Judges 1:1-3 . THE ACTS OF JUDAH AND SIMEON.
16. the children of the Kenite, Moses' father-in-law, went up out of the city of palm trees with the children of Judah--called "the Kenite," as probably descended from the people of that name ( Numbers 24:21 Numbers 24:22 ). If he might not himself, his posterity did accept the invitation of Moses ( Numbers 10:32 ) to accompany the Israelites to Canaan. Their first encampment was in the "city of palm trees"--not Jericho, of course, which was utterly destroyed, but the surrounding district, perhaps En-gedi, in early times called Hazezon-tamar ( Genesis 14:7 ), from the palm-grove which sheltered it. Thence they removed for some unknown cause, and associating themselves with Judah, joined in an expedition against Arad, in the southern part of Canaan ( Numbers 21:1 ). On the conquest of that district, some of this pastoral people pitched their tents there, while others migrated to the north ( Judges 4:17 ).
17-29. And Judah went with Simeon his brother--The course of the narrative is here resumed from Judges 1:9 , and an account given of Judah returning the services of Simeon ( Judges 1:3 ), by aiding in the prosecution of the war within the neighboring tribes.
slew the Canaanites that inhabited Zephath--or Zephathah ( 2 Chronicles 14:10 ), a valley lying in the southern portion of Canaan.
Hormah--destroyed in fulfilment of an early vow of the Israelites incursions in that quarter, came successively to Gaza, Askelon, and Ekron, which they took. But the Philistines seem soon to have regained possession of these cities.
19. the Lord was with Judah; . . . but they could not drive out the inhabitants of the valley--The war was of the Lord, whose omnipotent aid would have ensured their success in every encounter, whether on the mountains or the plains, with foot soldiers or cavalry. It was distrust, the want of a simple and firm reliance on the promise of God, that made them afraid of the iron chariots
21. the children of Benjamin did not drive out the Jebusites that inhabited Jerusalem--Judah had expelled the people from their part of Jerusalem ( Judges 1:8 ). The border of the two tribes ran through the city--Israelites and natives must have been closely intermingled.
Judges 1:22-26 . SOME CANAANITES LEFT.
22, 23. the house of Joseph--the tribe of Ephraim, as distinguished from Manasseh ( Judges 1:27 ).
24. the spies . . . said, . . . Show us, . . . the entrance into the city--that is, the avenues to the city, and the weakest part of the walls.
we will show thee mercy--The Israelites might employ these means of getting possession of a place which was divinely appropriated to them: they might promise life and rewards to this man, though he and all the Canaanites were doomed to destruction ( Joshua 2:12-14 ); but we may assume the promise was suspended on his embracing the true religion, or quitting the country, as he did. If they had seen him to be firmly opposed to either of these alternatives, they would not have constrained him by promises any more than by threats to betray his countrymen. But if they found him disposed to be serviceable, and to aid the invaders in executing the will of God, they might promise to spare him.
27-36. The same course of subjugation was carried on in the other tribes to a partial extent, and with varying success. Many of the natives, no doubt, during the progress of this exterminating war, saved themselves by flight and became, it is thought, the first colonists in Greece, Italy, and other countries. But a large portion made a stout resistance and retained possession of their old abodes in Canaan. In other cases, when the natives were vanquished, avarice led the Israelites to spare the idolaters, contrary to the express command of God; and their disobedience to His orders in this matter involved them in many troubles which this book describes.