Judges 1:2

Periods when supreme power passes from rulers to their descendants are always of critical importance. It is then that the greatest constitutional modifications take place. Partly from the differences of disposition and view, partly from the force of new circumstances, partly from the failure or creation of peculiar official sanctions and dignities, the legislative or executive function seldom remains wholly unchanged in passing from one holder to another. In this case, as the dignity and authority of Moses did not entirely pass to Joshua, so the office the latter filled must have greatly altered with its occupancy by the numerous body, "the sons of Israel," or elders and tribesmen. More frequent deliberation, the consultation of competing interests, etc., had to precede any national action against the common enemy. The great Lawgiver had passed away, the Soldier-Dictator had also been gathered to his fathers, and now it devolved upon a simply appointed but sacredly authoritative constitutional assembly to carry into effect the purposes of their predecessors. Compare with this the rise of parliamentary influence in Europe, and especially in England.

I. THE MODIFICATION OF GOVERNMENT. Sometimes this is sudden, sometimes gradual. Here it does not affect the essential principle of the theocracy. There is something very pathetic in the spectacle of an orphaned nation appealing to the "God of their fathers." It was not an extraordinary outburst of reverence and religious humility, but the beginning of a habitual and necessary practice. The voice of Jehovah through his authorised representatives was the supreme law for Israel.

1. It behoves all nations and individuals to ask God for wisdom and direction, especially at such times of transition. The altered conditions of life; the transfer of legislative authority; the attainment of mature years; a youth's leaving home; the death of parents, guardians, rulers, etc., are reasons for a closer walk with God, and a more attentive heed to his word.

2. Responsibility is inevitably transferred with authority. A sacred war is the legacy of the fathers of Israel to the children. If they are disposed to lag in its carrying forward, untoward events prick them on, and discomfort and disorder increase the necessity for action. "Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown." The peasant envies the king, the child the parent, only to be in turn regarded with a greater envy by those they assume to be fortunate and happy. Authority tempers and chastens power. The assumption of the latter without regard to its obligations is a profane and wicked thing, and must in the end defeat itself. Responsibility is the moral and religious side of authority; duty of right. In no case has a ruler or government lightly to regard inherited responsibilities. Freedom is not the result of violent changes, but "broadens slowly down from precedent to precedent." That one has had no part or choice in the making of an agreement or the inauguration of a policy is no reason by itself for repudiation. What is wrong must be put right, and false steps retraced; but the practicable policy of the present is generally a modification of the former and traditional one, rather than entire departure from it. The oneness of responsibility in past and present, ought to be carefully observed, and acknowledged even where changes are introduced. None of us makes his own circumstances. Most of them are inherited. Our duties are often born before ourselves, awaiting us in the appointed time.

3. The advantages and disadvantages of a plurality of rulers are here illustrated.

(1) Where there are several or many in power there is a representation of popular views and interests,

(2) the advantage of collective and deliberative wisdom, and

(3) mutual stimulus and emulation.

On the other hand,

(1) they are liable to jealousies and envies,

(2) it is difficult to preserve a good understanding,

(3) they are more subject to popular panics, and

(4) are unlikely to take a bold initiative.

II. UNCHANGEABLENESS OF THE SUPREME AUTHORITY. Under all circumstances the ideal government for Israel must ever be the theocracy. Moses, Joshua, the elders, the judges, the kings - these are but the human representatives of the absolute and Divine; they are but the stewards of a heavenly mystery, holding authority from the Supreme, and liable at his bidding to restore it again. Paul (Romans 13:1-5) summarises the general aspects of this principle: - "Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of. God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. For he is the minister of God to thee for good Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake."

1. This must be recognised by human delegates. The elders immediately and publicly "asked Jehovah." The force of the original expression is that no time was lost. Only as he led them could they be preserved from error.

2. To make men subject to the Supreme must ever be the goal of their efforts. Their whole policy will be, therefore, in a wide sense evan- gelical, viz., to bring men to God, to deepen their reverence for truth, righteousness, purity, and to encourage a personal attachment to Christ as the embodiment of these. - M.

