Judges 1

Verse 16. Ye shall perish quickly from off the good land] The

following note from Mr. John Trapp is very judicious: "This

judgment Joshua inculcates Jos 23:13, 15, and here, because he

knew it would be a very grievous thing to them to forego so goodly

a land, so lately gotten, and so short a while enjoyed. In the

beginning of a speech ταηθη, the milder affections, suit best;

but towards the end ταπαθη, passionate and piercing passages;

according to the orator. This rule Joshua observes, being Ex

utroque Caesar; no less an orator than a warrior."

In all this exhortation we see how closely Joshua copies the

example of his great master Moses. See Le 26:7, 8, 14, &c.;

De 28:7; 32:30. He was tenderly concerned for the welfare of

the people, and with a deeply affected heart he spoke to their

hearts. No people ever were more fairly and fully warned, and no

people profited less by it. The threatenings pronounced here were

accomplished in the Babylonish captivity, but more fully in their

general dispersion since the crucifixion of our Lord. And should

not every Christian fear when he reads, If God spared not the

natural branches, take heed that he spare not thee? Surely a

worldly, carnal, and godless Christian has no more reason to

expect indulgence from the justice of God than a profligate Jew.

We have a goodly land, but the justice of God can decree a

captivity from it, or a state of bondage in it. The privileges

that are abused are thereby forfeited. And this is as applicable

to the individual as to the whole system.




-Year before the common year of Christ, 1443.

-Julian Period, 3271.

-Year from the Flood, 904.

-Year before the first Olympiad, 667.

-Creation from Tisri, or September, 2561.


After the death of Joshua the Israelites purpose to attack the

remaining Canaanites; and the tribe of Judah is directed to go

up first, 1, 2.

Judah and Simeon unite, attack the Canaanites and Perrizites,

kill ten thousand of them, take Adoni-bezek prisoner, cut off

his thumbs and great toes, and bring him to Jerusalem, where

he dies, 3-7.

Jerusalem conquered, 8.

A new war with the Canaanites under the direction of Caleb,


Kirjath-sepher taken by Othniel, on which he receives, as a

reward, Achsah, the daughter of Caleb and with her a south

land with springs of water, 12-15.

The Kenites dwell among the people, 16.

Judah and Simeon destroy the Canaanites in Zephath, Gaza, &c.,


Hebron is given to Caleb, 20.

Of the Benjamites, house of Joseph, tribe of Manasseh, &c.,


The Israelites put the Canaanites to tribute, 28.

Of the tribes of Ephraim, Zebulun, Asher, and Naphtali, 29-33.

The Amorites force the children of Dan into the mountains,



Verse 1. Now after the death of Joshua] How long after the death

of Joshua this happened we cannot tell; it is probable that it was

not long. The enemies of the Israelites, finding their champion

dead, would naturally avail themselves of their unsettled state,

and make incursions on the country.

Who shall go up] Joshua had left no successor, and every thing

relative to the movements of this people must be determined either

by caprice, or an especial direction of the Lord.

Verse 2. The Lord said, Judah shall go up] They had inquired of

the Lord by Phinehas the high priest; and he had communicated to

them the Divine counsel.

Verse 3. Come up with me into my lot] It appears that the

portions of Judah and Simeon had not been cleared of the

Canaanites, or that these were the parts which were now

particularly invaded.

Verse 5. And they found Adoni-bezek] The word matsa, "he

found," is used to express a hostile encounter between two

parties; to attack, surprise, &c. This is probably its meaning

here. Adoni-bezek is literally the lord of Bezek. It is very

probable that the different Canaanitish tribes were governed by a

sort of chieftains, similar to those among the clans of the

ancient Scottish Highlanders. Bezek is said by some to have been

in the tribe of Judah. Eusebius and St. Jerome mention two

villages of this name, not in the tribe of Judah, but about

seventeen miles from Shechem.

Verse 6. Cut off his thumbs] That he might never be able to draw

his bow or handle his sword, and great toes, that he might

never be able to pursue or escape from an adversary.

Verse 7. Threescore and ten kinds] Chieftains, heads of tribes,

or military officers. For the word king cannot be taken here in

its proper and usual sense.

