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.”

1 thought on “Joshua 15:2: The Southern Border of Judah, Part 2

  1. Matthew Henry: ‘Judah and Joseph were the two sons of Jacob on whom Reuben’s forfeited birthright devolved. Judah had the dominion entailed on him, and Joseph the double portion, and therefore these two tribes were first seated, Judah in the southern part of the land of Canaan and Joseph in the northern part, and on them the other seven did attend, and had their respective lots as appurtenances to these two; the lots of Benjamin, Simeon, and Dan, were appendant to Judah, and those of Issachar and Zebulun, Naphtali and Asher, to Joseph. These two were first set up to be provided for, it should seem, before there was such an exact survey of the land as we find afterwards, Joshua 18:9. It is probable that the most considerable parts of the northern and southern countries, and those that lay nearest to Gilgal, and which the people were best acquainted with, were first put into two portions, and the lot was cast upon them between these two principal tribes, of the one of which Joshua was, and of the other Caleb, who was the first commissioner in this writ of partition; and, by the decision of that lot, the southern country, of which we have an account in this chapter, fell to Judah, and the northern, of which we have an account in the two following chapters, to Joseph. And when this was done there was a more equal dividend (either in quantity or quality) of the remainder among the seven tribes. And this, probably, was intended in that general rule which was given concerning this partition (Numbers 33:54), to the more you shall give the more inheritance, and to the fewer you shall give the less, and every man’s inheritance shall be where his lot falleth; that is, “You shall appoint two greater portions which shall be determined by lot to those more numerous tribes of Judah and Joseph, and then the rest shall be less portions to be allotted to the less numerous tribes.” The former was done in Gilgal, the latter in Shiloh.’

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