Judges 2 – “The Religious Situation in Israel”

Hebrew-English Text
I. Summary
An angel reprimands the people for forsaking God. Joshua’s death is recounted, and the people’s sinfulness is described.

II. Photo

The Israelites stray: “And the Israelites did what was offensive to the LORD. They worshiped the Baalim.” (v. 11)

III. Important Verses
v. 7: The people served the LORD during the lifetime of Joshua and the lifetime of the older people who lived on after Joshua and who had witnessed all the marvelous deeds that the LORD had wrought for Israel.
vv. 8-9: Joshua son of Nun, the servant of the LORD, died at the age of one hundred and ten years, and was buried on his own property, at Timnath-heres in the hill country of Ephraim, north of Mount Gaash.
vv. 11-13: And the Israelites did what was offensive to the LORD. They worshiped the Baalim and forsook the LORD, the God of their fathers, who had brought them out of the land of Egypt. They followed other gods, from among the gods of the peoples around them, and bowed down to them; they provoked the LORD. They forsook the LORD and worshiped Baal and the Ashtaroth.
vv. 18-19: When the LORD raised up chieftains for them, the LORD would be with the chieftain and would save them from their enemies during the chieftain’s lifetime; for the LORD would be moved to pity by their moanings because of those who oppressed and crushed them. But when the chieftain died, they would again act basely, even more than the preceding generation — following other gods, worshiping them, and bowing down to them; they omitted none of their practices and stubborn ways.
vv. 22-23: For it was in order to test Israel by them — [to see] whether or not they would faithfully walk in the ways of the LORD, as their fathers had done — that the LORD had left those nations, instead of driving them out at once, and had not delivered them into the hands of Joshua.

IV. Outline
1-5. Angelic theophany
6-7. The situation under Joshua
8-9. The death of Joshua
10a. The death of Joshua’s generation
10b-13. The Israelites worship idolatry
14-15. God punishes them
16-17. The people do not listen to the chieftains
18-23. The sins of the people and God’s response

V. Comment
Whereas chapter 1 describes the military/political situation of Israel, chapter 2 describes the religious situation. Butler summarizes the chapter as follows: ”Chap. 2 pictures the religious rebellion of the covenant people. They do not learn the lessons that Joshua’s life and actions should have taught them. They do not remember God’s works or words. They weep and sacrifice for a moment but renege on covenant promises for centuries. God’s presence with the judges and compassion for the oppressed, groaning people do not sway Israel to return to the God of their fathers and the commandments that the Joshua generation obeyed. Instead, they let fascination with the gods of the country’s history – the gods of fertility and crops, the gods of sexuality and weather – lure them into worship that infuriates the God of their history. How could a people so quickly transform themselves from covenant servants of [the Lord] to fascinated worshipers of Baal and his cohorts? The following stories will illustrate how that happens and will justify [the Lord’s] destructive actions against a disobedient people of the covenant.” (49)

VI. Works Used
(see “Commentaries” page)
Trent C. Butler, “Judges” (Word Biblical Commentary vol. 8; Nashville: Nelson, 2009).
Collins, John J. “Introduction to the Hebrew Bible,” Word Biblical Commentary vol. 15 (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2004).
Photo taken from http://santitafarella.files.wordpress.com/2008/11/16a-asherah-goddesses.jpg