And the second lot came forth to Simeon, even for the tribe of the children of Simeon according to their families: and their inheritance was within the inheritance of the children of Judah.
Verse 1. - And their inheritance was within the inheritance of the children of Judah. Literally, in the midst of. ἀνὰ μέσον, LXX.; in medio, Vulgate (cf. ver. 9). Simeon, at the last census (Numbers 26:14), was the smallest of the tribes of Israel, a fulfilment of the prophecy of Jacob, and possibly the result of the command given in Numbers 25:5, since the Simeonites were the chief offenders on that occasion (Numbers 25:14; see also 1 Chronicles 4:27). The distribution of territory was in accordance with this, and it is possible that the lot only determined the priority of choice among the tribes. The territory of Judah seems to have been recognised as too large, in spite of the importance of the tribe. They therefore willingly gave up a portion of their territory to the Simeonites.
And they had in their inheritance Beersheba, or Sheba, and Moladah,
Verse 2. - Beersheba. A locality well known in Scripture, from Genesis 21:31 onwards. And Sheba. Some would translate here, or Sheba (see below). No doubt the city, of which nothing further is known, derived its name from Beer-sheba, "the well of the oath," close by. It is true that some little difficulty is caused by the omission of this city in 1 Chronicles 4:28, by the identification of Shehah with Beer-sheba in Genesis 26:33, and by the fact that in ver. 6 we are told that there were thirteen cities in this catalogue, whereas there are fourteen. On the other hand, Keil has remarked that in Joshua 15:32 the number of names does not correspond to the whole number of cities given; and we have a Shema, probably a mistake for Sheba, in Joshua 15:26, mentioned before Moladah among the cities of Judah. And, lastly, we have very few instances in Scripture of the disjunctive use of ו, though it seems impossible to deny that it is used in this sense in 1 Kings 18:27.
And Hazarshual, and Balah, and Azem,
Verse 3. - Hazar-shual. The "hamlet of jackals." The word Hazar is translated "village" in our version (see note on Joshua 15:32). So also with Hazar-susah or Hazar-susim, "the hamlet of horses" (1 Chronicles 4:31) below.
And Eltolad, and Bethul, and Hormah,
And Ziklag, and Bethmarcaboth, and Hazarsusah,
And Bethlebaoth, and Sharuhen; thirteen cities and their villages:
Ain, Remmon, and Ether, and Ashan; four cities and their villages:
And all the villages that were round about these cities to Baalathbeer, Ramath of the south. This is the inheritance of the tribe of the children of Simeon according to their families.
Out of the portion of the children of Judah was the inheritance of the children of Simeon: for the part of the children of Judah was too much for them: therefore the children of Simeon had their inheritance within the inheritance of them.
Verse 9. - Therefore the children of Simeon had their inheritance. Of the later history of the children of Simeon we find a little recorded in 1 Chronicles 4:39-42, and some suppose that the event recorded there is a fulfilment of the prophecy in Obadiah 1:19. Dr. Pusey mentions a tribe still existing in the south, professing to be of the sons of Israel, and holding no connection with the Arabs of the neighbourhood, and supposes them to be the descendants of the five hundred Simeonites who took possession of Mount Seir in the days of Hezekiah. No border seems to have been given of Simeon.
And the third lot came up for the children of Zebulun according to their families: and the border of their inheritance was unto Sarid:
Verse 10. - Sarid. This seems to have been a middle point, from which the border is traced eastward and westward, as in Joshua 16:6, and perhaps in ver. 32. But the LXX. and other versions have a variety of readings here.
And their border went up toward the sea, and Maralah, and reached to Dabbasheth, and reached to the river that is before Jokneam;
Verse 11. - Toward the sea. Rather, westward. The original is touched or skirted (פגע). River that is before Jokneam. This, with the assistance of Joshua 12:22, which mentions Jokneam as near to Mount Carmel, enables us to identify this river (or rather, winter torrent), as "that ancient river, the river Kishon." Knobel, however, says that if the Kishon had been meant it would have been called by its name, and that we must therefore understand the Wady-el-Mil'h. But this is by no means a safe conclusion.
And turned from Sarid eastward toward the sunrising unto the border of Chislothtabor, and then goeth out to Daberath, and goeth up to Japhia,
Verse 12. - Chisloth-Tabor. The loins or flanks of Tabor. Tabor (the name signifies either quarry - see note on Shebarim, probably a kindred word, Joshua 7:5 - or navel), is one of the most conspicuous mountains of Palestine. Like Soracte, above the Campagna of Rome, "the cone-shaped figure of Tabor can be seen on all sides," though it rises only 1,750 feet (French) above the level of the sea, 800 above the plain at its northeastern base, and 600 above Nazareth on the north-west (Ritter, 2:311). Chisloth-Tabor was on the northwest side of the base of Tabor. Tabor has been supposed to have been the scene of the Transfiguration. But Ritter points out that from the time of Antiochus the Great, 200 years before Christ, to the destruction of Jerusalem, the summit of Tabor was a fortress. And he notices that while Jerome and Cyril mention this tradition, Eusebius, who lived 100 years earlier, knows nothing of it.
