THE Book of Judges, called in Hebrew שׁוֹפְטִים,  in the Septuagint Κριταὶ

 Kritai   JUDGES, and in the Vulgate LIBER JUDICUM, or JUDICES, takes

its name, like the other historical books, — the five Books of Moses,  the Book

of Joshua, the Book of Ruth, the Books of Samuel and of the Kings, the Books

of Ezra and Nehemiah, and the Book of Esther, — from its contents, viz., the

history of certain transactions which took place in Israel under the judges.

The judges were those extraordinary civil and military rulers who

 governed Israel in the interval between the death of Joshua and

the foundation of the kingdom of Israel; except only that the judgeship

of Samuel was a kind of connecting link between the two — Samuel himself

being a judge, though of a different character from those that preceded

him, and his government merging in the latter part of it into the kingdom of

Saul; so that the times of Samuel occupy a middle place between the

Judges and the Kings, belonging partly to both, but wholly to neither.

The age of the world in which the transactions recorded in the Book of

Judges occurred was somewhere between the years B.C. 1500 and 1000.

It was one marked by the same peculiar features in different parts of the earth

It was the dim twilight of history; but, as far as we can judge from those

mythological accounts which precede the existence of true history, it was a

time of much movement, of the birth of heroic characters, and of the incipient

formation of those nations who were destined to be foremost among the nations of

the earth. The mythologies of Greece tell of exploits of heroes which imply unsettled

and disturbed times, the clashing of race with race, fierce struggles for the possession

of lands, terrible conflicts for dominion or existence. And as far as such mythologies

contain, as they doubtless do, some shreds of historical truth, and reflect something

of the character of the men of the period, they are in accordance with the picture

contained in the Book of Judges of the times which were more or less contemporary.

Instead of a comparison of the Greek mythologies leading to the conclusion that

the history in the Book of Judges is mythological also, it rather lends a valuable

confirmation of that historical character which the internal evidence of the book so

abundantly claims for it. The features which are common to the Greek mythologies

and the Hebrew history, the wars of new settlers with the old inhabitants, the

recklessness of human life, the fierce cruelty under excitement, the heroic deeds

and wild adventures of a few great leaders, the taste for riddles, the habit of

making vows, the interference of gods and angels in human affairs, the

frequent consultations of oracles, and so on, are the products of the same

general condition of human society at the same epoch of the world. The

difference between the two is, that the Greek traditions have passed

through the hands of countless poets and story-tellers, who in the course of

generations altered, added, embellished, confused, distorted, and invented,

according to their own fertile fancy and their own creative imaginations;

while the Hebrew records, by the special providence of God, have been

preserved some 3000 years and upwards uncorrupted and unchanged.



Judges 1



1 “Now after the death of Joshua” - The events narrated in from ch. 1:1 to

2:1-9 all occurred before the death of Joshua, as appears by ch. 2:8-9, and by a

comparison of Joshua 14:6-15 and 15:13-20. The words, and it

came to pass after the death of Joshua, must therefore be understood (if

the text is not corrupt) as the heading of the whole book, just as the Book of

Joshua has for its heading, “Now after the death of Moses the servant of

the Lord it came to pass”  - “it came to pass, that the children of Israel asked

the LORD,” -  The same phrase as ch. 18:5; 20:18, where it is rendered asked

counsel of. So also Numbers 27:21, where a special direction is given to Joshua to

make such inquiries as that mentioned in this verse before Eleazar the priest, through

the judgment of Urim and Thummim (compare I Samuel 23:10,12). A still more

common rendering of the Hebrew phrase in the Authorized Version is “to inquire

of God” (see ch. 20:27-28; I Samuel 22:13,15; 23:2,4; 28:6, and many other places).

Such inquiries were made:


o       by Urim and Thummin,

o       by the word of the Lord through a prophet (I Samuel 9:9), or

o       simply by prayer, (Genesis 25:22), and improperly of false gods

(II Kings 1:2,16), of teraphim, and semi-idolatrous priests (ch.18:5, 14) -


saying, Who shall go up for us against the Canaanites first, to fight

against them?  2 And the LORD said, Judah shall go up: behold, I have

delivered the land into his hand.  3 And Judah said unto Simeon his brother,

Come up with me into my lot, that we may fight against the Canaanites;

and I likewise will go with thee into thy lot. So Simeon went with him.

4 And Judah went up; and the LORD delivered the Canaanites and

the Perizzites into their hand: and they slew of them in Bezek ten

thousand men.”



5 “And they found Adonibezek” - means the lord of Bezek. He was the

conqueror of seventy petty kings -  “in Bezek:”-  The site of it is unknown; it is

thought to be a different place from the Bezek of I Samuel 11:8 - “and they

fought against him, and they slew the Canaanites and the Perizzites.”


6  But Adonibezek fled; and they pursued after him, and caught him,

and cut off his thumbs and his great toes.” These cruel mutilations, like the

still more cruel one of putting out the eyes (Judges 16:21; Numbers 16:14;

I Samuel 11:2; II Kings 25:7), were intended to cripple the warrior

in his speed, and to incapacitate hint from the use of the bow, or sword, or

spear, while yet sparing his life, either in mercy, or for the purpose of

retaining his services for the conqueror.


