This chapter gives us a particular account what sort of progress the
several tribes of Israel made in the reducing of Canaan after the death
of Joshua. He did (as we say) break the neck of that great work, and
put it into such a posture that they might easily have perfected it in
due time, if they had not been wanting to themselves; what they did in
order hereunto, and wherein they came short, we are told.
I. The united tribes o Judah and Simeon did bravely.
1. God appointed Judah to begin,
2. Judah took Simeon to act in conjunction with him,
3. They succeeded in their enterprises against Bezek
Hebron and Debir
Hormah, Gaza, and other places,
4. Yet where there were chariots of iron their hearts failed them,
Mention is made of the Kenites settling among them,
II. The other tribes, in comparison with these, acted a cowardly part.
1. Benjamin failed,
2. The house of Joseph did well against Beth-el
but in other places did not improve their advantages, nor Manasseh
3. Zebulun spared the Canaanites,
4. Asher truckled worse than any of them to the Canaanites,
5. Naphtali was kept out of the full possession of several of his
6. Dan was straitened by the Amorites,
No account is given of Issachar, nor of the two tribes and a half on
the other side Jordan.
|Judah Attacks the Canaanites; The Punishment of Adoni-bezek.
||B. C. 1425.|
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?
2 And the LORD said, Judah shall go up: behold, I have
delivered the land into his hand.
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.
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.
5 And they found Adoni-bezek in Bezek: and they fought against
him, and they slew the Canaanites and the Perizzites.
6 But Adoni-bezek fled; and they pursued after him, and caught
him, and cut off his thumbs and his great toes.
7 And Adoni-bezek 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.
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.
I. The children of Israel consult the oracle of God for direction which
of all the tribes should first attempt to clear their country of the
Canaanites, and to animate and encourage the rest. It was after the
death of Joshua. While he lived he directed them, and all the
tribes were obedient to him, but when he died he left no successor in
the same authority that he had; but the people must consult the
breast-plate of judgment, and thence receive the word of command; for
God himself, as he was their King, so he was the Lord of their hosts.
The question they ask is, Who shall go up first?
By this time, we may suppose, they were so multiplied that the places
they were in possession of began to be too strait for them, and they
must thrust out the enemy to make room; now they enquire who should
first take up arms. Whether each tribe was ambitious of being first,
and so strove for the honour of it, or whether each was afraid of being
first, and so strove to decline it, does not appear; but by common
consent the matter was referred to God himself, who is the fittest both
to dispose of honours and to cut out work.
II. God appointed that Judah should go up first, and promised him
"I have delivered the land into his hand, to be possessed, and
therefore will deliver the enemy into his hand, that keeps him out of
possession, to be destroyed." And why must Judah be first in this
1. Judah was the most numerous and powerful tribe, and therefore let
Judah venture first. Note, God appoints service according to the
strength he has given. Those that are most able, from them most work is
2. Judah was first in dignity, and therefore must be first in duty. He
it is whom his brethren must praise, and therefore he it is who
must lead in perilous services. Let the burden of honour and the
burden of work go together.
3. Judah was first served; the lot came up for Judah first, and
therefore Judah must first fight.
4. Judah was the tribe out of which our Lord was to spring: so that in
Judah, Christ, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, went before them. Christ
engaged the powers of darkness first, and foiled them, which animates
us for our conflicts; and it is in him that we are more than
conquerors. Observe, The service and the success are put together:
"Judah shall go up; let him do his part, and then he shall find that
I have delivered the land into his hand." His service will not
avail unless God give the success; but God will not give the success
unless he vigorously apply himself to the service.
III. Judah hereupon prepares to go up, but courts his brother and
neighbour the tribe of Simeon (the lot of which tribe fell within that
of Judah and was assigned out of it) to join forces with him,
1. That the strongest should not despise but desire the assistance even
of those that are weaker. Judah was the most considerable of all the
tribes, and Simeon the least considerable, and yet Judah begs Simeon's
friendship, and prays an aid from him; the head cannot say to the foot,
I have no need of thee, for we are members one of
2. Those that crave assistance must be ready to give assistance:
Come with me into my lot, and then I will go with thee into
thine. It becomes Israelites to help one another against
Canaanites; and all Christians, even those of different tribes, should
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 graciously help them both.
