Now after the death of Joshua it came to pass, that the children of Israel asked the LORD, saying, Who shall go up for us against the Canaanites first, to fight against them?
And the LORD said, Judah shall go up: behold, I have delivered the land into his hand.
And Judah said unto Simeon his brother, Come up with me into my lot, that we may fight against the Canaanites; and I likewise will go with thee into thy lot. So Simeon went with him.
And Judah went up; and the LORD delivered the Canaanites and the Perizzites into their hand: and they slew of them in Bezek ten thousand men.
And they found Adonibezek in Bezek: and they fought against him, and they slew the Canaanites and the Perizzites.
But Adonibezek fled; and they pursued after him, and caught him, and cut off his thumbs and his great toes.
And Adonibezek said, Threescore and ten kings, having their thumbs and their great toes cut off, gathered their meat under my table: as I have done, so God hath requited me. And they brought him to Jerusalem, and there he died.
Now the children of Judah had fought against Jerusalem, and had taken it, and smitten it with the edge of the sword, and set the city on fire.
And afterward the children of Judah went down to fight against the Canaanites, that dwelt in the mountain, and in the south, and in the valley.
And Judah went against the Canaanites that dwelt in Hebron: (now the name of Hebron before was Kirjatharba:) and they slew Sheshai, and Ahiman, and Talmai.
And from thence he went against the inhabitants of Debir: and the name of Debir before was Kirjathsepher:
And Caleb said, He that smiteth Kirjathsepher, and taketh it, to him will I give Achsah my daughter to wife.
And it came to pass, when she came to him, that she moved him to ask of her father a field: and she lighted from off her ass; and Caleb said unto her, What wilt thou?
And she said unto him, Give me a blessing: for thou hast given me a south land; give me also springs of water. And Caleb gave her the upper springs and the nether springs.
And the children of the Kenite, Moses father in law, went up out of the city of palm trees ° with the children of Judah into the wilderness of Judah, which lieth in the south of Arad; and they went and dwelt among the people.
And Judah went with Simeon his brother, and they slew the Canaanites that inhabited Zephath, and utterly destroyed it. And the name of the city was called Hormah.
Also Judah took Gaza with the coast thereof, and Askelon with the coast thereof, and Ekron with the coast thereof.
And the LORD was with Judah; and he drave out the inhabitants of the mountain; but could not drive out the inhabitants of the valley, because they had chariots of iron.
And they gave Hebron unto Caleb, as Moses said: and he expelled thence the three sons of Anak.
And the children of Benjamin did not drive out the Jebusites that inhabited Jerusalem; but the Jebusites dwell with the children of Benjamin in Jerusalem unto this day.
And the house of Joseph, they also went up against Bethel: and the LORD was with them.
And the house of Joseph sent to descry Bethel. (Now the name of the city before was Luz.)
And the spies saw a man come forth out of the city, and they said unto him, Show us, we pray thee, the entrance into the city, and we will show thee mercy.
And when he showed them the entrance into the city, they smote the city with the edge of the sword; but they let go the man and all his family.
And the man went into the land of the Hittites, and built a city, and called the name thereof Luz: which is the name thereof unto this day.
Neither did Manasseh drive out the inhabitants of Bethshean and her towns, nor Taanach and her towns, nor the inhabitants of Dor and her towns, nor the inhabitants of Ibleam and her towns, nor the inhabitants of Megiddo and her towns: but the Canaanites would dwell in that land.
And it came to pass, when Israel was strong, that they put the Canaanites to tribute, and did not utterly drive them out.
Neither did Ephraim drive out the Canaanites that dwelt in Gezer; but the Canaanites dwelt in Gezer among them.
Neither did Zebulun drive out the inhabitants of Kitron, nor the inhabitants of Nahalol; but the Canaanites dwelt among them, and became tributaries.
Neither did Asher drive out the inhabitants of Accho, nor the inhabitants of Zidon, nor of Ahlab, nor of Achzib, nor of Helbah, nor of Aphik, nor of Rehob:
But the Asherites dwelt among the Canaanites, the inhabitants of the land: for they did not drive them out.
Neither did Naphtali drive out the inhabitants of Bethshemesh, nor the inhabitants of Bethanath; but he dwelt among the Canaanites, the inhabitants of the land: nevertheless the inhabitants of Bethshemesh and of Bethanath became tributaries unto them.
And the Amorites forced the children of Dan into the mountain: for they would not suffer them to come down to the valley:
But the Amorites would dwell in mount Heres in Aijalon, and in Shaalbim: yet the hand of the house of Joseph prevailed, so that they became tributaries.
And the coast of the Amorites was from the going up to Akrabbim, from the rock, and upward.
 

