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Judges chapter 2

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6And when Joshua had let the people go, the children of Israel went every man unto his inheritance to possess the land. 7And the people served the LORD all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders that outlived Joshua, who had seen all the great works of the LORD, that he did for Israel. 8And Joshua the son of Nun, the servant of the LORD, died, being an hundred and ten years old. 9And they buried him in the border of his inheritance in Timnathheres, in the mount of Ephraim, on the north side of the hill Gaash. 10And also all that generation were gathered unto their fathers: and there arose another generation after them, which knew not the LORD, nor yet the works which he had done for Israel. 11And the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the LORD, and served Baalim: 12And they forsook the LORD God of their fathers, which brought them out of the land of Egypt, and followed other gods, of the gods of the people that were round about them, and bowed themselves unto them, and provoked the LORD to anger. 13And they forsook the LORD, and served Baal and Ashtaroth. 14And the anger of the LORD was hot against Israel, and he delivered them into the hands of spoilers that spoiled them, and he sold them into the hands of their enemies round about, so that they could not any longer stand before their enemies. 15Whithersoever they went out, the hand of the LORD was against them for evil, as the LORD had said, and as the LORD had sworn unto them: and they were greatly distressed. 16Nevertheless the LORD raised up judges, which delivered them out of the hand of those that spoiled them. 17And 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. 18And when the LORD raised them up judges, then the LORD was with the judge, and delivered them out of the hand of their enemies all the days of the judge: for it repented the LORD because of their groanings by reason of them that oppressed them and vexed them. 19And it came to pass, when the judge was dead, that they returned, and corrupted themselves more than their fathers, in following other gods to serve them, and to bow down unto them; they ceased not from their own doings, nor from their stubborn way. 20And the anger of the LORD was hot against Israel; and he said, Because that this people hath transgressed my covenant which I commanded their fathers, and have not hearkened unto my voice; 21I also will not henceforth drive out any from before them of the nations which Joshua left when he died: 22That through them I may prove Israel, whether they will keep the way of the LORD to walk therein, as their fathers did keep it, or not. 23Therefore the LORD left those nations, without driving them out hastily; neither delivered he them into the hand of Joshua.

What does Judges chapter 2 mean?

The first verses of Judges chapter 2 are best understood as an extension from chapter 1. Israel failed, tribe by tribe, to drive the Canaanites from the land as God had commanded them. This seems to have been from some combination of indifference or fear. In response, God appears to the people at a place later named Bochim for its association with "weeping." References to "the angel of the Lord" suggest a physical presence of God—likely God the Son before His incarnation in Jesus Christ. This angel speaks to the people, as the Lord, using first-person terminology. He reminds them that He brought Israel out of Egypt and into the Promised Land. He kept His word to them and promised never to break His covenant with them so long as they did not break theirs. Despite promises made to Joshua (Joshua 24:23–24), the Israelites did break the covenant with the Lord. They imitated and accepted the depraved people of Canaan. They left pagan altars intact. They did not obey the voice of their God (Judges 2:1–2).

As a response, God announces that He will not drive out the Canaanite people. By the end of the chapter, it will become clear that this happens in two ways: the people will be tempted and troubled by the Canaanites living in their territories, and they will be attacked and plundered by the territories they have not yet captured. The people the Israelites have allowed to stay in the land, and their false gods, will cause trouble and temptation for Israel. In response to God's rebuke, the people of Israel weep loudly and offer sacrifices to God. As the following verses show, this sorrow is short-lived and ultimately meaningless (Judges 2:3–5).

Starting in verse 6, the writer of Judges seems to re-introduce the storyline. He provides a key to understanding what will follow in the later chapters: the pattern repeated time and again between God and the people of Israel. To do this, the writer goes back to Joshua, who was faithful to the Lord. This information effectively repeats the content of Joshua 24:28–31. Joshua's leadership not only produced great victories in Canaan, but it also kept the people in faithful obedience to God. When Joshua and his peers died out, however, the following generations did not acknowledge the Lord or the miracles He had done for Israel (Judges 2:6–10).

Instead of following the Lord and keeping the covenant, the new generation of Israelites abandoned Him. As God predicted (Deuteronomy 20:16–18), the people began to worship the false gods of the people of Canaan. They honored idols such as Baal and Ashtaroth—Canaanite fertility gods—and performed all the degrading acts associated with those religions. This would have included things like temple prostitution and even human sacrifice (Judges 2:11–13).

God, provoked to great anger, would then use Israel's enemies as punishment. Unconquered enemy groups (Judges 3:1–4) would raid and enslave Israel, until the people were in great distress. Then the Lord would raise a deliverer, named using a Hebrew word loosely translated as "judge." These leaders combined spiritual, civic, and military efforts, specially empowered by God, to save Israel from the nations afflicting her. The Lord would continue to guide His people through that human judge until the judge died (Judges 2:15–18).

Sadly, once each judge died, the pattern would begin again. The Israelites would go back to worshiping other gods. In fact, with every cycle, their sin became even worse than before. Once again, God's anger would burn. Once again, Israel's enemies would conquer her. The people would suffer. Another new judge would come and save the people, a peace lasting only until the judge's death. In response to their persistent sin, God stops enabling Israel's conquest of more territory in the Promised Land. He also leaves them to the consequences of allowing the Canaanites to persist in the land. He will continue to use those enemies to demonstrate whether Israel will turn and obey in response to suffering (Judges 2:19–23).

Chapter 3 begins with a brief explanation of the two main groups which will antagonize Israel during the era of the judges. Attacks, enslavement, and oppression come from the unconquered nations surrounding Israel (Judges 3:1–4). Temptation and idolatry come from the people living among Israel in the captured territories (Judges 3:5–6).
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