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Judges 2

Confrontation and Repentance at Bokim

2:1 The Lord’s angelic messenger 1  went up from Gilgal to Bokim. He said, “I brought you up from Egypt and led you into the land I had solemnly promised to give to your ancestors. 2  I said, ‘I will never break my agreement 3  with you, 2:2 but you must not make an agreement with the people who live in this land. You should tear down the altars where they worship.’ 4  But you have disobeyed me. 5  Why would you do such a thing? 6  2:3 At that time I also warned you, 7  ‘If you disobey, 8  I will not drive out the Canaanites 9  before you. They will ensnare you 10  and their gods will lure you away.’” 11 

2:4 When the Lord’s messenger finished speaking these words to all the Israelites, the people wept loudly. 12  2:5 They named that place Bokim 13  and offered sacrifices to the Lord there.

The End of an Era

2:6 When Joshua dismissed 14  the people, the Israelites went to their allotted portions of territory, 15  intending to take possession of the land. 2:7 The people worshiped 16  the Lord throughout Joshua’s lifetime and as long as the elderly men 17  who outlived him remained alive. These men had witnessed 18  all the great things the Lord had done for Israel. 19  2:8 Joshua son of Nun, the Lord’s servant, died at the age of one hundred ten. 2:9 The people 20  buried him in his allotted land 21  in Timnath Heres in the hill country of Ephraim, north of Mount Gaash. 2:10 That entire generation passed away; 22  a new generation grew up 23  that had not personally experienced the Lord’s presence or seen what he had done for Israel. 24 

A Monotonous Cycle

2:11 The Israelites did evil before 25  the Lord by worshiping 26  the Baals. 2:12 They abandoned the Lord God of their ancestors 27  who brought them out of the land of Egypt. They followed other gods – the gods of the nations who lived around them. They worshiped 28  them and made the Lord angry. 2:13 They abandoned the Lord and worshiped Baal and the Ashtars. 29 

2:14 The Lord was furious with Israel 30  and handed them over to robbers who plundered them. 31  He turned them over to 32  their enemies who lived around them. They could not withstand their enemies’ attacks. 33  2:15 Whenever they went out to fight, 34  the Lord did them harm, 35  just as he had warned and solemnly vowed he would do. 36  They suffered greatly. 37 

2:16 The Lord raised up leaders 38  who delivered them from these robbers. 39  2:17 But they did not obey 40  their leaders. Instead they prostituted themselves to other gods and worshiped 41  them. They quickly turned aside from the path 42  their ancestors 43  had walked. Their ancestors had obeyed the Lord’s commands, but they did not. 44  2:18 When the Lord raised up leaders for them, the Lord was with each leader and delivered the people 45  from their enemies while the leader remained alive. The Lord felt sorry for them 46  when they cried out in agony because of what their harsh oppressors did to them. 47  2:19 When a leader died, the next generation 48  would again 49  act more wickedly than the previous one. 50  They would follow after other gods, worshiping them 51  and bowing down to them. They did not give up 52  their practices or their stubborn ways.

A Divine Decision

2:20 The Lord was furious with Israel. 53  He said, “This nation 54  has violated the terms of the agreement I made with their ancestors 55  by disobeying me. 56  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 57  to test 58  Israel. I wanted to see 59  whether or not the people 60  would carefully walk in the path 61  marked out by 62  the Lord, as their ancestors 63  were careful to do.” 2:23 This is why 64  the Lord permitted these nations to remain and did not conquer them immediately; 65  he did not hand them over to Joshua.

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1 sn See Exod 14:19; 23:20.

2 tn Heb “the land that I had sworn to your fathers.”

3 tn Or “covenant” (also in the following verse).

4 tn Heb “their altars.”

5 tn Heb “you have not listened to my voice.”

6 tn Heb “What is this you have done?”

7 tn Heb “And I also said.” The use of the perfect tense here suggests that the messenger is recalling an earlier statement (see Josh 23:12-13). However, some translate, “And I also say,” understanding the following words as an announcement of judgment upon those gathered at Bokim.

