Judges 1:5
And they found Adonibezek in Bezek: and they fought against him, and they slew the Canaanites and the Perizzites.
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(5) They found.—The expression perhaps alludes to the suddenness of their march, which enabled them to take the lord of Bezek by surprise.

Adoni-bezek.—This is not a proper name, but a title, meaning “lord of Bezek,” as Adoni-zedek, in Joshua 10:1, and perhaps Melchi-zedek, in Genesis 14:18.

They slew the Canaanites and the Perizzites.—This seems to refer to a second battle, or perhaps to the slaughter in the city after the battle described in the last verse.

Jdg 1:5-6. Adoni-bezek in Bezek — He was the king or lord of that place, as his name imports, and, as it appears, he had fled into it for safety when he had lost the field. They fought against him — That is, against the city wherein he had taken refuge, and against the rest of his army. Cut off his thumbs and great toes — That he might be incapable of war hereafter, being rendered unable to handle arms, or to run swiftly. This severe treatment had been practised upon other kings by himself, as appears, by his own confession, in the next verse, which, it is probable, made the Israelites think it reasonable to serve him in the same way: and perhaps they acted by the direction of God in the matter.

1:1-8 The Israelites were convinced that the war against the Canaanites was to be continued; but they were in doubt as to the manner in which it was to be carried on after the death of Joshua. In these respects they inquired of the Lord. God appoints service according to the strength he has given. From those who are most able, most work is expected. Judah was first in dignity, and must be first in duty. Judah's service will not avail unless God give success; but God will not give the success, unless Judah applies to the service. Judah was the most considerable of all the tribes, and Simeon the least; yet Judah begs Simeon's friendship, and prays for aid from him. It becomes Israelites to help one another against Canaanites; and all Christians, even those of different tribes, should strengthen one another. Those who thus help one another in love, have reason to hope that God will graciously help both. Adoni-bezek was taken prisoner. This prince had been a severe tyrant. The Israelites, doubtless under the Divine direction, made him suffer what he had done to others; and his own conscience confessed that he was justly treated as he had treated others. Thus the righteous God sometimes, in his providence, makes the punishment answer the sin.The Canaanites and the Perizzites - See Genesis 12:6, note; Genesis 13:7, note. Bezek may be the name of a district. It has not yet been identified. 5, 6. Bezek—This place lay within the domain of Judah, about twelve miles south of Jerusalem.

found Adoni-bezek—that is, "lord of Bezek"—he was "found," that is, surprised and routed in a pitched battle, whence he fled; but being taken prisoner, he was treated with a severity unusual among the Israelites, for they "cut off his thumbs and great toes." Barbarities of various kinds were commonly practised on prisoners of war in ancient times, and the object of this particular mutilation of the hands and feet was to disable them for military service ever after. The infliction of such a horrid cruelty on this Canaanite chief would have been a foul stain on the character of the Israelites if there were not reason for believing it was done by them as an act of retributive justice, and as such it was regarded by Adoni-bezek himself, whose conscience read his atrocious crimes in their punishment.

Adoni-bezek; the lord or king of Bezek, as his name signifies,

in Bezek; whither he fled, when he had lost the field.

Against him, i.e. against the city wherein he had encamped himself, and the rest of his army.

And they found Adonibezek in Bezek,.... Who was king of, the place, and whose name signifies lord of Bezek; not that they took him there, for he is afterwards said to make his escape from thence, but here he was when they came against that city, and into which they rushed upon him, and fell upon him as follows:

and they fought against him; entering the city with their forces:

and they slew the Canaanites and the Perizzites: that were in it, or about it, even to the number of ten thousand, as before related, Judges 1:4.

And they found Adonibezek in Bezek: and they fought against him, and they slew the Canaanites and the Perizzites.
5. And they found] The plural verb is the natural continuation of Jdg 1:3.

