Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges
And the second lot came forth to Simeon, even for the tribe of the children of Simeon according to their families: and their inheritance was within the inheritance of the children of Judah.Ch. Joshua 19:1-9. The Territory of the Tribe of Simeon
1. And the second lot] drawn at Shiloh, fell to the tribe of Simeon, which, during the journey through the wilderness, marched on the south side of the Sacred Tent, with Reuben and Gad for its associates.
for the tribe of the children of Simeon] Two groups of cities are here enumerated, (a) First a group of thirteen or fourteen cities in the south, (b) a second group of four cities, of which two were situated in the south, two in the Shephêlah or “Lowlands” of Judah on the west.
within the inheritance of the children of Judah] Judah discovered that the tract allotted to him was too large (see Joshua 19:9), and too much exposed to marauders on the west and south even for his great powers. To Simeon accordingly was allotted a district out of the territory of his kinsman, whose ancestor like his had been the child of Leah (Genesis 35:23).
And they had in their inheritance Beersheba, or Sheba, and Moladah,2. And they had in their inheritance] First Group. 1. Beersheba, see note ch. Joshua 15:28; or Shema, so ch. Joshua 15:26 : comp. 1 Chronicles 4:28 with Genesis 26:33; Genesis 2. Moladah = el-Milh, see ch. Joshua 15:26, about four English miles from Tel Arad, eighteen from Hebron, and nine or ten due east of Beersheba;
And Hazarshual, and Balah, and Azem,3. 3. Hazar-shual] Between Beer-sheba and Hazar-gaddah; see 1 Chronicles 4:28; 4. Balah, see ch. Joshua 15:29; in 1 Chronicles 4:29 it is called Bilhah; 5. Azem, elsewhere called Ezem, 1 Chronicles 4:29;
And Eltolad, and Bethul, and Hormah,4. 6. Eltolad] See ch. Joshua 15:30 and 1 Chronicles 4:29; 1 Chronicles 7. Bethul, which in the parallel lists, ch. Joshua 15:30 and 1 Chronicles 4:30, appears under the forms of Chesil or Bethuel; 8. Hormah, or Zephath (Jdg 1:17), reduced by Joshua, was originally included in the territory of Judah, see above, ch. Joshua 15:30;
And Ziklag, and Bethmarcaboth, and Hazarsusah,5. 9. Ziklag] See ch. Joshua 15:31, identified by Rowlands and Wilton (Negeb, p. 209) with Asloodg or Kasloodg; (a) Achish bestowed the town upon David; (b) here David resided upwards of one year and four months (1 Samuel 27:7; 1 Samuel 30:14; 1 Samuel 30:26); (c) here he received the news of Saul’s death (2 Samuel 1:1; 2 Samuel 4:10); 10. Beth-marcaboth = “house of chariots,” and 11. Hazar-susah = “village of horses,” appear to be the old names of Madmannah and Sansannah (see ch. Joshua 15:31). These names indicate, remarks Dean Stanley, “that they were stations of passage, like those which now are to be seen on the great line of Indian transit between Cairo and Suez,” we recognise in them “the dêpots and stations for the ‘horses’ and ‘chariots,’ such as those which in Solomon’s time went to and fro between Egypt and Palestine.” Sinai and Palestine, p. 160;
And Bethlebaoth, and Sharuhen; thirteen cities and their villages:6. 12. Beth-lebaoth] contrasted with Lebaoth above, Joshua 15:32, is called Beth-birei in 1 Chronicles 4:31; 1 Chronicles 13. Sharuhen = Shilhim in Joshua 15:32 = Shaaraim, 1 Chronicles 4:31.
Ain, Remmon, and Ether, and Ashan; four cities and their villages:7. Second Group. 1. Ain = an “eye” and also in the vivid imagery of the East, a spring or natural burst of living water, always distinguished from the artificial “well” or “tank” = Beer or Bor. It generally occurs in combination with other words, defining the locality as En-gedi, En-gannim, En-hakkore, En-rogel. In two cases it stands alone, (a) here, and (b) in Numbers 34:11. Mr Wilton (Negeb, pp. 229–234) would here also connect it with the next name; 2. Remmon, as the name of a single city, Ain or En-Remmon = the spring of the pomegranate, and in the catalogue of the places re-occupied by the Jews after the return from the Captivity the two are joined, and appear in our Version as En-Rimmon, see Nehemiah 11:29; Nehemiah 3. Ether, see ch. Joshua 15:42 Van de Velde heard of a Tel Athar in the desert country below Hebron; 4. Ashan, see above, ch. Joshua 15:42.
And all the villages that were round about these cities to Baalathbeer, Ramath of the south. This is the inheritance of the tribe of the children of Simeon according to their families.8. and all the villages that were round about] i.e. Simeon, not merely certain cities in the territory of Judah, but the whole country round the cities named, together with all the villages that were situated near them.
to Baalath-beer] See above, ch. Joshua 15:24 or 29, = Baal in 1 Chronicles 4:33.
Ramath of the south] Ramath, like Ramah and Ramoth, = a “height.” This Ramath of the Negeb, or the South, is thought to be another name for Baalath-beer, and has been by some identified with the present ruins of Kurnub, situated on the slope of a low range of hills about 20 miles south-east of Beer-sheba.
