Judges 1:5-7: The Curious Case of Adoni-Bezek

Verse 5:[1] And they found Adoni-bezek in Bezek: and they fought against him, and they slew the Canaanites and the Perizzites.

[And they found Adoni-bezek, אֲדֹנִ֥י בֶ֙זֶק֙] It signifies the lord (king [Arabic]) of Bezek (Bonfrerius, Syriac). אֲדֹנִי/Adoni, in the place of אֲדוֹן/Adon: the י/yod is paragogic[2] (Drusius); it does not have the force of a time; as in the case of מַלְכִּי־צֶדֶק/Melchizedek,[3] אֲדֹנִי־צֶדֶק/Adoni-zedek,[4] אֲבִימֶלֶךְ/Abimelech[5] (Bonfrerius). Moreover, in Hebrew phraseology one is said to have found enemies that happens upon or falls upon them unexpectedly, which happened here (Bochart’s Sacred Catalogue of Animals[6] 1:2:21:243). Note that בֶּזֶק/Bezek here, contrary to the custom of nouns marked with six points,[7] has an accent on the final syllable (Drusius).

Adoni-bezek; the lord or king of Bezek, as his name signifies, in Bezek; whither he fled, when he had lost the field. Against him, that is, against the city wherein he had encamped himself, and the rest of his army.

[They struck] It appears that he speaks of another slaughter, namely, after the assault on the city of Bezek[8] (Bonfrerius).


Verse 6:[9] But Adoni-bezek fled; and they pursued after him, and caught him, and cut off his thumbs and his great toes.

[With the extremities of his hands and feet cut off] They translate the בְּהֹנוֹת, extremities (Septuagint); knuckles (Jonathan); thumbs (Syriac, Arabic, Munster, Vatablus, Pagnine, Montanus, Tigurinus, Malvenda,[10] and others in Lapide and Bonfrerius). Question: Why did they do this? Responses: 1. By the just judgment and instinct of God, as a punishment in kind (Lapide, Martyr). 2. So that he would not hereafter be able to take up arms, or to flee on foot (Bonfrerius, Menochius, Serarius). Pierius[11] notes that the hand formed with the thumb cut off was a symbol of a man inept for war (Serarius). Therefore, it was punished severely upon some that, for the sake of avoiding war, had cut off their own thumbs, as it is related by Valerius Maximus[12] in his Nine Books of Memorable Deeds and Sayings[13] “Concerning Severity”, and by Suetonius[14] in his “Augustus”[15] 24. The Athenians cut off the thumbs of the Æginenses[16] that were strong enough for naval service, lest they should vie with them (Bonfrerius). 3. Such things were done as a reproach to idleness, for with an idle hand, but fleeing on their feet, they appeared (Serarius). Whence worthless and idle men are called Poltroni by the Italians and Gauls, which is to say, pollice trunci, mutilated with respect to the thumb (Lapide).

Cut off his thumbs and his great toes: That he might be disenabled to fight with his hands, or to run away upon his feet. And this they did, either by the secret instinct and direction of God, or upon notice of his former tyranny and cruelty expressed upon others, in this manner, as it follows: either way it was a just requital.


Verse 7:[17] And Adoni-bezek said, Threescore and ten kings, having their thumbs and their great toes (Heb. the thumbs of their hands and of their feet[18]) cut off, gathered (or, gleaned[19]) their meat under my table: (Lev. 24:19; 1 Sam. 15:33; Jam. 2:13) as I have done, so God hath requited me. And they brought him to Jerusalem, and there he died.

[Seventy kings] This is not strange (Grotius). For, either they were merely the Petty Kings of the diverse cities (Lapide, Bonfrerius, Menochius, Martyr). Before Ninus, as Justinus[20] testifies, each King was content with the borders of his own city[21] (Martyr). Or they were Kings of the some places, some of which succeeded others (Menochius out of Tostatus.

Threescore and ten kings; which is not strange in those times and places; for these might be either, first, kings successively, and so there might be divers of those kings in one place, and so in others; or, secondly, contemporary kings. For it is well known that anciently each ruler of a city, or great town, was called a king, and had kingly power in that place; and many such kings we meet with in Canaan; and it is probable that some years before kings were more numerous there, till the greater devoured many of the less.

[Amputated, etc.] Hebrew: their thumbs were amputated; that is, by my decree, so that in this manner they might be made inept for war, and so that I might deter others from war itself (Vatablus). Perhaps also in punishment for broken treaties: For the thumb was a sign of a treaty and of peace. See Pierius’ Hieroglyphics 25 “Pacification”; and Tacitus’[22] Annals 12 concerning the Armenians and Iberians[23] (Bonfrerius).

Having their thumbs cut off, that so their hands might be unable to manage weapons of war.

[They were gathering under my table, etc.] Note, 1. the cruelty, in that he thus would make mockery of his captives; 2. the luxury of his meals, inasmuch as seventy men were fed from the fallen remains (Menochius).

Gathered their meat under my table; an act of barbarous inhumanity thus to insult over the miserable, joined with abominable luxury.

[As I have done, so God hath requited me, אֱלֹהִים] He aptly makes use of this word, which signifies God insofar as He is a Prince and Judge. He here acknowledges the providence and avenging justice of God, and appears to have been converted to the knowledge of the true God, because he speaks of God in the singular number (Bonfrerius). But, because he did not call upon God, etc., it appears that sorrow, rather than a pious sense of the soul, extorted this speech from him (Martyr).

God hath requited me: he acknowledgeth the providence and vindictive justice of God, which also Pharaoh did, and others too, without any true sense of piety.

[They brought him to Jerusalem] That is, to the suburban territory of it (Cajetan[24] in Bonfrerius, Josephus in Lapide): or, into the city itself, which in the following verse is found to have been taken (Menochius). Now, he lived all the time that the city was being captured (Bonfrerius). Now, they led him about thus mutilated, to promulgate an example both of the most just judgment of God, and of the victory acquired by the Jews by the help of God. But already this first beginning of victories was augmented by the favorable outcomes of affairs (Montanus’ Commentary). Moreover, יְרוּשָׁלִַם/Jerusalem is singular, not dual, in number:[25] 1. because the singular pronoun is subjoined to it in verse 8[26] and elsewhere: 2. because the final ם/mem is not servile, but radical, since the word is composite (as it seems to Mercerus[27]) from יְרוּ (in the place of יִרְאוּ, fear ye) and שָׁלֵם/Salem, the ancient name of the city, Genesis 14:18. Nevertheless it has the appearance of the dual; perhaps because it was δίπολις, a twofold city, that is, an upper, and lower (Piscator).

