Judges 3:4
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.
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(4) To prove Israel.—See Judges 2:22.

Jdg 3:4. To prove Israel — That their piety and faithfulness to the one living and true God might appear, if they did not imitate these nations, and relapse into idolatry, and their baseness and degeneracy if they did. To know whether they would hearken — That is, that they themselves and others might know by experience.

3:1-7 As the Israelites were a type of the church on earth, they were not to be idle and slothful. The Lord was pleased to try them by the remains of the devoted nations they spared. Temptations and trials detect the wickedness of the hearts of sinners; and strengthen he graces of believers in their daily conflict with Satan, sin, and this evil world. They must live in this world, but they are not of it, and are forbidden to conform to it. This marks the difference between the followers of Christ and mere professors. The friendship of the world is more fatal than its enmity; the latter can only kill the body, but the former murders many precious souls.Lords - Seranim, a title used exclusively of the princes of the five Philistine cities. The title is probably of Phoenician origin.

Joshua appears to have smitten and subdued the Hivites as far north as Baal-Gad, in the valley of Lebanon under Mount Hermon Joshua 11:17; Joshua 12:7, but no further Joshua 13:5. There was an unsubdued Hivite population to the north of Baal-hermon (probably Baal-Gad under Hermon, since it is not synonymous with Hermon; see 1 Chronicles 5:23), to the entering in of Hamath: i. e. in the fertile valley of Coele-Syria. Hamath is always spoken of as the extreme northern boundary of the land of Canaan. It was the gate of approach to Canaan from Babylon, and all the north Zechariah 9:2; Jeremiah 39:5. It formed part of the dominions of Solomon 2 Chronicles 8:4, and of the future inheritance of Israel, as described in vision by Ezekiel EZechariah 47:16.


Jud 3:1-4. Nations Left to Prove Israel.

1. these are the nations which the Lord left, to prove Israel—This was the special design of these nations being left, and it evinces the direct influence of the theocracy under which the Israelites were placed. These nations were left for a double purpose: in the first instance, to be instrumental, by their inroads, in promoting the moral and spiritual discipline of the Israelites; and also to subserve the design of making them acquainted with war, in order that the young, more especially, who were total strangers to it, might learn the use of weapons and the art of wielding them.

To know, i.e. that they and others might know by experience.

And they were to prove Israel by them,.... They were left in the land, as to inure them to war, and try their courage, so to prove their faithfulness to God:

to know whether they would hearken to the commandments, of the Lord,

which he commanded their fathers by the hand of Moses; even all the commandments of the Lord delivered to them by Moses, moral, civil, and ceremonial, and particularly those that concerned the destruction of the Canaanites, their altars, and their idols, Deuteronomy 7:1.

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.
4. to prove Israel] leads back to the thought of Jdg 2:22 and Jdg 3:1, and prepares the way for Jdg 3:5. The verse seems to be a later editorial adaptation.

Judges 3:4The enumeration of the different nations rests upon Joshua 13:2-6, and, with its conciseness and brevity, is only fully intelligible through the light thrown upon it by that passage. The five princes of the Philistines are mentioned singly there. According to Joshua 13:4., "all the Canaanites and the Sidonians and the Hivites," are the Canaanitish tribes dwelling in northern Canaan, by the Phoenician coast and upon Mount Lebanon. "The Canaanites:" viz., those who dwelt along the sea-coast to the south of Sidon. The Hivites: those who were settled more in the heart of the country, "from the mountains of Baal-hermon up to the territory of Hamath." Baal-hermon is only another name for Baal-gad, the present Banjas, under the Hermon (cf. Joshua 13:5). When it is stated still further in Judges 3:4, that "they were left in existence (i.e., were not exterminated by Joshua) to prove Israel by them," we are struck with the fact, that besides the Philistines, only these northern Canaanites are mentioned; whereas, according to Judges 1, many towns in the centre of the land were also left in the hands of the Canaanites, and therefore here also the Canaanites were not yet exterminated, and became likewise a snare to the Israelites, not only according to the word of the angel of the Lord (Judges 2:3), but also because the Israelites who dwelt among these Canaanitish tribes contracted marriages with them, and served their gods. This striking circumstance cannot be set aside, as Bertheau supposes, by the simple remark, that "the two lists (that of the countries which the tribes of Israel did not conquer after Joshua's death in Judges 1, and the one given here of the nations which Joshua had not subjugated) must correspond on the whole," since the correspondence referred to really does not exist. It can only be explained on the ground that the Canaanites who were left in the different towns in the midst of the land, acquired all their power to maintain their stand against Israel from the simple fact that the Philistines on the south-west, and several whole tribes of Canaanites in the north, had been left by Joshua neither exterminated nor even conquered, inasmuch as they so crippled the power of the Israelites by wars and invasions of the Israelitish territory, that they were unable to exterminate those who remained in the different fortresses of their own possessions. Because, therefore, the power to resist the Israelites and oppress them for a time resided not so much in the Canaanites who were dwelling in the midst of Israel, as in the Philistines and the Canaanites upon the mountains of Lebanon who had been left unconquered by Joshua, these are the only tribes mentioned in this brief survey as the nations through which the Lord would prove His people.
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