Judges 1:1-16

Israel Fights the Remaining Canaanites

1 After the death of Joshua, the Israelites asked the LORD, “Who of us is to go up first to fight against the Canaanites?”
2 The LORD answered, “Judah shall go up; I have given the land into their hands.”
3 The men of Judah then said to the Simeonites their fellow Israelites, “Come up with us into the territory allotted to us, to fight against the Canaanites. We in turn will go with you into yours.” So the Simeonites went with them.
4 When Judah attacked, the LORD gave the Canaanites and Perizzites into their hands, and they struck down ten thousand men at Bezek.
5 It was there that they found Adoni-Bezek and fought against him, putting to rout the Canaanites and Perizzites.
6 Adoni-Bezek fled, but they chased him and caught him, and cut off his thumbs and big toes.
7 Then Adoni-Bezek said, “Seventy kings with their thumbs and big toes cut off have picked up scraps under my table. Now God has paid me back for what I did to them.” They brought him to Jerusalem, and he died there.
8 The men of Judah attacked Jerusalem also and took it. They put the city to the sword and set it on fire.
9 After that, Judah went down to fight against the Canaanites living in the hill country, the Negev and the western foothills.
10 They advanced against the Canaanites living in Hebron (formerly called Kiriath Arba) and defeated Sheshai, Ahiman and Talmai.
11 From there they advanced against the people living in Debir (formerly called Kiriath Sepher).
12 And Caleb said, “I will give my daughter Aksah in marriage to the man who attacks and captures Kiriath Sepher.”
13 Othniel son of Kenaz, Caleb’s younger brother, took it; so Caleb gave his daughter Aksah to him in marriage.
14 One day when she came to Othniel, she urged him[a] to ask her father for a field. When she got off her donkey, Caleb asked her, “What can I do for you?”
15 She replied, “Do me a special favor. Since you have given me land in the Negev, give me also springs of water.” So Caleb gave her the upper and lower springs.
16 The descendants of Moses’ father-in-law, the Kenite, went up from the City of Palms[b] with the people of Judah to live among the inhabitants of the Desert of Judah in the Negev near Arad.

Judges 1:1-16 Meaning and Commentary

INTRODUCTION TO JUDGES

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.

\\INTRODUCTION TO JUDGES 1\\

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 1:1-16 In-Context

1 After the death of Joshua, the Israelites asked the LORD, “Who of us is to go up first to fight against the Canaanites?”
2 The LORD answered, “Judah shall go up; I have given the land into their hands.”
3 The men of Judah then said to the Simeonites their fellow Israelites, “Come up with us into the territory allotted to us, to fight against the Canaanites. We in turn will go with you into yours.” So the Simeonites went with them.
4 When Judah attacked, the LORD gave the Canaanites and Perizzites into their hands, and they struck down ten thousand men at Bezek.
5 It was there that they found Adoni-Bezek and fought against him, putting to rout the Canaanites and Perizzites.
6 Adoni-Bezek fled, but they chased him and caught him, and cut off his thumbs and big toes.
7 Then Adoni-Bezek said, “Seventy kings with their thumbs and big toes cut off have picked up scraps under my table. Now God has paid me back for what I did to them.” They brought him to Jerusalem, and he died there.
8 The men of Judah attacked Jerusalem also and took it. They put the city to the sword and set it on fire.
9 After that, Judah went down to fight against the Canaanites living in the hill country, the Negev and the western foothills.
10 They advanced against the Canaanites living in Hebron (formerly called Kiriath Arba) and defeated Sheshai, Ahiman and Talmai.
11 From there they advanced against the people living in Debir (formerly called Kiriath Sepher).
12 And Caleb said, “I will give my daughter Aksah in marriage to the man who attacks and captures Kiriath Sepher.”
13 Othniel son of Kenaz, Caleb’s younger brother, took it; so Caleb gave his daughter Aksah to him in marriage.
14 One day when she came to Othniel, she urged him to ask her father for a field. When she got off her donkey, Caleb asked her, “What can I do for you?”
15 She replied, “Do me a special favor. Since you have given me land in the Negev, give me also springs of water.” So Caleb gave her the upper and lower springs.
16 The descendants of Moses’ father-in-law, the Kenite, went up from the City of Palms with the people of Judah to live among the inhabitants of the Desert of Judah in the Negev near Arad.
17 Then the men of Judah went with the Simeonites their fellow Israelites and attacked the Canaanites living in Zephath, and they totally destroyed the city. Therefore it was called Hormah.
18 Judah also took Gaza, Ashkelon and Ekron—each city with its territory.
19 The LORD was with the men of Judah. They took possession of the hill country, but they were unable to drive the people from the plains, because they had chariots fitted with iron.
20 As Moses had promised, Hebron was given to Caleb, who drove from it the three sons of Anak.

Cross References 23

  • 1. Joshua 24:29
  • 2. S Numbers 2:3-9; Judges 20:18; 1 Kings 20:14; Numbers 27:21
  • 3. ver 27; S Genesis 10:18; Judges 3:1-6
  • 4. S Genesis 49:10; Genesis 49:8
  • 5. ver 4; Judges 3:28; Judges 4:7,14; Judges 7:9
  • 6. ver 17
  • 7. S Genesis 13:7; S Joshua 3:10
  • 8. 1 Samuel 11:8
  • 9. ver 6,7
  • 10. Leviticus 24:19; Jeremiah 25:12
  • 11. S Joshua 10:1
  • 12. ver 21; Joshua 15:63; 2 Samuel 5:6
  • 13. S Numbers 13:17
  • 14. S Genesis 12:9; S Numbers 21:1; Isaiah 30:6
  • 15. S Genesis 13:18
  • 16. S Genesis 35:27
  • 17. ver 20; S Numbers 13:22; Joshua 15:14
  • 18. Joshua 10:38; Joshua 15:15
  • 19. S Numbers 13:6
  • 20. Numbers 10:29
  • 21. S Genesis 15:19; Judges 4:11
  • 22. Deuteronomy 34:3; Judges 3:13; 2 Chronicles 28:15
  • 23. Numbers 21:1; Joshua 12:14

Footnotes 2

  • [a]. Hebrew; Septuagint and Vulgate "Othniel, he urged her"
  • [b]. That is, Jericho
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