Chapter 1: The unconquered cities

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Chapter 1: The unconquered cities

1. Conquering the remainder of the Canaanite nations:

  • After the death of Yehoshua the Jewish people asked Hashem [through the Urim Vetumim[1]] who should be chosen to fight the [remaining lands of the] nation of Canaan [that were yet to be conquered[2], as there remained pockets of Canaanite cities within the inherited territories of each of the tribes, and they thus asked which tribe should be first to wage war[3]]. Hashem replied that the tribe of Yehuda should wage the war, as the land of Israel has been given to his hands.
  • Yehuda and Shimon become allies: The tribe of Yehuda made a pact with the tribe of Shimon that each would go to war to help the other conquer their territory from the Canaanites.

2. Yehuda conquers the land of Bezek:

  • Yehuda went to wage war against the Canaanite and Perizite nations and he smote them in [the land[4] of] Bezek.
  • Ten thousand men of Bezek were killed by Yehuda.
  • The Canaanite and Perizite nations were fought against and smitten.
  • The death of Adoni Bezek: The king of Bezek [whose name was Adoni Bezek] was found in Bezek. The king of Bezek fled and was eventually discovered, upon which they dismembered the thumbs of his fingers and toes. Adoni Bezek stated that this punishment is Divine retribution, Mida Kineged Mida, as he himself had severed the thumbs of the hands and feet of 70 kings, and these thumbs were stored under his table. Adoni Bezek was brought to Yerushalayim, and he died there.

3. Yehuda conquers Yerushalayim, Chevron, and other cities:

  • Yerushalayim: The tribe of Yehuda waged battle against Yerushalayim and conquered it. The inhabitants were slain by the sword, and the city was set aflame.
  • Chevron and its giants:[5] After conquering Yerushalayim, the tribe of Yehuda waged battle against the Canaanites who dwell on the mountain and who dwell in Chevron. They smote Sheishay, Achiman and Talmaiy. [Some[6] say that the above battles against Chevron and Yerushalayim took place in the times of Yehoshua, although others[7] learn that they happened now, after the death of Yehoshua.]
  • Dvir/Kiryat Sefer and the marriage of Asniel with Achsa:[8] They went from there to the city of Dvir, which used to be called Kiryat Sefer. Kalev said that whoever went ahead and conquered Kiryat Sefer for him would receive Achsa his daughter as a wife. Asniel Ben Kenaz, who was the younger [maternal[9]] brother of Kalev went forth and conquered the city, and he was given Achsa, his niece, as a wife. Achsa tried to persuade her husband Asniel to [allow her to[10]] request a portion of land from her father, [but he refused] and thus she fell from her donkey that she was riding [in front of her father Kalev] and Kalev asked her as to what is it that she wants. She asked her father to give her a field of land for the sake of her sustenance, as the current land she was given has no water and is desolate. Kalev acquiesced to her request and gave her lands with wellsprings.[11]

4. The Keini family of Yisro:

  • The sons of Keini, the father in law of Moshe, traveled from the city of dates [i.e. Jericho[12], where they dwelled amongst the Canaanites[13], as the ash of Jericho was given to them to benefit from until the Temple is built[14]] to the tribe of Yehuda [who had threatened to wage war against them[15]]. Yehuda dwelled at that time in the south, by Arad, and they traveled there and returned. [Some explain this to mean that the descendants of Yisro traveled to the tribe of Yehuda to learn Torah, and then returned to their city after becoming Torah scholars.[16]]

5. Yehuda and Shimon conquer the city of Tzefas:

  • The tribes of Yehuda and Shimon waged battle against the Canaanites living in Tzefas, and they annihilated them, and they called the name of the city Charma.

6. Yehuda conquers the Aza region:

  • Yehuda captured Aza and its surrounding cities, and Ashkelon and its surrounding cities , and Ikron and its surrounding cities.
  • Hashem was with Yehuda and he managed to [miraculously[17]] conquer the people on the mountain, although he was unable to conquer the people in the valley, being that they had strong metal chariots [and Hashem desired to keep them in Israel in order to challenge the Jewish people[18]].

7. Kaleiv receives Chevron:

  • They gave Kaleiv the city of Chevron, as spoke Moshe, and he conquered the three giants from there.

8. The Jebusites of Jerusalem:

  • The Jebusites [descendants of Avimelech[19]] who lived in [the suburb[20] of] Jerusalem were unable to be conquered by the tribe of Binyamin [due to the swear that was made to Avimelech[21]], until this very day [of the writing of Sefer Shoftim, until the times of David when they were finally conquered[22]].

