Judges 1:11-15: The Romance of Othniel and Achsah

Verse 11:[1] (Josh. 15:15) And from thence he went against the inhabitants of Debir: and the name of Debir before was Kirjath-sepher…

[He went to Debir] Concerning this and the following verses see Joshua 15:15, 16, etc. For in this time after the death of Joshua this whole history happened (Malvenda, similarly Tostatus). It is set down in Joshua 15 by way of anticipation (Montanus). But Peter Martyr denies this. The contrary will be evident to the one diligently perusing Joshua 10 and 15; for then it would not have said, Joshua came at that time[2] (Martyr).

 

[1444 BC] Verse 12:[3] (Josh. 15:16, 17) And Caleb said, He that smiteth Kirjath-sepher, and taketh it, to him will I give Achsah my daughter to wife.

 

Verse 13:[4] And Othniel the son of Kenaz, (Judg. 3:9) Caleb’s younger brother, took it: and he gave him Achsah his daughter to wife.

[Othniel the son of Kenaz] That is, of the posterity of Kenaz, after whom Caleb was called the Kenezite (Malvenda out of Junius).

[The younger brother of Caleb] Hebrew: the relative of Caleb, the least from him,[5] that is, from Kenaz. That is, of all those begotten of Kenaz that were surviving, the least in age, authority, and wealth: which is said in commendation of Caleb’s faith and Othniel’s strenuous activity (Malvenda out of Junius). The brother of Caleb, less than him, that is, his junior (Vatablus). Othniel was Caleb’s uncle (yet younger than he); for Othniel and Jephunneh, Caleb’s father, were brothers, and both were sons of Kenaz. See Numbers 32:12; 1 Chronicles 4:13-15 (Lightfoot).

 

Verse 14:[6] (Josh. 15:18, 19) And it came to pass, when she came to him, that she moved him to ask of her father a field: and she lighted from off her ass; and Caleb said unto her, What wilt thou?

[Whom proceeding, etc.] See this and the following verse explained on Joshua 15:18, etc. (Vatablus). [For there Bonfrerius’ copious observations are found.]

 

Verse 15:[7] And she said unto him, (Gen. 33:11) Give me a blessing: for thou hast given me a south land; give me also springs of water. And Caleb gave her the upper springs and the nether springs.

[1] Hebrew: וַיֵּ֣לֶךְ מִשָּׁ֔ם אֶל־יוֹשְׁבֵ֖י דְּבִ֑יר וְשֵׁם־דְּבִ֥יר לְפָנִ֖ים קִרְיַת־סֵֽפֶר׃

[2] See Joshua 11:10, 21.

[3] Hebrew: וַיֹּ֣אמֶר כָּלֵ֔ב אֲשֶׁר־יַכֶּ֥ה אֶת־קִרְיַת־סֵ֖פֶר וּלְכָדָ֑הּ וְנָתַ֥תִּי ל֛וֹ אֶת־עַכְסָ֥ה בִתִּ֖י לְאִשָּֽׁה׃

[4] Hebrew: וַֽיִּלְכְּדָהּ֙ עָתְנִיאֵ֣ל בֶּן־קְנַ֔ז אֲחִ֥י כָלֵ֖ב הַקָּטֹ֣ן מִמֶּ֑נּוּ וַיִּתֶּן־ל֛וֹ אֶת־עַכְסָ֥ה בִתּ֖וֹ לְאִשָּֽׁה׃

[5] Hebrew: אֲחִ֥י כָלֵ֖ב הַקָּטֹ֣ן מִמֶּ֑נּוּ.

[6] Hebrew: וַיְהִ֣י בְּבוֹאָ֗הּ וַתְּסִיתֵ֙הוּ֙ לִשְׁא֤וֹל מֵֽאֵת־אָבִ֙יהָ֙ הַשָּׂדֶ֔ה וַתִּצְנַ֖ח מֵעַ֣ל הַחֲמ֑וֹר וַיֹּֽאמֶר־לָ֥הּ כָּלֵ֖ב מַה־לָּֽךְ׃

[7] Hebrew: וַתֹּ֙אמֶר ל֜וֹ הָֽבָה־לִּ֣י בְרָכָ֗ה כִּ֣י אֶ֤רֶץ הַנֶּ֙גֶב֙ נְתַתָּ֔נִי וְנָתַתָּ֥ה לִ֖י גֻּלֹּ֣ת מָ֑יִם וַיִּתֶּן־לָ֣הּ כָּלֵ֗ב אֵ֚ת גֻּלֹּ֣ת עִלִּ֔ית וְאֵ֖ת גֻּלֹּ֥ת תַּחְתִּֽית׃

Judges 1:9: Judah’s Three Campaigns

Verse 9:[1] (Josh. 10:36; 11:21; 15:13) And afterward the children of Judah went down to fight against the Canaanites, that dwelt in the mountain, and in the south, and in the valley (or, low country[2]).

