Bible Society of South Africa

To The Word – Day 65

Judges 1–5, Psalm 3

Bible text(s)

The Tribes of Judah and Simeon Capture Adonibezek

1After Joshua's death the people of Israel asked the LORD, “Which of our tribes should be the first to go and attack the Canaanites?”

2The LORD answered, “The tribe of Judah will go first. I am giving them control of the land.”

3The people of Judah said to the people of Simeon, “Go with us into the territory assigned to us, and we will fight the Canaanites together. Then we will go with you into the territory assigned to you.” So the tribes of Simeon 4and Judah went into battle together. The LORD gave them victory over the Canaanites and the Perizzites, and they defeated 10,000 men at Bezek. 5They found Adonibezek there and fought against him. 6He ran away, but they chased him, caught him, and cut off his thumbs and big toes. 7Adonibezek said, “Seventy kings with their thumbs and big toes cut off have picked up scraps under my table. God has now done to me what I did to them.” He was taken to Jerusalem, where he died.

The Tribe of Judah Conquers Jerusalem and Hebron

8The men of Judah attacked Jerusalem and captured it. They killed its people and set fire to the city. 9After this they went on to fight the Canaanites who lived in the hill country, in the foothills, and in the dry country to the south. 10They marched against the Canaanites living in the city of Hebron, which used to be called Kiriath Arba. There they defeated the clans of Sheshai, Ahiman, and Talmai.

Othniel Conquers the City of Debir

(Josh 15.13–19)

11From there the men of Judah marched against the city of Debir, at that time called Kiriath Sepher. 12One of them, called Caleb, said, “I will give my daughter Achsah in marriage to the man who succeeds in capturing Kiriath Sepher.” 13Othniel, the son of Caleb's younger brother Kenaz, captured the city, so Caleb gave him his daughter Achsah in marriage. 14On the wedding day Othniel urged her to ask her father for a field. She got down from her donkey, and Caleb asked her what she wanted. 15She answered, “I want some pools of water. The land you have given me is in the dry country.” So Caleb gave her the upper and lower springs.

The Victories of the Tribes of Judah and Benjamin

16The descendants of Moses' father-in-law, the Kenite, went on with the people of Judah from Jericho, the city of palm trees, into the barren country south of Arad in Judah. There they settled among the Amalekites. 17The people of Judah went with the people of Simeon, and together they defeated the Canaanites who lived in the city of Zephath. They put a curse on the city, destroyed it, and named it Hormah. 18-19The LORD helped the people of Judah, and they took possession of the hill country. But they did not capture Gaza, Ashkelon, or Ekron, with their surrounding territories. These people living along the coast had iron chariots, and so the people of Judah were not able to drive them out. 20As Moses had commanded, Hebron was given to Caleb, who drove out of the city the three clans descended from Anak. 21But the people of the tribe of Benjamin did not drive out the Jebusites living in Jerusalem, and the Jebusites have continued to live there with the people of Benjamin ever since.

The Tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh Conquer Bethel

22-23The tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh went to attack the city of Bethel, at that time called Luz. The LORD helped them. They sent spies to the city, 24who saw a man leaving and said to him, “Show us how to get into the city, and we won't hurt you.” 25So he showed them, and the people of Ephraim and Manasseh killed everyone in the city, except this man and his family. 26He later went to the land of the Hittites, built a city there, and named it Luz, which is still its name.

People who were not Driven Out by the Israelites

27The tribe of Manasseh did not drive out the people living in the cities of Beth Shan, Taanach, Dor, Ibleam, Megiddo, and the nearby towns; the Canaanites continued to live there. 28When the Israelites became stronger, they forced the Canaanites to work for them, but still they did not drive them all out.

29The tribe of Ephraim did not drive out the Canaanites living in the city of Gezer, and so the Canaanites continued to live there with them.

30The tribe of Zebulun did not drive out the people living in the cities of Kitron and Nahalal, and so the Canaanites continued to live there with them and were forced to work for them.

31The tribe of Asher did not drive out the people living in the cities of Acco, Sidon, Ahlab, Achzib, Helbah, Aphek, and Rehob. 32The people of Asher lived with the local Canaanites, since they did not drive them out.

33The tribe of Naphtali did not drive out the people living in the cities of Beth Shemesh and Bethanath. The people of Naphtali lived with the local Canaanites, but forced them to work for them.

34The Amorites forced the people of the tribe of Dan into the hill country and did not let them come down to the plain. 35The Amorites continued to live at Aijalon, Shaalbim, and Mount Heres, but the tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh kept them under their rule and forced them to work for them.