They brought him; they carried him in triumph, as a monument of God’s righteous vengeance. To Jerusalem; it being the metropolis of the nation.

[And there he died] Not helped by the attention and remedies of physicians, because God had commanded that the Canaanites were to be killed; and he was worthy of a thousand deaths in addition (Martyr). The sorrow of conscience so aggravated the pain of the wounds (which were not otherwise lethal), that it brought death (Montanus’ Commentary).

[1] Hebrew: וַֽ֠יִּמְצְאוּ אֶת־אֲדֹנִ֥י בֶ֙זֶק֙ בְּבֶ֔זֶק וַיִּֽלָּחֲמ֖וּ בּ֑וֹ וַיַּכּ֕וּ אֶת־הַֽכְּנַעֲנִ֖י וְאֶת־הַפְּרִזִּֽי׃

[2] That is, a letter added to the end of a word, sometimes to add emphasis.

[3] Genesis 14:18; Psalm 110:4.

[4] Joshua 10:1, 3.

[5] Genesis 20; 21; 26.

[6] Samuel Bochart (1599-1667) was a French Protestant pastor and scholar with a wide variety of interests, including philology, theology, geography, and zoology.  Indeed his works on Biblical geography (Geographia Sacra) and zoology (Hierozoicon, sive Bipertitum Opus de Animalibus Scripturæ) became standard reference works for generations.  He was on familiar terms with many of the greatest men of his age.

[7] Segholate nouns take an accent on the first syllable.

[8] In the Hebrew text, the Atnah (֑), the greatest division within the verse, is found under בּ֑וֹ, separating it from what follows.  So, the Hebrew accents suggest different punctuation:  And they found Adoni-Bezek in Bezek, and the fought against him: and they slew the Canaanite and the Perizzite.

[9] Hebrew: וַיָּ֙נָס֙ אֲדֹ֣נִי בֶ֔זֶק וַֽיִּרְדְּפ֖וּ אַחֲרָ֑יו וַיֹּאחֲז֣וּ אֹת֔וֹ וַֽיְקַצְּצ֔וּ אֶת־בְּהֹנ֥וֹת יָדָ֖יו וְרַגְלָֽיו׃

[10] Thomas Malvenda (1566-1628) was a Spanish Dominican.  Within his order, he was widely regarded for his abilities in philosophy and divinity.  His exegetical labors are preserved in his Commentaria in Sacram Scripturam à Genesi ad Ezechielem.

[11] Pierio Valeriano (1477-1558) was an Italian Renaissance humanist, specializing in Egyptian Hieroglyphics.  His Hieroglyphica sive de Sacris Ægyptiorum Litteris Commentarii was an important Renaissance dictionary of symbols.

[12] Valerius Maximus was a first century Roman collector of antiquities.

[13] Factorum et Dictorum Memorabilium Libri Novem.

[14] Gaius Suetonius Tranquillus (c. 75- c. 130) was a Roman historian.

[15] De Vita Cæsarum “Divus Augustus.”

[16] That is, the inhabitants of Ægina, one of the Saronic Islands of Greece.  Athens and Ægina were bitter rivals throughout the fifth century BC.

[17] Hebrew: וַיֹּ֣אמֶר אֲדֹֽנִי־בֶ֗זֶק שִׁבְעִ֣ים׀ מְלָכִ֡ים בְּֽהֹנוֹת֩ יְדֵיהֶ֙ם וְרַגְלֵיהֶ֜ם מְקֻצָּצִ֗ים הָי֤וּ מְלַקְּטִים֙ תַּ֣חַת שֻׁלְחָנִ֔י כַּאֲשֶׁ֣ר עָשִׂ֔יתִי כֵּ֥ן שִׁלַּם־לִ֖י אֱלֹהִ֑ים וַיְבִיאֻ֥הוּ יְרוּשָׁלִַ֖ם וַיָּ֥מָת שָֽׁם׃

[18] Hebrew: בְּֽהֹנוֹת֩ יְדֵיהֶ֙ם וְרַגְלֵיהֶ֜ם.

[19] Hebrew: מְלַקְּטִים.

[20] Junianus Justinus was a Roman historian of the third century.

[21] Philippic Histories 1.

[22] Publius Cornelius Tacitus (c. 56-c. 117) was a Roman historian.  The information that he preserves about his era and its emperors is invaluable.

[23] Annals 12:47:  “It is a custom of these princes, whenever they join alliance, to unite their right hands and bind together the thumbs in a tight knot; then, when the blood has flowed into the extremities, they let it escape by a slight puncture and suck it in turn.  Such a treaty is thought to have a mysterious sanctity, as being sealed with the blood of both parties.”

[24] Thomas Cajetan (1469-1534) was an Italian Dominican.  He was a theologian of great repute, and a learned proponent of a modified Thomism (Neo-Thomism).  Due to his considerable talents, he was made a cardinal.  Cajetan proved to be one of the more able opponents of the Reformation.

[25] ַיִם- is the dual ending.

[26] Judges 1:8:  “Now the children of Judah had fought against Jerusalem, and had taken it, and smitten it (וַיִּלְכְּד֣וּ אוֹתָ֔הּ וַיַּכּ֖וּהָ) with the edge of the sword, and set the city on fire.”

[27] John Mercerus (c. 1510-1572) was a French Catholic Hebraist, successor to Francis Vatablus as Professor of Hebrew and Chaldean at the Hebrew College, Paris (1549), a scholar and lecturer of great reputation in his day.  He was suspected of having Calvinistic sympathies.

