The first-named judge of Israel after Joshua. Othniel was “the son of Kenaz, Caleb’s younger brother.” (Jg 1:13; 3:9; Jos 15:17) While this grammatical structure allows for either Othniel or Kenaz to be Caleb’s younger brother, to harmonize with other texts Othniel must be viewed as Caleb’s nephew, the son of Caleb’s brother Kenaz. Thus certain translations read: “Othniel, the son of Caleb’s younger brother, Kenaz.” (AT, Mo) Additionally, Caleb was “the son of Jephunneh,” hence not a son of Kenaz as was Othniel.—Nu 32:12; 1Ch 4:15.
Othniel’s marriage to Achsah the daughter of Caleb came as a result of his victory over the Canaanite stronghold of Debir. Achsah’s father Caleb had promised her to the conqueror of the city. (Jos 15:16-19; Jg 1:11-15) Othniel had a son named Hathath and established a permanent family in the tribe of Judah. Years later a descendant was chosen from this family to head a service group of 24,000 during David’s reign.—1Ch 4:13; 27:1, 15.
Israel’s first oppression by foreign kings due to disobedience lasted for eight years. When they “began to call to Jehovah for aid,” He raised up Othniel to deliver them. With Jehovah’s spirit upon him, Othniel defeated Cushan-rishathaim, “the king of Syria,” and took general oversight and rendered judicial decisions among his brothers.—Jg 3:8-11.