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II. And the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the LORD, and served Baalim :
12. 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.
III. GOD'S ANGER AND THE PEOPLE'S DISTRESS, vs. 11-15. We now meet, in vs. 11, 12, the formula which, after the death of each of the greater judges of Israel, describes the continued ingratitude of the people. See Judges 3:7, 12; 4:1; 6:1; 8:33 ; 10:6; 13:1. It is a striking illustration of the monotony of wickedness.
II. And the children of Israel did that which was evil in the sight of Jehovah. It is God's seeing, and not merely man's, that constitutes right and wrong. And served the Baalim, the local gods. Baal (Baalim is the plural) means possessor," and is usually followed by the name of the place owned by the god, as“ the Baal of Tyre." “ The Baals were generally nature gods. Their altars were on high-places, and offerings were made of animals and the produce of the soil. Sacred posts (asherahs) and stones (massebahs) were accessories to the altars. The Baals
had their priests, whose extravagances appear in the story of the sacrifice on Mount Carmel (1 Kings 18 : 20 ff.). Gross immorality and the sacrifice of human life were sometimes associated with the worship of the Baals." - New Century Bible.
12. And they forsook Jehovah. While the people were often at war, and realized that Jehovah was necessary to them, they were so strict in the true worship that they even marched against their kindred east of Jordan when they heard that they had set up an altar of their own (Josh. 22 : 10-34). Now, in times of peace, they forgot their need of Jehovah and forsook him. The God of their fathers, the God of the past blessed experience of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, and Joshua. Who brought them out of the land of Egypt. God is to be worshipped because of his inherent majesty, wisdom, power, and goodness, but also because of the good things he does for his children. And followed other gods. “ The temptation to this worship arose from the fact that Baals were generally nature gods through whom abundant harvests or other good fortunes were supposed to come.
" — Bible for Home and School. In addition, there were the sensual pleasures of Baal-worship, and the fact that the Baals were the gods of the peoples that were round about them. Imitation, the subtle temptation to conformity in evil, greatly aided the apostasy. And bowed themselves down unto them. It was open and shameless worship and not merely worship in secret. And they provoked Jehovah to anger. He was justly angry, not
13. And they forsook the LORD, and served Baal and Ashtaroth.
14. 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.
15. Whithersoever they went out, the hand of the LORD was against them for evil, as the LORD had said, and as the LORD had sworn unto them: and they were greatly distressed.
only at the ingratitude of his people for whom he had done so much, but still more because they had forsaken his pure worship for a worship full of cruelty, leading even to human sacrifice, and full also of the most bestial licentiousness.
13. And they . served Baal and the Ashtaroth. Ashtaroth is the Hebrew name of the heathen goddess Astarte (Phænician “ Ashtart,” Babylonian “ Ishtar," Arabian “ Athtar,” Syrian “ Athar "), the deity of the female principle, as Baal is the deity of the male. “She seems to have combined the conception of the Greek Hera, Artemis, and Aphrodite, and was worshipped both as the moon-goddess and as Venus." Cambridge Bible.
14. Jehovah ... delivered them into the hands of spoilers. Victorious foes, who carried off large booty, animals and goods, as well as numbers of captives. He sold them into the hands of their enemies, as slaves would be sold ; he gave them up entirely, because they had given him up entirely. 15. Whithersoever they went out, that is, to make
The hand of Jehovah was against them for evil, not because Jehovah wished them evil, but because he wished them good, wished to bring them to their senses. As Jehovah had spoken. See Lev. 26 : 14-33 ; Deut. 28 : 1–25. And they were sore distressed; literally, were in great straits.”
SIN AND PUNISHMENT. “ Nothing in this world or the next can be compared for horror to the withdrawal of God from us. Take the sun from the centre of the solar system, and each planet, breaking from
Rawlinson. its leash, would pursue a headlong course, colliding
An Ashtoreth. with the rest, and dashing into the abyss. So when God's presence is lost, every power in the soul rises in revolt.” — F. B. Meyer.
“ One backslider will do more harm than twenty Christian men can do good.' W. E. Blackstone. These ancient Israelites were backsliders.
“ The best antidote against evils of all kinds is to keep hold of the good we have.”
Dean Stanley. The Israelites knew enough about God to save them from all their sorrows, if they had only held on to what they knew.
Illustration. A Sunday-school superintendent was talking to his children about the evil one. “ The devil,” he said, “ is going about like a -," and he left the children to finish the sentence. A small boy put up his hand and finished it : “Recruiting sergeant, sir !” Any one willing to enlist in the devil's army will find him at hand ready to take in the recruit.