Revelation 1:5d: “No Greater Love”

Verse 5:[1] And from Jesus Christ, (John 8:14; 1 Tim. 6:13; Rev. 3:14) who is the faithful witness, and the (1 Cor. 15:20; Col. 1:18) first begotten of the dead, and (Eph. 1:20; Rev. 17:14; 19:16) the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him (John 13:34; 15:9; Gal. 2:20) that loved us, (Heb. 9:14; 1 John 1:7) and washed us from our sins in his own blood…

[Who, etc., τῷ ἀγαπήσαντι, etc.] In the place of, τοῦ ἀγαπήσαντος, etc.,[13] the One who loved, etc. It is another anomaly of case (Piscator). He begins a new sense, and these Datives are connected with that which follows, to Him be glory. Now, truly is this title appropriate to Christ, as it is learned from John 13:34 and 15:9. In some manuscripts it is τῷ ἀγαπῶντι,[14] to the One loving, so that ongoing love might be indicated (Grotius). [Thus they translate:] Who (or, to Him who [Erasmus, Vatablus]) loved us, and washed us (the Apostle includes himself, and to such an extent shows the uncleanness of the saints [Cluverus]) from our sins (both by merit and by efficacy [Pareus]: He merited the remission of sins for us [Piscator]) by His own blood (Beza, Piscator); that is, Having endured death, He made us certain of the truth of those things that He had taught, which were such that nothing is more suitable to cleanse souls of sins. Consult Isaiah 4:4; Romans 3:25; 5:9; Ephesians 1:7; 2:13; 5:26, etc. To a wet element, under which is Blood, it is proper to wash. Indeed, this is transferred to the Soul by an extraordinary ἀλληγορίαν/allegory. Now, Christ is said to have washed us by His own blood, because He fulfilled all things which were required for it, and it is apparent that the effect followed in a great many (Grotius). But this ablution, as also the redemption, is not metaphorical, but real, accomplished by the payment of a real λύτρου/ransom in His own blood (Apocalyptic Harmony). The blood of Christ was ἀντίλυτρον, a ransom, giving satisfaction to the judgment of God for our sins (Pareus). This means that, if Christ so loved us that He poured out His blood for us, it is also equitable that we endure all sufferings for the sake of the love of Him (Ribera).

Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood: here begins a doxology, or giving glory to Christ, (such forms are frequent in the Epistles,) first, as he that washed us from our sins, both from the guilt and from the power and dominion of our sins, with his blood, paying a price, and satisfying God’s justice for, and meriting our sanctification: see Hebrews 9:14; 1 John 1:7.

[1] Greek: καὶ ἀπὸ Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ, ὁ μάρτυς ὁ πιστός, ὁ πρωτότοκος ἐκ τῶν νεκρῶν, καὶ ὁ ἄρχων τῶν βασιλέων τῆς γῆς. τῷ ἀγαπήσαντι ἡμᾶς, καὶ λούσαντι ἡμᾶς ἀπὸ τῶν ἁμαρτιῶν ἡμῶν ἐν τῷ αἵματι αὐτοῦ.

[13] Here, the case is brought into agreement with ἀπὸ Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ, from Jesus Christ.

[14] In the present tense, which can convey a progressive, ongoing sense.  This reading is found in Codices Sinaiticus, Alexandrinus, and Ephræmi Rescriptus, and in some Byzantine manuscripts.

Judges 1:3, 4: Judah Enlists the Help of Simeon in War

Verse 3:[1] And Judah said unto Simeon his brother, Come up with me into my lot, that we may fight against the Canaanites; and (Judg. 1:17) I likewise will go with thee into thy lot. So Simeon went with him.

[Unto Simeon his brother] He summons this tribe rather than another, because the lot of Simeon was joined with the lot of Judah (Bonfrerius, similarly Vatablus, Lyra, Martyr): and so these are called brethren, because they were the closest (Menochius), as it is evident from Joshua 15 (Lyra) and Joshua 19 (Lapide).

Unto Simeon his brother; as nearest to him both by relation, being his brother by both parents, which few of them were; and by habitation, as appears from Joshua 19:1, 2. Against the Canaanites; specially so called because they are distinguished from the Perizzites, Judges 1:4.


Verse 4:[2] And Judah went up; and the LORD delivered the Canaanites and the Perizzites into their hand: and they slew of them in (1 Sam. 11:8) Bezek ten thousand men.

[The Canaanite] Which here is a particular tribe; otherwise the Perizzite would not have been added: But they were dwelling together and intermixing with the Perizzites in the same city of Bezek (Bonfrerius, Martyr).

[Into their hand] That is, into their power: so also the Latins say, Hoc in manu mea est, this is in my hand, that is, this has been placed in my power (Martyr). There is an ἐπάνοδος/recapitulation here of those things that are narrated in Joshua 15; and so they could be translated by the pluperfect (Grotius).

[In Bezek[3]] That is, in a field near the city of Bezek (Vatablus). It is to be translated, near Bezek, that is, a territory of it. So also near Hor, Numbers 33:37;[4] near Jericho, Joshua 5:13.[5] See 1 Samuel 11:8[6] (Piscator[7]).

In Bezek: Not in the city, for that was not yet taken, verse 5, but in the territory of it, or near to it; as in Hor is taken, Numbers 33:37; and in Jericho, Joshua 5:13.

[1] Hebrew: וַיֹּ֣אמֶר יְהוּדָה֩ לְשִׁמְע֙וֹן אָחִ֜יו עֲלֵ֧ה אִתִּ֣י בְגוֹרָלִ֗י וְנִֽלָּחֲמָה֙ בַּֽכְּנַעֲנִ֔י וְהָלַכְתִּ֧י גַם־אֲנִ֛י אִתְּךָ֖ בְּגוֹרָלֶ֑ךָ וַיֵּ֥לֶךְ אִתּ֖וֹ שִׁמְעֽוֹן׃

[2] Hebrew: וַיַּ֣עַל יְהוּדָ֔ה וַיִּתֵּ֧ן יְהוָ֛ה אֶת־הַכְּנַעֲנִ֥י וְהַפְּרִזִּ֖י בְּיָדָ֑ם וַיַּכּ֣וּם בְּבֶ֔זֶק עֲשֶׂ֥רֶת אֲלָפִ֖ים אִֽישׁ׃

[3] Hebrew: בְּבֶזֶק.

