Judges 1

Israel Fights Against the Canaanites Who Are Still Left

1 Joshua died. After that, the people of Israel spoke to the Lord. They asked him, "Who will go up first and fight for us against the people of Canaan?"
2 The LORD answered, "The tribe of Judah will go. I have handed the land over to them."
3 Then the men of Judah spoke to their fellow Israelites, the men of Simeon. They said, "Come up with us. Come into the territory Joshua gave us. Help us fight against the people of Canaan. Then we'll go with you into your territory." So the men of Simeon went with them.
4 When the men of Judah attacked, the LORD helped them. He handed the Canaanites and Perizzites over to them. They struck down 10,000 men at Bezek.
5 Judah found Adoni-Bezek there. They fought against him. They struck down the Canaanites and Perizzites.
6 But Adoni-Bezek ran away. Judah chased him and caught him. Then they cut off his thumbs and big toes.
7 Adoni-Bezek said, "I cut off the thumbs and big toes of 70 kings. I made them pick up scraps under my table. Now God has paid me back for what I did to them." The men of Judah brought Adoni-Bezek to Jerusalem. That's where he died.
8 The men of Judah attacked Jerusalem and took it. They set the city on fire. They killed its people with their swords.
9 After that, the men of Judah went down to fight against the people of Canaan who were living in the central hill country. They also fought against those who were living in the Negev Desert and the western hills.
10 Then the men of Judah marched out against the Canaanites who were living in Hebron. The men of Judah won the battle over Sheshai, Ahiman and Talmai. Hebron used to be called Kiriath Arba.
11 From Hebron they marched out against the people who were living in Debir. It used to be called Kiriath Sepher.
12 Caleb said, "I will give my daughter Acsah to be married. I'll give her to the man who attacks and captures Kiriath Sepher."
13 Othniel captured it. So Caleb gave his daughter Acsah to him to be his wife. Othniel was the son of Kenaz. He was Caleb's younger brother.
14 One day Acsah came to Othniel. She begged him to ask her father for a field. When she got off her donkey, Caleb spoke to her. He said, "What can I do for you?"
15 She replied, "Do me a special favor. You have given me some land in the Negev Desert. Give me springs of water also." So Caleb gave her the upper and lower springs.
16 Moses' father-in-law was a Kenite. His family went up from Jericho. They went up with the people of Judah to the Desert of Judah. They went there to live among its people. Those people were living in the Negev Desert near Arad. Jericho was also known as The City of Palm Trees.
17 The men of Judah went with their fellow Israelites, the men of Simeon. They attacked the people of Canaan who were living in Zephath. They set the city apart to the LORD in a special way to be destroyed. That's why the city was called Hormah.
18 The men of Judah took Gaza, Ashkelon and Ekron. They also took the territory that was around each of those cities.
19 The LORD was with the men of Judah. They took over the central hill country. But they weren't able to drive the people out of the flatlands. That's because those people used chariots that had some iron parts.
20 Moses had promised to give Hebron to Caleb. So Hebron was given to Caleb. He drove the three sons of Anak out of it.
21 But the people of Benjamin failed to drive out the Jebusites who were living in Jerusalem. So they live there with the people of Benjamin to this very day.
22 The men of Joseph attacked Bethel. The LORD was with them.
23 They sent men to Bethel to check it out. It used to be called Luz.
24 Those who were sent saw a man coming out of the city. They said to him, "Show us how to get into the city. If you do, we'll see that you are treated well."
25 So he showed them how to get in. The men of Joseph killed the people in the city with their swords. But they spared the man from Bethel. They also spared his whole family.
26 Then he went to the land of the Hittites. He built a city there. He called it Luz. That's still its name to this very day.
27 But the tribe of Manasseh didn't drive out the people of Beth Shan. They didn't drive out the people of Taanach, Dor, Ibleam and Megiddo. And they didn't drive out the people of the settlements that are around those cities either. That's because the people of Canaan had made up their minds to continue living in that land.
28 Later, Israel became stronger. Then they forced the people of Canaan to work hard for them. But Israel never drove them out completely.
29 The tribe of Ephraim didn't drive out the Canaanites who were living in Gezer. So they continued to live there among them.
30 The tribe of Zebulun didn't drive out the Canaanites who were living in Kitron and Nahalol. So they remained among them. But Zebulun forced the Canaanites to work hard for them.
31 The tribe of Asher didn't drive out the people who were living in Acco and Sidon. They didn't drive out the people of Ahlab, Aczib, Helbah, Aphek and Rehob.
32 So the people of Asher lived among the Canaanites who were in the land.
33 The tribe of Naphtali didn't drive out the people who were living in Beth Shemesh and Beth Anath. So the people of Naphtali lived among the Canaanites who were in the land. The people of Beth Shemesh and Beth Anath were forced to work hard for them.
34 The Amorites made the people of Dan stay in the central hill country. They didn't let them come down into the flatlands.
35 The Amorites made up their minds to stay in Mount Heres. They also stayed in Aijalon and Shaalbim. But the power of the tribes of Joseph grew. Then the Amorites were forced to work hard for them.
36 The border of the Amorites started at Scorpion Pass. It went to Sela and even past it.

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