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Bible Commentaries

John Trapp Complete Commentary

Judges 1



Verse 1

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?

The Book of Judges,] Who were God’s lieutenants, extraordinarily raised up, as occasion required: for himseff still held the iura regalia, the royal rights and royalties, till Saul’s reign: whence Josephus calleth the government of this people a theocracy, or God government. Whether Samuel wrote this book, as the Hebrews say he did, or some other holy prophet or prophets, it mattereth not. Regis epistolis acceptis, saith Gregory, when a king sendeth his letters to his subjects, it is ridiculous for them to inquire with what pen he wrote them. God is the author of this book; and the argument of it we have in the second chapter, as also in Psalms 106:1-48. And whereas Vopiscus (a) saith, Neminem historicorum non aliquid esse mentitum; that all heathen historians have taken some liberty to lie; of this, and the rest of the sacred writings, we may safely say, as Revelation 22:6, "These sayings are faithful and true"; they are also "profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness." [2 Timothy 3:16]

Ver. 1. Now after the death of Joshua.] The enemies haply might hope to hold their own, now that the lion was dead; as the loss of a valiant general is sometimes the ruin of a whole state; witness the Thebans, known by their calamities only, after the death of their renowned Epaminondas. But Israel, whilst they kept close to their covenant, might truly triumph and say, as in Isaiah 33:22, "The Lord is our judge, the Lord is our lawgiver, the Lord is our king; he will save us."

The children of Israel asked the Lord.] They had miscarried at Ai by not consulting first with God: so did afterwards David when he carted the ark, and Josiah when he went against Pharaoh Necho, king of Egypt. The heathens usually consulted their oracles before they waged war: and they called a sacrifice Hostia, because when they went against their enemies they offered it.

Verse 2

1:2 And the LORD said, Judah shall go up: behold, I have delivered the land into his hand.

Ver. 2. And the Lord said,] viz., By the ministry of the high priest.

Judeah shall go up.] A valiant, prudent, and hitherto a prosperous tribe, ever preferred according to Genesis 49:8, and with reference to Messiah the Prince, that Lion of this tribe.

Verse 3

1:3 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.

Ver. 3. And Judah said unto Simeon his brother.] Both by race, place, and grace.

Come up with me.] Continue the old league, defensive and offensive, that is already betwixt us. See Joshua 12:14. Two is better than one, and a good neighbourhood no small happiness.

Verse 4

1:4 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.

Ver. 4. And they slew of them in Bezek.] Saul’s rendezvous. [1 Samuel 11:8]

Verse 5

1:5 And they found Adonibezek in Bezek: and they fought against him, and they slew the Canaanites and the Perizzites.

Ver. 5. And they found Adonibezek.] Who had pompously called himself Lord of Bezek, after the name of his city, seeking thereby to immortalise himself upon his possession; {see Genesis 4:17 Psalms 49:11} but it proved otherwise, for he was found and ferreted out of his den, whither he had carried together no small spoil. [ 1:7]

Verse 6

1:6 But Adonibezek fled; and they pursued after him, and caught him, and cut off his thumbs and his great toes.

Ver. 6. But Adonibezek fled.] Excusing his flight, perhaps, as afterwards Demosthenes did. Vir fugiens denuo pugnabit; He that now fleeth, may fight another time.

And caught him.] Fugere quidem hic tyrannus potuit, sed non effugere; fly he might, but not escape, because divine vengeance pursued him for his cruelty. And the like befell Manasseh, Zedekiah, Muleasses (discovered by his perfumes), and many others.

And cut off his thumbs and his great toes.] So Tamerlane shackled Bajazet the great Turk whom he had taken in battle, and shut him up in an iron cage made like a grate, that he might be seen and derided of all men. He used him also on festival days as a footstool to tread upon when he mounted to horse, and at other times scornfully fed him like a dog with crumbs fallen from his table. All which Tamerlane did, not so much for hatred to the man, as to manifest the just judgment of God against the arrogant folly of the proud, saith the historian. (a)

Verse 7

1:7 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.

