Judah recruits Simeon’s help to defeat their common foe because Simeon’s land is within the borders of Judah’s land. They joined forces as they attempted to clear their inheritance of all the pagan influences that remained after the initial battles. After Judah’s soldiers defeat Adoni-Bezek, they turn their attention to what would become their capital city in the future. Judges 1:8-10 tells us, “And the men of Judah fought against Jerusalem and captured it and struck it with the edge of the sword and set the city on fire.”  Fleenor informs us, “Pre-Davidic Jerusalem was a small city located on the western side of the Kidron Valley along the central ridges and was naturally defended by steep terrain on the south, east, and west. Along with the military advantages that came with occupying Jerusalem, the Canaanites had a propensity to build religious cultic centers in elevated and central locations. Although, prior to the temple, the Israelites had not used Jerusalem as a center for religious activity, the military advantage of Jerusalem was obvious. Judah captures the city and, from there, moves to the south and west to capture the Negev and the foothills.”[1] The book of Judges continues, “And afterward, the men of Judah went down to fight against the Canaanites who lived in the hill country, in the Negeb, and in the lowland. And Judah went against the Canaanites who lived in Hebron (now the name of Hebron was formerly Kiriath-arba), and they defeated Sheshai and Ahiman and Talmai.”

It appears that the tribe of Judah, with Simeon’s help, had great success in driving out the pagan Canaanites from their various territories. Many take exception to the cruel treatment of the Canaanites by their foreign invaders. They often ask, “How could a good God condone the murder of innocent people?” Much can be deduced from the way the law God gave Moses regarding the treatment of foreigners. We see that there were many of the various Canaanite tribes that found a home under divine rule amidst the Israelites. I think Hamlin is correct when he suggests that any who wishes could be safe in the family of God. He says that to the core of the tribes of the Israelites “were added oppressed Canaanites who were alienated from the city-state system. There were debt slaves, sharecroppers, landless farmers, artisans, and even rural brigands. These Canaanites threw in their lot with the ‘tribes of Israel.’ When, in the covenant ceremony, they took the oath to serve the Lord, they were accepted as ‘descendants’ of the tribal ancestors such as Asher, Zebulun, Ephraim, Manasseh, Judah, and so forth, and became part of ‘the people of Israel.’”[2] This was clearly seen in Joshua’s conquering of Jericho, where Rahab and her whole family were added to one of the tribes. She actually appears in the genealogy of Jesus.

Unfortunately, as we read further in the book of Judges, we see that as the people settled the land, they neglected to complete their task of driving out all the Canaanites. This was to have some devastating effects in the years ahead. Although they had a great start, they did not often finish well. Gingrich applies this to the Christian life we all live today. He says, “If we Christians are to live victorious Christian lives, we must through the power of Christ drive ‘the ites’ (the evil carnal appetites) from our hearts (our Jerusalem) and keep ‘the ites’ from reentering by being so occupied with the things of the Christ life that there is no room in us for the things of the self-life.  If we permit the expelled ‘ites’ to re-enter, they are much more difficult to expel the second time.”[3]

[1] Fleenor, Rob, and Mark S. Ziese. 2008. Judges-Ruth. The College Press NIV Commentary. Joplin, MO: College Press Publishing Company.

[2] Hamlin, E. John. 1990. At Risk in the Promised Land: A Commentary on the Book of Judges. International Theological Commentary. Grand Rapids, MI: W.B. Eerdmans.

[3] Gingrich, Roy E. 2006. The Books of Judges & Ruth. Memphis, TN: Riverside Printing.