The Period Of The Judges

 Chapter 8
Angel Announces Judgment      [Judges 2:1–5]
 
  
Scripture

1And 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 unto the land which I sware unto your fathers; and I said, I will never break my covenant with you.
2And ye shall make no league with the inhabitants of this land; ye shall throw down their altars: but ye have not obeyed my voice: why have ye done this?
3Wherefore 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 unto you.
4And it came to pass, when the angel of the LORD spake these words unto all the children of Israel, that the people lifted up their voice, and wept.
5And they called the name of that place Bochim: and they sacrificed there unto the LORD.


Commentary

It was at Gilgal that Israel first camped after crossing the Jordan River and entering the Promised Land. “And the people came up out of Jordan on the tenth day of the first month, and encamped in Gilgal, in the east border of Jericho.” (Jos. 4:19) The encampment at Gilgal was located perhaps five miles from the bank of the river and several miles from the city of Jericho itself, and there they “rolled away” the old life (Josh. 5). They were no longer just a nation of homeless wanderers. Now they had a land of their own, where they could put down roots and worship God. There was an opportunity for rededication; but all they did this time was weep, and their weeping was not a sign of true repentance. It was a passing emotional experience that brought no change to their hearts.

1And 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 unto the land which I sware unto your fathers; and I said, I will never break my covenant with you.

And an angel of the LORD came up from Gilgal to Bochim. The confusion and incomplete victory that ends chapter 1 serves as a general introduction to the events of the second chapter. The great victories of the past under the leadership of Joshua and the elders who served with him were nullified by subsequent periods of compromise, in which the covenant was neglected, idolatry was tolerated, and intermarriage with the Canaanites became commonplace. It is under these circumstances that the angel of the LORD came to deliver God’s message to them. Bruce, in the New Bible Commentary (p. 240), notes that: “The angel of Yahweh is the expression widely used in the Old Testament to denote Yahweh Himself in His manifestation to men.” Theologically, such appearances of God in human form are called a “theophany.” By such a manifestation, God had appeared unto Adam, Abraham, Hagar, Moses, Joshua, etc. On the significance of Theophanies (or “Christophanies,” appearances of the preincarnate Christ) see Article 2: Theophanies.

The Angel of the Lord in the Old Testament is generally agreed to be our Lord Jesus Christ who came to earth temporarily on occasion to deliver special messages or to accomplish special tasks. Among others, He ministered to Hagar (Gen. 16), Abraham (Gen. 22), Jacob [1](Gen. 31:11 ), and Moses (Exod. 3), and He appeared to Joshua [2](Jos. 5:13–15 ). Though we do not recognize them, the angels minister to God’s people today [3](Heb. 1:14 ), and the Lord Jesus is with us as we walk with Him ([4]Mt. 28:20; [5]Heb. 13:5–6).
The nation of Israel crossed the Jordan close to the town of Gilgal where God had stopped the water and dried up the river bottom, so that the Israelites walked over on dry ground. Gilgal, was where the main military camp had been located during the time of the conquest, the tabernacle was originally located there [6](Jos. 4.19-20 ), and it was there that the men of Israel were circumcised and “rolled away” the reproach of Egypt [7](Jos. 5.2-9 ). It was also there that the Lord appeared to Joshua and assured him of victory as he began his campaign to conquer Canaan [8](Jos. 5.13-15 ). From Gilgal the Israelites went up to Bochim (lit., weepers), whose exact location is unknown; although it is believed by some to have been located somewhere between Beth-el and Shiloh, about twenty miles from the Dead Sea.  The Angel of the Lord (the Lord Jesus) rebuked the people at Bochim (weepers) for their disobedience; in response the Israelites allegedly repented of their sins. There Verse 1 says that He came up from Gilgal (the place of blessing) to Bochim (the place of weeping). Israel had gone from the place of victory to the place of mourning. They had failed to drive out the Canaanites and to destroy their idolatrous altars.

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. As the Angel speaks His message, it is actually the message of God Himself! He reminded them that He had brought them out of Egypt into the land that He had promised their fathers. Although Israel had experienced the power of God during the period of the Exodus from Egypt and the conquest of Canaan, they soon forgot the covenant they had made with God at Sinai. The Lord went on to remind them that they had not obeyed His voice and asked them why they had done this.

I will never break my covenant—nor did God ever break it. A covenant is never broken except by the one who violates the conditions of it: when any of the contracting parties violates the Covenant, the other party may declare the covenant null-and-void.

