Joshua 10:38
And Joshua returned, and all Israel with him, to Debir; and fought against it:
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(38) Debir is not identified.

Joshua 10:38. Joshua returned — to Debir — Joshua had not been there before, but having advanced as far south and west as he thought expedient, even as far as Gaza, which was in the western coast, (Joshua 10:41,) he now returned toward the camp at Gilgal, which was north-east from him, and in his march thither took Debir, which afterward was a city of Judah, (Joshua 15:49,) and one of the cities of the priests, Joshua 21:15.

10:28-43 Joshua made speed in taking these cities. See what a great deal of work may be done in a little time, if we will be diligent, and improve our opportunities. God here showed his hatred of the idolatries and other abominations of which the Canaanites had been guilty, and shows us how great the provocation was, by the greatness of the destruction brought upon them. Here also was typified the destruction of all the enemies of the Lord Jesus, who, having slighted the riches of his grace, must for ever feel the weight of his wrath. The Lord fought for Israel. They could not have gotten the victory, if God had not undertaken the battle. We conquer when God fights for us; if he be for us, who can be against us?Joshua returned - The words mark a change in the direction of the march. Joshua from Hebron turned to the southwest, and attacked Debir or Kirjath-sepher and its dependencies Joshua 15:15. Jos 10:28-42. Seven More Kings Conquered.

28-42. that day Joshua took Makkedah—In this and the following verses is described the rapid succession of victory and extermination which swept the whole of southern Palestine into the hands of Israel. "All these kings and their land did Joshua take at one time, because the Lord God of Israel fought for Israel. And Joshua returned, and all Israel with him, unto the camp to Gilgal."

He is said to return thither, not as if he had been there before, but because having gone as far westward and southward as he thought fit, even as far as Gaza, Joshua 10:41, he now returned towards Gilgal, which lay northward and eastward from him, and in his return fell upon Debir: See Poole "Joshua 15:15".

And Joshua returned, and all Israel with him, to Debir,.... A city, according to Kimchi, which he passed by when he went to Hebron, and did not fight against it; but, when he had taken Hebron, returned and took it; and which Bunting (h) says was but a mile from it, and twenty two miles from Jerusalem, towards the south; it is the same with Kirjathsepher and Kirjathsannah, Joshua 15:15; the city of a book or books; and the Rabbins say (i), that with the Persians Debir signifies the same, and had its name from a library which was here kept, or from the archives in which the most memorable things since the flood were recorded; or from the making of paper or parchment, or whatsoever was made use of for writing, and of which volumes of books were made:

and fought against it; it refusing to submit to him upon his summons.

(h) Travels of the Patriarchs, &c. p. 96. (i) T. Bab. Avodah Zarah, fol. 24. 2.

And Joshua returned, and all Israel with him, to Debir; and fought against it:
38. returned] or turned. “Turnyde in,” Wyclif. The words indicate a change in the direction of the march. Comp. Exodus 5:22, “and Moses returned unto the Lord,” From Hebron he turned in to the south-west, and attacked Debir.

Debir] The early name of this city was Kirjath-sepher = “the town of the book” (Joshua 15:15; Jdg 1:11), or Kirjath-sannah = “the town of palm” (“of the law”?) (Joshua 15:49). We find it afterwards given with its “suburbs” to the priests (Joshua 21:15; 1 Chronicles 6:58). “About three miles to the west of Hebron is a deep and secluded valley called the Wady Nunkûr, enclosed on the north by hills, of which one bears a name certainly suggestive of Debir, Dewîr-ban. The name supplies some evidence that the Canaanites were acquainted with writing and books. The town probably contained a noted school, or was the site of an oracle, and the residence of some learned priests.” This accounts for the Hebrew name, Debir, which Jerome renders “oraculum.” The same term was used to denote the adytum of Solomon’s temple.

