Bible Notes Online - Judges 1 - ESV
Commentary

v1: After the death of Joshua; this introduces the history of Israel for some centuries, during the period of the Judges. There was no longer one leader over all Israel, except the Lord God Himself.

The Israelites began well, seeking the mind of the Lord. There remained groups of Canaanites within the land, and Israel still had the responsibility to cleanse the land of them.

v2-3: In Josh 23.4, the responsibility to possess the land was passed to individual tribes. Here Judah and Simeon joined together to expel the Canaanites; see also v17.

v5-7: Adoni-Bezek was king of the Canaanites in that region. He received his just reward, and he realised it.

v8: Judah attacked Jerusalem. In v21 we read that Benjamin failed to drive out the Jebusites who lived there; presumably they moved back into that part of the city burned by Judah. It seems that part of Jerusalem fell within Judah's territory, and part within Benjamin's.

200 or more years later, David had to re-capture the city; we learn that sin is persistent; we may need to win successive victories; we certainly have to be persistent in dealing with sins in our own lives.

v9-15: The incident is also recorded in Josh 15.13-19; Judg 1.1-3.6 provide an overlap with Joshua, as well as giving a summary and introduction to the period of the Judges. The Jewish mind was less concerned with putting events into chronological order; rather he would think about themes and subjects.

Since the book of Joshua is more concerned with Israel's victories as a nation, it seems that this incident would have happened after Joshua's death.

v16: The city of Palms was Jericho, 3.13; see Deut 34.3. For reference to Moses’ father-in-law, see Ex 18.

v17: The names of cities were changed, to remove the reference to false gods, and as a testimony to God; see also v10,11,26.

v18: Judah also occupied some of the territory of the Philistines.

v19-21: Judah and Benjamin both failed to drive out those Canaanites living in their allotted region. This was true of each tribe mentioned here, apart from Issachar. Again, the application is clear, sins will cling to us, and effort is required to drive them out. The Israelites' failure to deal thoroughly with the Canaanites led to problems later.

The circumstances of individual tribes were different; in Judah, the Canaanites had iron chariots (v19); in Manasseh, the Canaanites were determined to dwell there (v27); in Manasseh and Zebulun, the Canaanites were put under tribute (v28,30); and in Asher and Naphtali, the Israelites actually lived among the Canaanites (v32,33).