Joshua 15:6: The Northern Border of Judah, Part 2

Verse 6:[1] And the border went up to (Josh. 18:19) Beth-hogla, and passed along by the north of Beth-arabah; and the border went up (Josh. 18:17) to the stone of Bohan the son of Reuben…

[And the border ascends] Men are said to go up to Jerusalem, but from there to go down: whence it is probable that that city was in the highest place (Masius).

[Unto Beth-hogla] This was in the tribe of Benjamin, Joshua 18:21 (Bonfrerius). It was three miles from Jericho, two miles from Jordan, as Eusebius testifies (Masius). In Genesis 50:10, 11, this is called the floor of Atad (Lapide, Bonfrerius, Menochius). This does not satisfy Masius; for that way there was no path from Egypt to Hebron (Masius). But this supposes that Joseph with his own came to Hebron by a direct path, while it is more probable that they came through the desert (Bonfrerius).

[And it passes] That is, the boundary extends beyond (Malvenda).

[From the North unto Beth-arabah[2] (thus Munster, Septuagint)] Others: toward Beth-arabah (Pagnine, Tigurinus). Others: from the north of Beth-Arabah (Junius and Tremellius). Others: it passed Beth-arabah on the North (Masius). It is able to be understood in a threefold manner. Either, 1. so that the border might leave Beth-arabah on the North. Thus it ought to be understood, if it was in the tribe of Benjamin. Or, 2. so that the border might pass on the North with respect to Beth-Arabah. Thus it is to be taken, if it is ascribed to the Tribe of Judah. 3. So that the border might come into Beth-arabah itself. Which sense appears to be the simplest. Thus Beth-arabah is common to both Tribes: For here in verse 61 it is in the tribe of Judah; and in Joshua 18:22 it is placed in the tribe of Benjamin. Cities placed on the borders were evidently wont to be ascribed on many occasions to both Tribes (Bonfrerius). These two Tribes appear to have held some cities position on the border by a common right (Masius). Now, בֵּית הָעֲרָבָה, Beth-arabah, signifies either, field house (thus the Chaldean and Symmachus in Masius), the house of the plain (Arabic), or, the house of the wilderness; for it was situated in a vast wilderness (Masius, Bonfrerius). It is evident from those places that Jericho was desert (Bonfrerius). But that city is numbered with those that were rising out of the desert (Masius).

By the north of Beth-arabah, or, on the north, or northward to Beth-arabah; which place is attributed to Judah here, Joshua 15:61; and to Benjamin, Joshua 18:22; because it was a frontier town in the borders of Judah and Benjamin, and therefore promiscuously belonging to both; which also was the case of some other places: and this cohabitation was convenient to maintain brotherly love and union between the several tribes, especially in the borders, where differences oft arise.

[To the stone of Bohan, son of Reuben[3] (similarly all interpreters)] That Tribe had nothing on this side of Jordan: but this place appears to have been named after this Bohan, a Reubenite, because of some matter conducted there that pertains to him; just as in verse 37 Migdal-God is mentioned (Junius). It appears evident that the name is recent (Bonfrerius, Masius). It is the custom of the writers of sacred things to use whatever most recent names; the older names, except of the more famous places, they pass over in silence (Masius). Others translate it, Eben-bohan. It is the name of a place (Vatablus).

The stone of Bohan; a place so called, not from Bohan’s dwelling there, (for the Reubenites had no portion on this side Jordan,) but from some notable exploit which he did there, though it be not recorded in Scripture.

[1] Hebrew: וְעָלָ֤ה הַגְּבוּל֙ בֵּ֣ית חָגְלָ֔ה וְעָבַ֕ר מִצְּפ֖וֹן לְבֵ֣ית הָעֲרָבָ֑ה וְעָלָ֣ה הַגְּב֔וּל אֶ֥בֶן בֹּ֖הַן בֶּן־רְאוּבֵֽן׃

[2] Hebrew: מִצְּפ֖וֹן לְבֵ֣ית הָעֲרָבָ֑ה.

[3] Hebrew: אֶ֥בֶן בֹּ֖הַן בֶּן־רְאוּבֵֽן׃.

Joshua 15:5: The Eastern Border; The Northern Border of Judah, Part 1

Verse 5:[1] And the east border was the salt sea, even unto the end of Jordan. And their border in the north quarter was from the bay of the sea at the uttermost part of Jordan…

[On the east] The Eastern limits of the tribe are shown in these words, that is, the Salt Sea (Masius).

