Biblical Commentary on the Old Testament, by Carl Friedrich Keil and Franz Delitzsh, [1857-78], at sacred-texts.com
I. Attitude of Israel Towards the Canaanites, and Towards Jehovah Its God - Judges 1-3:6
Hostilities between Israel and the Canaanites after Joshua's Death - Judges 1:1-2:5
After the death of Joshua the tribes of Israel resolved to continue the war with the Canaanites, that they might exterminate them altogether from the land that had been given them for an inheritance. In accordance with the divine command, Judah commenced the strife in association with Simeon, smote the king of Bezek, conquered Jerusalem, Hebron and Debir upon the mountains, Zephath in the south land, and three of the chief cities of the Philistines, and took possession of the mountains; but was unable to exterminate the inhabitants of the plain, just as the Benjaminites were unable to drive the Jebusites out of Jerusalem (vv. 1-21). The tribe of Joseph also conquered the city of Bethel (Jdg 1:22-26); but from the remaining towns of the land neither the Manassites, nor the Ephraimites, nor the tribes of Zebulun, Asher, and Naphtali expelled the Canaanites: all that they did was to make them tributary (Jdg 1:27-33). The Danites were actually forced back by the Amorites out of the plain into the mountains, because the latter maintained their hold of the towns of the plain, although the house of Joseph conquered them and made them tributary (Jdg 1:34-36). The angel of the Lord therefore appeared at Bochim, and declared to the Israelites, that because they had not obeyed the command of the Lord, to make no covenant with the Canaanites, the Lord would no more drive out these nations, but would cause them and their gods to become a snare to them (Jdg 2:1-5). From this divine revelation it is evident, on the one hand, that the failure to exterminate the Canaanites had its roots in the negligence of the tribes of Israel; and on the other hand, that the accounts of the wars of the different tribes, and the enumeration of the towns in the different possessions out of which the Canaanites were not expelled, were designed to show clearly the attitude of the Israelites to the Canaanites in the age immediately following the death of Joshua, or to depict the historical basis on which the development of Israel rested in the era of the judges.
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 (Josh 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" (Jdg 1:1, Jdg 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 (Num 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., Jdg 20:23, Jdg 20:27; Sa1 10:22; Sa1 22:10; Sa1 23:2, etc.), as well as the synonymous expression "ask of Elohim" in Jdg 18:5; Jdg 20:18; Sa1 14:37; Sa1 22:13; Ch1 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 Jos 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 Jdg 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 Jdg 1:2 is the same as that in Jos 6:2; Jos 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 (Jdg 1:8), which had been allotted to the tribe of Benjamin (Jos 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 (Gen 49:8.) to be the champion of his brethren.
Judah invited Simeon his brother, i.e., their brother tribe, to take part in the contest. The epithet is applied to Simeon, not because Simeon and Judah, the sons of Jacob, were the children of the same mother, Leah (Gen 29:33, Gen 29:35), but because Simeon's inheritance was within the territory of Judah (Jos 19:1.), so that Simeon was more closely connected with Judah than any of the other tribes. "Come up with me into my lot (into the inheritance that has fallen to me by lot), that we may fight against the Canaanites, and I likewise will go with thee into thy lot. So Simeon went with him," i.e., joined with Judah in making war upon the Canaanites. This request shows that Judah's principal intention was to make war upon and exterminate the Canaanites who remained in his own and Simeon's inheritance. The different expressions employed, come up and go, are to be explained from the simple fact that the whole of Simeon's territory was in the shephelah and Negeb, whereas Judah had received the heart of his possessions upon the mountains.
"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 Jdg 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 Jdg 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 Gen 13:7 and Gen 34:30 as representing the entire population of Canaan, "the Canaanites" comprising principally those in the lowlands by the Jordan and the Mediterranean (vid., Num 13:29; Jos 11:3), and "the Perizzites" the tribes who dwelt in the mountains (Jos 17:15). On the Perizzites, see Gen 13:7. The place mentioned, Bezek, is only mentioned once more, namely in Sa1 11:8, where it is described as being situated between Gibeah of Saul (see at Jos 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 Sa1 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 Jdg 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 (Jdg 1:6, Jdg 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 Jdg 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 Mat 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.