8 tn The words “If you disobey” are supplied in the translation for clarity. See Josh 23:12-13.

9 tn Heb “them”; the referent (the Canaanites) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

10 tn The meaning of the Hebrew word צִדִּים (tsiddim) is uncertain in this context. It may be related to an Akkadian cognate meaning “snare.” If so, a more literal translation would be “they will become snares to you.” Normally the term in question means “sides,” but this makes no sense here. On the basis of Num 33:55 some suggest the word for “thorns” has been accidentally omitted. If this word is added, the text would read, “they will become [thorns] in your sides” (cf. NASB, NIV, NLT).

11 tn Heb “their gods will become a snare to you.”

12 tn Heb “lifted their voices and wept.”

13 sn Bokim means “weeping ones” and is derived from the Hebrew verb בָּכָא (bakha’, “to weep”).

14 tn Or “sent away.”

15 tn Heb “the Israelites went each to his inheritance.”

16 tn Or “served”; or “followed.”

17 tn Or perhaps “elders,” which could be interpreted to mean “leaders.”

18 tn Heb “all the days of Joshua and all the days of the old men who outlived him, who had seen.”

19 tn Heb “the great work of the Lord which he had done for Israel.”

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

21 tn Heb “in the territory of his inheritance.”

22 tn Heb “All that generation were gathered to their fathers.”

23 tn Heb “arose after them.”

24 tn Heb “that did not know the Lord or the work which he had done for Israel.” The expressions “personally experienced” and “seen” are interpretive.

25 tn Heb “in the eyes of.”

26 tn Or “serving”; or “following.”

27 tn Or “fathers.”

28 tn Or “bowed before” (the same expression occurs in the following verse).

29 tn Some English translations simply transliterate the plural Hebrew term (“Ashtaroth,” cf. NAB, NASB), pluralize the transliterated Hebrew singular form (“Ashtoreths,” cf. NIV), or use a variation of the name (“Astartes,” cf. NRSV).

sn The Ashtars were local manifestations of the goddess Astarte.

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

31 tn Heb “robbers who robbed them.” (The verb שָׁסָה [shasah] appears twice in the verse.)

sn The expression robbers who plundered them is a derogatory reference to the enemy nations, as the next line indicates.

32 tn Heb “sold them into the hands of.”

33 tn The word “attacks” is supplied in the translation both for clarity and for stylistic reasons.

34 tn The expression “to fight” is interpretive.

35 tn Heb “the Lord’s hand was against them for harm.”

36 tn Heb “just as he had said and just as he had sworn to them.”

37 tn Or “they experienced great distress.”

38 tn Or more traditionally, “judges” (also in vv. 17, 18 [3x], 19). Since these figures carried out more than a judicial function, also serving as rulers and (in several instances) as military commanders, the translation uses the term “leaders.”

39 tn Heb “and they delivered them from the hand of the ones robbing them.”

40 tn Or “did not listen to.”

41 tn Or “bowed before.”

42 tn Or “way [of life].”

43 tn Or “fathers.”

44 tn Heb “…walked, obeying the Lord’s commands. They did not do this.”

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

46 tn The phrase “for them” is supplied in the translation for clarity.

47 tn Heb “the ones oppressing them and afflicting them.” The synonyms “oppressing” and “afflicting” are joined together in the translation as “harsh oppressors” to emphasize the cruel character of their enemies.

48 tn Heb “they”; the referent (the next generation) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

49 tn The verb שׁוּב (shuv, “to return; to turn”) is sometimes translated “turn back” here, but it is probably used in an adverbial sense, indicating that the main action (“act wickedly”) is being repeated.

50 tn Heb “their fathers.”

sn The statement the next generation would again act more wickedly than the previous one must refer to the successive sinful generations after Joshua, not Joshua’s godly generation (cf. vv. 7, 17).

51 tn Or “serving [them]”; or “following [them].”

52 tn Or “drop.”

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

54 tn Heb “Because this nation.”

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

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

57 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.)

58 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.

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

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

61 tn Or “way [of life].”

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

63 tn Or “fathers.”

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

65 tn Or “quickly.”

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