[Unto the extremities of Jordan] That is, unto the place in which the Jordan flows into the Salt Sea (Vatablus, similarly Masius, Bonfrerius). Now, the length of this sea (from South to North [Masius]), according to Josephus’ Jewish Wars 5:5, is five hundred and eighty stadia;[2] according to Pliny’s Natural History 5:16, one hundred miles: latitude, according to Josephus, one hundred and fifty stadia; according to Pliny, twenty-five miles (Bonfrerius, Masius). This eastern boundary does not proceed beyond the length of the Salt Sea (Bonfrerius).

The end of Jordan, that is, the place where Jordan runs into the Salt Sea.

[And that which looks toward the North, etc.,וּגְב֞וּל לִפְאַ֤ת צָפוֹ֙נָה֙ מִלְּשׁ֣וֹן הַיָּ֔ם מִקְצֵ֖ה הַיַּרְדֵּֽן׃] And the boundary of the corner (or quarter [Arabic], or side [Vatablus], or, on the side [Munster], or, in the corner [Tigurinus]) of the North from the tongue of the sea, from the end of Jordan, or from the extremity (or limit [Vatablus]) of Jordan (Montanus, Munster, Tigurinus). They translate מִלְּשׁוֹן, from the tongue, as from the summit (Septuagint), from the shore (Jonathan), from the rock (Munster, Pagnine). It begins from the promontory, or, from the other projection of the sea (Vatablus), that is, into land (Vatablus on verse 2), from the bay (Junius and Tremellius, Masius, Bonfrerius). It is hardly plausible that, both in that Southern extremity of that sea, and again in this Northern extremity, it was a rock or boulder that the language of tongue signified: but it is certain that there was a bay at both ends (Masius). Here begins the border of the North, where the eastern border ends. This same tongue is treated in Joshua 18:19, where the Southern border of Benjamin is described, which is the same as the Northern border of Judah (Bonfrerius). Junius and Tremellius thus translate the passage, but the border on the Northern side, from the bay of that sea, was part of Jordan: that is, Judah possessed the greatest part from the extremity of Jordan unto the lake of Gennesaret, even if the boundaries of some tribes meet with the Jordan itself. In this manner it happened that the borders of Naphthali at Jordan were coterminous with Judah’s, as it is found in Joshua 19:34 (Junius). But it is altogether false that the borders of Judah reached all the way to the lake of Gennesaret (Malvenda).

[1] Hebrew: וּגְב֥וּל קֵ֙דְמָה֙ יָ֣ם הַמֶּ֔לַח עַד־קְצֵ֖ה הַיַּרְדֵּ֑ן וּגְב֞וּל לִפְאַ֤ת צָפוֹ֙נָה֙ מִלְּשׁ֣וֹן הַיָּ֔ם מִקְצֵ֖ה הַיַּרְדֵּֽן׃

[2] A stadium is a little more than a tenth of a mile.

Joshua 15:4: The Southern Border of Judah, Part 4

Verse 4:[1] From thence it passed (Num. 34:5) toward Azmon, and went out unto the river of Egypt; and the goings out of that coast were at the sea: this shall be your south coast.

[Unto Azmon] Perhaps it is that חַצְמוֹן/Hazmon, which was the twenty-sixth station;[2] for ח/h/ch and ע[3] are interchangeable (Masius in Drusius).

[Unto the torrent of Egypt] See Joshua 13:3 and Numbers 34:5 (Malvenda).

[This shall be the limit of the southern tract] Hebrew: That shall be to you the border of the South[4] (Malvenda). Now, the length of those boundaries is that entire distance that extends from the extremity of the Dead Sea unto Rhinocolura, close to which, near that little branch of the Nile, was our עַצְמוֹן / Azmon. Moreover, that clause, that shall be to you a border, etc., contains an absurd apostrophe,[5] as it appears. But there is an allusion, I think, to those words in which these very borders were described in Numbers: for in that place Moses addresses the Israelites (Masius). But others maintain that there is an Enallage of persons, and the border shall be לָכֶם, to you, put in the place of לָהֶם, to them (Septuagint in Masius, Munster out of Kimchi).

