Haydock Catholic Bible Commentary
Silo was delightfully situated, about the midst of the country, 12 miles south of Sichem. Hither the Israelites removed the ark from Galgal after having had their camp in the latter place seven years at least; the Jews say 14. But Josue might reproach the Israelites for their indolence, (ver. 3,) without waiting seven years after the country was divided. --- Tabernacle. The Jews pretend that this was not the same as that set up by Moses; and others say that a house was built for the Lord at Silo, 1 Kings i. 23. But there seems to be no reason for these assertions. David informs us that the ark of the Lord was covered with skins, 2 Kings vii. 2. If any repairs were found necessary for the tabernacle erected by Moses, they might be made. The ark was certainly in it till the Israelites unfortunately sent it into the camp, where it was taken by the Philistines. When they sent back the ark, it was deposited at Gabaa, and not in the tabernacle, which was at Silo. Then it was sent to Nobe. We find the tabernacle was at Gabaon some time after the ark was translated to Jerusalem. (Calmet) --- Them. They might, therefore, removed the ark into the interior, and measure the country without danger. (Menochius) --- The greatest part of the country had submitted to Josue. (Calmet)
Slack. These seven tribes had been accustomed to live in indolence, having their food provided for them in a miraculous manner. They were perhaps afraid lest, if the army of Israel should be divided, the different tribes would be too weak to make head against the enemy. (Calmet) --- Josue had, however, made all things easy, and they might at their leisure conquer the few towns which yet remained in the hands of the Chanaanites, if they had not cherished this indolent disposition, which was so displeasing to God, and brought upon them so many evils. (Haydock)
Tribe: it is not clear whether any but these seven were concerned. --- Out. Josephus says, that people well skilled in geometry accompanied them. (Calmet) --- They had to mark out seven portions of land, which might suffice for these remaining tribes, (Haydock) who would receive them by lot, to take away all cause of discontent. They still received according to their numbers, Numbers xxvi. 54. (Worthington)
North, with respect to Silo. Juda had taken possession of his territory, as well as the tribes of Joseph.
The land in the midst, between these mark ye out into seven parts: that is to say the rest of the land, which is not already assigned to Juda or Joseph. (Challoner) --- For we must not suppose that Joseph occupied the most northern parts of the country, so as, with Juda on the south, to enclose all the other tribes. (Haydock) --- Hebrew, "As for you, you shall describe the land into seven parts." (Calmet) --- Only the tribe of Benjamin was between these two tribes, (ver. 11,) so that Serarius thinks that mediam had been substituted for aliam, "the other." (Menochius) --- Lots. The deputies divided the country into seven portions, equal in goodness, though not in extent. After the lots were drawn, some alterations might be made by common consent, and those tribes which were too much straitened for room, received what was requisite among those who had too large a territory. Hence we find Joseph occupying the cities of Issachar, &c., chap xvii. 10. It was equally inconvenient to have too much or too little.
Priesthood, and the rights attached to it, tithes, &c. (Calmet) --- It was therefore necessary to make eight portions. (Menochius)
Book. Hebrew, "described it, according to the cities, into seven parts, in a volume," (Haydock) or table, resembling a map. The ancients commonly wrote on boards covered with wax, and engraved on stone, lead, &c.
First. A person might proclaim that the tribe, whose name was drawn first out of the urn, should have the territory which was described in the book by the land surveyors; or the names of the seven tribes might be in one urn, and seven parcels of land in another. (Calmet)
Bethaven, or Bethel. Josephus says, (Antiquities v. 3,) that the territory of Benjamin extended as far as the Mediterranean: but it only went to Ataroth, ver. 13. (Menochius)
Sea, on the west. (Haydock) --- The northern limits of Juda form the southern ones of Benjamin, only here Josue proceeds in a contrary direction, from west to east. (Menochius) See chap. xv. 5, 8.
Part. Hebrew, "end, or summit." (Calmet) --- That is, &c., and explication added by St. Jerome. Some say this dreadful vale (Haydock) was on the south of Jerusalem. (Button.)
Hills. Hebrew Geliloth, "the limits," (Calmet) or Galgal, on the road to Jerusalem from Jericho, and different from that where the Israelites encamped, chap. xv. 7. --- Adommim is a narrow pass in the vicinity, much infested with robbers. --- Abenboen. The explication is alone given, chap. xv. 6. --- Plain. Septuagint, "and it shall pass by Betharaba, on the south from the north, and it shall descend." Grabe supplies "to Araba;" or the plain desert country. (Haydock) --- Betharaba is, in effect, mentioned as one of the cities of Benjamin, (ver. 22,) as it had before been assigned to Juda, (Calmet) being inhabited by both tribes. (Haydock)
Towards, (contra linguam) " the bay on the north," &c. (Haydock) --- There is another on the south, chap. xv. 2.
Vale of Casis, "incision," so called, as some pretend, on account of the balm, which was extracted by cutting the bark with a stone, or with glass. But this etymology seems too far fetched, and there is no proof that balm was cultivated there in the days of Josue. (Calmet) --- Some of the cities of Benjamin have been here omitted, as two others are mentioned, chap. xxi. 18. (Menochius)
Ophni, the Gophna so celebrated in latter times, fifteen miles from Gabaa. St. Jerome attributes it to Ephraim, as perhaps it was chiefly inhabited by people of that tribe. --- Gabee. The wickedness of its citizens almost involved the whole tribe in destruction, Judges xix. It was twenty mile north of Jerusalem. (Josephus, [Antiquities?] v. 2.)
Mesphe, where Samuel assembled the people, 1 Kings vii. 5. It was regarded as a place of devotion, while the temple was in the hands of the profane, 1 Machabees iii. 46.
Jebus. The city was called Salem in the days of Abraham, Genesis xiv. 18., and Psalm lxxv. 3. St. Jerome supposes that Melchisedec resided near Scythopolis, at Salem. (Genesis xxxiii. 17., ep. ad Evag.) Usher thinks he lived at Salim, John iii. 23. --- Gabaath. There seems to have been two cities of this name; one famous for the tomb of Habacuc, (St. Jerome) and the other in the tribe of Ephraim, chap. xxiv. 33. (Calmet)