IV. The confederate forces of Judah and Simeon take the field: Judah
and Simeon with him,
Caleb, it is probable, was commander-in-chief of this expedition; for
who so fit as he who had both an old man's head and a young man's hand,
the experience of age and the vigour of youth?
It should seem too, by what follows
that he was not yet in possession of his own allotment. It was happy
for them that they had such a general as, according to his name, was
all heart. Some think that the Canaanites had got together into a body,
a formidable body, when Israel consulted who should go and fight
against them, and that they then began to stir when they heard of
the death of Joshua, whose name had been so dreadful to them; but, if
so, it proved they did but meddle to their own hurt.
V. God gave them great success. Whether they invaded the enemy, or the
enemy first gave them the alarm, the Lord delivered them into their
Though the army of Judah was strong and bold, yet the victory is
attributed to God: he delivered the Canaanites into their hand;
having given them authority, he here gives them ability to destroy
them--put it in their power, and so tried their obedience to his
command, which was utterly to cut them off. Bishop Patrick
observes upon this that we meet not with such religious expressions in
the heathen writers, concerning the success of their arms, as we have
here and elsewhere in this sacred history. I wish such pious
acknowledgments of the divine providence had not grown into disuse at
this time with many that are called Christians. Now,
1. We are told how the army of the Canaanites was routed in the field,
in or near Bezek, the place where they drew up, which afterwards Saul
made the place of a general rendezvous
(1 Samuel 11:8);
they slew 10,000 men, which blow, if followed, could not but be a very
great weakening to those that were already brought so very low.
2. How their king was taken and mortified. His name was Adoni-bezek,
which signifies, lord of Bezek. There have been those that
called their lands by their own names
but here was one (and there has been many another) that called himself
by his land's name. He was taken prisoner after the battle, and we are
here told how they used him; they cut off his thumbs, to disfit him for
fighting, and his great toes, that he might not be able to run away,
It had been barbarous thus to triumph over a man in misery, and that
lay at their mercy, but that he was a devoted Canaanite, and one that
had in like manner abused others, which probably they had heard of.
Josephus says, "They cut off his hands and his feet," probably
supposing those more likely to be mortal wounds than only the cutting
off of his thumbs and his great toes. But this indignity which they did
him extorted from him an acknowledgment of the righteousness of God,
(1.) What a great man this Adoni-bezek had been, how great in the
field, where armies fled before him, how great at home, where kings
were set with the dogs of his flock; and yet now himself a
prisoner, and reduced to the extremity of meanness and disgrace. See
how changeable this world is, and how slippery its high places are. Let
not the highest be proud, nor the strongest secure, for they know not
how low they may be brought before they die.
(2.) What desolations he had made among his neighbours: he had wholly
subdued seventy kings, to such a degree as to have them his prisoners;
he that was the chief person in a city was then called a king,
and the greatness of their title did but aggravate their disgrace, and
fired the pride of him that insulted over them. We cannot suppose that
Adoni-bezek had seventy of these petty princes at once his slaves; but
first and last, in the course of his reign, he had thus deposed and
abused so many, who perhaps were many of them kings of the same cities
that successively opposed him, and whom he thus treated to please his
own imperious barbarous fancy, and for a terror to others. It seems the
Canaanites had been wasted by civil wars, and those bloody ones, among
themselves, which would very much facilitate the conquest of them by
Israel. "Judah," says Dr. Lightfoot, "in conquering Adoni-bezek, did,
in effect, conquer seventy kings."
(3.) How justly he was treated as he had treated others. Thus the
righteous God sometimes, in his providence, makes the punishment to
answer the sin, and observes an equality in his judgments; the spoiler
shall be spoiled, and the treacherous dealer dealt treacherously
And those that showed no mercy shall have no mercy shown
(4.) How honestly he owned the righteousness of God herein: As I
have done, so God has requited me. See the power of conscience,
when God by his judgments awakens it, how it brings sin to remembrance,
and subscribes to the justice of God. He that in his pride had set God
at defiance now yields to him, and reflects with as much regret upon
the kings under his table as ever he had looked upon them with pleasure
when he had them there. He seems to own that he was better dealt with
than he had dealt with his prisoners; for though the Israelites maimed
him (according to the law of retaliation, an eye for an eye, so
a thumb for a thumb), yet they did not put him under the table
to be fed with the crumbs there, because, though the other might well
be looked upon as an act of justice, this would have savoured more of
pride and haughtiness than did become an Israelite.
