Notes & Commentary:
Ver. 1. After. Hebrew, “And after,” as if this consultation had taken place immediately after the decease of their late victorious general, who had not pointed out his successor. But it is probable that the ancients who governed in their respective tribes, (Calmet) were only roused to this act of vigour some time after, on seeing the preparations of the Chanaanites, particularly of Adonibezec, whose power became very alarming. (Haydock) — Indeed it is wonderful how he had escaped the vigilance of Josue, if he had been king during the lifetime (Calmet) of that enterprising leader. It is therefore more likely that he took advantage of the lethargy of the Israelites after his death, and rose to a degree of eminence, which made the people of God consult the high priest, how they were to resist his efforts, (Haydock) who was to be their generalissimo, (Calmet) or which of the tribes was to make head against him. (Menochius) — God only gave answer to the last question, and it does not appear that all Israel was engaged in this war. After the defeat of the king, the different tribes might easily have subdued the enemies who held possession of part of their territory, if they had been vigorous.
Ver. 2. Said, by the mouth of Phinees, (Josephus, [Antiquities?] v. 2,) who had succeeded Eleazar in the pontificate. The latter survived Josue some little time, so that this must have happened some time later. Le Clerc offers violence to the text, when he asserts that the war against Adonibezec took place under the government of Josue. — Juda. Some suppose that this is the name of the leader: but most people conclude from the sequel, that it designated the tribe. (Calmet) — This first judge was of this tribe, but not all of them. The manner of consulting the Lord was by the high priest praying before the tabernacle, Exodus xxix. (Worthington)
Ver. 3. Brother. They had the same mother, Lia, and were intermixed in the same country. The two tribes unite both for the public and their own private advantage. The king whom they attacked first, did not dwell in the territory of Juda, as the others did, whom they defeated in this chapter.
Ver. 4. Pherezite. This name denotes “a countryman,” as the former does “a merchant.” None of the children of Chanaan were of this appellation, Genesis x. 15. The people of the country assembled therefore at Bezec, where Saul called a rendezvous when he was going to attack Jabes, and which seems to have been near the Jordan, 17 miles from Sichem. (Eusebius; St. Jerome) — It signifies “lightning.” A place of this name lies to the west of Bethlehem. (Menochius)
Ver. 5. Adonibezec, “Lord of Bezec.” The cruelty of this tyrant, and the oppression which he probably made some of the Israelites suffer, roused their attention, and they treated him as he had treated others. He had perhaps recourse to such a cruel expedient, to disable his enemies from ever entering the lists against him afterwards, as the Athenians, who cut off the fingers of the inhabitants of Egina, that these islanders might not dispute with them the empire of the sea. (Cicero, Offic. 3.) Some have thus maimed themselves that they might be exempted from going to war, a practice not unusual among the Romans; and the Italian word poltron, signifies one whose fingers are cut off, as it was supposed, out of cowardice. David ordered the hands and the feet of the murderers of Isboseth to be cut off, and this sort of punishment is common in the eastern countries. Eight hundred Greeks who had been treated in this manner by the Persians, presented themselves to Alexander, at Persepolis, to implore his protection. (Curt. &c.)
Ver. 7. Table, at different times. (Haydock) — These were probably princes of some cities of Chanaan, who had been conquered by the tyrant. He obliged them to feed, like dogs, of what he threw down from his splendid table. Thus Sesostris made the kings whom he had overcome, drag his chariot. Sapor forced the Emperor Valerian to serve as a footstool, when he got on horseback. Tamerlane fed Bajazet in a cage, like a wild beast. (Jovius, &c.) (Calmet) — Me. So true is that Wisdom (xi. 17,) by what things a man sinneth, by the same also he is tormented. (Menochius)
Ver. 8. Jerusalem. This city was divided into two; one part was called Jebus, the other Salem; the one was in the tribe of Juda, the other in the tribe of Benjamin. After it was taken and burnt by the men of Juda, it was quickly rebuilt again by the Jebusites, as we may gather from ver. 21, and continued in their possession till it was taken by king David. (Challoner) — Fire. They treated it with such severity, because it seems to have revolted, (Serarius) though the text of Josue (x. 25,) only says that the king was slain. But [in] (Josue xv. 63., and here) ver. 21., it is said, that the children of Juda and of Benjamin dwelt along with the Jebusites.