After his defeat, Judah and Simeon went against Jerusalem, and conquered this city and smote it, i.e., its inhabitants, with the edge of the sword, or without quarter (see Gen 34:26), and set the city on fire. בּאשׁ שׁלּח, to set on fire, to give up to the flames, only occurs again in Jdg 20:48; Kg2 8:12, and Psa 74:7. Joshua had already slain the king of Jerusalem and his four allies after the battle at Gibeon (Jos 10:3, Jos 10:18-26), but had not conquered Jerusalem, his capital. This was not done till after Joshua's death, when it was taken by the tribes of Judah and Simeon. But even after this capture, and notwithstanding the fact that it had been set on fire, it did not come into the sole and permanent possession of the Israelites. After the conquerors had advanced still farther, to make war upon the Canaanites in the mountains, in the Negeb, and in the shephelah (vv. 9ff.), the Jebusites took it again and rebuilt it, so that in the following age it was regarded by the Israelites as a foreign city (Jdg 19:11-12). The Benjaminites, to whom Jerusalem had fallen by lot, were no more able to drive out the Jebusites than the Judaeans had been. Consequently they continued to live by the side of the Benjaminites (Jdg 1:21) and the Judaeans (Jos 15:63), who settled, as time rolled on, in this the border city of their possessions; and in the upper town especially, upon the top of Mount Zion, they established themselves so firmly, that they could not be dislodged until David succeeded in wresting this fortress from them, and make the city of Zion the capital of his kingdom (Sa2 5:6.).
(Note: In this way we may reconcile in a very simple manner the different accounts concerning Jerusalem in Jos 15:63; Jdg 1:8, Jdg 1:21; Jdg 19:11., Sa1 17:54, and 2 Sam 5-6, without there being the slightest necessity to restrict the conquest mentioned in this verse to the city that was built round Mount Zion, as Josephus does, to the exclusion of the citadel upon Zion itself; or to follow Bertheau, and refer the account of the Jebusites dwelling by the children of Judah in Jerusalem (Jos 15:63) to a time subsequent to the conquest of the citadel of Zion by David-an interpretation which is neither favoured by the circumstance that the Jebusite Araunah still held some property there in the time of David (Sa2 24:21.), nor by the passage in Kg1 9:20., according to which the descendants of the Amorites, Hittites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites who still remained in the land were made into tributary bondmen by Solomon, and set to work upon the buildings that he had in hand.)
After the conquest of Jerusalem, the children of Judah (together with the Simeonites, Jdg 1:3) went down to their own possessions, to make war upon the Canaanites in the mountains, the Negeb, and the shephelah (see at Jos 15:48; Jos 21:33), and to exterminate them. They first of all conquered Hebron and Debir upon the mountains (Jdg 1:10-15), as has already been related in Jos 15:14-19 (see the commentary on this passage). The forms עלּית and תּחתּית (Jdg 1:15), instead of עלּיּות and תּחתּיּות (Jos 15:19), are in the singular, and are construed with the plural form of the feminine גּלּות, because this is used in the sense of the singular, "a spring" (see Ewald, 318, a.).
