Joshua 18:21-28: Benjamin’s Cities

Verse 21:[1] Now the cities of the tribe of the children of Benjamin according to their families were Jericho, and Beth-hoglah, and the valley of Keziz…

[Jericho] But Jericho was overthrown, and not to be rebuilt. Response: Yet its place fell to the Tribe of Benjamin, which they were able to possess, or to cultivate, or to inhabit, provided it was not raised into a walled and enclosed city. Moreover, after it was rebuilt, with the punishment of the temerity once exacted, it was not destroyed; indeed, Christ Himself was received in it by Zacchæus[2] (Estius).

Jericho; for though the city was destroyed, the territory remained, and some houses probably were built and inhabited there, though it was not made a city with walls and gates, which was the only thing forbidden, Joshua 6:26.

[The Valley of Keziz, וְעֵ֥מֶק קְצִֽיץ׃[3]] Emec-keziz, or, the steep valley, or, the divided plain (Masius). The valley of incision, that is, in which incisions would be made, namely, of the balsam tree: which incisions were not made with iron, but with a sharp stone, or glass, as Josephus,[4] Pliny,[5] and Tacitus[6] testify (Bonfrerius).

Keziz, or, Emec-keziz, the proper name of a city or great town.


Verse 22:[7] And Beth-arabah, and Zemaraim, and Beth-el…

[Zemaraim, וּצְמָרַיִם] This city either gave, or owed, its name to that mountain, 2 Chronicles 13:4. The name appears to have been imposed upon it from its twin peaks[8] (Masius).

Zemaraim; which either gave name to, or took name from, that mountain, 2 Chronicles 13:4.


Verse 23:[9] And Avim, and Parah, and Ophrah…


Verse 24:[10] And Chephar-haammonai, and Ophni, and Gaba; twelve cities with their villages…


Verse 25:[11] Gibeon, and Ramah, and Beeroth…


Verse 26:[12] And Mizpeh, and Chephirah, and Mozah…

[And Mispe, וְהַמִּצְפֶּה] Maspha. It was not far from Ramah, on the same mountain of Silo. Why might it not be Silo itself, which might be called Mizpeh, that is, lookout,[13] because mount Silo was exceedingly lofty? There were also other Mizpehs on both sides of Jordan (Masius).

Mizpeh, near Ramah, in the same mountain where Silo was. There were divers other cities of that name.


Verse 27:[14] And Rekem, and Irpeel, and Taralah…


Verse 28:[15] And Zelah, Eleph, and (Josh. 15:8) Jebusi, which is Jerusalem, Gibeath, and Kirjath; fourteen cities with their villages. This is the inheritance of the children of Benjamin according to their families.

[And Jebusi, which is Jerusalem, הַיְבוּסִי] Of the Jebusites, understanding, the city, that is, which the Jebusites inhabit: which is called by another name, Jerusalem (Vatablus). In which tribe it was, see on Joshua 15:63 (Bonfrerius). The old city was in part of Benjamin, but an addition was made from part of Judah (Grotius). It belonged to both Tribes according to the various parts of it (Tirinus). The Northern part (with intermediate mount Moriah [Tirinus]) was in the tribe of Benjamin; but the Southern part (where mount Zion was [Tirinus]) had regard to the tribe of Judah (Menochius, Tirinus). Or, by exchange of another city, Jerusalem was left to the Tribe of Judah by the Benjamites (Tostatus in Menochius): or, the Benjamintes, since they were despairing that they would be able to wrest their portion from the Jebusites, yielded it to the Tribe of Judah, if it might obtain it by arms (Tirinus, Tostatus in Menochius). Whether it is to be said that Jerusalem indeed belonged to the lot of Benjamin, but afterwards, because the Tribe of Judah was greater, one part, sharing a border with the Tribe of Judah, fell to the same Tribe of Judah? It was fulfilled in such a way that a greater portion was given to more, a lesser to fewer (Estius). But, lest anyone should commodities of the tribes from catalogues of this sort, it is to be kept in mind that not all cities and all places are recorded in them, but only the more famous, and especially those that either were advantageous for showing the borders, or from some history were memorable, and those that the tribesmen were first beginning to inhabit. Wherefore it is not to be marveled at in this, that everywhere in the Sacred narratives the names of cities set in this or that tribe occur, of which there is no mention in those catalogues: for a great many were passed by; many also were built in after times (Masius, Malvenda); some were changed (Malvenda). The names of two cities that are not mentioned here occur below, Anathoth and Almon, Joshua 21:18. Either, therefore, not all the cities of Benjamin were expressed by name; or, the names of some were diverse (Bonfrerius, Menochius).

Which is Jerusalem: so it seems this city did properly and primarily belong to Benjamin, although the tribe of Judah had also an interest in it, either because some part of it was allotted to them, or because the Benjamites gave them a share in it, for the assistance which either they had received or did expect from that potent tribe, for the getting or defending of that very important place. See more on Joshua 15:63. It is more than probable that all the cities belonging to this tribe are not here named, because Anathoth and Almon are omitted here, but expressed Joshua 21:18.

[1] Hebrew: וְהָי֣וּ הֶֽעָרִ֗ים לְמַטֵּ֛ה בְּנֵ֥י בִנְיָמִ֖ן לְמִשְׁפְּחֽוֹתֵיהֶ֑ם יְרִיח֥וֹ וּבֵית־חָגְלָ֖ה וְעֵ֥מֶק קְצִֽיץ׃

[2] Luke 19:1-10.

[3] קָצַץ signifies to cut off.

[4] Antiquities 14:4:1.

[5] Natural History 12:54.

[6] Histories 5:6.

