Judges 1:19: The Valley Campaign, Part 2

Verse 19:[1] And (Judg. 1:2; 2 Kings 18:7) the LORD was with Judah; and he drave out the inhabitants of the mountain (or, he possessed the mountain[2]); but could not drive out the inhabitants of the valley, because they had (Josh. 17:16, 18) chariots of iron.

[The Lord was with Judah] That is, He favored/supported him (Vatablus).

[And he possessed the mountains, וַיֹּ֖רֶשׁ אֶת־הָהָ֑ר] And he possessed the mountain (Pagnine, Montanus); therefore he drove out the mountainous regions (Vatablus, similarly Junius and Tremellius, Drusius), that is, the Canaanites that were then dwelling in the mountains (Vatablus). הוֹרִישׁ is of those that signify contrary things; to make an heir,[3] and to drive out of the inheritance.[4] Of which sort is בֵּרֵךְ, to bless[5] and to curse;[6] קוֹדֶשׁ, holy and polluted, Haggai 2:12[7] (Drusius).

[But he was not able to wipe out the inhabitants of the valley, etc.,כִּ֣י לֹ֤א לְהוֹרִישׁ֙ וגו״] Because not to drive out, etc. (Montanus, Grotius). There is an Ellipsis here of the finite verb, he was able. Thus, in Amos 8:4, ye that swallow up the poor, וְלַשְׁבִּית, and to cut down, that is, and think to cut down, the poor of the land (Glassius’ “Grammar” 681). Thus they supply, but not did he proceed to drive out (Junius and Tremellius). [Thus the difficulty vanishes, which is immediately to be treated. Others otherwise:] They did not destroy (Arabic); they certainly did not lay waste (Syriac); for not was he able to drive out (Pagnine, Tigurinus, Piscator, thus the Septuagint, Jonathan, Castalio, Osiander[8]). He was not able, that is, he did not have the courage (Piscator). Thus לֹ֤א לְהוֹרִישׁ֙, not to drive out, is left so that it might be construed in different ways, either, he was not willing, or, he was not able, or, he did not have the courage, to drive out (Lightfoot). Question: But if God was with the Judahites, why does he not permit the valleys and the mountains equally to Judah? Does God lack the means to overthrown chariots, etc.? Response 1: God did not always equally furnish His help to them, neither did He always equally grant a victory without casualties to them, whether on account of their scandalous acts, or to elicit their prayers, whereby it was happening that they were fearing that God might desert them (Bonfrerius). They were certainly able to drive them out, if God had been present with them: but a foolish fear, conceived on account of the chariots armed with scythes, and despairing of Divine help, was hindering God’s help to them (Menochius). God was unwilling that they should proceed further in the destruction of the Canaanites at this time, 1. Lest they, overly secure and wallowing in luxury, should forget God, and should be lifted up in pride (Bonfrerius). 2. He willed that they should be exercised by those nations, that they might not grow lethargic in leisure (Munster). 3. He willed to make trial of the Jews, how highly they would value their God, etc. 4. So that He might teach them the art of war. 5. So that wild animals might not multiply excessively (Martyr). And so, lest they should proceed further, God permitted them to be shaken by fear of the enemy and of the chariots armed with scythes, and to slip into unbelief (Bonfrerius). In the place of chariots, etc., the Septuagint in the Royal Codex has, because Rechab hindered them; and thus Theodoret[9] reads it, who thus explains: Rechab (Hobab by another name, the son of Jethro) persuaded the Judahites not to make war on the inhabitants of this valley adjacent to the sea, because he feared that the Jews, if they should possess the coastal regions, through naval commerce with the nations would be corrupted by them (Lapide). The fountain of the great evils here begins to be uncovered, their idleness, or mercy contrary to the law of God (Grotius): that they tolerated these nations, being forgetful of the commandments and promises of God, Joshua 13:6; 17:18 (Junius). Response 2: These words are set down by means of mimesis, and from the person of adversaries[10] (of which sort there are many in sacred and other books, as in 1 Corinthians 6, all things are lawful for me); that is to say, Because they were saying, or responding, or excusing, their idleness and unbelief by this pretext. For it was their ready and trite response, if one should ask why they had not driven them out; Because, say they, they abound in chariots armed with scythes (Montanus). [Concerning chariots armed with scythes see the things said on Joshua 17:16.]