7 “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.”  Read Fought against Jerusalem,

and took it, and smote it. It is the continuation of the narrative of the exploits

of Judah and Simeon in conquering their respective lots.


8 Now the children of Judah had fought against Jerusalem, and had

taken it, and smitten it with the edge of the sword, and set the city

on fire.”


9 “And afterward the children of Judah went down to fight against the

Canaanites, that dwelt in the mountain, and in the south, and in the

valley.” -  i.e. the Shephelah, or lowlands, between the mountains and the coast

of the Mediterranean, occupied by the Philistines.


10 “And Judah went against the Canaanites that dwelt in Hebron:” -  See

Numbers 13:22; Joshua 14:13-15; 15:13-19. Hebron was the burial-place of

Abraham and Sarah (Genesis 23:2; 25:9), of Isaac and Rebekah, and of Jacob

and Leah (Ibid. 35:27-29; 49:31; 50:13), and the mosque, within whose massive

walls the tombs of Abraham and the other four above mentioned are still preserved

with the utmost reverence, is the most remarkable object in the modem city, which

is called El-Khalil (the friend), after Abraham, the friend of God.  David reigned

in Hebron seven years and six mouths before he transferred the seat of power

to Jerusalem (see II Samuel 2:1, etc.; 5:1-5) - “(now the name of Hebron before

was Kirjatharba:) and they slew Sheshai, and Ahiman, and Talmai.

11  And from thence he went against the inhabitants of Debir: and the

name of Debir before was Kirjathsepher:  12  And Caleb said, He that

smiteth Kirjathsepher, and taketh it, to him will I give Achsah my daughter

to wife.”


13 “And Othniel the son of Kenaz, Caleb’s younger brother,” -  Mentioned in

Joshua 15:17, and I Chronicles 4:13, where he is placed under “the sons of Kenaz,”

And seems to be the father of Hathath and Meonothai. The Hebrew, though

grammatically it favors the view that Othniel was the brother of Caleb, does not

absolutely exclude the rendering that Kenaz was his brother, and so Othniel his

nephew. Compare Jeremiah 32:7, where the words “thine uncle” apply to Shallum,

not to Hanameel, as is clear from v. 8. And as the chronology seems to make it

impossible that Othniel should be Caleb’s brother, since Caleb was eighty-five

years old at the time of Othniel’s marriage, and Othniel therefore could not be less

than fifty-five, an improbable age for his marriage; and since, again, Othniel could

not well have been less than eighty at Joshua’s death, which, allowing only

ten years for the elders, and reckoning the eight years for Chushan’s

dominion, would make him ninety-eight when he was raised up to deliver

Israel, it is a lesser difficulty to take Othniel as the nephew of Caleb, by

understanding the words, Calebs younger brother, to apply to Kenaz. But

perhaps the least objectionable escape from the difficulty is to take the

phrase in its most natural grammatical sense, but to understand the word

brother in its wider and very common sense of kinsman or fellow-tribesman.

They were both sons of Kenaz, or Kenizzites. Caleb was the head of the tribe,

and Othniel was next to him in tribal dignity, and his junior in age, but probably

succeeded to the chieftainship on Caleb’s death. This would leave the exact

relationship between Caleb and Othniel uncertain - “took it: and he gave him

Achsah his daughter to wife.”


14 “And it came to pass, when she came to him, that she moved him to

ask of her father a field:” -  There is some obscurity in this verse,

which seems to tell us that Achsah, on her wedding-day, when she was

going to her husband s house, persuaded him to ask of her father the field,

viz. that in which the springs of water were, and which were not included

in her original dower; and then goes on to tell us that Achsah herself made

the request. The Septuagint reads, “Othniel urged her to ask the field of her

father,” and the Vulgate has, “Her husband told her to ask her father,” and

then it follows naturally, “and she lighted from off her ass,” etc. But the

Hebrew reading may be right, and it may be that when her husband, brave

in storming a city, but timid in asking a favor, hung back, she, with the

tenacious will of a woman, sprang off the ass herself, and successfully

preferred her request. Dean Stanley identifies (though not with absolute

certainty) the “field thus obtained by Achsah with an unusually green valley

amidst the dry, barren hills of the south country, lying south or west of

Hebron, called Wady Nuukur, through which Caleb and Achsah must have

ridden on their way from Hebron to Debir, or Kirjath-sepher. This valley

breaks into a precipitous and still greener ravine, and both the upper and

lower pastures are watered by a clear, bubbling rivulet, which rises in the

upper meadow, and flows to the bottom of the ravine below. The name of

a village, Dewir, seems to represent the ancient Debir - “and she lighted

from off her ass; and Caleb said unto her, What wilt thou?”

15  And she said unto him, Give me a blessing: for thou hast given me

a south land; give me also springs of water. And Caleb gave her

the upper springs and the nether springs.”