VI. Particular notice is taken of the conquest of Jerusalem,
Our translators judge it spoken of here as done formerly in Joshua's
time, and only repeated 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 this 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. Joshua indeed conquered and slew Adoni-zedek, king
but we read not there of his taking the city; probably, while he was
pursing his conquests elsewhere, this Adoni-bezek, a neighbouring
prince, got possession of it, whom Israel having conquered in the
field, the city fell into their hands, and they slew the inhabitants,
except those who retreated into the castle and held out there till
David's time, and they set the city on fire, in token of their
detestation of the idolatry wherewith it had been deeply infected, yet
probably not so utterly as to consume it, but to leave convenient
habitations for as many as they had to put into the possession of
|Conquests of Judah.
||B. C. 1425.|
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.
10 And Judah went against the Canaanites that dwelt in Hebron:
(now the name of Hebron before was Kirjath-arba:) and they slew
Sheshai, and Ahiman, and Talmai.
11 And from thence he went against the inhabitants of Debir:
and the name of Debir before was Kirjath-sepher:
12 And 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, that she moved
him to ask of her father a field: and she lighted from off her
ass; and Caleb said unto her, What wilt thou?
15 And she said unto him, Give me a blessing: for thou hast
given me a south land; give me also springs of water. And Caleb
gave her the upper springs and the nether springs.
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.
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.
18 Also Judah took Gaza with the coast thereof, and Askelon
with the coast thereof, and Ekron with the coast thereof.
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.
20 And they gave Hebron unto Caleb, as Moses said: and he
expelled thence the three sons of Anak.
We have here a further account of that glorious and successful campaign
which Judah and Simeon made.
1. The lot of Judah was pretty well cleared of the Canaanites, yet not
thoroughly. Those that dwelt in the mountain (the mountains that
were round about Jerusalem) were driven out
but those in the valley kept their ground against them, having
chariots of iron, such as we read of,
Here the men of Judah failed, and thereby spoiled the influence which
otherwise their example hitherto might have had on the rest of the
tribes, who followed them in this instance of their cowardice, rather
than in all the other instances of their courage. They had iron
chariots, and therefore it was thought not safe to attack them: but had
not Israel God on their side, whose chariots are thousands of
before whom these iron chariots would be but as stubble to the fire?
Had not God expressly promised by the oracle
to give them success against the Canaanites in this very expedition,
without excepting those that had iron chariots? Yet they suffered their
fears to prevail against their faith, they could not trust God under
any disadvantages, and therefore durst not face the iron chariots, but
meanly withdrew their forces, when with one bold stroke they might have
completed their victories; and it proved of pernicious consequence.
They did run well, what hindered them?
2. Caleb was put in possession of Hebron, which, though given him by
Joshua ten or twelve years before (as Dr. Lightfoot computes), yet
being employed in public service, for the settling of the tribes, which
he preferred before his own private interests, it seems he did not till
now make himself master of; so well content was that good man to serve
others, while he left himself to be served last; few are like-minded,
for all seek their own,
Yet now the men of Judah all came in to his assistance for the reducing
slew the sons of Anak, and put him in possession of it,
They gave Hebron unto Caleb. And now Caleb, that he might return the
kindness of his countrymen, is impatient to see Debir reduced and put
into the hands of the men of Judah, to expedite which he proffers his
daughter to the person that will undertake to command in the siege of
that important place,
Othniel bravely undertakes it, and wins the town and the lady
and by his wife's interest and management with her father gains a very
good inheritance for himself and his family,
We had this passage before,
where it was largely explained and improved.
3. Simeon got ground of the Canaanites in his border,
In the eastern part of Simeon's lot, they destroyed the Canaanites in
Zephath, and called it Hormah--destruction, adding this to some
other devoted cities not far off, which they had some time ago, with
good reason, called by that name,
And this perhaps was the complete performance of the vow they them made
that they would utterly destroy these cities of the Canaanites in the
south. In the western part they took Gaza, Askelon, and Ekron, cities
of the Philistines; they gained present possession of the cities, but,
not destroying the inhabitants, the Philistines in process of time
recovered the cities, and proved inveterate enemies to the Israel of
God, and no better could come of doing their work by the halves.
