Judges 1

1 After the death of Y'hoshua, the people of Isra'el asked ADONAI, "Who will go up for us first to fight against the Kena'ani?"
2 ADONAI said: "Y'hudah will go up; here, I have handed the land over to him."
3 Y'hudah said to his brother Shim'on, "Come up with me into my assigned territory, so that we can fight against the Kena'ani; and I likewise will go with you into your territory." So Shim'on went with him.
4 Y'hudah went up; and ADONAI gave the Kena'ani and the P'rizi into their hands; of those in Bezek they killed ten thousand men.
5 They found Adoni-Bezek in Bezek; and they fought against him. They killed the Kena'ani and the P'rizi,
6 but Adoni-Bezek fled. They pursued him, caught him, and cut off his thumbs and big toes.
7 Adoni-Bezek said: "Seventy kings, with their thumbs and their big toes cut off, gathered food under my table; God has paid me back in accordance with what I did." They brought him to Yerushalayim, and he died there.
8 Then the people of Y'hudah fought against Yerushalayim, captured it, overpowered it with the sword, and set the city on fire.
9 Afterwards, the people of Y'hudah went down to fight against the Kena'ani who lived in the hill-country, in the Negev, and in the Sh'felah.
10 Y'hudah also attacked the Kena'ani living in Hevron (formerly called Kiryat-Arba), and they overpowered Sheshai, Achiman and Talmai.
11 From there they attacked the inhabitants of D'vir (D'vir was formerly called Kiryat-Sefer).
12 Kalev said: "To whoever overpowers Kiryat-Sefer and captures it I will give my daughter 'Akhsah as his wife."
13 'Otni'el the son of K'naz, Kalev's younger brother, captured it; so he gave him 'Akhsah his daughter as his wife.
14 After becoming his wife, she persuaded him to ask her father to give them a field; when she got off her donkey, Kalev asked her, "What do you want?"
15 She said to him: "Give me a blessing: since you gave me land in the Negev, also give me sources of water." So Kalev gave her the Upper Springs and the Lower Springs.
16 Next, the descendants of the Keini, Moshe's father-in-law, went up out of the City of Date-Palms with the people of Y'hudah into the Y'hudah Desert south of 'Arad; and they came and settled with the people.
17 Y'hudah went with Shim'on his brother; they overpowered the Kena'ani who inhabited Tz'fat, and completely destroyed it. The name of the city was called Hormah.
18 Y'hudah also took 'Azah with its territory, Ashkelon with its territory and 'Ekron with its territory.
19 ADONAI was with Y'hudah, and they took possession of the hill-country, because they could not drive out the inhabitants of the valley, since they had iron chariots.
20 They gave Hevron to Kalev, as Moshe had said to do; and he drove out from there the three sons of 'Anak.
21 The people of Binyamin did not drive out the Y'vusi who inhabited Yerushalayim; rather, the Y'vusi continued living with the people of Binyamin in Yerushalayim, as they do to this day.
22 The house of Yosef likewise attacked Beit-El; and ADONAI was with them.
23 The house of Yosef sent spies to Beit-El (the city was formerly called Luz).
24 The spies saw a man coming out of the city and said to him: "Please show us the way to enter the city, and we will treat you kindly."
25 So he showed them the way into the city, and they overpowered the city with the sword, but they let the man and all his family go free.
26 He went into the land of the Hittim, built a city and called it Luz, which is its name to this day.
27 M'nasheh did not drive out the inhabitants of Beit-Sh'an and its villages, Ta'anakh and its villages, Dor and its villages, Yivle'am and its villages or Megiddo and its villages; so that the Kena'ani managed to keep on living in that land.
28 In time, when Isra'el had grown strong, they did put the Kena'ani to forced labor but failed to drive them out completely.
29 Efrayim did not drive out the Kena'ani living in Gezer; so the Kena'ani continued living in Gezer along with them.
30 Z'vulun did not drive out the inhabitants of Kitron or Nahalol; so the Kena'ani continued to live among them but became subject to forced labor.
31 Asher did not drive out the inhabitants of 'Akko, Tzidon, Achlav, Akhziv, Helbah, Afik or Rechov;
32 so the Asheri lived among the Kena'ani who were living in the land, because they didn't drive them out.
33 Naftali did not drive out the inhabitants of Beit-Shemesh or Beit-'Anat but lived among the Kena'ani living in the land; however, the inhabitants of Beit-Shemesh and Beit-'Anat became forced labor for them.
34 The Emori forced the people of Dan into the hills; for they would not let them come down to the valley.
35 The Emori had resolved to live in the Heres Hills, in Ayalon and in Sha'alvim; but when the power of the house of Yosef grew greater, they became subject to forced labor.
36 So the territory of the Emori was from the Scorpion Ascent and the Rock upward.

Judges 1 Commentary

Chapter 1

The book of Judges is the history of Israel during the government of the Judges, who were occasional deliverers, raised up by God to rescue Israel from their oppressors, to reform the state of religion, and to administer justice to the people. The state of God's people does not appear in this book so prosperous, nor their character so religious, as might have been expected; but there were many believers among them, and the tabernacle service was attended to. The history exemplifies the frequent warnings and predictions of Moses, and should have close attention. The whole is full of important instruction.

