Failure of Benjamin: Part 1 of 2 (series: Lessons on Judges)

by John Lowe
(Woodruff, S.C.)

Chapter 2

Failure of Benjamin Judges 1:21

21 And the children of Benjamin did not drive out the Jebusites that inhabited Jerusalem; but the Jebusites dwell with the children of Benjamin in Jerusalem unto this day.


Jews believe that Judges was written by the prophet Samuel. But we have no proof to support that idea. It was probably written during the first years of David’s reign, because it came after the fall of Shiloh (18:311). But it must have been written before David’s capture of Jebus (Jerusalem), because Jebusites were still living in Jerusalem.

21 And the children of Benjamin did not drive out the Jebusites that inhabited Jerusalem; but the Jebusites dwell with the children of Benjamin in Jerusalem unto this day.

Benjamin failed. Jerusalem is listed as belonging to Benjamin (Jg. 18:282) as well as to Judah; it was located on the border between these two tribes. The upper part of the city, called Mount Zion, was not taken until the time of David. The lower city, Jerusalem, was taken by Judah (Jg. 1:83),then later recaptured by the Jebusites (see Article 1.2; Chapter 1). Thus, the initial victory of the men of Judah against Jerusalem was already lost, and the city reverted back to Jebusite control. WHY?

Here we have the first real break in the pattern of obedience. Benjamin neglected to drive the Jebusites out of the part (northern part) of the city of Jerusalem which fell to their lot (The territory allotted the tribe of Benjamin). Judah had set them a good example, and gained them great advantages by what they did (see v. 8; Chapter 1), that is, the taking of the southern part of Jerusalem; but, Benjamin did not follow-up by attacking the Jebusites living in their part, because they lacked the resolve to do so.

The children of Judah had captured their part of Jerusalem, but the children of Benjamin allowed the Jebusites to live among them, and they grew so strong and numerous that it became a city of Jebusites, Jg. 19:114. Now the very first exploit David did, after he was anointed king over all Israel, was to capture Jerusalem out of the hand of the Jebusites; however, because it belonged to Benjamin, he could not make war against the Jebusites until Benjamin, which long adhered to Saul’s house (1 Chr. 12:295), submitted to him.

Judah could not drive them out. Apparently, according to Judges 1:86 and II Samuel 5:67, the Israelites set fire to the lower city of Jerusalem, but the Jebusites maintained the stronghold of Zion. The strategic location of Jerusalem (described by the psalmist as “beautiful for situation,” Ps 48:28)made it difficult to conquer. Unto this day is striking evidence that this book was written prior to David conquering this Jebusite city and making it Israel’s capital (II Sam. 5:6–109). Jerusalem was taken by stealth, when Juab, David’s general, entered the city by stealth.

The tribe descended from Benjamin (Num. 1:36–37; Judg. 1:21)(Benjamin means, “Son of the right hand.”)
Its northern boundary ran westward from the Jordan River through Bethel and just south of Lower Beth Horon; its western boundary picked up at this point to Kirjath Jearim; its southern border ran eastward to the northern point of the Dead Sea; and its easternmost limit was the Jordan River (Josh. 18:11–20). The chief towns in this hilly, fertile region were Jerusalem, Jericho, Bethel, Gibeon, Gibeah, and Mizpah (Josh. 18:21–28).
Saul, Israel’s first king, was a Benjamite, and the Benjamites supported Saul over David. (2 Sam. 2:9, 15; 1 Chr. 12:29). Although the Benjamites continued to show some unrest throughout David’s reign (2 Sam. 20:1; Ps. 7), most of the tribe remained loyal to the house of David and became part of the southern kingdom of Judah when Israel divided into two nations (1 Kin. 12:21; Ezra 4:1). Saul of Tarsus, who later became known as the apostle Paul, was a Benjamite (Phil. 3:5).

Jerusalem was situated partly in the tribe-territory of Judah, and partly in the territory of the tribe of Benjamin; the northern part belonging to the latter tribe, the southern to the former. The Jebusites had their strongest position in the part that belonged to Benjamin, and from this stronghold they were not completely expelled until the days of David. In reality, the Benjamites did not even attempt to dislodge them. See the notes on Judges 1:8. What is said here of Benjamin is said of Judah, (see Joshua 15:63). There must be an interchange of the names in one or other of these places.

Unto this day--Seeing that the Jebusites dwelt in Jerusalem until the days of David, by whom they were driven out, and the author of the book of Judges states that they were in possession of Jerusalem when he wrote, we know that this book was written before the reign of David.

Article 1.5: Canaanites
The descendants of Canaan, the son of Ham. Migrating from their original home, they seem to have reached the Persian Gulf, and to have stayed there for a short time. Afterward, they "spread to the west, across the mountain chain of Lebanon to the very edge of the Mediterranean Sea, occupying all the land which later became Palestine, also to the north-west as far as the mountain chain of Taurus. This group was very numerous, and broken up into a great many peoples, as we can see from the list of nations (Gen 10), the 'sons of Canaan.'" Six different tribes are mentioned in Ex 3:8, 17; Ex 23:23; Ex 33:2; Ex 34:11. In Ex 13:5 the "Perizzites" are omitted. The "Girgashites" are mentioned in addition to those mentioned in Deut 7:1; Jos 3:10.
The "Canaanites," as distinguished from the Amalekites, the Anakim, and the Rephaim, were "dwellers in the lowlands" (Num 13:29), the great plains and valleys, the richest and most important parts of Palestine. Tyre and Sidon, their famous cities, were the centers of great commercial activity; and hence the name "Canaanite" came to signify a "trader" or "merchant" (Job 41:6; Prov 31:24), lit. "Canaanites;" Compare Zep 1:11; Ezek 17:4. The name "Canaanite" is also sometimes used to designate the non-Israelite inhabitants of the land in general (Gen 12:6; Num 21:3; Jdg 1:10).
The Israelites, when they were led to the Promised Land, were commanded to utterly destroy the descendants of Canaan then possessing it (Ex 23:23; Num 33:52, 53; Deut 20:16, 17). This was to be done "by little bits," lest the beasts of the field should increase (Ex 23:29; Deut 7:22, 23). The history of these wars of conquest is given in the Book of Joshua. The extermination of these tribes, however, was never fully carried out. Jerusalem was not taken until the time of David (2Sa 5:6, 7). In the days of Solomon, bond-service was exacted from the fragments of the tribes still remaining in the land (1Ki 9:20, 21). Even after the return from captivity survivors of five of the Canaanitish tribes were still found in the land.
In the Tell-el-Amarna tablets Canaan is found under the forms of Kinakhna and Kinakhkhi. Under the name of Kanana the Canaanites appear on Egyptian monuments, wearing a coat of mail and helmet, and distinguished by the use of spear and javelin and the battle-axe. They were called Phoenicians by the Greeks and Poeni by the Romans. By race the Canaanites were Semitic. They were famous as merchants and seamen, as well as for their artistic skill. The chief object of their worship was the sun-god, who was addressed by the general name of Baal, "lord." Each locality had its special Baal, and the various local Baals were summed up under the name of Baalim, "lords."


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