Judges 1:17
And Judah went with Simeon his brother, and they slew the Canaanites that inhabited Zephath, and utterly destroyed it. And the name of the city was called Hormah.
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(17) Zephath.—This name is only mentioned elsewhere in 2Chronicles 14:10, as the scene of Asa’s battle with Zerah the Ethiopian.

Hormahi.e., “a place devoted by ban.” The name Chormah is derived from Cherem (anathema or oan), and the verb rendered “utterly destroyed” means ‘executed the ban upon it.” By their conquest the Israelites fulfilled the vow which they had made in consequence of the “defeat inflicted on them by the king of Arad,” as a punishment for their disobedient Attempt to force their way into Palestine (see Numbers 14:45; Numbers 21:1-3). The town belonged to Simeon (Joshua 19:4; 1Chronicles 4:28-32), and was close to the lands of the Kenites (1Samuel 30:29-30).

Jdg 1:17. Judah went with Simeon — According to their promise, Jdg 1:3, and the laws of justice and gratitude: having finished, as far as they were able, the conquest of what belonged to the tribe of Judah, they went to assist the Simeonites to acquire the possession of what was comprehended in their lot. The name of the city was called Hormah — Either the same place, so called Numbers 21:3; in which case what was there vowed is here executed; or some other place called by the same name upon the like occasion, which seems more probable.1:9-20 The Canaanites had iron chariots; but Israel had God on their side, whose chariots are thousands of angels, Ps 68:17. Yet they suffered their fears to prevail against their faith. About Caleb we read in Jos 15:16-19. The Kenites had settled in the land. Israel let them fix where they pleased, being a quiet, contented people. They that molested none, were molested by none. Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.Hormah - See Numbers 21:1 note. The destruction then vowed was now accomplished. This is another decisive indication that the events here related belong to Joshua's lifetime. This would be about six years after the vow. 17-29. And Judah went with Simeon his brother—The course of the narrative is here resumed from Jud 1:9, and an account given of Judah returning the services of Simeon (Jud 1:3), by aiding in the prosecution of the war within the neighboring tribes.

slew the Canaanites that inhabited Zephath—or Zephathah (2Ch 14:10), a valley lying in the southern portion of Canaan.

Hormah—destroyed in fulfilment of an early vow of the Israelites (see on [209]Nu 21:2). The confederate tribes, pursuing their incursions in that quarter, came successively to Gaza, Askelon, and Ekron, which they took. But the Philistines seem soon to have regained possession of these cities.

Judah went with Simeon his brother, according to his promise, Judges 1:3, and the laws of justice and gratitude.

Hormah; either,

1. The same place so destroyed and called, Numbers 21:3, 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 Hebrews. This seems more probable,

1. Because this was but one city, that divers cities, Numbers 21:2,3.

2. Because that seems to have been done in Moses’s time, though interpreters generally think otherwise; of which see my notes there. And Judah went with Simeon his brother,.... Having subtitled his Canaanites which were in his own lot, according to his promise, he went with his brother Simeon, or the tribe of Simeon, into their lot to reduce those that were in that:

and they slew the Canaanites that inhabited Zephath, and utterly destroyed it: where and what this city was is not certain; there was a place of this name in upper Galilee, mentioned in Jewish writings (p), which cannot be meant here; and we read of the valley of Zephathah, 2 Chronicles 14:10; which might have its name from hence, and if so it was near Mareshah:

and the name of the city was called Hormah; from the destruction made of it, and of the country about it; for now what had been vowed by Israel in the wilderness, when near Arad, was fulfilled, Numbers 21:1.

(p) Juchasin, fol. 68. 1.

And Judah went with Simeon his brother, and they slew the Canaanites that inhabited Zephath, and utterly destroyed it. And the name of the city was called Hormah.
17. Zephath] Only here; the site is unknown. So far as situation goes, es-Sebaita, 25 m. N.N.E. of ‘Ain el-Ḳadîs (Kadesh), would be suitable; but it has no philological connexion with Zephath (Ṣephath). The Canaanite name of the city which was known to the Hebrews as Hormah is not likely to have survived.

utterly destroyed] So the AV. and RV. render the verb, but RVm. devoted, lit. ‘placed under the ban,’ ḥérem RV. ‘devoted thing,’ AV. ‘accursed thing.’ Underlying the practice was the ancient principle of taboo; the ḥérem, as the Arabic meaning of the root shews, was something separated from common use, secluded, wholly made over to the deity and therefore inviolable. Hence in Arab. ḥarâm = sanctuary, the Moslem name of the temple area at Jerusalem; ḥarîm = the women’s chambers; in Aram. dialects the word is used in various forms of a sanctuary, a tomb (Nabataean), consecrated offerings (Palmyrene). Among the Moabites we have an account of the practice which reads almost like a passage in the O.T.; King Mesha ‘devoted’ 7000 Israelite prisoners to ‘Ashtar-Chemosh (Moab. Stone, lines 16–18). Among the Hebrews anything which might endanger the religious life of the community was put out of harm’s way by being ‘devoted’ to God, and whatever was thus placed under the ban had to be destroyed; e.g. the idolatrous Canaanites, or the idolatrous Israelite city, Joshua 10:1; Joshua 10:28 etc., Jdg 11:11 etc.; Deuteronomy 13:15-17; Leviticus 27:28 f. Instances of the practice are recorded in Joshua 7:1; Joshua 7:22-26; Jdg 21:10 ff.; 1 Samuel 15:3; 1 Samuel 15:8 f., 15 etc.

Hormah] i.e. devoted; but the explanation given here and in Numbers 21:3 JE is, perhaps, only literary. The name, like Hermon, Hŏrçm (Joshua 19:38), can also mean holy place, and the character of the city as sacred or inviolable may have been due to some other cause. Hormah is mentioned again in Numbers 14:45 JE, Deuteronomy 1:44; in Joshua 12:14 it comes immediately before Arad; in ib. Joshua 15:30 it belongs to Judah, in Jdg 19:4 to Simeon; it follows the cities of the Kenites on the list in 1 Samuel 30:30. Other traditions connected with Hormah, which differ from the present one, are preserved in Numbers 14:45; Numbers 21:1-3. In the latter fragment Hormah is ‘devoted’ after a repulse at Arad, by Israel, not by Judah and Simeon; it is implied that the former name of the place was Arad; and the episode is placed at an earlier stage of the history. It is best to recognize the differences; they can hardly be reconciled.Verse 17. - Judah went with Simeon. In ver. 3 Simeon went with Judah, because the places which follow were all in Judah's lot; but now we read, Judah went with Simeon, because Zephath or Hormah was in Simeon's lot (Joshua 19:4). For Hormah, identified by Robinson (2:181) with Es-sufeh, see Numbers 21:3. The Hebrew verb for "they utterly destroyed" is the root of the name Hormah, i.e. utter destruction. After the conquest of Jerusalem, the children of Judah (together with the Simeonites, Judges 1:3) went down to their own possessions, to make war upon the Canaanites in the mountains, the Negeb, and the shephelah (see at Joshua 15:48; Joshua 21:33), and to exterminate them. They first of all conquered Hebron and Debir upon the mountains (Judges 1:10-15), as has already been related in Joshua 15:14-19 (see the commentary on this passage). The forms עלּית and תּחתּית (Judges 1:15), instead of עלּיּות and תּחתּיּות (Joshua 15:19), are in the singular, and are construed with the plural form of the feminine גּלּות, because this is used in the sense of the singular, "a spring" (see Ewald, 318, a.).
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