[1] Hebrew: וְעָבַ֣ר עַצְמ֗וֹנָה וְיָצָא֙ נַ֣חַל מִצְרַ֔יִם וְהָיָ֛ה תֹּצְא֥וֹת הַגְּב֖וּל יָ֑מָּה זֶה־יִהְיֶ֥ה לָכֶ֖ם גְּב֥וּל נֶֽגֶב׃

[2] Numbers 33:29:  “And they went from Mithcah, and pitched in Hashmonah (בְּחַשְׁמֹנָה).”

[3] Gutteral.

[4] Hebrew: זֶה־יִהְיֶ֥ה לָכֶ֖ם גְּב֥וּל נֶֽגֶב׃.

[5] An apostrophe in rhetoric is a digression in a discourse in the form of a direct address to someone not present.

Joshua 15:3: The Southern Border of Judah, Part 3

Verse 3:[1] And it went out to the south side (Num. 34:4) to Maaleh-acrabbim (or, the going up to Acrabbim[2]), and passed along to Zin, and ascended up on the south side unto Kadesh-barnea, and passed along to Hezron, and went up to Adar, and fetched a compass to Karkaa…

[Toward the ascent of the Scorpion,וְ֠יָצָא אֶל־מִנֶּ֜גֶב לְמַעֲלֵ֤ה עַקְרַבִּים֙ ] And it goes out (that is, and from here it extends [Vatablus]) to the south of Maaleh-acrabbim (Piscator, thus Vatablus). Some translate it, to the ascent, or incline, of scorpions[3] (Munster, Castalio). To others it is a proper name (thus the Septuagint in Grotius, Junius and Tremellius, Tigurinus, English, Dutch, Masius). Nevertheless, it appears that this was done, either, from the abundance of scorpions (Grotius, Menochius); see Deuteronomy 8:15 (Grotius): or, from the similitude and figure (Menochius), because these mountains curved in upon themselves after the likeness of scorpions (Vatablus). Part of Idumæa was called Ἀκραββατίνη/Acrabattine, 1 Maccabees 5:3.[4] Ptolemy places Acraba in Mesopotamia (Grotius). Note here the doubling of the particles, which is common in Hebraisms; as here it is verbatim, unto from the South, etc. (Drusius). Unto the place that was on the south, etc. (Munster, Tigurinus). The Greek (which the Latin follows) has ἀπέναντι, over against, before; they were reading מִנֶגֶד, in front of, instead of מִנֶגֶב, from the south. Now, this hill of Acrabbim is not further North than that last shorte of the Salt Sea (as most Geographers incorrectly locate it), but further South: For in Ptolemy Petra is much further South than the tongue of the Salt Sea; and so Kadesh-barnea also is further South, as one might expect for a neighbor of Petra. But the very same Geographers now state that this hill of Acrabbim is further South than Kadesh-barnea (Masius). See more things concerning this place on Numbers 34:4 (Malvenda). Moreover, note that in the place of יָצָא, it went out, in Numbers 34:4 it is written נָסַב, it turned, went around, which signifies that the line of measurement is bent, is not altogether straight (Masius).

[And it passes through to Sina[5] (thus Jerome and the Septuagint)] Σενὰ/ Sena, as if the ה were pertaining to the name: But this is not so (Drusius). צִנָה is the city Zin, which gave its name to the desert (Vatablus). The ה in צִנָה has the force of a preposition (Masius). It signifies motion toward a place: צִנָה in the place of לְצִין, to Zin, according to the usage of the language. Thus soon אַדָּרָה in the place of לְאַדָּר, to Adar (Drusius).

[And it ascends unto Kadesh-barnea] By diverting toward the North, which the languge of ascending indicates: For Northern Places are contemplated as higher, because they appear to draw near to the apex of the world, which we called the Arctic Pole. Now, Kadesh-barnea appears to have been part of the Promised Land, from Deuteronomy 1:19, 20, but the utmost limit (Masius). It ascends, that is, it proceeds by ascending; and there it turns itself, that is, it directs its course, unto Hebron (Vatablus).

[חֶצְרוֹן] Below it is called חָצוֹר/Hazor. But that Hazor is diverse from Hazor of Galilee by the whole heaven (Masius).

[Karkaa, הַקַּרְקָעָה] Symmachus translates it γῆν/land (for to the Hebrews קַרְקָע signifies ground, foundation), which he does not think to be the proper name of a certain place (Masius).

And it went out to the south side, etc.: Concerning this description of the southern coast of Judah, see Numbers 34:3-5.

