Judges 2:1
And an angel of the LORD came up from Gilgal to Bochim, and said, I made you to go up out of Egypt, and have brought you to the land which I swore to your fathers; and I said, I will never break my covenant with you.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(1) An angel of the Lord.—The words “Maleak Jehovah” are used of Haggai, in Haggai 1:13; of prophets in Isaiah 42:19; Malachi 3:6; of priests in Malachi 2:7. Hence from very ancient times these words have been interpreted as, “a messenger of the Lord” (as in the margin of our Bible). The Targum paraphrases it by “a prophet with a message from Jehovah.” R. Tanchum, from Judges 2:6, infers that it was Joshua himself. Kimchi and others have supposed that it was Phinehas. No indications are given of anything specially miraculous. On the other hand, there is much room to suppose that the writer intended “the Angel of the Presence,” because ( 1 ) he constantly uses the phrase in this sense (Judges 6:11-12; Judges 6:21-22; Judges 13:3; Judges 13:13; Judges 13:15, &c.); (2) the same phrase occurs in this sense elsewhere, as in Genesis 16:7; Genesis 22:11; Exodus 2:2; Exodus 2:6; Exodus 2:14; Numbers 22:22, &c; (3) the angel speaks in the first person, and does not introduce his words by “Thus saith Jehovah,” as the prophets always do (but see below). It seems probable, therefore, that by “the angel of the Lord” the writer meant “the captain of the Lord’s host,” who appeared to Joshua at Jericho (Joshua 5:13-15). Against this conclusion may be urged the fact that in no other instance does an angel appear to, or preach to, multitudes. Angels are sent to individuals, but prophets to nations.

Came up from Gilgal to Bochim.—This notice is by no means decisive against the conclusion that an angel is intended. The writer may mean to intimate that the Angel Prince of the host (Exodus 23:20-23), the Angel of the Covenant, left his station in the camp of Gilgal and came up to the new camp or assembly of the people in Central Palestine (Joshua 4:19; Joshua 5:9-10; Joshua 10:7; Joshua 10:15; Joshua 10:33; Joshua 14:6). Ha-Bochim means “the weepers.” The locality is not known, but the LXX. render it “to the weeping-place,” and add “and to Bethel, and to the House of Israel.” Hence it has been inferred that Bochim was near Bethel. Possibly however, the LXX. may have been led to this interpretation by the vicinity to Bethel of Allon-Bachuth, “the oak of weeping” (Genesis 35:8).

And said, I made you to go up out of Egypt.—The LXX. have “the Lord, the Lord brought you out of Egypt” (Cod. Alex.). Houbigant, from the repetition of the word, precariously conjectures the loss of some words, “Thus saith the Lord, I the Lord,” &c., as in the Peshito; and, indeed, in some MSS. a blank (Piska) is left, implying at least a suspicion that this formula has accidentally fallen out of the text.

I will never break my covenant with you.—See Genesis 17:7; Genesis 29:12; Psalm 89:28; Psalm 89:34; Luke 1:54-55, &c; Exodus 3:6-8.

Judges

A SUMMARY OF ISRAEL’S FAITHLESSNESS AND GOD’S PATIENCE

Jdg 2:1 - Jdg 2:10
.

The Book of Judges begins a new era, the development of the nation in its land. Jdg 1:1 contain two summaries: first, of the progress of the conquest; and second, of the history about to be unfolded in the book. The first part of this passage {Jdg 2:1 - Jdg 2:5} belongs to the former, and closes it; the second {Jdg 2:6 - Jdg 2:10} introduces the latter, and contrasts it with the state of things prevailing as long as the soldiers of Joshua lived.

