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The Book of Judges: Chapter 1

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1 AFTER the death of Joshua the Israelites enquired of the LORD which tribe should go up first to attack the Canaanites. 2The LORD answered, ‘Judah is to go up; I have delivered the country into their power.’ 3The Judahites said to their kinsmen, the Simeonites, ‘Go up with us into the territory allotted to us, and let us do battle with the Canaanites, and we in turn shall go with you into your territory.’ So the Simeonites went with them.

4Judah advanced to the attack, and the LORD delivered the Canaanites and the Perizzites into their hands, so that they slaughtered ten thousand of them at Bezek. 5At Bezek they came upon Adoni-bezek, engaged him in battle, and defeated the Canaanites and Perizzites. 6Adoni-bezek fled, but they pursued him, and having taken him prisoner cut off his thumbs and his big toes. 7Adoni-bezek said, ‘I once had seventy kings with their thumbs and big toes cut off who were picking up the scraps under my table. What I have done, God has done to me.’ He was brought to Jerusalem, and he died there.

8The men of Judah made an assault on Jerusalem and captured it; they put its people to the sword, and set fire to the city. 9Then they turned south to fight the Canaanites living in the hill-country, the Negeb, and the Shephelah. 10Judah attacked the Canaanites in Hebron, formerly called Kiriatharba, and defeated Sheshai, Ahiman, and Talmai. 11From there they marched against the inhabitants of Debir, formerly called Kiriath-sepher.

12Caleb said, ‘I shall give my daughter Achsah in marriage to the man who attacks and captures Kiriath-sepher.’ 13Othniel, son of Caleb's younger brother Kenaz, captured it, and Caleb gave him his daughter Achsah. 14When she became his wife, Othniel induced her a 1:14 Othniel induced her: so Gk; Heb. she induced him. to ask her father for a piece of land. She dismounted b dismounted: or made a noise. from her donkey, and Caleb asked her, ‘What do you want?’ 15She replied, ‘Grant me this favour: you have put me in this arid Negeb; you must give me pools of water as well.’ So Caleb gave her the upper pool and the lower pool.

16The descendants of the Kenite, Moses' father-in-law, went up with the Judahites from the city of palm trees to the wilderness of Judah which is in the Negeb of Arad, and they settled among the Amalekites c 1:16 Amalekites: so some Gk MSS; Heb. people. . 17The Judahites then set out with their kinsmen the Simeonites, attacked the Canaanites in Zephath, and utterly destroyed it; hence the town was given the name Hormah d 1:17 Hormah: that is Destruction. . 18Judah took Gaza, Ashkelon, and Ekron, along with the territory of each. 19As the LORD was with the Judahites, they occupied the hill-country; but they failed to drive out the inhabitants of the plain because they had iron-clad chariots. 20As Moses had directed, Hebron was given to Caleb, who drove out the three Anakim.

21But the Benjamites failed to drive out the Jebusite inhabitants of Jerusalem, and the Jebusites have lived on in Jerusalem alongside the Benjamites to this day.

22The men of Joseph also attacked Bethel, and the LORD was with them. 23They reconnoitred Bethel, formerly called Luz, 24and when the spies saw a man coming out of the town they said to him, ‘Show us a way into the town, and we will see that you come to no harm.’ 25When he showed them how to enter, they put the town to the sword, but let the man and his family go unscathed. 26The man went into Hittite country, where he built a town, which he called Luz, the name it bears to this day.

27Manasseh failed to drive out the inhabitants of Beth-shean, Taanach, Dor, Ibleam, and Megiddo and their villages; the Canaanites maintained their hold on that region. 28Later, when Israel became strong, they put them to forced labour, but never completely drove them out.

29Ephraim failed to drive out the Canaanites who lived in Gezer; the Canaanites lived among them there.

30Zebulun failed to drive out the inhabitants of Kitron and Nahalol; the Canaanites lived among them and were put to forced labour.

