Page images
PDF
EPUB

THE BOOK

OF

J U D G E S.

CHAPTER I.

der my table : as I have done, so God hath 1 The acts of Judah and Simeon. 4 Adoni-bezek requited me. And they brought him to justly requited. 8 Jerusalem taken. 10 Hebron Jerusalem, and there he died. taken. in Othniel hath Achsah to wife for taking

8 Now the children of Judah had fought of Debir. 16 The Kenites dwell in Judah. 17 against Jerusalem, and had taken it, and Hormah, Gaza, Askelon and Ekron taken. 21

smitten it with the edge of the sword, and The acts of Benjamin. 22 Of the house of Joseph, who take Beth-el. 30 Of Zebulun, 31 Of

set the city on fire. Asker. 33 Of Naphtali. 34 Of Dan.

9 And afterward the children of Judah went down to fight against the Ca

naanites, that dwelt in the mountain, and O W after the in the south, and in the 'valley. death of Joshua 10 And Judah went against the Canaanit came to pass, ites that dwelt in Hebron : (now the name that the chilof Hebron before was 'Kirjath-arba :) and dren of Israel they slew Sheshai, and Ahiman, and Talmai. asked the LORD, tl And from thence he went against the saying,

inhabitants of Debir: and the name of Debir Who shall go up before was Kirjath-sepher: for us against

12 And Caleb said, He that smiteth Kirthe Canaanites jath-sepher, and taketh it, to him will I give first, to fight Achsah my daughter to wife. against them? 13 And Othniel the son of Kenaz, Caleb's

2 And the younger brother, took it: and he gave him LORD said, Ju-Achsah his daughter to wife.

14 And it came to pass, when she came behold, I have delivered the land into his to him, that she moved him to ask of her hand.

father a field : and she lighted from off her 3 And Judah said unto Simeon his bro- ass; and Caleb said unto her, What wilt ther, Come up with me into my lot, that we thou ? may fight against the Canaanites; and I 15 And she said unto him, Give me a likewise will go with thee into thy lot. So blessing: for thou hast given me a south Simeon went with him.

land; give me also springs of water. And 4 And Judah went up; and the LORD Caleb gave her the upper springs and the delivered the Canaanites and the Perizzites nether springs. into their hand : and they slew of them in 16 And the children of the Kenite, Bezek ten thousand men.

Moses” father in law, went up out of the 5 And they found Adoni-bezek in Bezek: city of palm trees with the children of Juand they fought against him, and they slew dah into the wilderness of Judah, which the Canaanites and the Perizzites.

lieth in the south of Arad; and they went 6 But Adoni-bezek fled; and they pur- and dwelt among the people. sued after him, and caught him, and cut off 17 And Judah went with Simeon his his thumbs and his great toes.

brother, and they slew the Canaanites that 7 And Adoni-bezek said, Threescore and inhabited Zephath, and utterly destroyed ten kings, having 'their thumbs and their it. And the name of the city was called great toes cut off, 'gathered their meat un- | 'Hormah.

[graphic]

dah shall go up:

1 Heb. the thumbs of their hands and of their feel.

? Or, gleaned. 5 Josh. 15. 13.

a Josh. 10. 36, and 11. 21, and 15. 13. 6 Num, 21. 3.

4 Or, low country.

18 Also Judah took Gaza with the coast bitants of Ibleam and her towns, nor the thereof, and Askelon with the coast thereof, inhabitants of Megiddo and her towns: but and Ekron with the coast thereof.

the Canaanites would dwell in that land. 19 And the LORD was with Judah ; and 28 And it came to pass, when Israel was "he drave out the inhabitants of the moun- strong, that they put the Canaanites to tritain ; but could not drive out the inhabitants bute, and did not utterly drive them out. of the valley, because they had chariots of iron. 29 Neither did Ephraim drive out

20 And they gave Hebron unto Caleb, the Canaanites that dwelt in Gezer; but as Moses said : and he expelled thence the the Canaanites dwelt in Gezer among them. three sons of Anak.

30 | Neither did Zebulun drive out the 21 And the children of Benjamin did not inhabitants of Kitron, nor the inhabitants of drive out the Jebusites that inhabited Jeru- Nahalol; but the Canaanites dwelt among salem; but the Jebusites dwell with the them, and became tributaries. children of Benjamin in Jerusalem unto this 31 Neither did Asher drive out the day.

inhabitants of Accho, nor the inhabitants of 22 | And the house of Joseph, they also Zidon, nor of Ahlab, nor of Achzib, nor of went up against Beth-el: and the LORD was Helbah, nor of Aphik, nor of Rehob: with them.