[4] Numbers 33:37:  “And they removed from Kadesh, and pitched in mount Hor בְּהֹ֣ר) הָהָ֔ר, in Hor the mountain), in the edge of the land of Edom.”

[5] Joshua 5:13a:  “And it came to pass, when Joshua was by Jericho (בִּירִיחוֹ, in Jericho), that he lifted up his eyes and looked, and, behold, there stood a man over against him with his sword drawn in his hand…”

[6] 1 Samuel 11:8:  “And when he numbered them in Bezek (בְּבָזֶק, or, near Bezek), the children of Israel were three hundred thousand, and the men of Judah thirty thousand.”

[7] John Piscator (1546-1626) was a learned Protestant divine.  He held the position of Professor of Divinity at Herborn (1584).  His German version was the first, complete and independent, since that of Martin Luther.  Through the course of his career, his views changed from those of the Lutherans to those of the Calvinists, and from those of the Calvinists to those of the Arminians.  He remains widely regarded for his abilities as a commentator.

Judges 1:2: God’s Promise of Success to Judah

Verse 2:[1] And the LORD said, (Gen. 49:8) Judah shall go up: behold, I have delivered the land into his hand.

[Judah] He designates, not a person (as some in Augustine maintain, and others in common, says Lyra[2]), but a tribe (Bonfrerius, Lapide, Vatablus, Druius, Junius, Lyra). For, 1. Simeon here is the Tribe of Simeon; therefore Judah also is the Tribe of Judah (Junius, Bonfrerius). 2. Judah says to Simeon, Come up with me into my lot, etc.; but this was the lot of entire tribes (Bonfrerius), not of individual men (Estius[3]). 3. In the place of Judah, in verse 8 the children of Judah is used. 4. He speaks of Judah in the plural, they fought, they smote, etc. (Bonfrerius). Question: Why was this Tribe designated? Response: It was the mightiest, noblest, and most populous (Lapide, Bonfrerius, Martyr).

Judah: Not a person so called, but the tribe of Judah, as is manifest from Judges 1:3, 4, 8, 9, which is chosen for the first enterprise, because they were both most populous, and so most needing enlargement; and withal most valiant, and therefore most likely to succeed; for God chooseth fit means for the work which he designs; and because the Canaanites were numerous and strong in those parts, and therefore were in time to be suppressed, before they grew too strong for them.

[He shall go up] Thus He speaks, either, 1. because the journey was to be made Northward (which part of the world is higher) (Drusius): or, 2. because they were invading the mountains, as the strongholds in which enemies would otherwise be able to fortify themselves (Montanus’ Commenatry).

[Behold, I have delivered] He was unwilling to deliver it to Judah, while Judah was at leisure or remiss, but rather briskly active (Montanus’ Commentary).

[1] Hebrew: וַיֹּ֣אמֶר יְהוָ֖ה יְהוּדָ֣ה יַעֲלֶ֑ה הִנֵּ֛ה נָתַ֥תִּי אֶת־הָאָ֖רֶץ בְּיָדֽוֹ׃

[2] Little is known about the early life of Nicholas de Lyra (1270-1340).  He entered the Franciscan Order and became a teacher of some repute in Paris.  His Postilla in Vetus et Novum Testamentum are remarkable for the time period:  Lyra was firmly committed to the literal sense of the text, as a necessary control for allegorical exposition; and he drew heavily upon Hebraic and Rabbinical materials.  His commentary was influential among the Reformers.

[3] William Estius (1542-1613) labored first as a lecturer on Divinity, then as the Chancellor at Doway.  Theologically, he bears the imprint of the modified Augustinianism of Michael Baius.  In his commentary writing, as exemplified in his Commentarii in Sacram Scripturam and Commentarii in Epistolas Apostolicas, he focuses on the literal meaning of the text; and he is widely regarded for his exegetical skill and judgment.

Judges 1:1: Judah Chosen to Lead in the Renewal of the Conquest

[circa 1425 BC] Verse 1:[1] Now after the death of Joshua it came to pass, that the children of Israel (Num. 27:21; Judg. 20:18) asked the LORD, saying, Who shall go up for us against the Canaanites first, to fight against them?

[After the death of Joshua] Since they had no other General (Vatablus); and all the Tribes had now grown, so that they might be sufficient to inhabit the rest of Canaan, which was not previously allowed to them on account of their fewness, Exodus 23:29 (Lapide).

After the death of Joshua; not long after it, because Othniel, the first judge, lived in Joshua’s time.

[They asked…the Lord, בַּיהוָה] In the word of the Lord (Jonathan[2]); through the Lord (Septuagint); the Lord (Syriac, Arabic, Munster,[3] Pagnine,[4] Tigurinus,[5] Junius[6] and Tremellius[7]); they asked in the Lord (Bonfrerius, Montanus[8]). This is a peculiar expression of Scripture, as often as there is speech concerning the desire for an oracle, whether from the true God, or from a Demon. Thus in Judges 18:5; 20:18, 23, 27; 1 Samuel 10:22; 14:37; 22:10, 13, 15. Thus in Ezekiel 21:21, he asked in Teraphim;[9] and in Hosea 4:12[10] (Bonfrerius). They asked by Urim and Thummim (Drusius,[11] Montanus’ Commentary, Lapide, Bonfrerius), with the assembly convened at Shiloh (Menochius[12]). They remembered that, with God left unconsulted, it went poorly for them in the war at Ai[13] (Martyr, Drusius, Rabbi Salomon[14] in Tostatus); and that they had received the Gibeonites into covenant without an oracle[15] (Martyr). Therefore, having been instructed by their chastisement, they now understand, and ask of God; for, if in the beginning the matter had gone poorly, the rest of the Nations had been able to say, their shadow has departed[16] (Drusius). Great weight was lying upon the first war (Clario[17]) that they were undertaking after the death of Joshua; upon the success of which was greatly depending their fortune and reputation (Martyr).

