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Israel was strong, that they put the Canaanites to tribute, and did not utterly drive them out.
New Defender's Study Bible Notes
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.