[7] Hebrew: וּבֵ֧ית הָֽעֲרָבָ֛ה וּצְמָרַ֖יִם וּבֵֽית־אֵֽל׃

[8] Note the dual ending (ַיִם).

[9] Hebrew: וְהָעַוִּ֥ים וְהַפָּרָ֖ה וְעָפְרָֽה׃

[10] Hebrew: וּכְפַ֧ר הָעַמֹּנִ֛י וְהָֽעָפְנִ֖י וָגָ֑בַע עָרִ֥ים שְׁתֵּים־עֶשְׂרֵ֖ה וְחַצְרֵיהֶֽן׃

[11] Hebrew: גִּבְע֥וֹן וְהָֽרָמָ֖ה וּבְאֵרֽוֹת׃

[12] Hebrew: וְהַמִּצְפֶּ֥ה וְהַכְּפִירָ֖ה וְהַמֹּצָֽה׃

[13] צָפָה signifies to look out.

[14] Hebrew: וְרֶ֥קֶם וְיִרְפְּאֵ֖ל וְתַרְאֲלָֽה׃

[15] Hebrew: וְצֵלַ֡ע הָאֶ֜לֶף וְהַיְבוּסִ֙י הִ֤יא יְרֽוּשָׁ֙לִַם֙ גִּבְעַ֣ת קִרְיַ֔ת עָרִ֥ים אַרְבַּֽע־עֶשְׂרֵ֖ה וְחַצְרֵיהֶ֑ן זֹ֛את נַֽחֲלַ֥ת בְּנֵֽי־בִנְיָמִ֖ן לְמִשְׁפְּחֹתָֽם׃

Joshua 18:18-20: Benjamin’s Southern Border, Part 2

Verse 18:[1] And passed along toward the side over against (Josh. 15:6) Arabah (or, the plain[2]) northward, and went down unto Arabah…

[And it passes along from the side of the North unto the plains] Masius thus translates it, and it was extended to the side adjacent to the desert from the North, that is, so that the wilderness might remain on the right hand [or, on the South] in the borders of Judah (Masius).

[And it descends into the plain, or, into the field (Munster, Tigurinus), וְיָרַ֖ד הָעֲרָבָֽתָה׃] But to others it is the name of a place: It descends into Arabah (Pagnine, Junius and Tremellius, Vatablus, Masius). This was hereafter called Beth-arabah, which was in a wilderness. See what things are on Joshua 15:6 (Masius).

Arabah, called Beth-arabah, Joshua 15:6.


Verse 19:[3] And the border passed along to the side of Beth-hoglah northward: and the outgoings of the border were at the north bay (Heb. tongue[4]) of the salt sea at the south end of Jordan: this was the south coast.

[And it passes by over against the North of Beth-hoglah, צָפוֹנָה] Northward (Masius out of the Chaldean). This is not to be taken in this way, that the line leaves Beth-hoglah toward the South, and so it is the Northern border of Beth-hoglah (Bonfrerius, Masius); for thus it would exclude it from that inheritance, although the following review shows that it is to be included[5] (Masius): but in this way, that the border leaves Beth-hoglah toward the North (Bonfrerius). It signifies that this tract does not extend directly toward the East, but turns somewhat toward the North. Or, I would grant it, if one should prefer that Beth-hoglah belongs to the Judahites, but that here it is reviewed as set on the border. For Beth-arabah, which also belonged to the Judahites, Joshua 15, is here reviewed also (Masius).

[Over against the tongue of the sea, etc.] Toward the extension of the salt sea, that is, toward the place in which that sea extends into the land (Vatablus).

At the north bay of the Salt Sea, where an arm of that sea runs into the land, which is opposed to the south bay that was in the south border of the tribe of Judah, Joshua 15:2. At the south end of Jordan, where it enters into the Salt Sea, which is here opposed to the north end of it, or the spring-head, which was in the north.


Verse 20:[6] And Jordan was the border of it on the east side. This was the inheritance of the children of Benjamin, by the coasts thereof round about, according to their families.

[1] Hebrew: וְעָבַ֛ר אֶל־כֶּ֥תֶף מוּל־הָֽעֲרָבָ֖ה צָפ֑וֹנָה וְיָרַ֖ד הָעֲרָבָֽתָה׃

[2] Hebrew: הָעֲרָבָה.

[3] Hebrew: וְעָבַ֙ר הַגְּב֜וּל אֶל־כֶּ֣תֶף בֵּית־חָגְלָה֮ צָפוֹנָה֒ וְהָיָ֣ה ׀ תֹּצְא֣וֹתָיו הַגְּב֗וּל אֶל־לְשׁ֤וֹן יָם־הַמֶּ֙לַח֙ צָפ֔וֹנָה אֶל־קְצֵ֥ה הַיַּרְדֵּ֖ן נֶ֑גְבָּה זֶ֖ה גְּב֥וּל נֶֽגֶב׃

[4] Hebrew: לְשׁוֹן.

[5] See verse 21.

[6] Hebrew: וְהַיַּרְדֵּ֥ן יִגְבֹּל־אֹת֖וֹ לִפְאַת־קֵ֑דְמָה זֹ֡את נַחֲלַת֩ בְּנֵ֙י בִנְיָמִ֧ן לִגְבֽוּלֹתֶ֛יהָ סָבִ֖יב לְמִשְׁפְּחֹתָֽם׃

Joshua 18:15-17: Benjamin’s Southern Border, Part 1

Verse 15:[1] And the south quarter was from the end of Kirjath-jearim, and the border went out on the west, and went out to (Josh. 15:9) the well of waters of Nephtoah…

[Now, on the south, etc.] The Southern border of Benjamin is here described, which is the same as the Northern border of Judah, but in the contrary order: For there from the East, or from the Dead Sea, unto the West, or unto Kirjath-jearim, we were proceeding; here, contrariwise, from East, or Kirjath-jearim, unto the East, or unto the Dead Sea, we return (Masius, Bonfrerius). And so where we made use of the language of ascending in that place, here we make use of the language of descending (Masius). See what things are on Joshua 15 (Masius).

