Joshua 15:45-47: The Cities of Judah, Part 5 (Philistine)

Verse 45:[1] Ekron, with her towns and her villages…

[Accaron,[2] עֶקְרוֹן] Ecron (Vatablus). In these verses that entire region of the Philistines is described from Ekron to Rhinocolura (Masius). But in this place are omitted two satrapies of the Philistines, Gath and Askelon, which nevertheless ought to be reckoned as comprehended here also (Bonfrerius).

Ekron, etc.: Here and in the following verses are contained all the cities of the Philistines, among which are Gath and Askelon, which peradventure are here omitted, because they were not at this time places of such power and eminency as afterwards they were, but were the daughters of some of these following cities, though afterwards the daughter might overtop the mother, as is usual.

[With its villages and farmsteads, וּבְנֹתֶ֖יהָ וַחֲצֵרֶֽיהָ׃] And her daughters (her towns [Septuagint, Jonathan], farming communities [Syriac, Junius and Tremellius]) and her villages (Montanus, Septuagint, Syriac, Junius and Tremellius). Daughters here are municipalities (Masius). Ekron is the metropolis, and those cities are subordinate (Vatablus).

Her towns; Hebrew, her daughters, that is, lesser cities, or great towns, subject to Ekron’s jurisdiction. Her villages, that is, lesser towns or hamlets.


Verse 46:[3] From Ekron even unto the sea, all that lay near (Heb. by the place of[4]) Ashdod, with their villages…

[That lie towards Ashdod, עַל־יַ֥ד אַשְׁדּ֖וֹד] Upon the hand of Ashdod (Montanus). And others: near, or next to, Ashdod (Septuagint, Junius and Tremellius).


Verse 47:[5] Ashdod with her towns and her villages, Gaza with her towns and her villages, unto (Josh. 15:4) the river of Egypt, and (Num. 34:6) the great sea, and the border thereof

[Unto the torrent of Egypt, and the great sea and its border, וְהַיָּ֥ם הַגְּב֖וּל וּגְבֽוּל׃] And the sea of the border (or, forming the border [certain interpreters in Munster) and the border (Montanus). Others in the place of הַגְּבוּל, the border, read הַגָּדוֹל, the great [just as the Qere, or the marginal reading, has it], which is the better reading (Malvenda). They translate it, and the great sea and the border (Pagnine, Masius). This is an abbreviated expression, in the place of and the border thereof (Masius). Just as it was translated by Jonathan, Junius and Tremellius, the Dutch, and Vatablus). And the great sea is the boundary (Tigurinus); and the great sea was their border (Munster). Now, the border of the sea is the very shore of the sea with its cities, farmsteads and villages (Masius). Thus I interpret, so that to the Tribe of Judah this whole might be ascribed, which is from Ekron to the torrent of Egypt and the great sea, to the place where the border and extremity of the great sea is; for there that western coast is marked out, and thence is curved Southward to the Egyptian and African coast in the description (Bonfrerius).

The great sea, etc., that is, the sea-coast, and all other cities, towns, and villages upon it.

[1] Hebrew: עֶקְר֥וֹן וּבְנֹתֶ֖יהָ וַחֲצֵרֶֽיהָ׃

[2] Thus the Vulgate.

[3] Hebrew: מֵעֶקְר֖וֹן וָיָ֑מָּה כֹּ֛ל אֲשֶׁר־עַל־יַ֥ד אַשְׁדּ֖וֹד וְחַצְרֵיהֶֽן׃

[4] Hebrew: עַל־יַד.

[5] Hebrew: אַשְׁדּ֞וֹד בְּנוֹתֶ֣יהָ וַחֲצֵרֶ֗יהָ עַזָּ֥ה בְּנוֹתֶ֥יהָ וַחֲצֵרֶ֖יהָ עַד־נַ֣חַל מִצְרָ֑יִם וְהַיָּ֥ם הַגְּב֖וּל וּגְבֽוּל׃

Joshua 15:37-44: The Cities of Judah, Part 4

Verse 37:[1] Zenan, and Hadashah, and Migdal-gad…

[Migdal-gad, וּמִגְדַּל־גָּד] So called perhaps from some eminent deed of some Gadite, just like the stone of Bohan the son of Reuben, in verse 6, which you may see, if you wish (Malvenda).


Verse 38:[2] And Dilean, and Mizpeh, (2 Kings 14:7) and Joktheel…

[Mizpeh, וְהַמִּצְפֶּה] There were several. One in the tribe of Judah, in the borders of Eleutheropolis,[3] says Eusebius;[4] and again in another place he says that the Mizpeh of Judah was neighboring the city of Kirjath-Jearim[5] (Masius). Here (says Eusebius) Jephthah dwelt.[6] But he is incorrect; for that Mizpeh was not this Mizpeh of Judah, but of Gilead on the other side of Jordan (Malvenda).

[Joktheel, וְיָקְתְאֵל[7]] This is Petra of Arabia. See 2 Kings 14:7 (Junius). You will learn that this name was not given to a city of the Arabs before the times of Amaziah,[8] 2 Kings 14:7 (Grotius). And that war of Amaziah was indeed conducted near Petra of Arabia. Nevertheless, others by Petra in that passage understand a certain stone, or rock,[9] in the plains of the lot of Judah, fortified by nature; but that Joktheel they think to be same as this Joktheel in our passage: and hence they gather that this book of Joshua was not finalized until after the times of the Kings (Malvenda).


Verse 39:[10] Lachish, and Bozkath, and Eglon…


Verse 40:[11] And Cabbon, and Lahmam, and Kithlish…

Verse 41:[12] And Gederoth, Beth-dagon, and Naamah, and Makkedah; sixteen cities with their villages…


Verse 42:[13] Libnah, and Ether, and Ashan…

Libnah; Hebrew, Libnah.[14] See Joshua 10:29.


Verse 43:[15] And Jiphtah, and Ashnah, and Nezib…


Verse 44:[16] And Keilah, and Achzib, and Mareshah; nine cities with their villages…

[1] Hebrew: צְנָ֥ן וַחֲדָשָׁ֖ה וּמִגְדַּל־גָּֽד׃

[2] Hebrew: וְדִלְעָ֥ן וְהַמִּצְפֶּ֖ה וְיָקְתְאֵֽל׃

[3] Eleutheropolis was roughly thirty-three miles southwest of Jerusalem, on the way to Gaza.