And from thence passeth on along on the east to Gittahhepher, to Ittahkazin, and goeth out to Remmonmethoar to Neah;
Verse 13. - Gittah-hepher. Or, Gathhepher (1 Kings 14:25) was the birth place of the prophet Jonah. Now el-Mesh-hed, where the tomb of Jonah is still shown. The Rabbinical writers and the Onomasticon mention this tradition.
And the border compasseth it on the north side to Hannathon: and the outgoings thereof are in the valley of Jiphthahel:
Verse 14. - Compasseth it. The verb נסב is here used transitively. The meaning is that the border makes a curve round the city of Neah. Neah seems to have been the extreme eastern border. Methoar is supposed to be the Pual participle, and has been freely translated, "which is marked out," or, "which belongs to," Neah. But the passage is obscure. Knobel could alter the reading, in view of the grammatical difficulty. Yet this, perhaps, is not insuperable in view of Joshua 3:14 (see Gesen, 'Grammar,' sec. 108, 2. c.). Valley. גֵי. (see note on Joshua 8:13; 15:8). So in ver. 27.
And Kattath, and Nahallal, and Shimron, and Idalah, and Bethlehem: twelve cities with their villages.
Verse 15. - Beth-lehem. This name, signifying the "house of bread," would naturally enough be given to a place in a fertile situation. We are not to suppose that it was "Bethlehem-Ephratah, among the thousands of Jadah" (Micah 5:2). It is now Beit-lahm, about eight miles in a westerly direction from Nazareth.
This is the inheritance of the children of Zebulun according to their families, these cities with their villages.
Verse 16. - The inheritance of the children of Zebulun. It is strange that the beautiful and fertile land occupied by the tribe of Zebulun does not appear to have brought prosperity with it. Possibly the fact that the "lines" of this tribe had "fallen in pleasant places," had tended to induce sloth. Certain it is that we hear but little of this tribe in the after history of Israel. They were not, like Reuben, absent from the great battle of Tabor, for there we read that, like Issachar, they "jeoparded their lives unto the death" for their homes and liberties. Yet though they seem thenceforth to have slackened in their zeal, theirs was a fair portion. It bordered on the slopes of Tabor, and seems (though the fact is not mentioned here) to have extended to the Sea of Galilee, as we may gather from Isaiah 9:1.
And the fourth lot came out to Issachar, for the children of Issachar according to their families.
And their border was toward Jezreel, and Chesulloth, and Shunem,
Verse 18. - Jezreel. The valley (עֵמֶק) of Jezreel, known in later Greek as the plain of Esdrsela or Esdraclon (Judith 1:8 Judith 7:2; 2 Macc. 12:49) was "the perennial battlefield of Palestine from that time to the present" (Cooper, 'Egyptian Obelisks,' p. 33). Lieut. Conder ('Quart. Paper, Pal. Expl. Fund,' Jan., 1873), however, takes exception to this statement. "The great battles of Joshua," he says, "were fought far to the south." We presume he would make an exception on behalf of the action by the waters of Merom, and that he does not wish us to forget that the majority of Joshua's other "battles" were sieges. "David's wars were fought with the Philistines," he continues, "while the invasions of the Syrians were directed to the neighbourhood of Samaria." But here, again, he would seem to have forgotten 1 Samuel 29:1, 1 Kings 20:26, 2 Kings 13:17, 25, while he expressly admits that the great battles of Gilboa and Megiddo, in which Saul and Josiah were defeated and met their deaths, were fought here. And we have already seen that twice did the Egyptians invade Syria by this plain. One of these invasions took place while Moses was in Egypt, under Thothmes III. The other was the famous expedition of Rameses II. against Syria, about the time of Deborah and Barak. If we add to these the victory of Gideon over the Midianites and the overthrow of Sisera, we shall have reason to think that the epithet "the battlefield of Palestine" applied to this plain is not altogether misplaced, especially if, with a large number of critics, we regard the Book of Judith as founded on fact, but relating to events of some other time than that of Nebuchadnezzar. "Well may it be fertile," exclaims Mr. Bartlett ('From Egypt to Palestine,' p. 478), "for it has drunk the blood of the Midianite, the Philistine, the Jew, the Roman, the Babylonian, the Egyptian, the Frenchman, the Englishman, the Saracen, and the Turk. It is a singular group to summon up to the imagination, Gideon, Saul, and Jonathan, Deborah, Barak, and Sisera, Ahab, Jezebel, Jehu, Josiah, Omri, and Azariah, Holofernes and Judith, Vespasian and Josephus, Saladin and the Knights Templar, Bonaparte and Kleber." The list is a striking one. But certain it is that the plains of Jezreel have been noted as the highway of every conqueror who wished to make the fertile fields of Palestine his own. The Israelitish invasion alone seems to have been decided elsewhere than on that plain, stretching as it does from the foot of Carmel in a southeasterly direction, and divided