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Tough Times

Not what we're used to.

Judges 1:8–15

Now the children of Judah fought against Jerusalem and took it; they struck it with the edge of the sword and set the city on fire. And afterward the children of Judah went down to fight against the Canaanites who dwelt in the mountains, in the South, and in the lowland. Then Judah went against the Canaanites who dwelt in Hebron. (Now the name of Hebron was formerly Kirjath Arba.) And they killed Sheshai, Ahiman, and Talmai.

From there they went against the inhabitants of Debir. (The name of Debir was formerly Kirjath Sepher.)

Then Caleb said, “Whoever attacks Kirjath Sepher and takes it, to him I will give my daughter Achsah as wife.” And Othniel the son of Kenaz, Caleb’s younger brother, took it; so he gave him his daughter Achsah as wife. Now it happened, when she came to him, that she urged him to ask her father for a field. And she dismounted from her donkey, and Caleb said to her, “What do you wish?” So she said to him, “Give me a blessing; since you have given me land in the South, give me also springs of water.”

And Caleb gave her the upper springs and the lower springs.

Again, we see many things that may not make sense to us. Judah burns Jerusalem. What a waste, right?

Well, not really. Canaan was a horribly wicked and corrupt place. We saw in yesterday’s passage that Adoni-bezek had cut off the thumbs and big toes of 70 kings and reduced them to picking up scraps from under his table. That’s not just evil; it’s insane. Think about the worst, nutzo tyrants of our time. Do any of them compare to this cuckoo-bird?

So, the burning of Jerusalem wasn’t just a waste of perfectly good resources. It was a sterilization.

Then we get to an arranged marriage. Caleb, who is quite old at this point, hands off the task of conquering Kirjath Sepher. Whoever conquers the city gets his daughter Achsah.

Again, this is tough for us to grasp, but arranged marriages were normal in that age. Isaac and Rebekah married virtually sight unseen. Rebekah was picked out for Isaac by a servant! (See Genesis 24:1–67.)

Achsah actually makes out quite well in this. Othniel seems a pretty good catch and the two of them get a nice piece of land and the upper springs and the lower springs. It’s not clear how many springs that makes total, but it sounds like a lot. That’s important; the land in the South is a desert.

Beware, this is going to get even rougher, and it won’t be easy to make sense of. We’re used to living in a place with a constitution that provides a consistent form of government that’s designed to work with fallen human nature—using things like separation of powers, balance of powers, and enumerated rights.

Things weren’t like that back then. Totally corrupt human nature produced totally corrupt government.

The book of Judges is about how things go wrong. It’s a horror show.

These Monday—Friday DEEPs are written by Mike Slay. The Weekend DEEPs are written by Matt Richardson. To subscribe to all the DEEPs click here:

The weekly study guides, which include the Monday–Friday devotionals plus related questions for discussion or meditation, are available for download here:

Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. ESV stands for the English Standard Version. © Copyright 2001 by Crossway. Used by permission. All rights reserved. NIV stands for The Holy Bible, New International Version®. © Copyright 1973 by International Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. KJV stands for the King James Version.

Mike Slay

As a mathematician, inventor, and ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church in America, Mike Slay brings an analytical, conversational, and even whimsical approach to the daily study of God's Word.

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