Joshua 18
Keil and Delitzsch OT Commentary
And the whole congregation of the children of Israel assembled together at Shiloh, and set up the tabernacle of the congregation there. And the land was subdued before them.
The Tabernacle Set Up at Shiloh. - As soon as the tribe of Ephraim had received its inheritance, Joshua commanded the whole congregation to assemble in Shiloh, and there set up the tabernacle, in order that, as the land was conquered, the worship of Jehovah might henceforth be regularly observed in accordance with the law. The selection of Shiloh as the site for the sanctuary was hardly occasioned by the fitness of the place for this purpose, on account of its being situated upon a mountain in the centre of the land, for there were many other places that would have been quite as suitable in this respect; the reason is rather to be found in the name of the place, viz., Shiloh, i.e., rest, which called to mind the promised Shiloh (Genesis 49:10), and therefore appeared to be pre-eminently suitable to be the resting-place of the sanctuary of the Lord, where His name was to dwell in Israel, until He should come who was to give true rest to His people as the Prince of Peace. In any case, however, Joshua did not follow his own judgment in selecting Shiloh for this purpose, but acted in simple accordance with the instructions of God, as the Lord had expressly reserved to himself the choice of the place where His name should dwell (Deuteronomy 12:11). Shiloh, according to the Onom., was twelve Roman miles or five hours to the south of Neapolis (Nablus), and about eight hours to the north of Jerusalem; at present it is a heap of ruins, bearing the name of Seilun (see Rob. iii. p. 85). The tabernacle continued standing at Shiloh during the time of the judges, until the ark of the covenant fell into the hands of the Philistines, in the lifetime of Eli, when the holy tent was robbed of its soul, and reduced to the mere shadow of a sanctuary. After this it was removed to Nob (1 Samuel 21:2); but in consequence of the massacre inflicted by Saul upon the inhabitants of this place (1 Samuel 22:19), it was taken to Gibeon (1 Kings 3:4 : see Keil, Bibl. Arch. i. 22). From this time forward Shilloh continued to decline, because the Lord had rejected it (Psalm 78:60; Jeremiah 7:12; Jeremiah 26:6). That it was destroyed by the Assyrians, as Knobel affirms, is not stated in the history.

And there remained among the children of Israel seven tribes, which had not yet received their inheritance.
Survey of the Land that had yet to be Divided. - Joshua 18:2. After the tabernacle had been set up, the casting of the lots and division of the land among the other seven tribes were to be continued; namely at Shiloh, to which the congregation had removed with the sanctuary.

And Joshua said unto the children of Israel, How long are ye slack to go to possess the land, which the LORD God of your fathers hath given you?
But, for the reasons explained in Joshua 14:1, these tribes showed themselves "slack to go to possess the land which the Lord had given them," i.e., not merely to conquer it, but to have it divided by lot, and to enter in and take possession. Joshua charged them with this, and directed them to appoint three men for each of the seven tribes, that they might be sent out to go through the land, and describe it according to the measure of their inheritance. "According to their inheritance," i.e., with special reference to the fact that seven tribes were to receive it for their inheritance. The description was not a formal measurement, although the art of surveying was well known in Egypt in ancient times, and was regularly carried out after the annual inundations of the Nile (Herod. ii. 109; Strabo, xvii. 787; Diod. Sic. i. 69); so that the Israelites might have learned it there. But כּתב does not mean to measure; and it was not a formal measurement that was required, for the purpose of dividing the land that yet remained into seven districts, since the tribes differed in numerical strength, and therefore the boundaries of the territory assigned them could not be settled till after the lots had been cast. The meaning of the word is to describe; and according to Joshua 18:9, it was chiefly to the towns that reference was made: so that the description required by Joshua in all probability consisted simply in the preparation of lists of the towns in the different parts of the land, with an account of their size and character; also with "notices of the quality and condition of the soil; what lands were fertile, and what they produced; where the country was mountainous, and where it was level; which lands were well watered, and which were dry; and any other things that would indicate the character of the soil, and facilitate a comparison between the different parts of the land" (Rosenmller). The reasons which induced Joshua to take steps for the first time now for securing a survey of the land, are given in Joshua 14:1. The men chosen for the purpose were able to carry out their task without receiving any hindrance from the Canaanites. For whilst the latter were crushed, if not exterminated, by the victories which the Israelites had gained, it was not necessary for the twenty-one Israelitish men to penetrate into every corner of the land, and every town that was still inhabited by the Canaanites, in order to accomplish their end.

