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Bible Commentaries

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible
Judges 1

 

 

Verse 1

PART FIRST.

INTRODUCTION. — CHAPTERS Judges 1:1 to Judges 3:6.

THE LEADERSHIP, Judges 1:1-2.

1. After the death of Joshua — Probably not long after. Till Joshua died the affairs of the nation were closely associated with one great master mind, upon which came the chief responsibility of government. Moses and Joshua were to Israel like the chief generals of a great army, and the great body of the people had little sense of a national responsibility. But as soon as these great leaders are gone there comes a dawning sense of national unity and responsibility, and now not one man, but the whole people, the children of Israel, ask counsel of Jehovah. The children of Israel are here to be understood as the tribes west of the Jordan, represented by their elders.

Asked the Lord — By means of the urim and thummim. See note on Joshua 1:1. The people and the elders had not forgotten the last counsels of Joshua. Joshua 23-24.

Who shall go up — Joshua died leaving no chosen successor. As he had himself been called of God to succeed Moses, (Joshua 1:2,) so he trusted God to select his successor in office. The divine commission did not resound in the ear nor stir the heart of any man. Hence the nation resorts to prayer to God in this season of suspense. The expression go up is to be taken in a military sense, not as implying an actual ascent, but an aggressive warfare: who shall take the lead in battle with our Canaanitish foes? The enemy is conceived as occupying higher ground than the aggressors, though sometimes the march to battle may not have been a literal going up.

Against the Canaanites — These enemies were not all exterminated in Joshua’s day, and when the great commander was dead the elders of Israel began to feel anxiety about the national safety. They feared their enemies might seize the moment when Israel was without a leader to recover their former possessions.

First — Or, at the beginning. The thought is, Who shall make the beginning of aggressive warfare? This form of words seems to imply that a personal leader was not sought, but rather what the Greeks called the hegemony, the precedence among the tribes: which tribe shall make a beginning?

Bishop Hervey, in the “Speaker’s” or “Bible Commentary,” maintains that the events of this chapter and the first five verses of chapter 2 must have occurred before Joshua’s death, and he suggests that the reading in this first verse should be, Now after the death of MOSES. But this whole argument rests mainly upon two assumptions, both of which may be rejected as unnecessary. He assumes, (1) That a war with the Canaanites for the possession of tribe territory is incompatible with the conquest of Canaan and the settlement of the tribes under Joshua’s leadership, and (2) That the narrative commencing at Judges 2:6, is a direct continuation of the verses preceding it. On this latter assumption see note at Judges 2:6. The former has been sufficiently refuted in our notes on Joshua 11:23; Joshua 21:44. Joshua, indeed, subdued the Canaanites on all sides, and the tribes received their portions during his lifetime, but the Canaanites were by no means all exterminated, and after the death of Israel’s great chieftain they would naturally rally to recover, as far as possible, their lost possessions; and subsequent history shows how long-continued were their conflicts with the Canaanitish nations that remained in the land.

The exact chronology of various events recorded in these opening chapters is very uncertain, and in view of the Hebrew historians’ well-known lack of precision in such matters, and the absence of sufficient data to construct a definite chronology of these events, it is altogether needless to suppose or assume that they occurred before Joshua’s death. The passage in Judges 1:10-15 is manifestly episodical, interrupting the direct narrative of the chapter, and therefore proves nothing in the case.


Verse 2

2. Judah — The tribe; the individual had long been dead.

Deuteronomy 1:35. This designation of Judah to the pre-eminence was in substance a repetition of the prophetic blessing of dying Jacob: “Thou art he whom thy brethren shall praise; thy hand shall be upon the neck of thine enemies; thy father’s children shall bow down before thee.” Genesis 49:8. But although God thus clearly designated Judah for the leadership, the tribe failed to understand that from among its thousands a personal leader and national executive should be sought, and measures at once be taken to organize a strong central government, and realize as soon as possible the ideal presented in the book of the Law. Here was Judah’s divine call, but the tribe neglected it, entered into a league with Simeon, andthrough all the period of the Judges kept sinking into comparative insignificance. In Samson’s time this tribe seems to have been the most cowardly in Israel, and utterly afraid to resist the Philistine conquerors.

