Judges 1:14
One day Acsah came to Othniel and urged him to ask her father for a field. When she got off her donkey, Caleb asked her, "What do you desire?"
The Public Spirit of CalebA.F. Muir Judges 1:11-15
Achsah's Asking a Pattern of PrayerSpurgeon, Charles HaddonJudges 1:12-15
Difficulties and Hardships in LifeR. Rogers.Judges 1:12-15
The Blessings Given in the GospelF. Tucker, B. A.Judges 1:12-15
The Upper Springs and the Nether SpringsArthur Ritchie.Judges 1:12-15
CompensationsA.F. Muir Judges 1:14, 15

Of the wisdom and carefulness of Achsah we have here abundant proof. They were nobly and honourably exercised. She is the daughter of a rich man, and becomes the bride of a brave soldier who had evidently little but his sword and his reputation to boast of. She is jealous lest he should be rewarded with a mere titular distinction. He has been nobly oblivious of material rewards, she shall be proportionably watchful over his interests. She therefore urges her husband as he passes in triumph to Hebron to ask for the field through which they march. The thoughts of the hero are not to be directed into any such sordid channel. But she, taking advantage of the occasion as she lights from off her ass, asks her father in symbolic language to compensate her for the poverty to which he had consigned her. "Thou hast given me a south land (i.e. married me to a poor younger son); give me also springs of water." To this reasonable request Caleb makes generous response. "She slides from her ass, suddenly, as if she fell, so that her father asks, 'What is the matter with thee?' Her answer has a double sense, 'Thou gavest me away into a dry land; give me also springs'" (Cassel).

I. A BLESSING WITH A DRAWBACK. Of the bravery of Othniel there could be no question; of his poverty there could be as little. It might be honourable for her to be his wife, but she would have to suffer many sacrifices in leaving the wealthy home of her father, and her husband would have an additional burden to sustain. Are not the dispensations of providence, even when we judge them on the whole to be best for us, frequently as mysteriously qualified and limited? No man would probably care to exchange his life for another's, but "there's a crook in every lot." Material blessings generally contain within them elements of discipline, and sometimes even of punishment. But they are alike the gift of a loving father, and are to be accepted in the spirit of trust and affection.

II. COMPENSATIONS. IS the gift of Achsah's father open to grave drawbacks? It is not therefore unalterable. Something may be done to lessen its inconveniences, if not entirely to remove them. Her father is reasonable, and she at once makes appeal to his sense of what is fit and proper. Her request is granted. So with ourselves. Our heavenly Father who apportioned our lot is surely as reasonable and affectionate as any earthly one. It is for us to exercise the same wisdom as Achsah, and request that God will give us such alleviations to our portion in life, or reveal to us those that already exist. Sometimes there are compensations latent in the very circumstances of which we complain: springs of water to moisten a sun-parched soil. In any case God is able to bestow upon us exceeding abundantly above all that we can ask or think. - M.

To him will I give Achsah my daughter.
There was more difficulty and danger in the winning of this city than others; which teaches us that we must not think it strange if some part of our life be more encumbered than other parts and times. The husbandman is hindered sometimes by the rainy weather: but yet so, as he hath his seasons free from it, to do his business in. The artificer is troubled about putting away his wares, and the falling of the price, so that he cannot always make his advantage of them, as ordinarily he doth, for the maintaining of himself and his charge. But God changeth those times so that they do not always keep at one stay. In more particular manner I might show the disappointments that all sorts of people meet with and have. And why do I set down all this about the matter in hand? but that we may see the wisdom and mercy of God herein, who mixeth both together, because if all our life should be smoothly carried, and easily passed, we should be made thereby unfit for our change, especially for great trials, when they come; and so likewise, if it should be for the most part tedious and troublesome, there should be nothing but weariness and discomfort. And therefore all sorts should seek to be in God's favour, that so they may also be under His government in both estates.

(R. Rogers.)