[Going down] Thus it is said, either, because Jerusalem was in an elevated position (Vatablus); or, because they were going Southward (Drusius); or, to go down (just as also to go up) signifies only to go (Bonfrerius).

[In the mountains] Where Hebron was, verse 10 (Junius).

[And to the south] Where Debir was, verse 11, and the Kenite, and Hormah, verses 16, 17 (Junius).

[And in the plains] Which they did not go on to occupy, as in verse 19. For this whole verse is proleptic (Junius).

[1] Hebrew: וְאַחַ֗ר יָֽרְדוּ֙ בְּנֵ֣י יְהוּדָ֔ה לְהִלָּחֵ֖ם בַּֽכְּנַעֲנִ֑י יוֹשֵׁ֣ב הָהָ֔ר וְהַנֶּ֖גֶב וְהַשְּׁפֵלָֽה׃

[2] Hebrew: וְהַשְּׁפֵלָה.

Judges 1:8: The (Re-?)Taking of Jerusalem

Verse 8:[1] Now (see Josh. 15:63) the children of Judah had fought against Jerusalem, and had taken it, and smitten it with the edge of the sword, and set the city on fire.

[Therefore, the children of Judah fighting against Jerusalem] Question 1: When was this done? Response 1: In the time of Joshua (Munster, Junius, Piscator, Vatablus, Martyr); whence the words are to be rendered in the pluperfect, they had stormed, etc. (Vatablus, Piscator, Malvenda out of Junius, Glassius,[2] Martyr). See Joshua 10; 15:63 (Munster). It is said that its king fell, and it is not likely that it, being without a King, was not attacked. Moreover, the children of Judah dwelt in Jerusalem, Joshua 15:63 (Bonfrerius). Now, these things are here commemorated, 1. αἰτιολογικῶς/ætiologically, so that it might appear on what occasion God preferred Judah to the other tribes; namely, because it was was more prudent than the rest, and more diligent in executing the Divine commandment: For in the Scriptures the sequence, not so much of times as of causes, is often observed (Junius). 2. So that he might show that they were easily able to lead Adoni-bezek captive there (Martyr). Response 2: Others think that Jerusalem was captured now, not previously (Malvenda, thus Lightfoot[3]). For, 1. these matters are narrated as having been conducted after the death of Joshua, verse 1. 2. The children of Judah are designated as the authors of this expedition, not Joshua, and not all Israel. 3. Because in the Book of Joshua nothing is indicated concerning the capture of Jerusalem (Bonfrerius). Moreover, mention was made of this assault, Joshua 15:63, proleptically, because the name of Jerusalem had fallen among the cities of the lot of Judah (Malvenda). Response 3: Others maintain that it was captured twice, previously by Joshua, now by the children of Judah (Serarius, Lapide, Bonfrerius, Menochius). It is likely that, while the Israelites held camp in Gilgal, and were occupied with the Northern campaign, but they were not yet holding any cities, Canaanites not a few, that had escaped, occupied certain cities, which afterwards had to be stormed again. It appears that this is to be said concerning Hebron and Debir, Joshua 10 (Bonfrerius). Question 2: Why was not Jerusalem stormed rather by the Benjamites, or those as allies in the war, since almost the entire lower city, which was Northward, Psalm 48, belonged to Benjamin? Responses: 1. This was done with the assent of the Benjamites (Lapide, Bonfrerius, Menochius), even if the Scripture (which studies brevity) does not make mention of it (Bonfrerius). For these, distrusting their own strength, delivered the city to the Judahites to be stormed, as I said on Joshua 10 (Lapide), the terror of whom had already seized the Canaanites (Bonfrerius). 2. The city was twofold besides the citadel (whence also its name is dual in form), one of which was in the lot of Judah, the other in the lot of Benjamin in common with Judah, but the citadel belonged to Benjamin alone (Junius). The Southern Part belonged to Judah, but the Northern to Benjamin (Menochius). Therefore, the Judahites, even with the Benjamites being reluctant, were able to contend for their own portion, and to seize the entire lower city, since one part was not able to be assaulted without the other; especially since the enjoyment of the possession of that would come to the Benjamites. It is added that the entire force of the war presses toward the obtaining of the citadel, although at this time they were not able to get possession of it (Bonfrerius).