Zephath... Hormah.
In the world of thought and feeling there are many Zephaths, whence quick onset is often made upon the faith and hope of men. We are pressing towards some end, mastering difficulties, contending with open and known enemies. Only a little way remains before us. But invisible among the intricacies of experience is this lurking foe who suddenly falls upon us. It is a settlement in the faith of God we seek. The onset is of doubts we had not imagined, doubts of inspiration, of immortality, of the incarnation, truths the most vital. We are repulsed, broken, disheartened. There remains a new wilderness journey till we reach by the way of Moab the fords of our Jordan and the land of our inheritance. Yet there is a way, sure and appointed. The baffled, wounded soul is never to despair. And when at length the settlement of faith is won, the Zephath of doubt may be assailed from the other side, assailed successfully and taken. The experience of some poor victims of what is oddly called philosophic doubt need dismay no one. For the resolute seeker after God there is always a victory, which in the end may prove so easy, so complete, as to amaze him. The captured Zephath is not destroyed nor abandoned, but is held as a fortress of faith. It becomes Hormah — the consecrated.

(R. A. Watson, M. A.)

Judah... could not drive out the inhabitants of the valley
? — Infinite Intelligence has a plan by which He does all things. He never works by impulse or caprice.

1. God frequently makes human agency the condition of His own action.

2. So entirely does the Almighty abide by this plan, that if the required human agency is not put forth, He will not work. These "chariots of iron" so discouraged and terrified the Israelites that they would not do the part which God designed them to do; and because God would not violate His own plan, He "could not" drive them out. God's plan is the best, and He cannot deviate from the best. Now, the plan by which He promotes the circulation of the gospel amongst men is most clearly revealed in the Bible; and it is this — a proper human representation of it. The Divine idea is to be reflected on man through man. Why the great Author of the gospel should proceed on such a plan is a question which, if proper, it is not necessary to determine. We may as well ask why He has left the life of the world, vegetable and animal, to depend upon the solar beams and the fertile showers. It is enough for me to know, as the reasons of His procedure in any case, that as His nature is love, the ultimate reason of every act is some benevolent idea. Love is the planning genius of the universe: it frames and fashions all. Nor is it difficult to see love in the plan in question. What an honour does it confer on human nature to make it the reflector and exponent of Divine ideas! What benign power, too, is there in the arrangements to stimulate the devout to benevolent effort, and to unite the human family in the bonds of gratitude and compassion! Three general remarks may suffice to show that there has been sufficient mal-representation to account for its present limited influence.

I. THAT THE GOSPEL REGARDS THE CEREMONIAL AS SUBORDINATE TO THE DOCTRINAL. Though the Old Testament had many rites, the New has only two — baptism and the Lord's Supper. But the rites of both the Old and the New were intended to answer the same functions in the economy of revelation, namely, to adumbrate doctrines.

II. THAT THE GOSPEL REGARDS THE DOCTRINAL AS SUBSERVIENT TO THE ETHICAL. And if this is so, a mere theological manifestation is a mal-representation. Christianity consists mainly of two elements — doctrines and precepts: subjects for faith and rules for life — theology and morality. Doctrines and precepts are rays from the same eternal sun of truth; the former, however, throwing their radiance upwards — revealing the vast heavens that encircle us, and impressing us with ideas of infinitude; the latter flowing down upon our earthly path, and guiding our feet in the way of life. Of what use would the sun be to us if all its rays streamed upwards, unfolding the boundless blue, and none reached our earthly sphere, to show us how to act? The theology of the Bible is useless to a man unless it changes his heart and moulds his life anew. The doctrines of Christ are not learnt like the doctrines of Newton or Euclid, by mere intellectual study; they are learnt by the heart and the life. Action alone translates Christian doctrines into meaning.

III. THAT THE GOSPEL REGARDS THE TRUE ETHICAL AS EMBODIED IN THE LIFE OF CHRIST. And if this is so, a mere dry legal manifestation of it is a mal-representation. Where are the ethical elements whose illustration, enforcement, and promotion, all doctrines are to subserve, to be found? Are they to be found in the statutes of governments, the rubrics of Churches, or the practices of religious sects? No! Men have often made sound doctrine subservient to the corrupt ethics drawn from such sources; but the ethics to which all sound theology should ever minister are embodied in the life of one Being — Christ. Our whole duty is summed up in His command, "Follow Me." Assimilation to Christ is the perfection of man. Another train of thought may further serve to illustrate the various forms of the mal-representation, and to sum up our observations upon this truly momentous theme.