[1] Hebrew: וְ֠יָצָא אֶל־מִנֶּ֜גֶב לְמַעֲלֵ֤ה עַקְרַבִּים֙ וְעָ֣בַר צִ֔נָה וְעָלָ֥ה מִנֶּ֖גֶב לְקָדֵ֣שׁ בַּרְנֵ֑עַ וְעָבַ֤ר חֶצְרוֹן֙ וְעָלָ֣ה אַדָּ֔רָה וְנָסַ֖ב הַקַּרְקָֽעָה׃

[2] Hebrew: לְמַעֲלֵ֤ה עַקְרַבִּים.

[3] מַעֲלֵה עַקְרַבִּים/Maaleh-acrabbim means ascent of scorpions.

[4] 1 Maccabees 5:3:  “Then Judas fought against the children of Esau in Idumea at Arabattine (Ἀκραβαττήνην), because they besieged Gael:  and he gave them a great overthrow, and abated their courage, and took their spoils.”

[5] Hebrew: וְעָ֣בַר צִ֔נָה.

Joshua 15:2: The Southern Border of Judah, Part 2

Verse 2:[1] And their south border was from the shore of the salt sea, from the bay (Heb. tongue[2]) that looketh southward…

[The beginning of it, etc.] Hebrew: it was to them,[3] לָהֶם. To the sons of Judah; or, to it, namely, the Tribe (Vatablus).

[From the summit of the sea, etc., גְּב֣וּל נֶ֔גֶב מִקְצֵ֖ה יָ֣ם הַמֶּ֑לַח] The border of the south, or southern (the southern border on the east [Junius and Tremellius]), on the extreme, or limits, of the salt sea (Montanus, Munster, Pagnine, Tigurinus, similarly the Arabic). But the Syriac has it, their limit was from the southern extremity of the sea, etc. That is to say, Its southern border begins from the extremity of the Dead Sea (Vatablus). Now, what this extremity is is explained next, when he adds, and from the tongue of the sea, etc. But, to say here, from the extremity, etc., and, from the tongue, etc., is the same thing as that which was in verse 1, from the border of Edom and the desert of Zin; for all these places are conjoined (Bonfrerius). This verse is an explanation of the preceding verse (Masius). What in verse 1 he delineated in a rough manner, he now begins to explain at greater length (Bonfrerius). And here again the latter group of words is an ἐξήγησις/exegesis/explanation of the former: and so in Numbers the very same thing is said in fewer words[4] (Masius).

[And from its tongue, which looks toward the south (similarly Montanus, Syriac, Vatablus, Masius)] Or, which is curved, or inclines, toward the south (Vatablus, Syriac). But what is the tongue of the sea here? Response: It is a bay of the sea, where a narrower part projects into the mainland after the likeness of a tongue (Masius, Lapide, Drusius, Bonfrerius). Some translate it bay here (Junius and Tremellius, Castalio, English, Dutch). Thus Isaiah 11:15, God shall destroy the tongue of the sea of Egypt,[5] namely, the closest part of the Arabian bay, which laps Egypt after the likeness of a tongue (Masius). Jonathan translates it, from the shore: others, from the rock (Munster, Pagnine, Tigurinus, Vatablus, Bonfrerius, Menochius). Thus the Chaldean: כֵיפָא, that is, rock, or promontory. He calls the promontory a tongue because it extends farther into the sea (Vatablus). Gataker shows that the language of tongue is used in this sense by these examples. The situations of the towns were generally of this sort, that they, having been position in the extreme lingulis, tongues of land (others, linguis/tongues), and promontories, might have neither an approach by foot, when the tide swelled from the deep, etc., but nor by ship, because, with the tide again abating, the ships were broken up in the shallows: Cæsar’s Gallic Wars 3 concerning the Veneti. Cassandreia is surrounded by the Toronaic and Macedonian gulfs;[6] insomuch as the tongue on which it was situated projects into the deep, no less than mount Athos projects unto the height in magnitude: over against the region of Magnesia in two unequal promontories: Livy’s History of Rome 44. Land extended into the sea after the likeness of a tongue he calls a tongue. For sometimes a promontory, or whatever other long and narrow land, which after the manner of a tongue of land exsectæ/cut (exsertæ, stretched out) projects into the sea, is called lingua, a tongue, or lingual, a tongue of land: Godelævius on Livy. Where it proceeded further, it is cut into two horns, of which the level one looks toward the Ionian Sea, the other toward the Sicilian: between which projections it receives the approach of the sea not with one bank, but it admits a sea divided by tongues frequently projected and promontories jutting out: Solinus concerning Italy, Wonders of the World 8. That promontory, the tongue of which projects into the deep: Pacuvius’[7] Anchises in Gellius’ Attic Nights[8] 4:17. See Schottus’[9] Human Observations[10] 3:28: Thence into the deep the tongue was projecting for a mile (Gataker). It is sufficiently evident from Josephus[11] and from Judges 1:36 that the name of the place was Petra[12] (Bonfrerius). The Septuagint also translates it λοφιὰν, neck, back (Menochius).

