Judges 1:3. Believing Israel is also united Israel. Judah and Simeon go forth together, in faith, as one tribe, one heart, and one soul, to the same victory. So united are children, when in faith they return from their father’s grave [cf. Hom. Hints on Judges 1:1.—Tr.]. The children of God are good brothers and sisters. They do not quarrel over the inheritance,—they enjoy it in love. Believing Israel is a sermon on unity among families, neighbors, citizens, and nations. Union arises not from without, but from within. Penitence and faith bind together. Unio is the name of a pearl, and pearls symbolize tears. Ex unione lux. E luce uniones.
Starke: As all Christians in general, so brothers and sisters in particular, should maintain a good understanding, and live together in peace and unity.
[Henry: It becomes Israelites to help one another against Canaanites; and all Christians, even those of different tribes, to strengthen one another’s hands against the common interests of Satan’s kingdom. Those who thus help one another in love, have reason to hope that God will help them both.
Bachmann: It is not incompatible with the obedience of faith, that Judah makes use of the helps placed by God at his disposal; and it is in accordance with the dictates of fraternal love that he makes that tribe the companion of his undertaking whose lot it was made rather to attach itself to others than to equal their independence (cf. Genesis 49:7, and also the silence of Deuteronomy 33concerning Simeon), and whose interests were peculiarly closely connected with his own.—Tr.]
Judges 1:4-8. Starke: In the lives of men, things are often wonderfully changed about, and not by accident, but by the wonderful governance of God ( Genesis 50:19).
The same: God requites every one according to his deeds. Wherein one sins, therein he is also punished,—evidence that there is a God, and that He is just, recompensing according to deserts.
[Scott: Men often read their crimes in their punishments; and at last every mouth shall be stopped, and all sinners be constrained to admit the justice of God in their extremest miseries. Happy they who justify Him in their temporal afflictions, plead guilty before his mercy-seat, and by repentance and faith seek deliverance from the wrath to come.
Joseph Mede († 1638): As I have done so God hath requited me:1. God punisheth sin with temporal punishment in this life as well as with eternal in the life to come2. God doth not always presently inflict his judgments while the sin is fresh, but sometimes defers that long which He means to give home at the last3. These divine judgments by some conformity or affinity do carry in them as it were a stamp and print of the sin for which they are inflicted4. The profit and pleasure which men aim at when they commit sin will not so much as quit cost even in this life.
Wordsworth: As by this specimen at the beginning of this book, showing what two tribes of Israel could do by faith and obedience against Adoni-bezek, who had subdued and enslaved seventy kings, God showed what the twelve tribes might have done, if they had believed and obeyed him; and that all their subsequent miseries were due to defection from God;—in like manner, also, in the Christian Church, if men had followed the examples of the Apostles,—the Judahs and Simeons of the first ages,—and gone forth in their spirit of faith and love against the powers of darkness, they might long since have evangelized the world. All the distresses of Christendom are ascribable to desertions of [from] Christ, and not to any imperfection (as some have alleged) in Christianity (cf. Bp. Butler, Analogy, Part2. Judges 1).—Tr.]
FN#13 - 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.]
FN#14 - 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.]
FN#15 - 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.]
FN#16 - 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.]
FN#17 - Keil: Simeon is called the “brother” of Judah, not so much because they both descended from one mother, Deah ( Genesis 29:33; Genesis 29:35), as because Simeon’s inheritance lay within that of Judah ( Joshua 19:1 ff.), on account of which Simeon’s connection with Judah was closer than that of the other tribes.—Tr.]
FN#18 - That Judah, nor in fact any of the western tribes, except Ephraim, had not hitherto enjoyed actual possession of any part of his land, is also the view of Bertheau and Ewald. It is strenuously objected to by Bachmann, who maintains that “not only the allotment of the land among the tribes, but also its actual occupation by them, are constantly presupposed in all that this first chapter relates both about the prosecution of the local wars, and the many instances of sinful failure to prosecute them.” And, certainly, such passages as Joshua 23:1; Joshua 24:28, cf. Judges 2:6, appear at least to be decidedly against the view taken by our author. The subject, however, is obscure and intricate, and not to be entered upon in a foot-note.—Tr.]
