Obedience and love toward God are wrecked on greediness and love of ease. Immediately after the death of Joshua, the children of Israel asked after God. But very soon they ceased to do that which Moses, and, in his name, Joshua had commanded them. Their business was to conquer, and not to tremble at strongholds or chariots of iron. They were to expel, and not to take tribute. But their heart was no longer entirely with their God. They forgot, not only that they were to purify the land, and alone control it, but also why they were to do this. They were indulgent to idolatry, because the worm was already gnawing at their own religion. They no longer thought of the danger of being led astray, because they were unmindful of the word which demanded obedience. Perfect obedience is the only safe way. Every departure from it leads downhill into danger.
Thus we have it explained why so many undertakings of Christians and of the church fail, even while the truth is still confessed. The word of God has not lost its power; but the people who have it on their tongues do not thoroughly enter into its life. The fear of God is still ever the beginning of wisdom; but it must not be mixed with the fear of men. Preaching is still ever effective; but respect to tribute and profitable returns must not weaken it. Perfect obedience has still ever its victory; but that which does not belong to God comes into judgment, even though connected with Christian matters. Israel still confessed God, though it allowed the tribes of Canaan to remain; but nominal service vice is not enough. When confession and life do not agree, the life must bear the consequences.
Starke: We men often do not at all know how to use aright the blessings which God gives, but abuse them rather to our own hurt.—The same: Our corrupt nature will show mercy only there where severity should be used, and on the other hand is altogether rough and hard where gentleness might be practiced.—The same: Self-conceit, avarice, and self-interest can bring it about that men will unhesitatingly despise the command of God. When human counsels are preferred to the express word and command of God, the result is that matters grow worse and worse.
[Scott: The sin [of the people in not driving out the Canaanites] prepared its own punishment, and the love of present ease became the cause of their perpetual disquiet.
Henry: The same thing that kept their fathers forty years out of Canaan, kept them now out of the full possession of it, and that was unbelief.—Tr.]
FN#87 - Judges 1:27.—So Dr. Cassel. But the position of the verb at the beginning of the sentence suggests a contrast with what precedes: the House of Joseph took Luz; but drive out the inhabitants of Beth-shean Manasseh (a member of the House of Joseph) did not do. Cf. next note.—Tr.]
FN#88 - Judges 1:29.—The ו here connects Ephraim with Prayer of Manasseh, Judges 1:27 : Ephraim also was guilty of not driving out.—Tr.]
FN#89 - Judges 1:29.—בְּקִרְבּוֹ: lit. “in the midst of them.” Cf. Judges 1:16; Judges 1:21; Judges 1:30; Judges 1:32-33.—Tr.]
FN#90 - Judges 1:30.—The “neither” ought to be omitted here and also in Judges 1:31; Judges 1:33. Manasseh and Ephraim are coupled together, cf. notes1,2; but from this point each tribe is treated separately: “Zebulun did not drive out,” etc.—Tr.]
FN#91 - Judges 1:34.—וַיִּלְחֲצוּ: to press, to push. From this word Bachm. infers that Dan had originally taken more of his territory than he now held.—Tr.]
FN#92 - On this identification of the brook Kanah, cf. Grove in Smith’s Bib. Dict., s. v. “Kanah, the River.”—Tr.]
FN#93 - Its magnificent position is also celebrated in the Talmud, Erubin, 19 a; cf. Ketuboth, 112 a. See below on Judges 4.
FN#94 - According to Bachmann, Knobel had already proposed this identification. Keil, after Schultz, suggests Khirbet-Belameh, half an hour south of Jenîn.—Tr.]
FN#95 - Levy (Phönizische Inschriften, i35) thought that he read this Dor on a Sidonian inscription together with Joppa. It is very doubtful whether he has found any one to agree with him.
