Judges Chapter 1

When Moses was preparing the people for his death, the Lord called Joshua as the next prophet and leader of Isreal. Joshua had the duty of leading the people into the land of Canaan, and dividing the inheritances among the tribes, as well as reminding them of the laws God had given to them. As he neared his own death, the Lord did not call a new prophet to take his place as both a prophet and leader. In the bible dictionary, a description is given for the book of Judges, which reads, “This book and Ruth contain all the Jewish history that has been preserved to us of the times between the death of Joshua and the birth of Samuel.” (See Bible Dictionary) The first 3 chapters are described as an introduction. Chapter 1 begins as follows:

1 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?
2 And the Lord said, Judah shall go up: behold, I have delivered the land into his hand.
3 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.
4 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.
5 And they found Adoni-bezek in Bezek: and they fought against him, and they slew the Canaanites and the Perizzites.
6 But Adoni-bezek fled; and they pursued after him, and caught him, and cut off his thumbs and his great toes.
7 And Adoni-bezek 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.
8 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.

The children of Israel asked the Lord, who should be the first to fight against the remaining Canaanites. Before his passing, Joshua had been promised that the host of Israel would continue to fight against the Canaanites, and that he was to divide the land because he was in his old age. If this was made known to the host of Israel, they knew that they needed to continue to fight after Joshua had died. The Lord told them, that the tribe of Judah was to fight, and that the land had been delivered to them by the Lord. The tribe of Judah asked for help from the tribe of Simeon, and they were able to destroy the people in Bezek, but the king fled. They caught him and took him to Jerusalem where he died. Jerusalem had been taken and set on fire.

9 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.
10 And Judah went against the Canaanites that dwelt in Hebron: (now the name of Hebron before was Kirjath-arba:) and they slew Sheshai, and Ahiman, and Talmai.
11 And from thence he went against the inhabitants of Debir: and the name of Debir before was Kirjath-sepher:
12 And Caleb said, He that smiteth Kirjath-sepher, and taketh it, to him will I give Achsah my daughter to wife.
13 And Othniel the son of Kenaz, Caleb’s younger brother, took it: and he gave him Achsah his daughter to wife.
14 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?
15 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.

The tribe of Judah fought against those in the mountain, in the south, and in the valley. They destroyed the people there. Caleb promised the hand of his daughter, Achsah, to whomever took the land of Kirjath-sepher (later known as Debir). Caleb’s nephew, Othniel, took the land and received Achsah to wife. Achsah asked Caleb for a blessing, and he gave her the upper and nether springs. (see also Joshua 15)

16 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.
17 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.
18 Also Judah took Gaza with the coast thereof, and Askelon with the coast thereof, and Ekron with the coast thereof.
19 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.
20 And they gave Hebron unto Caleb, as Moses said: and he expelled thence the three sons of Anak.
21 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.

The tribe of Judah, who had the Lord with them, and the help of the tribe of Simeon, fought against their enemies in Zephath, Gaza, Askelon, and Ekron. The people in the mountains were expelled, but they were not able to drive out those who were in the valley because of their chariots. It seems that those who had chariots, had the upper hand in battles of that time. The Jebusites were not driven out of Jerusalem by the tribe of Benjamin, but remained in Jerusalem.

22 And the house of Joseph, they also went up against Beth-el: and the Lord was with them.
23 And the house of Joseph sent to descry Beth-el. (Now the name of the city before was Luz.)
24 And the spies saw a man come forth out of the city, and they said unto him, Shew us, we pray thee, the entrance into the city, and we will shew thee mercy.
25 And when he shewed 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.
26 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.

The tribe of Joseph was also able to fight, with the help of the Lord. They sent spies to city of Beth-el, who learned where the entrance to the city was by offering mercy to a man and his family for telling them. They destroyed the city, and the man who had helped them founded the city of Luz in the Hittite land.

27 Neither did Manasseh drive out the inhabitants of Beth-shean 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.
28 And it came to pass, when Israel was strong, that they put the Canaanites to tribute, and did not utterly drive them out.

The tribe of Manasseh did not drive out all of the Canaanites in their land, but allowed some to remain and pay tribute to Israel.

29 Neither did Ephraim drive out the Canaanites that dwelt in Gezer; but the Canaanites dwelt in Gezer among them.

Some Canaanites among the tribe of Ephraim were also allowed to stay.

30 Neither did Zebulun drive out the inhabitants of Kitron, nor the inhabitants of Nahalol; but the Canaanites dwelt among them, and became tributaries.

The tribe of Zebulun allowed some to stay as well, and they made them pay tribute.

31 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:
32 But the Asherites dwelt among the Canaanites, the inhabitants of the land: for they did not drive them out.

Likewise, the tribe of Asher did not drive out all of the Canaanites in their land. Interestingly, it reads here that the tribe of Asher dwelt among the Canaanites, which sounds like there were greater number of the other nations, then of the tribe of Asher.

33 Neither did Naphtali drive out the inhabitants of Beth-shemesh, nor the inhabitants of Beth-anath; but he dwelt among the Canaanites, the inhabitants of the land: nevertheless the inhabitants of Beth-shemesh and of Beth-anath became tributaries unto them.
34 And the Amorites forced the children of Dan into the mountain: for they would not suffer them to come down to the valley:
35 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.
36 And the coast of the Amorites was from the going up to Akrabbim, from the rock, and upward.

The tribe of Naphtali were also unable to drive the Canaanites out of the land, and so their people lived among the Canaanites, but were able to make them pay tribute. The tribe of Dan could not take their land from the Canaanites, and were forced into the mountain. Because the house of Joseph, the Amorite people paid the Israelites tribute.

The commandment given to the Israelites, was to destroy the people of the land, because this was the land of promise. For one reason or another, they did not do this completely. The Israelites had been warned, and they would need to heed these warnings. In his parting words, Joshua gave them the message from the Lord, that they were not to join themselves with the nations that could possibly remain among them. They were not to mention or turn to their false gods or marry their people, because these choices would separate them from the Lord and eventually bring destruction upon the tribes of Israel. Joshua 23:13 reads, “Know for a certainty that the Lord your God will no more drive out any of these nations from before you; but they shall be snares and traps unto you, and scourges in your sides, and thorns in your eyes, until ye perish from off this good land which the Lord your God hath given you.” I’m not sure why the Israelites were not able to drive all the nations out of the land, but in leaving so many other nations among themselves, they made their chances of eventual failure that much greater. The temptations to follow the ways of these other people, would have been great.

There are many things that we are warned about in our own day. It takes great courage, to truly remove the temptations from our lives, and I think that sometimes we leave just enough to tempt us and cause us to fall back into our old ways. I know that if we have the courage to remove the negative influences around us, the Lord will be there to help us overcome our temptations. He can truly make us strong and He will bless us for our courageous choices.

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