Judges 1:18
Also Judah took Gaza with the coast thereof, and Askelon with the coast thereof, and Ekron with the coast thereof.
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(18) Took Gaza . . . Askelon . . . Ekron.—Three of the five Philistian lordships, to which the LXX. add Ashdod (Azotus). In Joshua 13:3 these five townships are mentioned as still unconquered, and here the LXX. put in a negative—“Judah did not inherit Gaza, nor,” &c. St. Augustine had the same reading. It is, however, possible that “not” may have been conjecturally added because of the apparent discrepancy between this passage and Judges 3:8; or, again, “did not inherit” may be a sort of explanatory gloss on the “took.” Josephus (Antt. v. 2, § 4) says that Askelon and Ashdod were taken in the war, but that Gaza and Ekron escaped, because their situation in the plains enabled them to use their chariots; yet in 3, § 1, he says that the Canaanites re-conquered Askelon and Ekron. In any case, the conquest was very transitory. (See Joshua 11:22; Judges 3:3; Judges 3:13 seq.)

Jdg 1:18. Judah also took Gaza, Askelon, and Ekron — These three cities were in the country of the Philistines, upon the sea-coast, and the Israelites did not hold them long before the Philistines recovered them again. For as the Israelites contented themselves with taking these cities, and making the people tributary without destroying them, it was not difficult for them to regain their liberty.

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.It is remarkable that Ashdod is not here mentioned, as it is in Joshua 15:46-47, in conjunction with Gaza and Ekron; but that Askelon, which is not in the list of the cities of Judah at all, is named in its stead. (See Joshua 13:3 note.) It is a curious fact that when Rameses III took Askelon it was occupied, not by Philistines, but apparently by Hebrews. Rameses began to reign in 1269 B.C., and reigned 25 years. At any time between 1269 and 1244 B.C. such occupation of Askelon by Hebrews agrees with the Book of Judges. 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.

The principal cities of the Philistines.

Quest. How could this be, when among the people left to try Israel, are the five lords of the Philistines, Judges 3:3.

Answ. It is only said that 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, Judges 1:5,8,17,25. And the people being thus spared, did by God’s just judgement recover their strength, and expel the Jews out of their cities, as we find afterwards. It is further observable, that Ekron here taken was one of Dan’s cities, Joshua 19:43, and it was attempted and taken here by Judah and Simeon, partly out of love to their brother Dan, and partly to secure their new conquests, and other adjoining territories, from such potent neighbours.

Also Judah took Gaza, with the coast thereof,.... Which by lot fell to that tribe, Joshua 15:47; it was not till now subdued:

and Ashkelon with the coast thereof; which, according to our countryman Sandys (q), was ten miles from Gaza:

and Ekron with the coast thereof; this also is the lot that fell to Judah, but was afterwards given to the tribe of Dan, Joshua 15:45; for whom Judah now fought and took it; but in a short time all these places were retaken, and possessed by the Philistines, and were three of their five principalities which they ever after retained, see Judges 3:3.

(q) Travels, p. 118. Ed. 5.

Also Judah took {i} Gaza with the coast thereof, and Askelon with the coast thereof, and Ekron with the coast thereof.

(i) These cities and others were later possessed by the Philistines, 1Sa 6:17.

18. The statement that Judah captured three out of the five chief cities of the Philistines cannot be reconciled with any ancient tradition; it contradicts the next verse and Jdg 3:3, Joshua 13:2 f.; it represents the unhistorical theory of the conquest which is found in Jdg 1:4; Jdg 1:8-9, and like them must be regarded as the work of a late redaction. The LXX reads ‘and Judah did not dispossess’ (a different word from ‘took’), and other versions insert the negative; this seems to get over the difficulty; but the LXX version here has little critical value. The expression ‘with the border thereof,’ instead of ‘and the daughters thereof’ (Jdg 1:27), betrays a different hand.

Verse 18. - Gaza, etc. Gaza, Askelon, and Ekron, were all cities of the Philistines. But though Judah took these cities, it seems he was not able permanently to expel the inhabitants. Judges 1:18From the Negeb Judah turned into the shephelah, and took the three principal cities of the Philistines along the line of coast, viz., Gaza, Askelon, and Ekron, with their territory. The order in which the names of the captured cities occur is a proof that the conquest took place from the south. First of all Gaza, the southernmost of all the towns of the Philistines, the present Guzzeh; then Askelon (Ashkuln), which is five hours to the north of Gaza; and lastly Ekron, the most northerly of the five towns of the Philistines, the present Akr (see at Joshua 13:3). The other two, Ashdod and Gath, do not appear to have been conquered at that time. And even those that were conquered, the Judaeans were unable to hold long. In the time of Samson they were all of them in the hands of the Philistines again (see Judges 14:19; Judges 16:1.; 1 Samuel 5:10, etc.). - In Judges 1:19 we have a brief summary of the results of the contests for the possession of the land. "Jehovah was with Judah;" and with His help they took possession of the mountains. And they did nothing more; "for the inhabitants of the plain they were unable to exterminate, because they had iron chariots." הורישׁ has two different meanings in the two clauses: first (ויּרשׁ), to seize upon a possession which has been vacated by the expulsion or destruction of its former inhabitants; and secondly (להורישׁ, with the accusative, of the inhabitants), to drive or exterminate them out of their possessions-a meaning which is derived from the earlier signification of making it an emptied possession (see Exodus 34:24; Numbers 32:21, etc.). "The mountain" here includes the south-land (the Negeb), as the only distinction is between mountains and plain. "The valley" is the shephelah (Judges 1:9). להורישׁ לא, he was not (able) to drive out. The construction may be explained from the fact that לא is to be taken independently here as in Amos 6:10, in the same sense in which אין before the infinitive is used in later writings (2 Chronicles 5:11; Esther 4:2; Esther 8:8; Ecclesiastes 3:14 : see Ges. 132-3, anm. 1; Ewald, 237, e.). On the iron chariots, i.e., the chariots tipped with iron, see at Joshua 17:16. - To this there is appended, in v. 20, the statement that "they gave Hebron unto Caleb," etc., which already occurred in Joshua 15:13-14, and was there explained; and also in Judges 1:12 the remark, that the Benjaminites did not drive out the Jebusite who dwelt in Jerusalem, which is so far in place here, that it shows, on the one hand, that the children of Judah did not bring Jerusalem into the undisputed possession of the Israelites through this conquest, and, on the other hand, that it was not their intention to diminish the inheritance of Benjamin by the conquest of Jerusalem, and they had not taken the city for themselves. For further remarks, see at Judges 1:8.

The hostile attacks of the other tribes upon the Canaanites who remained in the land are briefly summed up in Judges 1:22-36. Of these the taking of Bethel is more fully described in Judges 1:22-26. Besides this, nothing more is given than the list of the towns in the territories of western Manasseh (Judges 1:27, Judges 1:28), Ephraim (Judges 1:29), Zebulun (Judges 1:30), Asher (Judges 1:31, Judges 1:32), Naphtali (Judges 1:33), and Dan (Judges 1:34, Judges 1:35), out of which the Canaanites were not exterminated by these tribes. Issachar is omitted; hardly, however, because that tribe made no attempt to disturb the Canaanites, as Bertheau supposes, but rather because none of its towns remained in the hands of the Canaanites.

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