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Judges chapter 2

New International Version

1 The angel of the LORD went up from Gilgal to Bokim and said, 'I brought you up out of Egypt and led you into the land I swore to give to your ancestors. I said, 'I will never break my covenant with you, 2 and you shall not make a covenant with the people of this land, but you shall break down their altars.' Yet you have disobeyed me. Why have you done this? 3 And I have also said, 'I will not drive them out before you; they will become traps for you, and their gods will become snares to you.''
4 When the angel of the LORD had spoken these things to all the Israelites, the people wept aloud, 5 and they called that place Bokim. There they offered sacrifices to the LORD.
6 After Joshua had dismissed the Israelites, they went to take possession of the land, each to their own inheritance. 7 The people served the LORD throughout the lifetime of Joshua and of the elders who outlived him and who had seen all the great things the LORD had done for Israel.
8 Joshua son of Nun, the servant of the LORD, died at the age of a hundred and ten. 9 And they buried him in the land of his inheritance, at Timnath Heres in the hill country of Ephraim, north of Mount Gaash.
10 After that whole generation had been gathered to their ancestors, another generation grew up who knew neither the LORD nor what he had done for Israel. 11 Then the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the LORD and served the Baals. 12 They forsook the LORD, the God of their ancestors, who had brought them out of Egypt. They followed and worshiped various gods of the peoples around them. They aroused the LORD's anger 13 because they forsook him and served Baal and the Ashtoreths. 14 In his anger against Israel the LORD gave them into the hands of raiders who plundered them. He sold them into the hands of their enemies all around, whom they were no longer able to resist. 15 Whenever Israel went out to fight, the hand of the LORD was against them to defeat them, just as he had sworn to them. They were in great distress.
16 Then the LORD raised up judges, who saved them out of the hands of these raiders. 17 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. 18 Whenever the LORD raised up a judge for them, he was with the judge and saved them out of the hands of their enemies as long as the judge lived; for the LORD relented because of their groaning under those who oppressed and afflicted them. 19 But when the judge died, the people returned to ways even more corrupt than those of their ancestors, following other gods and serving and worshiping them. They refused to give up their evil practices and stubborn ways.
20 Therefore the LORD was very angry with Israel and said, 'Because this nation has violated the covenant I ordained for their ancestors and has not listened to me, 21 I will no longer drive out before them any of the nations Joshua left when he died. 22 I will use them to test Israel and see whether they will keep the way of the LORD and walk in it as their ancestors did.' 23 The LORD had allowed those nations to remain; he did not drive them out at once by giving them into the hands of Joshua.
English Standard Version

1 Now the angel of the LORD went up from Gilgal to Bochim. And he said, “I brought you up from Egypt and brought you into the land that I swore to give to your fathers. I said, ‘I will never break my covenant with you, 2 and you shall make no covenant with the inhabitants of this land; you shall break down their altars.’ But you have not obeyed my voice. What is this you have done? 3 So now I say, I will not drive them out before you, but they shall become thorns in your sides, and their gods shall be a snare to you.” 4 As soon as the angel of the LORD spoke these words to all the people of Israel, the people lifted up their voices and wept. 5 And they called the name of that place Bochim. And they sacrificed there to the LORD.
6 When Joshua dismissed the people, the people of Israel went each to his inheritance to take possession of the land. 7 And the people served the LORD all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders who outlived Joshua, who had seen all the great work that the LORD had done for Israel. 8 And Joshua the son of Nun, the servant of the LORD, died at the age of 110 years. 9 And they buried him within the boundaries of his inheritance in Timnath-heres, in the hill country of Ephraim, north of the mountain of Gaash. 10 And all that generation also were gathered to their fathers. And there arose another generation after them who did not know the LORD or the work that he had done for Israel.
11 And the people of Israel did what was evil in the sight of the LORD and served the Baals. 12 And they abandoned the LORD, the God of their fathers, who had brought them out of the land of Egypt. They went after other gods, from among the gods of the peoples who were around them, and bowed down to them. And they provoked the LORD to anger. 13 They abandoned the LORD and served the Baals and the Ashtaroth. 14 So the anger of the LORD was kindled against Israel, and he gave them over to plunderers, who plundered them. And he sold them into the hand of their surrounding enemies, so that they could no longer withstand their enemies. 15 Whenever they marched out, the hand of the LORD was against them for harm, as the LORD had warned, and as the LORD had sworn to them. And they were in terrible distress.
16 Then the LORD raised up judges, who saved them out of the hand of those who plundered them. 17 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. 18 Whenever the LORD raised up judges for them, the LORD was with the judge, and he saved 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 afflicted and oppressed them. 19 But whenever the judge died, they turned back and were more corrupt than their fathers, going after other gods, serving them and bowing down to them. They did not drop any of their practices or their stubborn ways. 20 So the anger of the LORD was kindled against Israel, and he said, “Because this people have transgressed my covenant that I commanded their fathers and have not obeyed my voice, 21 I will no longer drive out before them any of the nations that Joshua left when he died, 22 in order to test Israel by them, whether they will take care to walk in the way of the LORD as their fathers did, or not.” 23 So the LORD left those nations, not driving them out quickly, and he did not give them into the hand of Joshua.
King James Version

