Lange’s Commentary on the Holy Scriptures – Judges (Vol. 1)》


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Judges 1:1. Israel is believing and obedient after the death of Joshua. Like a child after the death of its father, it has the best intentions. It is zealous to perform, with speed and vigor, the task imposed by Joshua. As directed by the law ( Numbers 27:21), it inquires of God through His priest, the appointed medium for announcing His will. The recollection of benefits received from the departed hero, and the feelings of piety toward him, are still exerting their influence. So does many a child finish the period of instruction preparatory to confirmation, with a heart zealously resolved to be pious. Many a Christian comes away from an awakening sermon with resolutions of repentance. Principium fervet. First love is full of glowing zeal. To begin well is never without a blessing. The best inheritance is to continue obedient toward God.

Starke: God gives more than we seek from him.—Gerlach: Not even the task which had been imposed on each individual tribe, will they take in hand, without having inquired of the Lord concerning it.

Judges 1:2 God therefore vouchsafes direction and promise. Judah is to go before. When Israel is believing and obedient, Judah always goes before ( Genesis 49:10): in the desert, at the head of the host; after the time of the Judges, when David sits upon the throne of Israel; and finally, when the Lion of the tribe of Judah conquers the last enemy, which is death.

Starke: If we also desire to war against our spiritual Canaanites, the first attack must be made, and the war must be conducted, by Christ Jesus, the Lion of the tribe of Judah ( Revelation 5:5).

Lisco: The words, “I have delivered the land,” are meant prophetically; with God that which is certain in the future is as if it were present.

[Bush (combining Scott and Henry): The precedency was given to Judah because it was the most numerous, powerful, and valiant of all the tribes, and that which the Lord designed should possess the preëminence in all respects, as being the one from which the Messiah was to spring, and for that reason crowned with the“excellency of dignity” above all its fellows. Judah therefore must lead in this perilous enterprise; for God not only appoints service according to the strength and ability He has given, but “would also have the burden of honor and the burden of labor go together.” Those who have the precedency in rank, reputation, or influence, should always be disposed to go before others in every good work, undismayed by danger, difficulty, or obloquy, that they may encourage others by their example.

Wordsworth: The death of Joshua is the date of degeneracy. So in spiritual respects, as long as the true Joshua lives in the soul, there is health. St. Paul says, “I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me.” The true Joshua lives in the souls of his saints; but if He dies in the soul, that death is theirs; the death of their souls (Origen).

Bachmann: As the Book of Joshua opens with the mention of Moses’ death, so the Book of Judges with that of Joshua. The servants of the Lord die one after the other; but the history of his kingdom goes on uninterruptedly.—Tr.]


FN#1 - Judges 1:1.—The author renders: “the sons of Israel asked God;” and by way of explanation adds the following note: “Thus do we intend constantly to render יְהוָֹה, on the ground that it expresses the absolute idea of the true God in Israel. Since אֱלֹהִים is also used in connection with heathen worship, it corresponds to our ‘Godhead, Deity’ or ‘the Gods.’ ” In this translation the word Jehovah will be inserted.—Tr.]

FN#2 - Judges 1:1.—מִי־יַעֲלֶה־לָּנוּ. Dr. Cassel takes לָנוּ in a partitive sense, and translates, “who of us shall go up.” It is more properly regarded as dat. commodi; for, (1.) The partitive relation, though sometimes indicated by לְ (apparently, however, only after numerals, cf. Ges. Lex. s. v. לְ, 4 b), would be more properly expressed by בְּ or מִן; and (2.) If the writer had intended to connect לָנוּ with מִי, he would not have placed the verb between them, cf. Isaiah 48:14; Judges 21:8. As it stands, the expression is a perfect grammatical parallel with Isaiah 6:8 : מִי־יֵלֶךְ־לָנוּ Moreover, לָנוּ, in the sense of בָּנוּ or מִמֶּנּוּ, adds nothing which is not already implied in the words, מִי יַעֲלֶה בַּתְּחִלָּה, “who shall first go up.” On the other hand, taken in its natural sense, as indirect object after the verb, it expresses the thought that whoever “goes first,” makes a beginning, will do it for the advantage of all. What that advantage was, may be seen from our author’s exposition of the inquiry.—Tr.]

