The tribe of Judah, by God’s command, begin to make war against the Canaanites, 1-4. Adoni-bezek justly requited. They take Jerusalem, 8; and Hebron. Anak’s sons slain, 9, 10. Othniel subdueth Debir, and so obtaineth Caleb’s daughter to wife, 11-15. The Kenites dwell in Judah, 16. Simeon subdueth Zephath, 17; and Judah divers cities of the Philistines, 18-20. The Jebusites dwell with Benjamin, 21. They of the house of Joseph subdue Beth-el, 22-26. Manasseh, Ephraim, Zebulun, Asher, Naphtali, Dan drive not out the Canaanites; for which they are vexed by them, and are left to dwell one among another, 27-36.
[circa 1425 BC] Verse 1: Now after the death of Joshua it came to pass, that the children of Israel (Num. 27:21; Judg. 20:18) asked the LORD, saying, Who shall go up for us against the Canaanites first, to fight against them?
[After the death of Joshua] Since they had no other General (Vatablus); and all the Tribes had now grown, so that they might be sufficient to inhabit the rest of Canaan, which was not previously allowed to them on account of their fewness, Exodus 23:29 (Lapide).
After the death of Joshua; not long after it, because Othniel, the first judge, lived in Joshua’s time.
[They asked…the Lord, בַּיהוָה] In the word of the Lord (Jonathan); through the Lord (Septuagint); the Lord (Syriac, Arabic, Munster, Pagnine, Tigurinus, Junius and Tremellius); they asked in the Lord (Bonfrerius, Montanus). This is a peculiar expression of Scripture, as often as there is speech concerning the desire for an oracle, whether from the true God, or from a Demon. Thus in Judges 18:5; 20:18, 23, 27; 1 Samuel 10:22; 14:37; 22:10, 13, 15. Thus in Ezekiel 21:21, he asked in Teraphim; and in Hosea 4:12 (Bonfrerius). They asked by Urim and Thummim (Drusius, Montanus’ Commentary, Lapide, Bonfrerius), with the assembly convened at Shiloh (Menochius). They remembered that, with God left unconsulted, it went poorly for them in the war at Ai (Martyr, Drusius, Rabbi Salomon in Tostatus); and that they had received the Gibeonites into covenant without an oracle (Martyr). Therefore, having been instructed by their chastisement, they now understand, and ask of God; for, if in the beginning the matter had gone poorly, the rest of the Nations had been able to say, their shadow has departed (Drusius). Great weight was lying upon the first war (Clario) that they were undertaking after the death of Joshua; upon the success of which was greatly depending their fortune and reputation (Martyr).
The children of Israel asked the Lord; being assembled together at Shiloh, they inquired of the high priest by the Urim and Thummim. See Numbers 27:21; Judges 20:18; 1 Samuel 23:9.
[Who shall go up before us, etc.? מִי יַעֲלֶה־לָּ֧נוּ אֶל־הַֽכְּנַעֲנִ֛י בַּתְּחִלָּ֖ה לְהִלָּ֥חֶם בּֽוֹ׃] Who shall go up for us (that is, before us [Martyr]; of us [Junius and Tremellius]; on our behalf [Munster]) to (or against [Septuagint, Syriac, Junius and Tremellius]) the Canaanite (the remaining Canaanite [Junius and Tremellius], that is, that had not yet been conquered [Montanus’ Commentary]) in the beginning to fight in him? (Montanus) (against him? [Munster, Junius and Tremellius]; with him? [Pagnine]). The for us is superfluous, an idiomatic use (Drusius). Who shall go up for us? under what leader shall we wage war? (Tigurinus). Who shall be the first of us, or, which shall be the first of the tribes, to prepare an expedition against the Canaanites? (Vatablus). They do not doubt whether the war is to be waged, but under what Leader (Martyr). But they do not seek a Leader that might take the charge of all, but by which tribe the beginning of the battle might be made (Martyr, Lapide, Bonfrerius, Montanus’ Commentary). This is evident, 1. because there is no joint war hereafter; but Judah with Simeon only renewed the war: 2. because God does not name any one Leader, but a tribe (Bonfrerius). They aks which Tribe might begin a regional war, victory in which might confound the Canaanites, so that the other individual Tribes might rise against and overcome the Canaanites in regional war (Lapide).
Who shall go up for us against the Canaanites first? Being sensible that the Canaanites are troublesome to them, and expected great advantage against them by their heedless condition, and finding their people to increase and multiply exceedingly, and consequently the necessity of enlarging their quarters, they renew the war. They do not inquire who shall be the captain-general to all the tribes; but (as appears by the answer) what tribe shall first undertake the expedition, that by their success the other tribes may be encouraged to make the like attempt upon the Canaanites in their several lots.
Verse 2: And the LORD said, (Gen. 49:8) Judah shall go up: behold, I have delivered the land into his hand.