FN#96 - On the derivation and radical idea of the word מַם, opinions are very much divided. There is no unanimity even as to the usage of the word. Keil (on 1 Kings 4:6, Edinb. ed1857) asserts that it “nowhere signifies vectigal, tribute, or socage, but in all places only serf or socager.” But the better view seems to be that although it is some times used concretely for socagers or bond-servants, (cf 1 Kgs5:27 ( 1 Kings 5:13)), yet its proper and usual meaning is tribute-service Out of the twenty-three instances in which the word occurs, there is not one in which it can be shown that it means tribute in money or products; while it is abundantly evident that in many cases it does mean compulsory labor, personal service. What kind of service the Israelites here required of the Canaanites does not appear. It may have been labor on public works, or assistance rendered at certain times to the individual agriculturist. This appears at least as probable as Bachmann’s suggestion that perhaps “the Canaanite merchants” were expected to furnish certain “commercial supplies and services.” Our author’s view in favor of “ground-rent,” cannot be said to derive the support of analogy from his historical references. For as Bachmann justly remarks, “the case in which the conquerors of a country leave the earlier population in possession of their lands on condition of paying ground-rent, is the reverse of what takes place here, where a people, themselves agriculturists, take personal possession of the open country, and concede a few cities to the old inhabitants.” It is probable, however, that the situation varied considerably in different localities, cf. Judges 1:31 f. and Judges 1:34.—Tr.]
FN#97 - Wetzstein (Hauran, p88) writes: “Of Ziphron (Arab. Zifrân) wide-spread ruins are yet existing. According to my inquiries, the place lies fourteen hours N. E. of Damascus, near the Palmyra road. It has not yet, I think, been visited by any traveller.” It is impracticable here to enter into further geographical discussions, but the opinion of Keil (on Numbers 34:7-9), who rejects the above determination, cannot be accepted as decisive, if for no other reason on account of the general idea by which he is evidently influenced.
FN#98 - The Targum also translates רְחֹב by פְּלטְיוּתָא not only when used as a common noun (cf. Buxtorf, Lex. Chald., p1740), but also in proper names, as Rehoboth Tr. Genesis 10:11.
FN#99 - 1 Kings 9:18. Others refer this to Baalath in the tribe of Dan. Cf. Keil on Joshua 19:44, and on 1 Kings 9:18.
FN#100 - Compare the Syrian שלבא, “anfractus inter duos montes.” Cf. Castelli p912.
FN#101 - Bachmann: “That the House of Joseph used its greater strength not to exterminate the Amorite cities, but only to render them tributary, thus benefitting itself more than the tribe of Daniel, sets forth the unsatisfactory nature of their assistance, and conveys a just reproach. Meanwhile, however, it seems that the subjugation of the Amorite by the House of Joseph was so far at least of use to Dan as to enable them to reach the coast, in partial possession of which, at least, we find the tribe in Judges 5:17.” But cf. our author in loc.—Tr.]
FN#102 - The foregoing paragraph, rendered somewhat obscure by its brevity, was explained by the author, in reply to some inquiries, as follows: “I endeavored to show that the idea of the passage Isaiah, that the original boundary lines of Israel, as drawn by Moses, had nowhere been held against the Amorite, i. e. the original inhabitants, except only in the south. Everywhere else, the inhabitants of Canaan, especially the Amorite, had thus far prevented the Israelites from taking full possession of the land; but in the south the boundary between Israel and the Amorite remained as drawn by Moses, in Numbers 34:3. I would ask that in connection with this the remarks under Judges 1:31-32, be considered. The whole first chapter is an exposition of the fact that Israel had not yet attained to complete possession of Canaan. It is a spiritual-geographical picture of what Israel had not yet acquired, and what nevertheless it should possess.” In other words, Dr. Cassel’s idea Isaiah, that the main thought of Judges 1. may be expressed in two sentences: 1. On the west, north, and east Israel did not actually realize the assigned boundary lines between itself and the original inhabitants—the term Amorite being used in the wider sense it sometimes has. Cf. Gage’s Ritter, ii1252. On the south, the Mosaic line was made good, and continued to be held. The first of these sentences is expressed indirectly, by means of illustrative instances, in Judges 1:4-35; the second, by direct and simple statement, in Judges 1:36. In that verse, the narrative which in Judges 1:9 set out from Judah on its northward course, returns to its starting-point, and completes what might be called its tour of boundary inspection, by remarking that the southern boundary (known as southern by the course ascribed to it) corresponded to the Mosaic determinations. Judges 1:36, therefore, connects itself with the entire previous narrative, and not particularly with Judges 1:34-35.