Having their thumbs and their great toes cut off] That this was

an ancient mode of treating enemies we learn from AElian, who

tells us, Var. Hist. l. ii., c. 9, that "the Athenians, at the

instigation of Cleon, son of Cleaenetus, made a decree that all

the inhabitants of the island of AEgina should have the thumb cut

off from the right hand, so that they might ever after be disabled

from holding a spear, yet might handle an oar." This is considered

by AElian an act of great cruelty; and he wishes to Minerva, the

guardian of the city, to Jupiter Eleutherius, and all the gods of

Greece, that the Athenians had never done such things. It was a

custom among those Romans who did not like a military life, to cut

off their own thumbs, that they might not be capable of serving in

the army. Sometimes the parents cut off the thumbs of their

children, that they might not be called into the army. According

to Suetonius, in Vit. August., c. 24, a Roman knight, who had cut

off the thumbs of his two sons to prevent them from being called

to a military life was, by the order of Augustus, publicly sold,

both he and his property. These are the words of Suetonius:

Equitem Romanum, quod duobus filis adolescentibus, causa

detractandi sacramenti, pollices amputasset, ipsum bonaque

subjecit hastae. Calmet remarks that the Italian language has

preserved a term, poltrone, which signifies one whose thumb is cut

off, to designate a soldier destitute of courage and valour. We

use poltroon to signify a dastardly fellow, without considering

the import of the original. There have been found frequent

instances of persons maiming themselves, that they might be

incapacitated for military duty. I have heard an instance in which

a knavish soldier discharged his gun through his hand, that he

might be discharged from his regiment. The cutting off of the

thumbs was probably designed for a double purpose: 1. To

incapacitate them for war; and, 2. To brand them as cowards.

Gathered their meat under my table] I think this was a

proverbial mode of expression, to signify reduction to the meanest

servitude; for it is not at all likely that seventy kings, many of

whom must have been contemporaries, were placed under the table of

the king of Bezek, and there fed; as in the houses of poor persons

the dogs are fed with crumbs and offal, under the table of their


So God hath requited me.] The king of Bezek seems to have had

the knowledge of the true God, and a proper notion of a Divine

providence. He now feels himself reduced to that state to which he

had cruelly reduced others. Those acts in him were acts of

tyrannous cruelty; the act towards him was an act of retributive


And there he died.] He continued at Jerusalem in a servile and

degraded condition till the day of his death. How long he lived

after his disgrace we know not.

Verse 8. Had fought against Jerusalem] We read this verse in a

parenthesis, because we suppose that it refers to the taking of

this city by Joshua; for as he had conquered its armies and slew

its king, Jos 10:26, it is probable that he took the city: yet we

find that the Jebusites still dwelt in it, Jos 15:63; and that

the men of Judah could not drive them out, which probably refers

to the strong hold or fortress on Mount Zion, which the Jebusites

held till the days of David, who took it, and totally destroyed

the Jebusites. See 2Sa 5:6-9, and 1Ch 11:4-8. It is possible

that the Jebusites who had been discomfited by Joshua, had again

become sufficiently strong to possess themselves of Jerusalem; and

that they were now defeated, and the city itself set on fire: but

that they still were able to keep possession of their strong fort

on Mount Zion, which appears to have been the citadel of


Verse 9. The Canaanites, that dwelt to the mountain] The

territories of the tribe of Judah lay in the most southern part of

the promised land, which was very mountainous, though towards the

west it had many fine plains. In some of these the Canaanites had

dwelt; and the expedition marked here was for the purpose of

finally expelling them. But probably this is a recapitulation of

what is related Jos 10:36; 11:21; 15:13.

Verse 12. - 15. And Caleb, &c.] See this whole account, which is

placed here by way of recapitulation, in Jos 15:13-19, and the

explanatory notes there.

Verse 13. See Clarke on Jud 1:12.

Verse 14. See Clarke on Jud 1:12.

Verse 15. See Clarke on Jud 1:12.

Verse 16. The children of the Kenite, Moses' father-in-law] For

an account of Jethro, the father-in-law of Moses, see Ex 18:1-27;

Nu 10:29, &c.