FN#19 - The name does indeed occur again in 1 Samuel 11:8, where Saul numbers Israel in Bezek. But the very fact that Bezek is there used as a place for mustering troops, shows that it is open country, not any thickly peopled spot. It cannot be maintained that both Bezeks must designate the same region. Similar topographical conditions conferred similar or identical names. Bene-berak [sons of Berak, Joshua 19:45, as to the origin and significance of the name compare the commentary on Judges 1:4-5.—Tr.] was in the tribe of Dan. And so a region west of the Jordan, and east of Shechem, so far at least as we can determine the true direction from the narrative [in Sam. Judges 11:8], seems also to have borne the name Bezek.
FN#20 - According to the interchange of r and s as in חָזוֹן and חָרוֹן ( Ezekiel 1:14), quaero and quaeso, etc. In Ezekiel 1:14bezek (bazak) denotes a dazzling radiance. Barak, lightning, became a proper name. In the regions of Barca (the desert) the name Barcas (Hamilcar) was familiar enough.
FN#21 - “The glitter of the (gravel) surface in the sunshine, if not a little trying to the eyes.”—Strauss, Sinai und Golgotha, iii1, 133.
FN#22 - Cf. my Ortsnamen (Erfurt, 1856), i118.
FN#23 - Cf. Bohlen, Altes Indien, ii248.
FN#24 - Bezek is generally regarded as the name of a city or village. The majority of scholars (Le Clerc, Rosenmüller, Reland, V. Raumer, Bachmann, etc.) look for it in the territory of Judah, but without being able to discover any traces of it, which is certainly remarkable; for, if a city, it must have been, as Dr. Cassel remarks, and as the usual interpretation of Adoni-bezek as King of Bezek implies, a place of some importance. Others, therefore (as Bertheau, Keil, Ewald, etc.), connect this Bezek with that of 1 Samuel 11:8, and both with the following statement in the Onomasticon: “hodie duae villae sunt nomine Bezech, vicinae sibi, in decimo septimo lapide a Neapoli, descendentibus Scythopolin.” Then to account for this northern position of the armies of Judah and Simeon, Bertheau supposes them to set out from Shechem (cf. Joshua 24:1, etc.), and to make a detour thence to the northeast, either for the purpose of descending to the south by way of the Jordan valley, or for some other reason; while Keil, without naming any place of departure, suggests that Judah and Simeon may have been compelled, before engaging the Canaanites in their own allotments, to meet those coming down upon them from the north, whom after defeating, they then pursued as far as Bezek. Dr. Cassel’s explanation is attractive as well as ingenious; but, to say nothing about the uncertainty of its etymology, Bezek, as an appellative applied to a definite region, would, as Bachmann remarks, require the article, cf. הַכּכָּר,הַשְּׁפֵלָה,הַנֶּוֶב.—Tr.]
FN#25 - Hence, on the other hand, the severe punishment which the ancient popular laws adjudged to him who unjustly cuts off another’s thumb. The fine was almost as high as for the whole hand. The Salic law rated the hand at2,500, the thumb of hand or foot at2,000 denarii, “qui faciunt solidos quinquaginta” (Lex Salica, xxix3, ed. Merkel, p16).
FN#26 - Kitto (Daily Bible Illustrations: Moses and the Judges, p299): “This helps us to some insight of the state of the country under the native princes, whom the Israelites were commissioned to expel. Conceive what must have been the state of the people among whom such a scene could exist,—what wars had been waged, what cruel ravages committed, before these seventy kings—however small their territories—became reduced to this condition; and behold in this a specimen of the fashion in which war was conducted, and of the treatment to which the conquered were exposed. Those are certainly very much in the wrong who picture to themselves the Canaanites as ‘a happy family,’ disturbed in their peaceful homes by the Hebrew barbarians from the wilder ness. Behold how happy, behold how peaceful, they were!”—Tr.]
FN#27 - Elohim, which is also used of the heathen deity. The speaker speaks in the spirit of heathenism. As regards the seventy kings, it needs no argument to show that מִלֶךְ like the Greek τύραννος, is applied to any ruler, even of a single city. Josephus (Ant., v2, 2) read seventy-two, which especially in his time, was interchangeable as a round number with seventy.
