Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges
This then was the lot of the tribe of the children of Judah by their families; even to the border of Edom the wilderness of Zin southward was the uttermost part of the south coast.Ch. Joshua 15:1-12. Boundaries of the Tribe of Judah
1. the lot of the tribe of the children of Judah] In this Chapter we have (a) the boundaries of the tribe of Judah (Joshua 15:1-12); (b) Caleb’s possession (Joshua 15:13-19); (c) a list of the cities of Judah (Joshua 15:20-63). “The lot of the tribe” = the lot which was drawn or fell to them.
even to the border of Edom] i. e. the territory of Judah extended to Edom on the east, and was bounded on the south by the wilderness of Zin, or that part of the wilderness of Paran, in which Kadesh-barnea was situated.
1. Zenan = Zaanan (Micah 1:11), site unknown; 2. Hadashah, site unknown; 3. Migdal-gad, site unknown; 4. Dilean, site unknown; 5. Mizpeh, not the Mizpeh of Benjamin (ch. Joshua 18:26); 6. Joktheel, site unknown; 7. Lachish (see above Joshua 10:3); 8. Bozkath, uncertain; 9. Eglon (see above, Joshua 10:3); 10. Cabbon; 11. Lahmam; 12. Kithlish; 13. Gederoth, all undetermined; 14. Beth-dagon, indicating by its name the Philistine worship of Dagon; 15. Naamah, undetermined; 16. Makkedah, a royal city of the Canaanites, already spoken of Joshua 10:16.
1. Libnah, conquered by Joshua, see above, Joshua 10:29-30; 2. Ether, and 3. Ashan, see 1 Chronicles 4:32; 4. Jiphtah; 5. Ashnah, sites unknown; 6. Nezib = the modern Nûsib; 7. Keilah, to the north of Nezib, the modern Kila; this was the town (a) which David rescued from the attack of the Philistines (1 Samuel 23:7); (b) which became the repository of the sacred ephod after the massacre of the priests at Nob (1 Samuel 23:6); (c) which David left, warned of the intention of the inhabitants to deliver him to Saul (1 Samuel 23:13); 8. Achzib, see Genesis 38:5; Micah 1:14; 9. Mareshah, afterwards fortified by Rehoboam (2 Chronicles 11:8), and the scene of the victory of king Asa (2 Chronicles 14:9-13). It was subsequently called Maresa, and was famous in the contests of the Maccabees (1Ma 5:65-68). It was restored by the Roman general Gabinius, and destroyed by the Parthians. The modern name is Merash.
1. Ekron, see ch. Joshua 13:3, with her towns, or rather “daughter towns”, and villages; 2. Ashdod, with her “daughter towns” and villages, see above, ch. Joshua 11:21; Joshua 3. Gaza, with her “daughter towns” and villages, see above, ch. Joshua 10:41; as far as the “river of Egypt,” see above, Joshua 13:3, and “the great sea.”
1. Shamir, still unknown; 2. Jattir, probably the modern ’Attîr, 10 miles south of Hebron; 3. Socoh, not Shocoh in “the Lowland,” but like it now called Suweikeh; 4. Dannah, still unknown; 5. Kirjath-sannah, i.e. Debir, see above, Joshua 10:38, Joshua 15:15; Joshua 6. Anab, a town of the Anakims (ch. Joshua 11:21), still existing under its old name; 7. Eshtemoh, one of the places frequented by David and his followers during his life as an outlaw (1 Samuel 30:28). Now Semua, seven miles south of Hebron; 8. Anim, close to Eshtemoa, nine miles south of Hebron; 9. Goshen, not determined; 10. Holon, a priest’s city (1 Chronicles 6:58); 11. Giloh, the site of which has not yet been discovered, but it was (a) the birthplace of Ahithophel (2 Samuel 15:12); (b) and the place where the traitor hanged himself (2 Samuel 17:23).
1. Arab; 2. Dumah, a ruined village not far from Hebron, now Ed-Daumeh; 3. Eshean, site unknown; 4. Janum, not discovered; 5. Beth-tappuah = “House of Apples.” The name has been preserved in Tefffûh, a place about 5 miles west of Hebron; 6. Aphekah, not the Aphek of ch. Joshua 12:18, Joshua 13:4, but on the mountains of Judah; 7. Hum-tah, not yet discovered; 8. Kirjath-Arba, see above, Joshua 14:15, Joshua 15:13; Joshua 9. Zior, unknown.
1. Maon, to the east of Eshtemoa, now Main; here David hid himself during his life as an outlaw (1 Samuel 23:24), and here he met Nabal, the churl (1 Samuel 25:2); 2. Carmel (Kurmul), a name familiar in the history (a) of Saul (1 Samuel 15:12); (b) of David (1 Samuel 25:2; 1 Samuel 25:5; 1 Samuel 25:7); (c) of Uzziah (2 Chronicles 26:10); 3. Ziph (Tell Zif), about five miles south-east of Hebron, where (a) David hid himself (1 Samuel 23:19; Psalms 54. title); which (b) Rehoboam fortified (2 Chronicles 11:8); 4. Juttah, west of Ziph, now Yǔtta, a priests’ city (ch. Joshua 21:16); 5. Jezreel, the home of Ahinoam the second wife of David (1 Samuel 25:43); 6, Jokdeam; 7. Zanoah, these places are undiscovered, and not elsewhere named; 8. Cain, likewise unknown; 9. Gibeah = “hill,” a very common name; 10. Timnah, not the Timnah between Beth-shemesh and Ekron (Joshua 15:10), but the place whither Judah went up to his sheep-shearing (Genesis 38:12-14).