Ver. 7. And Adonibezek said.] Perhaps he repented a little, as did afterwards Antiochus, Licinius, and other tyrants, who yet acknowledged that God’s heavy hand was just upon them; but surely a fame of ingenuity he hath gotten him, for confessing God’s art of justicing in that most exact way of counter-passion or retaliation, such as did Adamussim aequiparare, et in librili perpendere, as Favorinus speaketh: (a) the scales were even: his cruelty in the one, his punishment in the other. This if he had thought on, and taken up in time, he might have haply redeemed his present sorrows and sufferings. Sethon king of Egypt

Qui Pharios currus regum cervicibus egit,

made his tributary kings draw his chariot by turns, till one time he espied one of those kings to look back earnestly on the wheel, and demanding the reason thereof, was answered by him, that with much comfort he beheld the lowest spokes turn uppermost by course. Whereupon, apprehending the moral, he left off that proud and barbarous custom. (b)

Having their thumbs and their great toes cut off.] That they might be disabled for fighting any more. The Latins call the thumb pollex, ab eo quod pollet, from its power and great usefulness. The Greeks call it αντιχειρ, that is, another hand. Further he might exercise this cruelty, Ut suas victorias ostentaret, et animum exhilararet; For a trophy of his victories, as did Sesostris or Sethon, forementioned; or to make himself sport, as Pope Clement V used Dandalus, the Venetian ambassador, whom he made to wallow under his table with dogs, that he might laugh at him. Man’s heart, saith Mr Perkins, (c) is a palace of satanical pride: it is like unto the table of Adonibezek, at which he sat in a chair of state, and made others, even kings, to eat meat like dogs under his feet, with their thumbs cut off. Such a one is every man by nature: he lifteth up himself, saying, I am the man, and treadeth his brother underfoot, as nobody to him.

Gathered their meat under my table.] Meat they had then, though in a base way. This was better usage yet than our Richard II met with here in his own kingdom. For although his food was served in at Pomfret Castle, and set before him in the wonted princely manner, yet he was not suffered to taste or touch thereof, but was tantalised and starved to death. (d) So were the cruel Duke of Alva’s prisoners, whom he told, that though he gave them quarter for their lives, yet he never promised them food in prison to keep them alive. About the year 1159, Frederick I, Emperor, sent Guafalgus Duke of Milan prisoner into Germany, and for three days together held him under his table as a dog, and caused him to be whipped with a dog whip. (e)

As I have done, so God hath requited me.] God loveth to retaliate, as were easy to instance. Phalaris was burnt in his own brasen bull:

Neque enim lex iustior ulla est,

Quam necis artifices arte perire sua. ” - Ovid.

Constantine the Emperor put out his uncle’s eyes, and five years after had his own eyes put out by his own mother Irene. (f) Phocas, the traitor, had his arms, feet, and genitals cut off in like manner as himself had served his sovereign Mauricius. Archbishop Arundel and Stephen Gardiner were smitten in their tongues and famished, as they had silenced preachers, spoken swelling words against the professors of the truth, and brought a famine of the word. (g) Charles IX of France, author of the Parisian massacre, (h) and Felix, earl of Wartenburg, (i) who threatened to ride up to the spurs in the blood of the Lutherans, were stewed in their own broth, choked in their own blood: they had "blood given them to drink, for they were worthy." What wouldst thou have done with me, said Tamerlane to Bajazet, if it had been my fortune to have fallen into thy hands? I would, said Bajazet, have enclosed thee in a cage of iron, and so in triumph have carried thee up and down my kingdom: even so, said Tamerlane, shalt thou be served. (j)

And there he died,] viz., Of his wounds, little care being taken of his cure, because he was a proscribed person.

Verse 8

1:8 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.

Ver. 8. Had taken it.] As also Hebron and Debir, while Joshua was yet alive, [Joshua 10:42; Joshua 15:63] which yet some hold to be there set down by way of anticipation.

Verse 9

1:9 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.

Ver. 9. Went down.] Being heartened by their former successes, but especially by that sweet promise in 1:2.

Verse 10

1:10 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.

Ver. 10. And they slew Sheshai, &c.] Those huge giants were slain by such as seemed but grasshoppers unto them. See Joshua 11:21-22.

Verses 11-13

1:11 And from thence he went against the inhabitants of Debir: and the name of Debir before [was] Kirjathsepher:
1:12 And Caleb said, He that smiteth Kirjathsepher, and taketh it, to him will I give Achsah my daughter to wife.
1:13 And Othniel the son of Kenaz, Caleb’s younger brother, took it: and he gave him Achsah his daughter to wife.

Ver. 11-13, &c. See Joshua 15:15-16, &c., {See Trapp on "Joshua 15:15"} {See Trapp on "Joshua 15:16"} &c.

Verse 16

1:16 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.

Ver. 16. And the children of the Kenite.] Elsewhere called Jethro, Hobab, Revel: his posterity followed the Israelites for religion’s sake, into the promised land, leaving their own country -

Omne sohm forti patria est. ” - Ovid., Fast.