The south quarter; the same with the north quarter of Judah. See Joshua 15:5, 6, 11.

[The border went out over against the sea, יָמָּה] [They render it variously:] Toward the sea (Jonathan, Syriac, Rabbi Salomon in Masius, Pagnine, Montanus); to (or toward [Arabic]) the west (Munster, Tigurinus). Others: from the western border (Junius and Tremellius); from the sea (Masius); יָמָּה, toward the sea, in the place of מִיָּם, from the sea (Drusius). The letter ה not rarely signifies motion from a place, when it is inherent in the definitions of the terms: But that from the sea is what we call from the west (Masius).


Verse 16:[2] And the border came down to the end of the mountain that lieth before (Josh. 15:8) the valley of the son of Hinnom, and which is in the valley of the giants on the north, and descended to the valley of Hinnom, to the side of Jebusi on the south, and descended to (Josh. 15:7) En-rogel…

[And it descended into part of the mountain, קְצֵ֣ה הָהָ֗ר] Unto the extremity of the mountain (Junius and Tremellius, Masius). In the borders of the Judahites that was called the top, or apex, of the mountain. I think that that part of the mountain is signified by which it was looming over the valley of Hinnom on the West (Masius, similarly Bonfrerius). Compare Joshua 15:8. This appears to have been mount Moriah, the western side of which by a long course arrives at the extreme part of the valley of Rephaim (Bonfrerius). I think that it is likely to be the mountain of offense mentioned in 1 Kings 11:7, under which was lying the valley of Hinnom (Masius).

To the end of the mountain, that is, the place where the mountain ends, and the valley begins. Before the valley of the son of Hinnom, that is, in the prospect of that valley; or, that reacheth to that valley on the south. In the valley of the giants on the north; which extends to this other valley on the north side of it.

[Near the side of Jebusite toward the South] This depends on the words, it came down; the line descending from the mount left the Jebusite toward the South (Bonfrerius). Of the Jebusite, etc., that is, toward the Southern side of the Jebusites dwelling in Jerusalem. Some say that Jerusalem was in two tribes, Judah and Benjamin, but the greatest part was in Benjamin (Vatablus). Concerning that controversy, see what thins are on Joshua 15:63. Those Tribes certainly appear to have been conjoined in such a close bond of friendship with each other that they might be esteemed as one. See 1 Kings 11:13, 32; 12:20. Nevertheless, perhaps mount Zion (where the palace was) and Moriah (where the Temple was) belonged to Judah: For those mountains were South of the city (Masius).

To the side of Jebusi; to that part where the Jebusites lived, which was in and near Jerusalem.


Verse 17:[3] And was drawn 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 (Josh. 15:6) the stone of Bohan the son of Reuben…

[Passing toward the North, וְתָאַ֣ר מִצָּפ֗וֹן[4]] And it draws (understanding, from there) a curving line from the North, that is to say, with the North left behind (Vatablus). It bent back (it skirted [Pagnine]; but extending [Munster]) from the North (Tigurinus, Munster, Pagnine). But these incorrectly explain it, as it were bent back from the North toward the South. Who, I ask, would understand, to be traced from the North, to be the same as, to be traced with a curve toward the South? Therefore, understand it in this way, that extending from the West to the East it is bent back in some measure Northward (Bonfrerius). [Thus Jonathan, it looks toward the North; and the Arabic, the border extended itself toward the North; and the Syriac, it looks out upon the North.]

Geliloth, called also Gilgal, as appears from Joshua 15:7; Judges 3:19; but differing from that Gilgal by Jordan.

[1] Hebrew: וּפְאַת־נֶ֕גְבָּה מִקְצֵ֖ה קִרְיַ֣ת יְעָרִ֑ים וְיָצָ֤א הַגְּבוּל֙ יָ֔מָּה וְיָצָ֕א אֶל־מַעְיַ֖ן מֵ֥י נֶפְתּֽוֹחַ׃

[2] Hebrew: וְיָרַ֙ד הַגְּב֜וּל אֶל־קְצֵ֣ה הָהָ֗ר אֲשֶׁר֙ עַל־פְּנֵי֙ גֵּ֣י בֶן־הִנֹּ֔ם אֲשֶׁ֛ר בְּעֵ֥מֶק רְפָאִ֖ים צָפ֑וֹנָה וְיָרַד֩ גֵּ֙י הִנֹּ֜ם אֶל־כֶּ֤תֶף הַיְבוּסִי֙ נֶ֔גְבָּה וְיָרַ֖ד עֵ֥ין רֹגֵֽל׃

[3] Hebrew: וְתָאַ֣ר מִצָּפ֗וֹן וְיָצָא֙ עֵ֣ין שֶׁ֔מֶשׁ וְיָצָא֙ אֶל־גְּלִיל֔וֹת אֲשֶׁר־נֹ֖כַח מַעֲלֵ֣ה אֲדֻמִּ֑ים וְיָרַ֕ד אֶ֥בֶן בֹּ֖הַן בֶּן־רְאוּבֵֽן׃

[4] תָּאַר can signify to incline, or to trace out.

Joshua 18:12-14: Benjamin’s Northern and Western Border

Verse 12:[1] (see Josh. 16:1) And their border on the north side was from Jordan; and the border went up to the side of Jericho on the north side, and went up through the mountains westward; and the goings out thereof were at the wilderness of Beth-aven.