[Judah] He designates, not a person (as some in Augustine maintain, and others in common, says Lyra), but a tribe (Bonfrerius, Lapide, Vatablus, Druius, Junius, Lyra). For, 1. Simeon here is the Tribe of Simeon; therefore Judah also is the Tribe of Judah (Junius, Bonfrerius). 2. Judah says to Simeon, Come up with me into my lot, etc.; but this was the lot of entire tribes (Bonfrerius), not of individual men (Estius). 3. In the place of Judah, in verse 8 the children of Judah is used. 4. He speaks of Judah in the plural, they fought, they smote, etc. (Bonfrerius). Question: Why was this Tribe designated? Response: It was the mightiest, noblest, and most populous (Lapide, Bonfrerius, Martyr).
Judah: Not a person so called, but the tribe of Judah, as is manifest from Judges 1:3, 4, 8, 9, which is chosen for the first enterprise, because they were both most populous, and so most needing enlargement; and withal most valiant, and therefore most likely to succeed; for God chooseth fit means for the work which he designs; and because the Canaanites were numerous and strong in those parts, and therefore were in time to be suppressed, before they grew too strong for them.
[He shall go up] Thus He speaks, either, 1. because the journey was to be made Northward (which part of the world is higher) (Drusius): or, 2. because they were invading the mountains, as the strongholds in which enemies would otherwise be able to fortify themselves (Montanus’ Commenatry).
[Behold, I have delivered] He was unwilling to deliver it to Judah, while Judah was at leisure or remiss, but rather briskly active (Montanus’ Commentary).
Verse 3: And Judah said unto Simeon his brother, Come up with me into my lot, that we may fight against the Canaanites; and (Judg. 1:17) I likewise will go with thee into thy lot. So Simeon went with him.
[Unto Simeon his brother] He summons this tribe rather than another, because the lot of Simeon was joined with the lot of Judah (Bonfrerius, similarly Vatablus, Lyra, Martyr): and so these are called brethren, because they were the closest (Menochius), as it is evident from Joshua 15 (Lyra) and Joshua 19 (Lapide).
Unto Simeon his brother; as nearest to him both by relation, being his brother by both parents, which few of them were; and by habitation, as appears from Joshua 19:1, 2. Against the Canaanites; specially so called because they are distinguished from the Perizzites, Judges 1:4.
Verse 4: And Judah went up; and the LORD delivered the Canaanites and the Perizzites into their hand: and they slew of them in (1 Sam. 11:8) Bezek ten thousand men.
[The Canaanite] Which here is a particular tribe; otherwise the Perizzite would not have been added: But they were dwelling together and intermixing with the Perizzites in the same city of Bezek (Bonfrerius, Martyr).
[Into their hand] That is, into their power: so also the Latins say, Hoc in manu mea est, this is in my hand, that is, this has been placed in my power (Martyr). There is an ἐπάνοδος/recapitulation here of those things that are narrated in Joshua 15; and so they could be translated by the pluperfect (Grotius).
[In Bezek] That is, in a field near the city of Bezek (Vatablus). It is to be translated, near Bezek, that is, a territory of it. So also near Hor, Numbers 33:37; near Jericho, Joshua 5:13. See 1 Samuel 11:8 (Piscator).
In Bezek: Not in the city, for that was not yet taken, verse 5, but in the territory of it, or near to it; as in Hor is taken, Numbers 33:37; and in Jericho, Joshua 5:13.
Verse 5: And they found Adoni-bezek in Bezek: and they fought against him, and they slew the Canaanites and the Perizzites.
[And they found Adoni-bezek, אֲדֹנִ֥י בֶ֙זֶק֙] It signifies the lord (king [Arabic]) of Bezek (Bonfrerius, Syriac). אֲדֹנִי/Adoni, in the place of אֲדוֹן/Adon: the י/yod is paragogic (Drusius); it does not have the force of a time; as in the case of מַלְכִּי־צֶדֶק/Melchizedek, אֲדֹנִי־צֶדֶק/Adoni-zedek, אֲבִימֶלֶךְ/Abimelech (Bonfrerius). Moreover, in Hebrew phraseology one is said to have found enemies that happens upon or falls upon them unexpectedly, which happened here (Bochart’s Sacred Catalogue of Animals 1:2:21:243). Note that בֶּזֶק/Bezek here, contrary to the custom of nouns marked with six points, has an accent on the final syllable (Drusius).
Adoni-bezek; the lord or king of Bezek, as his name signifies, in Bezek; whither he fled, when he had lost the field. Against him, that is, against the city wherein he had encamped himself, and the rest of his army.
[They struck] It appears that he speaks of another slaughter, namely, after the assault on the city of Bezek (Bonfrerius).
Verse 6: But Adoni-bezek fled; and they pursued after him, and caught him, and cut off his thumbs and his great toes.
[With the extremities of his hands and feet cut off] They translate the בְּהֹנוֹת, extremities (Septuagint); knuckles (Jonathan); thumbs (Syriac, Arabic, Munster, Vatablus, Pagnine, Montanus, Tigurinus, Malvenda, and others in Lapide and Bonfrerius). Question: Why did they do this? Responses: 1. By the just judgment and instinct of God, as a punishment in kind (Lapide, Martyr). 2. So that he would not hereafter be able to take up arms, or to flee on foot (Bonfrerius, Menochius, Serarius). Pierius notes that the hand formed with the thumb cut off was a symbol of a man inept for war (Serarius). Therefore, it was punished severely upon some that, for the sake of avoiding war, had cut off their own thumbs, as it is related by Valerius Maximus in his Nine Books of Memorable Deeds and Sayings “Concerning Severity”, and by Suetonius in his “Augustus” 24. The Athenians cut off the thumbs of the Æginenses that were strong enough for naval service, lest they should vie with them (Bonfrerius). 3. Such things were done as a reproach to idleness, for with an idle hand, but fleeing on their feet, they appeared (Serarius). Whence worthless and idle men are called Poltroni by the Italians and Gauls, which is to say, pollice trunci, mutilated with respect to the thumb (Lapide).
