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Bible Commentaries
Judges 1

Lange's Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal and HomileticalLange's Commentary

Verses 1-2

Part First

Introductory Delineation of the Condition of Israel after the Death of Joshua; Sin, and the Judgments entailed by it, rendering the Judgeship necessary.



The Relations Of Israel Towards The Remaining Canaanites As Forming The Background Of The Ensuing History. Believing And Obedient Israel Enjoys Divine Direction And Favor, Is United Within And Victorious Without; But Faithlessness And Disobedience Lay The Foundations Of Apostasy And Servitude.


“Who shall first go up against the Canaanite?”

Judges 1:1-2

1Now [And] after the death of Joshua it came to pass, that the children [sons] of Israel asked the Lord [Jehovah],1 saying, Who shall go up for us2 against3 the Canaanites first to fight against them? 2And the Lord [Jehovah] said, Judah shall go up: behold,4 I have delivered the land into his hand.


[Judges 1:1.—The author renders: “the sons of Israel asked God;” and by way of explanation adds the following note: “Thus do we intend constantly to render יְהוָֹה, on the ground that it expresses the absolute idea of the true God in Israel. Since אֱלֹהִים is also used in connection with heathen worship, it corresponds to our ‘Godhead, Deity’ or ‘the Gods.’ ” In this translation the word Jehovah will be inserted.—Tr.]

[Judges 1:1.—מִי־יַעֲלֶה־לָּנוּ. Dr. Cassel takes לָנוּ in a partitive sense, and translates, “who of us shall go up.” It is more properly regarded as dat. commodi; for, (1.) The partitive relation, though sometimes indicated by לְ (apparently, however, only after numerals, cf. Ges. Lex. s. v. לְ, 4 b), would be more properly expressed by בְּ or מִן; and (2.) If the writer had intended to connect לָנוּ with מִי, he would not have placed the verb between them, cf. Isaiah 48:14; Judges 21:8. As it stands, the expression is a perfect grammatical parallel with Isaiah 6:8 : מִי־יֵלֶךְ־לָנוּ Moreover, לָנוּ, in the sense of בָּנוּ or מִמֶּנּוּ, adds nothing which is not already implied in the words, מִי יַעֲלֶה בַּתְּחִלָּה, “who shall first go up.” On the other hand, taken in its natural sense, as indirect object after the verb, it expresses the thought that whoever “goes first,” makes a beginning, will do it for the advantage of all. What that advantage was, may be seen from our author’s exposition of the inquiry.—Tr.]

[Judges 1:1.—אֶל, properly, towards. Dr. Cassel has gegen, which means both “towards” and “against.” The same preposition occurs in Judges 1:10-11; and though translated “against,” is not to be taken in the sense of עַל. The hostile intent in these passages is not expressed by אֶל, but appears from the context. In this verse, attention to the proper meaning of אֶל, does away with the appearance of tautology which in English the inquiry presents.—Tr.]

[Judges 1:2.—Dr. Cassel: “Wohlan! Up then!” On this rendering of הִנֵּה, cf. the foot-note on p. 26.—Tr.]


Judges 1:1. And after the death of Joshua it came to pass. This commencement corresponds entirely with that of Joshua, Judges 1:1׃ “and after the death of Moses, the servant of Jehovah, it came to pass.” On account of this correspondence the usual addition, “the son of Nun,” but also the designation “servant of Jehovah,” elsewhere applied to Joshua (Joshua 24:29; Judges 2:8), is omitted. A similar correspondence exists between Joshua 24:29, and Deuteronomy 34:5. Wherever Joshua is compared with Moses, care is taken to indicate at the same time the important difference between them. Joshua also is a “servant of Jehovah,” but not in the same high sense as his master. Joshua also died, but not like Moses “through the mouth of Jehovah” (עַל־פִּי יְהוָֹה). Moses was clothed with the authority of origination and establishment. He had been the Father (cf. Numbers 11:12), the Priest (Exodus 24:8), the sole Regent (Numbers 16:13), and Judge (Exodus 18:16), of his tribes. He transferred the priesthood from himself to Aaron (Exodus 28:1); he selected those who assisted him in deciding minor lawsuits (Exodus 18:21; Numbers 11:17). He took seventy men of the “elders of the people,” to bear with him the burden of governing the tribes (Numbers 11:16); he imparted of his own honor to Joshua, that the congregation of Israel might obey him (Numbers 27:20.) With the death of Moses the work of legislation is closed.

After him, Joshua exercises the authority of government and direction. By his deeds he gains for himself respect among the people, like that which Moses had (Joshua 1:5; Joshua 1:17; Joshua 4:14; Joshua 17:4; Joshua 18:3); similar wonders arc wrought through him: but he executes only inherited commands; his task demands the energy of obedience. Moses had always been named before Aaron (Moses and Aaron);5 but when Joshua and the Priest were named together, Eleazar stood first. (Thus, Numbers 34:17; Joshua 14:1; Joshua 17:4; Joshua 19:51; Joshua 21:1). When Moses lived, the priesthood received their commands through him; after his death, Joshua received support and aid through the Priest (Numbers 27:21). In accordance with this, we must understand what is said, Joshua 1:1, namely, that “the Lord spake unto Joshua.” For henceforth “there arose not a prophet like unto Moses.” That which Moses was, could not repeat itself in any other person. Joshua, therefore, was only the reflection of a part of the power of Moses; but as such he had conducted the first historical act of fulfillment demanded by the Mosaic law. The conquest of Canaan was the necessary presupposition of the Mosaic system. Israel, having been liberated, received a national homestead. When Joshua died, the division of the land among the tribes was completed. With the death of Moses the spirit revealed in the law enters upon its course through the history of the world. With the departure of Joshua, the national development of Israel in Canaan commences. The position of Moses was unique, and like that of a father, could not be refilled. When he dies, the heir assumes the house and its management. This heir was not Joshua, but the people itself. Joshua was only a temporary continuator of the Mosaic authority, specially charged with the seizure of the land. He was but the executive arm of Moses for the conquest (מְשָׁרֵת, “minister,” Joshua 1:1). His personality is inseparable from that of Moses. As Elijah’s spirit does not wholly depart from the nation until Elisha’s death, so the personal conduct and guidance of the people by Moses do not entirely cease until the death of Joshua. Joshua’s activity is just as unique as that of his teacher. He is no lawgiver, but neither is he a king or judge, as were others who came after him. He is the servant of Jehovah, inasmuch as he is the minister of Moses. The correspondence between Judges 1:1 and Joshua 1:1, is therefore a very profound one. The death of the men, which these verses respectively record, gave rise to the occurrences that follow.

The sons of Israel asked Jehovah. Literally: “And it came to pass ….and the sons of Israel asked,” etc. The first “and” (ו) introduces the cause,6 the second the consequence. It is moreover intimated that the consequence is speedy in coming, follows its cause without any interval. The translation might have been: “And it came to pass … that the sons of Israel immediately asked;” or, “Scarcely had Joshua died, when the sons of Israel,” etc. It lies in the nature of the Hebrew copula, that when it introduces a consequence, it also marks it as closely connected with its antecedent in point of time. The Greeks and Romans made similar use of καὶ and et. Cf. the line of Virgil (Æneid, iii. 9): Vix prima inceperat œstas, et pater Anchises dare fatis vela jubebat. The Hebrew idiom has also passed over into the Greek of the New Testament, cf. Luke 2:21; καὶ ὅτε ἐπλήςθησαν ἡμέραι ὀκτὼ .… καὶ ἐκλήθη, etc.: “and the child was eight days old, when forthwith it was named Jesus,” where the Gothic version likewise retains the double yah, “and.” This brings out the more definite sense, both in the parallel passage, Joshua 1:1, and here. Scarcely had Moses died, if the idea there, when God spake to Joshua. The government of Israel was not for a moment to be interrupted. Scarcely was Joshua dead, when the sons of Israel asked Jehovah. As Joshua succeeded Moses in the chief direction of affairs, so the congregation of the children of Israel succeeded Joshua. The representatives of this congregation, as appears from Joshua 24:31 and Judges 2:7, an the Elders (זְקֵנִים). Jewish tradition, accordingly, makes the spiritual doctrine pass from Moses to Joshua, and from Joshua to the Elders. These Elders are the seventy men chosen by Moses (Numbers 11:16) to assist him in bearing the burden of the people. The term “Elder,” it is true, is applied to every authority among the people, especially civil. “Elders,” as representatives of the people, are witnesses of the wonders of God in the desert (Exodus 17:5). The “Elders” are Judges 7:0 (Deuteronomy 22:16); the civil authorities of each city are “Elders” (Deuteronomy 25:7). “Seventy of the Elders,” with Moses and the priests, behold the glory of God (Exodus 24:1, seq.). The שֹׁטְרִים, shoterim, officers charged with executive and police duties, become “Elders” as soon as they execute the regulations of Moses among the people (Exodus 12:21). The seventy Elders who assisted Moses in bearing the burden that pressed upon him must, therefore, be distinguished from the authorities of the several tribes and cities. They represent the whole nation. As such, they unite with Moses, at the close of his career, in commanding the people to keep the law, and after passing the Jordan to erect a memorial of great stones (Deuteronomy 27:1-2). During the regency of Joshua, the authorities and representatives of the people, beside the priests and Levites, consist of Elders, heads of tribes, judges, and magistrates (shoterim). Such is the enumeration after the conquest of Ai, and particularly in Joshua 23:2, where, in order to give his last instructions to Israel, Joshua calls all the representatives of the people together. Again, in Joshua 24:1, it is stated that Joshua “called for the Elders of Israel, and for their heads, judges, and magistrates.” If no distinction were intended here, it had been sufficient to say, “elders and heads;” for judges and magistrates were also “elders.” But he called together the national representatives and those of the several tribes, like two “Houses” or “Chambers.” The tribal representatives and authorities he dismisses; but the “Elders,” who belong to all the tribes in common, remain near him, as they had been near Moses. These, therefore are they who, when Joshua dies, step into his place. As on him, so on them, there had been put of the spirit that was on Moses (Numbers 11:17). They quickly and zealously undertake the government. They determine to begin at once where Joshua stopped, to make war on the nations who have not yet been conquered, though their lands have been assigned to the several tribes (Joshua 23:4). Joshua is scarcely dead, before the Elders inquire of God.8

No father ever cared for his children as Moses, under divine direction, cared for his people. Who, then, when he is gone, shall determine what the people are or are not to undertake? The answer to this question is recorded Numbers 27:21 : After the death of Moses, Joshua is to stand before Eleazar the priest, inquire of him after the judgment of Urim from Jehovah, and according to his answer they shall go out and come in. That Joshua ever did this, the book which bears his name nowhere records. It is characteristic of his exceptional position, as bound by the word and directions of Moses, that the word of God comes directly to him, although he ranks after Eleazar the priest. But this is not the position of the congregation of Israel; and hence the provision made by Moses for Joshua now formally becomes of force. For the first time since Numbers 27:21, we find here the word שָׁאַל with בְּ, in the signification “to inquire of Jehovah;” for the שָׁאל בּאוּרִים of that passage and the שָׁאל בּיהוָֹה of this are equivalent expressions. Inquiries put to the Urim and Thummim were answered by none but God. In the sublime organism of the Mosaic law every internal thought, every spiritual truth, presents itself in the form of an external action, a visible symbol. Urim and Thummim (Light and Purity) lie in the breast-plate on the heart of the priest, when he enters into the sanctuary (Exodus 28:30). They lie on the heart; but that which is inquired after, receives its solution from the Spirit of God in the heart of the priest. Consequently, although in the locus classicus (Numbers 27:21), the expression is, “to inquire of the Urim,” here and elsewhere in the Book of Judges it is always, “and they inquired of Jehovah.” The Greeks also used the expression ἑρωτᾶν τὸν θεόν for “inquiring of the oracle,” cf. Xenoph., Mem., viii. 3). The Urim also were an oracle, and a priest announced the word of God. The God of Israel, however, does not speak in riddles (Numbers 12:8), but in clear and definite responses. Israel asks:—

Who of us9 shall first go up against the Canaanite to fight against him? The word “go up” is not to be taken altogether literally. The Hebrew עָלָה, here and frequently answers in signification to the Greek ἐφορμᾶν, Latin aggredi. It means to advance to the attack, but conceives the defense as made from a higher level. The point and justification of the inquiry lies in the word “first.” The question is not whether aggressive measures shall or shall not be adopted, but which of the tribes shall initiate them. Hitherto, Moses, and after him, Joshua have directed the movements of the people. Under Joshua, moreover, all the tribes united in common warfare. All for one, each for all. The general war is at an end; the land is divided, the tribes have had their territories assigned them. Now each single tribe must engage the enemies still settled within its borders. This was another, very difficult task. It was a test of the strength and moral endurance of the several tribes. The general war of conquest under Joshua did not come into collision with the joy of possession and rest, for these had as yet no existence But after the dispersion of the tribes such a common war, under one leadership, was no longer practicable. It may also have appeared unwise that all the tribes should be engaged in general and simultaneous action within their several territories. Had one tribe been defeated, the others would not have been in a position to assist it. The question there fore concerned the honor and duty of the first attack. As yet no tribe held any definite priority of rank. For the sake of peace and right, it was left with God to determine who should first go up to fight against the inhabitants of the land, to grind them, as the word used expresses it, and thus deprive them of that power for evil which as nations they possessed. The signification “to war” of לָחַם, is illustrated by the meaning “to eat,” which it also has. The terrible work of war is like the action of the teeth on bread, it tears and grinds its object. Hence the Greek μάχαιρα, knife, belongs to μάχομαι, to fight, just as the Hebrew מַאֲכֶלֶת, knife, belongs to אָכל, to eat.

Judges 1:2. And Jehovah said, Judah shall go up. Judah takes a prominent position among the sons of Jacob, even in the lifetime of their father The misdemeanors of his elder brethren favor this. It is he who saves Joseph from the pit in which the wrath of the others designed him to perish; and who, by suggesting his sale into Egypt, paves the way for the wonderful destinies which that land has in store for Israel. He is capable of confessing his sins (Genesis 38:26). He pledges himself to Jacob for the safe return of Benjamin, and him the patriarch trusts. He, also, in the hour of peril, speaks the decisive word to the yet unrecognized Joseph (Genesis 44:18); and, although he bows himself before Joseph, the blessing of Jacob nevertheless says of him (Genesis 49:8 ff.): “Thy brethren praise thee; the sceptre shall not depart from Judah.” The tribe of Judah holds the same prominent position. It is the most numerous tribe. At the first census (Numbers 2:0), its military strength is greater than that of both the tribes of Joseph. In the desert, it leads the first of the four encampments,—that, namely, which faces the east (Numbers 2:3).10 It began the decampment and advance (Numbers 10:14). Among those appointed by Moses to allot the land, the representative of Judah is named first (Numbers 34:19); and hence when the allotment was actually made under Joshua, the lot of Judah came out first (Joshua 15:1).

But the tribe of Judah had yet other merits, by reason of which it took the initiative on the present occasion. When Moses sent twelve men to reconnoitre the land, one man from each tribe, the messengers of Judah and Ephraim alone, full of faith and courage, sought to awaken within the people a spirit pleasing to God. The messenger of Ephraim was Joshua, the son of Nun, the minister of Moses; the representative of Judah was Caleb. Both obtained great credit for their conduct. Joshua became the successor of Moses. When Joshua died, Caleb still lived. The great respect which he enjoyed, as head of the tribe of Judah, and on account of the approbation of Moses, may also be inferred from Jos 14:6.11

Up then! I have delivered the land into his hand. “Up then,” the address of encouragement: agite, macte!12 Judah may boldly attack—victory is certain. Caleb stands at the head of the tribe. He has already been assured of victory by Moses (Numbers 14:24; Joshua 14:9). Josephus (Ant. v. 2, 1) calls the priest who officiates Phinehas. He infers this from Joshua 24:33, where the death of Eleazar is recorded. According to Jewish tradition, Phinehas also wrote the conclusion of the Book of Joshua.


Judges 1:1. Israel is believing and obedient after the death of Joshua. Like a child after the death of its father, it has the best intentions. It is zealous to perform, with speed and vigor, the task imposed by Joshua. As directed by the law (Numbers 27:21), it inquires of God through His priest, the appointed medium for announcing His will. The recollection of benefits received from the departed hero, and the feelings of piety toward him, are still exerting their influence. So does many a child finish the period of instruction preparatory to confirmation, with a heart zealously resolved to be pious. Many a Christian comes away from an awakening sermon with resolutions of repentance. Principium fervet. First love is full of glowing zeal. To begin well is never without a blessing. The best inheritance is to continue obedient toward God.

Starke: God gives more than we seek from him.—Gerlach: Not even the task which had been imposed on each individual tribe, will they take in hand, without having inquired of the Lord concerning it.

Judges 1:2 God therefore vouchsafes direction and promise. Judah is to go before. When Israel is believing and obedient, Judah always goes before (Genesis 49:10): in the desert, at the head of the host; after the time of the Judges, when David sits upon the throne of Israel; and finally, when the Lion of the tribe of Judah conquers the last enemy, which is death.

Starke: If we also desire to war against our spiritual Canaanites, the first attack must be made, and the war must be conducted, by Christ Jesus, the Lion of the tribe of Judah (Revelation 5:5).

Lisco: The words, “I have delivered the land,” are meant prophetically; with God that which is certain in the future is as if it were present.

[Bush (combining Scott and Henry): The precedency was given to Judah because it was the most numerous, powerful, and valiant of all the tribes, and that which the Lord designed should possess the preëminence in all respects, as being the one from which the Messiah was to spring, and for that reason crowned with the“excellency of dignity” above all its fellows. Judah therefore must lead in this perilous enterprise; for God not only appoints service according to the strength and ability He has given, but “would also have the burden of honor and the burden of labor go together.” Those who have the precedency in rank, reputation, or influence, should always be disposed to go before others in every good work, undismayed by danger, difficulty, or obloquy, that they may encourage others by their example.

Wordsworth: The death of Joshua is the date of degeneracy. So in spiritual respects, as long as the true Joshua lives in the soul, there is health. St. Paul says, “I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me.” The true Joshua lives in the souls of his saints; but if He dies in the soul, that death is theirs; the death of their souls (Origen).

Bachmann: As the Book of Joshua opens with the mention of Moses’ death, so the Book of Judges with that of Joshua. The servants of the Lord die one after the other; but the history of his kingdom goes on uninterruptedly.—Tr.]


[1][Judges 1:1.—The author renders: “the sons of Israel asked God;” and by way of explanation adds the following note: “Thus do we intend constantly to render יְהוָֹה, on the ground that it expresses the absolute idea of the true God in Israel. Since אֱלֹהִים is also used in connection with heathen worship, it corresponds to our ‘Godhead, Deity’ or ‘the Gods.’ ” In this translation the word Jehovah will be inserted.—Tr.]

[2][Judges 1:1.—מִי־יַעֲלֶה־לָּנוּ. Dr. Cassel takes לָנוּ in a partitive sense, and translates, “who of us shall go up.” It is more properly regarded as dat. commodi; for, (1.) The partitive relation, though sometimes indicated by לְ (apparently, however, only after numerals, cf. Ges. Lex. s. v. לְ, 4 b), would be more properly expressed by בְּ or מִן; and (2.) If the writer had intended to connect לָנוּ with מִי, he would not have placed the verb between them, cf. Isaiah 48:14; Judges 21:8. As it stands, the expression is a perfect grammatical parallel with Isaiah 6:8 : מִי־יֵלֶךְ־לָנוּ Moreover, לָנוּ, in the sense of בָּנוּ or מִמֶּנּוּ, adds nothing which is not already implied in the words, מִי יַעֲלֶה בַּתְּחִלָּה, “who shall first go up.” On the other hand, taken in its natural sense, as indirect object after the verb, it expresses the thought that whoever “goes first,” makes a beginning, will do it for the advantage of all. What that advantage was, may be seen from our author’s exposition of the inquiry.—Tr.]

[3][Judges 1:1.—אֶל, properly, towards. Dr. Cassel has gegen, which means both “towards” and “against.” The same preposition occurs in Judges 1:10-11; and though translated “against,” is not to be taken in the sense of עַל. The hostile intent in these passages is not expressed by אֶל, but appears from the context. In this verse, attention to the proper meaning of אֶל, does away with the appearance of tautology which in English the inquiry presents.—Tr.]

[4][Judges 1:2.—Dr. Cassel: “Wohlan! Up then!” On this rendering of הִנֵּה, cf. the foot-note on p. 26.—Tr.]

