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׃

Joshua 15:13: Caleb Inherits Hebron

Verse 13:[1] (Josh. 14:13) And unto Caleb the son of Jephunneh he gave a part among the children of Judah, according to the commandment of the LORD to Joshua, even (Josh. 14:15) the city of Arba (or, Kirjath-arba[2]) the father of Anak, which city is Hebron.

[To Caleb the son of Jephunneh he gave] Who gave? Undoubtedly Joshua, from Joshua 14 (Bonfrerius). They translate it, Joshua gave (Tigurinus, Munster, Syriac, Junius and Tremellius). But from the beginning of the chapter to this point there has been no mention of Joshua (Bonfrerius). Others translate it passively, it had been given (Masius), and that rightly; for the Hebrews often make use of active verbs without a subject in a passive sense (Bonfrerius). Question: Why does this narrative occur here, since this matter was conducted after the death of Joshua? Response: So that we might understand that neither the promises of God, nor the hope of Caleb, were in vain (Masius, Bonfrerius). To this could be added that the dowry of Achsah, to the mention of which the course of that narration leads us, pertains to the matter of the division (Masius). Nevertheless, hence it is gathered, either that the writer of this book was not Joshua; or that these and not a few other things were later added by another hagiographer (Bonfrerius).

He gave, that is, Joshua, as appears by comparing this with Joshua 14:6, 12, 13.

[Just as the Lord had commanded him] He relates that Joshua did not rashly yield Hebron to Caleb without the lot, but by the command of God, etc. (Masius). But when was that command given? Response: Either immediately by God Himself, or by God through Moses (Bonfrerius).

[Kirjath-Arba, the father of Anak] That is, the City of Arba, who was the father of Anak the giant, from whom the Anakim were descended (Lapide, Bonfrerius); from whom it happened that the Anakim possessed Hebron by a proper and hereditary right (Bonfrerius). Or, the father here signifies the prince, and Anak is put in the place of the race of the Anakim (Masius).

[Kirjath-Arbe] Not the city, but the field. For the city belonged to the Levites, Joshua 21:13 (Grotius).

[אֲבִ֥י הָעֲנָ֖ק] The father of the giants, that is, the most famous among the giants (Vatablus).

Arba, or Kirjath-arba; not the city, which was the Levites’, but the territory of it, Joshua 21:13.

[1] Hebrew: וּלְכָלֵ֣ב בֶּן־יְפֻנֶּ֗ה נָ֤תַן חֵ֙לֶק֙ בְּת֣וֹךְ בְּנֵֽי־יְהוּדָ֔ה אֶל־פִּ֥י יְהוָ֖ה לִֽיהוֹשֻׁ֑עַ אֶת־קִרְיַ֥ת אַרְבַּ֛ע אֲבִ֥י הָעֲנָ֖ק הִ֥יא חֶבְרֽוֹן׃

[2] Hebrew: קִרְיַת אַרְבַּע.

Joshua 15:12: The Western Border of Judah

Verse 12:[1] And the west border was (Josh. 15:47; Num. 34:6, 7) to the great sea, and the coast thereof. This is the coast of the children of Judah round about according to their families.

[And of the great sea, etc., וּגְב֣וּל יָ֔ם הַיָּ֥מָּה הַגָּד֖וֹל וּגְב֑וּל זֶ֠ה גְּב֧וּל בְּנֵֽי־יְהוּדָ֛ה] And the border of the sea was toward the great sea, and its border: that is the border of the children of Judah (Montanus). And the western border was toward the great sea and its border: that is the border, etc. (Pagnine). The border is western, insofar as it is toward the great sea and its border: this is the border, etc. (Junius and Tremellius). But the western border was the great sea; and that border was the border of the children of Israel (Munster). [But the Arabic, which the Latin follows, refers this to the end of the preceding verse, in this manner, and it stops on the West, toward the great sea.] Toward the great sea, understanding, it extends (Vatablus). The Mediterranean he calls the Great Sea (Vatablus), than which no great is found in Canaan (Masius). That is, The western border was situated near the Mediterranean and its border, that is, the region bordering on the Mediterranean Sea: which is to say, the Mediterranea Sea and the region bordering on that make up its border and western limites. זֶ֠ה גְּב֧וּל , that is the border, that is, the region defined by the borders (Vatablus). Now, the western boundaries are extended from Jabneel (to which the sea was reaching) unto the torrent of Egypt (Masius, Bonfrerius).