The city of palm trees] This seems to have been some place near

Jericho, which city is expressly called the city of palm trees,

De 34:3; and though destroyed by Joshua, it might have some

suburbs remaining where these harmless people had taken up their


The Kenites, the descendants of Jethro, the father-in-law of

Moses, were always attached to the Israelites: they remained with

them, says Calmet, during their wanderings in the wilderness, and

accompanied them to the promised land. They received there a lot

with the tribe of Judah, and remained in the city of palm trees

during the life of Joshua; but after his death, not contented with

their portion, or molested by the original inhabitants, they

united with the tribe of Judah, and went with them to attack Arad.

After the conquest of that country, the Kenites established

themselves there, and remained in it till the days of Saul,

mingled with the Amalekites. When this king received a commandment

from God to destroy the Amalekites, he sent a message to the

Kenites to depart from among them, as God would not destroy them

with the Amalekites. From them came Hemath, who was the father of

the house of Rechab, 1Ch 2:55, and the

Rechabites, of whom we have a remarkable account Jer 35:1, &c.

Verse 17. The city was called Hormah.] This appears to be the

same transaction mentioned Nu 21:1, &c., where see the notes.

Verse 18. Judah took Gaza-and Askelon-and Ekron] There is a most

remarkable variation here in the Septuagint; I shall set down the

verse: καιουκεκληρονομησενιουδαςτηνγαζανουδεταοριααυτης



μεταιουδα. "But Judah DID NOT possess Gaza, NOR the coast

thereof; neither Askelon, nor the coasts thereof, neither Ekron,

nor the coasts thereof; neither Azotus, nor its adjacent places:

and the Lord was with Judah." This is the reading of the Vatican

and other copies of the Septuagint: but the Alexandrian MS., and

the text of the Complutensian and Antwerp Polyglots, agree more

nearly with the Hebrew text. St. Augustine and Procopius read the

same as, the Vatican MS.; and Josephus expressly says that the

Israelites took only Askelon and Azotus, but did not take Gaza

nor Ekron; and the whole history shows that these cities were not

in the possession of the Israelites, but of the Philistines; and

if the Israelites did take them at this time, as the Hebrew text

states, they certainly lost them in a very short time after.

Verse 19. And the Lord was with Judah, and he drave out the

inhabitants of the mountain; but could not drive out the

inhabitants of the valley, because they had chariots of iron.]

Strange! were the iron chariots too strong for Omnipotence? The

whole of this verse is improperly rendered. The first clause, The

Lord was with Judah should terminate the 18th verse, and this

gives the reason for the success of this tribe: The Lord was with

Judah, and therefore he slew the Canaanites that inhabited

Zephath, &c., &c. Here then is a complete period: the remaining

part of the verse either refers to a different time, or to the

rebellion of Judah against the Lord, which caused him to withdraw

his support. Therefore the Lord was with Judah, and these were the

effects of his protection; but afterwards, when the children of

Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord, and served Baalim, &c.,

God was no longer with them, and their enemies were left to be

pricks in their eyes, and thorns in their side, as God himself had


This is the turn given to the verse by Jonathan ben Uzziel, the

Chaldee paraphrast: "And the WORD of Jehovah was in the support of

the house of Judah, and they extirpated the inhabitants of the

mountains; but afterwards, WHEN THEY SINNED, they were not able to

extirpate the inhabitants of the plain country, because they had

chariots of iron." They were now left to their own strength, and

their adversaries prevailed against them.

From a work called the Dhunoor Veda, it appears that the ancient

Hindoos had war chariots similar to those of the Canaanites. They

are described as having many wheels, and to have contained a

number of rooms.-Ward's Customs.

Verse 20. They gave Hebron unto Caleb] See this whole

transaction explained Jos 14:12, &c.

Verse 21. The Jebusites dwell with the children of Benjamin]

Jerusalem was situated partly in the tribe of Judah, and partly in

the tribe of Benjamin, the northern part belonging to the latter

tribe, the southern to the former. The Jebusites had their

strongest position in the part that belonged to Benjamin, and from

this place they were not wholly expelled till the days of David.

