Highlights of Judges 1-4 - Theocratic Ministry School

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Bible reading: Judges 1-4 (8 min.)


(Judges 1:1)

After the death of Joshua, the Israelites inquired of Jehovah: “Who of us will go up first to fight against the Ca′naan•ites?”

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Their main objection is that some of the events recorded in the book of Joshua also appear in the book of Judges, which commences with the words, “And after the death of Joshua.” (Jg 1:1) Nevertheless, this opening statement is not necessarily a time indicator for all the events found in the Judges account. The book is not arranged in strict chronological order, for it mentions an event that definitely is placed before Joshua’s death. (Jg 2:6-9) Therefore, some things, such as the capture of Hebron by Caleb (Jos 15:13, 14; Jg 1:9, 10), Debir by Othniel (Jos 15:15-19; Jg 1:11-15), and Leshem, or Laish (Dan), by the Danites (Jos 19:47, 48; Jg 18:27-29), could likewise have taken place before Joshua’s death. Even the action of the Danites in setting up an idolatrous image at Laish could reasonably fit Joshua’s time. (Jg 18:30, 31) In his concluding exhortation, Joshua told the Israelites: “Remove the gods that your forefathers served on the other side of the River and in Egypt, and serve Jehovah.” (Jos 24:14) Had idolatry not existed, this statement would have had little meaning.

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Arrangement. Judges is linked with the preceding Bible book by its opening words, “And after the death of Joshua.” However, some of the happenings narrated therein evidently occurred before Joshua died. For example, Judges 2:6 reads: “When Joshua sent the people away, then the sons of Israel went their way, each to his inheritance, to take possession of the land.” So it appears that Judges 1:1–3:6 serves as an introduction, the writer having drawn on events taking place before and after Joshua’s death in order to provide the historical background for the account that follows.

(Judges 1:2)

Jehovah replied: “Judah will go up. Look! I am giving the land into his hand.”

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1:2, 4—Why is Judah designated to be the first tribe to take possession of the land allotted to it? Normally, this privilege would go to the tribe of Reuben, Jacob’s firstborn. But in his deathbed prophecy, Jacob foretold that Reuben was not to excel, having forfeited his right as the firstborn. Simeon and Levi, who had acted with cruelty, were to be scattered in Israel. (Genesis 49:3-5, 7) Hence, the next in line was Judah, the fourth son of Jacob. Simeon, who went up with Judah, received small areas of land scattered throughout the large territory of Judah.—Joshua 19:9.

(Judges 1:4)

When Judah went up, Jehovah gave the Ca′naan•ites and the Per′iz•zites into their hands, and they defeated 10,000 men in Be′zek.

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1. The site at which Judah and Simeon defeated 10,000 Canaanite and Perizzite troops under Adoni-bezek. (Jg 1:3-7) Some identify this Bezek with that of 1 Samuel 11:8 (No. 2 below), which is in an extreme northern location in relation to Jerusalem and the territory occupied by Judah and Simeon. Such a view would require the assumption that Adoni-bezek came S to join other Canaanite forces but was met by Judah and Simeon, was chased N to Bezek, and was defeated there. The context, however, seems to indicate a place in the general area of Jerusalem. In view of these circumstances, Bezek, the city of Adoni-bezek, is tentatively located in the Shephelah region at the site of Khirbet Bezka, about 5 km (3 mi) NE of Gezer.

(Judges 1:5)

They found A•do′ni-be′zek in Be′zek, and there they fought against him and defeated the Ca′naan•ites and the Per′iz•zites.

*** it-1 p. 307 Bezek ***
1. The site at which Judah and Simeon defeated 10,000 Canaanite and Perizzite troops under Adoni-bezek. (Jg 1:3-7) Some identify this Bezek with that of 1 Samuel 11:8 (No. 2 below), which is in an extreme northern location in relation to Jerusalem and the territory occupied by Judah and Simeon. Such a view would require the assumption that Adoni-bezek came S to join other Canaanite forces but was met by Judah and Simeon, was chased N to Bezek, and was defeated there. The context, however, seems to indicate a place in the general area of Jerusalem. In view of these circumstances, Bezek, the city of Adoni-bezek, is tentatively located in the Shephelah region at the site of Khirbet Bezka, about 5 km (3 mi) NE of Gezer.

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