[1] Hebrew: וּגְב֣וּל יָ֔ם הַיָּ֥מָּה הַגָּד֖וֹל וּגְב֑וּל זֶ֠ה גְּב֧וּל בְּנֵֽי־יְהוּדָ֛ה סָבִ֖יב לְמִשְׁפְּחֹתָֽם׃

Joshua 15:10, 11: The Northern Border of Judah, Part 6

Verse 10:[1] And the border compassed from Baalah westward unto mount Seir, and passed along unto the side of mount Jearim, which is Chesalon, on the north side, and went down to Beth-shemesh, and passed on to (Gen. 38:13; Judg. 14:1) Timnah…

[And it goes around, etc.] That is, it does not proceed in a straight line from East to West, but in a certain curve (Bonfrerius).

[Unto mount Seir] This one is far different from mount Seir of Idumæa. It appears to have been called שֵׂעִיר/Seir from its hair/foliage,[2] just as also the nearby mount of יְעָרִים/Jearim was named from its forests,[3] with which it was covered (Masius). Seir, as if shaggy, from the abundance of trees. But note that the western borders of Judah are begun here, namely, according to its first extent; for afterwards Simeon was also included in these, and some cities, subtracted from these, are ascribed to the Tribe of Dan (Bonfrerius). Now, here it is said that the border is turned unto the west, because, while thence from that mountain which we were saying lies near to the valley of Hinnom it was extending obliquely toward the South, now at last it is direct straight toward the West (Masius out of Rabbi Salomon).

Mount Seir; not that of Edom, but another so called from some resemblance it had with that in quality.

[In Chesalon] Hebrew: That is Chesalon[4] (Malvenda); this now is (that is, is called [Piscator]) Chesalon (Junius and Tremellius).

[Unto Beth-shemesh, בֵּית־שֶׁמֶשׁ] It signifies the house of the sun (Bonfrerius). That it was far from Kirjath-jearim, is related in Josephus’ Antiquities 6, and in 1 Samuel 6:19, 21 (Masius). This was a sacerdotal city in the tribe of Judah, as is evident out of Joshua 21:16, although here it not numbered among the cities of Judah: but it is sufficiently apparent either that not all the cities of the tribes are reviewed in these chapters, or that there are certainly diverse names for the same cities. Wherefore Jerome incorrectly locates this city in the tribe of Benjamin, and Adrichomius in the tribe of Dan (Bonfrerius).

Beth-shemesh: there were divers cities of this name; this in Judah here, and Joshua 21:16; 2 Kings 14:11, another in Issachar, and a third in Naphtali, Joshua 19:22, 38.


Verse 11:[5] And the border went out unto the side of (Josh. 19:43) Ekron northward: and the border was drawn to Shicron, and passed along to mount Baalah, and went out unto Jabneel; and the goings out of the border were at the sea.

[Ekron] Hence, and even more out of verse 45-47, it is evident that Ekron and the other four satrapies of the Philistines at first pertained unto the tribe of Judah, yet afterwards part of those fell to the Danites, as is evident out of Joshua 19:43. And the Tribe of Judah attacked Ekron, not that it pertained to them, but because it was dangerous to them, as a neighbor (Lapide, Bonfrerius). Moreover, to no other Tribe are ascribed, nor are able to be ascribed, Gath and Ashkelon, since between the others, namely, Gaza and Ekron, they are trapped (Bonfrerius).