31Asher failed to drive out the inhabitants of Acco and Sidon, of Ahlab e 1:31 Ahlab: Mehalbeh in Josh. 19:29 . , Achzib, Helbah, Aphik, and Rehob. 32Thus the Asherites lived among the Canaanite inhabitants and did not drive them out.

33Naphtali failed to drive out the inhabitants of Beth-shemesh and of Beth-anath, and lived among the Canaanite inhabitants, putting the inhabitants of Beth-shemesh and Beth-anath to forced labour.

34The Amorites pressed the Danites back into the hill-country and did not allow them to come down into the plain. 35The Amorites maintained their hold on Mount Heres and on Aijalon and Shaalbim, but the Joseph tribes increased their pressure on them until they reduced them to forced labour.

36The boundary of the Edomites f 1:36 Edomites: so one form of Gk; Heb. Amorites. ran from the ascent of Akrabbim, upwards from Sela.

Notes:

a 1:14 Othniel induced her: so Gk; Heb. she induced him.

b dismounted: or made a noise.

c 1:16 Amalekites: so some Gk MSS; Heb. people.

d 1:17 Hormah: that is Destruction.

e 1:31 Ahlab: Mehalbeh in Josh. 19:29 .

f 1:36 Edomites: so one form of Gk; Heb. Amorites.

Text Commentary view alone

1.1–2.5 : The conquest of Canaan completed.

This historical prologue, considered by most scholars to be an ancient document, or derived from one, describes the arduous attempts at conquest by isolated tribes, with the native inhabitants being subjugated rather than exterminated; contrast Josh. chs. 10–11; see Josh. 13.13 n.

1.1–21 : The course of conquests.

Compare Josh. ch. 15 . Many scholars hold that the ancient document ( 1.1–2.5 n. ) has been shaped to enhance Judah, in which territory Jerusalem lay.

1 :

After the death of Joshua is probably added so as to accord with Josh. 24.29 ; it contradicts the ensuing narrative; see 2.6–8 . They enquired of the LORD, probably by using sacred lots; see Exod. 28.15 n.

3 :

Simeon: see Josh. 19.1–9 n.

4 :

Perizzites: see Gen. 13.7; Deut. 7.1 . The location of Bezek is uncertain.

5 :

Adoni-bezek is possibly the same as the Adoni-zedek, king of Jerusalem, of Josh. 10.1–3 .

8 :

Jerusalem is portrayed as captured at a later time by David in 2 Sam. 5.6–9 .

9 :

Negeb: the southern desert. Shephelah: see Josh. 11.2 n.

10 :

Hebron: see Josh. 10.36–37 . According to v. 20 and Josh. 14.6–15 and 15.13–14 , it was given to the clan of Caleb.

11–15 :

This story occurs also in Josh. 15.15–19 .

11 :

Debir: probably the modern Tell Beit Mirsim, southwest of Hebron.

16 :

The Kenites, a nomadic tribe, here mentioned as allies of Judah during the invasion of Canaan, settled among the Amalekites. Because of their aid to Israel, they are spared by Saul (1 Sam. 15.6 ). Amalekites: see Exod. 17.8 n.

17 :

Zephath: a city in the Negeb; Hormah means “destruction.” Some scholars think this reference is the same as the incident in Num. 21.3 .

18 :

Gaza, Ashkelon, and Ekron are three of the five Philistine cities; see Josh. 13.2 n. This account of their capture seems to anticipate 2 Sam. 8.1 ; Sept., however, says specifically that Judah “did not” take them; the negative may have been omitted from the MT by a copyist.

19–21 :

See Josh. 13.13 n.

19 :

The Philistines had a monopoly on iron; see 1 Sam. 13.19–22 .

1.22–29 : Conquests of the Joseph tribes.

See Josh. chs. 16–17 and 13.13 n.

22–26 :

See Josh. 7.2 n.

1.30–36 : The conquests of the Galilee area.

See Josh. chs. 18–19 and 13.13 n.

36 :

Boundary of Edom and Judah; see Num. 34.3–5 .

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