32 But the Asherites dwelt among the 23 And the house of Joseph sent to Canaanites, the inhabitants of the land : for descry Beth-el. (Now the name of the city they did not drive them out. before was 'Luz.)

33 | Neither did Naphtali drive out the 24 And the spies saw a man come forth inhabitants of Beth-shemesh, nor the inha. out of the city, and they said unto him, bitants of Beth-anath; but he dwelt among Shew us, we pray thee, the entrance into the Canaanites, the inhabitants of the land: the city, and we will shew thee mercy.

nevertheless the inhabitants of Beth-she25 And when he shewed them the en- mesh and of Beth-anath became tributaries trance into the city, they smote the city with unto them. the edge of the sword; but they let go the 34 And the Amorites forced the children man and all his family.

of Dan into the mountain: for they would 26 And the man went into the land of not suffer them to come down to the valley: the Hittites, and built a city, and called the 35 But the Amorites would dwell in name thereof Luz: which is the name there- mount Heres in Aijalon, and in Shaalbim : of unto this day.

yet the hand of the house of Joseph "pre27 "Neither did Manasseh drive out vailed, so that they became tributaries. the inhabitants of Beth-shean and her towns, 36 And the coast of the Amorites was nor Taanach and her towns, nor the inha. from "the going up to Akrabbim, from the bitants of Dor and her towns, nor the inha- rock, and upward. 7 Or, he possessed the mountain. 8 Num. 14. 24. Josh. 14. 13, and 15. 13.

11 Josh. 17.11,12. 13 Heb. was heavy. 14 Or, Maaleh-akralbim. Judges. The name of this book is taken from the title of the functionaries whose actions and administration it principally relates. This name is OUDWU, shophetim, plural of Wow, shophet, a judge. This word designates the ordinary magistrates, properly called judges ; and is here also applied to the chief rulers, perhaps because ruling and judging are so intimately connected in the east, that sitting in judgment is one of the principal employments of an Oriental monarch (see Gesenius in Ww). It is remarkable that the Carthaginians, who were descended from the Tyrians, and spoke Hebrew, called their chief magistrates by the same name: but the Latins, who had no such sh, as the Hebrews and Carthaginians had, and as we and the Germans have, wrote the word with a sharp s, and, adding a Latin termination, denominated them Suffetes. These functionaries are compared to the Roman consuls, and appear in office as well as name, to have borne considerable resemblance to the Hebrew shophetim, “judges." For some observations on the Hebrew judges," and the nature of their administration, see the note on chap. ii. 16.

The book is easily divisible into two parts ; one, ending with chap. xvi., contains the history of the Judges, from Othniel to Samson ; and the other, which occupies the rest of the book, forms a sort of appendix, relating particular transactions, which, not to interrupt the regular history, the author seems to have reserved for the end. If these transactions had been placed in order of time, we should probably have found them in a much earlier portion of the work, as the incidents related seem to have occurred not long after the death of Joshua.

The author of the book is unknown. Some ascribe it to Samuel, some to Hezekiah, and others to Ezra. The reason which has principally influenced the last determination of the authorship is found in chap. xviii. 30:4" He and his son were priests to the tribe of Dan until the day of the captivity of the land.” But this may have referred to the captivity of the ark among the Philistines, or to some particular captivity of the tribe of Dan, or rather of that part of the tribe settled in the north ; or the reference may have been to both circumstances. It is also possible that the clause, “ until the day of the captivity of the land,” may actually have been added after the captivity. That the book itself was not then written is evident from the absence of Chaldee words, which so often occur in the books which we know to have been posterior to that event. Most of the Jewish and Christian commentators assign the authorship to Samuel ; probably because internal evidence places it pretty clearly about his time, and in his time he is the most

Gen. 28. 19.

