Judges 1

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1 After the death of Josue the children of Israel consulted the Lord, saying: Who shall go up before us against the Chanaanite, and shall be the leader of the war?

2 And the Lord said: Juda shall go up: behold I have delivered the land into his hands.

3 And Juda said to Simeon his brother: Come up with me into my lot, and fight against the Chanaanite, that I also may go along with thee into thy lot. And Simeon went with him.

4 And Juda went up, and the Lord delivered the Chanaanite, and the Pherezite into their hands: and they slew of them in Bezec ten thousand men.

5 And they found Adonibezec in Bezec, and fought against him, and they defeated the Chanaanite, and the Pherezite.

6 And Adonibezec fled: and they pursued after him and took him, and cut off his fingers and toes.

7 And Adonibezec said: Seventy kings having their fingers and toes cut off, gathered up the leavings of the meat under my table: as I have done, so hath God requited me. And they brought him to Jerusalem, and he died there.

8 And the children of Juda besieging Jerusalem, took it, and put it to the sword, and set the whole city on fire.

9 And afterwards they went down and fought against the Chanaanite, who dwelt in the mountains, and in the south, and in the plains.

10 And Juda going forward against the Chanaanite, that dwelt in Hebron (the name whereof was in former times Cariath-Arbe) slew Sesai, and Ahiman, and Tholmai:

11 And departing from thence he went to the inhabitants of Dabir, the ancient name of which was Cariath-Sepher, that is, the city of letters.

12 And Caleb said: He that shall take Cariath-Sepher, and lay it waste, to him will I give my daughter Axa to wife.

13 And Othoniel the son of Cenez, the younger brother of Caleb, having taken it, he gave him Axa his daughter to wife.

14 And as she was going on her way her husband admonished her to ask a field of her father. And as she sighed sitting on her ass, Caleb said to her: What aileth thee?

15 But she answered: Give me a blessing, for thou hast given me a dry land: Give me also a watery land. So Caleb gave her the upper and the nether watery ground.

16 And the children of the Cinite, the kinsman of Moses, went up from the city of palms, with the children of Juda into the wilderness of his lot, which is at the south side of Arad, and they dwelt with him.

17 And Juda went with Simeon his brother, and they together defeated the Chanaanites that dwelt in Sephaath, and slew them. And the name of the city was called Horma, that is, Anathema.

18 And Juda took Gaza with its confines, and Ascalon and Accaron with their confines.

19 And the Lord was with Juda, and he possessed the hill country: but was not able to destroy the inhabitants of the valley, because they had many chariots armed with scythes.

20 And they gave Hebron to Caleb, as Moses had said, who destroyed out of it the three sons of Enac.

21 But the sons of Benjamin did not destroy the Jebusites that inhabited Jerusalem: and the Jebusite hath dwelt with the sons of Benjamin in Jerusalem until this present day.

22 The house of Joseph also went up against Bethel, and the Lord was with them.

23 For when they were besieging the city, which before was called Luza,

24 They saw a man coming out of the city, and they said to him: Shew us the entrance into the city, and we will Shew thee mercy.

25 And when he had shewn them, they smote the city with the edge of the sword: but that man and all his kindred they let go:

26 Who being sent away, went into the land of Hethim, and built there a city, and called it Luza: which is so called until this day.

27 Manasses also did not destroy Bethsan, and Thanac with their villages, nor the inhabitants of Dor, and Jeblaam, and Mageddo with their villages. And the Chanaanite began to dwell with them.

28 But after Israel was grown strong he made them tributaries, and would not destroy them.

29 Ephraim also did not slay the Chanaanite that dwelt in Gazer, but dwelt with him.

30 Zabulon destroyed not the inhabitants of Cetron, and Naalol: but the Chanaanite dwelt among them, and became their tributaries.

31 Aser also destroyed not the inhabitants of Accho, and of Sidon, of Ahalab, and of Achazib, and of Helba, and of Aphec, and of Rohob:

32 And he dwelt in the midst of the Chanaanites the inhabitants of that land, and did not slay them.

33 Nephtali also destroyed not the inhabitants of Bethsames, and of Bethanath: and he dwelt in the midst of the Chanaanites the inhabitants of the land, and the Bethsamites and Bethanites were tributaries to him.

34 And the Amorrhite straitened the children of Dan in the mountain, and gave them not place to go down to the plain:

35 And he dwelt in the mountain Hares, that is, of potsherds, in Aialon and Salebim. And the hand of the house of Joseph was heavy upon him, and he became tributary to him.