Give out from among you three men for each tribe: and I will send them, and they shall rise, and go through the land, and describe it according to the inheritance of them; and they shall come again to me.
And they shall divide it into seven parts: Judah shall abide in their coast on the south, and the house of Joseph shall abide in their coasts on the north.
"And divide it into seven parts," viz., for the purpose of casting lots. Judah, however, was still to remain in its land to the south, and Ephraim in its territory to the north. The seven portions thus obtained they were to bring to Joshua, that he might then cast the lot for the seven tribes "before the Lord," i.e., before the tabernacle (Joshua 19:51).

Ye shall therefore describe the land into seven parts, and bring the description hither to me, that I may cast lots for you here before the LORD our God.
But the Levites have no part among you; for the priesthood of the LORD is their inheritance: and Gad, and Reuben, and half the tribe of Manasseh, have received their inheritance beyond Jordan on the east, which Moses the servant of the LORD gave them.
There were only seven tribes that had still to receive their portions; for the tribe of Levi was to receive no portion in the land (vid., Joshua 13-14), and Gad, Reuben, and half Manasseh had received their inheritance already on the other side of the Jordan.

And the men arose, and went away: and Joshua charged them that went to describe the land, saying, Go and walk through the land, and describe it, and come again to me, that I may here cast lots for you before the LORD in Shiloh.
Execution of this command.

And the men went and passed through the land, and described it by cities into seven parts in a book, and came again to Joshua to the host at Shiloh.
And Joshua cast lots for them in Shiloh before the LORD: and there Joshua divided the land unto the children of Israel according to their divisions.
Joshua finishes the casting of the lots at Shiloh.

And the lot of the tribe of the children of Benjamin came up according to their families: and the coast of their lot came forth between the children of Judah and the children of Joseph.
Inheritance of the Tribe of Benjamin. - Joshua 18:11-20. Boundaries of the inheritance. - Joshua 18:11. The territory of their lot (i.e., the territory assigned to the Benjaminites by lot) came out (through the falling out of the lot) between the sons of Judah and the sons of Joseph.

And their border on the north side was from Jordan; and the border went up to the side of Jericho on the north side, and went up through the mountains westward; and the goings out thereof were at the wilderness of Bethaven.
The northern boundary ("the boundary towards the north side") therefore coincided with the southern boundary of Ephraim as far as Lower Beth-horon, and has already been commented upon in the exposition of Joshua 16:1-3. The western boundary follows in Joshua 18:14. At Beth-horon the boundary curved round and turned southwards on the western side, namely from the mountain before (in front of) Beth-horon southwards; and "the going out thereof were at Kirjath-baal, which is Kirjath-jearim," the town of the Judaeans mentioned in Joshua 15:60, the present Kureyet el Enab (see at Joshua 9:17).

And the border went over from thence toward Luz, to the side of Luz, which is Bethel, southward; and the border descended to Atarothadar, near the hill that lieth on the south side of the nether Bethhoron.
And the border was drawn thence, and compassed the corner of the sea southward, from the hill that lieth before Bethhoron southward; and the goings out thereof were at Kirjathbaal, which is Kirjathjearim, a city of the children of Judah: this was the west quarter.
And the south quarter was from the end of Kirjathjearim, and the border went out on the west, and went out to the well of waters of Nephtoah:
"As for the southern boundary from the end of Kirjath-jearim onwards, the (southern) boundary went out on the west (i.e., it started from the west), and went out (terminated) at the fountain of the water of Nephtoah." Consequently it coincided with the northern boundary of Judah, as described in Joshua 15:5-9, except that it is given there from east to west, and here from west to east (see at Joshua 15:5-9). In the construction haגּבוּל תּוצאותיו, the noun הגּבוּל is in apposition to the suffix: the outgoings of it, namely of the border (see Ewald, 291, b.).

