Judges 1:11-15: The Romance of Othniel and Achsah

Verse 11:[1] (Josh. 15:15) And from thence he went against the inhabitants of Debir: and the name of Debir before was Kirjath-sepher…

[He went to Debir] Concerning this and the following verses see Joshua 15:15, 16, etc. For in this time after the death of Joshua this whole history happened (Malvenda, similarly Tostatus). It is set down in Joshua 15 by way of anticipation (Montanus). But Peter Martyr denies this. The contrary will be evident to the one diligently perusing Joshua 10 and 15; for then it would not have said, Joshua came at that time[2] (Martyr).

 

[1444 BC] Verse 12:[3] (Josh. 15:16, 17) And Caleb said, He that smiteth Kirjath-sepher, and taketh it, to him will I give Achsah my daughter to wife.

 

Verse 13:[4] And Othniel the son of Kenaz, (Judg. 3:9) Caleb’s younger brother, took it: and he gave him Achsah his daughter to wife.

[Othniel the son of Kenaz] That is, of the posterity of Kenaz, after whom Caleb was called the Kenezite (Malvenda out of Junius).

[The younger brother of Caleb] Hebrew: the relative of Caleb, the least from him,[5] that is, from Kenaz. That is, of all those begotten of Kenaz that were surviving, the least in age, authority, and wealth: which is said in commendation of Caleb’s faith and Othniel’s strenuous activity (Malvenda out of Junius). The brother of Caleb, less than him, that is, his junior (Vatablus). Othniel was Caleb’s uncle (yet younger than he); for Othniel and Jephunneh, Caleb’s father, were brothers, and both were sons of Kenaz. See Numbers 32:12; 1 Chronicles 4:13-15 (Lightfoot).

 

Verse 14:[6] (Josh. 15:18, 19) And it came to pass, when she came to him, that she moved him to ask of her father a field: and she lighted from off her ass; and Caleb said unto her, What wilt thou?

[Whom proceeding, etc.] See this and the following verse explained on Joshua 15:18, etc. (Vatablus). [For there Bonfrerius’ copious observations are found.]

 

Verse 15:[7] And she said unto him, (Gen. 33:11) Give me a blessing: for thou hast given me a south land; give me also springs of water. And Caleb gave her the upper springs and the nether springs.

[1] Hebrew: וַיֵּ֣לֶךְ מִשָּׁ֔ם אֶל־יוֹשְׁבֵ֖י דְּבִ֑יר וְשֵׁם־דְּבִ֥יר לְפָנִ֖ים קִרְיַת־סֵֽפֶר׃

[2] See Joshua 11:10, 21.

[3] Hebrew: וַיֹּ֣אמֶר כָּלֵ֔ב אֲשֶׁר־יַכֶּ֥ה אֶת־קִרְיַת־סֵ֖פֶר וּלְכָדָ֑הּ וְנָתַ֥תִּי ל֛וֹ אֶת־עַכְסָ֥ה בִתִּ֖י לְאִשָּֽׁה׃

[4] Hebrew: וַֽיִּלְכְּדָהּ֙ עָתְנִיאֵ֣ל בֶּן־קְנַ֔ז אֲחִ֥י כָלֵ֖ב הַקָּטֹ֣ן מִמֶּ֑נּוּ וַיִּתֶּן־ל֛וֹ אֶת־עַכְסָ֥ה בִתּ֖וֹ לְאִשָּֽׁה׃

[5] Hebrew: אֲחִ֥י כָלֵ֖ב הַקָּטֹ֣ן מִמֶּ֑נּוּ.

[6] Hebrew: וַיְהִ֣י בְּבוֹאָ֗הּ וַתְּסִיתֵ֙הוּ֙ לִשְׁא֤וֹל מֵֽאֵת־אָבִ֙יהָ֙ הַשָּׂדֶ֔ה וַתִּצְנַ֖ח מֵעַ֣ל הַחֲמ֑וֹר וַיֹּֽאמֶר־לָ֥הּ כָּלֵ֖ב מַה־לָּֽךְ׃