FN#3 - Judges 1:1.—אֶל, properly, towards. Dr. Cassel has gegen, which means both “towards” and “against.” The same preposition occurs in Judges 1:10-11; and though translated “against,” is not to be taken in the sense of עַל. The hostile intent in these passages is not expressed by אֶל, but appears from the context. In this verse, attention to the proper meaning of אֶל, does away with the appearance of tautology which in English the inquiry presents.—Tr.]

FN#4 - Judges 1:2.—Dr. Cassel: “Wohlan! Up then!” On this rendering of הִנֵּה, cf. the foot-note on p26.—Tr.]

FN#5 - If in Exodus 6:20; Exodus 6:26, the order is “Aaron and Moses,” it is only to indicate Aaron as the first-born; hence, Judges 1:27 of the same chapter, as if by way of correction, says, “these are that Moses and Aaron.” For the same reason Numbers 3:1 reads: “These are the generations of Aaron and Moses.” As the order is everywhere Moses and Aaron, so it is naturally also “Moses and Eleazar.” This difference in the relations of Moses and Joshua respectively to the Priest, it is important to notice. For it is of itself sufficient to show the untenableness of Bertheau’s assertion (Buch der Richter, p9), that Numbers 27:21 is to be so taken that Joshua is to ask, not before, but for, instead of, Eleazar, whether he shall go out; that is (as he thinks), “in a manner just as valid as if the high-priest had inquired of Jehovah.” To inquire of God by means of the Urim, the Priest alone could do, for he alone had it. Moses and the prophets received revelations immediately; but when the Urim is mentioned, the Priest is the only possible medium. The passages to which Bertheau refers, speak against his assertion. The LXX. are as plain as the Hebrew text. In 1 Samuel 22:10, it is the Priest who inquires of God for David. Josephus, Ant. iv7, 2, is an irrelevant passage, and therefore cannot be cited at all. Moreover, Josephus himself puts Eleazar before Joshua, when he speaks of both (iv7, 3). Nor is there any good ground for doubt as to the clearness of the passage in Numbers 27. If we find no mention anywhere of Joshua’s having inquired by Urim, the foundation of this fact is deeply laid in his relations to Moses. He was called only to be the executor of the designs of Moses. His activity expends itself in continuing the work of Moses. It moves entirely within the lines prescribed by Moses, and is impelled by his inviolable authority. Joshua’s deeds are but the historical outgrowth of the spirit of Moses. The Book of Joshua is but the narrative of Joshua’s obedience to the word of Moses. Whatever Joshua ordains, is rendered sacred by an appeal to Moses. Even the division of the land is conducted according to this authority ( Joshua 13-15). “Every place have I given you, as I said unto Moses,” is the language used ( Joshua 1:3). Remember what Moses commanded you, says Joshua to the tribes of Reuben, Gad, and Manasseh ( Joshua 1:13). The fact is brought out with peculiar emphasis in the following passages: “Be strong and very courageous to do according to all the laws which Moses my servant commanded thee: turn not from it to the right hand or the left” ( Joshua 1:7). “There was not a word of all that Moses commanded which Joshua read not before all the congregation of Israel” ( Joshua 8:35). “As the Lord commanded Moses his servant, so did Moses command Joshua, and so did Joshua; he left nothing undone of all that the Lord commanded Moses” ( Joshua 11:15).

Wherever, therefore, Joshua simply executes the will of God as expressed in the commands of Moses, the necessity for inquiring by Urim does not arise. It is precisely in this execution of the Mosaic commands that God speaks to Joshua, as Joshua 4:10 clearly teaches: “until everything was finished that the Lord commanded Joshua to speak, according to all that Moses commanded Joshua.” The direct command of God to Moses operates on Joshua who executes it.

