Judges 1:1-36

The Israelites take the land of Canaan

1 After Joshua had died, the Israelites asked the Lord, ‘Which of our tribes should be the first to attack the Canaanites?’ 2 The Lord replied, ‘Judah should attack first. I will give the land to them, to take for themselves.’

1:2When we write Lord like this, it is a special name for God. Sometimes people write it as ‘Yahweh’, or as ‘Jehovah’. It is his own name that he told Moses. See Exodus 3:14. It means ‘I am who I am’. This shows that God has always been there and he always will be there.

3 The men of Judah's tribe said to their cousins, the men of Simeon's tribe, ‘Join with us to fight against the Canaanites. Help us to take the land that God has given to our tribe. Then we will help you to take the land that belongs to your tribe.’ So the men of Simeon's tribe joined with the men of Judah's tribe.

4 They attacked the Canaanites and the Perizzites at Bezek. The Lord helped them to win against 10,000 Canaanite and Perizzite fighters. 5 In the battle, they found King Adoni-Bezek and they attacked him there. 6 The king ran away, but the Israelites caught him. They cut off his thumbs and his big toes.

7 King Adoni-Bezek said, ‘God has punished me because I did the same thing to 70 other kings. I cut off their thumbs and big toes. I made them pick up bits of food to eat under my table.’ The Israelites took King Adoni-Bezek back to Jerusalem. He died there.

8 Judah's army then attacked Jerusalem. They took the city for themselves. They killed the people who lived there and they burnt down the buildings.

9 Then they went to fight against the Canaanites who lived in the hill country, in the Negev and in the low hills in the west. 10 They attacked the people who lived in Hebron. They won the fight against the clans of Sheshai, Ahiman and Talmai. Hebron was called Kiriath Arba at that time.

11 Then they went to attack the people who lived in Debir. It was called Kiriath Sepher at that time. 12 Caleb said, ‘If a brave man attacks and takes Kiriath Sepher, he can marry my daughter, Acsah.’ 13 Othniel attacked the city and he took it. He was the son of Caleb's younger brother Kenaz. So Caleb gave his daughter Acsah to Othniel, to be his wife.

14 After this, Acsah told Othniel that they should ask her father to give them some land. She went to see her father, Caleb. As she got off her donkey, Caleb asked her, ‘What would you like me to do for you?’

15 She replied, ‘Please be kind and give me a special gift. You have given me some land in the Negev desert. Now please give me a place with springs so that I have water for the land.’ So Caleb gave her some land with springs, on high land and on low land.

16 The Kenites were descendants of Moses' wife's father. They left Jericho with Judah's people to live in the region of Arad, in the Negev desert.

17 Then Judah's men joined with their cousins, Simeon's men, to attack the Canaanites who lived in Zephath. They completely destroyed the city. They gave it a new name, ‘Hormah’. 18 Judah's men also took for themselves the cities of Gaza, Ashkelon and Ekron, as well as the land around those cities.

1:17‘Hormah’ means ‘completely destroyed’.

19 The Lord helped the men of Judah so that they took the towns in the hill country for themselves. But they could not win against the people who lived on the lower land near the sea. Those people had iron chariots to help them fight.

20 Caleb received Hebron for his family, as Moses had promised him. Caleb had chased out the three clans of Anak who lived there.

1:20God chose Moses to lead the Israelites out of Egypt, and take them to Canaan. Caleb and Joshua were the two men who trusted God to give them the land that he had promised to the Israelites. They were the only two men still alive who had left Egypt when they were old enough to fight. See Joshua 15:13-14.

21 The men of Benjamin's tribe could not chase out the Jebusites who lived in Jerusalem. As a result, the Jebusites continue to live in Jerusalem with the people of Benjamin.

22 The men of Joseph's tribes attacked Bethel. The Lord helped them to do this. 23 Bethel had been called Luz. They sent some men to look secretly at the city. 24 Those men saw a man who was leaving the city. They said to him, ‘If you show us how our soldiers can get into the city, we will keep you safe.’ 25 So the man showed them a secret entrance to the city.

1:22Joseph's two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh, each had their own tribes.

The men of Joseph's tribes killed all the people in the city. But they kept the man and his family safe. 26 He went to the land of the Hittites. He built a city there. He called it Luz, and that is still its name.

27 But the men of Manasseh's tribe could not chase out the people of these five cities: Beth Shan, Taanach, Dor, Ibleam and Megiddo. The Canaanites who lived there were strong. So they continued to live in those cities and the regions around them. 28 When the Israelites had a strong army, they made the Canaanites do hard work for them. But they could never chase the Canaanites away completely.

29 The men of Ephraim's tribe could not chase out the Canaanites who lived in Gezer. Those Canaanites continued to live among the people of Ephraim in Gezer.

30 The men of Zebulun's tribe could not chase away the people who lived in Kitron and Nahalol. But they made the Canaanites who lived among them do hard work for them.

31 The men of Asher's tribe could not chase out the Canaanites who lived in Acco, Sidon, Ahlab, Aczib, Helbah, Aphek and Rehob. 32 Because of this, Asher's people continued to live among the Canaanites.

33 The men of Naphtali's tribe could not chase out the Canaanites who lived in Beth Shemesh and Beth Anath. They too continued to live among the Canaanites in the land. But the Canaanites who lived in Beth Shemesh and Beth Anath had to do hard work for the Israelites.

34 The Amorites were too strong for the men of Dan's tribe. So Dan's people had to live in the hill country. The Amorites would not let them live in the low land. 35 The Amorites were also strong enough to keep Mount Heres, Aijalon and Shaalbim for themselves. But when the Israelite army became stronger, they made the Amorites do hard work for them. 36 The border of the Amorites' land went from Scorpion Hill and it continued beyond Sela.