in the direction of Jordan by Mount Gilboa and Little Hermon into three distinct branches, in the midst of the southernmost and most extensive of which stands the famous city of Jezreel - God's acre, or sowing ground, as the name indicates. Here Barak and Deborah fell upon the hosts of Jabin (Judges 4:14), descending suddenly from the heights of Tabor with 10,000 men upon the vast and evidently undisciplined host that lay in the plain. Here Gideon encountered the vast host of the Midianites (Judges 7:12), who, after laying waste the south country, finally encamped in this fertile plain (accurately called עֵמֶקin Judges 6:38), and with their leaders Oreb and Zeeb, and their princes Zebah and Zalmunna, were swept away in one of those sudden and irrational panics so often fatal to Eastern armies. Here Saul, hard by Jezreel, dispirited by his visit to the witch of Endor, on the north of Gilboa, gathered his men together as a forlorn hope, to await the attack of the Philistines, their numbers at first swelled by a number of Israelites whom Saul's tyranny and oppression had driven into exile (1 Samuel 29). Advancing to Jezreel, the Philistine host carried all before them, and drove the Israelites in headlong flight up the steeps of Gilboa, where Saul and his sons fell fighting bravely to the last (1 Samuel 30.). In the later and sadder days of the Israelitish monarchy, when the ten tribes had been carried into captivity by the Assyrian conqueror, Josiah courted disaster by a rash onslaught upon the Egyptian troops as they marched against Assyria. No details of this fight at Megiddo are preserved, save the fatal fire of the Egyptian archers, who marked Josiah as their victim, and drove, no doubt, his leaderless troops from the field (2 Kings 23:29; 2 Chronicles 35:22). At Jezreel, too, Ahab made his capital. Hither Elijah, when "the hand of the Lord was upon him" (1 Kings 18:46), ran after the wondrous scene on Mount Carmel, when he alone, in a strength not his own, withstood the "prophets of Baal, even four hundred and fifty men." Here Jehoram stood on the hill, with its commanding view, watching with an uneasy distrust the furious rush of Jehu with his troop from the other side Jordan, and here, in the plat of Naboth the Jezreelite, so fatal to Ahab and his house, did the vengeance decreed overtake the unhappy monarch (2 Kings 9:25), The spot may be still identified. It is the modern Zerin. Ritter describes it (and so does Robinson) as standing on the edge of a precipice 100 feet high, and commanding a fine view of the plain of Beth-shean on the east, and of Esdraelon on the west. There is a tower here which commands the same view as the watchmen of Jehoram commanded, bearing witness to the accuracy of the historian. So in 1 Kings 4:12, the mention of Taanach, Megiddo, and the region of Beth-shean, as beneath (מִַץחַתלְ). Jezreel is another instance of topographical detail which marks the correctness of the record. Another point is that we read in the narrative above mentioned of "chariots." Wilson ('Lands of the Bible,' 2:303) was surprised, on leaving the rugged heights of the hill country, to find how easily, if the civilisation of Palestine permitted, excellent roads might be made throughout this region; and Canon Tristram ('Land of Israel,' p. 421) has remarked on the desolate appearance now presented by that fertile region, the result of the insecurity for life and property which is so commonly remarked by all who have travelled in the East. Here, where under a better rule would be the abode of peace and plenty, no cultivator of the land dare venture to pass the night, exposed to the depredations of the wild tribes that infest the country. Only a mountain fastness, hard to climb and comparatively easy to defend, affords a secure retreat for those who would live peaceably in that once favoured land. Shunem. Now Sulem: the place of the encampment of the Philistines before they "pitched in Aphek" (1 Samuel 28:4; 1 Samuel 29:1). It was "five Roman miles south of Mount Tabor" (Vandevelde) and an hour and a half (i.e. about six miles) north of Jezreel (Keil and Delitzsch). Here Abishag the Shunammite lived (1 Kings 1:3; 1 Kings 2:17, 21), and here Elisha lodged, and afterwards restored the son of his entertainers to life (2 Kings 4, 8.).
And Hapharaim, and Shion, and Anaharath,
And Rabbith, and Kishion, and Abez,
And Remeth, and Engannim, and Enhaddah, and Bethpazzez;
Verse 21. - En-gannim. Supposed to be the same as the "garden house" (the Bethgan of the LXX.) mentioned in 2 Kings 9:27) where Ahaziah, king of Judah, met with the wound of which he afterwards died at Megiddo. It was one of the Levitical cities of Issachar (Joshua 21:29). Robinson, Vandevelde, and others identify it with the modern Jenin, the Ginaea of Josephus. The meaning of the name is "fountain of the gardens" and the present Jenin is situated, so Robinson tells us, in the midst of gardens.
And the coast reacheth to Tabor, and Shahazimah, and Bethshemesh; and the outgoings of their border were at Jordan: sixteen cities with their villages.