16 “And the children of the Kenite, Moses’ father in law, went up out

of the city of palm trees with the children of Judah into the wilderness

of Judah, which lieth in the south of Arad;” -  - It appears from this verse

that the invitation given by Moses to his “father-in-law,” or rather

brother-in-law,” Hobab, to accompany him and the Israelites to the land

of promise, though at first rejected (Numbers 10:29-30), was

eventually accepted. Hobab and his tribe, a branch of the Midianites, called

Kenites, from an unknown ancestor, Kain, at first settled in the city of palm

trees, i.e. Jericho (Deuteronomy 34:3); but it seems that when Judah

started on his expedition with Simeon to conquer the south laud, the

Kenites went with him. A subsequent migration of a portion of this

nomadic tribe is mentioned (ch.4:11). and they went and dwelt among

the people.” -  i.e. the people of Judah. For Arad see Numbers 21:1.



17 “And Judah went with Simeon his brother,” - In v. 3 Simeon went with

Judah, because the places which follow were all in Judah’s lot;  but now we read,

Judah went with Simeon, because Zephath or Hormah was in Simeon’s lot

(Joshua 19:4) -  “and they slew the Canaanites that inhabited Zephath,

and utterly destroyed it. And the name of the city was called Hormah.”

For Hormah, identified by Robinson (2:181) with Es-sufeh, see Numbers 21:3.

The Hebrew verb for “they utterly destroyed” is the root of the name Hormah,

i.e. utter destruction.


18 “Also Judah took Gaza with the coast thereof, and Askelon with the

coast thereof, and Ekron with the coast thereof.” Gaza, Askelon, and Ekron,

were all cities of the Philistines. But though Judah took these cities, it seems

he was not able permanently to expel the inhabitants.


19 “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.”  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 (I Kings 10:26).

See too Joshua 17:16.


20 “And they gave Hebron unto Caleb,” - Caleb, the son of Jephunneh, the

Kenezite, an Edomitish tribe, was one of the spies sent up to spy the land,

and in doing so he came to Hebron, and there saw the giants, the sons of

Anak (Numbers 13:22). When all the spies brought up an evil report of

the land, and by doing so raised a rebellion against Moses and Aaron,

Caleb the Kenezite, alone with Joshua, stood firm, and, as a reward of his

faithfulness, received the promise that he and his seed should possess the

land on which his feet had trodden. Accordingly Hebron became the

inheritance of Caleb the Kenezite (see Numbers 13 and 14.; Deuteronomy

1:36; Joshua 14:6-15; 15:13-14) - “as Moses said: and he expelled

thence the three sons of Anak.”


21“And the children of Benjamin did not drive out the Jebusites that

inhabited Jerusalem; but the Jebusites dwell with the children of

Benjamin in Jerusalem unto this day.”  This verse is identical with Joshua

15:63, except that there we read “the children of Judah instead of “the

children of Benjamin,” as in this verse. The boundary line between Judah and

Jerusalem passed through JEBUS or JEBUSI, as Jerusalem was anciently called

(see Joshua 15:8; 18:28;  here ch. 19:10-11; I Chronicles 11:4-5). Jebus was not

finally held by the Israelites till the time of David.  Jerusalem is numbered

among Joshua’s conquests at Joshua 10:23; 12:10. But from ch. 19:10,

it would appear that the Israelite population had withdrawn and left the city

to be entirely occupied by the Jebusites, who held it till the time of David

(II Samuel 5:6). Jerusalem is only about two hours from Bethlehem.


22 “And the house of Joseph,”- i.e. Ephraim, but probably, here

spoken of as “the house of Joseph because in the original document, from

which both this chapter and Joshua 15:63, and chapters 16 and 17 are taken,

the mention of “the lot of the children of Joseph” occurs, embracing both

Ephraim and Manasseh - “they also went up against Bethel:  and the

LORD was with them.”


23 “And the house of Joseph sent to descry Bethel.  (Now the name of

the city before was Luz.) - now Beitin. The name (house of God) had been

given by Jacob (Genesis 28:19), but obviously would  not be likely to be adopted

by the Canaanitish inhabitants, by whom it was called  Luz. As soon, however,

as the Ephraimites conquered it, they re-imposed the name, in memory of their

father Jacob


24 “And the spies saw a man come forth out of the city, and they said

unto him, Shew us, we pray thee, the entrance into the city, and we

will shew 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.


25 “And when he shewed them the entrance into the city, they smote

the city with the edge of the sword; but they let go the man and all

his family.  26 And the man went into the land of the Hittites, and built

a city, and called the name thereof Luz: which is the name thereof unto

this day.  27 Neither did Manasseh drive out the inhabitants of Bethshean

and her towns, nor Taanach and her towns, nor the inhabitants of Dor

and her towns, nor the inhabitants of Ibleam and her towns, nor the

inhabitants of Megiddo and her towns: but the Canaanites would

dwell in that land.”


28 “And it came to pass, when Israel was strong, that they put the

Canaanites to tribute,” -  or made them tributaries, as in vs. 30,33, i.e.

imposed forced labor upon them, as the Gibeonites were made hewers of

wood and drawers of water (Joshua 9:21, 27; see I Kings 9:21) - “and did

not utterly drive them out.” 





Human Wisdom Versus Divine (v. 28)


No option was left to the Israelites as to the mode in which they were to deal with the

Canaanites. Even if they were unable to subdue the Canaanites because of their own

weakness, it would not be without fault; for had they not to sustain and direct them?

