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Bible Commentaries
Judges 1

Benson's Commentary of the Old and New TestamentsBenson's Commentary


A.M. 2579. B.C. 1425.

The conquests made by Judah and Simeon, Judges 1:1-20 . Benjamin failed, Judges 1:21 . The house of Joseph took Beth-el, Judges 1:22-26 . But Manasseh did not drive out the Canaanites, Judges 1:27 , Judges 1:28 ; nor Ephraim, Judges 1:29 ; nor Zebulun, Judges 1:30 ; nor Asher, Judges 1:31 , Judges 1:32 ; nor Naphtali, Judges 1:33 ; nor Dan, Judges 1:34-36 .

Verse 1

Judges 1:1. After the death of Joshua Not long after it; for Othniel, the first judge, lived in Joshua’s time. Asked the Lord Being assembled together at Shiloh, they inquired of the high-priest by the Urim and the Thummim. Against the Canaanites first Finding their people multiply exceedingly, and consequently the necessity of enlarging their quarters, they renew the war. They do not inquire who shall be captain-general to all the tribes; but what tribe shall first undertake the expedition, that, by their success, the other tribes might be encouraged to make the like attempts upon the Canaanites in their several lots.

Verse 2

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

Verse 3

Judges 1:3. Judah said unto Simeon As nearest to him, both by relation, being his brother by both parents, and by habitation. Come up with me against the Canaanites Which people, with the Perizzites, still possessed a considerable part of the lot which fell to Judah. And I will likewise go with thee To drive the Canaanites out of that part of the country which was the portion of Simeon. So Simeon went with him They joined their forces together in this expedition, under the conduct, no doubt, of some eminent leader.

Verse 4

Judges 1:4. Judah went up The people of that tribe were principally concerned in this expedition, and therefore are only mentioned, though those of the tribe of Simeon went up with them. And the Lord delivered, &c. We meet with no such pious expression (which occurs often here) in any heathen writer. In them every success is attributed to the conduct and valour of the generals, or the strength and courage of the forces; but in the Scriptures every success is attributed to God only. They slew them in Bezek Not in the city, for that was not yet taken, (Judges 1:5,) but in the territory of it.

Verses 5-6

Judges 1:5-6. Adoni-bezek in Bezek He was the king or lord of that place, as his name imports, and, as it appears, he had fled into it for safety when he had lost the field. They fought against him That is, against the city wherein he had taken refuge, and against the rest of his army. Cut off his thumbs and great toes That he might be incapable of war hereafter, being rendered unable to handle arms, or to run swiftly. This severe treatment had been practised upon other kings by himself, as appears, by his own confession, in the next verse, which, it is probable, made the Israelites think it reasonable to serve him in the same way: and perhaps they acted by the direction of God in the matter.

Verse 7

Judges 1:7. Threescore and ten kings Anciently each ruler of a city or great town was called a king, and had kingly power in that place; and many such kings we meet with in Canaan; and it is probable that, some years before, kings had been more numerous there, till the greater destroyed many of the less. Add to this, that it is likely some of these seventy kings had reigned in one and the same place, and had successively opposed him. Have gathered their meat under my table An act of barbarous inhumanity, thus to insult over the miserable, joined with abominable luxury. So that it appears, by his own confession, he had been proud and insolent, as well as cruel, to a most high degree; and therefore what befell him may well be considered, which indeed he acknowledges, as a just punishment inflicted upon him by the order of Divine Providence. As I have done, so hath God requited me This, his acknowledgment of God’s justice in his punishment, hath made some think he became a penitent and convert to the true religion. He speaks not of gods, as was customary with the heathen, but of God, in the singular number; and this appearance of penitence and faith in the true God might possibly be the reason why the Israelites spared his life.

Verses 8-10

Judges 1:8-10. Judah had fought against Jerusalem, and taken it Yet some of the inhabitants retired into the castle, and held out there till David’s time. Judah went against the Canaanites in Hebron Under the conduct of Caleb, as is recorded Joshua 15:14, &c., for that relation and this are doubtless one and the same expedition, and it is mentioned there by anticipation.

Verse 16

Judges 1:16. The children of the Kenite Jethro, Moses’s father-in-law, seems to have been called a Kenite from the people from whom he was descended, Numbers 24:21-22. His posterity, it appears, came into Canaan with the Israelites, and were settled there with them. Went up from the city of palm-trees That is, from Jericho, so called, Deuteronomy 34:3; not indeed the city, which had been destroyed; but the territory belonging to it, where, it seems, they were seated in a most pleasant, fruitful, and safe place, according to the promise made by Moses to their father, Numbers 10:31-32; and whence they might remove either to avoid the neighbouring Canaanites, or out of love to the children of Judah. In the south of Arad The southern part of the land of Canaan, where Arad was, Numbers 21:1. And dwelt among the people Hebrew, that people; namely, those children of Judah that lived there.

