The days of the elders. The period between the death of Joshua and the beginning of the age of the judges is called the days of the elders (cf. 2.7
). This period is created to explain how the people, who during the days of Joshua were noted for their loyalty to the LORD, became transformed into one that repeatedly did evil in His eyes. During this period the tribes needed to fight against
the nations who remained in the land after Joshua's death. The tribe of Judah did so, but most of the tribes preferred to
subjugate the remaining nations and allowed them to remain in their habitations, thereby laying the groundwork for assimilation
The conquests of Judah. The tribe of Judah and the tribe of Simeon that joined them destroyed the Canaanites, with the exception of the inhabitants of the valley, who had iron chariots and therefore could not be destroyed. This presentation
shows the preference of Judah, which characterizes the whole passage.
The connection between Judah and Simeon reflects the geographical‐historical reality of assimilation of the tribe of Simeon within Judah's inheritance (Josh. 19.1–9; 15.26–32
Bezek is mentioned as the site where Saul mustered his army in his first war (1 Sam. 11.8
). It is generally identified with Khirbet Ibzik, about 25 km (15 miles) northeast of Shechem. Adoni‐bezek: Many think that the name of this king is a corruption of Adoni‐zedek, who was king of Jerusalem according to Josh. 10.1
. The fact that the king was buried in Jerusalem (v. 7
) supports this conjecture.
The king's servants took him to die in Jerusalem.
In the description of the conquest of Jerusalem by the Judites, there is no hint that any inhabitants were left. Further on
), the blame for not dispossessing the Jebusites from Jerusalem is placed on Benjamin, while in Josh. 15.63
it is imposed upon Judah. According to many modern historians, Jerusalem remained a Jebusite enclave until it was conquered
A general summary of Judah's conquests south of Jerusalem.
The biblical Hebron is identified with Tel Romeda, 30 km (18 miles) southwest of Jerusalem. The conquest of Hebron and its giants (“Anakites,”
) is here attributed to Judah. Other traditions appear in Josh. 10.36–37; 14.6–14
, as well as in v. 20
below. Hebron is an important city in the ancestral narratives in Genesis (see esp. Gen. ch 23
), and in the early part of David's reign (2 Sam. chs 2–5
Debir is identified with Khirbet Rabud, 15 km (9 miles) southwest of Hebron.
The families of Caleb and Kenaz are presented here as part of the tribe of Judah.
The representation of Othniel as younger than Caleb indicates that Caleb's clan was a more important one.
According to this v., Achsah persuaded Othniel, but further on the negotiation occurs between Achsah and Caleb; hence, many
scholars prefer the reading of the Septuagint, according to which Othniel persuaded Achsah. Dismounting from the donkey is
a gesture of politeness.
The Kenites were another group integrated into the tribe of Judah. The origins of the connection with them is told through
the story of Moses' marriage to Zipporah, daughter of Jethro (Exod. 2.16–22
). The City of Palms: As the name is applicable to any settlement in which there are date palms, it is difficult to identify.
Gaza… Ashkelon… Ekron: The conquest of three of the five Philistine royal city‐states, which elsewhere were only conquered in the days of David,
is here attributed to Judah.
Judah gave the city to Caleb and he dispossessed the giants (Anakites), whose names are mentioned in v. 10
above. The story of a struggle with giants appears in the narratives of the conquest (see, e.g., Num. 13.28, 32–33
The conquests of the northern tribes. The tribes of the north, who here number seven, are mentioned in order from south to north, from Benjamin to Dan, who was
forced to leave his inheritance and later settled in the north. This order is similar to that of the whole book, which begins
with Ehud the Benjaminite and concludes with the northward wandering of Dan. The northern tribes are represented as responsible
for the majority of the failures to take possession of the land.
Similar to Judah who conquered Jerusalem, the first conquest of the House of Joseph is their central cultic city, Bethel. Bethel is identified with the Arab village Beitin, about 20 km (12 miles) north of Jerusalem.
The tribes dwelling north of the valley of Jezreel are described as a minority that ruled the Canaanite population.
The tribe of Dan did not succeed in taking hold of its inheritance, and was forced into the area of Har‐heres near Beth‐shemesh.
The House of Joseph, unlike Judah who cooperated with Simeon his brother, did not help the tribe of Dan and preferred to subjugate
the Amorites as forced labor.
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