The children of Israel asked the Lord; being assembled together at Shiloh, they inquired of the high priest by the Urim and Thummim. See Numbers 27:21; Judges 20:18; 1 Samuel 23:9.

[Who shall go up before us, etc.? מִי יַעֲלֶה־לָּ֧נוּ אֶל־הַֽכְּנַעֲנִ֛י בַּתְּחִלָּ֖ה לְהִלָּ֥חֶם בּֽוֹ׃] Who shall go up for us (that is, before us [Martyr]; of us [Junius and Tremellius]; on our behalf [Munster]) to (or against [Septuagint, Syriac, Junius and Tremellius]) the Canaanite (the remaining Canaanite [Junius and Tremellius], that is, that had not yet been conquered [Montanus’ Commentary]) in the beginning to fight in him?[18] (Montanus) (against him? [Munster, Junius and Tremellius]; with him? [Pagnine]). The for us is superfluous, an idiomatic use (Drusius). Who shall go up for us? under what leader shall we wage war? (Tigurinus). Who shall be the first of us, or, which shall be the first of the tribes, to prepare an expedition against the Canaanites? (Vatablus). They do not doubt whether the war is to be waged, but under what Leader (Martyr). But they do not seek a Leader that might take the charge of all, but by which tribe the beginning of the battle might be made (Martyr, Lapide, Bonfrerius, Montanus’ Commentary). This is evident, 1. because there is no joint war hereafter; but Judah with Simeon only renewed the war: 2. because God does not name any one Leader, but a tribe (Bonfrerius). They aks which Tribe might begin a regional war, victory in which might confound the Canaanites, so that the other individual Tribes might rise against and overcome the Canaanites in regional war (Lapide).

Who shall go up for us against the Canaanites first? Being sensible that the Canaanites are troublesome to them, and expected great advantage against them by their heedless condition, and finding their people to increase and multiply exceedingly, and consequently the necessity of enlarging their quarters, they renew the war. They do not inquire who shall be the captain-general to all the tribes; but (as appears by the answer) what tribe shall first undertake the expedition, that by their success the other tribes may be encouraged to make the like attempt upon the Canaanites in their several lots.

[1] Hebrew: וַיְהִ֗י אַחֲרֵי֙ מ֣וֹת יְהוֹשֻׁ֔עַ וַֽיִּשְׁאֲלוּ֙ בְּנֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵ֔ל בַּיהוָ֖ה לֵאמֹ֑ר מִ֣י יַעֲלֶה־לָּ֧נוּ אֶל־הַֽכְּנַעֲנִ֛י בַּתְּחִלָּ֖ה לְהִלָּ֥חֶם בּֽוֹ׃

[2] Jonathan ben Uzziel (first century) was one of the great pupils of Hillel.  It is a matter of some doubt whether Jonathan ben Uzziel is actually responsible for the translation of this portion of the Chaldean Version.  For the most part, Targum Jonathan tends to be more paraphrastic and expansive than Targum Onkelos.

[3] Sebastian Munster (1489-1552) was a German scholar of great talent in the fields of mathematics, Oriental studies, and divinity.  He left the Franciscans to join the Lutherans, became Professor of Hebrew at Basil (1529-1552), and produced an edition of the Hebrew Bible with a Latin translation and important early Reformation annotations (Annotationes in Vetus Testamentum).

[4] Pagnine (1466-1541) was an Italian Dominican.  He was gifted as a Hebraist, exegete, and preacher.  He was commissioned by Pope Leo X to produce a new Latin translation of the Scripture.

[5] Leo Jud (1482-1542) was a co-laborer of Ulrich Zwingli during the time of the Swiss Reformation.  His translation work might be his most important contribution to the reformation of Zurich.  He labored with other divines to produce a vernacular version for the Swiss people, and he produced a Latin version of the Old Testament, usually known as “Tigurinus”, which would be translated, “of Zurich”.

[6] Francis Junius (1545-1602) was a Huguenot divine of great learning.  He suffered the varied fortunes of his people; but he had the opportunity to study in Geneva, and he was eventually appointed Professor of Divinity at Leiden (1592).  Junius’ De Vera Theologia was massively important in the development of the Dogmatic structure of Reformed Scholasticism.  He also labored with Tremellius in the production of their famous Latin Version of the Old Testament.

[7] John Immanuel Tremellius (1510-1580) converted from Judaism to Christianity and quickly embraced the principles of the Reformation.  He taught Hebrew at Strasburg (1541) and at Cambridge (succeeding Paul Fagius in 1549), and served as Professor of Old Testament at Heidelberg (1561).

[8] Benedict Arias Montanus (1527-1598) was a Spanish Benedictine monk.  He attended the Council of Trent, and he was heavily involved in the production of the Antwerp Polyglot Bible.  Montanus also wrote commentaries on a number of Biblical books, including De Varia Republica, sive Commentaria in Librum Judicum.

[9] Ezekiel 21:21:  “For the king of Babylon stood at the parting of the way, at the head of the two ways, to use divination:  he made his arrows bright, he consulted with images (שָׁאַ֣ל בַּתְּרָפִ֔ים), he looked in the liver.”

[10] Hosea 4:12:  “My people ask counsel at their stocks (עַמִּי֙ בְּעֵצ֣וֹ יִשְׁאָ֔ל), and their staff declareth unto them:  for the spirit of whoredoms hath caused them to err, and they have gone a whoring from under their God.”

[11] John Drusius (1550-1616) was a Protestant scholar; he excelled in Oriental studies, Biblical exegesis, and critical interpretation, as is evident from his Annotationes in Pentateuchum, Josuam, Judices, Ruth, Samuelem, Estheram, Jobum, Coheleth, seu Ecclesiasten, Prophetas Minores, Ecclesiasticum, Tobit, 1 Librum Machabæorum and Notæ Majores in Genesin, Exodum, Leviticum, et Priora 18 Capita Numerorum.  He served as Professor of Oriental Languages at Oxford (1572), at Leiden (1577), and at Franeker (1585).