[Unto Jabneel] That this is the other Jamnia,[6] I do not at all doubt (Masius). Indeed, I judge that this is probable, but not certain (Bonfrerius). The Greeks are often wont to convert the letter ב/b into their own μ/m. Now, both Jamniæ were situated between Diospolis[7] and Azotus.[8] This one was our maritime city, but not that which was on the interior, as Pliny speaks[9] (Masius).

[1] Hebrew: וְנָסַב֩ הַגְּב֙וּל מִבַּעֲלָ֥ה יָ֙מָּה֙ אֶל־הַ֣ר שֵׂעִ֔יר וְעָבַ֕ר אֶל־כֶּ֧תֶף הַר־יְעָרִ֛ים מִצָּפ֖וֹנָה הִ֣יא כְסָל֑וֹן וְיָרַ֥ד בֵּֽית־שֶׁ֖מֶשׁ וְעָבַ֥ר תִּמְנָֽה׃

[2] שֵׂעָר signifies hair.

[3] יַעַר signifies forest.

[4] Hebrew: הִ֣יא כְסָל֑וֹן.

[5] Hebrew: וְיָצָ֙א הַגְּב֜וּל אֶל־כֶּ֣תֶף עֶקְרוֹן֮ צָפוֹנָה֒ וְתָאַ֤ר הַגְּבוּל֙ שִׁכְּר֔וֹנָה וְעָבַ֥ר הַר־הַֽבַּעֲלָ֖ה וְיָצָ֣א יַבְנְאֵ֑ל וְהָי֛וּ תֹּצְא֥וֹת הַגְּב֖וּל יָֽמָּה׃

[6] The more famous city of Jamnia was almost ten miles north of Ashdod on the coast.

[7] Somewhat further north and east of the northern Jamnia.

[8] That is, Ashdod.


Joshua 15:9: The Northern Border of Judah, Part 5

Verse 9:[1] And the border was drawn from the top of the hill unto (Josh. 18:15) the fountain of the water of Nephtoah, and went out to the cities of mount Ephron; and the border was drawn (1 Chron. 13:6) to Baalah, which is (Judg. 18:12) Kirjath-jearim…

[And it is bent, etc., וְתָאַ֙ר הַגְּב֜וּל וגו״] And the border shall be traced from the top of the mountain (Montanus). It circles, or goes around, etc. (Pagnine, Munster, all the Jews in Masius); it bends (Tigurinus); it extends (the Septuagint and Symmachus in Masius). And the border is traced, or is formed. Others: and the border draws a line, that is, it makes a line curved or oblique as in an arc. Or, with a line curved (or, oblique) the border extends, that is, directs itself (Vatablus). It defines that border from the apex of the mountain: Hebrew Syntax.[2] There is a similar example in Psalm 10:2[3] (Piscator). The mountain defines that border, etc. (Junius and Tremellius). I think that תָּאַר is to trace out, to shape, to mark with lines drawn out; since it is certain that תּוֹאַר signifies the form and figure of a thing[4] (Masius).

[Unto the villages of mount Ephron] Hebrew: unto the cities, etc.[5] But what might that mount Ephron be, and what might its villages or cities be, you will not discover easily. There is an Ephron on the other side of Jordan, a fortified city, 1 Maccabees 5:46.[6] There was another city of Ephron in Ephraim, 2 Chronicles 13:19.[7] It is clear that this mount Ephron was distinct from those, and no mention of it is made in Joshua 18 (Bonfrerius). Arias Montanus understands the villages or cities that were adjacent to mount Ephron (Commentary on Joshua).

Of Mount Ephron, that is, belonging to or bordering upon Mount Ephron. Kirjath-jearim, called Kirjath-baal, Joshua 15:60; 18:14.