[And their border over against the North was] The Northern limits are first described from the East toward the West, which are nearly the saem with the Southern limits of the Josephites (Masius, Bonfrerius).

[From Jordan] From almost that part where the Israelites had crossed over (Masius).

[Hard by the side of Jericho’s northern quarter] That is, proceeding toward the side of Jericho that is Northward to it. This was altogether necessary, since he included Jericho within his own borders[2] (Bonfrerius).

[Ascending toward the mountains] Namely, the mountains North of Jericho; for it was surrounded on all sides by mountains (Bonfrerius). The mountain in which Beth-el was (Masius).

[Over against the west, יָמָּה] Toward, or unto, the sea, or West. [Thus all interpreters.] Now, these borders are not extended all the way to the sea, as Josephus asserted, Antiquities 5:3 (Serarius, Menochius, Bonfrerius, Masius on verse 14), but unto Ataroth-adar (Serarius, Menochius). Therefore, this border had to be sloping over against, or toward the side of, the western sea, and to trace out a line almost parallel to the sea (Bonfrerius).

[To the wilderness of Beth-aven] Therefore, Beth-aven is the name of a desert (Drusius). Nevertheless, others maintain that it was the name of a small town (Kimchi in Masius). It appears to have been the name of a city, which gave its name to the wilderness. There are those that confound Beth-el with Beth-aven. [Masius appears to do this.] And it is certain that they were near to each other, since this wilderness of Beth-aven, Joshua 16:1, is called the wilderness ascending to Beth-el. Nevertheless, I think that they were distinct (Bonfrerius). But here the borders stop, and they do not run any further toward the North, but they return unto the south (Masius).

Beth-aven: A place distinct from, but near unto Beth-el, as may be gathered from Joshua 16:1.


Verse 13:[3] And the border went over from thence toward Luz, to the side of Luz, (Gen. 28:19; Judg. 1:23) which is Beth-el, southward; and the border descended to Ataroth-adar, near the hill that lieth on the south side (Josh. 16:3) of the nether Beth-horon.

[The same is Beth-el] Beth-el is twofold; one in Benjamin, the other in Ephraim (which is Luz [Hebrews in Masius, Vatablus]). But those devises are not at all necessary (Masius). For there was only on Beth-el. See on Genesis 28:19 (Bonfrerius).

[And it descended to Ataroth-adar] For it is brought down toward the South. For, as the Norther tract is higher, so the Southern is thought to be lower (Drusius out of Masius).


Verse 14:[4] And the border was drawn thence, and compassed the corner of the sea southward, from the hill that lieth before Beth-horon southward; and the goings out thereof were at (see Josh. 15:9) Kirjath-baal, which is Kirjath-jearim, a city of the children of Judah: this was the west quarter.

[And it is bent, skirting, וְתָאַ֣ר הַגְּבוּל֩[5]] And is traced out (and looks toward [Jonathan], then extends [Syriac, Munster, Tigurinus], thence resuming [Arabic]) the border (Pagnine, Montanus). And the traced out border was drawn around (Masius). Whence that defining/limiting border (Junius and Tremellius). And it draws a circular (or oblique) line: that is, by drawing a circular line, it directs and turns itself along the western corner toward the south, etc. That is the South-western corner: on the other hand, the prior one was the North-western. Some translate it, and it skirts. The same word that is found in Joshua 15:9.[6] He describes the western side of the width (Vatablus).

[The corner of the sea unto the South, נֶגְבָּה] In this place they translate it, on the South-west (Septuagint), on the south (Syriac); rather, toward (or, unto [Jonathan, Montanus, Munster, Pagnine, Tigurinus]) the south (Masius, Junius and Tremellius).

[That looks toward Beth-horon over against the South-west, נֶגְבָּה] Here they translate it, to (or toward [Jonathan]) the south (Syriac, Munster, Pagnine, Montanus, Tigurinus, Junius and Tremellius). Rother, on the south: For מִנֶּגֶב, on the south side, is used in the place of this in verse 13[7] (Masius).

Kirjath-jearim; the Israelites changed the name, to blot out the remembrance of Baal. Compare Joshua 15:9; Numbers 32:38.

[1] Hebrew: וַיְהִ֙י לָהֶ֧ם הַגְּב֛וּל לִפְאַ֥ת צָפ֖וֹנָה מִן־הַיַּרְדֵּ֑ן וְעָלָ֣ה הַגְּבוּל֩ אֶל־כֶּ֙תֶף יְרִיח֜וֹ מִצָּפ֗וֹן וְעָלָ֤ה בָהָר֙ יָ֔מָּה וְהָיָ֙ה תֹּֽצְאֹתָ֔יו מִדְבַּ֖רָה בֵּ֥ית אָֽוֶן׃

[2] See verse 21.

[3] Hebrew: וְעָבַר֩ מִשָּׁ֙ם הַגְּב֜וּל ל֗וּזָה אֶל־כֶּ֤תֶף ל֙וּזָה֙ נֶ֔גְבָּה הִ֖יא בֵּֽית־אֵ֑ל וְיָרַ֤ד הַגְּבוּל֙ עַטְר֣וֹת אַדָּ֔ר עַל־הָהָ֕ר אֲשֶׁ֛ר מִנֶּ֥גֶב לְבֵית־חֹר֖וֹן תַּחְתּֽוֹן׃

[4] Hebrew: וְתָאַ֣ר הַגְּבוּל֩ וְנָסַ֙ב לִפְאַת־יָ֜ם נֶ֗גְבָּה מִן־הָהָר֙ אֲשֶׁ֙ר עַל־פְּנֵ֥י בֵית־חֹרוֹן֮ נֶגְבָּה֒ וְהָיָ֣ה תֹֽצְאֹתָ֗יו אֶל־קִרְיַת־בַּ֙עַל֙ הִ֚יא קִרְיַ֣ת יְעָרִ֔ים עִ֖יר בְּנֵ֣י יְהוּדָ֑ה זֹ֖את פְּאַת־יָֽם׃

[5] תָּאַר can signify to incline, or to trace out.