Compare Judges 15:11, note. Not until David attained the throne did Judah recover from the effects of the failure to improve fully this divine call.

I have delivered — It was the divine purpose that the ultimate and complete conquest of the Promised Land should be wrought by Judah’s sceptre, but it was not done till the days of David.

The land — Not only the lot of Judah, but the whole land of Canaan.


Verse 3

LEAGUE OF JUDAH AND SIMEON, Judges 1:3.

3. Simeon — This tribe was on the southern border of Judah, and occupied several cities within the bounds of that tribe. See on Joshua 19:1. They were natural allies, not only from their proximity, but because they were both the offspring of Leah.

My lot… thy lot — The portion of each was still infested with enemies. They unite to conquer them. This league of Judah and Simeon was clannish and sectional. Though it resulted in many victories, it would have been better had it been a league of all the tribes. The cowardly inactivity of the rest of the tribes, described in Judges 1:27-36, was doubtless largely owing to this sectional league. They were not included, and so lost sympathy with the work of conquest, and no central national government was formed. Hence the disorders and disasters that ensued. The league should have been not of Judah and Simeon, but of Judah and all the tribes, with Judah as leader.


Verse 4

DEFEAT OF ADONI-BEZEK, Judges 1:4-7.

4. Judah went up — That is, in the military sense, as in Judges 1:1. Judah proceeded to the war.

The Lord delivered — The devout Hebrew was remarkable for acknowledging the Divine hand in all his victories. The civilisation which laughs at all faith in the supernatural, and makes the strongest battalions the arbiters of battles, is very defective.

The Canaanites and the Perizzites — On these nations see note on Joshua 3:10. There seems to have been a gathering of these foes under Adoni-bezek for the purpose of conquering and oppressing Israel, and to crush the rising rebellion Judah led an army promptly against the gathering host, and fought the decisive battle in Bezek. This place is mentioned only once again, at 1 Samuel 11:8, where the context shows it to have been near the Jordan valley, and within a day’s journey of Jabesh-gilead. Its site has not been identified, but there is no good reason for maintaining that this Bezek must have been within the tribe of Judah. It may have been expedient for Judah to march beyond his borders, and attack the enemy on their own grounds.

Ten thousand men — Ancient battles were more destructive of human life, because there were generally no prisoners taken, or, if taken, their sufferings in slavery were worse than death on the field.


Verse 5

5. Found — Discovered and apprehended unexpectedly.

Adoni-bezek — The name means, lord of Bezek. He seems to have commanded these Canaanite and Perizzite forces in this war.


Verse 6

6. Cut off his thumbs and… great toes — This barbarous mutilation, unusual with the Jews, was designed to incapacitate for military service. The victim of this cruelty could neither march nor fight. In this instance the Israelites exercised this cruelty according to that barbaric style of justice called the lex talionis. In modern warfare it is usual to release prisoners “on parole,” that is, on their word of honour not to fight again; but among some barbarians such mutilation or disabling was the only security against their fighting again. And modern civilized states, when called to war with certain barbarous or half-civilized tribes, have sometimes been obliged to resort to some terrible form of the law of retaliation. See note on Joshua 10:26.


Verse 7

7. Threescore and ten kings — The chief of every petty village was styled a king. This accounts for the number of maimed wretches who scrambled or cravenly begged for the crumbs beneath this brutal conqueror’s table. We need not understand that all these seventy kings were under his table at one time, but during his reign. “Conceive,” says Kitto, “what must have been the state of the country and people among whom such a scene could exist. What wars had been waged, what cruel ravages committed! Those are certainly very much in the wrong who picture to themselves the Canaanites as ‘a happy family,’ disturbed in their peaceful homes by the Hebrew barbarians from the wilderness!”

