Chapter OneJudges 1:1-2:5
* * *
After the death of Joshua, the Israelites asked the
Lord, "Who will be the first to go up and fight for us
against the Canaanites?"
2 The Lord answered, "Judah is to go; I have given the land
into their hands."
3 Then the men of Judah said to the Simeonites their brothers,
"Come up with us into the territory allotted to us, to fight
against the Canaanites. We in turn will go with you into
yours." So the Simeonites went with them.
4 When Judah attacked, the Lord gave the Canaanites and
Perizzites into their hands and they struck down ten thousand
men at Bezek. 5 It was there that they found Adoni-Bezek and
fought against him, putting to rout the Canaanites and Perizzites.
6 Adoni-Bezek fled, but they chased him and caught
him, and cut off his thumbs and big toes.
7 Then Adoni-Bezek said, "Seventy kings with their thumbs
and big toes cut off have picked up scraps under my table.
Now God has paid me back for what I did to them." They
brought him to Jerusalem, and he died there.
8 The men of Judah attacked Jerusalem also and took it.
They put the city to the sword and set it on fire.
9 After that, the men of Judah went down to fight against
the Canaanites living in the hill country, the Negev and the
western foothills. 10 They advanced against the Canaanites living
in Hebron (formerly called Kiriath Arba) and defeated
Sheshai, Ahiman and Talmai.
11 From there they advanced against the people living in
Debir (formerly called Kiriath Sepher). 12 And Caleb said, "I
will give my daughter Acsah in marriage to the man who
attacks and captures Kiriath Sepher." 13 Othniel son of Kenaz,
Caleb's younger brother, took it; so Caleb gave his daughter
Acsah to him in marriage.
14 One day when she came to Othniel, she urged him to ask
her father for a field. When she got off her donkey, Caleb
asked her, "What can I do for you?"
15 She replied, "Do me a special favor. Since you have given
me land in the Negev, give me also springs of water." Then
Caleb gave her the upper and lower springs.
16 The descendants of Moses' father-in-law, the Kenite, went
up from the City of Palms with the men of Judah to live among
the people of the Desert of Judah in the Negev near Arad.
17 Then the men of Judah went with the Simeonites their
brothers and attacked the Canaanites living in Zephath, and
they totally destroyed the city. Therefore it was called
Hormah. 18 The men of Judah also took Gaza, Ashkelon and
Ekron-each city with its territory.
19 The Lord was with the men of Judah. They took possession
of the hill country, but they were unable to drive the
people from the plains, because they had iron chariots. 20 As
Moses had promised, Hebron was given to Caleb, who drove
from it the three sons of Anak. 21 The Benjamites, however,
failed to dislodge the Jebusites, who were living in Jerusalem;
to this day the Jebusites live there with the Benjamites.
22 Now the house of Joseph attacked Bethel, and the Lord
was with them. 23 When they sent men to spy out Bethel (formerly
called Luz), 24 the spies saw a man coming out of the
city and they said to him, "Show us how to get into the city
and we will see that you are treated well." 25 So he showed
them, and they put the city to the sword but spared the man
and his whole family. 26 He then went to the land of the Hittites,
where he built a city and called it Luz, which is its name
to this day.
27 But Manasseh did not drive out the people of Beth Shan
or Taanach or Dor or Ibleam or Megiddo and their surrounding
settlements, for the Canaanites were determined to live in
that land. 28 When Israel became strong, they pressed the
Canaanites into forced labor but never drove them out completely.
29 Nor did Ephraim drive out the Canaanites living in
Gezer, but the Canaanites continued to live there among
them. 30 Neither did Zebulun drive out the Canaanites living
in Kitron or Nahalol, who remained among them; but they did
subject them to forced labor. 31 Nor did Asher drive out those
living in Acco or Sidon or Ahlab or Aczib or Helbah or Aphek
or Rehob, 32 and because of this the people of Asher lived
among the Canaanite inhabitants of the land. 33 Neither did
Naphtali drive out those living in Beth Shemesh or Beth
Anath; but the Naphtalites too lived among the Canaanite
inhabitants of the land, and those living in Beth Shemesh and
Beth Anath became forced laborers for them. 34 The Amorites
confined the Danites to the hill country, not allowing them to
come down into the plain. 35 And the Amorites were determined
also to hold out in Mount Heres, Aijalon and Shaalbim,
but when the power of the house of Joseph increased, they
too were pressed into forced labor. 36 The boundary of the
Amorites was from Scorpion Pass to Sela and beyond.
2:1 The angel of the Lord went up from Gilgal to Bokim
and said, "I brought you up out of Egypt and led you into the
land that I swore to give to your forefathers. I said, 'I will
never break my covenant with you, 2 and you shall not make a
covenant with the people of this land, but you shall break
down their altars.' Yet you have disobeyed me. Why have you
done this? 3 Now therefore I tell you that I will not drive them
out before you; they will be thorns in your sides and their
gods will be a snare to you."
4 When the angel of the Lord had spoken these things to
all the Israelites, the people wept aloud, 5 and they called that
place Bokim. There they offered sacrifices to the Lord.