36North of Sela, the Edomite border ran through Akrabbim Pass.

The Angel of the LORD at Bochim

1The angel of the LORD went from Gilgal to Bochim and said to the Israelites, “I took you out of Egypt and brought you to the land that I promised to your ancestors. I said, ‘I will never break my covenant with you. 2You must not make any covenant with the people who live in this land. You must tear down their altars.’ But you have not done what I told you. You have done just the opposite! 3So I tell you now that I will not drive these people out as you advance. They will be your enemies, and you will be trapped by the worship of their gods.” 4When the angel had said this, all the people of Israel began to cry, 5and that is why the place is called Bochim. There they offered sacrifices to the LORD.

The Death of Joshua

6Joshua sent the people of Israel on their way, and each man went to take possession of his own share of the land. 7As long as Joshua lived, the people of Israel served the LORD, and after his death they continued to do so as long as the leaders were alive who had seen for themselves all the great things that the LORD had done for Israel. 8The LORD's servant Joshua son of Nun died at the age of 110. 9He was buried in his own part of the land at Timnath Serah in the hill country of Ephraim north of Mount Gaash. 10That whole generation also died, and the next generation forgot the LORD and what he had done for Israel.

Israel Stops Worshipping the LORD

11Then the people of Israel sinned against the LORD and began to serve the Baals. 12They stopped worshipping the LORD, the God of their ancestors, the God who had brought them out of Egypt, and they began to worship other gods, the gods of the peoples round them. They bowed down to them and made the LORD angry. 13They stopped worshipping the LORD and served the Baals and the Astartes. 14And so the LORD became furious with Israel and let raiders attack and rob them. He let enemies all around overpower them, and the Israelites could no longer protect themselves. 15Every time they went into battle, the LORD was against them, just as he had said he would be. They were in great distress.

16Then the LORD gave the Israelites leaders who saved them from the raiders. 17But the Israelites paid no attention to their leaders. Israel was unfaithful to the LORD and worshipped other gods. Their fathers had obeyed the LORD's commands, but this new generation soon stopped doing so. 18Whenever the LORD gave Israel a leader, the LORD would help that leader and would save the people from their enemies as long as that leader lived. The LORD would have mercy on them because they groaned under their suffering and oppression. 19But when the leader died, the people used to return to the old ways and behave worse than the previous generation. They would serve and worship other gods, and refused to give up their own evil ways. 20Then the LORD would become furious with Israel and say, “This nation has broken the covenant that I commanded their ancestors to keep. Because they have not obeyed me, 21I will no longer drive out any of the nations that were still in the land when Joshua died. 22I will use them to find out whether or not these Israelites will follow my ways, as their ancestors did.” 23So the LORD allowed those nations to remain in the land; he did not give Joshua victory over them, nor did he drive them out soon after Joshua's death.

The Nations Remaining in the Land

1So then, the LORD left some nations in the land to test the Israelites who had not been through the wars in Canaan. 2He did this only in order to teach each generation of Israelites about war, especially those who had never been in battle before. 3Those left in the land were the five Philistine cities, all the Canaanites, the Sidonians, and the Hivites who lived in the Lebanon Mountains from Mount Baal Hermon as far as Hamath Pass. 4They were to be a test for Israel, to find out whether or not the Israelites would obey the commands that the LORD had given their ancestors through Moses. 5And so the people of Israel settled down among the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites. 6They intermarried with them and worshipped their gods.


7The people of Israel forgot the LORD their God; they sinned against him and worshipped the idols of Baal and Asherah. 8So the LORD became angry with Israel and let King Cushan Rishathaim of Mesopotamia conquer them, and he ruled over them for eight years. 9Then the Israelites cried out to the LORD, and he sent a man who freed them. This was Othniel, the son of Caleb's younger brother Kenaz. 10The Spirit of the LORD came upon him, and he became Israel's leader. Othniel went to war, and the LORD gave him victory over the king of Mesopotamia. 11There was peace in the land for forty years, and then Othniel died.


12The people of Israel sinned against the LORD again. Because of this the LORD made King Eglon of Moab stronger than Israel. 13Eglon joined the Ammonites and the Amalekites; they defeated Israel and captured Jericho, the city of palm trees. 14The Israelites were subject to Eglon for eighteen years.

15Then the Israelites cried out to the LORD, and he sent a man to free them. This was Ehud, a left-handed man, who was the son of Gera, from the tribe of Benjamin. The people of Israel sent Ehud to King Eglon of Moab with gifts for him. 16Ehud had made himself a double-edged sword nearly fifty centimetres long. He had it fastened on his right side under his clothes. 17Then he took the gifts to Eglon, who was a very fat man. 18When Ehud had given him the gifts, he told the men who had carried them to go back home. 19But Ehud himself turned back at the carved stones near Gilgal, went back to Eglon, and said, “Your Majesty, I have a secret message for you.”

