Judah is chosen to go up against the Canaanites after the death of Joshua. With his brother Simeon, he defeats 10,000 men at Bezek. They cut off the big toes and thumbs of the kings of Bezek, who had had seventy kings with no thumbs or big toes eating scraps under his table. The king of Bezek dies in Jerusalem, which the Israelites take. South Canaan (Hebron and Debir) is conquered. Othniel is rewarded for taking Kirjath Sepher by marrying the Caleb’s daughter, Achsah. Caleb also receives Hebron. The Canaanites in the lowlands could not be expelled, however, because they had iron chariots. Ephraim and Manasseh take Bethel, sparing a man who shows them the entrance to the city. The Canaanites who cannot be cannot utterly destroyed are put under tribute.
The angel of the Lord reprimands the Israelites at Bochim for making covenants with the Canaanites. Israel repent and offer sacrifices at Bochim. After Joshua dies aged 110 and is buried in the mountains of Ephraim, a new generation arises who do not know the Lord. The Israelites forsake God and follow other gods. As a result, they are defeated in battle by plunderers. A pattern emerges of sin and bondage, deliverance by a Judge, blessing, followed by the death of the Judge, and then further sin and bondage.
The Philistines, all the Canaanites, the Sidonians, and the Hivites are left in the promised land to punish Israel for its disobedience and intermarrying. Israel falls into the servitude of the king of Mesopotamia for eight years. When Israel cries out to the Lord, He raises up Othniel to deliver Israel. Othniel does so, and dies. Israel is disobedient once more, and so is made to serve Eglon king of Moab. Ehud daringly assassinates the obese Eglon, stabbing him in his belly when coming to offer tribute. Ehud defats Moab in battle, and there is peace for eighty years. Next is Shamgar, who kills 600 Philistines with an ox goad.
Israel does evil; Israel serves king Jabin, who has iron chariots. Deborah judges Israel, calling upon Barak to go into battle against Sisera, Jabin’s military commander. Barak says he will only go if accompanied by Deborah. Deborah prophesies that Sisera will de defeated by a woman. Sisera’s army is defeated. Sisera flees on foot, and is killed in a tent with a tent peg through the skull by Jael, the wife of Heber of the nomadic Kenites (who descend from Moses’ father-in-law Hobab).
Deborah and Barak sing a song of victory and praise to the Lord about battle with kings of Canaan. The tribes who assisted are acknowledged; of those who did not, questions are asked. Jael is praised, despite abusing the laws of hospitality. The anxiety of Sisera’s mother waiting for him to return from battle is gleefully imagined. Israel rests for 40 years.