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					 Bethel Bible-Presbyterian Church                   Joshua. It gives an account of some of
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                                                    the attempts by the tribes to possess
                                                    their land inheritance which were
                   DHW                              given by “lots.” The second part,
      BIBLE STUDY CLASS                             Judges 2:6-3:6, gives an account
                                                    which anticipates the repetitive cycle
                JUDGES 1                            of events in the remainder of the book.
                                                    The second section, which is the main
                LESSON 1
                                                    section, is Judges 3:7-16:31. It
                                                    chronicles the events which happened
             INTRODUCTION                           to the children of Israel under the
                                                    judges. There were twelve judges in
        The opening phrase, “Now
                                                    all. Six of them—Othniel, Ehud,
after the death of Joshua” connects the
                                                    Deborah and Barak, Gideon, Jephthah,
book of Judges with the book of
                                                    and Samson—are narrated with more
Joshua. It continues with the history of
                                                    details whereas the other six only their
the nation Israel. When Moses died,
                                                    names were mentioned.        The third
God chose Joshua to succeed him to
                                                    section is Judges 17:1-21:25. The
lead His people to claim the Promised
                                                    writer narrates two instances that
Land. But when Joshua died, there
                                                    describe the spiritual declension and
was no single godly leader to succeed
                                                    moral deterioration of the children of
him to lead the people of God.
                                                    Israel during the 350 years of its
Instead God graciously raised up
                                                    history at this time.
special leaders who were called
“judges”. In times of crisis these                         Two main themes are
judges provided the heroic and                      prominent in Judges. God’s power,
necessary leadership. This period of                patience, persistence, pity, and
the history of the children of Israel is            provision for His people are shown in
about 1380 B.C. to 1030 B.C. Although               the course of His relationship with His
the name of the inspired writer of                  chosen people. Contrastingly, the
Judges is unknown the Jewish Talmud                 children of Israel repeatedly broke the
identifies the writer as Samuel 1                   covenant God made with them,
                                                    showed a lack of faith in the LORD
       The book of Judges can be
                                                    their God, and compromised their rich
broadly divided into three sections.
                                                    religious heritage with those of the
The first section is Judges 1:1-3:6.
                                                    inhabitants of the land. While the
This introductory section contains two
                                                    covenant-keeping God showed His
parts. The first part, Judges 1:1-2:5,
                                                    faithfulness and love to them, they
provides a “flashback” to the time of
                                                    reciprocated with their covenant-
                                                    breaking attitude, their unfaithfulness
                                                    and disobedience.
          The Talmud contains the laws, and a
compilation of expositions of duties imposed on             This first lesson beginning with
the people, either in Scripture, by tradition, or
by authority of their doctors, or by customs.       Judges Chapter 1 can be sub-divided
(Webster Dictionary, American Christian             as follows:
History Education Series, 1828)
                                           2                            DHW LESSON 1 JOSHUA 1

1) Judges 1:1-8 – Judah Subdues the            the children of Israel but sadly it did
Canaanites in Bezek,                           not happen. What really happened
      (2) Judges 1:9-15 – Judah                would be most instructive for every
Subdues the Canaanites in Hebron;              individual Christian and Church.