Verse 17

Judges 1:17. Judah went with Simeon According to their promise, Judges 1:3, and the laws of justice and gratitude: having finished, as far as they were able, the conquest of what belonged to the tribe of Judah, they went to assist the Simeonites to acquire the possession of what was comprehended in their lot. The name of the city was called Hormah Either the same place, so called Numbers 21:3; in which case what was there vowed is here executed; or some other place called by the same name upon the like occasion, which seems more probable.

Verse 18

Judges 1:18. Judah also took Gaza, Askelon, and Ekron These three cities were in the country of the Philistines, upon the sea-coast, and the Israelites did not hold them long before the Philistines recovered them again. For as the Israelites contented themselves with taking these cities, and making the people tributary without destroying them, it was not difficult for them to regain their liberty.

Verse 19

Judges 1:19. Could not drive out the inhabitants of the valley Because of their unbelief, through which they distrusted God’s power to destroy those who had chariots of iron, and so gave way to their own fear and sloth, whereby God was provoked to withdraw his helping hand.

Verses 22-25

Judges 1:22-25. The house of Joseph That is, the tribe of Ephraim. Show us the entrance into the city That is, where it may be most easily entered. For they did not inquire the way to the gate, which, no doubt, was common and plain enough; but for the weakest part, where the walls were lowest, or most out of repair, or had the least guard. Or they desired him, perhaps, to show them some private way to get into it, which none knew but the inhabitants. He showed them the entrance Upon which, we may suppose, notice was immediately sent to the army, which lay near. They smote the city Came upon them suddenly, and attacked them where they least expected it; so that the assailants met with little resistance.

Verse 26

Judges 1:26. The man went and built a city Which is an argument that the children of Ephraim dismissed him and his family, with all their goods and estate. The land of the Hittites Where the Hittites fixed themselves after they were driven out of Canaan, which seems to have been northward from Canaan, and not far distant from it.

Verse 27

Judges 1:27. Neither did Manasseh, &c. That is, that half of this tribe which dwelt in Canaan. Beth-shean A place near Jordan, Joshua 17:11. Taanach Of which see Joshua 12:21. Dor A great town, with large territories, Joshua 11:2; Joshua 12:23. Megiddo A royal city, Joshua 12:21; Joshua 17:11. But the Canaanites would dwell in the land Namely, by force or agreement. So that it appears, although, during the life of Joshua, the Israelites had conducted themselves with a great degree of bravery, and had expelled several bodies of the Canaanites; yet, after his death, they became pusillanimous and remiss in driving them out, and made peace with them, which was the first step of their defection.

Verse 28

Judges 1:28. When Israel was strong they put the Canaanites to tribute Herein they violated the law, whereby they were enjoined to destroy or expel that people when they were able. And as they were strong enough to impose tribute on them, they undoubtedly might have driven them entirely out of the land. But it cost them less trouble, and brought them more profit, to make them tributaries, than to expel them; and therefore they preferred it, being influenced by sloth and covetousness. And this seems to be here spoken of as their common fault at this time.

Verse 29

Judges 1:29. Neither did Ephraim drive out the Canaanites So far from it, that it appears they did not so much as exact any tribute from them, but made a covenant of friendship with them, which was a still greater crime. The Canaanites dwelt in Gezer Which they possessed till Solomon’s time; 1 Kings 9:6. And to dwell among a people often signifies to have a quiet settlement, as 2 Kings 4:13.

Verse 32

Judges 1:32 . The Asherites dwelt among the Canaanites This manner of speaking seems to imply that these Canaanites still remained the lords of the country, and that the Asherites were only permitted to dwell among the Canaanites, who certainly appear to have paid them no tribute, and to have owed them no subjection.

Verses 34-35

Judges 1:34-35. They would not suffer them to come down into the valley

That is, into the plain country; which was the occasion of that expedition for the obtaining of territory elsewhere, of which we read Joshua 19:47, and Judges 18:2. The hand of the house of Joseph prevailed That is, of the Ephraimites, who helped their brethren the Danites against the Amorites.

Verse 36

Judges 1:36. From the going up to Akrabbim Which was in the southern part of Canaan, Joshua 15:2-3, from whence it went up toward the north. This is added to show the great power and large extent of this people.

Bibliographical Information
Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Judges 1". Benson's Commentary. https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/rbc/judges-1.html. 1857.
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