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Bible Commentaries

Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible

Judges 2

 

 

Verses 1-5

Judges 1:1 to Judges 2:5. The Conquests and Settlements of the Israelites in Western Palestine.—From this introduction, which is one of the most valuable parts of early Hebrew history, we learn that the various tribes invaded the land either singly or in small groups; that they had failures as well as successes; that in many instances they did not destroy the older population, but settled peacefully among them; and that, in particular, the larger cities of Canaan, as well as the fertile valleys and the Maritime Plain, remained in the possession of the Canaanites. The conquests of Judah were separated from those of Joseph by a belt of walled cities with Jerusalem in its centre. Another line of strongholds, extending from Bethshan near the Jordan to Dor on the sea coast, shut up Ephraim and Manasseh in the central highlands, and separated them from the tribes of Asher, Zebulun, and Naphtali, which settled in Galilee. The fortunes of Israel in the time of the Judges were largely determined by these facts.

Judges 2:1-5. The Consecration of Bethel.—The Israelites having now entered the land of Canaan, the religious centre was changed from Gilgal, in the plain of Jericho, to Bethel, in the central highlands, where sacrifice was offered to Yahweh. The "angel of Yahweh" (Genesis 16:7*) is not a prophet, as the Rabbis taught, but Yahweh Himself manifesting His presence, here in some undefined way, often in human form (e.g. Judges 6:11, Judges 13:3). His moving from Gilgal, where He appeared as "the captain of the host of the Lord," to Bethel suffices to create a new sanctuary. The LXX reads "Bethel" instead of "Bochim," the latter finding its fitting place only in Judges 2:5. The speech (of the nature of a Midrash) contained in Judges 2:1 b - Judges 2:3, reproving the Israelites for associating with the Canaanites and not breaking down their altars, is post-exilic in spirit and diction.

Judges 2:3. The words "as thorns" are taken over from Numbers 33:55 to make sense, the Hebrew text—"they shall be sides to you"—being evidently at fault. The LXX suggests "they shall be enemies to you." The name Bochim ("weepers") is found only here: cf. the Oak of Weeping (Genesis 35:8), and the Valley of Weeping (Psalms 84:6). Perhaps Bochim may be another form of Bekaim (balsam trees, 2 Samuel 5:23 f.). Probably Judges 2:5 b originally followed Judges 2:1.


Verses 6-13

Judges 2:6 to Judges 3:6. The Deuteronomist's Introduction to the Book of Judges proper (Judges 3:5 to Judges 16:31).—In the view of this interpreter of sacred history, the whole era of the Judges falls into longer or shorter times of national prosperity, in which Yahweh protects and blesses His faithful people, alternating with times of national calamity, in which He withdraws His favour and blessing from apostates. On the beneficent strength of the Judge the pillars of state rest secure for a whole generation, and his decease is like the removal of the key-stone of an arch. The writer's general principle—his philosophy of history—is based on sound prophetic teaching, but his application of it to the period of the Judges involves a tour de force, for the traditions deal for the most part not with national but with local heroes whose exploits affect, in the first instance, only their own tribe or group of tribes.

Judges 2:6-9 is almost identical with Joshua 24:28-30. The influence of Joshua and the "elders that outlived him"—a phrase of frequent occurrence in Dt. (Deuteronomy 4:26; Deuteronomy 4:40; Deuteronomy 5:33, etc.)—kept all Israel true to Yahweh during their lifetime.

Judges 2:7. "The great work of the Lord" was the miracles of the Exodus, the Wanderings, and the Conquest.

Judges 2:9. Timnath-heres, where Joshua was buried, may be the modern Tibneh, about 10 m. NW. of Bethel. Gaash is unknown

Judges 2:11. The Baalim (p. 87), whom the Israelites of the generation after Joshua began to serve, were the local gods of Canaan, the "lords" of different cities and districts, who were distinguished from one another by the addition of place-names, e.g. Baal of Hermon (Judges 3:3), Baal of Tamar (Judges 20:33). For centuries after the Conquest it was legitimate to call Yahweh himself the Baal of the country, and Hosea (Judges 2:16 f.) was apparently the first to denounce this practice. Thereafter it became the custom to change such names as Ish-baal (man of Baal) into Ish-bosheth (man of shame), Jerubbaal into Jerubbesheth (2 Samuel 11:21). See p. 280.

Judges 2:13. For "the Ashtaroth" read "Ashtoreth," i.e. the goddess who was the Phœnician Astarte and the Babylonian Ishtar (1 Kings 11:5*).

Judges 2:14-23. The Israelites having become apostate, God's anger is kindled (Judges 2:14); He gives them over to His enemies (Judges 2:14); they are distressed, and groan under oppression (Judges 2:14; Judges 2:18); He is moved to pity and raises up a Judge (Judges 2:16); and when the Judge dies, the people return to their evil ways (Judges 2:19).

Judges 2:17 breaks the connexion between Judges 2:16 and Judges 2:18, and is probably an editorial insertion. The figure of whoring after other gods—spiritual adultery—is taken from Hosea (Hosea 1-3) (cf. Judges 8:27-33, Exodus 34:15 f., Deuteronomy 31:16).

Judges 2:18. Instead of "it repented the Lord" read "the Lord was moved to pity."

 


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Bibliography Information
Peake, Arthur. "Commentary on Judges 2:4". "Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible ". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/pfc/judges-2.html. 1919.

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