Thou hast given me a south land; give me also springs of water
To Achsah Caleb gave a south land — a plot of land with a southern aspect. It did not face the dark and chilly north; but the midday sun beat full upon it. But still she has a request to make: the blessing given her is not enough. The text reminds us of the blessing God has given us in the gospel. "A south land." What splendour of light — what a clear revelation of His mind and will! Never has anything been seen on earth to rival it! Think of this! The splendour of gospel light — the clear discovery of the way of our salvation — the vision of a perfect harmony between all God's attributes, no less than between the creature's highest good and the Creator's highest glory! Ours is a "south land." The light does not come to us refracted through an atmosphere of types and shadows; but falls full, so that our eyes are dazzled and filled with tears; for it is "the light of the knowledge of the glory of God" seen "in the face of Jesus Christ." What fervour of love! There is light in the wintry meteor that blazes across the northern sky, but there is no warmth in it — nothing to stir the dulness of sleeping germs or folded buds, to bring the blade through the soil or the blossom on the tree. But sun-rays have heat as well as light in them — they have a quickening as well as an illuminating power. And so the gospel is as fervent as it is splendid — it brings near to us a God of light and love. Such is the blessing already given to all who are faithfully taught the glorious gospel. The text tells us of another blessing yet to be implored. See the case of Achsah. The mere possession of south land was not enough for her; the light and heat of the noonday sun were not enough. Her heritage needed another kind of influence to make it fruitful — that influence that comes with springs of water. Without this the sun might shine and glow in vain — nay, worse than in vain: it might soon become a curse rather than a blessing. When "the heavens are as brass, and the earth is as iron," that land fares badly that faces the southern sun, and is without springs of water. How naturally, then, might Achsah put up the prayer, "Thou hast given me a south land; give me also springs of water." See our case. Oh, it is very terrible to think of, but plainly declared — that the great blessing of the gospel may become a curse! If it is not "a savour of life unto life," it will prove "a savour of death unto death." If it does not make us fruitful to man's good and God's glory, it will only harden us, wither us, consume us. O dwellers in the south land, awake! Awake, and cry aloud for "springs of water." See the work of the Holy Spirit. That work is very frequently referred to in Holy Scripture under the figure of rain from heaven: rain, sometimes filling the wells and watercourses, and sometimes feeding the secret springs. Observe — there is no antagonism between the work of Christ and the work of the Spirit, any more than between sun and rain. The one is the supplement to the other; both co-operate harmoniously together to one blessed end.

(F. Tucker, B. A.)


1. She naturally wished that her husband should find in that estate all that was convenient and all that might be profitable; and looking it all over, she saw what was wanted. Before you pray, know what you are needing. "Oh!" says somebody, "I utter some good words." Does God want your words? Think what you are going to ask before you begin to pray, and then pray like business men.

2. This woman, before she went to her father with her petition, asked her husband's help. When she came to her husband "she moved him to ask of her father a field." It is often a great help in prayer for two of you to agree touching the thing that concerns Christ's kingdom. A cordon of praying souls around the throne of grace will be sure to prevail.

3. Achsah bethought herself of this one thing, that she was going to present her request to her father. I suppose that she would not have gone to ask of anybody else; but she said to herself, "Come, Achsah, Caleb is your father. The boon I am going to ask is not of a stranger, who does not know me, but of a father, in whose care I have been ever since I was born." This thought ought to help us in prayer, and it will help us when we remember that we do not go to ask of an enemy, nor to plead with a stranger; but we say, "Our Father, which art in heaven."

4. She went humbly, yet eagerly. If others will not pray with you, go alone; and when you go, go very reverently. Thou art on earth, and God is in heaven; multiply not thy words as though thou wert talking to thine equal.

II. HER ENCOURAGEMENT. "Caleb said unto her, what wilt thou?"

1. You should know what you want. Could some Christians, if God were to say to them, "What wilt thou?" answer Him? Do you not think that we get into such an indistinct, indiscriminate kind of a way of praying that we do not quite know what we do really want? If it is so with you, do not expect to be heard till you know what you want.