Verse 22. - The coast reacheth. Literally, the border skirteth, as in ver. 11. Tabor. Perhaps the same as Chisloth-Tabor in ver. 12 (cf. 1 Chronicles 6:77). It would therefore be, as Mount Tabor certainly was, on the boundary between the tribes of Issachar and Zebulun. Beth-shemesh. Not the well known town in the tribe of Judah (Joshua 15:10). The repetition of this name is a proof of the extent to which sun worship prevailed in Palestine before the Israelite invasion.
This is the inheritance of the tribe of the children of Issachar according to their families, the cities and their villages.
Verse 23. - This is the inheritance of the tribe of Issachar. Jacob, whose dying eye pierced far into the future, discerned beforehand the situation of the tribe of Issachar, and its results upon its conduct. Situated in the midst of this fertile plain, accessible alike to Egypt by the way of the Shephelah, and to the east by way of the fords of the Jordan, the tribe of Issachar became in the end the prey of the various nationalities, who made the plain of Esdraelon their battlefield, and it was the first to "bow his shoulder to bear" and to "become a servant unto tribute" (Genesis 49:15). It seems to have been to the east of Manasseh (see Joshua 17:10), and may have extended much further south than is usually supposed. Since but small mention of the Jordan is made in the boundary of Joseph, it may have extended as far or farther south than the Jabbok (see also note, Joshua 17:10). The general belief of explorers at present is that the inheritance of Issachar extended from Jezreel to the Jordan, and from the Sea of Tiberias southward as far as the border of Manasseh, above mentioned.
And the fifth lot came out for the tribe of the children of Asher according to their families.
And their border was Helkath, and Hali, and Beten, and Achshaph,
And Alammelech, and Amad, and Misheal; and reacheth to Carmel westward, and to Shihorlibnath;
Verse 26. - Reacheth. Literally, toucheth, i.e. skirteth, as in vers. 11 and 22. So in the next verse, with regard to Zebulun. The term appears to be the invariable one when a district, not a particular place, is spoken cf. To Carmel westward. The Carmel range appears to have been included in the tribe of Asher. For we read (Joshua 17:10, 11) that Asher met Manasseh on the north, whence we conclude that it must have cut off Issachar from the sea, and that as Dor was among the towns which Manasseh held within the territory of Issachar and Asher, it must therefore have been within the boundaries of the latter. Shihor-libnath. For Shihor see Joshua 13:3. Libnath, which signifies white or shining, has been supposed by some to mean the glassy river, from its calm, unbroken flow, though this appears improbable, since Shihor means turbid. It is far more probable that the current was rendered turbid by a quantity of chalk or limestone which it carried along in its course, and hence the name "muddy white." Keil thinks it to be the Nahr-el-Zerka, or crocodile river, of Pliny, in which Beland, Von Raumer, Knobel, and Rosenmuller agree with him. But when he proceeds to argue that this river, being blue, "might answer both to shihor, black, and libnath, white," he takes a flight in which it is impossible to follow him. Gesenius, from the glazed appearance of burnt brick or tiles (l'banah), conjectures,that it may be the Belus, or "glass river," so called, however, in ancient times because the fine sand on its banks enabled the manufacture of glass to be carried on here. But this, emptying itself into the sea near Acre, has been thought to be too far north. Vandevelde, however, one of the latest authorities, as well as Mr. Conder, is inclined to agree with Gesenius. The difficulty of this identification consists in the fact that Carmel and Dor (Joshua 17:11) are said to have been in Asher (see note on Joshua 17:10). The Nahr-el-Zerka has not been found by recent explorers to contain crocodiles, but it has been thought possible that they have hitherto eluded observation. Kenrick, however ('Phoenicia,' p. 24), thinks that as crocodilus originally meant a lizard, the lacertus Niloticus is meant, the river being, in his opinion, too shallow in summa to be the haunt of the crocodile proper (see also Tristram, 'Land of Israel.' p. 103, who believes it possible that the crocodile may be found there, though no specimen has as yet been produced). The Zerkais described in Palestine Exploration Fund Quarterly Paper, January, 1874, as "a torpid stream flowing through fetid marshes, in which reeds, canes, and the stunted papyrus grow." When it is added, "and where alone in Palestine the crocodile is found," no evidence is given in favour of the statement. It empties itself into the sea between Dor and Caesarea, a few miles north of the latter.
And turneth toward the sunrising to Bethdagon, and reacheth to Zebulun, and to the valley of Jiphthahel toward the north side of Bethemek, and Neiel, and goeth out to Cabul on the left hand,
Verse 27. - Beth-dagon. We learn that Dagon, the fish-god, was worshipped here as well as in the south of Palestine (see Joshua 15:41). The Valley of Jiphthah-el. This valley, or gai, is mentioned above, ver. 14, as the extreme northern border of Zebulun. Cabul. We read of a Cabul in 1 Kings 9:11-13, but it can hardly be this place, though clearly not far off. For we read that the name given to that territory was given then by Hiram. There is a κωμὴ Ξαβωλώ Πτολεμαίδος μεθόριον οῦσα mentioned by Josephus. There is a village four hours northeast of Acre, which still bears this name.