But the sin of Israel was the greater that, when they were able to obey God’s


OWN!  This was direct disobedience, however it might be disguised by the name

of prudence or expediency. In the end they had to RUE THEIR OWN FOLLY!











Ø      of their own power and wisdom, and

Ø      of the true character of that with which they tamper.





29 “Neither did Ephraim drive out the Canaanites that dwelt in Gezer; but

the Canaanites dwelt in Gezer among them.  30 Neither did Zebulun drive

out the inhabitants of Kitron, nor the inhabitants of Nahalol; but the

Canaanites dwelt among them, and became tributaries.  31 Neither did

Asher drive out the inhabitants of Accho, nor the inhabitants of Zidon,

nor of Ahlab, nor of Achzib, nor of Helbah, nor of Aphik, nor of Rehob:”


32 “But the Asherites dwelt among the Canaanites,” – In vs. 29 and 30

it was said that the Canaanites dwelt among the Israelites; but here we read that

the Asherites, and in v.33 that Naphtali, dwelt among the Canaanites, which

seems to imply that the Canaanites were the more numerous people of the

 two, yet the Israelites were able to keep them in subjection -“the inhabitants of

the land: for they did not drive them out.  33 Neither did Naphtali drive

out the inhabitants of Bethshemesh, nor the inhabitants of Bethanath;

but he dwelt among the Canaanites, the inhabitants of the land: nevertheless

the inhabitants of Bethshemesh and of Bethanath became tributaries unto

them.  34 And the Amorites forced the children of Dan into the mountain:

for they would not suffer them to come down to the valley:  35  But the

Amorites would dwell in mount Heres in Aijalon, and in Shaalbim: yet the

hand of the house of Joseph prevailed, so that they became tributaries.”


36  And the coast of the Amorites was from the going up to Akrabbim,” -

See Joshua 15:3, Maaleh-acrabbim.  In Numbers 34:4 “the ascent of Akrabbim.”

The whole name, put into English, is “the ascent, or going up, of Scorpions,” a

Mountain pass so called from the abundance of scorpions found in the whole region.

The exact locality is uncertain, but it is thought to be the pass El-Safeh,

immediately to the south of the Dead Sea -“from the  rock, and upward.”

The neighborhood to Mount Hor and  Petra is indicated by its connection here with

the rock,” in Hebrew has-selah,  which is the distinctive name of the rocks or

cliffs on which Petra is built, and the  name of Petra (the rock) itself. Speaking

roughly, a line drawn westward from  El-Safeh to the Mediterranean Sea, near the

river of Egypt,” formed the  southern boundary, of Judah, and of the Amorites

whom they displaced. The  battle with the Amorites (Deuteronomy 1:44), in which

the Israelites were discomfited and pursued, is thought to have been at El-Safeh.



Inquiry of God (vs.1-7)


No tribe had premier rank amongst its fellows. God must decide who shall go up

first. He is the fountain of honor, and He must be approached by the wonted avenues.

Accordingly, the priest or the prophet is called upon to exercise his functions. There

is something very beautiful and pathetic in this united asking of Jehovah by the tribes.

Where God is acknowledged as the Supreme Arbiter, HARMONY IS

CERTAIN TO PREVAIL!   It is well for Christians to submit all their anxieties to

their Divine Father. So we find the early disciples praying after their Master’s

ascension. And the Church at Antioch observed a like rule ere it sent its missionaries

forth to the region beyond (Acts 13-3).  Spiritual work must ever be prefaced by

prayer; and although God may not declare the leaders of it by a special utterance,

tokens will be given which will enable them to be discovered.




Distrust of our own wisdom, misgivings as to our motives, and the

feeling that the issues of all events are in the hands of God’s unerring

providence, should always prompt us to look to God for guidance.

(“O Lord, I know that the way of man is not in himself:  it is

not in man that walketh to direct his steps.”  (Jeremiah 10:23)

Even when we do so no little care is needed to be sure that our

interpretations of God’s will are not biassed by our inclinations.

(“There is a way which seemeth right unto a man but the

end thereof are the ways of death” (Proverbs 14:12).    We read

in Jeremiah 42  that the captains of the forces of the remnant of the Jews

went to Jeremiah after the deportation of their countrymen to Babylon,

and said to him, “Pray for us unto the Lord thy God, that He may show

 us the way wherein we may walk, and the thing that we may do,”

and even bound themselves by a solemn oath to obey the voice of the Lord,

and do whatsoever He should command them by the mouth of Jeremiah.

But when, after ten days, God s answer came, bidding them abide in the

land of Judah, and condemning in distinct terms the course on which their

hearts were set, viz., to go down to Egypt, they boldly accused Jeremiah of

falsehood, and went down to Egypt in spite of his prophetic message. And

so it too often is. Men ask God’s direction, hoping that the answer will

be in accordance with their own inclinations, and do their best to

twist it into such accordance. But if this is impossible they act in

bold defiance of it. In seeking God’s guidance, therefore, especial care

should be taken so to mortify our self-will that we may be ready to act upon

the answer of God, however contrary it may be to the dictates of our own

hearts. This may be applied to cases where pecuniary loss, or sacrifice of

worldly advantages or pleasures, or self-humiliation and self-denial, or

mortification of enmities, resentment, jealousy, pride, vanity, love of praise,

and so on, are involved in an entire obedience to the dictates of the word

and Spirit of God given in answer to prayer. As regards the ways in which

a Christian now can “ask the Lord” concerning’ the course he ought to

pursue on any particular occasion, we may say, following the analogy of

the inquiries to which our text refers, that:


