Joshua 14:15: Caleb’s Inheritance, Part 9

Verse 15:[1] And (Gen. 23:2; Josh. 15:13) the name of Hebron before was Kirjath-arba; which Arba was a great man among the Anakims. (Josh. 11:23) And the land had rest from war.

[The name of Hebron formerly was Kirjath-arba] That is, the City of Arba. Arba, or Arbe, is the name of a man (Masius, Drusius, Junius, Lapide, Bonfrerius). Concerning this name see what things are said on Genesis 23:2 and Joshua 15:13 (Grotius). They maintain that it was called Hebron after Hebron, Caleb’s son, 1 Chronicles 2:42, for he is called the father of Hebron. But this argument does not appear to be sufficiently firm: For Machir is also called the father of Gilead, 1 Chronicles 2:21, not because he imposed his name on the region of Gilead, but because he governed there. Nevertheless, since Kirjath-arba was its ancient name, it is a good conjecture that this other name of Hebron was more recent (Masius).

[Adam, the greatest, etc., הָאָדָ֧ם הַגָּד֛וֹל בָּעֲנָקִ֖ים ה֑וּא] He was a great man among the Anakim (Montanus, Pagnine). He is called great, either with respect to stature, or with respect to authority (Drusius out of Masius). Or he is surely called הַגָּדוֹל, ὁ μέγας, the great, because he ruled them. Thus גְּדוֹלִים, magnates (Drusius). Note the expression, great among the giants, that is, the greatest of the giants (Drusius, Glassius): For by the adjective governing the ablative with the preposition ב/in/among, the superlative degree is often wont to be described by circumlocution (Glassius’ “Grammar” 57). Thus, beautiful among women is in the place of the most beautiful;[2] small among the nations in the place of the smallest;[3] blessed among women in the place of the most blessed of women[4] (Drusius). They translate it, therefore, he was the greatest of the giants (Vatablus, similarly Junius and Tremellius), that is, the most illustrious (Vatablus). He is called the greatest, with respect to the immensity of his body, his authority, the glory of his achievements, and his dignity, inasmuch as he was the father, indeed, the patriarch, of the Anakim (Lapide). Arbe was the father of Anak, from whom were the Anakim, as it is evident from Joshua 15:13 (Menochius). But, that he is called the father of Anak, is able to be taken equally of his rule and of the origin of the race (Masius). From him the city was denominated, either, because he founded it; or, which is more likely, because he long held it under his own mastery (Masius).

A great man, in stature, and strength, and dignity, and authority, as being the progenitor of Anak, the father of those famous giants called Anakims.

[And the land rested from battles] It rested for a time (Vatablus). It is repeated in this place,[5] because, although the narration of the making of the division was hitherto delayed by various digressions, now at last he has come to the handling of it. He points out, therefore, that there were now many enemies remaining, who might impede the distribution with war (Masius, similarly Bonfrerius).

The land had rest from war; which gave them opportunity for the distribution of the land.

[1] Hebrew: וְשֵׁ֙ם חֶבְר֤וֹן לְפָנִים֙ קִרְיַ֣ת אַרְבַּ֔ע הָאָדָ֧ם הַגָּד֛וֹל בָּעֲנָקִ֖ים ה֑וּא וְהָאָ֥רֶץ שָׁקְטָ֖ה מִמִּלְחָמָֽה׃

[2] See, for example, Song of Solomon 1:8:  “If thou know not, O thou fairest among women (הַיָּפָ֖ה בַּנָּשִׁ֑ים, fair among women), go thy way forth by the footsteps of the flock, and feed thy kids beside the shepherds’ tents.”

[3] Deuteronomy 7:7:  “The Lord did not set his love upon you, nor choose you, because ye were more in number than any people; for ye were the fewest of all people (הַמְעַ֖ט מִכָּל־הָעַמִּֽים׃)…”

[4] See, for example, Luke 1:28:  “And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee:  blessed art thou among women (εὐλογημένη σὺ ἐν γυναιξίν).”

[5] See Joshua 11:23.

2 thoughts on “Joshua 14:15: Caleb’s Inheritance, Part 9

  1. Matthew Henry: ‘Now, 1. We are here told what Hebron had been, the city of Arba, a great man among the Anakims (Joshua 14:15); we find it called Kirjath-arba (Genensis 23:2), as the place where Sarah died. Hereabouts Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob lived most of their time in Canaan, and near to it was the cave of Machpelah, where they were buried, which perhaps had led Caleb hither when he went to spy out the land, and had made him covet this rather than any other part for his inheritance. 2. We are afterwards told what Hebron was. (1.) It was one of the cities belonging to priests (Joshua 21:13), and a city of refuge, Joshua 20:7. When Caleb had it, he contented himself with the country about it, and cheerfully gave the city to the priests, the Lord’s ministers, thinking it could not be better bestowed, no, not upon his own children, nor that it was the less his own for being thus devoted to God. (2.) It was a royal city, and, in the beginning of David’s reign, the metropolis of the kingdom of Judah; thither the people resorted to him, and there he reigned seven years. Thus highly was Caleb’s city honoured; it is a pity there should have been such a blemish upon his family long after as Nabal was, who was of the house of Caleb, 1 Samuel 25:3. But the best men cannot entail their virtues.’

  2. Jerome “to Eustochius”: ‘And rising up from thence she went up to Hebron, that is Kirjath-Arba, or the City of the Four Men. These are Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and the great Adam whom the Hebrews suppose (from the book of Joshua the son of Nun) to be buried there.’

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