Now for a long season Israel hath been without the true God,.... The fear, worship, and service of him being greatly neglected by them for a long time; what period of time is referred to is not expressed, whether past, present, or to come, but left to be supplied; the Targum refers this to the time of the separation of the ten tribes, and the days of Jeroboam, when the calves were worshipped, and not the true God, and the teaching priests of the Lord were cast out, and the law of the Lord, especially with respect to worship, was not regarded, in which it is followed by many interpreters; others think it refers to time to come, and to what would be the case, should they forsake the Lord; and was fulfilled in the Babylonish captivity, see Hosea 3:4 and the JewsF11Vajikra Rabba, sect. 19. fol. 160. 4. say, that"Oded prophesied that the days should come, when Israel would be "without the true God", since judgment should not be done in the world: and "without a teaching priest"; since the high priesthood should cease, (see Hebrews 7:12) "and without the law"; since the sanhedrim should cease;'but according to our supplement, and which seems most correct, it refers to time past; not to the case of the ten tribes from the times of Jeroboam; nor to the case of Judah from the times of Rehoboam; but to times more remote, even the times of the judges, when they worshipped Baal and Ashtaroth, and not the true God, Judges 2:10, yet at the same time suggesting, that should the present inhabitants of Judah go into the same practices, their case would be like theirs, described in the following verses:
and without a teaching priest: as they were under the judges, from the times of Phinehas to those of Eli, which was a long space of time:
and without law; every man doing as he pleased, there being no king in Israel, nor any regard paid to the law of God, moral or ceremonial, Judges 17:6.