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Bible Commentaries

Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible

Judges 1

Verses 1-4

Introductory (
Judges 1:1 to Judges 3:4)

Division 1, Judges 1:1 to Judges 2:5.

This section of the book contains a brief recapitulation of the early conquest of Palestine, told from a somewhat different point of view from that of Joshua 7-21, and supplying much that is there not mentioned. From these vv. it is clear that Palestine was not conquered in one great invasion; and the whole of the book shows Israel to be only in very precarious possession of the land. The narrative in Joshua emphasises the influence over the whole collection of tribes wielded by the Ephraimite hero, Joshua himself; Judges 1:1 to Judges 2:5 narrates the movements of separate tribes, leaving some of them (Issachar, Levi and Benjamin) unmentioned. It would seem that after the main body of Israelites had crossed the Jordan, captured Jericho, and made Gilgal their headquarters, the larger number of them, under Joshua, faced northwards, while Judah and Simeon remained in the south, and, for some time, were almost detached from the main body. The actual narratives of this division of Part 1 deal with (1) the conquest of Adoni-bezek by Judah and Simeon (Judges 1:1-8); (2) conquests of Othniel in the south (Judges 1:9-15); (3) further conquests of Judah and Simeon (Judges 1:16-21); (4) capture of Bethel (Judges 1:22-26); (5) limits to the conquests of Manasseh, Ephraim, Zebulun, Asher, Naphtali and Dan (Judges 1:27-36); (6) the moral, delivered by the angel at Bochim (Judges 2:1-5).

Verses 1-36

The Conquests of Judah, Simeon, and other Tribes

1-8. Conquests of Judah and Simeon.

1. After the death of Joshua] This joins the beginning of Judges to the end of Joshua; but in what follows the author refers to events which must have preceded the partition of Joshua 13 f., and the campaigns of Joshua 10, 11. Asked the lord] Consulted the oracle of the Lord’: cp. Judges 18:5; Judges 20:18. See also Exodus 28:30; Numbers 27:21.

2. The land] the S. part of Palestine.

3. Simeon] The towns of Simeon (Joshua 19:1-9) are also attributed to Judah (Joshua 15:26-36, Joshua 15:42). Later, Simeon ceases to exist as an independent tribe. My lot] Each tribe has had a part of Canaan allotted to it, whose conquest it is to attempt. Judah is chosen to make the first inroad.

4. Perizzites] see on Genesis 13:7. Canaanites] in its special sense of ’lowlanders’: cp. Genesis 13:7; Genesis 34:30. Bezek] lying on the road from Gilgal to South Palestine.

5. Adoni-bezek] (perhaps the same as Adoni-zedek of Joshua 10:1) is king of Jerusalem, which city also lies in the path of Judah and Simeon to Judah’s ’lot.’

6. Cut off] to make them unfit for warfare.

7. Kings] chiefs or sheikhs of a city or even village. They] his own people.

8. Jerusalem] The city was not held, but remained in the possession of the Jebusites till the time of David (2 Samuel 5:6-9). Not till then would Judah really dominate Southern Palestine (cp. Judges 1:21, and chapter Judges 19:12).

9-15. Conquests of Othniel in the south.

9. The mountain denotes the central ridge, stretching from N. of Jerusalem to Hebron; the south, the wild country S. of Hebron, called in Hebrew the Negeb, and the valley (RV ’lowland’) the maritime plain to the W.

10. Hebron] see on Genesis 13:18. Kirjatharba] ’city of four’ (quarters). In Joshua 14:15; Joshua 15:13-14, however, Arba is regarded as a personal name; he is ’the father of Anak,’ or ’a great man among the Anakims’ (a primitive gigantic race, of which Sheshai, etc., are names of divisions or clans).

11. Debir] in the Negeb. Kirjath-sepher] ’Book-city’ He] should be Caleb (see Joshua 15:13), to whom (Joshua 14:6-15) Moses had promised this territory.

13. Othniel is also the hero of the deliverance from Chushan-rishathaim (Judges 3:9.).

15. Blessing] a present (cp. Genesis 33:11) or solemn token of paternal affection. Thou hast given me] RV, better, ’thou hast set me in.’ A south land] RV ’the land of the South’; for the most part a waterless region, where springs would be precious. Upper and nether springs are proper names.