God hath requited me — The guilty conscience, goaded to confession by signal retribution, quickly finds for its woe a moral cause. So the guilty sons of Jacob remembered their sin against Joseph when they found themselves involved in distress in Egypt. Genesis 42:21. So Herod was ready to see in the wonder-working Jesus the murdered John Baptist risen from the dead. Matthew 14:2.

They brought him to Jerusalem — That is, his own people brought him thither, for Jerusalem was yet in the hands of the Canaanites. The Israelites could have had no worthy object in carrying off with them the mutilated king, and the next sentence, commencing with the subject the children of Israel, indicates that the verb brought, in this verse has a different subject.

Accordingly, the next verse shows how Judah followed up his victory, and proceeded to attack Jerusalem, whither the defeated Canaanites had fled.


Verse 8

CAPTURE AND BURNING OF JERUSALEM, Judges 1:8.

8. Had fought — This pluperfect rendering of the verb has grown out of the notion that the Israelites brought Adoni-bezek to Jerusalem, and therefore the city must have been already in their possession. But much better is it to follow the more natural rendering of the Hebrew, and understand that this stronghold of the Jebusites was still held by its old possessors, (Joshua 15:63,) and that when these Canaanites and Perizzites were smitten at Bezek, they fled to this strong city, which had escaped even the all-conquering sword of Joshua. The rendering should therefore be, Then fought the children of Judah against Jerusalem, and took it, and smote it with the edge of the sword, and sent it in the fire; that is committed it to the flames. After the forces of Judah passed on to the south, Jerusalem seems to have fallen again into the hands of the Jebusites, and then Benjamin was unable to expel them. Judges 1:21. The complete conquest was subsequently made by David. See notes on Joshua 15:63; 2 Samuel 5:6.

Set the city on fire — Not to purify symbolically, as some suppose, but to destroy, as in the case of other cities that were burned. Compare Judges 20:48. It is not said, however, that the city was entirely consumed, and, perhaps, the higher city, or fortress of the Jebusites, was not taken at all.


Verse 9

CONQUESTS IN THE TERRITORY OF JUDAH, Judges 1:9.

9. Afterward — After the burning of Jerusalem.

Went down — Proceeded southward. As went up (Judges 1:4) indicates a starting off to battle, so went down indicates a continuation of the war.

The mountain… the south… the valley — The three principal geographical divisions of the territory of Judah. See note on Joshua 15:19. Here the thread of the narrative is broken off to introduce the episode about Caleb and Othniel, and the notice of the Kenites.


Verses 10-15

CONQUEST OF HEBRON, AND EXPLOIT AND REWARD OF OTHNIEL, Judges 1:10-15.

This passage is nearly identical with Joshua 15:14-19. It may have been copied from the Book of Joshua, or from some older work. See the notes on the passage in Joshua. It is characteristic of the Hebrew historians to interweave such episodes as this and the following one about the Kenites into a narrative which touches persons or places with which they were associated.

The date of this conquest of Hebron and Debir is uncertain, but from Joshua 14:6-15; Joshua 15:13-19, it appears that it occurred during the lifetime of Joshua. Caleb was eighty-five years old at the time of the Conquest, or at its close, and some little time may have passed before he conquered Debir, but not probably many years. But whatever the date, the episodical character of this section, (Judges 1:10-16,) and the resumption of the narrative of Judah and Simeon’s exploits at Judges 1:17, show the futility of arguing from this passage that all the rest of the events of the chapter must have happened before the death of Joshua.


Verse 16

THE KENITES, Judges 1:16.

