Joshua 15:8: The Northern Border of Judah, Part 4

Verse 8:[1] And the border went up (Josh. 18:16; 2 Kings 23:10; Jer. 19:2, 6) by the valley of the son of Hinnom unto the south side of the (Josh. 18:28; Judg. 1:21; 19:10) Jebusite; the same is Jerusalem: and the border went up to the top of the mountain that lieth before the valley of Hinnom westward, which is at the end (Josh. 18:16) of the valley of the giants northward…

[And it ascends through the valley of the sons of Hinnom, גֵּ֣י בֶן־הִנֹּ֗ם] Unto the valley (or, through the valley [Junius and Tremellius, Grotius]) of the sons of Hinnom (Jonathan, Syriac, similarly Junius and Tremellius). Gehennom (Masius); Gehenna[2] (Arabic). The Valley of Hinnom was a suburban place, formerly very pleasant, and watered with the waters of Kidron. That pleasantness was the occasion of many sins. In a part of it called Tophet, they sacrificed their children to Molech; and on account of that Josiah defiled it with uncleanness[3] (Masius, Bonfrerius). Note here that the language of ascending is used, because hitherto he has drawn the line from Jordan and the Dead Sea, into which the waters of Jerusalem flow down; just as, on the other hand, in Joshua 18:16, he makes use of the language of descending, because he follows the inverse order; it is not said with the relationship of the individual places considered, when in that passage the line is said to descend into the mountain, and here to ascend into the valley. Thus in Luke 10:30, a man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, namely, because Jericho was closer to Jordan (Bonfrerius).

The border went up; properly, for the line went from Jordan and the Salt Sea, to the higher grounds nigh Jerusalem; and therefore the line is said to go down, Joshua 18:16, because there it takes a contrary course, and goes downwards to Jordan and the sea. Hinnom; a very pleasant place, but afterwards made infamous, 2 Kings 23:10.

[On the side of the Jebusite, אֶל־כֶּ֤תֶף הַיְבוּסִי֙] Near, or to, the side (or shoulder [Montanus], promontory [Arabic]) of the Jebusite (Munster, Pagnine, Tigurinus, Jonathan, Syriac); to the side of the city of the Jebusites (Junius and Tremellius). Moreover, that Jerusalem was formerly called Jebus and Jebusi is a matter well-attested (Masius); Joshua 18:28; Judges 19:10; 1 Chronicles 11:4. But that Southern part of mount Zion that the Jebusites had fortified beyond measure was especially so called (Bonfrerius).

[Southward] It signifies that Jebusi with respect to the line now drawn forth was southward. Whence note that this line cuts into Jerusalem, and there has Jebusi, or the citadel of Zion, southward; which citadel accordingly falls unto the lot of Judah. Now, the citadel of Zion was of all Jerusalem the furthest South (Bonfrerius).

[This is Jerusalem] Not indeed the whole, but one part of the city (Bonfrerius). Question: How is Jerusalem here in the tribe of Judah, while elsewhere it is said to be in the tribe of Benjamin (as almost all, Catholics as well as Rabbis, think, according to Deuteronomy 33:12 [Bonfrerius])? Response 1: Jerusalem was properly in the lot of Benjamin, Joshua 18:28; Judges 1:21; Josephus’ Antiquities 5:1, 2. But it shared a border with the Tribe of Judah: whence afterwards, with the Benjamites either conniving, or inviting, the men of Judah expelled the Jebusites occupying Jerusalem from it, and claimed the city for themselves by right of war. Just as David wrested Ziklag, which is here reckoned to the Simeonites,[4] from the Philistines, and adjoined it to his own Tribe of Judah, 1 Samuel 27:6 (Tostatus in Lapide). Response 2: Some part of Jerusalem pertained to the tribe of Judah, as the following words indicate. Hence in Nehemiah 11:4 both the sons of Judah and of Benjamin are said to have dwelt in Jerusalem (Lapide).

Of the Jebusite, that is, of the city of the Jebusites, which was anciently called Jebusi, Joshua 18:28; Judges 19:10. The same is Jerusalem: it may seem hence, and from Deuteronomy 33:12; Joshua 18:28; Judges 1:21, that Jerusalem, properly, or at least principally, belonged to Benjamin; and yet it is ascribed to Judah also here, Joshua 15:63, and elsewhere, either because a part of the city was allotted to Judah; or because the Benjamites needed or desired the help and conjunction of this powerful tribe of Judah, for the getting and keeping of this most important place. And when the Benjamites had in vain attempted to drive out the Jebusites, this work was at last done by the tribe of Judah, who therefore had an interest in it by the right of war; as Ziklag, which belonged to the tribe of Simeon, being gotten from the Philistines by David, was adjoined by him to his tribe of Judah, 1 Samuel 27:6.

[Thence raising itself to the apex of the mountain] Here the mountain of Moriah is understood; the line, raising itself to its apex, was leaving the greater portion to the Benjamites, on which the Temple was built; the lesser portion to the Tribe of Judah. For, it is evident, 1. that mount Zion and the citadel of the Jebusites was in the tribe of Judah. 2. That between the mountains of Zion and Moriah was only the chasm of Millo,[5] and neither the Northern line of Judah, nor the Southern line of Benjamin, Joshua 18, was drawn through it, but laterally through the mountain and the apex of the mountain (Bonfrerius).

[In the end of the valley of Rephaim, בִּקְצֵ֥ה עֵֽמֶק־רְפָאִ֖ים] In the extremity (or ends [Jonathan]) of the valley of Rephaim (Montanus, similarly Junius and Tremellius, Masius), or, of the giants (Syriac), or, of the strong (Jonathan). It appears to have pertained closely to Jerusalem, out of 2 Samuel 5 (Masius, Bonfrerius), and out of Josephus’ Antiquities 7:4. The sense of the passage is now, which, that is, mountain, is over against the valley of Hinnom westward, which same mountain then is bounded on the other side at the end of the valley of Rephaim (Bonfrerius, similarly Junius and Tremellius).

[1] Hebrew: וְעָלָ֙ה הַגְּב֜וּל גֵּ֣י בֶן־הִנֹּ֗ם אֶל־כֶּ֤תֶף הַיְבוּסִי֙ מִנֶּ֔גֶב הִ֖יא יְרֽוּשָׁלִָ֑ם וְעָלָ֙ה הַגְּב֜וּל אֶל־רֹ֣אשׁ הָהָ֗ר אֲ֠שֶׁר עַל־פְּנֵ֤י גֵֽי־הִנֹּם֙ יָ֔מָּה אֲשֶׁ֛ר בִּקְצֵ֥ה עֵֽמֶק־רְפָאִ֖ים צָפֹֽנָה׃

[2] גֵּי הִנֹּם, the valley of Hinnom, is transliterated Gehinnom or Gehenna.

[3] 2 Kings 23:10.

[4] See Joshua 19:5.

[5] See 2 Samuel 5:9; 1 Kings 9:15, 24; 11:27; 2 Kings 12:20; 1 Chronicles 11:8; 2 Chronicles 32:5.

1 thought on “Joshua 15:8: The Northern Border of Judah, Part 4

  1. Matthew Henry: ‘This northern line touched closely upon Jerusalem (Joshua 15:8), so closely as to include in the lot of this tribe Mount Zion and Mount Moriah, though the greater part of the city lay in the lot of Benjamin.’

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