36 And the border of the Amorrhite was from the ascent of the scorpion, the rock, and the higher places.

  

Exploring the Meaning of Judges 1      

Napsal(a) Rev. Julian Duckworth

Judges 1: The continuing conquest of Canaan.

The book of Judges follows on almost seamlessly from Joshua. It is called ‘Judges’ because a number of regional leaders arose and made judgments for the people, often actively defending Israel from outside oppression. A pattern emerges in Judges: Israel disobeys the Lord – an enemy oppresses Israel – the Lord raises a leader – the leader is victorious against the enemy – there is peace for a time – Israel disobeys the Lord again.

There were twelve judges in all, about whom we either hear very much or next to nothing. The number twelve (as with the twelve tribes of Israel, the twelve disciples, and other examples in the Word), stands for all the various aspects of spirituality that we need to understand, develop, and put to use. A clue is often found in the meaning of their names, because biblical names are nearly always linked to spiritual qualities, such as ‘courage’, or ‘one who walks with God’ (see Swedenborg’s work, Arcana Caelestia 10216).

The theme of this first chapter is the further conquest of the land. The Israelites asked the Lord, “Who shall go up and fight for us?” And the Lord said that the tribe of Judah would go, because the Lord had delivered the land into their hand. Judah then called on the tribe of Simeon to join them, and they won many battles against the Canaanites still in the land.

One Canaanite king, Adoni-bezek, fled and was captured by the Israelites, who then cut off his thumbs and big toes. Adoni-bezek said that God had dealt justice by punishing him, as he had previously cut off seventy kings’ thumbs and big toes, and they had to gather scraps of food under his table.

Then Caleb, a leader of Israel during the journey through the wilderness, said that the man who took Kirjath-sepher (Caleb’s inheritance city) from the Canaanites would marry his daughter, Achsah. Caleb’s nephew, Othniel, took the city and Achsah was given to him. Achsah asked her father for the blessing of springs of water, and Caleb gave her the upper and lower springs.

Next, spies were sent to Bethel. They met a man there, and said that if he directed them the entrance to the city, they would show him mercy. He helped them, and they took the city but showed mercy on the man and all his family. After all of this, the man built a new city called Luz in the land of the Hittites.

The chapter ends by listing the twelve tribes, as well as the Canaanite peoples who remained unsubdued in each of their territories.

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The overarching spiritual theme of Judges is the process of our regeneration. As the opening of Judges reminds us, there were still parts of the land and various tribes that Israel needed to conquer. In fact, the Israelites never finished driving enemies out of their land. In the same way, we need to control our inherited human nature, but it is never completely wiped out (see Swedenborg’s work, Divine Love and Wisdom 238).

During regeneration, we will discover deeper and subtler self-centered states in ourselves, which need to be mitigated. Each judge raised by the Lord stands for our determination to deal with these states, using the Word as a guide. This brings us a period of peace, followed by the start of another personal discovery.

When the Israelites chose which tribes would fight for them, it was no coincidence that they selected Judah and Simeon. Judah (who was a prominent tribe of Israel) and Simeon (who usually acts with another tribe) stand for the highest things in our spiritual life: our love for the Lord, and our obedience to the Lord’s Word. Choosing Judah and Simeon as our strength will always bring victory in our regeneration (see Arcana Caelestia 3654 and Apocalypse Explained 443).

The spiritual meaning in the story of Adoni-bezek is about taking away the power of our self-love, as cutting off thumbs and big toes makes hands and feet virtually useless. When we work on our lower nature, we are to minimize its control over us. It is the same with any influences from hell; their power must end. Adoni-bezek’s comment about doing the same to seventy kings vividly describes how self-love can only lead to our downfall (Arcana Caelestia 10062[4]).

The delightful story of Caleb, Achsah and Othniel illustrates that after battle, there is rest and reward. In the same way, we strengthen the ‘marriage’ of good and truth in us after overcoming spiritual struggles (see Swedenborg’s work, Divine Love and Wisdom 409). The springs of water given to Achsah stand for the truths which flow into our mind, both about the ‘upper’ things of the Lord and heaven, and those ‘lower’ ones about spiritual life and responsibility.

The episode about the man from Bethel means that when we open up our life to the Lord to allow Him to guide us, we become blessed (Arcana Caelestia 3928). Then our life can be re-built in very practical and good ways, represented by the Hittites.

The final mention of the Canaanites still in the land points to the continuing presence of our unregenerate qualities. Although we may progress through the work of regeneration, we are still human, and we will always have flaws left to improve on.

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