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Go to Bible: Joshua 15
“lot.” Although many versions read “allotment,” the Hebrew word is “lot” and the territories were distributed by lot, and the lot was the decision by Yahweh, and the word “lot” makes that clear.
The first allotment to be described in Israel’s inheritance in Canaan, the Promised Land, is of the tribe of Judah. This is the most detailed description of any inheritance given to any of the tribes of Israel, which implies and foreshadows the importance of Judah, from whom the line of David and eventually the Messiah would come. However, the chapter ends on a negative note, that Jebus (Jerusalem) was not possessed by Judah, but this in itself is somewhat strange since Jebus is actually in the tribal territory of Benjamin, not Judah, although admittedly it is on extreme southern border of Benjamin and thus on the northern border of Judah. Nevertheless, the mention of Jebus and Judah sets up the story of the conquest of Jebus by David.
“the border of Edom, which is the wilderness of Zin.” So at this time in history, Edom controlled the territory south of the wilderness of Zin in the Sinai Peninsula.(top)
“the Salt Sea.” This is the Dead Sea.
“the bay that looks southward.” This is the south bay of the Dead Sea. The Hebrew is literally, “turns southward,” but that is unclear in English, so English versions do not use it.(top)
“Zin.” This can be the wilderness of Zin, but more specifically the reference is to the wadi of Zin that runs through the Wilderness of Zin.
“south of Kadesh-barnea.” Thus Kadesh-barnea is included in the tribal territory of Judah.(top)
“the brook of Egypt.” This is the Wadi el-Arish in the Sinai. This wadi drains the middle of the Sinai into the Mediterranean Sea. This same border is described in Numbers 34:1-5.
“ended at the sea.” The Mediterranean Sea.(top)
“The east border was the Salt Sea.” The east border of the tribe of Judah is easy to delineate. Although any ownership of the Dead Sea would have had to have been negotiated with Moab and Edom, there is no indication that was ever a problem since the water was not drinkable or useful for irrigation, nor did it have any fish.
“The border of the north side.” Judah’s north border is basically the same as Benjamin’s south border as described in Joshua 18.(top)
“The border went up to Beth-hoglah.” This border is running west, and the phrase “up to” here refers to the fact that the border is now running west and uphill into the Judean hill country from the Jordan River valley. Beth-hoglah was a border town, and based on this record may have had Judeans and Benjamites in it, but technically it belonged to Benjamin (Josh. 18:21).
“Bohan the son of Reuben.” This only occurs here and in Joshua 18:17. It was apparently well known at the time of Joshua, but lost in history now.(top)
“the valley of Achor.” The Valley of Achor (“Achor” means “trouble” or “disaster”) was named because that is where Achan and his family were stoned to death after bringing disaster to Israel in their defeat at Ai (Josh. 7:24-26).
“the ascent of Adummim.” This is the ridge that can be walked on the south side of the Wadi Kelt.
“the south side of the valley.” This valley is the Wadi Kelt, which runs from the hill country of Judah down towards the Dead Sea.
“ended at En-rogel.” This is in the Kidron Valley east of Jerusalem. It is mentioned in 1 Kings 1:9.(top)
“the Valley of the son of Hinnom to the south side of the Jebusite hill (which is Jerusalem).” The “Valley of the son of Hinnom” is better known as Ge-hinnom, or Gehenna, sometimes poorly translated as “hell.” The Hebrew word “ge” means “valley,” and Hinnom was the man’s name who first owned or occupied it. When Hinnom died, his sons inherited the land and the valley became the Valley of the sons of Hinnom. [For more on the Valley of Hinnom, Gehenna, see commentary on Matt. 5:22].
“which is at the north end.” The Rephaim Valley angles north as it nears Jerusalem. From Jerusalem, it runs south and west toward the Mediterranean Sea, and as it nears the sea it runs westward. This description of the border of Judah fits very accurately with the geography around Jerusalem. The sites are quite close together, giving a very accurate and detailed description of the border of Judah. People doubt the Scriptural record when it comes to history, but no one doubts the Scripture when it comes to geography. But the people who so accurately described the geography would have also accurately described the history. Also, only someone who knew the geography intimately could have written with such accuracy.(top)
“cities of Mount Ephron.” The biblical Mount Ephron is the modern city of Mevasaret Zion. The word “cities” is accurate, because more than one city is close together on the top of the mountain.(top)
“crossed over.” There is a deep valley there that needs to be crossed.
“Chesalon.” Chesalon is a city on the top of Mount Jearim.
“went down to Beth-shemesh.” This geographically accurate. Beth-shemesh is downhill about 1000 feet, and to the west, toward the Mediterranean Sea, from Chesalon.