Cut off his thumbs and his great toes: That he might be disenabled to fight with his hands, or to run away upon his feet. And this they did, either by the secret instinct and direction of God, or upon notice of his former tyranny and cruelty expressed upon others, in this manner, as it follows: either way it was a just requital.
Verse 7: And Adoni-bezek said, Threescore and ten kings, having their thumbs and their great toes (Heb. the thumbs of their hands and of their feet) cut off, gathered (or, gleaned) their meat under my table: (Lev. 24:19; 1 Sam. 15:33; Jam. 2:13) as I have done, so God hath requited me. And they brought him to Jerusalem, and there he died.
[Seventy kings] This is not strange (Grotius). For, either they were merely the Petty Kings of the diverse cities (Lapide, Bonfrerius, Menochius, Martyr). Before Ninus, as Justinus testifies, each King was content with the borders of his own city (Martyr). Or they were Kings of the some places, some of which succeeded others (Menochius out of Tostatus.
Threescore and ten kings; which is not strange in those times and places; for these might be either, first, kings successively, and so there might be divers of those kings in one place, and so in others; or, secondly, contemporary kings. For it is well known that anciently each ruler of a city, or great town, was called a king, and had kingly power in that place; and many such kings we meet with in Canaan; and it is probable that some years before kings were more numerous there, till the greater devoured many of the less.
[Amputated, etc.] Hebrew: their thumbs were amputated; that is, by my decree, so that in this manner they might be made inept for war, and so that I might deter others from war itself (Vatablus). Perhaps also in punishment for broken treaties: For the thumb was a sign of a treaty and of peace. See Pierius’ Hieroglyphics 25 “Pacification”; and Tacitus’ Annals 12 concerning the Armenians and Iberians (Bonfrerius).
Having their thumbs cut off, that so their hands might be unable to manage weapons of war.
[They were gathering under my table, etc.] Note, 1. the cruelty, in that he thus would make mockery of his captives; 2. the luxury of his meals, inasmuch as seventy men were fed from the fallen remains (Menochius).
Gathered their meat under my table; an act of barbarous inhumanity thus to insult over the miserable, joined with abominable luxury.
[As I have done, so God hath requited me, אֱלֹהִים] He aptly makes use of this word, which signifies God insofar as He is a Prince and Judge. He here acknowledges the providence and avenging justice of God, and appears to have been converted to the knowledge of the true God, because he speaks of God in the singular number (Bonfrerius). But, because he did not call upon God, etc., it appears that sorrow, rather than a pious sense of the soul, extorted this speech from him (Martyr).
God hath requited me: he acknowledgeth the providence and vindictive justice of God, which also Pharaoh did, and others too, without any true sense of piety.
[They brought him to Jerusalem] That is, to the suburban territory of it (Cajetan in Bonfrerius, Josephus in Lapide): or, into the city itself, which in the following verse is found to have been taken (Menochius). Now, he lived all the time that the city was being captured (Bonfrerius). Now, they led him about thus mutilated, to promulgate an example both of the most just judgment of God, and of the victory acquired by the Jews by the help of God. But already this first beginning of victories was augmented by the favorable outcomes of affairs (Montanus’ Commentary). Moreover, יְרוּשָׁלִַם/Jerusalem is singular, not dual, in number: 1. because the singular pronoun is subjoined to it in verse 8 and elsewhere: 2. because the final ם/mem is not servile, but radical, since the word is composite (as it seems to Mercerus) from יְרוּ (in the place of יִרְאוּ, fear ye) and שָׁלֵם/Salem, the ancient name of the city, Genesis 14:18. Nevertheless it has the appearance of the dual; perhaps because it was δίπολις, a twofold city, that is, an upper, and lower (Piscator).
They brought him; they carried him in triumph, as a monument of God’s righteous vengeance. To Jerusalem; it being the metropolis of the nation.
[And there he died] Not helped by the attention and remedies of physicians, because God had commanded that the Canaanites were to be killed; and he was worthy of a thousand deaths in addition (Martyr). The sorrow of conscience so aggravated the pain of the wounds (which were not otherwise lethal), that it brought death (Montanus’ Commentary).
Verse 8: Now (see Josh. 15:63) the children of Judah had fought against Jerusalem, and had taken it, and smitten it with the edge of the sword, and set the city on fire.
