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. 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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