[5] If in Exodus 6:20; Exodus 6:26, the order is “Aaron and Moses,” it is only to indicate Aaron as the first-born; hence, Judges 1:27 of the same chapter, as if by way of correction, says, “these are that Moses and Aaron.” For the same reason Numbers 3:1 reads: “These are the generations of Aaron and Moses.” As the order is everywhere Moses and Aaron, so it is naturally also “Moses and Eleazar.” This difference in the relations of Moses and Joshua respectively to the Priest, it is important to notice. For it is of itself sufficient to show the untenableness of Bertheau’s assertion (Buch der Richter, p. 9), that Numbers 27:21 is to be so taken that Joshua is to ask, not before, but for, instead of, Eleazar, whether he shall go out; that is (as he thinks), “in a manner just as valid as if the high-priest had inquired of Jehovah.” To inquire of God by means of the Urim, the Priest alone could do, for he alone had it. Moses and the prophets received revelations immediately; but when the Urim is mentioned, the Priest is the only possible medium. The passages to which Bertheau refers, speak against his assertion. The LXX. are as plain as the Hebrew text. In 1 Samuel 22:10, it is the Priest who inquires of God for David. Josephus, Ant. iv. 7, 2, is an irrelevant passage, and therefore cannot be cited at all. Moreover, Josephus himself puts Eleazar before Joshua, when he speaks of both (iv. 7, 3). Nor is there any good ground for doubt as to the clearness of the passage in Numbers 27:0. If we find no mention anywhere of Joshua’s having inquired by Urim, the foundation of this fact is deeply laid in his relations to Moses. He was called only to be the executor of the designs of Moses. His activity expends itself in continuing the work of Moses. It moves entirely within the lines prescribed by Moses, and is impelled by his inviolable authority. Joshua’s deeds are but the historical outgrowth of the spirit of Moses. The Book of Joshua is but the narrative of Joshua’s obedience to the word of Moses. Whatever Joshua ordains, is rendered sacred by an appeal to Moses. Even the division of the land is conducted according to this authority (Joshua 13-15). “Every place have I given you, as I said unto Moses,” is the language used (Joshua 1:3). Remember what Moses commanded you, says Joshua to the tribes of Reuben, Gad, and Manasseh (Joshua 1:13). The fact is brought out with peculiar emphasis in the following passages: “Be strong and very courageous to do according to all the laws which Moses my servant commanded thee: turn not from it to the right hand or the left” (Joshua 1:7). “There was not a word of all that Moses commanded which Joshua read not before all the congregation of Israel” (Joshua 8:35). “As the Lord commanded Moses his servant, so did Moses command Joshua, and so did Joshua; he left nothing undone of all that the Lord commanded Moses” (Joshua 11:15).

Wherever, therefore, Joshua simply executes the will of God as expressed in the commands of Moses, the necessity for inquiring by Urim does not arise. It is precisely in this execution of the Mosaic commands that God speaks to Joshua, as Joshua 4:10 clearly teaches: “until everything was finished that the Lord commanded Joshua to speak, according to all that Moses commanded Joshua.” The direct command of God to Moses operates on Joshua who executes it.

That Joshua is the executor of the commands of Moses, cannot consistently with the spirit of the book which relates his history, be overlooked. When, however, the decision by Urim is alluded to, and it is said, “according to his mouth” (עַל פִּיו), the reference is to the same (priestly) mouth which, Joshua 19:50, assigns an inheritance to Joshua, “according to the mouth of Jehovah” (עַל פִּי יְהוָֹה). This method of decision comes into play when Joshua has no instructions from Moses according to which to act. The peculiar position of Joshua, by whom, through the word of Moses, God still always speaks and acts as through Moses (Joshua 3:7), and who nevertheless does not like Moses stand before, but after, the priest, becomes everywhere manifest. This position also is unique, and never again recurs. It is therefore at his death, and not till then, that the preponderance of the Priest as the sole possessor of the word of God, becomes fully manifest. The fact, therefore, that we now first hear of an “asking of the Lord,” so far from being obscure, is full of instruction on the historical position of affairs.

[6][Bertheau: “וַיְהִי, in conjunction with the words, ‘after the death of Joshua,’ first connects itself with the closing narrative of the Book of Joshua (Joshua 24:29-33), and secondly designates the Book of Judges as a link in the chain of books which relate, in unbroken connection, the [sacred] history of the world, from the creation to the exile of the inhabitants of the southern kingdom. The several books which contain this connected historical account are joined together by the connective ו.”—Tr.]

[7]Cf. Josephus, Ant. iv. 8, 14, who states on the authority of Jewish tradition that there were in every city seven judges, each with two Levitical assistants, corresponding to the seventy-two of the general senate.

[8][Bachmann: “The sons of Israel here are not the whole nation, but only the tribes west of the Jordan, who are spoken of in the same way, and in express contradistinction from the tribes east of the Jordan, in Joshua 22:12-13; Joshua 22:32. According to Joshua 13:23. the further conflict with the Canaanites was incumbent on the western, not on the eastern tribes. Hence, also, the following account treats only of the doings and omissions of the western Israel.”—Tr.]

[9][Cf. on this rendering the note under the text on p. 23.—Tr.]

[10]Cf. Psalms 114:2, and the Pesikta and Jalkut on the Book of Judges (Ed. Amsterd.) § 37, p. 2, Judges 8:0.

[11]The history of Athens contains a similar instance. The council of war before the battle of Marathon was presided over by Callimachus, of the tribe Ajax. A preponderance of voices, exaggerating the danger, already inclined to avoid the Persian army, when Callimachus voted for the course urged by Miltiades, and turned the tide. In consequence of this, the tribe of Ajax was specially honored. Notwithstanding the use of the lot, the last place in the chorus was never assigned to this tribe (Plutarch, Qu. Symp., i. 10; cf. Böckh, Staatshaushalt der Athener, i. 743, note). It is said that Charlemagne, induced by the heroic deeds of Count Gerold, bestowed on the Swabians the right of forming the vanguard in every campaign of the empire.

[12][Occasionally הִנֵּה may be properly rendered by “Up!” or “Now then!” cf. Psalms 134:1, where it is followed by an imperative; but in situations like the present such a rendering is unnecessarily free. The word is designed to excite the attention and put it on the alert for what is coming. Of course, the assurance which here follows it, would animate and incite; but the agite! macte! are in the words to which הִנֵּה calls attention, not in הִנֵּה itself. Tr.]

Verses 3-8

Judah and Simeon agree to assist each other in clearing their allotted lands of Canaanites. They defeat the enemy in Bezek, capture Adoni-bezek, and burn Jerusalem

Judges 1:3-8

3And Judah said unto Simeon his brother, Come up with me into my lot, that we may [and let us] fight [together] against the Canaanites; and I likewise will go with thee into thy lot. So Simeon went with him. 4And Judah went up, and the Lord [Jehovah] delivered the Canaanites and the Perizzites into their hand: and they slew [smote] of [omit: of] them in Bezek ten thousand men.13 5And they found [came upon, unexpectedly met with] Adoni-bezek in Bezek: and they fought against him, 6and they slew [smote] the Canaanites and the Perizzites. But [And] Adoni-bezek fled; and they pursued after him, and caught him, and cut off his thumbs and his great toes. 7And 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 [the Deity] hath requited me. And they brought him to Jerusalem, and there 8he died. (Now [omit the (), and for Now read: But] the children [sons] of Judah had fought [omit: had14] against Jerusalem, and had taken it, and smitten it [and took it15 and smote it] with the edge16 of the sword, and set the city on fire [gave the city up to the fire].


[1 Judges 1:4.—“Smote them in Bezek ten thousand men” i.e. to the number of 10,000 men. Cf. Judges 3:29; Judges 3:31, etc. As for the word נָכָה, its proper meaning is “to strike, to smite;” here, doubtless, so far as the ten thousand are concerned, to smite fatally, to kill; elsewhere (in Judges 1:5, for instance), to defeat, vanquish.—Tr.]

[2 Judges 1:8.—Matthew Henry: Our translators judge it [the taking of Jerusalem] spoken of here, as done formerly in Joshua’s time, and only repeated [related] on occasion of Adoni-bezek’s dying there, and therefore read it, “they had fought against Jerusalem,” and put this verse in a parenthesis; but the original speaks of it as a thing now done; and that seems most probable, because it is said to be done by the children of Judah in particular, not by all Israel in general, whom Joshua commanded.—Tr.]

[3 Judges 1:8.—To fight against a city, הִלָּחֵם בְּעִיר, is to besiege it, or assault it by storm, cf. Joshua 10:31; 2 Samuel 12:26. לָכַד is to take by such a movement. Hence Dr. Cassel translates, “fought against Jerusalem, and took it by storm, erstürmten es.”—Tr.]

[4 Judges 1:8.—לְפי־דָרֶב: lit. “according to the mouth (i.e. edge) of the sword. The expression denotes unsparing destruction, a killing whose only measure is the sharpness of the sword’s edge. Cf. Bertheau in loc.—Tr.]


Judges 1:3. And Judah said unto Simeon his brother. In matters of war the tribes were represented by the Nesi’im (נְשִׂיאִים). A Nasi, prince or chief, stood at the head of each tribe, and acted in its name, although with great independence. At the numbering of the people in the desert, the Nasi of Judah was Nahshon, the son of Aminadab; but after the sending of the spies, Caleb, the son of Jephunneh, held that position (Numbers 34:19). According to the directions of Moses in the passage just referred to, these princes were to assist the Priest and Joshua in the allotment of the land to the tribes. They are the same who, in Joshua 19:51, are called “heads of families.” For, as appears especially from Joshua 22:14, only he could be Nasi who was “head of a family.” Collectively, they are styled “the princes of the congregation” (Joshua 22:30). That Moses names only ten (Numbers 34:18, etc.), arises from the fact that he refers only to the allotment of the land this side the Jordan. The princes of the two and a half tribes beyond the Jordan had nothing to do with this. When the trans-Jordanic tribes were erroneously suspected of apostasy, the ten princes with the priest went to them as an embassy from the other tribes (Joshua 22:14). It was these princes who ratified the treaty with the Gibeonites (Joshua 9:15); and the congregation was bound by their oath, although greatly dissatisfied when the deception of the Gibeonites was discovered.

Come up with me into my lot. The territory of a single tribe was called its lot, גּוֹרָל. Compare the Greek κλῆρος, used to denote possessions in general, and also the portion of territory assigned to each party embarked in a colonial enterprise. (“Crœsus devastated the lots of the Syrians,” φθείρων τοὺς κλήρους, Herod, i. 76.)—It was natural for Judah to summon his brother Simeon to join him; for Simeon’s territory lay within the borders of Judah.17 According to the statements of Joshua 15:0, the inheritance assigned to the tribe of Judah might be bounded by two lines, drawn respectively from the northern and southern extremities of the Dead Sea to the Mediterranean, the northern line passing below Jerusalem. Simeon’s part lay in the middle between these lines, toward the west. For this reason, Simeon is already in Numbers 34:20 named second, next to Judah, the first tribe. This summons of Judah to Simeon to conquer together their territories is instructive in several respects. It shows that the whole south had indeed been attacked, but was not yet occupied. True, the narrative of the conquest of Canaan by Joshua is not complete, and leaves much to be supplied; but thus much is clear, that though Joshua undoubtedly made war on the southern and northern Canaanites, he by no means obtained control of all the land. It is also evident from Joshua 1:1 to Joshua 10:42, that as long as Joshua fought with the more southern enemies, his encampment was at Gilgal, in the neighborhood of Jericho and the Jordan, to which after each victory over the southern kings, whom he pursued far into the southwest, he always fell back (Joshua 10:15; Joshua 10:43). Hence the conversation with Caleb, concerning the inheritance of the latter takes place while the camp is still at Gilgal (Joshua 14:6). Consequently, it can only have been the result of victories over the northern princes, that Joshua, in the last years of his regency, transferred the encampment of the people to Shiloh (Joshua 18:1; Joshua 21:2) and Shechem (Joshua 24:1). Of this territory he had already gained permanent possession. It belonged to the inheritance of the tribe of Ephraim. Joshua himself was of this tribe. That fact explains how it was that Ephraim was the first to come into secure and permanent territorial possession. In this also Joshua differs from Moses. The latter, although sprung from the tribe of Levi, belonged to all the tribes. He was raised above every special tribe-relationship. His grave even none can boast of. Joshua does not deny that he belongs to Joseph, although he does not yield to their less righteous demands (Joshua 17:14). His tribe forms the first circle around him. When he locates the national centre in Shiloh and Shechem, it is in the possessions of Ephraim. Here, as long as Joshua lived, the government of the Israelitish tribes and their sanctuary had their seat. Here the bones of Joseph were buried; here are the sepulchres of Joshua and his contemporary, the priest Eleazar. Ephraim was the point from which the farther warlike expeditions of the individual tribes were directed. Precisely because the first permanently held possession had connected itself with Joshua and his tribe, the summons to seize and occupy their assigned territory came next to Judah and its prince Caleb, the associate of Joshua, and after him the first man of Israel. But Judah and Simeon cannot have set out on their expedition from Shiloh or Shechem. There was not room enough in the territory of the tribe of Ephraim to afford camping-ground for all Israel. The encampment in Gilgal had not ceased; and there the tribe of Judah found a suitable station whence to gain possession of its own land. Thence they could enter immediately into the territory assigned them. Moreover, it is only upon the supposition that Gilgal was the point of departure of the army of Judah, that it becomes entirely clear why Judah turned to his brother Simeon, Had he come down from Shechem, he might also have turned to Benjamin. But Simeon needed the same avenue into his dominions as Judah. He must pass through the country of the latter to reach his own. From Gilgal, the armies of Judah advanced along the boundary line between their own land and Benjamin, in the direction of the western shore of the Dead Sea which formed their eastern border (Joshua 15:5-7), intending to march through the wilderness, and perhaps after passing Tekoah, to turn first against Hebron. There the enemy met them.18

Judges 1:4. And they smote them in Bezek, ten thousand men. The position of Bezek is indicated by the direction of Judah’s advance. It must have been already within the limits of Judah; for “Judah went up,” namely, to his territory. Its distance from Jerusalem cannot have been great, for they brought the wounded and maimed Adoni-bezek thither, and immediately after the battle in Bezek the tribes attack Jerusalem. If it were the name of a city, the place bearing it would seem to have been of such importance, as to make it matter of surprise that we find no further mention of it.19 The name announces itself as an appellative derived from the character of the region. בֶּיֶק (Bezek) is undoubtedly equivalent to בָּרָק (Barak). It designates unfruitful, stony sand-areas (Syrtes). The desert Barca in North Africa is familiar in ancient and modern times. The inhabitants of deserts received the name Barcæans, as Jerome remarks (Ep. cxxix.), “from the city Barca, which lies in the desert.” At the present day a chasm in the rocks, in the peninsula of Sinai, bears the name Bereika (Ritter, xiv. 547). The ancient name Bene-berak (Joshua 19:45) also explains itself in this way. In Arabic ברקה designates stony, unfruitful land. Now, the land west of the Dead Sea, through which Judah marched into his territory, is for the most part of this character. “The desert here, covered with chalk and crumbling limestone, and without the least trace of vegetation, has a truly terrible appearance” (Ritter, xv. 653 (Gage’s Transl., iii. 114). It was in this tract that the battle was joined, which ended in the defeat of the Canaanite and Perizzite. The name Canaanites passed over from the cities of the Phœnician Lowlands (Canaan), to the inhabitants of cities throughout the land. It designates the population devoted to agriculture and the arts of civilized life. Perizzites may have been the name of tribes of Bedouins, inhabitants of tents, roving at will among the mountains and in the desert. Down to the present time, the eastern part of Judah, adjoining the Dead Sea, is a true Bedouin highway, especially for all those Arabs who press forward from the east and south. The Canaanites and Perizzites unite to meet the common enemy in the desert tract, just as Zenobia united herself with the Saracens of the desert against the Romans. They are defeated, and there fall ten thousand men, i.e.μύπιοι, myriads, an indefinitely large number. From the fact that Bezek does not designate a particular place, but the region in general, it becomes plain that verses 4 and 5 do not relate the same occurrence twice. Verse 4 speaks of the first conflict. The second was offered by Adoni-bezek (Judges 1:5).

Judges 1:5. And they came upon Adoni-bezek in Bezek. We can trace the way which Judah took, with Simeon, to the borders assigned him. From Gilgal it proceeded to Beth-hogla (Ain Hajla), through the wide northern plain of the Dead Sea, on its northwestern shore, to the region at present traversed by the Ta’âmirah Bedouin tribes. This region was named Bezek. בֶּזֶק and 20בּ‍ֽרָק primarily signify “dazzling brightness;” hence the signification “lightning.” It was doubtless the dazzling glare of the ground, produced by the reflection of the sun whether from the white salt-crust of the surface, the rocks,21 or the undulating sandhills, that suggested the name Bezek for such regions. This primary sense enables us, moreover, also to discover the connection between Adoni-bezek and Bezek. That the latter is not a city, might have been sufficiently inferred from the fact that notwithstanding the victory no record is made here, as in the cases of other cities, of its fall and destrucsion. To take Adoni-bezek as Prince of Bezek, does not seem advisable. The proper names of heathen kings always have reference to their religion.22 Since Adoni-bezek, after having been mutilated, was carried by his attendants to Jerusalem, he must have held some relation to that city. Only that supposition enables us to see why Judah and Simeon storm Jebus (Jerusalem), belonging as it did to the tribe of Benjamin, for which reason they make no attempt to hold it by garrisoning it. Already in the 10th chapter of Joshua we meet with Adoni-zedek in Jerusalem, just as in the history of Abraham Melchi-zedek appears there. Adon is a Phœnician designation of the Deity. Adoni-zedek and Melchi-zedek mean, “My God, my king, is Zedek.” The names of the kings enunciated their creeds. Zedek (Sadyk, Sydyk,) belongs to the star-worship of the Canaanites, and according to ancient tradition was the name of the planet Jupiter. Adoni-bezek manifestly expresses a similar idea. Bezek = Barak is the dazzling brightness, which is also peculiar to Jupiter. His Sanskrit name is “Brahaspati (Brihaspati),23 Father of Brightness.” “My God is Brightness,” is the creed contained in the name Adoni-bezek. His name alone might lead us to consider him King of Jerusalem, to which, as if it were his royal residence, his own attendants carry him after his defeat.24

Judges 1:6. And Adoni-bezek fled, .… and they cut off the thumbs of his bands and feet, etc. How horrible is the history of human cruelty! It is the mark of ungodliness, that it glories in the agony of him whom it calls an enemy. The mutilation of the human body is the tyranny of sin over the work of God, which it nevertheless fears. The Persian king Artaxerxes caused the arm of his brother, which had bent the bow against him, to be hewn off, even after death. Thumbs were cut off to incapacitate the hand for using the bow, great toes to render the gait uncertain. When in 456 b. c., the inhabitants of Ægina were conquered by the Athenians, the victors ordered their right thumbs to be cut off, so that, while still able to handle the oar, they might be incapable of using the spear (Ælian, Var. Hist., ii. 9). Mohammed (Sura, viii. 12) gave orders to punish the enemies of Islam by cutting off their heads and the ends of their fingers, and blames its omission in the battle of Beder. In the German Waldweisthümern the penalty against hunters and poachers of having their thumbs cut off, is of frequent occurrence (Grimm, Rechtsalterth., 707; Deutsches Wörterb. ii. 346).25 Adoni-bezek, in his pride, enjoyed the horrible satisfaction of making the mutilated wretches pick up their food under his table, hungry and whining like dogs.26 Curtius relates that the Persians had preserved Greek captives, mutilated in their hands, feet, and ears, “for protracted sport” (in longum sui ludibrium reservaverant. De Rebus Gest. Alex., v. 5, 6). Posidonius (in Athenœus, iv. 152, d.) tells how the king of the Parthians at his meals threw food to his courtier, who caught it like a dog (τὸ παραβληθὲν κυνιστὶ σιτε͂ιται), and was moreover beaten like a dog. The tribe of Judah simply recompensed Adoni-bezek: not from revenge, for Israel had not suffered anything from him; nor from pleasure in the misery of others, for they left him in the hands of his own people.

