FAMILY HISTORY OF JUDAH.
This episode is no interruption of the narrative, for, as we have seen, the Tôldôth Jacob is the history generally of Jacob’s posterity, and especially of the next great event in their development into a nation, namely the descent into Egypt. Two main reasons may be assigned therefore for giving this history of Judah’s life; the first, that it shows the great risk of utter contamination incurred by the patriarchs in living among the Canaanites; the second, and more important, that Judah was invested by his father with the rights of primogeniture, and therefore that this history belongs to the genealogy of the Messiah.
Adullamite.—The town of Adullam, near which was David’s famous cave, has been clearly identified by Lieut. Conder (Tent-work, ii. 158). It lay in the great valley of Elah, which formed the highway from Hebron to the country of the Philistines, some two or three miles south of Shochoh, and fifteen or sixteen miles west by north from Hebron. Judah “went down” thither, not as Abenezra and others have supposed, because it was to the south, but because it was towards the sea, and the road is an actual descent from the hill country of Judah into the Shephelah, or lowland, in which Adullam was situated. The sons of Jacob often, probably, with a few retainers, made expeditions in search of pastures for their cattle; and Hirah, apparently, had shown Judah hospitality on some such journey, and finally a friendship had grown up between them. “Turned in to,” however, literally means pitched (his tent) close by; and the friendship between Judah and Hirah, thus accidentally formed, seems to have ended in Hirah taking the charge of Judah’s cattle.
Thy staff.—The staff in ancient times was elaborately adorned. Herodotus (i. 195) describes the staves carried by the Babylonians, as having on them carvings of fruit, or of some flower or bird; and Homer perpetually makes mention of the “sceptres,” that is, walking-sticks, of the kings, as carved so magnificently as to be worthy of being ascribed to Hephaestus, and handed down as emblems of authority from father to son. (See Iliad, ii. 101-107.) It is from these staves that the sceptres of kings, and the batons of field-marshals, &c, are derived.