I. ‘The Angel of the Lord’ had appeared to Joshua in Gilgal at the beginning of the war, and issued his orders as ‘Captain of the Lord’s host.’ Now He reappears to ask why his orders had not been carried out, and to announce that victory was no longer to attend Israel’s arms. Nothing can be plainer than that the Angel speaks as one in whom the divine name dwells. His reiterated ‘I’s’ are incomprehensible on any other hypothesis than that He is that mysterious person, distinct from and yet one with Jehovah, whom we know as the ‘Word made flesh.’ His words here are stern. He enumerates the favours which He had showed to Israel, and which should have inspired them to glad obedience. He recalls the conditions on which they had received the land; namely, that they were to enter into no entangling alliances with the remnant of the inhabitants, and especially to have no tolerance for their idolatry. Here we may observe that, according to Joshua’s last charge, the extermination of the native peoples was not contemplated, but that there should be no such alliances as would peril Israel’s observance of the covenant {Joshua 23:7, Joshua 23:12}. He charges them with disobedience, and asks the same question as had been asked of Eve, ‘What is this ye have done?’ And He declares the punishment about to follow, in the paralysing of Israel’s conquering arm by the withdrawal of His conquering might, and in the seductions from the native inhabitants to which they would fall victims.

Note, then, how God’s benefits aggravate our disobedience, and how He bases His right to command on them. Further, note how His promises are contingent on our fulfilment of their conditions, and how a covenant which He has sworn that He will never break He does count as non-existent when men break it. Again, observe the sharp arraignment of the faithless, and the forcing of them to bethink themselves of the true character of their deeds, or, if we adopt the Revised Version’s rendering, of the unreasonableness of departing from God. No man dare answer when God asks, ‘What hast thou done?’ No man can answer reasonably when He asks, ‘Why hast thou done it?’ Once more, note that His servants sin when they allow themselves to be so mixed up with the world that they are in peril of learning its ways and getting a snare to their souls. We have all unconquered ‘Canaanites’ in our hearts, and amity with them is supreme folly and crying wickedness. ‘Thorough’ must be our motto. Many times have the conquered overcome their conquerors, as in Rome’s conquest of Greece, the Goths’ conquest of Rome, the Normans’ conquest of England. Israel was in some respects conquered by Canaanites and other conquered tribes. Let us take care that we are not overcome by our inward foes, whom we fancy we have subdued and can afford to treat leniently.

Again, God punishes our making truce with our spiritual foes by letting the effects of the truce work themselves out. He said to Israel, in effect: ‘If you make alliances with the people of the land, you shall no longer have power to cast them out. The swift rush of the stream of victory shall be stayed. You have chosen to make them your friends, and their friendship shall produce its natural effects, of tempting you to imitation.’ The increased power of our unsubdued evils is the punishment, as it is the result, of tolerance of them. We wanted to keep them, and dreamed that we could control them. Keep them we shall, control them we cannot. They will master us if we do not expel them. No wonder that the place was named Bochim {‘Weepers’}, when such stern words were thundered forth. Tears flow easily; and many a sin is wept for once, and afterwards repeated often. So it was with Israel, as the narrative goes on to tell. Let us take the warning, and give heed to make repentance deep and lasting.

II. Jdg 2:6 - Jdg 2:10 go back to an earlier period than the appearance of the Angel. We do not know how long the survivors of the conquering army lived in sufficient numbers to leaven opinion and practice. We may, however, roughly calculate that the youngest of these would be about twenty when the war began, and that about fifty years would see the end of the host that had crossed Jordan and stormed Jericho. If Joshua was of about the same age as Caleb, he would be about eighty at the beginning of the conquest, and lived thirty years afterwards, so that about twenty years after his death would be the limit of ‘the elders that outlived Joshua.’

Jdg 2:6 - Jdg 2:9 substantially repeat Joshua 24:28 - Joshua 24:31, and are here inserted to mark not only the connection with the former book, but to indicate the beginning of a new epoch. The facts narrated in this paragraph are but too sadly in accord with the uniform tendencies of our poor weak nature. As long as some strong personality leads a nation or a church, it keeps true to its early fervour. The first generation which has lived through some great epoch, when God’s arm has been made bare, retains the impression of His power. But when the leader falls, it is like withdrawing a magnet, and the heap of iron filings tumbles back to the ground inert. Think of the post-Apostolic age of the Church, of Germany in the generation after Luther, not to come nearer home, and we must see that Israel’s experience was an all but universal one. It is hard to keep a community even of professing Christians on the high level. No great cause is ever launched which does not lose ‘way’ as it continues. ‘Having begun in the Spirit,’ all such are too apt to continue ‘in the flesh.’ The original impulses wane, friction begins to tell. Custom clogs the wheels. The fiery lava-stream cools and slackens. So it always has been. Therefore God has to change His instruments, and churches need to be shaken up, and sometimes broken up, ‘lest one good,’ when it has degenerated into ‘custom,’ should ‘corrupt the world.’

