Infidelities of the Israelites. 1A messenger of the LORD went up from Gilgal to Bochim and said, I brought you up from Egypt and led you into the land which I promised on oath to your ancestors. I said, I will never break my covenant with you, 2but you must not make a covenant with the inhabitants of this land; you must pull down their altars.a But you did not listen to me. Look what you have done! 3For I also said,* I will not clear them out of your way; they will become traps for you, and their gods a snare for you.b
4When the messenger of the LORD had spoken these things to all the Israelites, the people wept aloud. 5They named that place Bochim,* and they offered sacrifice there to the LORD.
6c Then Joshua dismissed the people, and the Israelites went, each to their own heritage, to take possession of the land. 7The people served the LORD during the entire lifetime of Joshua, and of those elders who outlived Joshua and who had seen all the great work the LORD had done for Israel. 8Joshua, son of Nun, the servant of the LORD, died at the age of a hundred and ten, 9and they buried him within the borders of his heritage at Timnath-heres in the mountain region of Ephraim north of Mount Gaash.d
10* When the rest of that generation were also gathered to their ancestors, and a later generation arose that did not know the LORD or the work he had done for Israel, 11e the Israelites did what was evil in the sight of the LORD. They served the Baals,* 12and abandoned the LORD, the God of their ancestors, the one who had brought them out of the land of Egypt. They followed other gods, the gods of the peoples around them, and bowed down to them, and provoked the LORD.
13Because they had abandoned the LORD and served Baal and the Astartes,* 14the anger of the LORD flared up against Israel, and he delivered them into the power of plunderers who despoiled them. He sold them into the power of the enemies around them, and they were no longer able to withstand their enemies. 15Whenever they marched out, the hand of the LORD turned against them, as the LORD had said, and as the LORD had sworn to them;f and they were in great distress. 16But the LORD raised up judges to save them from the power of their plunderers; 17but they did not listen to their judges either, for they prostituted themselves by following other gods, bowing down to them. They were quick to stray from the way their ancestors had taken, who obeyed the commandments of the LORD; but these did not. 18When the LORD raised up judges for them, he would be with the judge and save them from the power of their enemies as long as the judge lived. The LORD would change his mind when they groaned in their affliction under their oppressors. 19But when the judge died, they would again do worse than their ancestors, following other gods, serving and bowing down to them, relinquishing none of their evil practices or stubborn ways.g
20h The anger of the LORD flared up against Israel, and he said: Because this nation has transgressed my covenant, which I enjoined on their ancestors, and has not listened to me, 21I for my part will not clear away for them any more of the nations Joshua left when he died. 22i They will be made to test Israel, to see whether or not they will keep to the way of the LORD and continue in it as their ancestors did. 23Therefore the LORD allowed these nations to remain instead of expelling them immediately. He had not delivered them into the power of Joshua.
* [2:5] Bochim: Hebrew for “weepers.”
* [2:10–19] This long thematic passage establishes the cyclical pattern for the stories found in the rest of the book. When the Israelites are secure, they forsake the Lord and worship other gods. In punishment the Lord places them in the power of a foreign oppressor. But when they cry out in distress, the Lord takes pity on them and raises up a judge, who delivers them from the oppressor. The Israelites remain faithful to the Lord during the lifetime of the judge, but when the judge dies they again abandon the Lord, and the cycle begins anew.
* [2:11] The Baals: the title “Baal,” meaning “lord” or “master,” belonged to a large number of Canaanite, Phoenician, and Syrian deities, including especially the great storm god Hadad Baal, widely revered as lord of the earth. The plural form, which occurs here, was used by the biblical writers to refer to foreign gods in general.
* [2:13] The Astartes: Ashtoreth, or Astarte, was an important Canaanite and Phoenician goddess. The plural form used here probably refers to foreign goddesses in general.