Notes on Judges 2:1-9

by Jonathan Spurlock
(Holts Summit, MO)

Judges 2:1, KJV 1 And 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.


This angel of the LORD is also called THE angel of the LORD in verse 4 and other passages in Judges. Here He is speaking to the Israelites at Bochim (exact location uncertain) after He had come up from Gilgal, more or less in the center of Canaan. The Angel of the LORD had spoken to and/or appeared to people several times before this instance: to Hagar (Genesis 16), Abraham (Genesis 22), Moses (Exodus 3:2); and Balaam (Numbers 22) before this occasion.

Many things happened at Gilgal: the Israelites built an altar there using 12 stones from the Jordan River’s riverbed (Joshua 4:20); Israel kept the first Passover in Canaan there (Josh. 5:10); but sadly, Israel was deceived by the Gibeonites there as well (Josh 9). Gilgal was mentioned as Israel’s “headquarters” numerous times in the Book of Joshua.

2 And 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?

God had commanded the Israelites to never make a “league” or treaty with any of the Canaanites (Exodus 23:32, 34:12, 15; Deut. 7:2) but Israel had done this very thing with the Gibeonites (Joshua 9). Later, after the basic conquest was completed, the various tribes still allowed various groups of Canaanites to live among Israel. God had also commanded Israel to destroy the pagan altars (Ex. 34:13, Deut. 7:5, 12:3) but there is no record Israel ever did this except, perhaps, in places like Jericho where the city was completely destroyed.

The question is deep and probing: why did you disobey?

3 Wherefore 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.

Moses had recorded this in Numbers 33:55 and Joshua repeated the same message in Joshua 23:13, except the word “scourges” is in place of “thorns”.

4 And 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. 5 And they called the name of that place Bochim: and they sacrificed there unto the LORD.

This appears to be signs of genuine repentance. This was the first time since the days of Balaam that anyone had had an encounter with the Angel of the LORD. Many years later, after the Jews had returned from the Babylonian Captivity, they wept when Nehemiah, the governor, Ezra the priest read the words of the Law to the people (Neh. 8:9)

Even though Israel had been commanded to bring sacrifices to the Tabernacle (Deut. 12:11), God allowed them to perform this sacrifice here at what became known as Bochim.

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

This encounter with the Angel of the LORD is not recorded in the Book of Joshua so it is uncertain when the Angel had spoken to the people. Joshua had dismissed the people, “every man unto his inheritance,” in Joshua 24:28.

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.

Joshua and Caleb were the oldest men in Israel, because all of the rest who were 20 years of age and older had died in the wilderness (Numbers 14:33, compare with Num. 26:65). The “elders” were no doubt the almost-20-somethings who most likely were born in Egypt and survived the wilderness wanderings.

These men were probably in their 60’s or 70’s by now, depending on how much time had passed between the arrival in Canaan and this period of time. They had seen everything, from the crossing of the Red Sea and crossing the Jordan River, both on dry ground; God’s provision for a multitude for 40 years in the wilderness (manna, water, meat, etc.); the conquests of various cities; even God’s own supernatural displays of power (stones from heaven, Josh. 10:11, e.g.).

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.

Quoted from Joshua 24:29-30. The name of his inheritance is spelled Timnathsereh in Josh. 24:30, probably a simple misspelling. Many years may have passed between the time when Joshua was written and Judges was written, i.e., from Joshua’s last days until the time of Samson.

Scripture quotations taken from the King James Version of the Bible (KJV)

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