[6] Joshua 15:9:  “And the border was drawn (וְתָאַ֙ר הַגְּב֜וּל) from the top of the hill unto the fountain of the water of Nephtoah, and went out to the cities of mount Ephron; and the border was drawn (וְתָאַ֤ר הַגְּבוּל֙) to Baalah, which is Kirjath-jearim…”

[7] Joshua 18:13:  “And the border went over from thence toward Luz, to the side of Luz, which is Beth-el, southward; and the border descended to Ataroth-adar, near the hill that lieth on the south side (מִנֶּגֶב) of the nether Beth-horon.”

Joshua 18:11: Benjamin’s Lot

Verse 11:[1] And the lot of the tribe of the children of Benjamin came up according to their families: and the coast of their lot came forth between the children of Judah and the children of Joseph.

[And came up the lot] וַיַּעַל here is able to be either from the Qal form, and it came up, that is, it was drawn up, or extracted; or from the Hiphil, and he, namely, Joshua, caused to ascend, or drew out (Malvenda). The lot is said to come up from Jordan, as from a lower place, toward Jerusalem, which was in a higher place (Lyra). But a ὑπαλλαγῇ/hypallage[2] is not at all necessary. For a lot comes up, when it is drawn out of the urn; and borders go forth from the same pot together with the lot, for this designate what those are (Masius). Now, this lot of Benjamin was exceedingly narrow with respect to space, but was chief with respect to goodness, as Josephus testifies, Antiquities 5:1 (Bonfrerius, Masius).

[Between the children of Judah and the children of Joseph] The Divine providence is here to be observed, whereby they are placed nearest both to the Josephites, with whom they were conjoined in the closest bond of family,[3] and to the Judahites, with whom they were going to be in the future associates in protecting the sacred things of their ancestors against the defection of the other tribes. This lot is most exactly adapted to the prediction of Moses, Deuteronomy 33:12 (Masius).

Between the children of Judah and the children of Joseph: Wherein we see the wisdom of Divine Providence, this being the only place in which that prophecy, Deuteronomy 33:12, could have been accomplished.

[1] Hebrew: וַיַּ֗עַל גּוֹרַ֛ל מַטֵּ֥ה בְנֵֽי־בִנְיָמִ֖ן לְמִשְׁפְּחֹתָ֑ם וַיֵּצֵא֙ גְּב֣וּל גּֽוֹרָלָ֔ם בֵּ֚ין בְּנֵ֣י יְהוּדָ֔ה וּבֵ֖ין בְּנֵ֥י יוֹסֵֽף׃

[2] That is, a reversal of an expected syntactical relationship between two words.

[3] Joseph and Benjamin were the two sons of Jacob’s beloved wife, Rachel.  See Genesis 30:22-24; 35:16-19.

Joshua 18:7-10: New Survey for the Seven Tribes, Part 5

Verse 7:[1] (Josh. 13:33) But the Levites have no part among you; for the priesthood of the LORD is their inheritance: (Josh. 13:8) and Gad, and Reuben, and half the tribe of Manasseh, have received their inheritance beyond Jordan on the east, which Moses the servant of the LORD gave them.

[Because not among you is the part of the Levites] These things contain the reason why He commanded only seven parts to be made (Masius, Bonfrerius, Menochius).

[But the priesthood] Here priesthood is taken by metonymy for the sacerdotal proceeds (Bonfrerius out of Masius). In the place of an inheritance they shall have what things the priests ought to receive according to the precept of the Lord (Vatablus); sacrificial victims, tithes, etc. (Masius). What things are owed to the priesthood of God (Arabic, similarly Jonathan).


Verse 8:[2] And the men arose, and went away: and Joshua charged them that went to describe the land, saying, Go and walk through the land, and describe it, and come again to me, that I may here cast lots for you before the LORD in Shiloh.

[And when the men had arisen, etc.] They eagerly undertake this most difficult and dangerous duty; indeed, God was rendering them secure, since the disposition of a multitude of souls was depending upon their enthusiasm. Nevertheless, God sometimes also allowed others to waver and to crash, like Moses in Exodus 4, Jonah in Jonah 1, so that, the more infirm the instruments are, through which He performed marvelous things, the more illustrious the mercy of God toward men most wretched might be (Masius).

The Levites have no part among you; therefore it shall be divided only into seven parts, as I have said.


Verse 9:[3] And the men went and passed through the land, and described it by cities into seven parts in a book, and came again to Joshua to the host at Shiloh.

[Into seven parts they divided it] In Hebrew it is added, by cities;[4] that is to say, with the cities also inserted and inscribed, which is altogether necessary for a complete geography (Bonfrerius). It appears from this that the goodness of the land, not size, was assessed. For in a more fertile region the societies of men are more numerous (Masius).

By cities, or, according to the cities, to which the several parts or territories belonged.

[Writing in a scroll, עַל־סֵפֶר] In a book (Pagnine); in tables (Vatablus). The surveyors were occupied for seven months in the description of the land, says Josephus, Antiquities 5:3 (Masius).


Verse 10:[5] And Joshua cast lots for them in Shiloh before the LORD: and there Joshua divided the land unto the children of Israel according to their divisions.

