Judges 2

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1 The angel of Yahweh came up from Gilgal to Bochim. He 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:

2 and you shall make no covenant with the inhabitants of this land; you shall break down their altars.' But you have not listened to my voice: why have you done this?

3 Therefore I also said, I will not drive them out from before you; but they shall be [as thorns] in your sides, and their gods shall be a snare to you."

4 It happened, when the angel of Yahweh spoke these words to all the children of Israel, that the people lifted up their voice, and wept.

5 They called the name of that place Bochim: and they sacrificed there to Yahweh.

6 Now when Joshua had sent the people away, the children of Israel went every man to his inheritance to possess the land.

7 The people served Yahweh all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders who outlived Joshua, who had seen all the great work of Yahweh that he had worked for Israel.

8 Joshua the son of Nun, the servant of Yahweh, died, being one hundred ten years old.

9 They buried him in the border of his inheritance in Timnath Heres, in the hill country of Ephraim, on the north of the mountain of Gaash.

10 Also all that generation were gathered to their fathers: and there arose another generation after them, who didn't know Yahweh, nor yet the work which he had worked for Israel.

11 The children of Israel did that which was evil in the sight of Yahweh, and served the Baals;

12 and they forsook Yahweh, the God of their fathers, who brought them out of the land of Egypt, and followed other gods, of the gods of the peoples who were around them, and bowed themselves down to them: and they provoked Yahweh to anger.

13 They forsook Yahweh, and served Baal and the Ashtaroth.

14 The anger of Yahweh was kindled against Israel, and he delivered them into the hands of spoilers who despoiled them; and he sold them into the hands of their enemies all around, so that they could not any longer stand before their enemies.

15 Wherever they went out, the hand of Yahweh was against them for evil, as Yahweh had spoken, and as Yahweh had sworn to them: and they were very distressed.

16 Yahweh raised up judges, who saved them out of the hand of those who despoiled them.

17 Yet they didn't listen to their judges; for they played the prostitute after other gods, and bowed themselves down to them: they turned aside quickly out of the way in which their fathers walked, obeying the commandments of Yahweh; [but] they didn't do so.

18 When Yahweh raised them up judges, then Yahweh was with the judge, and saved them out of the hand of their enemies all the days of the judge: for it grieved Yahweh because of their groaning by reason of those who oppressed them and troubled them.

19 But it happened, when the judge was dead, that they turned back, and dealt more corruptly than their fathers, in following other gods to serve them, and to bow down to them; they didn't cease from their doings, nor from their stubborn way.

20 The anger of Yahweh was kindled against Israel; and he said, "Because this nation have transgressed my covenant which I commanded their fathers, and have not listened to my voice;

21 I also will not henceforth drive out any from before them of the nations that Joshua left when he died;

22 that by them I may prove Israel, whether they will keep the way of Yahweh to walk therein, as their fathers did keep it, or not."

23 So Yahweh left those nations, without driving them out hastily; neither delivered he them into the hand of Joshua.

  

Exploring the Meaning of Judges 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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