- An angel reproves Israel, who bewail their sins, verse 1-5.
- They served God during the life of Joshua and his contemporaries, verse 4-9.
- Their frequent revolts to idolatry, verse 10-19.
- God stops their success, verse 20-23.
The angel - Christ the angel of the covenant, often called the angel of the Lord, to whom the conduct of Israel out of Egypt into Canaan, is frequently ascribed. He alone could speak the following words in his own name and person; whereas created angels and prophets universally usher in their message with, Thus saith the Lord, or some equivalent expression. And this angel having assumed the shape of a man, it is not strange that he imitates the motion of a man, and comes as it were from Gilgal to the place where now they were: by which motion he signified, that he was the person that brought them to Gilgal, the first place where they rested in Canaan, and there protected them so long, and from thence went with them to battle, and gave them success. Bochim - A place so called by anticipation; it seems to be no other than Shiloh, where it is probable, the people were met together upon some solemn festival. I said - That is, I promised upon condition of your keeping covenant with me.
Done this - That is, disobeyed these express commands.
I said - With myself, I have now taken up this peremptory resolution.
Wept - Some of them from a true sense of their sins; others from a just apprehension of their approaching misery.
Bochim - That is, Weepers. They sacrificed - For the expiation of their sins, by which they had provoked God to this resolution.
Let the people go - When he had distributed their inheritances, and dismissed them severally to take possession of them. This was done before this time, whilst Joshua lived; but is now repeated to discover the time, and occasion of the peoples defection from God, and of God's desertion of them.
Knew not - Which had no experimental, nor serious and affectionate knowledge of God, or of his works.
In the sight - Which notes the heinousness and impudence of their sins, above other peoples; because God's presence was with them, and his eye upon them in a peculiar manner, which also they were not ignorant of, and therefore were guilty of more contempt of God than other people. Baalim - False gods. He useth the plural number, because the gods of the Canaanites, and adjoining nations, which Israel worshipped, were most of them called by the name of Baal.
Baal and Ashtaroth - That is, the sun and moon, whom many Heathens worshipped, tho' under divers names; and so they ran into that error which God had so expressly warned them against, Deuteronomy 4:19. Baalim signifies lords, and Ashtaroth, blessed ones, he-gods and she-gods. When they forsook Jehovah, they had gods many and lords many, as a luxuriant fancy pleased to multiply them.
Sold them - That is, delivered them up, as the seller doth his commodities unto the buyer.
Whithersoever they went - That is, Whatsoever expedition or business they undertook; which is usually signified by going out, and coming in.
Raised up - By inward inspiration and excitation of their hearts, and by outward designation testified by some extra-ordinary action. Judges - Supreme magistrates, whose office it was, under God, and by his particular direction, to govern the commonwealth of Israel by God's laws, and to protect and save them from their enemies, to preserve and purge religion, and to maintain the liberties of the people against all oppressors.
Their Judges - Who admonished them of their sin and folly, and of the danger and misery which would certainly befall them.
It repented the Lord - That is, the Lord changed his course and dealings with them, as penitent men use to do; removed his judgments, and returned to them in mercy.
Returned - To their former, and usual course. Their fathers - In Egypt, or in the wilderness. Their own doings - That is, from their evil practices, which he calls their own, because they were agreeable to their own natures, which in all mankind are deeply and universally corrupted, and because they were familiar and customary to them.
May prove - That I may try and see whether Israel will be true and faithful to me, or whether they will suffer themselves to be corrupted by the counsels and examples of their bad neighbours.