Judges 1
Pulpit 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?
Verse 1. - After the death of Joshua. The events narrated in chs. 1. and Deuteronomy 2:1-9 all occurred before the death of Joshua, as appears by Judges 2:8, 9, and by a comparison of Joshua 14:6-15 and Joshua 15:13-20. The words, and it came to pass after the death of Joshua, must therefore be understood (if the text is incorrupt) as the heading of the whole book, just as the Book of Joshua has for its heading, "Now after the death of Moses the servant of the Lord it came to pass." Asked the Lord. The same phrase as Judges 18:5; Judges 20:18, where it is rendered asked counsel of. So also Numbers 27:21, where a special direction is given to Joshua to make such inquiries as that mentioned in this verse before Eleazar the priest, through the judgment of Urim and Thummim (cf. 1 Samuel 23:10, 12). A still more common rendering of the Hebrew phrase in the A.V. is "to inquire of God" (see, e.g. Judges 20:27, 28; 1 Samuel 22:13, 15; 1 Samuel 23:2, 4; 1 Samuel 28:6, and many other places). Such inquiries were made

(1) by Urim and Thummin,

(2) by the word of the Lord through a prophet (1 Samuel 9:9), or

(3) simply by prayer, (Genesis 25:22), and improperly of false gods (2 Kings 1:2, 16), of teraphim, and semi-idolatrous priests (Judges 18:5, 14).
And the LORD said, Judah shall go up: behold, I have delivered the land into his hand.
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.
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.
And they found Adonibezek in Bezek: and they fought against him, and they slew the Canaanites and the Perizzites.
Verse 5. - Bezek. The site of it is unknown; it is thought to be a different place from the Bezek of 1 Samuel 11:8. Adoni-bezek means the lord of Bezek. He was the conqueror of seventy petty kings.
But Adonibezek fled; and they pursued after him, and caught him, and cut off his thumbs and his great toes.
Verse 6. - Cut off his thumbs, etc. These cruel mutilations, like the still more cruel one of putting out the eyes (Judges 16:21; Numbers 16:14; 1 Samuel 11:2; 2 Kings 25:7), were intended to cripple the warrior in his speed, and to incapacitate hint from the use of the bow, or sword, or spear, while yet sparing his life, either in mercy, or for the purpose of retaining his services for the conqueror.