Verse 38. - And Joshua returned. Rather, Joshua turned. Debir was not on the way back from Hebron to Eglon, but in a different direction. His march was now southward instead of eastward. Debir. A city of importance, since only Hebron and it are mentioned in the history of the campaign as having cities dependent on them. It is also called Kirjath-Sepher (Joshua 15:15; Judges 1:11), and Kirjath-Sannah (Joshua 15:49). The first name signifies "the city of the hook," from whence it has been argued that it was the seat of what we should now call an university. Recent discoveries have rendered this supposition by no means improbable. The Hittite remains have proved that people to have been a more influential and intellectual people in early times than had ever been supposed until lately. Others have suggested that it was the abode of an oracle, which is rendered probable if Debir be connected with דָבָר word. The meaning of Kirjath-Sannah is by no means clear. Some have derived it from the Arabic "sunna," law, or doctrine (whence the Sunnite sect among the Mohammedans), and some from סַנָּה or סֶנֶה, a palm branch, or more probably a thornbush. Ritter thinks that both Kirjath-Sepher and Kirjath-Sannah imply the place where the public records were kept. Perhaps what is meant is that, like Mona or Anglesea to the Druids, Debir was the home of the Canaanitish religious traditions. Debir appears as Dapur in the list of fortified cities in Canaan captured by Seti I. and Rameses II. of Egypt. They are depicted on the monumental records. See Tomkins, 'Studies of the Time of Abraham,' p. 84. Debir has lately been identified by the Palestine Survey. Lieut. Conder ('Quarterly Paper,' Jan., 1875, p. 48) fixes it at El Dho-heriyeh or Dhaheriyeh. The identification depends upon the passages Joshua 15:19, and Judges 1:15. See note on the former. The grounds of the identification are as follows:

1. Debir (see last note) was southward of Hebron.

2. The circumstances require an arid locality, but within a moderate distance two sets of springs, or pools of water.

3. There must be signs of ancient dwellings, and, as Debir was a royal city, it must be the converging point of the various roads. All these conditions are fulfilled by El Dhaheriyeh. The rock excavations, the sign of the most ancient dwellings, are plentiful there; ancient roads are found converging in all directions. And six miles and a half north of the village fourteen springs, or pools, are found, some at the head of the valley, some lower down, and some at a lower level still. The distance of these from Debit is in exact accordance with the narrative. They are too far off to be included as a matter of course within the boundaries of Debit, and would naturally enough become the object of such a petition as Achsah is said to have preferred in the passage above cited. Wilson's 'Lands of the Bible,' 1:351, speaks of the excavations here, but does not appear to have been aware of their antiquity. He describes the inhabitants as living in them. But he remarks - and it is a singular confirmation of Lieut. Conder's subsequent discovery - that the sites of five out of the ten cities mentioned in conjunction with Debir in Joshua 15:48-51, are to be found in the immediate neighbourhood of Dhaheriyeh (ibid. p. 353). From this passage and some others, however, Knobel has anticipated Lieut. Conder's suggestion. He describes Thaharijeh, as he calls it, as on the high road from Gaza, with ruins of great antiquity, situated in the midst of a country which, though barren in appearance and destitute of trees and arable land, is yet rich in pasture. But he says nothing of the springs, the only thing wanting to make the evidence complete. Ritter's description of the place as the "first place of importance" on arriving in Palestine from the south, and as the meeting place of the roads from Beersheba, from Gaza and Egypt, and from Petra and Sinai, confirm Lieut. Conder's view, but Bitter does not seem to have identified it with Debir, though he regards it as "one of a series of fortresses designed to protect the southern frontier of Judaea" (3:193, 288). It became a Levitical city (Joshua 21:15; 1 Chronicles 6:58). Joshua 10:38Joshua then turned southwards with all Israel (i.e., all the army), attacked Debir and took it, and the towns dependent upon it, in the same manner as those mentioned before. Debir, formerly called Kirjath-sepher, i.e., book town, πόλις γραμμάτων (lxx Joshua 15:15; Judges 1:11), and Kirjath-sanna, i.e., in all probability the city of palm branches (Joshua 15:49), was given up by Judah to the priests (Joshua 21:15). It stood upon the mountains of Judah (Joshua 15:49), to the south of Hebron, but has not yet been certainly discovered, though V. de Velde is probably correct in his supposition that it is to be seen in the ruins of Dilbeh, on the peak of a hill to the north of Wady Dilbeh, and on the road from Dhoberiyeh to Hebron, about two hours to the south-west of the latter. For, according to Dr. Stewart, there is a spring at Dilbeh, the water of which is conducted by an aqueduct into the Birket el Dilbeh, at the foot of the said hill, which would answer very well to the upper and lower springs at Debir, if only Debir might be placed, according to Joshua 15:49, so far towards the north.

