Judges 5:23
Curse you Meroz, said the angel of the LORD, curse you bitterly the inhabitants thereof; because they came not to the help of the LORD, to the help of the LORD against the mighty.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(23) Curse ye Meroz.—The guilt of Meroz was worse than that of the tribes which held aloof, because, whatever may have been its exact site, it was evidently in the very heart of the country which had been thus inspired to strike a blow for freedom. Possibly it would have been in the power of the inhabitants at least to cut off the retreat of the enemy. We may conjecture, from the ban thus laid on Meroz, that it felt the vengeance of the victorious Israelites, and was destroyed or punished like Succoth and Penuel. Their crime was detrectatio militiae, which the ancients regarded with special indignation. The case of Jabesh Gilead, in Judges 21:9-10, may account for the difficulty of ascertaining the site of the town; it is not mentioned elsewhere. By some it is identified with Kefr Musr, a village to the south of Tabor (5 Raumer); by others with Marussus, north of Bethshean. It has been conjectured that the true reading may be Merom, and Dr. Thomson identifies it with Marom, as Eusebius alludes to it under the name Merran, and Jerome calls it Merrom. They, however, place it near Dothan, twelve miles from Shechem—a very unlikely locality.

Said the angel of the Lord.—The Maleak Jehovah, as in Judges 3:1. Here, as in that passage, some (referring to Haggai 1:13; Malachi 2:7) suppose that Deborah is herself the angel or messenger of the Lord. However that may be, she certainly speaks as the mouthpiece of Jehovah’s messenger (Judges 4:4).

Jdg 5:23. Curse ye Meroz — A place then, no doubt, eminent and considerable, though now there be no remembrance of it left, which possibly might be the effect of this bitter curse; as God cursed Amalek in this manner, that he might utterly blot out their remembrance. And this place, above all others, may be thus severely cursed, because it was near the place of the fight, and therefore had the greatest opportunity and obligation to assist their brethren. The angel, &c. — She signifies that this curse proceeded not from her ill-will toward that place, but from divine inspiration; and that if all the rest of the song should be taken but for the mere aspirations and effusions of a pious soul, but liable to mistake, yet this branch of it was immediately directed to her by the Lord, the angel of the covenant. To the help of the Lord — Of the Lord’s people; for God takes what is done for or against his people as if it were done to himself. The cause between God and the mighty, the principalities and powers of the kingdom of darkness, will not admit of a neutrality.5:12-23 Deborah called on her own soul to be in earnest. He that will set the hearts of other men on fire with the love of Christ, must himself burn with love. Praising God is a work we should awake to, and awake ourselves unto. She notices who fought against Israel, who fought for them, and who kept away. Who fought against them. They were obstinate enemies to God's people, therefore the more dangerous. Who fought for them. The several tribes that helped are here spoken of with honour; for though God is above all to be glorified, those who are employed must have their due praise, to encourage others. But the whole creation is at war with those to whom God is an enemy. The river of Kishon fought against their enemies. At most times it was shallow, yet now, probably by the great rain that fell, it was so swelled, and the stream so deep and strong, that those who attempted to pass, were drowned. Deborah's own soul fought against them. When the soul is employed in holy exercises, and heart-work is made of them, through the grace of God, the strength of our spiritual enemies will be trodden down, and will fall before us. She observes who kept away, and did not side with Israel, as might have been expected. Thus many are kept from doing their duty by the fear of trouble, the love of ease, and undue affection to their worldly business and advantage. Narrow, selfish spirits care not what becomes of God's church, so that they can but get, keep, and save money. All seek their own, Php 2:21. A little will serve those for a pretence to stay at home, who have no mind to engage in needful services, because there is difficulty and danger in them. But we cannot keep away from the contest between the Lord and his enemies; and if we do not actively endeavour to promote his cause in this wicked world, we shall fall under the curse against the workers of iniquity. Though He needs no human help, yet he is pleased to accept the services of those who improve their talents to advance his cause. He requires every man to do so.The inhabitants of Meroz (a village 12 miles from Samaria) hung back, and gave no help in the day of battle, although it was Yahweh who called them. Hence, the curse pronounced by the Angel of the Lord. 23. Curse ye Meroz—a village on the confines of Issachar and Naphtali, which lay in the course of the fugitives, but the inhabitants declined to aid in their destruction. Meroz; a place then, no doubt, eminent and considerable, though now there be no remembrance of it left, which possibly might be the effect of this bitter curse; as God curseth Amalek in this manner, that he would utterly blot out their remembrance, &c., Exodus 17:14 Deu 25:19. And this place above all others may be thus severely cursed, either because it was near the place of the fight, and therefore had the greatest opportunity and obligation to engage with and to assist their brethren; and their denying their help was a great discouragement to all their brethren, whose hearts, no doubt, were greatly afflicted, and might have utterly fainted at this great miscarriage, and scandalous example; or for some other great aggravation of their cowardice and treachery, which may easily be imagined, though it be not here expressed.

