Chariots of Iron?

Chariots of Iron?

Can someone give me some insight into this verse:
19And the LORD was with Judah; and he drave out the inhabitants of the mountain; but could not drive out the inhabitants of the valley, because they had chariots of iron(Judges 1:19 KJV)?
An atheist threw this at me in a discussion a while back, and I have had a hard time getting through to what this verse says. It read as though God either could not stand against the iron chariots, or Judah could not, not even in the presence of God. Any help? ( I understand this to be a favorite among critics of God and the Bible, and I would like to be able to answer if it comes up again, once my own understanding has been solidified. Thanks


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Reading through the chapter really quickly (since I hate single verse arguments out of context), I don't see any actual attempt. It "seems to me" from what I read, that it's possible they didn't even try. God has been known to empower those that believe and trust in Him. But we do indeed have to take that step. Jericho fell because Joshua heeded God's Word. But Joshua could have chosen to stay home that day and we would have read a different story altogether.

Though, again, I'm no scholar, that's just the way I read it.


Standing ready to enter God's promises some Israelites saw grapes and others saw only giants. Those who saw God's promise cleared giants out in their old age. Those who saw only the obsticles never enjoyed God's promise of victory. This principle is found thru out scripture. God was fully able.
Jdg 1:19 And the LORD was with Judah; and he drave out the inhabitants of the mountain; but could not drive out the inhabitants of the valley, because they had chariots of iron.

The he in this scripture was Judah. And yet Caleb had no such trouble being strong in faith:
Jos 15:13 And unto Caleb the son of Jephunneh he gave a part among the children of Judah, according to the commandment of the LORD to Joshua, even the city of Arba the father of Anak, which city is Hebron.
Jos 15:14 And Caleb drove thence the three sons of Anak, Sheshai, and Ahiman, and Talmai, the children of Anak.

Likewise did Joshua the son of Nun have victory in his battles because they :
Num 32:12 Save Caleb the son of Jephunneh the Kenezite, and Joshua the son of Nun: for they have wholly followed the LORD.
Thanks for your responses, fellahs.
Hmm, I can understand that if they did not have faith and feared the chariots, just as the scouts feared the giants when they first came unto Canaan, that due to their lack of faith, God would have either delivered them to the inhabitants of the valley, or as it says, they just "could not" drive them out. But the words "And God was with Judah(the "he", that I was pretty sure of)+ "but could not" sounds like a failure in the presence of God. I have no doubts that God will succumbs to nothing, which explains the consternation I'm having with this. I even read back into the latter part of Joshua, and found no reference to the house of Judah lacking in faith that God would lead them to victory in every battle. In fact, the last chapter of Joshua tells of Joshua leading Isreal back to serving God. Is this indeed a throw back to the fear of the giants? Or a punishment for the time that they served false Gods?
Or am I just being thick headed here?


God had promised Isreal both victory and that He would fight their battles if they trusted and obeyed. There are many instances in the Old Testament where this did not happen simply because Israel did not hold up their end of the bargain. Below is an excerpt from the Keil and Delitzsch commentairy on the old testament with brings otu the full meaning of the text;

