Rowan Hilsden | Sep 12, 2021

Scripture: Judges 1:1-2:23

Judah’s Leadership against the Canaanites

After the death of Joshua,(A) the Israelites inquired of the Lord,(B) “Who will be the first to fight for us against the Canaanites?”

The Lord answered, “Judah(C) is to go.(D) I have handed the land over to him.”(E)

Judah said to his brother Simeon, “Come with me to my allotted territory, and let’s fight against the Canaanites. I will also go with you to your allotted territory.” So Simeon went with him.

When Judah attacked, the Lord handed the Canaanites and Perizzites(F) over to them. They struck down ten thousand men in Bezek.(G) They found Adoni-bezek in Bezek, fought against him, and struck down the Canaanites and Perizzites.

When Adoni-bezek fled, they pursued him, caught him, and cut off his thumbs and big toes.(H) Adoni-bezek said, “Seventy kings with their thumbs and big toes cut off used to pick up scraps[a] under my table. God has repaid me for what I have done.” They brought him to Jerusalem, and he died there.

The men of Judah fought against Jerusalem, captured it, put it to the sword, and set the city on fire. Afterward, the men of Judah marched down to fight against the Canaanites who were living in the hill country, the Negev, and the Judean foothills.[b] 10 Judah also marched against the Canaanites who were living in Hebron(I) (Hebron was formerly named Kiriath-arba(J)). They struck down Sheshai, Ahiman, and Talmai.(K) 11 From there they marched against the residents of Debir(L) (Debir was formerly named Kiriath-sepher).

12 Caleb(M) said, “Whoever attacks and captures Kiriath-sepher, I will give my daughter Achsah(N) to him as a wife.” 13 So Othniel(O) son of Kenaz, Caleb’s youngest brother, captured it, and Caleb gave his daughter Achsah to him as his wife.

14 When she arrived, she persuaded Othniel to ask her father for a field. As she got off her donkey, Caleb asked her, “What do you want?” 15 She answered him, “Give me a blessing. Since you have given me land in the Negev,(P) give me springs also.” So Caleb gave her both the upper and lower springs.(Q)

16 The descendants of the Kenite, Moses’s father-in-law,(R) had gone up with the men of Judah from the City of Palms[c](S) to the Wilderness of Judah, which was in the Negev of Arad.(T) They went to live among the people.

17 Judah went with his brother Simeon, struck the Canaanites who were living in Zephath, and completely destroyed the town. So they named the town Hormah.(U) 18 Judah captured Gaza and its territory, Ashkelon and its territory, and Ekron and its territory. 19 The Lord was with(V) Judah and enabled them to take possession of the hill country, but they could not drive out(W) the people who were living in the plain because those people had iron chariots.(X)

20 Judah gave Hebron to Caleb, just as Moses had promised.(Y) Then Caleb drove out the three sons of Anak(Z) who lived there.

Benjamin’s Failure

21 At the same time the Benjaminites did not drive out the Jebusites who were living in Jerusalem. The Jebusites have lived among the Benjaminites in Jerusalem to this day.(AA)

Success of the House of Joseph

22 The house of Joseph also attacked Bethel, and the Lord was with(AB) them. 23 They sent spies to Bethel (the town was formerly named Luz(AC)). 24 The spies saw a man coming out of the town and said to him, “Please show us how to get into town, and we will show you kindness.”(AD) 25 When he showed them the way into the town, they put the town to the sword but released the man and his entire family. 26 Then the man went to the land of the Hittites, built a town, and named it Luz. That is its name still today.

Failure of the Other Tribes

27 At that time Manasseh failed to take possession of Beth-shean(AE) and Taanach(AF) and their surrounding villages, or the residents of Dor,(AG) Ibleam,(AH) and Megiddo(AI) and their surrounding villages; the Canaanites were determined to stay in this land.(AJ) 28 When Israel became stronger, they made the Canaanites serve as forced labor but never drove them out completely.(AK)

29 At that time Ephraim failed to drive out the Canaanites who were living in Gezer, so the Canaanites have lived among them in Gezer.(AL)

30 Zebulun failed to drive out the residents of Kitron or the residents of Nahalol,(AM) so the Canaanites lived among them and served as forced labor.

