Judges 5:18: Commendation of the Tribes that Appeared for the Lord's War, Part 3

Verse 18:[1] (Judg. 4:10) Zebulun and Naphtali were a people that jeoparded (Heb. exposed to reproach[2]) their lives unto the death in the high places of the field.


[They offered their lives to death, חֵרֵ֥ף נַפְשׁ֛וֹ לָמ֖וּת[3]] He exposed (repudiated [Montanus], devoted [Tigurinus]) his soul (himself [Syriac, Arabic], his life [Castalio]) to death (Munster, Pagnine); himself cast he away to death (Junius and Tremellius). With shame afflicted he his own soul, that is, his life he exposed to danger, so that he might be seen to think little of it (Piscator, Bonfrerius). He disparaged his life unto death: which is to say, He not only exposed his life to death, but also to disgrace, because so few footmen set themselves against so great and so powerful an army. Others: he violated, prostituted, his life, etc. (Malvenda).


Jeoparded; Hebrew, despised, or reproached, or contemned, comparatively; they chose rather to venture upon a generous and honourable death, than to enjoy a shameful and servile life.


[In the region of Merom,[4] עַ֖ל מְרוֹמֵ֥י שָׂדֶֽה׃] Upon the heights of the field (Pagnine, Montanus, similarly the Septuagint, Syriac); on the eminences of the plain (Munster, Tigurinus, Dutch, similarly Junius and Tremellius, Castalio), which is to say, with the field open, on a projecting plain, they fought (Vatablus). On a high and broad plain of mount Tabor this battle was conducted (Lapide, Junius, Piscator). [מְרוֹמֵי, high places, all, both ancient and more recent, take appellatively; one Latin takes it as a proper name, and translates it Merom; whom Hugh of Saint-Victor[5] in Bonfrerius asserts to have erred here.] But it ought not to be doubted (says Bonfrerius) that Jerome rightly and knowingly translated this. [Thus it is a principle with these men to defend the Vulgate by whatever means, and, when arguments and authorities are wanting, nevertheless boldly to hold to the conclusion.]


In the high places of the field, that is, upon that large and eminent plain in the top of Mount Tabor, where they put themselves in battle-array, and expected the enemy; though when they saw he did not come up to them, they marched down to meet and fight him.

[1] Hebrew: זְבֻל֗וּן עַ֣ם חֵרֵ֥ף נַפְשׁ֛וֹ לָמ֖וּת וְנַפְתָּלִ֑י עַ֖ל מְרוֹמֵ֥י שָׂדֶֽה׃


[2] Hebrew: עַ֣ם חֵרֵ֥ף.


[3] חָרַף signifies to reproach.


[4] See Joshua 11:1-8.


[5] Hugh of Saint-Victor (c. 1096-1141) was a member of the Canon Regular of Saint Augustine. He was sent to Paris, and settled in the monastery of Saint Victor, where he served as headmaster of the school. Hugh wrote voluminously, and his works in Biblical exegesis, theology, philosophy, and natural science were highly influential for generations. He wrote a commentary upon the Book of Judges.

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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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