Sections 1 (1:1-2:5) and 2 (2:6-3:6) of Judges
are parallel and form a double introduction to the
main section of the cycles (3:7-16:31). The first
section narrates matters from the point of view of
the Israelites, while the second does so from the point of view of Yahweh.
The first section narrates the foreign wars of subjugation with the herem being
applied (see the introduction, pp. 30-31).
Judges 1 recapitulates, recasts, and extends the story of the process of
Israel's taking possession of the land of Canaan. While it is a complex narrative,
this chapter utilizes material from the book of Joshua (esp. Josh. 13-19)
to make explicit what is only implicit in Joshua. Along with some expansions,
it reflects the general success of Judah and the increasing failure of
the other Israelite tribes, especially Dan, in the process of dispossessing the
Canaanites from the individual tribal allotments.
There are two major structural techniques used in the portrayal (augmented
by some short narratives): (1) the use of a concentric layout that
parallels the roles of the tribes of Judah and Joseph, and (2) a geographically
arranged narration that presents the moral degeneration of Israel. The latter
technique employs a four-stage pattern that builds to a literary climax and
moral nadir in the Dan episode.
The concentric design of this section can be seen in Figure 1. The Israelite
assembly in A (1:1-2a) anticipates the activities described in the larger units
of B (1:2b-21) and B' (1:22-36). By contrast, the Israelite assembly of A'
(2:1-5) reviews and evaluates the activities of B and B'. In both instances,
as Webb has observed, the key word is alâ ("to go up"). It unifies this segment
of text and demarcates the units of which it is composed.
The structure of Section B also follows a concentric design. In the first
instance there is a prologue (a) in which Yahweh promises victory (1:2b). The
codicil (a'), in contrast to the prologue, confirms Yahweh's presence with
Judah, but with qualifications both positive and negative (1:18-21). In the
second instance, there is the alliance of Judah and Simeon (b), in which the
Judahites obtain their allotment (1:3), and the alliance of Judah and Simeon
(b'), in which the Simeonites obtain their allotment (1:17). In the third
instance and the center of the entire section (x), Judah's successful wars are
narrated (1:4-16). This unit is subdivided into an "up" movement (1:4-8) and
a "down" movement (1:9-16).
Like Section B, the structure of Section B' follows a concentric design. In
the first instance, there is a prologue (a) (implied by ellipsis) and a codicil (a'),
in which a modification to the promise is noted (1:36). In the second instance,
the beginning activities of the house of Joseph (b) are narrated positively
(1:22), and the final activities of the house of Joseph (b') are narrated negatively
(1:35). In the third instance and the center of the entire section (x), the
wars of the house of Joseph are narrated (1:23-34). This unit is subdivided
into the assessments of the other Cisjordanian (west bank) tribes.
Both sections B and B' narrate initial successes that are followed by failures.
Moreover, B and B' serve to exegete the indictment of Israel by the messenger
of Yahweh in 2:1-5. The compositional parallel between the Judah and Joseph
sections (B and B') within chapter 1 throws the treatment of the Canaanite
informer in the Bethel campaign (first item in the Joseph section) into sharp relief
against the treatment of the Canaanite "lord of Bezeq" (Adoni-Bezek) in the
Bezeq campaign (first item in the Judah section). This comparison helps us to
perceive more clearly the basic shift that has already begun to take place at this
point in the relationship between Israelites and Canaanites in spite of the fact
that the second section, like the first, begins with a notable victory. With this
overview of the chapter, it is now possible to expound the individual sections.
"Who Will . Go Up?" (1:1-2a)
Section A (1:1-2A) opens with an important phrase "after the death of
Joshua." Most commentators claim that this phrase is a later addition. The
phrase, however, can be compared with the beginning of the book of Joshua:
"after the death of Moses." Thus it may be "a stylistic way of recapitulating
briefly the previous book before interpreting it further." In this case, Judges
recapitulates the position of Joshua (how much of the land Israel would
occupy) before going on to the central question of Judges: Why could they
not completely occupy the land?
The phrase "the Israelites asked the Lord" (sl byhwh) expresses the idea
of obtaining a declaration of the divine will and is substantially the same as
(lit.) "inquire of the judgment of the Urim" (sl bmspt hwrym) in Numbers
27:21, in which the divine will is obtained through the Urim and Thummim
of the high priest. Thus at the beginning of the narrative, the Israelites
seek divine guidance in the proper manner as to "Who will be the first to go
up [alâ] and fight for us against the Canaanites?" The idea contained in the
term "first" is that of time, not rank. Hence, the question is who will be the
first chronologically? While a series of campaigns by individual tribes is envisioned,
the concept of a united Israel remains ("who will go up first for us!").
Judah Goes Up (1:2b-21)
Section B (see Fig. 1) opens with a prologue (1:2b) that contains Yahweh's
promise through an oracle of victory: "I have given the land into their hands."
This is the same phrase that Yahweh used when he promised Joshua victory
in the land (e.g., Josh. 6:2; 6:2; 10:8; 11:6). So far, so good.
The Judahites, however, immediately make a deal with the Simeonites
(1:3). The alliance (b in Fig. 1) is a "natural" one since Judah and Simeon are