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.”

1 thought on “Joshua 18:12-14: Benjamin’s Northern and Western Border

  1. Matthew Henry: ‘Here we have…The exact borders and limits of this tribe, which we need not be exact in the explication of. As it had Judah on the south and Joseph on the north, so it had Jordan on the east and Dan on the west. The western border is said to compass the corner of the sea southward (Joshua 18:14), whereas no part of the lot of this tribe came near to the great sea. Bishop Patrick thinks the meaning is that it ran along in a parallel line to the great sea, though at a distance. Dr. Fuller suggests that since it is not called the great sea, but only the sea, which often signifies any lake or mere, it may be meant of the pool of Gibeon, which may be called a corner or canton of the sea; it is called the great waters of Gibeon (Jeremiah 41:12), and it is compassed by the western border of this tribe.’

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