1 And an angel of Yahweh came up from Gilgal to Bochim, and said, I made you to go up out of Egypt, and have brought you unto the land which I sware unto your fathers; and I said, I will never break my covenant with you.
The new generation had gradually relaxed their views of the stringency of the command to have nothing to do with the Canaanites but to destroy them. There is a long list in the 1st chapter of the Judges of cases in which the various tribal commanders had neglected to expel their Canaanitish neighbours, and had settled down into social dealings with them (see Jud. 1:21-35).
In this case, not a prophet, but "an angel" came to the tribes living in the northern districts of the land, and spoke with such effect that the multitude who heard his words at a place afterwards called Boachim (weeping) because of the effect produced, broke out into lamentation and tears.
...A prophet is a messenger (2 Chron. 36:16) and in this sense, an angel (which means messenger). But there are higher messengers than mortal men-messengers that "excel in strength" (Psa. 103:20), and whose countenances are "very terrible" (Jud. 13:6), whose normal aspect is that of spirit brightness (Acts 10:3-30; Matt. 28:2-3), and concerning whom Jesus says the accepted of mankind will be made equal to them and will die no more (Luke 20:36).
It is evident from the language of the angel of Bochim that he belonged to this class, and was no mere messenger. An ordinary prophet says, "Thus saith the Lord": this messenger says, "I made you to go up out of Egypt. . . . I said ye shall make no league," &c. This is a peculiarity perpetually recurring in the Bible record of the works of God among men. The angels speak as if they were God, like the angel of the bush:
"I am the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob" (Ex. 3:2-6).
... It is referred to now as proving that the angel of Bochim was no mere prophetic messenger, but one of the angels of almighty power.
It is a striking circumstance that the first reprover of Israel's waywardness should be an immortal angel, and the long succession of the reprovers who came after should be mortal men. It is in harmony with the angelic origin of Israel's commonwealth. Stephen told the Sanhedrim,
"they received the law by the disposition (or mediation) of angels" (Acts 7:53).
Paul also refers to the law as "The word spoken by angels" (Heb. 2:2). God had said,
"Behold I send an angel before thee to keep thee in the way, and to bring thee unto the place which I have prepared. Beware of him and obey his voice: provoke him not: for he will not pardon your transgressions, for my name is in him" (Ex. 23:20).
This appears to have been the personage who introduced himself to Joshua, outside the walls of Jericho, as "captain of the Lord's host" (Josh. 5:13-15). What more natural than that he should openly reprove the whole nation when Joshua was dead, and the current of things was setting in the wrong way?
But afterwards, when apostasy became the established and incorrigible habit of the nation, it seemed equally natural that not angels but the mortal descendants of Levi should be employed as rebukers of the nation's folly. The angels retired into the background. God hid His face in the spirit of Hos. 5:15:
"I will go and return unto my place till they acknowledge their offence and seek my face."
At last, even the prophets were removed. "We see not our signs: there are no more any prophets." Israel has been "many days" without the privileges with which they began their national existence, as foretold (Hos. 3:4).
The Christadelphian, Sept 1898
18 And when Yahweh raised them up judges, then Yahweh was with the judge, and delivered them out of the hand of their enemies all the days of the judge: for it repented Yahweh because of their groanings by reason of them that oppressed them and vexed them.
The times of the Judges
... the ministry of the prophets ... is not a prominent feature during the times of the judges, which lasted from the division of the land under Joshua until Samuel the prophet-a period of about 450 years.
The judges were not prophets, though prophets were in one or two cases judges (e.g., Moses and Samuel). A judge was a leader possessed of legal authority over the people in all things, temporal and spiritual; whereas a prophet was a man qualified by the possession of the Spirit to teach the right way, and to express God's thoughts concerning the doings of the people, but without authority to enforce the law.
The judges might be considered as elective kings divinely raised up in the ways of Providence for the deliverance and protection of Israel; while the prophet was a mouthpiece of divine utterance in their midst, for message, expostulation, and reproof-as the situation might call for. It was a happy thing for Israel when the two things were united in the same person, as in the case of Samuel.
But as a matter of ordinary experience, the two functions were separated, so that Israel had to look to the judge for the settlement of all questions of law and judgment in temporal matters; and to the prophet for information of God's thoughts.
To be a judge did not necessarily require inspiration, but no man could be a prophet except by the Spirit of God upon him. This discrimination between the two offices greatly helps the understanding of the narrative.
The Christadelphian, June 1898