Ver. 9. Plains, towards the west, which were very fruitful. They did not expel all the inhabitants from this part, as they had done from the mountains, which lay on the south of the promised land, ver. 19. (Calmet)
Ver. 10. Hebron. This expedition against Hebron, &c., is the same as is related [in] Josue xv. 24. It is here repeated, to give the reader at once a short sketch of all the achievements of the tribe of Juda against the Chanaanites. (Challoner) — Josue had taken Hebron before; (Josue x. 37,) and Caleb retakes it. (Calmet)
Ver. 11. The city of letters. Perhaps so called, from some famous school or library kept there. (Challoner) — The explanation, that is, &c., is added by the Vulgate. (Haydock) — Madrid, in Arabic, means “the mother of sciences.” (Menochius)
Ver. 13. Brother, or near relation, but much younger. See Josue xv. 17. (Calmet)
Ver. 16. The Cinite. Jethro, the father-in-law of Moses, was called Cinĉus, or the Cinite: and his children, who came along with the children of Israel, settled themselves among them in the land of Chanaan, embracing their worship and religion. From these the Rechabites sprang, of whom see Jeremias xxxv. —The city of palms. Jericho, so called from the abundance of palm-trees, (Challoner) or rather Engaddi, which is sometimes called Hazazon-Thamar, on that account. It lies nearer to the Dead Sea. Jericho was not rebuilt till the reign of Achab. See Josue vi. 26. — Arad was one of the most southern towns of Juda, near the country of the Amalecites. Saul ordered the descendants of Jethro to depart from among them, 1 Kings xv. 6. The Israelites had defeated the king of Arad long before, Nubmers xxi. 1. (Calmet) — With him. Hebrew, “the people” of Israel, (Menochius) or of Arad. (Calmet)
Ver. 17. Sephaath, near Maresa, where Asa defeated the king of Arabia, 2 Paralipomenon xiv. 9. It was also called Sephata, and afterwards Horma. (Calmet) — Septuagint, “they anathematized it, and utterly destroyed it, and they called the city Exolethreusis, “utter ruin.” (Haydock) — Whether they had engaged themselves by vow to do so, or they treated the city in this manner in thanksgiving for the victory, is uncertain. (Menochius)
Ver. 18. Gaza, &c. These were three of the principal cities of the Philistines, famous both in sacred and profane history. They were taken at this time by the Israelites; but as they took no care to put garrisons in them, the Philistines soon recovered them again, (Challoner) or perhaps the villages and territory were only seized by Juda; the cities being too well defended. Josue had not attacked them, Josue xii. 3. Josephus says that only Ascalon and Azotus, in the plain, fell into the hands of the Israelites; and the Roman Septuagint reads with a negation, (Calmet) which is inserted by Grabe in his edition as an interpolation, or as a peculiarity of the Alexandrian manuscripts, “and Juda did [not] possess Gaza with its dependencies, and Ascalon….and Accaron….and Azotus, with its fields around.” (Haydock) — The situation of Gaza, Ascalon and Accaron in the plain, would seem to secure them from being captured, ver. 19. St. Augustine and Procopius admit the negation. But the original and all the versions reject it, so that the children of Juda must have had possession of these cities at least for a short time. (Calmet) See chap. xv., and xvi., and 1 Kings vi. 17. (Menochius)
Ver. 19. Was not able, &c. Through a cowardly fear of their chariots armed with hooks and scythes, and for want of confidence in God. (Challoner) — Hebrew does not say expressly that Juda could not: quia non ad expellendum, &c. He had not the courage or the will. With God’s assistance, what had he to fear? Were these Philistines with their chariots, more terrible than the giants in their fortresses? — Scythes. Hebrew receb barzel, “chariots of iron.” (Calmet) — The Roman and Alexandrian Septuagint have “Rechab was opposed to them.” (Haydock) — The edition of Basil adds, “and they had chariots of iron,” as St. Augustine (q. 5,) reads. A double translation is thus given. (Calmet) — These chariots were calculated to cut down all that came in contact with them. (Curt. iv.) (Worthington)
Ver. 20. Enac, mentioned [in] ver. 10. Septuagint add, that “he took the three cities….and destroyed,” &c. See Josue xv. 14. (Haydock)
Ver. 21. Day, before the reign of David. See Josue xv. 63. The Jebusites occupied the citadel, &c. (Calmet)
Ver. 22. Of Joseph, on the west side of the Jordan, attacked Bethel, which it does not appear that Josue molested. (Haydock) — Instead of house, some Hebrew manuscripts and the Arabic and Septuagint read, “the sons,” which seems to be the better reading. (Kennicott)
Ver. 23. Besieging. Hebrew, “sent to descry,” or they came upon it like spies.
