Joshua 1-12 maintains that the settlement of Canaan by Israel was accomplished as a sudden and complete conquest by an Israel united under the leadership of Joshua: "So Joshua took the whole land, according to all that the LORD had spoken to Moses; and Joshua gave it for an inheritance to Israel according to their tribal allotments. And the land had rest from war" (Joshua 11:23).
Judges presents a different picture. Here, the settlement of Canaan is depicted as a series of military and political struggles in which one or two tribes, led by charismatic individuals, sought to gain control of the hill country lying between the bands of Canaanite city states in the plain. The early successes of Judah and the southern tribes (Judges 1:1-21) give way to crushing defeats of the northern tribes (1:27-36) with the exception of Joseph (1:22-26). As a foreshadowing of things to come, Joseph's success at Bethel was based upon deception, as indeed Bethel's former name, Luz, might imply. Politically, Israel suffered from a lack of unity and leadership.
1After the death of Joshua, the Israelites inquired of the Lord, Who shall go up first for us against the Canaanites, to fight against them? 2The Lord said, Judah shall go up. I hereby give the land into his hand. 3Judah said to his brother Simeon, Come up with me into the territory allotted to me, that we may fight against the Canaanites; then I too will go with you into the territory allotted to you. So Simeon went with him. 4Then Judah went up and the Lord gave the Canaanites and the Perizzites into their hand; and they defeated ten thousand of them at Bezek. 5They came upon Adoni-bezek at Bezek, and fought against him, and defeated the Canaanites and the Perizzites. 6Adoni-bezek fled; but they pursued him, and caught him, and cut off his thumbs and big toes. 7Adoni-bezek said, Seventy kings with their thumbs and big toes cut off used to pick up scraps under my table; as I have done, so God has paid me back. They brought him to Jerusalem, and he died there.
8 Then the people of Judah fought against Jerusalem and took it. They put it to the sword and set the city on fire. 9Afterwards the people of Judah went down to fight against the Canaanites who lived in the hill country, in the Negeb, and in the lowlands. 10Judah went against the Canaanites who lived in Hebron (the name of Hebron was formerly Kiriath-arba); and they defeated Sheshai and Ahiman and Talmai.
11 From there they went against the inhabitants of Debir (the name of Debir was formerly Kiriath-sepher). 12Then Caleb said, Whoever attacks Kiriath-sepher and takes it, I will give him my daughter Achsah as wife. 13And Othniel son of Kenaz, Calebs younger brother, took it; and he gave him his daughter Achsah as wife. 14When 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 want? 15She 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 Upper Gulloth and Lower Gulloth.
16 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.* 17Judah went with his brother Simeon, and they defeated the Canaanites who inhabited Zephath, and devoted it to destruction. So the city was called Hormah. 18Judah took Gaza with its territory, Ashkelon with its territory, and Ekron with its territory. 19The Lord was with Judah, and he took possession of the hill country, but could not drive out the inhabitants of the plain, because they had chariots of iron. 20Hebron was given to Caleb, as Moses had said; and he drove out from it the three sons of Anak. 21But the Benjaminites did not drive out the Jebusites who lived in Jerusalem; so the Jebusites have lived in Jerusalem among the Benjaminites to this day.
22 The house of Joseph also went up against Bethel; and the Lord was with them. 23The house of Joseph sent out spies to Bethel (the name of the city was formerly Luz). 24When the spies saw a man coming out of the city, they said to him, Show us the way into the city, and we will deal kindly with you. 25So he showed them the way into the city; and they put the city to the sword, but they let the man and all his family go. 26So the man went to the land of the Hittites and built a city, and named it Luz; that is its name to this day.
27 Manasseh did not drive out the inhabitants of Beth-shean and its villages, or Taanach and its villages, or the inhabitants of Dor and its villages, or the inhabitants of Ibleam and its villages, or the inhabitants of Megiddo and its villages; but the Canaanites continued to live in that land. 28When Israel grew strong, they put the Canaanites to forced labour, but did not in fact drive them out.
29 And Ephraim did not drive out the Canaanites who lived in Gezer; but the Canaanites lived among them in Gezer.
30 Zebulun did not drive out the inhabitants of Kitron, or the inhabitants of Nahalol; but the Canaanites lived among them, and became subject to forced labour.
31 Asher did not drive out the inhabitants of Acco, or the inhabitants of Sidon, or of Ahlab, or of Achzib, or of Helbah, or of Aphik, or of Rehob; 32but the Asherites lived among the Canaanites, the inhabitants of the land; for they did not drive them out.
33 Naphtali did not drive out the inhabitants of Beth-shemesh, or the inhabitants of Beth-anath, but lived among the Canaanites, the inhabitants of the land; nevertheless the inhabitants of Beth-shemesh and of Beth-anath became subject to forced labour for them.
34 The Amorites pressed the Danites back into the hill country; they did not allow them to come down to the plain. 35The Amorites continued to live in Har-heres, in Aijalon, and in Shaalbim, but the hand of the house of Joseph rested heavily on them, and they became subject to forced labour. 36The border of the Amorites ran from the ascent of Akrabbim, from Sela and upwards.
New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. http://nrsvbibles.org