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Explanation of Israel's Fortunes during the Period of Settlement (Judg. ii. 11-iii. 6). And the children of Israel did. evil in the sight of the Lord, and served Baalim :1 and they forsook the Lord God of their fathers, which brought them out of the land of Egypt, and followed other gods, of the gods of the people that were round about them, and bowed themselves unto them, and provoked the Lord to anger. And they forsook the Lord, and served Baal and Ashtaroth. And the anger of the Lord was hot against Israel, and he delivered them into the hands of spoilers that spoiled them, and he sold them into the hands of their enemies round about, so that they could not any longer stand before their enemies. Whithersoever they went out, Ashtart: Terra-cotta figure from Cyprus. the hand of the Lord was against
[From Perrot and Chipiez: Histoire de l'art dans l'antiquité)
1 Baalim. Pl. of Baal, which means literally 'Possessor.' A Baal was a local Canaanite divinity, thought of as possessing the soil and controlling its fertility. Each agricultural settlement had its Baal, which at stated festivals it worshipped in conjunction with Ashtart (see next note). Since the special gift of these deities was fertility, their festivals were made the occasion of immoral indulgence. As the Hebrews settled among the Canaanites, they readily fell in with this native worship, especially in northern Israel, where agriculture was more general than in the south. Jehovah himself, at the popular high places (see note, p. 223), was apt to be worshipped with Baalish rites.
2 Ashtaroth. Pl. of the name of a widely worshipped Semitic goddess, here denoting the goddess in her various local representations. In Assyria and Baby
them for evil, as the Lord had said, and as the Lord had sworn unto them and they were greatly distressed.
Nevertheless the Lord raised up judges,' which delivered them out of the hand of those that spoiled them. And yet they would not hearken unto their judges, but they went a whoring after other gods, and bowed themselves unto them. And when the Lord raised them up judges, then the Lord was with the judge, and delivered them out of the hand of their enemies all the days of the judge: for it repented the Lord because of their groanings by reason of them that oppressed them and vexed them. And it came to pass, when the judge was dead, that they returned, and corrupted themselves more than their fathers, in following other gods to serve them, and to bow down unto them; they ceased not from their own doings, nor from their stubborn way.
And the anger of the Lord was hot against Israel; and he said: "Because that this people hath transgressed my covenant which I commanded their fathers, and have not hearkened unto my voice; I also will not henceforth drive out any from before them of the nations which Joshua left when he died: that through them I may prove Israel, whether they will keep the way of the Lord to walk therein, as their fathers did keep it, or not." Therefore the Lord left those nations, without driving them out hastily.
Now these are the nations which the Lord left, to prove Israel by them, even as many of Israel as had not known all the wars of Canaan; only that the generations of the children of Israel might know, to teach them war, at the least such as before knew nothing thereof; namely, five lords of the Philistines,2
lonia she was called Ishtar; in Phoenicia, Ashtart. The latter name, more familiarly known in its Greek form Astarte, is by the Old Testament writers rendered Ashtoreth,' in order to stigmatize it by making it suggest the word bösheth, shameful thing.' (See note on p. 265.) Ashtart is commonly goddess of fertility and reproduction, though as the tutelary divinity of a city she often appears in a warlike character. Through Phoenician traders the cult of Ashtart helped to form the Greek conception of Aphrodite.
1 judges. The heroes whose exploits are told in the book of Judges are primarily deliverers rather than magistrates, men who had vindicated the rights of Israel in battle. By a 'judge,' the Hebrews originally meant one who delivered oracles, especially in matters of dispute; but the duty of administering justice fell naturally to a chief who had gained prestige in war, and in later times was often performed by the king.
2 five lords of the Philistines. See note, p. 191. By Canaanites are here meant
and all the Canaanites, and the Sidonians, and the Hivites that dwelt in mount Lebanon, from mount Baal-hermon unto the entering in of Hamath. And they were to prove Israel by them, to know whether they would hearken unto the commandments of the Lord, which he commanded their fathers by the hand of Moses. And the children of Israel dwelt among the Canaanites, Hittites, and Amorites, and Perizzites, and Hivites, and Jebusites: and they took their daughters to be their wives, and gave their daughters to their sons, and served their gods.
Othniel (Judg. iii. 7-11). And the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord, and forgat the Lord their God,
and served the Baalim and the Asheroth. Therefore the anger of the Lord was hot against Israel, and he sold them into the hand of Cushan-rishathaim king of Mesopotamia: and the children of Israel served Cushan-rishathaim eight years. And when the children of Israel cried unto the Lord, the Lord raised up a deliverer to the children of Israel, who delivered them, even Othniel the son of Kenaz, Caleb's younger brother. And the Spirit of the Lord came upon him, and he judged Israel, and
the lowlanders of the southwest. The entering in of Hamath is the opening between Lebanon and anti-Lebanon some thirty miles south of Hamath, the modern Hamā.