Out of the portion of the children of Judah was the inheritance of the children of Simeon: for the part of the children of Judah was too much for them: therefore the children of Simeon had their inheritance within the inheritance of them.9. of the children of Simeon] In this “Negeb” or “land of the south,” Simeon now took up his abode. Like Reuben on the east of Jordan, the tribe was destined to have little influence on the subsequent history, to be divided in Jacob and scattered in Israel (Genesis 49:5-7). In the prophecy of Moses he is not even mentioned (Deuteronomy 33), nor are we told what part he took at the time of the division of the kingdom. “As time rolled on, the tribe gradually crossed the imperceptible boundary between civilisation and barbarism, between Palestine and the Desert, and, in ‘the days of Hezekiah’ (1 Chronicles 4:28-43), they wandered forth to the east to seek pasture for their flocks, and ‘smote the tents’ of the pastoral tribes who had ‘dwelt there of old;’ and roved along across the ’Arabah till they arrived at the ‘Mount Seir’—the range of Petra—and ‘smote the rest of the Amalekites, and dwelt there unto this day.’ ” Stanley, Sinai and Palestine, p. 161. “It is startling to find that a tribe professing to be” of the “sons of Israel,” and holding no connection with the Arabs of the district, is still to be found in the country around Petra, literally fulfilling an ancient prediction:—“They of the South (= the Negeb) shall possess the mount of Esau.” See Pusey’s Commentary on Obadiah 1:19.
And the third lot came up for the children of Zebulun according to their families: and the border of their inheritance was unto Sarid:10–16. The Territory of the Tribe of Zebulun
10. And the third lot came up for the children of Zebulun] The tribe descended from the tenth of the sons of Jacob (Genesis 30:19-20), and the sixth and last of the sons of Leah (Genesis 35:23; Genesis 46:14). During the journey from Egypt to Palestine, the tribe of Zebulun formed one of the first camp, with Judah and Issachar, also sons of Leah, marching under the standard of Judah. Its numbers at the census of Sinai were 57,000, surpassed only by Simeon, Dan, and Judah.
the border of their inheritance was unto Sarid] A spot unknown, but believed to be somewhere inland, in the plain of Esdraelon, and west of Chisloth-tabor (= “the loins of Tabor”) (see Joshua 19:12).
And their border went up toward the sea, and Maralah, and reached to Dabbasheth, and reached to the river that is before Jokneam;11. and went up] From Sarid the southern border went up toward the sea in a westerly direction, and that as far as Maralah, somewhere on the mountains of Carmel, and touched upon Dabbasheth (= Camel’s hump), the site of which is unknown, the stream which is before Jokneam. In ch. Joshua 12:22, Jokneam is said to have been by Carmel, and is identified with the modern Tell Kaimon, an eminence which stands just below the eastern end of Carmel. “The stream,” therefore, is in all probability the Kishon (= “twisted” or “winding”), famous (a) in the history of Deborah and Barak (Jdg 4:7; Jdg 4:13; Jdg 5:21), and (b) in that of Elijah and the prophets of Baal (1 Kings 18:40). See Menke’s map in his Bibel-atlas.
And turned from Sarid eastward toward the sunrising unto the border of Chislothtabor, and then goeth out to Daberath, and goeth up to Japhia,12. and turned from Sarid eastward] As the border turned from Sarid westward, so also it turned from the same point toward the east, toward the sunrising, unto the border of
Chisloth-tabor] now Iksâl, a rocky height two miles and a half to the west of Mount Tabor. Robinson’s Bib. Res. iii. 182. For Tabor, see below, Joshua 19:22.
Daberath] Thence it went on to Daberath, a Levitical city, Joshua 21:28; 1 Chronicles 6:72, now Debârieh, a small village “lying on the side of a ledge of rocks directly at the foot of Tabor.”
and goeth up to Japhia] “and stieth up aзens Jasie;” Wyclif. Japhia (= glancing) is two miles south of Nazareth, the modern Yâfa. Note the words “goeth up,” and compare the following words of Porter: “For three quarters of an hour more we wind through picturesque glens, their beds green with corn, and their banks dark with the foliage of the dwarf oak, hawthorn, and wild pear. Yâfa now appears on the top of a tell, down in a glen on the right.” Handbook, ii. p. 385. It was fortified by Josephus, and afterwards captured by Trajan and Titus under the orders of Vespasian; and in the storm and sack of the place 15000 of the inhabitants were put to the sword, and 2130 taken captive. The valley of Nazareth lies 400 feet higher than the plain at the western foot of Tabor.
And from thence passeth on along on the east to Gittahhepher, to Ittahkazin, and goeth out to Remmonmethoar to Neah;13. to Gittah-hepher] From Japhia the border ran still in an easterly direction, “toward the rising of the sun,” “to Gittah-hepher, to Ittah-kazin, and went out unto Remmon, which stretches to Neah.”
Gittah-hepher] or Gath-hepher, was not far from Yâfa, and has been identified with the modern el-Meshhad, about five miles from Nazareth on the north-east. It is celebrated as the birthplace of the prophet Jonah (2 Kings 14:25).
Ittah-kazin] is unknown.
Remmon-methoar] See the margin here, “which is drawn;” it means that the border went out unto Remmon, which is “marked off to,” or “stretched out to” Neah. Remmon or Rimmon is marked on Mr Grove’s map at Rummâneh, about seven miles to the north of Nazareth. See Robinson’s Bib. Res. iii. 195. Neah has not yet been identified.
And the border compasseth it on the north side to Hannathon: and the outgoings thereof are in the valley of Jiphthahel:14. and the border compasseth it] The meaning seems to be “and the border went round it (Neah) northward to Hannathon; and the outgoings thereof were in the valley of Jiphthah-el.”
compasseth it] For “compass” see above, note on ch. Joshua 15:3.
Hannathon] (= “pleasant”), which some have identified with the Cana of the New Testament (John 2:1), the present Kana-el-Jelil.
the valley of Jiphthah-el] Dr Robinson suggests that it was identical with Istapata, and that both names survive in the modern Jefât, a village in the mountains of Galilee half way between the bay of Acre and the lake of Gennesareth. But the northern boundary of Zebulun is not easy to trace.
And Kattath, and Nahallal, and Shimron, and Idalah, and Bethlehem: twelve cities with their villages.15. and Kattath] The account of the cities here appears to be imperfect. We have only the names of five cities given, though there are said to have been “twelve cities and their villages.” There is nothing to which the list of terms here given, introduced by and, can be attached.
