Joshua 15:63: The Cities of Judah, Part 9 (Jerusalem)

Verse 63:[1] As for the Jebusites the inhabitants of Jerusalem, (see Judg. 1:8, 21; 2 Sam. 5:6) the children of Judah could not drive them out: (Judg. 1:21) but the Jebusites dwell with the children of Judah at Jerusalem unto this day.

[Now, the Jebusite, the inhabitant of Jerusalem, the sons of Judah were not able to destroy] Question 1: How is this said of the sons of Judah, while the exact same thing is said concerning the Benjamites, Judges 1:21? And unto which tribe did Jerusalem have regard? For here and in Psalm 78:68 it is ascribed to Judah; but in Genesis 49:27; Deuteronomy 33:12 (and Jeremiah 6:1 [Bonfrerius]) it is allotted to Benjamin (Malvenda). Response 1: Some think that that city was left in the middle (certain interpreters in Masius). It is likely that it was a border city inhabited promiscuously by Judahites and Benjamites, and pertained to both, and is attributed sometimes to the former and sometimes to the latter (Malvenda). But this opinion is manifestly refuted by the designated borders of the Benjamite possessions (Masius). Response 2: It is likely that most cities were greatly changed after they were brought under the power of the Israelites; especially Jerusalem, which from a small town was built up into a most spacious city. Therefore, since he that in latter times gathered the sacred history, previously dispersed throughout the records, and digested it into those books that we now have, made use of those names of place that were used in his age, it is not strange if we see one and the same city possessed by diverse tribes, since formerly they were two, which thereafter were inclosed within one wall. But concerning this matter there is to be discussion again in Joshua 18 (Masius). Response 3: Others assigne to each Tribe their own parts in it (Masius). The whole lower city belonged to the Benjamities (Bonfrerius), which was called Salem, and was Northward (Menochius): but the Southern part, that is, mount Zion and perhas a small part of the lower city, with the line led through the peak of mount Moriah, was in the tribe of Judah. Hence in Nehemiah 11:4 both the Judahites and the Benjamites are said to have dwelt in Jerusalem (Bonfrerius). Question 2: How is this said, when Jerusalem was captured by Joshua, Joshua 10 and Judges 1:8? Response: The city was captured, but not the citadel, or the upper part of the city; which also Josephus clearly indicates, Antiquities 5:2. Compare Judges 1, verse 8 and verse 21. You will say, But that city belonged to the Jebusites, Judges 19:11, 12. But concerning this matter see what is written there (Bonfrerius). The Jebusites were holding the citadel: thence it happened that after the death of Joshua they gradually occupied the entire city again, as they occupied Hebron and Debir, previously conquered by Joshua: hence it was necessary for the sons of Judah to conquer Jerusalem after the death of Joshua, which was accomplished in Judges 1 (Lapide, similarly Bonfrerius). But the Jebusites held the citadel until the time of David, because it was most heavily fortified (Bonfrerius). Question 3: Why were they not able to remove these? This appear to obscure the glory of the mightiest Tribe, that I might not say that it fought also with the promises of God of the happiest success everywhere (Masius). Responses: 1. The Judahites had hindered themselves by their sluggishness, and sins, by which having been provoked, God withdrew His help, according to Judges 2:20 (Masius, Lapide). 2. Thos Jebusites were not of those seven peoples,[2] but were deriving their origin from Jebus, who was of the stock of the Philistine (Vatablus).

[He dwelt with the children of Judah, אֶת־בְּנֵי] Near the children; for they were adjacent to the Tribe of Judah (Vatablus). The rest translate it, with the sons (Jonathan, Syriac, Arabic, Munster, Pagnine, Montanus, Tigurinus, Junius and Tremellius).

The Jebusites the inhabitants of Jerusalem, etc.: For though Jerusalem was in part taken by Joshua before this, yet the upper and stronger part of it, called Zion, was still kept by the Jebusites, even until David’s time; and it seems from thence they descended to the lower town called Jerusalem, and took it; so that the Israelites were forced to win it a second time; yea, and a third time also, for afterwards it was possessed by the Jebusites, Judges 19:11; 2 Samuel 5:6, 7. Could not drive them out; namely, because of their unbelief, as Christ could do no mighty work—because of the people’s unbelief, Mark 6:5, 6; Matthew 13:58, and because of their sloth, and cowardice, and wickedness, whereby they forfeited God’s help, and then they must needs be impotent; but this inability was wilful, and brought upon them by themselves. Jebusites dwell with the children of Judah at Jerusalem: the same things which are here said of the children of Judah, are said of the Benjamites, Judges 1:21. Hence ariseth a question, To which of the tribes Jerusalem belonged? whether to Benjamin, as is gathered from Genesis 49:27; Deuteronomy 33:12; Jeremiah 6:1, or to Judah, as is implied here, and Psalm 78:68, 69. Some think, that being in the borders of both, it was common to both, and promiscuously inhabited by both; and it is certain that after the captivity it was possessed by both, Nehemiah 11:4. But for the present, though it did belong to Benjamin, yet the children of Judah being possibly very active in the first taking of it by Joshua, as they certainly were after his death, Judges 1:8, they might thereby get some right share with the Benjamites in the possession of it. It seems most probable that part of it, and indeed the greatest part and main body of it, stood in the tribe of Benjamin; and hence this is mentioned in the list of their cities, and not in Judah’s list: and part of it stood in Judah’s share, even Mount Moriah, on which the temple was built; and Mount Sion, when it was taken from the Jebusites.

[Unto the present day] This is said with respect to the time when these things were written (Vatablus). Hence also it appears that not by Joshua, nor close to his times, was this book written, or completed (Grotius).

Unto this day; when this book was written, whether in Joshua’s life and old age, which continued many years after the taking of Jerusalem; or after his death, when this clause was added here and elsewhere in this book by some other man of God, which must needs be done before David’s time, when the Jebusites were quite expelled, and their fort taken.

[1] Hebrew: וְאֶת־הַיְבוּסִי֙ יוֹשְׁבֵ֣י יְרֽוּשָׁלִַ֔ם לֹֽא־יוּכְל֥וּ בְנֵֽי־יְהוּדָ֖ה לְהֽוֹרִישָׁ֑ם וַיֵּ֙שֶׁב הַיְבוּסִ֜י אֶת־בְּנֵ֤י יְהוּדָה֙ בִּיר֣וּשָׁלִַ֔ם עַ֖ד הַיּ֥וֹם הַזֶּֽה׃

[2] See Deuteronomy 7:1.

2 thoughts on “Joshua 15:63: The Cities of Judah, Part 9 (Jerusalem)

  1. Matthew Henry: ‘Jerusalem is said to continue in the hands of the Jebusites (Joshua 15:63), for the children of Judah could not drive them out, through their sluggishness, stupidity, and unbelief. Had they attempted it with vigour and resolution, we have reason to think God would not have been wanting to them to give them success; but they could not do it, because they would not. Jerusalem was afterwards to be the holy city, the royal city, the city of the great King, the brightest ornament of all the land of Israel. God has designed it should be so. It may therefore be justly looked upon as a punishment of their neglect to conquer other cities which God had given them that they were so long kept out of this.’

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