9. The tribe of Yosef conquers Beis Eil:

  • The tribe of Yosef went to battle the city of Beis Eil, whose original name was Luz, and Hashem was with them [and they were successful in battle, as will now be explained].
  • Spies are sent to Beis Eil to discover the entrance to the city: The tribe of Yosef sent spies to Beis Eil.[23] The guards [which is in reference to the spies[24]] saw someone leaving the city and they approached him and asked him to show them the way to enter the city [as the entrance of the city was hidden behind a cave which itself was covered by a large Luz[25]]. As a reward, they promised him that they would repay him with kindness [upon conquering the city[26]].
  • The city is captured: The man showed them the entrance [to the city using his fingers[27]] and the tribe of Yosef smote the city with the sword. The man who helped them was saved together with his entire family, and they were sent off.
  • The man builds the city of Luz: The man who was saved went to the land of the Hittites [who were not part of the seven Canaanite nations[28]] and built a city which he called Luz, and that remains its name until this very day. [It was called this name being that it grew small nuts. This city was not exiled or destroyed by Sancheirev or Nebuchadnezzar.[29] Even the Malach Hamaves has no authority over this city, and thus when the elderly desire to die they leave the city.[30]]

 

10. Cities that the tribe of Menashe did not bother to conquer:

  • The tribe of Menashe did not bother[31] to conquer the cities of Beit Shean and its surrounding suburbs, nor the city of Tanach and its surrounding suburbs, nor the city of Dor and its surrounding suburbs, nor the city of Yivlaeim and its surrounding suburbs, nor the city of Megido and its surrounding suburbs.
  • The Canaanite nations were thus able to dwell in these cities.
  • When the Jewish people became strengthened, they placed a tax on these Canaanite cities, although they did not [bother to[32]] conquer them.

11.   Cities that the tribe of Ephraim did not conquer:

  • The tribe of Ephraim did not conquer the Canaanite people who lived in Gezer, and they thus dwelled within their midst.

  

12.  Cities that the tribe of Zevulun did not conquer:

  • The tribe of Zevulun did not conquer the residents of the city of Kitron and the city of Nehalalel, and they thus dwelled within their midst and were given a tax to pay.

 

13.  Cities that the tribe of Asher did not conquer:

  • The tribe of Asher did not conquer the residents of the city of Acco, Tzidon, Achlov, Achziv, Chelbah, Afik, and Rachav.
  • The Asheiri nation lived amongst the Canaanite nation and was not conquered.

 

14. Cities that the tribe of Naphtali did not conquer:

  • The tribe of Naphtali did not conquer the residents of the city of Beit Shemesh, Beit Anot and they thus dwelled within their midst and were given a tax to pay.

 

15. Cities that the tribe of Dan did not conquer:[33]

  • The tribe of Dan were unable to conquer the Emorites living on the mountains of Cheres, Ayalon and Shalavim. These Emorites oppressed the tribe of Dan. The tribe of Yosef eventually overpowered them and placed a tax upon them. The Emorite border was from Maaleh Ekrabayim until Sela.

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[1] Ralbag

[2] Rashi 1:1

[3] Pirush Rav Yeshayah 1:1

[4] Rashi 1:4

[5] See Sefer Yehoshua chapter 15 where this matter is already discussed in detail, and is repeated here

[6] Radak 1:8; Metzudos David 1:10

[7] Rashi 1:7

[8] See Sefer Yehoshua chapter 15 where this matter is already discussed in detail, and is repeated here; See Radak 1:15

[9] Rashi 1:13

[10] Metzudos David Shoftim 1:14

[11] See Radak and Metzudos David Yehoshua 15:19

[12] Rashi 1:16; Radak 1:16 [see there in length]

[13] Metzudos David 1:16

[14] Rashi 1:16

[15] Metzudos David 1:16

[16] Rashi 1:16

[17] Metzudos David 1:19

[18] Radak 1:19

[19] Rashi 1:21

[20] Rashi 1:21

[21] Rashi 1:21

[22] Ralbag 1:21

[23] See Rashi 1:23

[24] Radak 1:23

[25] Rashi 1:24; Radak 1:24

[26] Metzudos David 1:24

[27] Radak 1:25

[28] Radak 1:27

[29] Rashi 1:26; Radak 1:26

[30] Radak 1:26

[31] See Rashi 1:27

[32] See Rashi 1:27

[33] See Radak and Metzudos David 1:35 for the interpretation of these verses

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