Judges 5:19: The Enemy in Battle-Array

Verse 19:[1] The kings came and fought, then fought the kings of Canaan in Taanach by the waters of Megiddo; (Judg. 4:16; Ps. 44:12; see Judg. 5:30) they took no gain of money.


[Kings came] Jabin and his confederates (Junius, Lapide, Piscator, Malvenda). Compare Joshua 11:10 (Bonfrerius). Or, a plural is put in the place of a singular (Bonfrerius, Martyr); or, Sisera is able to be called a King. For generals of war are also called Kings by Aristotle in his Politics (Bonfrerius).


The kings; either confederate with him, or subject to him: for it is known that there were divers petty kings in those parts; which also ofttimes were subject to one greater and more potent king; and particularly this Hazor, where this Jabin now reigned, Judges 4:2, was beforetime the head of divers petty kingdoms, Joshua 11:10.


[Taanach by the waters of Megiddo] They are regions in the half tribe of Manasseh, not far from Tabor, Joshua 17:11 and Judges 1:27 (Junius, Piscator, Lapide, Bonfrerius). They came with an army of vast extent, inasmuch as it laid hold of the entire region between Taanach and Megiddo, or, they attacked Taanach, and afterwards Megiddo (Vatablus). The waters of Megiddo here are nothing other than the torrent Kishon (Menochius, Malvenda, Bonfrerius); so called because this torrent was gliding past the city of Megiddo (Malvenda, Bonfrerius).


Taanach and Megiddo were two eminent cities, belonging indeed to Manasseh, Judges 1:27, but seated in the tribe of Issachar, Joshua 17:11, not far from Mount Tabor, Joshua 17:10; Judges 1:27, nor from the river Kishon.


[And yet they took no spoils, בֶּ֥צַע כֶּ֖סֶף לֹ֥א לָקָֽחוּ׃] They did not take (or, carry off [Tigurinus, Dutch]) gain of money (Munster, Tigurinus, English), or, lust of silver (Montanus), or, desirable silver (Pagnine), as if it were a Hypallage, and the Hebrew words express verbatim, desire of silver. But I do not remember בֶּצַע to be taken for desire, but for lucre and gain (Piscator). They took no plunder, as they had hoped (Vatablus, Osiander). While they were more truly hoping to go forth to plunder rather than to battle, they, frustrated in their hope, received no prey, many wounds (Osiander). They took not even a scrap of silver (Junius, Piscator, certain interpreters in Vatablus). בֶּצַע is derived from בָּצַע, to cut off, or to divide: which is to say, It was so far from happening, that they might take great and many masses of silver (Piscator). Or thus; They were sparing no one, even with whatever money offered for redemption (Vatablus). The enemy, with lucre despised, was thirsting only for the blood of the people of God (Munster). They did not desire riches of silver (Jonathan). Others thus; They labored under such a hatred for the Israelites that they desired to serve in Sisera’s army even without pay. But this is overly subtle (certain interpreters in Martyr).


They took no gain of money; either, first, From Sisera. They fought without pay, whether from mere hatred of the Israelites, and a desire to be revenged upon them; or from a full hope and confidence of paying themselves abundantly out of Israel’s spoils. Or, secondly, From the Israelites; so the sense is, They fell, lost all their hopes of money, and rich spoils, and booty, which they assured themselves of; instead of gaining a prey, they lost themselves.

[1] Hebrew: בָּ֤אוּ מְלָכִים֙ נִלְחָ֔מוּ אָ֤ז נִלְחֲמוּ֙ מַלְכֵ֣י כְנַ֔עַן בְּתַעְנַ֖ךְ עַל־מֵ֣י מְגִדּ֑וֹ בֶּ֥צַע כֶּ֖סֶף לֹ֥א לָקָֽחוּ׃

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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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