[Therefore, the children of Judah fighting against Jerusalem] Question 1: When was this done? Response 1: In the time of Joshua (Munster, Junius, Piscator, Vatablus, Martyr); whence the words are to be rendered in the pluperfect, they had stormed, etc. (Vatablus, Piscator, Malvenda out of Junius, Glassius, Martyr). See Joshua 10; 15:63 (Munster). It is said that its king fell, and it is not likely that it, being without a King, was not attacked. Moreover, the children of Judah dwelt in Jerusalem, Joshua 15:63 (Bonfrerius). Now, these things are here commemorated, 1. αἰτιολογικῶς/ætiologically, so that it might appear on what occasion God preferred Judah to the other tribes; namely, because it was was more prudent than the rest, and more diligent in executing the Divine commandment: For in the Scriptures the sequence, not so much of times as of causes, is often observed (Junius). 2. So that he might show that they were easily able to lead Adoni-bezek captive there (Martyr). Response 2: Others think that Jerusalem was captured now, not previously (Malvenda, thus Lightfoot). For, 1. these matters are narrated as having been conducted after the death of Joshua, verse 1. 2. The children of Judah are designated as the authors of this expedition, not Joshua, and not all Israel. 3. Because in the Book of Joshua nothing is indicated concerning the capture of Jerusalem (Bonfrerius). Moreover, mention was made of this assault, Joshua 15:63, proleptically, because the name of Jerusalem had fallen among the cities of the lot of Judah (Malvenda). Response 3: Others maintain that it was captured twice, previously by Joshua, now by the children of Judah (Serarius, Lapide, Bonfrerius, Menochius). It is likely that, while the Israelites held camp in Gilgal, and were occupied with the Northern campaign, but they were not yet holding any cities, Canaanites not a few, that had escaped, occupied certain cities, which afterwards had to be stormed again. It appears that this is to be said concerning Hebron and Debir, Joshua 10 (Bonfrerius). Question 2: Why was not Jerusalem stormed rather by the Benjamites, or those as allies in the war, since almost the entire lower city, which was Northward, Psalm 48, belonged to Benjamin? Responses: 1. This was done with the assent of the Benjamites (Lapide, Bonfrerius, Menochius), even if the Scripture (which studies brevity) does not make mention of it (Bonfrerius). For these, distrusting their own strength, delivered the city to the Judahites to be stormed, as I said on Joshua 10 (Lapide), the terror of whom had already seized the Canaanites (Bonfrerius). 2. The city was twofold besides the citadel (whence also its name is dual in form), one of which was in the lot of Judah, the other in the lot of Benjamin in common with Judah, but the citadel belonged to Benjamin alone (Junius). The Southern Part belonged to Judah, but the Northern to Benjamin (Menochius). Therefore, the Judahites, even with the Benjamites being reluctant, were able to contend for their own portion, and to seize the entire lower city, since one part was not able to be assaulted without the other; especially since the enjoyment of the possession of that would come to the Benjamites. It is added that the entire force of the war presses toward the obtaining of the citadel, although at this time they were not able to get possession of it (Bonfrerius).
The children of Judah had fought against Jerusalem: To wit, in Joshua’s time; which though done before, may be here repeated, to show why they brought Adoni-bezek to Jerusalem, because that city was in their hands, having been taken before, as may be gathered from Joshua 15:63. And the taking of this city may be ascribed to the children of Judah rather than to Joshua, because the city was not taken by Joshua and the whole body of the army in that time when so many kings were destroyed, Joshua 10; 12, (for there is mention made of the destroying of the king of Jerusalem, Joshua 10:23; 12:10; but not a word of the taking of Jerusalem, as there is of the taking of Makkedah, and Libnah, and other cities belonging to the kings there mentioned, Joshua 10:28, etc.,) but by the children of Judah after they had received their lot, when at the desire and with the consent of the Benjamites, in whose lot Jerusalem fell, Joshua 18:28, they assaulted and took it, and thereby, as it seems, acquired the right of co-partnership with the Benjamites in the possession of that city. Though some think Jerusalem was twice taken; once in Joshua’s lifetime; and being afterwards recovered by the Canaanites, was now retaken by the children of Judah.
[Delivering to the flames] Hebrew: and the city they sent unto fire, in the place of, and they sent fire into the city: It is a Hypallage (Vatablus, Drusius, Bonfrerius, Piscator, Glassius), or an inversion and transposition of the words, whereby it is said of the one thing what was to be said concerning the other (Glassius’ “Grammar” 738). Thus, in Psalm 74:7, they sent into fire the sanctuary; in Leviticus 17:14, the blood of it is in its life, in the place of, its life is in its blood. Similarly in Leviticus 7:21; 5:15; Job 17:4; Joel 3:18, the hills shall flow with milk, in the place of, milk shall flow through the hills. Thus Virgil, …dare classibus Austros, to give the South Winds to the fleet (Drusius). Question: But why do they burn the city, which they were desiring soon to inhabit? Responses: Either, 1. in order to purify the more grievous abominations allowed in that city (just as it happened to Jericho, Ai, and Hazor, as leaders in impiety). Or, 2. because God was gradually preparing that city, in which He had decided to locate His Temple and the capital of the Republic, by restoring it to that splendor (Bonfrerius out of Lapide). 3. It is hyperbolic speech, for part of it remained burned: Thus we say, the whole city goes to the spectacle, although the greater part stays behind (Lyra). It is evident that the entire city was not burnd, because in this book and in the Book of Joshua it is said to be inhabited by Judah, Benjamin, and the Jebusites (Martyr).