Your fathers—head or founder of a household, group, family, or clan. In this case, the reference is probably to the patriarchs; Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, etc.

It was a great privilege for Israel that they not only had The Law of God in His Commandments, written on tablets of stone that were at this time resting in the Arc of the Covenant, to show them God’s way to happiness, but that they had received, from time-to-time, particular messages sent to them from heaven, when Israel’s circumstances needed God’s word, for reproof, for correction, and for instruction in righteousness, when at any time they turned aside out of that way.

Besides the written word which was available for them to read, they often heard a word behind them, saying, This is the way, [9]Isa. 30:21. Here is the beginning of something new; the Lord is changing the way he deals with Israel. They did not hear Moses or Joshua, and in the future God will communicate through prophets, but for the next 350 years the Judges will be God’s messengers to His people. In these verses we have a very awakening sermon that was preached to them when they began to cool in their religion.

The preacher was an angel of the Lord, not a prophet, not Phinehas, as the Jews thought; gospel ministers are indeed called angels of the churches, but the Old-Testament prophets are never called angels of the Lord; no doubt this was a messenger from heaven. Such extraordinary messengers we sometimes find in this Bible employed in the raising up the judges that delivered Israel, such as Gideon and Samson; and now, to show how beneficial they are for God’s Israel. Here is one messenger sent to preach to them; to prevent them falling into sin and trouble. This extraordinary messenger was sent to command, if necessary, regard for the message itself, and to have an affect on the minds of a people whom nothing seemed to affect but what was sensible. The learned bishop Patrick is clearly of the opinion that this was not a created angel, but the Angel of the covenant, the same that appeared to Joshua as captain of the hosts of the Lord, who was God himself. Christ himself, says Dr. Lightfoot; who but God and Christ could say, I made you to go up out of Egypt? Joshua had recently warned them about entangling themselves with the Canaanites, but they were the words of a dying man. The same warning is here in this passage, imparted to them by the living God himself, the Son of God appearing as an angel. If they refuse to hear his servants, surely they will reverence his Son. This angel of the Lord is said to come up from Gilgal, perhaps not walking on the earth, but flying swiftly, as the angel Gabriel did to Daniel, in the open firmament of heaven; but, whether walking or flying, he seemed to come from Gilgal for a particular reason. Gilgal served as their headquarters for a long time after they came into Canaan.  To them it was a place of blessing for there they had been blessed by God many times, and there the covenant of circumcision was renewed with a new generation. The remembrance of what we have received and heard will prepare us for a warning to hold onto all that we receive from our God and Savior; Rev. 3:2, 3 .

The sermon itself is short, but very dear. God tells them plainly:
1. What he had done for them. He had brought them out of Egypt, a land of slavery and hard work, into Canaan, a land of rest, liberty, and plenty. The miseries of the one served as an obstruction to the good being of the other. God had been kind to them, true to the oath sworn to their fathers, and had given them proofs of his power. When they stand before Jesus to be judged or rewarded, which ever the case may be, there is no acceptable excuse that they can offer. 
2. What he had promised them: I said, I will never break my covenant with you. When he took them to be his peculiar people, it was not with any intention to cast them off again, or to exchange them for another people at his pleasure. If they are faithful to him, they should find him unchangeably constant to them. He told them plainly that the covenant he entered into with them should never break, unless it broke on their side.

Article 2.1: Theophanies.

The Angel of the Lord (Heb. Yahweh) went up from Gilgal to Bokim. The Angel of the Lord was not merely “an angel”; He was a Theophany—an appearance of the second person of the Trinity in visible and bodily form before the Incarnation. Prominent during the time of Moses (Ex. 3.2-15; Num. 22.22-35) and Joshua (Jos. 5.13-15); this divine manisfication also appeared during the period of the Judges to Gideon (Jg. 6.11-24), and to the parents of Samson (13.3-21). The Angel of the Lord was Deity for He was called Yahweh (Jos. 5.13-15; Jg. 6.11-24; Zech 3) and God (Gen 32.24-32; Ex. 3.4), and had divine attributes and prerogatives (Gen. 16.13; 18.25; 48.16). Yet this Messenger of the Lord was also distinct from Yahweh, thus indicating a plurality of persons within the Godhead (Num. 20.16; Zech. 1.12-13). New Testament allusions suggest that the Angel of the Lord in the Old Testament was Jesus Christ (Jn. 12.41; 1 Cor. 10.4; Jn. 8.56; Heb. 11.26).
The Angel of the Lord obviously spoke as Yahweh Himself for He used the conventional formula to refer to His redemptive mercies in the Exodus and the gracious establishment of the Mosaic Covenant (Ex. 19.4; 20.2; Jos. 24.2-13). He reminded them of the divine prohibition to the Israelites regarding Canaanite alliances (you shall not make a covenant with the people of this land) and idolatry (you shall break down their alters; Ex. 23.32-33; 34.12-16; Num. 33-55; Deut. 7.2,5, 16; 12.3)
 
2And ye shall make no league with the inhabitants of this land; ye shall throw down their altars: but ye have not obeyed my voice: why have ye done this?

