“And an angel of Yahweh went up from Gilgal to Bochim.” This is an interesting statement because it shows that there are spiritual realities and spiritual necessities that are not apparent to humans at the time they occur. Even if a person saw this angel on the road walking from Gilgal up to Bochim, they would not have known it was an angel. It was only at a later point in time that it became known that the angel traveled from Gilgal to Bochim. Most scholars believe that Bochim is the town of Bethel which is 15 miles to the west and uphill from Gilgal, and it was given the designation “Bochim,” meaning “Weepers,” because of the weeping that occurred there. It is also possible, however, that this “angel” is a human messenger of Yahweh, in that case likely a Levite (cp. Mal. 2:7).
The town of Gilgal is significant because of all the things that happened there and because it was Israel’s first base camp in the Promised Land after Joshua crossed the Jordan River. It seems that by his lonely uphill walk, the angel was making a bold statement about where Israel had been under Joshua when they first crossed the Jordan River compared to where they were now in the period of the judges after Joshua was dead.
When Israel first crossed the Jordan River and camped at Gilgal the men were circumcised and God rolled away the reproach of Egypt from off them. The Promised Land was before them and the future looked bright indeed. God’s angels were directing them, and God provided miracle conquests, such as at Jericho. But by Judges 2, the Israelites had rejected the covenant and disobeyed God, and so the angel announced that God would not be with them as before, which is why the people wept at “Weepers.”
So, even though no one saw it at the time, in obedience to God the angel walked from Gilgal, where the future of Israel looked so bright, to Bochim, where the present was ungodly and the future was looking bleak and difficult. What the angel did was not noticed in the physical realm at the time, and some people might argue that the journey was just show and had no real effect. But it would be shortsighted to think that way, because God does not give His angels busywork with no real purpose. In the battle between good and evil, spiritual realities are just as important, and likely more important, than physical realities. We are in no position to gauge what happened in the spiritual world, and perhaps later in the physical world, because of that uphill hike. There is always a benefit to obeying God, even if we do not see it in the physical world, and God likely put this little sentence in His Word about what angels do behind the scenes to remind us of that fact.
“And he said, ‘I brought you up out of Egypt and I led you to the land.’” The idea that God brought Israel up out of Egypt and led them into the Promised Land occurs a number of times in Scripture, but in this case, the wording is different, While in other places the verb translated “brought” is a past tense verb, here in Judges 2:1 the verb “brought” is in the imperfect tense and could well be translated as a future verb: “I will bring you up out of Egypt.” This is difficult to bring into English because it would confuse the reader, but the implication is profound. It makes the sentence read more as if it was saying, “I said I will bring you up out of Egypt, and I led you into the land I promised to give….” In other words, God is making the point that He said he would do something, then He did it. God is faithful to His word. In contrast, Israel said they would serve God, and then they did not do it. We learn from Judges that Israel broke the covenant and worshiped and served pagan gods. Against the backdrop of God’s faithfulness, Israel’s unfaithfulness stands out very clearly.