Proceedings of the tribes of Judah and Simeon. (1-8) Hebron and other cities taken. (9-20) The proceedings of other tribes. (21-36)

Verses 1-8 The Israelites were convinced that the war against the Canaanites was to be continued; but they were in doubt as to the manner in which it was to be carried on after the death of Joshua. In these respects they inquired of the Lord. God appoints service according to the strength he has given. From those who are most able, most work is expected. Judah was first in dignity, and must be first in duty. Judah's service will not avail unless God give success; but God will not give the success, unless Judah applies to the service. Judah was the most considerable of all the tribes, and Simeon the least; yet Judah begs Simeon's friendship, and prays for aid from him. It becomes Israelites to help one another against Canaanites; and all Christians, even those of different tribes, should strengthen one another. Those who thus help one another in love, have reason to hope that God will graciously help both. Adoni-bezek was taken prisoner. This prince had been a severe tyrant. The Israelites, doubtless under the Divine direction, made him suffer what he had done to others; and his own conscience confessed that he was justly treated as he had treated others. Thus the righteous God sometimes, in his providence, makes the punishment answer the sin.

Verses 9-20 The Canaanites had iron chariots; but Israel had God on their side, whose chariots are thousands of angels, ( Psalms 68:17 ) . Yet they suffered their fears to prevail against their faith. About Caleb we read in ( Joshua 15:16-19 ) . The Kenites had settled in the land. Israel let them fix where they pleased, being a quiet, contented people. They that molested none, were molested by none. Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.

Verses 21-36 The people of Israel were very careless of their duty and interest. Owing to slothfulness and cowardice, they would not be at the pains to complete their conquests. It was also owing to their covetousness: they were willing to let the Canaanites live among them, that they might make advantage of them. They had not the dread and detestation of idolatry they ought to have had. The same unbelief that kept their fathers forty years out of Canaan, kept them now out of the full possession of it. Distrust of the power and promise of God deprived them of advantages, and brought them into troubles. Thus many a believer who begins well is hindered. His graces languish, his lusts revive, Satan plies him with suitable temptations, the world recovers its hold; he brings guilt into his conscience, anguish into his heart, discredit on his character, and reproach on the gospel. Though he may have sharp rebukes, and be so recovered that he does not perish, yet he will have deeply to lament his folly through his remaining days; and upon his dying bed to mourn over the opportunities of glorifying God and serving the church he has lost. We can have no fellowship with the enemies of God within us or around us, but to our hurt; therefore our only wisdom is to maintain unceasing war against them.

Chapter Summary


The title of this book in the Hebrew copies is Sepher Shophetim, the Book of Judges; but the Syriac and Arabic interpreters call it,

``the Book of the Judges of the Children of Israel;''

and the Septuagint only Judges; so called, not because it was written by them, though some think it was compiled out of annals and diaries kept by them; but it seems to be the work of one person only: the true reason of its name is, because it treats of the judges of Israel, gives an account of their lives and actions, and especially such as concerned their office; which office was different from that of kings, and seems only to have been occasional, and chiefly lay in delivering the people out of the hands of their enemies, when oppressed, distressed, or carried captive by them; in protecting them in the enjoyment of their country, rights, and liberties; in leading out their armies against their enemies when needful; and in settling differences, judging law suits, and administering justice. The government of the nation, during their time, was a theocracy. It is not certain who was the penman of this book; some ascribe it to King Hezekiah, others to Ezra; but the Jewish writers {a} are generally of opinion that it was written by Samuel, which is most likely, who was the last of the judges; and it seems plainly to be written before the times of David, us appears from a speech of Joab, 2Sa 11:21; and from some passages in Ps 68:8,9 Ps 97:5, which seem to refer or allude to Jud 5:4,5; and from Jerusalem being called Jebus, which shows it to be inhabited by the Jebusites in the time of the writer of this book, whereas it was taken out of their hands by David; besides, Samuel himself refers to the annals of this book; 1Sa 12:9-11; and from whose testimonies, as well as from others in the New Testament, there is no doubt to be made of its being genuine and authentic, and written by divine inspiration; as is evident from the use the Apostle Paul, and the author of the epistle to the Hebrews, have made of it, Ac 13:20, Heb 11:32; it is useful as an history, and without which the history of the people of Israel would not be complete; it containing an account of all their judges, excepting the two last, Eli and Samuel, of whom an account is given in the following books, and of some facts incidental to those times, related in an appendix at the end of it, concerning the idol of Micah, and the war of Benjamin; and furnishes out many useful moral observations concerning God's displeasure at sin in his own people Israel, and his corrections for it; and about his providential care of them in raising up for them deliverers in their time of need, as well as points at various virtues and excellencies in great and good men, worthy of imitation. It contains, according to Piscator, Dr. Lightfoot, and others, an history of two hundred ninety and nine years.


The children of Israel, after Joshua's death, inquiring of the Lord which tribes should first go up against the remaining Canaanites, Judah is ordered to go up, who with Simeon did, Jud 1:1-3; and had success against the Canaanites under Adonibezek, whom they brought to Jerusalem Jud 1:4-8; and against the Canaanites in Hebron, Debir, Zephath, Hormah, Gaza, Ashkelon, and Ekron, Jud 1:9-20; the Benjamites had not such good success as Judah against the Jebusites in Jerusalem, Jud 1:21; nor as the house of Joseph had against Bethel, Jud 1:22-26; nor could the tribes of Manasseh, Ephraim, Zebulun, Asher, and Naphtali, drive out the Canaanites from several places which belonged unto them, though many of them became their tributaries, Jud 1:27-33; and as for the Amorites, they were too powerful for the tribe of Dan, though some of them became tributaries to the house of Joseph, Jud 1:34-36.

{a} T. Bab. Bava Bathra, fol. 14. 2.

Judges 1 Commentaries

Complete Jewish Bible Copyright 1998 by David H. Stern. Published by Jewish New Testament Publications, Inc. All rights reserved. Used by permission.