1. Judges 3:9 (ESV)
  2. Exposition

What does the verb for “cry out” denote?

Judges 3:9 (ESV)

9 But when the people of Israel cried out to the LORD, the LORD raised up a deliverer for the people of Israel, who saved them, Othniel the son of Kenaz, Caleb’s younger brother.

The verb denotes an anguishing cry of pain. The actual content of the cry can vary: it can include a complaint/lament (1 Samuel 4:13) or a declaration of faith accompanying a call for help (Psalm 142:5). The term does not appear to be a technical term for repentance, even though it is used occasionally for a confession of sin. Rather, “usage suggests it is fundamentally a cry of pain (see especially 2 Samuel 13:19; 2 Samuel 19:4), often accompanied by a lament over one’s condition and/or by a request for divine help. If the context does not specifically indicate that the cry was accompanied by a confession of sin, we should not assume that repentance took place. Consequently, with respect to its usage here in Judges 3:9, all we can say for certain is that oppressed Israel cried out in their pain to the Lord."1

In fact, Judges 10:14 seems to confirm that the element of repentance is lacking. There the Israelites cry out to the Lord (Judges 10:10), and he retorts sarcastically, Go and cry out to the gods whom you have chosen; let them save you in the time of your distress.2