31 Asher failed to drive out the residents of Acco or of Sidon, or Ahlab, Achzib, Helbah, Aphik, or Rehob. 32 The Asherites lived among the Canaanites who were living in the land, because they failed to drive them out.

33 Naphtali did not drive out the residents of Beth-shemesh or the residents of Beth-anath. They lived among the Canaanites who were living in the land, but the residents of Beth-shemesh and Beth-anath served as their forced labor.

34 The Amorites(AN) forced the Danites into the hill country and did not allow them to go down into the valley. 35 The Amorites were determined to stay in Har-heres, Aijalon,(AO) and Shaalbim. When the house of Joseph got the upper hand, the Amorites were made to serve as forced labor. 36 The territory of the Amorites extended from the Scorpions’ Ascent,(AP) that is from Sela(AQ) upward.

Pattern of Sin and Judgment

The angel of the Lord(AR) went up from Gilgal to Bochim and said, “I brought you out of Egypt and led you into the land(AS) I had promised to your ancestors.(AT) I also said: I will never break my covenant with you. You are not to make a covenant(AU) with the inhabitants of this land. You are to tear down their altars.(AV) But you have not obeyed me. What have you done? Therefore, I now say: I will not drive out these people before you.(AW) They will be thorns[d] in your sides,(AX) and their gods will be a trap for you.”(AY) When the angel of the Lord had spoken these words to all the Israelites, the people wept loudly. So they named that place Bochim[e] and offered sacrifices there to the Lord.

Joshua’s Death

Previously, when Joshua had sent the people away, the Israelites had gone to take possession of the land, each to his own inheritance.(AZ) The people worshiped the Lord throughout Joshua’s lifetime and during the lifetimes of the elders who outlived Joshua. They had seen all the Lord’s great works(BA) he had done for Israel.

Joshua son of Nun, the servant of the Lord, died at the age of 110. They buried him in the territory of his inheritance, in Timnath-heres, in the hill country of Ephraim,(BB) north of Mount Gaash. 10 That whole generation was also gathered to their ancestors. After them another generation rose up who did not know the Lord(BC) or the works he had done for Israel.

11 The Israelites did what was evil in the Lord’s sight.(BD) They worshiped the Baals(BE) 12 and abandoned the Lord, the God of their ancestors, who had brought them out of Egypt. They followed other gods from the surrounding peoples(BF) and bowed down to them. They angered the Lord,(BG) 13 for they abandoned him and worshiped Baal and the Ashtoreths.(BH)

14 The Lord’s anger burned against Israel, and he handed them over to marauders who raided them. He sold(BI) them to the enemies around them, and they could no longer resist their enemies. 15 Whenever the Israelites went out, the Lord was against them(BJ) and brought disaster on them, just as he had promised and sworn to them.(BK) So they suffered greatly.

16 The Lord raised up(BL) judges, who saved them from the power of their marauders, 17 but they did not listen to their judges. Instead, they prostituted(BM) themselves with other gods, bowing down to them. They quickly turned from the way(BN) of their ancestors, who had walked in obedience to the Lord’s commands. They did not do as their ancestors did. 18 Whenever the Lord raised up a judge for the Israelites, the Lord was with(BO) him and saved the people from the power of their enemies while the judge was still alive. The Lord was moved to pity whenever they groaned because of those who were oppressing and afflicting them. 19 Whenever the judge died, the Israelites would act even more corruptly(BP) than their ancestors, following other gods to serve them and bow in worship to them. They did not turn from their evil practices or their obstinate(BQ) ways.

20 The Lord’s anger burned against Israel, and he declared, “Because this nation has violated my covenant(BR) that I made with their ancestors(BS) and disobeyed me, 21 I will no longer drive out before them any of the nations Joshua left(BT) when he died.(BU) 22 I did this to test Israel and to see whether or not they would keep the Lord’s way(BV) by walking in it, as their ancestors had.”(BW) 23 The Lord left these nations and did not drive them out immediately. He did not hand them over to Joshua.


  1. 1:7 Lit toes cut off are gathering
  2. 1:9 Or the Shephelah
  3. 1:16 = Jericho; Dt 34:3; Jdg 3:13; 2Ch 28:15
  4. 2:3 Lit traps
  5. 2:5 Or Weeping

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