Judges 1:7
And Adonibezek said, Three score and ten kings, having their thumbs and their great toes cut off, gathered their meat under my table: as I have done, so God has requited me. And they brought him to Jerusalem, and there he died.
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(7) Threescore and ten kings.—The number might seem incredible, were it not that the title “king” was freely given to every petty Emir, and even to village Sheykhs. The “seventy” kings may have been the rulers of the towns which Adoni-bezek had taken in extending the territory of Bezek. Josephus says seventy-two kings (Antt. v. 2, § 2), and this common variation is found in some MSS. of the LXX. The Persians treated their Greek captives in this way (Curtius, v. 5,6). Mutilation in the East was so common that it was hardly accounted cruel (Xen. Anab. i. 9-13). Cutting off the hand or foot was the prescribed Mohammedan punishment for theft in British India (Mill, iii. 447), and many mutilated persons are still to be seen in Northern Scinde (see Grote’s Greece, xii. 235).

Gathered their meat under my table.—The words “their meat” are wanting in the original. Adoni-bezek, with cruel insolence, treated these subject Sheykhs like dogs “which eat of the fragments that fall from the table of their lords” (Matthew 15:27). Posidonius says that the king of Parthia used to fling food to his courtiers, who seized it like dogs (Athen. 4:152). The existence of these feuds among the Canaanites would render the task of the Israelites more easy.

As I have done, so God hath requited me.—Comp. Judges 8:19; 1Samuel 15:33, “As thy sword hath made women childless, so shall thy mother be childless among women;” Judges 15:11, “As they (the Philistines) did unto me, so have 1 (Samson) done unto them;” Jeremiah 51:56, “The Lord God of recompences shall surely requite thee;” Exodus 18:11, “For the thing wherein they sinned came upon them.” (See Matthew 7:2; Galatians 6:7; James 2:13.) The word used for God is Elohim. In Greek theology this punishment of like by like is called “the retribution of Neoptolemus,” who murdered Priam at an altar, and was himself murdered at an altar (Pausan. v. 17, 3). The fate of Phalaris, burnt in his own brazen bull (Ovid, De Art. Am. i. 653), and of Dionysius (Ælian, Var. Hist. ix. 8), were also prominent illustrations of the law. We must not suppose that this Canaanite prince worshipped Jehovah, but only that he recognised generally that a Divine retribution had overtaken him. It is one of the commonest facts of history that

“Even-handed justice

Commends the ingredients of the poisoned chalice

To our own lips.”

This truth, “that wherewithal a man sinneth, by the same also shall he be punished,” is magnificently, if somewhat fancifully, worked out in Wisdom 11, 17, 18

They brought him to Jerusalem.—Rabbi Tanchum, author of the celebrated traditional Midrash (or “exposition”), says that this notice must be prospective, i.e., it must refer to a time subsequent to the conquest of Jerusalem mentioned in the next verse. It may, however, merely mean that they kept him with them in their camp when they advanced to the siege of Jerusalem; or the “they” may refer to his own people. The Israelites may have contemptuously spared his life, and suffered him to join his own people, as a living monument of God’s vengeance. In any case the name Jerusalem is used by anticipation, for it seems to have been called Jebus till the days of David. As it is also called Jebusi (i.e., “the Jebusite”) in Joshua 15:8; Joshua 18:16, probably the name of the town comes from that of the tribe, and the derivation of it is unknown. The meaning “dry” suggested by Ewald is very uncertain.