Kattath] This also has been supposed to be “Cana of Galilee.”
Nahallal, Shimron (ch. Joshua 11:1), Idalah, are all as yet unknown.
Beth-lehem] This Beth-lehem in Zebulun is not to be confounded with Beth-lehem Ephratah in Judah (Genesis 35:19).
This is the inheritance of the children of Zebulun according to their families, these cities with their villages.16. This is the inheritance of the children of Zebulun] It is evidently impossible in the present state of our knowledge exactly to define the limits of this tribe. But it seems to have reached on the one side nearly to the lake of Gennesareth, and on the other to Carmel and the Mediterranean. It enclosed one of the fairest portions of Palestine. Besides the fertile plain near the fisheries of the lake of Gennesareth, and the rich mountain-valleys, the tribe possessed the goings out, the outlet, of the plain of Akka (Deuteronomy 33:18), where he could “dwell at the shore,” and “suck of the abundance of the seas” (Genesis 49:13; Deuteronomy 33:19). But though possessing a district excelling in natural beauty and fertility, Zebulun, like the other northern tribes, occupies quite a subordinate position in Old Testament History. We read of it as emerging from its obscurity only on two occasions; (a) first, when side by side with Naphtali the men of the tribe “jeoparded their lives unto the death” upon “the high places” of Tabor in the contest with Sisera; and (b) secondly, when fifty thousand “expert in war,” with “all instruments of war,” came up to the coronation of David at Hebron (1 Chronicles 12:33).
And the fourth lot came out to Issachar, for the children of Issachar according to their families.17–23. Inheritance of the Tribe of Issachar
17. And the fourth lot] came forth to the tribe of Issachar, whose place during the journey to Canaan had been on the east of the tabernacle, side by side with his brothers Judah and Zebulun, the group moving foremost in the march (Numbers 2:5; Numbers 10:15).
And their border was toward Jezreel, and Chesulloth, and Shunem,18. And their border] lay above that of Manasseh, and, according to Josephus, “extended in length from Carmel to the Jordan, and in breadth to Mount Tabor.”
was toward Jezreel] Observe in this verse that the description of the boundaries of this tribe, though begun, is not continued. Instead, the names of the cities are given, which were included in it.
Jezreel] (= the planting, or seed-plot, of God, now Zerin), stood in the celebrated plain of the name between Gilboa and little Hermon on the brow of a very steep rocky slope of at least 100 feet in a strong and central position, commanding the view towards the Jordan on the east (2 Kings 9:17), and visible from Carmel on the west (1 Kings 18:46). The splendid site induced Ahab to make it his chief residence. Here (a) he had his palace and “ivory house” (1 Kings 21:1; 1 Kings 22:39); here (b) he had a watch-tower whence sentinels were able to give timely notice of danger (2 Kings 9:17); here (c) Jezebel lived, and from her high window facing eastward watched the entrance of the conquering Jehu (2 Kings 9:30).
Chesulloth] (= “the loins”) was probably so called from its position on the slopes of some mountain, possibly between Jezreel and Shunem. On Mr Grove’s map it is marked direct north of Jezreel, and is identified with Chisloth-tabor, the “Xaloth” of Josephus (B. J. iii. 3.1), the “Chasalus” of Jerome.
and Shunem] Now Solâm, three miles to the N.E. of Jezreel in the Esdraelon plain, “full in view of the sacred spot on Mount Carmel, and situated in the midst of the finest corn-fields in the world.” Here (a) the Philistines encamped before the fatal battle of Gilboa (1 Samuel 28:4); here (b) was the native place of Abishag (1 Kings 1:3); here (c) Elisha often lodged in the house of the “Shunammite woman,” and here (d) he raised her son to life (2 Kings 4:8-37; 2 Kings 8:1-6).
And Hapharaim, and Shion, and Anaharath,19. Hapharaim] is mentioned above as the residence of a Canaanitish king, see ch. Joshua 12:17; Shihon is not found; Anaharath, too, has not been identified.
And Rabbith, and Kishion, and Abez,20, 21. Rabbith, Kishion (1 Chronicles 6:72), Abez, Remeth (1 Chronicles 6:73), are all unknown.
En-gannim] = the spring of the gardens, the modern Jenîn. Even now it justifies its ancient name; for the village lies, according to Robinson, Bib. Res. iii. 155, “in the midst of gardens of fruit trees, which are surrounded by hedges of the prickly pear.” But its most remarkable feature is a flowing, public fountain, rising in the hills at the back of the town, and brought down so that it issues in a copious stream in the midst of the place. Ahaziah was driving towards the mountain-pass by En-gannim (2 Kings 9:27—the Bethgan of the LXX. = En-gannim), when he was overtaken by Jehu, and fled to die of his wounds at Megiddo.
En-haddah and Beth-pazzez are not known.
And Remeth, and Engannim, and Enhaddah, and Bethpazzez;
And the coast reacheth to Tabor, and Shahazimah, and Bethshemesh; and the outgoings of their border were at Jordan: sixteen cities with their villages.22. and the coast reacheth to Tabor] Not the mountain, but a town upon the mountain, given to the Levites (1 Chronicles 6:77), and to Shahazimah and Beth-shemesh. The site of neither of these places is known, for the Beth-shemesh here mentioned is not the town of that name in the tribe of Judah (ch. Joshua 15:10)
the outgoings of their border] The Jordan formed the eastern boundary of the tribe, but how far its territory extended down into the Jordan Valley is not stated.
sixteen cities] Which number is correct, if Tabor is taken as a city. Being a border town, it is not remarkable that here it is reckoned to Issachar, and in 1 Chronicles 6:77 to Zebulun.