The notice respecting the Kenites, that they went up out of the palm-city with the children of Judah into the wilderness of Judah in the south of Arad, and dwelt there with the Judaeans, is introduced here into the account of the wars of the tribe of Judah, because this migration of the Kenites belonged to the time between the conquest of Debir (Jdg 1:12.) and Zephath (Jdg 1:17); and the notice itself was of importance, as forming the intermediate link between Num 10:29., and the later allusions to the Kenites in Jdg 4:11; Jdg 5:24; Sa1 15:6; Sa1 27:10; Sa1 30:29. "The children of the Kenite," i.e., the descendants of Hobab, the brother-in-law of Moses (compare Jdg 4:11, where the name is given, but קין occurs instead of קיני, with Num 10:29), were probably a branch of the Kenites mentioned in Gen 15:19 along with the other tribes of Canaan, which had separated from the other members of its own tribe before the time of Moses and removed to the land of Midian, where Moses met with a hospitable reception from their chief Reguel on his flight from Egypt. These Kenites had accompanied the Israelites to Canaan at the request of Moses (Num 10:29.); and when the Israelites advanced into Canaan itself, they had probably remained as nomads in the neighbourhood of the Jordan near to Jericho, without taking any part in the wars of Joshua. But when the tribe of Judah had exterminated the Canaanites out of Hebron, Debir, and the neighbourhood, after the death of Joshua, they went into the desert of Judah with the Judaeans as they moved farther towards the south; and going to the south-western edge of this desert, to the district on the south of Arad (Tell Arad, see at Num 21:1), they settled there on the border of the steppes of the Negeb (Num 33:40). "The palm-city" was a name given to the city of Jericho, according to Jdg 3:13; Deu 34:3; Ch2 28:15. There is no ground whatever for thinking of some other town of this name in the desert of Arabia, near the palm-forest, φοινικών, of Diod. Sic. (iii. 42) and Strabo (p. 776), as Clericus and Bertheau suppose, even if it could be proved that there was any such town in the neighbourhood. ויּלך, "then he went (the branch of the Kenites just referred to) and dwelt with the people" (of the children of Judah), that is to say, with the people of Israel in the desert of Judah. The subject to ויּלך is קיני, the Kenite, as a tribe.
Remaining Conquests of the Combined Tribes of Judah and Simeon. - Jdg 1:17.
Zephath was in the territory of Simeon. This is evident not only from the fact that Hormah (Zephath) had been allotted to the tribe of Simeon (compare Jos 19:4 with Jos 15:30), but also from the words, "Judah went with Simeon his brother," which point back to Jdg 1:3, and express the thought that Judah went with Simeon into his territory to drive out the Canaanites who were still to be found there. Going southwards from Debir, Judah and Simeon smote the Canaanites at Zephath on the southern boundary of Canaan, and executed the ban upon this town, from which it received the name of Hormah, i.e., banning. The town has been preserved in the ruins of Septa, on the south of Khalasa or Elusa (see at Jos 12:14). In the passage mentioned, the king of Hormah or Zephath is named among the kings who were slain by Joshua. It does not follow from this, however, that Joshua must necessarily have conquered his capital Zephath; the king of Jerusalem was also smitten by Joshua and slain, without Jerusalem itself being taken at that time. But even if Zephath were taken by the Israelites, as soon as the Israelitish army had withdrawn, the Canaanites there might have taken possession of the town again; so that, like many other Canaanitish towns, it had to be conquered again after Joshua's death (see the commentary on Num 21:2-3). There is not much probability in this conjecture, however, for the simple reason that the ban pronounced by Moses upon the country of the king of Arad (Num 21:2) was carried out now for the first time by Judah and Simeon upon the town of Zephath, which formed a part of it. If Joshua had conquered it, he would certainly have executed the ban upon it. The name Hormah, which was already given to Zephath in Jos 15:30 and Jos 19:4, is no proof to the contrary, since it may be used proleptically there. In any case, the infliction of the ban upon this town can only be explained from the fact that Moses had pronounced the ban upon all the towns of the king of Arad.
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 Jos 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 Jdg 14:19; Jdg 16:1.; Sa1 5:10, etc.). - In Jdg 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 Exo 34:24; Num 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 (Jdg 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 Amo 6:10, in the same sense in which אין before the infinitive is used in later writings (Ch2 5:11; Est 4:2; Est 8:8; Ecc 3:14 : see Ges. 132-3, anm. 1; Ewald, 237, e.). On the iron chariots, i.e., the chariots tipped with iron, see at Jos 17:16. - To this there is appended, in v. 20, the statement that "they gave Hebron unto Caleb," etc., which already occurred in Jos 15:13-14, and was there explained; and also in Jdg 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 Jdg 1:8.
