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In the book of Judges should be called the book of Dictators. These men were absolute rulers of different tribes in Israel. Sometimes a ruler of a tribe would be so powerful that other tribes followed him, 'but there was not king in Israel'. This means when there was a king in Israel, the king was God via His Word. Where there was no king in Israel, God and His Word were NOT honored - and the consequences were horrible.

The book of Judges was probably written by the prophet Samuel 100 years after Gideon was alive (see chapter 6 for more on Gideon). This would then make the timing of the writing circa 1055BC.

The period covered by the book of Judges showed the failures of the early Israelites. The were different from other peoples. God was also their King. Yet throughout Judges, we have stories where the Jews turned from God to false worship. When they accomplished anything, it was because God worked on their behalf in spite of their failures.

The book of Judges is a 'negative book' to demonstrate how Israel failed to live up the their responsibility of being called God's people.

Chapter 1

1 Now after the death of Joshua
it came to pass,
that the sons of Israel {bene Yisra'el}
asked Jehovah/God, saying,
"Who shall go up for us against the Canaanites first,
to fight against them?"

2 And Jehovah/God said,
"Judah shall go up.

Behold, I have delivered the land into his hand."

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 you all into your lot."

So Simeon went with him.

4 And Judah went up
and Jehovah/God delivered the Canaanites and the Perizzites
into their hand.

And they slew of them in Bezek
ten thousand men.

5 And they found Adoni-Bezek
  {'Adoniy-Bezeq - name means 'my lord is Bezeq'}
in Bezek
  {the name means 'lightening' and it was the place where Israel
  rallied under Saul}
and they fought against him,
and they slew the Canaanites and the Perizzites.

6 But Adoni-Bezek fled
and they pursued after him,
and caught him,
and cut off his thumbs and his big toes.

7 And Adoni-Bezek said,
"Threescore and ten {70} kings . . .
having their thumbs and their big toes cut off . . .
gathered {their meat} under my table.

As I have done,
so 'Elohiym/Godhead has requited/recompense me."

And they brought him to Jerusalem, and there he died.

8 Now the children of Judah had fought against Jerusalem,
and had taken it,
and smitten it with the edge of the sword,
and set the city on fire.

9 And afterward the children of Judah
went down to fight against the Canaanites,
who dwelt in the mountain,
and in the south, and in the valley.

10 And Judah went against the Canaanites
who dwelt in Hebron.

And, the name of Hebron before was Kirjatharba.

And they slew Sheshai, and Ahiman, and Talmai.

11 And from there
he went against the inhabitants of Debir.

And the name of Debir before was Kirjathsepher.

12 And Caleb said,
"He who smites Kirjathsepher,
and take it,
to him will I give Achsah, my daughter, to wife."

13 And Othniel, the son of Kenaz,
Caleb's younger brother, took it.

And he {Caleb} gave him Achsah, his daughter, to wife.

14 And it came to pass,
when she came to him,
that she moved him to ask of her father a field.

And she lighted from off her ass.

And Caleb said unto her, "What do you desire?"

15 And she said unto him,
"Give me a blessing . . .
for you have given me a south land . . .
give me also springs of water."

And Caleb gave her the upper springs and the nether springs.

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 desert of Judah,
which lies in the south of Arad.

And they went and dwelt among the people.

17 And Judah went with Simeon his brother,
and they slew the Canaanites who inhabited Zephath,
and utterly destroyed it.

And the name of the city was called Hormah.

18 Also Judah took Gaza with the coast thereof,
and Askelon with the coast thereof,
and Ekron with the coast thereof.

19 And Jehovah/God was with Judah.

And He drove out the inhabitants of the mountain;
but could not drive out the inhabitants of the valley,
because they had chariots of iron.

20 And they gave Hebron unto Caleb,
as Moses said
and he expelled there the three sons of Anak.
  {Anak was the progenitor of a family, or tribe of the giant people in

21 And the children of Benjamin
did not drive out the Jebusites
who inhabited Jerusalem.

But the Jebusites dwell with the children of Benjamin
in Jerusalem unto this day.

{Note: The Jebusites were tough warriors. They held Jerusalem for over 400 years. They kept it until David defeated them.}

22 And the house of Joseph,
they also went up against Bethel.

And Jehovah/God was with them.

23 And the house of Joseph sent to descry Bethel.

And the name of the city before was Luz.

24 And the spies saw a man come forth out of the city,
and they said unto him,
"Show us, we pray you,
the entrance into the city,
and we will show you mercy."

25 And when he showed them the entrance into the city,
they smote the city with the edge of the sword;
but they let go the man and all his family.

26 And the man went into the land of the Hittites,
and built a city,
and called the name thereof Luz . . .
which is the name thereof unto this day.

27 Neither did Manasseh drive out the inhabitants of Beth-Shean
and her towns, nor Taanach and her towns,
nor the inhabitants of Dor and her towns,
nor the inhabitants of Ibleam and her towns,
nor the inhabitants of Megiddo and her towns.

But the Canaanites would dwell in that land.

28 And it came to pass,
when Israel was strong,
that they put the Canaanites to tribute,
and did not utterly drive them out.

29 Neither did Ephraim drive out the Canaanites
who dwelt in Gezer;
but the Canaanites dwelt in Gezer among them.

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

31 Neither did Asher drive out the inhabitants of Accho,
nor the inhabitants of Zidon,
nor of Ahlab, nor of Achzib, nor of Helbah, nor of Aphik, nor of Rehob.

32 But the Asherites dwelt among the Canaanites,
the inhabitants of the land . . .
for they did not drive them out.

33 Neither did Naphtali drive out the inhabitants of Beth-Shemesh,
nor the inhabitants of Beth-Anath;
but he dwelt among the Canaanites,
the inhabitants of the land.

Nevertheless the inhabitants of Beth-Shemesh
and of Beth-Anath became tributaries unto them.

34 And the Amorites forced the children of Dan into the mountain
for they would not suffer them to come down to the valley.

35 But the Amorites would dwell in mount Heres in Aijalon,
and in Shaalbim.

Yet the hand of the house of Joseph prevailed,
so that they became tributaries.

36 And the coast of the Amorites
was from the going up to Akrabbim,
from the rock, and upward.