      (3) Judges 1:16-21 – Judah                       There was no successor to
Subdues the Canaanites in Gaza,                Joshua, unlike Moses who had Joshua,
                                               to lead the children of Israel. So, they
      (4) Judges 1:22-29 – The                 asked the LORD through the priest
Central Tribes Fail to Drive Out the           who used the Urim and Thummim. 2
Canaanites; and                                It was the right thing for them to do.
      (5) Judges 1:30-36 – the                 They started well. They asked the
Northern Tribes Fail to Drive Out the          LORD who should lead them to fight
Canaanites.                                    against the Canaanites. The LORD
                                               told them that Judah was to lead them,
       As we study the lives of these
                                               and He further assured them that He
judges and the children of Israel, we
                                               had delivered the land into their hands
will know more about the LORD God,
                                               (1:1, 2).         Judah went to the
and also discover the great principles
                                               Simeonites to ask for help to fight
God reveals about His work in dealing
                                               against the enemies, and promised to
with His people. The motto in the
                                               reciprocate the same when it was their
times of the Judges was: “Every man
                                               turn to confront the enemies. The
did that which was right in his own
                                               LORD did not tell Judah to join hands
                                               with Simeon. This shows that Judah
            Judah Subdues                      lacked confidence and trust in the
       the Canaanites in Bezek                 LORD, in spite of the experience they
        The narratives of the book of          had earlier in their successful conquest
Judges began after the death of                of the land. The LORD kept His
Joshua. This first chapter as we have          promise, and Judah defeated and
earlier learned is one of a two-part           killed 10,000 Canaanites and
introduction to the rest of the book.          Perizzites in Bezek, a small town in
The death of Joshua signalled a new            Judah’s lot. They captured Adoni-
era of the history of the children of          Bezek, the king of the enemies. They
Israel. Joshua had led all the children        then cut off his thumbs and two big
of Israel to renew the covenant God            toes. The reason for this physical
had made with them in a ceremony in            mutilation was to incapacitate the king
Shechem (Joshua 24:25-27).          The
children of Israel made a solemn                        2
                                                           Compare – Numbers 27:21 And he
commitment to serve the LORD their             shall stand before Eleazar the priest, who shall
God and to obey Him (Joshua 24:24).            ask counsel for him after the judgment of Urim
At that time, Joshua had fulfilled his         before the LORD: at his word shall they go out,
                                               and at his word they shall come in, both he, and
mission having got the children of             all the children of Israel with him, even all the
Israel to be united in one spirit and to       congregation.
pledge their loyalty to the LORD.
One would expect great things from
                                          3                        DHW LESSON 1 JOSHUA 1

from ever taking arms and going to            books) Caleb’s nephew, Othniel, the
war, and neither could he easily              son of Kenaz, Caleb’s younger
escape from his conquerors. Judah’s           brother, assisted him in conquering
act was senseless. God did not tell           Debir. Caleb rewarded Othniel by
the children of Israel to mutilate the        giving his daughter, Achsah, to him in
enemies, but to put them to death or to       marriage, including two springs of
drive them away. Judah had not                water in the land. The victory over
obeyed God. Instead they “edited”             the southern land of Judah was totally
God’s command and ignored his clear           complete when the military
command and guidance. Adoni-                  stronghold, the city of Hebron, and the
Bezek remarked that the mutilation            cultural centre, the city of Debir, were
inflicted on him was because he had           taken. Othniel later became the first
done the same to seventy kings. In            judge of Israel. It seems that the
other words this was a Canaanite way          family of Caleb had great faith in the
of humiliating and deriding a person.         LORD.
Judah imitated this wicked practice of
the pagans.                                               Judah subdues
                                                     the Canaanites in Gaza,
            Judah Subdues                             Then the children of Kenite,
     the Canaanites in Hebron;                descendants of Moses’ father-in-law
       After Jerusalem had been taken         together with the children of Judah
Judah moved south to fight against the        went farther south to Arad, an
Canaanites who were living in the             important city in the wilderness of
mountain ranges, and in the low-lying         Negev.      Instead of driving the
valleys and lands. Earlier, Caleb who         inhabitants away or putting them to
was a Kenite and who also belonged            death, the children of Judah dwelt
to the tribe of Judah, had captured           among them. This was a clear
Hebron (Joshua 14:15). The great city         violation of the commandment of the
of Hebron was formerly named                  LORD. Next Judah combined with
Kirjath-Arba. Arba was the name of            Simeon slew the Canaanites in
the father of the Anakim. The                 Zephath, and utterly destroyed its city,
Anakim were the giants whose land             Hormah (1:17).       The children of
the twelve spies Moses sent to survey.        Judah then turned their attention to the
The spies, except Caleb and Joshua,           coastal Philistine cities of Gaza,
returned with a negative report, thus         Askelon and Ekron. They claimed the
they were afraid and refused to enter         hilly country in this southern region
to take the land which God had                but they could not drive the
promised them. Hebron apparently              Canaanites out in the lowlands
was a military stronghold of these            because the Canaanites had chariots of
giants, but it was taken by Caleb.            iron. The reason why the children of
After Hebron was taken, the next              Judah could not drive out the
natural city to take was Debir which          Canaanites here was because they did
was only eleven miles southwest of            not trust God, who had promised them
Hebron. The former name of Debir              that He had handed the land into their
was Kirjath-Sepher (Hebrew, city of           hands. The same was true of the
                                          4                        DHW LESSON 1 JOSHUA 1