1. The ceremonies of the gospel being only intended as the symbols of its doctrines, a mere ritualistic ministry of it is a mal-representation.

2. The doctrines of the gospel being coincident with human reason, any irrational manifestation of it is a mal-representation.

3. The meaning of the gospel being only truly reached by experience, a mere professional manifestation of it is a mal-representation. Christianity is only thoroughly understood by the heart.

4. The genius of the gospel being that of benevolence, any unloving manifestation of it is a mal-representation. Does the Church represent love? warm, self-denying, world-wide love? If not, it does not represent the gospel.

5. The provisions of the gospel being for universal man, any restricted offer of them is a mal-representation. Let the narrow-minded bigot preach that the sun was lit up for a class; or that the ocean was poured forth for a class; or that the sea of air, whose every wave is life, rolls through the world for a class; and his sermons will be as true to nature as those sermons are to the gospel, that proclaim that God's mercy is only for a "favourite few." My conclusion is, that the first thing to be done in order to convert the world is to reform the Church. You may have your missionary societies, you may send forth your emissaries, you may stud the globe with your missionary stations; but unless the Church will give the Christianity of Christ in His own spirit of love, it will be labour lost.


Chariots of iron

1. Great victories.

2. Numerous victories.

3. Brotherly action (ver. 3).

4. God gave great proofs of His presence and power by raising up, here and there, a man in their midst who performed heroic deeds. Caleb shall be gathered to his fathers, but Othniel shall follow him, who shall be as brave as he.

5. The reason why the men of Judah were successful was because they had full confidence in God. The Lord will not fall short of the measure: let us not make the measure short.

II. THE LORD'S POWER RESTRAINED BECAUSE DISTRUSTED. The men of Judah could drive out the inhabitants of the mountain, but they could not drive out the inhabitants of the valley, because they had chariots of iron. As far as their faith went, so far God kept touch with them, and they could do anything and everything; but when they despondingly thought that they could not drive out the inhabitants of the wide valleys, then they failed utterly.

1. They retained too much confidence in themselves. If their confidence had been in God alone, these chariots of iron would have been ciphers in the calculation, The bare arm of God is the source of all power.

2. They believed one promise of God and did not believe another. Beware of being pickers and choosers of God's promises.

3. There was a further reason for failure arising out of this imperfection of their faith: they could not conquer the chariots of iron, because, first, they did not try. The Hebrew does not say that they could not drive them out. What the Hebrew says is that they did not drive them out. Some things we cannot do because we never make the attempt. I wish we had among Christian workers the spirit of the Suffolk lad who was brought up in court to be examined by an overbearing lawyer. The lawyer roughly said to him, "Hodge, can you read Greek? .... I don't know, sir," said he. "Well, fetch a Greek book," said the lawyer, and showing the lad a passage he said to him, "Can you read that?" "No." "Then why did you not say that you could not?" "Because I never say I cannot do a thing till I have tried it." If that spirit were in Christian people we should achieve great things; but we set down such and such a thing as manifestly beyond our power, and, silently, we whisper to ourselves, "therefore beyond God's power," and so we let it alone. No chariots of iron will be driven out if we dare not make the attempt.

4. Next, I suspect that they did not drive them out because they were idle. If cavalry were to be dealt with, Judah must bestir himself. If chariots of iron were to be defeated they must enter upon an arduous campaign; and so, taking counsel of their fears and their idleness, they said, "Let us not venture on the conflict." There are many things that Christ's Church is unable to do because it is too lazy.

5. Then, again, they were not at all anxious to meet the men who manned those chariots, for they were afraid. These men of Judah were cowards in the presence of chariots of iron, and what can a coward do? He is great at running away. They say that he "may live to fight another day." Not he: he will live, but he will not live to fight, depend upon it, any more another day than he does to-day.

6. There was no excuse for this on the part of Judah, as there is really no excuse for us when we think any part of God's work to be too difficult for us — for, recollect, there was a special promise made about this very case holy (Deuteronomy 20:1).

III. THE LORD'S POWER VINDICATED. I could tell you of women, sick and infirm, scarcely able to leave their beds, who are doing work which, to some strong Christians, seems too hard to attempt. Have I not seen old men doing for the Lord in their feebleness that which young men have declined? Could I not tell you of some with one talent who are bringing in a splendid revenue of glory to their Lord and Master, while you fine young fellows with ten talents have wrapped them all in a napkin and hid them in the earth? I wish that I could shame myself, and shame every worker here, into enterprises that would astonish unbelievers. God help us to do that which seems impossible.