That Joshua is the executor of the commands of Moses, cannot consistently with the spirit of the book which relates his history, be overlooked. When, however, the decision by Urim is alluded to, and it is said, “according to his mouth” (עַל פִּיו), the reference is to the same (priestly) mouth which, Joshua 19:50, assigns an inheritance to Joshua, “according to the mouth of Jehovah” (עַל פִּי יְהוָֹה). This method of decision comes into play when Joshua has no instructions from Moses according to which to act. The peculiar position of Joshua, by whom, through the word of Moses, God still always speaks and acts as through Moses ( Joshua 3:7), and who nevertheless does not like Moses stand before, but after, the priest, becomes everywhere manifest. This position also is unique, and never again recurs. It is therefore at his death, and not till then, that the preponderance of the Priest as the sole possessor of the word of God, becomes fully manifest. The fact, therefore, that we now first hear of an “asking of the Lord,” so far from being obscure, is full of instruction on the historical position of affairs.

FN#6 - Bertheau: “וַיְהִי, in conjunction with the words, ‘after the death of Joshua,’ first connects itself with the closing narrative of the Book of Joshua ( Joshua 24:29-33), and secondly designates the Book of Judges as a link in the chain of books which relate, in unbroken connection, the [sacred] history of the world, from the creation to the exile of the inhabitants of the southern kingdom. The several books which contain this connected historical account are joined together by the connective ו.”—Tr.]

FN#7 - Cf. Josephus, Ant. iv8, 14, who states on the authority of Jewish tradition that there were in every city seven Judges, each with two Levitical assistants, corresponding to the seventy-two of the general senate.

FN#8 - Bachmann: “The sons of Israel here are not the whole nation, but only the tribes west of the Jordan, who are spoken of in the same way, and in express contradistinction from the tribes east of the Jordan, in Joshua 22:12-13; Joshua 22:32. According to Joshua 13:23. the further conflict with the Canaanites was incumbent on the western, not on the eastern tribes. Hence, also, the following account treats only of the doings and omissions of the western Israel.”—Tr.]

FN#9 - Cf. on this rendering the note under the text on p23.—Tr.]

FN#10 - Cf. Psalm 114:2, and the Pesikta and Jalkut on the Book of Judges (Ed. Amsterd.) § 37, p2, Judges 8.

FN#11 - The history of Athens contains a similar instance. The council of war before the battle of Marathon was presided over by Callimachus, of the tribe Ajax. A preponderance of voices, exaggerating the danger, already inclined to avoid the Persian army, when Callimachus voted for the course urged by Miltiades, and turned the tide. In consequence of this, the tribe of Ajax was specially honored. Notwithstanding the use of the lot, the last place in the chorus was never assigned to this tribe (Plutarch, Qu. Symp., i10; cf. Böckh, Staatshaushalt der Athener, i743, note). It is said that Charlemagne, induced by the heroic deeds of Count Gerold, bestowed on the Swabians the right of forming the vanguard in every campaign of the empire.

FN#12 - Occasionally הִנֵּה may be properly rendered by “Up!” or “Now then!” cf. Psalm 134:1, where it is followed by an imperative; but in situations like the present such a rendering is unnecessarily free. The word is designed to excite the attention and put it on the alert for what is coming. Of course, the assurance which here follows it, would animate and incite; but the agite! macte! are in the words to which הִנֵּה calls attention, not in הִנֵּה itself. Tr.]