Jdg 1:7. Threescore and ten kings — Anciently each ruler of a city or great town was called a king, and had kingly power in that place; and many such kings we meet with in Canaan; and it is probable that, some years before, kings had been more numerous there, till the greater destroyed many of the less. Add to this, that it is likely some of these seventy kings had reigned in one and the same place, and had successively opposed him. Have gathered their meat under my table — An act of barbarous inhumanity, thus to insult over the miserable, joined with abominable luxury. So that it appears, by his own confession, he had been proud and insolent, as well as cruel, to a most high degree; and therefore what befell him may well be considered, which indeed he acknowledges, as a just punishment inflicted upon him by the order of Divine Providence. As I have done, so hath God requited me — This, his acknowledgment of God’s justice in his punishment, hath made some think he became a penitent and convert to the true religion. He speaks not of gods, as was customary with the heathen, but of God, in the singular number; and this appearance of penitence and faith in the true God might possibly be the reason why the Israelites spared his life.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.Threescore and ten kings - We may infer from this number of conquered kings, that the intestine wars of the Canaanites were among the causes which, under God's Providence, weakened their resistance to the Israelites. Adoni-Bezek's cruelty to the subject kings was the cause of his receiving (compare the marginal references) this chastisement. The loss of the thumb would make a man unfit to handle a sword or a bow; the loss of his big toe would impede his speed. 7. Threescore and ten kings—So great a number will not appear strange, when it is considered that anciently every ruler of a city or large town was called a king. It is not improbable that in that southern region of Canaan, there might, in earlier times, have been even more till a turbulent chief like Adoni-bezek devoured them in his insatiable ambition. Threescore and ten kings; which is not strange in those times and places; for these might be either, first, kings successively, and so there might be divers of those kings in one place, and so in others; or, secondly, contemporary kings. For it is well known that anciently each ruler of a city, or great town, was called a king, and had kingly power in that place; and many such kings we meet with in Canaan; and it is probable that some years before kings were more numerous there, till the greater devoured many of the less.

Having their thumbs cut off, that so their hands might be unable to manage weapons of war.

Gathered their meat under my table; an act of barbarous inhumanity thus to insult over the miserable, joined with abominable luxury.

God hath requited me: he acknowledgeth the providence and vindictive justice of God, which also Pharaoh did, and others too, without any true sense of piety.

They brought him; they carried him in triumph, as a monument of God’s righteous vengeance.

To Jerusalem; it being the metropolis of the nation. And Adonibezek said,.... To the men of Judah, after his thumbs and toes were cut off, his conscience accusing him for what he had done to others, and being obliged to acknowledge he was righteously dealt with:

threescore and ten kings, having their thumbs and their great toes cut off; that is, by him, or by his orders, whom he had conquered and made captives; according to Josephus (g), they were seventy two; the number may be accounted for by observing, that in those times, as appears by the preceding book, every city had a king over it; and besides, these seventy kings might not be such who had had the government of so many cities, but many of them such who had reigned successively in the same city, and had fallen into the hands of this cruel and tyrannical king, one after another, and their sons also with them might be so called: and these he says

gathered their meat under my table: were glad to eat of the crumbs and scraps which fell from thence, and might in their turns be put there at times for his sport and pleasure, and there be fed with the offal of his meat, as Bajazet the Turk was served by Tamerlane, who put him into an iron cage, and carried him about in it, and used him as his footstool to mount his horse, and at times fed him like a dog with crumbs from his table (h):

as I have done, so God hath requited me; whether he had any knowledge of the true God, and of his justice in dealing with him according to his deserts, and had a real sense of his sin, and true repentance for it, is not certain; since the word for God is in the plural number, and sometimes used of Heathen deities, as it may be here by him; however, the righteous judgment of God clearly appears in this instance:

and they brought him to Jerusalem; to that part of Jerusalem which belonged to the tribe of Judah; see Joshua 15:8; here they brought him alive, and dying, buried him, as Josephus (i) says; which might be their view in carrying him thither, perceiving he was a dying man; or they had him thither to expose him as a trophy of victory, and as an example of divine justice:

and there he died: whether through grief and vexation, or of the wounds he had received, or by the immediate hand of God, or by the hands of the Israelites, is not said; neither are improbable.

(g) Antiqu. l. 5. c. 2. sect. 2.((h) Such dogs are called , in Homer. Iliad. 23. ver. 173. & Odyss. 17. ver. 227. (i) Antiqu. l. 5. c. 2. sect. 2.

And Adonibezek said, Threescore and ten kings, having their thumbs and their great toes cut off, gathered their meat under my table: as I have done, so God hath requited me. And they brought him to Jerusalem, and there he died.
7. Threescore and ten kings] Seventy is a round number; the sheikhs of the Canaanite towns were numerous, and they were continually fighting. Adoni-zedek was evidently a powerful and important chief among them, as is also implied by Joshua 10:1 ff. His words are not so much a savage boast as an acknowledgment of the irony of fate, and of the divine justice of the lex talionis.

gathered their meat] used to pick up scraps, like dogs (St Matthew 15:27; Odyss. xvii. 309), while the master sat on the ground, or, as in Saul’s time, on a seat by the wall, 1 Samuel 20:25. The captives were not, of course, actually under the table, which was a low stand supporting a round wooden or metal tray for the food.