( C. H. Spurgeon.)

Abednego, Achsah, Adonibezek, Ahiman, Amalekites, Amorites, Anak, Anath, Arad, Arba, Asher, Asherites, Benjamin, Benjamites, Caleb, Canaanites, Dan, Danites, Debir, Edomites, Hittites, Hobab, Israelites, Jebusites, Joseph, Joshua, Kenaz, Manasseh, Naphtali, Naphtalites, Othniel, Perizzites, Rehob, Sheshai, Simeon, Simeonites, Talmai, Zebulun, Zidon
Acco, Achzib, Ahlab, Aijalon, Akrabbim, Aphik, Arad, Ashkelon, Beth-anath, Bethel, Beth-shan, Beth-shemesh, Bezek, Debir, Dor, Ekron, Gaza, Gezer, Gibeah, Hebron, Helbah, Hormah, Ibleam, Jerusalem, Kiriath-arba, Kiriath-sepher, Kitron, Luz, Megiddo, Mount Heres, Nahalol, Negeb, Rehob, Sela, Shaalbim, Sidon, Taanach, Zephath
Behold, Delivered, Hands, Judah
1. The acts of Judah and Simeon
4. Adonibezek justly requited
8. Jerusalem taken
10. Hebron taken
11. Othniel has Achsah to wife for taking of Debir
16. The Kenites dwell in Judah
17. Hormah, Gaza, Askelon, and Ekron taken
21. The acts of Benjamin
22. Of the house of Joseph, who take Bethel
30. Of Zebulun
31. Of Asher
33. Of Naphtali
34. Of Dan

Dictionary of Bible Themes
Judges 1:1-2

     8605   prayer, and God's will

Judges 1:1-20

     7266   tribes of Israel

The Historical Books.
1. In the Pentateuch we have the establishment of the Theocracy, with the preparatory and accompanying history pertaining to it. The province of the historical books is to unfold its practiced working, and to show how, under the divine superintendence and guidance, it accomplished the end for which it was given. They contain, therefore, primarily, a history of God's dealings with the covenant people under the economy which he had imposed upon them. They look at the course of human events on the
E. P. Barrows—Companion to the Bible

The Coast of the Asphaltites, the Essenes. En-Gedi.
"On the western shore" (of the Asphaltites) "dwell the Essenes; whom persons, guilty of any crimes, fly from on every side. A nation it is that lives alone, and of all other nations in the whole world, most to be admired; they are without any woman; all lust banished, &c. Below these, was the town Engadda, the next to Jerusalem for fruitfulness, and groves of palm-trees, now another burying-place. From thence stands Massada, a castle in a rock, and this castle not far from the Asphaltites." Solinus,
John Lightfoot—From the Talmud and Hebraica

Beth-El. Beth-Aven.
Josephus thus describes the land of Benjamin; "The Benjamites' portion of land was from the river Jordan to the sea, in length: in breadth, it was bounded by Jerusalem and Beth-el." Let these last words be marked, "The breadth of the land of Benjamin was bounded by Jerusalem and Beth-el." May we not justly conclude, from these words, that Jerusalem and Beth-el were opposite, as it were, in a right line? But if you look upon the maps, there are some that separate these by a very large tract of land,
John Lightfoot—From the Talmud and Hebraica

"Tsippor is the greatest city of Galilee, and built in a very strong place." "Kitron (Judg 1:29,30) is Tsippor: and why is it called Tsippor? Because it is seated upon a mountain as Tsippor, a bird." "Sixteen miles on all sides from Tsippor was a land flowing with milk and honey." This city is noted in Josephus for its warlike affairs; but most noted in the Talmudists for the university fixed there, and for the learning, which Rabbi Judah the Holy brought hither, as we have said before. He sat in
John Lightfoot—From the Talmud and Hebraica

A Nation's Struggle for a Home and Freedom.
ISRAEL'S VICTORIES OVER THE CANAANITES.--Josh. 2-9; Judg. 1, 4, 5. Parallel Readings. Hist. Bible II,1-4.1. Prin. of Politics X. That the leaders took the lead in Israel, That the people volunteered readily, Bless Jehovah! Zebulun was a people who exposed themselves to deadly peril, And Naphtali on the heights of the open field. Kings came, they fought; They fought, the kings of Canaan, At Taanach by the Waters of Megiddo, They took no booty of silver. Prom heaven fought the stars, From their
Charles Foster Kent—The Making of a Nation