[4] Onomasticon.

[5] Kirjath-Jearim is about nine miles due west of Jerusalem.

[6] See Judges 11:34.

[7] The etymology of  יָקְתְאֵלis uncertain, but it may be from יָקְתֶּה אֵל, subdued by God.  In Arabic, קתא signifies to serve.

[8] Circa 827 BC.

[9] 2 Kings 14:7:  “He slew of Edom in the valley of salt ten thousand, and took Selah (הַסֶּלַע, the rock/cliff; petram, in the Vulgate) by war, and called the name of it Joktheel unto this day.”

[10] Hebrew: לָכִ֥ישׁ וּבָצְקַ֖ת וְעֶגְלֽוֹן׃

[11] Hebrew: וְכַבּ֥וֹן וְלַחְמָ֖ס וְכִתְלִֽישׁ׃

[12] Hebrew: וּגְדֵר֕וֹת בֵּית־דָּג֥וֹן וְנַעֲמָ֖ה וּמַקֵּדָ֑ה עָרִ֥ים שֵׁשׁ־עֶשְׂרֵ֖ה וְחַצְרֵיהֶֽן׃

[13] Hebrew: לִבְנָ֥ה וָעֶ֖תֶר וְעָשָֽׁן׃

[14] The Vulgate reads Labana.

[15] Hebrew: וְיִפְתָּ֥ח וְאַשְׁנָ֖ה וּנְצִֽיב׃

[16] Hebrew: וּקְעִילָ֥ה וְאַכְזִ֖יב וּמָֽרֵאשָׁ֑ה עָרִ֥ים תֵּ֖שַׁע וְחַצְרֵיהֶֽן׃

Joshua 15:33-36: The Cities of Judah, Part 3 (of the Plain)

Verse 33:[1] And in the valley, (Num. 13:23) Eshtaol, and Zoreah, and Ashnah…

[But in the plains, etc., בַּשְּׁפֵלָה] In the plain (Montanus, Syriac, Arabic); in the low-lying place[2] (Junius and Tremellius, Masius). The cities that follow were situated in the plains of Judah (Masius).

[Eshtaol] There appear to have been two: one in the tribe of Judah, between Ashdod and Ashkelon, concerning which in this place; the other in the tribe of Dan, concerning which in Joshua 19:41; Judges 16:31. But most think that they are one and the same, which was of the lot of Judah, but situated on the border with Dan, or attributed to them afterwards; which I reckon to be closder to the truth (Malvenda).


Verse 34:[3] And Zanoah, and En-gannim, Tappuah, and Enam…


Verse 35:[4] Jarmuth, and Adullam, Socoh, and Azekah…


Verse 36:[5] And Sharaim, and Adithaim, and Gederah, and (or, or) Gederothaim; fourteen cities with their villages…

[Fourteen cities] Objection: But fifteen have been enumerated. Responses: 1. Gederah and Gederothaim were two names for one city (Kimchi in Masius). Whence they render it, and Gederah, or Gederothaim, that is, which Gederah was also called Gederothaim, Gederah doubled,[6] as it were, because perhaps it was a two-part city, like Jerusalem[7] (Malvenda). 2. Or, Enam is not the name of a city, but of a fountain near Tappuah,[8] concerning which in the following chapter (Rabbi Salomon in Masius). But that Tappuah belonged to the Josephites.[9] 3. Among those names there was a certain one that does not signify a city, but a village, etc. Moreover, it is not to be marveled at if the same names occur in diverse catalogues: For they were imposed on diverse locations. For Socoh and Zanoah, which were just now mentioned as towns situated in the plain, are elsewhere said to be located in the mountains[10] (Masius).

Fourteen cities with their villages: Objection. There are fifteen numbered. Answer. Either one of them was no city strictly called; or Gederah and Gederothaim is put for Gederah or Gederothaim, so called, possibly, because the city was double, as there want not instances of one city divided into two parts, called the old and the new city. So the conjunction and is put for the disjunctive or, whereof examples have been given before.

[1] Hebrew: בַּשְּׁפֵלָ֑ה אֶשְׁתָּא֥וֹל וְצָרְעָ֖ה וְאַשְׁנָֽה׃

[2] שָׁפֵל signifies to be low.

[3] Hebrew: וְזָנ֙וֹחַ֙ וְעֵ֣ין גַּנִּ֔ים תַּפּ֖וּחַ וְהָעֵינָֽם׃

[4] Hebrew: יַרְמוּת֙ וַעֲדֻלָּ֔ם שׂוֹכֹ֖ה וַעֲזֵקָֽה׃

[5] Hebrew: וְשַׁעֲרַ֙יִם֙ וַעֲדִיתַ֔יִם וְהַגְּדֵרָ֖ה וּגְדֵרֹתָ֑יִם עָרִ֥ים אַרְבַּֽע־עֶשְׂרֵ֖ה וְחַצְרֵיהֶֽן׃

[6] Note the dual ending (ַיִם) on גְדֵרֹתָיִם/Gederothaim.

[7] Note the dula ending (ַיִם) on יְרוּשָׁלַיִם/Jerusalem.

[8] Joshua 15:34:  “And Zanoah, and Engannim, Tappuah, and Enam (תַּפּ֖וּחַ וְהָעֵינָֽם׃)…” עֵין/En can be the construct form of עַיִן/spring.

[9] See Joshua 16:8; 17:8.

[10] See Joshua 15:48, 56.

Joshua 15:23-32: The Cities of Judah, Part 2 (Southern)

Verse 23:[1] And Kedesh, and Hazor, and Ithnan…

[Hazor, וְחָצוֹר] Hazor is the name of three cities in the inheritance of this Tribe: one in verse 23, another in verse 25, and a third, which is called חֶצְרוֹן/Hezron. For why would one city be so frequently numbered in one catalogue? But the term חָצָר/Hazar, which is set before multiple names of places, like Hazar-Shual,[2] Hazar-Gaddah,[3] etc., signifies that those places are not surrounded with walls, but are villages or hamlets[4] (Masius, Malvenda).