[1] Hebrew: כִּ֠י אֵֽין־חֵ֤לֶק לַלְוִיִּם֙ בְּקִרְבְּכֶ֔ם כִּֽי־כְהֻנַּ֥ת יְהוָ֖ה נַחֲלָת֑וֹ וְגָ֡ד וּרְאוּבֵ֡ן וַחֲצִי֩ שֵׁ֙בֶט הַֽמְנַשֶּׁ֜ה לָקְח֣וּ נַחֲלָתָ֗ם מֵעֵ֤בֶר לַיַּרְדֵּן֙ מִזְרָ֔חָה אֲשֶׁר֙ נָתַ֣ן לָהֶ֔ם מֹשֶׁ֖ה עֶ֥בֶד יְהוָֽה׃

[2] Hebrew: וַיָּקֻ֥מוּ הָאֲנָשִׁ֖ים וַיֵּלֵ֑כוּ וַיְצַ֣ו יְהוֹשֻׁ֡עַ אֶת־הַהֹלְכִים֩ לִכְתֹּ֙ב אֶת־הָאָ֜רֶץ לֵאמֹ֗ר לְ֠כוּ וְהִתְהַלְּכ֙וּ בָאָ֜רֶץ וְכִתְב֤וּ אוֹתָהּ֙ וְשׁ֣וּבוּ אֵלַ֔י וּ֠פֹה אַשְׁלִ֙יךְ לָכֶ֥ם גּוֹרָ֛ל לִפְנֵ֥י יְהוָ֖ה בְּשִׁלֹֽה׃

[3] Hebrew: וַיֵּלְכ֤וּ הָֽאֲנָשִׁים֙ וַיַּעַבְר֣וּ בָאָ֔רֶץ וַיִּכְתְּב֧וּהָ לֶֽעָרִ֛ים לְשִׁבְעָ֥ה חֲלָקִ֖ים עַל־סֵ֑פֶר וַיָּבֹ֧אוּ אֶל־יְהוֹשֻׁ֛עַ אֶל־הַֽמַּחֲנֶ֖ה שִׁלֹֽה׃

[4] Hebrew: לֶעָרִים.

[5] Hebrew: וַיַּשְׁלֵךְ֩ לָהֶ֙ם יְהוֹשֻׁ֧עַ גּוֹרָ֛ל בְּשִׁלֹ֖ה לִפְנֵ֣י יְהוָ֑ה וַיְחַלֶּק־שָׁ֙ם יְהוֹשֻׁ֧עַ אֶת־הָאָ֛רֶץ לִבְנֵ֥י יִשְׂרָאֵ֖ל כְּמַחְלְקֹתָֽם׃

Joshua 18:6: New Survey for the Seven Tribes, Part 4

Verse 6:[1] Ye shall therefore describe the land into seven parts, and bring the description hither to me, (Josh. 14:2; 18:10) that I may cast lots for you here before the LORD our God.

[The land in the midst between these[2]] But the land here to be divided was not in the midst of the Josephites and Judahites (Menochius out of Serarius, Serarius). [Therefore, Lapide, Bonfrerius, Serarius, and Menochius acknowledge an error in the Vulgate here, as far as they dare.] In a Latin text it was written, aliam/another, not mediam, in the midst of (Vatablus).

[And ye shall come hither to me, וַֽהֲבֵאתֶ֥ם אֵלַ֖י] And bring to me, understanding, the description (Vatablus).

[Before the Lord] That is, the Ark (Masius, Bonfrerius). There the lots were to be cast; 1. so that they might be directed by God as present: 2. so that that distribution of lots might be held as sacrosanct, and to be violated in no way (Bonfrerius): 3. otherwise they would never have lived content with their lots, being men of the stiffest neck (Masius).

[I shall cast the lot for you here] That is, with lots cast, I shall assign to each an inheritance before the Lord, by whom lots are controlled (Vatablus). He here addresses that assembly, for the surveyors were not yet chosen (Masius). The people are commanded to divide the land into seven parts, not of themselves, but through the selection of land-surveyors by them (Bonfrerius). [Others otherwise:] I shall cast the lot for you here, that is, for your tribes, as in verses 8 and 10. He addresses those to be sent out, as if he were addressing the Tribes that were sending them: It is a Syllepsis[3] (Malvenda).

Here before the LORD our God: that is, Before the ark or tabernacle, that God may be witness, and judge, and author of the division, that each may be contented with his lot, and that your several possessions may be secured to you as things sacred, and not to be alienated.

[1] Hebrew: וְאַתֶּ֞ם תִּכְתְּב֤וּ אֶת־הָאָ֙רֶץ֙ שִׁבְעָ֣ה חֲלָקִ֔ים וַֽהֲבֵאתֶ֥ם אֵלַ֖י הֵ֑נָּה וְיָרִ֙יתִי לָכֶ֤ם גּוֹרָל֙ פֹּ֔ה לִפְנֵ֖י יְהוָ֥ה אֱלֹהֵֽינוּ׃

[2] Thus the Vulgate.

[3] That is, a single word that must be taken in two different senses in relation to two other parts of the sentence.

Joshua 18:4, 5: New Survey for the Seven Tribes, Part 3

Verse 4:[1] Give out from among you three men for each tribe: and I will send them, and they shall rise, and go through the land, and describe it according to the inheritance of them; and they shall come again to me.

