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Judges 2:20--3:6

Context
A Divine Decision

2:20 The Lord was furious with Israel. 1  He said, “This nation 2  has violated the terms of the agreement I made with their ancestors 3  by disobeying me. 4  2:21 So I will no longer remove before them any of the nations that Joshua left unconquered when he died. 2:22 Joshua left those nations 5  to test 6  Israel. I wanted to see 7  whether or not the people 8  would carefully walk in the path 9  marked out by 10  the Lord, as their ancestors 11  were careful to do.” 2:23 This is why 12  the Lord permitted these nations to remain and did not conquer them immediately; 13  he did not hand them over to Joshua.

3:1 These were the nations the Lord permitted to remain so he could use them to test Israel – he wanted to test all those who had not experienced battle against the Canaanites. 14  3:2 He left those nations simply because he wanted to teach the subsequent generations of Israelites, who had not experienced the earlier battles, how to conduct holy war. 15  3:3 These were the nations: 16  the five lords of the Philistines, all the Canaanites, the Sidonians, and the Hivites living in Mount Lebanon, from Mount Baal Hermon to Lebo-Hamath. 17  3:4 They were left to test Israel, so the Lord would know if his people would obey the commands he gave their ancestors through Moses. 18 

3:5 The Israelites lived among the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites. 3:6 They took the Canaanites’ daughters as wives and gave their daughters to the Canaanites; 19  they worshiped 20  their gods as well.

1 tn Or “The Lord’s anger burned [or “raged”] against Israel.”

2 tn Heb “Because this nation.”

3 tn Heb “my covenant which I commanded their fathers.”

4 tn Heb “and has not listened to my voice.” The expression “to not listen to [God’s] voice” is idiomatic here for disobeying him.

5 tn The words “Joshua left those nations” are interpretive. The Hebrew text of v. 22 simply begins with “to test.” Some subordinate this phrase to “I will no longer remove” (v. 21). In this case the Lord announces that he has now decided to leave these nations as a test for Israel. Another possibility is to subordinate “to test” to “He said” (v. 20; see B. Lindars, Judges 1-5, 111). In this case the statement recorded in vv. 20b-21 is the test in that it forces Israel to respond either positively (through repentance) or negatively to the Lord’s declaration. A third possibility (the one reflected in the present translation) is to subordinate “to test” to “left unconquered” (v. 21). In this case the Lord recalls that Joshua left these nations as a test. Israel has failed the test (v. 20), so the Lord announces that the punishment threatened earlier (Josh 23:12-13; see also Judg 2:3) will now be implemented. As B. G. Webb (Judges [JSOTSup], 115) observes, “The nations which were originally left as a test are now left as a punishment.” This view best harmonizes v. 23, which explains that the Lord did not give all the nations to Joshua, with v. 22. (For a grammatical parallel, where the infinitive construct of נָסָה [nasah] is subordinated to the perfect of עָזַב [’azav], see 2 Chr 32:31.)

6 tn The Hebrew text includes the phrase “by them,” but this is somewhat redundant in English and has been omitted from the translation for stylistic reasons.

7 tn The words “I [i.e., the Lord] wanted to see” are supplied in the translation for clarification.

8 tn Heb “they”; the referent (the people) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

9 tn Or “way [of life].”

10 tn “The words “marked out by” are interpretive.

11 tn Or “fathers.”

12 tn The words “this is why” are interpretive.

13 tn Or “quickly.”

14 tn Heb “did not know the wars of Canaan.”

15 tn The Hebrew syntax of v. 2 is difficult. The Hebrew text reads literally, “only in order that the generations of the Israelites might know, to teach them war – only those who formerly did not know them.”

sn The stated purpose for leaving the nations (to teach the subsequent generations…how to conduct holy war) seems to contradict 2:22 and 3:4, which indicate the nations were left to test Israel’s loyalty to the Lord. However, the two stated purposes can be harmonized. The willingness of later generations to learn and engage in holy war would measure their allegiance to the Lord (see B. G. Webb, Judges [JSOTSup], 114-15).

16 tn The words “These were the nations,” though not present in the Hebrew text, are supplied in the translation for clarity.

17 tn Or “the entrance to Hamath.”

18 tn Heb “to know if they would hear the commands of the Lord which he commanded their fathers by the hand of Moses.”

19 tn Heb “to their sons.”

20 tn Or “served”; or “followed” (this term occurs in the following verse as well).



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