Verse 24:[5] Ziph, and Telem, and Bealoth…

[Ziph] There are two in the tribe of Judah: one in mountainous places near Carmel, verse 55; this one, as it appears, in those extremities Southward, with which we are hitherto concerned (Masius).


Verse 25:[6] And Hazor, Hadattah, and Kerioth, and Hezron, which is Hazor…

Hazor, Hadattah; possibly it should be read as one word, Hazor-hadattah, as there is Hazar-gaddah, verse 27, and Hazar-shual, verse 28, such compounded proper names being usual; and this may seem the more probable, because if Hazor and Hadattah were two different cities, the conjunction and would have been put between them, as it is generally in the rest.

[Kerioth, וּקְרִיּוֹת] It is the name of a city, although Rabbi Isaiah denies this, and maintains that it signifies cities, namely, those that are hereafter enumerated. But this is not at all agreeable to the accentuation with which we presently see the Sacred words distinguished[7] (Masius). It signifies cities, because perhaps many adjacent or neighboring villages made up the one Kerioth (Malvenda).

Which is Hazor, or, which also is called Hazor; but to distinguish it from the other Hazor, verse 23, this was called also Hezron.


Verse 26:[8] Amam, and Shema, and Moladah…

Shema, called also Sheba, Joshua 19:2.


Verse 27:[9] And Hazar-gaddah, and Heshmon, and Beth-palet…


Verse 28:[10] And Hazar-shual, and Beer-sheba, and Bizjothjah…

[Beer-sheba] This was the Southern extremity of the Promised Land[11] (Malvenda).


Verse 29:[12] Baalah, and Iim, and Azem…


Verse 30:[13] And Eltolad, and Chesil, and Hormah…


Verse 31:[14] And (1 Sam. 27:6) Ziklag, and Madmannah, and Sansannah…


Verse 32:[15] And Lebaoth, and Shilhim, and Ain, and Rimmon: all the cities are twenty and nine, with their villages…

[Aen and Remon, וְעַ֣יִן וְרִמּ֑וֹן] Ain and Rimmon. Thus they are read separately in Joshua 19:7 and 1 Chronicles 4:32, whence it appears that they were two cities. But, because in Nehemiah 11:29, they are conjoined, En-Rimmon,[16] they appear to have been neighbors, so that they might constitute one city, as it were (Junius). Or they coalesced into one city in process of time and of construction, Nehemiah 11 (Grotius).

[All the cities were twenty and nine] But there are more, namely, thirty-six according to the Syriac and Rabbi Isaiah, or thirty-seven according the Septuagint and Latin, or thirty-eight according to the majority of the Jews (Masius). Responses: 1. There were twenty-nine towns belonging to Judah, but nine that fall to the Simeonites (Grotius, Vatablus, Junius, the Hebrews in Masius, Lyra). This does not satisfy. For he describes here all the cities that fell to the Tribe of Judah in the first lot; but we have not yet separated the Simeonite cities from the cities of Judah (Bonfrerius, Masius). 2. There were only twenty-nine worthy of the name of cities: the rest were more famous farming communities or villages (Masius, Drusius, Serarius, Bonfrerius). This text declares, all the cities were twenty-nine, and their villages (Menochius).

All the cities were twenty and nine, etc.: Objection. Here are thirty-seven or thirty-eight cities named before; how then are they only reckoned twenty-nine? Answer. There were only twenty-nine of them, which either, 1. Properly belonged to Judah; the rest fell to Simeon’s lot; or, 2. Were cities properly so called, that is, walled cities, or such as had villages under them, as it here follows, the rest being great but unwalled towns, or such as had no villages under them.

[1] Hebrew: וְקֶ֥דֶשׁ וְחָצ֖וֹר וְיִתְנָֽן׃

[2] See Joshua 15:28; 19:3; 1 Chronicles 4:28.

[3] See Joshua 15:27.

[4] חצר signifies to surround.

[5] Hebrew: זִ֥יף וָטֶ֖לֶם וּבְעָלֽוֹת׃

[6] Hebrew: וְחָצ֤וֹר חֲדַתָּה֙׀ וּקְרִיּ֔וֹת חֶצְר֖וֹן הִ֥יא חָצֽוֹר׃

[7] Zaqeph parvum (֔) is a relatively strong disjunctive accent, and the strongest in this verse, separating וּקְרִיּ֔וֹת, and Kerioth, from what follows.

[8] Hebrew: אֲמָ֥ם וּשְׁמַ֖ע וּמוֹלָדָֽה׃

[9] Hebrew: וַחֲצַ֥ר גַּדָּ֛ה וְחֶשְׁמ֖וֹן וּבֵ֥ית פָּֽלֶט׃

[10] Hebrew: וַחֲצַ֥ר שׁוּעָ֛ל וּבְאֵ֥ר שֶׁ֖בַע וּבִזְיוֹתְיָֽה׃

[11] See Judges 20:1; 1 Samuel 3:20; 2 Samuel 3:10; 1 Kings 4:25; 1 Chronicles 21:2.

[12] Hebrew: בַּעֲלָ֥ה וְעִיִּ֖ים וָעָֽצֶם׃

[13] Hebrew: וְאֶלְתּוֹלַ֥ד וּכְסִ֖יל וְחָרְמָֽה׃

[14] Hebrew: וְצִֽקְלַ֥ג וּמַדְמַנָּ֖ה וְסַנְסַנָּֽה׃

[15] Hebrew: וּלְבָא֥וֹת וְשִׁלְחִ֖ים וְעַ֣יִן וְרִמּ֑וֹן כָּל־עָרִ֛ים עֶשְׂרִ֥ים וָתֵ֖שַׁע וְחַצְרֵיהֶֽן׃

[16] Nehemiah 11:29:  “And at En-rimmon (וּבְעֵ֥ין רִמּ֛וֹן), and at Zareah, and at Jarmuth…”

Joshua 15:20-22: The Cities of Judah, Part 1

Verse 20:[1] This is the inheritance of the tribe of the children of Judah according to their families.

[This is the possession of the tribe of the sons of Judah] What had been said in verse 12 is repeated; because what things were narrated from that point to this concerning Caleb, Othniel, and Achsah, were spoken by way of digression and as a παρένθεσιν/parenthesis, for the very reason that they pertain to the distribution of the Jewish inheritance (Masius).


