The Book of Judges  PDF  MSWord

Judges Chapter 1  PDF  MSWord

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Go to Bible: Judges 1
Jdg 1:1

“asked of Yahweh.” Likely by going to the priests or the High Priest.

“go up for us first.” That is, who will lead the charge. The text is not saying that Judah will attack and the other tribes hang back, but rather that the troops of Judah will be up front in the battle. God chooses Judah to take the lead, and this is somewhat typological of Judah’s lead over the tribes, especially in light of the Messiah being from Judah. We see this again in Judges 20:18-19 when Judah is chosen to go first but all the tribes of Israel participate in the battle.

Jdg 1:2

“And Yahweh said.” Yahweh would have “spoken” through a mediator of some kind, such as a priest or the Urim and Thummim, but an important thing to consider is that Yahweh was with Israel.

Jdg 1:3

“Judah said to Simeon his brother.” Judah and Simeon were both from Jacob, but more than that, they were full birth brothers from Jacob and Leah.

Jdg 1:4

“Yahweh gave the Canaanites and the Perizzites into their hand.” We see the hand of Yahweh in the victory. Yahweh is the ultimate cause of victory, and trying to be successful in life without Yahweh is difficult at best.

Jdg 1:5

“Bezek.” Likely an unknown town somewhere in Judah, not the Bezek in Samaria far north of Judah.

Jdg 1:6

“cut off his thumbs and his big toes.” This humiliates a person and disables them very effectively.

Jdg 1:7(top)
Jdg 1:8

“the mouth of the sword.” Used to show great destruction, as if the sword was eating its victims (see commentary on Josh. 6:21).

Jdg 1:9(top)
Jdg 1:10

“Judah went against the Canaanites who lived in Hebron.” Specifically, Caleb of the tribe of Judah attacked the city of Hebron, but he would have had at least some other Judeans with him, and perhaps some warriors from other tribes as well (Josh. 14:6-15; 15:13-16). The verb can be read that Judah “had gone up.” This seems to be a description of what had happened in Joshua 15:14.

“Kiriath-arba, and they struck Sheshai and Ahiman and Talmai.” The reason that these three men, Sheshai and Ahiman and Talmai, are specifically mentioned is that they were Nephilim, part of the race of “fallen ones,” which means they were likely huge in stature and incredibly evil (Num. 13:33). Hebron was called “Kiriath-arba,” which means “the city of Arba,” and Arba was one of the Nephilim and the father of Anak (Josh. 21:11).

Sheshai, Ahiman, and Talmai were obviously very powerful and influential, because they are specifically mentioned three times in Scripture (Num. 13:22; Josh. 15:14, and Judg. 1:10). They were destroyed by Caleb and the Judean men who fought with him (Josh. 15:14, Judg. 1:10). Caleb was given Hebron as his personal inheritance because he had been faithful to Yahweh, especially because he and Joshua were the two faithful spies who Moses sent out from Kadesh-barnea to spy out the Promised Land (Num. 13:1-33).

“struck.” In this case, “struck” means “killed.”

Jdg 1:11

“he went against the inhabitants of Debir.” The war against Debir is also in Joshua 10:38-39). The account in Judges is not a second battle but a record of the battle recorded in Joshua, but with more detail. Joshua 15:15 is almost exactly the same as Judges 1:11, the verb “went” is different.

Jdg 1:12(top)
Jdg 1:13(top)
Jdg 1:14

“It came to pass.” Judges 1:14 is worded exactly the same as Joshua 15:18.

Jdg 1:15

“She said to him.” This is paralleled in Joshua 15:19.

Jdg 1:16

“And the children of the Kenite.” That is, the Kenite people. They went with the people of Judah and it seems they were at least to a certain extent assimilated into Judah.

“City of Date Palms.” The palm trees in Israel were date palms, not coconut palms. The City of Date Palms is Jericho.