CHAPTER 1:8-20
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.
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.
Verse 8. - Read Fought against Jerusalem, and took it, and smote it. It is the continuation of the narrative of the exploits of Judah and Simeon in conquering their respective lots.
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.
Verse 9. - The valley, i.e. the Shephelah, or lowlands, between the mountains and the coast of the Mediterranean, occupied by the Philistines.
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.
Verse 10. - Hebron See Numbers 13:22; Joshua 14:13-15; Joshua 15:13-19. Hebron was the burial-place of Abraham and Sarah (Genesis 23:2, etc.; Genesis 25:9), of Isaac and Rebekah, and of Jacob and Leah (Genesis 35:27-29; Genesis 49:31; Genesis 50:13), and the mosque, within whose massive walls the tombs of Abraham and the other four above mentioned are still preserved with the utmost reverence, is the most remarkable object in the modern city, which is called El-Khalil (the friend), after Abraham, the friend of God. A very interesting account of the Prince of Wales's visit to the Mosque of Hebron in 1862 is given in Dean Stanley s 'Sermons in the East.' David reigned in Hebron seven years and six mouths before he transferred the seat of power to Jerusalem (see 2 Samuel 2:1, etc.; 2 Samuel 5:1-5).
And from thence he went against the inhabitants of Debir: and the name of Debir before was Kirjathsepher:
And Caleb said, He that smiteth Kirjathsepher, and taketh it, to him will I give Achsah my daughter to wife.
And Othniel the son of Kenaz, Caleb's younger brother, took it: and he gave him Achsah his daughter to wife.
Verse 13. - Caleb's younger brother. See note on Judges 3:9.
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?
Verse 14. - She moved him, etc. There is some obscurity in this verse, which seems to tell us that Achsah, on her wedding-day, when she was going to her husband s house, persuaded him to ask of her father the field, viz. that in which the springs of water were, and which were not included in her original dower; and then goes on to tell us that Achsah herself made the request. The Septuagint reads, "Othniel urged her to ask the field of her father," and the Vulgate has, "Her husband told her to ask her father," and then it follows naturally, "and she lighted from off her ass," etc. But the Hebrew reading may be right, and it may be that when her husband, brave in storming a city, but timid in asking a favour, hung back, she, with the tenacious will of a woman, sprang off the ass herself, and successfully preferred her request. Dean Stanley identifies (though not with absolute certainty) the "field thus obtained by Achsah with an unusually green valley amidst the dry, barren hills of the south country, lying south or west of Hebron, called Wady Nuukur, through which Caleb and Achsah must have ridden on their way from Hebron to Debir, or Kirjath-sepher. This valley breaks into a precipitous and still greener ravine, and both the upper and lower pastures are watered by a clear, bubbling rivulet, which rises in the upper meadow, and flows to the bottom of the ravine below. The name of a village, Dewir, seems to represent the ancient Debir.
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.
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.
Verse 16. - The children of the Kenite, etc. It appears from this verse that the invitation given by Moses to his "father-in-law," or rather "brother-in-law," Hobab, to accompany him and the Israelites to the land of promise, though at first rejected (Numbers 10:29, 30), was eventually accepted. Hobab and his tribe, a branch of the Midianites, called Kenites, from an unknown ancestor, Kain, at first settled in the city of palm trees, i.e. Jericho (Deuteronomy 34:3); but it seems that when Judah started on his expedition with Simeon to conquer the south laud, the Kenites went with him. A subsequent migration of a portion of this nomadic tribe is mentioned (Judges 4:11). Dwelt among the people, i.e. the people of Judah. For Arad see Numbers 21:1.
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.
Verse 17. - Judah went with Simeon. In ver. 3 Simeon went with Judah, because the places which follow were all in Judah's lot; but now we read, Judah went with Simeon, because Zephath or Hormah was in Simeon's lot (Joshua 19:4). For Hormah, identified by Robinson (2:181) with Es-sufeh, see Numbers 21:3. The Hebrew verb for "they utterly destroyed" is the root of the name Hormah, i.e. utter destruction.
Also Judah took Gaza with the coast thereof, and Askelon with the coast thereof, and Ekron with the coast thereof.
Verse 18. - Gaza, etc. Gaza, Askelon, and Ekron, were all cities of the Philistines. But though Judah took these cities, it seems he was not able permanently to expel the inhabitants.
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.
Verse 19. - Chariots of iron. The chariots of the Canaanites were very formidable to the Israelites, who had no means of coping with them. Thus we are told of Jabin, king of Canaan, who reigned in Hazer, that he had 900 chariots of iron, and mightily oppressed the children of Israel. They were later an important part of King Solomon's army (1 Kings 10:26). See too Joshua 17:16.
And they gave Hebron unto Caleb, as Moses said: and he expelled thence the three sons of Anak.
Verse 20. - They gave Hebron, etc. Caleb, the son of Jephunneh, the Kenezite, an Edomitish tribe, was one of the spies sent up to spy the land, and in doing so he came to Hebron, and there saw the giants, the sons of Anak (Numbers 13:22). When all the spies brought up an evil report of the land, and by doing so raised a rebellion against Moses and Aaron, Caleb the Kenezite, alone with Joshua, stood firm, and, as a reward of his faithfulness, received the promise that he and his seed should possess the land on which his feet had trodden. Accordingly Hebron became the inheritance of Caleb the Kenezite (see Numbers 13, 14; Deuteronomy 1:36; Joshua 14:6-15; Joshua 15:13, 14).

