Adoni-Bezeq and the seventy thumbless kings (Judges 1.1-7)

That title could almost be a fairy tale. On a whim I decided that I hadn’t interacted with Hebrew nearly enough this semester. This should come as no surprise since I have no class that requires me to work with Hebrew this semester. I’ve been having a great time with Greek, and Aramaic has even begun to be an enjoyable experience. To be sure, I’ve translated shorter passages, and looked up a verb here or there as I’ve been preparing lessons, but I haven’t made a concerted effort to keep my Hebrew up to snuff. I’ve decided that that must change. So, in order to attempt to rectify the situation I’m going to begin translating a bit from Judges every Saturday. I’m going to take things at whatever pace I feel like. This evening I read/translated the first seven verses. All-in-all I was pleased that I didn’t make any major mistakes with parsing things. So, now for my thoughts.

The Story:
This is a great little introduction to the book of Judges. It manages to set the stage perfectly for what follows after. The entirety of chapter one is an account of how the Israelites defeated the Canaanites, or failed to defeat them, as the case may be. In these seven verses the tribe of Judah gets picked to go do some fighting. The oblige, after talking Simeon into helping them, and off they go to Bezeq, where they kill 10,000 men!

Of course, they also catch up with Adoni-Bezeq (er, “My Lord of Bezeq”?). They cut off his thumbs and big toes, and fitting punishment considering that he had done the same to seventy(!) kings. He gives a fitting final speech, before being drug off to Jerusalem and summarily executed.

My thoughts on the Hebrew text:
Verse 1 – This verse was, I thought, pretty straight forward. I didn’t have an problems with any parsing or vocab, aside from needing to look up תחלה.
Verse 2 – Again, nothing overly interesting. I almost misparsed יעלה because it had a patah under the yod. My first thought was Hifil yiqtol 3ms of עלה. However, after looking at it for a moment I remember that gutturals like patahs, and so it is a straightforward Qal, yiqtol 3ms of עלה. Other than that, my favorite verb–נתן–shows up in this verse, which deserves a mention.
Verse 3 – Judah cuts a deal with Simeon. An imperative, and a niphal show up. The object is set before the subject in the final clause contra the normal V-S-O order, but nothing exceptional.
Verse 4 – I had a little trouble finding the root of ויכום, but I eventually nailed it as Hifil wayyiqtol 3mp of נכה with 3mp suffix, “and they struck them.”
Verse 5 – I’m embarrassed to admit that I tried to make Adoni-Bezeq into some kind of phrase before realizing it was a proper name.
Verse 6 – I had to look up אחז as well as בהן. I don’t think I’ve forgotten those words, I never knew them. Otherwise verse six is just a fun bit of recompense.
Verse 7 – Leaving aside the sudden appearance of Jerusalem as a city of importance, a pual and piel participle show up here, so they were fun. I’m still not completely satisfied with my rendering of them though. I also almost misparsed the Hifil in this verse. I always forget that Hifil’s can take a shewa under the prefix pronoun when we start attaching suffixes.

My translation:
A bit rough.

1. It happened after the death of Joshua that the sons of Israel asked of Adonai saying, “Who will go up for us to the Canaanites first, to fight against them.”

2. And Adonai said, “Judah will go up. See! I have given the land into his hand.”

3. And Judah said to Simeon his brother, “Go up with me against my lot and let us fight against the Canaanites and I will go, even I, with you against your lot.” So Simeon went with him.

4. And Judah went up and Adonai gave the Canaanites and the Perizites into their hand and they struck them at Bezeq, ten thousand men.

5. They found Adoni-Bezeq at Bezeq and they fought against him and they struck the Canaanites and the Perizites.

6. Adoni-Bezeq fled and they followed after him and they took hold of him and they cut off his thumbs and his big toes.

7. Adoni-Bezeq said, “Seventy kings, who had their thumbs and their big toes cut off, they were gleaning under my table. As I did, thus God has repaid me.” They brought him to Jerusalem and they killed him there.


I think I need to spend some time reviewing vocab. Looking over my weak verb paradigms wouldn’t hurt either.

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