1 And an angel of the LORD came up from Gilgal to Bochim, and said, I made you to go up out of Egypt, and have brought you unto the land which I sware unto your fathers; and I said, I will never break my covenant with you. 2 And ye shall make no league with the inhabitants of this land; ye shall throw down their altars: but ye have not obeyed my voice: why have ye done this? 3 Wherefore I also said, I will not drive them out from before you; but they shall be as thorns in your sides, and their gods shall be a snare unto you. 4 And it came to pass, when the angel of the LORD spake these words unto all the children of Israel, that the people lifted up their voice, and wept. 5 And they called the name of that place Bochim: and they sacrificed there unto the LORD.
6 And when Joshua had let the people go, the children of Israel went every man unto his inheritance to possess the land. 7 And 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. 8 And Joshua the son of Nun, the servant of the LORD, died, being an hundred and ten years old. 9 And they buried him in the border of his inheritance in Timnathheres, in the mount of Ephraim, on the north side of the hill Gaash. 10 And 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. 11 And the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the LORD, and served Baalim: 12 And 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. 13 And they forsook the LORD, and served Baal and Ashtaroth. 14 And 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. 15 Whithersoever 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. 16 Nevertheless the LORD raised up judges, which delivered them out of the hand of those that spoiled them. 17 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. 18 And 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. 19 And 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. 20 And 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; 21 I also will not henceforth drive out any from before them of the nations which Joshua left when he died: 22 That 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. 23 Therefore the LORD left those nations, without driving them out hastily; neither delivered he them into the hand of Joshua.
New American Standard Bible

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, 2 and as for you, you shall not make a covenant with the inhabitants of this land; you shall tear down their altars.’ But you have not obeyed Me; what is this thing that you have done? 3 Therefore I also said, ‘I will not drive them out from you; but they will become like thorns in your sides, and their gods will be a snare to you.’?' 4 Now when the angel of the LORD spoke these words to all the sons of Israel, the people raised their voices and wept. 5 So they named that place Bochim; and there they sacrificed to the LORD.
6 When Joshua had dismissed the people, the sons of Israel went, each one to his inheritance, to take possession of the land. 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. 8 Then Joshua the son of Nun, the servant of the LORD, died at the age of 110. 9 And they buried him in the territory of his inheritance in Timnath-heres, in the hill country of Ephraim, north of Mount Gaash. 10 All that generation also were gathered to their fathers; and another generation rose up after them who did not know the LORD, nor even the work which He had done for Israel.
11 Then the sons of Israel did evil in the sight of the LORD and served the Baals, 12 and they abandoned the LORD, the God of their fathers, who had brought them out of the land of Egypt, and they followed other gods from the gods of the peoples who were around them, and bowed down to them; so they provoked the LORD to anger. 13 They abandoned the LORD and served Baal and the Ashtaroth. 14 Then the anger of the LORD burned against Israel, and He handed them over to plunderers, and they plundered them; and He sold them into the hands of their enemies around them, so that they could no longer stand against their enemies. 15 Wherever they went, the hand of the LORD was against them for evil, as the LORD had spoken and just as the LORD had sworn to them, so that they were severely distressed.
16 Then the LORD raised up judges who saved them from the hands of those who plundered them. 17 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. 18 And when the LORD raised up judges for them, the LORD was with the judge and saved 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 tormented and oppressed them. 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 obstinate ways. 20 So the anger of the LORD burned against Israel, and He said, 'Because this nation has violated My covenant which I commanded their fathers, and has not listened to My voice, 21 I in turn will no longer drive out from them any of the nations which Joshua left when he died, 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.' 23 So the LORD allowed those nations to remain, not driving them out quickly; and He did not hand them over to Joshua.
New Living Translation