Illustration. A German legend tells of a hunter who made a league with the devil. Between them they cast seven bullets, all just alike, which the hunter was to use. Six of the bullets were to hit whatever the hunter wished to hit, but the seventh and the hunter did not know which of them it was — would return and kill the hunter himself. So it is with all sin : it has its way for a time, as the Israelites had their way with their idolatry ; but before long it slays the sinner. Sin is like
“the little rift within the lute
16. Nevertheless the LORD raised up judges, which delivered them out of the hand of those that spoiled them.
IV. GOD'S LEADERS BRING PEACE AND SAFETY, vs. 16–23. 16. Jehovah raised up judges. “The judges were heroes who owed their influence to a victory over their country's oppressors, and whose very office testified to the utter disorganization of their nation." Cambridge Bible. “ There were twelve of these judges, not including Abimelech, who was a petty king and not called of God." Davis's Bible Dictionary. They were Othniel, Ehud, Shamgar, Deborah (and Barak), Gideon, Tola and Jair, Jephthah, Ibzan, Elon, Abdon, and Samson. Eli
and Samuel judged the people, but the former was high priest and the latter was a prophet. Who saved them out of the hand of those that despoiled them, turning defeat into victory, and winning back their possessions and their captives.
17. And yet they hearkened
not unto their judges, even though HAR
these judges had delivered them. To be sure, the book of Judges
does not tell of any direct disGIDEON
obedience to any judge ; for that MANASSE H
we must wait till the people chose a king in opposition to the desire of Samuel (i Sam. 7:15; 8:6). But the spirit of the people, es
pecially in the matter of idolatry, and JAIR DEBORAH
was often contrary to the spirit of the judges.
18. Jehovah was with the judge. The Bible teaches that God is the origin of all noble actions, all worthy living. It is said even of the workmen who made the tabernacle that they accomplished their task because God's Spirit was in them (Ex. 28:3 ; 31:3; 35:31). That is true of all good work it comes from God. It repented Jehovah because of their groaning. “ The correct translation is, * Jehovah was sorry,' or 'was moved to pity.' New Century Bible.
The unchangeable God cannot reCanaan as Divided among the Tribes, a Judge from Each Tribe. pent in the sense in which man
repents (Num. 23:19; 1 Sam. 15:29 ; Jas. 1 : 17); but as man turns again to him, he turns again to man.
19. When the judge was dead, . . . they turned back. “How powerful the presence of one good man is in a church or state, is best found in his loss.” Bishop Hall. Such a moral decline occurred after the deaths of Othniel, Ehud, Barak and Deborah, and Gideon (Judg: 3:11, 12 ; 4:1; 5:31 ; 6:1; 8:33).
20. Jehovah . . . said, Because this nation have transgressed my covenant. For this covenant see Ex. 34 : 10-15.
21. I also will not henceforth drive out any from before them. The way in which God drove out the heathen tribes is finely described in Josh. 23 : 8-13.
22. That by them I may prove Israel. The presence of these idol-worshippers so close at hand would test the Hebrews, and show whether they would be true to the one true God, or not. In Judg. 3:1, 2 an additional reason is given, namely, that these heathen neighbors by their opposition keep the Hebrews alert, strong,
and well-trained in the arts of war. It is not good for a nation or an individual to have all plain sailing.
23. So Jehovah left those nations. For a list of the nations left to plague the Jews throughout their history see Judg. 3 : 3. Without driving them out hastily. We learn from Deut. 7:22 that God did not intend to drive out all the heathen tribes immediately ; one by one they were to be conquered, as the Israelites increased in numbers and power, otherwise God's people would be too few to cope with the wild beasts and to maintain the land in cultivation. It was this gradual and orderly process of subduing their enemies that was interrupted by the disobedience of the Hebrews.
What Is TRUE PATRIOTISM ? Joshua and the elders that followed him were true patriots. In God's strength they did their best for their country. This involved keeping themselves pure and strong, that their country might be strong and pure. “ Christian character is the foundation upon which we must build if our citizenship is to be lifted up and our institutions are to endure.” President McKinley.
“ The only safe democracy is a theocracy, wherein every man counts himself a subject of the kingdom of heaven." Prof. Cleland B. McAfee.
“ The greatest peril of the nation is secularism." - John R. Moti.