Ø      He may inquire or ask counsel of Holy Scripture. He may seek

light and truth from that word which is the expression of the mind and

will of God.  There is no state of darkness, or perplexity as to the true

path of duty, to which Holy Scripture, wisely and prayerfully

interrogated, will not bring satisfactory light; no question of morality

or conduct on which it will not shed the ray of truth. The old superstition

of the sortes Virgilianae applied to the Bible, so that the page opened

at random should supply the answer required, had this much of truth in it,

that the Bible has an answer for every question of an inquiring soul. But

this answer must be sought in intelligent, prayerful study, and not as a

matter of blind chance or in the presumptuous expectation of a

miraculous answer. The answer may be obtained either from the

example of some eminent saint under similar circumstances as of

Abraham giving up his right in order to avoid strife with Lot (Genesis

13:8-9), Elisha refusing Naaman’s gifts, Job blessing God in the

extremity of his affliction and the numerous examples in Hebrews 11.;

James 5:17, etc.; or by impregnating the mind with the teaching

of the word of God, such as Deuteronomy 6:5, or the

Sermon on the Mount, or the precepts in Romans 12 and 13;

Galatians 5:22-23; Ephesians 4:22, sqq., and I Peter throughout.

And either way the answer will be sure if it is sought faithfully.

Jesus said, “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye

shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you:”

(Matthew 7:7) 


Ø      A Christian may inquire of the Lord by seeking the counsel of a

wise and honest friend, who will give him impartial advice. The

prophets were distinguished for their faithful boldness in speaking

unwelcome truths as much as for their inspired knowledge. Nathan

speaking to David, Isaiah counselling Hezekiah, Daniel reproving

Nebuchadnezzar or Belshazzar, Jeremiah advising Zedekiah, are

instances of such faithfulness. Let the Christian then who is in doubt

or perplexity as to the course which he ought to take seek the counsel

of a wise and faithful friend, whose mind will not be biased by passion

or prejudice, and let him act according to it.


Ø      Gods guidance may be sought by simple prayer. Just as

Hezekiah in his great perplexity and distress spread Sennacherib s

letter before the Lord, and betook himself to earnest prayer

(II Kings 20:1-3), so may a Christian man spread out before

God all the particular circumstances of his case, and all the doubts

and difficulties by which he is harassed, and in simple-minded

earnestness ask God to direct and guide him aright. And the answer

will doubtless come, either by the Holy Spirit suggesting to his mind

the considerations which ought chiefly to influence him, or strengthening

feeble convictions, and confirming uncertain opinions and hesitating

reasonings, or clearing away the clouds which obscured his path, or

in some providential interference barring, as it were, the wrong course,

and throwing open the gates of the right one for him to pass through.

The opportune arrival of Rebekah at the well while Abraham’s servant

was in the very act of prayer (Genesis 24:15); the arrival of the

messengers of Cornelius while Peter was in doubt what the vision which

he had seen might mean (Acts 10:17); the dream which Gideon heard

the Midianite tell to his fellow, just when he was hesitating whether he

ought to attack the Midianite host, are examples, to which many more

might be added, how providential circumstances come in to give

 to the servant of God the guidance which he asks. It is obvious

to add that these three modes of inquiry may be combined.


  • The second lesson is THE ADVANTAGE IN ALL IMPORTANT


ASSISTANCE OF FRIENDS. The answer from God to the inquiry,

Who shall go up first? had come. “Judah shall go up: behold, I have

Delivered the land into his hand.” Yet none the less did Judah say to

Simeon his brother, “Come up with me,… and I likewise will go with

 thee into thy lot.” The laws under which humanity is placed by God may

require that man have also the help of man. “As iron sharpeneth iron, so

a man’s countenance his friend” (Proverbs 27:17).  Our Lord sent out

the seventy “two and two before His face” (Luke 10:1).  Separate me

Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them” (Acts

13:2), was the saying of the Holy Ghost. The strength of two is greater than

the strength of one. The wisdom of two is better than the wisdom of one.

In cooperation one can supply what the other lacks. One has courage,

Another has prudence. One has knowledge, another knows how to use it.

One has wealth, the other has the wit to use wealth. One has wisdom, but

is “slow of speech;” the other “can speak well,” but is foolish in counsel

(Exodus 32.). No man has all the qualities which go to make up

perfect action, and therefore no man should think to do without the

 help of his fellow-man. It is a presumptuous state of mind which makes

a man seem sufficient to himself, and an uncharitable state of mind which

prompts him to withhold help from his fellow. A beautiful lesson may be

learnt from the cooperation of the blind with the deaf and dumb in

institutions where they are trained together. What the blind learn by the

ear they communicate to the eye of the deaf, and what the deaf learn

by the eye they communicate to the ear of the blind. And so it should

be in everything. A man should seek help from his neighbor, and should be

equally ready to give help to him in return. “Come up with me into my lot,…

 and I likewise will go with thee into thy lot,” should be the law of human

fellowship running through all the transactions of human life. But yet not so

as to weaken individual responsibility, or to destroy just independence of

character; but so as to give to each the full help towards the performance

of duty which God has provided for him, and to nourish man’s care for

his neighbor by listening to his neighbor’s calls for help.