Verses 3-8

Judah and Simeon agree to assist each other in clearing their allotted lands of Canaanites. They defeat the enemy in Bezek, capture Adoni-bezek, and burn Jerusalem

Judges 1:3-8

3And Judah said unto Simeon his brother, Come up with me into my lot, that we may [and let us] fight [together] against the Canaanites; and I likewise will go with thee into thy lot. So Simeon went with him 4 And Judah went up, and the Lord [Jehovah] delivered the Canaanites and the Perizzites into their hand: and they slew [smote] of [omit: of] them in Bezek ten thousand men.[FN13] 5And they found [came upon, unexpectedly met with] Adoni-bezek in Bezek: and they fought against him, 6and they slew [smote] the Canaanites and the Perizzites. But [And] Adoni-bezek fled; and they pursued after him, and caught him, and cut off his thumbs and his great toes 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 [the Deity] hath requited me. And they brought him to Jerusalem, and there 8 he died. (Now [omit the (), and for Now read: But] the children [sons] of Judah had fought [omit: had[FN14]] against Jerusalem, and had taken it, and smitten it [and took it[FN15] and smote it] with the edge[FN16] of the sword, and set the city on fire [gave the city up to the fire].


1 Judges 1:4.—“Smote them in Bezek ten thousand men” i.e. to the number of10,000 men. Cf. Judges 3:29; Judges 3:31, etc. As for the word נָכָה, its proper meaning is “to strike, to smite;” here, doubtless, so far as the ten thousand are concerned, to smite fatally, to kill; elsewhere (in Judges 1:5, for instance), to defeat, vanquish.—Tr.]

2 Judges 1:8.—Matthew Henry: Our translators judge it [the taking of Jerusalem] spoken of here, as done formerly in Joshua’s time, and only repeated [related] on occasion of Adoni-bezek’s dying there, and therefore read it, “they had fought against Jerusalem,” and put this verse in a parenthesis; but the original speaks of it as a thing now done; and that seems most probable, because it is said to be done by the children of Judah in particular, not by all Israel in general, whom Joshua commanded.—Tr.]

3 Judges 1:8.—To fight against a city, הִלָּחֵם בְּעִיר, is to besiege it, or assault it by storm, cf. Joshua 10:31; 2 Samuel 12:26. לָכַד is to take by such a movement. Hence Dr. Cassel translates, “fought against Jerusalem, and took it by storm, erstürmten es.”—Tr.]

4 Judges 1:8.—לְפי־דָרֶב: lit. “according to the mouth (i.e. edge) of the sword. The expression denotes unsparing destruction, a killing whose only measure is the sharpness of the sword’s edge. Cf. Bertheau in loc.—Tr.]


Judges 1:3. And Judah said unto Simeon his brother. In matters of war the tribes were represented by the Nesi’im (נְשִׂיאִים). A Nasi, prince or chief, stood at the head of each tribe, and acted in its name, although with great independence. At the numbering of the people in the desert, the Nasi of Judah was Nahshon, the son of Aminadab; but after the sending of the spies, Caleb, the son of Jephunneh, held that position ( Numbers 34:19). According to the directions of Moses in the passage just referred to, these princes were to assist the Priest and Joshua in the allotment of the land to the tribes. They are the same who, in Joshua 19:51, are called “heads of families.” For, as appears especially from Joshua 22:14, only he could be Nasi who was “head of a family.” Collectively, they are styled “the princes of the congregation” ( Joshua 22:30). That Moses names only ten ( Numbers 34:18, etc.), arises from the fact that he refers only to the allotment of the land this side the Jordan. The princes of the two and a half tribes beyond the Jordan had nothing to do with this. When the trans-Jordanic tribes were erroneously suspected of apostasy, the ten princes with the priest went to them as an embassy from the other tribes ( Joshua 22:14). It was these princes who ratified the treaty with the Gibeonites ( Joshua 9:15); and the congregation was bound by their oath, although greatly dissatisfied when the deception of the Gibeonites was discovered.