2. Ask for it. God's way of giving is through our asking. I suppose that He does that in order that He may give twice over, for a prayer is itself a blessing as well as the answer to prayer. Perhaps it sometimes does us as much good to pray for a blessing as to get the blessing.


1. A good beginning: "Give me a blessing." Why, if the Lord shall hear that prayer from everybody in this place, what a blessed company we shall be; and we shall go our way to be a blessing to this City of London beyond what we have ever been before!

2. Notice next, how she mingled gratitude with her petition: "Give me a blessing: for thou hast given me a south land." Go back in grateful praise to God for what He has done for thee in days gone by, and then get a spring for thy leap for a future blessing or a present blessing. Mingle gratitude with all thy prayers.

3. There was not only gratitude in this woman's prayer, but she used former gifts as a plea for more: "Thou hast given me a south land; give me also," etc. Oh, yes, that is a grand argument with God: "Thou hast given me; therefore give me some more." Every blessing given contains the eggs of other blessing within it. Thou must take the blessing, and find the hidden eggs, and let them be hatched by thine earnestness, and there shall be a whole brood of blessings springing out of a single blessing. See thou to that.

4. But this woman used this plea in a particular way: she said, "Thou hast given me a south land; give me also springs of water." When you ask of God, ask distinctly: "Give me springs of water." You may say, "Give me my daily bread." You may cry, "Give me a sense of pardoned sin." You may distinctly ask for anything which God has promised to give.


1. Her father gave her what she asked. And God gives us what we ask for when it is wise to do so. But sometimes we make mistakes.

2. He gave her in large measure. The Lord "is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think." Some use that passage in prayer, and misquote it, "above what we can ask or even think." That is not in the Bible, because you can ask or even think anything you like; but it is "above all that we ask or think." Our asking or our thinking falls short; but God's giving never does.

3. He gave her this without a word of upbraiding. Now, may the Lord grant unto us to ask of Him in wisdom, and may He not have to upbraid us, but give us all manner of blessings both of the upper and the 'nether springs, both of heaven and earth, both of eternity and time, and give them freely, and not say even a single word by way of upbraiding us!

( C. H. Spurgeon.)

What is told us about Caleb's daughter is an illustration of the life of the soul.

1. Every earnest Christian, realising the seriousness of life, the meaning of his profession, the destiny which is before him, ought to ask of God a field; that is, a vocation. God individualises His servants. He has endowed each one in His own wise way, and He expects each one to exercise His own particular endowment for the glory of the Master and Lord. At the same time it is also true that He allows us a great deal of liberty in adapting our vocations to our lives, or perhaps one should rather say, adapting our lives to our vocations. One who believes himself called to the ministry may not take up any other profession, yet may without sin choose whether he will devote himself to mission work or minister as opportunity may present itself in parish life. In like manner the less marked commonplace vocations of everyday Christian life are largely shaped by the earnest disciple himself following the bent of his own enthusiasm, though it must be always in deference to the will of God, when that is in any way specially manifested. Even in cases where there seems to be no possibility of individual choosing, where one's way seems marked out by circumstances, and there is nothing to do but to go on in it, there should still be conscious recognition of the opportunity of a willingly accepted vocation; there should be the asking for a field on the part of the loyal soul; that is, the asking for grace to do a true and useful work for God in the circumstances He has prepared for us.

2. It does not take us long to discover that our fields are in the land of the south — arid, hard to cultivate, lacking moisture. All true vocations are hard and trying. The purpose of the existence of the kingdom of heaven upon earth is the conquest and overthrow of the kingdom of evil; that means that all who will serve in the Master's service have to fight. It often happens that, because vocations are found to be very hard, the disciple comes to the conclusion that what he thought to be his calling is not truly so, that he has made a mistake.