What were the Lord’s just and reasonable expectations from the people of God? It was such an easy and simple thing; that being in covenant with God they should make no agreements with the Canaanites, who were both His enemies and theirs,—that having set up his altar they should tear down their altars, to remove a temptation for them to serve their gods. Could any thing He demanded be easier? You would think that they would choose the easy way, but they chose instead to do it their way.

Here, we are to take note of how they had disobeyed the Lord in the very thing, which He had insisted on the most: “But you have not in so small a matter obeyed my voice.” They had made a covenant with God, but now they appeared to show only contempt for it by making friends with the idolatrous Canaanites, and conniving with them at their altars. And so God asks the question, "Why have you done this? What excuse can you give for this rebellious attitude of yours? What apology can you make for yourselves, or what excuse can you offer?” Those that discard their communion with God, and exchange it for fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, do not know what they are doing, and will have nothing to say for themselves on the great Day of Judgment.

3Wherefore 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 unto you.

The angel said, I will never break my covenant with you . . . but ye have not obeyed my voice. The gist of the angel's warning was that God would undoubtedly keep His promise; but they, by their flagrant and repeated breaches of their covenant with Him, had forfeited all claims to the stipulated benefits. Having disobeyed the will of God by willingly courting the society of idolaters and placing themselves in the sure path of temptation, He left them to suffer the punishment due those who offend Almighty God. And what was the punishment? I will not drive them out from before you—their transgressions, and breach of the covenant, were the reasons why they were not put in entire possession of the Promised Land. These words anticipate the history of the time of the Judges, when a series of oppressors subdued Israel.

You can put a period to their victories: "You will not drive them out,” says God, "and therefore I will not;” consequently their sin was made their punishment. As a result of Israel’s disobedience, the divine aid by which Israel would have driven out the Canaanites was withheld (2.20-3.6). Intermarriage with the Canaanites led to tolerance of and even participation in their idolatry. Therefore those who indulge their lusts and corruptions, which they should renounce, forfeit the grace of God, and it is rightly withdrawn from them. If we will not resist the devil, we cannot expect that God would trample him under our feet.

He would involve them in continual troubles. "They shall be thorns in your sides to gore you, which way soever you turn, always doing you one mischief or other.” Those deceive themselves if they expect to gain through friendship with those that are enemies to God. They deceive themselves (which was worst of all) if they expose them to constant temptation and are eventually drawn into sin. “Their foreign gods will be a snare to you; you will find yourselves wretchedly entangled in an affection to them, and it will be your ruin,” is how some read it. Those that approach sin are justly left to themselves to fall into sin and to perish in it. God often makes men’s sin their punishment; and thorns and snares are placed in the way of those that will walk contrary to God.

But they shall be as thorns in your sides. Paul said in 2 Corinthians 12.7 that He was given a thorn in the flesh: “And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure.” What follows explains Paul’s attitude, lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations (lit., “in order that I might not, by the abundant excess of the revelation, be uplifted”). There was given me a thorn in the flesh [11](Gal 4:14 ). The next expression the "messenger of Satan" recognizes our opponent. Just what Paul means by this has excited no small amount of conjecture. Among the views suggested are: (a) temptations from the devil; (b) Paul’s opposition from his adversaries; (c) some intense bodily pain; and (d) some recurring physical affliction such as eye trouble, epilepsy, or malaria. What is known of it is that it was a tool of Satan, it was painful (“thorn”), and it was accompanied by shame and/or embarrassment to the apostle. A fairly strong argument can be sustained in favor of the view that it was eye trouble (ophthalmia).

4And it came to pass, when the angel of the LORD spake these words unto all the children of Israel, that the people lifted up their voice, and wept.
5And they called the name of that place Bochim: and they sacrificed there unto the LORD.

