Judges 1

1 After the death of Joshua the sons of Israel counselled with the Lord, and said, Who shall go up before us against Canaanites, and shall be duke of the battle? (After Joshua's death the Israelites counselled with the Lord, and asked, Who shall go out first against the Canaanites, and shall be our leader in the battle?)
2 And the Lord said, Judah shall go up (in the lead); lo! I have given the land into his hands.
3 And Judah said to Simeon, his brother, Go thou up with me in(to) my lot, and fight thou against Canaanites, that I go with thee in thy lot (and then I shall go with thee into thy lot). And (so) Simeon went with him;
4 and Judah went up (in the lead). And the Lord betook (the) Canaanites and Perizzites into their hands, and they killed in Bezek ten thousand men.
5 And they found Adonibezek in Bezek, and they fought against him, and they overcame Canaanites, and Perizzites.
6 And Adonibezek fled, whom they pursued, and took (hold of), and they cut off the ends of his hands and of his feet.
7 And Adonibezek said, Seventy kings, when the ends of their hands and of their feet were cut away, gathered remnants of meats under my board (gathered scraps of food under my table); as I have done, so God hath yielded to me. And they brought him into Jerusalem, and there he died.
8 Then the sons of Judah fought against Jerusalem, and they took it, and they smote it by the sharpness of sword, and they betook all the city to burning. (Then the sons of Judah fought against Jerusalem, and they took it, and they struck down the people of Jerusalem with their sharp swords, and they burned down all the city.)
9 And afterward they went down, and fought against Canaanites, that dwelled in the hilly places (who lived in the hill country), and at the south, (and) in [the] wild fields.
10 And Judah went against Canaanites, that dwelled in Hebron, whose name was by eld time Kiriatharba (And Judah went out against the Canaanites, who lived in Hebron, whose name in olden times was Kiriatharba); and Judah killed Sheshai, and Ahiman, and Talmai.
11 And from thence he went forth, and he came to the dwellers of Debir, whose eld name was Kiriathsepher, that is, the city of letters. (And from there he went forth, and he came to the inhabitants of Debir, whose old name was Kiriathsepher, that is, the City of Letters.)
12 And Caleb said, I shall give Achsah, my daughter, (for a) wife to him that shall smite Kiriathsepher, and shall waste it.
13 And when Othniel, the son of Kenaz, the younger brother of Caleb, had taken it, Caleb gave Achsah, his daughter, (for a) wife to him.
14 And her husband stirred her, going in the way, that she should ask of her father a field; and when she had sighed, sitting on the ass, Caleb said to her, What hast thou? (And her husband stirred her up, going on the way, to ask for a field from her father; and when she sighed, sitting on the donkey, Caleb said to her, What is the matter?)
15 And she answered, Give thou [a] blessing to me, for thou hast given a dry land to me; give thou to me also a moist land with waters (now give thou also to me some land with abundant water). And (so) Caleb gave to her the moist land above, and the moist land beneath.
16 Forsooth the sons of (the) Kenite, the father of Moses? wife, ascended from the city of Palms with the sons of Judah, into the desert of his lot, which desert is at the south of Arad; and [they] dwelled with him. (And the sons of the Kenite, Moses? father-in-law, went up from the City of Palms with the sons of Judah, into the wilderness of Judah, which wilderness is south of Arad; and they lived among the people there.)
17 And Judah went with Simeon, his brother; and they smote altogether Canaanites, that dwelled in Zephath, and they killed him; and the name of that city was called Hormah, that is, cursing, either perfect destroying, for that city was destroyed utterly. (And Judah went with his brother Simeon; and they struck down the Canaanites who lived in Zephath, and they killed them all; and the name of that city was called Hormah, that is, Cursed, or Completely Destroyed, for that city was utterly destroyed.)
18 And Judah took Gaza with his coasts, and Askelon (with his terms), and Ekron with his terms. (And Judah took Gaza, and Askelon, and Ekron, along with their land.)
19 And the Lord was with Judah, and he had in possession the hilly places; and he might not do away the dwellers of the valley, for they were plenteous in iron chariots, (full of weapons,) sharp as scythes. (And the Lord was with Judah, and they took possession of the hill country; but they could not do away the inhabitants in the valley, for they had plentiful iron chariots, full of weapons, sharp as scythes.)
