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Bible Commentaries
Judges 1

Everett's Study Notes on the Holy ScripturesEverett's Study Notes

Verses 1-26

Continuing conquests by Israelite Tribes Joshua 1:1-18 records Israel’s initial conquests after the death of Joshua. The children of Israel soon fell into apostasy and idolatry with the pagan gods of those Canaanites who remained in the land. The original purpose and intent of the conquest of the Promised Land was to establish righteousness in this land. Israel was to become a nation of righteousness, and God would spread this nation across the earth to testify to all nations of God’s standard of righteousness.

Judges 1:1 Now after the death of Joshua it came to pass, that the children of Israel asked the LORD, saying, Who shall go up for us against the Canaanites first, to fight against them?

Judges 1:1 “Now…it came to pass” Comments - A number of books in the Old Testament begins with the common Hebrew idiom “and it came to pass” ( וַיְהִי ), made from the conjunction ( ו ) “and” and the imperfect verb ( הָיָה ) “to be.” Douglas Stuart identifies the books that commence with this Hebrew construction as Joshua, Judges, 1 Samuel, Ruth, Esther, Jonah, and Lamentations ( LXX). [14] This phrase is used at least three hundred eighty eight (388) times in the Old Testament to begin narrative stories, and to move the plot from one scene to another within the narrative material. Although some of the books listed above are a part of a collection of narratives that follow a chronological order, Stuart believes this opening phrase is intended to begin a new book.

[14] Douglas Stuart, Hosea-Jonah, in Word Biblical Commentary: 58 Volumes on CD-Rom, vol. 31, eds. Bruce M. Metzger, David A. Hubbard and Glenn W. Barker (Dallas: Word Inc., 2002), in Libronix Digital Library System, v. 3.0b [CD-ROM] (Bellingham, WA: Libronix Corp., 2004), in Libronix Digital Library System, v. 2.1c [CD-ROM] (Bellingham, WA: Libronix Corp., 2000-2004), “Introduction: Form/Structure/Setting.”

Judges 1:1 “Now after the death of Joshua it came to pass” Comments - The book of Joshua begins with a similar opening statement, “Now after the death of Moses the servant of the LORD it came to pass…” (Joshua 1:1)

Judges 1:1 “that the children of Israel asked the LORD” Comments - The nation of Israel was established as a theocracy. God spoke through Moses, Joshua, and now through the high priests and gave the nation direction. In a similar way, the New Testament Church is a kingdom, with Jesus Christ reigning as King of Kings. God guides the Church through the five-fold ministry (Ephesians 4:11), and through the gifts of utterance, and He now speaks to every individual believer, since each one is a king and priest unto the Lord (Revelation 1:6; Revelation 5:10).

Ephesians 4:11, “And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;”

Revelation 1:6, “And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.”

Revelation 5:10, “And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth.”

Judges 1:1 “saying, Who shall go up for us against the Canaanites first, to fight against them” - Word Study on “shall go up” Strong says the Hebrew word “go up” ( עָלָה ) (H5927) is a primitive root that means, “to ascend, or to be high (intransitively) or to mount (actively).”

Comments The question in Judges 1:1 does not describe an army going out into the plains or into a battlefield, which may be a defensive move. Rather, it described an offensive assault upon a fortified city that is set upon a hill. The children were intent upon continuing the campaign that Joshua began in taking every city of the land of Canaan. Joshua’s campaign began by taking the fortified cities of Jericho and Ai. It would have given Israel no military advantage if they had occupied the empty valleys. In order to control the region, Israel needed to take the fortified cities of the highlands.

Judges 1:1 is a confession of faith, in that Israel believed God would give them the victory.

Judges 1:2 And the LORD said, Judah shall go up: behold, I have delivered the land into his hand.

