Old Testament

The book of Judges reports the history of Israel from the conquest of the land of Canaan under the leadership of Joshua to the judgeship of Samuel, that is, the history from about 1400 BC to about 1100 BC. It contrasts the unfaithfulness of Israel, which repeatedly turned to false gods, with the mercy and faithfulness of the Lord, who provided deliverance for Israel through the twelve judges he sent to bring them relief. It probably was composed during the reign of David (but see Judges 1:21). The author is unknown.
Military and Political Conditions During the Time of the Judges
A Good Beginning by Judah
11After the death of Joshua, the people of Israel asked the Lord, “Who should go up against the Canaanites for us? Who of us should be the first to wage war against them?”
2The Lord said, “Judah should go up. I have handed over the land to them.”
3So the tribe of Judah said to the tribe of Simeon, their brothers, “Go up with us to the territory that has been allotted to us, and together we will wage war against the Canaanites. We also will come with you into your allotment.” So Simeon went with Judah.
4When Judah went up, the Lord delivered the Canaanites and Perizzites into their hand. At Bezek the Israelites struck down ten thousand men. 5They encountered Adoni-Bezek at Bezek, and they waged war against him and struck down the Canaanites and the Perizzites. 6Adoni-Bezek fled, but they pursued him, seized him, and cut off his thumbs and his big toes.
7So Adoni-Bezek said, “Seventy kings, with their thumbs and their big toes cut off, had to scrounge for scraps of food under my table. God has repaid me with exactly what I did to them.” Israel brought him to Jerusalem, and he died there.
8The men of Judah waged war against Jerusalem and captured it. They struck the city with the edge[] of the sword and set it on fire.
9After that, the men of Judah went down to wage war against the Canaanites who lived in the hill country, in the Negev, and in the Shephelah.[] 10Judah went up against the Canaanites who lived in Hebron (the name of Hebron before this was Kiriath Arba). There they struck down Sheshai, Ahiman, and Talmai.
11From there they went up against those who lived at Debir (the name of Debir before this was Kiriath Sepher). 12Then Caleb said, “To the one who attacks Kiriath Sepher and takes it, I will give my daughter Aksah as his wife.”
13Othniel son of Kenaz, Caleb's youngest brother,[] captured it. So Caleb gave his daughter Aksah to him as his wife.
14She came to Othniel and pressured him to ask her father for pastureland.[] As she dismounted from her donkey, Caleb said to her, “What do you want?” 15She said to him, “Give me this blessing: Since you gave me land in the dry Negev, give me springs of water also.” So Caleb gave her the upper springs and the lower springs.
16The descendants of the Kenite father-in-law of Moses went up with the people of Judah from the City of Palms[] to the part of the Wilderness of Judah that was in the Negev near Arad. They went and lived there among the people.
17The tribe of Judah went along with the tribe of Simeon, its brother tribe. Together they struck down the Canaanites who lived in Zephath. They devoted the city to destruction and named the city Hormah.[] 18Judah also captured Gaza with its border region, Ashkelon with its border region, and Ekron with its border region.
19The Lord was with Judah, and Judah took possession of the hill country, but Judah could not take possession of the land belonging to the people who lived in the valleys and lowlands, because they had iron chariots.[]
20Hebron was given to Caleb, as Moses had commanded, and he took possession of the land of the three sons of Anak.
Israel's Failure to Complete the Conquest
21But the men of Benjamin did not drive out the Jebusites who lived in Jerusalem, so the Jebusites live among the people of Benjamin in Jerusalem to this day.
22The house of Joseph likewise went up against Bethel, and the Lord was with them. 23The house of Joseph sent spies to scout Bethel (the name of the city was formerly Luz). 24The spies saw a man coming out of the city, and they said to him, “Please show us a way into the city, and we will grant you mercy.” 25The man showed them a way into the city, and they struck the city with the edge of the sword, but they let the man and his whole family go. 26The man went to the land of the Hittites, built a city, and named it Luz. That is its name to this day.
27But the tribe of Manasseh did not take possession of Beth Shan and its towns or Ta'anach and its towns. They did not drive out the inhabitants of Dor and its towns, or the inhabitants of Ibleam and its towns, or the inhabitants of Megiddo and its towns, so the Canaanites were determined to keep living in this land. 28Whenever Israel grew strong, they made the Canaanites perform forced labor, but they did not drive them out completely.
29In the same way, Ephraim did not drive out the Canaanites living at Gezer. Instead, the Canaanites continued to live among them at Gezer.
30Zebulun did not drive out the inhabitants of Kitron or the inhabitants of Nahalol. Instead, the Canaanites continued to live among them. Zebulun did subject them to forced labor.
31Asher did not drive out the inhabitants of Akko, the inhabitants of Sidon, or those in Ahlab, Akzib, Helbah, Aphek, or Rehob. 32Instead, the people of Asher lived among the Canaanites, who continued to live in the land because the Asherites did not drive them out.
33Naphtali did not drive out the inhabitants of Beth Shemesh or the inhabitants of Beth Anath. Instead, they continued to live among the Canaanites, who continued to live in the land, but the inhabitants of Beth Shemesh and Beth Anath did perform forced labor for Naphtali.
34The Amorites forced the men of Dan back into the hill country. They did not allow them to come down to the lowlands. 35The Amorites were determined to continue living in Mount Heres, in Aijalon, and in Sha'albim, but the hand of the house of Joseph grew heavy on them, and they were put to forced labor.
36The border of the Amorites stretched from the Ascent of Akrabbim, from Sela, and beyond.


  • 1:8 Literally mouth
  • 1:9 The hill country is the central mountain ridge of Israel. The Negev is the arid southern wilderness. The Shephelah is the western foothills.
  • 1:13 It is not certain whether Othniel or Kenaz was Caleb's brother. It seems more likely that it was Kenaz.
  • 1:14 As the text is translated here, Aksah urged her husband to ask her father for the land, but he apparently did not do so, which would account for her making the request herself. See Joshua 15:18–19.
  • 1:16 Probably the area of Jericho
  • 1:17 Hormah means devoted to destruction.
  • 1:19 Presumably fitted with iron, not made of iron