From the Negeb Judah turned into the shephelah, and took the three principal cities of the Philistines along the line of coast, viz., Gaza, Askelon, and Ekron, with their territory. The order in which the names of the captured cities occur is a proof that the conquest took place from the south. First of all Gaza, the southernmost of all the towns of the Philistines, the present Guzzeh; then Askelon (Ashkulân), which is five hours to the north of Gaza; and lastly Ekron, the most northerly of the five towns of the Philistines, the present Akîr (see at Jos_13:3). The other two, Ashdod and Gath, do not appear to have been conquered at that time. And even those that were conquered, the Judaeans were unable to hold long. In the time of Samson they were all of them in the hands of the Philistines again (see Jdg_14:19; Jdg_16:1.; 1Sa_5:10, etc.). - In Jdg_1:19 we have a brief summary of the results of the contests for the possession of the land. "Jehovah was with Judah;" and with His help they took possession of the mountains. And they did nothing more; "for the inhabitants of the plain they were unable to exterminate, because they had iron chariots." הֹורִישׁ has two different meanings in the two clauses: first (וַיֹּרֶשׁ), to seize upon a possession which has been vacated by the expulsion or destruction of its former inhabitants; and secondly (לְהֹורִישׁ, with the accusative, of the inhabitants), to drive or exterminate them out of their possessions-a meaning which is derived from the earlier signification of making it an emptied possession (see Exo_34:24; Num_32:21, etc.). "The mountain" here includes the south-land (the Negeb), as the only distinction is between mountains and plain. "The valley" is the shephelah (Jdg_1:9). לְהֹורִישׁלֹא, he was not (able) to drive out. The construction may be explained from the fact that לֹא is to be taken independently here as in Amo_6:10, in the same sense in which אַיִן before the infinitive is used in later writings (2Ch_5:11; Est_4:2; Est_8:8; Ecc_3:14 : see Ges. §132-3, anm. 1; Ewald, §237, e.). On the iron chariots, i.e., the chariots tipped with iron, see at Jos_17:16. - To this there is appended, in v. 20, the statement that "they gave Hebron unto Caleb," etc., which already occurred in Jos_15:13-14, and was there explained; and also in Jdg_1:12 the remark, that the Benjaminites did not drive out the Jebusite who dwelt in Jerusalem, which is so far in place here, that it shows, on the one hand, that the children of Judah did not bring Jerusalem into the undisputed possession of the Israelites through this conquest, and, on the other hand, that it was not their intention to diminish the inheritance of Benjamin by the conquest of Jerusalem, and they had not taken the city for themselves. For further remarks, see at Jdg_1:8.
The hostile attacks of the other tribes upon the Canaanites who remained in the land are briefly summed up in
Jdg_1:22-36. Of these the taking of Bethel is more fully described in Jdg_1:22-26. Besides this, nothing more is given than the list of the towns in the territories of western Manasseh (Jdg_1:27, Jdg_1:28), Ephraim (Jdg_1:29), Zebulun (Jdg_1:30), Asher (Jdg_1:31, Jdg_1:32), Naphtali (Jdg_1:33), and Dan (Jdg_1:34, Jdg_1:35), out of which the Canaanites were not exterminated by these tribes. Issachar is omitted; hardly, however, because that tribe made no attempt to disturb the Canaanites, as Bertheau supposes, but rather because none of its towns remained in the hands of the Canaanites.
And you can make sense of that Boanerges? my mind=kaboom!:rolleyes:
I'll have to sit down later when I have a chance to break it down and digest it all. Thanks for posting it up, though,I do appreciate that.
Between commentay and facts

While there are plenty of situations where the textual descriptions include details of a conceptual nature and amount to commentary, this is not one of them.
A good, thorough reading of Josua will also make clear that they were not the only ones, there are other examples to include some of Judges.
This is just a dry factual statement of fact.
Gotta tell between the two...

There is nothing negative to be attributed to them other than having tried and failing.

The tactical bible will reveal that light infantry can't do anything but run when you have iron-equiped chariots coming your way.
God's word is geared toward what to do if they were invaded.

Israel is mostly mountainous and well suited to light infantry,
on level ground, you're in enemy territory, chariots have the advantage, you either get shot or trampled.

Iron chariots...
The chariots of the time were made of wood and wicker with bronze fittings for the wheels and the attachment of its parts.
Having Iron fittings and shields meant two things;
an enemy with superior technological and commercial capabilities, they could afford to loose troops and kick you out without much of a problem.

What really amuses me is that your friend doesn't realize that he's doing commentary on a text he doesn't believe in, its obvious that his position is not his own...


Israel was told to take the land they were promiosed. Give me faith in God's Word over an iron chariot anyday brother. David slew Goliath with a rock. Israel often did not loose one man to have victory when they moved out in faith according to God's Word. He is