Benjamites who did not drive out the          Gezer (1:29). Instead they co-existed
Jebusites who inhabited Jerusalem.            with them, a clear violation of the
Earlier it was mentioned that                 commandment of the LORD.
Jerusalem was taken by the children of                The children of Manasseh, who
Judah (1:8). Apparently the city was          lived on the western side of Jordan,
given to the children of Benjamin. The        did not drive out the inhabitants of
children of Benjamin, instead of              Beth-shean, Taanach, Dor, Ibleam,
driving out the Jebusites, lived              Megiddo and their towns. Instead
together with them because they               they let the Canaanites live with them.
preferred co-existence with the               These cities were strategically located
enemies to shedding of blood and              in the valleys of Jezreel and
killing of the Jebusites.     A short         Esdraleon, and they formed a zone
flashback was mentioned about Caleb           separating the tribes of Israel in
who took Hebron as promised by God            central Canaan from the northern
through Moses (1:20). By contrast the         tribes. They chose to impose tribute
children of Benjamin failed to secure         in the form of forced labour and levy
Jerusalem.                                    on the inhabitants of the land rather
      The Central Tribes Fail to              than obeying God who commanded
      Drive Out the Canaanites                them to put them to death or to drive
        The sons of Joseph were               them out. This compromise by
Manasseh and Ephraim.              The        allowing the Canaanites to live in their
Ephraimites had their land inheritance.       midst is in violation of the LORD’S
They sent spies to descry (explore,           command and it would bring disaster
search) Bethel. They were seeking to          upon them later in the years ahead.
find a way to enter Bethel. They found
                                                   The Northern Tribes Fail to
a man who came out of the city. They                Drive Out the Canaanites
asked the man to show them the                       The northern tribes of the
entrance into the city, and they would        children of Israel are mentioned in
be merciful to him and his family.            brief succession. It is a sad account
The man showed the children of                because the remaining tribes in the
Ephraim the way into Bethel. The              west did not obey God to either
Ephraimites then destroyed the city           destroy or drive out the inhabitants of
and its inhabitants but spared the man        the land. Instead they imposed tribute
and his family who had helped them.           upon the inhabitants. In the case of
The Ephraimites won a significant             Dan it was completely a dismal scene.
victory over Bethel. The man and his          Zebulun failed to drive out the
family who were spared went to dwell          inhabitants of Kitron and Nahalol.
in the land of the Hittites, who were         Instead they imposed forced labour
the most widespread and powerful of           and levy on them. The same attitude
the Canaanites. He built a city there         was shown by the children of Asher.
and called it Luz, the same name              They did not drive out the inhabitants
which Bethel was originally called            of Accho, Zidon, Ahlab, Achzib,
(1:26). But the Ephraimites failed to         Helbah, Aphik and Rehob. They
drive out the Canaanites who dwelt in
                                          5                        DHW LESSON 1 JOSHUA 1