1 The angel of the LORD went up from Gilgal to Bokim and said to the Israelites, 'I brought you out of Egypt into this land that I swore to give your ancestors, and I said I would never break my covenant with you. 2 For your part, you were not to make any covenants with the people living in this land; instead, you were to destroy their altars. But you disobeyed my command. Why did you do this? 3 So now I declare that I will no longer drive out the people living in your land. They will be thorns in your sides, and their gods will be a constant temptation to you.'
4 When the angel of the LORD finished speaking to all the Israelites, the people wept loudly. 5 So they called the place Bokim (which means 'weeping'), and they offered sacrifices there to the LORD.
6 After Joshua sent the people away, each of the tribes left to take possession of the land allotted to them. 7 And the Israelites served the LORD throughout the lifetime of Joshua and the leaders who outlived him--those who had seen all the great things the LORD had done for Israel.
8 Joshua son of Nun, the servant of the LORD, died at the age of 110. 9 They buried him in the land he had been allocated, at Timnath-serah in the hill country of Ephraim, north of Mount Gaash.
10 After that generation died, another generation grew up who did not acknowledge the LORD or remember the mighty things he had done for Israel.
11 The Israelites did evil in the LORD's sight and served the images of Baal. 12 They abandoned the LORD, the God of their ancestors, who had brought them out of Egypt. They went after other gods, worshiping the gods of the people around them. And they angered the LORD. 13 They abandoned the LORD to serve Baal and the images of Ashtoreth. 14 This made the LORD burn with anger against Israel, so he handed them over to raiders who stole their possessions. He turned them over to their enemies all around, and they were no longer able to resist them. 15 Every time Israel went out to battle, the LORD fought against them, causing them to be defeated, just as he had warned. And the people were in great distress.
16 Then the LORD raised up judges to rescue the Israelites from their attackers. 17 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.
18 Whenever the LORD raised up a judge over Israel, he was with that judge and rescued the people from their enemies throughout the judge's lifetime. For the LORD took pity on his people, who were burdened by oppression and suffering. 19 But when the judge died, the people returned to their corrupt ways, behaving worse than those who had lived before them. They went after other gods, serving and worshiping them. And they refused to give up their evil practices and stubborn ways.
20 So the LORD burned with anger against Israel. He said, 'Because these people have violated my covenant, which I made with their ancestors, and have ignored my commands, 21 I will no longer drive out the nations that Joshua left unconquered when he died. 22 I did this to test Israel--to see whether or not they would follow the ways of the LORD as their ancestors did.' 23 That is why the LORD left those nations in place. He did not quickly drive them out or allow Joshua to conquer them all.
Christian Standard Bible

1 The angel of the Lord went up from Gilgal to Bochim and said, "I brought you out of Egypt and led you into the land I had promised to your ancestors. I also said: I will never break my covenant with you. 2 You are not to make a covenant with the inhabitants of this land. You are to tear down their altars. But you have not obeyed me. What have you done? 3 Therefore, I now say: I will not drive out these people before you. They will be thorns in your sides, and their gods will be a trap for you." 4 When the angel of the Lord had spoken these words to all the Israelites, the people wept loudly. 5 So they named that place Bochim and offered sacrifices there to the Lord.
6 Previously, when Joshua had sent the people away, the Israelites had gone to take possession of the land, each to his own inheritance. 7 The people worshiped the Lord throughout Joshua's lifetime and during the lifetimes of the elders who outlived Joshua. They had seen all the Lord's great works he had done for Israel.
8 Joshua son of Nun, the servant of the Lord, died at the age of 110. 9 They buried him in the territory of his inheritance, in Timnath-heres, in the hill country of Ephraim, north of Mount Gaash. 10 That whole generation was also gathered to their ancestors. After them another generation rose up who did not know the Lord or the works he had done for Israel.
11 The Israelites did what was evil in the Lord's sight. They worshiped the Baals 12 and abandoned the Lord, the God of their ancestors, who had brought them out of Egypt. They followed other gods from the surrounding peoples and bowed down to them. They angered the Lord, 13 for they abandoned him and worshiped Baal and the Ashtoreths.
14 The Lord's anger burned against Israel, and he handed them over to marauders who raided them. He sold them to the enemies around them, and they could no longer resist their enemies. 15 Whenever the Israelites went out, the Lord was against them and brought disaster on them, just as he had promised and sworn to them. So they suffered greatly.
16 The Lord raised up judges, who saved them from the power of their marauders, 17 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. 18 Whenever the Lord raised up a judge for the Israelites, the Lord was with him and saved the people from the power of their enemies while the judge was still alive. The Lord was moved to pity whenever they groaned because of those who were oppressing and afflicting them. 19 Whenever the judge died, the Israelites would act even more corruptly than their ancestors, following other gods to serve them and bow in worship to them. They did not turn from their evil practices or their obstinate ways.
20 The Lord's anger burned against Israel, and he declared, "Because this nation has violated my covenant that I made with their ancestors and disobeyed me, 21 I will no longer drive out before them any of the nations Joshua left when he died. 22 I did this to test Israel and to see whether or not they would keep the Lord's way by walking in it, as their ancestors had." 23 The Lord left these nations and did not drive them out immediately. He did not hand them over to 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 who 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).