  • The third lesson may be briefly stated. DIFFERENT PARTS ARE


SOME, MORE HUMBLE ONES TO OTHERS, But the humbler part

may he as really useful and as acceptable to God as the more showy one.

To some the lot is assigned of merely helping others to rise to their

destined eminence, and then being forgotten. And yet they really have a

share in all that is well done by those whom they helped to raise, and who

could not have risen without their help. Thus Simeon helped Judah to take

possession of his lot, and Judah ever after took the foremost place among

the tribes of Israel; but Simeon almost disappears from view. In like

manner Andrew first brought his brother Simon to Jesus; but it is Simon

Peter to whom were given the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and who

occupies the first place among the twelve. Barnabas took Saul and brought

him to the apostles, and again went to seek him at Tarsus, and brought him

to Antioch; but the place filled by Paul in the Church of God as far

transcends that of Barnabas as the place of Judah among the tribes

transcends that of Simeon. This should give encouragement to those whose

work is humble and out of sight. Let the servant of God do “what he can”

(Mark 14:6-8).  Let him not envy the talents, the brilliant gifts, the powers,

the fame, the glory of others. But let him be content if by the grace of God

he can in any way help forward the work of God’s Church on earth,

although his name be not mentioned till he receives his reward before the

judgment-seat of Christ.



Faith (vs. 8-20)


The principal incident in this section is the conquest of Hebron by Caleb (see note,

v.20), and in it we have a most striking illustration


o       of the nature of faith,

o       of the triumph of faith,

o       of the faithfulness of God’s promises, and

o       of the extension of God’s covenant to men of every nation and



·         THE NATURE OF FAITH. When the Israelites were in Kadesh Barnea,

near the borders of Canaan, in the second year of the exodus, it was

determined on their own suggestion, with the full approval of Moses, to

send spies to search out the land, and to bring back word what road they

ought to take, and into what cities they would come. Thus far there had

been only a due exercise of human wisdom and caution. But when the spies

returned after forty clays they brought back a mixed report (Numbers 13).

 On the one hand they reported that it was indeed a goodly land. Its fertile

soil, its genial climate, its beauty and its richness, were attested by its

abundant produce. As they held up the heavy bunch of the grapes of Eshcol,

a burden for two men to carry upon a staff, as they showed them the

luscious figs and the juicy pomegranates, who could doubt that it was a land

worth possessing? It was rich too in its pastures and in its cattle, and its

wildflowers were as good as the thyme of Hymettus for the bees that

swarmed amongst them. It was a land flowing with milk and honey. But

here their good report stopped. This good land was guarded, they said,

by a mighty people. It was a gigantic race that possessed it, and they dwelt

in fenced cities with Cyclopean walls rising up to heaven. How could the

children of Israel hope to wrest their land from them? It would be a vain

enterprise, and could only end in their own discomfiture and death. Those

men of great stature would crush them like grasshoppers under their feet.

At these unbelieving words the hearts of the whole congregation melted

Within them, and anger against Moses filled every breast. The suggestion

ran from mouth to mouth to choose a captain and return to Egypt. The

promises of God were all forgotten. The mighty wonders at the Red Sea, at

Sinai, in the wilderness, were lost sight of, and their hearts sunk through

unbelief. Then Caleb’s faith shone out, and spoke out before the people.

“Let us go up at once and possess the land, for we are well able to

overcome it.” (Numbers 13:30)  “Fear not the people of the land; for

they are bread for us: their defense is departed from them, and the

Lord is with us: fear them not.” “If the Lord delight in us, then He

 will bring us into this land and give it us” (Ibid. 14:8-9).  That was

faith, laying hold of God’s promises and God’s almighty power, and

making no account of apparent difficulties, or of human weakness. Just

such was Abraham’s faith, who “staggered not at the promise of God

through unbelief, but was strong in faith, giving glory to God, and

 fully persuaded that what He had promised He was able also to

perform(Romans 4:20-21). Such has been the faith of saints at all times,

piercing through the mists and clouds of the present, and seeing the bright

sun of the future; despising the visible because, like Elisha in Dothan, it

sees the invisible (II Kings 6:13-17); calculating truly, because it takes

into account the power and faithfulness of God which are left out of

the calculations of the unbelieving.


·         THE TRIUMPH OF FAITH. And we see here the triumph of faith.

The whole congregation of the unbelieving, of those who in their hearts

turned back to Egypt, and dared not face the sons of Anak, had all

perished in the wilderness. They died and were buried, and never saw

the land of promise. But Caleb was alive, and in the full vigor of his strength

he marched against the stronghold of the Anakim, and took it, and slew the

sons of Anak in spite of their great stature, and took possession of their

city in spite of its lofty walls, and it became his possession for ever. That

was the triumph of faith, that faith which disappoints not, and maketh not

ashamed.  (Romans 5:5)


·         THE FAITHFUL PROMISES. We have here too an eminent

illustration of the faithfulness of God’s promises. Caleb’s triumphant

possession of Hebron chimes in with exact harmony with all the records of

God’s performances as compared with His promises. “He hath holpen

His servant Israel as he promised to our forefathers” (Luke 1:54-55).