[1] Hebrew: וְתָאַ֙ר הַגְּב֜וּל מֵרֹ֣אשׁ הָהָ֗ר אֶל־מַעְיַן֙ מֵ֣י נֶפְתּ֔וֹחַ וְיָצָ֖א אֶל־עָרֵ֣י הַר־עֶפְר֑וֹן וְתָאַ֤ר הַגְּבוּל֙ בַּעֲלָ֔ה הִ֖יא קִרְיַ֥ת יְעָרִֽים׃

[2] Here, the verb is taken as impersonal; a subject needs to be supplied

[3] Psalm 10:2:  “In the pride of the wicked he doth persecute (בְּגַאֲוַ֣ת רָ֭שָׁע יִדְלַ֣ק; a subject needs to be supplied) the poor:  let them be taken in the devices that they have imagined.”

[4] See Genesis 29:17, for example:  “Leah was tender eyed; but Rachel was beautiful and well favoured (יְפַת־תֹּ֖אַר וִיפַ֥ת מַרְאֶֽה׃, beautiful of form and beautiful of face).”

[5] Hebrew: אֶל־עָרֵי.

[6] 1 Maccabees 5:45, 46:  “Then Judas gathered together all the Israelites that were in the country of Galaad, from the least unto the greatest, even their wives, and their children, and their stuff, a very great host, to the end they might come into the land of Judea.  Now when they came unto Ephron, (this was a great city in the way as they should go, very well fortified) they could not turn from it, either on the right hand or the left, but must needs pass through the midst of it.”

[7] 2 Chronicles 13:19:  “And Abijah pursued after Jeroboam, and took cities from him, Bethel with the towns thereof, and Jeshanah with the towns thereof, and Ephrain (עֶפְרוֹן/Ephron [kethib], עֶפְרַיִן/Ephrain [qere]) with the towns thereof.”

Joshua 15:8: The Northern Border of Judah, Part 4

Verse 8:[1] And the border went up (Josh. 18:16; 2 Kings 23:10; Jer. 19:2, 6) by the valley of the son of Hinnom unto the south side of the (Josh. 18:28; Judg. 1:21; 19:10) Jebusite; the same is Jerusalem: and the border went up to the top of the mountain that lieth before the valley of Hinnom westward, which is at the end (Josh. 18:16) of the valley of the giants northward…

[And it ascends through the valley of the sons of Hinnom, גֵּ֣י בֶן־הִנֹּ֗ם] Unto the valley (or, through the valley [Junius and Tremellius, Grotius]) of the sons of Hinnom (Jonathan, Syriac, similarly Junius and Tremellius). Gehennom (Masius); Gehenna[2] (Arabic). The Valley of Hinnom was a suburban place, formerly very pleasant, and watered with the waters of Kidron. That pleasantness was the occasion of many sins. In a part of it called Tophet, they sacrificed their children to Molech; and on account of that Josiah defiled it with uncleanness[3] (Masius, Bonfrerius). Note here that the language of ascending is used, because hitherto he has drawn the line from Jordan and the Dead Sea, into which the waters of Jerusalem flow down; just as, on the other hand, in Joshua 18:16, he makes use of the language of descending, because he follows the inverse order; it is not said with the relationship of the individual places considered, when in that passage the line is said to descend into the mountain, and here to ascend into the valley. Thus in Luke 10:30, a man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, namely, because Jericho was closer to Jordan (Bonfrerius).

The border went up; properly, for the line went from Jordan and the Salt Sea, to the higher grounds nigh Jerusalem; and therefore the line is said to go down, Joshua 18:16, because there it takes a contrary course, and goes downwards to Jordan and the sea. Hinnom; a very pleasant place, but afterwards made infamous, 2 Kings 23:10.

[On the side of the Jebusite, אֶל־כֶּ֤תֶף הַיְבוּסִי֙] Near, or to, the side (or shoulder [Montanus], promontory [Arabic]) of the Jebusite (Munster, Pagnine, Tigurinus, Jonathan, Syriac); to the side of the city of the Jebusites (Junius and Tremellius). Moreover, that Jerusalem was formerly called Jebus and Jebusi is a matter well-attested (Masius); Joshua 18:28; Judges 19:10; 1 Chronicles 11:4. But that Southern part of mount Zion that the Jebusites had fortified beyond measure was especially so called (Bonfrerius).