But we shall miss the lesson here taught if we do not apply it to tendencies in ourselves, and humbly recognise that we are in danger of being ‘hindered,’ however ‘well’ we may have begun to ‘run,’ and that our only remedy is to renew continually our first-hand vision of ‘the great works of the Lord,’ and our consecration to His service. It is a poor affair if, like Israel, our devotion to God depends on Joshua’s life, or, like King Joash, we do that which is ‘right in the eyes of the Lord all the days of Jehoiada the priest.’Jdg 2:1. An angel of the Lord came up from Gilgal — This, no doubt, was the Angel of the covenant, the same divine being that appeared to Joshua near Jericho, Joshua 5:13-14; to whom the conduct of Israel out of Egypt into Canaan, and their conquests and success there, are frequently ascribed. He alone could speak the following words in his own name and person; whereas created angels and prophets universally usher in their message with, Thus saith the Lord, or some equivalent expression. And, having assumed the shape of a man, he imitates the motion of a man, and appears to come from Gilgal to the place where they now were, probably in order to remind the Israelites of his appearing to Joshua near that place, of the assurance he then gave them of his intended presence with them in the conquest of the country, and of the solemn covenant they made with him by the renewal of circumcision. This was a reproof to them for their base ingratitude to God, and their pusillanimous sloth in not endeavouring to expel the Canaanites. To Bochim — A word signifying weepers. This was not the name of the place before, but was given it on this occasion, on account of the lamentations of the children of Israel for what the angel said to them, Jdg 2:5. It seems to have been no other than Shiloh, where, it is probable, the people were met together upon some solemn festival occasion. And I said, I will never break my covenant with you — That is, upon condition of your keeping covenant with me.2:1-5 It was the great Angel of the covenant, the Word, the Son of God, who spake with Divine authority as Jehovah, and now called them to account for their disobedience. God sets forth what he had done for Israel, and what he had promised. Those who throw off communion with God, and have fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, know not what they do now, and will have nothing to say for themselves in the day of account shortly. They must expect to suffer for this their folly. Those deceive themselves who expect advantages from friendship with God's enemies. God often makes men's sin their punishment; and thorns and snares are in the way of the froward, who will walk contrary to God. The people wept, crying out against their own folly and ingratitude. They trembled at the word, and not without cause. It is a wonder sinners can ever read the Bible with dry eyes. Had they kept close to God and their duty, no voice but that of singing had been heard in their congregation; but by their sin and folly they made other work for themselves, and nothing is to be heard but the voice of weeping. The worship of God, in its own nature, is joy, praise, and thanksgiving; our sins alone render weeping needful. It is pleasing to see men weep for their sins; but our tears, prayers, and even amendment, cannot atone for sin.The angel of the Lord (not an angel). - The phrase is used nearly 60 times to designate the Angel of God's presence. See Genesis 12:7 note. In all cases where "the angel of the Lord" delivers a message, he does it as if God Himself were speaking, without the intervening words "Thus saith the Lord," which are used in the case of prophets. (Compare Judges 6:8; Joshua 24:2.)

When the host of Israel came up from Gilgal in the plain of Jericho, near the Jordan Joshua 4:19 to Shiloh and Shechem, in the hill country of Ephraim, the Angel who had been with them at Gilgal Exodus 23:20-23; Exodus 33:1-4; Joshua 5:10-15 accompanied them. The mention of Gilgal thus fixes the transaction to the period soon after the removal of the camp from Gilgal, and the events recorded in Judges 1:1-36 (of which those related in Judges 1:1-29 took place before, and those in Judges 1:30-36, just after that removal). It also shows that it was the conduct of the Israelites, recorded in Judges 1 as in Joshua 16:1-10; 17, which provoked this rebuke.

