Joshua 18:21-28: Benjamin’s Cities

Verse 21:[1] Now the cities of the tribe of the children of Benjamin according to their families were Jericho, and Beth-hoglah, and the valley of Keziz…

[Jericho] But Jericho was overthrown, and not to be rebuilt. Response: Yet its place fell to the Tribe of Benjamin, which they were able to possess, or to cultivate, or to inhabit, provided it was not raised into a walled and enclosed city. Moreover, after it was rebuilt, with the punishment of the temerity once exacted, it was not destroyed; indeed, Christ Himself was received in it by Zacchæus[2] (Estius).

Jericho; for though the city was destroyed, the territory remained, and some houses probably were built and inhabited there, though it was not made a city with walls and gates, which was the only thing forbidden, Joshua 6:26.

[The Valley of Keziz, וְעֵ֥מֶק קְצִֽיץ׃[3]] Emec-keziz, or, the steep valley, or, the divided plain (Masius). The valley of incision, that is, in which incisions would be made, namely, of the balsam tree: which incisions were not made with iron, but with a sharp stone, or glass, as Josephus,[4] Pliny,[5] and Tacitus[6] testify (Bonfrerius).

Keziz, or, Emec-keziz, the proper name of a city or great town.

 

Verse 22:[7] And Beth-arabah, and Zemaraim, and Beth-el…

[Zemaraim, וּצְמָרַיִם] This city either gave, or owed, its name to that mountain, 2 Chronicles 13:4. The name appears to have been imposed upon it from its twin peaks[8] (Masius).

Zemaraim; which either gave name to, or took name from, that mountain, 2 Chronicles 13:4.

 

Verse 23:[9] And Avim, and Parah, and Ophrah…

 

Verse 24:[10] And Chephar-haammonai, and Ophni, and Gaba; twelve cities with their villages…

 

Verse 25:[11] Gibeon, and Ramah, and Beeroth…

 

Verse 26:[12] And Mizpeh, and Chephirah, and Mozah…

[And Mispe, וְהַמִּצְפֶּה] Maspha. It was not far from Ramah, on the same mountain of Silo. Why might it not be Silo itself, which might be called Mizpeh, that is, lookout,[13] because mount Silo was exceedingly lofty? There were also other Mizpehs on both sides of Jordan (Masius).

Mizpeh, near Ramah, in the same mountain where Silo was. There were divers other cities of that name.

 

Verse 27:[14] And Rekem, and Irpeel, and Taralah…

 

Verse 28:[15] And Zelah, Eleph, and (Josh. 15:8) Jebusi, which is Jerusalem, Gibeath, and Kirjath; fourteen cities with their villages. This is the inheritance of the children of Benjamin according to their families.

[And Jebusi, which is Jerusalem, הַיְבוּסִי] Of the Jebusites, understanding, the city, that is, which the Jebusites inhabit: which is called by another name, Jerusalem (Vatablus). In which tribe it was, see on Joshua 15:63 (Bonfrerius). The old city was in part of Benjamin, but an addition was made from part of Judah (Grotius). It belonged to both Tribes according to the various parts of it (Tirinus). The Northern part (with intermediate mount Moriah [Tirinus]) was in the tribe of Benjamin; but the Southern part (where mount Zion was [Tirinus]) had regard to the tribe of Judah (Menochius, Tirinus). Or, by exchange of another city, Jerusalem was left to the Tribe of Judah by the Benjamites (Tostatus in Menochius): or, the Benjamintes, since they were despairing that they would be able to wrest their portion from the Jebusites, yielded it to the Tribe of Judah, if it might obtain it by arms (Tirinus, Tostatus in Menochius). Whether it is to be said that Jerusalem indeed belonged to the lot of Benjamin, but afterwards, because the Tribe of Judah was greater, one part, sharing a border with the Tribe of Judah, fell to the same Tribe of Judah? It was fulfilled in such a way that a greater portion was given to more, a lesser to fewer (Estius). But, lest anyone should commodities of the tribes from catalogues of this sort, it is to be kept in mind that not all cities and all places are recorded in them, but only the more famous, and especially those that either were advantageous for showing the borders, or from some history were memorable, and those that the tribesmen were first beginning to inhabit. Wherefore it is not to be marveled at in this, that everywhere in the Sacred narratives the names of cities set in this or that tribe occur, of which there is no mention in those catalogues: for a great many were passed by; many also were built in after times (Masius, Malvenda); some were changed (Malvenda). The names of two cities that are not mentioned here occur below, Anathoth and Almon, Joshua 21:18. Either, therefore, not all the cities of Benjamin were expressed by name; or, the names of some were diverse (Bonfrerius, Menochius).