This is the inheritance of the tribe of the children of Issachar according to their families, the cities and their villages.23. This is the inheritance of the tribe of the children of Issachar] Then, as it still is, among the richest land in Palestine. “Westward was the famous plain which derived its name from its fertility. On the north is Tabor, which even under the burning sun of the climate is said to retain the glades and dells of an English wood. On the east, behind Jezreel, is the opening which conducts to the plain of the Jordan—to the Bethshean, which was proverbially among the Rabbis the Gate of Paradise for its fruitfulness.” The soil yielded corn and figs, wine and oil (1 Chronicles 12:40); the stately palm waved over the villages; and the very weeds testify to the extraordinary fertility of the Esdraelon plain. Here Issachar rejoiced in his tents (Deuteronomy 33:18), couched down as the strong he-ass (Genesis 49:14-15), used for burden and field-work, and “seeing that rest was good, and the land that it was pleasant, bowed his shoulder to bear, and became a servant unto tribute,” which various marauders, Canaanites (Jdg 4:3; Jdg 4:7), Midianites, Amalekites (Jdg 6:3-4), Philistines (1 Samuel 29:1), exacted, bursting through his frontier, open both on the east and the west, and tempted by his luxuriant crops. See Porter’s Handbook, ii. 352; Stanley’s S. and P., p. 348. “Two things strike us forcibly in looking over the plain of Esdraelon, and in wandering through it:
(a) First, its wonderful richness. After the grey hills of Judah, and the rocky mountains of Ephraim, the traveller looks with admiration over this unbroken extent of verdure. The luxuriant grass, and the exuberance of the crops on the few spots where it is cultivated, amply prove the fertility of the soil. It was the frontier of Zebulun. ‘Rejoice, O Zebulun, in thy goings out’ (Deuteronomy 33:18).
(b) Second, its desolation. If we except its eastern branches there is not a single inhabited village on its whole surface, and not more than one-sixth of its soil is cultivated. It is the home of the wandering Bedawy, who can scour its smooth turf on his fleet mare in search of plunder, and when hard pressed can speedily remove his tents and his flocks beyond the Jordan, and beyond the reach of a weak government. In its condition, thus exposed to every hasty incursion, and to every shock of war, we read the fortunes of that tribe which for the sake of its richness consented to sink into a half nomadic state. ‘Rejoice, O Issachar, in thy tents’ (Genesis 49:14-15; Deuteronomy 33:18). Their exposed position and valuable possessions made them eager for the succession of David to the throne, as one under whose sceptre they would enjoy the peace and rest they loved.” See 1 Chronicles 12:32; 1 Chronicles 12:40. Porter’s Handbook, ii. pp. 352, 353.
And the fifth lot came out for the tribe of the children of Asher according to their families.24–31. The Inheritance of the Tribe of Asher
24. And the fifth lot came out for the tribe of the children of Asher] who were descended from the eighth son of Jacob, and in the march through the desert closed the long procession side by side with Dan and Naphtali, with the standard of Dan, an “eagle with a serpent in its talons.”
And their border was Helkath, and Hali, and Beten, and Achshaph,25. And their border] The general position of the tribe was on the slope of the Galilean mountains from Carmel northwards, with Manasseh on the south, Zebulun and Issachar on the south-east, and Naphtali on the north-east, a narrow, but beautiful and fertile region.
And their border was Helkath] The first boundary given us is that formed by the cities of Helkath, afterwards given to the Levites (ch. Joshua 21:31), Hali, Beten, and Achshaph (ch. Joshua 12:20), of none of which cities is the situation known to us.
And Alammelech, and Amad, and Misheal; and reacheth to Carmel westward, and to Shihorlibnath;26. Alammelech, and Amad, are at present unknown. Misheal has been identified with Misalli at the northern extremity of the plain of Sharon.
and reacheth to Carmel] This boundary struck Carmel on the west and Shihor-libnath, somewhere to the south of that range.
Shihor-libnath] Not, as some have supposed, the Belus, which falls into the Mediterranean near to Acre or Ptolemais, but south of Carmel, and probably the Nahr Zerka, or “Crocodile Brook,” which rises in the Carmel range, and flows into the Mediterranean just above Cæsarea. For the existence of crocodiles still in the Zerka, see Macgregor’s Rob Roy on the Jordan, p. 387, who also found a crocodile in the Kishon, which is only about 20 miles north of the Zerka, pp. 400–403. “I suspect,” writes Dr Thomson, “that long ages ago, some Egyptians, accustomed to worship this ugly creature, settled here (Cæsarea), and brought their gods with them. Once here, they would not easily be exterminated; for no better place could be desired by them than this vast jungle and impracticable swamp.” See Land and the Book, p. 497.
And turneth toward the sunrising to Bethdagon, and reacheth to Zebulun, and to the valley of Jiphthahel toward the north side of Bethemek, and Neiel, and goeth out to Cabul on the left hand,27. and turneth toward the sunrising] From the Shihor-libnath, the border, still keeping to the south of Carmel, turned in an easterly direction towards Beth-dagon, of which we know as little as of the Beth-dagon of Judah, above, Joshua 15:41.
and reacheth to Zebulun] Thence it trended in a north-easterly direction, and “touched the border of Zebulun,” and the valley, or ravine, of Jiphthah-el, where, according to Joshua 19:14, were “the outgoings” of the north-western boundary of the latter tribe; and passed on north of Beth-emek and Neiel (which has been identified with Mi’ar), “and went out to Cabul on the left hand,” i.e. on the north side of it.
Cabul] it is thought, may be considered as still existing in the modern Kabûl, found about eight or nine miles east of Akka, and thus on the very borders of Galilee. It is possible, therefore, that there may be some connection between this place and the district containing twenty cities, which was presented by Solomon to Hiram, king of Tyre (1 Kings 9:11-13). See Smith’s Bibl. Dict. under Cabul.
And Hebron, and Rehob, and Hammon, and Kanah, even unto great Zidon;28. and Hebron] The main portion of Asher having been described, the northern portion is now defined more particularly.