CHAPTER 2

Jud 2:1-10. An Angel Sent to Rebuke the People at Bochim.

1-3. an angel … came from Gilgal to Bochim—We are inclined to think, from the authoritative tone of his language, that he was the Angel of the Covenant (Ex 23:20; Jos 5:14); the same who appeared in human form and announced himself captain of the Lord's host. His coming from Gilgal had a peculiar significance, for there the Israelites made a solemn dedication of themselves to God on their entrance into the promised land [Jos 4:1-9]; and the memory of that religious engagement, which the angel's arrival from Gilgal awakened, gave emphatic force to his rebuke of their apostasy.

Bochim—"the weepers," was a name bestowed evidently in allusion to this incident or the place, which was at or near Shiloh.

I said, I will never break my covenant with you … but ye have not obeyed my voice—The burden of the angel's remonstrance was that God would inviolably keep His promise; but they, by their flagrant and repeated breaches of their covenant with Him, had forfeited all claim to the stipulated benefits. Having disobeyed the will of God by voluntarily courting the society of idolaters and placing themselves in the way of temptation, He left them to suffer the punishment of their misdeeds.An angel reproveth Israel at Bochim; they bewail their sins, Judges 2:1-5. The wickedness of the new generation after Joshua; their frequent idolatry, Judges 2:6-13; for which they are often punished of God by the enemy; and being delivered by the judges grow worse, Judges 2:14-19; wherefore God will leave the Canaanite to prove and vex them, Judges 2:20-23.

An angel of the Lord: either, first, A created angel. Or, secondly, A prophet or man of God, for such are sometimes called angels, which signifies only messengers of God; and then the following words are spoken by him in the name of God, as may easily be understood. Or, thirdly, Christ, the Angel of the covenant, who is oft called the Angel of the Lord, as we have formerly seen, to whom the conduct of Israel out of Egypt, and through the wilderness, and into Canaan, here spoken of, is frequently ascribed, as Exodus 14:19 23:20 33:14 Joshua 5:13,14 Jud 6:12 13:3; who alone of all the angels could speak the following words in his own name and person; whereas created angels and prophets do universally usher in their Divine messages with, Thus saith the Lord, or some equivalent expression. And this angel having assumed the outward shape of a man, it is not strange that he imitates the local motion of a man, and comes as it were from Gilgal to the place where now they were; by which motion he signified that he was the person that brought them to Gilgal, the first place where they rested in Canaan, and there renewed covenant with them, and protected them there so long, and from thence went out with them to battle, and gave them success.

Bochim; a place so called here by anticipation, for the reason expressed here, Judges 2:5. And it seems to be no other than Shiloh, where it seems probable that the people were met together upon some solemn festival. And this was the proper and usual place of sacrificing, Judges 2:5. And I said, i.e. I promised, upon condition of your keeping covenant with me.

And an angel of the Lord came up from Gilgal to Bochim,.... The Targum calls him a prophet (y); and the Jewish commentators in general interpret it of Phinehas (z); and that a man is meant is given into by others, because he is said to come from a certain place in Canaan, and not from heaven, and spoke in a public congregation, and is not said to disappear; but neither a man nor a created angel is meant, or otherwise he would have spoken in the name of the Lord, and have said, "thus saith the Lord", and not in his own name; ascribing to himself the bringing of the children of Israel out of Egypt, and swearing to them, and making a covenant with them, and threatening what he would do to them because of their sin; wherefore the uncreated Angel, the Angel of the covenant, is meant, who brought Israel out of Egypt, was with them in the wilderness, and introduced them into the land of Canaan, and appeared to Joshua as the Captain of the Lord's host at or near Gilgal, Joshua 5:13; and because he had not appeared since, therefore he is said to come from thence to a place afterwards called Bochim, from what happened at this time:

and said, I made you to go out of Egypt; that is, obliged Pharaoh king of Egypt to let them go, by inflicting plagues upon him and his people, which made them urgent upon them to depart:

and I have brought you unto the land which I sware unto your fathers; into the land of Canaan, now for the most part conquered, and divided among them, and in which they were settled:

and I said, I will never break my covenant with you; if the covenant between them was broken, it should not begin with him, it would be their own fault; all which is mentioned, as so many instances of divine goodness to them, and as so many aggravations of their sins against God.