Ver. 24. Mercy. The city belonged of right to them, so that they might use this means, as they were not bound to enquire by what motives the man was actuated thus to betray his country. He might be convinced, like Rahab, that God had granted it to the Israelites, and these might justly requite his good dispositions and suffer him to depart in peace. (Bonfrere; Grotius; Calmet)
Ver. 26. Hetthim. The Hethite lived towards the south of Chanaan. The man probably retired into the stony Arabia, where we find the city of Lusa or Elysa. (Ptolemy v. 16.) — He gave it this name in memory of his native city, (Calmet) which was called Luza, or “of nuts.” (Menochius)
Ver. 27. Bethsan, &c. See Josue xvii. 11. — Began. Hebrew, “would dwell.” (Haydock) —The Israelites sinfully acquiesced, partly through slothfulness and the dislike of war, and partly that they might receive tribute from the Chanaanites. (Menochius)
Ver. 28. Them. We shall see the punishment of their prevarication during the greatest part of this book. (Calmet)
Ver. 31. Accho. Hebrew haco. The Greeks not knowing the derivation of this word, supposed that the city was so called from aké, “a remedy,” as they pretend that Hercules was cured in this place. It was also called Ptolemais, after the king of Egypt. The little river Belus, and the famous bed of sand so proper for making glass, were in the neighbourhood. (Pliny, [Natural History?] v. 19.) — Ahalab. The situation is unknown, unless it be Aleppo. They say it is the famous city of Berea. (Calmet)
Ver. 35. He dwelt. That is, the Amorrhite. (Challoner) — Hebrew, “But the Amorrhites would dwell in Mount Hares, in Aialon, and in Salebim.” Some copies of the Septuagint seem to give the meaning of these proper names, though inaccurately. (Haydock) — Solomon had one of his twelve officers at Salebim, in the tribe of Dan, 3 Kings iv. 9.
Ver. 36. Rock, Petra, the capital of Arabia, which Josephus ([Antiquities?] iii. 2,) assigns to Amalec. The Amorrhites dwelt in many parts of the land of promise, (Calmet) particularly in the higher places about the Dead Sea. (Haydock)
Bible Text & Cross-references:
The expedition and victory of Juda against the Chanaanites: who are tolerated in many places.
1 After *the death of Josue, the children of Israel consulted the Lord, saying: Who shall go up before us against the Chanaanite, and shall be the leader of the war?
2 And the Lord said: Juda shall go up: behold I have delivered the land into his hands.
3 And Juda said to Simeon, his brother: Come up with me into my lot, and fight against the Chanaanite, that I also may go along with thee into thy lot. And Simeon went with him.
4 And Juda went up, and the Lord delivered the Chanaanite, and the Pherezite into their hands: and they slew of them in Bezec ten thousand men.
5 And they found Adonibezec in Bezec, and fought against him, and they defeated the Chanaanite, and the Pherezite.
6 And Adonibezec fled: and they pursued after him and took him, and cut off his fingers and toes.
7 And Adonibezec said: Seventy kings, having their fingers and toes cut off, gathered up the leavings of the meat under my table: as I have done, so hath God requited me. And they brought him to Jerusalem, and he died there.
