Judges 1

The Israelites Fail to Conquer Canaan[a]

Chapter 1

Conquests by Judah and Simeon. 1 After Joshua died, the Israelites asked the Lord, “Who will be the first among us to go up to fight against the Canaanites?” 2 The Lord said, “Judah will go up for, behold, I have delivered the land into his hands.” 3 Judah said to Simeon, his brother, “Come up with me into my allotted portion and we will fight against the Canaanites together, and I will then go up into your allotted portion.” So Simeon went up with him.

4 Judah went up and the Lord delivered the Canaanites and the Perizzites into their hands. They slew ten thousand of them at Bezek. 5 They came across Adoni-bezek at Bezek and fought against him, and they defeated the Canaanites and the Perizzites. 6 Adoni-bezek fled away, but they chased after him and caught him, cutting off his thumbs and his big toes. 7 Adoni-bezek said, “Seventy kings who had their thumbs and big toes cut off used to scrounge for their meals under my table. God has paid me back for what I have done.” They brought him to Jerusalem, and he died there.

8 The Judahites fought against Jerusalem and they captured it, putting it to the sword and setting the city on fire.[b] 9 After this, the Judahites went down to fight against the Canaanites living in the hill country, the Negeb, and the western slopes. 10 They advanced against the Canaanites living in Hebron (which had previously been called Kiriath-arba). They defeated Sheshai, Ahiman, and Talmai. 11 From there they marched against the people who were living in Debir (which had previously been called Kiriath-sepher).

12 Caleb said, “I will give my daughter Achsah as a wife to whomever attacks and captures Kiriath-sepher.” 13 Othniel, the son of Kenaz, the younger brother of Caleb captured it, and he gave him Achsah his daughter in marriage.

14 When she came to be with him, she urged him to ask her father for a field. As she got off her donkey, Caleb asked her, “What can I do for you?” 15 She answered, “Please do me a favor. You have given me land in the Negeb. Please also give me some springs of water.” So Caleb gave her the upper springs and the lower springs.

16 The Kenites, the descendants of Moses’ father-in-law, traveled to the City of Palms with the Judahites to live in the Desert of Judah, the Negeb, near Arad. They went and settled there among the people.[c] 17 Judah and his brother Simeon went out against the Canaanites living in Zephath. They conquered it, totally demolishing it. This is why the city is now called Hormah. 18 Judah captured Gaza with its territory, Ashkelon with its territory, and Ekron with its territory.

19 The Lord was with Judah. They occupied the hill country, but they could not drive out the inhabitants of the plain because they had iron chariots.[d] 20 They gave Hebron to Caleb, as Moses had decreed, driving the three sons of Anak out from it.

21 The Benjaminites could not drive out the Jebusites from Jerusalem, and the Jebusites have continued to live with the Benjaminites up to the present.

22 The descendants of Joseph[e] attacked Bethel, and the Lord was with them. 23 The descendants of Joseph had first sent up spies against Bethel. (Its name had previously been Luz.) 24 The spies saw a man coming out of the city and said to him, “If you show us an entranceway into the city, we will be merciful to you.” 25 He showed them an entranceway into the city, and they put the city to the sword, but they let the man and his entire family go free. 26 The man traveled to the land of the Hittites and he built a city there that he called Luz, which is its name up to the present.

27 Forced Labor. Manasseh did not drive out the inhabitants of Beth-shean and the towns dependent upon it, Taanach and the towns dependent upon it, Dor and the towns dependent upon it, Ibleam and the towns dependent upon it, or Megiddo and the towns dependent upon it, for the Canaanites were determined to live in those places. 28 But when Israel became strong, it subjected the Canaanites to forced labor, although it did not completely drive them out.

29 Nor did Ephraim drive the Canaanites out who lived in Gezer, and the Canaanites continue to live among them in Gezer.

30 Nor did Zebulun drive out the inhabitants of Kitron or the inhabitants of Nahalol. The Canaanites continue to live among them, and they have been subjected to forced labor.

31 Nor did Asher drive out the inhabitants of Acco, nor the inhabitants of Sidon, nor Ahlab, Achzib, nor Helbah, nor Aphik, nor Rehob, 32 and so the Asherites continue to live among the Canaanites, the inhabitants of the land, because they did not drive them out.

33 Nor did Naphtali drive out the inhabitants of Beth-shemesh, nor the inhabitants of Beth-anath. They continue to dwell among the Canaanites, the inhabitants of the land. Nevertheless, the inhabitants of Beth-shemesh and Beth-anath were subjected to forced labor.

34 The Amorites forced the Danites to continue to live in the hill country; they would not permit them to come down into the plain. 35 The Amorites were also determined to continue to live on Mount Heres, in Aijalon and in Shaalbim, but when the descendants of Joseph grew powerful, they subjected them to forced labor. 36 The Amorite boundary ran from Akrabbim up to Sela and beyond.


  1. Judges 1:1 With each tribe fighting on its own behalf, the tribes of Israel establish themselves with difficulty in Canaan and often can do no better than coexist with the pagan populations that have been there from time immemorial.
  2. Judges 1:8 Jerusalem will in fact be captured only in the time of David and he named it for himself, “The City of David” (2 Sam 5:6-9).
  3. Judges 1:16 Moses’ father-in-law is Hobab (Jdg 4:11); but the actual degree of kinship of Hobab with Moses is doubtful (see Ex 2:18). Num 10:29ff tells of Moses’ invitation to Hobab (here identified as son of Reuel) to join the Israelites.
  4. Judges 1:19 In many instances the Israelites are able to overcome a more powerful enemy, but in this case a more superior army will prevail, forcing the Israelites to live among them.
  5. Judges 1:22 The descendants of Joseph: the author is referring to the tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh.

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