士师记 2

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1 耶和华的使者从吉甲上到波金,对以色列人:我使你们从埃及,领你们到我向你们列祖起誓应许之地。我又:我永不废弃与你们所立的约。

2 你们也不可与这地的居民立约,要拆毁他们的祭坛。你们竟没有从我的话!为何这样行呢?

3 因此我又:我必不将他们从你们面前赶出;他们必作你们肋下的荆棘。他们的必作你们的网罗。

4 耶和华的使者向以色列众人的时候,百姓就放声而哭。

5 於是给那地方起名波金(就是哭的意思)。众人在那里向耶和华献祭。

6 从前约书亚打发以色列百姓去的时候,他们各归自己的地业,占据地土。

7 约书亚在世和约书亚死後,那些见耶和华以色列人所行事的长老还在的时候,百姓都事奉耶和华

8 耶和华的仆人、嫩的儿子约书亚,正一岁就死了

9 以色列人将他葬在他地业的境内,就是在以法莲地的亭拿希烈,在迦实边。

10 世代的人也都归了自己的列祖。来有别的世代兴起,不知道耶和华,也不知道耶和华以色列人所行的事。

11 以色列人耶和华眼中看为恶的事,去事奉诸巴力,

12 离弃了领他们出埃及地的耶和华─他们列祖的,去叩拜别,就是四围列国的,惹耶和华发怒;

13 并离弃耶和华,去事奉巴力和亚斯他录。

14 耶和华的怒气向以色列人发作,就把他们交在抢夺他们的人中,又将他们付与四围仇敌的中,甚至他们在仇敌面前再不能站立得住。

15 他们无论往何处去,耶和华都以灾祸攻击他们,正如耶和华的话,又如耶和华向他们所起的誓;他们便极其困苦。

16 耶和华兴起士师,士师就拯他们脱离抢夺他们人的

17 他们却不从士师,竟随从叩拜别,行了邪淫,速速地偏离他们列祖所行的道,不如他们列祖顺从耶和华的命令

18 耶和华为他们兴起士师,就与那士师同在。士师在世的一切日子,耶和华他们脱离仇敌的。他们因受欺压扰害,就哀声叹气,所以耶和华後悔了。

19 及至士师,他们就去行恶,比他们列祖更甚,去事奉叩拜别,总不断绝顽梗的恶行。

20 於是耶和华的怒气向以色列人发作。他:因这民违背我吩咐他们列祖所守的约,不从我的话,

21 所以约书亚的时候所剩下的各族,我必不再从他们面前赶出,

22 为要藉此试验以色列人,看他们肯照他们列祖谨守遵行我的道不肯。

23 这样耶和华留下各族,不将他们速速赶出,也没有交付约书亚的

  

Exploring the Meaning of 士师记 2      

Napsal(a) Rev. Julian Duckworth

Judges 2: Israel’s disobedience and Joshua’s death.

This chapter opens with a reprimand from the Angel of the Lord. The Israelites had been commanded not to make any treaties with the people of Canaan, and to tear down their altars. The Angel warned that Israel had broken their covenant to the Lord, so the Lord would not drive out the other inhabitants of the land; they would be thorns in Israel’s side, and their gods would be a snare. Israel wept, and sacrificed to the Lord.

After the Israelites had gone to their assigned territories, it mentions Joshua’s death and burial (yet Joshua had died at the end of the book of Joshua!). All Israel had followed the Lord during Joshua’s time, and understood what the Lord had done for Israel. But the older generation died away, and a new generation arose who did not know the Lord, nor what He had done for Israel.

The chapter then spells out the terrible plight in which the people of Israel had entangled themselves. They had begun to worship Baal and Ashtaroth, the gods of the Canaanites, and they turned away from the Lord who had done so much for them. So, the Lord allowed their enemies to attack them, and Israel could not stand against them. This theme of straying from the Lord, and in turn being punished, will return through the next few chapters.

In the midst of this, the text says that the Lord raised up judges who delivered Israel. However, when each judge died, the people reverted to worshipping other gods. This seems to anticipate the events ahead in Judges.

*****

This chapter really marks the first of many transgressions committed by the Israelites in the book of Judges. The first three verses of this chapter feature the Angel of the Lord, who appears many times throughout the Word, and for many reasons: sometimes to bless, but in this case, to admonish the children of Israel for their disobedience. The Angel of the Lord stands firm and resolute, and represents truths from the Lord revealed in our hearts and minds (see Swedenborg’s work, Divine Providence 96[6]).

The spiritual meaning of ‘weeping’ can mean various things, depending on the context. Here, the people wept because of the Angel’s warning, in momentary recognition of their wrongdoing. This is not real repentance (a ‘change of heart’), but fear along with a sense of our own self-love, which may lead us into more disobedience (see Swedenborg’s work, Heaven and Hell 153).

The death of the older generation and rise of a new one represents a change of state in us. The older generation - Joshua and the elders - served as a connection between the people and the Lord, since they had seen the Lord’s blessings on Israel in their own time. However, when we lose that connection, both our love of obedience and understanding of why we must obey the Lord fall away.

Our changes of state usually happen quickly; we suddenly get angry, feel fear, become selfish. When we turn to the Lord for help during these times, we quickly enter a state of humility in which the Lord can reach us (see Swedenborg’s Doctrine of Life 21).

After Joshua’s death, the children of Israel began to worship other gods, and the Lord punished them. In our lives, this would be like turning back on our devotion to the Lord to instead focus on worldly things, and do just as we please. There is no punishment from the Lord, only the consequences of our actions. We become weak, easy prey for doubts and anxieties, completely at the mercy of the hells (see Arcana Caelestia 7373).

Although the Lord raised judges to lead the people, the Israelites would would return to their old ways once the judge had passed away. This gives us a valuable spiritual truth that even in our sorry state of self-interest, we are still, at times, able to see the mess we are in. We may feel alarmed for a while, but this subsides and we grow complacent once again. The Lord raises up judges so that we can hold ourselves accountable.

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