Judges 1:7. As I have done, so has the Deity27 completed unto me. Many (in round numbers, seventy) are they whom he has maltreated. שִׁלֵּם (Piel of שָׁלַם) is to finish, complete, and hence to requite; for reward and punishment are inseparably connected with good and evil deeds. As the blossom reaches completion only in the fruit, so deeds in their recompense. The Greeks used τελεῖν in the same sense. “When the Olympian (says Homer, Iliad, iv. 160) does not speedily punish (ἐτέλεσσεν), he still does it later (ἔκ τε καὶ ὀψὶ τελεῖ).” It was an ethical maxim extensively accepted among ancient nations that men must suffer the same pains which they have inflicted on others. The later Greeks called this the Neoptolemic Tisis, from the circumstance that Neoptolemus was punished in the same way in which he had sinned (Pausanius, iv. 17, 3; Nägelsbach, Nachhom. Theologie, 343). He had murdered at the altar, and at the altar he was murdered. Phaleris had roasted human beings in a brazen bull—the same punishment was inflicted on himself.28 That which Dionysius had done to the women of his people, his own daughters were made to undergo (Ælian, Var. Hist., ix. 8). Jethro says (Exodus 18:11), “for the thing wherein they sinned, came upon them.”

And they brought him to Jerusalem. None but his own people29 could bring him thither, for the city was not yet taken. It was evidently hiscity; for the Israelites follow after, and complete their victory by its capture. The storming of Jerusalem for its own sake could not have formed part of the plan of the tribes, since it belonged to Benjamin. They were led to it by the attack which they suffered from Adoni-bezek. Nor did they take possession of it. They only broke the power of the king thoroughly. He died miserably; his people were put to the sword; the city was consumed by fire (שִׁלַּה בָּאשׁ, to abandon to the flames). Thus the wanton haughtiness of Adoni-bezek was terribly requited.


Judges 1:3. Believing Israel is also united Israel. Judah and Simeon go forth together, in faith, as one tribe, one heart, and one soul, to the same victory. So united are children, when in faith they return from their father’s grave [cf. Hom. Hints on Judges 1:1.—Tr.]. The children of God are good brothers and sisters. They do not quarrel over the inheritance,—they enjoy it in love. Believing Israel is a sermon on unity among families, neighbors, citizens, and nations. Union arises not from without, but from within. Penitence and faith bind together. Unio is the name of a pearl, and pearls symbolize tears. Ex unione lux. E luce uniones.

Starke: As all Christians in general, so brothers and sisters in particular, should maintain a good understanding, and live together in peace and unity.

[Henry: It becomes Israelites to help one another against Canaanites; and all Christians, even those of different tribes, to strengthen one another’s hands against the common interests of Satan’s kingdom. Those who thus help one another in love, have reason to hope that God will help them both.

Bachmann: It is not incompatible with the obedience of faith, that Judah makes use of the helps placed by God at his disposal; and it is in accordance with the dictates of fraternal love that he makes that tribe the companion of his undertaking whose lot it was made rather to attach itself to others than to equal their independence (cf. Genesis 49:7, and also the silence of Deuteronomy 33:0 concerning Simeon), and whose interests were peculiarly closely connected with his own.—Tr.]

Judges 1:4-8. Starke: In the lives of men, things are often wonderfully changed about, and not by accident, but by the wonderful governance of God (Genesis 50:19).

The same: God requites every one according to his deeds. Wherein one sins, therein he is also punished,—evidence that there is a God, and that He is just, recompensing according to deserts.

[Scott: Men often read their crimes in their punishments; and at last every mouth shall be stopped, and all sinners be constrained to admit the justice of God in their extremest miseries. Happy they who justify Him in their temporal afflictions, plead guilty before his mercy-seat, and by repentance and faith seek deliverance from the wrath to come.

Joseph Mede († 1638): As I have done so God hath requited me:1. God punisheth sin with temporal punishment in this life as well as with eternal in the life to come. 2. God doth not always presently inflict his judgments while the sin is fresh, but sometimes defers that long which He means to give home at the last. 3. These divine judgments by some conformity or affinity do carry in them as it were a stamp and print of the sin for which they are inflicted. 4. The profit and pleasure which men aim at when they commit sin will not so much as quit cost even in this life.

Wordsworth: As by this specimen at the beginning of this book, showing what two tribes of Israel could do by faith and obedience against Adoni-bezek, who had subdued and enslaved seventy kings, God showed what the twelve tribes might have done, if they had believed and obeyed him; and that all their subsequent miseries were due to defection from God;—in like manner, also, in the Christian Church, if men had followed the examples of the Apostles,—the Judahs and Simeons of the first ages,—and gone forth in their spirit of faith and love against the powers of darkness, they might long since have evangelized the world. All the distresses of Christendom are ascribable to desertions of [from] Christ, and not to any imperfection (as some have alleged) in Christianity (cf. Bp. Butler, Analogy, Part 2.Judges 1:0).—Tr.]


[13][Judges 1:4.—“Smote them in Bezek ten thousand men” i.e. to the number of 10,000 men. Cf. Judges 3:29; Judges 3:31, etc. As for the word נָכָה, its proper meaning is “to strike, to smite;” here, doubtless, so far as the ten thousand are concerned, to smite fatally, to kill; elsewhere (in Judges 1:5, for instance), to defeat, vanquish.—Tr.]

[14][Judges 1:8.—Matthew Henry: Our translators judge it [the taking of Jerusalem] spoken of here, as done formerly in Joshua’s time, and only repeated [related] on occasion of Adoni-bezek’s dying there, and therefore read it, “they had fought against Jerusalem,” and put this verse in a parenthesis; but the original speaks of it as a thing now done; and that seems most probable, because it is said to be done by the children of Judah in particular, not by all Israel in general, whom Joshua commanded.—Tr.]

[15][Judges 1:8.—To fight against a city, הִלָּחֵם בְּעִיר, is to besiege it, or assault it by storm, cf. Joshua 10:31; 2 Samuel 12:26. לָכַד is to take by such a movement. Hence Dr. Cassel translates, “fought against Jerusalem, and took it by storm, erstürmten es.”—Tr.]

[16][Judges 1:8.—לְפי־דָרֶב: lit. “according to the mouth (i.e. edge) of the sword. The expression denotes unsparing destruction, a killing whose only measure is the sharpness of the sword’s edge. Cf. Bertheau in loc.—Tr.]

[17][Keil: Simeon is called the “brother” of Judah, not so much because they both descended from one mother, Deah (Genesis 29:33; Genesis 29:35), as because Simeon’s inheritance lay within that of Judah (Joshua 19:1 ff.), on account of which Simeon’s connection with Judah was closer than that of the other tribes.—Tr.]

[18][That Judah, nor in fact any of the western tribes, except Ephraim, had not hitherto enjoyed actual possession of any part of his land, is also the view of Bertheau and Ewald. It is strenuously objected to by Bachmann, who maintains that “not only the allotment of the land among the tribes, but also its actual occupation by them, are constantly presupposed in all that this first chapter relates both about the prosecution of the local wars, and the many instances of sinful failure to prosecute them.” And, certainly, such passages as Joshua 23:1; Joshua 24:28, cf. Judges 2:6, appear at least to be decidedly against the view taken by our author. The subject, however, is obscure and intricate, and not to be entered upon in a foot-note.—Tr.]

[19]The name does indeed occur again in 1 Samuel 11:8, where Saul numbers Israel in Bezek. But the very fact that Bezek is there used as a place for mustering troops, shows that it is open country, not any thickly peopled spot. It cannot be maintained that both Bezeks must designate the same region. Similar topographical conditions conferred similar or identical names. Bene-berak [sons of Berak, Joshua 19:45, as to the origin and significance of the name compare the commentary on Judges 1:4-5.—Tr.] was in the tribe of Dan. And so a region west of the Jordan, and east of Shechem, so far at least as we can determine the true direction from the narrative [in Sam. Judges 11:8], seems also to have borne the name Bezek.

[20]According to the interchange of r and s as in חָזוֹן and חָרוֹן (Ezekiel 1:14), quaero and quaeso, etc. In Ezekiel 1:14 bezek (bazak) denotes a dazzling radiance. Barak, lightning, became a proper name. In the regions of Barca (the desert) the name Barcas (Hamilcar) was familiar enough.

[21]“The glitter of the (gravel) surface in the sunshine, if not a little trying to the eyes.”—Strauss, Sinai und Golgotha, iii. 1, 133.

[22]Cf. my Ortsnamen (Erfurt, 1856), i. 118.

[23]Cf. Bohlen, Altes Indien, ii. 248.

[24][Bezek is generally regarded as the name of a city or village. The majority of scholars (Le Clerc, Rosenmüller, Reland, V. Raumer, Bachmann, etc.) look for it in the territory of Judah, but without being able to discover any traces of it, which is certainly remarkable; for, if a city, it must have been, as Dr. Cassel remarks, and as the usual interpretation of Adoni-bezek as King of Bezek implies, a place of some importance. Others, therefore (as Bertheau, Keil, Ewald, etc.), connect this Bezek with that of 1 Samuel 11:8, and both with the following statement in the Onomasticon: “hodie duae villae sunt nomine Bezech, vicinae sibi, in decimo septimo lapide a Neapoli, descendentibus Scythopolin.” Then to account for this northern position of the armies of Judah and Simeon, Bertheau supposes them to set out from Shechem (cf. Joshua 24:1, etc.), and to make a detour thence to the northeast, either for the purpose of descending to the south by way of the Jordan valley, or for some other reason; while Keil, without naming any place of departure, suggests that Judah and Simeon may have been compelled, before engaging the Canaanites in their own allotments, to meet those coming down upon them from the north, whom after defeating, they then pursued as far as Bezek. Dr. Cassel’s explanation is attractive as well as ingenious; but, to say nothing about the uncertainty of its etymology, Bezek, as an appellative applied to a definite region, would, as Bachmann remarks, require the article, cf. הַכּכָּר ,הַשְּׁפֵלָה ,הַנֶּוֶב.—Tr.]

[25]Hence, on the other hand, the severe punishment which the ancient popular laws adjudged to him who unjustly cuts off another’s thumb. The fine was almost as high as for the whole hand. The Salic law rated the hand at 2,500, the thumb of hand or foot at 2,000 denarii, “qui faciunt solidos quinquaginta” (Lex Salica, xxix. 3, ed. Merkel, p. 16).

[26][Kitto (Daily Bible Illustrations: Moses and the Judges, p. 299): “This helps us to some insight of the state of the country under the native princes, whom the Israelites were commissioned to expel. Conceive what must have been the state of the people among whom such a scene could exist,—what wars had been waged, what cruel ravages committed, before these seventy kings—however small their territories—became reduced to this condition; and behold in this a specimen of the fashion in which war was conducted, and of the treatment to which the conquered were exposed. Those are certainly very much in the wrong who picture to themselves the Canaanites as ‘a happy family,’ disturbed in their peaceful homes by the Hebrew barbarians from the wilder ness. Behold how happy, behold how peaceful, they were!”—Tr.]

[27] Elohim, which is also used of the heathen deity. The speaker speaks in the spirit of heathenism. As regards the seventy kings, it needs no argument to show that מִלֶךְ like the Greek τύραννος, is applied to any ruler, even of a single city. Josephus (Ant., v. 2, 2) read seventy-two, which especially in his time, was interchangeable as a round number with seventy.

[28]In the Gesta Romanorum, ch. xlviii., this is still adduced as a warning, and with an allusion to the passage in Ovid, De Arte Amandi, i. 653 [Et Phaleris tauro violenti membra Perilli torruit. Infelix imbuit auctor opus.—Tr.] it is remarked: “neque enim lex œquior ulla, quam necis artifices arte perire sua.”

[29]Since it is Adoni-bezek who speaks in Judges 1:7, the word וַיְבִיאֻהוּ in the same verse cannot refer to the Israelites. Why should they carry him with them? It would indicate the gratification of gratuitous cruelty, a thing inconceivable in this connection. Those who save him are his own servants; but arrived at Jerusalem he dies. Verse 8, therefore, commences very properly, not with the mere verb וַיִּלָּחֲמוּ, but with a repetition of the grammatical subject: בְּנֵי יְהוּדָה.

Verses 9-10

The sons of Judah smite the Anakim and take Hebron

Judges 1:9-10

9And afterward [Hereupon] the children [sons] of Judah went down [proceeded] to fight against the Canaanites that dwelt in the mountain [mountains], and in the south, and in the valley [lit. depression, low country]. 10And Judah went against the Canaanites that dwelt in Hebron: (now the name of Hebron before [formerly] was Kirjath-arba [The Four Cities30]:) and they slew [smote] Sheshai, and Ahiman, and Talmai.


[1 Judges 1:10. This is the nearest we can come in English to Dr. Cassel’s Vierstadt, Tetrapolis. Against the common Interpretation, “City of Arba,”—Arba being taken as the name of a person,—cf. Mr. Grove in Smith’s Bib. Dict., s. v Kirjath-arba.—Tr.]


Judges 1:9 f.. Hereupon the sons of Judah proceeded. They advanced, proceeded, ירְדוּ. While עָלָה, ‘ ‘ascendere,” was used to express the first attack (Judges 1:4), the continuation of the conflict is indicated by יָרַד, “descendere,” although they advance mountain-ward. Verse 9 sets forth the full extent of the task undertaken by the tribes. Before advancing into the territory allotted them, they have been obliged to resist the attack of Adoni-bezek at its border. They divide their work proper into the conquest of the mountains, the occupancy of the southern tract from the Dead Sea to Beer-sheba, and the seizure of the western lowlands. Details of these undertakings are given us only so far as they concern Caleb and his house. Hence, the conquest of Hebron is first of all related. About this ancient city,31 where Abraham tarried, and the patriarchs repose in the family-vault, the recollections of the tribe of Judah concentrate themselves. It was of old the dwelling-place of valiant people. The robust vine-dressers of the valley, ages before, supported Abraham in his victorious expedition against the eastern hosts. But on the mountains there dwelt a wild and warlike race, the sons of Anak, before whom the faint-hearted spies of Moses formerly trembled. Only Caleb and Joshua were full of confidence in God. On this account, Caleb received the special assurance of Moses that he should possess the land which he had seen; and therefore at the division of the country by Joshua, he brings forward his claim to it (Joshua 14:12). Joshua allows it. It is no lightly-gained inheritance that Caleb asks: “Therefore give me (he says) this mountain, whereof the Lord spake in that day; for thou hast heard that there are Anakim there, and cities great and fenced; perhaps the Lord will be with me that I drive them out” (Joshua 14:12). Now, although the conquest of the city, and the expulsion of the Anakim, are already recorded in Joshua 15:14, that is only an anticipatory historical notice in connection with the description of boundaries. The events actually occur now, in connection with the first efforts to gain permanent possession of the territory. Caleb, it is true, is old; but younger heroes surround him. They defeated the Anakim.

Judges 1:10. Hebron, formerly called the Four Cities (Kirjath-arba). It is difficult to see why modern expositors32 take offense at the idea that in Hebron an earlier Tetrapolis is to be recognized. The remark, Joshua 14:15 : “And the name of Hebron was formerly Kirjath-arba, בָעֲנָקים הוּא הָאָדָם הַגָּדוֹל,” cannot furnish the ground; for אָדָם is here a collective term, like gens, as appears indubitably from Joshua 15:13, where we have the expression, “Kirjath-arba, the father of Anak (אֲבִי הָעֲנָק) which is Hebron.” The Tetrapolis was the ancient seat of powerful tribes, whom the traditions of Israel described as giants. Similar tetrapolitan cities are elsewhere met with. The Indians had a Káturgrâma, the Four Villages (Lassen, Ind. Alterth., i. 72). In Phrygia, Cibyra and three other places formed a Tetrapolis (Strabo, lib. xiii. 1, 17). I am inclined to find in the name Cibyra the same idea as in the Arabic Cheibar33 and the Hebrew Chebron (Hebron), namely, that of confederation, community of interest. It is a suggestive fact that Abraham’s expedition is joined by the brothers Eshcol, Aner, and Mamre (Genesis 14:13); concerning Mamre it is remarked, “the same is Hebron” (Genesis 23:19). The Upper City (Acropolis), situated upon the mountains, and the lower cities lying in the fertile valley which these mountains inclose, together constituted the Tetrapolis. At the present day the city in the valley is still divided into three parts.34 Three sons of Anak are enumerated, manifestly three tribes, probably named after ancient heroes, which tribes coalesced with the mountain city.35 As late as the time of David, the phraseology is, that he dwelt in “the cities of Hebron” (2 Samuel 2:3). Probably the name Hebron was originally given to the mountain36 (the הַר which Caleb claims, Joshua 14:12), as forming the common defense, and was then after the suppression of the Anakim, transferred to the whole city. The names of the three families of Anakim do not admit of any certain interpretation. אָחִימַן might with most probability be interpreted after the analogy of Achijah (Ahijah or Ahiah), “Friend of God.” מַן, מְנִי, is the heathen deity (Isaiah 65:11), who also occurs in Phœnician inscriptions, in proper names like עברמני, “servant of Meni.” The name שֵׁשַׁי, “Sheshai,” reminds one of the Egyptian king שִׁישׁק, Shishak, Sechonchis, who made war on Rehoboam (1 Kings 14:25). The name שֵׁשְׁבּצַּר (“Sheshbazzar,” Ezra 1:8) may also be compared. The third name, Talmai, leaves it doubtful whether it is to be taken primarily as the name of a place or of a person. Stephanus Byzantinus speaks of an Arabic place which he calls Castle Θελαμο͂υζα. It is possible, however, that analogous mythical ideas come into contact with each other, in the Greek legend concerning Salmoneus,37 father of Tyro, and husband of Sidero. Hesiod already (in a Fragment, ed. Göttling. p. 259) calls him an ἄδικος καὶ ν̔πέρθυμος. Josephus (Ant. v. 2, 3) says that the Anakim were a race of giants, “whose bones are still shown to this very day.” What stories were current about the discovery of gigantic human remains in Asia Minor and Syria, may be learned from the Heroica of Philostratus (ed. Jacobs, p. 28). A body of gigantic length was found in the bed of the Orontes. It was thought also that the bodies of Orestes and Ajax had been seen. The faint-hearted spies had depicted the Anakim as Nephilim, men like the prehistoric Nibelungen of German story; and from this Josephus constructed his giant-tale.

Joshua 15:14 remarks, “And Caleb drove thence the three sons of Anak.” A contradiction has been found therein with what we read here, “And they smote.” None really exists. The narrative is actually more exact than is generally supposed. The statement of Joshua 15:14 refers to Judges 1:20. The tribe of Judah had now indeed taken Hebron, and conquered the Anakim; but for peaceable possession the time had not yet come. Accompanied by Simeon, Judah proceeded onward to gain possession of the whole territory. At Judges 1:19 the whole campaign is finished. Then they give Hebron to Caleb, and he drives out whatever remains of the Anakim. It was not with three per sons, but with three tribes or nations, that they had to do.


[30][Judges 1:10. This is the nearest we can come in English to Dr. Cassel’s Vierstadt, Tetrapolis. Against the common Interpretation, “City of Arba,”—Arba being taken as the name of a person,—cf. Mr. Grove in Smith’s Bib. Dict., s. v Kirjath-arba.—Tr.]

[31]Hebron is said to be seven years older than Zoan (Tanis) in Egypt (Numbers 13:22). The number “seven” is here also to be regarded as a round number. It expresses the finished lapse of a long period.

[32]Ritter’s remarks (xvi. 211 [Gage’s Trans]. iii. 292, seq.]), would admit of many corrections. Jerome, it is true, follows Jewish traditions (cf. Pirke, R. Eliezer, ch. xx.) when he thinks that the Civitas Quatuor was so named from the patriarchs who were buried there. It is, however, none the less evident from this, that the Jews of old interpreted Kirjath-arba as meaning “Tetrapolis.” Nor does Numbers 13:22 afford the slightest occasion for doubting the truth of the statement that Kirjath-arba was the former name of Hebron. Ritter seems especially to have followed Robinson (Bibl. Res. ii. 88.)

[33]Cf. my History of the Jews, in Ersch and Gruber’s Encyklopadie, ii. 27, p. 166.

[34]Robinson, Bibl. Res., ii. 74.

[35]In a manner analogous perhaps to the fusion of the Ramnes, Tities, and Luceres, into the one Roma of the Ramnes.

[36]Ritter (xvi. 228 [Gage’s Transl. iii. 301]) proves that the ancient Hebron lay higher than the present, which however can refer only to a part of the city. The great importance of the place is explained by its protected situation in the mountains, along whose slopes it extended down into the valley. That fact only adapted it to be the capital of David’s kingdom. Cf. Joshua 11:21 (מִן הָהָר).

