An interesting juxtaposition in the book of Judges.

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Ben C. Smith
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An interesting juxtaposition in the book of Judges.

Post by Ben C. Smith » Wed Dec 20, 2017 8:41 am

Judges 1-2 are a mishmash of summaries and stories which seem to follow no overall chronology or logical arrangement.

Judges 1.1-36: [After the death of Joshua, the people conquer some cities but fail to conquer others.]

Judges 2.1-5: [The angel of the Lord rebukes the people.]

Judges 2.6-10: [Joshua dismisses the people and then dies.]

Judges 2.11-23: [A cycle is set up whereby the people commit idolatry in an anarchic state and then repent under the rule of judges; this cycle will characterize most of the rest of the book.]

Notice that Joshua is already dead in 1.1-36 but still dismissing the people before his death in 2.6-10. The episode with the angel of the Lord in 2.1-5 intrudes, and in 2.11-23 the pattern for the rest of the book is set up.

What a mess.

But I want to look at those middle two episodes more closely:

Judges 2.1-5: 1 Now the angel of Yahweh came up from Gilgal to Bochim. And he said, "I brought you up out of Egypt and led you into the land which I have sworn to your fathers; and I said, 'I will never break My covenant with you, 2 and as for you, you shall make no covenant with the inhabitants of this land; you shall tear down their altars.' But you have not obeyed Me; what is this you have done? 3 Therefore I also said, 'I will not drive them out before you; but they will become as thorns in your sides and their gods will be a snare to you.'" 4 When the angel of Yahweh spoke these words to all the sons of Israel, the people lifted up their voices and wept. 5 So they named that place Bochim; and there they sacrificed to Yahweh.

Judges 2.6-10: 6 When Joshua had dismissed the people, the sons of Israel went each to his inheritance to possess the land. 7 The people served the Lord all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders who survived Joshua, who had seen all the great work of Yahweh which He had done for Israel. 8 Then Joshua the son of Nun, the servant of the Lord, died at the age of one hundred and ten. 9 And they buried him in the territory of his inheritance in Timnath-heres, in the hill country of Ephraim, north of Mount Gaash. 10 All that generation also were gathered to their fathers; and there arose another generation after them who did not know Yahweh, nor yet the work which He had done for Israel.

The transition between these two episodes is abrupt... unless Joshua is the angel of Yahweh, in which case the angel of Yahweh comes up from Gilgal to Bochim and rebukes the people of Israel, the people respond with tears of contrition, and then Joshua (= the angel of Yahweh??) dismisses the people and they go to their own lands.

I highly doubt that this was all written by a single pen at one go precisely in order to convey this point, since the two episodes, just like the rest of chapters 1-2, seem to be divergent traditions collected together. But was some redactor making a point by juxtaposing the two like this? Did someone read Joshua as the angel of Yahweh (perhaps on the basis of Exodus 23.20-23)?

What do you think?

Ben.
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andrewcriddle
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Re: An interesting juxtaposition in the book of Judges.

Post by andrewcriddle » Wed Dec 20, 2017 12:09 pm

It is unclear what Angel of the Lord means here http://biblehub.com/judges/2-1.htm

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

(1) An angel of the Lord.--The words "Maleak Jehovah" are used of Haggai, in Haggai 1:13; of prophets in Isaiah 42:19; Malachi 3:6; of priests in Malachi 2:7. Hence from very ancient times these words have been interpreted as, "a messenger of the Lord" (as in the margin of our Bible). The Targum paraphrases it by "a prophet with a message from Jehovah." R. Tanchum, from Judges 2:6, infers that it was Joshua himself. Kimchi and others have supposed that it was Phinehas. No indications are given of anything specially miraculous. On the other hand, there is much room to suppose that the writer intended "the Angel of the Presence," because ( 1 ) he constantly uses the phrase in this sense (Judges 6:11-12; Judges 6:21-22; Judges 13:3; Judges 13:13; Judges 13:15, &c.); (2) the same phrase occurs in this sense elsewhere, as in Genesis 16:7; Genesis 22:11; Exodus 2:2; Exodus 2:6; Exodus 2:14; Numbers 22:22, &c; (3) the angel speaks in the first person, and does not introduce his words by "Thus saith Jehovah," as the prophets always do (but see below). It seems probable, therefore, that by "the angel of the Lord" the writer meant "the captain of the Lord's host," who appeared to Joshua at Jericho (Joshua 5:13-15). Against this conclusion may be urged the fact that in no other instance does an angel appear to, or preach to, multitudes. Angels are sent to individuals, but prophets to nations.
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Re: An interesting juxtaposition in the book of Judges.

Post by Ben C. Smith » Wed Dec 20, 2017 2:20 pm

I confess I did not consider the possibility that the angel of Yahweh might be simply a human prophet/messenger, full stop; after all, the first verse says:

Judges 2.1: 1 Now the angel of Yahweh came up from Gilgal to Bochim. And he said, "I brought you up out of Egypt and led you into the land which I have sworn to your fathers; and I said, 'I will never break My covenant with you.'"

However, now I see that the LXX inserts a "thus says the Lord" at the beginning of the angel's speech, which would be more consonant with a prophet speaking. So maybe that phrase dropped out for some reason. On the other hand, it may be easier to imagine the phrase being added than it being subtracted.

It is interesting that the angel/messenger of Yahweh comes up from Gilgal, site of the twelve stones set up as a remembrance after crossing the Jordan under Joshua in Joshua 4.20. And it is interesting that the first thing the angel/messenger says is, "I brought you up out of Egypt" (compare Justin Martyr, Dialogue With Trypho 120.3, and some variants of Jude [1.]5).
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Re: An interesting juxtaposition in the book of Judges.

Post by Ben C. Smith » Wed Dec 20, 2017 2:30 pm

andrewcriddle wrote:
Wed Dec 20, 2017 12:09 pm
It is unclear what Angel of the Lord means here http://biblehub.com/judges/2-1.htm

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

(1) An angel of the Lord.--The words "Maleak Jehovah" are used of Haggai, in Haggai 1:13; of prophets in Isaiah 42:19; Malachi 3:6; of priests in Malachi 2:7. Hence from very ancient times these words have been interpreted as, "a messenger of the Lord" (as in the margin of our Bible). The Targum paraphrases it by "a prophet with a message from Jehovah." R. Tanchum, from Judges 2:6, infers that it was Joshua himself. Kimchi and others have supposed that it was Phinehas. No indications are given of anything specially miraculous. On the other hand, there is much room to suppose that the writer intended "the Angel of the Presence," because ( 1 ) he constantly uses the phrase in this sense (Judges 6:11-12; Judges 6:21-22; Judges 13:3; Judges 13:13; Judges 13:15, &c.); (2) the same phrase occurs in this sense elsewhere, as in Genesis 16:7; Genesis 22:11; Exodus 2:2; Exodus 2:6; Exodus 2:14; Numbers 22:22, &c; (3) the angel speaks in the first person, and does not introduce his words by "Thus saith Jehovah," as the prophets always do (but see below). It seems probable, therefore, that by "the angel of the Lord" the writer meant "the captain of the Lord's host," who appeared to Joshua at Jericho (Joshua 5:13-15). Against this conclusion may be urged the fact that in no other instance does an angel appear to, or preach to, multitudes. Angels are sent to individuals, but prophets to nations.
I am pleased to see that I am not the only one who has had this thought, at any rate....
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