8 And the children of Juda besieging Jerusalem, took it, and put it to the sword, and set the whole city on fire.
9 And afterwards they went down and fought against the Chanaanite, who dwelt in the mountains, and in the south, and in the plains.
10 *And Juda going forward against the Chanaanite, that dwelt in Hebron, (the name whereof was in former times Cariatharbe) slew Sesai, and Ahiman, and Tholmai:
11 And departing from thence, he went to the inhabitants of Dabir, the ancient name of which was Cariath-sepher, that is, the city of letters.
12 And Caleb said: He that shall take Cariath-sepher, and lay it waste, to him will I give my daughter Axa to wife.
13 And Othoniel, the son of Cenez, the younger brother of Caleb, having taken it, he gave him Axa his daughter to wife.
14 And as she was going on her way, her husband admonished her to ask a field of her father. And as she sighed sitting on her ass, Caleb said to her: What aileth thee?
15 But she answered: Give me a blessing, for thou hast given me a dry land: give me also a watery land. So Caleb gave her the upper and the nether watery ground.
16 And the children of the Cinite, the kinsman of Moses, went up from the city of palms, with the children of Juda, into the wilderness of his lot, which is at the south side of Arad, and they dwelt with him.
17 And Juda went with Simeon, his brother, and they together defeated the Chanaanites that dwelt in Sephaath, and slew them. And the name of the city was called Horma, that is, Anathema.
18 And Juda took Gaza, with its confines, and Ascalon, and Accaron, with their confines.
19 And the Lord was with Juda, and he possessed the hill country: but was not able to destroy the inhabitants of the valley, because they had many chariots armed with scythes.
20 And they gave Hebron to Caleb, *as Moses had said, who destroyed out of it the three sons of Enac.
21 But the sons of Benjamin did not destroy the Jebusites that inhabited Jerusalem: and the Jebusite hath dwelt with the sons of Benjamin in Jerusalem until this present day.
22 The house of Joseph also went up against Bethel, and the Lord was with them.
23 For when they were besieging the city, which before was called Luza,
24 They saw a man coming out of the city, and they said to him: Shew us the entrance into the city, and we will shew thee mercy.
25 And when he had shewed them, they smote the city with the edge of the sword: but that man, and all his kindred, they let go:
26 Who being sent away, went into the land of Hetthim, and built there a city, and called it Luza: which is so called until this day.
27 Manasses also did not destroy Bethsan, and Thanac, with their villages; nor the inhabitants of Dor, and Jeblaam, and Mageddo, with their villages. And the Chanaanite began to dwell with them.
28 But after Israel was grown strong, he made them tributaries, and would not destroy them.
29 Ephraim also did not slay the Chanaanite that dwelt in Gazer, but dwelt with him.
30 Zabulon destroyed not the inhabitants of Cetron, and Naalol: but the Chanaanite dwelt among them, and became their tributary.
31 Aser also destroyed not the inhabitants of Accho, and of Sidon, of Ahalab, and of Achazib, and of Helba, and of Aphec, and of Rohob:
32 And he dwelt in the midst of the Chanaanites, the inhabitants of that land, and did not slay them.
33 Nephthali also destroyed not the inhabitants of Bethsames, and of Bethanath: and he dwelt in the midst of the Chanaanites, the inhabitants of the land, and the Bethsamites and Bethanites were tributaries to him.
34 And the Amorrhite straitened the children of Dan in the mountain, and gave them not a place to go down to the plain:
35 And he dwelt in the mountain Hares, that is, of potsherds, in Aialon and Salebim. And the hand of the house of Joseph was heavy upon him, and he became tributary to him.
36 And the border of the Amorrhite was from the ascent of the scorpion, the rock, and the higher places.
1: Year of the World 2570, Year before Christ 1434.
10: Josue xv. 14.
20: Numbers xiv. 24.; Josue xv. 14.