The message by the angelic messenger was one of such severe judgment that the people of Israel lifted up their voice and wept and accordingly called the name of that place Bochim (“weepers”) and sacrificed unto the Lord. The angel's highly critical message made a deep and painful impression. But the reformation was only temporary, and the gratifying promise of a revival which this scene of emotion suggests, was, shortly, blasted by speedy and deeper relapses into the guilt of defection and idolatry. Their sorrow was because of the consequences of their sins and not because the wickedness of their sins had convicted them. It was a shallow and temporary sorrow that never led them to true repentance [12](2 Cor. 7.8-11 ). Likewise, the sacrifices offered to the Lord at Bochim seem to have been only an external ritual rather than an expression of true faith.

The Bible clearly indicates that significant place names were associated with historical events. The use of place names in the Bible is not merely a matter of tradition, as many critical scholars have assumed. Verses 1–5 thus give the underlying reason for the oppression which followed. No wonder the people ... wept and called the ... place Bochim!

 General Notes

[1](Gen. 31.11) “And the angel of God spake unto me in a dream, saying, Jacob: And I said, Here am I

[2](Josh. 5:13–15) And it came to pass, when Joshua was by Jericho, that he lifted up his eyes and looked, and, behold, there stood a man over against him with his sword drawn in his hand: and Joshua went unto him, and said unto him, Art thou for us, or for our adversaries? And he said, Nay; but as captain of the host of the LORD am I now come. And Joshua fell on his face to the earth, and did worship, and said unto him, What saith my lord unto his servant? And the captain of the LORD’S host said unto Joshua, Loose thy shoe from off thy foot; for the place whereon thou standest is holy. And Joshua did so.”

[3](Heb. 1:14) Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?”

[4](Mt. 28:20) Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.

[5](Heb. 13:5–6) “Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. 6So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me.

[6](Jos. 4.19-20) “And the people came up out of Jordan on the tenth day of the first month, and encamped in Gilgal, in the east border of Jericho. and those twelve stones, which they took out of Jordan, did Joshua pitch in Gilgal.” It was at Gilgal that the twelve-stone monument was erected for the children to remember forever the miraculous crossing of the Jordan. But this was not the only reason why the monument was erected. It was placed in Gilgal that the earth might know the hand of the Lord, that it is mighty: that ye might fear the Lord your God for ever. It was the Lord God’s intent that this memorial would not only serve to remind the Israelites of His mighty hand, but all peoples of the world as well. It is His desire that all men and women come to the experience of Rahab to claim that, the Lord your God, he is God in heaven above, and in earth beneath (2:11).

[7] (Jos. 5.2-9) “And it was told the king of Jericho, saying, Behold, there came men in hither to night of the children of Israel to search out the country. And the king of Jericho sent unto Rahab, saying, Bring forth the men that are come to thee, which are entered into thine house: for they be come to search out all the country. And the woman took the two men, and hid them, and said thus, There came men unto me, but I wist not whence they were: And it came to pass about the time of shutting of the gate, when it was dark, that the men went out: whither the men went I wot not: pursue after them quickly; for ye shall overtake them. But she had brought them up to the roof of the house, and hid them with the stalks of flax, which she had laid in order upon the roof. And the men pursued after them the way to Jordan unto the fords: and as soon as they which pursued after them were gone out, they shut the gate. And before they were laid down, she came up unto them upon the roof; And she said unto the men, I know that the LORD hath given you the land, and that your terror is fallen upon us, and that all the inhabitants of the land faint because of you.