[37]Cf. Heyne on Apollodorus, i. 9, p. 59. The later Jews write תַּלְמָי for Ptolemy. Cf. Ewald, Gesch. Israel’s, i. 309, 311.

Verses 11-15

Othniel takes Kirjath-sepher, and wins Achsah, the daughter of Caleb

Judges 1:11-15

11And from thence he [i.e. Judah] went against the inhabitants of Debir: and the name of Debir before was Kirjath-sepher: 12And Caleb said, He that smiteth Kirjath-sepher, and taketh it, to him will I give Achsah my daughter to wife. 13And Othniel the son of Kenaz, Caleb’s younger brother, took it: and he gave him Achsah his daughter to wife. 14And it came to pass, when she came to him [at her coming; scil. to her husband’s house], that she moved [urged] him to ask of her father a [the] field: and she lighted from off her ass; and Caleb said unto her, What wilt thou [what is the matter with thee]? 15And she said unto him, Give me a blessing: for thou hast given me a south land [hast given me away into a dry land38]; give me also [therefore] springs of water. And Caleb gave her the upper springs, and the nether springs.


[1 Judges 1:15.—כִּי אֶרֶץ הַנֶּגֶב נְתַתָּני: Dr. Cassel’s rendering agrees substantially with that of the LXX. and many modern critics. Bertheau says: “אֶרֶץ הַנֶּגֶב is the accusative of place. It would be difficult to justify the other and usual rendering grammatically, since נָתַן with the accus. suffix, never, not even Jeremiah 9:1, Isaiah 27:4, means to give anything to one.” Bachmann, however, objects that “נָתַן does not occur of the giving of daughters in marriage, and that the absence of a preposition, say אֶל, before אֶרֶץ would make a hard construction. The suffix נִי is either a negligent form of popular speech, substituted for לִי (cf. Ewald, Ausf. Lehrb. 315 b), or, better, a second accus., such as is quite common with verbs of giving, favoring, etc. (cf. Ewald, 283 b), and from which rule נָתַן is not to be excepted, cf. Ezekiel 21:32.”—Tr.]


Judges 1:11. And he went against Debir. The position of Debir, hitherto unknown, was recognized not long since by Dr. Rosen, on the hill-top called Dewirbân, near the spring Ain Nunkur, in a southwestern direction from Hebron, between that place and Dura (Zeitschr. der Morgenl Gesellschaft, 1857, ii. 50–64).

The name of Debir was formerly Kirjath-sepher. In my Ortsnamen (i. 116, note), I already endeavored to show that Debir, Kirjath-sepher, and Kirjath-sannah (סַנָּה, Joshua 15:49) philologically express one and the same idea. Fürst well remarks (Lex. s. v. דְּבִיר) that “דִכְרְ is the Phœnician equivalent of the Hebrew סֵפֶר, a material prepared from the skins of animals, and of the Himyaritic for a book written on palm-leaves.” From the latter, he says, the Greek διφθέρα was formed, and thus the word passed over to the Greeks and Persians. There is no reason to doubt that the name describes the city as a depository of written traditions, book-rolls. Kirjath-sepher39 was a Palestinian Hermopolis, city of Thoth, where literature had its seat (cf. Plutarch, De Isid., ed. Parthey, p. 4; the Sept. translates, πόλις τῶν γραμμάτων). Such depositories, where the sacred writings were kept ἐν κίστῃ), in a chest (Plut. l. c.), for preservation, were common to the religion of the Egyptians, Phœnicians, and Babylonians. To this place, that which sheltered the sacred ark of Israel’s divine law opposed itself. It was therefore of much consequence to conquer it, as on the other hand its inhabitants valiantly defended it. The different names testify of the different dialects of the tribes who have held Debir.

Judges 1:12. And Caleb said, He that smiteth Kirjath-sepher. Caleb is the chief of the tribe of Judah. Hebron has fallen to him as his inheritance, but it does not circumscribe his eager interest. “Caleb said.” His personal zeal is the more prominently indicated, because displayed in a matter which involved the general cause, the honor of the whole tribe. At the conquest of Hebron, the phrase was, “and they smote;” at the next battle, fought for Debir, it is, “Caleb said.” As the whole tribe assisted in gaining his personal inheritance, so for the honor of the tribe he devotes that which was wholly his, and his alone. He offers the dearest possession he has, as a prize for him who shall storm and take the strong mountain fortress and seat of idolatry. It is his only daughter (cf. 1 Chronicles 2:49) Achsah, born to him in advancing years. He can offer nothing better. Stronger proof of his zeal for the cause of Israel he cannot give. To obtain the daughter of a house by meritorious actions has in all ages been a worthy object of ambition set before young and active men. It was only by a warlike exploit that David obtained Michal who loved him. The Messenian hero Aristomenes bestows a similar reward. When a country maiden rescued him, with heroic daring, from danger involving his life, he gave her his son for a husband (Paus. iv. 19). The conquest of Debir is therefore especially mentioned to the honor of Caleb and his love for Israel. The event was a glorious incident in the hero’s family history.

Judges 1:13. And Othniel, the son of Kenaz, a younger brother of Caleb, took it. Israel, the nation, was divided into tribes, these into families, these into “houses,” and these again into single households. This may be clearly seen from the story of Achan (Joshua 7:14 ff.). Achan was of the tribe of Judah, the family of Zerah, the house of Zabdi, and the son of Carmi. So Caleb was the son of Jephunneh, of the house of Kenaz; whence, Numbers 32:12, he is called the Kenezite. Bertheau (pp. 21, 22) labors under a peculiar error, in that he confounds the family of the Kenezite in the tribe of Judah with the hostile people of the same name mentioned Genesis 15:19. It is true, Lengerke (Kenaan, p. 204) and others preceded him in this; Ritter also (Erdkunde, xv. 138 [Gage’s Transl. ii. 146]) has allowed himself to be misled by it. But a consideration of the important relations in which Caleb stands to the people of God, would alone have authorized the presumption that he could have no connection with a people that was to be driven out before Israel. In addition to this, notice should have been taken of the isolated position of the Kenites, continuing down to a late period; for notwithstanding the peaceful conduct of this people, and their attachment to Israel, their historical derivation from the father-in-law of Moses is never forgotten. The adoption of the celebrated hero into the tribe of Judah must at all events have been explained. But there is absolutely no foundation for any such assumption as that in question. The similarity of names affords so much the less occasion, since the same names were frequently borne by heathen and Israelites, and also by families in the different tribes of Israel. One Edomite is named Kenaz, like the ancestor of Caleb; another Saul, like the king of Israel; a third Elah, like a man of Benjamin (Genesis 36:41; 1 Kings 4:18). There is an alien tribe named חוֹרִי; but no one imagines that Israelites of the name חוּר are to be reckoned to it. The name of the king of Lachish whom Joshua defeated, was Japhia, exactly like that of a son of David (2 Samuel 5:15). Hezron and Carmi, both families of Reuben, are such also in the tribe of Judah. The name Jephunneh is borne also by a man of the tribe of Asher (1 Chronicles 7:38). To this must be added that the Book of Chronicles traces the family of Caleb more in detail, and places them as relatives alongside of Nahshon, the progenitor of David (1 Chronicles 2:9 seq.). Caleb is the son of Jephunneh, of the house of Kenaz. Othniel is his brother. That the latter is not designated “son of Jephunneh,” is because he is sufficiently distinguished by means of his more illustrious brother. That he is styled “son of Kenaz,” is to intimate that he is full brother to the son of Jephunneh, belonging to the same stock; not, as might be, the son of Caleb’s mother, by a husband from some other family. He is so much younger than Caleb, that the latter may be regarded as his second father, who had watched over him from youth up. Why we are here, where the narrative is so personal in its character, to think only of genealogical, not of physical relationships, as Bertheau supposes, it is difficult to perceive. Just here, this would destroy, not merely the historical truth, but also the æsthetic character, of the narrative.40

Judges 1:14. And it came to pass at her coming. Othniel had conquered the stronghold,—the victory was his, and Caleb gave him his daughter. The narrator forthwith adds an incident that marked the peaceful entrance of the young wife into the house of her husband, and afforded an interesting glimpse of her character. Caleb, the head of the tribe, was rich; to him, and to him alone, the fine fields and estates about Hebron had been given. Only Caleb, the son of Jephunneh, had received them, not the whole family (Joshua 21:12). Othniel was poor. In the character of a poor, younger son, he had achieved heroic deeds. Not he thinks of goods and possessions; but so much the more does the young Achsah, who has been accustomed to wealth. Such is the course of the world. They are on their way to Hebron, a way which leads through fertile, well-watered fields. Their journey is a beautiful triumphal procession, over which the aged father rejoices. Achsah urges (וַתְּסִיתֵהוּ from סוּת) her husband to seize the opportunity, and petition her father for the noble field through which they are passing.41 He does it not. He deems it an act unworthy of himself. She, however, like a true woman, too sagacious to lose the proper moment, proceeds herself ingeniously to call her father’s attention to the fact that she desires not merely honor, but also property. She slides from her ass—suddenly, as if she fell (וַתִּצִנח)—so that her father asks, “What is the matter with thee?” Her answer has a double sense: “Thou gavest me away into a dry land, give me also springs.” O give me a blessing! אֶרֶץ הַנּגֶב (“land of the south”) is land destitute of water. No greater blessing there than springs. They make the parched field flourishing and productive (cf. Psalms 126:4). Now, just as springs are a sign of abundance and wealth, so negeb is a symbol of indigence and want. Thou gavest me away, says Achsah, in words full of concealed meaning, into a dry land—to a poor husband; give me also springs to enrich the land—my husband. Caleb understood and gave, the more liberally, no doubt, for the ingenious manner in which she asked. He gave her the upper and lower springs. בֻּלּת̇, for springs, occurs only in this passage. It is obviously not to be derived from גָּלַל, in the sense of rolling, turning,—from which comes בֻּלָּה, “pitcher,” so named on account of its round form,—but is connected with old roots expressive, like the Sanskr. gala, “water,” of welling, bubbling (cf. Dieffenbach, Wörterb. der Goth. Sprache, i. 183). What springs they were which Othniel received, it is difficult to say. Were they those which Robinson found on the way to Hebron, within an hour’s distance! Le Clerc wonders why this family history is here related. Most certainly not without intending to make the zeal of Caleb, the unselfishness of Othniel, and the prudence of Achsah, points of instruction. The Jewish exegesis, reproduced by Raschi, is essentially right, when it explains that Othniel was poor in everything but the law, in everything, that is, but piety and solidity of character.42 History and tradition present many another pair like Othniel and Achsah. 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.


Compare Hom. Hints on Judges 1:17-20

[Scott: It is a very valuable privilege to be closely united with families distinguished for faith and piety; and to contract marriage with those who have been “trained up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.”

The same: Nature teaches us to desire temporal benefits for our children; but grace will teach us to be far more desirous and earnest in using means that they may be partakers of spiritual blessings.

The same: If affection to a creature animates men to such strenuous efforts and perilous adventures, what will the love of God our Saviour do, if it bear rule in our hearts?

The same: If earthly parents, “being evil, know how to give good gifts to their children, how much more will our Heavenly Father give good things to those who ask him!”

Henry: From this story we learn, 1st. That it is no breach of the tenth commandment moderately to desire those comforts and conveniences of this life which we see attainable in a fair and regular way..… 3dly. That parents must never think that lost, which is bestowed on their children for their real advantage, but must be free in giving them portions as well as maintenance, especially when dutiful.

P. H. S.: Three Lessons from an Ancient Wedding: 1. Caleb’s lesson: Pious zeal for God and an heroic character are better than wealth or social rank. To such as possess these qualities let fathers freely give their daughters. 2. Othniel’s lesson: A wife is to be won for her own sake, not as the means of gaining access to her father’s wealth. 3. Achsah’s lesson: It is the wife’s duty to promote the interests and honor of her husband. Wealth is a source of weight and influence, and a means of usefulness. Who knows how much this and similar thoughtful acts of Achsah contributed to shape the subsequent life-work of Othniel as judge of Israel.

The same: It is more honorable to woman to be “sold” (a term entirely inapplicable, however, to the case in hand), than to have a husband bought for her by her father’s gold or lands. When a man stormed the walls of a stronghold, or slew an hundred Philistines by personal prowess, or paid fourteen years of responsible service, for a wife, or when, as in the days of chivalry, he ran tilts and courted dangers in her behalf, however grotesque the performance, it indicated not only solidity of character in the wooer, but also a true and manly respect for woman, which is not possessed by all men of modern days.—Tr.]


[38][Judges 1:15.—כִּי אֶרֶץ הַנֶּגֶב נְתַתָּני: Dr. Cassel’s rendering agrees substantially with that of the LXX. and many modern critics. Bertheau says: “אֶרֶץ הַנֶּגֶב is the accusative of place. It would be difficult to justify the other and usual rendering grammatically, since נָתַן with the accus. suffix, never, not even Jeremiah 9:1, Isaiah 27:4, means to give anything to one.” Bachmann, however, objects that “נָתַן does not occur of the giving of daughters in marriage, and that the absence of a preposition, say אֶל, before אֶרֶץ would make a hard construction. The suffix נִי is either a negligent form of popular speech, substituted for לִי (cf. Ewald, Ausf. Lehrb. 315 b), or, better, a second accus., such as is quite common with verbs of giving, favoring, etc. (cf. Ewald, 283 b), and from which rule נָתַן is not to be excepted, cf. Ezekiel 21:32.”—Tr.]

[39]Attention was again directed to the city from the fact that the first liturgical poet of the modern Jews, Kalir, designates a Kirjath-sepher as his native place. He does not, however, mean this city, but, playing on the word, he translates Καλλιῤῥόη in Palestine by Kirjath Shepher, i. e. Beautiful City. This opinion advanced by me in 1845 (Frankel’s Zeitschr.) has perhaps lost none of its probability.

[40] [The above view of the relationship between Caleb and Othniel is held by most modern critics. Among its opponents, however, are Ewald and De Wette. The former (Gesch. Israels, ii. 374) deems it “more suitable, in accordance with the view of the oldest narrator, to take Kenaz as the younger brother of Caleb;” the latter, in his excellent German Version, translates: “Othniel, der Sohn des Kenas, des *üngsten Bruders Calebs.” Of ancient versions, the Targum and Peshito leave the question undecided. The LXX. in C. Vat., in all three passages, and in C. Alex. at Josh. xv. 17 and Judges 3:9, makes Othniel the nephew, while in Judges 1:13 C. Alex. makes him the brother, of Caleb The Vulg. invariably: “Othoniel filius Cenez, frater Caleb.”

Grammatically, both constructions are equally admissible. For that adopted by Dr. Cassel, cf. Genesis 28:5; 1 Samuel 26:6, etc.; for the other. Gen 29:10; 1 Samuel 14:3, etc. That the distinctive accent over Kenaz is not incompatible with either construction, or rather does not commit the Masorites to the construction adopted by Dr. Cassel, as Keil intimates, may be seen from Genesis 24:15, etc.

Bachmann favors the alternate rendering—“filius Kenasi fratris Calebi”—on the following grounds: 1. “The fact that elsewhere Caleb is always designated as “the son of Jephunneh,” while Othniel is always spoken of as “the son of Kenaz,” raises a presumption against the supposition that Othniel is the brother of Caleb in the strict sense of the term. … 2. Caleb was 85 years old when Hebron was bestowed on him (Joshua 14:10; Joshua 14:14); and when he took possession of it, must have been some years older. Accordingly, if Othniel was his brother, even though his junior by from twenty to thirty years,—and a greater difference in age is surely not to be supposed,—it would follow, that the bold hero who won his wife as a prize for storming Debir was at that time from sixty to seventy years of age; that about eighteen years later, he entered on his office as Judge as a man of full eighty years of age; and that, even though he died some time before the end of the forty years’ rest (Judges 3:11), he reached an age of 120 years or more, which is scarcely probable. 3. According to Judges 3:9, Othniel is the first deliverer of Israel fallen under the yoke of heathen oppressors in consequence of its apostasy to heathen idolatry. Now, since idolatry is said to have become prevalent in Israel only after the generation that had entered Canaan with Joshua and Caleb had died off (Judges 2:10), it is clear that Othniel is regarded as belonging not to this, but to the succeeding generation, which agrees better with the hypothesis that he is the son of a younger brother of Caleb, than that he is such a brother himself. 4. Finally, whatever, in view of Leviticus 18:12-13 may be thought of the difficulty of a marriage between an uncle and a niece, that interpretation surely deserves to be preferred which, while it is possible in itself, does not raise the said difficulty at all.”—Tr.]

[41][Wordsworth: “The field: that is, the field which had been given to Othniel when the Book of Judges was written, and which was known to be well supplied with water.” This explanation of the article supposes that the words attributed to Achsah in the text, were not the very words she used.—Tr.]

[42]At an early date, the passage 1 Chronicles 4:10, where Jabez says, “Oh, that thou wouldest bless me indeed, and enlarge my coast, and that thine hand might be with me,” was already explained as referring to Othniel (cf. Temura, p. 16, a). Jerome was acquainted with a Jewish opinion according to which Jabez was a teacher of the law (cf. 1 Chronicles 2:55), who instructed the sons of the Kenite, of Quæst. Hebr. in Lib. i. Paral., ed. Migne, iii. 1370

Verse 16

The Kenites take up their abode in the territories of Judah

Judges 1:16

16And the children [sons] of the Kenite, Moses’ father-in-law, went up out of [from] the city of palm-trees with the children [sons] of Judah into the wilderness of Judah, which lieth in the south of Arad; and they [he43] went and dwelt among44 the people.


[1 Judges 1:16.—He, i. e., the Kenite. The subject of וַיֵּלֶךְ is קֵינִי, the Kenite, collective term for the tribe.—Tr.]

[2 Judges 1:16.—אֶת, with, near, the people, but still in settlements of their own, cf. Judges 1:21. Dr. Cassel’s unter answers to the English among.—Tr.]


Judges 1:16. And the sons of the Kenite, Moses’ father-in-law. Kenite is the name of a heathen tribe, which in Genesis 15:19 is enumerated among the nations hostile to Israel. In the vision of Balaam it is mentioned in connection with Amalek (Numbers 24:21). It is there said of the tribe, “In the rock hast thou put thy nest” (קִנֶּךָ, from קֵן, “nest”). “Strong,” indeed, “is their dwelling-place.” The Kenites were a tribe of the wilderness, troglodytes, who dwelt in the grottoes which abound everywhere in Palestine, but especially in its southern parts. Barth, in 1847, saw caves at the lower Jordan, “high up in the steep face of the precipitous rock, on the left, inhabited by human beings and goats, though it is impossible to see how they get there” (Ritter, xv. 465). At the Dead Sea, Lynch discovered grottoes in the rocks, the entrance to which, in spite of all proficiency in climbing, could not be found. The name of the tribe, Kenites, is doubtless derived from קֵן, which means an elevated hiding-place in the rocks, as well as a nest. The term troglodytes, likewise, comes from τρώγλη, “grotto,” and is applied to both birds and human beings. As Jeremiah (Jeremiah 49:16) exclaims, “though thou shouldest make thy nest as high as the eagle,” so Æschylus (Choëphoroe, 249) calls the nest of the eagle’s brood, σκήνημα, “dwelling-place.”

It is from this passage, and from Judges 4:11, that we first learn that Jethro, the father-in-law of Moses,45 belonged to one of the Kenite families. Moses, when a fugitive in the desert, found an asylum and a wife in the retirement of Jethro’s household. From that time, this family, without losing its independent and separate existence, was closely allied with all Israel. But it was only this family, and not the whole Kenite nation, that entered into this alliance. Else, how could the Kenite be named among enemies in the prophetic announcements of Genesis 15:0, and with Amalek in the vision of Balaam? Moreover, the text clearly intimates that the sons of the Kenite adhered to Israel, not as Kenites, but as descendants of Jethro, the father-in-law of Moses.46 It is the constant aim of the historian of the conquest of Canaan by Israel, to show that every promise was fulfilled, and that no one who at any time showed kindness failed of his promised reward. Caleb’s constancy and courage found their long-promised inheritance in Hebron. A recompense had also been promised to the sons of the Kenite. When Israel was on its journey through the desert (Numbers 10:31), and Hobab (on the name, see below, on Judges 4:11) desired to return to his old place of abode, Moses said: “Leave us not; thou knowest our places of encampment in the desert, and hast been to us instead of eyes. If thou go with us, every good thing with which God blesses us, we will share with thee.” The fulfillment of this promise now takes place. The Kenites enter with the tribe of Judah into the inheritance of the latter, as into a domain in which they had always been at home. They share in the blessing bestowed by God on Israel.

