Judges 1 The People Were Lazy And Disobedient, Therefore The Conquest Was Incomplete.
Joshua had passed away, but the taking of the remainder of the promised land was not complete, so the people asked the LORD who should lead them in battle, and the LORD chose Judah (vv. 1-2). Judah joined forces with Simeon, whose inheritance was within Judah, and the two of them committed to help each other take their respective territories (v. 3 Cf. Josh. 19:1). They proceeded to conquer the Canaanites and Perizzites, and they cut off the thumbs and big toes of Adoni-Bezek who said, “Seventy kings with their thumbs and big toes cut off used to gather scraps under my table; as I have done, so God has repaid me.’” (v.7). He died in Jerusalem. Thus the LORD God showed himself sovereign over all kings and kingdoms, and that the conquest of his land for his people was also recompense for men like Adoni-Bezek. They then proceeded to take Jerusalem and Hebron (vv. 8-10).
Joshua’s partner Caleb then put out a challenge that whoever took Kirjath Sepher would be given his daughter Achsah as wife. Othneil his younger brother took it, and so married Achsah who asked her father for a blessing of a field and springs of water (vv. 11-15). Judah and Simeon also continued in their conquests of the Canaanites at Zephath, “and utterly destroyed it” (v. 17). “Also Judah took Gaza with its territory, Ashkelon with its territory, and Ekron with its territory. So the LORD was with Judah. And they drove out the mountaineers, but they could not drive out the inhabitants of the lowland, because they had chariots of iron” (vv. 18-19). Near the end of the period of the judges, under Samuel, a similar condition existed. The children of Israel were at a disadvantage because they had no blacksmiths to make for them the weapons of war that they might employ against the Philistines (I Sam. 13:19-22).
Nevertheless, Hebron was given to Caleb, a reward for his valiant faith. “Then he expelled from there the three sons of Anak. But the children of Benjamin did not drive out the Jebusites who inhabited Jerusalem” (vv. 20-21). There is a long history to the tribe of Benjamin, with judges ending with the plan to answer the possible extinction of this tribe (Ch. 21). Saul, of this tribe, considered his own tribe as insignificant because it was relatively small compared to the others (I Sa. 9:21). Furthermore, as this tribe spared the Jebusites, even so later Saul would be judged for sparing Agag, king of the Amelekites, and have the kingdom taken from him (I Sa. 15). On the other hand, the LORD was with the house of Joseph, and they took the city of Bethel, the place called the ‘house of God’, dedicated as such when Jacob was met by the LORD there (Cf. Gen. 28:10ff.; 31:10ff.).
As Rahab was spared for showing favour to the Israelite spies at Jericho (Josh. 2; 6), even so a man of Luz (the former name of Bethel) was spared when he helped guide the Israelites to victory over its inhabitants (vv. 22-26). However, Mannaseh, the firstborn of Joseph, also spared the inhabitants of the territory allotted to him, including En Dor, from which Saul would consult a medium (v. 27 Cf. Josh. 17:11-13; I Sam. 28:3ff.). These enemies of the LORD were spared by the people that they might be exempted from hard labour (v. 28). Such is the continual challenge to the church. Rather than doing the hard work of the kingdom, like raising and educating one’s own children in a way honouring to the LORD, this task is given over to pagans to indoctrinate them into their paganism. What follows is a record of the other tribes following suit (vv. 29-33), with the children of Dan even being forced into the mountains by the Amorites (v. 34-36).