Joshua 9:17
And the children of Israel journeyed, and came unto their cities on the third day. Now their cities were Gibeon, and Chephirah, and Beeroth, and Kirjathjearim.
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(17) Gibeon, and Chephirah, and Beeroth, and Kirjath-jearim.—The first three of these were assigned to Benjamin (Joshua 18:25-26), the last to Judah (15:60), in the division of the land. The fact that the larger portion of the territory of the Gibeonites was in the tribe of Benjamin explains how Saul was tempted to confiscate their possessions for the purpose of supplying his followers with fields and vineyards (1Samuel 22:7). He appears to have carried out his purpose in the case of Beeroth (2Samuel 4:2-3), but not as regards all the Gibeonite towns. Gibeon became a city of the priests (Joshua 21:17), and also a principal place of worship and the seat of the tabernacle (as Kirjath-jearim was of the ark) in later times. (See 1Samuel 6:21; 1Samuel 7:1, &c.; 1 Chron. 20:29; and 2Chronicles 1:3-6.) The fact that the Gibeonites were dedicated to the service of the sanctuary may partly account for this. In Gibeon, Solomon asked and received the wisdom which Joshua and Israel at this time did not ask.

9:14-21 The Israelites, having examined the provisions of the Gibeonites, hastily concluded that they confirmed their account. We make more haste than good speed, when we stay not to take God with us, and do not consult him by the word and prayer. The fraud was soon found out. A lying tongue is but for a moment. Had the oath been in itself unlawful, it would not have been binding; for no obligation can render it our duty to commit a sin. But it was not unlawful to spare the Canaanites who submitted, and left idolatry, desiring only that their lives might be spared. A citizen of Zion swears to his own hurt, and changes not, Ps 15:4. Joshua and the princes, when they found that they had been deceived, did not apply to Eleazar the high priest to be freed from their engagement, much less did they pretend that no faith is to be kept with those to whom they had sworn. Let this convince us how we ought to keep our promises, and make good our bargains; and what conscience we ought to make of our words.Chephirah (Kefir) is situated eight or nine miles west of Gibeon, and was an inhabited city in the days of Ezra and Nehemiah Ezr 2:25; Nehemiah 7:29.

Beeroth (Birch), about eight miles north of Jerusalem. Kirjath-jearim, i. e. "city of woods," is identified by Robinson with the modern Kuriet el Enab, nine miles from Jerusalem on the road to Jaffa (and by Conder with Soba). The town was numbered among those belonging to Judah, and was in the northern boundary of that tribe. Beyond this city the six hundred Danites encamped on their famous expedition to Laish Judges 18:12. Kirjath-jearim was also, and probably before the Israelite conquests exclusively, called Baalah and Kirjath-baal Joshua 15:9, Joshua 15:60, names which seem to point to its early sanctity as a special seat of Baal-worship. To this place also the ark was brought from Beth-shemesh after it was sent back by the Philistines, and here it remained for twenty years 1 Samuel 6:20-21; 1 Samuel 7:2. It was fetched thence by David and deposited in the house of Obed-edom 2 Samuel 6:2. Hence, the allusion, Psalm 132:6, where David is said to have found the ark "in the fields of the wood."

17. Chephirah—(Jos 18:26; Ezr 2:25; Ne 7:29).

Beeroth—(2Sa 4:2), now El Berich, about twenty minutes' distance from El Jib (Gibeon).

Kirjath-jearim—"the city of forests," now Kuryet-el-Enab [Robinson].

Cities which were subject to Gibeon, which was the royal city, Joshua 10:2.

And the children of Israel journeyed,.... Not the whole camp, for that still remained at Gilgal, and continued there until the Gibeonites in distress sent to them for assistance in virtue of the league, as appears from the following chapter; but a party of them, who were sent along with some of the princes, to know the truth whether the Gibeonites were their neighbours or not, as had been reported to them:

and came unto their cities on the third day; not on the third day from their setting out on their journey, for it was but one night's march from Gilgal to them, Joshua 10:9; but on the third day from the making of the league; it is very probable it was early on the third day they heard of their being their neighbours, upon which a party was sent out at once to know the truth of it, who arrived thither the same day:

now their cities were Gibeon and Chephirah, and Beeroth and Kirjathjearim; Gibeon was the metropolis, and the other three were subject to it; the three first fell to the lot of Benjamin, and the last to the tribe of Judah; we shall meet with them again in the lots of the several tribes, in Joshua 15:60.

And the children of Israel {h} journeyed, and came unto their cities on the third day. Now their cities were Gibeon, and Chephirah, and Beeroth, and Kirjathjearim.

(h) From Gilgal.

17. on the third day] A three days’ journey it might well be “according to the slow pace of eastern armies and caravans.” Stanley’s S. & P. p. 209.

Chephirah] “a village,” afterwards allotted to Benjamin (Joshua 18:26). It was an inhabited city in the times of Ezra and Nehemiah (Ezra 2:25; Nehemiah 7:29). On the western declivity of the mountain range, 11 miles from Jerusalem, and 4 from Kirjath-jearim, is a ruined village called Kefîr, which doubtless marks the site of the old city of Chephirah. After remaining unknown, or at least unnoticed, for more than 2000 years, its site was discovered by Dr Robinson in 1852. See Robinson, Bible Res. III. 146.

Beeroth] Mentioned afterwards along with other Benjamite cities among the places whose inhabitants returned with Zerubbabel (Ezra 2:25; Nehemiah 7:29). It is commonly identified with the large village of El-Birch between Jerusalem and Bethel.