Verse 9: (Josh. 10:36; 11:21; 15:13) And afterward the children of Judah went down to fight against the Canaanites, that dwelt in the mountain, and in the south, and in the valley (or, low country).
[Going down] Thus it is said, either, because Jerusalem was in an elevated position (Vatablus); or, because they were going Southward (Drusius); or, to go down (just as also to go up) signifies only to go (Bonfrerius).
[In the mountains] Where Hebron was, verse 10 (Junius).
[And to the south] Where Debir was, verse 11, and the Kenite, and Hormah, verses 16, 17 (Junius).
[And in the plains] Which they did not go on to occupy, as in verse 19. For this whole verse is proleptic (Junius).
Verse 10: And Judah went against the Canaanites that dwelt in Hebron: (now the name of Hebron before was [Josh. 14:15; 15:13, 14] Kirjath-arba:) and they slew Sheshai, and Ahiman, and Talmai.
[And proceeding, etc., וַיֵּלֶךְ וגו״] And he went, etc. (Montanus, similarly Munster, Pagnine, Tigurinus, Syriac). These things were narrated and exhibited in Joshua 15:14, etc.; for it is the same war, and the same expedition (Menochius, Cajetan in Bonfrerius, similarly Montanus’ Commentary). Now, they are repeated here, so that we might understand that it was not needful for the city of Hebron to be besieged by Judah, since that city was occupied while Joshua was yet living (Martyr). Therefore, they translate it, he had proceeded, etc. (Junius and Tremellius), he had smitten, etc. (Grotius, Junius and Tremellius), under the leadership of Caleb, while Joshua was living, Joshua 15:14. Thus immediately, he departed (Grotius). It is the sense of this passage that it ought to appear strange to no one, if Judah with Simeon so swiftly and easily conquered Bezek, Jerusalem, and other cities, since he previously did the like with the help of Caleb and Othniel (Montanus’ Commentary). Others otherwise: I think that these were diverse expeditions, and are thus to be referred, the former to Joshua, Joshua 10; 11, and the latter to Caleb, Joshua 15, although there by way of anticipation: the former is ascribed to Joshua and all Israel, the latter to Caleb and the Tribe of Judah. It is added that the order of the matters conducted requires this (Bonfrerius). I think that Hebron was first taken by Joshua, Joshua 10:36, 37, and that the giants were driven from there, Joshua 11:21, 22; that then it was delivered into the possession of Caleb, Joshua 14:13; 15:13, which nevertheless he himself never conquered; but under the leadership and auspices of His Tribe he drove out the giants from it again, whither they had found refuge again, having been driven out at the first by Joshua: and that this expedition is here described (Malvenda). Joshua had taken Hebron and Debir in the first or second year of the wars, Joshua 10:36, etc. Afterwards, about the seventh year of the wars, he drives out from the places the Canaanites that had in the meantime gathered there, Joshua 11:21. And, when he begins to distribute the land, he allots Hebron to Caleb, as in Joshua 14. Ten or twelve years have now elapsed after that allotting; with Caleb in the meantime either occupied with public business, concerning the division of the land, and the placement of each Tribe in its own possession; or (if he be left to his own strength) being unequal to such adversaries, until the entire Tribe of Judah under his auspices should make war, and conquer those cities (Lightfoot). Others otherwise: These matters were conducted after the death of Joshua, as it is evident from verse 1; but they are set down in Joshua 15 (likewise Joshua 10 and 11) by way of anticipation; since the cities of Judah are treated in Joshua 15, and the eminent cities in Joshua 10 and 11. And these things are imputed to Joshua, because they were done as if under his leadership, that is, just a little after him (Tostatus).
[And he smote Sheshai, etc.] Concerning these three see Joshua 15:14 (Malvenda), and Numbers 13:23 (Junius). See what things we have on Joshua 14:12 (Bonfrerius).
Judah went, under the conduct of Caleb, as it is recorded, Joshua 15:14, etc.; for that relation, and this here following, are doubtless one and the same expedition and war, as appears by all the circumstances; and it is mentioned either there by anticipation, or here by repetition. Of this and the following verses, see the notes there.
Verse 11: (Josh. 15:15) And from thence he went against the inhabitants of Debir: and the name of Debir before was Kirjath-sepher…
[He went to Debir] Concerning this and the following verses see Joshua 15:15, 16, etc. For in this time after the death of Joshua this whole history happened (Malvenda, similarly Tostatus). It is set down in Joshua 15 by way of anticipation (Montanus). But Peter Martyr denies this. The contrary will be evident to the one diligently perusing Joshua 10 and 15; for then it would not have said, Joshua came at that time (Martyr).
[1444 BC] Verse 12: (Josh. 15:16, 17) And Caleb said, He that smiteth Kirjath-sepher, and taketh it, to him will I give Achsah my daughter to wife.
Verse 13: And Othniel the son of Kenaz, (Judg. 3:9) Caleb’s younger brother, took it: and he gave him Achsah his daughter to wife.
[Othniel the son of Kenaz] That is, of the posterity of Kenaz, after whom Caleb was called the Kenezite (Malvenda out of Junius).