16. Children of the Kenite — These were a nomadic tribe camping in Midian in the days of Moses’ flight from Egypt. They were of Amalekite, or primitive Arabian, stock, and by virtue of their relation by marriage to Moses, this tribe became an ally, or a protege of the Hebrews, dwelling first in the vicinity of Jericho, the city of palm trees, and subsequently following the victorious arms of their protectors to the extreme south of Judah’s lot, to the edge of the Idumean desert. Here they dwelt undisturbed, taking no part in the wars of those days, and indifferent to political changes, until Saul warned them to separate from the Amalekites, whom God had directed him to destroy. 1 Samuel 15:6. The Rechabites, a tribe of staunch temperance men, descended from them. 1 Chronicles 2:55.

Arad — A Canaanite royal city in southern Palestine, twenty miles south of Hebron. Dr. Robinson identities it with Tell-Arad, a barren eminence rising above the surrounding country. The inhabitants of this city drove back the Israelites when they tried to enter Canaan from Kadesh-barnea. Numbers 21:1. They were subdued by Joshua forty years afterwards. Joshua 12:14.

Dwelt among the people — That is, the people of the tribe of Judah; though Heber, the Kenite, was found in Naphtali, Judges 4:17, having chosen to separate from his brethren and settle in the north of Palestine. It was proper that those who had befriended the Israelites in their weakness, when wandering through hostile lands, should enjoy their protection in the days of their triumph. “The sons of the Kenite adhered to Israel, not as Kenites, but as descendants of Jethro, the father-in-law of Moses. It is the constant aim of the historian of the conquest of Canaan by Israel to show that every promise was fulfilled, and that no one who at any time showed kindness failed of his promised reward. A reward had been promised to the sons of the Kenite, (Numbers 10:31,) and the fulfilment of the promise now takes place.” — Cassel.


Verse 17

CONQUEST OF ZEPHATH AND THREE CITIES OF PHILISTIA, Judges 1:17-19.

17. Judah went with Simeon — The narrative of their exploits is resumed after the episode about Caleb and Othniel.

Zephath — A Canaanitish city in the far south of Palestine, assigned first to Judah (Joshua 15:30) and afterwards to Simeon, Judges 19:4. Its inhabitants harassed Israel in their journey through the desert, and Israel vowed to place all their cities under ban.

Numbers 21:1-3. Joshua destroyed its king, but seems not to have destroyed the city. Joshua 12:14. So, too, he smote the king of Jerusalem, (Judges 12:10,) but did not capture and subjugate his stronghold among the hills. Now, after Joshua’s death, Judah and Simeon unite their forces and utterly destroy the city, and thereby execute the ancient vow of Israel against it. Hence the name Hormah, the place devoted to destruction. The previous use of this name in the Bible is to be understood proleptically. The city still exists in ruins under the scarcely altered name Sebaita, some twenty-five miles southwest of Beer-sheba, and three and one half miles south of the fort El Meshrifeh, which commands the only pass by which the plain of the ancient city can be approached. The ruins are extensive and imposing, about five hundred yards long and from two hundred to three hundred yards wide. Notwithstanding the fallen debris and rubbish, the streets are still plainly to be traced. In February, 1870, Prof. Palmer of the Palestine Exploration Party visited and carefully examined the site and all its surroundings. He remarks: “The name Sebaita is etymologically identical with the Zephath of the Bible. Zephath signifies a watch tower, and it is a noteworthy fact that the fortress El Mesh-rifeh, discovered by us in the same neighbourhood, exactly corresponds to this, both in its position and in the meaning of its name. I would make one more suggestion respecting this site: Zephath has always been considered as identical with Hormah; but may we not understand the word Zephath in its proper signification, and consider the city, after all, as separate from the tower or fortress that was attacked and destroyed? The city which was protected by so commanding a fort might well be spoken of as the City of the Watch Tower; and, as so important a position would certainly not be neglected by later inhabitants of the land, I think it not improbable that in El Meshrifeh we see the site of Zephath itself, and in Sebaita that of the city of the Zephath to which the Israelites, after their victory, gave the name of Hormah.”