They went up from the City of Palms. No other place than the plain of Jericho is ever called the City of Palms in the Scriptures. Although the city was destroyed, the palm-groves still existed. How was it possible to suppose,47 in the face of Deuteronomy 34:3 and Judges 3:13, that here suddenly, without any preparatory notice, another City of Palms is referred to! The statement here made, so far from occasioning difficulties, only testifies to the exactness of the narrator. Judah’s camp was in Gilgal, whence they marched through Bezek against the enemy, and then to Hebron. Gilgal lay in the vicinity of Jericho. When the tribe decamped, the Kenite was unwilling to remain behind. On the march through the desert, their position as guides had of course always been in the van, and, therefore, with the tribe of Judah. They desire to enjoy their reward also in connection with this tribe, and hence the palms of overthrown Jericho cannot detain them. The region in which they were, can therefore be no other place of palms than that from which Judah broke up, namely, Jericho. In fact, the statement that they came from Jericho, proves the correctness of the view given above, that Gilgal was the place from which Judah set out to enter his territory.

Into the wilderness of Judah, which lieth in the south of Arad. But why is the narrative of the Kenite expedition here introduced? It is a peculiarity of Hebrew narrators, that they weave in episodes like this and that of Othniel and Achsah, whenever the progress of the history, coming into contact with the place or person with which they are associated, offers an occasion. Hence we already find events communicated in the 15th chapter of Joshua, which occurred at a later date, but of which the author was reminded while speaking of the division of the land. The history of the conquest of their territory by Judah is very brief. First, the mountain district of Hebron and the northeastern part of the territory was taken possession of. Then, according to the plan laid down Judges 1:9, they turned to the south. Of this part of their undertaking no details are given; but as they were getting possession of the land in this direction, they came to Arad, where it pleased the Kenites to take up their abode, in close relations with Judah. A king formerly reigned at Arad, who attacked Israel when journeying in the desert (Numbers 21:1), and was defeated by Moses. A king of Arad was also conquered by Joshua (Joshua 12:14). After its occupancy by the tribe of Judah, the Kenites resided there. The position48 of the place has been accurately determined by Robinson (Bib. Res. ii. 101, cf. Ritter, xiv. 121). Eusebius and Jerome had placed it twenty Roman miles, a camel’s journey of about eight hours, from Hebron. This accords well with the position of the present TellArâd, “a barren-looking eminence rising above the country around.” From this fragmentary notice of the place, we may perhaps infer what it was that specially attracted the Kenites. If these tribes were attached to the Troglodyte mode of life, the Arabs still told Robinson, of a “cavern” found there. The Kenites still held this region in the time of David; for from the vicinage of the places named in 1 Samuel 30:29 ff., especially Hormah, it appears that they are those to whom as friends he makes presents.49 It is true, that when the terrible war between Saul and Amalek raged in this region, Saul, lest he should strike friend with foe, caused them to remove (1 Samuel 15:6). After the victory, they must have returned again.


[43][Judges 1:16.—He, i. e., the Kenite. The subject of וַיֵּלֶךְ is קֵינִי, the Kenite, collective term for the tribe.—Tr.]

[44][Judges 1:16.—אֶת, with, near, the people, but still in settlements of their own, cf. Judges 1:21. Dr. Cassel’s unter answers to the English among.—Tr.]

[45]Earlier scholars (Le Clerc, Lightfoot, Opera, ii. 581) were already struck by the Targum’s constant substitution of שַׂלְמָאָה, Salmaah for Kenite. In this passage also it reads, “the sons of Salmaah.” Even Jewish authors were it a loss how to explain this. As it affords a specimen of the traditional exegesis of the Jews, already current in the Targum on this passage, I will here set down the explanation of this substitution: The Kenite of our passage is identified with the Kinim of 1 Chronicles 2:55, who are there described as “the families of the Sopherim.” But how came the Kenites to hold this office, in after times so highly honored, and filled by men learned in the law (cf. Sanhedrin, p. 104 a and 106 a)? The father-in-law of Moses—(tradition makes him flee from the council of Pharaoh of which he was a member, Sota, 11 a)—is the Kenite who, when the latter wandered in the desert (Exodus 2:20-21), gave him bread (lechem) and also, through his daughter, a house (beth). Now, the same chapter of 1 Chronicles 1:51; 1 Chronicles 1:54, names a certain Salma, and styles him the “father of Beth-lechem.” The father of this “Bread-house” is then identified with Jethro. Consequently, the sons of the Kenite are the sons of Salmaah, and thus their name itself indicates how they attained to the dignity accorded them. The Targum on Chronicles (ed. Wilna, 1836, p. 3, A) expresses it thus: “They were the sons of Zippora, who (in their capacity of Sopherim) enjoyed, together with the families of the Levites, the glory of having descended from Moses, the teacher of Israel.”

[46]This view does away with all those questions of which, after earlier expositors, Bertheau treats on pp. 24, 25.

[47]Into this error, Le Clerc has misled later expositors, and among them, Bertheau, p. 25. However, the wholly irrelevant passage of Diodorus (iii. 42), frequently cited to justify the assumption of another City of Palms, was already abandoned by Rosenmüller, p. 24.

[48]Ishak Chelo, the author of Les chemins de Jérusalem, in the 14th century, found Arad sparsely inhabited, by poor Arabs and Jews, who lived of their flocks. The Rabbi tends his sheep, and at the same time gives instruction to his pupils. Cf. Carmoly, Itinéraires de la Terre Sainte (Bruxelles, 1847), pp. 244, 245.

[49]Cf. 1 Samuel 27:10, where the same local position is assigned to the Kenites, and spoken of by David as the scene of his incursions, in order to make the suspicious Philistines believe that he injures the friends of Israel

Verses 17-20

Simeon’s territory is conquered, and Judah takes the Philistine cities

Judges 1:17-20.

17And Judah went with Simeon his brother, and they slew [smote] the Canaanites that inhabited Zephath, and utterly destroyed it [executed the ban upon it].50 And 18the name of the city was called51 Hormah. Also [And] Judah took Gaza with the coast [territory] thereof, and Askelon with the coast [territory] thereof, and Ekron with the coast [territory] thereof. 19And the Lord [Jehovah] was with Judah; [,] and he drave out the inhabitants [obtained possession] of the mountain [mountains] but could not drive out the inhabitants of the valley [for the inhabitants of the low country were not to be driven out],52 because they had chariots of iron. 20And they gave Hebron unto Caleb, as Moses [had] said: and he expelled thence the three sons of Anak.


[1 Judges 1:17.—The חֵרֶם (LXX. ἀνάθεμα), in cases like the present, was, as Hengstenberg (Pent. ii. 74) expresses it, “the compulsory devotement to the Lord of those who would not voluntarily devote themselves to him.” To render the word simply by “destruction,” as is done in the A. V. here and elsewhere, is to leave out the religious element of the act, and reduce it to the level of a common war measure. Cf. Winer, Realwörterb., s. v. Bann; Smith’s Bib. Dict. s. v. Anathema.—Tr.]

[2 Judges 1:17.—וַיִּקְרָא. Dr. Cassel translates it as if it were plural, and gives it the same subject with וַיַּחֲרִימוּ, “they called.” Correct, perhaps, as to fact, but grammatically less accurate than the A. V. וַיִּקְרָא is the indefinite third person. Cf. Ges. Gr. 137, 3.—Tr.]

[3 Judges 1:19.—Dr. Cassel: denn nicht zu vertreiben waren die Bewohner der Niederung. On the force of כִּי, for (E. V. but), cf. Ges. Gram. § 155, p. 271.—The construction of לאֹ לְהוֹרִישׁ is unusual. According to Keil (and Bertheau) “לאֹ is to be taken substantively, as in Amos 6:10, in the same sense in which the later Scriptures use אַיִן before the infinitive, 2 Chronicles 5:11; Esther 4:2; Esther 8:8; Ecclesiastes 3:14. Cf. Ges. Gram. § 132, 3, Rem. 1; Ewald, 237 c.” Idea and expression might then be represented in English by the phrase: “there was no driving the enemy out.” On עֵמֶק, see foot-note on p. 39.—Tr.]


Judges 1:17. And Judah went with Simeon his brother. The course of conquest by the tribes is regularly followed, but the narrative delays only at such points as are connected with note-worthy facts. When Judah had reached the south, and was in Arad, the statement was introduced that the Kenite settled there. After the conquest of the south, the conquerors turned toward the low country (Judges 1:9). In order to get there, they must traverse the territory of Simeon. Consequently, Judah goes with Simeon now, to assist him in gaining possession of his land. This expedition also offered an event which it was important to chronicle.

They smote the inhabitants of Zephath, and called the city Chormah. In itself considered, the mere execution of the ban of destruction on a city otherwise unknown, cannot be of such importance as would properly make it the only reported event of the campaign in Simeon’s territory. The record must have been made with reference to some event in the earlier history of Israel.53 The tribes had just been in Arad, where the Kenites settled. Now, according to the narrative in Numbers 21:1 ff., it was the King of Arad who suddenly fell upon the people in their journey through the desert. The attack was made when the Israelitish host was in a most critical situation, which, to be sure, could not be said to be improved by the ban executed on the cities of the king after the victory was won. Not Arad,—for this retained its name,—but one of the places put under the ban, we are told, received the name Hormah.54 The vow in pursuance of which this ban was inflicted required its subsequent maintenance as much as its original execution. Thus much we learn from the passage in Numbers. That a close connection existed between Arad and Hormah is also confirmed by Joshua 12:14, where a king of Arad and one of Hormah are named together. In the same way are the inhabitants of Hormah and the Kenites in Arad mentioned together, upon occasion of David’s division of booty (1 Samuel 30:29). Since Moses was not able to occupy these regions, the banned city, as appears plainly from Joshua 12:14, where a king of Hormah occurs, had been peopled and occupied anew. Hence it was the task of the tribe of Simeon, with the help of Judah, to restore the vow of Israel, and to change the Zephath of its heathen inhabitants once more into Hormah. That, in this respect also, the tribes observed the commands of Moses, and fulfilled what was formerly promised,—adjudging to one, reward, as to the Kenite; to another, the ban, as to Zephath,—this is the reason why this fact is here recorded. Robinson thought that there was every reason for supposing that in the position of the pass es-Sufàh, far down in the south, the locality of Zephath was discovered (Bib. Res. ii. 181). The position, as laid down on his map, strikes me as somewhat remote from Tell 'Arad; and the name es-Sufâh, Arabic for “rock,” cannot, on account of its general character, be considered altogether decisive.55 Moreover, another Zephath actually occurs, near Mareshah (2 Chronicles 14:10), not far from Eleutheropolis, and Robinson (ii. 31) makes it probable that by the valley of Zephath in which King Asa fought, the wady is meant which “comes down from Beit Jibrin towards Tell es-Sâfieh.” In the Middle Ages, a castle existing there, bore the name Alba Specula, Fortress of Observation, which at all events agrees with the signification of Zephath.

Judges 1:18. And Judah. took Gaza, Askelon, and Ekron. The territory assigned to Judah extended to the sea, including the Philistine coast-land, with their five cities. After the conquest of Simeon’s lot their course descended from the hills into the lowlands (Shephelah, Judges 1:9), most probably by way of Beer-sheba, to the sea. In their victorious progress, they storm and seize Gaza, Askelon, and Ekron, pressing on from south to north. Although Ashdod is not mentioned here, it is natural to suppose, since it was included in the borders assigned to Judah (Joshua 15:0), and lay on the road from Askelon to Ekron, that it was also taken, previous to the conquest of Ekron. Josephus, drawing the same inference, expressly includes it. It is said וַיִּלְכֹּד, “they took by storm.” They were not able, at this time, so to take and hold these places as to expel their inhabitants. The tribe of Judah, which, as it seems, now continued the war alone, on the sea-coast fell in with cultivated cities, provided with all the arts of warfare. Israel at that time was not prepared for long and tedious wars. In swift and stormy campaigns, their divinely-inspired enthusiasm enabled them to conquer. On the mountains, where personal courage and natural strength alone came into play, they were entirely victorious, and held whatever they gained. It was only in the plains, where the inhabitants of the coast cities met them with the murderous opposition of iron chariots, that they gave up the duty of gaining entire mastery over the land.5657

Judges 1:19. For the inhabitants of the low country were not to be driven out, because they had iron chariots.58 The noble simplicity of the narrative could not show itself more plainly. “The Lord was with Judah, and he gained possession of the mountain district; but לֹא לְהוֹרִישׁnot to be driven out,” etc. The expression יָכְלוּ לאֹ, “they could not,” is purposely avoided. They would have been quite able when God was with them; but when it came to a contest with iron chariots their faith failed them. The tribes of Joseph were likewise kept out of the low country because the inhabitants had chariots of iron (Joshua 17:16); but Joshua said (Judges 1:18), “Thou shalt (or canst) drive out the Canaanite, though he be strong.” Iron chariots are known only to the Book of Judges, excepting the notice of them in the passage just cited from Joshua. The victory of Deborah and Barak over Jabin, king of Canaan, owed much of its glory to the fact that Sisera commanded nine hundred iron chariots. Bertheau rejects the earlier opinion that these chariots were currus falcati, scythe-chariots, on the ground that those were unknown to the Egyptians. He thinks it probable that the chariots of the Canaanites, like those of the Egyptians, were only made of wood, but with iron-clad corners, etc., and therefore very strong. But such chariots would never be called iron chariots. The Egyptian war-chariots which Pharaoh leads forth against Israel, are not so called. To speak of chariots as iron chariots, when they were in the main constructed of a different material, would be manifestly improper, unless what of iron there was about them, indicated their terrible destructive capacities. It has, indeed, been inferred from Xenophon’s Cyropœdia (vi. 1, 27), that scythe-chariots were first invented by Cyrus, and that they were previously unknown “in Media, Syria, Arabia, and the whole of Asia.” But even if this Cyrus were to be deemed strictly historical, the whole notice indicates no more than the improvement59 of a similar kind of weapon. It does not at all prove that scythe-chariots did not previously exist. The principal improvement which the Cyrus of Xenophon introduced, was, that he changed the chariot-rampart, formed perhaps after the manner of the Indian battle-array (akschauhini,60 the idea of our game of chess) into a means of aggressive warfare. For this purpose, he changed the form of the chariot, and added the scythe to the axle-tree. But the chariots of our passage must already have been intended for aggressive action, since otherwise the purpose of the iron is incomprehensible. Nor does Xenophon assert that Cyrus was the first who affixed scythes to chariots, although he would not have failed to do so if that had been his opinion. It is, moreover, in itself not probable. Xenophon mentions that the (African) Cyrenians “still” had that kind of chariots which Cyrus invented.61 And Strabo informs us that in his time the Nigretes, Pharusii, and Ethiopians, African tribes, made use of the scythe-chariot.62 The changes introduced in the chariot by Cyrus, were made in view of a war against the Assyrians, whom Xenophon distinguishes from the Syrians. But from a statement of Ctesias63 we learn that the Assyrian armies already had scythe-chariots. The same occasion induced Cyrus to clothe his chariot-warriors in armor. For at all events, Assyrian monuments represent the charioteers encased in coats of mail.64 It serves to explain the term iron chariots, that Xenophon also speaks of iron scythes (δρέπανα σιδηρᾶ). Curtius (iv. 9, 4) describes chariots which carried iron lances on their poles (ex summo temone hastœ prœfixœ ferro eminebant), for which the form of Assyrian chariots seems to be very well adapted. Representations of them sufficiently indicate the horrors of these instruments of war, by the bodies of the slain between their wheels.

Judges 1:20. And they gave Hebron unto Caleb. This statement, even after that of Judges 1:10, is by no mèans superfluous. Now, and not before, could Caleb receive Hebron as a quiet possession. Judah must first enter his territory. When the conquest was completed,—and it was completed after the western parts of the mountain region also submitted,—the tribe of Judah entered upon its possessions; and then the aged hero received that which had been promised him. Then also, most likely, transpired that beautiful episode which gave to Othniel his wife and property.


Judges 1:4-20. Obedient, believing, united Israel is attended by victory. And in victory it knows how to punish and reward. Adoni-bezek terribly experiences what he had inflicted on others, but the sons of the Kenite dwell like brethren in the midst of Judah. The Canaanite is chastised; but the Kenite reaps the fruits of conquest. The unbelievers among the spies formerly sent by Moses are infamous, but Caleb gains an inheritance full of honor. Thus, faith makes men united before action; after it, just. Men are wise enough to give every one his own (suum cuique), only so long as they continue obedient toward God. For faith 1. regards that which is God’s; and, therefore, 2. awards according to real deserts. Othniel obtained Caleb’s daughter, not because he was his nephew (nepos), but because he took Kirjath-sepher. Before God, no nepotism holds good, for it is a sign of moral decay; on the contrary, he gives the power of discerning spirits. He only, who in the sanctuary of God has inquired after “Light and Righteousness” (Urim and Thummim), can properly punish and reward.

Starke (Judges 1:16): The children of those parents who have deserved well of the church of God, should have kindness shown, and benefits extended to them before others. For ingratitude is a shameful thing.

The same (Judges 1:17): Covenants, even when involving dangers, must be faithfully kept by all, but especially by brothers and sisters.

[Scott (Judges 1:19): Great things might be achieved by the professors of the gospel, if they unitedly endeavored to promote the common cause of truth and righteousness; for then “the Lord would be with them,” and every mountain would sink into a plain. But when outward difficulties are viewed by the eye of sense, and the almighty power of God is forgotten, then no wonder we do not prosper; for according to our faith will be our vigor, zeal, and success. Love of ease, indulgence, and worldly advantages, both spring from and foster unbelief. Thus many an awakened sinner, who seemed to have escaped Satan’s bondage, “is entangled again, and overcome, and his last state is worse than the first.” Thus even many a believer who begins well is hindered: he grows negligent and unwatchful and afraid of the cross; his graces languish, his evil propensities revive; Satan perceives his advantage, and plies him with suitable temptations; the world recovers its hold; he loses his peace, brings guilt into his conscience, anguish into his heart, discredit on his character, and reproach on the gospel; his hands are tied, his mouth is closed, and his usefulness ruined.—Tr.]


[50][Judges 1:17.—The חֵרֶם (LXX. ἀνάθεμα), in cases like the present, was, as Hengstenberg (Pent. ii. 74) expresses it, “the compulsory devotement to the Lord of those who would not voluntarily devote themselves to him.” To render the word simply by “destruction,” as is done in the A. V. here and elsewhere, is to leave out the religious element of the act, and reduce it to the level of a common war measure. Cf. Winer, Realwörterb., s. v. Bann; Smith’s Bib. Dict. s. v. Anathema.—Tr.]

[51][Judges 1:17.—וַיִּקְרָא. Dr. Cassel translates it as if it were plural, and gives it the same subject with וַיַּחֲרִימוּ, “they called.” Correct, perhaps, as to fact, but grammatically less accurate than the A. V. וַיִּקְרָא is the indefinite third person. Cf. Ges. Gr. 137, 3.—Tr.]

[52][Judges 1:19.—Dr. Cassel: denn nicht zu vertreiben waren die Bewohner der Niederung. On the force of כִּי, for (E. V. but), cf. Ges. Gram. § 155, p. 271.—The construction of לאֹ לְהוֹרִישׁ is unusual. According to Keil (and Bertheau) “לאֹ is to be taken substantively, as in Amos 6:10, in the same sense in which the later Scriptures use אַיִן before the infinitive, 2 Chronicles 5:11; Esther 4:2; Esther 8:8; Ecclesiastes 3:14. Cf. Ges. Gram. § 132, 3, Rem. 1; Ewald, 237 c.” Idea and expression might then be represented in English by the phrase: “there was no driving the enemy out.” On עֵמֶק, see foot-note on p. 39.—Tr.]

[53]Compare Rosenmüller, p. 25, and Hengstenberg, Pent. 2. p. 179, etc.