[The younger brother of Caleb] Hebrew: the relative of Caleb, the least from him, that is, from Kenaz. That is, of all those begotten of Kenaz that were surviving, the least in age, authority, and wealth: which is said in commendation of Caleb’s faith and Othniel’s strenuous activity (Malvenda out of Junius). The brother of Caleb, less than him, that is, his junior (Vatablus). Othniel was Caleb’s uncle (yet younger than he); for Othniel and Jephunneh, Caleb’s father, were brothers, and both were sons of Kenaz. See Numbers 32:12; 1 Chronicles 4:13-15 (Lightfoot).
Verse 14: (Josh. 15:18, 19) And it came to pass, when she came to him, that she moved him to ask of her father a field: and she lighted from off her ass; and Caleb said unto her, What wilt thou?
[Whom proceeding, etc.] See this and the following verse explained on Joshua 15:18, etc. (Vatablus). [For there Bonfrerius’ copious observations are found.]
Verse 15: And she said unto him, (Gen. 33:11) Give me a blessing: for thou hast given me a south land; give me also springs of water. And Caleb gave her the upper springs and the nether springs.
[circa 1425 BC] Verse 16: (Judg. 4:11, 17; 1 Sam. 15:6; 1 Chron. 2:55; Jer. 35:2) And the children of the Kenite, Moses’ father in law, went up out of the city (Deut. 34:3) of palm trees with the children of Judah into the wilderness of Judah, which lieth in the south of (Num. 21:1) Arad; (Num. 10:32) and they went and dwelt among the people.
[Now, the children of the Kenite] That is, the descendants of the Kain, that is, Jethro the Kenite (Vatablus). It appears to be a cognomen of Jethro (Drusius). Thus he was named after his people, Numbers 24:21 (Junius)
Children of the Kenite, that is, of Jethro, so called from the people from whom he descended, Numbers 24:21, 22. And whatsoever he did, it is evident that his posterity came into Canaan with the Israelites, and were there seated with them. See Judges 4:11, 17; 5:24; 1 Samuel 15:6; 1 Chronicles 2:55.
[Kinsman of Moses] That is, by affinity (Bonfrerius). Mention is made of these in this place among the affairs of Othniel, because they ever lived in the closest relationship with his family (Martyr). He treats of those Kenites that had attended Jethro, Judges 4:11. For otherwise this nation was among those condemned (Grotius).
[They went up] That is, they had joined themselves in that expedition of Judah (Junius).
[From the city of palms] Question 1: What then is this? Responses: 1. En-gedi, which was famous for its palm-groves, and thence had the name Hazezon-tamar, Genesis 14:7 (certain interpreters in Malvenda). 2. Jericho (Munster, Drusius, Grotius, Junius, Lapide, Bonfrerius, Montanus’ Commentary, Martyr). See Deuteronomy 34:3. That entire place was planted with palm-groves, as is witnessed by Pliny in his Natural History 5:15, Josephus in his Jewish Wars 5:4, and Strabo in his Geography 16:763 (Drusius). Moses had promised to the Kenites journeying with him whatever was best, Numbers 10:29. Thence this place either was given to them by the Judahites; or was chosen by them, as the most pleasant and fertile, as Josphus testifies in his Antiquities 5:3, and as most secure from molestation by the Canaanites (since in it had been the camp of the Israelites at Gilgal for many years) (Bonfrerius). Question 2: How did they dwell in Jericho, which was now destroyed? Response: Perhaps it had been repaired, and was called the city of palms (Drusius). The city of palms was situated in the land of Jericho (Vatablus). Jericho is here set down in the place of the territory of that city (Menochius, similarly Bonfrerius, Grotius). Question 3: What is the reason why they might migrate from there into the desert, etc.? Responses: They assign a variety of causes here. 1. Because they were averse to this luxury and softer way of life, and were seeking seclusion, and quiet for contemplation (Bonfrerius). That is, From that time they were beginning the solitary and monastic life (Serarius, Tirinus). 2. So that they migh learn the Law from the tribe of Judah and Othniel (Rabbis in Lapide). But this was rather to be learned from the High Priest and Levites (Lapide). 3. So that they might flee from fellowship with the Canaanites (certain interpreters in Munster), among whom they appear to have dwelt there (Drusius). 4. Because they were moved by the glory and happiness of the Tribe of Judah (Vatablus). 5. It was more pleasing to them to cohabit with the Tribe of Judah (Tostatus). The Tribe of the Judahites, liberal in character and habit, and more forward to foster friendships, where it settled for itself enough and more, provided for the Kenites the spaces without cites and suitable for flocks; thus consulting the interests of their friends and their own security (Montanus’ Commentary). 6. Because in the distribution of the land concerning the tribe of Judah they obtain by lot an inheritance, to which, with Hebron and Debir conquered, they went (Martyr out of Jonathan). Now, as to why they might lived hitherto around Jericho, since the Scripture does not relate the reason, I am content to remain ignorant (Martyr).
Out of the city of palm trees, that is, from Jericho, so called Deuteronomy 34:3; not the city, which was utterly destroyed; but the territory belonging to it, where it seems they were seated as in a most pleasant, and fruitful, and safe place, according to the promise made by Moses to their father, Numbers 10:31, 32, and whence they might remove, either to avoid the society or molestation of the neighbouring Canaanites; or out of love to the children of Judah, whom they went to; or to avoid temptations to luxury, and exercise themselves in self-denial and contempt of the present evil world, and the lusts thereof; as may be thought from Jeremiah 35:6, etc.; or for some other cause unknown to us at this distance.