Verse 21:[2] And the uttermost cities of the tribe of the children of Judah toward the coast of Edom southward were Kabzeel, and Eder, and Jagur…

[And the cities from the uttermost parts of the children of Judah were, etc.] You could translate it, partly of the children of Judah: for they were partly of Simeon, Joshua 19:1-9 (Grotius). The more famous cities at that time are not enumerated one by one, not indeed, as it appears, all in order, but nevertheless a great number (Masius). Not all: for omitted are two satrapies of the Philistines, Gath and Askelon; likewise three sacerdotal cities, Joshua 21:14-16; and also Bethlehem, or Ephratah, concerning which Genesis 35:16; Judges 19. Moreoever, other cities built afterwards were not, of which it is not treated here, but of those that belonged to the Canaanites before the coming of the Israelites (Bonfrerius). Joshua only enumerated cities on the borders and limits of Judah, not midland cities (Munster). Now, the great number of cities is a certain indication of the fecundity of the Promised Land. We will not persist in describing the individual cities; both because the situation and condition of many is not greatly conducive to a correct perception of the Sacred Histories, and also because they are little known to us. Now, the beginning of the Catalogue is made almost from that place from which also the Catalogue of borders began, that is, from the farthest shore of the Dead Sea westward, where Canaan shares a border with Idumea. And thence it proceeds almost to Gaza and the Mediterranean Sea (Masius).

The uttermost cities; those which were on the borders of the land, not the midland cities. It is apparent that all the cities belonging to this tribe are not mentioned in this catalogue. Kabzeel, called Jekabzeel, Nehemiah 11:25.


Verse 22:[3] And Kinah, and Dimonah, and Adadah…

[Adadah] Hebrew, עַדְעָדָה; Septuagint, Gadgada. For they are generally wont to represent ע/Ayin[4] by their γ/Gamma/g (Masius).

[1] Hebrew: זֹ֗את נַחֲלַ֛ת מַטֵּ֥ה בְנֵי־יְהוּדָ֖ה לְמִשְׁפְּחֹתָֽם׃

[2] Hebrew: וַיִּֽהְי֣וּ הֶעָרִ֗ים מִקְצֵה֙ לְמַטֵּ֣ה בְנֵֽי־יְהוּדָ֔ה אֶל־גְּב֥וּל אֱד֖וֹם בַּנֶּ֑גְבָּה קַבְצְאֵ֥ל וְעֵ֖דֶר וְיָגֽוּר׃

[3] Hebrew: וְקִינָ֥ה וְדִֽימוֹנָ֖ה וְעַדְעָדָֽה׃

[4] ע is generally treated as silent by Westerners, although it does have a subtle guttural pronunciation.

Joshua 15:19: Achsah’s Dowry Request, Part 2

Verse 19:[1] Who answered, Give me a (Gen. 33:11) blessing; for thou hast given me a south land; give me also springs of water. And he gave her the upper springs, and the nether springs.

[Give to me a blessing (thus all interpreters)] A blessing is here understood that is made efficacious in the furnishing of goods (Bonfrerius). That is, a Gift/Favor (Vatablus, Drusius, Bonfrerius). Something proceeding from the blessing, or beneficence, of God (Piscator). בְּרָכָה/blessing is taken as gift in Genesis 33:11; 1 Samuel 25:27; 2 Corinthians 9:5[2] (Bonfrerius). It was the custom of the ancient fathers, by solemn prayers to dispense, as it were, the favor of God to their children, when they distributed to them their inheritance. Achsah alludes to this (Masius). בְּרָכָה is translated a possession (Chaldean), a gift (Tigurinus), an increase of wealth (Kimchi). Which is the proper notion of this word, as it is evident from the things said on Joshua 14:13. Kimchi even thinks that it is able to be read בְּרֵכָה, and to be translated a pool, out of which the drier farmland might be able to be irrigated (Masius). This keen young woman acutely and fittingly made use of a word that could signify both blessing and abundance of water (Lapide out of Montanus).

Give me a blessing, that is, a gift, as that word signifies, Genesis 33:11.

[A southern land, etc., כִּ֣י אֶ֤רֶץ הַנֶּ֙גֶב֙ נְתַתָּ֔נִי] Because a land of the south, or southern, thou hast given me (Montanus, Munster). נְתַתָּנִי, thou hast given me, is in the place of נָתַתָּ לִי, thou hast given to me (Hebrews in Masius). Into the land of the Negeb (other codices have νότου, of the south) thou has given me (Septuagint). They think that the preposition אֶל/to is missing before אֶרֶץ/land (Masius). Thou hast given an arid land (Pagnine, similarly Tigurinus, Vatablus, Junius and Tremellius). Verbatim: of dryness (Vatablus), that is, dry (for in Chaldean נֶגֶב signifies dry land): Southern, and hence dry; for that part is drier than the remaining part of the world (Drusius). That is to say, That earth, because of the condition of its situation, and because it was without waters, was arid and sterile (Menochius). But, since among us those fields and hills, planted with vines, that face the South, are generally more fertile, Tostatus wonders why dry land might be said to be of the South. But the same conditions are not everywhere present in the winds of the earth (Bonfrerius). In Europe, the South Wind is more rainy and fertile: yet to the Jews, it, as blowing from the vast wilderness of Arabia, is hot, burning, and dry (Lapide). The Southern Places there are baked with the heat of the Sun, not irrigated with rain (Bonfrerius). [Some translate נְתַתָּנִי otherwise:] In a souther land thou hast settled me (Syriac), or, thou hast joined me in matrimony (Arabic). [Thus ב/in is missing before אֶרֶץ/land, which is common.] We have shown in Joshua 11:16 that Southern soil is said to be dry land (Masius). That נֶגֶב/Negeb signifies dryness appears to be gathered from the antithesis of waters (Piscator).

A south land, that is, a dry land, which was much exposed to the south wind, which in those parts was very hot and drying, as coming from the deserts of Arabia.