1. Halhul, still called Hûlhûl, north of Hebron, on the way to Jerusalem, in a well-cultivated region of fields and vineyards; 2. Beth-zur, to the north of Halhul, now Beit Sur, fortified by Rehoboam (2 Chronicles 11:7), and one of the strongest fortresses afterwards in all Judæa (1Ma 4:29; 1Ma 4:61; 1Ma 6:7; 1Ma 6:26); 3. Gedor, north-west of Beth-zur, now Jedûr; see 1 Chronicles 12:7, on the brow of a high mountain, north-west of the road between Jerusalem and Hebron; 4. Maarath, unknown; 5. Beth-anoth = “house of Echo” (Gesenius), now Beit Ainûn; 6. Eltekon, site unknown.
1. Kirjath-baal = Kirjath-jearim, see above, Joshua 15:9; Joshua 2. Rabbah, unknown.
And their south border was from the shore of the salt sea, from the bay that looketh southward:2. And their south border] The general account of the position of the tribe of Judah is followed by a more particular description of its boundaries. And first the southern boundary is described.
from the shore] The southern border of Canaan has already been described in Numbers 34:3-5. It is here given in still greater detail. It commenced (a) from the “shore (or end) of the Salt Sea,” or more exactly, the tongue which turneth southward (see margin), “fro the tonge of it that biholdith to the south,” Wyclif. By this “tongue” is meant the southern portion of the Dead Sea reaching from the peninsula, which runs at a great distance from the Sea on the west of Karah, and extends quite to the south point at the so-called Salt-hill and Salt-Marsh.” Keil. “We were now in the most desolate and dreary corner of that desolate shore, without one trace of vegetable life, not even a stray salsola, or salicornia, to relieve the flat sand beds. The sand and loam of the shore was deep and heavy; our horses sank at each step above the fetlocks, and not until we were wet through, could we return to the Salt Mountains on our right.… The whole ridge (of the mountain) is of pure rock-salt, perhaps 200 feet high, and covered by a layer of chalky marl and natron, about 50 or 60 feet thick.… The salt deposit is similar in its nature and geological position to the salt rocks of Cheshire, and the new red sandstone of England.” Tristram’s Land of Moab, pp. 39, 40, 41.
And it went out to the south side to Maalehacrabbim, and passed along to Zin, and ascended up on the south side unto Kadeshbarnea, and passed along to Hezron, and went up to Adar, and fetched a compass to Karkaa:3. and it went out to the south] From this point the border ran in a tolerably direct course towards the south side of Maaleh-acrabbim, “the ascent of scorpions,” “the stiyinge vp of Scorpion,” Wyclif; “the going up to Akrabbim,” as it is given in Numbers 34:4; Jdg 1:36, a pass in “the bald mountain” (Joshua 11:17; Joshua 12:7), which “goeth up to Seir.” De Saulcy suggests it was the Wâdy Zouara, and testifies to “the scorpions” there found under every pebble. S. and P. 113, n.
and passed along to Zin] Thence it passed along to Zin, i.e. a certain spot in the desert of Zin not far from Kadesh-barnea, and passed over to Hezron, and went up to Adar, and fetched a compass or turned to Karkaa, and thence towards Azmon, and went out at the water-course of Egypt, i.e. the “torrent of Egypt, the Wady-el-Arish, already spoken of in ch. Joshua 13:3. The border went directly southwards to Kadesh-barnea; south of Kadesh it turned westward, and came out finally at the “torrent of Egypt” and at the Mediterranean Sea. Hezron, Adar, Karkaa, Azmon, are unknown sites.
fetched a compass] Compare Fr. compas, It. compasso, a compass, circle; compasser, to compass, encircle; from Latin cum, passus. The word is used both as (1) a noun and (2) a verb. (a) In the sense of “circumference” it occurs in Exodus 27:5; Exodus 38:4, of “circuit” in 2 Samuel 5:23; 2 Kings 3:9; Acts 28:13. Here, to fetch a compass = simply to “turn,” to “go round.” Thus Fuller (Pisgah View, IV.II. 2:43) says: “Wicked men may for a time retard, not finally obstruct our access to happiness. It is but fetching a compass, making two steps for one; a little more pains and patience will do the deed;” and he says of the Jordan, “he fetcheth many turnings and windings, but all will not excuse him from falling into the Dead Sea” (Holy War, 1. 18).
From thence it passed toward Azmon, and went out unto the river of Egypt; and the goings out of that coast were at the sea: this shall be your south coast.
And the east border was the salt sea, even unto the end of Jordan. And their border in the north quarter was from the bay of the sea at the uttermost part of Jordan:5. And the east border] “Till to the laste partis of Jordan,” Wyclif. This was the Salt Sea in all its extent from south to north, even “unto the end of Jordan,” i. e. to the point where it enters the Dead Sea.
their border in the north quarter was from the bay of the sea] i. e. from the embouchure of the Jordan. “The tonge of the see vnto the same flood of Jordan,” Wyclif.