“which is in the Negev of Arad.” A powerful town in the Negev of Judah. The “wilderness of Judah” was large and in several geographic regions of Judah, so it makes sense that the text would specify the wilderness of Judah in the Negev.

“lived with the people.” That is, the Kenites lived with the people, Israel, but specifically the people of Judah.

Jdg 1:17

“Zephath.” The location of this city is unknown.

“devoted it to destruction.” [For more on things “devoted” to Yahweh and devoted to destruction, see commentary on Josh. 6:17].

“And they called.” The Hebrew is literally, “and he called,” with the “he” being the collective tribes. This is a case where a plural subject, Judah and Simeon, is paired with a singular verb, “he called” (cp. Gen. 49:16).

“Hormah.” The city name means “destruction.”

Jdg 1:18

“Judah captured Gaza.” The verse says that Judah captured Gaza, but there is some doubt about that. The Septuagint says that Judah did “not” capture these cities. which seems to accord with Joshua 13:2-3. Also, in Joshua 12 these cities are not listed as having been conquered. If they were captured, for some reason they did not hold it long. The Philistines quickly inhabited it (Judg. 6:4).

Jdg 1:19

“and he drove.” The “he” refers collectively to Judah.

Jdg 1:20

“the sons of Anak.” Anak was one of the Nephilim, the “Fallen Ones,” just as Numbers 13:33 says. [For more on the Nephilim, see commentary on Gen. 6:4].

Jdg 1:21

“but the Jebusites live in Jerusalem among the children of Benjamin to this day.” The Jebusites lived in Jerusalem, which was in the tribal territory of Benjamin, so the Benjamites lived all around the Jebusites.

Jdg 1:22

“and Yahweh was with them.” So Yahweh had been with Judah, and He also was with the house of Joseph, the tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh, but likely here the emphasis is on the tribe of Ephraim (Judg. 1:27). Bethel is in the tribal area of Ephraim. And Yahweh was with Ephraim too!

Jdg 1:23(top)
Jdg 1:24

“scouts.” More literally “watchmen” or “guards,” but these were the watchmen of the Israelite invasion force.

“we will deal mercifully with you.” The verb hesed is hard to translate here. It can have the meaning of mercifully, especially in light of the fact that the rest of the city was destroyed. It can also mean faithfully, meaning that the man would not be double-crossed after showing the people how to enter the city.

Jdg 1:25

“And he showed them the entrance into the city.” This would be a concealed small entrance into the city. The man did not show them the main city gate.

“the mouth of the sword.” Used to show great destruction, as if the sword was eating its victims (see commentary on Josh. 6:21).

Jdg 1:26

“into the land of the Hittites.” This is likely ancient Anatolia, eastern Turkey.

Jdg 1:27(top)
Jdg 1:28

“completely dispossess them.” The Hebrew text uses the figure of speech polyptoton (“many inflections”) for emphasis, using the word “dispossess” twice but in different forms. The same construction occurs in Joshua 17:13.

Jdg 1:29(top)
Jdg 1:30

“in their midst.” The Hebrew is “in his midst,” portraying the tribe of Zebulun as one person.

Jdg 1:31(top)
Jdg 1:32

“but the Asherites lived in the midst of the Canaanites.” This is a change from the more usual statement that the Canaanites lived among the Israelites. Apparently when it came to the tribe of Asher there were more Canaanites in the area than Asherites.

Jdg 1:33(top)
Jdg 1:34(top)
Jdg 1:35

“but the hand of the house of Joseph prevailed so that they became subject to forced labor.” It seems that once most of the Danites left their assigned territory and went north, people from the tribe of Ephraim did what the Danites could not do; they moved into the area. However, instead of killing off the Amorites as Moses and Joshua commanded, they put them to forced labor.

Jdg 1:36

the ascent of Akrabbim.” Literally, the ascent of the scorpions” (cp. Num. 34:4; Joshua 15:3). This is likely a slope out of the Zin Valley in the Negev southwest of the Dead Sea, going north.

“the rock.” This may be the name of a town in Edom.


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