“He hath remembered His mercy and truth toward the house of Israel

 (Psalm 98:3).  “He hath visited and redeemed His people, as he spake

by the mouth of His holy prophets,… to perform the mercy promised

to our fathers, and to remember His holy covenant; to perform the

oath which He sware to our forefather Abraham” (Luke 1:68-73).

“He is ‘faithful’ that promised” (Hebrews 10:23). blessed is she that

 believed: for there shall be a performance of those things which were

 told her from the Lord”(Luke 1:45). “There failed not aught of any

good thing which the Lord had spoken unto the house of Israel;

 all came to pass” (Joshua 21:45 – neither has anything ever failed which

He has promised to me for 68 years - CY – 2012) A thorough appreciation

of faithfulness to His Word as one of the prominent attributes of God is the

inevitable result of a full knowledge of the Scriptures, as it is most

conducive to the stability of the Christian character. “For ever, O Lord,

thy word is settled in heaven; thy faithfulness is unto all generations’’

 (Psalm 119:89-90).


·         A GLIMPSE OF THE MYSTERY. But we must also notice the

illustration here given of God’s purpose to extend His covenant to men of

all nations. Caleb was not an Israelite by birth. He was a Kenezite, i.e. a

descendant of Kenaz, whose name is a clear proof of Edomite origin

(Genesis 36:15, 42). And accordingly we are told, “Unto Caleb the son

of Jephunneh he gave a part among the children of Judah” (Joshua

15:13); and again, Hebron became the inheritance of Caleb the son

Of Jephunneh the Kenezite, because that he wholly followed the

Lord God of Israel (Joshua 14:14), language clearly pointing to Caleb’s

foreign origin. We have here then the breadth of God’s grace and love

breaking out in the narrowness of the Jewish dispensation; we have a

glimpse of the mystery, which Paul spoke of so rapturously, that it was

God’s good pleasure in the dispensation of the fullness of times to

 gather together into one all things in Christ, and that the Gentiles

should be fellow-heirs, and of the same body, and partakers of His

promise in Christ by the gospel  (Ephesians 1:9-10; 3:6). Caleb,

possessing his inheritance in the midst of Judah because he wholly

followed the Lord the God of Israel, was the forerunner of that great

multitude of all nations and kindreds and peoples and tongues who

shall stand before the Lamb clothed in white robes and palms in

their hands  (Revelation 7:9-12),   and shall sit down with Abraham,

 Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of God.  (Reader:: BEWARE,


Luke 13:27-30)



The Presence of God in the Battle of Life (v. 19)


The most remarkable circumstance connected with the wars of ancient Israel is the

religious faith which guided and inspired the people for battle. In this respect the

conduct of those wars is typical of the Christian method of spiritual warfare.




only the Refuge in distress and the Father of peaceful mercies; He is the

Source of strength and of courage, and the Inspirer of the masculine

virtues of the Church militant — he is with us in battle. God does not grant

His aid from a distance, through messengers, etc.; He is present in the

active exercise of His power.


Ø      When God calls people to any task, He will follow and help

them  in it. God had chosen Judah for the work of conquering the

Canaanites. He also followed Judah to battle. Divine election was

followed by Divine power.  God never expects us to undertake

any work in which He will not aid us. If He calls us to any difficult

task, He will go first, and prepare the way for us, and then will

accompany us in it, as our Guide and Protector.


Ø      They who are united in, the service of God have peculiar

 reason for expecting the presence of God. Judah and Simeon

were united, and God aided them in their common task. God does

not desert the solitary: e.g. Hagar (Genesis 16:13), Jacob (Ibid.

 28:16), Elijah (I Kings 19:9). But we have a special right to expect

His presence when we cooperate in brotherly sympathy. Christ is

present where two or three are met together in His name.

(Matthew 18:20)  The Holy Ghost came on the day of Pentecost,

when the whole Church was assembled together (Acts 2:1).



IN THE BATTLE OF LIFE. God was with Judah, therefore he obtained

possession of the mountains. If God is with His people in their time of toil

and difficulty, His presence is a security of active aid. He is with us not

merely to approve, but to help. The victory comes from Him. It is not all

who have faith and spiritual insight to discern this truth. God does not

come with a visible host and with “chariots of iron;” but His presence and

aid are felt in the providential control of events; in the inspiration of

strength and courage; in the enlightenment of Divine wisdom. The best

human securities for success will not justify us in neglecting the help of

God. Simeon and Judah were united, and were the stronger for their

union; yet it was not the human strength thus obtained, BUT GOD’S


lest we should trust too much to imposing human arrangements, large societies,

elaborate organiZations, etc.  The most splendid Christian army will be

miserably defeated if it ventures to enter the field without the leadership of

the “Captain of salvation.”




Judah, still Judah could not drive out the inhabitants of the valley.


Ø      God’s presence and aid do not dispense with human effort.

It is Judah who fails. We may fail on our side of the work

while God is not wanting on His.