Hebron] Instead of Hebron we find Abdon in ch. Joshua 21:30, and 1 Chronicles 6:74. But twenty MSS. and all the ancient versions read Hebron. See Keil’s Commentary.
Rehob, Hammon, are at present unknown. Kanah may possibly be identified with Ain-Kana, about eight miles south-east of Saida (Zidon).
unto great Zidon] On Zidon, or Sidon, see above, ch. Joshua 11:8.
And then the coast turneth to Ramah, and to the strong city Tyre; and the coast turneth to Hosah; and the outgoings thereof are at the sea from the coast to Achzib:29. and then the coast turneth to Ramah] Having reached Zidon by Kanah, the boundary bent southward by Ramah, and so turned to the “strong,” or “fortified city” of Tyre. Robinson would identify Ramah with Rameh, south-east of Tyre, on a solitary hill in the midst of a basin of green fields, and surrounded by greater heights (Bib. Res. iii. 63).
the strong city Tyre] “The most strengthened citie Tyruns” (Wyclif) here alluded to is not the island of Tyre, but the city standing on the mainland, now Sûr.
turneth to Hosah] From Tyre the border turned toward Hosah, the site of which is unknown, and finally ran towards the sea in the region of Achzib, the modern es-Zib, on the sea-shore, little more than two hours from Acre. The Canaanites, we are told (Jdg 1:31), were afterwards not expelled from it by the tribe of Asher, and in classical times it was known as Ecdippa. It is to be noted that both the fortified city Tyre and great Zidon were included in Asher’s inheritance, but no effort was made by the Israelites to obtain possession of these Phœnician cities.
Ummah also, and Aphek, and Rehob: twenty and two cities with their villages.30. Ummah also] Of the three cities here mentioned, Ummah, Aphek, and Rehob, the first and third are unknown. Aphek apparently lay in the extreme north of Asher, and is probably the same place as that alluded to above, ch. Joshua 13:4, beyond Sidon, the Aphaca of classical, and the Afka of modern, times.
twenty and two cities] Which number does not correspond with the cities given, and at present the explanation is not clear.
This is the inheritance of the tribe of the children of Asher according to their families, these cities with their villages.31. the inheritance of the tribe of the children of Asher] The territory of Asher extended from the Nahr Zerka on the south, to Zidon on the north, and contained some of the richest soil of the country, and the maritime portion of the fertile plain of Esdraelon, and commanded all approaches to Palestine from the sea on the north. Its soil well fulfilled the prophetic descriptions of Jacob and Moses. Here Asher could “dip his foot” in the oil of his luxuriant olive-groves (Deuteronomy 33:24) such as still distinguish this region, and fatten on the bread, the fruit of the rich plain of Phœnicia and his fertile upland valleys (Genesis 49:20). Here he could “yield royal dainties” (Genesis 49:20), “oil and wine from his olives and vineyards, and milk and butter from his pastures;” while under his shoes (Deuteronomy 33:25) was the iron ore of the southern slopes of Lebanon, and the brass or copper of the neighbouring Phœnician territory. See Stanley’s S. and P., p. 362; Pusey’s Lectures on the Book of Daniel, p. 294; Porter’s Handbook of Sinai and Palestine, ii. p. 363. But to the richness of his soil and the proximity of the Phœnician towns the degeneracy and subsequent obscurity of Asher may be mainly traced. At the numbering of Israel at Sinai, the tribe was more numerous than either Ephraim, Manasseh, or Benjamin (Numbers 1:32-41), “but in the reign of David, so insignificant had it become, that its name is altogether omitted from the list of the chief rulers” (1 Chronicles 27:16-22). “The Asherites dwelt among the Canaanites” (Jdg 1:32), and “though not nominally, or even really, a subject people, they were so thoroughly checked in their plans of conquest, and dashed their strength so uselessly against the strong rock of Phœnician power, that in the shock of failure they settled down as a people admitted to be strong, and allowed to exist side by side with the Phœnicians, under certain statutes and arrangements mutually entered into.” Ritter’s Compar. Geo. of Palestine, iii. 187, 188. With the exception of the aged widow, “Anna, the daughter of Phanuel” (Luke 2:36), no name “shines out of the general obscurity” of the tribe. “The contemptuous allusion in the Song of Deborah sums up this whole history, when in the great gathering of the tribes against Sisera, Asher continued on the sea-shore and abode in his creeks,” So insignificant was the tribe to which was assigned the fortress which Napoleon called the key of Palestine. Stanley’s S. and P., p. 265.
The sixth lot came out to the children of Naphtali, even for the children of Naphtali according to their families.32–39. The Territory of the Tribe of Naphtali
32. The sixth lot] fell out to the tribe descended from Naphtali, the fifth son of the patriarch Jacob, which, during the march through the wilderness, occupied a position north of the Tabernacle, side by side with Dan and Asher (Numbers 2:25-31), and at the census taken at Mount Sinai numbered upwards of 53400 fighting men (Numbers 1:43; Numbers 2:30).
And their coast was from Heleph, from Allon to Zaanannim, and Adami, Nekeb, and Jabneel, unto Lakum; and the outgoings thereof were at Jordan:33. And their coast] The territory appropriated to the tribe was bounded (a) on the west by Asher, (b) on the south by Zebulun and Issachar, (c) on the east by the Sea of Gennesaret and the Jordan, while (d) on the north it reached far up into Cœle-Syria, “the splendid valley which separates the two ranges of Lebanon.”
from Heleph] Apparently the west border towards Asher is first described, with the north and east boundary. The southern border is defined in Joshua 19:34. Heleph is unknown.