16-21. Further conquests of Judah and Simeon.

16. The Kenite] Hobab (cp. Judges 4:11, elsewhere called Jethro: cp. also Exodus 2:18). The Kenites are joined (in Genesis 15:19) with the Keniazites, Caleb’s tribe (Kenaz, Judges 1:13), a Bedouin people in firm league with Israel: see Judges 4:17 and 1 Samuel 15:6. They do not, like Judah, attack the Canaanites. City of palm trees] Jericho, which, with Grilgal, was Israel’s base of operations. Arad] SE. of Hebron. Among the people] A more probable reading is ’with the Amalekite,’ i.e. not actually in Judah.

17. Zephath] not known. Hormah] ’utter destruction.’ To ’destroy utterly’ is to put under a ban, or exterminate: cp. Joshua 6:17 mg;(’devoted,’ i.e. to destruction).

18. These, with Gath and Ashdod, are the five Philistine cities. The LXX reads ’did not take,’ which accords with subsequent references to the Philistines.

19. Chariots of iron] Always an object of dread to the light-armed Israelites (cp. Judges 4:3), but useless in the hill-country, where the Israelites were more firmly established.

Could not] The Lord being with Judah, they should have been able to drive them out. Probably their faith failed at sight of the iron chariots. The Hebrew, indeed, does not say ’could not drive them out,’ but ’there was no driving out.’

21. Cp. Joshua 15:63.

22-26. Capture of Bethel.

22. House of Joseph] i.e. Ephraim and Manasseh, the leading division of the nation. Later writers use Ephraim as a synonym for the ten northern tribes (e.g. Hosea 11:8; Isaiah 28:3).

23. Descry] RV ’spy out.’ Beth-el] 9 ½ m. N. of Jerusalem. See Genesis 28:19; Genesis 35:6.

26. Hittites] see on Genesis 10:15-19. Luz] Evidently a different city from that mentioned in Judges 1:23.

27-36. Limits to the conquests of Manasseh, etc.

27. These towns are all in the plain of Esdraelon (see on Judges 4), by their hold upon which the Canaanites drove a wedge between the Israelites of Northern and Central Palestine. Beth-shean is at the E. of the plain, Taanach and Megiddo (recently excavated and revealing a wealth of Canaanite remains) on the S., Ibleam on the SE., and Dor on the coast. Would dwell] i.e. succeeded in dwelling.

28. Tribute] RV ’taskwork.’ So Israel had been treated in Egypt.

29. Gezer] On the edge of the maritime plain; later on, taken by Egypt and given to Solomon (1 Kings 9:15). Here also extensive remains have been found, demonstrating the pagan worship carried on by its inhabitants.

30. Kitron.. Nahalol] unknown.

31. Accho (Akka), Zidon (Saida), and Achzib (Ez-Zib, N. of Akka) are all on the coast: the other towns are unknown.

33. Beth-shemesh (’house of the sun’), not the wellknown Beth-shemesh in Judah: cp. Joshua 19:38. Beth-anath (house of the goddess Anath) is perhaps a town 6 m. N. of Kadesh-naphtali.

34. Dan fails in securing a foothold: later, the Danites make an expedition northwards (Judges 18) and Ephraim gains an entrance into the territory from which they are driven (Judges 1:35). Amorites] see on Genesis 10:16.

35. Mount Heres] ’the mountain of the sun.’ Aijalon] 12 m. W. of Jerusalem; the scene of Joshua’s great victory (Joshua 10:12). Shaalbim] possibly 3 m. to the N.

36. Coast] RV ’border.’ The ascent of (RV) Akrabbim (scorpions) is said in Joshua 15:3 to be on the border of Judah and Edom. Amorites is probably a misreading for ’Edomites.’ The spot lies on a line between Hebron and Petra, the Edomite capital. As it stands, this v. has no connexion with its context.

36. The rock] should be, as RM, ’Sela,’ i.e. Petra in Edom.

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Bibliographical Information
Dummelow, John. "Commentary on Judges 1". "Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible". 1909.