Ø      Gods presence does not make us entirely independent of

earthly circumstances. God did not annihilate the chariots of

iron here but did at the crossing of the Red Sea (Exodus 14:23-25 –

I recommend and check out the Red Sea

Crossing – CY – 2012)  We must not expect God to work such

violent miracles as shall liberate us from all the inconveniences of life.


Ø      Human weakness may still linger about us after we have been

blessed with the aid of Gods presence. The Israelites were too

weak to overcome the inhabitants of the valley. Possibly they feared

to face the chariots of iron. The measure of help we have from God

is not limited in itself, but it is limited by our faith. (Who knows what

God would have done had Judah and Simeon put forth an honest

Effort?  I doubt if the Isaraelites anticipated God working the way

He did at the time the were trapped at the Red Sea, BUT HE

DID!  If we had perfect faith we should have perfect success.

But when we look away from God to the iron chariots of our foes,

or, like Peter, from Christ to the threatening waves (Matthew 14:

28-31), we may fail from fear and human weakness, and God’s

almighty power will not then save us from defeat.



Weak Faith Producing Weak Action (vs. 21-36)


This section, contrasted with the preceding, gives us an instructive picture of a weak faith,

not of absolute unbelief forfeiting the whole promise of God, but of a weak faith

coming short of the fullness of the blessing of THE GOSPEL OF CHRIST!

 Caleb’s faith, we have seen, was strong, and so his success was full. The faith of the

tribes here enumerated was weak, and so their success was only partial In the career

of those who are of weak or little faith we may notice the following features which

usually belong to them:


·         THE LACK OF A HIGH AIM. These tribes did not rise to the full

purpose of God to give them the land for their possession. They were

content with a partial possession. So many Christians do not aim at perfect

obedience to the law of God, or a perfect conformity to the mind of Christ,

but are content with a conventional standard of Christian morality,

very far below the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ!

(Ephesians 4:13).  They do not aim high enough in knowledge, or in

character, or in works, or in godliness, or in the victory over sin,

or in self-control, or in heavenly-mindedness.


·         THE OVER-ESTIMATE OF DIFFICULTIES. These tribes thought

the iron chariots invincible, shrunk from encountering them in the valleys,

and slunk away into the hills and fastnesses out of their way. So to those of

little faith the difficulties in the way of a thoroughly godly life seem

insuperable. The fashions and customs of the world, the adverse

opinions of men, the possible losses in trade or worldly advantage,

or in useful friendships, the sacrifice of inclinations or interests,

cannot be got over.  Their hearts quail before difficulties and obstacles,

and they are ever of a fearful and doubtful mind.


·         THE DISPOSITION TO COMPROMISE. These tribes could not or

would not drive the Canaanites out, but they would make them tributaries.

That was something done, if not all that ought to be done. So the WEAK

IN FAITH COMPROMISE  in respect to their Christian duties.

They do not yield a bold, whole-hearted obedience at any cost, but they

will go half-way, and STOP!   They will curb the flesh, but not crucify it;

they will check, but not destroy, the body of sin; they will follow Christ’s

directions up to a certain point, and then, like the young ruler, GO

AWAY SORROWFUL!  (Matthew 19:22-24)  And this want of

thoroughness is FATAL to the peace and comfort of a Christians

walk with God as was the compromise of the Israelites to their

enjoyment of the promised land.  In their case the enemies whom

they failed to destroy were constant thorns in their sides — rising

against them whenever they were weak, always ready to join their

enemies, taking advantage of every opportunity to harass and distress

them. And so in the case of these Christians of little faith: the sins which

they spare, the affections with which they compromise, the habits which

they will not utterly break off, and the unfinished victories at which they

stop short are continually marring their peace, and even threatening

their hold on the kingdom of God. And the result is seen in the general

condition of the Church of God: ONE OF COMPROMISE AND

NOT OF MASTERY, of hollow truce instead of DECISIVE




This is the cause of all the evil, and is of the very essence of a weak faith.

When God’s power and goodness and grace are underrated, ALL

GOES WRONG!   Low aims, fear of difficulties, base compromises are

sure to prevail.  But with the due sense of all-sufficient grace ALL

GOES WELL!   “My grace is sufficient for thee,” saith the Lord to

his believing servant. (II Corinthians 12:9)  “I can do all things through

 Christ which strengtheneth me” is the servant’s answer. (Philippians

4:13)  Let us make a due estimate of the glorious grace of God in

Christ Jesus our Lord; so shall we be “strong in the Lord, and in

 the power of his might.”  (Ephesians 6:10)



The Failure of Duty of One


     Occasion of Inconvenience to Another (vs. 34-35)


Joseph, strong enough to have destroyed the Amorites, made them tributaries. The

same people a little further away were thereby enabled to afflict and annoy a

companion tribe. “The Amorites forced the children of Dan into the mountain,”  

The cause of Dan ought to have been the cause of Joseph.  Joseph was

therefore guilty of INTENSE SELFISHNESS!











And justly, at the indirect help given to his oppressors, but all the same he

ought to have invoked the aid of Jehovah and gone forth to do battle

against them. He might have delivered himself from the inconvenience to

which he was subject. And so with all the indirectly produced ills of life; a

heroic faith is certain to overcome them, or render them comparatively




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