[12] John Stephen Menochius (1576-1656) joined the Society of Jesuits at an early age.  His superiors in the order, recognizing his academic abilities, set him apart for training in the exposition of Holy Scripture.  His critical acumen and commitment to the literal sense of the text are displayed in his Commentarii in Sacram Scripturam.

[13] See Joshua 7.

[14] The details of the life of Rabbi Salomon Jarchi (Solomon Jarchi ben Isaac) have been obscured by the mists of time.  It is relatively safe to associate him with the eleventh century.  He commented on the whole of the Hebrew Bible, and the principal value of his commentary is its preservation of traditional Jewish interpretation.  He also authored the first comprehensive commentary on the Talmud.

[15] See Joshua 9.

[16] See Numbers 14:9:  “Only rebel not ye against the Lord, neither fear ye the people of the land; for they are bread for us:  their defence is departed from themסָ֣ר צִלָּ֧ם) מֵעֲלֵיהֶ֛ם, their shadow is departed from them) and the Lord is with us:  fear them not.”

[17] Isidore Clario (1495-1555) was a Benedictine monk.  He served as the Prior of the Monastery of St. Peter in Modena, in northern Italy (1537) and as the Bishop of Foligno, in central Italy (1547).  He was present at the Council of Trent.  Clario produced a corrected edition of the Latin Vulgate, accompanied by his Annotationes in Vetus et Novum Testamentum.

[18] A woodenly literalistic rendering.

Judges 1 Outline

The tribe of Judah, by God’s command, begin to make war against the Canaanites, 1-4. Adoni-bezek justly requited. They take Jerusalem, 8; and Hebron. Anak’s sons slain, 9, 10. Othniel subdueth Debir, and so obtaineth Caleb’s daughter to wife, 11-15. The Kenites dwell in Judah, 16. Simeon subdueth Zephath, 17; and Judah divers cities of the Philistines, 18-20. The Jebusites dwell with Benjamin, 21. They of the house of Joseph subdue Beth-el, 22-26. Manasseh, Ephraim, Zebulun, Asher, Naphtali, Dan drive not out the Canaanites; for which they are vexed by them, and are left to dwell one among another, 27-36.

Getting the Most out of Poole on Judges

Each of the volumes in this series, Synopsis of Biblical Interpreters, is actually composed of two distinct works by Matthew Poole: Synopsis of Interpreters, Both Critical and Otherwise, of the Sacred Scriptures (known by its Latin title, Synopsis Criticorum Aliorumque Sacræ Scripturæ Interpretum, the translated text of which is printed in this regular type) and Annotations upon the Holy Bible (the text of which is printed in bold type).  In the Synopsis Criticorum, written primarily for students, ministers, and scholars, Poole presents something of a verse-by-verse history of interpretation, setting forth the most important interpreters and interpretative positions.  The Annotations, on the other hand, are written for the use of the common man, giving a summary of the most important interpretive issues and Poole’s own, most mature (being written in the years immediately prior to his death), judgment.  In these volumes, the Annotations have been interspliced into the translation of the Synopsis, creating an omnibus of Poole’s exegetical efforts.

It may already be apparent from this brief description of these volumes that they are intended for study; they are certainly not a light read.  So that every reader, from the unlearned to the scholarly, might get the most profit from these volumes, these directions are proffered:


  1. Read and study the prefatory material, especially the “Preface to the Synopsis:  Genesis-Esther.”


In the “Preface to the Synopsis:  Genesis-Esther,” the reader is introduced to the interpreters, writing on these Books of the Bible, who, in Poole’s judgment, are of the greatest significance.  Because the Synopsis is primarily about the history of interpretation, an acquaintance with the interpreters is of the utmost importance.  The translator has provided additional information about these men in the footnotes to aid the reader.  Paul taught the Ephesian Christians that the ascended Lord Jesus provides teachers for the edification of His Church in all ages;[1] this is a synopsis of their teaching and testimony, a thing of surpassing value.


  1. Note that a brief summary of each book and an outline of each chapter has been provided.[2]


This will help the reader get and keep the entire context in view as he studies particular verses.


  1. Study the cross-references.


The Authorized Version of the text has been provided at the beginning of each verse.  In the Annotations, Poole provided a great many cross-references in the printing of the verse itself.[3]  These should not be neglected; they are of great value in gaining an understanding of the verse being studied, and it will be found that the verse being studied has implications for the right interpretation of other texts.[4]  Furthermore, the reader will find the verses, referenced in the Synopsis portion for the illustration of grammatical principles, to be of great help and use.  When the reason for the citation of a particular verse is not clear in English, the translator has provided annotations in the footnotes to aid understanding.


  1. Begin the study of the commentary portion under each verse with the Annotations portion (printed in bold).


Remember that the Annotations were written for the common man, and in them Poole, or the divines that completed the Annotations after Poole’s death, summarizes and gives an evaluation of the most important matters.  Reading the Annotations portion will frequently shed much light upon the mass of raw exegetical material in the Synopsis portion.


  1. Note that Poole often presents a wide variety of interpretive positions in a short space.


In the Synopsis portion, contradictory positions can be presented without any transition.  The intepreters who held a certain view are usually given in parentheses after the presentation of the interpretive position, and this is frequently all that the reader is given with respect to a transition from one position to another.


  1. Make use of the Index as needed.


            An index of relatively obscure people and places has been included for the help of the reader. The index refers the reader back to the page upon which the person or place was first mentioned and footnoted.


  1. Be patient and persevere.


Solomon the Wise teaches in the Proverbs that in some things knowledge and wisdom come only with effort,[5] and penetrating beyond a superficial understanding of the Scriptures will require hard work; but let the Christian give himself to this labor in the assurance of faith, that Jesus Christ is speaking to him through the Word,[6] and that in this study he will taste of the Lord that He is good.[7]

[1] Ephesians 4:11-13.