FN#28 - In the Gesta Romanorum, ch. xlviii, this is still adduced as a warning, and with an allusion to the passage in Ovid, De Arte Amandi, i653 [Et Phaleris tauro violenti membra Perilli torruit. Infelix imbuit auctor opus.—Tr.] it is remarked: “neque enim lex œquior ulla, quam necis artifices arte perire sua.”
FN#29 - Since it is Adoni-bezek who speaks in Judges 1:7, the word וַיְבִיאֻהוּ in the same verse cannot refer to the Israelites. Why should they carry him with them? It would indicate the gratification of gratuitous cruelty, a thing inconceivable in this connection. Those who save him are his own servants; but arrived at Jerusalem he dies. Verse8, therefore, commences very properly, not with the mere verb וַיִּלָּחֲמוּ, but with a repetition of the grammatical subject: בְּנֵי יְהוּדָה.
The sons of Judah smite the Anakim and take Hebron
9And afterward [Hereupon] the children [sons] of Judah went down [proceeded] to fight against the Canaanites that dwelt in the mountain [mountains], and in the south, and in the valley [lit. depression, low country]. 10And Judah went against the Canaanites that dwelt in Hebron: (now the name of Hebron before [formerly] was Kirjath-arba [The Four Cities[FN30]]:) and they slew [smote] Sheshai, and Ahiman, and Talmai.
TEXTUAL AND GRAMMATICAL
1 Judges 1:10. This is the nearest we can come in English to Dr. Cassel’s Vierstadt, Tetrapolis. Against the common Interpretation, “City of Arba,”—Arba being taken as the name of a person,—cf. Mr. Grove in Smith’s Bib. Dict., s. v Kirjath-arba.—Tr.]
EXEGETICAL AND DOCTRINAL
Judges 1:9 f.. Hereupon the sons of Judah proceeded. They advanced, proceeded, ירְדוּ. While עָלָה, ‘ ‘ascendere,” was used to express the first attack ( Judges 1:4), the continuation of the conflict is indicated by יָרַד, “descendere,” although they advance mountain-ward. Verse9 sets forth the full extent of the task undertaken by the tribes. Before advancing into the territory allotted them, they have been obliged to resist the attack of Adoni-bezek at its border. They divide their work proper into the conquest of the mountains, the occupancy of the southern tract from the Dead Sea to Beer-sheba, and the seizure of the western lowlands. Details of these undertakings are given us only so far as they concern Caleb and his house. Hence, the conquest of Hebron is first of all related. About this ancient city,[FN31] where Abraham tarried, and the patriarchs repose in the family-vault, the recollections of the tribe of Judah concentrate themselves. It was of old the dwelling-place of valiant people. The robust vine-dressers of the valley, ages before, supported Abraham in his victorious expedition against the eastern hosts. But on the mountains there dwelt a wild and warlike race, the sons of Anak, before whom the faint-hearted spies of Moses formerly trembled. Only Caleb and Joshua were full of confidence in God. On this account, Caleb received the special assurance of Moses that he should possess the land which he had seen; and therefore at the division of the country by Joshua, he brings forward his claim to it ( Joshua 14:12). Joshua allows it. It is no lightly-gained inheritance that Caleb asks: “Therefore give me (he says) this mountain, whereof the Lord spake in that day; for thou hast heard that there are Anakim there, and cities great and fenced; perhaps the Lord will be with me that I drive them out” ( Joshua 14:12). Now, although the conquest of the city, and the expulsion of the Anakim, are already recorded in Joshua 15:14, that is only an anticipatory historical notice in connection with the description of boundaries. The events actually occur now, in connection with the first efforts to gain permanent possession of the territory. Caleb, it is true, is old; but younger heroes surround him. They defeated the Anakim.