10 Josh, 2. 14.

12 Josh, 16. 10.

likely person to whom the authorship could be attributed. That it was written after the establishment of the monarchical government, appears from the habit which the author has of saying that the event he is relating happened in the time when “there was no king in Israel ;" which renders it evident that there was a king when he wrote. But that it was written very soon after the establishment of kingly government is no less clear from other passages. Thus we see, from chap. i. 21, that the Jebusites were still in Jerusalem in the time of the author; but this ceased to be the case in the time of David, by whom they were expelled from that city. (2 Sam. v. 6.) So also, in 2 Sam. xi. 21, there is a distinct and precise reference to a fact recorded in Judges ix. 53, which seems another proof that this book was written before the second book of Samuel : but this does not appear to be of a conclusive nature; as the fact may have been known to David, even had the book of Judges not been then written. Upon the whole, there is little question that the book was composed, in its present form, either in the reign of Saul, or during the first seven years of the reign of David: and this renders it more probable that it was compiled, from the public registers and records, by Samuel, than by any of the other prophets, priests, or kings, to whom it is assigned.

The chronology of this book is attended with much difficulty, and is stated by various chronologers with very serious difference. This chiefly arises from the period of servitudes, being by some counted as part of the years of the judges, while others count them separately; and also from judges being thought by some to have been successive, whom others consider to have been contemporary in different parts of Palestine. There are some also who prolong the account by supposing several anarchies or interregnums, the duration of which the history does not mention. The result of Dr. Hales's elaborate investigations gives 498 years (B.c. 1608 to s.c. 1110) from the passage of the Jordan to the election of Saul; and 400 years (v.c. 1582 to 1182) from the death of Joshua to the death of Samson, which is the period more particularly comprehended in the present book. The period is, however, frequently stated as little exceeding 300 years.

Verse 6. “ Cut off his thumbs and his great toes.”—The Hebrews were no doubt aware of the manner in which Adonibezek had treated the captive kings, as mentioned by himself in the next verse ; and this was probably their inducement to treat him as they did. As Adoni-bezek acknowledges the justice of the transaction, we are bound to admit its retributive character, and to throw on him all that is savage and cruel in it. As we shall hereafter have occasion to advert to the general treatment of captive kings and commanders in ancient warfare, we now confine our. selves to the particular treatment here mentioned, the singularity of which, and its uniform infliction by Adoni-bezek on his captives, leads us to suppose that there was some ulterior object beyond mere gratuitous cruelty. Was it to disable them from acting in future in a warlike capacity ? In the hands of a man without thumbs, few of the weapons of antiquity could be very effective; and the want of the great toes would be a check upon agility in flight or action. Accordingly, we read of many instances of similar mutilation in ancient history. Thus the Athenians cut off the thumb of the right hand of the inhabitants of the island of Ægina, to preclude them from managing the spear, and of disputing with themselves the empire of the sea. The disabling effect of such a mutilation in a military point of view, appears also from the practice, among those Romans who disliked a military life, of cutting off their own thumbs, that they might render themselves incapable of serving in the army. Parents were known thus to disable their children for the same reason. This became so common a practice at last, that the senate and the emperors found it necessary to punish the act severely, as a crime. Even at this day, in some of those continental states where the army is recruited by a compulsory conscription, men are occasionally known to cut off the thumb of the right hand, to prevent their being called to a service they dislike ; and even soldiers in the army do the same, to ensure their discharge. It has therefore been necessary to render such an act a punishable offence. A trace of this practice exists in the word Poltron, which we and the French have adopted from the Italian, which, while it immediately denotes, as with us, a dastardly soldier who shrinks from his duty, etymologically signifies “ Cut-thumb," being formed from póllice, “ thumb,” and trúnco, “cut off, maimed.”

As to the loss of the great toes, independently of the inconvenience occasioned in the act of walking or running, the disabling effect to an Oriental is infinitely greater than to an European. The feet and toes are much employed in almost all handicraft operations throughout the East, and in many cases the loss of the great toes would completely disqualify a man from earning his subsistence. Besides the many little active operations which they are tutored to execute, the artisans, as they work with their hands, seated on the ground, hold fast and manage all their work with their feet and toes, in which the great toes have a very prominent duty to perform. Ward, in his • View of the Hindoos,' has fully shown to what excellent uses the toes are applied in India. They are second-hand fingers ; they are called the feet-fingers in Bengalee. In his own house, a Hindoo makes use of them to fasten the clog to his feet by means of a button, which slips between the two middle toes. The tailor, if he does not thread his needle, certainly twists his thread with them. The cook holds his knife with his toes, while he cuts fish, vegetables, &c. The joiner, the weaver, &c., could not do without them; and almost every native has twenty different uses for his toes."