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Verse 18

18. Gaza — See note on Joshua 10:41. For Ashkelon and Ekron see on Joshua 13:3. Since these cities lay in the great Philistine plain, some have thought this verse contradicts the verse following, in which it is said that Judah was unable to drive out the inhabitants of the valley. Accordingly the Septuagint reads: “Judah did not inherit Gaza and her borders, nor Ashkelon and her borders, nor Ekron and her borders, nor Azotus and her suburbs.” But this emendation is unnecessary, for to take these cities and their coasts by storm ( לכד) is not inconsistent with a failure to drive out all the inhabitants of the valley, and take permanent possession of their coasts.


Verse 19

19. And he drave out the inhabitants of the mountain — Hebrews, he seized or possessed the mountain. In ordinary cases of foreign invasion the mountains are the fortresses which are last to surrender. But the Israelites, having confidence only in mountain warfare, concentrated their energies upon these fastnesses and secured their possession.

But could not drive out — Literally, for not to drive out the inhabitants of the valley; that is, they were not to be driven out, or, as one might say, there was no driving them out. The word rendered valley is עמק, emek, and does not necessarily refer at all to the Philistine plain, which is called the Shephelah, Judges 1:9. Emek denotes any valley, basin, or depression between mountains, and may here refer to plains situated among the mountains of Judah or elsewhere.

Because they had chariots of iron — This we are doubtless to take as the occasion, not the necessitating cause, of Judah’s ultimate failure to conquer all his foes. Iron chariots could not withstand the forces of Joshua (Joshua 11:4-9) nor of Barak, (Judges 4:15,) when the people of Jehovah fought with faith in his power, and Judah might likewise have conquered; but we understand that, after many triumphs, when Judah was brought to face these chariots of iron — instruments of warfare strange and terrible — he hesitated, wavered, gave way to fear, and thus lost faith in God, and then there was no driving out his enemy.


Verse 20

EXPLOITS OF CALEB, AND COWARDICE OF BENJAMIN, Judges 1:20-21.

20. Hebron — For the allotment of this city to Caleb, see Joshua 15:13-14, notes. The account is repeated here as a contrast to the pusillanimity of Benjamin, who, in permitting the Jebusites to hold Jerusalem, failed to accomplish a much less difficult task than the expulsion of the terrible Anakim from Hebron. Its repetition in this connexion may also contain the thought that it was only after Judah had conquered and taken possession of his territory that Caleb could quietly enjoy his possession of Hebron.


Verse 21

21. And the children of Benjamin — Better, perhaps, to give this an adversative rendering, But the children, etc. — which brings out the contrast between Caleb’s heroism and trust in God, and Benjamin’s cowardly distrust and disobedience. Jerusalem was on the boundary between Judah and Benjamin, a portion belonging to each. After its conquest by Judah the Jebusites soon regained possession, and seem to have made a sort of league with the children of Benjamin by which they were allowed to dwell with or by the side of them without molestation. Compare Joshua 15:63, and note on Judges 1:8.

Unto this day — The day of this historian must have been before David’s expulsion of the Jebusites.


Verse 22

CONQUEST OF BETH-EL, Judges 1:22-26.

22. House of Joseph — The combined forces of Ephraim and western Manasseh. This seems evident, not only from the words, but also from the fact that Manasseh and Ephraim are mentioned separately, in Judges 1:27; Judges 1:29, in reference to other matters. Beth-el belonged to the tribe of Benjamin, (Joshua 18:22,) but was so near the border of Ephraim that the security and peace of all the neighbouring tribes required the expulsion of the Canaanites from it. So important was it to accomplish this conquest that the whole house of Joseph unite in the war.


Verse 23

23. Sent to descry — Or, they reconnoitred. They set a secret watch against Beth-el, to obtain such information as would enable them most easily to capture the city.

