Judges 1:18: The Valley Campaign, Part 1

Verse 18:[1] Also Judah took (Josh. 11:22) Gaza with the coast thereof, and Askelon with the coast thereof, and Ekron with the coast thereof.

[And he took Gaza, etc.] He had concluded the war in the eastern tract, and now he proceeds to the western (Bonfrerius). Question: How are these cities said to be captured, since the five satrapies of the Philistines are among the nations left for the proving of Israel, Judges 3? Responses: 1. The Greek version in the Roman Codex[2] adds the negative particle, and reads, he did not possess Gaza. Thus Josephus, Antiquities 5:2 (Bonfrerius). 2. They did not take the cities, but their borders, fields, and farms (Lyra in Tostatus). But this is contrary to the letter (Tostatus). 3. They did indeed take these cities, but the Philistines soon recovered them (Lapide, Bonfrerius, Martyr, similarly Junius, Estius, Menochius), because of the sins of Israel (Martyr). The Israelites do not appear to have ever possessed or inhabited them (Bonfrerius, Estius), but only to have made them tributaries (Estius). Objection: But it appears that they were not even now in the hand of the Israelites, because in Judges 3 it is said, He left the five satrapies of the Philistines, etc. Response: That was said before the capture, although it is set down later. It signifies that these were taken neither when Joshua was living, nor when the Angel was speaking (Tostatus). This passage confirms that matters conducted after the death of Joshua are here narrated, because among the cities that, with Joshua dying, were remaining to be conquered are enumerated Gaza, Ashkelon, and Ekron, Joshua 13 (Martyr). Question: How did Judah take Ekron, which belonged to the Danites, Joshua 19? Response: Notwithstanding he did this, so that he might weaken the strength of the enemies, who he knew were soon going to make war to recover the ruined cities (Bonfrerius).

Judah took Gaza, etc.: The principal cities of the Philistines. Question. How could this be, when among the people left to try Israel, are the five lords of the Philistines, Judges 3:3. Answer. It is only said that they took the cities, and probably contented themselves with making them tributary; but it is not said that they slew the people, as they ought to have done, and as it is said of the other cities here, Judges 1:5, 8, 17, 25. And the people being thus spared, did by God’s just judgment recover their strength, and expel the Jews out of their cities, as we find afterwards. It is further observable, that Ekron here taken was one of Dan’s cities, Joshua 19:43, and it was attempted and taken here by Judah and Simeon, partly out of love to their brother Dan, and partly to secure their new conquests, and other adjoining territories, from such potent neighbours.

[1] Hebrew: וַיִּלְכֹּ֤ד יְהוּדָה֙ אֶת־עַזָּ֣ה וְאֶת־גְּבוּלָ֔הּ וְאֶֽת־אַשְׁקְל֖וֹן וְאֶת־גְּבוּלָ֑הּ וְאֶת־עֶקְר֖וֹן וְאֶת־גְּבוּלָֽהּ׃

[2] The Roman or Sixtine Septuagint was published in 1587, under the direction of Cardinal Antonio Carafa and by authority of Pope Sixtus V.  It uses Codex Vaticanus as a base text.

1 thought on “Judges 1:18: The Valley Campaign, Part 1

  1. Matthew Henry: ‘Simeon got ground of the Canaanites in his border, Judges 1:17, 18. In the eastern part of Simeon’s lot, they destroyed the Canaanites in Zephath, and called it Hormah—destruction, adding this to some other devoted cities not far off, which they had some time ago, with good reason, called by that name, Numbers 21:2, 3. And this perhaps was the complete performance of the vow they them made that they would utterly destroy these cities of the Canaanites in the south. In the western part they took Gaza, Askelon, and Ekron, cities of the Philistines; they gained present possession of the cities, but, not destroying the inhabitants, the Philistines in process of time recovered the cities, and proved inveterate enemies to the Israel of God, and no better could come of doing their work by the halves.’

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