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BY HENRY SINGLETON, AN ENGLISH ARTIST, DIED 1839
“And she lighted off her ass; and Caleb said unto her, What wouldest thou?”—Jos., 15, 18. N THE distribution of the Promised Land only two
men were assigned special sections not dictated by
lot. These were the two marked men who alone had survived the forty years of the desert, Joshua and Caleb. Joshua chose as his own dwelling place the city of Timnath-serah within the domains of his own tribe of Ephraiin; and the entire city was given to him and his household.
Caleb reminded Joshua of the ancient promise of the Lord, that Caleb should some day possess the very land which he had spied out when, in the old days, he and Joshua had explored the land. This was the southern city of Hebron, the ancient home and burial place of Abraham. So Caleb was given Hebron with its surrounding cities and vineyards; and, lion-hearted as ever, though he was now over eighty years of age, he marched up with his household to conquer Hebron. His chief aid was his nephew Othniel, who wedded his daughter. Of her we are told that coming to her father suddenly from a journey she entreated him to give more land to her and Othniel. So he gave her the region southward, where she and her husband established themselves with their household. Theirs was apparently the southern outpost of the Hebrews toward Egypt and the desert.
Introduction to the Book of Judges The book of Judges is so called because it deals with the times when Israel was ruled by judges, at least in so far as the people had any rulers at all. Its authorship has been attributed by tradition to the prophet Samuel and also to King Solomon, and it certainly contains some ancient fragments, notably the song of Deborah, almost if not wholly contemporary with the events described. But the book as a whole was composed later, and its final revision into its present shape can scarcely be older than the sixth century B. C., the period of the Babylonish captivity.
Chronologically the book covers a period of uncertain length following the death of Joshua. The story is by no means chronologically arranged, nor can dates be applied to it with any accuracy. The book is in two sections. The first extends through chapter sixteen. It begins at the death of Joshua and gives successively an account of the days and deeds of six notable judges, Othniel, Ehud, Deborah with Barak, Gideon, Jephthah and Samson, making side reference to six other judges who may have been either conteniporary or intermediate leaders of lesser importance. The closing chapters of the book then narrate two separate events. They are an appendix, and their position at the end of the book must not be taken to imply that the events described happened later than the time of Samson. The one is the story of the migration of a portion of the tribe of Dan to its northern home, and the establishment of the sanctuary at Dan. The other is the tale of the civil war against the tribe of Benjamin, undertaken by the other eleven tribes. Both these events appear to belong to the earlier part of the period of the judges.
A general unity pervades the entire book. It is written with the clear purpose of showing the punishment of sin. It seeks to explain why the Israelites were for so many generations denied that complete possession of the Promised Land which had been assured to them. They disobeyed God. They made friends with the idolatrous Canaanites, forgot their Creator, and lapsed into the evil and debased religion of their neighbors. Hence they were punished by foreign invasions, by civil war among themselves, and by attacks of the Canaanites.
Historically we can trace in the book at least three distinct epochs in the course of Israel's development. The great invasion under Joshua had been only a partial success, the Israelites could not conquer the whole territory. They were scattered in tribes and did not attempt to conquer the land by their united forces. The Çanaanites were by no means exterminated. They reasserted their power and the Israelites were in danger of becoming servants. Then Deborah succeeded in reuniting the tribes to some extent and their combined forces won them the supremacy of Central and Northern Palestine. But as the people began to pass from a nomadic to an agricultural mode of life, foreign nomads, such as they themselves had been, invaded thein in turn. These were repelled by Gideon and Jephthah, and doubtless by many lesser chiefs. Then came the rise of a new, a maritime power, the Philistines
, who, supported by the wealth brought from afar by their ships, came near to conquering Palestine in their turn. Samson fought against them ineffectively.
1 The acts of Judah and Simeon. 4 Adoni-bezek justly requited. 8 Jerusalem taken. 10 Hebron taken, 11 Othniel hath Achsah to wife for taking of Debir. 16 The Kenites dwell in Judah. 17 Hormah, Gaza, Askcon. and Ekron taken. 21 The acts of Benjamin. 22 Of the house of Joseph, who take Beth-el. 30 Of Zebulun. 31 Of Asher. 33 Of Naphtali. 34 Oj Dan.
OW after the death of Joshua it came to pass, that the children of Israel asked the LORD, saying, Who shall go up for us against the Canaanites first, to fight against them?
2 And the LORD said, Judah shall go up: behold, I have delivered the land into his hand.
3 And Judah said unto Simeon his brother, Come up with me into my lot, that we may fight
against the Canaanites; and I likewise will go with thee into thy lot. So Simeon went with him.
4 And Judah went up; and the LORD delivered the Canaanites and the Perizzites into their hand; and they slew of them in Bezek ten thousand men.
5 And they found Adoni-bezek in Bezek: and they fought against him, and they slew the Canaanites and the Perizzites.
6 But Adoni-bezek fled; and they pursued after him, and caught him, and cut off his thumbs and his great toes.
7 And Adoni-bezek said, Three-score and ten kings, having their thumbs and their great toes cut off, gathered their meat under my table: as I have done, so God hath requited me. And they brought him to Jerusalem, and there he died.
8 Now the children of Judah had fought against Jerusalem, and had taken it, and smitten it with the edge of the sword, and set the city on fire.
9 And afterward the children of Judah went down to fight against the Canaanites, that dwelt in the mountain, and in the south, and in the valley