Come up with me into my lot. The territory of a single tribe was called its lot, גּוֹרָל. Compare the Greek κλῆρος, used to denote possessions in general, and also the portion of territory assigned to each party embarked in a colonial enterprise. (“Crœsus devastated the lots of the Syrians,” φθείρων τοὺς κλήρους, Herod, i76.)—It was natural for Judah to summon his brother Simeon to join him; for Simeon’s territory lay within the borders of Judah.[FN17] According to the statements of Joshua 15, the inheritance assigned to the tribe of Judah might be bounded by two lines, drawn respectively from the northern and southern extremities of the Dead Sea to the Mediterranean, the northern line passing below Jerusalem. Simeon’s part lay in the middle between these lines, toward the west. For this reason, Simeon is already in Numbers 34:20 named second, next to Judah, the first tribe. This summons of Judah to Simeon to conquer together their territories is instructive in several respects. It shows that the whole south had indeed been attacked, but was not yet occupied. True, the narrative of the conquest of Canaan by Joshua is not complete, and leaves much to be supplied; but thus much is clear, that though Joshua undoubtedly made war on the southern and northern Canaanites, he by no means obtained control of all the land. It is also evident from Joshua 1:1 to Joshua 10:42, that as long as Joshua fought with the more southern enemies, his encampment was at Gilgal, in the neighborhood of Jericho and the Jordan, to which after each victory over the southern kings, whom he pursued far into the southwest, he always fell back ( Joshua 10:15; Joshua 10:43). Hence the conversation with Caleb, concerning the inheritance of the latter takes place while the camp is still at Gilgal ( Joshua 14:6). Consequently, it can only have been the result of victories over the northern princes, that Joshua, in the last years of his regency, transferred the encampment of the people to Shiloh ( Joshua 18:1; Joshua 21:2) and Shechem ( Joshua 24:1). Of this territory he had already gained permanent possession. It belonged to the inheritance of the tribe of Ephraim. Joshua himself was of this tribe. That fact explains how it was that Ephraim was the first to come into secure and permanent territorial possession. In this also Joshua differs from Moses. The latter, although sprung from the tribe of Levi, belonged to all the tribes. He was raised above every special tribe-relationship. His grave even none can boast of. Joshua does not deny that he belongs to Joseph, although he does not yield to their less righteous demands ( Joshua 17:14). His tribe forms the first circle around him. When he locates the national centre in Shiloh and Shechem, it is in the possessions of Ephraim. Here, as long as Joshua lived, the government of the Israelitish tribes and their sanctuary had their seat. Here the bones of Joseph were buried; here are the sepulchres of Joshua and his contemporary, the priest Eleazar. Ephraim was the point from which the farther warlike expeditions of the individual tribes were directed. Precisely because the first permanently held possession had connected itself with Joshua and his tribe, the summons to seize and occupy their assigned territory came next to Judah and its prince Caleb, the associate of Joshua, and after him the first man of Israel. But Judah and Simeon cannot have set out on their expedition from Shiloh or Shechem. There was not room enough in the territory of the tribe of Ephraim to afford camping-ground for all Israel. The encampment in Gilgal had not ceased; and there the tribe of Judah found a suitable station whence to gain possession of its own land. Thence they could enter immediately into the territory assigned them. Moreover, it is only upon the supposition that Gilgal was the point of departure of the army of Judah, that it becomes entirely clear why Judah turned to his brother Simeon, Had he come down from Shechem, he might also have turned to Benjamin. But Simeon needed the same avenue into his dominions as Judah. He must pass through the country of the latter to reach his own. From Gilgal, the armies of Judah advanced along the boundary line between their own land and Benjamin, in the direction of the western shore of the Dead Sea which formed their eastern border ( Joshua 15:5-7), intending to march through the wilderness, and perhaps after passing Tekoah, to turn first against Hebron. There the enemy met them.[FN18]