See Clarke on Jud 1:8. What is said here of

Benjamin is said of Judah, Jos 15:63. There must be an

interchange of the names in one or other of these places.

Unto this day.] As the Jebusites dwelt in Jerusalem till the

days of David, by whom they were driven out, and the author of the

book of Judges states them to have been in possession of Jerusalem

when he wrote; therefore this book was written before the reign of


Verse 22. The house of Joseph, they also went up against Bethel]

That is, the tribe of Ephraim and the half tribe of Manasseh, who

dwelt beyond Jordan. Beth-el was not taken by Joshua, though he

took Ai, which was nigh to it.

Instead of beith Yoseph, "the house of Joseph," ten

of Dr. Kennicott's MSS. and six of De Rossi's have

beney Yoseph, "the children of Joseph;" and this is the reading

of both the Septuagint and Arabic, as well as of two copies in

the Hexapla of Origen.

Verse 23. Beth-el-the name of the city before was Luz.]

Concerning this city and its names, See Clarke on Ge 28:19.

Verse 24. Show us-the entrance into the city] Taken in whatever

light we choose, the conduct of this man was execrable. He was a

traitor to his country, and he was accessary to the destruction of

the lives and property of his fellow citizens, which he most

sinfully betrayed, in order to save his own. According to the

rules and laws of war, the children of Judah might avail

themselves of such men and their information; but this does not

lessen, on the side of this traitor, the turpitude of the action.

Verse 26. The land of the Hittites] Probably some place beyond

the land of Canaan, in Arabia, whither this people emigrated when

expelled by Joshua. The man himself appears to have been a

Hittite, and to perpetuate the name of his city he called the new

one which he now founded Luz, this being the ancient name of


Verse 27. Beth-shean] Called by the Septuagint σκυθωνπολις,

Scythopolis, or the city of the Scythians. On these towns see

the notes, Jos 17:12, 13.

Verse 29. Neither did Ephraim] See the notes on the parallel

passages, Jos 16:5-10.

Verse 30. Neither did Zebulun drive out] See on Jos 19:10-15.

Verse 31. Neither did Asher] See on Jos 19:24-31.

Accho] Supposed to be the city of Ptolemais, near to Mount


Verse 33. Neither did Naphtali] See the notes on Jos 19:32-39.

Verse 34. The Amorites forced the children of Dan, &c.] Just as

the ancient Britons were driven into the mountains of Wales by the

Romans; and the native Indians driven back into the woods by the

British settlers in America.

Verse 35. The Amorites would dwell in Mount Heres] They perhaps

agreed to dwell in the mountainous country, being unable to

maintain themselves on the plain, and yet were so powerful that

the Danites could not totally expel them; they were, however, laid

under tribute, and thus the house of Joseph had the sovereignty.

The Septuagint have sought out a literal meaning for the names of

several of these places, and they render the verse thus: "And the

Amorites began to dwell in the mount of Tiles, in which there are

bears, and in which there are foxes." Thus they translate Heres,

Aijalon, and Shaalbim.

Verse 36. Akrabbim] Of scorpions; probably so called from the

number of those animals in that place.

From the rock, and upward.] The Vulgate understand by sela,

a rock, the city Petra, which was the capital of Arabia Petraea.

THE whole of this chapter appears to be designed as a sort of

supplement to those places in the book of Joshua which are

referred to in the notes and in the margin; nor is there any thing

in it worthy of especial remark. We everywhere see the same fickle

character in the Israelites, and the goodness and long-suffering

of God towards them. An especial Providence guides their steps,

and a fatherly hand chastises them for their transgressions. They

are obliged to live in the midst of their enemies, often

straitened, but never overcome so as to lose the land which God

gave them as their portion. We should learn wisdom from what they

have suffered, and confidence in the protection and providence of

God from their support, because these things were written for our


Few can be persuaded that adversity is a blessing, but without

it how little should we learn! He, who in the school of affliction

has his mind turned towards God,

"Finds tongues in trees, books in the running brooks,

Sermons in stones, and good in every thing."

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