But could not drive out, etc.: On account of their unbelief, whereby they doubted and 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 from them, and so they were really made impotent, as they were unwilling. See Joshua 17:16.

[1] Hebrew: וַיְהִ֤י יְהוָה֙ אֶת־יְהוּדָ֔ה וַיֹּ֖רֶשׁ אֶת־הָהָ֑ר כִּ֣י לֹ֤א לְהוֹרִישׁ֙ אֶת־יֹשְׁבֵ֣י הָעֵ֔מֶק כִּי־רֶ֥כֶב בַּרְזֶ֖ל לָהֶֽם׃

[2] Hebrew: וַיֹּ֖רֶשׁ אֶת־הָהָ֑ר.

[3] For example, Genesis 15:7:  “And he said unto him, I am the Lord that brought thee out of Ur of the Chaldees, to give thee this land to inherit it (לְרִשְׁתָּהּ).”

[4] For example, Deuteronomy 2:12:  “The Horims also dwelt in Seir beforetime; but the children of Esau succeeded them (יִירָשׁוּם, dispossessed them), when they had destroyed them from before them, and dwelt in their stead; as Israel did unto the land of his possession (יְרֻשָּׁתוֹ), which the Lord gave unto them.”

[5] For example, Genesis 12:2:  “And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee (וַאֲבָרֶכְךָ), and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing (בְּרָכָה)…”

[6] For example, 1 Kings 21:13:  “And there came in two men, children of Belial, and sat before him:  and the men of Belial witnessed against him, even against Naboth, in the presence of the people, saying, Naboth did blaspheme (בֵּרַךְ, did bless) God and the king.  Then they carried him forth out of the city, and stoned him with stones, that he died.”

[7] Haggai 2:12:  “If one bear holy flesh (בְּשַׂר־קֹדֶשׁ) in the skirt of his garment, and with his skirt do touch bread, or pottage, or wine, or oil, or any meat, shall it be holy (הֲיִקְדָּשׁ)?  And the priests answered and said, No.”

[8] Lucas Osiander (1534-1604) was a Lutheran theologian.  He produced an edition of the Vulgate with supplemental annotations and corrections, inserting Luther’s translation in the places in which the Vulgate departs from the Hebrew.  He was also an accomplished composer of music.

[9] Theodoret (393-457) was bishop of Cyrus, and a significant participant in the Christological controversies of his age.  He was an advocate of Antiochian dyophysitism, or moderate Nestorianism, although he condemned the Nestorian affirmation of two Sons in Christ, and the Nestorian denial that Mary was Theotokos, that is, the Mother of God.  His orthodoxy was cleared at the Council of Chalcedon (451).  He wrote a commentary on the Octoteuch.

[10] In Rhetoric, Mimesis is the imitation or reproduction of the words of another.

2 thoughts on “Judges 1:19: The Valley Campaign, Part 2

  1. Matthew Henry: ‘The lot of Judah was pretty well cleared of the Canaanites, yet not thoroughly. Those that dwelt in the mountain (the mountains that were round about Jerusalem) were driven out (Judges 1:9, 19), but those in the valley kept their ground against them, having chariots of iron, such as we read of, Josh 17:16. Here the men of Judah failed, and thereby spoiled the influence which otherwise their example hitherto might have had on the rest of the tribes, who followed them in this instance of their cowardice, rather than in all the other instances of their courage. They had iron chariots, and therefore it was thought not safe to attack them: but had not Israel God on their side, whose chariots are thousands of angels (Psalm 68:17), before whom these iron chariots would be but as stubble to the fire? Had not God expressly promised by the oracle (Judges 1:2) to give them success against the Canaanites in this very expedition, without excepting those that had iron chariots? Yet they suffered their fears to prevail against their faith, they could not trust God under any disadvantages, and therefore durst not face the iron chariots, but meanly withdrew their forces, when with one bold stroke they might have completed their victories; and it proved of pernicious consequence. They did run well, what hindered them? Galatians 5:7.’

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