[Join also the well-watered, וְנָתַתָּ֥ה לִ֖י גֻּלֹּ֣ת מָ֑יִם[3]] And thou shalt give to me revolutions of waters[4] (Montanus); give to me springs, etc. (Junius and Tremellius, Vatablus, Piscator), fountains (Pagnine, Drusius). That is, whence I may be able to irrigate the parched land (Vatablus). Eddies of waters, that is, those springs from which veins of the earth, as it were, bubbling waters appear to be pushed out roll upon roll (Masius). Whirlings: Thus springs are called, because they roll together the erupting water, and make many globules, as it were, and produce rings in the surface (Piscator). Give to me land irrigated with waters (Tigurinus). She expresses it in a fitting manner, Give to me; that is to say, What thou has bestowed upon my husband, it is proper that it be attributed to his merits, namely, Kirjath-sepher; but to me, that is, for my own personal possession, thou hast hitherto given nothing whereby thou mayest desire to testify to thy paternal love (Montanus). Question: What is understood by these springs? Responses: 1. Some understand only those fountains (thus Drusius, Cajetan in Bonfrerius, Masius, Magalianus in Tirinus). But the right of drawing and leading off waters into one’s field from some fountain ought not to be esteemed as a common gift, since the whole of Canaan was drier, and had perpetual need of rains, Deuteronomy 11:11. See Genesis 21; 26 (Masius). 2. Others understand the field in which the fountains were (thus Vatablus, Bonfrerius, Montanus, Lapide, Glassius). Thus the Chaldean has, Give to me a place irrigated with waters. A Metonymy of adjunct: The thing contain is often put in the place of the container, and the thing located in the place of the location (Glassius’ “Sacred Rhetoric” 55). It would not be fitting to give the waters to his daughter, and the fields either to retain for himself, or to grant to others that would put up with the liability of the waters to be drawn off without any compensation (Montanus). If one should desire that the fields were given with the fountains, with him I would not fight concerning this obscure matter (Masius).

Springs of water, that is, a field, as she desired, Joshua 15:18, wherein are springs of water, which in that country were of great price; for it is not probable that he would give her the springs, and give to another the grounds in which the springs were, who could thereby at their pleasure deprive her of the use and benefit of her springs: so she begs a well-moistened field, which also might give some relief to that which was dry and barren.

[And he gave to her the upper and lower irrigated ground,וַיִּתֶּן־לָ֗הּ אֵ֚ת גֻּלֹּ֣ת עִלִּיּ֔וֹת וְאֵ֖ת גֻּלֹּ֥ת תַּחְתִּיּֽוֹת׃] He gave to her the upper and lower springs (Junius and Tremellius), or, irrigated ground upper, etc. (Munster, Pagnine, Tigurinus). Question: What is understood by these? I respond, Two springs; one of which appears to have been in an upper place, the other in a lower (Masius). Fountains in upper places and in lower places, which she might divert to the parched ground (Cajetan in Bonfrerius). Upper springs are fountains erupting from the ground; lower springs are wells (certain interpreters in Vatablus). Wells dug; for wells also are subterranean fountains, as it were (Estius). He gave springs upper, by which hilly, and lower, by which more level, places could be irrigated (Tirinus). Others take this of farms irrigated, and therefore fertile (Bonfrerius). He gave a field in which there were fountains in the upper and lower part (Vatablus, Estius, Lyra). He gave a farm in places higher, or mountainous, and in places lower, or flat (Theodoret and Serarius in Bonfrerius). Thus he calls the irrigated land upper and lower by comparison with that parched land which she had previously received (Tostatus in Bonfrerius). And so these generally maintain that two farms were newly given as part of the dowry: But to me it appears that only one dotal farm was given to her by Caleb; but it is called upper irrigated, because it was irrigated with rains from above; and lower, because it was irrigated by rivulets and fountains from below. Since the exceptional fecundity of the fields proceeds from waters, especially rains, Deuteronomy 11; Isaiah 30; Ezekiel 34. To which, if irrigation by land be added from fountains and rivulets, now nothing is wanting to that soil (Bonfrerius). Question: How does Achsah obtain the field, since daughters were excluded from inheriting estates (except when sons were wanting)? Responses: 1. Estates were also able to be given to daughters, while they married with members of their own tribe (Masius, Bonfrerius): since in this manner estates were not transferred from tribe to tribe[5] (Bonfrerius). There is no doubt that fields and farms were able to be bestowed upon a daughter as a dowry until the year of Jubilee; for so far they were albe to sell them even to one outside (Bonfrerius). He gave to her irrigated land for a dowry; not by law or custom, but of his own liberality (Grotius). He gave to her an estate, although she had three brothers, 1 Chronicles 4:15 (Lightfoot).

The upper springs, and the nether springs, that is, springs both in the higher and in the lower grounds; or two fields, one in high, another in low grounds; or rather, one above, and the other below, that south and dry ground which she complained of, that by this means it might be watered on both sides.

[1] Hebrew: וַתֹּ֜אמֶר תְּנָה־לִּ֣י בְרָכָ֗ה כִּ֣י אֶ֤רֶץ הַנֶּ֙גֶב֙ נְתַתָּ֔נִי וְנָתַתָּ֥ה לִ֖י גֻּלֹּ֣ת מָ֑יִם וַיִּתֶּן־לָ֗הּ אֵ֚ת גֻּלֹּ֣ת עִלִּיּ֔וֹת וְאֵ֖ת גֻּלֹּ֥ת תַּחְתִּיּֽוֹת׃

[2] 2 Corinthians 9:5:  “Therefore I thought it necessary to exhort the brethren, that they would go before unto you, and make up beforehand your bounty (εὐλογίαν/blessing), whereof ye had notice before, that the same might be ready, as a matter of bounty (εὐλογίαν/blessing), and not as of covetousness.”

[3] גֻּלָּה is derived from גָּלַל, to roll.

[4] A woodenly literalistic rendering.

[5] See Numbers 36.

Joshua 15:18: Achsah’s Dowry Request, Part 1

Verse 18:[1] (Judg. 1:14) And it came to pass, as she came unto him, that she moved him to ask of her father a field: and (see Gen. 24:64; 1 Sam. 25:23) she lighted off her ass; and Caleb said unto her, What wouldest thou?