[54]The King of Arad only is spoken of, Numbers 21:1, and it is not said that Arad was called Hormah. The “name of the (one) place,” it is stated, they called Hormah, whereas they “banned their cities.” Since, therefore, Arad and Hormah are distinguished, it is plain that this one place of the banned cities, which was called Hormah, was Zephath.—[Bertheau: “It has been thought, indeed, that the word מָקיֹם in Numbers 21:3, in the connection in which it stands, indicates that in the time of Moses the whole southern district received the name Hormah, whereas, according to our passage [i. e. Judges 1:17] it was given only to the city of Zephath; but מָקוֹם never signifies “region,” and must be understood here, as in Genesis 28:19 and elsewhere, of one place or one city.”—Tr.]

[55]Some ruins, named Sepâta by the Arabs, were found by Rowlands (cf. Ritter, xiv. 1084–5; Williams’ Holy City i. 464). two and a half hours southwest of Khalasa (Robinson’s Elusa), and have also been identified with Zephath. Their position is very different from that of Tell es-Sufâh. They also seem to me to lie too remote from Arad. That the Biblical name Zephath has been preserved, after the Jewish inhabitants for many centuries must have used, not that, but Hormah, does not appear at all probable. In the mountains of Ephraim, Eli Smith came into a village Um-Sufâh. “It reminded him of the locality of Hormah near the southern border of Palestine, both of which names [Um-Sufâh and Hormah] in Arabic designate such smooth tracts of rock” (Ritter, xvi. 561).

[56]Thus an internal contradiction between this verse and the statement of the next that Judah failed to drive out the inhabitants of the low country, as asserted by Baihinger (Herz. Real-Encykl. xi. 554), does not exist.

[57] [The author identifies the עֵמֶק, the inhabitants of which Judah failed to drive out, with the שְׁפֵלָה, Judges 1:9, and hence renders it (see Judges 1:19) by Niederung, “low country,” prop, depression. Against this identification, accepted by Studer, Bertheau, Keil, and many others, Bachmann objects that, with the single exception of Jeremiah 47:5, a poetic passage in a late prophet, עֵמֶק is never applied to the Philistine plain. “In accordance with its derivation, עֵמֶק denotes a valley-basin (cf. Robinson, Phys. Geog. p. 70), broadly extended it may be (Genesis 14:9-10; Joshua 17:16; etc.), adapted for battle (Joshua 8:13), susceptible of cultivation (Job 39:10; Song of Solomon 2:1; Psalms 65:13; etc.), but still always depressed between mountains and bordered by them. It never means a level plain or lowlands.” Cf. Stanley, Sinai and Pal., p. 476, Amer. ed. Bachmann, therefore, looks for the Emek—which, by the way, with the article, is not necessarily singular, but may be used collectively—within or at least very near the Mountains of Judah. “Of valleys affording room for the action of charlots, the mountains of Judah have several; e. g., the Emek Rephaim, Joshua 15:8, southwest of Jerusalem, one hour long and one half hour broad, known as a battle-field in other times also (2 Samuel 5:18; 2 Samuel 5:22; 2 Samuel 23:13); the Emek ha-Elah,

Sam. Judges 17:1-2; the broad basins of the valleys of Jehoshaphath and Ben Hinnom near the northern boundary (see Rob. . 268, 273); the great, basin-like plain of Beni Naîm in the east (see Rob. i. 488 ff.); and others. And that, in general, chariots in considerable numbers might be used in the mountain country, appears, with reference to a region a little further north, from 1 Samuel 13:5.” Bachmann’s view of the connection of Judges 1:19 with what precedes is as follows: Judges 1:9. The battle of Bezek, etc., having secured Judah from attacks in the rear, and left him free to proceed in his undertakings, the theatre of these undertakings is divided by Judges 1:9 into three parts: the mountain country, the south (negeb), and the plain (shephelah). The conquest of the mountain country is illustrated by a couple of instances in Judges 1:10-15; that of the south is similarly indicated in Judges 1:16-17; and that of the plain in Judges 1:18. Here, too, Judah was successful in his undertakings. As in the other cases, the places named here, Gaza, Askelon, Ekron, are only mentioned as examples of what took place in the Shephelah generally. The conquest of the western parts of the Shephelah being related, that of the eastern districts, nearer the mountains, was left to be inferred as a matter of course. Then, in Judges 1:19, the narrative returns to the mountain country, in order to supplement Judges 1:10-15 by indicating, what those verses did not show, that the conquest of this division, the first of the three mentioned, was not complete.—Tr.]

[58]How properly the readings of the Septuaginta are not considered as authorities against the Hebrew text, is sufficiently shown by the single fact that here they read, “ὅτι ̔Ρηχὰβ διεστείλατο αὐτοῖς,” which also passed over into the Syriac version. A few Codd. add “καὶ ἅρματα σιδηρᾶ αν̓τοῖς.”

[59]Cf. Joh. Gottl. Schneider in his edition of the Cyropœdia (Lips. 1840), p. 368.

[60]Bohlen, Altes Indien, ii. 66.

[61][On this sentence of our author, Bachmann remarks: “Cassel’s explanation that the Cyrenians had ‘still’ that kind of chariots which Cyrus invented, is the opposite of what Xenophon, l. c., expressly and repeatedly declares, namely, that Cyrus abolished (κατέλυσε) both the earlier (πρόσθεν οῦ̓σαν) Trojan method of chariot-warfare, and also that still in use (ἔτι καὶ νῦν οῦ̓σαν) among the Cyrenians, which formerly (τὸν πρόσθεν χρόνον) was also practiced by the Medes, Syrians, etc.” Bertheau and Bachmann (Keil, too) resist the conversion of “iron chariots” into currus falcati on the ground that these were unknown before Cyrus, who invented them, Cyropœdia, vi. 1, 27, 30. On the Egyptian war-chariot, see Wilkinson, Manners and Customs, i. 350.—Tr.]

[62]Lib. xvii. 3, 7, ed. Paris, p. Judges 703: “χρῶνται δὲ καὶ δρεπανηφόροις ά̔ρμασι.”

[63]In the Bibl. Hist. of Diodorus, ii. 5.

[64]Cf. Layard, Nineveh and its Remains, ii. 335. [For an account of the Assyrian war-chariot, p. 349. On p. 353, Layard remarks: “Chariots armed with scythes are not seen in the Assyrian sculptures, although mentioned by Ctesias as being in the army of Ninus.”—Tr.]

Verses 21-26

Benjamin is inactive, and allows the Jebusite to remain in Jerusalem. The House of Joseph emulates Judah, and takes Bethel

Judges 1:21-26

21And65the children [sons] of Benjamin did not drive out the Jebusites that inhabited Jerusalem: but the Jebusites dwell [dwelt] with [among]66 the children [sons] of Benjamin in Jerusalem unto this day. 22And the house of Joseph, they also67 went up against Beth-el: and the Lord [Jehovah] was with them. 23And the house of Joseph sent to descry [spy out the entrance to]68 Beth-el. Now the name of the city before was Luz. 24And 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 25thee mercy [favor]. And when [omit: when] he shewed them the entrance into the city, [and] they smote the city with the edge of the sword: but they let go the man and all his family. 26And the man went into the land of the Hittites, and built [there] a city, and called the name thereof Luz: which is the name thereof unto this day.


[1 Judges 1:21.—The ו would be better taken adversitively: But. It contrasts the conduct of Benjamin with that of Caleb, Judges 1:20.—Tr.]

[2 Judges 1:21.—Cf. note 2, on Judges 1:16; Judges 1:3 on Judges 1:29.—Tr.]

[3 Judges 1:22.—גַּם־הֵם looks back to Judges 1:3 ff. and intimates a parallelism between the conduct of the House of Joseph and that of Judah and his brother Simeon.—Tr.]

[4 Judges 1:23.—Dr. Cassel apparently supplies מָבוֹא from the next verse. תּוּר, it is true, is usually followed by the accusative, not by בּ. But on the other hand, מָבוֹא is put in the const. state before עִיר (cf. Judges 1:24-25); whereas, if we supply it here, we must suppose it joined to עִיר by means of a preposition. It is as well, therefore, to say, with Bertheau, that “the verb is connected with בְּ because the spying is to fasten itself, and that continuously, upon Bethel, cf. בְּ with רָאָה and הִרְאָה;” or with Bachmann, that “בְּ indicates the hostile character of the spying.” מָבוֹא is used as a general expression for any way or mode of access into the city: “Show us how to get in,” is the demand of the spies.—Tr.]


Judges 1:21. And the sons of Benjamin did not drive out the Jebusite. At Joshua 15:63, at the close of a detailed description of the territory of Judah, it is said, “As for the Jebusites, the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the sons of Judah could not drive them out; and the Jebusites dwelt with the sons of Judah in Jerusalem unto this day.” This verse has been thought to contradict the one above. In reality, however, it only proves the exactness of the statements. The boundary line of the tribes of Benjamin and Judah ran through the district of Jerusalem, through the valley of Ben Hinnom, south of the city (Joshua 15:8). The city already extended outward from the foot of the citadel. The remark of Josephus,69 that, in the passage above discussed, Judges 1:8, the tribe of Judah took only the lower city, not the citadel, has great probability on its side. The conquest of the citadel was not their business at the time. It was sufficient for them to pursue the hostile king into his city, and then lay that in ashes. The citadel lay within the tribe of Benjamin. Nevertheless, on account of this fortress, Judah, also, was not able to expel the Jebusites, who continued to live side by side with them in the district of Jerusalem. At all events, the Jebusites in Jerusalem belonged to the territory of Judah so far at least, that the failure to expel them must be mentioned in connection with the boundaries of Judah. Still more necessary was it to repeat this statement in connection with Benjamin, within whose limits the city and fortress of the Jebusites were situated. Their expulsion properly devolved on this tribe. Successful occupation of the stronghold would have greatly increased the honor and consideration of Benjamin. The importance of the place, David recognized as soon as he became king. But Benjamin was content when the Jebusites, humbled by Judah, offered no resistance, left them in possession of the fortress, and lived peaceably together with them. It has been justly observed, that different terms are employed in speaking of the failure of Judah and Benjamin respectively to drive out the Jebusites. Of Judah it is said (Joshua 15:63), “they could not,” because the Jebusites had their stronghold in another tribe. But of Benjamin this expression is not used, because they were wanting in disposition and energy for the struggle that devolved upon them. Cf. on Judges 19:12.

Judges 1:22. And the house of Joseph, they also went up toward Bethel. This action of the house of Joseph is told by way of contrast with the house of Benjamin. The tribe of Benjamin lay between Judah and Ephraim (Joshua 18:11); and Bethel, within its limits, formed a counterpart to Jerusalem. Historically, Bethel is celebrated for the blessing there promised to Jacob, and afterwards less favorably for the idolatrous worship of Jeroboam. Geographically, it was important on account of its position and strength. As Jebus and Jerusalem are always identified, so it is everywhere remarked of Bethel, that it was formerly Luz; and 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). This assumption, moreover, explains the peculiar phraseology of Joshua 18:13 : “And the border went over from thence toward Luz (after which we expect the usual addition “which is Bethel;” but that which does follow is:) on the south side of Luz, which is Bethel. It explains likewise the mention, Joshua 16:2, of the order “from Bethel to Luz,” i.e. between Bethel and Luz. The latter was evidently a fortress, high and strong, whose city descended along the mountain-slope. When Jacob erected his altar, it must have been on this slope or in the valley. One name designated both fortress and city, but this does not militate against their being distinguished from each other. Bethel belonged to two tribes in a similar manner as Jerusalem. The capture of Luz by Joseph would not have been told in a passage which treats of the conflicts of the individual tribes in their own territories, if that fortress had not belonged to the tribes of Joseph. By the conquest of Luz, Joseph secured the possession of Bethel, since both went by that name, just as David, when he had taken the fortress of the Jebusite, was for the first time master of Jerusalem. This deed is related as contrasting with the conduct of Benjamin. Benjamin did nothing to take the fortress of Zion: Joseph went up to Luz, and God was with him. This remark had been impossible, if, as has been frequently assumed,70 the tribe of Joseph had arbitrarily appropriated to itself the city which had been promised to Benjamin. The view of ancient Jewish expositors, who assume a Bethel in the valley and one on the mountain, does not differ from that here suggested.—Robinson seems to have established the position of the ancient Bethel near the present Beitîn, where scattered ruins occupy the surface of a hill-point. A few minutes to the N. E., on the highest spot of ground in the vicinity, are other ruins, erroneously supposed to be Ai by the natives: these also perhaps belonged to Bethel.71 It cannot, however, be said, that until Robinson this position was entirely unknown. Esthori ha-Parchi, who in his time found it called Bethai, the l having fallen away, was evidently acquainted with it.72 In another work of the fourteenth century the then current name of Bethel is said to be Bethin.73

Judges 1:23-25. And the house of Joseph sent to spy out. וַיָּתִירוּ from תּוּר, to travel around, in order to find an entrance less guarded and inaccessible. Luz appeared to be very strong and well guarded, and for a long time the assailants vainly sought a suitable opportunity for a successful assault. When the Persians besieged Sardis, their efforts were long in vain. One day a Persian saw a Lydian, whose helmet had fallen over the rampart, fetch it back by a hitherto unnoticed way. The man was followed, and the city was taken (Herod. i. 84). A similar accident favored the conquest of the fortress. The spies saw a man who had come out of the city. He failed to escape them. They compelled him to disclose the entrance. They promised him peace and mercy on condition of showing them the right way. He did it. It seems not even to have been necessary to storm the city; they fell upon the inhabitants unawares. Only the man who had assisted them, and his family, were spared. They let him go in peace. He was evidently no Ephialtes, who had betrayed the city for money. Doing it under compulsion, and unconsciously serving a great cause,74 no calamity befell him, and he found a new country. It not only behooves the people of God to perform what they have promised, but Jewish tradition followed persons like Rahab and this man, as those who had furthered the course of sacred history against their own people, with peculiar kindness. This man, like Rahab, is blessed for all time (cf. Jalkut on the passage, p. 8, d).

Judges 1:26. And the man went into the land of the Hittites. It evinces a special interest in the man that his fortunes are traced even into a strange land. Greek patriotism relates that Ephialtes fared as he deserved;75 our history employs the favorable destiny which befell this man, to show that as he did not designedly for the sake of money practice treason, so he was also the instrument of setting a prosperous enterprise on foot. But where is the land of the Chittim (Hittites) to which he went? In nearly all passages in which Scripture makes mention of the Sons of Cheth (חֵת, E. V. Heth), the Chitti (חִתִּי, E. V. Hittite), and the Chittim (חִתִּים, E. V. Hittites), the name appears to be a general term, like the word Canaanite. Especially in the three passages where the Chittim are mentioned76 (Joshua 1:4; 1 Kings 10:29; 2 Kings 7:6), their land and kings are placed between Egypt and Aram in such a way as seems to be applicable only to the populations of Canaan. Movers77 has successfully maintained that חִתִּים and כִּתִּים refer to the same race of people; but it cannot be accepted that this race consisted only of the Kittim of Cyprus. It must rather be assumed that the Chittim answer to a more general conception, which also gave to the Kittim, their colonists, the name they bore. The historical interpretation of Kittim, which applied it to Ionians, Macedonians, and Romans, would not have been possible, if the name had not carried with it the notion of coast-dwellers,78 an idea which comparative philology may find indicated. Now, it is unquestionable that the Phœnician cities, with Tyre at their head, are even on their own coins designated by the terms חת and כת. As from its lowlands, “Canaan” became the general popular name of Palestine, so likewise to a certain extent the name Chittim became a general term applied to all Canaanites. When the panic-struck king of Aram thinks that Israel has received support from the kings of Egypt and the Chittim (2 Kings 7:6), this latter name can only signify the coast-cities, whose power, from Tyre upwards, was felt throughout the world. From the fact that our passage merely says that the man went into the land of Chittim,79 and presupposes the city built by him as still known, it may reasonably be inferred that he went to the familiarly known Chittim north of Israel. The probability is great enough to justify our seeking this Luz upon the Phœnician coast or islands. A remarkable notice in the Talmud (Sota, 46 b), derived from ancient tradition, may lead to the same conclusion: Luz is the place where the dyeing of תְּכֵלֶת is carried on, where there are hyacinthian80 purple dyeing-establishments. Down to the most recent times, the coast from Tyre upwards, as far as the Syrian Alexandria, was very rich in purple (Ritter, xvi. 611 [Gage’s Transl. iv. 280]). Now, pretty far away to the north, it is true, in the present Jebel el-Aala, at a point where a splendid northwest prospect over the plain to the lake of Antioch offers itself, Thomson81 found hitherto wholly unknown ruins bearing the name of Kûlb Lousy, with remnants of old and splendid temples. The surname Kulb82 might authorize the inference that the dyeing-business was formerly exercised there. The existence of temple-ruins, concerning which the Druses said that they had been without worshippers from time immemorial, explains also another remarkable tradition of the Talmud: that Luz is a city which the conquerors of the land did not destroy, and to which the angel of death never comes, but that they who feel the approach of death, leave the city of their own accord. Traditions like this are characteristic of Sun-worship. In Delos no one was allowed to die or to be buried.83 To Claros no serpents came. Neither could they penetrate to the land of the Astypalæans, on the island Cos. The island Cos is at the same time one of the seats of the ancient purple-trade. In the Syrian city Emesa there was a temple of the Sun, on account of which—as the story still went in Mohammedan times—scorpions and venomous animals cannot live there.84 Name, ruins, and tradition would therefore tend to identify Kûlb Lousy as the remnant of an ancient city, distinguished like Cos for a specific form of industry and for its sun-worship, if indeed Cos itself (כת) be not understood by it.

Luz is described by its name as a place of almond-trees (Genesis 30:37). And indeed, philologically Luz is akin to nux, nut. The Greek κάρυον signifies almond (on account of its shape) as well as nut and egg.85 Eusebius was induced to identify the land of the Chittim with Cyprus, the rather because the Cyprian almonds were celebrated in antiquity.86 The almond-tree has always abounded in the holy land. The cities are in ruins, but the tree still flourishes.


The cessation of perfect obedience is attended by the cessation of perfect victory. Benjamin does not expel the hostile Jebusite from Jerusalem because he has lost his first love. The tribes of Joseph, on the other hand, are able to conquer Bethel, because God is with them. Benjamin, the valiant tribe, is alone to blame, if it failed to triumph; for when Bethel resisted the sons of Joseph, the latter were aided by a fortunate incident. Benjamin did not conquer Jerusalem; therefore, not the king out of Benjamin (Saul), but the ruler out of Judah (David), dwelt therein. However, it is of no avail to conquer by faith, unless it be also maintained in faith; for Bethel became after wards a Beth-aven, a House of Sin.

Starke: Ill got, ill spent; but that also which has been rightly got, is apt to be lost, if we make ourselves unworthy of the divine blessing, just as these places were again taken from the Israelites.

[Wordsworth: Here then was a happy opportunity for the man of Bethel; he might have dwelt with the men of Joseph at Bethel, and have become a worshipper of the true God, and have thus become a citizen forever of the heavenly Bethel, the house of God, which will stand forever. But.… he quits the house of God to propagate heathenism and idolatry. The man of Bethel, therefore, is presented to us in this Scripture as a specimen of that class of persons, who help the Church of God in her work from motives of fear, or of worldly benefit, and not from love of God; and who, when they have opportunities of spiritual benefit, slight those opportunities, and even shun the light, and go away from Bethel, the house of God, as it were, unto some far-off land of the Hittites, and build there a heathen Luz of their own.—The same: There are four classes of persons, whose various conduct toward the Church of God, and to the gospel preached by her, is represented by four cases in the Books of Joshua and Judges; namely,—1. There is this case of the man of Bethel. 2. There is the case of the Kenites, in Judges 1:16, who helped Judah after their victories in Canaan, and are received into fellowship with them. 3. There is the case of the Gibeonites, who came to Joshua from motives of fear, and were admitted to dwell with Israel, as hewers of wood and drawers of water. 4. There is the case of Rahab. She stands out in beautiful contrast to the man of Bethel. He helped the spies of Joseph, and was spared, with his household, but did not choose to live in their Bethel. But Rahab received the spies of Joshua, even before he had gained a single victory, and she professed her faith in their God; and she was spared, she and her household, and became a mother in Israel, an ancestress of Christ (see Joshua 6:25).—Tr.]


[65][Judges 1:21.—The ו would be better taken adversitively: But. It contrasts the conduct of Benjamin with that of Caleb, Judges 1:20.—Tr.]

[66][Judges 1:21.—Cf. note 2, on Judges 1:16; Judges 1:3 on Judges 1:29.—Tr.]