And the border went up to Bethhogla, and passed along by the north of Betharabah; and the border went up to the stone of Bohan the son of Reuben:6. and the border went up to Beth-hogla] A point between Judah and Benjamin (Joshua 18:19). A magnificent spring and a ruin between Jericho and the Jordan still bear the names of Ain-hajla and Kŭsr Hajla, and are doubtless at or near the old site.
and passed along by the north of Beth-arabah] between Beth-hogla and the highland on the west of the Jordan valley. It is mentioned below (Joshua 15:61) as one of the six cities of Judah in the sunken valley of the Jordan and the Dead Sea.
the stone of Bohan the son of Reuben] This “Stone” is only mentioned once more, in ch. Joshua 18:17, and must have lain somewhere to the west or south-west of Beth-arabah.
And the border went up toward Debir from the valley of Achor, and so northward, looking toward Gilgal, that is before the going up to Adummim, which is on the south side of the river: and the border passed toward the waters of Enshemesh, and the goings out thereof were at Enrogel:7. and the border went up toward Debir] Not the royal Canaanitish city conquered (Joshua 10:29; Joshua 10:38), but somewhere behind Jericho. A Wady Dabor is marked in Van de Velde’s Map as close to the south of Nêby Mûsa, at the north-west of the Dead Sea.” Smith’s Bibl. Dict.
from the valley of Achor] south of Jericho; see ch. Joshua 7:26.
looking toward Gilgal] Not the place where the Israelites first encamped. It is called Geliloth, ch. Joshua 18:17.
that is before the going up to Adummim] = “the pass of the red,” the road leading up from Jericho and the Jordan valley to Jerusalem. (a) Jerome ascribes the name to the blood “qui in illo loco a latronibus funditur,” i.e. by the robbers who infested the pass in his day, and as they do still, and as they did in the days of our Lord, of whose parable of “the Good Samaritan” this is the scene, (b) But the more natural meaning of the word is “the Pass of the Red-haired Men,” as if alluding to some aboriginal tribe of the country. (c) Others would derive it from the red colour of the rocks—“the whole pass is white limestone, with the remarkable exception of one large mass of purplish rock on the ascent from Jericho.”—S. and P. 424, n.
which is on the south side of the river] more literally, of the watercourse, or torrent, the Wady Kelt.
the waters of En-shemesh] “and passith the waters, that ben clepid the welle of the sunne,” Wyclif. This is the present Ain el Haudr or “Apostles’ Spring,” about a mile below Bethany, the only spring on the road to Jericho.
and the goings out thereof were at En-rogel] This some (a) would identify with ’Ain Umm ed-Daraj, “the Fountain of the Virgin;” (b) others with Bîr Eyub, below the junction of the valleys of Kidron and Hinnom, and south of the Pool of Siloam. It was near this well that (a) Jonathan and Ahimaaz lay hid during the rebellion of Absalom, in order to collect and send news to David (2 Samuel 17:17); and (b) afterwards Adonijah slew sheep and oxen and fat cattle by En-rogel, when he conspired to seize the kingdom (1 Kings 1:9). “In itself it is a singular work of ancient enterprise. The shaft, sunk through the solid rock in the bed of the Kidron, is 125 feet deep. The idea of digging such a well at that precise spot may have been suggested by the fact, that, after very great rains, water sometimes rises nearly to the top, and then flows out into the valley below, a strong brook capable of driving a mill. This, however, soon ceases, and the water in the well subsides to less than half its depth. From that point a stream seems to run constantly across it, and pass down the valley under the rock.… The water is pure and entirely sweet, quite different from that of Siloam, which proves that there is no connection between them. I have seen the water gushing out like a mill-stream, some fifteen rods south of the well; and then the whole valley was alive with people bathing in it, and indulging in every species of hilarity.” Thomson’s Land and the Book, pp. 658, 659.
And the border went up by the valley of the son of Hinnom unto the south side of the Jebusite; the same is Jerusalem: and the border went up to the top of the mountain that lieth before the valley of Hinnom westward, which is at the end of the valley of the giants northward:8. and the border went up] From En-rogel the border went up into the valley of the son of Hinnom, on the south side of the Jebusite, that is Jerusalem. The direction accordingly runs S. S. W. of Jerusalem, where the valley mentioned lies. Nothing is known of this Hinnom. Possibly he was some ancient hero, who had encamped here, and from whom it was called “Ge-Ben-Hinnom,” “the Ravine of the son of Hinnom,” whence came “Ge-Hinnom,” and so “Gehenna.” It is a deep retired glen, shut in by rugged cliffs, with the bleak mountain-sides rising over all. Here (a) Solomon erected high places for Moloch (1 Kings 11:7), and (b) in the times of Ahaz and Manasseh it became notorious as the scene of the barbarous rites of that deity and of Chemosh, when the idolatrous inhabitants of Jerusalem cast their sons and daughters into the red-hot arms of a monster idol of brass placed at the opening of the ravine (2 Kings 16:3; 2 Chronicles 28:3; Jeremiah 7:31). To put an end to these abominations the place was polluted by Josiah, who spread over it human bones and other corruptions (2 Kings 23:10; 2 Kings 23:13-14), from which time it seems to have become the common cesspool of the city. These inhuman rites and subsequent ceremonial defilement caused the later Jews to regard it with horror and detestation, and they applied the name given to the valley to the place of torment.
the same is Jerusalem] As Bethel was in earlier times called Luz (Genesis 28:19), and Bethlehem was called Ephrath (Genesis 35:16; Micah 5:2), so Jerusalem was called Jebus (Jdg 19:11; 1 Chronicles 11:4). It is interpreted by some to mean a place “dry” or “down-trodden like a threshingfloor,” which is thought to prove it must have been the south-western hill.