Luz — Cassel distinguishes between Beth-el and Luz as follows: “As Jebus and Jerusalem are always identified, so it is everywhere remarked of Beth-el that it was formerly Luz; and as Jebus indicated particularly the fortress, Jerusalem the city — although the latter name also embraced both — so a similar relation must be assumed to have existed between Beth-el and Luz. The latter was evidently a fortress high and strong, whose city descended along the mountain slope.”


Verse 24

24. The entrance into the city — Not the ordinary gates, for to find these they needed no information; but that entrance which is least guarded, and by which it is easiest to take the whole city by surprise.

And we will show thee mercy — This indicates that the Hebrews were not absolutely commanded to kill all the Canaanites; but there was an implied condition of stubborn refusal to surrender, and to acknowledge the supremacy of the Israelites.


Verse 25

25. When he showed them — This unpatriotic act is not to be stigmatized as a betrayal of his country, since he did it under duress. The agitation of mind produced by a sudden threat of immediate death disqualifies an ordinary man for responsible action. A very cool and heroic man would have refused a compliance with this request, and would have suffered the consequences. But heroism, though an elevated virtue, cannot be strictly enjoined as a duty. Hence its absence cannot be regarded as a crime.


Verse 26

26. The man went into the land of the Hittites — The Hebrew historian had special interest in the fortunes of those who, like this man and Rahab, advanced the interests of Israel. The land of the Hittites is an obscure expression. It seems, in some passages, to refer to the whole interior of Palestine. Joshua 1:4. Eusebius and Jerome refer it to the island of Cyprus. Cassel thinks it here refers “to the familiarly known Chittim, north of Israel,” and he accordingly seeks for the Luz which this man built in the northern coasts of Phenicia, and suggests its identity with the ruins of Kulb Lousy, which Thomson discovered far in the north of Palestine. But the subject is too much involved in obscurity for a positive settlement.


Verse 27

COWARDLY INACTIVITY OF THE REST OF THE TRIBES, Judges 1:27-36.

27. Manasseh — For the boundaries, see Joshua 17:7-11; also note on the same for a description of Beth-shean and Ibleam. Taanach and

Megiddo — See Joshua 12:21. Dor is described in note on Joshua 11:2. It is worthy of note that these cities were all outside of the proper limits of Manasseh. Joshua 17:11. This may be the reason why they were left unconquered. It may have been impossible to secure the military co-operation of Issachar and Asher, within whose bounds they were.

But the Canaanites would dwell — Rather, And the Canaanites consented to dwell, or were determined to dwell, in that land. They were unwilling to leave the fine country in which they dwelt, and were disposed to make any effort or sacrifice to abide in their ancient homes.


Verse 28

28. When Israel was strong — The lack of strength was the excuse for their cowardice and disobedience to a positive command, notwithstanding they had the assurance of aid from God. Perhaps, too, their previous weakness was owing to their fear of the war chariots. See note on Judges 1:19. Nearly all these towns were on the great plain of Esdraelon; and bordering, as they did, the track of oriental commerce with the great cities of Phenicia, they were probably well fortified. But, in course of time, it seems that Israel became strong enough to bring them into subjection.

They put the Canaanites to tribute — The love of money is now added to their love of ease and disobedience. When they became strong they were no more disposed to obey the voice of God than they were before. By long familiarity with them their pagan foes had ceased to be abominable in their eyes, while the command to exterminate them had become in their estimation more and more unreasonable and barbarous. Yet they soon learned, to their sorrow, that they had planted the seeds of social and national ruin by refusing to apply to themselves the divinely appointed safeguard of their well-being — the radical extermination of their enemies.


