Matthew Poole's Commentary
Now after the death of Joshua it came to pass, that the children of Israel asked the LORD, saying, Who shall go up for us against the Canaanites first, to fight against them?The tribe of Judah, by God's command, begin to make war against the Canaanites, Judges 1:1-4. Adoni-bezek justly requited, Judges 1:5-7. They take Jerusalem, Judges 1:8; and Hebron. Anak's sons slain, Judges 1:9,10. Othniel subdueth Debir, and so obtaineth Caleb's daughter to wife, Judges 1:11-15. The Kenites dwell in Judah, Judges 1:16. Simeon subdueth Zephath, Judges 1:17; and Judah divers cities of the Philistines, Judges 1:18-20. The Jebusites dwell with Benjamin, Judges 1:21. They of the house of Joseph subdue Beth-el, Judges 1:22-26. Manasseh, Ephraim, Zebulun, Asher, Naphtali, Dan drive not out the Canaanites; for which they are vexed by them, and are left to dwell one among another, Judges 1:27-36.
After the death of Joshua; not long after it, because Othniel, the first judge, lived in Joshua's time.
The children of Israel asked the Lord; being assembled together at Shiloh, they inquired of the high priest by the Urim and Thummim. See Num 27:21 Judges 20:18 1Sa 23:9.
Who shall go up for us against the Canaanites first? Being sensible that the Canaanites are troublesome to them, and expected great advantage against them by their heedless condition, and finding their people to increase and multiply exceedingly, and consequently the necessity of enlarging their quarters, they renew the war. They do not inquire who shall be the captain-general to all the tribes; but (as appears by the answer) what tribe shall first undertake the expedition, that by their success the other tribes may be encouraged to make the like attempt upon the Canaanites in their several lots.
And the LORD said, Judah shall go up: behold, I have delivered the land into his hand.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 Judah said unto Simeon his brother, Come up with me into my lot, that we may fight against the Canaanites; and I likewise will go with thee into thy lot. So Simeon went with him.Unto Simeon his brother; as nearest to him both by relation, being his brother by both parents, which few of them were; and by habitation, as appears from Joshua 19:1,2.
Against the Canaanites; specially so called because they are distinguished from the Perizzites, Judges 1:4.
And Judah went up; and the LORD delivered the Canaanites and the Perizzites into their hand: and they slew of them in Bezek ten thousand men.Not in the city, for that was not yet taken, Judges 1:5, but in the territory of it, or near to it; as in Hor is taken, Numbers 33:37; and in Jericho, Joshua 5:13.
And they found Adonibezek in Bezek: and they fought against him, and they slew the Canaanites and the Perizzites.Adoni-bezek; the lord or king of Bezek, as his name signifies,
in Bezek; whither he fled, when he had lost the field.
Against him, i.e. against the city wherein he had encamped himself, and the rest of his army.
But Adonibezek fled; and they pursued after him, and caught him, and cut off his thumbs and his great toes.That he might be disenabled to fight with his hands, or to run away upon his feet. And this they did, either by the secret instinct and direction of God, or upon notice of his former tyranny and cruelty expressed upon others, in this manner, as it follows: either way it was a just requital.
And Adonibezek said, Threescore and ten kings, having their thumbs and their great toes cut off, gathered their meat under my table: as I have done, so God hath requited me. And they brought him to Jerusalem, and there he died.Threescore and ten kings; which is not strange in those times and places; for these might be either, first, kings successively, and so there might be divers of those kings in one place, and so in others; or, secondly, contemporary kings. For it is well known that anciently each ruler of a city, or great town, was called a king, and had kingly power in that place; and many such kings we meet with in Canaan; and it is probable that some years before kings were more numerous there, till the greater devoured many of the less.
Having their thumbs cut off, that so their hands might be unable to manage weapons of war.
Gathered their meat under my table; an act of barbarous inhumanity thus to insult over the miserable, joined with abominable luxury.
God hath requited me: he acknowledgeth the providence and vindictive justice of God, which also Pharaoh did, and others too, without any true sense of piety.
They brought him; they carried him in triumph, as a monument of God’s righteous vengeance.
To Jerusalem; it being the metropolis of the nation.