3. What then? The undaunted soul betakes itself to prayer. The vocation is hard, almost unendurable; never mind, light down from off the ass and pray for a blessing. There is here no thought of surrendering one's calling; of saying, "This is too hard a thing for me; take it away, and give me an easier lot in Thy service." Caleb's daughter did not ask her father to exchange the arid field for a fruitful and better situated one; she asked him to give her something besides it, however. God loves to have us develop our vocations by prayer. We must have especial and particular times of prayer set apart for that purpose, wherein we light down, as it were, from our daily duties and make our petitions to the Most High.

4. Did Caleb respond to his daughter's petition? Aye, surely, but no more surely than God responds to the prayers of His children who are striving to live loyally in the vocations He has assigned them. She asked for springs of water, for with springs of water to irrigate it the south land might be made most fertile and profitable for every sort of good fruit. It is said significantly that he gave to her both the upper springs and the nether springs. For the lower springs, that is the wells, supplement the waters of the upper springs. These last coming down abundantly in torrents from the mountains, guided by the hand of man through the fields, make them exceeding fertile, and then the superabundance of their waters is stored, according to nature's wise provision, in the lower wells, which do not dry up with the long-continued heat of the summer, but remain an ever reliable and constant supply. If God has given to His children hard and arid fields of labour, in which they are to find their several vocations, we are not to forget that to those who seek His help in prayer He grants abundantly the upper and the nether springs.

5. What, then, are these upper springs, the fresh, cooling waters from the hills, flowing down in copious streams, for man's use and profit, that the dry ground may be refreshed by them, and made to blossom as the rose and to be fruitful with all manner of good things? Evidently these upper springs of God's gift are the waters of supernatural, sacramental grace; the waters that flow down from the delectable mountains, the heavenly provision in overflowing abundance for earthly spiritual drought. We were never meant to fulfil our vocations without the help of grace. We think so much of our own energy, gifts, work, money, as if these things earnestly and heartily applied were to make the arid south land of God's calling for us fertile. They are all very well, but do not anything more valuable than dig the irrigating trenches which shall carry the sparkling waters of the upper springs down through the dry land, and make it productive.

6. And the nether springs, the lower wells, what are they in the Christian life? They are those blessed reservoirs of the sacramental grace which has been drawn in and assimilated by the correspondence of earnest disciples, ready for use in the times when the upper springs do not seem to flow freely, and to make fertile the field of the soul's labour. They are living fountains of God-given water, staying us when the special help from on high seems for the time withdrawn.(1) There is the nether spring of love. As the wells in the lowlands are filled from the upper springs, so love of God, fed by sacramental grace, becomes a living fountain of perennial freshness in the soul.(2) The sacramental life teaches one patience; the graces which flow from Holy Communion fill up this deep fountain, so that it never runs dry.(3) There is yet another fine nether spring of precious value in the devout Christian life — the spring of confident expectation, the spring which combines faith and hope in one great wealth of unshaken trust. This too is filled by the upper springs of sacramental grace. One learns by his experience in confessing his sins how true and real is the pardon that comes through the precious blood. One learns, as the result of his communions, how mighty is the transforming power of the Christ-life so lovingly imparted to us. Thus he becomes sublimely sure, magnificently confident, with a sureness and a confidence that are not inconsistent with genuine humility.

(Arthur Ritchie.)