went up to the top of the mountain] From the ravine of Hinnom the border now ascended to the top of the mountain that lieth before the valley of Hinnom westward, which is at the end of “the Valley of Giants northward.” The “Valley of the Giants” was “the Valley of Rephaim,” an ancient settlement of this giant tribe, from which sprang Og king of Basan, possibly after they were driven from their original seats by Chedorlaomer (Genesis 14:5). It was a “valley-plain,” extending in a S.W. direction from Jerusalem to Mar Elias, spacious enough to serve as a camp for an army. Here (a) David twice encountered the Philistines and inflicted a destruction upon them so signal that it gave the place a new name, Baal-perazim = “the plain of Bursts” or “Destructions” (2 Samuel 5:17-20). Here (b) too it was in all probability that the incident of the water of Bethlehem occurred (2 Samuel 23:13).
the mountain] here alluded to was the slight “rock-ridge” which on the north constitutes the boundary of the valley of Hinnom.
And the border was drawn from the top of the hill unto the fountain of the water of Nephtoah, and went out to the cities of mount Ephron; and the border was drawn to Baalah, which is Kirjathjearim:9. and the border was drawn] From the summit of the mountain just alluded to, the border was drawn to “the fountain of the water at Nephtoah.” Nephtoah has been identified with Ain Lifta, a spring situated a little distance above the village of the same name, N.W. of Jerusalem. It irrigates a strip of smiling gardens, and its excellent water is carried also to Jerusalem.
and went out to the cities of mount Ephron] Ephron is nowhere else mentioned. It is probably the range of hills on the west side of Wâdy-Beit-Hanina, opposite Lifta.
and … was drawn to Baalah] another name for Kirjath-jearim or Kirjath-Baal (Joshua 15:60; Joshua 18:14). Baalah was probably the earlier or Canaanite appellation. We have already met with Kirjath-jearim as one of the four cities of the Gibeonites (above, ch. Joshua 9:17). It is famous as the spot, (a) behind which the band of Danites pitched their camp before their expedition to Laish (Jdg 18:12); (b) where the Ark remained upwards of twenty years (1 Samuel 7:2), and (c) whence it was removed by David to the house of Obed-Edom the Gittite (1 Chronicles 13:5-6). It is now known as Kureyet el-Enab.
And the border compassed from Baalah westward unto mount Seir, and passed along unto the side of mount Jearim, which is Chesalon, on the north side, and went down to Bethshemesh, and passed on to Timnah:10. and the border compassed] = it “beat round,” “took a circuit;” and see above, Joshua 15:3.
unto mount Seir] not the Edomite range (Genesis 32:3; Numbers 24:18), but the range, which lies between the Wady Aly and the Wady Ghurab. It may have derived its name either (a) from some peculiarity in the form or appearance of the spot, or (b) from some incursion of the Edomites, which has escaped record.
and passed along unto the side of mount Jearim] or, unto the shoulder of mount Jearim,” which is Chesalon. Chesalon, probably now Kesla (see Robinson’s Later Bibl. Res. p. 154), was also called Har-jearim = “mountain of forests,” as Baalah was called Kirjath-jearim = “city of forests” or “forest town.” The region appears in early times to have been thickly covered with woods.
and went down to Beth-shemesh, and passed on to Timnah] (a) Beth-shemesh = “house of the sun,” or Ir-shemesh (ch. Joshua 19:22), now ’Ain-Shems, about two miles from the great Philistine plain, and seven miles from Ekron. It (a) was allotted to the priests (Joshua 21:16); was (b) the place whither “the kine took the straight way” from Ekron with the Ark of the Covenant (1 Samuel 6:9); where (c) the people looked into the Ark and caused the severe judgment that followed (1 Samuel 6:19); and where (d) Solomon had one of his commissariat districts (1 Kings 4:9). “Here,” at ’Ain-Shems, “are the vestiges of a former extensive city, consisting of many foundations, and the remains of ancient walls of hewn stone. Both the name and the position of this spot seem to indicate the site of the ancient Beth-shemesh of the Old Testament.” Robinson, Later Bibl. Res. p. 153. (β) Timnah, or Timnath, or Thimnathah (Joshua 19:43), now Tibnah, a village about two miles west of ’Ain-Shems, from which Samson fetched his wife (Jdg 14:1; Jdg 14:5), and in the vineyards of which, without anything in his hand, he killed the lion (Jdg 14:5-6).
And the border went out unto the side of Ekron northward: and the border was drawn to Shicron, and passed along to mount Baalah, and went out unto Jabneel; and the goings out of the border were at the sea.11. unto the side of Ekron northward] The boundary, still following a N.W. course, now tended towards a point lying near the Philistine city of Ekron (see above, ch. Joshua 13:3), whence it was drawn to Shicron, between Ekron and Jabneal (Yebna), and passed along to mount Baalah, “the short line of hills running almost parallel with the coast,” and so “went out unto Jabneel” the modern village of Yebna or Ibna, about two miles from the Sea, 11 miles south of Jaffa, and four from Ækir (Ekron), represents the ancient Jabneel or Jabneh (2 Chronicles 26:6), or, in its Greek garb, Jamnia (1Ma 4:5; 1Ma 5:58).
And the west border was to the great sea, and the coast thereof. This is the coast of the children of Judah round about according to their families.12. the west border] was formed by the Mediterranean Sea.
to the great sea] From Jabneel the boundary continued to the Mediterranean Sea along the Wady es Surah.
and the coast thereof] or borders thereof; see above, ch. Joshua 13:23; Joshua 13:27, and comp. Numbers 34:6.
