Judah Takes the Lead
1:1 After Joshua died, the Israelites asked 1 the Lord, “Who should lead the invasion against the Canaanites and launch the attack?” 2 1:2 The Lord said, “The men of Judah should take the lead. 3 Be sure of this! I am handing the land over to them.” 4 1:3 The men of Judah said to their relatives, the men of Simeon, 5 “Invade our allotted land with us and help us attack the Canaanites. 6 Then we 7 will go with you into your allotted land.” So the men of Simeon went with them.
1:4 The men of Judah attacked, 8 and the Lord handed the Canaanites and Perizzites over to them. They killed ten thousand men at Bezek. 1:5 They met 9 Adoni-Bezek at Bezek and fought him. They defeated the Canaanites and Perizzites. 1:6 When Adoni-Bezek ran away, they chased him and captured him. Then they cut off his thumbs and big toes. 1:7 Adoni-Bezek said, “Seventy kings, with thumbs and big toes cut off, used to lick up 10 food scraps 11 under my table. God has repaid me for what I did to them.” 12 They brought him to Jerusalem, 13 where he died. 1:8 The men of Judah attacked Jerusalem and captured it. They put the sword to it and set the city on fire.
1:9 Later the men of Judah went down to attack the Canaanites living in the hill country, the Negev, and the lowlands. 14 1:10 The men of Judah attacked the Canaanites living in Hebron. (Hebron used to be called Kiriath Arba.) They killed Sheshai, Ahiman, and Talmai. 1:11 From there they attacked the people of Debir. 15 (Debir used to be called Kiriath Sepher.) 1:12 Caleb said, “To the man who attacks and captures Kiriath Sepher I will give my daughter Acsah as a wife.” 1:13 When Othniel son of Kenaz, Caleb’s younger brother, 16 captured it, Caleb 17 gave him his daughter Acsah as a wife.
1:14 One time Acsah 18 came and charmed her father 19 so she could ask him for some land. When she got down from her donkey, Caleb said to her, “What would you like?” 1:15 She answered, “Please give me a special present. 20 Since you have given me land in the Negev, now give me springs of water.” So Caleb gave her both the upper and lower springs. 21
1:16 Now the descendants of the Kenite, Moses’ father-in-law, went up with the people of Judah from the City of Date Palm Trees to Arad in the desert of Judah, 22 located in the Negev. 23 They went and lived with the people of Judah. 24
1:17 The men of Judah went with their brothers the men of Simeon 25 and defeated the Canaanites living in Zephath. They wiped out Zephath. 26 So people now call the city Hormah. 27 1:18 The men of Judah captured Gaza, Ashkelon, Ekron, and the territory surrounding each of these cities. 28
1:19 The Lord was with the men of Judah. They conquered 29 the hill country, but they could not 30 conquer the people living in the coastal plain, because they had chariots with iron-rimmed wheels. 31 1:20 Caleb received 32 Hebron, just as Moses had promised. He drove out the three Anakites. 1:21 The men of Benjamin, however, did not conquer the Jebusites living in Jerusalem. 33 The Jebusites live with the people of Benjamin in Jerusalem to this very day. 34
1:22 When the men 35 of Joseph attacked 36 Bethel, 37 the Lord was with them. 1:23 When the men of Joseph spied out Bethel (it used to be called Luz), 1:24 the spies spotted 38 a man leaving the city. They said to him, “If you show us a secret entrance into the city, we will reward you.” 1:25 He showed them a secret entrance into the city, and they put the city to the sword. But they let the man and his extended family leave safely. 1:26 He 39 moved to Hittite country and built a city. He named it Luz, and it has kept that name to this very day.
1:27 The men of Manasseh did not conquer Beth Shan, Taanach, or their surrounding towns. Nor did they conquer the people living in Dor, Ibleam, Megiddo 40 or their surrounding towns. 41 The Canaanites managed 42 to remain in those areas. 43 1:28 Whenever Israel was strong militarily, they forced the Canaanites to do hard labor, but they never totally conquered them.
1:29 The men of Ephraim did not conquer the Canaanites living in Gezer. The Canaanites lived among them in Gezer.
1:30 The men of Zebulun did not conquer the people living in Kitron and Nahalol. 44 The Canaanites lived among them and were forced to do hard labor.
1:31 The men of Asher did not conquer the people living in Acco or Sidon, 45 nor did they conquer Ahlab, Aczib, Helbah, Aphek, or Rehob. 46 1:32 The people of Asher live among the Canaanites residing in the land because they did not conquer them.
