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The Second Generation Church

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The book of Judges covers the experience of the people of Israel from the time of Joshua and entrance into Canaan until the time of Samuel and the establishment of the dynasty of David.

§         The divine messenger’s interpretation [2:1-5]

§         The narrator’s interpretation [2:6-20a].

In vv.6-20a the reader needs to hear the narrator offer his divinely inspired analysis of Israel’s problem during the dark days of the Judges and to learn its lesson for his or her day.


In the section [2:6b-10] one can recognise the narrator’s division of the early history of Israel in the land into three eras: the days of Joshua [2:7a], the days of the elders who survived Joshua [2:7b], the days after the surviving witnesses [2:10]. We can consider these eras as two generations.

1.        1st Generation [2:7a]

Note dependence on Jos.24:28-31.

a.        Joshua

And Joshua, the son of Nun, the servant of the Lord died…” [2:8].

i.              Responsive to God

The first characteristic that stands out in Joshua life is his responsiveness to God: 

§         God’s challenge and promise: “be careful to do all the law which my servant Moses commanded you…for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success…” [Jos.1:7-8].

§         Throughout his life Joshua acted on that promise: “

ii.            Active Faith

The second characteristic that stands out in Joshua life is his active faith:

§         Promise: “just as I have been with Moses, I will be with you; I will not fail you or forsake you” [Jos.1:15].

§         Active faith: “Jordan…and all the people passed over on dry land” [Jos.3:17]; “he said in the sight of Israel, Sun, stand still upon Gibeon…” [Jos.10:12];

b.        People’s Faithfulness

This was a faithful generation: “the people served the Lord all the days of Joshua…” [2:7].

§         Wdb.[;Y - “served” [2:7], ‘to work’; ‘to be slaves’; reflects Israel’s subordination to Yahweh; speaks of functioning as Yahweh’s agent in general and serving him in cultic worship in particular.

§         hw"hy>-ta - “the Lord” [2:7], the ‘object of their focus’, the ‘centre of gravity of their lives’, was Yahweh.

c.        1st Generation Prosperity  

So Yahweh prospered with Joshua: “So Joshua took the whole land, according to all that the Lord said unto Mosesand the land rested from war” [Jos.11:23].

§         God did great deeds for his people through Joshua: “who had seen all the great works of the Lord…” [2:7].


Here was a generation who knew victory, blessing, and forward movement.

§         Individuals have make a huge impression on a generation

2.        2nd Generation

After the death of Joshua and the people of his generation we come to the second generation: “there arose another generation after them…” [2:10].

a.        Characteristic

The characteristics of this generation: “knew not the Lord, nor yet the works which he had done for Israel” [2:10]. How could they fail when their parents had seen so much of the Lord’s blessing?

§         W[d>y"-al - “knew” [2:10], ‘to have knowledge of’; >>> objects: “the Lord” and the “Lord’s works”

b.        Neglect of God’s Word

i.              Duty

The duty impressed upon the people by Joshua was to build on the past and go forward: “when Joshua had let the people go[1], the children of Israel went every man unto his inheritance to possess the land” [2:6].

§         Priest’s duty: “that you may teach the children of Israel all the statutes which the Lord has spoken unto them by the hand of Moses” [Lev.10:11].

§         System of festivals, memorials and customs, designed to pass on the rich spiritual tradition: “when thy son asks thee in time to come, saying, what mean the testimonies, the statutes, and the judgements, which the Lord our God has commanded you? Then you shall say unto your son…” [Deu.6:20-25].

ii.            Neglect

There is almost no reference to the study of Scripture in this book.

§         Ritually, the people did many things the Law required, but their obedience was based upon tradition, not on personal biblical conviction.

§         Warning against neglect of God’s Word: “when the Lord your God brings you into the land…then watch yourselves lest you forget the Lord…” [Deu.6:10-12].

c.        Complacency  

The second generation has a natural tendency to accept the status quo and to lose the vision of the first generation. The cause of their failure is complacency:

i.              Tolerance

This complacency results in a tolerant disposition towards the enemy:

§         Compromise: “show us the entrance into the city, and we will show thee mercy…” [1:24].