Adoni-bezek in Bezek] The chieftain’s name was no doubt taken to mean ‘lord of Bezek,’ as though he were called after his capital; but Jdg 1:7 at least suggests that Jerusalem was his capital, not Bezek. No proper names in the O.T. are compounded with the name of a place; and by all analogy Adoni-bezek must mean ‘(the god) Bezek is Lord.’ A god Bezek, however, is unknown. The double Bezek excites suspicion: in Bezek may be allowed to stand, because the context requires the name of a place; the error probably lies in the name of the chief. It is difficult to resist the conclusion that Adoni-bezek here is the same person as Adoni-zedek in Joshua 10:1; Joshua 10:3, the head of the Canaanite confederacy which is said to have opposed the Israelite invasion after the capture of Ai. Advancing from Gilgal or Jericho the first stronghold to confront the invaders would be Jerusalem; and by correcting ‘Adoni-bezek’ to Adoni-zedek king of Jerusalem, the form in which Joshua gives the text, we obtain the right situation for Judah’s first encounter. The name Adoni-zedek (cf. the Hebrew Adoni-jah and the Phoenician Adoni-eshmun) means Zedek, or rather Ṣedeḳ, is Lord, Zedek being the Canaanite (Phoen.) god Συδέκ (Philo Bybl., Fragm. Hist. Graec. iii. 569); cf. the Canaanite names Ben-ṣedeḳ (Amarna Letters, no. 125, 37 ed. Winckler), Ṣidḳi-milk (Cooke, North-Semitic Inscriptions, p. 349), Melki-ṣedeḳ Genesis 14:18, Psalm 110:4. Probably the Hebrew scribes altered the name in order to introduce a distinction between the two narratives in Jud. and Josh.; ‘Bezek’ suggested itself from the context; and the whole name was given the erroneous meaning ‘lord of Bezek.’ The Greek scribes, on the other hand, identified the two names by reading Adoni-bezek both in Josh, and in Jud. (LXX). Another way of accounting for the alteration is proposed by Moore: by changing Adoni-zedek to Adoni-bezek it was possible to give the name a contemptuous twist, ‘the Lord scatters’; in Aram. bezaḳ = ‘scatter.’ The situation of the town Bezek is unknown, but it was probably near Jerusalem, Jdg 1:7 b. The Bezek of 1 Samuel 11:8 = the modern Ibzik on the road to Bçsân, 14 m. N.E. of Nâblus, is too far north and outside the range of Judah’s operations. Possibly the name has not been preserved correctly; Azekah (Joshua 10:10) is suggested as an improvement (Steuernagel, Einwanderung, p. 85).

the Canaanites and the Perizzites] Cf. Jdg 1:4; mentioned together in Genesis 13:7; Genesis 34:30 J; both appear in the lists of the seven nations of Canaan, e.g. Deuteronomy 7:1. What the difference was between them is not known; ‘Perizzites’ seems to be a formation from perâzî = ‘country folk,’ ‘inhabitants of unwalled towns’; perhaps the name was given not to a separate tribe, but to the Canaanites who lived in the villages or open country.

Verse 5. - Bezek. The site of it is unknown; it is thought to be a different place from the Bezek of 1 Samuel 11:8. Adoni-bezek means the lord of Bezek. He was the conqueror of seventy petty kings. Judges 1:5"And Judah went up," sc., against the Canaanites, to make war upon them.