And Hebron, and Rehob, and Hammon, and Kanah, even unto great Zidon;
Verse 28. - Hebron. Rather, Ebron. It is not the same word as the Hebron in Judah, but is spelt with Ain instead of Hheth. In Joshua 21:30, 1 Chronicles 6:59, Abdon is the name of the city assigned to the Levites in Asher. Twenty MSS., says Keil, have the same reading here. But the LXX. has Ἐβρων here and Αβδων in Joshua 21:30. The Hebrew ד and ר are so much alike that there is no doubt that the mistake has arisen earlier than the time when that translation was made. It is true that the lists of Levitical cities in Joshua 21. and 1 Chronicles 6. do not entirely correspond. But the resemblance here between the names is too striking to allow of the supposition that two different cities are meant. Great Zidon. This city, as well as Tyro, remained unsubdued, although assigned by Joshua to Asher. The boundary of Asher appears to have been traced first towards the west, then eastward, from a middle point on the southern border (see note on ver. 11), then to have been carried northward from the same point (the left hand usually means the north; see note on Teman, Joshua 15:1), on the east side till it reached Cabul. Then the northern border is traced westward to Sidon. Then the border turned southward along the sea, which is not mentioned, because it would seem to be sufficiently defined by the mention of Ramah and Tyre. Between Hosah and Achzib there would seem to have been a greater paucity of cities, and therefore the sea is mentioned.
And then the coast turneth to Ramah, and to the strong city Tyre; and the coast turneth to Hosah; and the outgoings thereof are at the sea from the coast to Achzib:
Verse 29. - The strong city Tyre. Rather, the fortified city. The general impression among commentators appears to be that the island city of Tyre, afterwards so famous, had not as yet come into existence. And the word here used, מִבְצַר seems to be more in accordance with the idea of a land fortress than of one so exceptionally protected as an island fortress would be. This expression, like "great Zidon" above, implies the comparative antiquity of the Book of Joshua. The island city of Tyre, so famous in later history, was not yet founded. The city on the mainland (called Ancient Tyre by the historians) was "the chief seat of the population till the wars of the Assyrian monarchs against Phoenicia" (Kenrick, 'Phoenicia,' p. 344). He adds, "The situation of Palae-Tyrus was one of the most fertile spots on the coast of Phoenicia. The plain, is here about five miles wide; the soft is dark, and the variety of its productions excited the wonder of the Crusaders." William of Tyre, the historian of the Crusades, tells us that, although the territory was scanty in extent, "exiguitatem suam multa redimit ubertate." The position of Tyre, as a city of vast commercial importance and artistic skill in the time of David and Solomon, is clear enough from the sacred records. It appears still (2 Samuel 24:6, 7) to have been on the mainland, for the successors of Rameses II., up to the time of Sheshonk, or Shishak, were unwarlike monarchs, and the Assyrian power had not yet attained its subsequent formidable dimensions. We meet with Eth-baal, or Itho-baal, in later Scripture history, remarkable as the murderer of the last of Hiram's descendants, and the father of the infamous Jezebel, from which we may conclude that a great moral and therefore political declension had taken place since the days of Hiram. The later history of Tyre may be inferred from the prophetic denunciations, intermingled with descriptive passages, found in Isaiah 23, and Ezekiel 26, 27; Joel (Joel 3:3-8) and Amos (Amos 1:9) had previously complained of the way in which the children of Israel had become the merchandise of Tyre, and had threatened the vengeance of God. But the minute and powerful description in Ezekiel 27, shows that Tyre was still great and prosperous. She was strong enough to resist the attacks of successive Assyrian monarchs. Shalmaneser's victorious expedition (so Alexander tells us) was driven back from the island fortress of Tyre. Sennacherib, in his vainglorious boast of the cities he has conquered (Isaiah 36, 37.), makes no mention of Tyre. Even Nebuchadnezzar, though he took and destroyed Palae-Tyrus, appears to have been baffled in his attempt to reduce the island city. Shorn of much of its ancient glory, Tyre still remained powerful, and only succumbed, after a resistance of seven months, to the splendid military genius of Alexander the Great. But Alexander refounded Tyre, and its position and its commercial reputation secured for it a large part of its former importance. The city continued to flourish, even though Phoenicia was for a long period the battleground between the Syrian and the Egyptian monarchies. To Christian readers, the description by Eusebius of the splendid church erected at Tyre by its Bishop Paulinus will have an interest. He describes it as by far the finest in all Phoenicia, and appends the sermon he preached on the occasion. Even in the fourth century after Christ, St. Jerome ('Comm. ad Ezekiel,' 26:7.) wonders why the prophecy concerning Tyre has never been fulfilled. "Quod sequitur, 'nee aedificaberis ultra,' videtur facere quaestionem quomodo non sit aedificata, quam hodie cernimus nobilissimam et pulcherrimam civitatem." But the present state of Tyre warns us not to be too hasty in pronouncing any Scripture prophecy to have failed. Even Sidon is not the wretched collection of huts and ruined columns which is all that remains of the once proud city Tyre. And the outgoings thereof are at the sea from the coast to Achzib. Rather, and the western extremity is from Hebel to Achzib. Hebel signifies a region or possession, as in ver. 9. Here, however, it seems to be a proper name. Achzib. "A city of Asher, not conquered by that tribe (Judges 1:31), now the village of Zib, two-and-a-half hours north of Akka," or Acre (Vandevelde). Keil and Delitzsch make the journey a three hours' one. But Manndrell, who also corroborates St. Jerome in the distance (nine Roman miles), states that he performed the journey hence to Acre in two hours.