Judges 1:2 Word Study on “Judah” - Strong says the name Judah ( יְהוּדָה ) (H3063) means, “celebrated.” He says this name is derived from the primitive root ( יָדָה ) (H3034), which literally means, “to hold out the hand,” thus “praise” (Genesis 29:35). The Enhanced Strong says this primitive root word ( יָדָה ) is used 114 times in the Old Testament, being translated in the KJV as “praise 53, give thanks 32, confess 16, thank 5, make confession 2, thanksgiving 2, cast 1, cast out 1, shoot 1, thankful 1.”

Comments - The name “Judah” has a number of references in the Old Testament. It refers to the fourth son of Jacob and Leah, as well as the tribe that descended from him, as well as the territory given to this tribe at the conquest of Canaan. The name Judah later became the title of the southern kingdom.

Leah gave her fourth child this name as an outward expression of praise to God for giving her so many sons (Genesis 29:35). Her hope was to find the favor of her husband’s love and affection.

Genesis 29:35, “And she conceived again, and bare a son: and she said, Now will I praise the LORD: therefore she called his name Judah; and left bearing.”

As we trace the history of this most prominent tribe of Israel, we discover the importance of praise in our personal lives, for it was through praise that men in the Old Testament found victories over their enemies.

Judah went before and led the clan of Jacob into Egypt to meet Joseph and into the good of the land of Egypt, the fat of the land (Genesis 46:28).

Genesis 46:28, “And he sent Judah before him unto Joseph, to direct his face unto Goshen; and they came into the land of Goshen.”

It was the tribe of Judah that Jacob prophesied would be a conqueror.

Genesis 49:8, “Judah, thou art he whom thy brethren shall praise: thy hand shall be in the neck of thine enemies; thy father's children shall bow down before thee.”

God set Bezaleel of the tribe of Judah over the work of building of the Tabernacle, (Exodus 31:2; Exodus 35:30) and gave him the spirit of God, with Aholiab of tribe of Dan (Exodus 38:22).

Exodus 31:2, “See, I have called by name Bezaleel the son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah:”

Exodus 35:30-31, “And Moses said unto the children of Israel, See, the LORD hath called by name Bezaleel the son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah; And he hath filled him with the spirit of God, in wisdom, in understanding, and in knowledge, and in all manner of workmanship;”

Exodus 38:22-23, “And Bezaleel the son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, made all that the LORD commanded Moses. And with him was Aholiab, son of Ahisamach, of the tribe of Dan, an engraver, and a cunning workman, and an embroiderer in blue, and in purple, and in scarlet, and fine linen.”

Judah led the tribes through the wilderness as ark went before them all (Numbers 2:9; Numbers 10:14; Numbers 10:33).

Numbers 2:9, “All that were numbered in the camp of Judah were an hundred thousand and fourscore thousand and six thousand and four hundred, throughout their armies. These shall first set forth.”

Numbers 10:14, “In the first place went the standard of the camp of the children of Judah according to their armies: and over his host was Nahshon the son of Amminadab.”

Numbers 10:33, “And they departed from the mount of the LORD three days' journey: and the ark of the covenant of the LORD went before them in the three days' journey, to search out a resting place for them.”

The tribe of Judah led in the offerings in the dedication of the altar (Numbers 7:12).

Numbers 7:12, “And he that offered his offering the first day was Nahshon the son of Amminadab, of the tribe of Judah:”

Of the twelve spies sent out to Canaan, Caleb was of tribe of Judah (Numbers 13:6). He and Joshua alone came back with a good report.

Numbers 13:6, “Of the tribe of Judah, Caleb the son of Jephunneh.”

In the numbering of the people in the book of Numbers, the tribe of Judah was the most populous tribe in wilderness, even above Ephraim and Manasseh when they are added together.

Judah was the first to possess their inheritance on west side of Jordan (Joshua 15:1-63).

In Judges 1:1-4, Judah went up first to fight against the Canaanites. The Lord appointed the tribe of Judah to go into battle to bring the victory?

Judges 1:2, “And the LORD said, Judah shall go up: behold, I have delivered the land into his hand.”

When Israel fought Benjamin, God told them to send Judah first into battle (Judges 20:18).