Abednego, Achsah, Adonibezek, Ahiman, Amalekites, Amorites, Anak, Anath, Arad, Arba, Asher, Asherites, Benjamin, Benjamites, Caleb, Canaanites, Dan, Danites, Debir, Edomites, Hittites, Hobab, Israelites, Jebusites, Joseph, Joshua, Kenaz, Manasseh, Naphtali, Naphtalites, Othniel, Perizzites, Rehob, Sheshai, Simeon, Simeonites, Talmai, Zebulun, Zidon
Acco, Achzib, Ahlab, Aijalon, Akrabbim, Aphik, Arad, Ashkelon, Beth-anath, Bethel, Beth-shan, Beth-shemesh, Bezek, Debir, Dor, Ekron, Gaza, Gezer, Gibeah, Hebron, Helbah, Hormah, Ibleam, Jerusalem, Kiriath-arba, Kiriath-sepher, Kitron, Luz, Megiddo, Mount Heres, Nahalol, Negeb, Rehob, Sela, Shaalbim, Sidon, Taanach, Zephath
Alighted, Ass, Caleb, Donkey, Field, Got, Idea, Lighted, Lighteth, Mind, Moved, Pass, Persuaded, Persuadeth, Requesting, Urged, Wilt, Wish, Wouldest
1. The acts of Judah and Simeon
4. Adonibezek justly requited
8. Jerusalem taken
10. Hebron taken
11. Othniel has Achsah to wife for taking of Debir
16. The Kenites dwell in Judah
17. Hormah, Gaza, Askelon, and Ekron taken
21. The acts of Benjamin
22. Of the house of Joseph, who take Bethel
30. Of Zebulun
31. Of Asher
33. Of Naphtali
34. Of Dan

Dictionary of Bible Themes
Judges 1:1-20

     7266   tribes of Israel

Judges 1:11-15

     4293   water

Judges 1:12-15

     5654   betrothal

Judges 1:14-15

     4260   rivers and streams
     5679   dowry
     5742   wedding

The Historical Books.
1. In the Pentateuch we have the establishment of the Theocracy, with the preparatory and accompanying history pertaining to it. The province of the historical books is to unfold its practiced working, and to show how, under the divine superintendence and guidance, it accomplished the end for which it was given. They contain, therefore, primarily, a history of God's dealings with the covenant people under the economy which he had imposed upon them. They look at the course of human events on the
E. P. Barrows—Companion to the Bible

The Coast of the Asphaltites, the Essenes. En-Gedi.
"On the western shore" (of the Asphaltites) "dwell the Essenes; whom persons, guilty of any crimes, fly from on every side. A nation it is that lives alone, and of all other nations in the whole world, most to be admired; they are without any woman; all lust banished, &c. Below these, was the town Engadda, the next to Jerusalem for fruitfulness, and groves of palm-trees, now another burying-place. From thence stands Massada, a castle in a rock, and this castle not far from the Asphaltites." Solinus,
John Lightfoot—From the Talmud and Hebraica

Beth-El. Beth-Aven.
Josephus thus describes the land of Benjamin; "The Benjamites' portion of land was from the river Jordan to the sea, in length: in breadth, it was bounded by Jerusalem and Beth-el." Let these last words be marked, "The breadth of the land of Benjamin was bounded by Jerusalem and Beth-el." May we not justly conclude, from these words, that Jerusalem and Beth-el were opposite, as it were, in a right line? But if you look upon the maps, there are some that separate these by a very large tract of land,
John Lightfoot—From the Talmud and Hebraica

"Tsippor is the greatest city of Galilee, and built in a very strong place." "Kitron (Judg 1:29,30) is Tsippor: and why is it called Tsippor? Because it is seated upon a mountain as Tsippor, a bird." "Sixteen miles on all sides from Tsippor was a land flowing with milk and honey." This city is noted in Josephus for its warlike affairs; but most noted in the Talmudists for the university fixed there, and for the learning, which Rabbi Judah the Holy brought hither, as we have said before. He sat in
John Lightfoot—From the Talmud and Hebraica

A Nation's Struggle for a Home and Freedom.
ISRAEL'S VICTORIES OVER THE CANAANITES.--Josh. 2-9; Judg. 1, 4, 5. Parallel Readings. Hist. Bible II,1-4.1. Prin. of Politics X. That the leaders took the lead in Israel, That the people volunteered readily, Bless Jehovah! Zebulun was a people who exposed themselves to deadly peril, And Naphtali on the heights of the open field. Kings came, they fought; They fought, the kings of Canaan, At Taanach by the Waters of Megiddo, They took no booty of silver. Prom heaven fought the stars, From their
Charles Foster Kent—The Making of a Nation

