Joshua 18:15-17: Benjamin’s Southern Border, Part 1

Verse 15:[1] And the south quarter was from the end of Kirjath-jearim, and the border went out on the west, and went out to (Josh. 15:9) the well of waters of Nephtoah…

[Now, on the south, etc.] The Southern border of Benjamin is here described, which is the same as the Northern border of Judah, but in the contrary order: For there from the East, or from the Dead Sea, unto the West, or unto Kirjath-jearim, we were proceeding; here, contrariwise, from East, or Kirjath-jearim, unto the East, or unto the Dead Sea, we return (Masius, Bonfrerius). And so where we made use of the language of ascending in that place, here we make use of the language of descending (Masius). See what things are on Joshua 15 (Masius).

The south quarter; the same with the north quarter of Judah. See Joshua 15:5, 6, 11.

[The border went out over against the sea, יָמָּה] [They render it variously:] Toward the sea (Jonathan, Syriac, Rabbi Salomon in Masius, Pagnine, Montanus); to (or toward [Arabic]) the west (Munster, Tigurinus). Others: from the western border (Junius and Tremellius); from the sea (Masius); יָמָּה, toward the sea, in the place of מִיָּם, from the sea (Drusius). The letter ה not rarely signifies motion from a place, when it is inherent in the definitions of the terms: But that from the sea is what we call from the west (Masius).


Verse 16:[2] And the border came down to the end of the mountain that lieth before (Josh. 15:8) the valley of the son of Hinnom, and which is in the valley of the giants on the north, and descended to the valley of Hinnom, to the side of Jebusi on the south, and descended to (Josh. 15:7) En-rogel…

[And it descended into part of the mountain, קְצֵ֣ה הָהָ֗ר] Unto the extremity of the mountain (Junius and Tremellius, Masius). In the borders of the Judahites that was called the top, or apex, of the mountain. I think that that part of the mountain is signified by which it was looming over the valley of Hinnom on the West (Masius, similarly Bonfrerius). Compare Joshua 15:8. This appears to have been mount Moriah, the western side of which by a long course arrives at the extreme part of the valley of Rephaim (Bonfrerius). I think that it is likely to be the mountain of offense mentioned in 1 Kings 11:7, under which was lying the valley of Hinnom (Masius).

To the end of the mountain, that is, the place where the mountain ends, and the valley begins. Before the valley of the son of Hinnom, that is, in the prospect of that valley; or, that reacheth to that valley on the south. In the valley of the giants on the north; which extends to this other valley on the north side of it.

[Near the side of Jebusite toward the South] This depends on the words, it came down; the line descending from the mount left the Jebusite toward the South (Bonfrerius). Of the Jebusite, etc., that is, toward the Southern side of the Jebusites dwelling in Jerusalem. Some say that Jerusalem was in two tribes, Judah and Benjamin, but the greatest part was in Benjamin (Vatablus). Concerning that controversy, see what thins are on Joshua 15:63. Those Tribes certainly appear to have been conjoined in such a close bond of friendship with each other that they might be esteemed as one. See 1 Kings 11:13, 32; 12:20. Nevertheless, perhaps mount Zion (where the palace was) and Moriah (where the Temple was) belonged to Judah: For those mountains were South of the city (Masius).

To the side of Jebusi; to that part where the Jebusites lived, which was in and near Jerusalem.


Verse 17:[3] And was drawn from the north, and went forth to En-shemesh, and went forth toward Geliloth, which is over against the going up of Adummim, and descended to (Josh. 15:6) the stone of Bohan the son of Reuben…

[Passing toward the North, וְתָאַ֣ר מִצָּפ֗וֹן[4]] And it draws (understanding, from there) a curving line from the North, that is to say, with the North left behind (Vatablus). It bent back (it skirted [Pagnine]; but extending [Munster]) from the North (Tigurinus, Munster, Pagnine). But these incorrectly explain it, as it were bent back from the North toward the South. Who, I ask, would understand, to be traced from the North, to be the same as, to be traced with a curve toward the South? Therefore, understand it in this way, that extending from the West to the East it is bent back in some measure Northward (Bonfrerius). [Thus Jonathan, it looks toward the North; and the Arabic, the border extended itself toward the North; and the Syriac, it looks out upon the North.]

Geliloth, called also Gilgal, as appears from Joshua 15:7; Judges 3:19; but differing from that Gilgal by Jordan.

[1] Hebrew: וּפְאַת־נֶ֕גְבָּה מִקְצֵ֖ה קִרְיַ֣ת יְעָרִ֑ים וְיָצָ֤א הַגְּבוּל֙ יָ֔מָּה וְיָצָ֕א אֶל־מַעְיַ֖ן מֵ֥י נֶפְתּֽוֹחַ׃

[2] Hebrew: וְיָרַ֙ד הַגְּב֜וּל אֶל־קְצֵ֣ה הָהָ֗ר אֲשֶׁר֙ עַל־פְּנֵי֙ גֵּ֣י בֶן־הִנֹּ֔ם אֲשֶׁ֛ר בְּעֵ֥מֶק רְפָאִ֖ים צָפ֑וֹנָה וְיָרַד֩ גֵּ֙י הִנֹּ֜ם אֶל־כֶּ֤תֶף הַיְבוּסִי֙ נֶ֔גְבָּה וְיָרַ֖ד עֵ֥ין רֹגֵֽל׃

[3] Hebrew: וְתָאַ֣ר מִצָּפ֗וֹן וְיָצָא֙ עֵ֣ין שֶׁ֔מֶשׁ וְיָצָא֙ אֶל־גְּלִיל֔וֹת אֲשֶׁר־נֹ֖כַח מַעֲלֵ֣ה אֲדֻמִּ֑ים וְיָרַ֕ד אֶ֥בֶן בֹּ֖הַן בֶּן־רְאוּבֵֽן׃

[4] תָּאַר can signify to incline, or to trace out.

1 thought on “Joshua 18:15-17: Benjamin’s Southern Border, Part 1

  1. John Calvin: ‘In the lot of Benjamin nothing occurs particularly deserving of notice, unless that a small tribe takes precedence of the others. I admit, indeed, that its limits were narrowed in proportion to the fewness of its numbers, because it obtained only twenty-six cities; but still an honor was bestowed upon it in the mere circumstance of its receiving its inheritance before more distinguished tribes. We may add, that in this way they were conjoined and made neighbors to the other children of Joseph, with whom their relationship was more immediate. For they were placed in the middle between the children of Ephraim and Manasseh on the one side, and those of Judah on the other. They had also the distinguished honor of including Jerusalem in their inheritance, though they afterwards granted it by a kind of precarious tenure to the children of Judah for a royal residence.’

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