Judges 1:28 MEANING

Judges 1:28
(28) Did not utterly drive them out.--This is mentioned by way of blame, as the cause of their future sins and disasters (Judges 2:2; Josh. 16:16, Joshua 17:13). As to the morality of these exterminating wars, we must bear in mind that men and nations must alike be judged by the moral standard of their own day, not by the advanced morality of later ages. We learn from unanimous testimony that the nations of Canaan had sunk to the lowest and vilest depths of moral degeneracy. When nations have fallen thus low, the cup of their iniquity is full; they are practically irreclaimable. To mingle with them would inevitably be to learn their works, for their worst abominations would find an ally in the natural weakness and corruption of the human heart. The Israelites therefore believed that it was their positive duty to destroy them, and the impulse which led them to do so was one which sprang from their best and not from their worst instincts. It must not be forgotten that the teaching of Christ has absolutely changed the moral conceptions of the world. It intensified, to a degree which we can hardly estimate, our sense of the inalienable rights of humanity and of the individual man. In these days there is scarcely any amount of evidence which would convince us that we were bidden to exterminate a whole population, and involve women and children in one indistinguishable massacre. But neither the Israelites nor any other ancient nations, at this early stage of their moral development, had any conception corresponding to those which would in our minds rightly excite horror, were we to receive a command like that given by Moses, that "thou shalt save nothing alive that breatheth" (Deuteronomy 22:16), or by Samuel, "Slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass" (1 Samuel 15:3). We should instantly declare it to be impossible that God--as Christ has revealed to us the character of our Father in heaven--should give us commands which would militate against our sense of justice no less than against our sense of compassion. To quote such commands as an excuse for, or an incentive to, such horrible acts of wickedness as the Sack of Beziers, or the Massacre of St. Bartholomew, is ignorantly and recklessly to obliterate the whole results of God's progressive moral education of our race. It is to ignore the fact that we are living under a wholly different dispensation, and to disavow every blessing which has accrued to humanity from the broadening light and divine revelation of three thousand years. But the ancient Israelites, living as they did in the "days of ignorance" which God "winked at" (Acts 17:30), had never attained to that idea of human individuality--that sense of the independence and infinite worth of each human life--which would have shown them that they knew not what manner of spirit they were of (Luke 9:56). The wild and passionate sense of severe justice, the comparative indifference to human life, the familiarity with pain and death which blunted the keen edge of pity, "the deficient sense of individuality, the exaggerated sense of the solidarity which united a criminal with all his surroundings and possessions," prevented them from regarding the execution of their ban on guilty nations, cities, or families in any other light than that of the zeal for righteousness by which it was impelled. Their deeds must be estimated by the elements of nobleness which mingled with them, and not indiscriminately condemned by standards of judgment of which neither they nor the age in which they lived had any conception. They firmly believed that in exterminating Canaan they were acting under Divine commands; and there was nothing in such commands which would in that day have shocked the moral sense of the world. "They did not look unnatural to the ancient Jew; they were not foreign to his standard; they excited no surprise or perplexity; they appealed to a genuine but rough idea of justice which existed, when the longing for retribution upon crime in the human mind was not checked by the strict sense of human individuality" (Mozley, Lectures on the Old Test., p. 103).

Verse 28. - Put the Canaanites to tribute, or made them tributaries, as in vers. 30, 33, i.e. imposed forced labour upon them, as the Gibeonites were made hewers of wood and drawers of water (Joshua 9:21, 27; see 1 Kings 9:21).

1:21-36 The people of Israel were very careless of their duty and interest. Owing to slothfulness and cowardice, they would not be at the pains to complete their conquests. It was also owing to their covetousness: they were willing to let the Canaanites live among them, that they might make advantage of them. They had not the dread and detestation of idolatry they ought to have had. The same unbelief that kept their fathers forty years out of Canaan, kept them now out of the full possession of it. Distrust of the power and promise of God deprived them of advantages, and brought them into troubles. Thus many a believer who begins well is hindered. His graces languish, his lusts revive, Satan plies him with suitable temptations, the world recovers its hold; he brings guilt into his conscience, anguish into his heart, discredit on his character, and reproach on the gospel. Though he may have sharp rebukes, and be so recovered that he does not perish, yet he will have deeply to lament his folly through his remaining days; and upon his dying bed to mourn over the opportunities of glorifying God and serving the church he has lost. We can have no fellowship with the enemies of God within us or around us, but to our hurt; therefore our only wisdom is to maintain unceasing war against them.And it came to pass, when Israel was strong,.... All the tribes of Israel were become numerous, and able to drive the Canaanites out of the land everywhere, and particularly were able to assist Manasseh in expelling the Canaanites out of the above places, yet they did not; but all they did was:

that they put the Canaanites to tribute, and did not utterly drive them out; which flowed from covetousness, and a love of ease; they did not care to be at the trouble of expelling them, as they found it turned more to their account and present advantage to make them tributaries; and this was true of the Israelites in general, and of the half tribe of Manasseh in particular; which, as Abarbinel thinks, is here respected.

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