Sefer Shoftim-Chapter 2: The sinful behavior of the Jewish people

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Chapter 2: The sinful behavior of the Jewish people

1. Pinchas, the angel of Hashem, chastises the Jewish people:

  • The angel of G-d [i.e. Pinchas[1]] went up from Gilgal to the city of Bochim [named after the cries of the Jewish people that took place in that area[2]]. The angel said to the Jewish people “I will take you out of Egypt and bring you to the land that was sworn to your forefathers, and I said that I will never transgress the covenant with you. You were told that you shall not make a pact with any of the nations of this land, and that you shall destroy their altars. You did not listen to me. What have you done? I will now also state that since you do not banish them from your midst [you will no longer be successful in doing so[3]] and they will be a military threat[4] to you, and their gods will be for you a stumbling block [to cause you to stray after them[5]].

2.  The reaction of the Jewish people:

  • When the Jewish people heard all the above words said by the angel of G-d, they reacted by raising their voice and crying.
  • They named the area Bochim and offered sacrifices to G-d there [as a sign of Teshuvah and regret for their mistake of not banishing the nations[6]].

3. Recollection of the state of affairs in Yehoshua’s generation, and the generation afterwards:

  • [Prior to the sinful turn of events[7]] Yehoshua sent the nation, each tribe to their inheritance, for them to conquer their land.
  • Serving G-d: Throughout all the days of Yehoshua, and the Zekeinim who were the leaders in the generation after Yehoshua, the Jewish people served G-d. The reason for this is because they had experienced all the miracles that Hashem did for them.
  • Death and burial of Yehoshua: Yehoshua, the servant of G-d, died at the age of 110 years, and was buried in the border of his inheritance, in Timnas Cheres which is found on the mountains of Ephraim, which is opposite the Ga’ash mountains.
  • The sins of the next generation: The generation of Yehoshua all passed on and the next generation did not know Hashem or any of the miracles that He did for the Jewish people. This generation performed evil in the eyes of G-d and served the Baal idolatry and the Ashtoros idolatry. They strayed from the G-d of their forefathers who took them out of Egypt and went after the foreign deities of the nations of the world which surrounded them. They prostrated themselves to them and angered G-d.
  • The punishment: Hashem’s wrath blazed against the Jewish people and he handed them over to the hands of the conquerors, and they sold them to their neighboring enemies. The Jewish people could no longer stand against their enemies. Wherever they went [to wage war[8]] they fell in battle, as Hashem has promised them would occur. They were very oppressed.
  • The Judges save the Jewish people: G-d gave judges to the Jewish people who saved them from their conquerors. However, they also did not listen to their judges, as they strayed after other gods, and bowed to them. Throughout the days that the judges that G-d established for them were alive, G-d was with the judge and helped save the Jewish people from their enemies.
  • The period after the Judges: After the judges passed away the Jewish people returned to their sinful behavior of idolatry.

4. Hashem refuses to banish the other nations:

Hashem therefore said that since they have strayed from My covenant, I will therefore no longer banish the nations from their midst, that remained after the death of Yehoshua. Hashem let these nations remain in order to test the resolve of the Jewish people and see if they will guard his covenant


[1] Rashi 1:1; Radak 1:1; Ralbag 1:1; Metzudos David 1:1; Seder Olam 19; Vayikra Raba 1:1

[2] See Rashi 2:1 that Bochim is the name of the city; See however Radak, Ralbag, Metzudos Tziyon 1:1 that it was called this name because of the cry

[3] Metzudos David 2:3

[4] See Rashi, Radak, Metzudos Tziyon on 2:3

[5] Metzudos David 2:3

[6] Metzudos David 2:5

[7] Rashi 2:6

[8] Radak 2:15

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