This explanation labors, however, under at least one very serious difficulty. It assumes that in the expression “border of the Amorite,” the gen. is an adjective Genesis, making the phrase mean the Amoritish (Canaanitish) border, just as we speak of the “Canadian border,” meaning the border of the U. S. over against Canada. But in expressions of this kind, the gen. is always the genitive of the possessor, so that the border of the Amorite, Ammonite, etc, indicates the boundary of the land held by the Amorite, Ammonite, etc. It seems necessary, therefore, with Bertheau, Keil, Bachmann, etc, to read this verse in connection with Judges 1:34-35, and to and in it a note of the extent of territory held by the Amorite. The question then arises, how it is to be explained. We take for granted that the Maaleh Akrabbim of this verse is the same as that in Numbers 34:4 (a line of cliffs, a few miles below the Dead Sea, dividing the Ghôr from the Arabah, see Rob2:120), and is not, as some have thought, to be sought in the town Akrabeh, a short distance S. E. of Nâbulus (Rob3:296). The other point mentioned is הַםֶּלַע, the Rock. Commentators generally take this to be Petra, in Arabia Petræa; but the difficulties in the way of this view are insurmountable. In the first place we never hear of Amorites (take it in the wider or narrower sense) so far south as Petra, in the midst of the territories of Edom. In the next place, מַעְלָה means upward, i. e. under the geographical conditions of this verse, northward (Dr. Cassel’s onward, i. e. downward to the sea, could scarcely be defended). Now, a line running from Akrabbim to Petra, and thence northward, would merely return on its own track, and would after all leave the Amorite territories undefined on just that side where a definition was most needed because least obvious, namely, the southern. It seems, therefore, altogether preferable (with the Targ, Kurtz, Hist. O. Cov. 3:239, Keil, and Bachm.) to take הַםֶּלַע as an appellative, and to find in it a second point for a southern boundary line. Kurtz and Keil identify it with “the (well-known) rock” at Kadesh (the Kudes of Rowlands, cf. Williams, Holy City, 1:463 ff.), from which Moses caused the water to flow, Numbers 20:8. Bachmann prefers the “bald mountain that ascends toward Seir” ( Joshua 11:17), whether it be the chalk-mountain Madurah (Rob2:179), or, what he deems more suitable, the northern wall of the Azâzimat mountains, with its masses of naked rock. In the vast confusion that covers the geography of this region, the most that can be said, Isaiah, that either view would serve this passage. In either case we get a line running from Akrabbim on the east in a westerly direction. From this southern boundary the Amorite territories extended “upwards.”
But when? Manifestly not at the time of which Judges 1. treats, cf. Judges 1:9-19. The statement refers to the time before the entrance of Israel into Canaan, and is probably intended to explain the facts stated in Judges 1:34-35, by reminding the reader of the originally vast power of the Amorite It was not to be wondered at that an enemy once so powerful and widely diffused should still assert his strength in some parts of his former domain. Cf Bachmann.—Tr.]
02 Chapter 2 Verses 1-5
The Religious Degeneracy Of Israel Which Resulted From Its Disobedient Conduct With Respect To The Canaanites, And The Severe Discipline Which It Rendered Necessary, As Explaining The Alternations Of Apostasy And Servitude, Repentance And Deliverance, Characteristic Of The Period Of The Judges
A Messenger of Jehovah charges Israel with disobedience, and announces punishment. The people repent and offer sacrifice
1And an angel [messenger] of the Lord [Jehovah] came up from Gilgal to Bochim, and said, I made you to go up[FN1] out of Egypt, and have brought you unto the land which I sware unto your fathers; and I said, I will never break my covenant with 2 you. And [But] ye shall make no league [covenant] with the inhabitants of this land; ye shall throw down[FN2] their altars: but ye have not obeyed [hearkened to] my 3 voice: why have ye done this?[FN3] Wherefore [And] I also said, [In that case—i.e. in the event of disobedience][FN4] I will not drive them out from before you; but they shall be asthorns in your sides,[FN5] and their gods shall be [for] a snare unto you 4 And it came to pass, when the angel [messenger] of the Lord [Jehovah] spake [had spoken][FN6] these words unto all the children [sons] of Israel, that the people lifted up their voice, and wept 5 And they called the name of that place Bochim [Weepers]: and they sacrificed there unto the Lord [Jehovah].
