The Period Of The Judges

 Chapter 9
Godly Generation Dies      [Judges 2.6-10]

 

Scripture

6 And when Joshua had let the people go, the children of Israel went every man unto his inheritance to possess the land.
7 And the people served the LORD all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders that outlived Joshua, who had seen all the great works of the LORD, that he did for Israel.
8 And Joshua the son of Nun, the servant of the LORD, died, being an hundred and ten years old.
9 And they buried him in the border of his inheritance in Timnathheres, in the mount of Ephraim, on the north side of the hill Gaash.
10 And also all that generation were gathered unto their fathers: and there arose another generation after them, which knew not the LORD, nor yet the works which he had done for Israel.

 

Commentary

The older generation failed to teach the younger generation God’s truth as Moses had commanded them ([1]Deut. 6:1–9 ). It is bad enough that they forgot Joshua, their second greatest leader, but how could they forget the Lord? You will find the explanation in Deuteronomy 8 (suggest you read this passage.).

6 And when Joshua had let the people go, the children of Israel went every man unto his inheritance to possess the land.

Under Joshua, the initial phase of the conquest was totally successful. However, after the land was divided among the tribes, it was necessary for them to occupy the territory assigned to them in order to maintain it. The text now goes back and refers to the transition from the time of Joshua until the period of the judges. There is a very clear correlation between the end of the book of Joshua and the beginning of the book of Judges; this is typical of inspired narrative.

Verses 6–10 review the close of Joshua’s life and the generation that outlived him. In Deuteronomy 6 (suggest you read this passage.), the Lord gave some specific commands to His people. Failure to obey them led to the sad state of affairs described in verse 10, where a lack of spiritual leadership is seen to result in a corresponding lack of obedience on the part of God’s people. The previous generation had not taught their children to fear the LORD and to keep His commandments. The neglect of the fathers led to the apostasy of their sons.

The beginning of this chapter is only a repetition of the account we had before of the people’s good character during the government of Joshua, and of his death and burial ([2]Jos. 24:29, 30 ), which is repeated only to make way for the following account, which this chapter gives, of their degeneracy and apostasy. The angel had foretold that the Canaanites and their idols would be a snare to Israel; now the historian undertakes to show that that is what happened, and, so that this is made clearer, he looks back a little, and takes notice of their happy settlement in the land of Canaan. Joshua, having distributed this land among them, released them to what should have been the quiet and comfortable possession of it (v. 6): He sent them away, not only every tribe, but every man to his inheritance, no doubt giving them his blessing.

When Joshua had let the people go. Joshua’s dismissing of Israel ([3]Jos. 24.28 ) apparently followed the covenant renewal ceremony at Shechem, described in Joshua 24.1-27. From Shechem each tribe was to return to its own inheritance to complete the occupation of the land, to eliminate the local inhabitants, and to destroy the pagan alters.

The author of this book is giving here a history of the people, from the division of the land by Joshua to the time in which the angel speaks. Joshua divided the land between them by lot; recommended obedience to God, which they solemnly promised: and they continued faithful during his life, and during the lives of those who had been his contemporaries, but who had outlived him. When all that generation who had seen the wondrous works of God in their behalf had died, then the succeeding generation, who knew not the Lord—who had not seen his wondrous works—forsook his worship, and worshipped Balaam and Ashtoreth, the gods of the nations among whom they lived, and thus the Lord was provoked to anger; and this was the reason why they were delivered into the hands of their enemies. This is the sum of their history to the time in which the angel delivers his message.

7 And the people served the LORD all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders that outlived Joshua, who had seen all the great works of the LORD, that he did for Israel.

The statement that the people served the LORD all the days of Joshua clearly indicates the success of his leadership and makes the subsequent failure of the new generation of Israelites all the greater sin by contrast. The elders that outlived Joshua was those who had served with him and had observed the great works of the LORD. The miraculous intervention of God on behalf of the people in the days of Moses and Joshua was now past history.

The people continued in the faith and fear of God’s holy name as long as Joshua lived. They went to their possessions with good resolve to cleave to God, and they persisted for some time in these good resolutions; as long as they had good rulers that set them good examples, gave them good instructions, and reprimanded and restrained the corruptions that crept in among them, and as long as they had fresh memories of the great things God did for them when he brought them into Canaan: those that had seen these wonders had the good sense to believe their own eyes, and enough wisdom to serve that God who had appeared so gloriously on their behalf; but those that followed that had not seen God’s power and glory, believed not.

8 And Joshua the son of Nun, the servant of the LORD, died, being an hundred and ten years old.
9 And they buried him in the border of his inheritance in Timnathheres, in the mount of Ephraim, on the north side of the hill Gaash.

The death and burial of Joshua, dealt a fatal blow to the peoples’ interests in religion. However, they must have had a great sense of their obligations to him, because they honored him at his death, and buried him in Timnath-heres; so it is called here, not, as in Joshua, where the name is Timnath-serah. Heres signifies the sun, and some think that a depiction of the sun was put upon his sepulchre, and gave a name to it, in remembrance of the sun’s standing still at his word. At least, that is what most of the Jewish writers say; but I must question whether an image of the sun would be an acceptable memorial to the honour of Joshua at that time, when, due to men’s general proneness to worship the sun, it would be in danger of being abused to the dishonor of God.
Joshua died without appointing a successor, thus setting the stage for the period of the Judges.