(y) So Maimonides, Moreh Nevochim, par. 1. c. 15. & par. 2. c. 6. (z) The Rabbins in Maimon. Moreh Nevochim, par. 2. c. 42.

And an {a} angel of the LORD came up from Gilgal to Bochim, and said, I made you to go up 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 you.

(a) That is, messenger, or prophet, as some think, Phinehas.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
1. the angel of the Lord] Not a prophet, as the Targ. and Rabbis interpret, and the LXX and Peshitto seem to imply when they insert the prophetic formula ‘thus saith the Lord,’ but the Angel who had led Israel to the Promised Land, Exodus 23:20-23; Exodus 32:34; Exodus 33:2. This Angel was the self-manifestation of Jehovah, sometimes identified with Jehovah as here and Genesis 31:13; Genesis cf.11, Exodus 3:6; Exodus cf.2, and alluded to as God or Jehovah Jdg 6:14 cf. Jdg 6:12; Jdg 13:21 cf. Jdg 13:22; at other times distinguished from Jehovah Genesis 16:11; Genesis 19:13, Numbers 22:31; though “the only distinction implied is between Jehovah and Jehovah in manifestation” (A. B. Davidson in HDB.i. 94).

from Gilgal] where the mysterious appearance of ‘the captain of the host of the Lord’ had taken place, Joshua 5:13 ff. Gilgal, on the plains of Jericho, was the first halting-place (Joshua 4:19) of the tribes on the W. of Jordan, and for some time their camp, Joshua 9:6; Joshua 10:6 ff., Joshua 9:15; Joshua 14:6. The name denotes not rolling—the explanation given in Joshua 5:9 is merely a word-play—but a sacred circle of stones such as existed in other parts of the country; it has survived in the mod. Birket Jiljuliyeh, near Jericho. The presence of the Angel shews that Gilgal was a sanctuary; as at Sinai, the Deity manifests Himself where He has His dwelling-place. In the 8th cent. Gilgal was still much frequented, Hosea 4:15; Hosea 9:15; Hosea 12:11; Amos 4:4; Amos 5:5.

to Bochim] lit. ‘to the Weepers’; but here the name anticipates the account of its origin given in Jdg 2:4 f.; we should expect the older, well known, name to come first. There is little doubt that we should substitute to Beth-el, following the LXX ἐπὶ τὸν κλαυθμῶνα [i.e. Bochim] καὶ ἐπὶ βαιθὴλ καὶ ἐπὶ τὸν οἶκον Ἰσραήλ: ‘to Bochim and’ has been inserted to harmonize with the Hebr. text; ‘to Beth-el’ is original; ‘and to the house of Israel’ is suspiciously like a corrupt repetition of ‘to Beth-el,’ though in the form ‘and to the house of Joseph’ some critics would restore it to the Hebr. text. The sequel of this half of the verse Isaiah 5 b ‘and they sacrificed there unto the Lord.’

I made you to go up] The Hebr. has ‘I make you to go up,’ an historic present; but the tense, followed by ‘and I have brought you,’ cannot be right. The versions insert ‘Thus saith the Lord,’ without removing the difficulty. It has been proposed to read ‘I surely visited you and made you to go up,’ after Exodus 3:16 f.; this at any rate is good grammar. For the expression cf. Jdg 6:8; Leviticus 11:45 P; Deuteronomy 20:1; Joshua 24:17 E.

the land which I sware unto your fathers] The oath sworn to the forefathers (Genesis 22:16 f., cf. Genesis 26:3 f. JE) is frequently referred to in JE, Genesis 50:24; Exodus 13:5; Exodus 13:11; Exodus 32:13; Exodus 33:1; Numbers 11:12; Numbers 14:16; Numbers 14:23; Numbers 32:11; Deuteronomy 31:20 f., Deuteronomy 34:4; and particularly in D, e.g. Deuteronomy 1:8; Deuteronomy 1:35; Deuteronomy 6:10; Deuteronomy 6:18; Deuteronomy 6:23 etc., Joshua 1:6; Joshua 5:6 etc.—in Deut.-Josh. thirty-three times altogether. The promise is given in Genesis 12:7; Genesis 13:14 f., Genesis 15:18 ff. (Abraham), Genesis 26:3 f. (Isaac), Genesis 28:13 f. (Jacob).

