I The conquests made by Judah and Simeon, ver. 1-20. Benjamin failed, ver. 21. The house of Joseph took Bethel, ver. 22-26. But Manasseh did not drive out the Canaanites, ver. 27, 28. Nor Ephraim, ver. 29. Nor Zebulun, ver. 30. Nor Asher, ver. 31, 32. Nor Naphtali, ver. 33. Nor Daniel, ver. 34-36.
Verse 1. After the death - Not long after it; for Othniel, the first judge, lived in Joshua's time. Asked the Lord - Being assembled together at Shiloh, they inquired of the high-priest by the Urim and the Thummim. Against the Canaanites first - Finding their people multiply exceedingly, and consequently the necessity of enlarging their quarters, they renew the war. They do not inquire who shall be captain general to all the tribes; but what tribe shall first undertake the expedition, that by their success the other tribes may be encouraged to make the like attempt upon the Canaanites in their several lots.
Verse 2. Judah - The tribe of Judah is chosen for the first enterprise, because they were both most populous, and so most needing enlargement; and withal most valiant, and therefore most likely to succeed: for God chooseth fit means for the work which he designs. Moreover the Canaanites were numerous and strong in those parts, and therefore to be suppressed, before they grew too strong for them.
Verse 3. To Simeon - As nearest to him both by relation, being his brother by both parents, and by habitation. The Canaanites - Specially so called, because they are distinguished from the Perizzites, ver. 4.
Verse 4. In Bezek - Not in the city, for that was not yet taken, ver. 5, but in the territory of it.
Verse 5. Adoni-bezek - The Lord or king of Bezek; as his name signifies. In Bezek - Whither he fled when he lost the field. Against him - That is, against the city wherein he had encamped himself, and the rest of his army.
Verse 6. Great toes - And this they did, either by the direction of God, or upon notice of his former tyranny and cruelty.
Verse 7. Threescore and ten - Which is not strange in those times and places. For it is well known, that anciently each ruler of a city, or great town, was called a king, and had kingly power in that place; and many such kings we meet with in Canaan: and it is probable, that some years before, kings were more numerous there, 'till the greater devoured many of the less. Under my table - An act of barbarous inhumanity thus to insult over the miserable, joined with abominable luxury.
Verse 8. And took - Yet some of the inhabitants retired into the castle, and held out there 'till David's time.
Verse 10. Judah went - Under the conduct of Caleb, as is recorded, ver. 14, &c., for that relation, and this, are doubtless one and the same expedition, and it is mentioned there by anticipation.
Verse 16. Moses's father-in-law - That is, of Jethro, so called from the people whom he descended, Num. xxiv, 21, 22. And, whatsoever he did, it is evident, that his posterity came into Canaan with the Israelites, and were there seated with them, see chap. iv, 11, 17; v, 24; 1 Sam. xv, 6; 1 Chron. ii, 1-54, 55. City of palm-trees - That is, from Jericho, so called, Deut. xxxiv, 3, not the city which was destroyed, but the territory belonging to it, where it seems they were seated, in a most pleasant, and fruitful, and safe place, according to the promise made by Moses to their father, Num. x, 29-32, and whence they might remove, either to avoid the neighbouring Canaanites; or out of love to the children of Judah. South of Arad - In the southern part of the land of Canaan, where Arad was, Num. xxi, 1. They went - That is some of them, for others of them dwelt in a contrary quarter, in the most northern part of the land. Among the people - Hebrew. that people, namely, those children of Judah that lived there.
Verse 17. Judah went with Simeon - According to his promise, ver. 3, and the laws of justice and gratitude. Hormah - Either,
1. The same place so called, Num. xxi, 3, and so what was there vowed, is here executed: or,
2. Some other place called by the same name upon the like occasion, which was frequent among the Hebrew. This seems more probable.
Verse 18. Judah took - It is only said, they took the cities, and probably contented themselves with making them tributary; but it is not said that they slew the people, as they ought to have done; and as it is said of the other cities here. And the people being thus spared, did by God's just judgment recover their strength, and expel the Jews out of their cities. It is farther observable, that Ekron here taken, was one of Dan's cities, ver. 43, and it was taken here by Judah and Simeon, partly out of love for their brother Daniel, and partly to secure their new conquests, and other adjoining territories, from such potent neighbours.
Verse 19. Could not drive - Because of their unbelief, whereby they distrusted God's power to destroy those who had chariots of iron, and so gave way to their own fear and sloth, whereby God was provoked to withdraw his helping hand.
Verse 22. House of Joseph - That is, the tribe of Ephraim.
Verse 24. The entrance - On which side it is weakest, that we might best invade and take it.
Verse 25. His family - Together with his estate, as the following verse manifests.
Verse 26. The Hittites - Where the Hittites seated themselves after they were driven out of Canaan, which seems to be northward from Canaan, and near upon it.
Verse 27. Manasseh - That is, that half of this tribe which dwelt in Canaan.
Verse 29. In Gezer - Which they possessed 'till Solomon's time, 1 Kings ix, 16.
Verse 34. The valley - That is, into the plain country; which was the occasion of that expedition for the getting new quarters, of which we read ver. 47, 48 and chap. xviii, 1-31.
Verse 35. House of Joseph - That is, of the Ephraimites, who helped their brethren the Danites against the Amorites.
Verse 36. Akrabbim - Which was in the southern part of Canaan, Josh. xv, 2, 3, from whence it went up towards the north. This is added to shew the great power and large extent of this people.