4. The Kenites gained a settlement in the tribe of Judah, choosing it
there rather than in any other tribe, because it was the strongest, and
there they hoped to be safe and quiet,
These were the posterity of Jethro, who either went with Israel when
Moses invited them
or met them about the same place when they came up from their
wanderings in the wilderness thirty-eight years after, and went with
them then to Canaan, Moses having promised them that they should fare
as Israel fared,
They had at first seated themselves in the city of palm-trees,
that is, Jericho, a city which never was to be rebuilt, and therefore
the fitter for those who dwelt in tents, and did not mind
building. But afterwards they removed into the wilderness of Judah,
either out of their affection to that place, because solitary and
retired, or out of their affection to that tribe, which perhaps had
been in a particular manner kind to them. Yet we find the tent of Jael,
who was of that family, far north, in the lot of Naphtali, when Sisera
took shelter there,
This respect Israel showed them, to let them fix where they pleased,
being a quiet people, who, wherever they were, were content with a
little. Those that molested none were molested by none. Blessed are
the meek, for thus they shall inherit the earth.
|The Israelites Mixed with the Canaanites.
||B. C. 1425.|
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.
22 And the house of Joseph, they also went up against Bethel:
and the LORD was with them.
23 And the house of Joseph sent to descry Bethel. (Now the name
of the city before was Luz.)
24 And the spies saw a man come forth out of the city, and they
said unto him, show us, we pray thee, the entrance into the city,
and we will show thee mercy.
25 And when he showed 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.
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.
27 Neither did Manasseh drive out the inhabitants of
Beth-shean 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.
28 And it came to pass, when Israel was strong, that they put
the Canaanites to tribute, and did not utterly drive them out.
29 Neither did Ephraim drive out the Canaanites that dwelt in
Gezer; but the Canaanites dwelt in Gezer among them.
30 Neither did Zebulun drive out the inhabitants of Kitron, nor
the inhabitants of Nahalol; but the Canaanites dwelt among them,
and became tributaries.
31 Neither did Asher drive out the inhabitants of Accho, nor
the inhabitants of Zidon, nor of Ahlab, nor of Achzib, nor of
Helbah, nor of Aphik, nor of Rehob:
32 But the Asherites dwelt among the Canaanites, the
inhabitants of the land: for they did not drive them out.
33 Neither did Naphtali drive out the inhabitants of
Beth-shemesh, nor the inhabitants of Beth-anath; but he dwelt among
the Canaanites, the inhabitants of the land: nevertheless the
inhabitants of Beth-shemesh and of Beth-anath became tributaries
34 And the Amorites forced the children of Dan into the
mountain: for they would not suffer them to come down to the
35 But the Amorites would dwell in mount Heres in Aijalon, and
in Shaalbim: yet the hand of the house of Joseph prevailed, so
that they became tributaries.
36 And the coast of the Amorites was from the going up to
Akrabbim, from the rock, and upward.
We are here told upon what terms the rest of the tribes stood with the
Canaanites that remained.
I. Benjamin neglected to drive the Jebusites out of that part of the
city of Jerusalem which fell to their lot,
Judah had set them a good example, and gained them great advantages by
what they did
but they did not follow the blow for want of resolution.
II. The house of Joseph,
1. Bestirred themselves a little to get possession of Beth-el,
That city is mentioned in the tribe of Benjamin,
Yet it is spoken of there
as a city in the borders of that tribe, and, it should seem, the line
went through it, so that one half of it only belonged to Benjamin, the
other half to Ephraim; and perhaps the activity of the Ephraimites at
this time, to recover it from the Canaanites, secured it entirely to
them henceforward, or at least the greatest part of it, for afterwards
we find it so much under the power of the ten tribes (and Benjamin was
none of them) that Jeroboam set up one of his calves in it. In this
account of the expedition of the Ephraimites against Beth-el
(1.) Their interest in the divine favour: The Lord was with
them, and would have been with the other tribes if they would have
exerted their strength. The Chaldee reads it here, as in many other
places, The Word of the Lord was their helper, namely, Christ
himself, the captain of the Lord's host, now that they acted
separately, as well as when they were all in one body.
