Judges 3:2
Only that the generations of the children of Israel might know, to teach them war, at the least such as before knew nothing thereof;
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(2) Only that the generations of the children of Israel might know, to teach them war.—The LXX. here render, “Only because of the generations of the children of Israel to teach them war.” The Vulgate is here a mere paraphrase, and the translations vary. The meaning seems to be, “Only that He (Jehovah) might know the generations of the children of Israel, to teach them war.” The expression resembles 2Chronicles 32:31. The “teaching them war” doubtless implies the lesson that they could only learn successfully by the help of God.

As before knew nothing thereof.—That is, “knew nothing of those nations, or of those wars.”

Jdg 3:2. Only that the generations, &c. — Le Clerc and some other versions, instead of only put and, this seeming to be a new and additional reason alleged why God left some of the Canaanitish nations in the land, namely, that the Israelites might be inured to war and hardship, and thereby be preserved from sinking into sloth and luxury; and that by the neighbourhood of such warlike enemies, and a knowledge of the danger they were in from them, they might never be carnally secure, but stand continually on their guard, and keep close to that God of whose protection and aid they had such great and constant need.3:1-7 As the Israelites were a type of the church on earth, they were not to be idle and slothful. The Lord was pleased to try them by the remains of the devoted nations they spared. Temptations and trials detect the wickedness of the hearts of sinners; and strengthen he graces of believers in their daily conflict with Satan, sin, and this evil world. They must live in this world, but they are not of it, and are forbidden to conform to it. This marks the difference between the followers of Christ and mere professors. The friendship of the world is more fatal than its enmity; the latter can only kill the body, but the former murders many precious souls.Even as many of Israel ... - These words show that the writer has especially in view the generation which came to man's estate immediately after the close of the wars with the Canaanites Joshua 23:1. Compare Judges 2:10. CHAPTER 3

Jud 3:1-4. Nations Left to Prove Israel.

1. these are the nations which the Lord left, to prove Israel—This was the special design of these nations being left, and it evinces the direct influence of the theocracy under which the Israelites were placed. These nations were left for a double purpose: in the first instance, to be instrumental, by their inroads, in promoting the moral and spiritual discipline of the Israelites; and also to subserve the design of making them acquainted with war, in order that the young, more especially, who were total strangers to it, might learn the use of weapons and the art of wielding them.

Might know, to teach them war; that by the neighbourhood of such warlike potent enemies, they might be purged from sloth and security, and obliged to inure themselves to martial exercises, and to stand continually upon their guard, and consequently to keep close to that God whose assistance they had so great and constant need of. Only that the generations of the children of Israel might know and teach them war,.... That is, the following nations were left in the land, that the young generations of Israel might by their wars and conflicts with them learn the art of war, and be inured to martial discipline; which, if none had been left to engage with, they had been ignorant of: besides, their fathers in Joshua's time, as Jarchi and Kimchi observe, had no need to learn the art of war, for God fought for them; they did not get possession of the land by their own arm, and by their sword, but by the power of God in a miraculous way; but now this was not to be expected, and the Canaanites were left among them to expel, that they might be trained up in the knowledge of warlike affairs, and so be also capable of teaching their children the military art; which they should make use of in obeying the command of God, by driving out the remains of the Canaanites, and not give themselves up to sloth and indolence; though some think that the meaning is, that God left these nations among them, that they might know what war was, and the sad effects of it; and the difference of fighting with their enemies alone, as other men, and the Lord fighting along with them, and for them, as he did for their fathers:

at least such as before knew nothing thereof; being either unborn, or at an age incapable of bearing arms, or learning the art of war.

Only that the generations of the children of Israel might know, to teach them war, at the least such as before knew {b} nothing thereof;

(b) For they trusted in God and he fought for them.

2. might know] The verb, instead of governing a direct object, is followed by a fresh clause to teach them war; the LXX relieves the awkwardness by omitting might know, ‘only for the sake of the generations … to teach them war.’ The incompleteness of the conquest was not a punishment for Israel’s unfaithfulness to the covenant (Jdg 2:20-21), nor a test of Israel’s steadfastness (Jdg 2:23, Jdg 3:4-6), but a discipline1[24] designed to train Israel to hold its own and ascribe its victories to Jehovah’s help.

[24] Cf. Livy 39:1. Is hostis (the Ligures) velut natus ad continendam inter magnorum intervalla bellorum Romanis militarem disciplinam erat.

at the least such] only such; the repetition is clumsy; the rest of the verse looks like an explanatory gloss."And when the Lord raised them up judges, and was with the judge, and delivered them out of the hand of their enemies all the days of the judge (i.e., as long as the judge was living), because the Lord had compassion upon their sighing, by reason of them that oppressed them, and vexed them (דּחק only occurs again as a verb in Joel 2:8): it came to pass when the judge was dead, that they returned and acted more corruptly than their fathers," i.e., they turned again to idolatry even more grievously than their fathers had done under the previous judges. "They did not let fall from their deeds," i.e., they did not cease from their evil deeds, and "from their stiff-necked way." קשׁה, hard, is to be understood as in Exodus 32:9 and Exodus 33:3, where Israel is called a hard-necked people which did not bend under obedience to the commandments of God.
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