Judges 1:24
And the spies saw a man come forth out of the city, and they said to him, Show us, we pray you, the entrance into the city, and we will show you mercy.
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(24) The spies.—Perhaps, rather, the scouts of the blockading squadron. The Israelites, like most ancient nations, were little able to take cities by storm, and relied either on blockade or on internal treachery.

Saw a man come forth.—Probably he stole out secretly, and was seized by the scouts. Similarly the Persians took Sardis by seizing a path used by a man who had dropped his helmet, and descended the hill fortress to pick it up (Herod. i. 84).

We will shew thee mercy.—They bribed him. with the promise of personal safety. (Compare Joshua 2:12; Joshua 2:6)

1:21-36 The people of Israel were very careless of their duty and interest. Owing to slothfulness and cowardice, they would not be at the pains to complete their conquests. It was also owing to their covetousness: they were willing to let the Canaanites live among them, that they might make advantage of them. They had not the dread and detestation of idolatry they ought to have had. The same unbelief that kept their fathers forty years out of Canaan, kept them now out of the full possession of it. Distrust of the power and promise of God deprived them of advantages, and brought them into troubles. Thus many a believer who begins well is hindered. His graces languish, his lusts revive, Satan plies him with suitable temptations, the world recovers its hold; he brings guilt into his conscience, anguish into his heart, discredit on his character, and reproach on the gospel. Though he may have sharp rebukes, and be so recovered that he does not perish, yet he will have deeply to lament his folly through his remaining days; and upon his dying bed to mourn over the opportunities of glorifying God and serving the church he has lost. We can have no fellowship with the enemies of God within us or around us, but to our hurt; therefore our only wisdom is to maintain unceasing war against them.Bethel was within the borders of Benjamin, but was captured, as we here learn, by the house of Joseph, who probably retained it. 24. the spies … said, … Show us, … the entrance into the city—that is, the avenues to the city, and the weakest part of the walls.

we will show thee mercy—The Israelites might employ these means of getting possession of a place which was divinely appropriated to them: they might promise life and rewards to this man, though he and all the Canaanites were doomed to destruction (Jos 2:12-14); but we may assume the promise was suspended on his embracing the true religion, or quitting the country, as he did. If they had seen him to be firmly opposed to either of these alternatives, they would not have constrained him by promises any more than by threats to betray his countrymen. But if they found him disposed to be serviceable, and to aid the invaders in executing the will of God, they might promise to spare him.

The entrance into the city; on which side it is weakest, that we may best invade and take it. And the spies saw a man come forth out of the city,.... Or "the keepers" (r); those that were sent to watch, and observe, and get what intelligence they could of the city, and the way into it:

and they said unto him, show us, we pray, thee, the entrance into the city; not the gate or gates of it, which no doubt were visible enough, but some private way into it; the Jews, as before observed, think the entrance was by the way of a cave, or some hidden passage, of which Jarchi and Kimchi make mention:

and we will show thee mercy; give him a reward for it, or spare him and his family when the city came into their hands.

(r) "custodes", Pagninus, Montanus; "observatores", Vatablus, Drusius, Junius & Tremellius, Piscator.

And the spies saw a man come forth out of the city, and they said unto him, Show us, we pray thee, the entrance into the city, and we will show thee mercy.
24. watchers] i.e. the Israelite outposts. The word favours an emendation such as ‘encamped’ in Jdg 1:23; cf. 2 Samuel 11:16.

the entrance into the city] i.e. not the gate, but the point where the city could be most easily entered by an attacking party. For the stipulation cf. Joshua 2:12 f.Verse 24. - We will show thee mercy. Compare the saving of Rahab alive, with all her house, at the taking of Jericho (Joshua 6:23). This history is not preserved in the parallel place in Joshua 16. From 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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