Judgment of God is Described: Page 5 of 6 (series: Lessons on Judges)

by John Lowe
(Woodruff, S.C.)

Anat is sometimes identified with the “queen of heaven,” to whom the Jews offered incense in Jeremiah’s day (Jer. 7:18; 44:17–19, 25). But some scholars identify the “queen of heaven” with the Assyro-Babylonian goddess Ishtar. Anat was the patroness of sex and passion; lewd figurines of this nude goddess have been discovered at various archaeological sites in Palestine.

The goddess Asherah (1 Kin. 15:13; 2 Chr. 15:16; Asherahs, Judg. 3:7) was portrayed as the wife of El (or sometimes Baal) in Canaanite mythology. Asherah was a favorite deity of women. Some of the wives of David and Solomon worshiped her (1 Kin. 15:13), as Ahab’s wife, Jezebel, also probably did (1 Kin. 16:31–33). King Asa suppressed the worship of Asherah (1 Kin. 15:13), and King Josiah destroyed “the articles that were made for Baal, for Asherah, and for all the host of heaven” (2 Kin. 23:4). Recently discovered inscriptions at Kuntillet Ajrud and Khirbet el-Kom seem to indicate that the goddess Asherah was sometimes worshiped as if she were the wife of the Lord Himself—a pagan abomination of the worst possible sort.

The word asherah also refers to a wooden pole, or cult pillar, that stood at Canaanite places of worship—perhaps the trunk of a tree with the branches chopped off—and associated with the worship of the goddess Asherah.

Other pagan gods in addition to Baal and his companions were worshiped by the Canaanites. Molech was the national deity of the Ammonites (Lev. 18:21; Jer. 32:35), whose worship was accompanied by the burning of children offered as a sacrifice by their own parents. The god Molech also appears in the Old Testament as Milcom (2 Kin. 23:13; Zeph. 1:5; Malcham, KJV) and in the New Testament as Moloch (Acts 7:43).

Chemosh (Judg. 11:24; 2 King. 23:13) was the national god of the Moabites. This deity was apparently compounded with Athtar, the Venus star, and so is thought to be a pagan god associated with the heavenly bodies. Chemosh has been identified with Baal of Peor, Baal-Zebub, Mars, and Saturn, as the star of ill-omen. Dibon (Num. 21:30), a town in Moab north of the River Arnon, was the chief seat of its worship.

Like Molech, Chemosh was worshiped by the sacrifice of children as burnt offerings, but scholars believe it is incorrect to identify Chemosh directly with Molech. Solomon sanctified Chemosh as a part of his tolerance of pagan gods (1 Kin. 11:7), but Josiah abolished its worship (2 Kin. 23:13). Human sacrifice was made to Chemosh, according to 2 Kings 3:27, which reports that Mesha, king of Moab, offered his oldest son as a burnt offering on the wall of Kir Hareseth, the ancient capital of Moab.

Ashtoreth (1 Kin 11:5, 33; 2 Kin. 23:13) was the ancient Syrian and Phoenician goddess of the moon, sexuality, sensual love, and fertility. In the Old Testament Ashtoreth is often associated with the worship of Baal. The KJV word Ashtaroth is the plural form of Ashtoreth; the NKJV has Ashtoreths (Judg. 2:13; 1 Sam. 12:10; also see Ishtar above).

Remphan (Acts 7:43; Rephan, NRSV, NIV, REB; Rompha, NASB) was an idol worshiped by Israel in the wilderness. This may be the same pagan god as Chiun (Amos 5:26; Kiyyun, NASB; Kaiwan your star-god, NRSV), or Saturn.

Nehushtan, literally “bronze serpent-idol,” was the contemptuous name given by King Hezekiah to the bronze serpent made by Moses in the wilderness (Num. 21:8–9), when people began to worship it (2 Kin. 18:4).

Gad (Is. 65:11; Fortune, NRSV, NIV, NASB; Fate, REB) was a heathen deity worshiped along with Meni (Is. 65:11; Destiny, NRSV, NIV, NASB; Fortune, REB). Scholars are uncertain about the exact identity of these pagan gods.