1:33 The men of Naphtali did not conquer the people living in Beth Shemesh or Beth Anath. 47 They live among the Canaanites residing in the land. The Canaanites 48 living in Beth Shemesh and Beth Anath were forced to do hard labor for them.
1:34 The Amorites forced the people of Dan to live in the hill country. They did not allow them to live in 49 the coastal plain. 1:35 The Amorites managed 50 to remain in Har Heres, 51 Aijalon, and Shaalbim. Whenever the tribe of Joseph was strong militarily, 52 the Amorites were forced to do hard labor. 1:36 The border of Amorite territory ran from the Scorpion Ascent 53 to Sela and on up. 54
Confrontation and Repentance at Bokim
2:1 The Lord’s angelic messenger 55 went up from Gilgal to Bokim. He said, “I brought you up from Egypt and led you into the land I had solemnly promised to give to your ancestors. 56 I said, ‘I will never break my agreement 57 with you, 2:2 but you must not make an agreement with the people who live in this land. You should tear down the altars where they worship.’ 58 But you have disobeyed me. 59 Why would you do such a thing? 60 2:3 At that time I also warned you, 61 ‘If you disobey, 62 I will not drive out the Canaanites 63 before you. They will ensnare you 64 and their gods will lure you away.’” 65
2:4 When the Lord’s messenger finished speaking these words to all the Israelites, the people wept loudly. 66 2:5 They named that place Bokim 67 and offered sacrifices to the Lord there.
The End of an Era
2:6 When Joshua dismissed 68 the people, the Israelites went to their allotted portions of territory, 69 intending to take possession of the land. 2:7 The people worshiped 70 the Lord throughout Joshua’s lifetime and as long as the elderly men 71 who outlived him remained alive. These men had witnessed 72 all the great things the Lord had done for Israel. 73 2:8 Joshua son of Nun, the Lord’s servant, died at the age of one hundred ten. 2:9 The people 74 buried him in his allotted land 75 in Timnath Heres in the hill country of Ephraim, north of Mount Gaash. 2:10 That entire generation passed away; 76 a new generation grew up 77 that had not personally experienced the Lord’s presence or seen what he had done for Israel. 78
A Monotonous Cycle
2:11 The Israelites did evil before 79 the Lord by worshiping 80 the Baals. 2:12 They abandoned the Lord God of their ancestors 81 who brought them out of the land of Egypt. They followed other gods – the gods of the nations who lived around them. They worshiped 82 them and made the Lord angry. 2:13 They abandoned the Lord and worshiped Baal and the Ashtars. 83
2:14 The Lord was furious with Israel 84 and handed them over to robbers who plundered them. 85 He turned them over to 86 their enemies who lived around them. They could not withstand their enemies’ attacks. 87 2:15 Whenever they went out to fight, 88 the Lord did them harm, 89 just as he had warned and solemnly vowed he would do. 90 They suffered greatly. 91
2:16 The Lord raised up leaders 92 who delivered them from these robbers. 93 2:17 But they did not obey 94 their leaders. Instead they prostituted themselves to other gods and worshiped 95 them. They quickly turned aside from the path 96 their ancestors 97 had walked. Their ancestors had obeyed the Lord’s commands, but they did not. 98 2:18 When the Lord raised up leaders for them, the Lord was with each leader and delivered the people 99 from their enemies while the leader remained alive. The Lord felt sorry for them 100 when they cried out in agony because of what their harsh oppressors did to them. 101 2:19 When a leader died, the next generation 102 would again 103 act more wickedly than the previous one. 104 They would follow after other gods, worshiping them 105 and bowing down to them. They did not give up 106 their practices or their stubborn ways.
A Divine Decision
2:20 The Lord was furious with Israel. 107 He said, “This nation 108 has violated the terms of the agreement I made with their ancestors 109 by disobeying me. 110 2:21 So I will no longer remove before them any of the nations that Joshua left unconquered when he died. 2:22 Joshua left those nations 111 to test 112 Israel. I wanted to see 113 whether or not the people 114 would carefully walk in the path 115 marked out by 116 the Lord, as their ancestors 117 were careful to do.” 2:23 This is why 118 the Lord permitted these nations to remain and did not conquer them immediately; 119 he did not hand them over to Joshua.