The Place of the Old Testament in Divine Revelation
[Sidenote: Advent of the Hebrews] Modern discovery and research have demonstrated that the truth revealed through the Babylonians and with less definiteness through the people of the Nile was never entirely lost. Such a sad waste was out of accord with the obvious principles of divine economy. As the icy chill of ceremonialism seized decadent Babylonia and Egypt, there emerged from the steppes south and east of Palestine a virile, ambitious group of nomads, who not only fell heir to that which
Charles Foster Kent—The Origin & Permanent Value of the Old Testament

The Prophet Jonah.
It has been asserted without any sufficient reason, that Jonah is older than Hosea, Joel, Amos, and Obadiah,--that he is the oldest among the prophets whose written monuments have been preserved to us. The passage in 2 Kings xiv. 25, where it is said, that Jonah, the son of Amittai the prophet, prophesied to Jeroboam the happy success of his arms, and the restoration of the ancient boundaries of Israel, and that this prophecy was confirmed by the event, cannot decide in favour of this assertion,
Ernst Wilhelm Hengstenberg—Christology of the Old Testament

Scythopolis. Beth-Shean, the Beginning of Galilee.
The bonds of Galilee were, "on the south, Samaris and Scythopolis, unto the flood of Jordan." Scythopolis is the same with Beth-shean, of which is no seldom mention in the Holy Scriptures, Joshua 17:11; Judges 1:27; 1 Samuel 31:10. "Bethsaine (saith Josephus), called by the Greeks Scythopolis." It was distant but a little way from Jordan, seated in the entrance to a great valley: for so the same author writes, "Having passed Jordan, they came to a great plain, where lies before you the city Bethsane,"
John Lightfoot—From the Talmud and Hebraica

The Country of Jericho, and the Situation of the City.
Here we will borrow Josephus' pencil, "Jericho is seated in a plain, yet a certain barren mountain hangs over it, narrow, indeed, but long; for it runs out northward to the country of Scythopolis,--and southward, to the country of Sodom, and the utmost coast of the Asphaltites." Of this mountain mention is made, Joshua 2:22, where the two spies, sent by Joshua, and received by Rahab, are said to "conceal themselves." "Opposite against this, lies a mountain on the other side Jordan, beginning from
John Lightfoot—From the Talmud and Hebraica

The Hebrews and the Philistines --Damascus
THE ISRAELITES IN THE LAND OF CANAAN: THE JUDGES--THE PHILISTINES AND THE HEBREW KINGDOM--SAUL, DAVID, SOLOMON, THE DEFECTION OF THE TEN TRIBES--THE XXIst EGYPTIAN DYNASTY--SHESHONQ OR SHISHAK DAMASCUS. The Hebrews in the desert: their families, clans, and tribes--The Amorites and the Hebrews on the left bank of the Jordan--The conquest of Canaan and the native reaction against the Hebrews--The judges, Ehud, Deborah, Jerubbaal or Gideon and the Manassite supremacy; Abimelech, Jephihdh. The Philistines,
G. Maspero—History Of Egypt, Chaldaea, Syria, Babylonia, and Assyria, V 6

Jews and Gentiles in "The Land"
Coming down from Syria, it would have been difficult to fix the exact spot where, in the view of the Rabbis, "the land" itself began. The boundary lines, though mentioned in four different documents, are not marked in anything like geographical order, but as ritual questions connected with them came up for theological discussion. For, to the Rabbis the precise limits of Palestine were chiefly interesting so far as they affected the religious obligations or privileges of a district. And in this respect
Alfred Edersheim—Sketches of Jewish Social Life

For the understanding of the early history and religion of Israel, the book of Judges, which covers the period from the death of Joshua to the beginning of the struggle with the Philistines, is of inestimable importance; and it is very fortunate that the elements contributed by the later editors are so easily separated from the ancient stories whose moral they seek to point. That moral is most elaborately stated in ii. 6-iii. 6, which is a sort of programme or preface to iii. 7-xvi. 31, which constitutes
John Edgar McFadyen—Introduction to the Old Testament

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