Judges 20:18, “And the children of Israel arose, and went up to the house of God, and asked counsel of God, and said, Which of us shall go up first to the battle against the children of Benjamin? And the LORD said, Judah shall go up first.”

Judah prevailed above his brethren although his was not the birthright (1 Chronicles 5:1-2).

1 Chronicles 5:1-2, “Now the sons of Reuben the firstborn of Israel, (for he was the firstborn; but, forasmuch as he defiled his father's bed, his birthright was given unto the sons of Joseph the son of Israel: and the genealogy is not to be reckoned after the birthright. For Judah prevailed above his brethren, and of him came the chief ruler; but the birthright was Joseph's:)”

Of all the people in the Holy Scriptures who learned to praise the Lord, David stood out as a man of praise. David was a man after God’s own heart (Acts 13:22).

Acts 13:22, “And when he had removed him, he raised up unto them David to be their king; to whom also he gave testimony, and said, I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after mine own heart , which shall fulfil all my will.”

This is because David was a man who had learned the secret of praise. He praised God during easy times and this prepared David to worship Him during difficult times. David was called a man after God’s own heart because he worshipped his Heavenly Father and poured out his love to Him during the most difficult times in his life. This touches the heart of God more than any other act that man can perform and it moves God to deliver His children. For example, we see David’s cry for God to deliver him from his enemies throughout the Psalms. And as we read the history of David in the books of Samuel, Kings and Chronicles, we see how God was faithful to deliver him from all of those who opposed him.

Many of the Psalms reveal to us that David worshipped the Lord during the most difficult times in his life. Even when David sinned with Bathsheba and God judged the child so that it died, David worshipped the Lord. And as a result, the Lord gave David another son by Bathsheba.

2 Samuel 12:20, “Then David arose from the earth, and washed, and anointed himself, and changed his apparel, and came into the house of the LORD, and worshipped: then he came to his own house; and when he required, they set bread before him, and he did eat.”

Such acts of worship that we see in the life of David move God to give to us anything and everything that our hearts desire. For God did not hold back any gift from the young shepherd boy who gave the Father so much love and attention (2 Samuel 12:8).

2 Samuel 12:8, “And I gave thee thy master's house, and thy master's wives into thy bosom, and gave thee the house of Israel and of Judah; and if that had been too little, I would moreover have given unto thee such and such things.”

As a result, David became the greatest conqueror in Holy Scripture. He subdued kingdoms and brought the nation of Israel into a place of rest. Other kings could have had the same victories that David had, if they had chosen the same path of praise. We see this in the victory of Jericho when Joshua lead the children of Israel in praise as they marched around the city. We also see this when Jehoshaphat led a worship team into battle against a host of nations encamped against Jerusalem. This is because praise always gives us victory. Prayer and supplication are good, but praise is the most effective weapon against the enemy.

In the history of Israel, the victories were never won on the battlefield, but in the prayer room. The battles may have been fought in the valleys, but the victories were won on the mountaintop. There is no situation too terrible that we cannot praise Him and thus, find the victory.

Was not Job’s captivity turned when he prayed and acknowledged God’s greatness (see Job 42:1-10)?

Joshua defeated the Amalekites in the valley while Moses held up the rod on the mountain (see Exodus 17:8-16).

Did not the walls of Jericho fall down when the people shouted to the Lord?

Joshua 6:16, “And it came to pass at the seventh time, when the priests blew with the trumpets, Joshua said unto the people, Shout; for the LORD hath given you the city.”

Did not the Lord give David the victory when he encouraged himself in the Lord?

1 Samuel 30:6, “And David was greatly distressed; for the people spake of stoning him, because the soul of all the people was grieved, every man for his sons and for his daughters: but David encouraged himself in the LORD his God.”

Did not the Lord deliver Jonah from the belly of the whale when he began to praise and acknowledge the greatness of the Lord (see Jonah 2:1-10)?

The Lord told king Jehoshaphat to march out into battle with worship leaders in front (2 Chronicles 20:21-22).