(2.) The prudent measures they took to gain the city. They sent spies
to observe what part of the city was weakest, or which way they might
make their attack with most advantage,
These spies got very good information from a man they providentially
met with, who showed them a private way into the town, which was left
unguarded because, being not generally known, no danger was suspected
on that side. And here,
[1.] He is not to be blamed for giving them this intelligence if he did
it from a conviction that the Lord was with them, and that by
his donation the land was theirs of right, any more than Rahab was for
entertaining those whom she knew to be enemies of her country, but
friends of God. Nor,
[2.] Are those to be blamed who showed him mercy, gave him and
his family not only their lives, but liberty to go wherever they
pleased: for one good turn requires another. But, it seems, he would
not join himself to the people of Israel, he feared them rather than
loved them, and therefore he removed after a colony of the Hittites,
which, it should seem, had gone into Arabia and settled there upon
Joshua's invasion of the country; with them this man chose to dwell,
and among them he built a city, a small one, we may suppose, such as
planters commonly build, and in the name of it preserved the ancient
name of his native city, Luz, an almond-tree, preferring this
before its new name, which carried religion in it,
Bethel--the house of God.
(3.) Their success. The spies brought or sent notice of the
intelligence they had gained to the army, which improved their
advantages, surprised the city, and put them all to the sword,
2. Besides this achievement, it seems, the children of Joseph did
(1.) Manasseh failed to drive out the Canaanites from several very
considerable cities in their lot, and did not make any attempt upon
But the Canaanites, being in possession, were resolved not to quit it;
they would dwell in that land, and Manasseh had not resolution enough
to offer to dispossess them; as if there was no meddling with them
unless they were willing to resign, which it was not to be expected
they ever would be. Only as Israel got strength they got ground, and
served themselves, both by their contributions and by their personal
(2.) Ephraim likewise, though a powerful tribe, neglected Gezer a
considerable city, and suffered the Canaanites to dwell among
which, some think, intimates their allowing them a quiet settlement,
and indulging them with the privileges of an unconquered people, not so
much as making them tributaries.
III. Zebulun, perhaps inclining to the sea-trade, for it was foretold
that it should be a haven for ships, neglected to reduce Kitron and
and only made the inhabitants of those places tributaries to them.
IV. Asher quitted itself worse than any of the tribes
not only in leaving more towns than any of them in the hands of the
Canaanites, but in submitting to the Canaanites instead of making them
tributaries; for so the manner of expression intimates, that the
Asherites dwelt among the Canaanites, as if the Canaanites were the
more numerous and the more powerful, would still be lords of the
country, and the Israelites must be only upon sufferance among
V. Naphtali also permitted the Canaanites to live among them
only by degrees they got them so far under as to exact contributions
VI. Dan was so far from extending his conquests where his lot lay that,
wanting spirit to make head against the Amorites, he was forced by them
to retire into the mountains and inhabit the cities there, but durst
not venture into the valley, where, it is probable, the chariots of
Nay, and some of the cities in the mountains were kept against them,
Thus were they straitened in their possessions, and forced to seek for
more room at Laish, a great way off,
&c. In Jacob's blessing Judah is compared to a lion, Dan to a serpent;
now observe how Judah with his lion-like courage prospered and
prevailed, but Dan with all his serpenting subtlety could get no
ground; craft and artful management do not always effect the wonders
they pretend to. What Dan came short of doing, it seems, his neighbours
the Ephraimites in part did for him; they put the Amorites under
Upon the whole matter it appears that the people of Israel were
generally very careless both of their duty and interest in this thing;
they did not what they might have done to expel the Canaanites and make
room for themselves. And,
1. It was owing to their slothfulness and cowardice. They would not be
at the pains to complete their conquests; like the sluggard, that
dreamed of a lion in the way, a lion in the streets, they fancied
insuperable difficulties, and frightened themselves with winds and
clouds from sowing and reaping.
2. It was owing to their covetousness; the Canaanites' labour and money
would do them more good (they thought) than their blood, and therefore
they were willing to let them live among them, that they might make a
hand of them.
3. They had not that dread and detestation of idolatry which they ought
to have had; they thought it a pity to put these Canaanites to the
sword, though the measure of their iniquity was full, thought it would
be no harm to let them live among them, and that they should be in no
danger from them.
4. The same thing that kept their fathers forty years out of Canaan
kept them now out of the full possession of it, and that was unbelief.
Distrust of the power and promise of God lost them their advantages,
and ran them into a thousand mischiefs.