Allon to Zaanannim] = the oak, or terebinth, by Zaanannim. It is the same place, on the N. W. of Lake Merom, as that mentioned in Jdg 4:11, where Sisera was slain by Jael, “the wife of Heber the Kenite,” and derived its name Zaanannim or Zaanaim, the unloading of Tents, from the strange sight of the encampment of nomads in tents amidst the regular cities and villages of the mountains.” “Even to the present day the Bedouins more or less friendly disposed wander about in the north of Palestine, in the plain of Jezreel, on Gilboa, and on Tabor.” See Lange’s Commentary. “The reconnaissance survey along the watershed from Hûnin led across a succession of mountain peaks, forming the great western vale of the Jordan. The highlands—we are in the tribe of Naphtali—form a series of valleys with which the country is intersected, the ridges between them being described as somewhat of the character of open glades, gently sloping towards the sea. The hills are well wooded, though the oaks are being thinned out to supply the Damascus market with charcoal. At the last peak the hill slopes to the southward, overlooking a little plain, one mile wide and two long, lying sheltered among the surrounding hills. This is the plain of Zaanaim.” Our Work in Palestine, pp. 174, 175.
Adami, Nekeb, Jabneel, Lakum, are all unknown.
and the outgoings thereof] The boundary is traced from the southwest towards the north-east to the sources of the Jordan, above the Lake of Galilee.
And then the coast turneth westward to Aznothtabor, and goeth out from thence to Hukkok, and reacheth to Zebulun on the south side, and reacheth to Asher on the west side, and to Judah upon Jordan toward the sunrising.34. and then the coast turneth] From the Jordan on the east, the southern border of Naphtali turned westward to Aznoth-tabor, not identified, but probably a border town on the line which separated this tribe from Issachar, and “struck,” or coincided with, Zebulun on the south and Asher on the west. The site of Hukkok is unknown.
Judah upon Jordan] So our Version renders it, following the Vulgate, Et in Juda ad Jordanem. Others, following the Masoretic punctuation, would put a colon at Judah, so that it would run, “and Judah; the Jordan was toward the sunrising” i.e. the eastern boundary of the tribe. The word Judah here has been explained by the fact that the sixty cities, Havoth-jair (Numbers 32:41), which were on the eastern side of Jordan opposite to Naphtali, were reckoned as belonging to Judah, because Jair their founder was descended on the father’s side from Judah through Hezron. Comp. 1 Chronicles 2:21-24. Others would identify it with a village el-Jehidijeh, marked on Dr Smith’s map, north of Tibrin, but this is not satisfactory.
And the fenced cities are Ziddim, Zer, and Hammath, Rakkath, and Chinnereth,35. And the fenced cities] Note the expression and the number of them in this locality. “It was no doubt good policy to protect the northern frontier by a belt of fortresses, as the south was protected by the fenced cities of Judah.” The Speaker’s Commentary in loc. Ziddim and Zer are unknown.
Hammath] Afterwards a Levitical city, ch. Joshua 21:32, called Hammon in 1 Chronicles 6:76. The name comes from a root signifying “to be warm,” and hints at the hot springs which existed here. “At the southern extremity of the strip of level ground, on which the ancient city of Tiberias stood, are some warm fountains, which have a temperature of 144 Fahr. with an extremely salt and bitter taste, and a strong smell of sulphur. These fountains are mentioned by Pliny, ‘Ab Occidente Tiberiade aquis calidis salubri,’ and frequently by Josephus, under the name Ammaus = ‘Warm Baths.’ This is probably a Greek form of the Hebrew Hammath, a town of Naphtali.” Porter’s Handbook, ii. p. 423.
Rakkath] (= “bank,” “shore”) is by the Rabbins identified with Tiberias. For Chinnereth see above, note on ch. Joshua 11:2.
And Adamah, and Ramah, and Hazor,36. Adamah] is unknown, as also Ramah, which must not be mistaken for the Ramah of Joshua 19:29.
Hazor] See above, Joshua 11:1; Joshua 11:6-10. Dr Robinson would identify it with Tel Khuraibeh, Captain Wilson and Anderson with Tel Hara. “Here were found the remains of an ancient fortress, a city with its walls and towers still to be traced, and on the eastern slope, the usual concomitants of old ruins, broken glass and pottery.” Here, they both agree, was the long-lost Hazor, which “lay over” the lake Hûleh. “The position,” says Captain Wilson, “is one of great strength and overhangs the lake. Every argument which Robinson adduces in favour of Tel Khuraibeh applies with much greater force to these ruins.” Dr Porter, however, refuses to accept either theory, arguing that as the strength of Jabin lay in chariots, “we must look for Hazor on the lower slopes of the mountains, so as to be easily accessible for chariots.” Our Work in Palestine, p. 177.
And Kedesh, and Edrei, and Enhazor,37. Kedesh] or Kedesh Naphtali (= “the Holy Place of Naphtali”), see above, ch. Joshua 12:22, originally, as we have seen, was a royal, and probably a sacred city of the Canaanites. It was conquered by Joshua (ch. Joshua 12:22), and made subsequently “a city of refuge.” Here (a) Barak was born; here (b) he was when Deborah summoned him to fight the battle of his country; hither (c) the prophetess came with him; and hence (d) having rallied the warriors of Zebulun and Naphtali he marched with 10000 men to Tabor (Jdg 4:1-10).
Edrei, and En-hazor] are unknown. This Edrei must not be confounded with the well-known Edrei in Bashan.
And Iron, and Migdalel, Horem, and Bethanath, and Bethshemesh; nineteen cities with their villages.38. Iron] has not been identified. Migdal-el has been by some supposed to be the Magdala of Matthew 15:39, the place of which is now occupied by a miserable collection of hovels known as el-Mejdel, on the western side of the Lake of Gennesareth, and at the S. E. corner of the plain. Neither Horem, Beth-anath, nor Beth-shemesh has at present been identified.