Introduction to Judges

The book of Judges is the second in order of what are called the historical books of the Bible, following chronologically immediately after Joshua. The name, of course, refers to the gifted men (plus one woman, Deborah) whom God raised up to lead and govern Israel between the times of Joshua and Samuel. Altogether, fourteen of these judges were named in the book, including Deborah and Barak, who served as sort of co-judges, but not including Eli and Samuel, who judged Israel later.

The authorship of Judges is unknown, although the most likely candidate is believed to be Samuel. Since the period involved is at least three hundred years, it is probable that records were kept by a number of writers, then later compiled and edited by Samuel or someone else after the period of the judges had passed. That eventual editor/writer was, of course, guided by the Holy Spirit in such a way that the book that resulted was divinely inspired and inerrantly correct.

The chronology of the book of Judges has been very controversial. The total length of both the judges’ rules and the intermittent periods of alien rule as recorded was about 410 years, but this turns out to be too great to accord with other chronological data (I Kings 6:1). Many writers, therefore, assume that some of the listed judges may have governed different regions of Israel at the same time. A few writers, however, believe that there may be significant gaps in the records and the total period may have been much longer. The archaeological evidence is also equivocal, but it should be remembered that methods of dating ancient events (pottery dating, radiocarbon dating, tree-ring dating, and so on) are often contradictory and are based on very questionable assumptions. Furthermore, even though the numbers in the original writings of Scripture were inerrantly correct as divinely inspired, transitional scribal errors in copying older manuscripts possibly occurred in some instances. Thus one should be very cautious in ascribing specific dates to the various incidents, not only in Judges but also in the earlier books of the Old Testament.

The main characteristic of this segment of Israel’s history seems to have been the cyclic repetition of national fellowship with God, then apostasy, followed by captivity, and finally repentance, deliverance and restored fellowship. One of the saddest indictments of the people during such periods of apostasy is that contained in the very last verse of Judges: “Every man did that which was right in his own eyes” (Judges 21:25; see also 17:6; Deuteronomy 12:8).

Nevertheless, despite uncertainties of authorship and chronology, as well as the frequent periods of apostasy and servitude, the historicity of the records in Judges has been confirmed in the New Testament. See especially Acts 13:19-21 and Hebrews 11:32.

1:7 Threescore and ten kings. These “kings” had been rulers over various small “kingdoms” in Canaan, each amounting essentially to a “city-state.”

1:7 toes cut off. It was the custom to disable captured leaders in this way, cutting off their thumbs and great toes so that they could neither fight nor run.

1:7 under my table. That is, they were forced to depend on scraps that fell from the victor’s table for their food.

1:10 And Judah went. Judges 1:10-15 essentially repeats Joshua 15:14-19, with verses 12-15 being practically identical to Judges 15:16-19. The passage here in Judges 1:1-20 describes the conquest of the lands assigned to Judah and Simeon by Joshua, all of which only happened after Joshua’s death, except the taking of Hebron by Caleb. The conquest of Hebron and the award to Othniel and Ochsah had probably taken place before Joshua died, but the author of Judges incorporated the account here also in his own record in order to place it in the context of the finished work of Judah. Another reason for the repetition is that Othniel was destined to become Israel’s first judge following Joshua.

1:10 Ahinan, and Talmai. These two names, like the name Joshua, also appear in the Egyptian tablets.

1:19 chariots of iron. See footnote to Judges 4:3.

1:20 sons of Anak. See also Joshua 15:14; Judges 1:10. Caleb, the leader of the forces of Judah, drove the sons of Anak out of Hebron, and either he or his followers later slew them.

1:21 the Jebusites dwell. Since David later drove the Jebusites out of Jerusalem, this statement shows that Judges was written before the time of David.

1:28 Canaanites to tribute. The incompleteness of the destruction of the Canaanites is also noted in Judges 1:30, 33, 35. Yet, in Joshua 10:40 reports that Joshua had “utterly destroyed all that breathed, as the LORD God of Israel commanded” (note also Joshua 11:14,15; etc.). In the early part of his conquests, Joshua evidently swept rapidly through the southern cities, destroying everyone he encountered. However, there presumably were many who escaped by hiding in the hills or elsewhere. Furthermore, the conquest of the more northerly and westerly regions was never completed, and the remnants of the various Canaanite nations either retained or regained enough strength to cause great problems to Israel during the period of the judges.


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