And the border came down to the end of the mountain that lieth before the valley of the son of Hinnom, and which is in the valley of the giants on the north, and descended to the valley of Hinnom, to the side of Jebusi on the south, and descended to Enrogel,
And was drawn from the north, and went forth to Enshemesh, and went forth toward Geliloth, which is over against the going up of Adummim, and descended to the stone of Bohan the son of Reuben,
And passed along toward the side over against Arabah northward, and went down unto Arabah:
And the border passed along to the side of Bethhoglah northward: and the outgoings of the border were at the north bay of the salt sea at the south end of Jordan: this was the south coast.
And Jordan was the border of it on the east side. This was the inheritance of the children of Benjamin, by the coasts thereof round about, according to their families.
The eastern boundary was the Jordan.

Now the cities of the tribe of the children of Benjamin according to their families were Jericho, and Bethhoglah, and the valley of Keziz,
The towns of Benjamin are divided into two groups. The first group (Joshua 18:21-24) contains twelve towns in the eastern portion of the territory. Jericho: the present Riha (see at Joshua 2:1). Beth-hoglah, now Ain Hajla (see Joshua 15:6). Emek-keziz: the name has been preserved in the Wady el Kaziz, on the road from Jerusalem to Jericho, on the south-east of the Apostle's Well (see Van de Velde, Mem. p. 328).

And Betharabah, and Zemaraim, and Bethel,
Beth-arabah: see at Joshua 15:6. Zemaraim, probably the ruins of es Sumrah, on the road from Jerusalem to Jericho, to the east of Khan Hadhur, on Van de Velde's map. Bethel: now Beitin (see Joshua 7:2).

And Avim, and Parah, and Ophrah,
Avvim (i.e., ruins) is unknown. Phara has been preserved in the ruins of Fara, on Wady Fara, three hours to the north-east of Jerusalem, and the same distance to the west of Jericho. Ophrah is mentioned again in 1 Samuel 13:17, but it is a different place from the Ophrah of Gideon in Manasseh (Judges 6:11, Judges 6:24; Judges 8:27). According to the Onom. (s. v. Aphra), it was a κώμη Ἀφρήλ in the time of Eusebius (Jer. vicus Effrem), five Roman miles to the east of Bethel; and according to Van de Velde, v. Raumer, and others, it is probably the same place as Ephron or Ephrain, which Abijah took from Jeroboam along with Jeshanah and Bethel (2 Chronicles 13:19), also the same as Ephraim, the city to which Christ went when He withdrew into the desert (John 11:54), as the Onom. (s. v. Ephron) speaks of a villa praegrandis Ephraea nomine (Ἐφρα̈́́ι in Euseb.), although the distance given there, viz., twenty Roman miles to the north of Jerusalem, reaches far beyond the limits of Benjamin.

And Chepharhaammonai, and Ophni, and Gaba; twelve cities with their villages:
Chephar-haammonai and Ophni are only mentioned here, and are still unknown. Gaba, or Geba of Benjamin (1 Samuel 13:16; 1 Kings 15:22) which was given up to the Levites (Joshua 21:17; 1 Chronicles 6:45), was in the neighbourhood of Ramah (1 Kings 15:22; 2 Chronicles 16:6). It is mentioned in 2 Kings 23:8; Zechariah 14:10, as the northern boundary of the kingdom of Judah, and was still inhabited after the captivity (Nehemiah 7:30). It is a different place from Gibea, and is not to be found, as I formerly supposed, in the Moslem village of Jibia, by the Wady el Jib, between Beitin and Sinjil (Rob. iii. p. 80), but in the small village of Jeba, which is lying half in ruins, and where there are relics of antiquity, three-quarters of an hour to the north-east of er-Rm (Ramah), and about three hours to the north of Jerusalem, upon a height from which there is an extensive prospect (vid., Rob. ii. pp. 113ff.). This eastern group also included the two other towns Anathoth and Almon (Joshua 21:18), which were given up by Benjamin to the Levites. Anathoth, the home of the prophet Jeremiah (Jeremiah 1:1; Jeremiah 11:21.), which was still inhabited by Benjaminites after the captivity (Nehemiah 11:32), is the present village of Anta, where there are ruins of great antiquity, an hour and a quarter to the north of Jerusalem (Rob. ii. pp. 109ff.). Almon, called Allemeth in 1 Chronicles 6:45, has been preserved in the ruins of Almt (Rob. Bibl. Res. pp. 287ff.), or el-Mid (Tobler, Denkbl. p. 631), on the south-east of Anta.