[67][Judges 1:22.—גַּם־הֵם looks back to Judges 1:3 ff. and intimates a parallelism between the conduct of the House of Joseph and that of Judah and his brother Simeon.—Tr.]

[68][Judges 1:23.—Dr. Cassel apparently supplies מָבוֹא from the next verse. תּוּר, it is true, is usually followed by the accusative, not by בּ. But on the other hand, מָבוֹא is put in the const. state before עִיר (cf. Judges 1:24-25); whereas, if we supply it here, we must suppose it joined to עִיר by means of a preposition. It is as well, therefore, to say, with Bertheau, that “the verb is connected with בְּ because the spying is to fasten itself, and that continuously, upon Bethel, cf. בְּ with רָאָה and הִרְאָה;” or with Bachmann, that “בְּ indicates the hostile character of the spying.” מָבוֹא is used as a general expression for any way or mode of access into the city: “Show us how to get in,” is the demand of the spies.—Tr.]

[69]Ant. v. 2, Judges 2:0 : Χαλεπὴ δ̓ ἦν καθύπερθεν αὐτοῖς αἱρεῆναι, etc.

[70]Already by Reland, Palæstina, p. 841.

[71]Robinson, Bibl. Res. i. 448.

[72]Kaftor ve Pherach (Berlin edition), Judges 11:0. pp. 47, 48. Cf. Zunz, in Asher’s Benj. of Tudela, ii. 436.

[73]Ishak Chelo in Carmoly, pp. 249, 250.

[74]The German traitor Segestes merely alleges that he follows higher reasons, although he knows that “proditores etiam iis quos anteponunt invisi sunt.” Tacit., Annal. i. 58, 2. Israel saw the hand of a higher Helper in such assistance; and hence it had no hatred toward the instruments

[75]Ephialtes was the traitor of Thermopylæ, cf. Herod, vii. 213. Traditions are still current of a traitor at Jena (1806), who was obliged to flee into exile.

[76][That is, where this people is spoken of under the plural form of its patronymic, which happens only five times—at Judges 1:26, 2 Chronicles 1:17, and the places named in the text.—Tr.]

[77]Phönizier, ii. 2, 213, etc.

[78]I have already directed attention to this in the Mag Alterthümer (Berlin, 1848), p. 281.

[79]Cf. ἀκτή, Cos (the island Cos), cautes, costa, côte, Küste.

[80]The Sept. constantly (with barely two exceptions) translate תְּבֵלֶת by ν̔ακίνθινος. Cf. Ad. Schmidt, Die griechischen Papyrusurkunden (Berlin, 1842), p. 134.

[81]Cf. Ritter, xvii. 1577. [Thomson, Journey from Aleppo to Mt. Lebanon, in Bibliotheca Sacra, vol. v. p. 667.—Tr.]

[82]Cf. Bochart, Hierozoicon, ii. 740. Aruch (ed. Amsteld.) p. 89, s. v. כלבום.

[83]On this and the following notices, which will be more thoroughly treated in the second part of my Hierozoicon, compare meanwhile, Ælian, Hist. Anim. V. cap. viii., cap. x. 49.

[84]Cf. Ritter, xvii. 1010.

[85]Casaubon, on Athenæus, p. 65.

[86]Athenæus, p. 52; ct. Meursius, Cyprus, p. 30.

Verses 27-36

A list of places in the central and northern tribes from which the Canaanites were not driven out. The tribes when strong, make the Canaanites tributary; when weak, are content to dwell in the midst of them

Judges 1:27-36

27Neither did [And]87 Manasseh [did not] drive out the inhabitants of Beth-shean and her towns [daughter-cities], nor Taanach and her towns [daughter-cities], nor the inhabitants of Dor and her towns [daughter-cities], nor the inhabitants of Ibleam and her towns [daughter-cities], nor the inhabitants of Megiddo and her towns [daughter-cities]; but the Canaanites would dwell [consented to dwell] in that land. 28And it came to pass when Israel was strong, that they put the Canaanites to tribute [made the Canaanites tributary], and [but] did not utterly drive them out. 29Neither88 did Ephraim drive out the Canaanites that dwelt in Gezer; but the Canaanites 30dwelt in Gezer among89 them. Neither90 did Zebulun drive out the inhabitants of Kitron, nor the inhabitants of Nahalol; but the Canaanites dwelt among them, and became tributaries. 31Neither 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: 32But the Asherites dwelt among the Canaanites, the inhabitants of the land: for they did not drive them out. 33Neither 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, [and] the inhabitants of Beth-shemesh and of Beth-anath became tributaries [were tributary] unto them. 34And the Amorites forced [crowded]91 the children [sons] of Dan into the mountain [mountains]: for they would not suffer them to come down to the valley: But [And] the Amorite would dwell [consented to dwell] in mount Heres [,] in Aijalon, and in Shaalbim: yet [and] the hand of the house of Joseph prevailed [became powerful], so that [and] they became tributaries [tributary]. 36And the coast [border] of the Amorites was [went] from the going up to Akrabbim, from the rock, and upwards [from Maahleh Akrabbim, and from Sela and onward].


[Judges 1:27.—So Dr. Cassel. But the position of the verb at the beginning of the sentence suggests a contrast with what precedes: the House of Joseph took Luz; but drive out the inhabitants of Beth-shean Manasseh (a member of the House of Joseph) did not do. Cf. next note.—Tr.]

[Judges 1:29.—The ו here connects Ephraim with Manasseh, Judges 1:27 : Ephraim also was guilty of not driving out.—Tr.]

[Judges 1:29.—בְּקִרְבּוֹ: lit. “in the midst of them.” Cf. Judges 1:16; Judges 1:21; Judges 1:30; Judges 1:32-33.—Tr.]

[Judges 1:30.—The “neither” ought to be omitted here and also in Judges 1:31; Judges 1:33. Manasseh and Ephraim are coupled together, cf. notes 1 and 2; but from this point each tribe is treated separately: “Zebulun did not drive out,” etc.—Tr.]

[Judges 1:34.—וַיִּלְחֲצוּ: to press, to push. From this word Bachm. infers that Dan had originally taken more of his territory than he now held.—Tr.]


Judges 1:27. And Manasseh did not drive out. The conquest of Luz was achieved by the two brother tribes conjointly. With the exception of this place, the lands allotted to them had for the most part been already conquered by Joshua. The portion of the half tribe of Manasseh lay about the brook Kanah (Nahr el-Akhdar).92 A few cities, however, south of this brook, which fell to Ephraim, were made good to Manasseh by certain districts included within the borders of Asher and Issachar. This explains why Manasseh did not drive out the inhabitants of these districts. There were six townships of them, constituting three several domains, each of them inclosed in the lands of another tribe (שְׁלשֶׁת הַנּפֶת, Joshua 17:11). The first of these was Beth-shean to the east; the second, the three cities Megiddo, Taanach, and Ibleam; the third, Dor on the sea-coast. The two former were inclosed within the tribe of Issachar; the latter should have belonged to the tribe of Asher. The districts thus given to Manasseh were valuable. Beth-shean (Greek, Scythopolis, at present Beisân) occupies an important position, and has a fertile soil. It formed a connecting link between the two seas, as also between the territories east and west of the Jordan, and was a precious oasis93 in the Ghôr, the desert-like valley of this stream. It was an important place in both ancient and later times. Esthor ha Parchi, the highly intelligent Jewish traveller of the 14th century, who made tins place the central point of his researches, says of it: “It is situated near rich waters, a blessed, glorious land, fertile as a garden of God, as a gate of Paradise” (Berlin ed., Philippians 1:6; cf. Zunz in Asher’s Benj. of Tudela, ii. 401). The situation of the three cities Megiddo, Taanach, and Ibleam, in the noble plain of Jezreel, was equally favorable. Concerning the first, it is to be considered as established that it answers to the old Legio, the modern Lejjûn (Rob. ii. 328; iii. 118); although I am not of the opinion that the name Legio, first mentioned by Eusebius and Jerome, is etymologically derived from Megiddo. It appears much more likely that Lejjûn was an ancient popular mutilation of Megiddo, which subsequently in the time of the Romans became Latinized into Legio. Taanach is confessedly the present Ta’annuk (Schubert’s Reise, iii. 164; Rob. ii. 316, iii. 117). The more confidently mway I suggest the neighboring Jelameh as the site of Ibleam, although not proposed as such by these travellers.94 Robinson reached this place from Jenîn, in about one hour’s travel through a fine country (Bib. Res. ii. 318 ff.). Dor95 is the well-known Dandûra, Tantûra, of the present day, on the coast (Ritter, xvi. 608, etc. [Gage’s transl. iv. 278]). Joshua 17:11 names Endor also, of which here nothing is said. The same passage affirms that “the sons of Manasseh could not (לאֹ יָכְלוּ) drive out the inhabitants.” Evidently, Manasseh depended for the expulsion of the inhabitants of these cities upon the coöperation of Issachar, by whose territory they were inclosed. The example of the tribes of Judah and Simeon, the latter of whom was entirely surrounded by the former, does not seem to have been imitated. Issachar is the only tribe concerning which our chapter gives no information. But since in the case of all the tribes, except Judah, only those cities are here enumerated out of which the Canaanites had not been expelled, the inference is that Issachar had done his part, and that the cities within his limits which did not expel their inhabitants, were just those which belonged to Manasseh. The statement that in Beth-shean, Megiddo, Taanach, and Ibleam the Canaanite remained, included therefore also all that was to be said about Issachar, and rendered further mention unnecessary. Issachar possessed the magnificent Plain of Jezreel (μέγα πέδιον), and was on that account an agricultural, peaceable, solid tribe.

And the Canaanite consented to continue to dwell. Wherever ויּוֹאֶל occurs, it seems necessary to take it as expressing acquiescence in offered proposals and conditions. In this sense it is to be taken Exodus 2:21, where Moses consents to enter into the family of Jethro. Upon the proposals made by Micah to the Levite (Judges 17:11), the latter consents to remain with him. David willingly acquiesces in the proposal to wear the armor of Saul, but finds himself as yet unaccustomed to its use. Manasseh was too weak to expel the inhabitants of these cities. He therefore came to an understanding with them. He proposed that they should peaceably submit themselves. Unwilling to leave the fine country which they occupied, and seeing that all the Canaanites round about had been overpowered, they acceded to the proposition.

Judges 1:28. When Israel was strong, they made the Canaanite tributary. The narrator generalizes what he has said of Manasseh, and applies it to all Israel. The Canaanite, wherever he was not driven out, but “consented” to remain, was obliged to pay tribute. This lasted, of course, only so long as Israel had strength enough to command the respect of the subject people. Similar relations between conquerors and conquered are of frequent occurrence in history. The inhabitants of Sparta, the Periæki, were made tributary by the victorious immigrant Dorians, and even after many centuries, when Epaminondas threatened Sparta, were inclined to make common cause with the enemy (Manso, Sparta, iii. i. 167). According to Mohammedan law, the unbeliever who freely submits himself, retains his property, but is obliged to pay poll-tax and ground-rent (cf. Tornauv, Das Mosl. Recht, p. 51). When the Saxons had vanquished the Thuringian nobility, and were not sufficiently numerous to cultivate the land, “they let the peasantry remain,” says the Sachsenspiegel (iii. 44), and took rent from them (cf. Eichhorn, Deutsche Staats und Rechtsg., § 15). The treatment which the Israelitish tribes now extended to the Canaanites, was afterwards, in the time of their national decay, experienced by themselves (cf. my History of the Jews in Ersch & Gruber, II. xxvii. 7, etc.). The word מַם, by which the tribute imposed is designated, evidently means ground-rent, and is related to the Sanskrit mâdmetior, to measure. Another expression for this form of tribute is the Chaldee מִדָּה (Ezra 4:20), for which elsewhere מִנְדָּה appears (Ezra 4:13). The Midrash (Ber. Rabba, p. 57, a), therefore, rightly explains the latter as מִדַּת הָאָרֶץ, ground-rent. The terms mensura and mensuraticum, in mediæval Latin, were formed in a similar manner. The Arabic כרגֹ, Talmudic כרגה, also, as Hammer observes (Länderverwalt des Chalifats, p. 119), mean tribute and corn.96

[But did not drive them out. Bertheau: “וְהוֹרֵישׁ לאֹ־הוֹרִישׁוֹ: the emphatic expression by means of the infinitive before the finite verb, we regard as indicative of an implied antithesis; but, although Israel, when it became strong, had the power to execute the law of Moses to destroy the Canaanites, it nevertheless did not destroy them.”—Tr.]

Judges 1:29. And Ephraim did not drive out the Canaanite that dwelt in Gezer. The situation of Gezer may be exactly determined from Joshua 16:3. The border of Ephraim proceeds from Lower Beth-horon, by way of Gezer, to the sea. Now, since the position of Beth-horon is well ascertained (Beit ’Ur et-Tatha), the border, running northwest, past Ludd, which belonged to Benjamin, must have touched the sea to the north of Japho, which likewise lay within the territory of Benjamin. On this line, four or five miles east of Joppa, there still exists a place called Jesôr (Jazour Yazûr), which can be nothing else than Gezer, although Bertheau does not recognize it as such (p. 41; nor Ritter, xvi. 127 [Gage’s Transl. iii. 245]). It is not improbable that it is the Gazara of Jerome (p. 137, ed. Parthey), in quarto milliario Nicopoleos contra septentrionem, although the distance does not appear to be accurately given. The Ganzur of Esthor ha-Parchi (ii. 434), on the contrary, is entirely incorrect. The position of Gezer enables us also to see why Ephraim did not drive out the inhabitants. The place was situated in a fine, fertile region. It is still surrounded by noble corn-fields and rich orchards. The agricultural population of such fruitful regions were readily permitted to remain for the sake of profit, especially by warlike tribes who had less love and skill for such peaceful labors than was possessed by Issachar.

Judges 1:30. Zebulon did not drive out the inhabitants of Kitron nor the inhabitants of Nahalol. This statement will only confirm the remarks just made. There is no reason for contradicting the Talmud (Megilla, 6 a), when it definitely identifies Kitron with the later Zippori, Sepphoris, the present Seffûrieh. As the present village still lies at the foot of a castle-crowned eminence, and as the Rabbinic name Zippori (Tsippori, from צִפּוֹר, “a bird, which hovers aloft”) indicates an elevated situation, the ancient name קִטְרוֹן (from עָטַר=קָטַר) may perhaps be supposed to describe the city as the “mountain-crown” of the surrounding district. The tribe of Zebulon, it is remarked in the Talmud, need not commiserate itself, since it has Kitron, that is, Sepphoris, a district rich in milk and honey. And in truth Seffûrieh does lie on the southern limit of the beautiful plain el-Buttauf, the present beauty and richness of which, as last noted by Robinson (ii. 336), must formerly have been much enhanced by cultivation. In connection with this, it will also be possible to locate Nahalol more definitely. Philologically, it is clearly to be interpreted “pasture” (Isaiah 7:19). It answers perhaps to the later Abilîn, a place from which a wady somewhat to the northwest of Seffûrieh has its name. For this name comes from Abel, which also means pasture. This moreover suggests the explanation why from just these two places the Canaanites were not expelled. They both became tributary, and remained the occupants and bailiff’s of their pastures and meadows.

Judges 1:31-32. Asher did not drive out the inhabitants of Accho, Zidon, Ahlab, Achzib, Helbah, Aphik, Rehob. The whole history of Israel can be nothing else than a fulfilling of the spirit of the Mosaic law. The division of the land of Canaan is a part of this fulfillment. This division therefore cannot have respect only to the territory already acquired, but must proceed according to the promise. The boundaries of the land destined for Israel were indicated by Moses. The territories which they circumscribe must be conquered. Whatever part is not gained, the failure is the fault of Israel itself. The boundaries indicated, were the outlines of a magnificent country. Splendid coast-lands, stately mountains, wealthy agricultural districts, rich in varieties of products and beauty, inclosed by natural, boundaries. The whole sea-coast with its harbors—Phænicia not excepted—was included; the northeastern boundary was formed by the desert, and lower down by the river. The border lines of the land of Israel, drawn Numbers 34:0, are based upon the permanent landmarks which it offers; they are accurate geographical definitions, obtained from the wandering tribes of the land. It seems to me that it is only from this point of view that the hitherto frequently mistaken northern boundary of the land, as given Numbers 34:7-9, can be correctly made out. “And this shall be your north border,” it is there said: “from the great sea ye shall take Mount Hor as your landmark; thence follow the road as far as Hamath; and the border shall end in Zedad: thence it goes on to Ziphron,97 and ends in Hazarenan.” The range of Mount Casius, whose southernmost prominence lifts itself up over Laodicea (the present Ladikieh), forms the natural northern boundary of Phænicia. This is the reason why on coins Laodicea was called אם בכנען, the “Beginning of Canaan,” as it might be translated. It is therefore also from the foot of this range that the northern boundary of Israel sets out. The name Mount Hor is simply the ancient equivalent of Mount Casius and also of the later Jebel Akra, which latter term furnishes a general designation for every mountain since the Greek Akra was explained by the Arabic Jebel. From the foot of this mountain ancient caravan roads (suggested by לְבאֹ חְמָת) lead to Hamath, and from Hamath to the desert. At present, as in the time of the geographer Ptolemy, who indicated their course, these roads pass over Zedad, at the western entrance of the desert, the modern Sudud (Ritter, xvi. 5 [Gage’s Transl. iii. 175]; xvii. 1443, etc.). Thence the border went southward till it ended in Hazar-enan, the last oasis, distinguished by fertile meadows and good water (Enan), where the two principal roads from Damascus and Haleb to Palmyra meet, and where the proper Syrian desert in which Palmyra (Tadmor) is situated begins. The name Cehere on the Tabula Peutingeriana, Zoaria (for the Goaria of Ptolemy), at present Carietein, Kuryetein (Ritter, xvii. 1457, etc.), may remind us of Hazor.

Tadmor itself did not lay beyond the horizon of Israelitish views. Whithersoever David and Solomon turned their steps, they moved everywhere within the circle of original claims. Israel was not to conquer in unbridled arbitrariness; they were to gain those districts which God had promised them. Conquest, with them, was fulfillment. The eastern border has the same natural character. From Hazar-enan it runs to Shepham, along the edge of the desert to Riblah (the present Ribleh) “on the east side of Ain” (Rob. iii. 534), along the range of Antilebanon, down the Jordan to the Dead Sea. These remarks it was necessary to make here where we must treat of the territories of Asher and Naphtali, the northwestern and northeastern divisions of Israel. For it must be assumed that Asher’s territory was considered to extend as far up as Mount Hor,—that the whole coast from Accho to Gabala was ascribed to him. This coast-region Asher was not sufficiently strong and numerous to command. The division of the land remained ideal nowhere more than in the case of the Phœnician cities. Nowhere, consequently, was the remark of Judges 1:32 more applicable: “the Asherite dwelt among the inhabitants of the land;” whereas elsewhere the Canaanites dwelt among Israel, though even that was against the Mosaic commands. Nor can it be supposed that the seven cities expressly named were the only ones out of which Asher did not expel the Canaanites. For who can think that this had been done in the case of Tyre, the “fortified city” (Joshua 19:29)? The names are rather to be considered as those of townships and metropolitan cities, so that when Zidon is mentioned other cities to the south and north are included as standing under Sidonian supremacy. The express mention of Tyre, in Joshua 19:29, is due to the fact that the passage was giving the course of the boundaries. For the same reason, Joshua 19:0 is not a complete enumeration of places; for of the seven mentioned here, two at least (Accho and Ahlab) are wanting there. That Accho cannot have been accidentally overlooked, is evident from the fact that the border is spoken of as touching Carmel, and that mention is made of Achzib. The relation of Asher to the Phœnician territory was in general the following: A number of places (Joshua 19:30 speaks of twenty two) had been wholly taken possession of by the tribe. Outside of these, the Asherites lived widely scattered among the inhabitants, making no attempts to drive them out. The seven cities mentioned above, especially those on the coast, are to be regarded as districts in which they dwelt along with the Canaanites. We have no reason for confining these to the south of Sidon. On the contrary, Esthor ha-Parchi (ii. 413–415) was right in maintaining that cities of the tribe of Asher must be acknowledged as far north as Laodicea. The statements in Joshua for the most part mention border-places of districts farther inland, in which the tribe dwelt, and from which the boundary line ran westward to the sea. Thus, at one time the line meandered (שָׁב) to Zidon (Judges 19:28); then it came back, and ran toward Tyre (Judges 1:29). Not till the words, “the ends were at the sea, מֵחֵבֶל אַכְזִיבָה,” do we get a sea-boundary from north to south. I translate this phrase, “from Chebel towards Achzib:” it includes the whole Phœnician tract. True, the whole enumeration implies that most of the places lay farther south than Zidon, in closer geographical connection with the rest of Israel. But places higher up are also named, for the very purpose of indicating the ideal boundaries. Among these are the places mentioned Judges 1:30, two of which again appear in our passage. Asher did not drive out the inhabitants of Accho (Ptolemais, the present Akka), but dwelt among them. To the north of this was Achzib (Ecdippa, the present ez-Zib). They dwelt with the inhabitants of Zidon in their dominion. They did not expel the inhabitants of Aphik (Apheca), on the Adonis river (Ritter, xvii. 553, etc.), notwithstanding the ancient idolatry there practiced, on account of which, evidently, it is mentioned. Rehob, since it is here named, must have been a not unimportant place. The Syrian translation of Rehob is פלטיתא ,פלטיא, paltia, paltusa (platea98). This accounts for the fact that the Greeks and Romans speak of an ancient Paltos, otherwise unknown (Ritter, xvii. 890), and of which the present Beldeh may still remind us. Hitherto, this has escaped attention. It was remarked above that the sea-boundary is drawn, Joshua 19:0, “from Chebel to Achzib.” With this Chebel the חֶלְבָּה (Chelbah, E. V. Helbah), probably to be read חֶבְלָה (Cheblah), of our passage, may perhaps be identified. It is the Gabala of Strabo and Pliny, the Gabellum of the crusaders, the present Jebele, which lies to the north of Paltos, and below Laodicea, and in Phœnician times was the seat of the worship of the goddess Thuro (Ritter, xvii. 893; Movers, ii. 1, 117 ff.). There is but one of the seven cities of which we have not yet spoken, namely, Ahlab, named along with Achzib. It is very probable that this is Giscala, situated in the same latitude with Achzib, but farther inland. In Talmudic times the name of this place was Gush Chaleb; at present there is nothing but the modern name el-Jish to remind us of it.