[2] Poole composed the book outlines from Genesis to Isaiah, but the chapter outlines were not added until the third edition of the Annotations, 1696, by Samuel Clarke and Edward Veale.  Samuel Clarke (1626-1701), one of the ejected ministers under the Act of Uniformity, was well-qualified for this editorial work, having composed his own The Old and New Testament, with Annotations and Parallel Scriptures (1690) and A Survey of the Bible; or, an Analytical Account of the Holy Scriptures, Containing the Division of Every Book and Chapter, thereby Shewing the Frame and Contexture of the Whole (1693).  Edward Veale was one of the divines called upon to complete the Annotations after Poole’s death, writing the portions on Ephesians, James, 1 and 2 Peter, and Jude.  Veale (died 1708) labored in the work of the ministry in both England and Ireland, having been ordained in 1657. He later served as a senior fellow at Trinity College in Dublin, until he was deprived for nonconformity.  After his deprivation, he ministered as chaplain to Sir William Waller, and then as a pastor at Wapping.  He edited and published, with Richard Adams, Stephen Charnock’s Discourse on Divine Providence (1680), and, of course, with Samuel Clarke, the third edition of Matthew Poole’s Annotations (1696).

[3] Samuel Clarke and Edward Veale appear to be responsible for supplemental cross-references, added to Poole’s own.  All of the cross-references have been provided in this text.

[4] Westminster Confession of Faith 1:9:  “The infallible rule of interpretation of Scripture is the Scripture itself:  and therefore, when there is a question about the true and full sense of any Scripture (which is not manifold, but one) it must be searched and known by other places that speak more clearly.”

[5] Proverbs 2:1-5.

[6] 1 Peter 1:11.

[7] 1 Peter 2:3.

Revelation 1:5c: The Prince of the Kings of the Earth

Verse 5:[1] And from Jesus Christ, (John 8:14; 1 Tim. 6:13; Rev. 3:14) who is the faithful witness, and the (1 Cor. 15:20; Col. 1:18) first begotten of the dead, and (Eph. 1:20; Rev. 17:14; 19:16) the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him (John 13:34; 15:9; Gal. 2:20) that loved us, (Heb. 9:14; 1 John 1:7) and washed us from our sins in his own blood…

[And the prince of the kings of the earth]  That is, the King of Kings, as He is called in Revelation 19:16 (Ribera, Cluverus, Pareus); Revelation 17:14 and 1 Timothy 6:15 (Cluverus).  Ruling over kings (Ribera).  See Matthew 28:18 and Revelation 19:6 (Grotius).  This regards the duty of kings (Brightman).  This pertains also to the consolation of the Church (Pareus).  He means this, Refuse, as ye follow the precepts and example of Christ, to fear the Kings of this World.  For the power of Christ is such that where He wills He is going to destroy them, or subjugate them to Himself (Grotius, similarly Ribera, Pareus).  Daniel had given the same title to God, Daniel 4:17 (Grotius).

And the prince of the kings of the earth: the King of kings, Revelation 17:14; 19:16; 1 Timothy 6:15. The first name here given to Christ speaketh his prophetical office, the second his priestly office, this last his kingly office.

[1] Greek: καὶ ἀπὸ Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ, ὁ μάρτυς ὁ πιστός, ὁ πρωτότοκος ἐκ τῶν νεκρῶν, καὶ ὁ ἄρχων τῶν βασιλέων τῆς γῆς. τῷ ἀγαπήσαντι ἡμᾶς, καὶ λούσαντι ἡμᾶς ἀπὸ τῶν ἁμαρτιῶν ἡμῶν ἐν τῷ αἵματι αὐτοῦ.

Argument of the Book of Judges

The author of this book is not certainly known, whether it was Samuel, or Ezra, or some other prophet; nor is it material to know. 1. It matters not who was the king’s secretary, or with what pen it was written, if it be once known that it was the king who made the order or decree: it is sufficient that unto the Jews were committed to the oracles of God, Romans 3:2, that is, the Holy Scriptures of the Old Testament, one part of which this was, by confession of all; and that the Jews did not falsify their trust therein, but kept those holy books themselves, and delivered them to the world, entire, without addition or diminution; for neither Christ nor his apostles, who severely rebuke them for their mistakes and misunderstandings of some passages of Scripture, ever charge them with any perfidiousness about the canon or books of the Scripture. This book is called the Book of Judges, because it treats of the judges, or of the state of the commonwealth of Israel under all the judges, except Eli and Samuel, who being the last of the judges, and the occasions or instruments of the change of this government, are omitted in this book. The judges were a sort of magistrates inferior to kings, and could neither make new laws, nor impose any tributes, but were the supreme executors of God’s laws and commands, and the generals of their armies.

