|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
1:1-8 The Israelites were convinced that the war against the Canaanites was to be continued; but they were in doubt as to the manner in which it was to be carried on after the death of Joshua. In these respects they inquired of the Lord. God appoints service according to the strength he has given. From those who are most able, most work is expected. Judah was first in dignity, and must be first in duty. Judah's service will not avail unless God give success; but God will not give the success, unless Judah applies to the service. Judah was the most considerable of all the tribes, and Simeon the least; yet Judah begs Simeon's friendship, and prays for aid from him. It becomes Israelites to help one another against Canaanites; and all Christians, even those of different tribes, should strengthen one another. Those who thus help one another in love, have reason to hope that God will graciously help both. Adoni-bezek was taken prisoner. This prince had been a severe tyrant. The Israelites, doubtless under the Divine direction, made him suffer what he had done to others; and his own conscience confessed that he was justly treated as he had treated others. Thus the righteous God sometimes, in his providence, makes the punishment answer the sin.
Verse 6. - Cut off his thumbs, etc. These cruel mutilations, like the still more cruel one of putting out the eyes (Judges 16:21; Numbers 16:14; 1 Samuel 11:2; 2 Kings 25:7), were intended to cripple the warrior in his speed, and to incapacitate hint from the use of the bow, or sword, or spear, while yet sparing his life, either in mercy, or for the purpose of retaining his services for the conqueror.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
But Adonibezek fled, and they pursued after him, and caught him,.... It is very probable his view was to get to Jebus or Jerusalem, a strong and fortified city and he made his way thither as fast as he could, but was pursued and overtaken by some of the forces of Judah and Simeon; and the rather it may seem he took this course, since when he was taken by them, they brought him thither, as follows:
and cut off his thumbs and his great toes; whereby he was disabled both for fighting and for fleeing. So the Athenians cut off the thumbs of the right hand of the Aeginetae, the inhabitants of the island of Aegina, to disable them from holding a spear, as various writers (f) relate. Whether the Israelites did this, as knowing this king had used others in like manner, and so, according to their law of retaliation, "eye for eye", &c. Exodus 21:23, required it; or whether, ignorant of it, were so moved and directed by the providence of God to do this, that the same measure might be measured to him which he had measured to others, is not certain; the latter seems most probable, since the Israelites did not usually inflict such sort of punishments; and besides, according to the command of God, they should have put him to death, as they were to do to all Canaanites.
(f) Valerius Maximus, l. 9. c. 2. Aelian, Var. Hist. l. 2. c. 9. Cicero de Officiis, l. 3. c. 11.
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