[8] (Jos. 5.13-15) “And it came to pass, when Joshua was by Jericho, that he lifted up his eyes and looked, and, behold, there stood a man over against him with his sword drawn in his hand: and Joshua went unto him, and said unto him, Art thou for us, or for our adversaries? 14And he said, Nay; but as captain of the host of the LORD am I now come. And Joshua fell on his face to the earth, and did worship, and said unto him, What saith my lord unto his servant? 15And the captain of the LORD’S host said unto Joshua, Loose thy shoe from off thy foot; for the place whereon thou standest is holy. And Joshua did so.” There are times when each of us must get alone with God in a special way. Usually those times come just before a big decision in our lives. Joshua went to a hill overlooking Jericho and began to contemplate the conquest of that great fortress city. As he was there alone communing with God and planning strategy, he lifted up his eyes and looked, and, behold, there stood a man over against him with his sword drawn in his hand. The expression he lifted up his eyes is usually, though not always, indicative of an unexpected or marvelous sight (cf. Gen 18:2; 22:13; Num 24:2; I Sam 6:13; I Chr 21:16). What Joshua saw obviously caught him off guard. He did not immediately recognize the man. Since the man had his sword drawn, Joshua could only surmise that he was prepared for battle and thus asked, Art thou for us, or for our adversaries. The answer this man gave must have been as startling to Joshua as his very presence. And he said, Nay; but as captain of the host of the Lord am I now come. The host of the Lord must refer to the angels of God (Gen 32:2; I Kgs 22:19; Ps 103:20–21; 148:2; Lk 2:13). But who is this stranger, the captain of the Lord’s host? Jewish interpretation differs on this point. Maimonides does not regard this appearance as a real one. Most Jewish scholars, however, believe the captain of the Lord’s host was an angel of God and go so far as to declare his identity to be that of Michael, the archangel. In proof of this they advance Daniel 12:1 which says that, “… at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince which standeth for the children of thy people.…” But such an interpretation is unacceptable. A much sounder view is expressed by Origen in his Sixth Homily on the book of Joshua when he states, “Joshua knew not only that he was of God, but that he was God. For he would not have worshiped, had he not recognized him to be God. For who else is the Captain of the Lord’s host but our Lord Jesus Christ?” (see also James Borland, Christ in the Old Testament.). It is interesting to see the parallel between this appearance of the Lord to Joshua and an earlier one to Moses. As the Lord appeared to Moses in a special way to prepare him for leadership (Ex 3:2), now the Lord appears to Joshua in the same manner (5:13–15). “Observe how well God suits the revelation of Himself unto His saints according to their circumstances and needs: to Abraham in his tent He appeared as a Traveler (Gen 18:1–3) to Moses at the backside of the desert in a bush (Ex 3:1–2), to Joshua at the beginning of his campaign as ‘a Man of war’ (cf. Ex 15:3” (Arthur W. Pink, Gleanings in Joshua, p. 141).

Loose thy shoe from off thy foot; for the place whereon thou standest is holy. Another interesting parallel to Moses was the command of God for Joshua to remove his sandals from off his feet. This was identical to the situation of Moses (cf. Ex 3:5) when he encountered the Lord God personally. As the Lord had been with Moses, He promised to be with Joshua. As the Lord had appeared unto Moses, He has now appeared unto Joshua. The preparations for conquest are now complete.

[9](Isa. 30.21) And thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, This is the way, walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the left.”

[10](Rev. 3:2, 3) “Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die: for I have not found thy works perfect before God. Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast, and repent. If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee.” Sardis believers are alerted to recall how much of recovered truth they had, and to hold fast the good they had received. Also, they needed to repent of the inadequate use they were making of it. If the church did not awake, they were in danger of meeting Christ when they were not ready. Mark this down, the Lord does not come to believers as a thief, but to professors only.

[11](Gal 4:14) “And my temptation which was in my flesh ye despised not, nor rejected; but received me as an angel of God, even as Christ Jesus.” My temptation. The best Greek texts have “your” temptation. The trial to which you were subjected by my bodily infirmity and which might have caused you to treat me with indifference. Ye despised not. This word (Gr exoutheneō) means despise utterly, set at nought, scorn, treat with contempt. Nor rejected. Literally, “spit out” (Gr ekptuō). Hence to disdain, spurn, loathe. Spitting was a sign of disgust. The ancients expectorated when they saw a person having an epileptic seizure. This may have even been Paul’s malady. But. On the contrary. Received me. In spite of Paul’s illness and repulsive appearance, they treated him with great kindness. As an angel of God. With veneration (Acts 14:11–18). As Christ Jesus. The highest honor.

[12] (2 Cor. 7.8-11) For though I made you sorry with a letter, I do not repent, though I did repent: for I perceive that the same epistle hath made you sorry, though it were but for a season. Now I rejoice, not that ye were made sorry, but that ye sorrowed to repentance: for ye were made sorry after a godly manner, that ye might receive damage by us in nothing. For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death. For behold this selfsame thing, that ye sorrowed after a godly sort, what carefulness it wrought in you, yea, what clearing of yourselves, yea, what indignation, yea, what fear, yea, what vehement desire, yea, what zeal, yea, what revenge! In all things ye have approved yourselves to be clear in this matter.” For though I made you sorry with a letter, I do not repent. Although for a while Paul was sorry that he had written as he did, he is now thankful. Not that ye were made sorry, but that ye sorrowed to repentance (on “repentance” cf. Mt 3:8; Lk 5:32; Acts 5:31; Heb 12:17). The criminal may feel sorry that he is caught, but that is not sorrow after a godly manner. What happened at Corinth agitated the believers to realignment with the will and purpose of God. This made all of Paul’s efforts worthwhile.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

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