And they brought him to Jerusalem] The subject is naturally the same as in Jdg 1:6, i.e. the men of Judah, implying that Jerusalem was already in their hands; but Jdg 1:21 (see Joshua 15:63) expressly states that this was not the case. Though the context does not favour such a construction, the subject may be taken as indefinite, ‘men brought him,’ ‘he was brought,’ i.e. by his servants. According to Joshua 10 Adoni-zedek was king of Jerusalem; his title may have been omitted in Jdg 1:5, as noted above.

In the original narrative Jdg 1:7 was probably followed by Jdg 1:19; Jdg 1:21 (corrected), which continue the history of Judah, and therefore should precede the accounts of the subordinate clans (Jdg 1:10-17; Jdg 1:20). After Jerusalem (Jdg 1:21), the next important place to be attacked would be Hebron (Jdg 1:10).With the words "Now, after the death of Joshua, it came to pass," the book of Judges takes up the thread of the history where the book of Joshua had dropped it, to relate the further development of the covenant nation. A short time before his death, Joshua had gathered the elders and heads of the people around him, and set before them the entire destruction of the Canaanites through the omnipotent help of the Lord, if they would only adhere with fidelity to the Lord; whilst, at the same time, he also pointed out to them the dangers of apostasy from the Lord (Joshua 23). Remembering this admonition and warning, the Israelites inquired, after Joshua's death, who should begin the war against the Canaanites who still remained to be destroyed; and the Lord answered, "Judah shall go up: behold, I have delivered the land into his hand" (Judges 1:1, Judges 1:2). בּיהוה שׁאל, to ask with Jehovah for the purpose of obtaining a declaration of the divine will, is substantially the same as האוּרים בּמשׁפּט שׁאל (Numbers 27:21), to inquire the will of the Lord through the Urim and Thummim of the high priest. From this time forward inquiring of the Lord occurs with greater frequency (vid., Judges 20:23, Judges 20:27; 1 Samuel 10:22; 1 Samuel 22:10; 1 Samuel 23:2, etc.), as well as the synonymous expression "ask of Elohim" in Judges 18:5; Judges 20:18; 1 Samuel 14:37; 1 Samuel 22:13; 1 Chronicles 14:10; whereas Moses and Joshua received direct revelations from God. The phrase אל־הכּנעני יעלה, "go up to the Canaanites," is defined more precisely by the following words, "to fight against them;" so that עלה is used here also to denote the campaign against a nation (see at Joshua 8:1), without there being any necessity, however, for us to take אל in the sense of על. בתּחלּה עלה signifies "to go up in the beginning," i.e., to open or commence the war; not to hold the commandership in the war, as the Sept., Vulgate, and others render it (see Judges 10:18, where להלּחם יחל is expressly distinguished from being the chief or leader). Moreover, מי does not mean who? i.e., what person, but, as the answer clearly shows, what tribe? Now a tribe could open the war, and take the lead at the head of the other tribes, but could not be the commander-in-chief. In the present instance, however, Judah did not even enter upon the war at the head of all the tribes, but simply joined with the tribe of Simeon to make a common attack upon the Canaanites in their inheritance. The promise in Judges 1:2 is the same as that in Joshua 6:2; Joshua 8:1, etc. "The land" is not merely the land allotted to the tribe of Judah, or Judah's inheritance, as Bertheau supposes, for Judah conquered Jerusalem (Judges 1:8), which had been allotted to the tribe of Benjamin (Joshua 18:28), but the land of Canaan generally, so far as it was still in the possession of the Canaanites and was to be conquered by Judah. The reason why Judah was to commence the hostilities is not to be sought for in the fact that Judah was the most numerous of all the tribes (Rosenmller), but rather in the fact that Judah had already been appointed by the blessing of Jacob (Genesis 49:8.) to be the champion of his brethren.
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