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.13–19. The Request of Achsah, Daughter of Caleb
13. And unto Caleb] This section, from Joshua 15:13-19, is repeated with slight alterations almost verbatim in Jdg 1:10-20. The two sections are probably derived from a common source. As occurring here the verses are intended to complete the history of the division of the land amongst the tribes. As Caleb had brought forward his claims to the possession of Hebron, before the casting of the lots commenced, and those claims had been admitted by Joshua, it was quite in order for the author, when giving here the list of the cities assigned to the tribe of Judah, to refer especially to the portion which Caleb had received, not by lot, but in fulfilment of the Divine promise made to him by Moses, and at the same time to record how fully his hopes had been fulfilled of driving out the Anakims, and thus securing the undisputed possession of Hebron and its vicinity to himself and his descendants. Keil’s Commentary.
he gave] i. e. Joshua, by the command of Jehovah. For “the city of Arba” see above, ch. Joshua 14:15.
And Caleb drove thence the three sons of Anak, Sheshai, and Ahiman, and Talmai, the children of Anak.14. the three sons of Anak] Three chiefs of the Anakims. Comp. Numbers 13:22.
And he went up thence to the inhabitants of Debir: and the name of Debir before was Kirjathsepher.15. to the inhabitants of Debir] On Debir see above, Joshua 11:21. Joshua had conquered and devoted it.
Debir before was Kirjath-sepher] = “the city of Books”, “citee of lettrys;” Wyclif, or (Joshua 15:49) Kirjath-Sannah = “city of palm.”
And Caleb said, He that smiteth Kirjathsepher, and taketh it, to him will I give Achsah my daughter to wife.16. to him will I give Achsah my daughter] So Saul promised to the victor over Goliath to “give him his daughter” (1 Samuel 17:25), and undertook if David was valiant for him to give him to wife his elder daughter Merab (1 Samuel 18:17).
And Othniel the son of Kenaz, the brother of Caleb, took it: and he gave him Achsah his daughter to wife.17. Othniel the son of Kenaz] The younger brother of Caleb (comp. Jdg 1:13; Jdg 3:9; 1 Chronicles 4:13). But it is not certain from these passages whether Kenaz was his father, or, as some think, the more remote ancestor and head of the tribe, whose descendants were called “sons of Kenaz” (Numbers 32:12). If Jephunneh was the father of Caleb, he was probably the father of Othniel also. The next mention of him is in Jdg 3:9, where we find him the first Judge of Israel after the death of Joshua (for his genealogy see 1 Chronicles 4:13-14), delivering the Israelites from the tyranny of the Mesopotamian king, Chushanrishathaim.
the brother of Caleb] There is a doubt here whether Othniel was “filius Kenasi, frater Calebi,” or “filius Kenasi fratris Calebi.” For the second explanation comp. 2 Samuel 13:3; 2 Samuel 13:32, “Jonadab, the son of Shimeah David’s brother; for the first, 1 Samuel 26:6, “Abishai, the son of Zeruiah, and brother to Joab;” this is adopted by the Maronites, the LXX., and the Vulgate.
and he gave him Achsah] She had probably remained with her father at Hebron.
And it came to pass, as she came unto him, that she moved him to ask of her father a field: and she lighted off her ass; and Caleb said unto her, What wouldest thou?18. as she came unto him] i. e. as she proceeded to the home of Othniel at Debir to become his wife. “When the parties live in different villages, the bridegroom accompanied by his friends, all well mounted and armed, and escorted with music, repair to the house of the bride, and escort her to her new home.” See the picture of such a procession in Van Lenneps’ Bible Lands and Customs, p. 550.
she moved him] The original word denotes (1) to impel, (2) to incite, induce. Comp. 2 Chronicles 18:2, “And Ahab persuaded him to go up with him to Ramoth-Gilead.” “The which, whanne she went to togidre, hir man meeued to hir for to axe of hir fader a feeld.” Wyclif.
a field] more definitely, the field, either (a) which belonged to Debir, as some suppose, or (b) the field which was fit for cultivation, and had a sufficient supply of water.
she lighted off her ass] The original word only occurs in three places; (a) here; (b) the parallel passage in Jdg 1:14; and (c) in Jdg 4:21, “Then Jael Heber’s wife took a nail of the tent … and went softly unto him.” It denotes (1) to force oneself away from: (2) to descend quickly from, to sink down from, as in Genesis 24:64, “And Rebekah lifted up her eyes, and when she saw Isaac, she lighted off the camel.” The LXX. have rendered it, apparently from a different reading, “she cried from the ass;” the Vulgate, “suspiravitque ut sedebat in asino;” and so Wyclif, “And she siзide, as she sat in the asse.”
18. and Caleb said unto her] It would seem as though Othniel could not be prevailed upon to make such a request himself, and that Achsah therefore determined to prefer it herself. Her action in springing from the ass so astonished Caleb, that he put to her the question, “What wouldest thou?”