TEXTUAL AND GRAMMATICAL
[ Judges 2:1.—אַעֲלֶה: Keil: “The use of the imperfect instead of the perfect (cf. Judges 6:8) is very singular, seeing that the contents of the address, and its continuation in the historical tense (וָאָבִיא and וָאֹמַר), require the preterite. The imperfect can only be explained by supposing it to be under the retrospective influence of the immediately following imperfect consecutive.” De Wette translates, “I said, I will lead you up out of Egypt, and brought you into the land,” etc. This supposes that אָמַרְתִּי, or some such expression, has dropped out of the text, or is to be supplied. This mode of explaining the imperfect is favored (1), by the fact that we seem to have here a quotation from Exodus 3:17; but especially (2), by the וָאֹמַר before the last clause of this verse, and the וְגַם אָמַרְתִּי of Judges 2:3, which suggest that the same verb is to be understood in Judges 2:1 a.—Tr.]
[ Judges 2:2.—תִּתֹּצוּן, from נָתַץ, to tear down, demolish. On the form, cf. Ges. Gram. § 47, Rem4.—Tr.]
[ Judges 2:2.—More literally: “What is this that ye have done!” i. e. How great is this sin you have committed! cf. Judges 8:1.—Tr.]
[ Judges 2:3.—Dr. Bachmann interprets the words that follow as a definite judgment on Israel, announcing that henceforth Jehovah will not drive out any of the still remaining nations, but will leave them to punish Israel. It is undoubtedly true that וְגַם אָמַרְתִּי may be translated, “therefore, now, I also say;” but it is also true that it is more natural here (with Bertheau, Keil, Cass.) to render, “and I also said.” To the citations of earlier divine utterances in Judges 2:1-2 (see the Comment.), the messenger of Jehovah now adds another, from Numbers 33:55, Joshua 23:13. It Isaiah, moreover, a strong point against Bachmann’s view that God does not execute judgment speedily, least of all on Israel. We can hardly conceive him to shut the door of hope on the nation so soon after the departure of the latest surviving contemporaries of Joshua as this scene at Bochim seems to have occurred, cf. the comparatively mild charges brought by the messenger, as implied in Judges 2:2, with the heavier ones in Judges 2:11 ff. and Judges 3:6-7. Besides, if we understand a definite and final sentence to be pronounced here, we must understand Judges 2:20 f. as only reproducing the same (as Bachmann does), although Israel’s apostasy had become far more pronounced when the first Judge arose than it is now. It seems clear, therefore, that we must here understand a warning, while the sentence itself issues subsequently (cf. foot-note3, on p62).—Tr.]
5 Judges 2:3.—Dr. Cassel translates: “they shall be to you for thorns.” Cf. the Commentary. The E. V. supplies “thorns” from Numbers 33:55; but it has to change לְצדִּים into בְּצִרֵּיכֶם or בַּצִּדִּים.—Tr.]
6 Judges 2:4.—Better perhaps, with De Wette: “And it came to pass, asthe messenger of Jehovah spake, etc, that the people,” etc. On כְּ with the infin. cf. Ges. Lex. s. כְּ, B5, b.—Tr.]
EXEGETICAL AND DOCTRINAL
Judges 2:1. And there came a messenger of Jehovah. Israel had experienced the faithfulness of the Divine Spirit who, through Moses, led them forth from Egypt, and made them a people. In him, they conquered Canaan, and took possession of a noble country. In addition to this, they had the guaranty of the divine word (cf. Leviticus 26:44), that God would never forsake them—that the truth on which He had thus far built up their life and nationality, would endure. Reason enough had been given them to fulfill everything prescribed by Moses, whether great or small, difficult or pleasant, whether it gave or took away. They had every reason for being wholly with their God, whether they waged war or enjoyed the fruits of victory. Were they thus with Him? Could they be thus with Him after such proceedings in relation to the inhabitants of Canaan as Judges 1sets forth? Israel’s strength consists in the enthusiasm which springs from faith in the invisible God who made heaven and earth, and in obedience to his commands. If enthusiasm fail and obedience be impaired, Israel becomes weak. The law which it follows is not only its rule of duty, but also its bill of rights. Israel is free, only by the law; without it, a servant. A life springing from the law, exhibited clearly and uninterruptedly, is the condition on which it enjoys whatever is to its advantage. To preserve and promote such a life, was the object of the command, given by Moses, not to enter into any kind of fellowship with the nations against whom they were called to contend. The toleration which Israel might be inclined to exercise, could only be the offspring of weakness in faith ( Deuteronomy 7:17) and of blind selfishness. For the sake of its own life, it was commanded not to tolerate idolatry within its borders, even though practiced only by those of alien nations. For the people are weak, and the superstitious tendency to