2 Chronicles 20:21-22, “And when he had consulted with the people, he appointed singers unto the LORD, and that should praise the beauty of holiness, as they went out before the army, and to say, Praise the LORD; for his mercy endureth for ever. And when they began to sing and to praise, the LORD set ambushments against the children of Ammon, Moab, and mount Seir, which were come against Judah; and they were smitten.”

Does not Habakkuk tell us to praise Him in difficult times?

Habakkuk 3:17-18, “Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labour of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls: Yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation.”

Were not Paul and Silas delivered from prison when they began to praise the Lord (Acts 16:25-26)

Acts 16:25-26, “And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them. And suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken: and immediately all the doors were opened, and every one's bands were loosed.”

All of these examples are given to us in Scripture to tell us that God will still our enemies when we begin to praise the Lord (Psalms 8:2, Matthew 21:15-16).

Psalms 8:2, “Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings hast thou ordained strength because of thine enemies, that thou mightest still the enemy and the avenger.”

Matthew 21:15-16, “And when the chief priests and scribes saw the wonderful things that he did, and the children crying in the temple, and saying, Hosanna to the Son of David; they were sore displeased, And said unto him, Hearest thou what these say? And Jesus saith unto them, Yea; have ye never read, Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings thou hast perfected praise?”

Note these words from Frances J. Roberts:

“Man has contemplated the power of faith and of prayer, but only rarely have I revealed to men this far greater power of praise. For by prayer and faith doors are opened, but by praise and worship, great dynamos of power are set in motion, as when a switch is thrown and an electric power plant such as Niagra is thrown into operation. Praying for specifics is like requesting light for individual houses in various scattered places, while worshipping and praise flood the whole area with available current.” [15]

[15] Frances J. Roberts, Come Away My Beloved (Ojai, California: King’s Farspan, Inc., 1973), 118.

“Praise me, O My people, praise Me. Praise Me out of a heart full of love. Praise Me for every blessing and every victory. Yea, and praise Me when the most difficult thing to do is to praise. This is the victory that overcometh the world, even your faith, and praise is the voice of faith. It is faith rejoicing for victories claimed in advance. The song of praise is made of the very fabric of things hoped for. It becomes an evidence of unseen things. It is the raw material in My hands from which I fashion your victories. Give it to Me. Give Me much, give to Me often. I dwell in the midst of the praises of My people. I dwell there because I am happiest there, and just as surely as ye make Me happy with your praising, ye shall make the enemy most unhappy. He has no power whatsoever over a praising Christian. He cannot stand against a praising Church. This is the most powerful weapon ye can use against him. So praise is like a two-edged sword, the one side bringing health to your own spirit and the other side cutting down the enemy.” [16]

[16] Frances J. Roberts, Come Away My Beloved (Ojai, California: King’s Farspan, Inc., 1973), 126-127.

Judges 1:3 And Judah said unto Simeon his brother, Come up with me into my lot, that we may fight against the Canaanites; and I likewise will go with thee into thy lot. So Simeon went with him.

Judges 1:3 Comments - Judah did help Simeon fight his battles as well (Judges 1:17).

Judges 1:17, “And Judah went with Simeon his brother, and they slew the Canaanites that inhabited Zephath, and utterly destroyed it. And the name of the city was called Hormah.”

Judges 1:10-15 Othniel’s Conquest of Hebron - Judges 1:10-15 records the same story of Othniel’s conquest of Hebron that is found in Joshua 15:13-20.

Judges 1:10 And Judah went against the Canaanites that dwelt in Hebron: (now the name of Hebron before was Kirjatharba:) and they slew Sheshai, and Ahiman, and Talmai.

Judges 1:10 Word Study on “Hebron” Gesenius says the Hebrew name “Hebron” ( חֶבְרוֹן ) (H2275) means, “conjunction, joining.” Strong, BDB and Baker say it means, “association.” PTW says it means, “friendship.”