Prolegomena to Judges

This book contains the various events of the Israelite republic through the space of two hundred and ninety-nine years under thirteen Judges, of which the first was Othniel, and the last was Samson (Lapide,[1] Bonfrerius[2]); to whom Eli and Samuel succeeded; who, nevertheless, are not treated in this book (Lapide).  Question 1:  Who then is the writer of this book?  Response:  It is entirely uncertain (Lapide, Bonfrerius).  Initially it was not a single book, but several histories and registers were composed (Tostatus[3]).  It is likely that Ezra, or rather Samuel, gathered these things from the old journals and annals that one or the other Judge wrote in his time, and by writing reduced them into this book (Lapide, similarly Tostatus, Bonfrerius).  The Hebrews say that Samuel wrote this book[4] (Vatablus[5]).  Question 2:  What then was the office of the Judges?  Responses:  1.  They were generals in war.  2.  Not only that, but they were also put in charge of the administration of justice, and composing the lawsuits of their fellow citizens (Bonfrerius, Lapide).  For some Judges are not found to have conducted any wars, such as Tola,[6] Ibzan, Elon, Abdon[7] (Lapide).  Neither did Eli lead the army, 1 Samuel 4.  Nor did Samuel fight, except with spiritual arms.  Moreover, in Judges 4, Deborah judged the people.  Josephus, in his Antiquities 5:8,[8] testifies to the same (Bonfrerius).  Question 3:  What then was the form of the Republic under the Judges?  Response:  Monarchical (Lapide, Bonfrerius, Serarius[9]).  Nevertheless, Kings were differing from Judges in many things.  For Judges were not able to compose new law (but they were administrating the republic according to the laws of God, and in weightier matters they were bound by the decrees of the Sanhedrin), nor to impose tribute on the people, as Kings are able (Lapide, Bonfrerius).  Kings were Lords; Judges not likewise (Bonfrerius, Tostatus).  And hence in the time of the Judges God called Himself King of the people, but not so in the time of the Kings, 1 Samuel 8:7; 12:12.  And Gideo was refusing the Sovereignty of Kingship, who nevertheless was holding the administration of Judge, or Prince. (Bonfrerius).  A Judge was not a Lord, but only a Caretaker and Conservator of the Republic.  Therefore, the power of the Judges was greatly restricted.  These were dictators, of which sort were those of the Romans, but perpetual.[10]  To the Judges were similar the ἄρχοντες/archons among the Athenians,[11] and now Doges among the Venetians[12] (Lapide).  Now, the right of a King is fuller, 1 Samuel 8, he will take your sons, etc.; all which is done by them, if not rightfully, certainly actually, and with some appearance of right, by reason of the dominion of jurisdiction, which is competent to them with respect to their subjects.  Moreover, Kings were anointed; likewise (as a sign of absolute supremacy) they were using the diadem and Royal insignia, and were surrounded by a guard.  Finally, Kings were coming to power by succession; but Judges by election (Bonfrerius).  Judges were always liberating the people, which Kings often wasted.  The people under the Judges, although repeated oppressed on account of their sins, were never led away into captivity.  And so that age was able to be called golden, as it were.  Few Kings were upright and pious, but almost all the Judges were (Martyr[13]).  Among the Hebrews, Tyrians, and Carthaginians, the highest Magistrates were called שׁוֹפְטִים/Judges κατ᾿ ἐξοχὴν, par excellence (for otherwise the term extends more broadly), whom the Greeks here call κριτὰς/judges, Josephus δικαστὰς/judges in the affairs of the Tyrians, the Latins by the Punic term שפט/Suffetes;[14] αὐτοκράτορες ἡγεμόνες, autocratic leaders, in Josephus.  Concerning these see what things are on Judges 5:13, and on Deuteronomy 17:9.  Now, it appears that in these times through carelessness the creation of the Sanhedrin of seventy-two was neglected, just as also before the times of Jehoshaphat, 2 Chronicles 19:5.  And so, when God did not rouse such men extraordinarily, the body of the republic was dissolved, and nothing was done for the common interests.  The individual Tribes were handling their own affirs.  Such was the state of Greece, with the Achaean Council dissolved by the arts of the Romans;[15] and of Gaul before the times of Cæsar; but also of Germania and Brittania much later (Grotius[16]).

[1] Cornelius à Lapide (1567-1637) was a Flemish Jesuit scholar.  His talents were employed in the professorship of Hebrew at Louvain, then at Rome.  Although his commentaries (covering the entire Roman Catholic canon, excepting only Job and the Psalms) develop the four-fold sense of Scripture, he emphasizes the literal.  His commentaries demonstrate a profound knowledge of Hebrew, Greek, and the history of interpretation.

[2] Jacobus Bonfrerius (1573-1642) joined the order of the Jesuits in 1592.  He enjoyed a long tenure as a professor of the Scriptures and Hebrew at Douay, France.  Although he is said to have written commentaries on almost all the books of Scripture, only his commentaries on Genesis-Ruth survive.

[3] Alonso Tostado, or Tostatus (c. 1400-1455), also known as Abulensis, was a Spanish, Roman Catholic churchman and scholar.  He was trained in philosophy, theology, civil and canon law, Greek, and Hebrew; and wrote commentaries on Genesis through 2 Chronicles and the Gospel of Matthew, filled, not only with exegetical, but also with dogmatic, material.

[4] Babylonian Talmud Bava Bathra 14b.

[5] Francis Vatablus (c. 1485-1547) was a prominent Hebrew scholar, doing much to stimulate Hebraic studies in France.  He was appointed to the chair of Hebrew in Paris (1531).  Because of some consonance with Lutheran doctrine, his annotations (Annotationes in Vetus et Novum Testamentum), compiled by his auditors, were regarded with the utmost esteem among Protestants, but with a measure of suspicion and concern by Roman Catholics.  Consequently, the theologians of Salamanca produced their own edition of Vatablus’ annotations for their revision of the Latin Bible (1584).

[6] Judges 10:1, 2.

[7] Judges 12:8-15.

[8] Flavius Josephus (37-93) was a priest in the Temple of Jerusalem, a Jewish general, and an eyewitness to the final siege of Jerusalem.  Josephus’ works are invaluable to the student of Jewish antiquities and of the history of the fall of Jerusalem.

[9] Nicholas Serarius (1555-1610) was a Jesuit theologian and exegete.  He served as Professor of Theology at the University of Mainz. Commentarius in Librum Josuæ, Judicum, Ruth, Regum, et Paralipomenon.

[10] The Roman Dictator was a magistrate invested with plenary powers in times of emergency.

[11] That is, a governor of a province.

[12] That is, the chief elder and military leader.

[13] Peter Martyr Vermigli (1499-1562) began his career as an Augustinian monk, preacher, and lecturer in Italy.  Through personal study of the Scripture and the Reformers, he came to embrace the Protestant doctrines.  He settled in England and served as Professor of Divinity at Oxford and as Canon of Christ Church.  Unhappily, he was forced to flee from England as well, when Mary Tudor took the throne.  He settled in Zurich and became Professor of Divinity there.

[14] That is, the annual chief magistrates at Carthage.

[15] The Achaean League was a confederation of Greek city-states of the northern and central Peloponnese.  Its first manifestation appeared in the fifth century BC.  In the second century, Rome manipulated the League in various ways, and finally defeated and dissolved it in 146 BC.

[16] Hugo Grotius (1583-1645) distinguished himself in the field of international law, but he was interested in many fields of learning, including Christian apologetics, theology, and Biblical criticism and exegesis.  He was a strict practitioner of the historical-contextual method of exegesis, and both his methods and conclusions are on display in his influential Annotationes in Vetus et Novum Testamentum.  He is also remembered for his role in the Arminian controversy, siding with the Remonstrants, and for his governmental theory of atonement.

Matthew Poole Has Moved

For New Posts, please visit the new website.