The bay; Hebrew, the tongue: by which he understands either a creek or arm of that sea; or a promontory, which by learned authors is sometimes called a tongue; it is not material to know which of these it was.

[1] Hebrew: וַיְהִ֤י לָהֶם֙ גְּב֣וּל נֶ֔גֶב מִקְצֵ֖ה יָ֣ם הַמֶּ֑לַח מִן־הַלָּשֹׁ֖ן הַפֹּנֶ֥ה נֶֽגְבָּה׃

[2] Hebrew: הַלָּשֹׁן.

[3] Hebrew: וַיְהִ֤י לָהֶם֙.

[4] Numbers 34:3.

[5] Hebrew: וְהֶחֱרִ֣ים יְהוָ֗ה אֵ֚ת לְשׁ֣וֹן יָם־מִצְרַ֔יִם.

[6] Cassandreia was a city of Macedonia, located on the isthmus of the Pallene peninsula of the Ægean.

[7] Marcus Pacuvius (220-c. 130 BC) was a Roman trajedian.  His work survives in fragments.

[8] [8] Aulus Gellius (c. 125-c. 180) was a Latin grammarian, finding his principal value in the preservation of the quotations of earlier writers, which quotations would be otherwise lost.  Gellius wrote Attic Nights, a collection of diverse notes on grammar, philosophy, history, etc., in twenty books.

[9] Andreas Schottus (1552-1629) was a Dutch Jesuit.  He taught Greek at a variety of posts.

[10] Observationum Humanarum.

[11] Antiquities 4.

[12] Judges 1:36:  “And the coast of the Amorites was from the going up to Akrabbim, from the rock (מֵהַסֶּלַע; ἐπὶ τῆς Πέτρας, from the rock/Petra, in Alexandrinus), and upward.”

Joshua 15:1: The Southern Border of Judah, Part 1

Verse 1:[1] This then was the lot of the tribe of the children of Judah by their families; (Num. 34:3) even to the border of Edom the (Num. 33:36) wilderness of Zin southward was the uttermost part of the south coast.