10 And also all that generation were gathered unto their fathers: and there arose another generation after them, which knew not the LORD, nor yet the works which he had done for Israel.

After Joshua’s death at the age of one hundred ten and the death of all that generation, there arose another generation … which knew not the LORD. This new generation had forgotten the intervention of Jehovah on behalf of their forefathers and ignored the covenant mercies of God toward them. All that generation, in just the matter of  a few years, lost their good training and examples, and when they died their good examples and training was buried with them, and there arose another generation of Israelites who had so little sense of religion, and cared so little about it, that, in spite of all the advantages of their education, one might truly say that they knew not the Lord; they did not truly know Him as He wanted to be known, or as he had revealed himself, or else they would not have forsaken him. They were so entirely devoted to the world, so intent upon their business or so self-indulgent in worldly possessions and satisfying fleshly desires, and living a life of ease and luxury, that they never even considered the true God and his holy religion, and so they were easily drawn to false gods and their repulsive superstitions.

The people of Israel forsook the God of Israel, and gave His worship and honour to the dunghill deities of the Canaanites which was due to God alone. “Be astonished, O heavens! at this, and wonder, O earth! Hath a nation, such a nation, so well fed, so well taught, changed its God, such a God, a God of infinite power, unspotted purity, inexhaustible goodness, and so very jealous of a competitor, for stocks and stones that could do neither good nor evil?” (Jer. 2:11, 12). Never was there such an instance of madness, ingratitude, and absurdity. The apostasy of the new generation set the pattern for subsequent periods of apostasy, restoration, and renewed apostasy.

Notice: Many of the Judges did genuinely know the Lord, and some who lived by faith eventually threw themselves on God’s mercy during oppressions.

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([1]Deut. 6:1–9 )  “1Now these are the commandments, the statutes, and the judgments, which the LORD your God commanded to teach you, that ye might do them in the land whither ye go to possess it: 2That thou mightest fear the LORD thy God, to keep all his statutes and his commandments, which I command thee, thou, and thy son, and thy son’s son, all the days of thy life; and that thy days may be prolonged. 3Hear therefore, O Israel, and observe to do it; that it may be well with thee, and that ye may increase mightily, as the LORD God of thy fathers hath promised thee, in the land that floweth with milk and honey.
4Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD: 5And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. 6And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: 7And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. 8And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes. 9And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, and on thy gates.”
  These verses are still carried out literally by many orthodox Jews as they write verses on parchment and place them in little boxes that they bind with strips of leather to their foreheads and upon their hands. Also, they nail them near the doorways of their homes. The intent of this passage is that the Word of God should be hidden in a person’s heart and should constantly be a source of devotion and obedience to the Lord. The main thrust was that they should teach their children the Word of God. Verse 7 has become the foundation for the Christian school movement, where the core of the curriculum is the Word of God.
Gratitude is the least remembered of all virtues, and the Israelites were exposed to the danger of forgetfulness as they entered Canaan. They would enjoy houses, gardens, and wells for which they had not worked, so Moses suggests a formula for remembering God. Fear is the first step in not forgetting God, and service is the second. The third step is swearing by his name. This does not merely refer to a solemn oath in court, but rather to an assertive fact whereby a person dedicates his life to live for God. The reference to not tempting the Lord was quoted by Jesus Christ when tempted by Satan in the wilderness. Satan knew that Christ was obedient to the Father and tried to make Him act selfishly.

  ([2]Jos. 24:29, 30 ) “And it came to pass after these things, that Joshua the son of Nun, the servant of the LORD, died, being an hundred and ten years old. 30 And they buried him in the border of his inheritance in Timnathserah, which is in mount Ephraim, on the north side of the hill of Gaash.” Joshua the son of Nun—died—This event probably took place shortly after this public assembly; for he was old and stricken in years when he held the assembly mentioned Joshua 23:2; and as his work was now all done, and his soul ripened for a state of blessedness, God took him to himself, being one hundred and ten years of age; exactly the same age as that of the patriarch Joseph. See Genesis 50:26.
And they buried him—in Timnath-serah—This was his own inheritance, as we have seen Joshua 19:50. The Septuagint add here, "And they put with him there, in the tomb in which they buried him, the knives of stone with which he circumcised the children of Israel in Gilgal, according as the Lord commanded when he brought them out of Egypt; and there they are till this day." St. Augustine quotes the same passage in his thirtieth question on the book of Joshua, which, in all probability, he took from some copy of the Septuagint. It is very strange that there is no account of any public mourning for the death of this eminent general; probably, as he was buried in his own inheritance, he had forbidden all funeral pomp, and it is likely was privately interred.

([3]Jos 24.28) “So Joshua let the people depart, every man unto his inheritance.”

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