And from there he went against the inhabitants of Debir: and the name of Debir before was Kirjathsepher:
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Debir.—See Joshua 15:15; Joshua 15:49. In Joshua 10:38-39, its conquest is assigned to Joshua. The name means “the oracle.” It afterwards became a Levitic town. There seem to have been two other Debirs (Joshua 15:7; Joshua 13:26). This one is identified by Dr. Rosen with Dewirban, near the spring Ain Nunkûr south-west of Hebron.
Kirjath-sepher.—The name is curious and interesting. It means “the city of the book,” and is rendered in the LXX. by “city of letters.” It was also called Kirjath-sannah (Joshua 15:49), which, according to Bochart, means “city of learning.” Perhaps, therefore, we may consider that it was a famous centre of Canaanite culture and worship. All further attempts to explain its three names must be purely conjectural. We may compare with it the name of the Egyptian Byblos (Ewald). The LXX. here fall into mere confusion.Joshua 12:8, Joshua 12:10 the Jebusite and the king of Jerusalem are enumerated among Joshua's conquests, but without any distinct mention of the capture of the city; and in the marginal reference we read that the Jebusites were not expelled from Jerusalem, but dwelt with the children of Judah (compare Judges 1:21). Further, we learn from Judges 19:10-12 that Jerusalem was wholly a Jebusite city in the lifetime of Phinehas Judges 20:28, and so it continued until the reign of David 2 Samuel 5:6-9. The conclusion is that Jerusalem was only taken once, namely, at the time here described, and that this was in the lifetime of Joshua; but that the children of Judah did not occupy it in sufficient force to prevent the return of the Jebusites, who gradually recovered complete possession.Joshua 15:15. And from thence he went against the inhabitants of Debir: and the name of Debir before was Kirjathsepher:
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)11. he went] Originally, perhaps, he went up as in Joshua 15:15; LXX here they went up. The subject is Caleb in Jdg 1:20 restored to its proper place. Joshua 15:15-19 describes the capture of Debir in almost identical words.
Debir … Kiriath-sepher] Probably eḍ-Ḍâharîyeh, 4 or 5 hours S.W. of Hebron, cf. Joshua 11:21; Joshua 15:50, and note the position of Anab. The K.-sannah of Joshua 15:50 seems to be merely a corrupted form of Kiriath-sepher, i.e. ‘book-town,’ as the LXX, Vulgate, Targ. (‘Archive-town’) understand it. Some MSS. of the LXX, and the Peshitto, transliterate the Hebr. into a form K.-sôp̣hçr which means ‘town of the scribe,’ and corresponds with the Egyptian name of the place, ‘house of the scribe’ (W. M. Müller, Asien u. Europa, p. 174). It has been suggested that the town was called Kiriath-sepher because it contained the record-office of the Anâkim, or a library like those preserved in the great cities of Babylonia and Assyria (Sayce). Such fancies are spun out of a dubious etymology; for we cannot be sure that, in this proper name, sepher is the original pronunciation or even a Hebrew word. The original sense of Debîr is equally problematical; in 1 Kings 6:5 etc. debîr = the adytum, lit. the hinder part (not ‘the oracle’), of the temple.