The hostile attacks of the other tribes upon the Canaanites who remained in the land are briefly summed up in Jdg 1:22-36. Of these the taking of Bethel is more fully described in Jdg 1:22-26. Besides this, nothing more is given than the list of the towns in the territories of western Manasseh (Jdg 1:27, Jdg 1:28), Ephraim (Jdg 1:29), Zebulun (Jdg 1:30), Asher (Jdg 1:31, Jdg 1:32), Naphtali (Jdg 1:33), and Dan (Jdg 1:34, Jdg 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.
Like Judah, so also ("they also," referring back to Jdg 1:2, Jdg 1:3) did the house of Joseph (Ephraim and western Manasseh) renew the hostilities with the Canaanites who were left in their territory after the death of Joshua. The children of Joseph went up against Bethel, and Jehovah was with them, so that they were able to conquer the city. Bethel had indeed been assigned to the tribe of Benjamin (Jos 18:22), but it was situated on the southern boundary of the tribe-land of Ephraim (Jos 16:2; Jos 18:13); so that the tribe of Joseph could not tolerate the Canaanites in this border town, if it would defend its own territory against them, and purge it entirely of them. This is a sufficient explanation of the fact that this one conquest is mentioned, and this only, without there being any necessity to seek for the reason, as Bertheau does, in the circumstance that the town of Bethel came into such significant prominence in the later history of Israel, and attained the same importance in many respects in relation to the northern tribes, as that which Jerusalem attained in relation to the southern. For the fact that nothing more is said about the other conquests of the children of Joseph, may be explained simply enough on the supposition that they did not succeed in rooting out the Canaanites from the other fortified towns in their possessions; and therefore there was nothing to record about any further conquests, as the result of their hostilities was merely this, that they did not drive the Canaanites out of the towns named in Jdg 1:27, Jdg 1:29, but simply made them tributary. יתירוּ, they had it explored, or spied out. תּוּר is construed with בּ here, because the spying laid hold, as it were, of its object. Bethel, formerly Luz, now Beitin: see at Gen 28:19 and Jos 7:2.
And the watchmen (i.e., the spies sent out to explore Bethel) saw a man coming out of the town, and got him to show them the entrance into it, under a promise that they would show him favour, i.e., would spare the lives of himself and his family (see Jos 2:12-13); whereupon they took the town and smote it without quarter, according to the law in Deu 20:16-17, letting none but the man and his family go. By "the entrance into the city" we are not to understand the gate of the town, but the way or mode by which they could get into the town, which was no doubt fortified.
The man whom they had permitted to go free, went with his family into the land of the Hittites, and there built a town, to which he gave the name of his earlier abode, viz., Luz. The situation of this Luz is altogether unknown. Even the situation of the land of the Hittites cannot be more precisely determined; for we find Hittites at Hebron in the times of Abraham and Moses (Gen 23), and also upon the mountains of Palestine (Num 13:29), and at a later period on the north-east of Canaan on the borders of Syria (Kg1 10:29). That the Hittites were one of the most numerous and widespread of the tribes of the Canaanites, is evident from the fact that, in Jos 1:4, the Canaanites generally are described as Hittites.
Manasseh did not root out the Canaanites from the towns which had been allotted to it in the territory of Asher and Issachar (Jos 17:11), but simply made them tributary. וגו בּית־שׁאן הורישׁ לא, considered by itself, might be rendered: "Manasseh did not take possession of Bethshean," etc. But as we find, in the further enumeration, the inhabitants of the towns mentioned instead of the towns themselves, we must take הורישׁ in the sense of rooting out, driving out of their possessions, which is the only rendering applicable in Jdg 1:28; and thus, according to a very frequent metonymy, must understand by the towns the inhabitants of the towns. "Manasseh did not exterminate Bethshean," i.e., the inhabitants of Bethshean, etc. All the towns mentioned here have already been mentioned in Jos 17:11, the only difference being, that they are not placed in exactly the same order, and that Endor is mentioned there after Dor; whereas here it has no doubt fallen out through a copyist's error, as the Manassites, according to Jos 17:12-13, did not exterminate the Canaanites from all the towns mentioned there. The change in the order in which the towns occur, - Taanach being placed next to Bethshean, whereas in Joshua Bethshean is followed by Ibleam, which is placed last but one in the present list, - may be explained on the supposition, that in Jos 17:11, Endor, Taanach, and Megiddo are placed together, as forming a triple league, of which the author of our book has taken no notice. Nearly all these towns were in the plain of Jezreel, or in the immediate neighbourhood of the great commercial roads which ran from the coast of the Mediterranean to Damascus and central Asia. The Canaanites no doubt brought all their strength to bear upon the defence of these roads; and in this their war-chariots, against which Israel could do nothing in the plain of Jezreel, were of the greatest service (see Jdg 1:19; Jos 17:16). For further particulars respecting the situation of the different towns, see at Jos 17:11. Dor only was on the coast of the Mediterranean (see at Jos 11:2), and being a commercial emporium of the Phoenicians, would certainly be strongly fortified, and very difficult to conquer.