[Therefore, the lot of the children of Judah, etc.] It is to be discussed here first of those things that pertain generally to the division of the land. It is asked first, By whose arbitration were those parts made, concerning which there was now to be a casting of lots? For at Shiloh certainly nothing shall be done, except with those portions first described. Now, it appears that Canaan was not divided into certain parts by any surveyors before the coming to Shiloh. (Bonfrerius, nevertheless, thinks the contrary, and maintains that the inspection of the land was actually set before this division by lots, although Scripture does not mention this [Bonfrerius on Joshua 14:6].) I think, therefore, that these two portions of Judah and Joseph in a certain rougher demarcation were first set forth to be divided by lot, so that the camp in Gilgal might be safer. For, with its Southern part [where was the Tribe of Judah], and the Northern part [where was the Tribe of Joseph], defended by their garrison and their commanders, no enemy was able to be feared either from the East (where were Jordan and the Reubenites, etc.), or from the West (where was the Great Sea). And, since these parts [of Judah and Joseph] appeared greater than what was equitable, an equitable division of the entire land was pushed back to a future time. For, as it certainly appears, this prior division by lots did not with all propriety absolutely assign to them their possessions. Concerning which see on Joshua 18, Judah shall abide in their coasts, etc. In addition, since the Tribe of Judah obtained the first place, and surpassed any other tribe in number; and either a double portion or a portion and half was owed to the children of Joseph; in this way a certain rationale is able to be seen to be held in that distribution. But, whether all the Tribes obtained by lot equally from those two portions, or only these two, I am not able sufficiently to resolve. But the latter appears more probable to me from the things already said. Moreover, many things indicate that in the former and later casting of lots there was an order of privilege of the tribes among themselves. For we see that the lots come forth first to Judah and Joseph (to which two tribes the right of Reuben was given up[2]), but then to the sons of the free free mothers, and finally to the sons of the handmaids (Masius). Question: What then was the manner of the casting of lots? Responses: 1. By Urim and Thummim (Montanus in Lapide). But this was an oracle, not a lot (Lapide). 2. That Tribe, whichever the lot named, chose the better option from the parts set forth (Josephus in Masius). But this casting of lots is defective, that is, as of the tribes alone, but not the regions; neither is it so much a casting of lots as an option and choice (Lapide). Moreover, what would thus be the Divine harmony of the lots and the sacred predictions (Masius)? 3. The surveyors and delineators of Canaan divided that into twelve unequal parts, and assigned a proportionate part to each Tribe; which division the lot now cast by them confirmed (Tostatus in Lapide). But from this passage, and from Numbers 26:55, 56 and 33:54, it is demonstrated that the lot brought this division to completion in the first place (Lapide). 4. There was a single vessel in which were the names of the regions, and these were taken out one by one for each Tribe, and those, one after the other, were divided by lot according to the prerogative of each (Masius). Masius thinks that Canaan was marked out in twelve equal portions, and that to each Tribe fell their portion of the land equal to whatever other Tribe. But this was unjust, since the Tribes were rather unequal (Lapide out of Tostatus). 5. There were two vessels of lots, into one of which were cast the names of the twelve tribes, into the other the names of the twelve regions. Now, Eleazar, with the vessels shaken, drew from the one the name of a Tribe, and from the other the name of a region (the Rabbis is Masius, Lapide). But it is to be observed that this division was not made with an equal measure, but according to the worth of the regions: τιμητοὺς μᾶλλον ἢ μετρητοὺς τοὺς κλήρους, the lots were valued rather than measured, says Josephus (Grotius, thus Lapide). One difficulty appears to be imbedded in all these (methods): Since it was fitting that the parts be unequal on account of the inequality of the multitude in the tribes, how do these methods ascribe a greater portion to a Tribe of greater number? If you say that God combined the lots of the vessels in such a way that a greater portion fell to a greater Tribe: 1. In vain then did God command that the distributors take account of this inequality, since He would do it all Himself. 2. They ought already to have made the parts unequal: and so before the lot, it was almost obvious which part was to be given to each. I say, that it was permitted by God to the distributors to circumscribe each portion with its boundaries, and to expand and contract the parts proceeding from the vessel according to the greatness or fewness of the tribes, as it is evident from Numbers 35:8. Now, this was able to be done either before the casting of lots, or after it. Indeed, it was able to be done before, that there might be ten parts, etc., concerning each of which it might be established by common sense that, if this one should fall to this or that Tribe, it ought to be such or such, greater or lesser. Or, it was able to be done after the casting of the lots in two ways. 1. If the distributors, when they had seen a lot extracted, by their concurring votes, either might add or take away (as it appeared agreeable to them). 2. If they sought direction from the Urim and Thummim, etc. (Serarius). It seems probable that the land of Canaan was marked out in twelve equal parts (equal, not so much in size as in value), and that those were again subdivided into other lesser portions, as it is sufficiently gathered from the description of the towns through the individual regions in this chapter, verses 32, 41, 44, 57, 62; and that then these delineators had a view of the size of the tribes, and formed an estimation of the proportion of them among themselves. Therefore, certain Tribes were either greater or lesser than the others either by a fourth, or third, or half part. Accordingly, the lesser (Tribes), of the twelve portions of Canaan already distributed, asked for themselves either a quarter, or third, or half part of one portion according to their smallness: But the other greater Tribes were rightfully asked that, according to their size, beyond one and entire twelfth portion of Canaan, another quarter, or third, or half part of another portion be added to them. With this accomplished, they cast tokens of the twelve tribes into one vessel, and tokens of the twelve portions of the region with their subdivisions into the other; and thereupon they first drew the name of a Tribe from the one vessel, and from the other the name of a portion which they assigned to that Tribe, but with a geometrical proportion, according to the size of the Tribe; that is, in such a way that according to that they drew out the markers of the region, which would contain the whole, or half, or one and a half, or other proportion of the portion owed to each Tribe. For example, If we suppose that the tribe of Judah was double the others; it is to be asserted that by lots was given to them a double portion of land, but neighboring and contiguous, so that the whole Tribe might dwell together. Morever, in this first survey the delineators appear to have made an error in designating the portion of Judah, which, being too large, fell to him, as it is demonstrated from this, that this Tribe yielded some part of its region to the Tribe of Simeon, Joshua 19:1, and also to the the Tribe of Dan, as it is evident from Zorah and Eshtaol, which in Joshua 15:33 are assigned to Judah, but in Joshua 19:41 to the Tribe of Dan. And Joshua, being somewhat doubtful for this reason, that is, concerning the error committed, so that he might correct it, in chapter 18 sent new surveyors, etc. (Lapide). Now, with respect to the rite and method of the division by lots, I am inclined to think that the Sacred history everywhere hides this from us, lest we superstitiously imitate it in our affairs (Masius). Moreover, I am afraid that the barbarous names of places in this and the following chapters may occasion a repugnance in the reader, as in which the value of the effort shall appear to be none, in tracing the boundaries of the inheritance of each, especially since those citites are either ruined or exceedingly deformed, and the Tribes confused and forever cast out of their possessions. But there is to be a very different estimation of those things that are recorded in the Divine books, and of those things that are recorded in profane books. For, since the former are θεόπνευστοι/inspired,[3] nothing in them is idle or useless. Chrysostom says it best, Many of the mechanics, when (with the book taken up into the hands) either the calculated reckoning of numbers, or the more lengthy and continuous account of the names, presents itself, they soon, with many pages rapidly turned over, direct their eyes and mind to another passage: and, if they are perhaps criticized, they respond that there is nothing but names, and that there is nothing fruitful in those things that thus speed past. But what, asks he, art thou saying, good man? Art thou not ashamed to say that there is no advantage in knowing those things that God Himself speaks? Miners (says the same Chrysostom) do not pass by arid and barren mountains, but penetrate into them, and search for veins of gold, silver, etc. Why then do we pass by any passage of Sacred Scripture unexplored, since every passage is altogether superabounding in heavenly mysteries, if we examine it more deeply with the Holy Spirit leading us? Now, I admit that the knowledge of these things of itself is useless; but (I contend that it is) not only useful, but even necessary, for comprehending the Sacred history. Therefore, if judge those guilty of no more than excessive curiousity, that, so that they might more accurately understand the registers of Livy, Cæsar, and Tacitus, and the odious monuments of Roman tyranny, with the utmost effort strive to accommodate the barbarous names of places, which those writers generally present most corruptly, to cities of our memory by whatever conjectures; why would it displease us to weigh those names of places that are preserved in Sacred Scripture with complete integrity, and to pursue the knowledge of those things that are conducive to understanding the monuments the beginnings of our eternal salvation (Masius)? It will not be without use with these chapters of Joshua that treat of the division of the land, and of the establishment of the possessions of the tribes, to compare those chapters of 1 Chronicles that recount the fathers and principal men in each tribe. Thus with Joshua 13 compare 1 Chronicles 5; with Joshua 15 compare 1 Chronicles 2:1-4:23; with Joshua 16; 17 compare 1 Chronicles 7:14-29; with Joshua 18:11-28 compare 1 Chronicles 7:6-12; 8; with Joshua 19:1-9 read 1 Chronicles 4:24-43; with Joshua 19:17-23 read 1 Chronicles 7:1-5; with Joshua 19:24-31 read 1 Chronicles 7:30-40; with Joshua 19:32, etc., read 1 Chronicles 7:13; with Joshua 21 read 1 Chronicles 6; and with these chapters of Joshua read 1 Chronicles 9 (Lightfoot).