The Place of the Old Testament in Divine Revelation
[Sidenote: Advent of the Hebrews] Modern discovery and research have demonstrated that the truth revealed through the Babylonians and with less definiteness through the people of the Nile was never entirely lost. Such a sad waste was out of accord with the obvious principles of divine economy. As the icy chill of ceremonialism seized decadent Babylonia and Egypt, there emerged from the steppes south and east of Palestine a virile, ambitious group of nomads, who not only fell heir to that which
Charles Foster Kent—The Origin & Permanent Value of the Old Testament

The Prophet Jonah.
It has been asserted without any sufficient reason, that Jonah is older than Hosea, Joel, Amos, and Obadiah,--that he is the oldest among the prophets whose written monuments have been preserved to us. The passage in 2 Kings xiv. 25, where it is said, that Jonah, the son of Amittai the prophet, prophesied to Jeroboam the happy success of his arms, and the restoration of the ancient boundaries of Israel, and that this prophecy was confirmed by the event, cannot decide in favour of this assertion,
Ernst Wilhelm Hengstenberg—Christology of the Old Testament

Scythopolis. Beth-Shean, the Beginning of Galilee.
The bonds of Galilee were, "on the south, Samaris and Scythopolis, unto the flood of Jordan." Scythopolis is the same with Beth-shean, of which is no seldom mention in the Holy Scriptures, Joshua 17:11; Judges 1:27; 1 Samuel 31:10. "Bethsaine (saith Josephus), called by the Greeks Scythopolis." It was distant but a little way from Jordan, seated in the entrance to a great valley: for so the same author writes, "Having passed Jordan, they came to a great plain, where lies before you the city Bethsane,"
John Lightfoot—From the Talmud and Hebraica

The Country of Jericho, and the Situation of the City.
Here we will borrow Josephus' pencil, "Jericho is seated in a plain, yet a certain barren mountain hangs over it, narrow, indeed, but long; for it runs out northward to the country of Scythopolis,--and southward, to the country of Sodom, and the utmost coast of the Asphaltites." Of this mountain mention is made, Joshua 2:22, where the two spies, sent by Joshua, and received by Rahab, are said to "conceal themselves." "Opposite against this, lies a mountain on the other side Jordan, beginning from
John Lightfoot—From the Talmud and Hebraica

The Hebrews and the Philistines --Damascus
THE ISRAELITES IN THE LAND OF CANAAN: THE JUDGES--THE PHILISTINES AND THE HEBREW KINGDOM--SAUL, DAVID, SOLOMON, THE DEFECTION OF THE TEN TRIBES--THE XXIst EGYPTIAN DYNASTY--SHESHONQ OR SHISHAK DAMASCUS. The Hebrews in the desert: their families, clans, and tribes--The Amorites and the Hebrews on the left bank of the Jordan--The conquest of Canaan and the native reaction against the Hebrews--The judges, Ehud, Deborah, Jerubbaal or Gideon and the Manassite supremacy; Abimelech, Jephihdh. The Philistines,
G. Maspero—History Of Egypt, Chaldaea, Syria, Babylonia, and Assyria, V 6

Jews and Gentiles in "The Land"
Coming down from Syria, it would have been difficult to fix the exact spot where, in the view of the Rabbis, "the land" itself began. The boundary lines, though mentioned in four different documents, are not marked in anything like geographical order, but as ritual questions connected with them came up for theological discussion. For, to the Rabbis the precise limits of Palestine were chiefly interesting so far as they affected the religious obligations or privileges of a district. And in this respect
Alfred Edersheim—Sketches of Jewish Social Life

For the understanding of the early history and religion of Israel, the book of Judges, which covers the period from the death of Joshua to the beginning of the struggle with the Philistines, is of inestimable importance; and it is very fortunate that the elements contributed by the later editors are so easily separated from the ancient stories whose moral they seek to point. That moral is most elaborately stated in ii. 6-iii. 6, which is a sort of programme or preface to iii. 7-xvi. 31, which constitutes
John Edgar McFadyen—Introduction to the Old Testament

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