The children of Judah had fought against Jerusalem: To wit, in Joshua’s time; which though done before, may be here repeated, to show why they brought Adoni-bezek to Jerusalem, because that city was in their hands, having been taken before, as may be gathered from Joshua 15:63. And the taking of this city may be ascribed to the children of Judah rather than to Joshua, because the city was not taken by Joshua and the whole body of the army in that time when so many kings were destroyed, Joshua 10; 12, (for there is mention made of the destroying of the king of Jerusalem, Joshua 10:23; 12:10; but not a word of the taking of Jerusalem, as there is of the taking of Makkedah, and Libnah, and other cities belonging to the kings there mentioned, Joshua 10:28, etc.,) but by the children of Judah after they had received their lot, when at the desire and with the consent of the Benjamites, in whose lot Jerusalem fell, Joshua 18:28, they assaulted and took it, and thereby, as it seems, acquired the right of co-partnership with the Benjamites in the possession of that city. Though some think Jerusalem was twice taken; once in Joshua’s lifetime; and being afterwards recovered by the Canaanites, was now retaken by the children of Judah.

[Delivering to the flames] Hebrew: and the city they sent unto fire,[4] in the place of, and they sent fire into the city: It is a Hypallage (Vatablus, Drusius, Bonfrerius, Piscator, Glassius), or an inversion and transposition of the words, whereby it is said of the one thing what was to be said concerning the other (Glassius’ “Grammar” 738). Thus, in Psalm 74:7, they sent into fire the sanctuary;[5] in Leviticus 17:14, the blood of it is in its life,[6] in the place of, its life is in its blood. Similarly in Leviticus 7:21; 5:15; Job 17:4; Joel 3:18, the hills shall flow with milk, in the place of, milk shall flow through the hills. Thus Virgil, …dare classibus Austros, to give the South Winds to the fleet[7] (Drusius). Question: But why do they burn the city, which they were desiring soon to inhabit? Responses: Either, 1. in order to purify the more grievous abominations allowed in that city (just as it happened to Jericho,[8] Ai,[9] and Hazor,[10] as leaders in impiety). Or, 2. because God was gradually preparing that city, in which He had decided to locate His Temple and the capital of the Republic, by restoring it to that splendor (Bonfrerius out of Lapide). 3. It is hyperbolic speech, for part of it remained burned: Thus we say, the whole city goes to the spectacle, although the greater part stays behind (Lyra). It is evident that the entire city was not burnd, because in this book and in the Book of Joshua it is said to be inhabited by Judah, Benjamin, and the Jebusites (Martyr).

[1] Hebrew: וַיִּלָּחֲמ֤וּ בְנֵֽי־יְהוּדָה֙ בִּיר֣וּשָׁלִַ֔ם וַיִּלְכְּד֣וּ אוֹתָ֔הּ וַיַּכּ֖וּהָ לְפִי־חָ֑רֶב וְאֶת־הָעִ֖יר שִׁלְּח֥וּ בָאֵֽשׁ׃

[2] Solomon Glassius (1593-1656) was a German Lutheran divine and critic.  He was Professor of Divinity at the University of Jena.  His Philologia Sacra was a groundbreaking work in Biblical Hebrew.

[3] John Lightfoot (1602-1675) was an English churchman and divine of such distinction and learning that he was invited to sit as a member of the Assembly of Divines at Westminster.  He specialized in Rabbinic learning and lore.  He brought that learning to bear in his defense of Erastianism in the Assembly and in his comments upon Holy Scripture.  He had a long and distinguished career at Cambridge, serving as Master of Catharine Hall, and later as Vice-chancellor of the University.

[4] Hebrew: וְאֶת־הָעִ֖יר שִׁלְּח֥וּ בָאֵֽשׁ׃.

[5] Hebrew: שִׁלְח֣וּ בָ֭אֵשׁ מִקְדָּשֶׁ֑ךָ.

[6] Hebrew: דָּמ֣וֹ בְנַפְשׁוֹ֮ הוּא֒.

[7] Æneid 3:61.

[8] Joshua 2; 5-7.

[9] Joshua 7; 8.

[10] Joshua 11.

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.

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.