Judges 1 Commentary
While Joshua is focused on the good news that the LORD had fulfilled all His promises, Judges is focused on man’s failures. The material from chapter 1 gives us an impression that both Joshua and Judges were authored by the same human institution.
We get the picture that while large portions of land were conquered, large portions remained in the hands of the Canaanites. This in itself wasn’t a problem. The LORD had indicated a phased occupation of the land corresponding to Israel’s expansion in population. Neither was the presence of enemy neighbors a scandal in itself. It is equivalent to being ‘in the world but not of the world’. We can however worry about Israel’s failure to conquer the conquerable.
It is a sad reality that the sure word of the LORD has to see fulfillment in these pages. Judges, therefore, becomes the sorry story of the conqueror becoming the conquered. However, the generosity of the LORD is seen in the many times that He intervenes to save Israel through human agents. Deborah, Gideon, Jephthah, and Samson are famous names among the 12 judges that we shall read about.
The failure to ‘come out of her and be separate’ led Israel to simply mix and adopt Canaanite practices that the LORD detests. The nation is hardly distinguishable from the Canaanites, whose fate they quickly begin to ‘enjoy’. The Book unpacks the curses of Deuteronomy 28 on the nation as disobedience swells.
Chapter 1 gives us the general picture of the settled nation. It is a mixture of success and failure. This picture is what you get when you mix obedience and disobedience. Being neither hot nor cold is unacceptable before the LORD. So we await the reaction from the LORD as we journey through the Book of Judges.
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