[Who, while they were going together, וַיְהִ֣י בְּבוֹאָ֗הּ] Verbatim: And it was in her coming (Montanus); when she had come to him (English, Dutch); dum/while (or quum/while [Piscator]) she was going to meet (Junius and Tremellius); συνελθεῖν, to come together. See Matthew 1:18.[2] Before they had come together into one house (Drusius). When she entered unto him (Munster); while she was entering (Tigurinus, Vatablus, Syriac); while she was coming (Pagnine, Masius, Drusius), understanding, into the house of her bridegroom (Vatablus, Drusius). That is, while she was going there. For בָּא signifies both to come, and to go (Drusius). The Latins make use of the language of coming, when they say that a bride is led home. Here the Septuagint has ἐκπορεύεσθαι, to go forth, namely, from the house of her parents; elsewhere (Judges 1:14), εἰσπορεύεσθαι, to go in, that is, into the house of her bridegroom (Masius). The sense: while she was being conducted to the house of her bridegroom (Vatablus, Masius, Lapide, Bonfrerius on Judges 1:14). The heart of parents is wont to be more indulgent toward their daughters, when they, settling their daughters in marriage, appear as about to part (Masius).

As she came unto him, or, as she went, to wit, from her father’s house to her husband’s, as the manner was: see on Matthew 1:18.

[She was moved by her husband to ask from her father a field: but the Hebrew has it contrariwise (Lapide); for the affixed pronoun is masculine, and the verb feminine (Bonfrerius on Judges 1:14); וַתְּסִיתֵ֙הוּ֙ לִשְׁא֤וֹל מֵֽאֵת־אָבִ֙יהָ֙ שָׂדֶ֔ה] And she moved him to ask from her father a field (Montanus, Munster, Vatablus); or, she had moved him, that is, her bridegroom, etc. (Masius); she persuaded him to ask, etc. (Pagnine, Tigurinus). She began to persuade him to ask from her father a certain field, that is, some arable and fertile region (Vatablus). Because Achsah, with a certain feminine modesty, and at the same time reverence for her father, was not daring herself to ask another dowry, she moved her husband to do so (Masius). [Nevertheless, others refer this to Achsah, in this manner:] She persuaded him concerning the asking of a field from her father (Pisctor, Junius and Tremellius), that is, that it might be permitted to her to ask (Piscator, Junius). She while going (since she had obtained from her husband that she might ask a field of her father) was lamenting, etc. (Castalio). And since she had been made his wife, she was anxious to ask an inheritance of a field from her father (Syriac). Whom, when she had entered, he urged to ask a certain field from her father (Arabic). Achsah urged her husband, so that either he might ask, or he might permit her to ask, and suggest which might be better in this situation: now, her husband responded by assenting, and suggested that she ask (Lapide, similarly Bonfrerius). What things follow indicate that the maiden was rather persuaded by her bridegroom, than the bridegroom by the bride, since not he, but she, asked this (Masius). [But see what things follow.]

She moved him to ask; she persuaded her husband; either, 1. That he would ask; or rather, 2. That he would suffer her to ask, as she did.

[And she sighed as she sat on the ass, וַתִּצְנַ֖ח מֵעַ֣ל הַחֲמ֑וֹר] And she cried out (or, was lamenting [Castalio]) from the ass (Septuagint). Others otherwise: She fixed herself from upon the ass (Montanus); and she brought herself down (Jonathan, Tigurinus), or, she unhorsed herself (Vatablus); she dismounted (Pagnine); she lighted off her ass (Vatablus, Drusius). Thus she lighted off as if she were fixed to the earth (Drusius). That is, by descending from the ass by which she was carried, she threw herself at his feet; that is, since her father would not acquiesce to her petition (Vatablus). Since her husband, about to lead her home from her father, had set her upon an ass, she lighted off again, lest she should go without a better dowry. She urged her bridegroom to ask…a better field, that is, with her hesitating, while she let herself slip from the mule again, and feigned (in a certain measure) as if shrinking from the undertaking. But, however this may be, the character of women, avaricious and impudent, if any lust assail, and their spirit, unbridled and deranged, finally, with unnatural complaining; and opportune and importunate solicitation of pledges, are depicted for us in Achsah. Rabbi Levi Ben Gershon thus explains it: At the advice of his bride Othniel had asked a dowry from his father-in-law, and obtained it. But, since the field was quite dry, she asked for waters in addition (Masius). Achsah persuaded her bridegroom to ask a field, etc., that is, a better field; but her bridegroom, impeded by modesty, did not dare to do it: wherefore the bride herself judged that her father was to be addressed concerning this matter, and came down from her as as a suppliant, etc. (Osiander, Munster). The verb צָנַח, to descend, is used only in this narration, and in Judges 4:21, in which Jael let fall (Masius) (or, fastened down, thus all translate it there [Bonfrerius]) the nail through the head of Sisera into the earth (Masius, Bonfrerius). The Jews here translate it, to hang down toward a fall; as if the young woman did not descend, but, with her body leaning, gave indications descent or fall: others, to unhorse herself with great force; I, to let fall (Masius). I translate it, to descend from the ass. For it is a sign of reverence, Genesis 24:64. See Valerius Maximus’[3] Nine Books of Memorable Deeds and Sayings[4] 2:10:4 (Grotius). She descended, so that she, prostrate at the knees of her father, might obtain what she desired. Others translate it, and she fixed herself upon her ass, feigning faintness, or sadness, bent over the mule (Masius). I translate it, she waited, sitting upon an ass, verbatim, from above her ass. The sense: Since she was about to go in to her husband, she persuaded him that, before they come together, she would ask a field of her father; which, so that it might be given effect immediately, she remained upon her ass, expecting the success of the matter. Whence, since her father easily gathered that there was some reason why his daughter was not descending, nor entering into her husband; he asked what it might be to her. Thus I take the צָנַח, because in Ethiopic it is used for to remain, Matthew 15:32; Mark 8:2, and for to wait, Luke 1:21. This signification also agrees with that other place, namely, Judges 4:21, וַתִּצְנַ֖ח בָּאָ֑רֶץ, and it, namely, the nail, remained in the ground; that is, nail transfixed the temple with such force that it stuck in the earth (Dieu on Judges 1:14).

She lighted off her ass, that she might address herself to her father in a humble posture, and as a suppliant, which he understood by her gesture.