This is the inheritance of the tribe of the children of Naphtali according to their families, the cities and their villages.39. This is the inheritance] The territory appropriated to Naphtali was thus enclosed on three sides by that of other tribes. (a) On the west was Asher, (b) on the south Zebulun, (c) and on the east Manasseh beyond the Jordan. Cut off from the great plain of Esdraelon by the mass of the mountains of Nazareth, it had communication on the east with the fertile district of the Sea of Galilee, and the splendidly watered country of the springs of the Jordan. The dying Jacob had compared Naphtali to a “spreading terebinth” (Genesis 49:21, mistranslated “a hind let loose”) of the uplands of Lebanon, shooting forth goodly boughs; and the great Lawgiver had described him as satisfied with favour, and full with the blessing of the Lord (Deuteronomy 33:23), but the grand opportunities so graciously given were not turned to the best account. The capabilities of its plains, of the thoroughfare and traffic of the Sea of Galilee (Genesis 49:13), were not developed by the tribe. One hero—and one only—was produced by it, Barak of Kedesh-Naphtali, who dwelt in the mountain district (Jdg 4:6). See above, Joshua 19:37. But after this exploit, Naphtali, like Asher, resigned itself to intercourse with the heathen, “and learned their works” (Psalm 106:35). See Smith’s Dict. of the Bible; Ritter’s Geog. of Palestine, iv. p. 338; Stanley’s Sinai and Palestine, p. 363. “With the exception of the transient splendour of the days of Barak and of Gideon, the four northern tribes hardly affect the general fortunes of the nation. It is not till the Jewish is on the point of breaking into the Christian Church that these northern tribes acquire a new interest. ‘Galilee’ then, by reason of its previous isolation, springs into overwhelming importance. ‘The land of Zebulun, the land of Naphtali, by the way of the sea, beyond Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles; the people which sat in darkness saw great light, and to those who sat in the region and shadow of death light is sprung up’ (Isaiah 9:1-2; Matthew 4:15-16).” Stanley’s Lectures, i. 231.
And the seventh lot came out for the tribe of the children of Dan according to their families.40–48. The Inheritance of the Tribe of Dan
40. the seventh lot] came out to the smallest of all the tribes, that of Dan, descended from the fifth son of Jacob. The position of the tribe during the march through the wilderness had been on the north side of the Tabernacle, the hindmost of the long procession between Naphtali and Asher. At the census in the desert it was the most numerous of all the tribes with the exception of Judah, containing 62,700 men able to bear arms.
And the coast of their inheritance was Zorah, and Eshtaol, and Irshemesh,41. And the coast] allotted to the tribe, in spite of the numbers just mentioned, was the smallest of all. Compressed into the narrow space between the north-western hills of Judah and the Mediterranean, it was surrounded by the three most powerful tribes of the whole confederacy, Ephraim and Benjamin on the north and east, Judah on the south and south-east.
was Zorah] Observe that the boundaries of this tribe are not defined. They naturally follow from those of Judah, Ephraim, and Benjamin.
Zorah, and Eshtaol] See above, ch. Joshua 15:33. For Ir-shemesh = Beth-shemesh = modern ’Ain-Shems, see above, ch. Joshua 15:10.
And Shaalabbin, and Ajalon, and Jethlah,42. Shaalabbin] = “the place of foxes;” comp. the story of Samson, Jdg 15:4. It appears in 1 Kings 4:9 as the home of one of David’s “mighty men.” For Ajalon see above, ch. Joshua 10:12; Jethlah has not been identified.
And Elon, and Thimnathah, and Ekron,43. Elon] The site of this place is still undiscovered. For Thimnathah see above, ch. Joshua 15:1; for Ekron, Joshua 13:3.
And Eltekeh, and Gibbethon, and Baalath,44. Eltekeh, and Gibbethon] occur as Levitical cities in ch. Joshua 21:23. The sites are not identified; Baalath may be Deir Balût. It was fortified by Solomon (1 Kings 9:18), and is placed by Josephus near Gezer. See Jos. Ant. viii. 6. 1.
And Jehud, and Beneberak, and Gathrimmon,45. Jehud] may, it is thought, be still traced in the village of El-Yehudiyeh in the district of Lydda. Robinson’s Bib. Res. iii. 45. Bene-berak has not been identified; Gath-rimmon we find (ch. Joshua 21:24) given to the Levites, but the site is unknown.
And Mejarkon, and Rakkon, with the border before Japho.46. Me-jarkon, and Rakkon] still remain to be discovered.
with the border before Japho] i.e. with the whole district extending to the suburbs opposite to Japho.
Japho] (= “beauty”) is the Hebrew form of the more familiar Joppa (2 Chronicles 2:16; Ezekiel 3:7). It was situated on the south-west coast of Palestine, and having a harbour attached to it was afterwards the port of Jerusalem. It was the spot (a) whither the cedar and pinewood were floated from Phœnicia by Hiram, king of Tyre, for Solomon’s temple (2 Chronicles 2:16); (b) whither similar materials were conveyed by the permission of Cyrus for the rebuilding of the second temple under Zerubbabel (Ezekiel 3:7); (c) where Jonah took ship to flee “from the presence of the Lord” (Jonah 1:3); (d) where Jonathan Maccabæus met Ptolemy (1Ma 11:6); (e) where St Peter had the vision on the housetop of Simon the tanner (Acts 10:9-18). On the east the town is surrounded by a wide circle of gardens and groves of noble trees. “The figs and oranges of Joppa are noted for their size and flavour. The water-melons, which thrive on the sandy soil around, are in great repute, and are carried in great numbers to Alexandria and Cairo. Through all Syria, too, they have a reputation.… The horticulturist Bové, who visited the place in 1832, observed three kinds of figs, apricots, almonds, pomegranates, peaches, oranges, pears, and apples, plums, bananas and grapes, while the sugar-cane grows to the height of five or six feet.” Ritter, Geog. Pal. iv. 259. In a.d. 1188 Saladin destroyed its fortifications, to be rebuilt by Richard of England, who was here confined by sickness. In 1253 it was occupied by St Louis, and afterwards fell into the hands first of the Sultans of Egypt and then of the Turks.
