Judges 1 tells how the people after Joshua fought to drive out the people of the land. Initially they are succeeding but by the end of the chapter they are failing at driving the people out, and this sets the stage for the conflict in the rest of the narrative. However, towards the middle of this conquest and failure narrative, there is this story of Caleb and his daughter Aksah:

And Caleb said, "I will give my daughter Aksah in marriage to the man who attacks and captures Kiriath Sepher." Othniel son of Kenaz, Caleb’s younger brother, took it; so Caleb gave his daughter Aksah to him in marriage.

One day when she came to Othniel, she urged him to ask her father for a field. When she got off her donkey, Caleb asked her, "What can I do for you?"

She replied, "Do me a special favor. Since you have given me land in the Negev, give me also springs of water." So Caleb gave her the upper and lower springs.

This seems out of place enough that I wonder why it is included here. Is there some thematic element here being developed in relation to the rest of Judges? Is there some pedagogical point the author is making? Or is it just a bit of history that the author thought might be appreciated?


1 Answer 1


I see three purposes to this story:

  1. (Continuity with Joshua) By retelling the story in Joshua 15, it provides a link to Joshua and thus establishes continuity.

  2. (Setting the stage for what comes next) By providing the background of the first judge in the book of judges, it prepares for the rest of the book.

  3. (Contrasting with the end) By showing a story of healthy human relationships and love in the midst of the tribes fighting together against Canaanites, it provides a stark contrast to the horrific end of Judges which shows the levite and his adulterous wife, leading to bloody civil war. Thus emphasizing how far Israel fell without a king.

Thus there is thematic and literary purpose to the story.

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