[To the south of Arad] The sense is that the southern part of this desert was sloping toward Arad, and not that it was the southern desert with respect to Arad; for then it would follow that the land of Arad was within the land of Canaan: which is false, because Israelites that had not yet entered, but also those that were never going to enter, the land of Canaan, according to Numbers 14, nevertheless entered the domain of the King of Arad, Numbers 21. But that land of Arad was in the land of the Amalekites. And this harmonizes sufficiently: for the Kenites dwelt near the Amalekites, 1 Samuel 15 (Tostatus). Arad was a city, or a small region, near the Idumæans and Amalekites; in such a way that this desert was plainly on the extremities of Canaan (Bonfrerius). Arad was a city situated in the extreme limits of the South (Drusius). Nevertheless, they did not remain there perpetually, or at least not all, as it is evident from Judges 4, where they dwell near Kadesh, which was in the tribe of Naphtali, the most Northern of all (Bonfrerius).
In the south of Arad; in the southern part of the land of Canaan, where Arad was, Numbers 21:1.
[And they dwelt with him, וַיֵּ֖לֶךְ וַיֵּ֥שֶׁב אֶת־הָעָֽם׃] And he went, and dwelt with the people (Montanus) [similarly the Septuagint and Jonathan, but in the plural, they dwelt, etc.]. In Hebrew the plural is changed into the singular (Bonfrerius). Departing, they dwelt with the people (Munster, Tigurinus). He proceeded, etc. (Pagnine). That is, the Prince of the Kenites (Vatablus). For he (that is, the Kenite [Drusius, Piscator]) had departed so that he might dwell with the people (Junius and Tremellius); see Numbers 10:29 (Junius). Question: With what people? Responses: 1. With the children of Judah (Vatablus, Tostatus, Bonfrerius). 2. With the people, that is, the Israelites (Grotius, Dutch). Thus we see that at that time a lot was given to proselytes, no less than to citizens (Grotius). Some thus translate it, For he (that is, the Kenite) was with them, and he had remained, or had dwelt, with the people, namely, Israel. See Numbers 10:29; 24:21, 22; 1 Samuel 15:6 (Dutch).
They went, that is, some of them, for others of them dwelt in the contrary quarter, in the most northern part of the land. Among the people; Hebrew, that people, to wit, those children of Judah that lived there.
Verse 17: (Judg. 1:3) And Judah went with Simeon his brother, and they slew the Canaanites that inhabited Zephath, and utterly destroyed it. And the name of the city was called (Num. 21:3; Josh. 19:4) Hormah.
Judah went with Simeon his brother, according to his promise, Judges 1:3, and the laws of justice and gratitude.
[And they smote the Canaanite in Zephath…and the name of the city was called Hormah] I think that the vow, made in Numbers 21 concerning the destruction of the cities of the King of Arad, is here fulfilled. This is shown, 1. by the ancient name of Arad being used here; 2. by the name Hormah: 3. it does not appear why they might compose this new anathema. Objection: But this place is called Zephath, not Arad. Responses: 1. It could have had two names. 2. There is able to be one name, namely, Zephath, of the city, and the other, that is, Arad, of the region, in which there are many cities, whence in Numbers 21 it is said, I will utterly destroy its cities, etc. 3. The name of Hormah was imposed upon the entire place; but he makes mention of Zephath, because it was the principal city, or the first conquered (Bonfrerius). Perhaps they anathematized this city, because they fought against Zephath, and were not able to prevail, but were defeated, etc. (Tostatus).
Hormah; either, 1. The same place so destroyed and called, Numbers 21:3, and so what was there vowed is here executed; or, 2. Some other place called by the same name upon the like occasion, which was frequent among the Hebrews. This seems more probable, 1. Because this was but one city, that divers cities, Numbers 21:2, 3. 2. Because that seems to have been done in Moses’s time, though interpreters generally think otherwise; of which see my notes there.
Verse 18: Also Judah took (Josh. 11:22) Gaza with the coast thereof, and Askelon with the coast thereof, and Ekron with the coast thereof.
[And he took Gaza, etc.] He had concluded the war in the eastern tract, and now he proceeds to the western (Bonfrerius). Question: How are these cities said to be captured, since the five satrapies of the Philistines are among the nations left for the proving of Israel, Judges 3? Responses: 1. The Greek version in the Roman Codex adds the negative particle, and reads, he did not possess Gaza. Thus Josephus, Antiquities 5:2 (Bonfrerius). 2. They did not take the cities, but their borders, fields, and farms (Lyra in Tostatus). But this is contrary to the letter (Tostatus). 3. They did indeed take these cities, but the Philistines soon recovered them (Lapide, Bonfrerius, Martyr, similarly Junius, Estius, Menochius), because of the sins of Israel (Martyr). The Israelites do not appear to have ever possessed or inhabited them (Bonfrerius, Estius), but only to have made them tributaries (Estius). Objection: But it appears that they were not even now in the hand of the Israelites, because in Judges 3 it is said, He left the five satrapies of the Philistines, etc. Response: That was said before the capture, although it is set down later. It signifies that these were taken neither when Joshua was living, nor when the Angel was speaking (Tostatus). This passage confirms that matters conducted after the death of Joshua are here narrated, because among the cities that, with Joshua dying, were remaining to be conquered are enumerated Gaza, Ashkelon, and Ekron, Joshua 13 (Martyr). Question: How did Judah take Ekron, which belonged to the Danites, Joshua 19? Response: Notwithstanding he did this, so that he might weaken the strength of the enemies, who he knew were soon going to make war to recover the ruined cities (Bonfrerius).