And the coast of the children of Dan went out too little for them: therefore the children of Dan went up to fight against Leshem, and took it, and smote it with the edge of the sword, and possessed it, and dwelt therein, and called Leshem, Dan, after the name of Dan their father.47. went out too little for them] The words “too little” are inserted in our Version. They are not found in the original Hebrew, which literally means, the border of the children of Dan went out from them, i.e. the border of the children of Dan was extended. “Squeezed into the narrow strip between the mountains and the sea, its energies were great beyond its numbers.” Stanley’s Sin. and Pal., p. 395; Lectures, p. 268.
went up to fight] “Stieded vp, and fouзten,” Wyclif. Hard pressed by the Amorites, whom they were unable to expel from the plain (Jdg 1:34), and by the Philistines, they longed for an addition to their territory, they sent out five spies from two towns in the low country, who tracked the Jordan to its source beyond the waters of Merom, and came to an eminence on which rose the town of
Leshem] or Laish, far up in northern Palestine, the modern Tell el-Kâdy near Bâniâs. It was a colony from Sidon, and its inhabitants, separated from their mother city by the huge mass of Lebanon and half of Anti-Lebanon, “dwelt quiet and secure” (Jdg 18:7), in the enjoyment of the warm climate and exquisite scenery, and tilling the fertile soil, irrigated by many streams. The spies marked the spot, and on their return bade their brethren arise, and take possession of a place where there is no want of any thing that is in the earth (Jdg 18:10), and the soil of which “even now produces large crops of wheat, barley, maize, sesame, rice, and other plants with very little labour … while horses, cattle, and sheep fatten on the rich pastures, and large herds of black buffaloes luxuriate in the streams and deep mire of the marshes.” See Thomson’s Land and the Book, p. 214; Robinson, Bib. Res. iii. 396.
therefore the children of Dan went up to fight] On receiving the news six hundred Danites from Zorah and Eshtaol girded on their weapons of war (Jdg 18:11), and pushed their way to the sources of the Jordan, and finding the town of Laish just as the spies had described it, far from its mother city, dwelling quiet and secure, they burst upon it, scaled its walls (Jdg 18:27), and
took it] and set it on fire, massacring the inhabitants. Then they rebuilt the town, and dwelt therein, and
called Leshem, Dan, after the name of Dan their father] The name Tell el-Kâdi = “the mound of the Judge”, still preserves the ancient Dan = “judge.” See Tristram’s Land of Israel, p. 580.
This is the inheritance of the tribe of the children of Dan according to their families, these cities with their villages.48. This is the inheritance of the tribe … of Dan] In length it extends but 14 miles from Joppa to Ekron, but it was one of the most fertile tracts in the land, the cornfield and garden of southern Palestine. The dying Jacob had said of the tribe (Genesis 49:16):
“Dan shall judge his people,
As one of the tribes of Israel.
Dan shall be a serpent by the way,
An adder in the path,
That biteth the horse heels,
So that his rider shall fall backward;”
and, as it has been observed, “the privilege of Dan was, that he was to lie in wait for the invader from the south or from the north.” “A serpent,” an indigenous, home-born “adder,” to bite the heels of the invading stranger’s horse; “a lion’s whelp” (Deuteronomy 33:22), small and fierce, to “leap from the heights of Bashan,” on the armies of Damascus or Nineveh. “For thy salvation, O Lord, have I waited” seems to have been his war cry, as if of a warrior in the constant attitude of expectation. Once only in the history of the tribe, so far as we know, was this expectation fully realised—in the life of Samson. Stanley’s Lectures, i. p. 269.
When they had made an end of dividing the land for inheritance by their coasts, the children of Israel gave an inheritance to Joshua the son of Nun among them:49–51. The Inheritance Assigned to Joshua
49. When they had made an end] After all the tribes had been provided for, a modest inheritance was assigned to their noble-hearted leader, who with unselfish generosity was contented with far less than many others would have claimed under similar circumstances.
among them] The portion assigned was among the mountains of his native tribe of Ephraim.
According to the word of the LORD they gave him the city which he asked, even Timnathserah in mount Ephraim: and he built the city, and dwelt therein.50. according to the word of the Lord] We do not find any Divine injunction in the Pentateuch to the effect that Joshua was to receive a special portion in the Land of Canaan. But as Caleb had received a definite promise of the same kind, which is not to be found in its literal form in the Pentateuch, we may conclude that a like promise had been been made to Joshua.
even Timnath-serah] In Jdg 2:9 the name of the city given to the Israelitish leader is altered to Timnath-heres = “portion of the sun.” In the same place it is defined as having been situated “in the mount of Ephraim, on the north side of the hill Gaash.” The word Timnath, or Timnah, means “allotted portion,” and was given to several places. It is now generally identified with Tibnah, between Jifna and el-Mejdel, and was first discovered by Dr Eli Smith in 1843, where he found the ruins of a considerable town. Opposite the town was a much higher hill, in the north side of which were several excavated sepulchres. “Of all sites I have seen,” says Lieut. Conder, “none is so striking as that of Joshua’s home, surrounded as it is with deep valleys and wild rugged hills.” Paula is described by St Jerome as “satis mirata quod distributor possessionum sibi aspera et montana delegisset” (Epist. cviii., Epitaph. Paulæ).
and he built the city] or perhaps rather, fortified it. The site may have been previously unoccupied, and named Timnath-serah = “remaining portion” by Joshua himself.
These are the inheritances, which Eleazar the priest, and Joshua the son of Nun, and the heads of the fathers of the tribes of the children of Israel, divided for an inheritance by lot in Shiloh before the LORD, at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation. So they made an end of dividing the country.