Judges 1:10. Hebron, formerly called the Four Cities (Kirjath-arba). It is difficult to see why modern expositors[FN32] take offense at the idea that in Hebron an earlier Tetrapolis is to be recognized. The remark, Joshua 14:15 : “And the name of Hebron was formerly Kirjath-arba, בָעֲנָקים הוּא הָאָדָם הַגָּדוֹל,” cannot furnish the ground; for אָדָם is here a collective term, like gens, as appears indubitably from Joshua 15:13, where we have the expression, “Kirjath-arba, the father of Anak (אֲבִי הָעֲנָק) which is Hebron.” The Tetrapolis was the ancient seat of powerful tribes, whom the traditions of Israel described as giants. Similar tetrapolitan cities are elsewhere met with. The Indians had a Káturgrâma, the Four Villages (Lassen, Ind. Alterth., i72). In Phrygia, Cibyra and three other places formed a Tetrapolis (Strabo, lib. xiii1, 17). I am inclined to find in the name Cibyra the same idea as in the Arabic Cheibar[FN33] and the Hebrew Chebron (Hebron), namely, that of confederation, community of interest. It is a suggestive fact that Abraham’s expedition is joined by the brothers Eshcol, Aner, and Mamre ( Genesis 14:13); concerning Mamre it is remarked, “the same is Hebron” ( Genesis 23:19). The Upper City (Acropolis), situated upon the mountains, and the lower cities lying in the fertile valley which these mountains inclose, together constituted the Tetrapolis. At the present day the city in the valley is still divided into three parts.[FN34] Three sons of Anak are enumerated, manifestly three tribes, probably named after ancient heroes, which tribes coalesced with the mountain city.[FN35] As late as the time of David, the phraseology Isaiah, that he dwelt in “the cities of Hebron” ( 2 Samuel 2:3). Probably the name Hebron was originally given to the mountain[FN36] (the הַר which Caleb claims, Joshua 14:12), as forming the common defense, and was then after the suppression of the Anakim, transferred to the whole city. The names of the three families of Anakim do not admit of any certain interpretation. אָחִימַן might with most probability be interpreted after the analogy of Achijah (Ahijah or Ahiah), “Friend of God.” מַן, מְנִי, is the heathen deity ( Isaiah 65:11), who also occurs in Phœnician inscriptions, in proper names like עברמני, “servant of Meni.” The name שֵׁשַׁי, “Sheshai,” reminds one of the Egyptian king שִׁישׁק, Shishak, Sechonchis, who made war on Rehoboam ( 1 Kings 14:25). The name שֵׁשְׁבּצַּר (“Sheshbazzar,” Ezra 1:8) may also be compared. The third name, Talmai, leaves it doubtful whether it is to be taken primarily as the name of a place or of a person. Stephanus Byzantinus speaks of an Arabic place which he calls Castle Θελαμο͂υζα. It is possible, however, that analogous mythical ideas come into contact with each other, in the Greek legend concerning Salmoneus,[FN37] father of Tyro, and husband of Sidero. Hesiod already (in a Fragment, ed. Göttling. p259) calls him an ἄδικος καὶ ν̔πέρθυμος. Josephus (Ant. v2, 3) says that the Anakim were a race of giants, “whose bones are still shown to this very day.” What stories were current about the discovery of gigantic human remains in Asia Minor and Syria, may be learned from the Heroica of Philostratus (ed. Jacobs, p28). A body of gigantic length was found in the bed of the Orontes. It was thought also that the bodies of Orestes and Ajax had been seen. The faint-hearted spies had depicted the Anakim as Nephilim, men like the prehistoric Nibelungen of German story; and from this Josephus constructed his giant-tale.
Joshua 15:14 remarks, “And Caleb drove thence the three sons of Anak.” A contradiction has been found therein with what we read here, “And they smote.” None really exists. The narrative is actually more exact than is generally supposed. The statement of Joshua 15:14 refers to Judges 1:20. The tribe of Judah had now indeed taken Hebron, and conquered the Anakim; but for peaceable possession the time had not yet come. Accompanied by Simeon, Judah proceeded onward to gain possession of the whole territory. At Judges 1:19 the whole campaign is finished. Then they give Hebron to Caleb, and he drives out whatever remains of the Anakim. It was not with three per sons, but with three tribes or nations, that they had to do.
FN#30 - Judges 1:10. This is the nearest we can come in English to Dr. Cassel’s Vierstadt, Tetrapolis. Against the common Interpretation, “City of Arba,”—Arba being taken as the name of a person,—cf. Mr. Grove in Smith’s Bib. Dict., s. v Kirjath-arba.—Tr.]