Judges 1:10 Word Study on “Kirjatharba” Strong says the Hebrew name “Kirjatharba” ( קִרְיַת עַרְבַּע ) (H7153) means, “city of arba,” or “city of the four (giants).” It was perhaps the most challenging city of all of the Canaanites for Joshua to conquer, because the inhabitants were giants. The ten spies who were sent out by Moses were overwhelmed with fear at the thought of fighting this city (see Numbers 13:22; Numbers 13:33, Joshua 15:13-14; Joshua 21:11, Judges 1:20).

Numbers 13:22, “And they ascended by the south, and came unto Hebron; where Ahiman, Sheshai, and Talmai, the children of Anak , were. (Now Hebron was built seven years before Zoan in Egypt.)”

Numbers 13:33, “And there we saw the giants, the sons of Anak , which come of the giants: and we were in our own sight as grasshoppers, and so we were in their sight.”

Joshua 15:13-14, “And unto Caleb the son of Jephunneh he gave a part among the children of Judah, according to the commandment of the LORD to Joshua, even the city of Arba the father of Anak , which city is Hebron. And Caleb drove thence the three sons of Anak, Sheshai, and Ahiman, and Talmai, the children of Anak.”

Joshua 21:11, “And they gave them the city of Arba the father of Anak, which city is Hebron, in the hill country of Judah, with the suburbs thereof round about it.”

Judges 1:20, “And they gave Hebron unto Caleb, as Moses said: and he expelled thence the three sons of Anak.”

Judges 1:15 And she said unto him, Give me a blessing: for thou hast given me a south land; give me also springs of water. And Caleb gave her the upper springs and the nether springs.

Judges 1:15 “Give me a blessing … springs of water” Comments - Our Father has also given us an inheritance in his heavenly Kingdom. Let us ask also for those springs of living water, the Holy Ghost, to overflow in our lives (Luke 11:13).

Luke 11:13, “If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?”

Judges 1:16 And the children of the Kenite, Moses' father in law, went up out of the city of palm trees with the children of Judah into the wilderness of Judah, which lieth in the south of Arad; and they went and dwelt among the people.

Judges 1:16 “the city of palm trees” Comments - The city of palm trees is generally understood as a reference to Jericho and its oasis (Deuteronomy 34:3).

Deuteronomy 34:3, “And the south, and the plain of the valley of Jericho, the city of palm trees, unto Zoar.”

Judges 1:17 And Judah went with Simeon his brother, and they slew the Canaanites that inhabited Zephath, and utterly destroyed it. And the name of the city was called Hormah.

Judges 1:17 Word Study on “Hormah” Gesenius says the name for Zephath ( חָרְמָה ) (H2767) means, “a devoting.” Strong says it means “devoted.” BDB says it means, “devotion.” PTW says it means, “dedicated to God.” It may be the city referred to in 2 Chronicles 14:10, “Then Asa went out against him, and they set the battle in array in the valley of Zephathah at Mareshah.” This would be a valley region in southern Judah.

Judges 1:30 Neither did Zebulun drive out the inhabitants of Kitron, nor the inhabitants of Nahalol; but the Canaanites dwelt among them, and became tributaries.

Judges 1:30 Word Study on “Kitron” Gesenius says the Hebrew name “Kitron” ( קִטְרֹון ) (H7003) means, “bond.” Strong says it means, “fumigative.” BDB says it means, “incense.” PTW says it means, “making sweet.” Strong says it comes from the primitive root ( מֻקְטָר ) (H6999), which literally means, “to smoke,” and figuratively, “to offer a sacrifice, burn incense, burn sacrifices, make sacrifices smoke.” The ISBE says Kitron is “an unidentified city in the country of Zebulun.” [17]

[17] “Kitron,” in International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, ed. James Orr (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., c1915, 1939), in The Sword Project, v. 1.5.11 [CD-ROM] (Temple, AZ: CrossWire Bible Society, 1990-2008).

Bibliographical Information
Everett, Gary H. "Commentary on Judges 1". Everett's Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ghe/judges-1.html. 2013.
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