So the king ordered his servants, “Leave us alone!” And they all went out.

20Then, as the king was sitting there alone in his cool room on the roof, Ehud went over to him and said, “I have a message from God for you.” The king stood up. 21With his left hand Ehud took the sword from his right side and plunged it into the king's belly. 22The whole sword went in, handle and all, and the fat covered it up. Ehud did not pull it out of the king's belly, and it stuck out behind, between his legs. 23Then Ehud went outside, closed the doors behind him, locked them, 24and left. The servants came and saw that the doors were locked, but they only thought that the king was inside, relieving himself. 25They waited as long as they thought they should, but when he still did not open the door, they took the key and opened it. And there was their master, lying dead on the floor.

26Ehud got away while they were waiting. He went past the carved stones and escaped to Seirah. 27When he arrived there in the hill country of Ephraim, he blew a trumpet to call the men of Israel to battle; then he led them down from the hills. 28He said, “Follow me! The LORD has given you victory over your enemies, the Moabites.” So they followed Ehud down and captured the place where the Moabites were to cross the Jordan; they did not allow a single man to cross. 29That day they killed about 10,000 of the best Moabite soldiers; none of them escaped. 30That day the Israelites defeated Moab, and there was peace in the land for eighty years.


31The next leader was Shamgar son of Anath. He too rescued Israel, and did so by killing 600 Philistines with an ox goad.

Deborah and Barak

1After Ehud died, the people of Israel sinned against the LORD again. 2So the LORD let them be conquered by Jabin, a Canaanite king who ruled in the city of Hazor. The commander of his army was Sisera, who lived at Harosheth-of-the-Gentiles. 3Jabin had 900 iron chariots, and he ruled the people of Israel with cruelty and violence for twenty years. Then the people of Israel cried out to the LORD for help.

4Now Deborah, the wife of Lappidoth, was a prophet, and she was serving as a judge for the Israelites at that time. 5She used to sit under a certain palm tree between Ramah and Bethel in the hill country of Ephraim, and the people of Israel would go there for her decisions. 6One day she sent for Barak son of Abinoam from the city of Kedesh in Naphtali and said to him, “The LORD, the God of Israel, has given you this command: ‘Take 10,000 men from the tribes of Naphtali and Zebulun and lead them to Mount Tabor. 7I will bring Sisera, the commander of Jabin's army, to fight against you at the River Kishon. He will have his chariots and soldiers, but I will give you victory over him.’ ”

8Then Barak replied, “I will go if you go with me, but if you don't go with me, I won't go either.”

9She answered, “All right, I will go with you, but you won't get any credit for the victory, because the LORD will hand Sisera over to a woman.” So Deborah set off for Kedesh with Barak. 10Barak called the tribes of Zebulun and Naphtali to Kedesh, and 10,000 men followed him. Deborah went with him.

11In the meantime Heber the Kenite had set up his tent close to Kedesh near the oak tree at Zanannim. He had moved away from the other Kenites, the descendants of Hobab, the brother-in-law of Moses.

12When Sisera learnt that Barak had gone up to Mount Tabor, 13he called out his 900 iron chariots and all his men, and sent them from Harosheth-of-the-Gentiles to the River Kishon.

14Then Deborah said to Barak, “Go! The LORD is leading you! Today he has given you victory over Sisera.” So Barak went down from Mount Tabor with his 10,000 men. 15When Barak attacked with his army, the LORD threw Sisera into confusion together with all his chariots and men. Sisera got down from his chariot and fled on foot. 16Barak pursued the chariots and the army to Harosheth-of-the-Gentiles, and Sisera's whole army was killed. Not a man was left.

17Sisera ran away to the tent of Jael, the wife of Heber the Kenite, because King Jabin of Hazor was at peace with Heber's family. 18Jael went out to meet Sisera and said to him, “Come in, sir; come into my tent. Don't be afraid.” So he went in, and she hid him behind a curtain. 19He said to her, “Please give me a drink of water; I'm thirsty.” She opened a leather bag of milk, gave him a drink, and hid him again. 20Then he told her, “Stand at the door of the tent, and if anyone comes and asks you if someone is here, say no.”

