Judges 1:6 - "Adoni-bezek fled, but they pursued him and caught him and cut off his thumbs and his big toes."

I could not even get through the first chapter of Judges without coming across some gore. Of course, there have already been several instances of violence throughout our readings, but this one made me ponder, "Why?" More than that, it made me wonder if perhaps there was significance in cutting off thumbs and big toes. To my satisfaction, there was...
This online Jewish encyclopedia said that they were cut off as "divine retribution." This makes sense because even Adoni-bezek said in Judges 1:7 - "...Seventy kings with their thumbs and their big toes cut off used to pick up scraps under my table. As I have done, so God has repaid me." This eye for an eye (or thumbs for thumbs and toes for toes) idea seems reasonable, but it also seems like a lot of trouble to go to simply for retribution.
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The more intriguing reason for these occurrances of mutilation have to do with warfare and the assumption of authority. According to this site, it's likely that Adoni-bezek did this to the seventy kings so that they could not be warriors anymore. When an archer draw his bow, he uses his fingers and thumb; and without the thumb, he could not shoot the arrow straight. Similarly, if a warrior had his big toes cut off, he would have trouble running and balancing. This site agrees with these statements and adds an additional thought - "The act reduced the kings to a state of dependency on others." By cutting of their thumbs and big toes and, therefore, making them null as warriors, Adoni-bezek disgraced the seventy kings and usurped authority over them. He even made them eat food scraps from under his table like animals. By doing this, Adoni-bezek was saying, "I'm the most powerful king, for I have shamed these kings and now they're like pets to me."

It's only after finding out the logic behind cutting off ones thumbs and big toes that I can now read Judges 1:7 and agree with the Jewish encyclopedia that Adoni-bezek's mutilation could also have been for divine retribution. This is why I choose option "c" from below.

(A) Adoni-bezek's mutilation was karma for what he did to the seventy kings.

(B) It was so that he could make them void on the battlefield and assume authority over them, proclaiming himself to be the best king.

(C) It's a combination of "A" and "B."

Jan Case
10/4/2012

I've often been grateful that my cat and dog do not have thumbs. They would definitely be done with that demeaning under the table begging act if they could grab their own food whenever they felt like it.

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Roy kearse
5/31/2014

My understanding is that today the goal is to render our enemies harmless and you can often do that by using the ultimate weapon which is the love of Jesus Christ

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