Thursday, April 15, 2010


Judges 1-3

Judges chapter one begins after the death of Joshua, but immediately "flashes back" to the middle of the conquest. The chapter starts with the Israelites asking the LORD who would be first to go up and fight against the Canaanites and being told that Judah would go. The Simeonites went with them to fight for Judah's territory after being promised that Judah would help them fight for theirs. Judah attacked and "the LORD gave the Canaanites and Perizzites into their hands." At Bezek they fought against Adoni-bezek who fled, but they captured him and cut off his thumbs and big toes, which he said he had done to seventy kings, and by which he also said, "God has paid me back for what I did to them." They took Jerusalem and then went to fight against the Canaanites living in the hill country. After taking Hebron, Caleb offered his daughter Achsah to "the man who attacks and captures Kiriath Sepher" and Othniel, his younger brother did so. (This story is repeated verbatim from chapter 15 of Joshua.) Judah took the hill country "but they were unable to drive the people from the plains." Likewise, "the Benjamites ... failed to dislodge the Jebusites, who were living in Jerusalem" and "Manasseh did not drive out the people of Beth Shan or Taanach or Dor or Ibleam or Megiddo and their surrounding settlements" and all of the other tribes had people that they failed to drive out.

In chapter two, the angel of the LORD came to Bokim and told the Israelites that they had disobeyed the LORD, as they had not driven out all of the people. "Now therefore I tell you that I will not drive them out before you; they will be thorns in your sides and their gods will be a snare to you." The "people wept aloud" and offered sacrifices to the LORD. It then goes on to tell of Joshua's death and burial. "After that whole generation had been gathered to their fathers, another generation grew up, who knew neither the LORD nor what he had done for Israel." It describes the process which is repeated throughout the book, in which Israel drifts away from the LORD, is punished, cries out for help, the LORD raised up judges, the judges save the people and they follow the LORD until the next generation after the death of the judge, and then the process repeats.

Chapter three starts with a list of some of the nations "the LORD left to test all those Israelites who had not experienced any of the wars in Canaan," which he did "to teach warfare to the descendants of the Israelites who had not had previous battle experience." The Israelites then "did evil in the eyes of the LORD" and he "sold them into the hands of Cushan-Rishathaim king of Aram Naharaim." After eight years, Othniel became Israel's judge and went to war and freed them, and there was peace for forty years until Othniel died. Then, again, "the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the LORD," and he "gave Eglon king of Moab power over Israel." Again he raised a deliverer, Ehud, who slew Eglon and led Israel in battle against Moab. "After Ehud came Shamgar son of Anath, who struck down six hundred Philistines with an oxgoad. He too saved Israel."

Thoughts, questions, issues

  • Unlike most of what I'm commenting on this year, I've read the book of Judges recently. I spent some time last fall reading it (as well as 1 and 2 Samuel). In addition, Dr. Gordon Hugenberger, who is our Senior Pastor at Park Street Church, a noted Old Testament scholar, and a man who is currently writing a commentary on the book, has been preaching on it for the past couple of months. Not only that, but he gave me twenty minutes of commentary on a very difficult passage at the end of this book last fall when I read it. So a) I have more background information on this book as I get into it than I've had on most of them and b) a lot of what I'll probably be saying is Gordon's interpretation. It will be much better coming from him, and I'm very much looking forward to the commentary, assuming that he can bring himself to consider it done and let it get published.
  • Structurally, the book has essentially two prologues and two epilogues, with stories of twelve Judges in the middle. It is placed historically post-conquest, as the Israelites have occupied the promised land, but before the establishment of the Kingdom.
  • The first prologue covers the conquest, and the failure of the Israelites to remove the various Canaanites peoples that they left in the land. It runs up through the death of Joshua at the beginning of chapter two. The second describes the process of repeated evil, subjugation and redemption which takes place in the book.
  • The book can be summed up by this line, variations of which appear in several places: "In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as he saw fit."
  • It is difficult to tell exactly where the flashback in chapter one begins. Certainly, the story of Caleb, Achsah and Othniel is a verbatim copy of the same story from Joshua fifteen. Whether it was a "flash-forward" then, and Joshua was dead when it happened, or a "flash-back" here, I don't know how you'd tell. There's enough reference to events which were, or at least may have been, previously referenced in Joshua, that my inclination is towards the latter, but I'm certainly not sure.
  • One of the reasons I believe that is that chapter two recounts Joshua's death and burial again. I believe that most, if not all, of the action from chapter one takes place before Joshua's death.
  • The story of Ehud is far more interesting than I made it sound. (The link is to a recent sermon from Dr. Gordon Hugenberger, and I highly recommend it. I am really looking forward to the commentary.)

Proverbs 24:23-34

This passage contains a couple of back to back verses that address things I've written of frequently or recently.
Do not testify against your neighbor without cause, or use your lips to deceive. Do not say, "I'll do to him as he has done to me; I'll pay that man back for what he did.

Proverbs 24:23-34 (New International Version)

23 These also are sayings of the wise:
To show partiality in judging is not good:

24 Whoever says to the guilty, "You are innocent"—
peoples will curse him and nations denounce him.

25 But it will go well with those who convict the guilty,
and rich blessing will come upon them.

26 An honest answer
is like a kiss on the lips.

27 Finish your outdoor work
and get your fields ready;
after that, build your house.

28 Do not testify against your neighbor without cause,
or use your lips to deceive.

29 Do not say, "I'll do to him as he has done to me;
I'll pay that man back for what he did."

30 I went past the field of the sluggard,
past the vineyard of the man who lacks judgment;

31 thorns had come up everywhere,
the ground was covered with weeds,
and the stone wall was in ruins.

32 I applied my heart to what I observed
and learned a lesson from what I saw:

33 A little sleep, a little slumber,
a little folding of the hands to rest-

34 and poverty will come on you like a bandit
and scarcity like an armed man. [a]

No comments:

Post a Comment