This first introduction, perhaps Deuteronomistic in origin, utilizes materials from the book of Joshua (especially Josh 13–19
), along with some expansions. It describes 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 four
stages in this declining success.
The general success of Judah is narrated through a number of vignettes. The Judahites with their Simeonite allies are able
to drive out the Canaanites everywhere except in the plain. No Canaanites live among the Judahites.
The defeat of Adoni bezek (lit. “lord of Bezek”).
The tribe of Judah in time absorbed Simeon, a tribe that played no significant role in the later history of Israel (see Josh 19.9
The precise location of Bezek is uncertain.
Perizzites, one of the groups that inhabited the land of Canaan (see Gen 15.20; Deut 7.1; Josh 3.11
Adoni‐bezek's capture, mutilation, and death. The humiliation of the Canaanite ruler is dwelt upon with apparent relish since
it emphasizes retributive justice.
Jerusalem is not yet an Israelite city in its only other appearance in Judges (
19.10; see Josh 15.63
). It was David who later brought Jerusalem into the Israelite orbit (2 Sam 5.6–9
Three reports of Judahite activities in the south: the capture of Hebron (vv. 9–10
), the capture of Debir with the Othniel and Achsah story (vv. 11–15
) and the movement of the Kenites (v. 16
). These narratives are dependent on Josh 15.13–19
Hebron, 32 km (20 mi) south‐southeast of Jerusalem. Cf. Gen 23.2; Josh14.15
Debir is probably Khirbet Rabud, ca. 16 km (10 mi) southwest of Hebron.
According to this verse, the Kenites were relatives of Moses; contrast Ex 2.18–21; 3.1; Num 10.29
. The verse anticipates
. The city of palms is probably Jericho (as in
). Arad is ca. 36 km (22 mi) south of Hebron.
The Simeonites seize Zephath and rename it Hormah (whose name is here related to Heb “hIerem,” the total destruction of a city and its inhabitants; see Introduction to Joshua).
The last endeavors of the Judahites in the coastal plain.
Gaza … Ashkelon … Ekron were three of the five principal cities of the Philistine confederation (see 14.19
). It was David who captured these Philistine cities. The Septuagint asserts that Judah did not capture these cities.
The chariots of iron anticipate the chariots of Sisera in Judg 4.3
Benjamin, Manasseh, Ephraim, and Zebulun do not drive out the Canaanites, and the Canaanites live among them, though some
Canaanites are forced laborers. Compare Josh 16–17; 18.11–28
. The contrast between Judg 1.21 and Josh 15.63
is especially telling.
The capture of Bethel (“House of El/God”), formerly called Luz (“deception”), 17 km (8 mi) north of Jerusalem.
Nonetheless, a Canaanite city named Luz continues to exist in the land of the Hittites, probably a reference to north Syria.
Beth shean (also called Beth‐shan) is at the eastern end of the Valley of Jezreel; Taanach, Ibleam, and Megiddo are important sites guarding the valley on its south; and Dor is on the Mediterranean coast to the west. On the last three cities, cf. Josh 12.21,23
Gezer, ca. 27 km (17 mi) west of Jerusalem; cf. Josh 10.33
Asher and Naphtali do not drive out the Canaanites but live among the Canaanites, the inhabitants of the land. A few Canaanites
become forced laborers.
The territory of Asher is on the northern Mediterranean coast.
The territory of Naphtali is in eastern Galilee.
Dan, in the southwestern hill country, is oppressed or confined by the Amorites, not allowed into the coastal plain. This
utter failure of the Danites is the nadir of the chapter, and anticipates their move in ch 18
. The Amorites pressed the Danites, cf. Ex 3.9
, where the Egyptians “oppress” the Israelites. The phrase anticipates
2.18; 4.3; 6.9; 10.12
Conclusion: The Amorites were determined to live in the land. Ironically, theirs is the border described in
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