[Southward] It signifies that Jebusi with respect to the line now drawn forth was southward. Whence note that this line cuts into Jerusalem, and there has Jebusi, or the citadel of Zion, southward; which citadel accordingly falls unto the lot of Judah. Now, the citadel of Zion was of all Jerusalem the furthest South (Bonfrerius).

[This is Jerusalem] Not indeed the whole, but one part of the city (Bonfrerius). Question: How is Jerusalem here in the tribe of Judah, while elsewhere it is said to be in the tribe of Benjamin (as almost all, Catholics as well as Rabbis, think, according to Deuteronomy 33:12 [Bonfrerius])? Response 1: Jerusalem was properly in the lot of Benjamin, Joshua 18:28; Judges 1:21; Josephus’ Antiquities 5:1, 2. But it shared a border with the Tribe of Judah: whence afterwards, with the Benjamites either conniving, or inviting, the men of Judah expelled the Jebusites occupying Jerusalem from it, and claimed the city for themselves by right of war. Just as David wrested Ziklag, which is here reckoned to the Simeonites,[4] from the Philistines, and adjoined it to his own Tribe of Judah, 1 Samuel 27:6 (Tostatus in Lapide). Response 2: Some part of Jerusalem pertained to the tribe of Judah, as the following words indicate. Hence in Nehemiah 11:4 both the sons of Judah and of Benjamin are said to have dwelt in Jerusalem (Lapide).

Of the Jebusite, that is, of the city of the Jebusites, which was anciently called Jebusi, Joshua 18:28; Judges 19:10. The same is Jerusalem: it may seem hence, and from Deuteronomy 33:12; Joshua 18:28; Judges 1:21, that Jerusalem, properly, or at least principally, belonged to Benjamin; and yet it is ascribed to Judah also here, Joshua 15:63, and elsewhere, either because a part of the city was allotted to Judah; or because the Benjamites needed or desired the help and conjunction of this powerful tribe of Judah, for the getting and keeping of this most important place. And when the Benjamites had in vain attempted to drive out the Jebusites, this work was at last done by the tribe of Judah, who therefore had an interest in it by the right of war; as Ziklag, which belonged to the tribe of Simeon, being gotten from the Philistines by David, was adjoined by him to his tribe of Judah, 1 Samuel 27:6.

[Thence raising itself to the apex of the mountain] Here the mountain of Moriah is understood; the line, raising itself to its apex, was leaving the greater portion to the Benjamites, on which the Temple was built; the lesser portion to the Tribe of Judah. For, it is evident, 1. that mount Zion and the citadel of the Jebusites was in the tribe of Judah. 2. That between the mountains of Zion and Moriah was only the chasm of Millo,[5] and neither the Northern line of Judah, nor the Southern line of Benjamin, Joshua 18, was drawn through it, but laterally through the mountain and the apex of the mountain (Bonfrerius).

[In the end of the valley of Rephaim, בִּקְצֵ֥ה עֵֽמֶק־רְפָאִ֖ים] In the extremity (or ends [Jonathan]) of the valley of Rephaim (Montanus, similarly Junius and Tremellius, Masius), or, of the giants (Syriac), or, of the strong (Jonathan). It appears to have pertained closely to Jerusalem, out of 2 Samuel 5 (Masius, Bonfrerius), and out of Josephus’ Antiquities 7:4. The sense of the passage is now, which, that is, mountain, is over against the valley of Hinnom westward, which same mountain then is bounded on the other side at the end of the valley of Rephaim (Bonfrerius, similarly Junius and Tremellius).

