The Word Made Fresh
1The angel of the LORD went up to Bochim from Gilgal and said, “I brought you out of Egypt into the land I promised to your ancestors. I told you then that I would never break my agreement with you, 2and told you to never make an agreement with the people of this land. I told you to break down their altars. But now look – you have not kept our agreement. 3So, I am not going to drive them out. They will continue to be your enemies and their gods will continue to entrap you.”
4When the people heard the angel of the LORD say this, they began to weep. 5They named the place Bochim (weeping place) and offered sacrifices to the LORD there.
6After Joshua had dismissed the people they had all gone to the lands they had inherited. 7They worshiped the LORD as long as Joshua was living, and as long as there were elders among them who had been witnesses to the great things the LORD had done for Israel. 8Joshua son of Nun, the servant of the LORD, died when he was one hundred ten years old. 9They buried him in Timnath-Heres, north of Mt. Gaash in Ephraim’s territory, on his own land.
10That whole generation died off and a new generation grew up who had not seen what the LORD had done for Israel and did not know the LORD. 11They began to worship the Baals 12and abandoned the LORD who had rescued them from Egypt. They became followers of the gods of the people around them and bowed down to them, and the LORD was angry. 13They turned their backs on the LORD and worshiped Baal and Astartes. 14The LORD was angry with them and allowed their enemies to take their belongings, and they could not defend themselves. 15Whenever they tried to attack their enemies the LORD was against them and they were powerless to overcome their situation, just as the LORD had told them would happen. They suffered greatly.
16The LORD began to call forth judges who helped them resist their enemies, 17but even then they wouldn’t listen, and continued to worship the other gods. Soon they had completely abandoned the ways their parents had taught them. Their parents had obeyed the LORD, but their children would not follow their example. 18Again and again the LORD would enable a leader who would deliver them from their enemies, and as long as that leader judged the people, the LORD, moved to pity for them, would deliver them from their enemies. 19But when the leader who was their judge died, they would revert to their worship of other gods, bowing down to them, unrepentant of their wickedness and stubbornness.
20Then the LORD said, “Since these people have ignored the relationship I had with their ancestors, and have turned their backs on me, 21I will not bother any longer to drive out the people of the land who were still here when Joshua died.” 22So, to test Israel and see if they would return to the way of the LORD that their ancestors followed, 23the LORD decided to leave those people in the land and not drive out the enemies who were left when Joshua died.
1-5: Things are really getting out of hand, now. The angel of the LORD (which often is simply another way of referring to God) announces that God is going to abandon them to the pagan Canaanite gods because they have not destroyed the pagan shrines and altars. The people seem to be repentant.
6-10: This account of the death of Joshua is very much the same as we read in Joshua 24:29-31. However, it is added that, after the generation that knew Joshua passes away, the next generation does not know their history as God’s people.
11-15: The people dessert God, and God desserts them.
16-23: Here is a summary of what is to follow: the people will turn away from God; their enemies will overwhelm them; God will provide a judge to lead them; they will return to prosperity and security as long as the judge lives; when the judge dies, they will forget God again. That is pretty much a summary of the rest of the book of Judges.
“Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not turn from it.” (Proverbs 22:6). We learn that after Joshua and his generation died, they had not trained their children in the ways of the LORD. The book of Judges is an account of what happens over and over again when the teaching of the ways of the LORD is not passed on to the next generation.