Kirjath-jearim i.e. “the city of woods,” or “groves,” written Kirjath-arim in Ezra 2:25, and Kiriathiarius in 1Es 5:19. It derived its name from its olive, fig, and other plantations, as its modern representative, Kuriet-el-Enab, “the city of grapes,” does from its vineyards. It was afterwards allotted to Judah, and here the Ark remained from the time of its return from the Philistines to the reign of David (1 Samuel 7:2; 2 Samuel 6:2; 1 Chronicles 13:5-6; Psalm 132:6), where David is said to have found the Ark in “the fields of the wood.” Before the Israelitish conquest it was known as Baalah and Kirjath-baal (Joshua 15:9; Joshua 15:60), names which point to its early sanctity as one of the special seats of the worship of Baal.

Verse 17. - On the third day. After the trick was discovered. Keil remarks that we need not suppose that the three days were consumed on the march. Not only did Joshua, when celerity was necessary, perform the journey in a single night, but the whole distance was not more than eighteen or twenty miles, if we accept the hypothesis of a second Gilgal. Now their cities were. Beeroth still exists, we are told, as el-Bireh (Robinson 2:132. So also Vaudcvelde and Conder). Jerome identified it with a place only seven miles from Jerusalem, which is an obvious error. It contains nearly 700 inhabitants, and is only about twenty minutes' walk from el-Jib, or Gibeon. Kirjath-jearim (the name means the city of forests) is well known in the history of Israel (e.g., Judges 18:12). But it is, chiefly remarkable for the twenty years sojourn of the ark there (1 Samuel 7:2). It was also known by the name of Baalah, Kirjath-Baal (Joshua 15:9, 60; 2 Samuel 6:2). The Hivites seem to have been removed thence (probably to Gibeon), for there is no trace of any non-Jewish element in the population in the account of the reception of the ark among them (see 1 Samuel 6.). It is called Baale of Judah in 2 Samuel 6:2 (cf. Joshua 18:15). The Jewish population seems to be due to one of the posterity of Caleb (see 1 Chronicles 2:50-53). Modern explorers, with the exception of Lieut. Conder, have identified Kirjath-jearim with Kuriet-el-Enab, "the city of the grape," about four miles from el-Jib, or Gibeon. This is the opinion of Robinson and Vandevelde. Supposing it to be near Beth-shemesh, on the authority of Josephus, Lieut. Conder places it at 'Arma, west of Bethlehem, and identifies the waters of Nepbtoah with a fountain nearly due south of the valley of giants or Rephaim (see Joshua 15:9). But this is too far from Gibeon. He identifies Kuriet-el-Enab with Kirjath in Joshua 18:28, and regards this as one of the cities of Benjamin within the border. But this Kirjath may be Kirjath-jearim, and may as reasonably, standing on the border, be accounted to belong to both tribes, as Zorah, Eshtaol (mentioned in the boundaries of Judah and Dan), Beth-arahah, possibly Gibeah or Gibeath (belonging to Judah and Benjamin), and even Jerusalem itself (see Joshua 15:53). The identification of Kirjath-jearim with Kuriet-el-Enab, of the waters of Nephtoah with Ain Lifta, giving a line running northwestward from the valley of Rephaim, seems more probable as the border of Judah and Benjamin, and the word "compassed," or rather deflected, adds probability to this interpretation (see Joshua 15:9, 10, and notes). Joshua 9:17Three days after the treaty had been concluded, the Israelites discovered that they had been deceived, and that their allies dwelt among them (see Joshua 9:7). They set out therefore to deal with the deceivers, and reached their towns Gibeon, Chephirah, Beeroth, and Kirjath-jearim on the third day. "Chephirah, which was afterwards allotted to the tribe of Benjamin along with Gibeon and Beeroth, and was still inhabited after the captivity (Joshua 18:25-26; Ezra 2:25; Nehemiah 7:29), is to be seen in the ruins of Kefir, an hour's journey to the east of Yalo, in the mountains, and three hours to the west of Gibeon (see Rob. Bibl. Res. p. 146, and Van de Velde, Memoir, pp. 303-4). Beeroth, Βηρώθ, according to Eusebius (Onom. s. v.) a hamlet near Jerusalem, and seven miles on the road to Nicopolis (it should read Neapolis), was in the tribe of Benjamin (2 Samuel 4:2), and still exists in the large village of Bireh, which is situated upon a mountain nine Roman miles to the north of Jerusalem in a stony and barren district, and has still several springs and a good well, besides the remains of a fine old church of the time of the Crusades (see Rob. Pal. ii. pp. 130ff.; Seetzen, R. ii. pp. 195-6). Kirjath-jearim, also called Kirjath-baal (Joshua 15:60), Baalah (Joshua 15:9), and Baal-Jehuda (2 Samuel 6:2), was allotted to the tribe of Judah. It stood upon the boundary between Judah and Benjamin (Joshua 15:60; Joshua 18:15); and the ark remained there, after it had been sent back by the Philistines, until the time of David (1 Samuel 7:2; 2 Samuel 6:2; 1 Chronicles 13:5-6). According to the Onom., s. v. Καριαθιαρείμ and Βαάλ, it was nine or ten Roman miles from Jerusalem, on the road to Diospolis (Lydda), and is probably to be seen in the present Kuryet el Enab, a considerable village with a large number of olive trees, figs, pomegranates, and vineyards, from the last of which the old "town of the forests" has received the more modern name of "town of the vine" (see Rob. Pal. ii. p. 335, and Bibl. Res. pp. 156-7; and Seetzen, ii. p. 65). These towns, which formed one republic with Gibeon, and were governed by elders, were at so short a distance from Gilgal (Jiljilia), that the Israelites could reach it in one or two days. The expression "on the third day" is not at variance with this; for it is not stated that Israel took three days to march there, but simply that they arrived there on the third day after receiving the intelligence of the arrival of the ambassadors.
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