The completion of the sentence is supplied by the context, more especially by Judges 1:2. So far as the sense is concerned, Rosenmller has given the correct explanation of ויּעל, "Judah entered upon the expedition along with Simeon." "And they smote the Canaanites and the Perizzites in Bezek, 10,000 men." The result of the war is summed up briefly in these words; and then in Judges 1:5-7 the capture and punishment of the hostile king Adoni-bezek is specially mentioned as being the most important event in the war. The foe is described as consisting of Canaanites and Perizzites, two tribes which have been already named in Genesis 13:7 and Genesis 34:30 as representing the entire population of Canaan, "the Canaanites" comprising principally those in the lowlands by the Jordan and the Mediterranean (vid., Numbers 13:29; Joshua 11:3), and "the Perizzites" the tribes who dwelt in the mountains (Joshua 17:15). On the Perizzites, see Genesis 13:7. The place mentioned, Bezek, is only mentioned once more, namely in 1 Samuel 11:8, where it is described as being situated between Gibeah of Saul (see at Joshua 18:28) and Jabesh in Gilead. According to the Onom. (s. v. Bezek), there were at that time two places very near together both named Bezek, seventeen Roman miles from Neapolis on the road to Scythopolis, i.e., about seven hours to the north of Nabulus on the road to Beisan. This description is perfectly reconcilable with 1 Samuel 11:8. On the other hand, Clericus (ad h. l.), Rosenmller, and v. Raumer suppose the Bezek mentioned here to have been situated in the territory of Judah; though this cannot be proved, since it is merely based upon an inference drawn from Judges 1:3, viz., that Judah and Simeon simply attacked the Canaanites in their own allotted territories-an assumption which is very uncertain. There is no necessity, however, to adopt the opposite and erroneous opinion of Bertheau, that the tribes of Judah and Simeon commenced their expedition to the south from the gathering-place of the united tribes at Shechem, and fought the battle with the Canaanitish forces in that region upon this expedition; since Shechem is not described in Josha as the gathering-place of the united tribes, i.e., of the whole of the military force of Israel, and the battle fought with Adoni-bezek did not take place at the time when the tribes prepared to leave Shiloh and march to their own possessions after the casting of the lots was over. The simplest explanation is, that when the tribes of Judah and Simeon prepared to make war upon the Canaanites in the possessions allotted to them, they were threatened or attacked by the forces of the Canaanites collected together by Adoni-bezek, so that they had first of all to turn their arms against this king before they could attack the Canaanites in their own tribe-land. As the precise circumstances connected with the occasion and course of this war have not been recorded, there is nothing to hinder the supposition that Adoni-bezek may have marched from the north against the possession of Benjamin and Judah, possibly with the intention of joining the Canaanites in Jebus, and the Anakim in Hebron and upon the mountains in the south, and then making a combined attack upon the Israelites. This might induce or even compel Judah and Simeon to attack this enemy first of all, and even to pursue him till they overtook him at his capital Bezek, and smote him with all his army. Adoni-bezek, i.e., lord of Bezek, is the official title of this king, whose proper name is unknown.
In the principal engagement, in which 10,000 Canaanites fell, Adoni-bezek escaped; but he was overtaken in his flight (Judges 1:6, Judges 1:7), and so mutilated, by the cutting off of his thumbs and great toes, that he could neither carry arms nor flee. With this cruel treatment, which the Athenians are said to have practised upon the capture Aegynetes (Aelian, var. hist. ii. 9), the Israelites simply executed the just judgment of retribution, as Adoni-bezek was compelled to acknowledge, for the cruelties which he had inflicted upon captives taken by himself. "Seventy kings," he says in Judges 1:7, "with the thumbs of their hands and feet cut off, were gathering under my table. As I have done, so God hath requited me." מקצּצים ... בּהנות, lit. "cut in the thumbs of their hands and feet" (see Ewald, Lehrb. 284 c.). The object to מלקּטים, "gathering up" (viz., crumbs), is easily supplied from the idea of the verb itself. Gathering up crumbs under the table, like the dogs in Matthew 15:27, is a figurative representation of the most shameful treatment and humiliation. "Seventy" is a round number, and is certainly an exaggerated hyperbole here. For even if every town of importance in Canaan had its own king, the fact that, when Joshua conquered the land, he only smote thirty-one kings, is sufficient evidence that there can hardly have been seventy kings to be found in all Canaan. It appears strange, too, that the king of Bezek is not mentioned in connection with the conquest of Canaan under Joshua. Bezek was probably situated more on the side towards the valley of the Jordan, where the Israelites under Joshua did not go. Possibly, too, the culminating point of Adoni-bezek's power, when he conquered so many kings, was before the arrival of the Israelites in Canaan, and it may at that time have begun to decline; so that he did not venture to undertake anything against the combined forces of Israel under Joshua, and it was not till the Israelitish tribes separated to go to their own possessions, that he once more tried the fortunes of war and was defeated. The children of Judah took him with them to Jerusalem, where he died.
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