As the Israelites grew strong, they made serfs of the Canaanites (see at Gen 49:15). When this took place is not stated; but at all events, it was only done gradually in the course of the epoch of the judges, and not for the first time during the reign of Solomon, as Bertheau supposes on the ground of Kg1 9:20-22 and Kg1 4:12, without considering that even in the time of David the Israelites had already attained the highest power they ever possessed, and that there is nothing at variance with this in Kg1 4:12 and Kg1 9:20-22. For it by no means follows, from the appointment of a prefect by Solomon over the districts of Taanach, Megiddo, and Bethshean (Kg1 4:12), that these districts had only been conquered by Solomon a short time before, when we bear in mind that Solomon appointed twelve such prefects over all Israel, to remit in regular order the national payments that were required for the maintenance of the regal court. Nor does it follow, that because Solomon employed the descendants of the Canaanites who were left in the land as tributary labourers in the erection of his great buildings, therefore he was the first who succeeded in compelling those Canaanites who were not exterminated when the land was conquered by Joshua, to pay tribute to the different tribes of Israel.
Ephraim did not root out the Canaanites in Gezer (Jdg 1:29), as has already been stated in Jos 16:10.
Zebulun did not root out the Canaanites in Kitron and Nahalol.
Asher did not root out those in Acco, etc. Acco: a seaport town to the north of Carmel, on the bay which is called by its name; it is called Ake by Josephus, Diod. Sic., and Pliny, and was afterwards named Ptolemais from one of the Ptolemys (1 Macc. 5:15, 21; 10:1, etc.; Act 21:7). The Arabs called it Akka, and this was corrupted by the crusaders into Acker or Acre. During the crusades it was a very flourishing maritime and commercial town; but it subsequently fell into decay, and at the present time has a population of about 5000, composed of Mussulmans, Druses, and Christians (see C. v. Raumer, Pal. p. 119; Rob. Bibl. Res.; and Ritter, Erdk. xvi. pp. 725ff.). Sidon, now Saida: see at Jos 11:8. Achlab is only mentioned here, and is not known. Achzib, i.e., Ecdippa: see at Jos 19:29. Helbah is unknown. Aphek is the present Afkah: see Jos 13:4; Jos 19:30. Rehob is unknown: see at Jos 19:28, Jos 19:30. As seven out of the twenty-two towns of Asher (Jos 19:30) remained in the hands of the Canaanites, including such important places as Acco and Sidon, it is not stated in Jdg 1:32, as in Jdg 1:29, Jdg 1:30, that "the Canaanites dwelt among them," but that "the Asherites dwelt among the Canaanites," to show that the Canaanites held the upper hand. And for this reason the expression "they became tributaries" (Jdg 1:30, Jdg 1:35, etc.) is also omitted.
Naphtali did not root out the inhabitants of Beth-shemesh and Beth-anath, two fortified towns, the situation of which is still unknown (see at Jos 19:38); so that this tribe also dwelt among the Canaanites, but did not make them tributary.