[1] Hebrew: וַיְהִ֣י בְּבוֹאָ֗הּ וַתְּסִיתֵ֙הוּ֙ לִשְׁא֤וֹל מֵֽאֵת־אָבִ֙יהָ֙ שָׂדֶ֔ה וַתִּצְנַ֖ח מֵעַ֣ל הַחֲמ֑וֹר וַיֹּֽאמֶר־לָ֥הּ כָּלֵ֖ב מַה־לָּֽךְ׃

[2] Matthew 1:18:  “Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise:  When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together (πρὶν ἢ συνελθεῖν αὐτούς), she was found with child of the Holy Ghost.”

[3] Valerius Maximus was a first century Roman collector of antiquities.

[4] Factorum et Dictorum Memorabilium Libri Novem.

Joshua 15:17: Was the Marriage of Othniel and Achsah Lawful?

Verse 17:[1] And (Judg. 1:13; 3:9) Othniel the (Num. 32:12; Josh. 14:6) son of Kenaz, the brother of Caleb, took it: and he gave him Achsah his daughter to wife.

[Othniel, the son of Kenaz and the younger brother of Caleb,עָתְנִיאֵ֥ל בֶּן־קְנַ֖ז אֲחִ֣י כָלֵ֑ב] [They render it variously.] The son of Kenaz and the brother of Caleb (thus the Latin, Vatablus, Drusius, Masius). But this marriage was prohibited by law, Leviticus 18; 20, if not manifestly, at least obscurely and tacitly, with conclusive reasoning, inasmuch as the law prohibits the paternal aunt, likewise the maternal aunt, likewise the wife of the paternal uncle,[2] to be taken to wife: for those are related by a connection of equal nearness with the daughter of a brother (Masius). Responses: 1. Therefore, some thus translate it, the son of Kenaz, who was in turn the brother of Caleb (thus the Septuagint [in Codex Vaticanus (Masius)], Jonathan, Syriac, Arabic, Munster, Pagnine, Tigurinus, Castalio, thus the Vulgate on Judges 1:13). Whereby it happens that Othniel and Achsah are cousins; for whom it was not unlawful to be joined in matrimony. 2. If you should translate it, the son of Kenaz and brother of Caleb, it is well-attested in the Sacred Scripture that kinsmen are called brethren (Masius). Here some have it kinsman, or relation (Junius and Tremellius, Vatablus, Drusius, Lapide, Masius, Piscator). Nahmanides on Numbers 10 observes these adjectival names, as he calls them, which are put in the last place in constructions of words of that sort, are to be referred to that of which principal mention is made in that oration: just as in Isaiah 37:2, יְשַֽׁעְיָ֥הוּ בֶן־אָמ֖וֹץ הַנָּבִֽיא׃, Isaiah, son of Amoz and a prophet, not son of the prophet Amoz; in Jeremiah 28:1, חֲנַנְיָה֩ בֶן־עַזּ֙וּר הַנָּבִ֜יא, Hananiah, son of Azur and a prophet; and in Numbers 10:29, לְ֠חֹבָב בֶּן־רְעוּאֵ֣ל הַמִּדְיָנִי֮, Hobab, the son of Raguel and a Midianite. You will said that in Judges 1 Othniel is called the younger brother of Caleb, whereby a comparison is made among the children of one parent. But that is not so: indeed, he is called younger, who became a new husband and son-in-law of that other, because Caleb was eighty-five years old at that time (Masius). Now, that Othniel was not the brother of Caleb properly so called, is manifest from this, that Caleb is everywhere called the son of Jephunneh, but Othniel everywhere the son of Kenaz; and so it is most likely that Caleb and Kenaz, the father of Othniel, were brothers (Bonfrerius on Judges 1:13).

Othniel the son of Kenaz, the brother of Caleb, etc.: Objection. This marriage was unlawful. Answer. No; for it was not Othniel, but Kenaz, who was Caleb’s brother; and besides, the word brother is commonly used for any kinsman; and that Caleb was not properly Othniel’s brother sufficiently appears, because Caleb is constantly called the son of Jephunneh; and Othniel, the son of Kenaz here, and 1 Chronicles 4:13.

[1] Hebrew: וַֽיִּלְכְּדָ֛הּ עָתְנִיאֵ֥ל בֶּן־קְנַ֖ז אֲחִ֣י כָלֵ֑ב וַיִּתֶּן־ל֛וֹ אֶת־עַכְסָ֥ה בִתּ֖וֹ לְאִשָּֽׁה׃

[2] Leviticus 18:12-14.

Joshua 15:15, 16: Caleb Offers Achsah for the Taking of Debir

Verse 15:[1] And (Josh. 10:38; Judg. 1:11) he went up thence to the inhabitants of Debir: and the name of Debir before was Kirjath-sepher.

[He came to the inhabitants of Debir] Some maintain that this is the same expedition as that of Joshua in Joshua 10:38 (Malvenda): which appears to be attributed to Caleb, either, because it is undertaken on Caleb’s behalf; therefore he sets forth a reward to the first one capturing it (Junius): or, because he was the general of the troop or battle line that first assailed Debir (certain interpreters in Malvenda). Others maintain that these were altogether diverse expeditions; which is also closer to the truth (Malvenda, thus Bonfrerius, Masius, Menochius, Vatablus). It is likely that the Canaanites first expelled by Joshua occupied it again (Malvenda), while the Israelites either lingering in Gilgal, or were detained by other battles (Menochius).

[Which was formerly called Kirjath-Sepher, קִרְיַת־סֵפֶר] Kirjath-Sepher (Munster, Pagnine, Tigurinus, Masius, Grotius). Others: the city of Sepher (Syriac, Arabic). The city of letters (Masius, Grotius), or, of books (Masius). Thus it was called, either, 1. because it was the academy of the Canaanites, in which they were taught letters and books (Lapide, Bonfrerius on verse 49). The Gymnasium of the Phœnicians, to Xenophon (Grotius). Hence it was called Debir, an oracle of wisdom, as it were, from דָּבָר, to speak, because eloquence was taught in it. Hence it is also called קִרְיַת־סַנָּה/Kirjath-sannah, that is, city of acumen, that is, in which there was acute discussion; for שָׁנַן is to sharpen (Lapide, Bonfrerius on verse 49). Or, 2. because it was an archive of the ancient Fathers, as it were, in which they stored many monuments of antiquity after the flood, since those first men dwelt in nearby Hebron. To this the name דְּבִיר/Debir agrees, which signifies a place altogether secret, and sacrosanct, as it were, and the innermost part of the innermost shrine; which sort are certainly held as τὰ ἀρχεῖα, the archives, and library. Perhaps the Chaldean meant this, when it rendered it קִרְיַת אַרְכִּי, City of Arki. It appears that by the word אַרְכִּי/Arki he meant to represent the ἀρχεῖον/archeion/archive of the Greeks (Masius). Thus Bochart translates it, the city of archives (Bochart’s Sacred Geography “Phaleg” 2:17:855). [But Grotius thus: The Chaldean translates it, the city of libraries.] The Jews feign that it was so called because Othniel here restored the doctrine of the Law, already waxing old at that time, after the death of Moses: but who does not know that the city had this name before Othniel (Masius)?

