Judges 1:20—Did Caleb kill the sons of Anak or just expel them?

Problem: In Judges 1:10, the three sons of Anak were “killed” by Judah. But, in verse 20 it says they were merely “expelled” from the land, which is what Joshua 15:14 says as well. Which was it?

Solution: There are two basic views in response to this problem. One view assumes that these two passages refer to the same event, while the other view maintains that they refer to different events.

The Same Event. According to this position, the children of Judah were led by Caleb. Thus, one passage could refer to the men who did it and the other to their leader. Further, the Hebrew word for “expel” can mean to “drive out” or “destroy.” In this sense they were expelled not only from the land of Judah, but also from the land of the living.

Different Events. According to this view, the first chapter of Judges does not follow in chronological order, being almost verbatim from Joshua 15:13–19. If so, the events would be as follows: when Joshua conquered the land, the sons of Anak were simply “expelled,” only to return when Joshua turned elsewhere. Later, after the initial campaigns, Judah settled the land and Caleb and his men actually “killed” them. Either position would resolve the difficulty.

See All Problems

This excerpt is from When Critics Ask: A Popular Handbook on Bible Difficulties (Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books, 1992). © 2014 Norman Geisler and Thomas Howe. All rights reserved. Used by permission. Click here to purchase this book.