The completion of the sentence is supplied by the context, more especially by Judges 1:2. So far as the sense is concerned, Rosenmller has given the correct explanation of ויּעל, "Judah entered upon the expedition along with Simeon." "And they smote the Canaanites and the Perizzites in Bezek, 10,000 men." The result of the war is summed up briefly in these words; and then in Judges 1:5-7 the capture and punishment of the hostile king Adoni-bezek is specially mentioned as being the most important event in the war. The foe is described as consisting of Canaanites and Perizzites, two tribes which have been already named in Genesis 13:7 and Genesis 34:30 as representing the entire population of Canaan, "the Canaanites" comprising principally those in the lowlands by the Jordan and the Mediterranean (vid., Numbers 13:29; Joshua 11:3), and "the Perizzites" the tribes who dwelt in the mountains (Joshua 17:15). On the Perizzites, see Genesis 13:7. The place mentioned, Bezek, is only mentioned once more, namely in 1 Samuel 11:8, where it is described as being situated between Gibeah of Saul (see at Joshua 18:28) and Jabesh in Gilead. According to the Onom. (s. v. Bezek), there were at that time two places very near together both named Bezek, seventeen Roman miles from Neapolis on the road to Scythopolis, i.e., about seven hours to the north of Nabulus on the road to Beisan. This description is perfectly reconcilable with 1 Samuel 11:8. On the other hand, Clericus (ad h. l.), Rosenmller, and v. Raumer suppose the Bezek mentioned here to have been situated in the territory of Judah; though this cannot be proved, since it is merely based upon an inference drawn from Judges 1:3, viz., that Judah and Simeon simply attacked the Canaanites in their own allotted territories-an assumption which is very uncertain. There is no necessity, however, to adopt the opposite and erroneous opinion of Bertheau, that the tribes of Judah and Simeon commenced their expedition to the south from the gathering-place of the united tribes at Shechem, and fought the battle with the Canaanitish forces in that region upon this expedition; since Shechem is not described in Josha as the gathering-place of the united tribes, i.e., of the whole of the military force of Israel, and the battle fought with Adoni-bezek did not take place at the time when the tribes prepared to leave Shiloh and march to their own possessions after the casting of the lots was over. The simplest explanation is, that when the tribes of Judah and Simeon prepared to make war upon the Canaanites in the possessions allotted to them, they were threatened or attacked by the forces of the Canaanites collected together by Adoni-bezek, so that they had first of all to turn their arms against this king before they could attack the Canaanites in their own tribe-land. As the precise circumstances connected with the occasion and course of this war have not been recorded, there is nothing to hinder the supposition that Adoni-bezek may have marched from the north against the possession of Benjamin and Judah, possibly with the intention of joining the Canaanites in Jebus, and the Anakim in Hebron and upon the mountains in the south, and then making a combined attack upon the Israelites. This might induce or even compel Judah and Simeon to attack this enemy first of all, and even to pursue him till they overtook him at his capital Bezek, and smote him with all his army. Adoni-bezek, i.e., lord of Bezek, is the official title of this king, whose proper name is unknown.

In the principal engagement, in which 10,000 Canaanites fell, Adoni-bezek escaped; but he was overtaken in his flight (Judges 1:6, Judges 1:7), and so mutilated, by the cutting off of his thumbs and great toes, that he could neither carry arms nor flee. With this cruel treatment, which the Athenians are said to have practised upon the capture Aegynetes (Aelian, var. hist. ii. 9), the Israelites simply executed the just judgment of retribution, as Adoni-bezek was compelled to acknowledge, for the cruelties which he had inflicted upon captives taken by himself. "Seventy kings," he says in Judges 1:7, "with the thumbs of their hands and feet cut off, were gathering under my table. As I have done, so God hath requited me." מקצּצים ... בּהנות, lit. "cut in the thumbs of their hands and feet" (see Ewald, Lehrb. 284 c.). The object to מלקּטים, "gathering up" (viz., crumbs), is easily supplied from the idea of the verb itself. Gathering up crumbs under the table, like the dogs in Matthew 15:27, is a figurative representation of the most shameful treatment and humiliation. "Seventy" is a round number, and is certainly an exaggerated hyperbole here. For even if every town of importance in Canaan had its own king, the fact that, when Joshua conquered the land, he only smote thirty-one kings, is sufficient evidence that there can hardly have been seventy kings to be found in all Canaan. It appears strange, too, that the king of Bezek is not mentioned in connection with the conquest of Canaan under Joshua. Bezek was probably situated more on the side towards the valley of the Jordan, where the Israelites under Joshua did not go. Possibly, too, the culminating point of Adoni-bezek's power, when he conquered so many kings, was before the arrival of the Israelites in Canaan, and it may at that time have begun to decline; so that he did not venture to undertake anything against the combined forces of Israel under Joshua, and it was not till the Israelitish tribes separated to go to their own possessions, that he once more tried the fortunes of war and was defeated. The children of Judah took him with them to Jerusalem, where he died.

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