Still less were the Danites able to drive the Canaanites out of their inheritance. On the contrary, the Amorites forced Dan up into the mountains, and would not suffer them to come down into the plain. But the territory allotted to the Danytes was almost all in the plain (see at Jos 19:40). If, therefore, they were forced out of that, they were almost entirely excluded from their inheritance. The Amorites emboldened themselves (see at Deu 1:5) to dwell in Har-cheres, Ajalon, and Shaalbim. On the last two places see Jos 19:42, where Ir-shemesh is also mentioned. This combination, and still more the meaning of the names Har-cheres, i.e., sun-mountain, and Ir-shemesh, i.e., sun-town, make the conjecture a very probable one, that Har-cheres is only another name for Ir-shemesh, i.e., the present Ain Shems (see at Jos 15:10, and Rob. Pal. iii. pp. 17, 18). This pressure on the part of the Amorites induced a portion of the Danites to emigrate, and seek for an inheritance in the north of Palestine (see Judg 18). On the other hand, the Amorites were gradually made tributary by the powerful tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh, who bounded Dan on the north. "The hand of the house of Joseph lay heavy," sc., upon the Amorites in the towns already named on the borders of Ephraim. For the expression itself, comp. Sa1 5:6; Psa 32:4.
In order to explain the supremacy of the Amorites in the territory of Dan, a short notice is added concerning their extension in the south of Palestine. "The territory of the Amorites was," i.e., extended (viz., at the time of the conquest of Canaan by the Israelites), "from the ascent of Akrabbim, from the rock onwards and farther up." Maaleh-Akrabbim (ascensus scorpiorum) was the sharply projecting line of cliffs which intersected the Ghor below the Dead Sea, and formed the southern boundary of the promised land (see at Num 34:4 and Jos 15:2-3). מהסּלע, from the rock, is not doubt given as a second point upon the boundary of the Amoritish territory, as the repetition of the מן clearly shows, notwithstanding the omission of the copula ו. הסּלע, the rock, is supposed by the majority of commentators to refer to the city of Petra, the ruins of which are still to be seen in the Wady Musa (see Burckhardt, Syr. pp. 703ff.; Rob. Pal. ii. pp. 573ff., iii. 653), and which is distinctly mentioned in Kg2 14:7 under the name of הסּלע, and in Isa 16:1 is called simply סלע. Petra is to the southeast of the Scorpion heights. Consequently, with this rendering the following word ומעלה (and upward) would have to be taken in the sense of ulterius (and beyond), and Rosenmller's explanation would be the correct one: "The Amorites not only extended as far as the town of Petra, or inhabited it, but they even carried their dwellings beyond this towards the tops of those southern mountains." But a description of the territory of the Amorites in its southern extension into Arabia Petraea does not suit the context of the verse, the object of which is to explain how it was that the Amorites were in a condition to force back the Danites out of the plain into the mountains, to say nothing of the fact that it is questionable whether the Amorites ever really spread so far, for which we have neither scriptural testimony nor evidence of any other kind. On this ground even Bertheau has taken ומעלה as denoting the direction upwards, i.e., towards the north, which unquestionably suits the usage of מעלה as well as the context of the passage. But it is by no means in harmony with this to understand הסּלע as referring to Petra; for in that case we should have two boundary points mentioned, the second of which was farther south than the first. Now a historian who had any acquaintance with the topography, would never have described the extent of the Amoritish territory from south to north in such a way as this, commencing with the Scorpion heights on the north, then passing to Petra, which was farther south, and stating that from this point the territory extended farther towards the north. If ומעלה therefore refers to the extension of the territory of the Amorites in a northerly direction, the expression "from the rock" cannot be understood as relating to the city of Petra, but must denote some other locality well known to the Israelites by that name. Such a locality there undoubtedly was in the rock in the desert of Zin, which had become celebrated through the events that took place at the water of strife (Num 20:8, Num 20:10), and to which in all probability this expression refers. The rock in question was at the south-west corner of Canaan, on the southern edge of the Rakhma plateau, to which the mountains of the Amorites extended on the south-west (comp. Num 14:25, Num 14:44-45, with Deu 1:44). And this would be very appropriately mentioned here as the south-western boundary of the Amorites, in connection with the Scorpion heights as their south-eastern boundary, for the purpose of giving the southern boundary of the Amorites in its full extent from east to west.