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.

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

  1. Matthew Henry: ‘Particular notice is taken of the conquest of Jerusalem, Judges 1:8. Our translators judge it spoken of here as done formerly in Joshua’s time, and only repeated on occasion of Adoni-bezek’s dying there, and therefore read it, “they had fought against Jerusalem,” and put this verse in a parenthesis; but the original speaks of it as a thing now done, and this seems most probable because it is said to be done by the children of Judah in particular, not by all Israel in general, whom Joshua commanded. Joshua indeed conquered and slew Adoni-zedek, king of Jerusalem (Joshua 10), but we read not there of his taking the city; probably, while he was pursing his conquests elsewhere, this Adoni-bezek, a neighbouring prince, got possession of it, whom Israel having conquered in the field, the city fell into their hands, and they slew the inhabitants, except those who retreated into the castle and held out there till David’s time, and they set the city on fire, in token of their detestation of the idolatry wherewith it had been deeply infected, yet probably not so utterly as to consume it, but to leave convenient habitations for as many as they had to put into the possession of it.’

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