Who answered, Give me a blessing; for thou hast given me a south land; give me also springs of water. And he gave her the upper springs, and the nether springs.19. Give me a blessing] Comp. the words of Jacob to Esau, Genesis 33:11, “Take, I pray thee, my blessing that is brought to thee;” Joshua 14:13, “And Joshua blessed him, and gave unto Caleb … Hebron for an inheritance;” and the words of Naaman to Elisha, “Now therefore, I pray thee, take a blessing of thy servant.” 2 Kings 5:15.
a south land] He had given it to her, inasmuch as he had given her as a wife to the conqueror of Debir. The words are used in a double sense. “The south country” = “the barren and dry land,” “terram australem et torrentem dedisti mihi,” Vulgate; “the south loond and drye,” Wyclif.
springs of water] The word here used, “gulloth,” = “waves” or “bubblings.” “Underneath the hill on which Debir stood is a deep valley, rich with verdure from a copious rivulet, which, rising at the crest of the glen, falls, with a continuity unusual in the Judæan hills, down to its lowest depth. On the possession of these upper and lower ‘bubblings,’ so contiguous to her lover’s prize, Achsah had set her heart. The scene of this incident was first discovered by Dr Rosen, and under his guidance I saw it in 1862.” Stanley’s Lectures, i. 264.
the upper springs, and the nether springs] Caleb responded to her wish, and gave her the higher and lower fields watered by these springs. Nether adj. = lower. Comp. Exodus 19:17, “And Moses brought forth the people … and they stood at the nether part of the mount;” Deuteronomy 24:6, “No man shall take the nether or the upper millstone to pledge;” 1 Kings 9:17, “And Solomon built Gezer, and Beth-horon the nether;” Job 41:24, “His heart is as firm as a stone, yea as hard as a piece of the nether millstone.” A. S. nyðera, or nyðera. Comp. “the Netherlands” = “the Lowlands;” “a foolish hanging of thy nether lip.” Shakespeare, I. Henry IV. ii. 4.
This is the inheritance of the tribe of the children of Judah according to their families.20–32. Cities of Judah in the South
20. This is the inheritance] “The speech of Achsah to her father was the best reason for the slight notice of this desert tract in later times, and is the best introduction to the real territory of Judah, on which we now enter. ‘Give me a blessing, for thou hast given me a south land; give me also springs of water.’ The wells of Beersheba were enough for the Patriarchs, the Amalekites, and the Kenites, but they were not enough for the daughter of Judah and the house of the mighty Caleb.” Stanley’s Sinai and Palestine, p. 161. The territory of Judah, in average length about 45 miles and in average breadth about 50, was from a very early period divided into four main regions—(i) the South; (ii) the Lowland; (iii) the Mountain; (iv) the Wilderness.
(α) The South was the undulating pasture country which intervened between the hills, the proper possession of the tribe, and the desert country which marks the lower part of Palestine.
(β) The Lowland, or, to give it its proper name, the Shephelah, was a broad strip of land lying between the central mountains and the Mediterranean Sea. From the edge of the sandy tract which fringes the immediate shore it stretched up to the bases of the hills of Judah—the garden and granary of the tribe—and formed the lower part of the maritime plain which extended along the whole seaboard of Palestine from “the river of Egypt” to Sidon.
(γ) The Mountain, or “the Hill Country,” though not the richest, was at once the largest and the most important of the four. “Beginning a few miles below Hebron, where it attains its highest level, it stretches eastward to the Dead Sea and westward to the Shephelah, and forms an elevated district or plateau, which, though thrown into considerable undulations, yet preserves a general level in both directions.”
(δ) The Wilderness, Midbah, which here, and here only, is synonymous with Arâbah, represents the sunken district adjoining the Dead Sea. See Mr. Grove’s article in Smith’s Bibl. Dict.
And the uttermost cities of the tribe of the children of Judah toward the coast of Edom southward were Kabzeel, and Eder, and Jagur,21. And the uttermost cities] The writer commences with the cities at the extremity of the territory of Judah, the S.E. point of the Dead Sea, on the Edomite frontier.
toward the coast of Edom southward] For “coast,” see above, ch. Joshua 13:16. (a) First we have a group of nine cities within the Negeb at the south-east:—
(1) Kabzeel = “which God gathers,” the birth-place of Benaiah, one of David’s heroes (2 Samuel 23:20); (2) Eder and (3) Jagur are altogether unknown; (4) Kinah, possibly the territory of the Kenites who settled at Arad; (5) Dimonah = Dibon (Nehemiah 11:25); (6) Adadah, identified by Robinson with Sudeid; (7) Kedesh, (8) Hazor, and (9) Ithnan are unknown.
And Kinah, and Dimonah, and Adadah,
And Kedesh, and Hazor, and Ithnan,
Ziph, and Telem, and Bealoth,24. Ziph] (b) With this town commences a second group of five cities:—
(1) Ziph, not identified; (2) Telem, not identified—not to be confounded with Telaim, where Saul collected and numbered his forces before his attack on Amalek (1 Samuel 15:4); (3) Bealoth = Bealoth-beer, on the road towards Hebron; (4) Hazor-hadattah = “New Hazor;” (5) Kerioth-Hezron, which is Hazor; the names are to be joined together, like Kirjath-arba and Kirjath-jearim.