Now the children of Judah had fought against Jerusalem, and had taken it, and smitten it with the edge of the sword, and set the city on fire.To wit, in Joshua’s time; which though done before, may be here repeated, to show why they brought Adoni-bezek to Jerusalem, because that city was in their hands, having been taken before, as may be gathered from Joshua 15:63. And the taking of this city may be ascribed
to the children of Judah rather than to Joshua, because the city was not taken by Joshua and the whole body of the army in that time when so many kings were destroyed, Jos 10 Jos 12, (for there is mention made of the destroying of the king of Jerusalem, Joshua 10:23 12:10; but not a word of the taking of Jerusalem, as there is of the taking of Makkedah, and Libnah, and other cities belonging to the kings there mentioned, Joshua 10:28, &c.,) but by the children of Judah after they had received their lot, when at the desire and with the consent of the Benjamites, in whose lot Jerusalem fell, Joshua 18:28, they assaulted and took it, and thereby, as it seems, acquired the right of copartnership with the Benjamites in the possession of that city. Though some think Jerusalem was twice taken; once in Joshua’s lifetime; and being afterwards recovered by the Canaanites, was now retaken by the children of Judah.
And afterward the children of Judah went down to fight against the Canaanites, that dwelt in the mountain, and in the south, and in the valley.No text from Poole on this verse.
And Judah went against the Canaanites that dwelt in Hebron: (now the name of Hebron before was Kirjatharba:) and they slew Sheshai, and Ahiman, and Talmai.Judah went, under the conduct of Caleb, as it is recorded, Joshua 15:11, &c.; for that relation, and this here following, are doubtless one and the same expedition and war, as appears by all the circumstances; and it is mentioned either there by anticipation, or here by repetition. Of this and the following verses, see the notes there.
And from thence he went against the inhabitants of Debir: and the name of Debir before was Kirjathsepher:No text from Poole on this verse.
And Caleb said, He that smiteth Kirjathsepher, and taketh it, to him will I give Achsah my daughter to wife.No text from Poole on this verse.
And Othniel the son of Kenaz, Caleb's younger brother, took it: and he gave him Achsah his daughter to wife.No text from Poole on this verse.
And it came to pass, when she came to him, that she moved him to ask of her father a field: and she lighted from off her ass; and Caleb said unto her, What wilt thou?No text from Poole on this verse.
And she said unto him, Give me a blessing: for thou hast given me a south land; give me also springs of water. And Caleb gave her the upper springs and the nether springs.No text from Poole on this verse.
And the children of the Kenite, Moses' father in law, went up out of the city of palm trees with the children of Judah into the wilderness of Judah, which lieth in the south of Arad; and they went and dwelt among the people.Children of the Kenite, i.e. of Jethro, so called from the people from whom he descended, Numbers 24:21,22. And whatsoever he did, it is evident that his posterity came into Canaan with the Israelites, and were there seated with them. See Judges 4:11,17 5:24 1 Samuel 15:6 1 Chronicles 2:55.
Out of the city of palm trees, i.e. from Jericho, so called Deu 34:3; not the city, which was utterly destroyed; but the territory belonging to it, where it seems they were seated as in a most pleasant, and fruitful, and safe place, according to the promise made by Moses to their father, Numbers 10:31,32, and whence they might remove, either to avoid the society or molestation of the neighbouring Canaanites; or out of love to the children of Judah, whom they went to; or to avoid temptations to luxury, and exercise themselves in self-denial and contempt of the present evil world, and the lusts thereof; as may be thought from Jeremiah 35:6, &c.; or for some other cause unknown to us at this distance.
In the south of Arad; in the southern part of the land of Canaan, where Arad was, Numbers 21:1.
They went, i.e. some of them, for others of them dwelt in the contrary quarter, in the most northern part of the land.
Among the people, Heb. that people, to wit, those children of Judah that lived there.
And Judah went with Simeon his brother, and they slew the Canaanites that inhabited Zephath, and utterly destroyed it. And the name of the city was called Hormah.Judah went with Simeon his brother, according to his promise, Judges 1:3, and the laws of justice and gratitude.
1. The same place so destroyed and called, Numbers 21:3, and so what was there vowed is here executed; or,
2. Some other place called by the same name upon the like occasion, which was frequent among the Hebrews. This seems more probable,
1. Because this was but one city, that divers cities, Numbers 21:2,3.
2. Because that seems to have been done in Moses’s time, though interpreters generally think otherwise; of which see my notes there.
Also Judah took Gaza with the coast thereof, and Askelon with the coast thereof, and Ekron with the coast thereof.The principal cities of the Philistines.
Quest. How could this be, when among the people left to try Israel, are the five lords of the Philistines, Judges 3:3.