7. Threescore and len kings.”—This extraordinary number of kings will not surprise the attentive reader of Scripture, or of ancient history in general. The sacred history concurs with the profane in showing that the earliest sovereignties were of exceedingly confined extent, often consisting of no more than a single town, with a small surrounding district. In the time of Abraham there were not fewer than five kings in the vale of Sodom; that is, a king to every city that is mentioned: and in Joshua xii. there is a list of thirty-one kings, whom the hero of that name overthrew in the small country of Canaan; and now we come to a conqueror who, probably within the bounds of no very extensive territory, had overcome no less than seventy kings. Small states of this sort have existed in the early period of almost every nation, and their history has been everywhere the same. One or more of these states acquired, in the course of time, such predominance as enabled it to absorb the others gradually into its own body; or else foreign invaders conquered the several states in detail, and formed them into one kingdom. This has been the usual process by which large states were originally formed, wherever we find them existing. Egypt itself was at first divided into several states; and the Pharaoh of Moses was probably no more than the monarch of one of these states. So, in China and Japan, the several provinces into which we see those nations divided, were anciently so many independent sovereignties. "It was the same in ancient Greece ; and, in reading the Iliad of Homer, the modern reader is astonished at the vast number of kings sent by Greece and its islands to the Trojan war; which renders it evident that this small region was at least not inferior to Canaan in the number of the little royalties into which it was divided. But we need not go out of our own country for examples. We may conceive the number of kingdoms into which this island was divided, from the fact, mentioned by Cæsar, that there were four kings in the single county of Kent. The Silures, the Brigantes, and other small tribes, among whom the country was portioned, had each their own king. The Saxons did things on a large scale when they divided the country into so few as seven kingdoms. In the time of the Romans, Gaul, Spain, and Germany were, in like manner, cut up into a countless number of small states and kingdors. lu more modern times, and even in our own, we see a similar state of things subsisting in Africa, America, and part of Asia, where we encounter a great number of sovereigns, or independent states, in a small extent of country; each canton having its own king.

18. “ Judah took Gaza... Askelon... Ekron."— These towns, however, must soon have been recovered by the Philistines. This is the only place from which we could gather that Judah ever did possess these cities; and when they are next mentioned, we again find them in the hands of their former owners; who probably availed themselves of the earliest “servitudes," with which the Israelites were punished for their apostacy, to retake their lost towns.

ANCIENT EGYPTIAN CHARIOT.–FROM A BAS-RELIEF.

19. “ Chariots of iron.”—See the note on Exod. xiv. 7. Most commentators and Biblical antiquaries agree in thinking that it is not necessary to suppose that these chariots were made of iron, but only that they were armed with it. As, however, such chariots do not occur in Egyptian sculptures, and are not mentioned by Homer in his Iliad, in which chariots of war are so often brought under our notice, it admits of a question whether armed chariots of war were at this time known in the west of Asia. If not, we may conclude-not, certainly, that the “iron chariots" of the Canaanites were wholly composed of iron, but that they were so braced and strengthened with that metal that their onset in war was more terrible than if they had been more entirely composed of some lighter material. In that case, “ iron chariots” was probably a term by which such were distinguished from other and lighter chariots, also employed in war. There is no difficulty in the epithet, if the Canaanites only used iron to emboss or sheath their chariots, in the same way that the Greeks of Homer used brass, tin, silver, and gold; for it is usual to describe an article as made of that substance with which it is only exteriorly covered or ornamented. Indeed, metal appears to have been profusely employed in the chariots of the Homeric period. Hence, from this burnished splendour, the epithets splendid” and bright” are continually applied to them. Thus Dolon describes the chariot of Rhesus, the Thracian ally of the Trojans:

“ His steeds I saw, the fairest by these eyes

Ever beheld, and loftiest; snow itself
They pass in whiteness, and in speed the winds.

With gold and silver all his chariot burns." The extent to which metal was employed in the superior sorts of chariots will, however, better appear by the description which the same poet gives of the chariot in which Juno and Minerva sped to assist the Greeks :

“Hebe to the chariot rollid
The brasen wheels, and join'd them to the smooth
Steel axle ; twice four spokes divided each,
Shot from the centre to the verge. The verge
Was gold, by fellies of eternal brass
Guarded, a dazzling show! The shining naves
Were silver ; silver cords, and cords of gold,
The seat upbore ; two crescents blazed in front.
The pole was argent all, to which she bound
The golden yoke with its appendant charge

Inserted braces, straps and bands of gold.” Supposing the Canaanites to have had the principal parts of iron, which are here described as of steel, silver, and gold, we may easily obtain a notion of the iron chariots of the text.