And Hazor, Hadattah, and Kerioth, and Hezron, which is Hazor,
Amam, and Shema, and Moladah,26. Amam (c) Third group of nine cities:—
(1) Amam, unknown; (2) Shema, a place of the Simeonites (ch. Joshua 19:2); (3) Moladah, called Malatua by the Greeks and Romans = the modern El-Milh, four English miles from Tell Arad and nine or ten due east of Beersheba; (4) Hazar-gaddah, unknown; (5) Heshmon, unknown; (6) Beth-palet, unknown; (7) Hazar-shual = “village of jackals,” inhabited after the Captivity by men of Judah (Nehemiah 11:27); (8) Beer-sheba = either (a) “Well of Seven” or (b) “Well of the Oath” (Genesis 21:28-32). We find Beer-sheba visited by Abraham, who dug the well (Genesis 21:31); the place where Samuel’s sons judged Israel (1 Samuel 8:2); constituting, with Dan in the north, the established formula for the whole of the Promised Land—“Dan to Beer-sheba” (2 Samuel 24:2); the seat of an idolatrous worship in the time of Amos (Amos 5:5; Amos 8:14). It still retains as nearly as possible its ancient name, Bîr-es-Sebâ. There are at present two principal wells and five smaller ones. The curb-stones round the mouth are worn into deep grooves by the action of the ropes of so many centuries, and look as if “frilled or fluted all round”; (9) Bizjothjah, unknown.
And Hazargaddah, and Heshmon, and Bethpalet,
And Hazarshual, and Beersheba, and Bizjothjah,
Baalah, and Iim, and Azem,29. Baalah] A fourth group is added of thirteen places which lay to the west and south-west:—
(1) Baalah, called Balah (ch. Joshua 19:3) and Bilhah (1 Chronicles 4:29); (2) Iim, unknown; (3) Azem = “firmness” or “strength” (ch. Joshua 19:3); (4) Eltolad = Tolad (1 Chronicles 4:29), unknown; (5) Chesil = Bethul (Joshua 19:4) = Bethuel (1 Chronicles 4:30); (6) Hormah, or Zephath (comp. Joshua 12:14); (7) Ziklag = “wilderness of destruction” (Gesenius), which afterwards came into the possession of Achish, king of Gath, who presented it to David (1 Samuel 27:6), and was burnt by the Amalekites (1 Samuel 30:1); (8) Madmannah = possibly to el-Minyây, south of Gaza, on the route of the pilgrims during the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries; (9) Sansannah, unknown; (10) Lebaoth = Beth-lebaoth (Joshua 19:6; 1 Chronicles 4:31), perhaps Lebhem, eight hours south of Gaza; (11) Shilhim = el-Scheriat, about midway between Gaza and Beer-sheba; (12) Ain; (13) Rimmon; in ch. Joshua 19:7, 1 Chronicles 4:32, these are treated as one place, and comp. Nehemiah 11:29. Rimmon has been supposed to be represented by Um er-Rumamim, about three hours north of Beersheba.
And Eltolad, and Chesil, and Hormah,
And Ziklag, and Madmannah, and Sansannah,
And Lebaoth, and Shilhim, and Ain, and Rimmon: all the cities are twenty and nine, with their villages:32. all the cities are twenty and nine] Thirty-six, however, are actually given, viz., (1) the first group = 9; (2) the second group = 5; (3) the third group = 9; (4) the fourth group 13 =36 in all. The discrepancy has been variously explained by supposing (a) that some of the places were merely hamlets or villages, and were therefore not counted with the rest; (b) that in some cases two names may have belonged to the same city; (c) that there is an error in the numeral letters; (d) that the author originally wrote fewer names, and “that others were added by a later hand without a corresponding alteration being made in the number.” (See Keil in loc.)
And in the valley, Eshtaol, and Zoreah, and Ashnah,33–47. Cities in the Lowland
33. in the valley] i.e. the Lowland. See above, Joshua 15:20, and also Joshua 10:40; Joshua 11:16. The places mentioned are arranged in four groups. The first of these lies in the north-eastern portion of the Shephêlah:—
Group I. 1. Eshtaol = Yeshû’a; 2. Zoreah = Sûrah, the residence of Manoah (Jdg 13:2; Jdg 13:25) and the native place of Samson. It lay close to Eshtaol. Here Samson spent his boyhood, and to a spot between the two places his dead body was brought after his last great exploit (Jdg 13:25; Jdg 16:31); 3. Ashnah, unknown; 4. Zanoah now Zântû’a; 5. En-gannim, and 6. Tappuah are unknown; 7. Enam is mentioned Genesis 38:14; Genesis 38:21; Genesis 8. Jarmuth (Yarmuk), a Canaanitish capital, see above Joshua 15:35; Joshua 9. Adullam, see above Joshua 15:35; Joshua 10. Socoh, now Shuweikeh; 11. Azekah (see above, Joshua 10:10), the beautiful vale, “the valley of Elah,” between it and Socoh, was celebrated for the combat between David and Goliath; 12. Sharaim, see 1 Samuel 17:52; 1 Samuel 13. Adithaim, site unknown; 14. Gederah, with the article, properly = “the wall,” undiscovered; 15. Gederothaim, unknown.
And Zanoah, and Engannim, Tappuah, and Enam,
Jarmuth, and Adullam, Socoh, and Azekah,
And Sharaim, and Adithaim, and Gederah, and Gederothaim; fourteen cities with their villages:36. fourteen cities] The LXX. omits Gederothaim, which makes fourteen instead of fifteen cities.
