The End of an Era
2:6 When Joshua dismissed 1 the people, the Israelites went to their allotted portions of territory, 2 intending to take possession of the land. 2:7 The people worshiped 3 the Lord throughout Joshua’s lifetime and as long as the elderly men 4 who outlived him remained alive. These men had witnessed 5 all the great things the Lord had done for Israel. 6 2:8 Joshua son of Nun, the Lord’s servant, died at the age of one hundred ten. 2:9 The people 7 buried him in his allotted land 8 in Timnath Heres in the hill country of Ephraim, north of Mount Gaash. 2:10 That entire generation passed away; 9 a new generation grew up 10 that had not personally experienced the Lord’s presence or seen what he had done for Israel. 11
A Monotonous Cycle
2:11 The Israelites did evil before 12 the Lord by worshiping 13 the Baals. 2:12 They abandoned the Lord God of their ancestors 14 who brought them out of the land of Egypt. They followed other gods – the gods of the nations who lived around them. They worshiped 15 them and made the Lord angry. 2:13 They abandoned the Lord and worshiped Baal and the Ashtars. 16
2:14 The Lord was furious with Israel 17 and handed them over to robbers who plundered them. 18 He turned them over to 19 their enemies who lived around them. They could not withstand their enemies’ attacks. 20 2:15 Whenever they went out to fight, 21 the Lord did them harm, 22 just as he had warned and solemnly vowed he would do. 23 They suffered greatly. 24
2:16 The Lord raised up leaders 25 who delivered them from these robbers. 26 2:17 But they did not obey 27 their leaders. Instead they prostituted themselves to other gods and worshiped 28 them. They quickly turned aside from the path 29 their ancestors 30 had walked. Their ancestors had obeyed the Lord’s commands, but they did not. 31 2:18 When the Lord raised up leaders for them, the Lord was with each leader and delivered the people 32 from their enemies while the leader remained alive. The Lord felt sorry for them 33 when they cried out in agony because of what their harsh oppressors did to them. 34 2:19 When a leader died, the next generation 35 would again 36 act more wickedly than the previous one. 37 They would follow after other gods, worshiping them 38 and bowing down to them. They did not give up 39 their practices or their stubborn ways.
A Divine Decision
2:20 The Lord was furious with Israel. 40 He said, “This nation 41 has violated the terms of the agreement I made with their ancestors 42 by disobeying me. 43 2:21 So I will no longer remove before them any of the nations that Joshua left unconquered when he died. 2:22 Joshua left those nations 44 to test 45 Israel. I wanted to see 46 whether or not the people 47 would carefully walk in the path 48 marked out by 49 the Lord, as their ancestors 50 were careful to do.” 2:23 This is why 51 the Lord permitted these nations to remain and did not conquer them immediately; 52 he did not hand them over to Joshua.
3:1 These were the nations the Lord permitted to remain so he could use them to test Israel – he wanted to test all those who had not experienced battle against the Canaanites. 53 3:2 He left those nations simply because he wanted to teach the subsequent generations of Israelites, who had not experienced the earlier battles, how to conduct holy war. 54 3:3 These were the nations: 55 the five lords of the Philistines, all the Canaanites, the Sidonians, and the Hivites living in Mount Lebanon, from Mount Baal Hermon to Lebo-Hamath. 56 3:4 They were left to test Israel, so the Lord would know if his people would obey the commands he gave their ancestors through Moses. 57