Judges 4:2: Judges-Cycle--God's Chastisement

Updated: Feb 9, 2018

Verse 2:[1] And the LORD (Judg. 2:14) sold them into the hand of Jabin king of Canaan, that reigned in (Josh. 11:1, 10; 19:36) Hazor; the captain of whose host was (1 Sam. 12:9; Ps. 83:9) Sisera, which dwelt in (Judg. 4:13, 16) Harosheth of the Gentiles (it seems to concerning only North Israel).


[And He delivered] Hebrew: He sold;[2] that is, after the manner of merchants he delivered His servants into the hand, etc. (Vatablus). It all comes to the same thing, for what things are sold are delivered to the buyer (Menochius).


[Jabin] This Jabin was a different one from that one mentioned in Joshua 11:1, but either was of his posterity, or that name/title was common to the Kings of that city (Bonfrerius).


King of Canaan, that is, of the land where the most of the Canaanites, strictly so called, now dwelt, which seems to be in the northern part of Canaan. This seems to be of the posterity of that Jabin, whom Joshua slew, Joshua 11:10 who watched all opportunities to recover his ancient possessions, and to revenge his own and father’s quarrel upon the Israelites.


[Who reigned in Hazor, אֲשֶׁ֥ר מָלַ֖ךְ בְּחָצ֑וֹר] Who was reigning in Hazor (Munster, Tigurinus, Junius and Tremellius, Montanus, etc.). Question: How did he reign in Hazor, when that city was burned, Joshua 11:11, 13? Responses: 1. Some tranlste it, who had reigned in Hazor (Pagnine), understanding, in his father; that is, whose predecessors had reigned as Kings in Hazor: or, to whom the right of the royal power of Hazor pertained (Vatablus). 2. Or that city had been rebuilt (Vatablus, Menochius, Lapide, Bonfrerius) by the Canaanites, since the remnants of them were allowed to live in peace (Bonfrerius). 3. Or Hazor is here put in the place of its territory (Junius, Glassius, Piscator). (Thus below in Judges 13:2, there was a certain man of Zorah, that is, from the territory of Zorah. For, that the parents of Samson dwelt in the country, is evident from Judges 13:25; 16:31; 18:2. But it would seem that Joshua 15:33 and 19:41 concern the city of Zorah [Glassius’ “Grammar” 882].) And therefore it is subjoined that Jabin himself dwelt in Harosheth, whither perhaps, with Hazor destroyed, the seat of the kingdom had been moved (Junius). In Hazor, in the place of, near Hazor (Piscator).


In Hazor; either, 1. In the city of Hazor, which though taken and burnt by Joshua, Joshua 11:11, yet might be retaken and rebuilt by the Canaanites. Or, 2. In the territory or kingdom of Hazor, which might now be restored to its former largeness and power, Joshua 11:10, the names of cities being oft put for their territories, as Zorah, a city, Joshua 15:33, is put for the fields belonging to it, Judges 13:2, in which Samson’s parents lived, Judges 13:25; 16:31; 18:2.


[Now, he was dwelling in Harosheth of the Gentiles] Question 1: Who was dwelling there? Response 1: Jabin (Theodoret in Bonfrerius, Malvenda, Junius). Thus they think in common: With Hazor burned, the Kings had chosen a seat for themselves in Harosheth (Drusius). [This does not satisfy Bonfrerius.] What else is it to reign in Hazor than to have a palace, etc.? But it is able to be said that he reigned in Hazor, because he retained for himself the title of that place; although it is likely that that city was restored (Martyr). Response 2: Others refer it to Sisera (thus Lapide, Bonfrerius), concerning whom it had immediately preceded, and who it is likely was absent from the court with the army (Bonfrerius). Question 2: What is Harosheth? Response: To some it is a proper name (thus the Syriac, Arabic, Montanus, Castalio, Dutch, English, Junius and Tremellius, Piscator, Osiander). To others it is an appellative: In the fortification of the strongholds (Jonathan), in the wood, or forest (Munster out of the Hebrews). The name of the place, Harosheth, is from its situation, that is to say, in a wooded place (Piscator out of Junius, Drusius). To the Arameans a forest is called חרשא. They conclude that in the forest were those mighty strongholds of Canaanites (Drusius). The Septuagint in the Royal and Basilean[3] codices in verse 16 has, ἕως δρυμοῦ, unto the forest; but in the thoroughly corrected Roman codex it is, ἕως Ἀρισώθ, unto Arisoth/Harosheth (Bonfrerius). It is likely that Harosheth was named from חָרַשׁ, to construct, because in it those nine hundred chariots were constructed, and in it the King had his armory (Lapide, Bonfrerius). The word itself, חֲרֺשֶׁת, signifies manufacture, or, the instrument of it, Exodus 31:5[4] (Bonfrerius). Question 3: Why is it called Harosheth of the nations? Responses: 1. Par excellence, from the multitude of inhabitants (Tostatus). 2. From the concourse of the nations driven out by Joshua; for unto this city many from the various peoples of the Canaanites, scattered here and there after the destruction brought in by Joshua, escaped, and either built it, or rebuilt and fortified it (Bonfrerius). Which they did out of a desire for that former principate (Tostatus). 3. Or, because nations gathered there for other reasons, on account of trade, etc. (Menochius). Because those Northern parts of Canaan was abounding in the offscouring of various nations, as Strabo testifies in his Geography 16:760. Hazor was in Galilee of the Gentiles; for it was only eight leagues[5] distant from Tyre, as Brochard[6] testifies. See what things we said on Joshua 12:23, the King of the Nations of Gilgal (Bonfrerius).


Harosheth of the Gentiles; so called, because it was much frequented and inhabited by the Gentiles; either by the Canaanites, who being beaten out of their former possessions, seated themselves in those northern parts; or by other nations coming there for traffic, or upon other occasions, as Strabo notes of those parts; whence Galilee, where this was, is called Galilee of the Gentiles.

[1] Hebrew: וַיִּמְכְּרֵ֣ם יְהוָ֗ה בְּיַד֙ יָבִ֣ין מֶֽלֶךְ־כְּנַ֔עַן אֲשֶׁ֥ר מָלַ֖ךְ בְּחָצ֑וֹר וְשַׂר־צְבָאוֹ֙ סִֽיסְרָ֔א וְה֥וּא יוֹשֵׁ֖ב בַּחֲרֹ֥שֶׁת הַגּוֹיִֽם׃


[2] Hebrew: וַיִּמְכְּרֵם.


[3] Aldus Manutius published an edition of the Septuagint in Venice, 1518. His edition was closer to Vaticanus than the Complutensian. A corrected edition was published in Basil in 1545 with a preface by Melancthon.


[4] Exodus 31:5: “And in cutting (וּבַחֲרֹשֶׁת) of stones, to set them, and in carving (וּבַחֲרֹשֶׁת) of timber, to work in all manner of workmanship.”


[5] A league was roughly three-miles, about the distance one could walk in an hour.


[6] Brochardus was a thirteenth century Dominican friar. He lived in the monastery on Mount Sion for ten years. He wrote a valuable description of those regions (Desciptio Terræ Sanctæ).

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Dr. Steven Dilday holds a BA in Religion and Philosophy from Campbell University, a Master of Arts in Religion from Westminster Theological Seminary (Philadelphia), and both a Master of Divinity and a  Ph.D. in Puritan History and Literature from Whitefield Theological Seminary.  He is also the translator of Matthew Poole's Synopsis of Biblical Interpreters and Bernardinus De Moor’s Didactico-Elenctic Theology.

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