Notes on the Bible, by Albert Barnes, , at sacred-texts.com
The angel of the Lord (not an angel). - The phrase is used nearly 60 times to designate the Angel of God's presence. See Gen 12:7 note. In all cases where "the angel of the Lord" delivers a message, he does it as if God Himself were speaking, without the intervening words "Thus saith the Lord," which are used in the case of prophets. (Compare Jdg 6:8; Jos 24:2.)
When the host of Israel came up from Gilgal in the plain of Jericho, near the Jordan Jos 4:19 to Shiloh and Shechem, in the hill country of Ephraim, the Angel who had been with them at Gilgal Exo 23:20-23; Exo 33:1-4; Jos 5:10-15 accompanied them. The mention of Gilgal thus fixes the transaction to the period soon after the removal of the camp from Gilgal, and the events recorded in Judg. 1:1-36 (of which those related in Judg. 1:1-29 took place before, and those in Jdg 1:30-36, just after that removal). It also shows that it was the conduct of the Israelites, recorded in Judg. 1 as in Jos 16:1-10; 17, which provoked this rebuke.
The two articles of the covenant here specified (compare margin references) are those which the Israelites had at this time broken. The other important prohibition Deu 7:3 is not specified by the Angel, and this is an indication that at the time the Angel spoke, intermarriages with the pagan spoken of Jdg 3:6 had not taken place; and this again is another evidence of the early date of this occurrence.
"Wherefore I also said" - Rather because ye have done the things mentioned in Jdg 2:2, "I have now said (i. e. I now protest and declare) that I will not drive them out from before you" (compare Jdg 19:29). And it was the annonncement of this resolution by the Angel that caused the people to weep.
The word thorns in this verse is supplied by the King James Version from the similar passage in Joshua (see the marginal reference). Other versions adopt a different reading of the original text, and prefer the sense "they shall be to you for adversaries" (compare the last words of Num 33:55).
Bochim - i. e. weepers. It was near Shechem, but the site is unknown. Compare the names given to places for similar reasons in Gen 35:8; Gen 50:11.
If Joshua was about 80 at the entrance into Canaan, 30 years would bring us to the close of his life. The "elders" would be all that were old enough to take part in the wars of Canaan Jdg 3:1-2; and therefore, reckoning from the age of 20 to 70, a period of about 50 years may be assigned from the entrance into Canaan to the death of the elders, or 20 years after the death of Joshua.
The great works of the Lord - The overthrow of the Canaanite nations.
The servant of the Lord - This is a title especially given to Moses Deu 34:5; Jos 1:1. In later books, the phrase "the servant of God" is used Ch1 6:49; Neh 10:29; Dan 9:11; Rev 15:3. It is applied to Joshua only here and in Jos 24:29. It is spoken of David (Ps. 18, title), and generally of the prophets; and, like the analogous phrase, "man of God," is transferred by Paul to the ministers of Christ under the New Testament Ti2 2:24; Jam 1:1.
All that generation - i. e. the main body of those who were grown-up men at the time of the conquest of Canaan.
And the children of Israel - Here begins the narrative of what really did happen "after the death of Joshua," but of which Judg. 1 conveys no hint. Israel served the Lord all the days of Joshua Jdg 2:7. But when Joshua was dead ... "the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord, and served Baalim, and forsook the God of their fathers." And then follows from Jdg 2:14 to the end of the chapter, a summary of the whole contents of the book.
Did evil in the sight of the Lord - Through this book and all the historical books, this is the regular phrase for falling into idolatry. It occurs seven times in Judges, as descriptive of the seven apostasies of Israel, which drew down upon them the seven servitudes under
(5) the tyranny of Abimelech,
(6) the Ammonites,
(7) the Philistines.
The recurrence of the phrase marks the hand of one author and of one book. For the opposite phrase, see Kg1 15:5, Kg1 15:11, etc.
The plural of Baal, "Baalim," refers to the numerous images of Baal which they set up and worshipped, as does the plural form, "Ashtaroth" Jdg 2:13, to those of the female divinity, Astarte.
Provoked the Lord to anger - A frequent expression in connection with idolatry, especially in Deuteronomy, in the Books of the Kings, and in Jeremiah.
Consult the marginal references. The phrase, "he sold them into the hands etc.," is first found in Deu 32:30.
Nevertheless - (rather "and") the Lord raised up judges This is the first introduction of the term judge, which gives its name to the book. (See the introduction to the Book of Judges.)
It repented the Lord - Rather, "the Lord was moved with compassion," or "was grieved," "because of their groanings." (Compare Jdg 21:15.)
This verse is connected with Jdg 2:13. The intermediate verses refer to much later times; they have the appearance of being the reflections of the compiler interspersed with the original narrative. But Jdg 2:20 catches up the thread only to let it fall immediately. All that follows, down to the end of Jdg 3:7, seems to be another digression, closing with words like those of Jdg 2:13.
It does not appear how this message was given to Israel, whether by Angel, or prophet, or Urim, nor indeed is it certain whether any message was given. The words may be understood as merely explaining what passed through the divine mind, and expressing the thoughts which regulated the divine proceeding.