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Go to Bible: Judges 2
“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.(top)
“But you have not listened to my voice.” That might include the covenant with the Gibeonites.(top)
“but they will be thorns in your sides.” See Joshua 23:13.(top)
|Jdg 2:4||- (top)|
“they sacrificed there to Yahweh.” They either built an altar or there was one there from an earlier time. Offering a sacrifice is an appropriate response to their sin.(top)
“Now when Joshua had sent the people away.” This is a summary statement; Joshua had already been recorded as having died.(top)
|Jdg 2:7||- (top)|
|Jdg 2:8||- (top)|
“Timnath-heres.” The city is called Timnath-sereh in the book of Joshua (Josh. 19:50; 24:30).
“north of the mountain of Gaash.” The sense is that Joshua was buried to the north (but likely close to) the mountain of Gaash. The burial would never be in the city because touching a tomb made a person unclean.(top)
|Jdg 2:10||- (top)|
|Jdg 2:11||- (top)|
“made Yahweh angry.” What Israel did made God angry. It is somewhat of an overstatement to use the word “provoke,” which usually contains intent, “to stir up purposely.” The people did not set out to make God angry, but nevertheless, what they did angered God.
“bow down.” The common biblical way of bowing down before people or God was to fall to one’s knees and bow the upper body to the earth. It is the same Hebrew word as “worship.”
[For more on bowing down, see commentary on 1 Chronicles 29:20.](top)
“Ashtaroths.” The word “Ashtaroths” is a plural feminine noun, usually understood to be fertility goddesses. It is possible in this context that the singular god Baal is paired with the Ashtaroths, feminine goddesses because in that culture it was common for a powerful man to have more than one wife.(top)
“sold them into the hands of their enemies.” The fact that God “sold” Israel portrays them as slaves. Israel served Yahweh, who brought them out of Egypt, and so when they were not happy with Him as a “master,” He sold them to other masters, as if they might be happy with them, but of course they never were.(top)
“for evil.” Here, “evil” is describing bad things, disaster.
“as Yahweh had spoken.” God had said that if Israel forsook God they would be destroyed (cp. Deut. 6:15; 7:4).(top)
“But Yahweh raised up.” Judges 2:16-23 starts a new section of Judges and basically describes the cycle that goes throughout the rest of the book. Israel sins, Israel is defeated and enslaved; Israel cries out to God for help; God raises up a judge to deliver Israel; Israel ignores the judge and gets caught up in sin again; and the cycle repeats.
“judges who saved them.” In this verse, it is the judges who saved Israel, but in other verses, Yahweh is said to save the people. Both statements are true: Yahweh and the judges worked together to save Israel.(top)
“obeyed.” The Hebrew is “listened to,” but it means “obeyed.”(top)
“and saved them.” Here in Judges 2:18, it is Yahweh who is saving Israel, while Judges 2:16 it was the judge who saved Israel. The judge and Yahweh worked in concert.(top)
“they turned back.” They turned back from following the judge to their evil ways.(top)
|Jdg 2:20||- (top)|
|Jdg 2:21||- (top)|
|Jdg 2:22||- (top)|
“neither did he give them into the hand of Joshua.” God had said He would not give the Promised Land all at once to Joshua, and would not drive out the inhabitants quickly. God had various reasons for that, for example, Israel did not have enough people to occupy the entire land and God did not want the dangerous wild animals to multiply (Exod. 23:29-30; Deut. 7:22).(top)