[Choose ye three of each of the individual tribes] Question: Whether of the seven tribes only? or also of Judah, Ephraim, and Manasseh? Response: The matter is doubtful. But they appear to have been selected from these also; for it was of concern to them as well, so that they, if anything was to be taken from their own portions, as was done, might not be able to have grounds for complaining that the matter was carried through unjustly (Bonfrerius). Moreover, all things are yet done among them with a shared and fraternal spirit (Masius). Three men, etc., he sends, because of the difficulty of valuation. For the portion were to be equal, not with respect to space, but with respect to the goodness of the land. But you will say, If the parts were equal, why does God prescribe that a more spacious inheritance be given to the Tribe of greater number, and a narrower to the Tribe of lesser number, Numbers 33:54? They respond that those commandments have regard, not to the primary casting of lots, namely, of the tribes, but of the secondary, namely of the families, to which then the Officers were giving to the individual families their own portions. Others maintain that equal portions were made by the surveyors, which nevertheless the twelve men were able both to extend and to contract. But to me it appears that the equality of the patrimonies is able to be established with good reason. For, according to the present number fellow tribesmen it appears inadequately equal to make one tribe richer in lands than another; when the matter itself showed within a few years some were greatly increased, others diminished. But you will say that the same was able to happen to the families. But it was lawful for the families to alienate their possessions among themselves, but it was not lawful for the tribes. But I leave this obscure matter open. But I shall say this, that Canaan was sufficiently spacious for them all; and that no enlargement of the portions was necessary, even if all were equal, if only those fellow tribesmen would not desert them through laziness. Moreover, if the entire nation had increased, God Himself would have given more spacious borders, into which they would have been able to send colonies, all the way to Euphrates: concerning which see what things are on Joshua 1:4. If you would oppose the Simeonites to me, 1 Chronicles 4:38, I would say that they did not go out of their borders, but they advanced within them. Question: But how were these surveyors safe, while they were walking throughout those regions, the greatest part of which were even at that time held by their adversaries, and were examining all things thoroughly? Response: This came to pass from a certain hidden and Divine terror sent upon the Canaanites, and a heavenly confidence instilled in the souls of the Israelites, so that through this ἄδειαν, freedom from fear, and security of those few surveyors the Tribes might be animated to accept their inheritance. Moreover, the Canaanites were affected with such a loathing of war, that they subordinate all things to their quiet (Masius).

Three men; three, not one, for more exact observation both of the measure and quality of the several portions, and for greater assurance and evidence of their care and faithfulness in giving in their account. Of each tribe; either one of each of these tribes, who were yet unprovided for; or rather, two of all the tribes, even of them who had already received their portions; which was highly expedient, that in case it should appear that there was not a sufficiency for each of these tribes who wanted their portions, their brethren might be more ready either to assist them in procuring more land, or to part with some of their own portion to them. Go through the land; which they might now safely do, because the terror of the late war was yet upon the Canaanites, who were loth to rouse so near and potent an enemy.

[And let them describe it according to the number of each multitude, לְפִ֥י נַֽחֲלָתָ֖ם] Verbatim: to the mouth of their inheritance (Montanus); according to their inheritance, or possession (Syriac, Munster, Pagnine, Tigurinus, Junius and Tremellius, Vatablus), that is, according to the reckoning of the inheritance which they are obliged to undertake (Vatablus). Into as many parts as their inheritance is to be divided (Tigurinus Notes); as your inheritance requires (Arabic); just as it will be proper to divide it (Septuagint). According to their inheritance: I think that it is the same thing as what is next said, into seven parts (Masius). According to the possession of their tribes, which is going to come to them; or, as many parts as are the remaining Tribes (Malvenda, Bonfrerius). Rabbi Salomon thus explains it, that those seven portions ought to be, not equal, but greater or lesser according to the multitude or fewness of each Tribe. But this is foolish. How were the surveyors able thus to do, since the whole outcome was depending upon the casting of the lot (Masius)? [Nevertheless, others thus take it:] that the individual Tribes might receive an equitable inheritance according to the reckoning of their multitude (Menochius, Lapide). Thus he explains himself in the following verse (Lapide).


Verse 5:[2] And they shall divide it into seven parts: (Josh. 15:1) Judah shall abide in their coast on the south, and (Josh. 16:1, 4) the house of Joseph shall abide in their coasts on the north.

[Divide for yourselves the land, etc., וְהִֽתְחַלְּק֥וּ אֹתָ֖הּ לְשִׁבְעָ֣ה חֲלָקִ֑ים] Verbatim: And they shall be divided themselves into it according to seven parts (Vatablus).

Seven parts; which were of equal extent or worth; for no tribe was so great but one of these parts in its full extent would abundantly suffice them; and there was no reason why the portions should be greater or less according as the tribes at present were more or fewer in number, because of the various changes which happened therein successively; it being usual for one tribe to be more numerous than another in one age, which was fewer in the next. And if the several tribes had increased more, and not diminished their numbers by their sins, they might have sent forth colonies, and taken any part of the land, even as far as Euphrates, all which the Lord of the whole earth had given them a right to, which when they pleased they might take possession of.

[Let Judah be in his borders, עַל־גְּבוּלוֹ] In his province. Verbatim: according to his border (Vatablus). Judah shall retain his lot, etc. Understand, unless a particular portion is either to be removed or to be added (Bonfrerius). They did not, therefore, unjustly cut off seven parts from the inheritance of the Judahites (Masius).

Shall abide in their coast on the south: they shall not be disturbed in their possession, but shall keep it, except some part of it shall be adjudged to another tribe.

[And the house of Joseph on the North] Not with respect to the entire Promised Land, but only of the Tribe of Judah (Menochius). In the more Northerly part (Menochius). The twelve men cause to be confirmed the casting of lots performed at Gilgal, but in such a way that those Tribes remain in their lots; not that, however, their portions might be unbroken and entire: For otherwise the Josephites would have dwelt all the way to Libanus (Masius).

On the north; in respect of Judah, not of the whole land; for divers other tribes were more northern than they.