§         Accommodation: “the children of Benjamin did not drive out…” [1:21]; “neither did Manasseh drive out the inhabitants…” [1:27]; “When Israel was strong, that they put the Canaanites to forced labour, and did not utterly drive them out” [1:28].


To “serve” [2:7] Yahweh means going forward to ‘personally possess the promise of God’ by driving out the Canaanites.

3.        2nd Generation Apostasy

Spiritual complacency leads to apostasy:  “they did evil in the sight of the Lord…” [2:11]; “they forsook the Lord God of their fathers…” [2:12].

§         [r;h - “evil” [2:11], ‘Israel committed the supreme sin’;

a.        Two Evils

Jeremiah speaks of Israel having committed two evils: “for my people have committed two evils; they have forsaken me the fountain of living water, and hewed them out cisterns…” [Jer.2:13].

i.              Forsook God

Israel: “forsook the Lord God of their fathers…” [2:12].

§         Wbz>[;Y:w - “forsook” [2:12],  ‘to abandon’; ‘to leave’; ‘to loose’;

§         Object abandoned: “The Lord God of their fathers, which brought them out of the land of Egypt” [2:12].

ii.            Replaced God - Adultery

Israel: “served Baalim…” [2:11]; “followed other gods, of the gods of the people round about them, and bowed themselves unto them…” [2:12].

§         Wdb.[;Y - “served” [2:11], ‘to work’; ‘be enslaved to’; >>> “the people served the Lord all the days of Joshua” [2:7].

§         Wkl.Y - “followed” [2:12], ‘to go in the way of’; ‘to travel’; the expression derives from the context of cultic processions in which the devotees of a divinity would follow the image of a deity carried by priests to and from places of religious celebration.

§         Wwx]T;v.Y - “bowed” [2:12], a physical gesture of prostration before a superior; the gesture has been interpreted as a non-verbal equivalent to the declaration ‘May he live’.

§         Directed towards Yahweh the gesture is related semantically to the oath formula “as the Lord lives” [8:19].

b.        Object(s) of Apostasy

The objects of Israel’s apostasy: “the gods of the people round about them…” [2:12].

§         ~h,yteAbybis - “round about” [2:12], ‘to surround’; ‘to encircle’;

i.              Baal

The first of these was: “the Baal…” [2:13].

§         l[;B - “Baal” [2:13], in a secular sense simply means ‘lord, master or owner’, and in a first level of derived sense, ‘husband’. When applied to a god, it functions as a title, ‘divine lord, master’, rather than a personal name.

§         The “Baal” was a god in charge of a special place; he was the god of ‘the storm and rains, and the god of fertility, who controlled all forms of reproduction;

ii.            Ashtaroth

The second of these was: “Ashtaroth…” [2:13].

§         tArT'v.[ - “Ashtaroth” [2:13], represent the plural form of “astarte”; also appears as ‘Baal’s spouse’.

§         The “Ashtaroth” was a ‘female deity’ – a goddess of sensual love, war, fertility, and maternity. In her, violence and sexual depravity mingled together, and she became the patron of sex and war.

Together these two gods formed a powerful force in ANE spirituality.

iii.          Canaanite Worship

Canaanite religion was based on the concept of sympathetic worship, that is, you worship your god by behaving as he does.

§         Its view of God, moral standards, ethics and values, and rituals, stood in absolute and total contradiction to everything God had revealed about himself to His people.

§         The Canaanites engaged in temple prostitution, fertility rites, drunken sexual orgies, idolatry, snake-worship, homosexuality, and even human sacrifice.

c.        Definition of Apostasy

Definition of apostasy: it means abandoning Yahweh in favour of other gods; it means claiming to be the people of Yahweh while acting as if one belongs to Baal.


Israel has switched spiritual allegiance.

§         They rejected the Word of God and began to look at life as the Canaanites did.

§         Instead of being controlled by Scripture they began to be controlled by the opinions and impulses of their sinful nature.

§         The memory of Yahweh’s salvific and providential acts on Israel’s behalf died with Joshua and the survivors and the survivors of his generation were gone, the Israelites stopped “serving” Yahweh, which in this context should have been expressed by driving out the Canaanites


[1] The KJV “let go” is too passive. Elsewhere the verb in the piel is used of commissioning prophets and sending them out on their mission (cf. 6:14).

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