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Bible Commentaries
Judges 1

Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New TestamentsSutcliffe's Commentary

Verses 1-36

Judges 1:1 . After the death of Joshua, whose death was to the Jews the commencement of new troubles; they asked counsel of the Lord, as directed, Numbers 27:21, by Phinehas the priest.

Judges 1:3 . Judah said to Simeon, come up with me, for their lots were adjacent, and therefore equally concerned. The Canaanites, it would seem, had returned to some of their former possessions.

Judges 1:5 . Adoni-bezek; the lord of Bezek. Joshua 15:19.

Judges 1:7 . Having their thumbs and great toes cut off. We find many ancient restless foes treated in this way with the loss of their right thumb, to disable them from war, but nowhere, except here, an extention of the cruelty to the toes. It was time for these nations to be destroyed: the power of conscience confessed the equity of divine retribution.

Judges 1:8 . Jerusalem. This is more full than Joshua 10:0. They destroyed the Jebusites, and burnt the city, except those who took refuge in the fortress, where the temple was afterwards built. This strong place David took, but spared the people, as it would seem from Araunah’s being left in possession of his estate. They had then embraced Judaism. See on Joshua 18:28.

Judges 1:16 . The Kenites. These learned shepherds had followed Moses, and received their lot adjacent to Amalek. They preserved the learning of Moses and Jethro, 1 Chronicles 2:55, and would drink no wine, nor build houses. Jeremiah 35:0. By this emigration they escaped the evils which Balaam had foretold would befal their country. They were wise and wary to come and enjoy the pastures when the war was over.

Judges 1:18 . Judah took Gaza with the coast thereof. This, as appears from chap. Judges 3:3, must be wrong in the Hebrew copy, which the Septuagint rectifies thus: “But Judah did not possess Gaza, nor the coasts thereof; nor Askelon, nor Ekron, nor Ashdod, nor the coasts thereof.” See Josephus Judges 5:2.

Judges 1:24 . Show us the entrance into the city: so he saved his own life by betraying his fellow-citizens. To him an awful subject of reflection for future years.


This chapter, as introductory to the presidency of the judges, resumes the history of the Israelites from the defeat of the allied kings by Joshua. Now it would be well for those who complain of cruelty in Joshua, to contemplate the character of Adoni-bezek, and say whether he, and the instruments of his cruelty were fit to live? Surely if the judgments which the Canaanites brought one upon another, had no effect in producing a reformation, it was high time for heaven to inflict its vengeance on a people guilty of every crime. Yet an infidel age talks as though some apology ought to be made for Moses, Joshua, and David, the purest ministers of divine vengeance, and distinguished by the greatest mercy. Indulge them but in this, and we must next make some apology for every other visitation of providence: but instead of making concessions which brand the tribunal of heaven with weakness, we are taught to reply as Christ did, Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.

The valour of Judah is here recorded at large. He set a fine example to the other tribes, notwithstanding his failure of the conquest of Philistia. Joseph’s stratagem and courage in storming Bethel, near to which Rachel his mother was interred, is mentioned with honour. But the six remaining tribes are all blamed for not driving out the heathen: and what is worse, they reduced them to tribute. This violated the law of God; for after receiving their money, they could not attack them without a breach of covenant; and God will never aid a people in the cause of perjury and wickedness. Whoever makes a covenant with his sins, grieves the Holy Spirit, and forfeits the aids of grace, by which alone he can mortify the deeds of the body.

The children of the Kenite, Moses’ father-in-law, having passed the Jordan with Israel, went up with Judah to fight. How happy, that Jethro, if yet alive, took second thoughts. When Moses first invited him to go with them to the promised land, he refused. Numbers 10:29-31. But seeing the Lord was with his people, his heart was afterwards moved, and the whole family followed the ark. These were the family of the Rechabites mentioned by Jeremiah; it appears that they led a pastoral, inoffensive, and sober life. And if our heart like Jethro’s have at first revolted against invitations to join in religious society, let us think again, that it is safest for us to be with God’s covenant people. Let us leave the world and sin, and claim our portion with the Lord’s people.

Bibliographical Information
Sutcliffe, Joseph. "Commentary on Judges 1". Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jsc/judges-1.html. 1835.
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