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ADONI-BEZEK (a-dō'nī-bē'zĕk, Heb. ’ădhōnîvezeq, lord of lightning, or of the city of Bezek). A king of Bezek, captured by the men of Judah and Simeon and taken to Jerusalem, where he was mutilated. The cutting off of his thumbs and great toes not only rendered him harmless, but reminded him that man reaps what he sows (Judg.1.5-Judg.1.7; Gal.6.7).

ADONIBEZEK ə dō’ nī be’ zĕk (אֲדֹ֣נִי בֶ֔זֶק, lord of Bezek). The title of a king of a town named Bezek in northern Pal., thirteen m. NE of Shechem, who was pursued and captured by the tribes of Judah and Simeon (Judg 1:3-7). This king, who suffered the same kind of incapacitation to which he subjected seventy other kings, viz. amputation of their thumbs and great toes, is not to be identified with Adonizedek, king of Jerusalem (Josh 10:1-3) (contra G. E. Wright). Judah was prob. threatened or attacked by Canaanite forces in the N under the man with this title, and therefore they turned to meet him before they could begin clearing out their own tribal territory (so argued Keil and Delitzsch, and more recently Aharoni). There is no reason according to Y. Aharoni to doubt the historical accuracy of the details in this first ch. of Judges including the reference to Jerusalem as the place to which the mutilated Adonibezek was taken (v. 7), while v. 21 says Benjamin could not drive out the Jebusites from Jerusalem. Quite frequently, certain tribes succeeded in overcoming and destroying Canaanite emplacements only to lose the city or region for lack of a settlement, or of technical and organizational ability to rebuild and refortify the town. (See Hazor, Lachish, and Debir.) After a short time, Jerusalem apparently fell into the hands of the Jebusites until David captured it again.


G. E. Wright, “The Literary and Historical Problem of Josh 10 and Judg 1,” JNES V. (1946), 108; Y. Aharoni, The Land of the Bible (1967), 197 and n. 62.; C. Gordon, Before The Bible (1962), 296-298.

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)

Lord of a town, Bezek, in southern Palestine, whom the tribes of Judah and Simeon overthrew. Adonibezek fled when his men were defeated, but was captured, and was punished for his cruelty in cutting off the thumbs and great toes of seventy kings by a similar mutilation. Being brought to Jerusalem, he died there (Jud 1:5-7). This not to be confused with Adonizedek, as in the Septuagint. This is quite another name.

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