that which strikes the senses, seduces the inconstant heart. It cannot be otherwise than injurious when Israel ceases to be entirely obedient to that word in whose organic wisdom its history is grounded, and its future secured. Ruin must result when, as has been related, the people fails in numerous instances to drive out the heathen nations, and instead thereof enters into compacts with them. Special emphasis was laid, in the preceding narrative, upon the fact that for the sake of tribute, Israel had tolerated the worship of the lewd Asherah and of the sun, in Apheca, in the Phœnician cities, in Banias, and in Beth-shemesh. When the occupation of Canaan was completed—a date is not given—the impression produced by a survey of the whole land was not such as promised enduring peace and obedience to the Word of God. The organs of this word were not yet silenced, however. When the heads of Israel asked who should begin the conflict, the Word of God had answered through the priest; and ancient exegesis rightly considered the messenger of God who now, at the end of the war, speaks to Israel, to be the same priest. At the beginning, he answered from the Spirit of God; at the end, he admonishes by an impulse of his own. There he encourages; here he calls to account. There “they inquire of God;” here also he speaks only as the “messenger of God.” He is designedly called “messenger of God.” Every word he speaks, God has spoken. His words are only reminiscences out of the Word of God. His sermon Isaiah, as it were, a lesson read out of this word. He speaks only like a messenger who verbally repeats his commission. No additions of his own; objective truth alone, is what he presents. That is the idea of the מַלְאָדְ, the messenger, ἄγγελος, according to every explanation that has been given of him. The emphasis falls here, not on who spake, but on what was spoken. God’s word comes to the people unasked for, like the voice of conscience. From the antithesis to the opening verse of the Book, where the people asked, it is evident that no angel of a celestial kind is here thought of. Earlier expositors ought to have perceived this, if only because it is said that the messenger—
Came up from Gilgal to Bochim. Heavenly angels “appear,” and do not come from Gilgal particularly.[FN7] The connection of this statement with the whole preceding narrative is profound and instructive. The history of Israel in Canaan begins in Gilgal. There ( Joshua 4:20 ff.) stood the memorial which showed how they had come through the Jordan into this land (אֶל־הָאָרֶץ וָאָבִיא אֶתְכֶם). The name Gilgal itself speaks of the noblest benefit bestowed on them—their liberation from the reproach of Egypt. There the first Passover in Canaan had been celebrated. Thence also begin the great deeds that are done after the death of Joshua. As now the messenger of God comes from Gilgal, so at first Judah set out from thence to enter into his possessions. A messenger who came from Gilgal, did by that circumstance alone remind the people of Joshua’s last words and commands The memorial which was there erected rendered the place permanently suggestive to Israel of past events. From the time that Joshua’s camp was there, it never ceased to be a celebrated spot (comp. 1 Samuel 7:16); but that on this occasion the messenger comes from Gilgal, has its ground in the nature of his message, the history of which commences at Gilgal.
Judges 2:2-3. Why have ye done this? This sorrowful exclamation is uttered by the priest—according to Jewish exegesis, Phinehas, the same who spoke Judges 1:2—after he has exhibited in brief quotations from the old divine instructions, first, what God has done for Israel, and then what Israel has done in disregard of God. The eternal God has enjoined it upon you, not under any circumstances to enter into peaceful compacts with the idolatrous tribes and their altars among you, thereby authorizing them openly before your eyes to manifest their depravity and practice their abominations—what have ye done! The exclamation is full of sharp grief; for the consequences are inevitable. For God said ( Joshua 23:13): “I will not drive out these nations from before you.” Israel had its tasks to perform. If it failed it must bear the consequences. God has indeed said ( Exodus 23:29-30), and Moses reiterates it ( Deuteronomy 7:22), “By little and little I will drive out the Canaanite, lest the land becomes desolate.” And this word received its fulfillment in the days of Joshua and subsequently. But when Israel disobeys, God will not prosper its disobedience. It must then experience that which the messenger now with grief and pain announces: Since Canaanites remain among you, who ought not to remain, and whom ye could have expelled, had ye been wholly with your God ( Deuteronomy 7:17 ff.), they will hurt you, though they are conquered. It is not an innocent thing to suffer the presence of sin, and give it equal rights.