Judges 1:19
And the LORD was with Judah; and he drove out the inhabitants of the mountain; but could not drive out the inhabitants of the valley, because they had chariots of iron.
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(19) The Lord was with Judah.—The Targum here has “The Word of the Lord.” The expression is frequently used to imply insured prosperity (Genesis 39:23; 1Samuel 18:14; 2Kings 18:7. Comp. Matthew 18:20).

But.—Rather, for (): i.e., they only dispossessed their enemies of the mountain, for, &c.

Could not.—The Hebrew seems purposely to avoid this expression, and says “there was no driving out.” Judah could have driven them out; but their faith was cowed by the (Judges 1:19) iron chariots.

The valley.—Here Emek, not Shephelah. “Broad sweeps between parallel ranges of hills,” like, e.g., the “valley of Jezreel,” i.e., the plain of Esdraelon. It differs from Gî, which means a gorge or ravine.

Chariots of iron.—See Judges 4:3; Joshua 11:6-9; Joshua 17:16; 1Samuel 13:6. R. Tanchum makes it mean “very strong chariots;” but the phrase means either “chariots with iron-bound wheels,” or “scythed chariots.” Ktesias attributes scythed chariots to Ninus, but none are seen on the Nineveh sculptures, and it is doubtful whether they were known so early. Xenophon says that scythed chariots were invented by Cyrus, which would not be till five centuries after this period. For this clause the LXX. have,” because Rechab resisted them,” mistaking rekeb, “chariot,” for a proper name (as they often do with other words). Hence the notion of Theodoret that the Kenites, to which Rechab belonged (2Kings 10:15-23; Jeremiah 35:2), secretly helped the Philistines, is quite groundless. We see a reason for the partial failure of the Israelites in the fact that at this time they had not attained to the same level of civilisation as the Canaanites in arts and arms. This advantage could only have been rendered unavailing by more faith and faithfulness than they showed in their conduct. “Their warriors often rather overran than subdued the land. . . . The chariots and better arms of the Canaanites rendered the conquest of the valleys and plains long and laborious, especially to Joseph, Judah, and Dan. . . . The Hebrews ‘walked upon the high places of the land’ (Psalm 18:33; 2Samuel 22:34; Habakkuk 3:19; Isaiah 58:14; Deuteronomy 32:13; Deuteronomy 32:29; Deuteronomy 32:33); but these heights were often encompassed like islands by the inhabitants of the valleys” (Ewald, ii. 264).

Jdg 1:19. Could not drive out the inhabitants of the valley — Because of their unbelief, through which they distrusted God’s power to destroy those who had chariots of iron, and so gave way to their own fear and sloth, whereby God was provoked to withdraw his helping hand.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. 19. the Lord was with Judah; … but they could not drive out the inhabitants of the valley—The war was of the Lord, whose omnipotent aid would have ensured their success in every encounter, whether on the mountains or the plains, with foot soldiers or cavalry. It was distrust, the want of a simple and firm reliance on the promise of God, that made them afraid of the iron chariots (see on [210]Jos 11:4-9). On account of their unbelief, whereby they doubted and distrusted God’s power to destroy those who had chariots of iron and so gave way to their own fear and sloth, whereby God was provoked to withdraw his helping hand from them, and so they were really made impotent, as they were unwilling. See Joshua 17:16. And the Lord was with Judah,.... Encouraging, strengthening, succeeding, and giving the tribe victory over the Canaanites; the Targum is,"the Word of the Lord was for the help of the house of Judah:"

and he drove out the inhabitants of the mountains; the mountainous part of Judea, such as was about Jerusalem, and where Hebron stood, and other cities, see Joshua 15:48, &c. which though fortified both by nature and man, yet God being with them, they were easily subdued:

but could not drive out the inhabitants of the valley; God forsaking them, because they were afraid of them, for a reason after mentioned, or through slothfulness, and being weary of fighting, or because they fell into some sins, which occasioned the divine displeasure; so the Targum,"after they had sinned, they could not drive out the inhabitants of the valley:"

because they had chariots of iron; but this was no reason why they could not drive them out, if God was with them, who could as easily have delivered these into their hands, as the inhabitants of the mountains; but is the reason why they were afraid to fight with them, and to attempt to drive them out, and which they themselves gave why they did not.

And the LORD was with Judah; and he drave out the inhabitants of the mountain; but could not drive out the inhabitants of the valley, because they had chariots of iron.
19. The natural place for this verse is after Jdg 1:7, i. e. after the account of Judah’s first success in the Southern Highlands. He conquered the hill country, but the inhabitants of the plain were too strong for him. There is no one word for the Hebr. verb meaning ‘drive out,’ ‘dispossess,’ ‘conquer.’

for he could not drive out] lit. ‘for (he was) not for driving out,’ a most unusual construction; correct he was not able to drive out, so two Hebr. MSS. and the Versions. The text of Jdg 1:21; Jdg 1:27; Jdg 1:32 is to be corrected in the same way. Comparing Jdg 1:21 with Joshua 15:63, Jdg 1:27 with ib. Jdg 17:12, 2 Chronicles 8:8 with 1 Kings 9:21, we note a tendency to obliterate the impotence of Israel. In this chap. the editor’s theory (Jdg 2:1 b–5a) has influenced the alteration: the cause of the tribes’ failure was not their inability to match the Canaanites, but their unfaithfulness (so Targum here).

the inhabitants of the valley] i.e. of the Philistine plain, between the hills and the sea; see Jdg 1:18 note.

chariots of iron] Cf. Jdg 4:3; Jdg 4:13, Joshua 17:16; Joshua 17:18; i.e. plated or studded with iron, like the Hittite chariots figured on Egyptian monuments: the currus falcati, i. e. scythed chariots, as Vulgate renders, were not yet invented. The horses and chariots of the Canaanites were probably adopted from the Egyptians; but ultimately, like those of the Egyptians, from the Hittites or N. Syrians. Recent excavations confirm what we learn from the O.T. Thus at Taanach iron implements have been found in large quantities; at Megiddo they occur plentifully first at the period which is dated in the middle of the Israelite monarchy, also much earlier but in smaller quantities. In Egypt iron was in common use at the time of the Exodus, and considerably earlier; it came chiefly from the mines in the Sinaitic Peninsula.Verse 19. - Chariots of iron. The chariots of the Canaanites were very formidable to the Israelites, who had no means of coping with them. Thus we are told of Jabin, king of Canaan, who reigned in Hazer, that he had 900 chariots of iron, and mightily oppressed the children of Israel. They were later an important part of King Solomon's army (1 Kings 10:26). See too Joshua 17:16. 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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