The lot, etc.: For the general understanding of this business, it must be known, 1. That this work of casting lots was transacted with great seriousness and solemnity, in God’s presence, with prayer and appeal to him for the decision of the matter. 2. That although an exact survey of this land was not taken till Joshua 18:4, 5, yet there was, and must needs be, a general description of it, and a division thereof into nine parts and a half; which as far as they could guess, were equal either in quantity or in quality. 3. That the lot did not at this time so peremptorily and unchangeably determine each tribe, that their portion could neither be increased nor diminished; as is manifest, because after Judah’s lot was fixed, Simeon’s lot was taken out of it, Joshua 19:9, though after the land was more distinctly known and surveyed, Joshua 18, it is likely the bounds were more certain and fixed. 4. That the lot determined only in general what part or quarter of the land belonged to each tribe, but left the particulars to be determined by Joshua and Eleazar, etc. For the manner of this lottery, it is probably conceived that there were two urns or pots, into one of which were put the names of all the tribes, each in a distinct paper, and into the other the names of each portion described; then Eleazar, or some other person, drew out first the name of one of the tribes out of one pot, and then the name of one portion out of the other pot, and that portion was appropriated to that tribe; and so in the rest. And with respect to these pots, in the bottom of which the papers lay, these lots are oft said to come up, or come forth. The lot of the tribe of the children of Judah came out first by God’s disposition, as a note of his preeminency above his brethren.