Ummah also, and Aphek, and Rehob: twenty and two cities with their villages.
Verse 30. - Aphek (see Joshua 13:4). Twenty and two cities with their villages. The difficulty of tracing the boundary of Asher seems to be that it was traced, not by a line plainly marking out the territory, but less accurately, by a reference to the relative position of its principal cities.
This is the inheritance of the tribe of the children of Asher according to their families, these cities with their villages.
Verse 31. - This is the inheritance of the tribe of Asher. Asher appears to have been allotted a long but narrow strip of territory between Naphtali and the sea. The natural advantages of the territory must have been great. Not only was it described prophetically by Jacob (Genesis 49:20) and by Moses (Deuteronomy 33:24, 25), but the prosperity of the two great maritime cities of Tyro and Sidon was due to the immense commercial advantages the neighbourhood afforded. St. Jean d'Acre, within the territory once assigned to Asher, has inherited the prosperity, so far as anything under the Turkish rule can be prosperous, once enjoyed by her two predecessors. Maundrell, the acute English chaplain at Aleppo, who visited Palestine in 1696, describes the plain of Acre in his day as about six hours' journey from north to south, and two from west to east; as being well watered, and possessing "everything else that might render it both pleasant and fruitful. But," he adds, "this delicious plain is now almost desolate, being suffered, for want of culture, to run up to rank weeds, as high as our horses' backs." Asher, however, never employed the advantages its situation offered. They never subdued the Canaanites around them, but, unquestionably at a very early date (see Judges 5:17) preferred a life of compromise and ignoble ease to the national welfare. But it would be incorrect to suppose that because the tribe is omitted in the list of rulers given in 1 Chronicles 27, it had ceased to be a power in Israel. For Gad is also omitted in that list, while among the warriors who came to greet David when he became undisputed king of Israel, Asher sent 40,000 trained warriors, a number exceeding the men of Ephraim, and those of Simeon, of Dan, and of the half tribe of Manasseh (see 1 Chronicles 12.), and far exceeding the numbers of Benjamin, which had never recovered the war of almost extermination waged against it, in consequence of the atrocity at Gibeah (Judges 20.). Possibly the reason why so few are mentioned of the tribe of Judah on that occasion is because so many were already with David. There seems no ground for the idea of Dean Stanley, that the allusion to Asher in Judges 5:17 is any more contemptuous than the allusion to any other tribe.
The sixth lot came out to the children of Naphtali, even for the children of Naphtali according to their families.
And their coast was from Heleph, from Allon to Zaanannim, and Adami, Nekeb, and Jabneel, unto Lakum; and the outgoings thereof were at Jordan:
Verse 33. - From Allon to Zaanannim. Or, the oak which is at Zaanannim (cf. Allon-bachuth, the oak of weeping, Genesis 35:8). Zaanannim is the same as the Zaanaim mentioned in Judges 4:11. For (1) the Keri is Zaanannim there, and the word here rightly translated "oak" is rendered there "plain," as in Genesis 12:6 and elsewhere. It has been supposed to lie northwest of Lake Huleh, the ancient Merom, whence we find that the scene of that famous battle was assigned to the tribe of Naphtali. The border of Naphtali is more lightly traced than any previous one, and is regarded as being sufficiently defined, save toward the north, by the boundaries of the other tribes.
And then the coast turneth westward to Aznothtabor, and goeth out from thence to Hukkok, and reacheth to Zebulun on the south side, and reacheth to Asher on the west side, and to Judah upon Jordan toward the sunrising.
Verse 34. - And then the coast turneth westward. Here the words are literally translated without any confusion between the west and the sea, nor any misapprehension of the meaning of the word נסב. Reacheth. This is the same word translated skirteth above, ver. 11, note. We have it here clearly stated that Naphtali was bordered on the south by Zebulun, on the west by Asher, and on the east by "Judah upon Jordan." To Judah. These words have caused great trouble to translators and expositors for 2,000 years. The LXX. omits them altogether, rendering, "and the Jordan to the eastward." The Masorites, by inserting a disjunctive accent between them and the words that follow, would have us render, "and to Judah: Jordan towards the sun rising," or, "is towards the sunrising," a rendering which gives no reasonable sense. They unquestionably form part of the text, since no version but the LXX. omits them. A suggestion of Von Raumer's has found favour that the cities called Havoth Jair, which were on the eastern side of Jordan, opposite the inheritance of Naphtali, are meant. Jair was a descendant of Judah by the father's side, through Hezron. So Ritter, 4:338 (see 1 Chronicles 2:21-23). It would seem that the principle of female inheritance, having once been admitted in the tribe of Manasseh, was found capable of further extension. But to the majority of the Israelites this settlement would no doubt be regarded as an offshoot of the tribe of Judah.