[1] Hebrew: וְעָלָ֙ה הַגְּב֜וּל גֵּ֣י בֶן־הִנֹּ֗ם אֶל־כֶּ֤תֶף הַיְבוּסִי֙ מִנֶּ֔גֶב הִ֖יא יְרֽוּשָׁלִָ֑ם וְעָלָ֙ה הַגְּב֜וּל אֶל־רֹ֣אשׁ הָהָ֗ר אֲ֠שֶׁר עַל־פְּנֵ֤י גֵֽי־הִנֹּם֙ יָ֔מָּה אֲשֶׁ֛ר בִּקְצֵ֥ה עֵֽמֶק־רְפָאִ֖ים צָפֹֽנָה׃

[2] גֵּי הִנֹּם, the valley of Hinnom, is transliterated Gehinnom or Gehenna.

[3] 2 Kings 23:10.

[4] See Joshua 19:5.

[5] See 2 Samuel 5:9; 1 Kings 9:15, 24; 11:27; 2 Kings 12:20; 1 Chronicles 11:8; 2 Chronicles 32:5.

Joshua 15:7: The Northern Border of Judah, Part 3

Verse 7:[1] And the border went up toward Debir from (Josh. 7:26) the valley of Achor, and so northward, looking toward Gilgal, that is before the going up to Adummim, which is on the south side of the river: and the border passed toward the waters of En-shemesh, and the goings out thereof were at (2 Sam. 17:17; 1 Kings 1:9) En-rogel…

[Toward the borders of Debir from the valley of Achor] The sense: The border proceeds to the borders of Debir, with the valley of Achor previously passed through (Bonfrerius).

[וְעָלָ֙ה הַגְּב֥וּל׀ דְּבִרָה֮ מֵעֵ֣מֶק עָכוֹר֒] And the border ascends unto Debir (or, toward Debir [Jonathan, Syriac], or, Debirah [Junius and Tremellius]) from the valley of Achor (Munster, Pagnine, Montanus, Tigurinus, Junius and Tremellius, similarly Masius). But Rabbi Salomon thus explains it, that the line was drawn between the stone of Bohan and Debir through the valley of Achor. If it is so, as the Hebrew words appear to display openly, that valley of Achor was not entirely North of the city of Jericho; otherwise Jericho would belong to Judah, which certainly belonged to Benjamin. I conjecture that that valley was drawn somewhat from South to North (Masius). This Debir is not that one near to Hebron, concerning which verse 15, nor that one beyond Jordan, concerning which Joshua 13:26, but a third distinct from these (Malvenda out of Masius). For this Debir was not far from Jericho. But the Septuagint, instead of דְּבִרָה, toward Debir, appears to have read רְבִיעָה/fourth, for they translate it, unto the fourth part of the valley of Achor (Masius).

Debir; a differing place from that Debir, verse 15, which was near Hebron, and remote from Judah’s border; as also from that Debir, Joshua 13:26, which was beyond Jordan.

[Northward, looking toward Gilgal[2] (similarly Munster, Pagnine, Montanus, Junius and Tremellius)] That is, having Gilgal toward the North (Bonfrerius). Now, the borders that are here said to look toward, when he treats of Benjamin are said to bend themselves,[3] Northward unto Gilgal. Therefore, to look toward is used in the place of to border on, but not to include, nor to receive within (Masius). But if the Northern borders of the Tribe of Judah look to Gilgal toward the North, then it is necessary that it be outside of the boundaries of Judah; neither was it in the tribe of Judah, as Jerome thought, but in the tribe of Benjamin, in which all the others locate it; as it certainly appears so in Joshua 4:19 (Bonfrerius). But to others this Gilgal differs from that near Jordan, where Joshua encamped (thus Lapide, Bonfrerius, Masius). It is demonstrated: 1. The borders have already proceeded from Jordan further than that Gilgal (Bonfrerius). 2. This Gilgal was near the ascent of Adummim, which it is certain was between Jerusalem and Jericho; but that other Gilgal was not as far from Jordan as Jericho was (Masius). 3. The Gilgal of this verse in chapter 18 is called גְּלִילוֹת/Geliloth in Hebrew (Lapide, Masius). [But others take this passage otherwise, and they refer the צָפוֹנָה/northward to what precedes; from the valley of Achor unto the North (Syriac), or, toward the North (Arabic). And what follows, פֹּנֶ֣ה אֶל־הַגִּלְגָּ֗ל, looking toward Gilgal, they set by itself, and render it, it is turned toward Galilee (Syriac), namely, because it is called Geliloth in chapter 18, as just now mentioned: proceeding toward Gilgal (Arabic).]

