Judges 1

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1 And it cometh to pass, after the death of Joshua, that the sons of Israel ask at Jehovah, saying, `Who doth go up for us unto the Canaanite, at the commencement, to fight against it?'

2 And Jehovah saith, `Judah doth go up; lo, I have given the land into his hand.'

3 And Judah saith to Simeon his brother, `Go up with me into my lot, and we fight against the Canaanite -- and I have gone, even I, with thee into thy lot;' and Simeon goeth with him.

4 And Judah goeth up, and Jehovah giveth the Canaanite and the Perizzite into their hand, and they smite them in Bezek -- ten thousand men;

5 and they find Adoni-Bezek in Bezek, and fight against him, and smite the Canaanite and the Perizzite.

6 And Adoni-Bezek fleeth, and they pursue after him, and seize him, and cut off his thumbs and his great toes,

7 and Adoni-Bezek saith, `Seventy kings -- their thumbs and their great toes cut off -- have been gathering under my table; as I have done so hath God repaid to me;' and they bring him in to Jerusalem, and he dieth there.

8 And the sons of Judah fight against Jerusalem, and capture it, and smite it by the mouth of the sword, and the city they have sent into fire;

9 and afterwards have the sons of Judah gone down to fight against the Canaanite, inhabiting the hill-country, and the south, and the low country;

10 and Judah goeth unto the Canaanite who is dwelling in Hebron (and the name of Hebron formerly [is] Kirjath-Arba), and they smite Sheshai, and Ahiman, and Talmai.

11 And he goeth thence unto the inhabitants of Debir (and the name of Debir formerly [is] Kirjath-Sepher),

12 and Caleb saith, `He who smiteth Kirjath-Sepher -- and hath captured it -- then I have given to him Achsah my daughter for a wife.'

13 And Othniel son of Kenaz, younger brother of Caleb, doth capture it, and he giveth to him Achsah his daughter for a wife.

14 And it cometh to pass in her coming in, that she persuadeth him to ask from her father the field, and she lighteth from off the ass, and Caleb saith to her, `What -- to thee?'

15 And she saith to him, `Give to me a blessing; when the south land thou hast given me -- then thou hast given to me springs of water; and Caleb giveth to her the upper springs and the lower springs.

16 And the sons of the Kenite, father-in-law of Moses, have gone up out of the city of palms with the sons of Judah [to] the wilderness of Judah, which [is] in the south of Arad, and they go and dwell with the people.

17 And Judah goeth with Simeon his brother, and they smite the Canaanite inhabiting Zephath, and devote it; and [one] calleth the name of the city Hormah.

18 And Judah captureth Gaza and its border, and Askelon and its border, and Ekron and its border;

19 and Jehovah is with Judah, and he occupieth the hill-country, but not to dispossess the inhabitants of the valley, for they have chariots of iron.

20 And they give to Caleb Hebron, as Moses hath spoken, and he dispossesseth thence the three sons of Anak.

21 And the Jebusite, inhabiting Jerusalem, the sons of Benjamin have not dispossessed; and the Jebusite dwelleth with the sons of Benjamin, in Jerusalem, till this day.

22 And the house of Joseph go up -- even they -- to Beth-El, and Jehovah [is] with them;

23 and the house of Joseph cause [men] to spy about Beth-El (and the name of the city formerly is Luz),

24 and the watchers see a man coming out from the city, and say to him, `Shew us, we pray thee, the entrance of the city, and we have done with thee kindness.'

25 And he sheweth them the entrance of the city, and they smite the city by the mouth of the sword, and the man and all his family they have sent away;

26 and the man goeth to the land of the Hittites, and buildeth a city, and calleth its name Luz -- it [is] its name unto this day.

27 And Manasseh hath not occupied Beth-Shean and its towns, and Taanach and its towns, and the inhabitants of Dor and its towns, and the inhabitants of Iblaim and its towns, and the inhabitants of Megiddo and its towns, and the Canaanite is desirous to dwell in that land;

28 and it cometh to pass, when Israel hath been strong, that he setteth the Canaanite to tribute, and hath not utterly dispossessed it.

29 And Ephraim hath not dispossessed the Canaanite who is dwelling in Gezer, and the Canaanite dwelleth in its midst, in Gezer.

30 Zebulun hath not dispossessed the inhabitants of Kitron, and the inhabitants of Nahalol, and the Canaanite dwelleth in its midst, and they become tributary.

31 Asher hath not dispossessed the inhabitants of Accho, and the inhabitants of Zidon, and Ahlab, and Achzib, and Helbah, and Aphik, and Rehob;

32 and the Asherite dwelleth in the midst of the Canaanite, the inhabitants of the land, for it hath not dispossessed them.

33 Naphtali hath not dispossessed the inhabitants of Beth-Shemesh, and the inhabitants of Beth-Anath, and he dwelleth in the midst of the Canaanite, the inhabitants of the land; and the inhabitants of Beth-Shemesh and of Beth-Anath have become tributary to them.

34 And the Amorites press the sons of Dan to the mountain, for they have not suffered them to go down to the valley;

35 and the Amorite is desirous to dwell in mount Heres, in Aijalon, and in Shaalbim, and the hand of the house of Joseph is heavy, and they become tributary;

36 and the border of the Amorite [is] from the ascent of Akrabbim, from the rock and upward.

  

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.

*****

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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