FN#31 - Hebron is said to be seven years older than Zoan (Tanis) in Egypt ( Numbers 13:22). The number “seven” is here also to be regarded as a round number. It expresses the finished lapse of a long period.
FN#32 - Ritter’s remarks (xvi211 [Gage’s Trans]. iii292, seq.]), would admit of many corrections. Jerome, it is true, follows Jewish traditions (cf. Pirke, R. Eliezer, ch. xx.) when he thinks that the Civitas Quatuor was so named from the patriarchs who were buried there. It Isaiah, however, none the less evident from this, that the Jews of old interpreted Kirjath-arba as meaning “Tetrapolis.” Nor does Numbers 13:22 afford the slightest occasion for doubting the truth of the statement that Kirjath-arba was the former name of Hebron. Ritter seems especially to have followed Robinson (Bibl. Res. ii88.)
FN#33 - Cf. my History of the Jews, in Ersch and Gruber’s Encyklopadie, ii27, p166.
FN#34 - Robinson, Bibl. Res., ii74.
FN#35 - In a manner analogous perhaps to the fusion of the Ramnes, Tities, and Luceres, into the one Roma of the Ramnes.
FN#36 - Ritter (xvi228 [Gage’s Transl. iii301]) proves that the ancient Hebron lay higher than the present, which however can refer only to a part of the city. The great importance of the place is explained by its protected situation in the mountains, along whose slopes it extended down into the valley. That fact only adapted it to be the capital of David’s kingdom. Cf. Joshua 11:21 (מִן הָהָר).
FN#37 - Cf. Heyne on Apollodorus, i9, p59. The later Jews write תַּלְמָי for Ptolemy. Cf. Ewald, Gesch. Israel’s, i309, 311.
11And from thence he [i.e. Judah] went against the inhabitants of Debir: and the name of Debir before was Kirjath-sepher: 12And Caleb said, He that smiteth Kirjath-sepher, and taketh it, to him will I give Achsah my daughter to wife 13 And Othniel the son of Kenaz, Caleb’s younger brother, took it: and he gave him Achsah his daughter to wife 14 And it came to pass, when she came to him [at her coming; scil. to her husband’s house], that she moved [urged] him to ask of her father a [the] field: and she lighted from off her ass; and Caleb said unto her, What wilt thou [what is the matter with thee]? 15And she said unto him, Give me a blessing: for thou hast given me a south land [hast given me away into a dry land[FN38]]; give me also [therefore] springs of water. And Caleb gave her the upper springs, and the nether springs.
TEXTUAL AND GRAMMATICAL
1 Judges 1:15.—כִּי אֶרֶץ הַנֶּגֶב נְתַתָּני: Dr. Cassel’s rendering agrees substantially with that of the LXX. and many modern critics. Bertheau says: “אֶרֶץ הַנֶּגֶב is the accusative of place. It would be difficult to justify the other and usual rendering grammatically, since נָתַן with the accus. suffix, never, not even Jeremiah 9:1, Isaiah 27:4, means to give anything to one.” Bachmann, however, objects that “נָתַן does not occur of the giving of daughters in marriage, and that the absence of a preposition, say אֶל, before אֶרֶץ would make a hard construction. The suffix נִי is either a negligent form of popular speech, substituted for לִי (cf. Ewald, Ausf. Lehrb. 315 b), or, better, a second accus, such as is quite common with verbs of giving, favoring, etc. (cf. Ewald, 283 b), and from which rule נָתַן is not to be excepted, cf. Ezekiel 21:32.”—Tr.]
EXEGETICAL AND DOCTRINAL
Judges 1:11. And he went against Debir. The position of Debir, hitherto unknown, was recognized not long since by Dr. Rosen, on the hill-top called Dewirbân, near the spring Ain Nunkur, in a southwestern direction from Hebron, between that place and Dura (Zeitschr. der Morgenl Gesellschaft, 1857, ii50–64).