And the fenced cities are Ziddim, Zer, and Hammath, Rakkath, and Chinnereth,
Verse 35. - And the fenced cities. The remark is made in the 'Speaker's Commentary' that the number of fenced cities in the north were no doubt owing to a determination to protect the northern boundary of Israel by a chain of fortresses. The word fenced is the same that is rendered strong in ver. 29, "the strong city Tyre." Chinnereth (see Joshua 11:2).
And Adamah, and Ramah, and Hazor,
Verse 36. - Hazor (see above, Joshua 11:1-10).
And Kedesh, and Edrei, and Enhazor,
Verse 37. - Kedesh (see Joshua 12:22). It was the residence of Barak (Judges 4:6). Known to Josephus (Bell. Jud., 4.2.3.) as Cydoessa, to Eusebius and Jerome as Cydissus; it is now Kedes (see Robinson, 'Later Biblical Researches'). Edrei. Not the Edrei of Og, which was beyond Jordan.
And Iron, and Migdalel, Horem, and Bethanath, and Bethshemesh; nineteen cities with their villages.
Verse 38. - Migdal-el. The Magdala of the New Testament. It lay on the lake of Gennesareth. Beth-shemesh. A common name, derived from the worship of the sun. This is neither Beth-shemesh of Judah nor of Issachar (see ver. 22).
This is the inheritance of the tribe of the children of Naphtali according to their families, the cities and their villages.
Verse 39. - The inheritance of the tribe of the children of Naphtali. Of Naphtali, Beyond the not too heroic leader Barak, we hear nothing in the after history of Israel, until the fulfilment of the prophecy in Isaiah 9:1, 2. Galilee, the scene of the greater part of our Lord's teaching and miracles, was divided between Issachar, Asher, Zebulon, and Naphtali. The majority of the places mentioned in the Gospels were Within the borders of Zebulon. But as we learn that our Lord penetrated as far as "the coasts of Caesarea Philippi," in the extreme north of Palestine, He must have preached also in the cities of Naphtali. Naphtali sent a goodly number of warriors to welcome David as "king over all Israel" (1 Chronicles 12:34). The inheritance of Naphtali was in the main fertile, but there was a large mountain district, known as the mountain region of Naphtali (Joshua 20:7). Some of the mountains rose to the height of more than 3,000 feet.
And the seventh lot came out for the tribe of the children of Dan according to their families.
And the coast of their inheritance was Zorah, and Eshtaol, and Irshemesh,
Verse 41. - Zorah and Eshtaol. On the border between Judah and Dan, but abandoned by the tribe of Judah to the Danites (see Judges 13:2, 25). "The wild and impassable wadies, the steep, hard, rocky hills, their wildernesses of mastic, clear springs, and frequent caves and precipices, are the fastnesses in which Samson was born, and from which he descended into the plain to harry the Philistines (Lieut. Conder in Pal. Expl. Fund, Quart. Paper, Jan., 1874). Robinson identifies Zorah with Surat. Ir-shemesh. Another sign of sun-worship. Ir-shemaesh is "the city of the sun."
And Shaalabbin, and Ajalon, and Jethlah,
Verse 42. - Aijalon, or Ajalon (see Joshua 10:12). One of the Levitical cities.
And Elon, and Thimnathah, and Ekron,
Verse 43. - Ekron (see Joshua 13:3).
And Eltekeh, and Gibbethon, and Baalath,
Verse 44. - Gibbethon. A Levitical city, as was also Eltekeh (see Joshua 21:23). It was the same city as that mentioned as "belonging to the Philistines" in 1 Kings 15:27; 1 Kings 16:15, 17.
And Jehud, and Beneberak, and Gathrimmon,
Verse 45. - Gathrimmon. Also a Levitical city (see Joshua 21:24; 1 Chronicles 6:69). Mejarkon. The waters of the Jarkon.
And Mejarkon, and Rakkon, with the border before Japho.
Verse 46. - Before. Or opposite. Japho. The Joppa of the New Testament, and the modern Jaffa. It is called Joppa in 2 Chronicles 2:16, in Ezra 3:7, and in the book of Jonah (Jonah 1:3), in an which places it is mentioned as a famous seaport, a position it still maintains, being still, as it was of old, the port of Jerusalem. The LXX. and Vulgate have Joppa here, and it is unfortunate that our translators, in this instance only, should have adhered to the Hebrew form. Joppa appears to have been an important city in the time of the Maccabees (see 1 Macc. 10:75, 76; and 2 Macc. 4:21). Its mention in the New Testament as the place where St. Peter's vision occurred will be known to all. The name signifies "beauty," though Joppa does not seem to be distinguished above all other places in Palestine by the beauty of its situation. But according to Hovers, Japho signifies in Phoenician, "high place." It is certainly built on a range of terraces above the sea, but the term "high place" would seem unsuitable. The soil is very productive, and it is "the only harbour in Central Palestine" (Ritter).