Judah took Gaza, etc.: The principal cities of the Philistines. Question. How could this be, when among the people left to try Israel, are the five lords of the Philistines, Judges 3:3. Answer. It is only said that they took the cities, and probably contented themselves with making them tributary; but it is not said that they slew the people, as they ought to have done, and as it is said of the other cities here, Judges 1:5, 8, 17, 25. And the people being thus spared, did by God’s just judgment recover their strength, and expel the Jews out of their cities, as we find afterwards. It is further observable, that Ekron here taken was one of Dan’s cities, Joshua 19:43, and it was attempted and taken here by Judah and Simeon, partly out of love to their brother Dan, and partly to secure their new conquests, and other adjoining territories, from such potent neighbours.
Verse 19: And (Judg. 1:2; 2 Kings 18:7) the LORD was with Judah; and he drave out the inhabitants of the mountain (or, he possessed the mountain); but could not drive out the inhabitants of the valley, because they had (Josh. 17:16, 18) chariots of iron.
[The Lord was with Judah] That is, He favored/supported him (Vatablus).
[And he possessed the mountains, וַיֹּ֖רֶשׁ אֶת־הָהָ֑ר] And he possessed the mountain (Pagnine, Montanus); therefore he drove out the mountainous regions (Vatablus, similarly Junius and Tremellius, Drusius), that is, the Canaanites that were then dwelling in the mountains (Vatablus). הוֹרִישׁ is of those that signify contrary things; to make an heir, and to drive out of the inheritance. Of which sort is בֵּרֵךְ, to bless and to curse; קוֹדֶשׁ, holy and polluted, Haggai 2:12 (Drusius).
[But he was not able to wipe out the inhabitants of the valley, etc.,כִּ֣י לֹ֤א לְהוֹרִישׁ֙ וגו״] Because not to drive out, etc. (Montanus, Grotius). There is an Ellipsis here of the finite verb, he was able. Thus, in Amos 8:4, ye that swallow up the poor, וְלַשְׁבִּית, and to cut down, that is, and think to cut down, the poor of the land (Glassius’ “Grammar” 681). Thus they supply, but not did he proceed to drive out (Junius and Tremellius). [Thus the difficulty vanishes, which is immediately to be treated. Others otherwise:] They did not destroy (Arabic); they certainly did not lay waste (Syriac); for not was he able to drive out (Pagnine, Tigurinus, Piscator, thus the Septuagint, Jonathan, Castalio, Osiander). He was not able, that is, he did not have the courage (Piscator). Thus לֹ֤א לְהוֹרִישׁ֙, not to drive out, is left so that it might be construed in different ways, either, he was not willing, or, he was not able, or, he did not have the courage, to drive out (Lightfoot). Question: But if God was with the Judahites, why does he not permit the valleys and the mountains equally to Judah? Does God lack the means to overthrown chariots, etc.? Response 1: God did not always equally furnish His help to them, neither did He always equally grant a victory without casualties to them, whether on account of their scandalous acts, or to elicit their prayers, whereby it was happening that they were fearing that God might desert them (Bonfrerius). They were certainly able to drive them out, if God had been present with them: but a foolish fear, conceived on account of the chariots armed with scythes, and despairing of Divine help, was hindering God’s help to them (Menochius). God was unwilling that they should proceed further in the destruction of the Canaanites at this time, 1. Lest they, overly secure and wallowing in luxury, should forget God, and should be lifted up in pride (Bonfrerius). 2. He willed that they should be exercised by those nations, that they might not grow lethargic in leisure (Munster). 3. He willed to make trial of the Jews, how highly they would value their God, etc. 4. So that He might teach them the art of war. 5. So that wild animals might not multiply excessively (Martyr). And so, lest they should proceed further, God permitted them to be shaken by fear of the enemy and of the chariots armed with scythes, and to slip into unbelief (Bonfrerius). In the place of chariots, etc., the Septuagint in the Royal Codex has, because Rechab hindered them; and thus Theodoret reads it, who thus explains: Rechab (Hobab by another name, the son of Jethro) persuaded the Judahites not to make war on the inhabitants of this valley adjacent to the sea, because he feared that the Jews, if they should possess the coastal regions, through naval commerce with the nations would be corrupted by them (Lapide). The fountain of the great evils here begins to be uncovered, their idleness, or mercy contrary to the law of God (Grotius): that they tolerated these nations, being forgetful of the commandments and promises of God, Joshua 13:6; 17:18 (Junius). Response 2: These words are set down by means of mimesis, and from the person of adversaries