Gibeon, and Ramah, and Beeroth,
The second group of fourteen towns in the western portion of Benjamin. - Joshua 18:25. Gibeon, the present Jib: see at Joshua 9:3. Ramah, in the neighbourhood of Gibeah and Geba (Judges 19:13; Isaiah 10:29; 1 Kings 15:17; Ezra 2:26), most probably the Ramah of Samuel (1 Samuel 1:19; 1 Samuel 2:11; 1 Samuel 25:1; 1 Samuel 28:3), is the present village of er-Rm, upon a mountain with ruins between Gibeon and Geba, half an hour to the west of the latter, two hours to the north of Jerusalem (see Rob. ii. p. 315). Beeroth, the present Bireh: see at Joshua 9:17.

And Mizpeh, and Chephirah, and Mozah,
Mizpeh, commonly called Mizpah, where the war with Benjamin was decided upon (Judges 20-21), and where Samuel judged the people, and chose Saul as king (1 Samuel 7:5., Joshua 10:17), was afterwards the seat of the Babylonian governor Gedaliah (2 Kings 25:23; Jeremiah 40:6.). According to the Onom. (s. v. Massepha), it was near Kirjath-jearim, and Robinson (ii. p. 139) is no doubt correct in supposing it to be the present Neby Samvil (i.e., prophet Samuel), an hour and a quarter to the east of Kureyet Enab (Kirjath-jearim), two hours to the north-west of Jerusalem, half an hour to the south of Gibeon, a place which stands like a watch-tower upon the highest point in the whole region, and with a mosque, once a Latin church, which is believed alike by Jews, Christians, and Mahometans to cover the tomb of the prophet Samuel (see Rob. ii. pp. 135ff.). Chephirah, i.e., Kefir: see at Joshua 9:17. Mozah is only mentioned here, and is still unknown. Joshua 18:27. This also applies to Rekem, Irpeel, and Taralah.

And Rekem, and Irpeel, and Taralah,
And Zelah, Eleph, and Jebusi, which is Jerusalem, Gibeath, and Kirjath; fourteen cities with their villages. This is the inheritance of the children of Benjamin according to their families.
Zelah, the burial-place of Saul and his family (2 Samuel 21:14), is otherwise unknown. Gibeath or Gibeah, i.e., Gibeah of Benjamin, which was destroyed by the other tribes of Israel in the time of the judges, on account of the flagrant crime which had been committed there (Judges 19-20), is also called Gibeah of Saul, as being the home and capital of Saul (1 Samuel 10:26; 1 Samuel 11:4, etc.), and was situated, according to Judges 19:13 and Isaiah 10:29, between Jerusalem and Ramah, according to Josephus (Bell. Jud. v. 2, 1, 8) about twenty or thirty stadia from Jerusalem. These statements point to the Tell or Tuleil el Phul, i.e., bean-mountain, a conical peak about an hour from Jerusalem, on the road to er-Rm, with a large heap of stones upon the top, probably the ruins of a town that was built of unhewn stones, from which there is a very extensive prospect in all directions (Rob. ii. p. 317). Consequently modern writers have very naturally agreed in the conclusion, that the ancient Gibeah of Benjamin or Saul was situated either by the side of or upon this Tell (see Rob. Bibl. Res. p. 286; Strauss, Sinai, etc., p. 331, ed. 6; v. Raumer, Pal. p. 196). Kirjath has not yet been discovered, and must not be confounded with Kirjath-jearim, which belonged to the tribe of Judah (Joshua 18:14; cf. Joshua 15:60).

Biblical Commentary on the Old Testament, by Carl Friedrich Keil and Franz Delitzsch [1857-78].
Text Courtesy of Internet Sacred Texts Archive.

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