[1] Hebrew: הָב֥וּ לָכֶ֛ם שְׁלֹשָׁ֥ה אֲנָשִׁ֖ים לַשָּׁ֑בֶט וְאֶשְׁלָחֵ֗ם וְיָקֻ֜מוּ וְיִֽתְהַלְּכ֥וּ בָאָ֛רֶץ וְיִכְתְּב֥וּ אוֹתָ֛הּ לְפִ֥י נַֽחֲלָתָ֖ם וְיָבֹ֥אוּ אֵלָֽי׃

[2] Hebrew: וְהִֽתְחַלְּק֥וּ אֹתָ֖הּ לְשִׁבְעָ֣ה חֲלָקִ֑ים יְהוּדָ֞ה יַעֲמֹ֤ד עַל־גְּבוּלוֹ֙ מִנֶּ֔גֶב וּבֵ֥ית יוֹסֵ֛ף יַעַמְד֥וּ עַל־גְּבוּלָ֖ם מִצָּפֽוֹן׃

Joshua 18:3: New Survey for the Seven Tribes, Part 2

Verse 3:[1] And Joshua said unto the children of Israel, (Judg. 18:9) How long are ye slack to go to possess the land, which the LORD God of your fathers hath given you?

[How long will ye be weak with lethargy, מִתְרַפִּים[2]] The Hithpael Conjugation either intensifies the signification, and denotes a great and shameful idleness (Malvenda); or, signifies that the cause of the idleness was to be found in themselves (Masius). Are ye slow, remiss, negligent (Vatablus); will ye act remissly (Junius and Tremellius). Are ye of a remiss spirit, and are not entering to possess the land (Vatablus)?

How long are ye slack, etc.: This slackness is supposed to arise, partly, from their dissatisfaction in the portions already allotted, Judah’s being too large, as it appeared, and Joseph’s too narrow as they complained; partly, from an opinion of the impossibility of making any regular and equal distribution of the parts, till the whole were better known, and more exactly surveyed, which accordingly is here done; and partly, because being weary of war, and having sufficient plenty of all things in their present condition, they grew slothful and secure, and were unwilling to run into new hazards and wars, as they perceived, by Joshua’s answer to the tribe of Joseph, Joshua 17:15, etc., they were likely to do when they entered upon their several possessions.

[1] Hebrew: וַיֹּ֥אמֶר יְהוֹשֻׁ֖עַ אֶל־בְּנֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵ֑ל עַד־אָ֙נָה֙ אַתֶּ֣ם מִתְרַפִּ֔ים לָבוֹא֙ לָרֶ֣שֶׁת אֶת־הָאָ֔רֶץ אֲשֶׁר֙ נָתַ֣ן לָכֶ֔ם יְהוָ֖ה אֱלֹהֵ֥י אֲבֽוֹתֵיכֶֽם׃

[2] רָפָה signifies to relax.

Joshua 18:2: New Survey for the Seven Tribes, Part 1

Verse 2:[1] And there remained among the children of Israel seven tribes, which had not yet received their inheritance.

[Which had not yet received their possessions, אֲשֶׁ֥ר לֹֽא־חָלְק֖וּ אֶת־נַֽחֲלָתָ֑ם] Who which they did not distribute, or, divide, the inheritance (Malvenda, Pagnine, Tigurinus, Dutch, Calvin). Others thus: which had not yet received, or, which had not yet obtained by lot, their inheritance (English, Castalio, similarly the Septuagint, Jerome, Munster), which is closer to the Hebrew. Just as among the Latins participare primarily denotes to make a partaker, or to give a part; then, to be made a partaker, or, to receive a part: the same also obtains in the use of חָלַק (Boot’s[2] Sacred Animadversions[3] 4:12:16). Moreover, because the Commander-in-Chief criticizes the idleness of the people in taking possession of their inheritance, not in demanding the casting of lots, it appears that what I was saying is altogether true, that fear of new dangers and the conveniences of the present habitation turned the hearts of all from the desire fror their own possessions (Masius). Question: Why was the tribes’ casting of lots delayed after they had once began at Gilgal? Response: The Israelites, especially those Tribes that had not yet received possessions, appear to have asked for a postponement, until the Surveyors might be sent out, who would measure out the land with greater precision (Bonfrerius). A suspicion was rising that the first measurement was not made with sufficient fairness (Lapide, Bonfrerius). That sending out of new Surveyors implies this. Now, that Surveyors had been sent out before the casting of lots at Gilgal, although the Scripture does not express it, is not able to be doubted. For, 1. Josephus records that this was done.[4] 2. Scripture does relate that before the casting of lots at Shiloh Surveyors were sent. 3. In no other way were they able to fulfill that precept of God in Numbers 26:54. 4. It is not likely that prudent men undertook this division in a blind manner, without first doing what things were necessary for the distribution. Moreover, that the former surveyors did not rightly discharge their office, these things confirm, that, after the accurate measurement of the land was made, a part was obliged to be cut away from the possessions of the Tribe of Judah, and was given both to the Simeonites and the Danites (Bonfrerius).

[1] Hebrew: וַיִּוָּֽתְרוּ֙ בִּבְנֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵ֔ל אֲשֶׁ֥ר לֹֽא־חָלְק֖וּ אֶת־נַֽחֲלָתָ֑ם שִׁבְעָ֖ה שְׁבָטִֽים׃

[2] Arnold Boot (1606-1653) was a Dutch physician, who excelled, not only in the practice of medicine, but also in the study of Oriental languages.  He defended the integrity of the Hebrew text and vowel points against Louis Cappel.

[3] Animadversiones Sacræ ad Textum Hebraicum Veteris Testamenti.

[4] Antiquities 5:1.