And the house of Joseph sent to descry Bethel. (Now the name of the city before was Luz.)
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)To descry Beth-el.—The word perhaps implies a regular siege, and it is so understood by the LXX. (Cod. Alex.) and the Vulgate.
Luz.—We are also told that this was the original name of the city in Genesis 28:19; but there seems to be in that verse a distinction between the city and the place of Jacob’s dream. (Comp. Joshua 16:2.) The name means either “hazel,” or “sinking,” i.e., a valley depression.
22, 23. the house of Joseph—the tribe of Ephraim, as distinguished from Manasseh (Jud 1:27).
now the name of the city before was Luz; which signifies a "nut"; perhaps it was so called from large numbers of nut trees which grew near it; the Jews suggest as if it was like a nut, no entrance into it but through a cave or some subterraneous passage, see Genesis 28:19.And the house of Joseph sent to descry Bethel. (Now the name of the city before was Luz.)
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)23. sent to spy out Beth-el] lit. made a reconnaissance at B. Perhaps we should read ‘encamped against B.,’ as LXX and Vulgate imply.
Now the name … Luz] A gloss, as in Genesis 28:19; cf. ib. Genesis 35:6, Genesis 48:3, Joshua 18:13 P. In Joshua 16:2 JE the two places are distinguished, ‘from Beth-el to Luz’; but the text is uncertain, and in the LXX the two are usually identified. Luz is supposed to mean ‘almond-tree’; more suggestively Winckler proposes ‘asylum,’ from the Arab lâdha ‘to seek a refuge’ (Gesch. Isr. 2:65 f.). If the latter is right, Luz may have been a sanctuary before it became famous under the name of Beth-el. According to JE the place was called Beth-el because Jacob set up a stone there after his vision when he fled from Esau (Genesis 28:10-22); according to P, because God appeared to him there when he returned from Paddan-aram (Genesis 35:9-15).Verse 23. - Bethel, now Beitin. The name (house of God) had been given by Jacob (Genesis 28:19), but obviously would not be likely to be adopted by the Canaanitish inhabitants, by whom it was called Luz. As soon, however, as the Ephraimites conquered it, they reimposed the name, in memory of their father Jacob. The Saxon charters exhibit an analogous change in such transitions of name, as that from Bedericksworth to Bury St. Edmunds, which took place after the transfer of St. Edmund's body to the church there, the old name continuing for a time along with the new one, but at last disappearing. Judges 1:17.
Zephath was in the territory of Simeon. This is evident not only from the fact that Hormah (Zephath) had been allotted to the tribe of Simeon (compare Joshua 19:4 with Joshua 15:30), but also from the words, "Judah went with Simeon his brother," which point back to Judges 1:3, and express the thought that Judah went with Simeon into his territory to drive out the Canaanites who were still to be found there. Going southwards from Debir, Judah and Simeon smote the Canaanites at Zephath on the southern boundary of Canaan, and executed the ban upon this town, from which it received the name of Hormah, i.e., banning. The town has been preserved in the ruins of Septa, on the south of Khalasa or Elusa (see at Joshua 12:14). In the passage mentioned, the king of Hormah or Zephath is named among the kings who were slain by Joshua. It does not follow from this, however, that Joshua must necessarily have conquered his capital Zephath; the king of Jerusalem was also smitten by Joshua and slain, without Jerusalem itself being taken at that time. But even if Zephath were taken by the Israelites, as soon as the Israelitish army had withdrawn, the Canaanites there might have taken possession of the town again; so that, like many other Canaanitish towns, it had to be conquered again after Joshua's death (see the commentary on Numbers 21:2-3). There is not much probability in this conjecture, however, for the simple reason that the ban pronounced by Moses upon the country of the king of Arad (Numbers 21:2) was carried out now for the first time by Judah and Simeon upon the town of Zephath, which formed a part of it. If Joshua had conquered it, he would certainly have executed the ban upon it. The name Hormah, which was already given to Zephath in Joshua 15:30 and Joshua 19:4, is no proof to the contrary, since it may be used proleptically there. In any case, the infliction of the ban upon this town can only be explained from the fact that Moses had pronounced the ban upon all the towns of the king of Arad.
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