The name of Debir was formerly Kirjath-sepher. In my Ortsnamen (i116, note), I already endeavored to show that Debir, Kirjath-sepher, and Kirjath-sannah (סַנָּה, Joshua 15:49) philologically express one and the same idea. Fürst well remarks (Lex. s. v. דְּבִיר) that “דִכְרְ is the Phœnician equivalent of the Hebrew סֵפֶר, a material prepared from the skins of animals, and of the Himyaritic for a book written on palm-leaves.” From the latter, he says, the Greek διφθέρα was formed, and thus the word passed over to the Greeks and Persians. There is no reason to doubt that the name describes the city as a depository of written traditions, book-rolls. Kirjath-sepher[FN39]was a Palestinian Hermopolis, city of Thoth, where literature had its seat (cf. Plutarch, De Isid., ed. Parthey, p4; the Sept. translates, πόλις τῶν γραμμάτων). Such depositories, where the sacred writings were kept ἐν κίστῃ), in a chest (Plut. l. c.), for preservation, were common to the religion of the Egyptians, Phœnicians, and Babylonians. To this place, that which sheltered the sacred ark of Israel’s divine law opposed itself. It was therefore of much consequence to conquer it, as on the other hand its inhabitants valiantly defended it. The different names testify of the different dialects of the tribes who have held Debir.
Judges 1:12. And Caleb said, He that smiteth Kirjath-sepher. Caleb is the chief of the tribe of Judah. Hebron has fallen to him as his inheritance, but it does not circumscribe his eager interest. “Caleb said.” His personal zeal is the more prominently indicated, because displayed in a matter which involved the general cause, the honor of the whole tribe. At the conquest of Hebron, the phrase was, “and they smote;” at the next battle, fought for Debir, it Isaiah, “Caleb said.” As the whole tribe assisted in gaining his personal inheritance, so for the honor of the tribe he devotes that which was wholly his, and his alone. He offers the dearest possession he has, as a prize for him who shall storm and take the strong mountain fortress and seat of idolatry. It is his only daughter (cf. 1 Chronicles 2:49) Achsah, born to him in advancing years. He can offer nothing better. Stronger proof of his zeal for the cause of Israel he cannot give. To obtain the daughter of a house by meritorious actions has in all ages been a worthy object of ambition set before young and active men. It was only by a warlike exploit that David obtained Michal who loved him. The Messenian hero Aristomenes bestows a similar reward. When a country maiden rescued him, with heroic daring, from danger involving his life, he gave her his son for a husband (Paus. iv19). The conquest of Debir is therefore especially mentioned to the honor of Caleb and his love for Israel. The event was a glorious incident in the hero’s family history.
Judges 1:13. And Othniel, the son of Kenaz, a younger brother of Caleb, took it. Israel, the nation, was divided into tribes, these into families, these into “houses,” and these again into single households. This may be clearly seen from the story of Achan ( Joshua 7:14 ff.). Achan was of the tribe of Judah, the family of Zerah, the house of Zabdi, and the son of Carmi. So Caleb was the son of Jephunneh, of the house of Kenaz; whence, Numbers 32:12, he is called the Kenezite. Bertheau (pp21, 22) labors under a peculiar error, in that he confounds the family of the Kenezite in the tribe of Judah with the hostile people of the same name mentioned Genesis 15:19. It is true, Lengerke (Kenaan, p204) and others preceded him in this; Ritter also (Erdkunde, xv138 [Gage’s Transl. ii146]) has allowed himself to be misled by it. But a consideration of the important relations in which Caleb stands to the people of God, would alone have authorized the presumption that he could have no connection with a people that was to be driven out before Israel. In addition to this, notice should have been taken of the isolated position of the Kenites, continuing down to a late period; for notwithstanding the peaceful conduct of this people, and their attachment to Israel, their historical derivation from the father-in-law of Moses is never forgotten. The adoption of the celebrated hero into the tribe of Judah must at all events have been explained. But there is absolutely no foundation for any such assumption as that in question. The similarity of names affords so much the less occasion, since the same names were frequently borne by heathen and Israelites, and also by families in the different tribes of Israel. One Edomite is named Kenaz, like the ancestor of Caleb; another Saul, like the king of Israel; a third Elah, like a man of Benjamin ( Genesis 36:41; 1 Kings 4:18). There is an alien tribe named חוֹרִי; but no one imagines that Israelites of the name חוּר