[From the border of Edom, etc., אֶל־גְּב֙וּל אֱד֧וֹם מִדְבַּר־צִ֛ן נֶ֖גְבָּה מִקְצֵ֥ה תֵימָֽן׃] Unto (or near [Pagnine, Vatablus]; אֶל/to is put in the place of עַל/upon [Vatablus], or toward [Munster, Tigurinus]) the border of Edom (Montanus, Jonathan, Junius and Tremellius) of the wilderness of Zin (Montanus, Munster, Tigurinus) (or, the wilderness of Zin[4] [Jonathan], or, and the wilderness of Zin [Pagnine], or, unto the desert of Zin [Syriac]) to (or towards [Jonathan]) the south (Montanus, Munster, Tigurinus, similarly Pagnine, Arabic), from the limit, or from, or on, the extremity, of the South, or southern (Munster, Tigurinus, Montanus, Vatablus, similarly Jonathan, Syriac), that is, from that side which looks toward the South, that is to say, that Tribe from the direction of the South had as a border Idumæa and the desert of Zin (Vatablus). Those expressions, southward, and on the extremity of the South, signify the same thing, that is, the utmost Southern borders are described. Wherefore in Numbers in the place of those two is only פֵּאַת נֶגֶב, the Southern coast[5] (Masius). The Arabic translates it, on the extremity of Teman.[6] Others thus: from the border of the Edomites, the wilderness of Zin southward was the Southern extremity on the West. They rightly add on the west; for Idumæa was toward the eastern corner. Some codices incorrectly had, from the border of Edom unto the desert of Zin. For Idumæa was bordering on the deser of Zin, as it is evident from Numbers 20, and from Numbers 34:3, which passage is quite serviceable in explaining this verse, and verses 2-4 following; for what are there established as the Southern borders of the whole Promised Land, the same in this place of the Tribe of Judah (Bonfrerius). This צִין/Zin, which was the thirty-third stopping place, from סִין/Sin, which was the eighth[7] (Drusius). The borders of the Tribe of Judah are very precisely described, as the chief of the tribes, where the Royal city was going to be, whence the Kings, lest one should do injury to the people by transgressing those boundaries (Grotius).

Edom lay south-east from Judah’s portion.

[1] Hebrew: וַיְהִ֣י הַגּוֹרָ֗ל לְמַטֵּ֛ה בְּנֵ֥י יְהוּדָ֖ה לְמִשְׁפְּחֹתָ֑ם אֶל־גְּב֙וּל אֱד֧וֹם מִדְבַּר־צִ֛ן נֶ֖גְבָּה מִקְצֵ֥ה תֵימָֽן׃

[2] 1 Chronicles 5:1, 2.

[3] 2 Timothy 3:16:  “All scripture is given by inspiration of God (πᾶσα γραφὴ θεόπνευστος), and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness…”

[4] In apposition with the border of Edom.

[5] For example, see Numbers 34:3:  “Then your south quarter (פְּאַת־נֶגֶב) shall be from the wilderness of Zin along by the coast of Edom, and your south border (גְּב֣וּל נֶ֔גֶב) shall be the outmost coast of the salt sea eastward…”

[6] Teman was an Edomite town in Arabia Petræa.

[7] See Numbers 33, especially verses 11, 12, and 36.

Joshua 15 Outline

The borders of the lot of Judah, 1-12. Among them Kirjath-arba, Caleb’s inheritance: he drives thence the three sons of Anak; promises to give his daughter in marriage to him who should smite Kirjath-sepher; which Othniel does, and obtains her: she requests of her father some land for a dowry; which he grants, 13-19. The cities of Judah, 20-62. The Jebusites could not be conquered by them, 63.