1 Asheroth. Pl. of asherah, which in the old Testament commonly denotes a sacred pole planted beside the altar and mazzebah at every Canaanite high place. There was, however, an ancient Canaanite goddess Asherah, whose worship as goddess of fertility became associated with that of Baal, until it gave place to that of Ashtart. The wooden pole was thus doubtless originally a symbol of her, as the stone pillar was of Baal.
2 The name Cushan-rishathaim Cushite of double wickedness,' conceals the real name of this oppressor. For Aram (rendered 'Mesopotamia' in the text) we should probably read Edom, the two words in Hebrew being closely alike.
went out to war: and the Lord delivered Cushan-rishathaim king of Mesopotamia into his hand; and his hand prevailed against Cushan-rishathaim. And the land had rest forty years. And Othniel the son of Kenaz died.
Ehud, Deliverer from Eglon the Moabite (Judg. iii. 12–31). And the children of Israel did evil again in the sight of the Lord: and the Lord strengthened Eglon the king of Moab against Israel, because they had done evil in the sight of the Lord. And he gathered unto him the children of Ammon and Amalek, and went and smote Israel, and possessed the city of palm trees. So the children of Israel served Eglon the king of Moab eighteen years. But when the children of Israel cried unto the Lord, the Lord raised them up a deliverer, Ehud the son of Gera, a Benjamite, a man lefthanded: and by him the children of Israel sent a present unto Eglon the king of Moab. And Ehud made him a dagger which had two edges, of a cubit length; and he did gird it under his raiment upon his right thigh. And he brought the present unto Eglon king of Moab: now Eglon was a very fat man. And when he had made an end to offer the present, he sent away the people that bare the present. But he himself turned again from the sculptured stones that were by Gilgal, and said: "I have a secret errand unto thee, O king;" who said, "Keep silence." And all that stood by him went out from him. And Ehud came unto him; and he was sitting in a summer parlor, which he had for himself alone. And Ehud said, "I have a message from God unto thee." And he arose out of his seat. And Ehud put forth his left hand, and took the dagger from his right thigh, and thrust it into his belly: and the haft also went in after the blade; and the fat closed upon the blade, so that he could not draw the dagger out of his belly; and the dirt came out. Then Ehud went forth through the porch, and shut the doors of the parlor upon him, and locked them. When he was gone out, his servants came; and when they saw that, behold, the doors of the parlor were locked, they said: "Surely he covereth his feet in his summer chamber." And they tarried till they were ashamed: and behold, he opened not the doors of the parlor; therefore they took a key, and opened them: and behold, their lord was fallen down dead on the earth.
And Ehud escaped while they tarried, and passed beyond the 1 city of palm trees. See note, p. 164.
sculptured stones, and escaped unto Seirath. And it came to pass, when he was come, that he blew a trumpet in the hill country of Ephraim, and the children of Israel went down with him from the hill country, and he before them. And he said unto them: "Follow after me: for the Lord hath delivered your enemies the Moabites into your hand." And they went down after him, and took the fords of Jordan toward Moab, and suffered not a man to pass over. And they slew of Moab at that time about ten thousand men, all lusty, and all men of valor; and there escaped not a man. So Moab was subdued that day under the hand of Israel. And the land had rest fourscore years.
And after him was Shamgar the son of Anath, which slew of the Philistines six hundred men with an ox goad: and he also delivered Israel.
Deborah and Barak, Deliverers from Sisera (Judg. iv., v.). And the children of Israel again did evil in the sight of the Lord, when Ehud was dead. And the Lord sold them into the hand of Jabin king of Canaan, that reigned in Hazor; 1 the captain of whose host was Sisera, which dwelt in Harosheth of the Gentiles. And the children of Israel cried unto the Lord for he had nine hundred chariots of iron; and twenty years hc mightily oppressed the children of Israel.
And Deborah a prophetess, the wife of Lapidoth, she judged Israel at that time. And she dwelt under the palm tree of Deborah between Ramah and Beth-el in the hill country of Ephraim and the children of Israel came up to her for judgment. And she sent and called Barak the son of Abinoam out of Kedesh-naphtali, and said unto him: "Hath not the Lord God of Israel commanded, saying, Go and draw toward mount Tabor, and take with thee ten thousand men of the children of Naphtali, and of the children of Zebulun? And I will draw unto thee, to the river Kishon, Sisera, the captain of Jabin's army, with his chariots and his multitude; and I will deliver him into thine hand."
And Barak said unto her: "If thou wilt go with me, then I will go but if thou wilt not go with me, then I will not go." And she said: "I will surely go with thee: notwithstanding the journey that thou takest shall not be for thine honor; for the
1 Josh. xi. 1-11 recounts that a 'Jabin king of Hazor,' at the head of a league of northern Canaanite kings, was defeated by Joshua at the waters of Merom.