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Bible Commentaries
Judges 1

Kretzmann's Popular Commentary of the BibleKretzmann's Commentary

Verses 1-20

Overthrow of Various Enemies

v. 1. Now, after the death of Joshua, which was related in the last chapter of the Book of Joshua, it came to pass, as the author states in taking up the thread of the narrative, that the children of Israel asked the Lord, through the Urim and Thummim of the high priest, Numbers 27:21, saying, Who shall go up for us against the Canaanites first to fight against them? Joshua had very emphatically enjoined upon them the extermination of the tribes of Canaan which still remained, and therefore the question of the representatives of the entire nation was who it was to be that should initiate the aggressive measures, to which tribe the leadership had been assigned in beginning the final conquest of the land.

v. 2. And the Lord said, Judah shall go up, for this tribe had been made the leader and champion of Israel even by the blessing of Jacob, Genesis 49:8-10; behold, I have delivered the land into his hand. As it pleased the Lord to receive the inquiry of the people in this manner, so He gave the promise of His divine assistance in the coming struggle.

v. 3. And Judah said unto Simeon, his brother, the tribe having its cities in the midst of the possession of Judah, Joshua 19:1-9, Come up with me into my lot, share my lot with me, join forces with me in this undertaking, that we may fight against the Canaanites; and I likewise will go with thee into thy lot, join forces with him in conquering the cities allotted to him. So Simeon went with him.

v. 4. And Judah went up, reinforced by the army of Simeon; and the Lord delivered the Canaanites and the Perizzites, who evidently had gained the necessary courage to join their forces at this time, with the purpose of ejecting the invaders, into their hand; and they slew of them in Bezek, a place not yet definitely identified, ten thousand men.

v. 5. And they found Adoni-bezek, the leader of the heathen forces, in Bezek; they met his armies there, having been informed of their presence and of their hostile intention; and they fought against him, and they slew the Canaanites and the Perizzites.

v. 6. And Adoni-bezek fled; and they pursued after him, and caught him, and cut off his thumbs and great toes, making it impossible for him to use his bow or to escape.

v. 7. And Adoni-bezek said, Threescore and ten kings, having their thumbs and their great toes cut off, gathered their meat under my table; after mutilating them in this manner, he had forced them to pick up their food under his table, where he threw them scraps as he might have done to hungry dogs. As I have done, so God hath requited me; he realized and confessed that he was but receiving his just deserts, that the tribe of Judah simply recompensed him by the direction of God. And they, apparently his own servants, brought him to Jerusalem, for which reason some commentators think that this was his home, and there he died, under the just punishment of God.

v. 8. Now the children of Judah had fought against Jerusalem, literally, "And there fought the sons of Judah against Jerusalem"; for they followed up the advantage which they had gained and attacked the city which sheltered Adoni-bezek, and had taken it, and smitten it with the edge of the sword, and set the city on fire. Thus the power of this king was definitely broken, although the army of Judah did not take, or retain possession of, the city at this time, probably because they expected the tribe of Benjamin to occupy the stronghold.

v. 9. And afterward, after the taking of Jerusalem, the children of Judah, with their allies, went down to fight against the Canaanites that dwelt in the mountain, in the highland of Judah, and in the south, the steppes toward the southeast and south, and in the valley, the lowland in the west, including Philistia.

v. 10. And Judah went against the canaanites that dwelt in Hebron, under the leadership of Caleb; (now the name of Hebron before was Kirjath-arba;) and they slew Sheshai, and Ahiman, and Talmai, the three sons of Anak; for after the first conquest of the city by Joshua the Anakim had reoccupied it.

v. 11. And from thence he went against the inhabitants of Debir, a city some ten miles southwest of Hebron; and the name of Debir before was Kirjath-sepher;

v. 12. and Caleb said, He that smiteth Kirjath-sepher and taketh it, to him will I give Achsah, my daughter, to wife.

v. 13. And Othniel, the son of Kenaz, Caleb's younger brother, took it; and he gave him Achsah, his daughter, to wife.

v. 14. 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?

v. 15. 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. This paragraph, which agrees exactly with Joshua 15:14-19, is here repeated to make the zeal of Caleb, the unselfishness of Othniel, and the prudence of Achsah points of instruction. "The thing to be especially noted, however, is the firmness of Othniel in resisting his wife's enticement to make requests which it is more becoming in her to make. Not many men have so well withstood the ambitious and eagerly craving projects of their wives. " (Lange. )

v. 16. And the children of the Kenite, Moses' father-in-law, whom Moses had apparently persuaded to join Israel, Numbers 10:29-32, went up out of the city of palm trees, Jericho, Deuteronomy 34:3, with the children of Judah into the wilderness of Judah, which lieth in the south of Arad, a district about eight hours south of Hebron, whose king had attacked Israel during the march through the wilderness, Numbers 21:1; and they went and dwelt among the people, in the immediate neighborhood of Judah, with whom they were allied.

v. 17. And Judah went with Simeon, his brother, according to the promise made

v. 3. and they slew the Canaanites that inhabited Zephath, on the boundary of the desert, and utterly destroyed it. And the name of the city was called Hormah, a name sometimes given to it before, but now definitely connected with it, Numbers 21:2; 1 Samuel 30:29.

v. 18. Also Judah, carrying the campaign into the land of the Philistines, took Gaza with the coast thereof, and Askelon with the coast thereof, and Ekron with the coast thereof, three city-states with the smaller towns tributary to them. These the army of Judah took by storm, in a sudden onslaught, but did not garrison them and therefore soon lost them again.

v. 19. And the Lord was with Judah, in this campaign of swift destruction; and he drave out the inhabitants of the mountain, where personal valor and strength were the chief factors in battle; but could not drive out the inhabitants of the valley, because they had chariots of iron. When it came to a contest with these engines of destruction, the faith of the soldiers of Judah failed them, causing them to abandon the duty of gaining entire mastery of the land.

v. 20. And they gave Hebron unto Caleb, as Moses said, this taking place after the completion of the conquest, when the entire tribe entered upon its possessions; and he expelled thence the three sons of Anak. Thus the aged hero received the gift which had been promised him. Everyone who takes part in the suffering and in the fighting of the people of God will in the end take part in the glorious heritage of the children of God.