Debir; the same mentioned above, verse 7. The name of Debir before was Kirjath-sepher: this clause seems to be added to distinguish this from the other Debir subdued by Joshua, Joshua 10:38, 39.


Verse 16:[2] (Judg. 1:12) And Caleb said, He that smiteth Kirjath-sepher, and taketh it, to him will I give Achsah my daughter to wife.

[To him will I give Achsah] Question: Why does he promise this? Response: Not that because of faintheartedness and unbelief he would suspend his hope upon the might of another man; especially now with the greatest difficulty of the war having been overcome: but rather, with the giants defeated, since he himself from that victory had obtained sufficient glory, he willed to charge his companions with this expedition of lighter work, as it were, so that he might share with them the glory of the campaign; and thereby he would clear himself of envy, and would reward the services of each rendered to himself. In addition, there was in this a secret instinct of God, so that the courage of Othniel might be made known publicly, who after Joshua was going to be the protector of the republic: And for this reason, both in this place and in Judges 1, it is so precisely put on record (Masius). The paternal power in the marriages of daughters among those nations (was) very great. See Judges 1:13; 1 Samuel 17:25. You have similar things in the histories of the Greeks concerning Oenomaus,[3] Schœneus,[4] and others (Grotius). This is understood with the law and liberty of marriage preserved. For a daughter was not able to be compelled to be marriage to whomever her father may wish, but it is presupposed that the girl freely acquiesces in the will of her father, as well-born virgins are wont (Estius).

To him will I give Achsah…to wife: Which is to be understood with some conditions, as, if he were one who could marry her by God’s law; for every promise contrary to that is void; and if she were willing; for though parents had a great power over their children, they could not force them to marry any person against their own wills. He might otherwise be an unfit and unworthy person: but this was no ordinary motion propounded to the imitation of others, but a Divine impulse, that Othniel’s valour might be more manifest, and so the way prepared for his future government of the people, Judges 3:9.

[1] Hebrew: וַיַּ֣עַל מִשָּׁ֔ם אֶל־יֹשְׁבֵ֖י דְּבִ֑ר וְשֵׁם־דְּבִ֥ר לְפָנִ֖ים קִרְיַת־סֵֽפֶר׃

[2] Hebrew: וַיֹּ֣אמֶר כָּלֵ֔ב אֲשֶׁר־יַכֶּ֥ה אֶת־קִרְיַת־סֵ֖פֶר וּלְכָדָ֑הּ וְנָתַ֥תִּי ל֛וֹ אֶת־עַכְסָ֥ה בִתִּ֖י לְאִשָּֽׁה׃

[3] In Greek mythology, Oenomaus, son of Ares, was King of Pisa.  Fearing a prophecy that he would be killed by his son-in-law, Oenomaus killed eighteen suitors of his daughter Hippodamia in a chariot race, but is himself eventually killed in a chariot race by Pelops.

[4] In Greek mythology, Schœneus abandoned his daughter, Atalanta in the wild.  However, she survived, being nursed by a she-bear and raised by hunters; Atalanta grew to be a great warrior in her own right.  When she is reunited with her father, Schœneus insisted that she be wed.  She conceded, but required that a suitor must defeat her in a foot-race, or be put to death.  Hippomenes succeeded by casting golden apples before Atalanta, slowing her in the race.

Joshua 15:14: Caleb’s Victory over the Anakim

Verse 14:[1] And Caleb drove thence (Judg. 1:10, 20) the three sons of Anak, (Num. 13:22) Sheshai, and Ahiman, and Talmai, the children of Anak.

[The three sons of Anak, etc.; the Hanakim (Junius and Tremellius), the sons of Hanak, that is, of the posterity of Hanak (Piscator): בְּנֵ֣י הָעֲנָ֑ק] The sons of the giants, that is, the three giants, or tyrants. Others: the sons of Arba, the most famous giant. And thus at the end of the verse (Vatablus).

Thence, that is, from the said territory, from their caves and forts in it: compare Joshua 14:12. This and the following work was done either in Joshua’s lifetime, as may seem from Joshua 11:21, or after his death, as is related Judges 1:10; these giants having either recovered their cities or defended themselves in the mountains.

[Sheshai, Ahiman, and Talmai] These were the sons of Anak, or rather of Arba (and Anak was put in the place of the Anakim, as we said). Objection: But it is not plausible that those three giants that the spies sent by Moses saw, Numbers 13:22, lived until after the death of Joshua, whom Caleb then drove out (Malvenda, Masius). Responses: 1. Why might not the giants live for so long a time, since Caleb also was one of those spies (Malvenda)? 2. Those names appear to have been, not so much proper names, as tribal, and are taken for their posterity; just as we take Israel in the place of the Israelites (Masius, Malvenda). We shall explain this history in Judges 1, where it is set in its own order; but here by way of anticipation (Bonfrerius).

Sheshai, and Ahiman, and Talmai; either the same who are mentioned Numbers 13:33, and so they were long-lived men, such as many were in those times and places; or their sons, called by their fathers’ names, which is very usual.

[1] Hebrew: וַיֹּ֤רֶשׁ מִשָּׁם֙ כָּלֵ֔ב אֶת־שְׁלוֹשָׁ֖ה בְּנֵ֣י הָעֲנָ֑ק אֶת־שֵׁשַׁ֤י וְאֶת־אֲחִימַן֙ וְאֶת־תַּלְמַ֔י יְלִידֵ֖י הָעֲנָֽק׃