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Bible Commentaries

Coke's Commentary on the Holy Bible

Judges 1


THIS Book is called Shophtim, שׁפטים Suffetes, which word signifies an avenger, a deliverer. See Prideaux's Connect. vol. 1: p. 92. The book is generally divided into two parts; the first, comprising the history of the judges, from Othniel to Samson; the second, containing a narrative of several illustrious exploits, which happened in or about the time of the judges. It is not agreed who was the author of this book: the most probable opinion, and that which has the majority of critics on its side, is, that it was written by Samuel; but, for more on this subject, we refer to Bishop Patrick and Calmet.


The tribe of Judah, having conquered Adoni-bezek, take Jerusalem, and Hebron, which is given to Caleb. Othniel takes the city of Kirjath-sepher. The other tribes spare the Canaanites, to their own disadvantage.

Verse 1

Judges 1:1. Now, after the death of Joshua, it came to pass It is related in this chapter, in what state each of the tribes was after Joshua was dead; and some things, by the way, are resumed which had happened before, and which we have read in the Book of Joshua; as the taking of the cities of Hebron and Kirjath-sepher, &c. It is not possible to fix the exact date of the war here narrated. It is most probable, that the Israelites did not think of attacking the Canaanites till some years after the death of Joshua, when those nations which they had imprudently spared began to get the upper hand. We should be cautious, however, not to place the event too far back, since Othniel, the first judge of the Israelites after the death of Joshua, had been advantageously spoken of during the life of that general. By the children of Israel's asking the Lord, is meant, the heads of the tribes applying to Phinehas, the high-priest, to consult the Lord by Urim and Thummim. See Lowman, ch. 2.

Verse 2

Judges 1:2. Judah shall go up This was the most numerous and most valiant of the tribes, Genesis 49:8.; and is commanded to go up, says Houbigant, because those nations were to be subdued which were in the lot of this tribe, as appears from the third verse, Come up to me into my lot.

Verse 4

Judges 1:4. In Bezek Bezek was a city of the tribe of Judah, and is thought to have been at a small distance from Bethlehem and Jerusalem. See 1Sa 11:8 and Wells's Geogr. vol. 2:

Verse 5

Judges 1:5. They found Adoni-bezek Adoni signifies Lord, or Master; so that Adoni-bezek was evidently the King, or Lord, of Bezek. See Bochart's Hieroz. pars 1: lib. 2.

Verse 6

Judges 1:6. And Adoni-bezek fled It is evident, that after the battle the king shut himself up in Bezek; that then this place was besieged; that the two confederated tribes took it; but that Adoni-bezek having escaped thence, they sent detachments after him, who overtook and brought him back to the camp of the conquerors; and they cut off his thumbs, and his great toes. This was but a just requital, as he himself acknowleged, of the barbarity that he had committed upon so many other princes. By treating Adoni-bezek thus, they disabled him from handling arms, or supporting himself in flight, two things essential in a warrior. This is not an unknown punishment in prophane history; for Elian, in his Hist. Var. lib. ii. c. 9. relates, that the Athenians cut off the thumbs of the inhabitants of the island of Egina, that those islanders might not dispute with them the empire of the sea.

Verse 8

Judges 1:8. Now the children of Judah had fought against Jerusalem, &c.— The strong fortress on mount Sion continued in the hands of the Jebusites till the time of David. See Joseph. Hist. b. vi. c. 7.

Note; (1.) God often repays the wicked in their own coin. (2.) The proudest are not too high for God to humble; let kings remember that they are in slippery places. (3.) When God's judgments awaken the conscience, we shall own his righteousness, and stand self-condemned before him.

Verses 10-15

Judges 1:10-15. And Judah went against the Canaanites See on Joshua 15:18-19. The expedition against Hebron seems placed here by way of recapitulation, on account of the other conquests of the tribe of Judah. The whole of this passage, perhaps, had better be rendered in the pluperfect; Caleb had said, &c.

Verse 16

Judges 1:16. The children of the Kenite, Moses' father-in-law The Kenites descended from Jethro had followed the Israelites into the land of Canaan, and were at first settled near the City of Palms, which is commonly thought to be the same with Jericho, celebrated for its palm-trees. See Shaw, vol. 2: p. 68 and Numbers 10:29. And they went and dwelt amongst the people, might be rendered, perhaps, more properly, and they went and continued with the people; i.e. of Israel or Judah.

Verse 19

Judges 1:19. But could not drive out the inhabitants, &c.— But proceeded not to drive out, &c. Jun. Tremel. Wat. This version gives us the true sense of the passage. We are not to suppose that chariots of iron rendered the inhabitants of the valley invincible to a people aided and protected by Almighty God; but only that these tribes, content with their former victories, and terrified at the formidable appearance of the enemy, wanted confidence in the Lord, and dared not to attack the Philistines; insomuch, that, being unworthy of God's succour, they were left to themselves, to their false policy and shameful timidity: and hence, perhaps, they abandoned Gaza, Askelon, and Ekron, which they had before taken. See ch. Judges 3:3.

Note; (1.) They who do the work of the Lord unfaithfully will surely suffer for it. (2.) A favourable opportunity neglected can very rarely be recovered. (3.) Unbelief of God's promises is the cause of all our complaints.

Verse 22

Judges 1:22. The house of Joseph Instead of בית beth, house, the Cambridge Manuscript reads, beni, the children, which seems to be the better reading, as the context is, and they ascended, &c. The LXX and Arabick read children.

Verse 26

Judges 1:26. The man went into the land of the Hittites, and built a city, and called the name thereof Luz The land of the Hittites, probably, means some colony of that people settled in Syria or Arabia. The man, most likely, was himself a Hittite. His building a city is a certain proof that he was allowed to retire with his family and effects; and these circumstances respecting him appear to be related to do honour to his memory: for it is well known to have been the practice of all good writers to eternize the remembrance of the founders of cities. Bochart observes, that Luz had its name from the great plenty of almonds growing there.

Verse 28

Judges 1:28. They put the Canaanites to tribute Generally speaking, nothing could have prevented the Israelites from extirpating these nations, and, indeed, nothing could have excused them from doing so: but, preferring present peace to the obedience which they owed to God, they contented themselves with receiving a tribute from them, soothing to their indolence, and requiring no warlike efforts on their part.

Verse 29

Judges 1:29. Neither did Ephraim drive out the Canaanites So far from it, they suffered them to enjoy among them all the privileges of a free people, even as if they had been allied; which is the meaning of the expression, to dwell among them, see 2 Kings 4:13.

Verse 36

Judges 1:36. And the coast of the Amorites was from—the rock By the rock, the Vulgate understands the city of Petra, in the Hebrew סלע selang, which stood upon the confines of Idumaea, and was the capital of Arabia Petraea; Amaziah called it Joktheel, 2 Kings 14:7. It is remarkable, that some of the old inhabitants continued there till after our Saviour's time. See Bishop Patrick.

From the whole we may observe, that sloth and covetousness, unbelief of God's power, and want of detestation of idolatry, were still too much rooted in this stiff-necked people; yet God wonderfully bore with them.

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Bibliographical Information
Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Judges 1". Coke's Commentary on the Holy Bible. 1801-1803.