And the coast of the children of Dan went out too little for them: therefore the children of Dan went up to fight against Leshem, and took it, and smote it with the edge of the sword, and possessed it, and dwelt therein, and called Leshem, Dan, after the name of Dan their father.
Verse 47. - Went out too little for them. The Hebrew is, went out from them; i.e., either went out beyond their own borders, or went out too small a distance to be sufficient for them. The first is the explanation of Masius ("extra se migrasse"), the second of Jarchi. Houbigant suggests for וַיֵּצֵא "and it went out" וַיָּאָצ "and it was narrow." But the LXX, has the same reading as ourselves, and the explanation given above is quite consistent with the fact. The border of Dan did "go out" far beyond the borders originally assigned to the tribe, in fact to the extreme northern limit of Palestine. The account of the taking of Laish, or Leshem, is given more fully in Judges 18. The inheritance assigned to Dan was extremely small, but it was also extremely fertile.
This is the inheritance of the tribe of the children of Dan according to their families, these cities with their villages.
Verse 48. - This is the inheritance of the children of Dan. We read little of Dan in the after history of Israel. Samson is the only hero this tribe produced, and his exploits were limited to a very narrow area, and his influence apparently to his own tribe.
When they had made an end of dividing the land for inheritance by their coasts, the children of Israel gave an inheritance to Joshua the son of Nun among them:
Verse 49. - When they had made an end. The LXX., both here and in ver. 51, reads ׃תנךו יךהת יֵלְכוּ The last thing Joshua thought of was himself. It was only when his work was done, and Israel had received her allotted territory, that Joshua thought it right to take his own inheritance. Calvin remarks that it was "a striking proof of the moderation of this servant of God" that he "thought not of his own interest until that of the community was secured."
According to the word of the LORD they gave him the city which he asked, even Timnathserah in mount Ephraim: and he built the city, and dwelt therein.
Verse 50. - The city which he asked. He asked for a city, certainly. But the law of the inheritance was not to be set aside for him any more than for the meanest in Israel. Timnath-serah was in his own tribe. Timnath-serah. Called Thamna by Josephus and the LXX., and Timnath-heres, or Tinmath of the sun by a transposition of the letters, in Judges 2:9. Rabbi Solomon Jarchi gives a singular reason for the latter name. It came to be so called because there was a representation of the sun upon the tomb of him who caused the sun to stand still. Timnath-serah must not be confounded with Timnah, or Timnathah, in the tribe of Dan (ver. 48). For a long time its site was unknown, but within the last 40 years it has been identified with Tibneh, seven hours north of Jerusalem, among the mountains of Ephraim. Dr. Eli Smith was the first to suggest this, and though it was doubted by Robinson, it has since been accepted by Vandevelde and other high authorities. Tibneh seems to have anciently been a considerable town. It is described in Ritter's 'Geography of Palestine' as a gentle hill, crowned with extensive ruins. Opposite these, on the slope of a much higher eminence, are excavations like what are called the Tombs of the Kings at Jerusalem. Jewish tradition, however, points to Kefr Haris, some distance south of Shechem, as the site of Joshua's tomb, and several able writers have advocated its claims in the papers of the Palestine Exploration Fund, on the ground that on such a point Jewish tradition was not likely to be mistaken.
These are the inheritances, which Eleazar the priest, and Joshua the son of Nun, and the heads of the fathers of the tribes of the children of Israel, divided for an inheritance by lot in Shiloh before the LORD, at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation. So they made an end of dividing the country.
Verse 51. - At the door of the tabernacle of the congregation. The lots were drawn under Divine sanction. The ruler of the State and the ruler of the Church combined in this sacred act, hallowed by all the rites of religion, and confirmed by the presence and approbation of the heads or representatives of all the tribes. Accordingly, as has been said above, we hear of no murmurings or disputings afterwards. However much the Israelites may have quarrelled among themselves, there is not a hint of dissatisfaction with the final distribution of territory. Three points may be noticed here -
1. The authenticity of the narrative is confirmed by these evidences of the internal agreement of its parts.
2. We learn the value of mutual consultation, of open and fair dealing, from this narrative. The parcelling out of the inheritance of Israel under God's command was carried out in such a manner as to preclude the slightest suspicion of partiality.
3. The duty of hallowing all important actions with the sanctions of religion, of uniting prayer and a public recognition of God's authority with every event of moment, whether in the life of the individual or of the body politic, finds an illustration here. An age which, like the present, is disposed to relegate to the closet all recognition of God's authority, which rushes into wars without God's blessing, celebrates national or local ceremonials without acknowledging Him, contracts matrimony without publicly seeking His blessing, receives children from Him without caring to dedicate them formally to His service, can hardly plead that it is acting in the spirit of the Divine Scriptures. A well known writer in our age declares that we have "forgotten God." Though the external and formal recognition of Him may be consistent with much forgetfulness in the heart, yet the absence of such recognition is not likely to make us remember Him, nor can it be pleaded as proof that we do so.