moved into these cities and lived in                  Four other tribes of Israel are
the midst of the Canaanites. The              not mentioned. They were the tribes
children of Naphtali whose land               of Reuben , Gad, Levi, and Issachar.
inheritance was immediately north of          The reason was because the
Zebulun also did not drive out the            Reubenites and Gadites settled on the
inhabitants of Beth-shemesh, nor the          eastern side of Jordan. The Levites
inhabitants of Beth-anath. Now, Beth-         were not entitled to possess land. On
shemesh means “house of the sun”,             the other hand, they were given the
and Beth-anath means “house of                privileged responsibility and duty to
Anath.” It is obvious that the                serve the Tabernacle of the LORD,
Canaanites worshipped the sun-god             and to teach the Law of God given
and “Anath”, the fertility goddess and        through Moses to the people. They
consort of Baal, which means “lord”,          were given forty-eight cities and their
the supreme male deity of the                 suburbs, which were contributed by
Canaanites. The gravity of the                the other tribes. These cities and
situation was that idolatry remained          suburbs were evenly spread
rooted in the land. It would become a         throughout the land; and the Levites,
problem that would eventually                 being the guardians of the Law, which
undermine the religious commitment            God gave through Moses, were to
of the children of Israel to love the         teach and instruct the children of
LORD their God and serve Him only.            Israel. One more tribe is left, and that
The very foundation of the nation             tribe is Issachar. They would be
would be gradually shattered and this         mentioned later in chapters 4, 5 and 10
would destroy them.                           – Deborah and Barak, and Tola, who
       It was even worse with the             were representatives of Issachar.
children of Dan. They were allotted                   PRACTICAL VALUE
the coastal territory west of the land                It is every clear that the
settled by the children of Benjamin.          children of Israel, after the death of
The valleys in this part of the land          Joshua, did not uphold the
were fertile. But they could not settle       commitment they had made with God
there because they failed to drive out        to serve and obey Him. When the
the Amorites and also failed to               tribes obeyed God, they prevailed
establish themselves in the land as           against the enemy just as God
God promised. Instead the Amorites            promised them. But almost all the
held firmly to their settlement in            tribes chose a more comfortable co-
Mount Heres in Aijalon, where Joshua          existence by compromising with the
previously had experienced a most             enemy. They could have enjoyed the
spectacular victory (Joshua 10:12).           initial peaceful and trouble-free land
Subsequently the Amorites drove the           by compromising. But this was in
children of Dan to the hill country.          direct violation of the commandment
What a turn around! However, the              of God.       They “edited” God by
Ephraimites prevailed over the                thinking that they knew better. Joshua
Amorites, and spared them, but put            was dead and gone, times had changed
them under tribute.                           and they must adjust to the new
                                             6                       DHW LESSON 1 JOSHUA 1

condition and situation.           Many          not been patient with them even
Christians today are displaying the              before He chose the nation Israel.
same kind of thinking as those                   What God did was postponing His
Israelites. Today, man boasts that his           righteous judgment on them. These
modern society is more enlightened               Canaanites knew who God was. They
and he knows what is best for him.               knew who the God of Israel was.
Christians have to beware of such                They knew about the mighty works of
sentiments and attitude. God’s truth is          God in Egypt and how the nations on
unchangeable in every age. The                   the eastern side of Jordan were
moment Christians start to                       conquered. They could and should
compromise God’s truth and God’s                 have responded like Rahab, who
instructions for godly living, there is          acknowledged “the LORD your God,
no stopping of him sliding down the              He is God in heaven above, and in
spiritual spiral stairway. Asking                earth beneath” (Joshua 2:11). All the
ourselves some pertinent questions               Canaanites could have done the same
might be helpful: How different are              for the LORD God is merciful and
you from your unbelieving friends in             gracious, if they had repented, He
the jokes they tell? What kind of                would spare them. Another reason
pastime and entertainment do you                 why they had to be driven out or put
choose? What do you do with your                 to death was because of their idolatry
spare time? Is there any difference in           and wickedness, and they rejected and
the way you talk about other people?             rebelled against God. That is sin, and
Is there anything in your character and          the penalty of sin is death. G.
conduct that others could observe that           Campbell Morgan remarked: “God is
you are a believer and follower of               perpetually at war with sin. That is
Jesus Christ? Thank God for His                  the whole explanation for the
infallible, inerrant, and authoritative          extermination of the Canaanites.”
Word, which has been providentially                     Christians must take their
copied and preserved through the                 knowledge of God seriously, and the
ages. The answers and guidelines to              confession they have made when they
the above-mentioned questions can be             first accepted Jesus Christ as their
found in the Bible, if only we                   Saviour and Lord. They must also
diligently and sincerely search for the          feed on the Word of God which is
truth and then apply it to our daily life.       their only spiritual sustenance, and to
Just as God has promised, obedience              miss their spiritual meals for days,
to Him brings much blessings;                    weeks and months, is going to cripple
rejection of His Word leads to misery            and         destroy            them.
and much loss.                                   AMEN
       A perennial question which has
been frequently asked is: Wasn’t God
cruel and unjust in commanding Israel
to exterminate the inhabitants of
Canaan? God actually could have
wiped out all the Canaanites had He

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