Verses 21-36

Various Heathen Left in Canaan

v. 21. And the children of Benjamin did not drive out the Jebusites that inhabited Jerusalem, who returned to the city as soon as the armies of Judah and Simeon marched southward; but the Jebusites dwell with the children of Benjamin in Jerusalem unto this day. This notice is here inserted partly to show that the conquered city did not remain in the hands of Israel, partly to indicate that Judah had no intention of permanently occupying a city allotted to Benjamin.

v. 22. And the house of Joseph, the Manassites and Ephraimite, they also went up against Bethel, a strongly fortified city, whose men had marched to the assistance of Ai, Joshua 8:17; and the Lord was with them.

v. 23. And the house of Joseph sent to descry Bethel, a scouting party. (Now the name of the city before was Luz, namely, in ancient times, when the country was still in the hands of the Canaanites. ) "As Jebus indicated particularly the fortress, Jerusalem the city although the latter name also embraced both, so a similar relation must be assumed to have existed between Bethel and Luz. Otherwise the border of Benjamin could not have run south of Luz, Joshua 18:13, while nevertheless Bethel was reckoned among the cities of Benjamin, Joshua 18:22. " (Lange. ) It was thus the old section of the city, the fortress part, against which the expedition was directed.

v. 24. And the spies saw a man come forth out of the city, after they had vainly sought a suitable place for a successful assault, and they said unto him, Show us, we pray thee, the entrance into the city, some way of entering it unawares, and we will show thee mercy, spare him and his family as a reward for this assistance.

v. 25. And when he showed them the entrance into the city, apparently some hidden passage, thus making it unnecessary to storm the city, they smote the city, all the inhabitants, with the edge of the sword; but they let go the man and all his family; he, like Rahab, saved the life of his entire family by his service to the army of the Lord.

v. 26. And the man went into the land of the Hittites, very likely in the mountains of the north or in Phenicia, and built a city, and called the name thereof Luz; which is the name thereof unto this day.

v. 27. Neither did Manasseh drive out the inhabitants of Beth-shean and her towns, on the border of the Jordan Valley, nor Taanach and her towns, farther to the west in the Plain of Esdraelon, nor the inhabitants of Dor and her towns, on the coast of the Mediterranean, nor the inhabitants of Ibleam and her towns, nor the inhabitants of Megiddo and her towns, these two also being located in the beautiful Plain of Jezreel; but the Canaanites would dwell in that land, accepting the proposals or conditions of the conquerors.

v. 28. And it came to pass, when Israel was strong, that they put the Canaanites to tribute, this being true of all the tribes in general, and did not utterly drive them out. The children of Israel disregarded the command to exterminate the Canaanites, even when they were in a position to carry it out.

v. 29. Neither did Ephraim drive out the Canaanites that dwelt in Gezer, a town four or five miles east of the present Joppa or Jeffa; but the Canaanites dwelt in Gezer among them.

v. 30. Neither did Zebulun drive out the inhabitants of Kitron nor the inhabitants of Nahalol; but the Canaanites dwelt among them and became tributaries, while they occupied their pastures and meadows.

v. 31. Neither did Asher drive out the inhabitants of Accho, on the coast of the Mediterranean, north of Carmel, nor the inhabitants of Zidon, the ancient capital of Philistia, nor of Ahlab, nor of Achzib, nor of Helbah, nor of Aphik, nor of Rehob, all of these in the foothills of the Lebanon or on the Phenician coast;

v. 32. but the Asherites dwelt among the Canaanites, the inhabitants of the land; for they did not drive them out.

v. 33. Neither did Naphtali drive out the inhabitants of Beth-shemesh nor the inhabitants of Beth-anath; but he dwelt among the Canaanites, the inhabitants of the land; nevertheless the inhabitants of Beth-shemesh and of Beth-anath became tributaries unto them.

v. 34. And the Amorites, in the lower part of the Plain of Sharon, along the Mediterranean, forced the children of Dan into the mountain; for they would not sulfer them to come down to the valley;

v. 35. but the Amorites would dwell in Mount Heres in Aijalon, and in Shaalbim, since they were provided with all the appliances of military art and had resisted even Judah; yet the hand of the house of Joseph prevailed, rested very heavily upon the Amorites, so that they became tributaries.

v. 36. And the coast of the Amorites, at the time of the conquest of the land, was from the going up to Akrabbim, from the rock, and upward, from the Scorpion-height in the southeast over to the extreme southwest, where the mountains arise that fringe the Wilderness of Zin. From this entire country they had been driven and now retained only a small part of the Mediterranean lowland, just north of Philistia. The history, as here presented, has many analogies in the spiritual field. Many a Christian who started out with a willing mind has become weary of the continual battle, has permitted the enemies to reoccupy lost territory, and so has lost everything he had gained.

Bibliographical Information
Kretzmann, Paul E. Ph. D., D. D. "Commentary on Judges 1". "Kretzmann's Popular Commentary". https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/kpc/judges-1.html. 1921-23.
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