Verse 29

29. Gezer — See Joshua 10:33, note.


Verse 30

30. Kitron and Nahalol are both of unknown situation.


Verse 31

31. Accho is a flourishing seaport on a bay of the same name, just north of Mount Carmel. It was named Ptolemais, in honour of one of the Ptolemies. Its modern name is Acre. It contains a mixed population of five thousand. On Zidon, or great Sidon, see Joshua 11:8. “The district of Sidon,” says Wilkins, “had apparently been included in the earliest scheme of conquest. But it had not fallen to the lot of either of the two most powerful and warlike tribes — Judah and Ephraim; it was destined for the feebler and less energetic Asher, Zebulun, Issachar, and Naphtali. The impetuous rush of the hardy warriors of the desert, thirsting for the blessings of the Promised Land, had spent itself in early efforts, and the northern tribes were well contented with the marvellous fertility of the plain of Esdraelon, which probably furnished abundant supplies for their scanty numbers. The Phenicians would, on the other hand, have the strongest inducements to live on terms of amity with their new neighbours. The great lines of traffic with Egypt, Arabia, Babylon, and Assyria, were in the hands of the invaders, and any hostilities with them must necessarily have caused a ruinous suspension of commerce.” — Phenicia and Israel. Ahlab is named in this place only. In Joshua 19:29, this name is wanting; but the word Cheleb, translated coast, is, in the opinion of Fuerst, the name of the town here written Ahlab. Its site is unknown, as is also Helbah.

Achzib Joshua 19:29, note. Aphik is written Aphek in Joshua 13:4, where see note. Rehob is not identified.


Verse 33

33. Beth-shemesh (house of the sun) and Beth-anath (house of echo) are unknown.


Verse 34

34. Amorites Joshua 2:10, note.

Forced the children of Dan into the mountain — Dan’s portion was chiefly that part of the Shephelah, or maritime plain, which lay to the west of Benjamin and northwest of Judah. Hence he was forced out of the main part of his inheritance. The tribe made up for this by conquests in the north, near Mount Hermon. Chap. 18, and Joshua 19:47.


Verse 35

35. Mount Heres (sun mountain) is supposed to be another name for Ir-shemesh, (the sun town,) identified in Ain Shems. Perhaps it was some eminence or range of hills in the vicinity of Ain Shems. See Joshua 15:10.

Aijalon — See on Joshua 10:12.

Shaalbim — No trace of any name resembling this is found in the vicinity of Yale or Ain Shems.

House of Joseph — See note on Judges 1:22.


Verse 36

36. Akrabbim — Probably the range of cliffs which form the southern boundary of the Valley of Salt, or the lower end of the Ghor, south of the Dead Sea. See on Joshua 15:3, where it is called Maaleh-acrabbim.

From the rock, and upward — By the rock many understand Petra, the Edomite capital, which is called Sela ( הסלע, the rock) in 2 Kings 14:7; but this would make palpable confusion in the context, and involve the impossible conclusion that the Amorites had possession of the metropolis of Edom and the regions beyond. Better, therefore, to understand some well-known rock or prominent cliff in the southern border of Palestine.

Keil supposes that it was the rock at Kadesh, from which the Israelites were miraculously supplied with water. Numbers 20:11. Upward would then naturally mean northward from this well-known rock. The wide dominion of the Amorites is mentioned to account for their ability to resist the forces of Israel.

A panoramic view is given in this chapter of the political condition of the Hebrews at the beginning of this book. A general spirit of discouragement had come upon them, disposing them to acquiesce in the present situation, and to compromise with the unsubdued foes with whom they were intermingled. The natural result of this state of the facts would have been the turning of the Hebrews to paganism, and the loss of their nationality. For, unlike Christianity, Judaism possessed no aggressiveness. It was not designed as a missionary agency to go forth and make Jews of the pagan nations. It was eminently conservative in its spirit, and could flourish only by segregation, and separation from the assimilating power of heathen society. Hence the wisdom of the command, seemingly so radical and severe, to exterminate the Canaanite root and branch. The state of the nation calls for a renewed proclamation of this command. This will be found in the next chapter.

 


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Bibliography Information
Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Judges 1:4". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/judges-1.html. 1874-1909.

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