The Lord was with the judge. God himself was king, and the judge was his representative.

It repented the Lord. He changed his purpose for them: he was intent on destroying them because of their sin; but they repented and turned to Him, and out of love...

He changed His purpose. The purpose was to destroy them if they did not repent; when they did repent, His not destroying them was quite consistent with His purpose. God is seen throughout the OT as free to change His effective direction in response to human need.
Article 2.3: The Judges
The judges were tribesmen in Israel upon whom the Lord laid the burden of Israel's apostate and oppressed state. They were the spiritual ancestors of the prophets; that is to say, men raised up by God, the theocratic King, to represent Him in the nation. They were patriots and religious reformers because national security and prosperity were inseparably connected with loyalty and obedience to Jehovah. Not one of the chosen deliverers had anything to glory about in the flesh. The Judges: Othniel was the son of the younger brother of Caleb; Ehud was a left-handed man and an assassin; Shamgar, a rustic with an ox-goad; Deborah, a woman; Gideon, from an obscure family in the smallest tribe, etc. Each of the classes mentioned in 111Co 1:27, 28 is illustrated among the judges.
When the people repented and turned again to the Lord, He raised up judges who delivered them out of the hand of their enemies and led them back to faithfulness to the Law and to their covenant with the Lord. The Hebrew word for “judge” is shopet, meaning “ruler,”, and is the source of the noun mishpat, meaning “judgment” or “justice.” The basic concept of the word has to do with a verdict given by a judge and is descriptive of every phase of the judge’s work. Therefore, the noun mishpat means the judgment given by the shopet and, thus, may indicate justice, ordinance, or law (torah) given by God Himself, since Yahweh is the God of mishpat (Gen 18:25 ). Real judgment and justice cannot be separated from Him who is the basis of all ethical righteousness. Thus, to the Hebrew mind God’s justice (mishpat) was not a mere idea, but an activated principle in time and history. It was manifested in real and observable events because the real God acted with vindicating righteousness upon His people. When Israel repented and sought the Lord, He raised up “judges” to accomplish His act of deliverance for Israel. Thus, the English title “judge” may often be misleading since it conveys the idea of acting mainly in the legal realm of arbitrating.
Actually, the noun shopet is not used to describe the men themselves, though the verb “judged” is used for describing the action of Othniel, “And the Spirit of the LORD came upon him, and he judged Israel, and went out to war: and the LORD delivered Chushanrishathaim king of Mesopotamia into his hand; and his hand prevailed against Chushanrishathaim” (3:10); Deborah, “And Deborah, a prophetess, the wife of Lapidoth, she judged Israel at that time.” (4:4); Tola, “And he judged Israel twenty and three years, and died, and was buried in Shamir” (10:2); Jair, “And after him arose Jair, a Gileadite, and judged Israel twenty and two years” (10:3); Jephthah, “And Jephthah judged Israel six years. Then died Jephthah the Gileadite, and was buried in one of the cities of Gilead” (12:7); Ibzan, “And after him Ibzan of Bethlehem judged Israel” (12:8); Elon, “And after him Elon, a Zebulonite, judged Israel; and he judged Israel ten years” (12:11); Abdon, “And after him Abdon the son of Hillel, a Pirathonite, judged Israel” (12:13); and Samson, “And he judged Israel in the days of the Philistines twenty years” (15:20). Their main duty was the act of “judging” by which they delivered Israel from oppression. As Cundall, in the Tyndale Old Testament Commentary (p. 15), has shown, the actual “Judge” in Israel was the Lord Himself; for He only is called the shopet! The individual judges were called by divine appointment and brought to prominence in the role of a deliverer through whom God administered His justice by empowerment with His Spirit, “And the Spirit of the LORD came upon him, and he judged Israel, and went out to war: and the LORD delivered Chushanrishathaim king of Mesopotamia into his hand; and his hand prevailed against Chushanrishathaim” (3:10). Perhaps later they settled as civil leaders as well, since the years of each one’s “judgeship” are recorded after the initial deliverance of the people from oppression.

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