Gilgal; either that Gilgal nigh Jordan, Joshua 4:19, or another place of that name.

[Which is before the going up of Adummim] This place is so called, because it was situated on a slope and elevated place. In Adrichomius it is a mountain, even indeed part of the mountains of Engedi[4] (Bonfrerius). Moreover, Adummim signifies red,[5] because travelers to that place, often wounded by brigands, are often red with blood. And unto this very place between Jerusalem and Jericho some maintain that Christ alludes, Luke 10:30 (Masius)

[On the south side of the torrent, אֲשֶׁ֥ר מִנֶּ֖גֶב לַנָּ֑חַל] It is ambiguous to what the pronoun אֲשׁר/which is related (Masius). [Some relate it to the ascent of Adummim (thus Masius, Jonathan). But others to Gilgal (thus the Latin in Masius, Syriac, Munster, Pagnine, Tigurinus, Montanus).]

On the south side of the river, or brook, or valley.

[The fountain of the sun, אֶל־מֵי־עֵ֣ין שֶׁ֔מֶשׁ[6]] Unto the waters of the solar fountain (Munster, Jonathan); near the fountain of Shemesh (Syriac); unto the waters of En-Shemesh (Pagnine, Tigurinus, Junius and Tremellius, Montanus).

[And the goings out thereof, etc. (it stops in En-rogel [Vatablus]): אֶל־עֵ֥ין רֹגֵֽל׃] Unto En-Rogel (Pagnine, Montanus, Vatablus); unto the fountain of Rogel (Munster, Tigurinus, Junius and Tremellius, Syriac). It signifies the fountain of the cloth-fuller: so it was called, because there the fuller, treading with his feet,[7] washes his cloth (Lapide, similarly Vatablus, Malvenda). Perhaps the waters of it, being drawn off by furrows, were serving the workshops of the fullers (Masius). It favors this conjecture, that near the city was the field of the fuller,[8] that is, in which fullers were drying their cloth (Bonfrerius). Now, En-rogel was near to Jerusalem, as it is evident from 1 Kings 1:9, 41 (Masius).

[1] Hebrew: וְעָלָ֙ה הַגְּב֥וּל׀ דְּבִרָה֮ מֵעֵ֣מֶק עָכוֹר֒ וְצָפ֜וֹנָה פֹּנֶ֣ה אֶל־הַגִּלְגָּ֗ל אֲשֶׁר־֙נֹכַח֙ לְמַעֲלֵ֣ה אֲדֻמִּ֔ים אֲשֶׁ֥ר מִנֶּ֖גֶב לַנָּ֑חַל וְעָבַ֤ר הַגְּבוּל֙ אֶל־מֵי־עֵ֣ין שֶׁ֔מֶשׁ וְהָי֥וּ תֹצְאֹתָ֖יו אֶל־עֵ֥ין רֹגֵֽל׃

[2] Hebrew: וְצָפ֜וֹנָה פֹּנֶ֣ה אֶל־הַגִּלְגָּ֗ל.

[3] Joshua 18:17:  “And was drawn (וְתָאַר, and was turned) from the north, and went forth to En-shemesh, and went forth toward Geliloth, which is over against the going up of Adummim, and descended to the stone of Bohan the son of Reuben…”

[4] On the western side of the Dead Sea.

[5] אֲדֻמִּים/Adummim is here related to the verb, אָדֹם, to be red.

[6] עַיִן/en signifies fountain; שֶׁמֶשׁ/shemesh, sun.

[7] רֺגֵל/cloth-fuller is related to רֶגֶל/foot.

[8] See 2 Kings 18:17; Isaiah 7:3; 36:2.