21Sisera was so tired that he fell sound asleep. Then Jael took a hammer and a tent peg, went up to him quietly, and killed him by driving the peg right through the side of his head and into the ground. 22When Barak came looking for Sisera, Jael went out to meet him and said to him, “Come here! I'll show you the man you're looking for.” So he went in with her, and there was Sisera on the ground, dead, with the tent peg through his head.

23That day God gave the Israelites victory over Jabin, the Canaanite king. 24They pressed harder and harder against him until they destroyed him.

The Song of Deborah and Barak

1On that day Deborah and Barak son of Abinoam sang this song:

2Praise the LORD!

The Israelites were determined to fight;

the people gladly volunteered.

3Listen, you kings!

Pay attention, you rulers!

I will sing, I will play music

to Israel's God, the LORD.

4LORD, when you left the mountains of Seir,

when you came out of the region of Edom,

the earth shook, and rain fell from the sky.

Yes, water poured down from the clouds.

5The mountains quaked before the LORD of Sinai,

before the LORD, the God of Israel.

6In the days of Shamgar son of Anath,

in the days of Jael,

caravans no longer went through the land,

and travellers used the side roads.

7The towns of Israel stood abandoned, Deborah;

they stood empty until you came,

came like a mother for Israel.

8Then there was war in the land

when the Israelites chose new gods.

Of the 40,000 men in Israel,

did anyone carry shield or spear?

9My heart is with the commanders of Israel,

with the people who gladly volunteered.

Praise the LORD!

10Tell of it, you that ride on white donkeys,

sitting on saddles,

and you that must walk wherever you go.

11Listen! The noisy crowds round the wells

are telling of the LORD's victories,

the victories of Israel's people!

Then the LORD's people marched down from their cities.

12Lead on, Deborah, lead on!

Lead on! Sing a song! Lead on!

Forward, Barak son of Abinoam,

lead your captives away!

13Then the faithful ones came down to their leaders;

the LORD's people came to him ready to fight.

14They came from Ephraim into the valley,

behind the tribe of Benjamin and its people.

The commanders came down from Machir,

the officers down from Zebulun.

15The leaders of Issachar came with Deborah;

yes, Issachar came and Barak too,

and they followed him into the valley.

But the tribe of Reuben was divided;

they could not decide whether to come.

16Why did they stay behind with the sheep?

To listen to shepherds calling the flocks?

Yes, the tribe of Reuben was divided;

they could not decide whether to come.

17The tribe of Gad stayed east of the Jordan,

and the tribe of Dan remained by the ships.

The tribe of Asher stayed by the coast;

they remained along the shore.

18But the people of Zebulun and Naphtali

risked their lives on the battlefield.

19At Taanach, by the stream of Megiddo,

the kings came and fought;

the kings of Canaan fought,

but they took no silver away.

20The stars fought from the sky;

as they moved across the sky,

they fought against Sisera.

21A flood in the Kishon swept them away —

the onrushing River Kishon.

I shall march, march on, with strength!

22Then the horses came galloping on,

stamping the ground with their hooves.

23“Put a curse on Meroz,” says the angel of the LORD,

“a curse, a curse on those who live there.

They did not come to help the LORD,

come as soldiers to fight for him.”

24The most fortunate of women is Jael,

the wife of Heber the Kenite —

the most fortunate of women who live in tents.

25Sisera asked for water, but she gave him milk;

she brought him cream in a beautiful bowl.

26She took a tent peg in one hand,

a workman's hammer in the other;

she struck Sisera and crushed his skull;

she pierced him through the head.

27He sank to his knees,

fell down and lay still at her feet.

At her feet he sank to his knees and fell;

he fell to the ground, dead.

28Sisera's mother looked out of the window;

she gazed from behind the lattice.

“Why is his chariot so late in coming?” she asked.

“Why are his horses so slow to return?”

29Her wisest ladies answered her,

and she told herself over and over,

30“They are only finding things to capture and divide,

a woman or two for every soldier,

rich cloth for Sisera,

embroidered pieces for the neck of the queen.”

31May all your enemies die like that, O LORD,

but may your friends shine like the rising sun!

And there was peace in the land for forty years.

Morning Prayer for Help

1I have so many enemies, LORD,

so many who turn against me!

2They talk about me and say,

“God will not help him.”

3But you, O LORD, are always my shield from danger;

you give me victory

and restore my courage.

4I call to the LORD for help,

and from his sacred hill he answers me.

5I lie down and sleep,

and all night long the LORD protects me.

6I am not afraid of the thousands of enemies

who surround me on every side.

7Come, LORD! Save me, my God!

You punish all my enemies

and leave them powerless to harm me.

8Victory comes from the LORD

may he bless his people.

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