“and passed along by Timnah.” These border descriptions really help modern Bible geographers find the ancient sites. The modern Tel Batash has been determined to be the ancient city of Timnah, and this lines up well with this description of it being west of Beth-shemesh.(top)
“shoulder that is north of Ekron.” The shoulder that is north of Ekron refers to the hills that are on the south side of the Valley of Sorek, which is north of Ekron. These accurate border descriptions help us locate the biblical sites.(top)
“Great Sea.” The common Old Testament name for the Mediterranean Sea.(top)
“Caleb the son of Jephunneh.” Caleb was from the tribe of Judah, and he and Joshua were the two spies who remained faithful to God when Moses sent a man from each of the tribes to spy out the Promised Land (Num. 13:1-33; 14:6-9). Yahweh rewarded Caleb with his own city in the Promised Land, and did the same for Joshua (Josh. 19:49-50).
“Kiriath-arba.” “Kiriath-arba” means “the city of Arba.” Arba was one of the Nephilim, and the father of Anak. The term “Anakites” comes from Anak, the son of Arba. Abraham’s wife Sarah died in Kiriath-arba (Gen. 23:2). [For more on the Nephilim, see commentary on Gen. 6:4].(top)
“the three sons of Anak.” Anak was one of the Nephilim, the “Fallen Ones,” just as Numbers 13:33 says. Also, the three sons of Anak, Sheshai, Ahiman, and Talmai, are specifically mentioned three times in Scripture (Num. 13:22; Josh. 15:14; Judg. 1:10; see commentary on Josh. 1:10). [For more on the Nephilim, see commentary on Gen. 6:4]. This event is recounted in Judges 1:10.(top)
“Kiriath-sepher.” “Kiriath-sepher” means, “city of the book,” and it was likely where many Canaanite records were kept. Joshua 15:15 is almost exactly the same as Judges 1:11.
“Debir.” Debir is about 10 miles southeast of Hebron, and is just off the road from Hebron to Beer-sheba.(top)
|Jos 15:16||- (top)|
“Othniel the son of Kenaz.” Othniel was obviously a fierce and competent warrior. Later, Othniel would become the first judge in the book of Judges (cp. Judg. 1:13; 3:9-11).(top)
“It came to pass.” Joshua 15:18 is worded exactly the same as Judges 1:14.
“arrived.” The Hebrew is an idiom: literally, “came to” him. In this context, it might mean, and some scholars think it means, to marry, thus, “came to in marriage,” but this is reading quite a bit into the text (cp. NLT, “when Acsah married Othniel”).(top)
“Negev.” The Hebrew negev can refer to the Negev in Israel, or “south,” or “dry” (arid).
“pools of water.” These are not “springs” (the Hebrew word for “spring” is different), but “pools.” They could have come from a very slow seeping spring, or been pools that collected a lot of water during the rainy season.(top)
“This is the inheritance.” The next verses break down the allotment of Judah into 5 geographical zones: the Negev, the Shephelah, the coastal plain, the hill country; and the wilderness.(top)
|Jos 15:21||- (top)|
|Jos 15:22||- (top)|
“Hazor.” Not the town also called Hazor in the north of Israel in the tribal area of Naphthali which has been located and is well-known (cp. Judges 4:2), but an unlocated town in the tribal area of Judah. “Hazor” means “fortified” or “enclosed,” and because there were a lot of fortified towns there were a lot of potential towns named “Hazor.”(top)
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“Shephelah.” The Shephelah is the geographic area in Israel between the low, flat coastal plain of the Mediterranean Sea and the inner hill country which is hilly and even mountainous. The Shephelah generally has low rolling hills and some flat valleys, and descends westward toward the sea.(top)
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|Jos 15:44||- (top)|
“daughter-towns.” The Hebrew text is just “daughters,” referring to small towns that are close to and supported by a “mother” town, which was generally a large and well-fortified town. E. Fox (The Schocken Bible) uses the translation “daughter-towns,” which catches the meaning well and is clear in English. In 2 Samuel 20:19, the city of Abel is referred to as a “mother.” Quite a few verses use the word “daughter” to refer to “daughter-towns” (cp. Josh. 15:47; 17:11, 16; Judg. 11:26; 1 Chron. 2:23; 7:28; 8:12; 2 Chron. 13:19).(top)
|Jos 15:46||- (top)|
“daughter-towns.” The text is just “daughters,” referring to small close-by towns that are supported by a “mother” town, a large and normally well-fortified town (see commentary on Josh. 15:45).
“Great Sea.” The common Old Testament name for the Mediterranean Sea.(top)
“Socoh.” This is a different city than Socoh in the Shephelah (Josh. 15:35). The Hebrew word socoh means fence or hedge, and many cities might be named that for various reasons.(top)
“Kiriath-sannah (which is Debir).” Debir was also called Kiriath-sepher (Josh. 15:15).(top)
|Jos 15:50||- (top)|
“Goshen.” This is not the same Goshen as the Goshen in Egypt. The meaning of the name Goshen is not known, although there is some evidence it might mean “cultivated” or perhaps “inundated.”(top)
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|Jos 15:62||- (top)|
“the children of Judah could not drive them out.” The Jebusites lived inside the walled city, while the Judeans lived in the surrounding area. Interestingly, the city of Jerusalem was in the tribal territory of Benjamin, not Judah, but barely so. Jerusalem was on the far southern border of Benjamin. Later in Samuel, David conquered the Jebusite city of Jerusalem for his capital city.(top)