CHAPTER 1:21-36
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.
Verse 21. - This verse is identical with Joshua 15:63, except that there we read "the children of Judah" instead of "the children of Benjamin," as in this verse. The boundary line between Judah and Jerusalem passed through JEBUS or JEBUSI, as Jerusalem was anciently called (see Joshua 15:8; Joshua 18:28; Judges 19:10, 11; 1 Chronicles 11:4, 5). Jebus was not finally held by the Israelites till the time of David (see Judges 19:10, note.)
And the house of Joseph, they also went up against Bethel: and the LORD was with them.
Verse 22. - The house of Joseph, i.e. Ephraim, but probably ,,here spoken of as "the house of Joseph because in the original document, from which both this chapter and Joshua 15:63, and 16, 17. are taken, the mention of "the lot of the children of Joseph" occurs, embracing both Ephraim and Manasseh. See Joshua 16:1 and Joshua 15:23, with which the twenty-first and twenty-second verses of this chapter are manifestly identical.
And the house of Joseph sent to descry Bethel. (Now the name of the city before was Luz.)
Verse 23. - Bethel, now Beitin. The name (house of God) had been given by Jacob (Genesis 28:19), but obviously would not be likely to be adopted by the Canaanitish inhabitants, by whom it was called Luz. As soon, however, as the Ephraimites conquered it, they reimposed the name, in memory of their father Jacob. The Saxon charters exhibit an analogous change in such transitions of name, as that from Bedericksworth to Bury St. Edmunds, which took place after the transfer of St. Edmund's body to the church there, the old name continuing for a time along with the new one, but at last disappearing.
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.
Verse 24. - We will show thee mercy. Compare the saving of Rahab alive, with all her house, at the taking of Jericho (Joshua 6:23). This history is not preserved in the parallel place in Joshua 16.
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.
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.
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.
And it came to pass, when Israel was strong, that they put the Canaanites to tribute, and did not utterly drive them out.
Verse 28. - Put the Canaanites to tribute, or made them tributaries, as in vers. 30, 33, i.e. imposed forced labour upon them, as the Gibeonites were made hewers of wood and drawers of water (Joshua 9:21, 27; see 1 Kings 9:21).
Neither did Ephraim drive out the Canaanites that dwelt in Gezer; but the Canaanites dwelt in Gezer among them.
Neither did Zebulun drive out the inhabitants of Kitron, nor the inhabitants of Nahalol; but the Canaanites dwelt among them, and became tributaries.
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:
But the Asherites dwelt among the Canaanites, the inhabitants of the land: for they did not drive them out.
Verse 32. - The Asherites dwelt among the Canaanites. In verses 29 and 30 it was said that the Canaanites dwelt among the Israelites; but here we read that the Asherites, and in ver. 33 that Naphtali, dwelt among the Canaanites, which seems to imply that the Canaanites were the more numerous people of the two, yet the Israelites were able to keep them in subjection.
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.
And the Amorites forced the children of Dan into the mountain: for they would not suffer them to come down to the valley:
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.
And the coast of the Amorites was from the going up to Akrabbim, from the rock, and upward.
Verse 36. - The going up to Akrabbim. See Joshua 15:3, Maaleh-acrabbim. In Numbers 34:4 "the ascent of Akrabbim." The whole name, put into English, is "the ascent, or going up, of Scorpions," a mountain pass so called from the abundance of scorpions found in the whole region. The exact locality is uncertain, but it is thought to be the pass El-Safeh, immediately to the south of the Dead Sea. The neighbourhood to Mount Hor and Petra is indicated by its connection here with "the rock," in Hebrew has-selah, which is the distinctive name of the rocks or cliffs on which Petra is built, and the name of Petra (the rock) itself. Speaking roughly, a line drawn westward from El-Safeh to the Mediterranean Sea, near the "river of Egypt," formed the southern boundary, of Judah, and of the Amorites whom they displaced. The battle with the Amorites (Deuteronomy 1:44), in which the Israelites were discomfited and pursued, is thought to have been at El-Safeh.

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