Which is Jerusalem: so it seems this city did properly and primarily belong to Benjamin, although the tribe of Judah had also an interest in it, either because some part of it was allotted to them, or because the Benjamites gave them a share in it, for the assistance which either they had received or did expect from that potent tribe, for the getting or defending of that very important place. See more on Joshua 15:63. It is more than probable that all the cities belonging to this tribe are not here named, because Anathoth and Almon are omitted here, but expressed Joshua 21:18.

[1] Hebrew: וְהָי֣וּ הֶֽעָרִ֗ים לְמַטֵּ֛ה בְּנֵ֥י בִנְיָמִ֖ן לְמִשְׁפְּחֽוֹתֵיהֶ֑ם יְרִיח֥וֹ וּבֵית־חָגְלָ֖ה וְעֵ֥מֶק קְצִֽיץ׃

[2] Luke 19:1-10.

[3] קָצַץ signifies to cut off.

[4] Antiquities 14:4:1.

[5] Natural History 12:54.

[6] Histories 5:6.

[7] Hebrew: וּבֵ֧ית הָֽעֲרָבָ֛ה וּצְמָרַ֖יִם וּבֵֽית־אֵֽל׃

[8] Note the dual ending (ַיִם).

[9] Hebrew: וְהָעַוִּ֥ים וְהַפָּרָ֖ה וְעָפְרָֽה׃

[10] Hebrew: וּכְפַ֧ר הָעַמֹּנִ֛י וְהָֽעָפְנִ֖י וָגָ֑בַע עָרִ֥ים שְׁתֵּים־עֶשְׂרֵ֖ה וְחַצְרֵיהֶֽן׃

[11] Hebrew: גִּבְע֥וֹן וְהָֽרָמָ֖ה וּבְאֵרֽוֹת׃

[12] Hebrew: וְהַמִּצְפֶּ֥ה וְהַכְּפִירָ֖ה וְהַמֹּצָֽה׃

[13] צָפָה signifies to look out.

[14] Hebrew: וְרֶ֥קֶם וְיִרְפְּאֵ֖ל וְתַרְאֲלָֽה׃

[15] Hebrew: וְצֵלַ֡ע הָאֶ֜לֶף וְהַיְבוּסִ֙י הִ֤יא יְרֽוּשָׁ֙לִַם֙ גִּבְעַ֣ת קִרְיַ֔ת עָרִ֥ים אַרְבַּֽע־עֶשְׂרֵ֖ה וְחַצְרֵיהֶ֑ן זֹ֛את נַֽחֲלַ֥ת בְּנֵֽי־בִנְיָמִ֖ן לְמִשְׁפְּחֹתָֽם׃

1 thought on “Joshua 18:21-28: Benjamin’s Cities

  1. Matthew Henry: ‘The particular cities in this tribe, not all, but the most considerable. Twenty-six are here named. Jericho is put first, though dismantled, and forbidden to be rebuilt as a city with gates and walls, because it might be built and inhabited as a country village, and so was not useless to this tribe. Gilgal, where Israel first encamped when Saul was made king (1 Samuel 11:15), was in this tribe. It was afterwards a very profane place. Hosea 9:15, All their wickedness is in Gilgal. Bethel was in this tribe, a famous place. Though Benjamin adhered to the house of David, yet Bethel, it seems, was in the possession of the house of Joseph (Judges 1:23-25), and there Jeroboam set up one of his calves. In this tribe was Gibeon, where the altar was in the beginning of Solomon’s time, 2 Chronicles 1:3. Gibeah likewise, that infamous place where the Levite’s concubine was abused. Mizpeh, and near it Samuel’s Eben-ezer, and also Anathoth, Jeremiah’s city, were in this tribe, as was the northern part of Jerusalem. Paul was the honour of this tribe (Romans 11:1; Philippians 3:5); but where his land lay we know not: he sought the better country.’

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