Answ. It is only said that they took the cities, and probably contented themselves with making them tributary; but it is not said that they slew the people, as they ought to have done, and as it is said of the other cities here, Judges 1:5,8,17,25. And the people being thus spared, did by God’s just judgement recover their strength, and expel the Jews out of their cities, as we find afterwards. It is further observable, that Ekron here taken was one of Dan’s cities, Joshua 19:43, and it was attempted and taken here by Judah and Simeon, partly out of love to their brother Dan, and partly to secure their new conquests, and other adjoining territories, from such potent neighbours.
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.On account of their unbelief, whereby they doubted and distrusted God’s power to destroy those who had chariots of iron and so gave way to their own fear and sloth, whereby God was provoked to withdraw his helping hand from them, and so they were really made impotent, as they were unwilling. See Joshua 17:16.
And they gave Hebron unto Caleb, as Moses said: and he expelled thence the three sons of Anak.Above mentioned Judges 1:20
And the children of Benjamin did not drive out the Jebusites that inhabited Jerusalem; but the Jebusites dwell with the children of Benjamin in Jerusalem unto this day.No text from Poole on this verse.
And the house of Joseph, they also went up against Bethel: and the LORD was with them.The house of Joseph, i.e. the tribe of Ephraim, as appears from their opposition to the tribe of Manasseh, Judges 1:27.
And the house of Joseph sent to descry Bethel. (Now the name of the city before was Luz.)No text from Poole on this verse.
And the spies saw a man come forth out of the city, and they said unto him, Shew us, we pray thee, the entrance into the city, and we will shew thee mercy.The entrance into the city; on which side it is weakest, that we may best invade and take it.
And when he shewed them the entrance into the city, they smote the city with the edge of the sword; but they let go the man and all his family.Together with his estate, as the following verse manifests.
And the man went into the land of the Hittites, and built a city, and called the name thereof Luz: which is the name thereof unto this day.The land of the Hittites; where the Hittites seated themselves after they were driven out of Canaan, which seems to be northward from Canaan, and near unto it. See 1 Kings 11:1 2 Chronicles 1:17.
Neither did Manasseh drive out the inhabitants of Bethshean and her towns, nor Taanach and her towns, nor the inhabitants of Dor and her towns, nor the inhabitants of Ibleam and her towns, nor the inhabitants of Megiddo and her towns: but the Canaanites would dwell in that land.Manasseh, i.e. that half of this tribe which dwelt in Canaan.
Beth-shean; a place near Jordan, Joshua 17:11.
Taanach; of which see Joshua 12:21 17:11.
Dor; a great city with large territories. See Joshua 11:2 12:23 Joshua 17:11.
Megiddo; a royal city. See Joshua 12:21 17:11.
And it came to pass, when Israel was strong, that they put the Canaanites to tribute, and did not utterly drive them out.No text from Poole on this verse.
Neither did Ephraim drive out the Canaanites that dwelt in Gezer; but the Canaanites dwelt in Gezer among them.Which they possessed till Solomon’s time.
Neither did Zebulun drive out the inhabitants of Kitron, nor the inhabitants of Nahalol; but the Canaanites dwelt among them, and became tributaries.No text from Poole on this verse.
Neither did Asher drive out the inhabitants of Accho, nor the inhabitants of Zidon, nor of Ahlab, nor of Achzib, nor of Helbah, nor of Aphik, nor of Rehob:No text from Poole on this verse.
But the Asherites dwelt among the Canaanites, the inhabitants of the land: for they did not drive them out.No text from Poole on this verse.
Neither did Naphtali drive out the inhabitants of Bethshemesh, nor the inhabitants of Bethanath; but he dwelt among the Canaanites, the inhabitants of the land: nevertheless the inhabitants of Bethshemesh and of Bethanath became tributaries unto them.Beth-shemesh; a place differing from that Beth-shemesh, Joshua 15:10.
And the Amorites forced the children of Dan into the mountain: for they would not suffer them to come down to the valley:Into the plain country; which was the occasion of that expedition for the getting of new quarters; of which we read Jos 19 Jud 18.
But the Amorites would dwell in mount Heres in Aijalon, and in Shaalbim: yet the hand of the house of Joseph prevailed, so that they became tributaries.Of the house of Joseph, i.e. of the Ephraimites, who helped their brethren the Danites against the Amorites, and that with good success.
And the coast of the Amorites was from the going up to Akrabbim, from the rock, and upward.Akrabbim was in the southern part of Canaan, Joshua 15:2,3, from whence it went up towards the north. This is added to show the great power and large extent of this people.