Judges 1 Bible Commentary

John Wesley’s Explanatory Notes

(Read all of Judges 1)

Verse 1

[1] Now after the death of Joshua it came to pass, that the children of Israel asked the LORD, saying, Who shall go up for us against the Canaanites first, to fight against them?

After the death — Not long after it; for Othniel, the first judge, lived in Joshua's time.

Asked the Lord — Being assembled together at Shiloh, they enquired of the high-priest by the Urim and the Thummim.

Against the Canaanites first — Finding their people multiply exceedingly, and consequently the necessity of enlarging their quarters, they renew the war. They do not enquire who shall be captain general to all the tribes; but 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

[2] And the LORD said, Judah shall go up: behold, I have delivered the land into his hand.

Judah — The tribe of Judah 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. Moreover the Canaanites were numerous and strong in those parts, and therefore to be suppressed, before they grew too strong for them.

Verse 3

[3] And Judah said unto Simeon his brother, Come up with me into my lot, that we may fight against the Canaanites; and I likewise will go with thee into thy lot. So Simeon went with him.

To Simeon — As nearest to him both by relation, being his brother by both parents, and by habitation.

The Canaanites — Specially so called, because they are distinguished from the Perizzites, verse 4.

Verse 4

[4] And Judah went up; and the LORD delivered the Canaanites and the Perizzites into their hand: and they slew of them in Bezek ten thousand men.

In Bezek — Not in the city, for that was not yet taken, verse 5, but in the territory of it.

Verse 5

[5] And they found Adonibezek in Bezek: and they fought against him, and they slew the Canaanites and the Perizzites.

Adoni-bezek — The lord or king of Bezek; as his name signifies.

In Bezek — Whither he fled when he lost the field.

Against him — That is, against the city wherein he had encamped himself, and the rest of his army.

Verse 6

[6] But Adonibezek fled; and they pursued after him, and caught him, and cut off his thumbs and his great toes.

Great toes — And this they did, either by the direction of God, or upon notice of his former tyranny and cruelty.

Verse 7

[7] And Adonibezek said, Threescore and ten kings, having their thumbs and their great toes cut off, gathered their meat under my table: as I have done, so God hath requited me. And they brought him to Jerusalem, and there he died.

Threescore and ten — Which is not strange in those times and places. 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.

Under my table — An act of barbarous inhumanity thus to insult over the miserable, joined with abominable luxury.

Verse 8

[8] Now 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.

And took — Yet some of the inhabitants retired into the castle, and held out there 'till David's time.

Verse 10

[10] And Judah went against the Canaanites that dwelt in Hebron: (now the name of Hebron before was Kirjatharba:) and they slew Sheshai, and Ahiman, and Talmai.

Judah went — Under the conduct of Caleb, as is recorded, Joshua 15:14, etc., for that relation, and this, are doubtless one and the same expedition, and it is mentioned there by anticipation.

Verse 16

[16] And the children of the Kenite, Moses' father in law, went up out of the city of palm trees with the children of Judah into the wilderness of Judah, which lieth in the south of Arad; and they went and dwelt among the people.

Moses's father-in-law — That is, of Jethro, so called from the people 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 chap. 4:11,17 5:24; 1 Samuel 15:6; 1 Chronicles 2:1-54,55.

City of palm-trees — That is, from Jericho, so called, Deuteronomy 34:3, not the city which was destroyed, but the territory belonging to it, where it seems they were seated, in a most pleasant, and fruitful, and safe place, according to the promise made by Moses to their father, Numbers 10:29-32, and whence they might remove, either to avoid the neighboring Canaanites; or out of love to the children of Judah.

South of Arad — In the southern part of the land of Canaan, where Arad was, Numbers 21:1.

They went — That is some of them, for others of them dwelt in a contrary quarter, in the most northern part of the land.

Among the people — Heb. that people, namely, those children of Judah that lived there.

Verse 17

[17] 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 Hormah.

Judah went with Simeon — According to his promise, verse 3, and the laws of justice and gratitude.

Hormah — Either, 1. The same place so 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.

Verse 18

[18] Also Judah took Gaza with the coast thereof, and Askelon with the coast thereof, and Ekron with the coast thereof.

Judah took — It is only said, 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. And the people being thus spared, did by God's just judgment recover their strength, and expel the Jews out of their cities. It is farther observable, that Ekron here taken, was one of Dan's cities, Joshua 19:43, and it was taken here by Judah and Simeon, partly out of love for their brother Dan, and partly to secure their new conquests, and other adjoining territories, from such potent neighbours.

Verse 19

[19] And the LORD was with Judah; and he drave out the inhabitants of the mountain; but could not drive out the inhabitants of the valley, because they had chariots of iron.

Could not drive — Because of their unbelief, whereby they distrusted God's power to destroy those who had chariots of iron, and so gave way to their own fear and sloth, whereby God was provoked to withdraw his helping hand.

Verse 22

[22] And the house of Joseph, they also went up against Bethel: and the LORD was with them.

House of Joseph — That is, the tribe of Ephraim.

Verse 24

[24] And the spies saw a man come forth out of the city, and they said unto him, Shew us, we pray thee, the entrance into the city, and we will shew thee mercy.

The entrance — On which side it is weakest, that we might best invade and take it.

Verse 25

[25] And when he shewed them the entrance into the city, they smote the city with the edge of the sword; but they let go the man and all his family.

His family — Together with his estate, as the following verse manifests.

Verse 26

[26] And the man went into the land of the Hittites, and built a city, and called the name thereof Luz: which is the name thereof unto this day.

The Hittites — Where the Hittites seated themselves after they were driven out of Canaan, which seems to be northward from Canaan, and near upon it.

Verse 27

[27] Neither did Manasseh drive out the inhabitants of Bethshean and her towns, nor Taanach and her towns, nor the inhabitants of Dor and her towns, nor the inhabitants of Ibleam and her towns, nor the inhabitants of Megiddo and her towns: but the Canaanites would dwell in that land.

Manasseh — That is, that half of this tribe which dwelt in Canaan.

Verse 29

[29] Neither did Ephraim drive out the Canaanites that dwelt in Gezer; but the Canaanites dwelt in Gezer among them.

In Gezer — Which they possessed 'till Solomon's time, 1 Kings 9:16.

Verse 34

[34] And the Amorites forced the children of Dan into the mountain: for they would not suffer them to come down to the valley:

The valley — That is, into the plain country; which was the occasion of that expedition for the getting new quarters, of which we read Joshua 19:47,48 and chap. Judges 18:1-31.

Verse 35

[35] But the Amorites would dwell in mount Heres in Aijalon, and in Shaalbim: yet the hand of the house of Joseph prevailed, so that they became tributaries.

House of Joseph — That is, of the Ephraimites, who helped their brethren the Danites against the Amorites.

Verse 36

[36] And the coast of the Amorites was from the going up to Akrabbim, from the rock, and upward.

Akrabbim — Which was in the southern part of Canaan, Joshua 15:2,3, from whence it went up towards the north. This is added to shew the great power and large extent of this people.