The general form of the ancient unarmed chariots will be seen from our two wood-cuts, together with that which has already been given in Exod. xiy. The first of the present cuts, like the former one, is from Egyptian sculpture, and the

594

vehicle seems, also like that, so small and light, as to be obviously intended merely for the conveyance of the warrior, without being, in itself, from its weight and power, an offensive engine. We observed, in the note to Exod. xiv. 7, that the Egyptian chariots have generally but one rider. The present has three, one holding the reins, another bearing a spear, and the third a shield. Yet it is still so small as scarcely to afford room for one person, and, with the three, is so crowded, that the warriors appear to be placed in unusual circumstances. In fact, as the travellers who have examined the battle-scene at Thebes, from which it was taken, describe it, this is a chariot of the defeated party, who, in their flight, crowd in twos and threes into the cars intended only for one person. (See Richardson, vol. ii

. p. 23.) In ordinary circumstances, a single person would have the shield in one hand, the spear in the other, and the reins lashed around his body. The chariots described by Homer always carried two persons—the warrior himself and his charioteer. The office of the latter was one of very considerable importance; and all the heroes were competent to perform its duties on occasion. Patroclus, who was the dear and intimate friend of Achilles, and from whose death such important consequences result, was at the same time the charioteer of that imperious hero.

The second cut is, in our opinion, of much more consequence than the others, as affording a more probable representation of the chariots (not Egyptian), mentioned in Scripture, which can now be obtained. It also agrees better with the description of Homer. Indeed it seems to us the most perfect representation of an ancient chariot that now exists. It formed the termination of a line of procession among the bas-reliefs of Persepolis, and is now in the British Museum. It is to be regretted that it is represented as forming part of a walking procession rather than in proper action. We need not give a verbal description of the details which the cut so clearly exhibits; but the reader will not fail to observe its evident superiority for the purposes of a war-chariot to the slight, toy-like cars of the Egyptians. Sir Robert Ker Porter, an excellent judge in matters of taste, observes: " The whole of this chariot group is portrayed and finished with a beauty and accuracy that alike excite our wonder and admiration.”

We have described unarmed chariots as illustrating the present text; but we do not wish to be understood as rejecting the notion that the “iron chariots” of the Canaanites were armed with offensive projections. It is possible that they were, and we shall perhaps find a future opportunity of noticing such chariots. Meanwhile, the above statement will show that this supposition is not absolutely necessary to the elucidation of the text. The high antiquity of such chariots as those which have engaged our attention, compared with the less certain, though also probably very high, antiquity of armed chariots, gives the former an unquestionable claim to priority of attention.

[graphic]

ANCIENT PERSIAN CHARIOT.–FROM A PERSEPOLITAN BAS-RELIEP IN THE BRITISH MUSEUM.

31. Accho.”—This place was, in times long subsequent, enlarged and improved by the first Ptolemy, after whom it was then called Ptolemais. It has now recovered its ancient name, being called by the Arabs Akka, and by the Turks Acra or Acre. The apostle Paul touched at, and spent a day in this place on his return to Jerusalem, from his travels in Greece and Asia Minor. (See the note on Acts xxi. 7.)

Nor the inhabitants of Zidon.”—See the notes on Num. xxxiv. 6; and Josh. xix. 24. In the latter of these notes we have explained the opinion of Michaelis, that Sidon was not included in the lot of Asher, and given his answers to the objections which might be made to that opinion. On arriving at the present text, he confesses that in its literal meaning it bears strongly against his theory; and says that it is the only text by which it is not favoured. Hopeless of getting over the difficulty which it offers, he says :~"To declare my opinion honestly, I conceive the words nuty 2013 inhabitants of Sidon, to be of doubtful authority and a mere interpolation.” It is not however just for a critic, without being able to adduce ancient manuscripts or versions in support of his opinion, to propose to omit a particular clause, merely because it happens to stand in the way of a particular hypothesis. For ourselves, we are disposed to adopt the local hypothesis of Michaelis, in such a modified form as does, in our opinion, obviate all the difficulties of this perplex

« PreviousContinue »