Othniel (Heb. Othniel’, עָתְנַיאֵל Lion Of God; Sept. Γοθονιήλ ) was the first judge or regent of the Hebrews after the death of Joshua. He was the son of Kenaz, the brother of Caleb, of the tribe of Judah. (Joshua 15:17)

Conquered Debir

Othniel is first mentioned in Joshua 15:17, when conquered Kiriath-sepher, later known as Debir, in the territory of Judah in the days of Joshua, and was given the daughter of Caleb, Achsah, as his wife as a reward ( Joshua 15:17, parallel found in Judges 1:13 ). 

Caleb gives his daughter Achsah in marriage. engraving, 1846. Public Domain.

Othniel lived in Debir in the land of Judah after this time. Through his wife’s influence, he obtained from his uncle Caleb the upper and lower springs in the land of the Negeb (Joshua 15:19).

Became the First Judge

After Joshua died, Israelites forgot the Lord their God and served the Baals and the Asherahs. This was evil in the eyes of the Lord, and God delivered them into the hands of Cushan-Rishathaim, king of Mesopotamia, Cushan-Rishathaim ruled over Israelites for eight years. (Judges 3:7-8)

But when they cried out to the Lord, God raised up for them a deliverer. The Spirit of the Lord came on Othniel, and he defeated Cushan-rishathaim, and thus not only saved the Israelites, but by reviving national sentiment among the, and reestablishing government, became the first of those hero-rulers known as “judges”. (Judges 3:9-10)

 The effects of his victory lasted an entire generation (40 years,  Judges 3:9-11). During the forty years of his administration (B.C. 1567- 1527) the Hebrews remained faithful their God and king, and consequently prospered ( Joshua 15:16-19;  Judges 1:11-15;  Judges 3:8-11;  1 Chronicles 4:13;  1 Chronicles 27:15)

He had a son named Hathath ( 1 Chronicles 4:13 ) and probably another named Meonothai. In the days of David we find a family bearing the name of Othniel, from which came Heldai the Metophathite, captain of the twelfth month ( 1 Chronicles 27:15 ).


Learn more on BiblePortal Wiki page Othniel