Said the angel of the Lord: she signifies that this curse proceeded not from her spleen or ill will towards that place, nor from her own private opinion or affection, but from Divine inspiration; and that if all the rest of the song should be taken but for the breathings and expressions of a pious and devout soul, but liable to mistake, yet this branch of it was immediately dictated to her by the Lord, by the ministry of an angel; otherwise she neither would nor durst have uttered so bitter a curse against them.

Of the Lord; either, first, Of the Lord’s people; for God takes what is done for or against his people as if it was done to himself: see Isaiah 63:9 Zechariah 2:8 Matthew 25:45. Or, secondly, Of the Lord himself, who though he did not need, yet did require and expect their help and concurrence; and he expresseth it thus, to show the sinfulness and unreasonableness of their cowardly desertion of this cause, because it was the cause of God, and they had the call of God to it, whom they knew to be able easily to crush that enemy whom they dreaded, and who had promised to do it. Curse ye Meroz, said the angel of the Lord,.... Not Barak, as the Targum and Jarchi, but Deborah herself said this under a spirit of prophecy, not from her own spirit in a revengeful way, but from the Spirit of God; or this was suggested to her by an angel, not a created, but the uncreated one, the Angel of the covenant, by whom she was inspired, and an impulse made by him on her to denounce a curse on Meroz; which some say was a star, Sisera's star; others the name of a mighty man (p), so Jarchi; but rather it is some name of a city or place near where the battle was fought, so Kimchi, Ben Gersom, and Ben Melech: some take Meroz to be the same with Merom, at the waters of which Joshua fought with Jabin, Joshua 11:5 and supposed to be the same with the waters of Megiddo, and the river Kishon, where this battle was fought; and Jerom (q), under the word Merom, observes, that there was in his time a village called Merrus, twelve miles from the city Sebaste near Dothaim, and that Meroz here is the name of a place is clear from what follows:

curse ye bitterly the inhabitants thereof; or "curse cursing" (r); repeat it, give them curse upon curse, curse them most vehemently: the reason of which follows:

because they came not to the help of the Lord; that is, of the people of the Lord, whose cause was the Lord's; for though he stood in no need of their help, yet their negligence and neutrality were highly resented by him, and therefore repeated:

to the help of the Lord against the mighty; the mighty Canaanites, and their mighty kings, and mighty hosts; or "with the mighty" (s), Barak and his 10,000: now though others, who did not come into their assistance, are only discommended, being at a distance, yet those are cursed, being very near, and saw the peril their brethren were in, and yet would not lend an helping hand.

(p) T. Bab. Moed Katon, fol. 16. 1.((q) De loc. Heb. fol. 93. D. (r) "maledictie maledicendo", Pagninus, Montanus. (s) "cum fortibus", Pagninus, Tigurine version; so Patrick.

Curse ye {r} Meroz, said the angel of the LORD, curse ye bitterly the inhabitants thereof; because they came not to the help of the LORD, to the help of the LORD against the mighty.

(r) It was a city near Tabor, where they fought.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
23. Curse ye Meroz] Probably this village lay on the route of Sisera’s flight, and the inhabitants, though they were Israelites, made no effort to help their kinsmen in following up the victory. Similarly Succoth and Penuel refused to give Gideon assistance, Jdg 8:5-9. The situation of Meroz is unknown.

the angel of the Lord] Perhaps Jehovah Himself in manifestation; see on Jdg 2:1. But it is conceivable that the angel is a later insertion designed to soften the direct intervention of Jehovah at this point.

against the mighty] or among the mighty (marg.), or, with a slight change, as heroes, cf. Jdg 5:13 n.

Verse 23. - Meroz, in the time of Jerome Meres, a village otherwise unknown, twelve miles from Samaria. The mighty. Not the same word as that so rendered in ver. 22, but that usually rendered a mighty man, or a man of war. Gilead, Dan, and Asher took no part at all. By Gilead, the tribes of Gad and half Manasseh are intended. The use of the term הגּלעד to denote the whole of the territory of the Israelites on the east of the Jordan probably gave occasion to this, although גלעד (without the article) does not refer to the land even here, but refers primarily to the grandson of Manasseh, as the representative of his family which dwelt in Gilead. (For further remarks, see at Judges 5:14.) Dan also did not let the national movement disturb it in its earthly trade and commerce. גּוּר, to keep one's self in a place, is construed here with the accusative of the place, as in Psalm 120:5. The territory of Dan included the port of Joppa (see at Joshua 19:46), where the Danites probably carried on a trade with the Phoenicians. Asher also in his land upon the coast did not allow himself to be disturbed from his rest, to join in the common war of its nation. ימּים חוף is used, as in Genesis 49:13, for the shore of the Mediterranean Sea. מפרצים, ἁπ. λεγ., literally a rent, and hence applied to a bay, as an incision made in the sea-shore.
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