20 And the sons of Israel gave Hebron to Caleb, as Moses had said, and Caleb did away from it (the) three sons of Anak. (And the Israelites gave Hebron to Caleb, as Moses had said, and Caleb did away from it the three sons of the Anakim, or of the giants.)
21 But the sons of Benjamin did not (do) away Jebusites, the dweller(s) of Jerusalem; and Jebusites dwelled with the sons of Benjamin in Jerusalem unto this present day. (But the Benjaminites did not do away the Jebusites, the inhabitants of Jerusalem; and so the Jebusites lived with the Benjaminites in Jerusalem unto this present day.)
22 Also the house of Joseph went up into Bethel, and the Lord was with them.
23 For when they besieged the city (And when they besieged Bethel), that was called Luz before,
24 they saw a man going out of the city, and they said to him, Show thou to us the entering of the city (Show us how to enter the city), and we shall do mercy with thee.
25 And when he had showed to them, they smote the city by sharpness of sword; and they delivered that man and all his kindred. (And when he had shown them, they struck down the people of that city with their sharp swords; and they saved that man and all his family.)
26 And when he was delivered, he went into the land of Hittites, and builded there a city, and called it Luz; which is called so till into this present day (which it is still called unto this present day).
27 Also Manasseh did not away Bethshean and Taanach with their towns, and the dwellers of Dor, and Ibleam, and Megiddo, with their towns; and Canaanites began to dwell with them. (And Manasseh did not do away Bethshean and Taanach with their towns, and the inhabitants of Dor, and Ibleam, and Megiddo, with their towns; and so the Canaanites began to live with them.)
28 Soothly after that Israel was strengthened, he made them tributaries, either to pay tribute, and would not do away them. (And after that Israel was made strong, they made them all tributaries, that is, they forced them to pay tribute, or taxes, and did not do them away.)
29 Soothly Ephraim killed not Canaanites that dwelled in Gezer, but dwelled with him. (And Ephraim did not kill the Canaanites who lived in Gezer, but they lived with them.)
30 Zebulun did not away the dwellers of Kitron, and of Nahalol; but Canaanites dwelled in the midst of him, and was made tributary to him. (Zebulun did not do away the inhabitants of Kitron, and of Nahalol; but the Canaanites lived in their midst, and were made to pay tribute, or taxes, to them.)
31 Also Asher did not away the dwellers of Accho (And Asher did not do away the inhabitants of Accho), and of Sidon, of Ahlab, and of Achzib, and of Helbah, and of Aphik, and of Rehob;
32 and Asher dwelled in the midst of Canaanites, the dweller(s) of that land, and Asher killed not him. (and so the Asherites lived in the midst of the Canaanites, the inhabitants of that land, and they did not kill them.)
33 Naphtali did not away the dwellers of Bethshemesh, and of Bethanath; and he dwelled among Canaanites, the dweller(s) of the land; and Bethshemesh and Bethanath were (made) tributaries to him. (And the Naphtalites did not do away the inhabitants of Bethshemesh, and of Bethanath; and they lived among the Canaanites, the people of the land; and the people of Bethshemesh and of Bethanath were made to pay tribute, or taxes, to them.)
34 And Amorites held strait the sons of Dan in the hill, and he gave not place to them to go down to [the] plainer places; (And the Amorites held back the Danites in the hill country, and would not allow them to come down into the valley;)
35 and he dwelled in the hill of Heres, which is interpreted, Witnessing, (and) in Aijalon, and in Shaalbim. And the hand of the house of Joseph was made heavy, and he was made tributary to him. (and they lived on Mount Heres, which is translated, Witnessing, and in Aijalon, and in Shaalbim. But then the hand of the house of Joseph was made heavy upon them, and the Amorites were made to pay tribute, or taxes, to them.)
36 And the term of Amorites was from the ascending of Scorpion, and from the stone, and [the] higher places. (And the border of the Amorites was from the going up of Akrabbim, and from Sela, up to the higher places.)

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

Copyright © 2001 by Terence P. Noble. For personal use only.