Judah Fights the Canaanites

After Joshua died, the Israelites prayed to the Lord, “Which of our tribes should be the first to go and fight for us against the Canaanites?”

The Lord said to the Israelites, “The tribe of Judah will go. I will let them take this land.”

The men of Judah went to their relatives from the tribe of Simeon and asked for help. They said, “Brothers, if you will come and help us fight for the land God gave us, we will go and help you fight for your land.” The men of Simeon agreed and went with them.

The Lord helped the men of Judah defeat the Canaanites and the Perizzites. They killed 10,000 men at the city of Bezek. In the city of Bezek, they found the ruler of Bezek[a] and fought him, and they defeated the Canaanites and the Perizzites.

The ruler of Bezek tried to escape, but the men of Judah chased him and caught him. When they caught him, they cut off his thumbs and big toes. Then the ruler of Bezek said, “I cut off the thumbs and big toes of 70 kings. And they had to eat pieces of food that fell from my table. Now God has paid me back for what I did to them.” The men of Judah took the ruler of Bezek to Jerusalem, and he died there.

The men of Judah fought against Jerusalem and captured it. They used their swords to kill the people of Jerusalem. Then they burned the city. Later, they went down to fight against some more Canaanites who lived in the hill country, in the Negev, and in the western foothills.

10 Then the men of Judah went to fight against the Canaanites who lived in the city of Hebron. (Hebron used to be called Kiriath Arba.) They defeated the men named Sheshai, Ahiman, and Talmai.[b]

Caleb and His Daughter

11 The men of Judah left that place. They went to the city of Debir to fight against the people there. (In the past, Debir was called Kiriath Sepher.) 12 Before they started to fight, Caleb made a promise to the men. He said, “I will give my daughter Acsah in marriage to whoever attacks and conquers Kiriath Sepher.”

13 Caleb had a younger brother named Kenaz. Kenaz had a son named Othniel. Othniel captured the city of Kiriath Sepher. So Caleb gave his daughter Acsah to Othniel to be his wife.

14 Acsah went to live with Othniel. Othniel told Acsah[c] to ask her father for some land. She went to her father. When she got off her donkey, Caleb asked her, “What is wrong?”

15 Acsah answered him, “Give me a blessing.[d] You gave me dry desert land in the Negev. Please give me some land with water on it.” So Caleb gave her what she wanted. He gave her the upper and lower pools of water in that land.

16 The Kenites left the City of Palm Trees[e] and went with the men of Judah. They went to the desert of Judah to live with the people there. This was in the Negev near the city Arad. (The Kenites were from the family of Moses’ father-in-law.)

17 Some Canaanites lived in the city of Zephath. The men of Judah and men from the tribe of Simeon attacked them and completely destroyed the city. So they named the city Hormah.[f]

18 The men of Judah also captured the cities of Gaza, Ashkelon, and Ekron and all the small towns around them.

19 The Lord was on the side of the men of Judah when they fought. They took the land in the hill country, but they failed to take the land in the valleys, because the people living there had iron chariots.

20 Moses had promised to give the land near Hebron to Caleb, so that land was given to Caleb’s family. The men of Caleb forced the three sons of Anak[g] to leave that place.

21 The tribe of Benjamin could not force the Jebusites to leave Jerusalem. So even today,[h] the Jebusites live with the people of Benjamin in Jerusalem.

Joseph’s Descendants Capture Bethel

22 The descendants of Joseph went to fight against the city of Bethel, and the Lord was with them. 23 They sent some spies to the city of Bethel (which was then called Luz). 24 While the spies were watching, they saw a man come out of the city. They said to the man, “Show us a secret way into the city. If you help us, we will not hurt you.”

25 The man showed the spies the secret way into the city. The men of Joseph used their swords to kill the people of Bethel. But they did not hurt the man who helped them or anyone in his family. The man and his family were allowed to go free. 26 He went to the land where the Hittites lived and built a city. He named it Luz, and that city is still called Luz today.

Other Tribes Fight the Canaanites

27 There were Canaanites living in the cities of Beth Shean, Taanach, Dor, Ibleam, Megiddo, and the small towns around the cities. The people from the tribe of Manasseh could not force those people to leave their towns. So the Canaanites stayed. They refused to leave their homes. 28 Later, the Israelites grew stronger and forced the Canaanites to work as slaves for them. But the Israelites could not force all the Canaanites to leave their land.

29 There were Canaanites living in Gezer. And the Ephraimites did not make all the Canaanites leave their land. So they continued to live in Gezer with the Ephraimites.

30 Some Canaanites lived in the cities of Kitron and Nahalol. The people of Zebulun did not force those people to leave their land. They stayed and lived with the people of Zebulun. But the people of Zebulun made them work as slaves.

31 The people of Asher did not force the other people to leave the cities of Acco, Sidon, Ahlab, Aczib, Helbah, Aphek, and Rehob. 32 The people of Asher did not force those Canaanites to leave their land, so the Canaanites continued to live with them.

33 The people of Naphtali did not force the people to leave the cities of Beth Shemesh and Beth Anath, so the people of Naphtali continued to live with the people in those cities. Those Canaanites worked as slaves for the people of Naphtali.

34 The Amorites forced the tribe of Dan to live in the hill country. They had to stay in the hills because the Amorites would not let them come down to live in the valleys. 35 The Amorites decided to stay in Mount Heres, Aijalon, and Shaalbim. Later, when the descendants of Joseph grew stronger, they made the Amorites work as slaves for them. 36 The land of the Amorites was from Scorpion Pass to Sela and up into the hill country past Sela.


  1. Judges 1:5 ruler of Bezek Or “Adoni Bezek.”
  2. Judges 1:10 Sheshai, Ahiman, Talmai Three sons of a man named Anak. They were giants. See Num. 13:22.
  3. Judges 1:14 Othniel told Acsah Or “Acsah told Othniel.”
  4. Judges 1:15 Give me a blessing Or “Please welcome me” or “Give me a stream of water.”
  5. Judges 1:16 City of Palm Trees Another name for Jericho.
  6. Judges 1:17 Hormah This name means “completely destroyed” or “a gift given totally to God.” See Lev. 27:28-29.
  7. Judges 1:20 three sons of Anak Sheshai, Ahiman, and Talmai, mentioned above in verse 10.
  8. Judges 1:21 even today That is, at the time the book was written.