Judges 10:16: God's Sorrow over His Suffering, Penitent People

Verse 16:[1] (2 Chron. 7:14; 15:8; Jer. 18:7, 8) And they put away the strange gods (Heb. gods of strangers[2]) from among them, and served the LORD: and (Ps. 106:44, 45; Is. 63:9) his soul was grieved (Heb. was shortened[3]) for the misery of Israel.


[From their coasts…they cast their idols] Hebrew: from the midst of them,[4] that is, they cast them far and completely from themselves (Serarius). Behold this sign of sincere sorrow and repentance (Lapide).


They put away the strange gods: this was an evidence of the sincerity of their sorrow, that they did not only confess and bewail their sins, but also forsake them, and loathe themselves for them.


[And they served the Lord] This is an excellent example. They carried away the strange gods, and worshipped the true God. It is not enough to take away evils, but good things must be put in the place of the evils[5] (Martyr).


[Who grieved over their miseries, וַתִּקְצַ֥ר נַפְשׁ֖וֹ בַּעֲמַ֥ל יִשְׂרָאֵֽל׃[6]] [They vary. Some take it of Israel:] For the soul of Israel was afflicted (Syriac). Since their souls were afflicted with weariness (Arabic). [All the rest explain it concerning God, but they do not translate it in one way.] And His soul was shortened in the toil of Israel (Montanus). Narrowed, or shortened, is His soul because of the affliction of Israel. A Hebriasm; He was exceedingly grieved for them. That is to say, He was no longer able to bear silently the misery of Israel: for that is opposed to longsuffering and patience: and it is anthropopatheia (Vatablus). As joy is wont to enlarge the heart and soul; so sorrow, to contract and to constrict (Bonfrerius, similarly Drusius). While they were doing evil, He was pleased, as it were, with their toil and constriction; now He pities, etc. The Greeks follow the Hebrew closely, ὠλιγώθη ἡ ψυχὴ αὐτοῦ ἐν κόπῳ Ἰσραὴλ, that is, His soul was diminished in the toil of Israel (Drusius). Jonathan omitted this, as sounding off (Grotius). Thus His soul was diminished (that is, His indignation, because He had said, I will not deliver you [Junius]) because of the toil of the Israelites (Junius and Tremellius); both as they were oppressed by enemies; and as they were studying to return to the favor of God (Junius). His soul was cut short, or cut back (that is, was discouraged); as in Numbers 21:4.[7] There is a twofold metaphor: 1. from crops to men; 2. from men to God; which is specifically called ἀνθρωποπάθεια/anthropopatheia (Piscator). So that His soul might remit anger because of the affliction of Israel (Tigurinus). Others: And His soul was stirred over the miseries of Israel. That is, Even if to this point He was handling them harshly, He was no longer able either to conceal His paternal affection for His people, or to tolerate the injuries of His people; but He determined to help them (Osiander). Here the sorrow or pity of God is indicated; nevertheless, the same expression is used in Zechariah 11:8 of the indignation and abhorrence of God[8] (Glassius’ “Sacred Rhetoric” 118). Others otherwise. Here soul is taken for will, and to cut short for to cease, so that the sense might be, The will of the Lord ceased to oppress Israel with toils and afflictions (Munster). God ceased to afflict them: and ב/in is put in the place of מ/from, as in Leviticus 8:32;[9] 25:52[10] (Grotius out of Maimonides[11]).


His soul was grieved; not properly, or as to inward affection; for God being infinitely happy, is not capable of grieving; but figuratively, and as to outward expression. He acted towards them like one that felt their sufferings; he had pity upon them, repented of his severe proceedings against them, and quite changed his carriage towards them, and punished their enemies as sorely as if they had grieved and injured his own person.

[1] Hebrew: וַיָּסִ֜ירוּ אֶת־אֱלֹהֵ֤י הַנֵּכָר֙ מִקִּרְבָּ֔ם וַיַּעַבְד֖וּ אֶת־יְהוָ֑ה וַתִּקְצַ֥ר נַפְשׁ֖וֹ בַּעֲמַ֥ל יִשְׂרָאֵֽל׃


[2] Hebrew: אֶת־אֱלֹהֵ֤י הַנֵּכָר֙.


[3] Hebrew: וַתִּקְצַר.


[4] Hebrew: מִקִּרְבָּם.


[5] See Ephesians 4:21-32.


[6] קָצֵר signifies to be short.


[7] Numbers 21:4: “And they journeyed from mount Hor by the way of the Red sea, to compass the land of Edom: and the soul of the people was much discouraged because of the way (וַתִּקְצַ֥ר נֶֽפֶשׁ־הָעָ֖ם בַּדָּֽרֶךְ׃).”


[8] Zechariah 11:8: “Three shepherds also I cut off in one month; and my soul lothed them, and their soul also abhorred me (וַתִּקְצַ֤ר נַפְשִׁי֙ בָּהֶ֔ם וְגַם־נַפְשָׁ֖ם בָּחֲלָ֥ה בִֽי׃).”


[9] Leviticus 8:32: “And that which remaineth of the flesh and of the bread (בַּבָּשָׂ֖ר וּבַלָּ֑חֶם) shall ye burn with fire.”


[10] Leviticus 25:52: “And if there remain but few of the years (וְאִם־מְעַ֞ט נִשְׁאַ֧ר בַּשָּׁנִ֛ים) unto the year of jubile, then he shall count with him, and according unto his years shall he give him again the price of his redemption.”


[11] Moses Maimonides, or Rambam (1135-1204), is reckoned by many to be the greatest Jewish scholar of his age. In the Hebrew Scriptures, Rabbinic tradition, natural science, and Aristotelian philosophy, Maimonides demonstrates great command and almost equal facility.

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Dr. Steven Dilday holds a BA in Religion and Philosophy from Campbell University, a Master of Arts in Religion from Westminster Theological Seminary (Philadelphia), and both a Master of Divinity and a  Ph.D. in Puritan History and Literature from Whitefield Theological Seminary.  He is also the translator of Matthew Poole's Synopsis of Biblical Interpreters and Bernardinus De Moor’s Didactico-Elenctic Theology.

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