After Joshua’s death, Judah was called to lead the battle against the enemies that still occupied the land that God had given to Abraham and his descendants. Judah heeded the call. The Lord gave Judah victory over the Canaanites and the Perizzites. They joined forces with their brother Simeon, and God gave them victory. Judges 1:4-7 tells us, “Then Judah went up and the Lord gave the Canaanites and the Perizzites into their hand, and they defeated 10,000 of them at Bezek. They found Adoni-bezek at Bezek and fought against him, and defeated the Canaanites and the Perizzites. Adoni-bezek fled, but they pursued him and caught him and cut off his thumbs and his big toes. And Adoni-bezek said, ‘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.’ And they brought him to Jerusalem, and he died there.”

In his commentary, Guzik says, “Seeking the Lord, obeying His guidance, and working together as a body always produces great results. Their success was plain to see: the Lord delivered all their enemies into their hands. They killed ten thousand men at Bezek: This place where the conquered was called Bezek, and the leader of this city was Adoni-Bezek, which means ‘Lord of Lightning.’” Schley mentions this meaning also. He says, “It is possible that there was a deity, Bezek, whose name was related to the Hebrew word bāzāq, found once with the meaning of ‘lightning’ (Ezek 1:14).”[1] Guzik concludes, “This was an enemy with a fearful name, but Judah and Simeon defeated him none the less.”[2] The “Ruined Dragon” in Super Mario Odyssey, the video game, is also referred to as the “Lord of Lightning.” King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard sang a song entitled “The Lord of Lightning.” The first verse says, “Lord of Lightning shifts his gaze Points his strong finger our way, Electricity escapes, Leaves destruction in his wake.” Many pagan religions have various “storm” gods.[3] They control the wind, rain, thunder, and lightning and are often seen as the god of gods. Everything and everyone is subject to them. They do leave destruction in their wake. Adoni-Bezek considered himself the god of gods because he subjected all the surrounding kings, or lesser gods, to himself and would cut their thumbs off and let them live as his servants. Their way of living was made by eating the scraps from the King’s table. But notice his last recorded words, “As I have done, so God has repaid me.”

Psalm 135:5-7 tells us about the true “Lord of Lightning.” It says, “For I know that the Lord is great and that our Lord is above all gods. Whatever the Lord pleases, he does, in heaven and on earth, in the seas and all deeps. He it is who makes the clouds rise at the end of the earth, who makes lightning for the rain and brings forth the wind from his storehouses.” It is interesting that regardless of the God Adoni-Bezek was referring to, he recognized that all mankind, regardless of their position in the world, would one day be held accountable to a greater and omnipotent God. We live in a world where “what goes around comes around.” The defeat and humiliation Adoni-Bezek delivered to others were delivered to him. Indeed, the law of Lex-Talionis, whatever you give, you will get, proves to be real in this life. But thankfully, the very “Lord of Lightning,” who controls the wind and the waves, came to earth in the person of Jesus and paid the penalty for all who would receive him. He fulfilled the law for us!

[1] Schley, D. G. 1992. “Adoni-Bezek (Person).” In The Anchor Yale Bible Dictionary, edited by David Noel Freedman, 1:74. New York: Doubleday.

[2] Guzik, David. 2013. Judges. David Guzik’s Commentaries on the Bible. Santa Barbara, CA: David Guzik.

[3] Weather god – Wikipedia