Caleb, Judah, and Benjamin (Judg 1:11-1:21)

“From there they went against the inhabitants of Debir. The name of Debir was formerly Kiriath-sepher. Then Caleb said. ‘Whoever attacks Kiriath-sepher and takes it, I will give him my daughter Achsah as wife.’ Othniel son of Kenaz, Caleb’s younger brother, took it. Caleb gave him his daughter Achsah as wife. When she came to him, she urged him to ask her father for a field. As she dismounted from her donkey, Caleb said to her. ‘What do you wish?’ She said to him. ‘Give me a present. Since you have set me in the land of the Negeb, give me also Gulloth-mayim.’ So Caleb gave her the Upper Gulloth and Lower Gulloth.”

Here we take up the story of Caleb and his daughter that was in Joshua, chapter 15. He gives his daughter to his nephew to marry. However, the explanation is that the land is in the Negeb, the dry area, so that she requests the springs in the upper and lower area of Gulloth. In fact this section is almost a repeat of the stories in Joshua, chapters 10 and 11.

“The descendants of Hobab, the Kenite, Moses’ father-in-law, went up with the people of Judah from the city of palms into the wilderness of Judah, which lies in the Negeb near Arad. Then they went and settled with the Amalekites. Judah went with his brother Simeon. They defeated the Canaanites who inhabited Zephath, and utterly destroyed it. So the city was called Hormah.”

Hobab was the brother-in-law of Moses, but here he is called the father-in-law, when earlier the father-in-law was called Jethro. Arad and Zephath or Hormah were southern towns in the territory of Judah. The Amalekites were a nomadic tribe on the northern Sinai Peninsula, east of Egypt and south of the territory of Judah.

“Judah also took Gaza with its territory, Ashkelon with its territory, and Ekron with its territory. Yahweh was with Judah. He took possession of the hill country, but could not drive out the inhabitants of the plain, because they had chariots of iron.”

Judah then took the three coastal towns of Gaza, Ashkelon, and Ekron with their surrounding territories, which later become Philistine cities. Yahweh was with Judah in winning all these battles. However, despite Yahweh on their side, they could not conquer the lowland area because the enemy had iron chariots, which Judah did not seem to have.

“Hebron was given to Caleb, as Moses had said. Caleb drove out from it the three sons of Anak. But the Benjaminites did not drive out the Jebusites who lived in Jerusalem. The Jebusites have lived in Jerusalem among the Benjaminites to this day.”

There seems to be a contradiction about Jerusalem, which is on the boundary line between Judah and Benjamin. Here the Benjaminites settle it with the local inhabitants, but earlier on the Judahites had won this city completely.