“The Israelites did what was evil in the sight of Yahweh, forgetting Yahweh their God, and worshipping the Baals and the Asherahs. Therefore the anger of Yahweh was kindled against Israel. He sold them into the hand of King Cushan-rishathaim of Aramnaharaim. The Israelites served Cushan-rishathaim eight years. But when the Israelites cried out to Yahweh, Yahweh raised up a deliverer for Israelites, who delivered them, Othniel the son of Kenaz, Caleb’s younger brother. The Spirit of Yahweh came upon him, and he judged Israel. He went out to war. Then Yahweh gave King Cushan-rishatham of Aram into his hand. His hand prevailed over Cushan-rishathaim. So the land had rest forty years. Then Othniel the son of Kenaz died.”
The Israelites were worshipping false gods. Baal was a common god among the ancient Mid-eastern people. Asherah was a popular female god. Aram or Aramnaharaim was an area northeast of Canaan, probably what we call Syria today. This would be an early Syrian occupation by Cushan that lasted 8 years. Which territory was involved is not clear. Othniel is both the nephew and son-in-law of Caleb, who is the brother of Kenaz, the father of Othniel. Othniel had married his first cousin, Achsah, the daughter of Caleb. Othniel got the springs and land because of his wife, Achsah, Caleb’s daughter. Thus this 1st judge would be fairly close to the time Joshua since Caleb was a contemporary of his. The spirit of Yahweh came upon Othniel so that he became a judge, like what is to later happen to the other judges and prophets. For 40 years the land was safe while Othniel was the first judge, judge #1.