Judges 2:1–5 (ESV)/
Now the angel of the LORD went up from Gilgal to Bochim. And he said, “I brought you up from Egypt and brought you into the land that I swore to give to your fathers. I said, ‘I will never break my covenant with you, and you shall make no covenant with the inhabitants of this land; you shall break down their altars.’ But you have not obeyed my voice. What is this you have done? So now I say, I will not drive them out before you, but they shall become thorns in your sides, and their gods shall be a snare to you.” As soon as the angel of the LORD spoke these words to all the people of Israel, the people lifted up their voices and wept. And they called the name of that place Bochim. And they sacrificed there to the LORD.
The Hebrew word that’s translated as angel (מַלְאַךְ, mal-akh) literally means messenger. That’s what angels are—messengers.
So, the angel speaks for the LORD in the first person, “I brought you up from Egypt and brought you into the land that I swore to give to your fathers.”
Since they aren’t of the generation that left Egypt, “you” (which is plural in the Hebrew) must refer to the nation collectively. Their guilt is collective too, and so is their punishment.
But then we get the first of many plot twists. Their main failure wasn’t the failure we noted previously—failure to drive out the locals.
Instead, it was that they specifically broke their covenant with the LORD. That covenant was, “you shall make no covenant with the inhabitants of this land; you shall break down their altars.” The failure to drive out the locals is now their punishment. “I will not drive them out before you.”
In a world of eye-for-an-eye, this one fits to a T.
Notice what the LORD does not say. He does not say that He will break the covenant. The line, “I will never break my covenant with you,” stands. They will be punished, not abandoned.
That said, the punishment will be severe. “I will not drive them out before you, but they shall become thorns in your sides, and their gods shall be a snare to you.”
And notice the time scale involved. The punishment is essentially permanent. The people hearing this weren’t in Egypt and weren’t even of age during the faithlessness in the desert.
So this spanned multiple generations leading up to this moment. Now the punishment spans many more. Their loss is enormous. They blew it.
They don’t just weep; they name the place after their tears. The Hebrew word Bochim is based on the verb (בכה, ba-kha) which means to weep. Naming a place is a form of monument. They want this to be remembered. They also sacrificed there to the LORD.
The Israelites are truly grieved over this—for the moment.
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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. ESV stands for the English Standard Version. © Copyright 2001 by Crossway. Used by permission. All rights reserved. NIV stands for The Holy Bible, New International Version®. © Copyright 1973 by International Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. KJV stands for the King James Version.