" The first essential toward the achievement of good citizenship is the building up of the kind of character which will make the man a good husband, a good father, a good son ; which will make the woman a good daughter when she is young, a good wife and mother as she grows older." · Theodore Roosevelt,
The strength of a nation can never rise higher than the faithfulness to truth and duty of its own active citizenship.”. Byron H. Stauffer. The noblest leaders in Israel were of no avail against the infidelity and immorality of the majority of the people. Illustration. Once the Secretary of the Interior, Franklin
AND the flag dropped him a most cordial salutation, and from its rippling folds he heard it say, “ Good morning, Mr. Flag OUR Maker." Then came a conversation between Mr. Lane and the ag in which the flag 'made it clear that every one who
COUNTRY was trying to do his duty was helping to make the real flag of the nation, and the flag closed with the eloquent words : “I am whatever you make me, nothing more.
I am your
For God and Country. belief in yourself, your dream of what a people may become. I am all that you hope to be and have the courage to try for. I am the day's work of the weakest man, and the largest dream of the most daring. My stars and my stripes are your dreams and your labors. They are bright with cheer, brilliant with courage, firm with faith, because you have made them so out of your hearts ; for you are the makers of the flag, and it is well that you glory in the making.”
ALTERNATE TEXT FOR EASTER LESSON.
- LUKE 24:13-31. EASTER LESSON. — THE SECOND JOSHUA. Jesus ” and “ Joshua different forms of the same word. Jesus was the second Joshua of his race. He led the Jews, and through the Jews he led all men, into the true Canaan, the permanent Palestine, the Holy Land of the soul. All enemies fell before him, even " the last enemy,” death. He left his people, as Joshua did, disappearing from their mortal eyes. Like Joshua, he left elders to continue his work, the apostles and their successors. Far better than Joshua, he rose from the dead, he returned to earth in the Holy Spirit, he is with his people always, even to the end of the world.
Thus this inspiring lesson from the Old Testament makes contact with the most inspiring event of the New Testament, the climax event of all time.
But, like the ancient Israelites, we may forsake the teachings of our Joshua, neutralizing all that he has done for us. We may go over to heathenism. We may exile ourselves from our Canaan. Sin will bring upon us all the woe it brought upon the generation that followed Joshua and “ knew not Jehovah.”
Illustration. “ There is a heathen story which tells us that once a man asked for this gift — not to die ; and it was granted him by the Fates. He was to live on forever. But he had forgotten to ask that his youth and health and strength also might last forever, and so he lived on till age and its infirmities and weaknesses were
weighing him down, and his life grew to be a weariness and a burden to him.” J. Ř. Miller. Thus the Israelites sought the joys of life, but forgot the things that alone make life enjoyable, namely, virtue and purity, love of God and obedience to his commands. If Easter meant only the life of the body, it would not be worth celebrating ; but it stands for the greatest of all blessings, the eternal life of the soul.
LESSON II. April 11. DEBORAH AND BARAK DELIVER ISRAEL. Judges 4:4-5:31.
PRINT Judges 4:4-16.
A very present help in trouble. — Ps. 46: 1.
Lesson Material : Judg. 4:4-10, 12–15.
Memory Verse : God in my helper. Ps. 54 : 4. Junior Topic : A STORY OF A HERO AND A HEROINE.
Lesson Material : Judg. 4:4-16.
Memory Verse : Josh. I : 9. Intermediate and Senior Topic : FIGHTING ON God's SIDE. Topic for Young People and Adults : THE SERVICE OF WOMEN IN NATIONAL
THE TEACHER AND HIS CLASS.
THE LESSON IN ITS SETTING.
For the younger classes we shall omit, Time. - Professor Beecher's conjecof course, the grewsome story of Jael, and tural dates are Othniel, 1432 B.C. ; Ehud, shall make this a lesson in helpfulness. 1380 B.C. ; Shamgar, 1351 B.C.; DebHere were a brave man and a brave orah and Barak, 1351 B.C. woman, both doing their best, each help- Place. - The battle which our lesson ing the other. So the boys and girls, describes took place on the largest plain in the home, the school, and the Sunday in Palestine, that of Esdraelon, “the school, have numberless chances of help- valley of Jezreel,” in the northern ing one another.
The intermediate pupils will appreciate the heroic action of Deborah, Barak, and their followers. They were fighting against heavy odds, but they were fighting for the right. The young people have many such battles to fight right where they are in life. Picture a few of them.
For the older classes a special study of the service
Plain of Esdraelon. of women in the state is suggested. Bring out the glorious work part of the country, southeast of Mt. of women in fields of education and re- Carmel. form, instance the W. C. T. U., the Y. W. C. A., the Red Cross. Speak es- THE TEACHER'S LIBRARY. pecially of the noble work of women in the war. Go on to discuss the duty and Commentaries on Judges named in our privilege of women in regard to their last lesson. Deborah is treated in the expanding suffrage. The stories of Deb- following books on Bible women and orah and of Jael are full of suggestions. Bible characters : Hastings's Greater