Judges 1:4. And they smote them in Bezek, ten thousand men. The position of Bezek is indicated by the direction of Judah’s advance. It must have been already within the limits of Judah; for “Judah went up,” namely, to his territory. Its distance from Jerusalem cannot have been great, for they brought the wounded and maimed Adoni-bezek thither, and immediately after the battle in Bezek the tribes attack Jerusalem. If it were the name of a city, the place bearing it would seem to have been of such importance, as to make it matter of surprise that we find no further mention of it.[FN19] The name announces itself as an appellative derived from the character of the region. בֶּיֶק (Bezek) is undoubtedly equivalent to בָּרָק (Barak). It designates unfruitful, stony sand-areas (Syrtes). The desert Barca in North Africa is familiar in ancient and modern times. The inhabitants of deserts received the name Barcæans, as Jerome remarks (Ep. cxxix.), “from the city Barca, which lies in the desert.” At the present day a chasm in the rocks, in the peninsula of Sinai, bears the name Bereika (Ritter, xiv547). The ancient name Bene-berak ( Joshua 19:45) also explains itself in this way. In Arabic ברקה designates stony, unfruitful land. Now, the land west of the Dead Sea, through which Judah marched into his territory, is for the most part of this character. “The desert here, covered with chalk and crumbling limestone, and without the least trace of vegetation, has a truly terrible appearance” (Ritter, xv653 (Gage’s Transl, iii114). It was in this tract that the battle was joined, which ended in the defeat of the Canaanite and Perizzite. The name Canaanites passed over from the cities of the Phœnician Lowlands (Canaan), to the inhabitants of cities throughout the land. It designates the population devoted to agriculture and the arts of civilized life. Perizzites may have been the name of tribes of Bedouins, inhabitants of tents, roving at will among the mountains and in the desert. Down to the present time, the eastern part of Judah, adjoining the Dead Sea, is a true Bedouin highway, especially for all those Arabs who press forward from the east and south. The Canaanites and Perizzites unite to meet the common enemy in the desert tract, just as Zenobia united herself with the Saracens of the desert against the Romans. They are defeated, and there fall ten thousand men, i.e.μύπιοι, myriads, an indefinitely large number. From the fact that Bezek does not designate a particular place, but the region in general, it becomes plain that verses4,5 do not relate the same occurrence twice. Verse 4 speaks of the first conflict. The second was offered by Adoni-bezek ( Judges 1:5).

Judges 1:5. And they came upon Adoni-bezek in Bezek. We can trace the way which Judah took, with Simeon, to the borders assigned him. From Gilgal it proceeded to Beth-hogla (Ain Hajla), through the wide northern plain of the Dead Sea, on its northwestern shore, to the region at present traversed by the Ta’âmirah Bedouin tribes. This region was named Bezek. בֶּזֶק and [FN20]בּ‍ֽרָק primarily signify “dazzling brightness;” hence the signification “lightning.” It was doubtless the dazzling glare of the ground, produced by the reflection of the sun whether from the white salt-crust of the surface, the rocks,[FN21] or the undulating sandhills, that suggested the name Bezek for such regions. This primary sense enables us, moreover, also to discover the connection between Adoni-bezek and Bezek. That the latter is not a city, might have been sufficiently inferred from the fact that notwithstanding the victory no record is made here, as in the cases of other cities, of its fall and destrucsion. To take Adoni-bezek as Prince of Bezek, does not seem advisable. The proper names of heathen kings always have reference to their religion.[FN22] Since Adoni-bezek, after having been mutilated, was carried by his attendants to Jerusalem, he must have held some relation to that city. Only that supposition enables us to see why Judah and Simeon storm Jebus (Jerusalem), belonging as it did to the tribe of Benjamin, for which reason they make no attempt to hold it by garrisoning it. Already in the 10 th chapter of Joshua we meet with Adoni-zedek in Jerusalem, just as in the history of Abraham Melchi-zedek appears there. Adon is a Phœnician designation of the Deity. Adoni-zedek and Melchi-zedek mean, “My God, my king, is Zedek.” The names of the kings enunciated their creeds. Zedek (Sadyk, Sydyk,) belongs to the star-worship of the Canaanites, and according to ancient tradition was the name of the planet Jupiter. Adoni-bezek manifestly expresses a similar idea. Bezek = Barak is the dazzling brightness, which is also peculiar to Jupiter. His Sanskrit name is “Brahaspati (Brihaspati),[FN23] Father of Brightness.” “My God is Brightness,” is the creed contained in the name Adoni-bezek. His name alone might lead us to consider him King of Jerusalem, to which, as if it were his royal residence, his own attendants carry him after his defeat.[FN24]