3:1 These were the nations the Lord permitted to remain so he could use them to test Israel – he wanted to test all those who had not experienced battle against the Canaanites. 120 3:2 He left those nations simply because he wanted to teach the subsequent generations of Israelites, who had not experienced the earlier battles, how to conduct holy war. 121 3:3 These were the nations: 122 the five lords of the Philistines, all the Canaanites, the Sidonians, and the Hivites living in Mount Lebanon, from Mount Baal Hermon to Lebo-Hamath. 123 3:4 They were left to test Israel, so the Lord would know if his people would obey the commands he gave their ancestors through Moses. 124
3:5 The Israelites lived among the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites. 3:6 They took the Canaanites’ daughters as wives and gave their daughters to the Canaanites; 125 they worshiped 126 their gods as well.
Othniel: A Model Leader
3:7 The Israelites did evil in the Lord’s sight. 127 They forgot the Lord their God and worshiped the Baals and the Asherahs. 128 3:8 The Lord was furious with Israel 129 and turned them over to 130 King Cushan-Rishathaim 131 of Aram-Naharaim. They were Cushan-Rishathaim’s subjects 132 for eight years. 3:9 When the Israelites cried out for help to the Lord, he 133 raised up a deliverer for the Israelites who rescued 134 them. His name was Othniel son of Kenaz, Caleb’s younger brother. 135 3:10 The Lord’s spirit empowered him 136 and he led Israel. When he went to do battle, the Lord handed over to him King Cushan-Rishathaim of Aram and he overpowered him. 137 3:11 The land had rest for forty years; then Othniel son of Kenaz died.
Deceit, Assassination, and Deliverance
3:12 The Israelites again did evil in the Lord’s sight. 138 The Lord gave King Eglon of Moab control over Israel 139 because they had done evil in the Lord’s sight. 3:13 Eglon formed alliances with 140 the Ammonites and Amalekites. He came and defeated Israel, and they seized the City of Date Palm Trees. 3:14 The Israelites were subject to 141 King Eglon of Moab for eighteen years.
3:15 When the Israelites cried out for help to the Lord, he 142 raised up a deliverer for them. His name was Ehud son of Gera the Benjaminite, a left-handed man. 143 The Israelites sent him to King Eglon of Moab with their tribute payment. 144 3:16 Ehud made himself a sword – it had two edges and was eighteen inches long. 145 He strapped it under his coat on his right thigh. 3:17 He brought the tribute payment to King Eglon of Moab. (Now Eglon was a very fat man.)
3:18 After Ehud brought the tribute payment, he dismissed the people who had carried it. 146 3:19 But he went back 147 once he reached 148 the carved images 149 at Gilgal. He said to Eglon, 150 “I have a secret message for you, O king.” Eglon 151 said, “Be quiet!” 152 All his attendants left. 3:20 When Ehud approached him, he was sitting in his well-ventilated 153 upper room all by himself. Ehud said, “I have a message from God 154 for you.” When Eglon rose up from his seat, 155 3:21 Ehud reached with his left hand, pulled the sword from his right thigh, and drove it into Eglon’s 156 belly. 3:22 The handle went in after the blade, and the fat closed around the blade, for Ehud 157 did not pull the sword out of his belly. 158 3:23 As Ehud went out into the vestibule, 159 he closed the doors of the upper room behind him and locked them.
3:24 When Ehud had left, Eglon’s 160 servants came and saw the locked doors of the upper room. They said, “He must be relieving himself 161 in the well-ventilated inner room.” 162 3:25 They waited so long they were embarrassed, but he still did not open the doors of the upper room. Finally they took the key and opened the doors. 163 Right before their eyes was their master, sprawled out dead on the floor! 164 3:26 Now Ehud had escaped while they were delaying. When he passed the carved images, he escaped to Seirah.
3:27 When he reached Seirah, 165 he blew a trumpet 166 in the Ephraimite hill country. The Israelites went down with him from the hill country, with Ehud in the lead. 167 3:28 He said to them, “Follow me, for the Lord is about to defeat your enemies, the Moabites!” 168 They followed him, captured the fords of the Jordan River 169 opposite Moab, 170 and did not let anyone cross. 3:29 That day they killed about ten thousand Moabites 171 – all strong, capable warriors; not one escaped. 3:30 Israel humiliated Moab that day, and the land had rest for eighty years.
3:31 After Ehud 172 came 173 Shamgar son of Anath; he killed six hundred Philistines with an oxgoad and, like Ehud, 174 delivered Israel.