[7] Hebrew: וַתֹּ֙אמֶר ל֜וֹ הָֽבָה־לִּ֣י בְרָכָ֗ה כִּ֣י אֶ֤רֶץ הַנֶּ֙גֶב֙ נְתַתָּ֔נִי וְנָתַתָּ֥ה לִ֖י גֻּלֹּ֣ת מָ֑יִם וַיִּתֶּן־לָ֣הּ כָּלֵ֗ב אֵ֚ת גֻּלֹּ֣ת עִלִּ֔ית וְאֵ֖ת גֻּלֹּ֥ת תַּחְתִּֽית׃

3 thoughts on “Judges 1:11-15: The Romance of Othniel and Achsah

  1. Matthew Henry: ‘ And now Caleb, that he might return the kindness of his countrymen, is impatient to see Debir reduced and put into the hands of the men of Judah, to expedite which he proffers his daughter to the person that will undertake to command in the siege of that important place, Judges 1:11, 12. Othniel bravely undertakes it, and wins the town and the lady (Judges 1:13), and by his wife’s interest and management with her father gains a very good inheritance for himself and his family, Judges 1:14, 15. We had this passage before, Joshua 15:16-19, where it was largely explained and improved.’

  2. Jonathan Edwards’ “Notes on the Bible”: ‘Concerning Othniel and Caleb’s daughter. Othniel in this story is a type of Christ. As Othniel, Caleb’s nephew, obtained Caleb’s daughter, his first cousin, to wife, by war, and the victory he obtained over Caleb’s enemies, and taking a city from them to be a possession for Caleb and his heirs; so Christ, who, as nearly related to both God and us, is fit to be a Mediator between God and us, has obtained the church, God’s daughter, by war with God’s enemies, and the victory he has obtained over them, and by his redeeming a city, the spiritual Jerusalem, or Zion, out of their hands, to be a possession for God and his heirs. Achsah, Othniel’s wife, moves her husband to ask of her father a blessing, and an inheritance. So it is by the intercession of Christ that the church obtains of God the blessings and the inheritance she needs. She complains to her father that she inherited a south, that is, a dry, desert land; she asks of him springs of water, and Caleb granted her request; he gave her freely and abundantly; he gave her the upper springs, and the nether springs. And if men, being evil, know how to give good gifts to their children, how much more shall our heavenly Father give good things to them that ask him! When Caleb’s daughter inhabited a south land, and dwelt in the quenched places of the wilderness, she asked springs of water, both the upper and the nether springs. So, when the souls of God’s people are in a droughty, pining, languishing condition, it is not a new thing for them to go to their heavenly Father through the mediation of Christ, for all such supplies as they need; he will give them springs of water like the upper and the nether springs. Godliness hath the promise of the things of this life, and that which is to come. God will give grace and glory, and no good thing will he withhold from those that walk uprightly. Achsah improved that time to move her husband to intercede for her, when she came to him; which should teach us, when we are brought especially nigh to Christ, and have specially seasons of communion with him, to be careful then to improve our interest in him, and to seek his intercession for us with the Father for such blessings as we need.

    But this probably has a special respect to some particular seasons of God’s blessings on the church, and the accomplishing a glorious alteration in the state of things for her sake; and particularly two seasons.

    1. That glorious change that was made at and after Christ’s first coming. The church before that did as it were inhabit a south land, was held under weak and beggarly elements, was under the ministration of death, the letter, and not the spirit. But when Christ came nigh to the church, he took her nature upon him; he came and dwelt with us, and received his church into a much greater nearness to himself; and through his mediation was obtained of God a far more glorious dispensation, springs of water in abundance, a ministration of the Spirit, the Spirit was abundantly poured out upon her, and her inheritance was greatly enlarged. Instead of being confined only to the land of Canaan, she had the Roman empire given with all its wealth and glory, and so had the nether springs, as well as the upper.

    2. That glorious change that will be accomplished in favour of the church at the fall of antichrist. Now the church of Christ does as it were inherit a dry land, and has so done for a long time dry both upon spiritual and temporal accounts; both as to the upper and nether springs, and is much straitened in her inheritance. But the days will soon come wherein Christ will come in a spiritual sense, and the church shall forsake worldly vanities, and her own righteousness, and shall come to Christ, and then God will gloriously enlarge her inheritance, and will bestow both spiritual and temporal blessings upon her in abundance.’

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