These Kenites dwelt in tents, and had no settled habitation, as a kind of Nomads or Cosmopolites. They held the same of the world that a certain philosopher did of Athens - viz., that it was a pleasant place to travel through, but not safe to dwell in.

Verse 17

1:17 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.

Ver. 17. And utterly destroyed it.] So that this city was twice utterly ruined, and therefore called Horma, devoted to destruction.

Roma diu titubans, variis erroribus acta

Corruct, et mundi desinet esse caput. ”

Verse 18

1:18 Also Judah took Gaza with the coast thereof, and Askelon with the coast thereof, and Ekron with the coast thereof.

Ver. 18. Also Judah took Gaza with the coast thereof.] But lost them again to the Philistines -

Non minor est virtus, quam quaerere, parta tueri.

Verse 19

1:19 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.

Ver. 19. Drave out the inhabitants of the mountain.] Or, Possessed the mountain: for the same Hebrew word Jarash, signifies to possess and to dispossess.

But could not drive out.] Indeed, for want of faith: else they might have driven them out; Si ex fide fortiter pugnassent: to faith all things are feasible. Is not the same God, God of the valleys also, as well as of the mountains? But as it is said that [Mark 6:5] our Saviour "could do no mighty work" - that is, he would do no mighty work - "in his own country, because of their unbelief," so was it here.

Verse 20

1:20 And they gave Hebron unto Caleb, as Moses said: and he expelled thence the three sons of Anak.

Ver. 20. And they gave Hebron.] See Joshua 14:6-7. {See Trapp on "Joshua 14:6"} {See Trapp on "Joshua 14:7"}

Verse 21

1:21 And the children of Benjamin did not drive out the Jebusites that inhabited Jerusalem; but the Jebusites dwell with the children of Benjamin in Jerusalem unto this day.

Ver. 21. And the children of Benjamin.] See Joshua 15:63.

Verse 22

1:22 And the house of Joseph, they also went up against Bethel: and the LORD [was] with them.

Ver. 22. And the Lord was with them.] "The Lord, mighty in battle."

Verse 23

1:23 And the house of Joseph sent to descry Bethel. (Now the name of the city before [was] Luz.)

Ver. 23. Now the name of the city before was Luz,] i.e., An almond, or a filbert; perhaps from the plenty of such fruits there growing: like as Cerasus in Pontus had its name from cherries, Elaea from olives, &c.

Verse 24

1:24 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.

Ver. 24. And the spies saw a man come forth.] Whether upon his ordinary business, or to fall to the enemy, is uncertain.

Verse 25

1:25 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.

Ver. 25. And when he showed them the entrance,] i.e., Where and how they might best take it.

But they let go the man and all his family.] Who if he did this out of true faith, as Rahab did, [Joshua 2:1-24] he is to be excused: but if for selfish ends and sinister respects, he is to be esteemed a traitor, and might have met with such reward as Metius Suffetius did, who was drawn in pieces with wild horses by Tullus Hostilius for his treachery. Or as John Justinian of Genua did, who let Mohammed the great Turk enter Constantinople upon promise to make him king. He made him so; but after three days put him to death. Or, lastly, as he that betrayed the Rhodes; for he had his promised wife and portion presented; but the Turk told him that he would not have a Christian to be his son-in-law; he must needs be a Moslem, that is, a believing Turk both within and without. And therefore he caused his baptized skin, as he called it, to be taken off, and him to be cast in a bed strowed with salt, that he might get a new skin, and so he should be his son-in-law. But the wicked wretch ended his life with shame and torment.

Verse 26

1:26 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.

Ver. 26. And built a city.] Therefore it seemeth he was well rewarded, and not in counterfeit coin: as the Spaniard rewarded a countryman of ours who had betrayed a town to him in the Netherlands, saying that false money was good enough for so false a knave.

Verse 27

1:27 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.

Ver. 27. See Joshua 17:11-12.

Verse 28

1:28 And it came to pass, when Israel was strong, that they put the Canaanites to tribute, and did not utterly drive them out.

Ver. 28. They put the Canaanites to tribute.] When they could have cast them out: this they did out of covetousness, that root of all evil, neglecting the command of God to the contrary. Well might David pray, "Incline mine heart to thy testimonies, and not to covetousness." [Psalms 119:36] Sallust saith, Ubi divitiae clarae habentur, ibi omnia bona vilia sunt, fides, probitas, pudor, pudicitia; Where money is in price, there honesty and fidelity are easily parted with.


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Bibliography Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on Judges 1:4". John Trapp Complete Commentary. 1865-1868.

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