken unto their judges, but they went a whoring after other gods, and bowed themselves unto them: they turned quickly out of the way which their fathers walked in, obeying the commandments of the LORD; but they did not so.

Judges 2:17, NASB: Yet they did not listen to their judges, for they committed infidelity with other gods and bowed 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 the same as their fathers.

Judges 2:17, NLT: Yet Israel did not listen to the judges but prostituted themselves by worshiping other gods. How quickly they turned away from the path of their ancestors, who had walked in obedience to the LORD's commands.

Judges 2:17, CSB: but they did not listen to their judges. Instead, they prostituted themselves with other gods, bowing down to them. They quickly turned from the way of their ancestors, who had walked in obedience to the Lord's commands. They did not do as their ancestors did.

What does Judges 2:17 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

The writer of the book of Judges is describing a pattern that will repeat throughout the chapters ahead. The Israelites will abandon the Lord and worship other gods. The Lord's anger will burn, and He will use the nations of Canaan to punish His own people. Once His people are in great distress, the Lord will raise up human rescuers—"judges"—to save the people from their attackers.

Each time a judge arises to rescue the people, they temporarily turn back to God. Unlike previous generations who mostly obeyed the Lord's commandments, and sometimes drifted into serious sin, the Israelites living in Canaan will mostly reject God. As this verse emphasizes, Israel will not maintain spiritual faithfulness.

Those reading the Old Testament for the first time are often shocked by the harsh, almost rancid language used to describe sins such as idolatry. In many cases, Scripture refers to the word "whore:" an aggressively negative term associated with prostitution or depraved sexuality. The original Hebrew word is zānāh. Some translations politely render this as "played the harlot." There is a purposeful sense of God's distaste—even disgust—in such descriptions.

Such terms connect to the Bible's perception of spiritual adultery, especially as it relates to Israel's relationship with God. God's intent was to have a committed, one-on-one relationship with Israel. He made a covenant with the nation comparable to a marriage. He would do good for them so long as they were faithful and obedient to Him. When Israel worshiped and served other gods, the Lord's anger is described as righteous indignation. This is very deliberately compared to the wrath of a spouse whose partner is having sex with others.