(Note: Knobel imagines that Debir is to be found in the modern village of Dhoberiyeh (Dhabarije), five hours to the south-west of Hebron, on the south-west border of the mountains of Judah, upon the top of a mountain, because, in addition to the situation of this village, which is perfectly reconcilable with Joshua 15:49, there are remains of a square tower there (according to Krafft, a Roman tower), which point to an ancient fortification (vid., Rob. Pal. i. pp. 308ff.; Ritter, Erdk. xvi. pp. 202ff.), and because the name, which signifies "placed behind the back," agrees with Debir, the hinder part or back (?), and Kirjath-sepher, if interpreted by the Arabic words, which signify "extremitas, margo, ora." But both reasons prove very little. The meanings assigned to Debir and Kirjath-sepher are improbable and arbitrary. Moreover, it has not been shown that there are any springs near Dhoberiyeh, such as there were in the neighbourhood of Debir (Joshua 15:19.). The view held by Rosenmller, and adopted by Bunsen, with regard to the situation of Debir, - namely, that it was the same as the modern Idwirbn or Dewirbn, an hour and a quarter to the west of Hebron, because there is a large spring there with an abundant supply of excellent water, which goes by the name of Ain Nunkr, - is also quite untenable; for it is entirely at variance with Joshua 15:49, according to which Debir was not on the west of Hebron, but upon the mountains to the south, and rests entirely upon the erroneous assumption that, according to Joshua 10:38 (ויּשׁב, he turned round), as Joshua came from Eglon, he conquered Hebron first, and after the conquest of this town turned back to Debir, to take it also. But שׁוּב, does not mean only to turn round or turn back: it signifies turning generally; and it is very evident that this is the sense in which it is used in Joshua 10:38, since, according to Joshua 15:49, Debir was on the south of Hebron.)

Moreover, not very long afterwards, probably during the time when the Israelites were occupied with the subjugation of northern Canaan, Hebron and Debir were taken again by the Canaanites, particularly the Anakites, as Joshua had not entirely destroyed them, although he had thoroughly cleared the mountains of Judah of them, but had left them still in the towns of the Philistines (Joshua 11:21-22). Consequently, when the land was divided, there were Anakites living in both Hebron and Debir; so that Caleb, to whom these towns were given as his inheritance, had first of all to conquer them again, and to exterminate the Anakites (Joshua 14:12; Joshua 15:13-17 : cf. Judges 1:10-13).

(Note: By this simple assumption we get rid of the pretended contradictions, which neological critics have discovered between Joshua 10:36-39 on the one hand, and Joshua 11:21-22, and Joshua 14:12; Joshua 15:13-17 on the other, and on account of which Knobel would assign the passages last named to a different document. On the first conquest of the land by Joshua, Masius observes that "in this expedition Joshua ran through the southern region with an armed band, in too hurried a manner to depopulate it entirely. All that he needed was to strike such terror into the hearts of all through his victories, that no one should henceforth offer any resistance to himself and to the people of God. Those whom he pursued, therefore, he destroyed according to the commands of God, not sparing a single one, but he did not search out every possible hiding-place in which any could be concealed. This was left as a gleaning to the valour of each particular tribe, when it should take possession of its own inheritance.")

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