Judges 1:2
And the LORD said, Judah shall go up: behold, I have delivered the land into his hand.
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(2) The Lord said.—The answer is given to the priest by the Urim, and he announces it to the people.

Judah shall go up.—The phrase go up” is used in a military sense (Joshua 6:5). The question had not been, “Who shall be our leader?” but, “Which tribe shall fight first?” The reason why Judah is chosen is from the eminence and power of the tribe, which was also the most numerous at both of the censuses taken in the wilderness (Numbers 1:26; Numbers 26:19-22). Jacob’s blessing on the tribe had been, “Judah, thou art he whom thy brethren shall praise: thy hand shall be in the neck of thine enemies” (Genesis 49:8). (Comp. Numbers 34:19; Joshua 15:1.) In the arrangement of the camp, Judah was stationed at the east, with Issachar and Zebulon, and always started first on the march (Numbers 2:3-9), with its lion-standard, which was a symbol of its lion-courage (Genesis 49:9; Revelation 5:5). The same answer is given by Urim in Judges 20:18.

Jdg 1:2. Judah — The tribe of Judah is chosen for the first enterprise, because they were both most populous, and so most needed enlargement; and withal most valiant, and therefore most likely to succeed; for God chooseth fit means for the work which he designs. Moreover, the Canaanites were numerous and strong in those parts, and therefore it was necessary they should be suppressed before they grew too strong for them.

1:1-8 The Israelites were convinced that the war against the Canaanites was to be continued; but they were in doubt as to the manner in which it was to be carried on after the death of Joshua. In these respects they inquired of the Lord. God appoints service according to the strength he has given. From those who are most able, most work is expected. Judah was first in dignity, and must be first in duty. Judah's service will not avail unless God give success; but God will not give the success, unless Judah applies to the service. Judah was the most considerable of all the tribes, and Simeon the least; yet Judah begs Simeon's friendship, and prays for aid from him. It becomes Israelites to help one another against Canaanites; and all Christians, even those of different tribes, should strengthen one another. Those who thus help one another in love, have reason to hope that God will graciously help both. Adoni-bezek was taken prisoner. This prince had been a severe tyrant. The Israelites, doubtless under the Divine direction, made him suffer what he had done to others; and his own conscience confessed that he was justly treated as he had treated others. Thus the righteous God sometimes, in his providence, makes the punishment answer the sin.And the Lord said - i. e. answered by Urim and Thummim. The land was the portion which fell to Judah by lot, not the whole land of Canaan (see Judges 3:11). The priority given to Judah is a plain indication of divine direction. It points to the birth of our Lord of the tribe of Judah. Judah associated Simeon with him Judges 1:3 because their lots were intermingled Joshua 19:1. 2. the Lord said, Judah shall go up—The predicted pre-eminence (Ge 49:8) was thus conferred upon Judah by divine direction, and its appointment to take the lead in the ensuing hostilities was of great importance, as the measure of success by which its arms were crowned, would animate the other tribes to make similar attempts against the Canaanites within their respective territories.

I have delivered the land into his hand—not the whole country, but the district assigned for his inheritance.

Not a person so called, but the tribe of Judah, as is manifest from Judges 1:3,4,8,9, which is chosen for the first enterprise, because they were both most populous, and so most needing enlargement; and withal most valiant, and therefore most likely to succeed; for God chooseth fit means for the work which he designs; and because the Canaanites were numerous and strong in those parts, and therefore where in time to be suppressed, before they grew too strong for them.

And the Lord said,.... By an articulate voice, which it is probable was the usual way of answering by Urim and Thummim:

Judah shall go up; not Judah in person, who was long ago dead, but the tribe of Judah; it was the will of the Lord that that tribe should engage first with the Canaanites, being the principal one, and the most numerous, powerful, and valiant, and perhaps had the greatest number of Canaanites among them; and who succeeding, would inspire the other tribes with courage, and fill their enemies with a panic:

behold, I have delivered the land into his hands; that part of it which belonged to that tribe as yet unsubdued, the conquest of which they are assured of for their encouragement.

And the LORD said, Judah shall go up: behold, I have delivered the land into his hand.
2–21. The conquests of Judah

2. the land] Not the whole land, but the part which had fallen to Judah’s lot.

Judges 1:2With the words "Now, after the death of Joshua, it came to pass," the book of Judges takes up the thread of the history where the book of Joshua had dropped it, to relate the further development of the covenant nation. A short time before his death, Joshua had gathered the elders and heads of the people around him, and set before them the entire destruction of the Canaanites through the omnipotent help of the Lord, if they would only adhere with fidelity to the Lord; whilst, at the same time, he also pointed out to them the dangers of apostasy from the Lord (Joshua 23). Remembering this admonition and warning, the Israelites inquired, after Joshua's death, who should begin the war against the Canaanites who still remained to be destroyed; and the Lord answered, "Judah shall go up: behold, I have delivered the land into his hand" (Judges 1:1, Judges 1:2). בּיהוה שׁאל, to ask with Jehovah for the purpose of obtaining a declaration of the divine will, is substantially the same as האוּרים בּמשׁפּט שׁאל (Numbers 27:21), to inquire the will of the Lord through the Urim and Thummim of the high priest. From this time forward inquiring of the Lord occurs with greater frequency (vid., Judges 20:23, Judges 20:27; 1 Samuel 10:22; 1 Samuel 22:10; 1 Samuel 23:2, etc.), as well as the synonymous expression "ask of Elohim" in Judges 18:5; Judges 20:18; 1 Samuel 14:37; 1 Samuel 22:13; 1 Chronicles 14:10; whereas Moses and Joshua received direct revelations from God. The phrase אל־הכּנעני יעלה, "go up to the Canaanites," is defined more precisely by the following words, "to fight against them;" so that עלה is used here also to denote the campaign against a nation (see at Joshua 8:1), without there being any necessity, however, for us to take אל in the sense of על. בתּחלּה עלה signifies "to go up in the beginning," i.e., to open or commence the war; not to hold the commandership in the war, as the Sept., Vulgate, and others render it (see Judges 10:18, where להלּחם יחל is expressly distinguished from being the chief or leader). Moreover, מי does not mean who? i.e., what person, but, as the answer clearly shows, what tribe? Now a tribe could open the war, and take the lead at the head of the other tribes, but could not be the commander-in-chief. In the present instance, however, Judah did not even enter upon the war at the head of all the tribes, but simply joined with the tribe of Simeon to make a common attack upon the Canaanites in their inheritance. The promise in Judges 1:2 is the same as that in Joshua 6:2; Joshua 8:1, etc. "The land" is not merely the land allotted to the tribe of Judah, or Judah's inheritance, as Bertheau supposes, for Judah conquered Jerusalem (Judges 1:8), which had been allotted to the tribe of Benjamin (Joshua 18:28), but the land of Canaan generally, so far as it was still in the possession of the Canaanites and was to be conquered by Judah. The reason why Judah was to commence the hostilities is not to be sought for in the fact that Judah was the most numerous of all the tribes (Rosenmller), but rather in the fact that Judah had already been appointed by the blessing of Jacob (Genesis 49:8.) to be the champion of his brethren.
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