are to be reckoned to it. The name of the king of Lachish whom Joshua defeated, was Japhia, exactly like that of a son of David ( 2 Samuel 5:15). Hezron and Carmi, both families of Reuben, are such also in the tribe of Judah. The name Jephunneh is borne also by a man of the tribe of Asher ( 1 Chronicles 7:38). To this must be added that the Book of Chronicles traces the family of Caleb more in detail, and places them as relatives alongside of Nahshon, the progenitor of David ( 1 Chronicles 2:9seq.). Caleb is the son of Jephunneh, of the house of Kenaz. Othniel is his brother. That the latter is not designated “son of Jephunneh,” is because he is sufficiently distinguished by means of his more illustrious brother. That he is styled “son of Kenaz,” is to intimate that he is full brother to the son of Jephunneh, belonging to the same stock; not, as might be, the son of Caleb’s mother, by a husband from some other family. He is so much younger than Caleb, that the latter may be regarded as his second father, who had watched over him from youth up. Why we are here, where the narrative is so personal in its character, to think only of genealogical, not of physical relationships, as Bertheau supposes, it is difficult to perceive. Just here, this would destroy, not merely the historical truth, but also the æsthetic character, of the narrative.[FN40]
Judges 1:14. And it came to pass at her coming. Othniel had conquered the stronghold,—the victory was his, and Caleb gave him his daughter. The narrator forthwith adds an incident that marked the peaceful entrance of the young wife into the house of her husband, and afforded an interesting glimpse of her character. Caleb, the head of the tribe, was rich; to him, and to him alone, the fine fields and estates about Hebron had been given. Only Caleb, the son of Jephunneh, had received them, not the whole family ( Joshua 21:12). Othniel was poor. In the character of a poor, younger Song of Solomon, he had achieved heroic deeds. Not he thinks of goods and possessions; but so much the more does the young Achsah, who has been accustomed to wealth. Such is the course of the world. They are on their way to Hebron, a way which leads through fertile, well-watered fields. Their journey is a beautiful triumphal procession, over which the aged father rejoices. Achsah urges (וַתְּסִיתֵהוּ from סוּת) her husband to seize the opportunity, and petition her father for the noble field through which they are passing.[FN41] He does it not. He deems it an act unworthy of himself. She, however, like a true woman, too sagacious to lose the proper moment, proceeds herself ingeniously to call her father’s attention to the fact that she desires not merely honor, but also property. She slides from her ass—suddenly, as if she fell (וַתִּצִנח)—so that her father asks, “What is the matter with thee?” Her answer has a double sense: “Thou gavest me away into a dry land, give me also springs.” O give me a blessing! אֶרֶץ הַנּגֶב (“land of the south”) is land destitute of water. No greater blessing there than springs. They make the parched field flourishing and productive (cf. Psalm 126:4). Now, just as springs are a sign of abundance and wealth, so negeb is a symbol of indigence and want. Thou gavest me away, says Achsah, in words full of concealed meaning, into a dry land—to a poor husband; give me also springs to enrich the land—my husband. Caleb understood and gave, the more liberally, no doubt, for the ingenious manner in which she asked. He gave her the upper and lower springs. בֻּלּת̇, for springs, occurs only in this passage. It is obviously not to be derived from גָּלַל, in the sense of rolling, turning,—from which comes בֻּלָּה, “pitcher,” so named on account of its round form,—but is connected with old roots expressive, like the Sanskr. gala, “water,” of welling, bubbling (cf. Dieffenbach, Wörterb. der Goth. Sprache, i183). What springs they were which Othniel received, it is difficult to say. Were they those which Robinson found on the way to Hebron, within an hour’s distance! Le Clerc wonders why this family history is here related. Most certainly not without intending to make the zeal of Caleb, the unselfishness of Othniel, and the prudence of Achsah, points of instruction. The Jewish exegesis, reproduced by Raschi, is essentially right, when it explains that Othniel was poor in everything but the law, in everything, that Isaiah, but piety and solidity of character.[FN42] History and tradition present many another pair like Othniel and Achsah. The thing to be especially noted, however, is the firmness of Othniel in resisting his wife’s enticement to make requests which it is more becoming in her to make. Not many men have so well withstood the ambitious and eagerly craving projects of their wives.