Judges 1:33. Naphtali did not drive out the inhabitants of Beth-shemesh and Beth-anath. The names of both these places allude to an idolatrous worship, and are also found in the tribe of Judah. The name of Beth-anath (בֵּית עֲנָת), “House of Echo,” from עִנָה, “to answer,” indicates that its situation was that of the present Bâniâs, the ancient Paneas. The inscriptions on the grotto called Panium, still point to the echo. One of them is dedicated to the “echo-loving” (φιλενήχῳ) Pan. The love of Pan for the nymph Echo was a widely-spread myth. Another inscription tells of a man who dedicated a niche (κόγχην) to the Echo (Commentary on Seetzen’s Reisen, iv. 161, 162). The introduction in Greek times of Pan worship in Bâniâs, is moreover also explained by the fact that the name Bethanas (th), required only an easy popular corruption to make it Paneas Robinson (Bib. Res. iii. 409) has again taken up the view, already rejected by Ritter (xvii. 229), which identifies Paneas with the repeatedly occurring Baal-gad, and which on closer inspection is simply impossible. Joshua 11:17 says of Baal-gad that it lay in the Bikath (בִּקְעַת) Lebanon, under Mount Hermon. Joshua 12:7 speaks of it simply as Baal-gad in the Bikath Lebanon. The valley thus spoken of is none other than the Buka’a, i.e. “Hollow Syria.” There is no other hollow region that could be thus indicated. The further determination tachath har Chermon indicates, quite consistently with the meaning of tachath, which frequently combines the signification of “behind” with that of “under,” the Lebanon valley behind Mount Hermon, i.e. on the northern base of Hermon, for on its southern base there can be no Lebanon valley. This alone would suffice to transfer Baal-gad to the Buka’a. But in Joshua 13:5 a Lebanon is spoken of “east of Baal-gad under Mount Hermon.” Now, a Lebanon east of Baal-gad there can be only if Baal-gad lies in the Buka’a; and there being a Lebanon on the east, only the northern base of Mount Hermon can be meant by the phrase “under Mount Hermon” (cf. below, on Judges 3:3). Now, although there ought to be no doubt that Baal-gad lay in the “Hollow,” yet, the addition “under Mount Hermon” cannot have been made without a reason. It was intended to distinguish Baal-gad from Baal-bek, which latter, since it lies in the northern part of the Buka’a, could not properly be said to lie on the northern base of Hermon. We scarcely need to hesitate, therefore, to recognize in Baal-gad the position of the later Chalcis (d Libanuma) whose site is marked by fountains and temple-ruins. “The temple which stands on the summit of the northernmost hill, belongs evidently to an older and severer style of architecture than those at Baalbek. Its position is incomparable” (Ritter, xvii. 185; Hob. iii. 492, etc.).

Besides the inhabitants of Beth-anath, the tribe of Naphtali failed to drive out those of Beth-shemesh also. There was a celebrated place of the same name in Judah, and still another, unknown one in Issachar. Concerning the tribe of Naphtali also the remark is made that they dwelt among the Canaanites, the inhabitants of the land. Their assigned boundaries likewise went far up to the north. They inclosed Cœlo-Syria, as was already remarked. The peculiar mode in which Beth-shemesh is here spoken of, along with Beth-anath, is doubtless intended to point it out as a remarkable seat of idol worship, whose people nevertheless Israel did not expel, but only rendered tributary. The most celebrated place of the north was the temple-city in the “Hollow,”—Beth-shemesh, as later Syrian inhabitants still called it,—Baalbek as we, following the prevailing usage of its people, Heliopolis as the Greeks, named it. The Egyptian Heliopolis also bore the name Beth-shemesh, House of the Sun. Baalbek answers to the name Baalath,99 to which, as to Tadmor, Solomon extended his wisdom and his architecture.

Judges 1:34-35. And the Amorite crowded the sons of Dan into the mountains. The domains of the tribe of Dan lay alongside of those of Benjamin, between Judah on the south and Ephraim on the north. They should have reached to the sea; but the warlike dwellers on the western plain, provided with the appliances of military art, had resisted even Judah. The plain which we are here told the sons of Dan could not take, seems to have been the magnificent and fertile Merj Ibn Omeir, which opens into the great western plain. This may be inferred from the remark in Judges 1:35 : “The Amorite consented to remain on Mount Heres, in Aijalon, and in Shaalbim.” This plain, as Robinson (iii. 144) accurately observes, reaches to the base of the steep mountain wall, on the top of which Sàris is the first place met with. It must be this mountain land that is meant by Mount Heres. Southward of it is the ridge on which Yâlo lies, which is justly considered to be the ancient Aijalon. Perhaps no place answers more closely to the Shaalbim of our passage, than Amwâs (Emmaus, Nicopolis), twenty minutes distant from the conical Tell Latrôn. It is evident that שַׁעַלְבִיםhas nothing to do with שׁוּעָל, “fox,” but belongs to the Chaldaic שְׁלַכ, “to connect,” שְׁלַב, “steps,”100 to which the Hebrew עָנַב corresponds The position of Amwâs is “on the gradual declivity of a rocky hill,” with an extensive view of the plain (Bob. iii.146), “where,” as Jerome says, “the mountains of Judah begin to rise.” When Jerome speaks of a tower called Selebi, he probably refers to the neighboring castle Latrôn.

The sons of Dan were not only unable to command the plain, but also on some points of the hill-country they suffered the inhabitants to remain. Har Heres (הַר חֶרֶם) means the “mountain of the Sun;” but the attempts to bring its position into connection with Ain Shems cannot succeed, since that lies much farther south, in the valley. Heres was the name of the mountain chain which at Beth-horon enters the territory of Ephraim, and on which Joshua was buried. Possibly, the name Sârîs or Soris contains a reminiscence of it. This explains the remark, that “the hand of the sons of Joseph became powerful and made the Amorites tributary.” That which was impossible for the tribe of Dan, Ephraim from their own mountains performed.101

Judges 1:36. The border of the Amorite remained from the Scorpion-terrace, from Sela and onward. This peculiar statement is explained by the composition of the whole tableau presented by the first chapter. It had been unfolded how far the tribes of Israel had performed the task appointed by Moses, by taking the territories whose borders he had indicated. For this reason, it had been stated concerning all the tribes, what they had not yet taken, or had not yet wholly nationalized. Neither the eastern, nor the northern and western boundaries had been hitherto fully realized. Only the southern border had been held fast. This line, as drawn Numbers 34:3 ff., actually separated Israel and the heathen nations. Judges 1:36 is, as it were, a citation from the original Mosaic document. After beginning the sentence by saying “and the border of the Amorite went from Akrabbim and Sela,” it is brought to a sudden close by the addition וְמַעְלָה, “and onward, because it is taken for granted that the further course of the border to the “Brook of Egypt” is known from the determinations of Moses as recorded in Numbers. There it was said, “Your border shall go to the south of Maaleh Akrabbim (at the southern extremity of the Dead Sea), pass through Zin, and its end shall be to the south of Kadesh-barnea.” Here, the statement is somewhat

more exact, inasmuch as the border is prolonged from Akrabbim eastward to Sela, i.e. Petra. From Akrabbim westward it proceeds along the already indicated route, over Kadesh-barnea, Hazar-addar, and Azmon, to the “Brook of Egypt” (Wady el-Arîsh, Rhinocorura). This course the writer deemed sufficiently indicated by the words “and onward.”102


Obedience and love toward God are wrecked on greediness and love of ease. Immediately after the death of Joshua, the children of Israel asked after God. But very soon they ceased to do that which Moses, and, in his name, Joshua had commanded them. Their business was to conquer, and not to tremble at strongholds or chariots of iron. They were to expel, and not to take tribute. But their heart was no longer entirely with their God. They forgot, not only that they were to purify the land, and alone control it, but also why they were to do this. They were indulgent to idolatry, because the worm was already gnawing at their own religion. They no longer thought of the danger of being led astray, because they were unmindful of the word which demanded obedience. Perfect obedience is the only safe way. Every departure from it leads downhill into danger.

Thus we have it explained why so many undertakings of Christians and of the church fail, even while the truth is still confessed. The word of God has not lost its power; but the people who have it on their tongues do not thoroughly enter into its life. The fear of God is still ever the beginning of wisdom; but it must not be mixed with the fear of men. Preaching is still ever effective; but respect to tribute and profitable returns must not weaken it. Perfect obedience has still ever its victory; but that which does not belong to God comes into judgment, even though connected with Christian matters. Israel still confessed God, though it allowed the tribes of Canaan to remain; but nominal service vice is not enough. When confession and life do not agree, the life must bear the consequences.

Starke: We men often do not at all know how to use aright the blessings which God gives, but abuse them rather to our own hurt.—The same: Our corrupt nature will show mercy only there where severity should be used, and on the other hand is altogether rough and hard where gentleness might be practiced.—The same: Self-conceit, avarice, and self-interest can bring it about that men will unhesitatingly despise the command of God. When human counsels are preferred to the express word and command of God, the result is that matters grow worse and worse.

[Scott: The sin [of the people in not driving out the Canaanites] prepared its own punishment, and the love of present ease became the cause of their perpetual disquiet.

Henry: The same thing that kept their fathers forty years out of Canaan, kept them now out of the full possession of it, and that was unbelief.—Tr.]


[87][Judges 1:27.—So Dr. Cassel. But the position of the verb at the beginning of the sentence suggests a contrast with what precedes: the House of Joseph took Luz; but drive out the inhabitants of Beth-shean Manasseh (a member of the House of Joseph) did not do. Cf. next note.—Tr.]

[88][Judges 1:29.—The ו here connects Ephraim with Manasseh, Judges 1:27 : Ephraim also was guilty of not driving out.—Tr.]

[89][Judges 1:29.—בְּקִרְבּוֹ: lit. “in the midst of them.” Cf. Judges 1:16; Judges 1:21; Judges 1:30; Judges 1:32-33.—Tr.]

[90][Judges 1:30.—The “neither” ought to be omitted here and also in Judges 1:31; Judges 1:33. Manasseh and Ephraim are coupled together, cf. notes 1 and 2; but from this point each tribe is treated separately: “Zebulun did not drive out,” etc.—Tr.]

[91][Judges 1:34.—וַיִּלְחֲצוּ: to press, to push. From this word Bachm. infers that Dan had originally taken more of his territory than he now held.—Tr.]

[92][On this identification of the brook Kanah, cf. Grove in Smith’s Bib. Dict., s. v. “Kanah, the River.”—Tr.]

[93]Its magnificent position is also celebrated in the Talmud, Erubin, 19 a; cf. Ketuboth, 112 a. See below on Judges 4:0.

[94][According to Bachmann, Knobel had already proposed this identification. Keil, after Schultz, suggests Khirbet-Belameh, half an hour south of Jenîn.—Tr.]

[95]Levy (Phönizische Inschriften, i. 35) thought that he read this Dor on a Sidonian inscription together with Joppa. It is very doubtful whether he has found any one to agree with him.

[96][On the derivation and radical idea of the word מַם, opinions are very much divided. There is no unanimity even as to the usage of the word. Keil (on 1 Kings 4:6, Edinb. ed. 1857) asserts that it “nowhere signifies vectigal, tribute, or socage, but in all places only serf or socager.” But the better view seems to be that although it is some times used concretely for socagers or bond-servants, (cf. 1 Kgs 5:27 (1 Kings 5:13)), yet its proper and usual meaning is tribute-service Out of the twenty-three instances in which the word occurs, there is not one in which it can be shown that it means tribute in money or products; while it is abundantly evident that in many cases it does mean compulsory labor, personal service. What kind of service the Israelites here required of the Canaanites does not appear. It may have been labor on public works, or assistance rendered at certain times to the individual agriculturist. This appears at least as probable as Bachmann’s suggestion that perhaps “the Canaanite merchants” were expected to furnish certain “commercial supplies and services.” Our author’s view in favor of “ground-rent,” cannot be said to derive the support of analogy from his historical references. For as Bachmann justly remarks, “the case in which the conquerors of a country leave the earlier population in possession of their lands on condition of paying ground-rent, is the reverse of what takes place here, where a people, themselves agriculturists, take personal possession of the open country, and concede a few cities to the old inhabitants.” It is probable, however, that the situation varied considerably in different localities, cf. Judges 1:31 f. and Judges 1:34.—Tr.]

[97]Wetzstein (Hauran, p. 88) writes: “Of Ziphron (Arab. Zifrân) wide-spread ruins are yet existing. According to my inquiries, the place lies fourteen hours N. E. of Damascus, near the Palmyra road. It has not yet, I think, been visited by any traveller.” It is impracticable here to enter into further geographical discussions, but the opinion of Keil (on Numbers 34:7-9), who rejects the above determination, cannot be accepted as decisive, if for no other reason on account of the general idea by which he is evidently influenced.

[98]The Targum also translates רְחֹב by פְּלטְיוּתָא not only when used as a common noun (cf. Buxtorf, Lex. Chald., p. 1740), but also in proper names, as Rehoboth Tr. Genesis 10:11.

1 Kings 9:18; 1 Kings 9:18. Others refer this to Baalath in the tribe of Dan. Cf. Keil on Joshua 19:44, and on 1 Kings 9:18.

[100]Compare the Syrian שלבא, “anfractus inter duos montes.” Cf. Castelli p. 912.

[101][Bachmann: “That the House of Joseph used its greater strength not to exterminate the Amorite cities, but only to render them tributary, thus benefitting itself more than the tribe of Dan, sets forth the unsatisfactory nature of their assistance, and conveys a just reproach. Meanwhile, however, it seems that the subjugation of the Amorite by the House of Joseph was so far at least of use to Dan as to enable them to reach the coast, in partial possession of which, at least, we find the tribe in Judges 5:17.” But cf. our author in loc.—Tr.]

[102] [The foregoing paragraph, rendered somewhat obscure by its brevity, was explained by the author, in reply to some inquiries, as follows: “I endeavored to show that the idea of the passage is, that the original boundary lines of Israel, as drawn by Moses, had nowhere been held against the Amorite, i. e. the original inhabitants, except only in the south. Everywhere else, the inhabitants of Canaan, especially the Amorite, had thus far prevented the Israelites from taking full possession of the land; but in the south the boundary between Israel and the Amorite remained as drawn by Moses, in Numbers 34:3. I would ask that in connection with this the remarks under Judges 1:31-32, be considered. The whole first chapter is an exposition of the fact that Israel had not yet attained to complete possession of Canaan. It is a spiritual-geographical picture of what Israel had not yet acquired, and what nevertheless it should possess.” In other words, Dr. Cassel’s idea is, that the main thought of Judges 1:0. may be expressed in two sentences: 1. On the west, north, and east Israel did not actually realize the assigned boundary lines between itself and the original inhabitants—the term Amorite being used in the wider sense it sometimes has. Cf. Gage’s Ritter, ii. 125. 2. On the south, the Mosaic line was made good, and continued to be held. The first of these sentences is expressed indirectly, by means of illustrative instances, in Judges 1:4-35; the second, by direct and simple statement, in Judges 1:36. In that verse, the narrative which in Judges 1:9 set out from Judah on its northward course, returns to its starting-point, and completes what might be called its tour of boundary inspection, by remarking that the southern boundary (known as southern by the course ascribed to it) corresponded to the Mosaic determinations. Judges 1:36, therefore, connects itself with the entire previous narrative, and not particularly with Judges 1:34-35.

This explanation labors, however, under at least one very serious difficulty. It assumes that in the expression “border of the Amorite,” the gen. is an adjective gen., making the phrase mean the Amoritish (Canaanitish) border, just as we speak of the “Canadian border,” meaning the border of the U. S. over against Canada. But in expressions of this kind, the gen. is always the genitive of the possessor, so that the border of the Amorite, Ammonite, etc., indicates the boundary of the land held by the Amorite, Ammonite, etc. It seems necessary, therefore, with Bertheau, Keil, Bachmann, etc., to read this verse in connection with Judges 1:34-35, and to and in it a note of the extent of territory held by the Amorite. The question then arises, how it is to be explained. We take for granted that the Maaleh Akrabbim of this verse is the same as that in Numbers 34:4 (a line of cliffs, a few miles below the Dead Sea, dividing the Ghôr from the Arabah, see Rob. 2:120), and is not, as some have thought, to be sought in the town Akrabeh, a short distance S. E. of Nâbulus (Rob. 3:296). The other point mentioned is הַםֶּלַע, the Rock. Commentators generally take this to be Petra, in Arabia Petræa; but the difficulties in the way of this view are insurmountable. In the first place we never hear of Amorites (take it in the wider or narrower sense) so far south as Petra, in the midst of the territories of Edom. In the next place, מַעְלָה means upward, i. e. under the geographical conditions of this verse, northward (Dr. Cassel’s onward, i. e. downward to the sea, could scarcely be defended). Now, a line running from Akrabbim to Petra, and thence northward, would merely return on its own track, and would after all leave the Amorite territories undefined on just that side where a definition was most needed because least obvious, namely, the southern. It seems, therefore, altogether preferable (with the Targ., Kurtz, Hist. O. Cov. 3:239, Keil, and Bachm.) to take הַםֶּלַע as an appellative, and to find in it a second point for a southern boundary line. Kurtz and Keil identify it with “the (well-known) rock” at Kadesh (the Kudes of Rowlands, cf. Williams, Holy City, 1:463 ff.), from which Moses caused the water to flow, Numbers 20:8. Bachmann prefers the “bald mountain that ascends toward Seir” (Joshua 11:17), whether it be the chalk-mountain Madurah (Rob. 2:179), or, what he deems more suitable, the northern wall of the Azâzimat mountains, with its masses of naked rock. In the vast confusion that covers the geography of this region, the most that can be said, is, that either view would serve this passage. In either case we get a line running from Akrabbim on the east in a westerly direction. From this southern boundary the Amorite territories extended “upwards.”

But when? Manifestly not at the time of which Judges 1:0. treats, cf. Judges 1:9-19. The statement refers to the time before the entrance of Israel into Canaan, and is probably intended to explain the facts stated in Judges 1:34-35, by reminding the reader of the originally vast power of the Amorite It was not to be wondered at that an enemy once so powerful and widely diffused should still assert his strength in some parts of his former domain. Cf Bachmann.—Tr.]

Bibliographical Information
Lange, Johann Peter. "Commentary on Judges 1". "Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical". https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/lcc/judges-1.html. 1857-84.
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