Judges 2:16-3:6

God chooses leaders for his people

16 After that, the Lord chose judges to lead his people. These leaders rescued the Israelites from their enemies who were robbing them. 17 But the people did not obey their leaders. They refused to serve the Lord faithfully. Instead, they worshipped false gods. They did not live in the way that their ancestors had lived. Their ancestors had obeyed the Lord's commands, but they refused to obey him.

18 Every time that the Lord chose a judge to lead them, the Lord helped the leader to rescue them from their enemies. While the leader was still alive, the Lord was kind to them. When the Israelites called out to the Lord for help, he was sorry for them. He saw the cruel things that their enemies were doing to give them pain.

19 But when the leader died, the people would stop serving the Lord. They would do even more wicked things than their fathers had done. They would serve false gods and they would worship them. They refused to stop doing the wicked things that they wanted to do.

20 Because of this, the Lord became very angry with the Israelites. He said, ‘This nation of my people has not obeyed the covenant that I made with their ancestors. 21 So I will not chase out the nations that are still living in the land. They are the people who were still there when Joshua died. 22 I will use those nations to test the Israelites. I will see if my people will live carefully, in the way that I have shown them. That is the way that their ancestors lived.’

23 So the Lord let some of the Canaanite nations continue to live in the land. He did not chase them all away. He did not put them all under Joshua's power.

Judges 3

1 The Lord allowed some nations to stay in Canaan. He would use them to test the Israelites who had not yet fought wars in Canaan. 2 He wanted to teach the young men of Israel how to fight their enemies, because they had not fought battles before. 3 The nations who remained were:

  • the Philistines, with their five kings,
  • all the Canaanites,
  • the Sidonians,
  • the Hivites who lived in the Lebanon mountains, from Mount Baal Hermon to Lebo-Hamath.
  • 4 These nations were still there to test the Israelites. The Lord wanted to know if his people would obey his commands. Those were the commands that he had told Moses to give to the ancestors of the Israelites.

    5 So the Israelites lived among those other nations, the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites. 6 Some Israelites married young women from these nations. They also let their daughters marry Canaanite men. As a result, the Israelites started to worship the Canaanite gods.

    3:6Many nations of people lived in Canaan before God gave it to the Israelites. The Philistines were sailors who lived in five cities near the Mediterranean Sea. The Moabites and the Ammonites were cousins of the Israelites. See Genesis 19:36-38. All these people worshipped false gods.