The Acts of Judah and Simeon.
1. Now after the death of
Joshua—probably not a long period, for the Canaanites seem to
have taken advantage of that event to attempt recovering their lost
position, and the Israelites were obliged to renew the war.
the children of Israel asked the
Lord—The divine counsel on this, as on other occasions, was
sought by Urim and Thummim, by applying to the high priest, who,
according to Josephus, was Phinehas.
saying, Who shall go up for us against the
Canaanites first—The elders, who exercised the government in
their respective tribes, judged rightly, that in entering upon an
important expedition, they should have a leader nominated by divine
appointment; and in consulting the oracle, they adopted a prudent
course, whether the object of their inquiry related to the choice of an
individual commander, or to the honor of precedency among the
2. the Lord said, Judah shall go up—The
predicted pre-eminence (Ge 49:8) was
thus conferred upon Judah by divine direction, and its appointment to
take the lead in the ensuing hostilities was of great importance, as
the measure of success by which its arms were crowned, would animate
the other tribes to make similar attempts against the Canaanites within
their respective territories.
I have delivered the land into his
hand—not the whole country, but the district assigned for his
3. Judah said unto Simeon his brother, Come up
with me …, that we may fight against the
Canaanites—Being conterminous tribes (Jos 19:1, 2), they had a common interest, and
were naturally associated in this enterprise.
Adoni-bezek Justly Requited.
5, 6. Bezek—This place lay within the
domain of Judah, about twelve miles south of Jerusalem.
found Adoni-bezek—that is, "lord of
Bezek"—he was "found," that is, surprised and routed in a pitched
battle, whence he fled; but being taken prisoner, he was treated with a
severity unusual among the Israelites, for they "cut off his thumbs and
great toes." Barbarities of various kinds were commonly practised on
prisoners of war in ancient times, and the object of this particular
mutilation of the hands and feet was to disable them for military
service ever after. The infliction of such a horrid cruelty on this
Canaanite chief would have been a foul stain on the character of the
Israelites if there were not reason for believing it was done by them
as an act of retributive justice, and as such it was regarded by
Adoni-bezek himself, whose conscience read his atrocious crimes in
7. Threescore and ten kings—So great a
number will not appear strange, when it is considered that anciently
every ruler of a city or large town was called a king. It is not
improbable that in that southern region of Canaan, there might, in
earlier times, have been even more till a turbulent chief like
Adoni-bezek devoured them in his insatiable ambition.
8. Now the children of Judah had fought against
Jerusalem, and had taken it—The capture of this important
city, which ranks among the early incidents in the war of invasion
15:63), is here noticed to
account for its being in the possession of the Judahites; and they
brought Adoni-bezek thither [Jud 1:7], in order, probably, that his fate
being rendered so public, might inspire terror far and wide. Similar
inroads were made into the other unconquered parts of Judah's
inheritance [Jud 1:9-11]. The story of Caleb's acquisition of
Hebron is here repeated (Jos 15:16-19). [See on Jos
16. the children of the Kenite, Moses'
father-in-law, went up out of the city of palm trees with the children
of Judah—called "the Kenite," as probably descended from the
people of that name (Nu 24:21, 22). If he might not himself, his posterity
did accept the invitation of Moses (Nu 10:32) to accompany the Israelites to Canaan.
Their first encampment was in the "city of palm trees"—not
Jericho, of course, which was utterly destroyed, but the surrounding
district, perhaps En-gedi, in early times called Hazezon-tamar (Ge 14:7), from the palm-grove which
sheltered it. Thence they removed for some unknown cause, and
associating themselves with Judah, joined in an expedition against
Arad, in the southern part of Canaan (Nu 21:1). On the conquest of that district, some
of this pastoral people pitched their tents there, while others
migrated to the north (Jud 4:17).
17-29. And Judah went with Simeon his
brother—The course of the narrative is here resumed from
Jud 1:9, and an account given of Judah
returning the services of Simeon (Jud 1:3), by aiding in the prosecution of the
war within the neighboring tribes.
slew the Canaanites that inhabited
Zephath—or Zephathah (2Ch 14:10), a valley lying in the southern portion
Hormah—destroyed in fulfilment of an
early vow of the Israelites (see on Nu 21:2). The
confederate tribes, pursuing their incursions in that quarter, came
successively to Gaza, Askelon, and Ekron, which they took. But the
Philistines seem soon to have regained possession of these cities.
19. the Lord was with Judah; … but they
could not drive out the inhabitants of the valley—The war was
of the Lord, whose omnipotent aid would have ensured their success in
every encounter, whether on the mountains or the plains, with foot
soldiers or cavalry. It was distrust, the want of a simple and firm
reliance on the promise of God, that made them afraid of the iron
chariots (see on Jos 11:4-9).
21. the children of Benjamin did not drive out the
Jebusites that inhabited Jerusalem—Judah had expelled the
people from their part of Jerusalem (Jud 1:8). The border of the two tribes ran
through the city—Israelites and natives must have been closely
Jud 1:22-26. Some Canaanites
22, 23. the house of Joseph—the tribe of
Ephraim, as distinguished from Manasseh (Jud 1:27).
24. the spies … said, … Show us,
… the entrance into the city—that is, the avenues to
the city, and the weakest part of the walls.
we will show thee mercy—The Israelites
might employ these means of getting possession of a place which was
divinely appropriated to them: they might promise life and rewards to
this man, though he and all the Canaanites were doomed to destruction
2:12-14); but we may assume
the promise was suspended on his embracing the true religion, or
quitting the country, as he did. If they had seen him to be firmly
opposed to either of these alternatives, they would not have
constrained him by promises any more than by threats to betray his
countrymen. But if they found him disposed to be serviceable, and to
aid the invaders in executing the will of God, they might promise to
26. Luz—(See on Ge
12:7; Ge 28:18).
27-36. The same course of subjugation was
carried on in the other tribes to a partial extent, and with varying
success. Many of the natives, no doubt, during the progress of this
exterminating war, saved themselves by flight and became, it is
thought, the first colonists in Greece, Italy, and other countries. But
a large portion made a stout resistance and retained possession of
their old abodes in Canaan. In other cases, when the natives were
vanquished, avarice led the Israelites to spare the idolaters, contrary
to the express command of God; and their disobedience to His orders in
this matter involved them in many troubles which this book