Zenan, and Hadashah, and Migdalgad,37. Zenan] Group II. comprises the cities of the actual plain in its whole extent from north to south, between the hilly region on the west and the Philistine coast on the east. It includes sixteen cities:—
And Dilean, and Mizpeh, and Joktheel,
Lachish, and Bozkath, and Eglon,
And Cabbon, and Lahmam, and Kithlish,
And Gederoth, Bethdagon, and Naamah, and Makkedah; sixteen cities with their villages:
Libnah, and Ether, and Ashan,42. Libnah] Group III. consists of the places in the southern part of the hill region, and includes nine cities:—
And Jiphtah, and Ashnah, and Nezib,
And Keilah, and Achzib, and Mareshah; nine cities with their villages:
Ekron, with her towns and her villages:45. Ekron. Group IV. includes the Philistine line of coast, and includes three chief cities:—
From Ekron even unto the sea, all that lay near Ashdod, with their villages:
Ashdod with her towns and her villages, Gaza with her towns and her villages, unto the river of Egypt, and the great sea, and the border thereof:
And in the mountains, Shamir, and Jattir, and Socoh,48–60. The Cities in the Mountains
48. And in the mountains] This section treats of the Cities in the Mountains or “the Hill Country,” (see above, Joshua 15:20), and includes five groups.
Shamir] Group I. consists of eleven cities on the south-western portion of the “hill Country:”—
And Dannah, and Kirjathsannah, which is Debir,
And Anab, and Eshtemoh, and Anim,
And Goshen, and Holon, and Giloh; eleven cities with their villages:
Arab, and Dumah, and Eshean,52. Arab. Group II. includes nine cities to the north of those just enumerated in the country round Hebron:—
And Janum, and Bethtappuah, and Aphekah,
And Humtah, and Kirjatharba, which is Hebron, and Zior; nine cities with their villages:
Maon, Carmel, and Ziph, and Juttah,55. Maon] Group III, consists of ten cities, on the south-east of the two preceding groups, towards the desert:—
And Jezreel, and Jokdeam, and Zanoah,
Cain, Gibeah, and Timnah; ten cities with their villages:
Halhul, Bethzur, and Gedor,58. Halhul] Group IV. consists of six cities on the north of Hebron:—
And Maarath, and Bethanoth, and Eltekon; six cities with their villages:
Kirjathbaal, which is Kirjathjearim, and Rabbah; two cities with their villages:60. Kirjath-baal] Group V. consists of two cities on the west of Jerusalem:—
In the wilderness, Betharabah, Middin, and Secacah,61–63. Cities in the Wilderness
This section relates to the cities in “the Wilderness” between the Mountain and the Dead Sea, and includes one Group of six cities:—
1. Beth-arabah, see above, Joshua 15:6; Joshua 2. Middin; 3. Secacah; 4. Nibshan, sites unknown, places not mentioned elsewhere; 5. The city of Salt, “Civitas Salis,” Vulgate, probably near the Valley of Salt, at the southern end of the Dead Sea, where the Edomites suffered several defeats (2 Samuel 8:13; 2 Kings 14:7; 1 Chronicles 18:12); 6. En-gedi, “the spring of the wild goat” or “gazelle,” from the numerous ibexes or Syrian chamois which inhabit these cliffs, now Ain Jidy. “Here,” remarks Canon Tristram, “a copious warm fresh spring bursts forth amidst an oasis of tropical vegetation. Here that quaint asclepiad the osher, the jujube, the beautiful parasite Lonicera indica, and a host of strange semi-tropical plants send our botanist into an ecstacy of delight.” Land of Moab, p. 27. “Relics of its grove of palms (whence its name Hazazon Tamar = “the felling of palm-trees”) “are still to be seen, in the trunks of palms washed up on the shores of the Dead Sea, preserved by the salt with which a long submersion in those strange waters has impregnated them.” Stanley’s S. and P., p. 144. Here (a) the settlements of the Amorites were attacked by the army of Chedorlaomer (Genesis 14:7), immediately before its descent into the plain, and final victory over the five kings; here (b) the Kenites had their “nest” in the cliff (Numbers 24:21); here (c) David took refuge from the pursuit of Saul (1 Samuel 24:1); here (d) the solitary sect of the Essenes had their chief seat.” See Stanley, S. and P., pp. 295, 296.
In the wilderness] The wilderness of Judæa. “A true wilderness it is, but no desert, with the sides of the limestone ranges clad with no shrubs larger than a sage or a thyme—brown and bare on all the southern and western faces, where the late rains had not yet restored the life burnt out by the summer’s sun, but with a slight carpeting of tender green already springing up on their northern sides. Not a human habitation, not a sign of life, meets the eye for twenty miles; and yet there seems no reason why, for pasturage at least, the country might not be largely available. But there are no traces of the terraces which furrow the hills of the rest of Palestine; and one small herd of long-eared black goats were all we saw till we reached the plains of Jericho.” Tristram’s Land of Israel, p. 197.
And Nibshan, and the city of Salt, and Engedi; six cities with their villages.
As for the Jebusites the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the children of Judah could not drive them out: but the Jebusites dwell with the children of Judah at Jerusalem unto this day.63. As for] The Author closes the catalogue of the cities of Judah with an announcement that the children of this royal tribe failed to drive out the Jebusites from Jerusalem.
the Jebusites] The Jebusites are noticed above, ch. Joshua 10:1, and ch. Joshua 11:3. They were a strong mountain-tribe, and as long as the “Upper City” remained in their hands they practically had possession of the whole. The children of Judah, as also the children of Benjamin, took and burnt the “Lower City,” but relinquished the attempt to capture the “Upper City.” (See Jdg 1:8; Jdg 1:21.)
unto this day] It is plain from this that the Book of Joshua was written before the reign of David (1 Chronicles 11:3-9).