Judges 1:6. And Adoni-bezek fled, .… and they cut off the thumbs of his bands and feet, etc. How horrible is the history of human cruelty! It is the mark of ungodliness, that it glories in the agony of him whom it calls an enemy. The mutilation of the human body is the tyranny of sin over the work of God, which it nevertheless fears. The Persian king Artaxerxes caused the arm of his brother, which had bent the bow against him, to be hewn off, even after death. Thumbs were cut off to incapacitate the hand for using the bow, great toes to render the gait uncertain. When in456 b. c, the inhabitants of Ægina were conquered by the Athenians, the victors ordered their right thumbs to be cut off, so that, while still able to handle the oar, they might be incapable of using the spear (Ælian, Var. Hist., ii9). Mohammed (Sura, viii12) gave orders to punish the enemies of Islam by cutting off their heads and the ends of their fingers, and blames its omission in the battle of Beder. In the German Waldweisthümern the penalty against hunters and poachers of having their thumbs cut off, is of frequent occurrence (Grimm, Rechtsalterth., 707; Deutsches Wörterb. ii346).[FN25] Adoni-bezek, in his pride, enjoyed the horrible satisfaction of making the mutilated wretches pick up their food under his table, hungry and whining like dogs.[FN26] Curtius relates that the Persians had preserved Greek captives, mutilated in their hands, feet, and ears, “for protracted sport” (in longum sui ludibrium reservaverant. De Rebus Gest. Alex., v5, 6). Posidonius (in Athenœus, iv152, d.) tells how the king of the Parthians at his meals threw food to his courtier, who caught it like a dog (τὸ παραβληθὲν κυνιστὶ σιτε͂ιται), and was moreover beaten like a dog. The tribe of Judah simply recompensed Adoni-bezek: not from revenge, for Israel had not suffered anything from him; nor from pleasure in the misery of others, for they left him in the hands of his own people.

Judges 1:7. As I have done, so has the Deity[FN27] completed unto me. Many (in round Numbers, seventy) are they whom he has maltreated. שִׁלֵּם (Piel of שָׁלַם) is to finish, complete, and hence to requite; for reward and punishment are inseparably connected with good and evil deeds. As the blossom reaches completion only in the fruit, so deeds in their recompense. The Greeks used τελεῖν in the same sense. “When the Olympian (says Homer, Iliad, iv160) does not speedily punish (ἐτέλεσσεν), he still does it later (ἔκ τε καὶ ὀψὶ τελεῖ).” It was an ethical maxim extensively accepted among ancient nations that men must suffer the same pains which they have inflicted on others. The later Greeks called this the Neoptolemic Tisis, from the circumstance that Neoptolemus was punished in the same way in which he had sinned (Pausanius, iv17, 3; Nägelsbach, Nachhom. Theologie, 343). He had murdered at the altar, and at the altar he was murdered. Phaleris had roasted human beings in a brazen bull—the same punishment was inflicted on himself.[FN28] That which Dionysius had done to the women of his people, his own daughters were made to undergo (Ælian, Var. Hist., ix8). Jethro says ( Exodus 18:11), “for the thing wherein they sinned, came upon them.”

And they brought him to Jerusalem. None but his own people[FN29] could bring him thither, for the city was not yet taken. It was evidently hiscity; for the Israelites follow after, and complete their victory by its capture. The storming of Jerusalem for its own sake could not have formed part of the plan of the tribes, since it belonged to Benjamin. They were led to it by the attack which they suffered from Adoni-bezek. Nor did they take possession of it. They only broke the power of the king thoroughly. He died miserably; his people were put to the sword; the city was consumed by fire (שִׁלַּה בָּאשׁ, to abandon to the flames). Thus the wanton haughtiness of Adoni-bezek was terribly requited.

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