I will never break my covenant] The allusion is not to the ‘oath sworn to the forefathers,’ but, as the phrases in the next verse shew, to the covenant at Sinai, Exodus 34:10 ff. For the expression cf. Deuteronomy 31:16; Deuteronomy 31:20 JE; Leviticus 26:44, Genesis 17:14 P; it is used rather frequently in the later prophetic style, e.g. Isaiah 24:5, Jeremiah 11:10, Ezekiel 44:7 etc.

Ch. Jdg 2:1-5. The angel of Jehovah moves from Gilgal; he rebukes Israel’s unfaithfulness. Origin of Bochim

This section connects with ch. 1. The going up of the Angel of Jehovah from Gilgal to Beth-el marks the close of the period of invasion (Jdg 2:1 a); the settlement of the tribes in Canaan involves a transference of the sanctuary (Jdg 2:5 b); the intervening verses (1b–5a) connect the preceding narrative with the History of the Judges (Jdg 2:6 to Jdg 16:31). The latter verses were probably composed by the post-exilic editor who introduced ch. 1 into its present place, not by the author of the Introduction Jdg 2:6 to Jdg 3:6; contrast, for example, Jdg 2:3 with Jdg 2:22 f., and again with Jdg 3:1-3. The appeal to past history, and the tone of remonstrance upbraiding Israel’s neglect to exterminate the Canaanites, betray the later historian. Most of the phrases in Jdg 2:1 b–5a are borrowed from earlier writings.Verse 1. - An angel of the Lord. Rather, the angel of the Lord, i.e. the angel of his presence, whose message consequently is delivered as if the Lord himself were speaking (see Genesis 16:7, 9, 11, etc.). A good example of the difference between a message delivered by a prophet and one delivered by the angel of the Lord may be seen by comparing Judges 6:8 with Judges 6:11-16. Bochim, i.e. weepers (vers. 4, 5). The site is unknown, but it was probably near Shiloh. The phrase "came up" denotes that it was in the hill country. Asher did not root out those in Acco, etc. Acco: a seaport town to the north of Carmel, on the bay which is called by its name; it is called Ake by Josephus, Diod. Sic., and Pliny, and was afterwards named Ptolemais from one of the Ptolemys (1 Macc. 5:15, 21; 10:1, etc.; Acts 21:7). The Arabs called it Akka, and this was corrupted by the crusaders into Acker or Acre. During the crusades it was a very flourishing maritime and commercial town; but it subsequently fell into decay, and at the present time has a population of about 5000, composed of Mussulmans, Druses, and Christians (see C. v. Raumer, Pal. p. 119; Rob. Bibl. Res.; and Ritter, Erdk. xvi. pp. 725ff.). Sidon, now Saida: see at Joshua 11:8. Achlab is only mentioned here, and is not known. Achzib, i.e., Ecdippa: see at Joshua 19:29. Helbah is unknown. Aphek is the present Afkah: see Joshua 13:4; Joshua 19:30. Rehob is unknown: see at Joshua 19:28, Joshua 19:30. As seven out of the twenty-two towns of Asher (Joshua 19:30) remained in the hands of the Canaanites, including such important places as Acco and Sidon, it is not stated in Judges 1:32, as in Judges 1:29, Judges 1:30, that "the Canaanites dwelt among them," but that "the Asherites dwelt among the Canaanites," to show that the Canaanites held the upper hand. And for this reason the expression "they became tributaries" (Judges 1:30, Judges 1:35, etc.) is also omitted.
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