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The Lord’s Angel Speaks to Israel

The Lord’s angel went from Gilgal to Bochim[a] and gave the Israelites this message from the Lord:

I promised your ancestors that I would give this land to their families, and I brought your people here from Egypt. We made an agreement that I promised never to break, and you promised not to make any peace treaties with the other nations that live in the land. Besides that, you agreed to tear down the altars where they sacrifice to their idols. But you didn’t keep your promise.

And so, I’ll stop helping you defeat your enemies. Instead, they will be there to trap[b] you into worshiping their idols.

The Israelites started crying loudly, and they offered sacrifices to the Lord. From then on, they called that place “Crying.”[c]

Israel Stops Worshiping the Lord

6-9 Joshua had been faithful to the Lord. And after Joshua sent the Israelites to take the land they had been promised, they remained faithful to the Lord until Joshua died at the age of one hundred ten. He was buried on his land in Timnath-Heres, in the hill country of Ephraim north of Mount Gaash. Even though Joshua was gone, the Israelites were faithful to the Lord during the lifetime of those men who had been leaders with Joshua and who had seen the wonderful things the Lord had done for Israel.

10 After a while the people of Joshua’s generation died, and the next generation did not know the Lord or any of the things he had done for Israel. 11-13 The Lord had brought their ancestors out of Egypt, and they had worshiped him. But now the Israelites stopped worshiping the Lord and worshiped the idols of Baal and Astarte, as well as the idols of other gods from nearby nations.

The Lord was so angry 14-15 at the Israelites that he let other nations raid Israel and steal their crops and other possessions. Enemies were everywhere, and the Lord always let them defeat Israel in battle. The Lord had warned Israel he would do this, and now the Israelites were miserable.

The Lord Chooses Leaders for Israel

16 From time to time, the Lord would choose special leaders known as judges.[d] These judges would lead the Israelites into battle and defeat the enemies that made raids on them. 17 In years gone by, the Israelites had been faithful to the Lord, but now they were quick to be unfaithful and to refuse even to listen to these judges. The Israelites would disobey the Lord, and instead of worshiping him, they would worship other gods.

18 When enemies made life miserable for the Israelites, the Lord would feel sorry for them. He would choose a judge and help that judge rescue Israel from its enemies. The Lord would be kind to Israel as long as that judge lived. 19 But afterwards, the Israelites would become even more sinful than their ancestors had been. The Israelites were stubborn—they simply would not stop worshiping other gods or following the teachings of other religions.

The Lord Lets Enemies Test Israel

20 The Lord was angry with Israel and said:

The Israelites have broken the agreement I made with their ancestors. They won’t obey me, 21 so I’ll stop helping them defeat their enemies. Israel still had a lot of enemies when Joshua died, 22 and I’m going to let those enemies stay. I’ll use them to test Israel, because then I can find out if Israel will worship and obey me as their ancestors did.

23 That’s why the Lord had not let Joshua get rid of all those enemy nations right away.


  1. 2.1 Bochim: In Hebrew “Bochim” means “crying” (see verse 5).
  2. 2.3 trap: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
  3. 2.5 Crying: Or “Bochim.”
  4. 2.16 special leaders known as judges: The Hebrew text has “judges.” In addition to leading Israelites in battle, these special leaders also decided legal cases and sometimes performed religious duties.

The Angel of the Lord at Bokim

The angel of the Lord(A) went up from Gilgal(B) to Bokim(C) and said, “I brought you up out of Egypt(D) and led you into the land I swore to give to your ancestors.(E) I said, ‘I will never break my covenant with you,(F) and you shall not make a covenant with the people of this land,(G) but you shall break down their altars.(H)’ Yet you have disobeyed(I) me. Why have you done this? And I have also said, ‘I will not drive them out before you;(J) they will become traps(K) for you, and their gods will become snares(L) to you.’”

When the angel of the Lord had spoken these things to all the Israelites, the people wept aloud,(M) and they called that place Bokim.[a](N) There they offered sacrifices to the Lord.

Disobedience and Defeat(O)

After Joshua had dismissed the Israelites, they went to take possession of the land, each to their own inheritance. The people served the Lord throughout the lifetime of Joshua and of the elders who outlived him and who had seen all the great things the Lord had done for Israel.(P)

Joshua son of Nun,(Q) the servant of the Lord, died at the age of a hundred and ten. And they buried him in the land of his inheritance, at Timnath Heres[b](R) in the hill country of Ephraim, north of Mount Gaash.

10 After that whole generation had been gathered to their ancestors, another generation grew up who knew neither the Lord nor what he had done for Israel.(S) 11 Then the Israelites did evil(T) in the eyes of the Lord(U) and served the Baals.(V) 12 They forsook the Lord, the God of their ancestors, who had brought them out of Egypt. They followed and worshiped various gods(W) of the peoples around them.(X) They aroused(Y) the Lord’s anger(Z) 13 because they forsook(AA) him and served Baal and the Ashtoreths.(AB) 14 In his anger(AC) against Israel the Lord gave them into the hands(AD) of raiders who plundered(AE) them. He sold them(AF) into the hands of their enemies all around, whom they were no longer able to resist.(AG) 15 Whenever Israel went out to fight, the hand of the Lord was against them(AH) to defeat them, just as he had sworn to them. They were in great distress.(AI)

16 Then the Lord raised up judges,[c](AJ) who saved(AK) them out of the hands of these raiders. 17 Yet they would not listen to their judges but prostituted(AL) themselves to other gods(AM) and worshiped them.(AN) They quickly turned(AO) from the ways of their ancestors, who had been obedient to the Lord’s commands.(AP) 18 Whenever the Lord raised up a judge for them, he was with the judge and saved(AQ) them out of the hands of their enemies as long as the judge lived; for the Lord relented(AR) because of their groaning(AS) under those who oppressed and afflicted(AT) them. 19 But when the judge died, the people returned to ways even more corrupt(AU) than those of their ancestors,(AV) following other gods and serving and worshiping them.(AW) They refused to give up their evil practices and stubborn(AX) ways.

20 Therefore the Lord was very angry(AY) with Israel and said, “Because this nation has violated the covenant(AZ) I ordained for their ancestors and has not listened to me, 21 I will no longer drive out(BA) before them any of the nations Joshua left when he died. 22 I will use them to test(BB) Israel and see whether they will keep the way of the Lord and walk in it as their ancestors did.” 23 The Lord had allowed those nations to remain; he did not drive them out at once by giving them into the hands of Joshua.(BC)


  1. Judges 2:5 Bokim means weepers.
  2. Judges 2:9 Also known as Timnath Serah (see Joshua 19:50 and 24:30)
  3. Judges 2:16 Or leaders; similarly in verses 17-19