Joshua 19:1-9: The Lot of Simeon

Verse 1:[1] And the second lot came forth to Simeon, even for the tribe of the children of Simeon according to their families: (Josh. 19:9) and their inheritance was within the inheritance of the children of Judah.

[And went forth the lot…of Simeon, etc.] These were placed within the borders of the other Tribe, that is, of the Judahites; and thus in a certain manner they were dispersed among the Israelites: and that was done by Divine counsel, because of that crime in Genesis 34. But you might say, this was more grievous for the Judahites than the Simeonites, since the former were obliged to share their possessions with the latter. Response: The Judahites had an incredibly spacious region, and they were not able to occupy it in its entirety, neither to protect it Barbarians or from wild animals, especially because of the vast wildernesses in the South. But they had not obtained such spacious borders on the condition that they might remain their own, as was previously observed. But the Rabbis feign that the Simeonites were at last drive out of the inheritance of the Judahites, citing 1 Chronicles 4:31, they obtained those cities until the times of David. But who would believe that David removed them contrary to the judgment of the Divine lot? And it is evident that they departed farther for the sake of richer pasture-lands, but they were not driven out by the Judahites. And it is likely that the places that they went to occupy were within their own inheritance, although yet occupied by Barbarians. In the time of Hezekiah also, that is, three hundred years after David, they migrated to richer pasture-land.[2] For עַד/unto/until (which is in 1 Chronicles 4:31[3]) often signifies a delay’s length, not end. Moreover, this Tribe was the least of all, in which only twenty-two thousand were numbered: Therefore, only seventeen cities are allotted to it; although perhaps those, because of the abundance of villages, etc., were able to be compared with the more numerous cities of the others. As it is altogether certain that not all the cities are listed in the catalogues; neither is it necessary to name many for the sake of the borders, which they had in common with Judah. It is also certain that those most spacious regions toward Gedor and Seir were yet occupied by Barbarians[4] (Masius).

[According to their relations] Or families: the twelve men were not only put in charge of the casting of lots for the tribes, but also of the division that was done among the families; as it is indicated in Numbers 26:53-56, and in Joshua 17, in which the lot of Manasseh and his division into families is treated (Bonfrerius).

[And their inheritance was] Understand, enclosed (Vatablus).

[In the midst…of Judah] Not in the center, but only within the lot of Judah, namely, in the Southern part, as is taught by Josephus, Antiquities 5:1, and the attribution of Beer-sheba[5] (the Southern extremity of the land, set over against Dan in the North[6]) to them (Bonfrerius).

Within the inheritance of the children of Judah: This was so ordered by God’s providence, partly, to fulfil that threatening that he would divide and scatter this tribe in Israel, Genesis 49:7, which was hereby done in part, because they had no distinct part of their own, but were as inmates to Judah; partly, because now upon the more exact survey of the land it appeared to Joshua and Eleazar and all the princes and people, even to the tribe of Judah themselves, that the part given to Judah did far exceed the proportion which either they needed and could occupy, or which the other tribes could expect; and partly, because this was the least of the tribes, as is evident from Numbers 26:14, and therefore fittest to be put within another tribe.


Verse 2:[7] And (1 Chron. 4:28) they had in their inheritance Beer-sheba, or Sheba, and Moladah…

[Beer-sheba and Sheba] These two names signify only one city; as the sum made in verse 6 shows, and the omission of Sheba as superfluous in 1 Chronicles 4:28 (Masius, Bonfrerius, Menochius). [Others otherwise.] Sheba is Shema in Joshua 15:26. This is called Tochen in 1 Chronicles 4:32: for all things agree in both places, with the exception of this, which might otherwise be omitted there (Junius). שֶׁבַע/Sheba is now read in the Hebrew: but the Septuagint read שֶׁמַע/Shema, which they translate Σαμαά/Samaa. And it is called שֶׁמַע/Shema in Joshua 15:26, where the Greeks incorrectly render it Σαλμαὰ/Salmaa, in the place of Σαμαά/Samaa. It appears to be the same place that is written in Nehemiah 11:26 as ישוע/Jeshua, where perhaps it was ישמע, with a י prefixed, as in Joshua 16:3[8] (Grotius). These two names were written, so that we might return to the memory of that famous well in Genesis 21 (Rabbi Isaiah in Masius).

Beer-sheba, Sheba, or, or Sheba, that is, otherwise called; for that Beer-sheba and Sheba were one and the same city is manifest, both from verse 6, where all the cities are reckoned to be but thirteen; and from 1 Chronicles 4:28, where Simeon’s cities are enumerated, and Sheba omitted as superfluous.


Verse 3:[9] And Hazar-shual, and Balah, and Azem…

[Balah, וּבָלָה] The same is בִּלְהָה/Bilhah in 1 Chronicles 4:29, and בַּעֲלָה/Baalah in Joshua 15:29 (Malvenda, Masius). For proper names are often changed by one or another letter (Masius out of Kimchi).

Balah, called also Bilhah, 1 Chronicles 4:29; and Baalah, Joshua 15:29. For let this be observed, once for all, that the names of persons or places are frequently changed through length of time, or difference of dialects, or study of brevity and easiness in pronunciation, or new accidents, or other causes. Thus Eltolad and Bethul, Joshua 19:4 are called Tolad and Bethuel, 1 Chronicles 4:29, 30; and for Beth-lebaoth, Joshua 19:6, is Beth-birei, 1 Chronicles 4:31.


Verse 4:[10] And Eltolad, and Bethul, and Hormah…

[Eltolad] Through aphæresis[11] it is Tolad in 1 Chronicles 4:29 (Masius).

[Bethul, וּבְתוּל] Thus what is בְּתוּאֵל/Bethuel in Chronicles 4:30 is called by Synæresis[12] (Masius).


Verse 5:[13] And Ziklag, and Beth-marcaboth, and Hazar-susah…


Verse 6:[14] And Beth-lebaoth, and Sharuhen; thirteen cities and their villages…

[Beth-lebaoth, וּבֵ֥ית לְבָא֖וֹת] In 1 Chronicles 4:31 it is בֵית בִּרְאִי, Beth-birei (Masius).

[And their villages] In 1 Chronicles this pertains to the following verse, as if those four cities were municipalities of the places previously mentioned, although those also have their own municipalities (Masius). These four appear to have been lesser cities, and perhaps without walls; which the name חֲצֵרִים/villages,[15] attributed to them in 1 Chronicles 4:32, relates (Bonfrerius). חֲצֵרִים the Vulgate rightly translates villas/villages; the Septuagint, κώμας/ villages. It had more rightly been ἐπαύλεις/dwellings (Grotius). To these four is added Etam, 1 Chronicles 4:32 (Masius).

Thirteen cities, or, towns, as some of them are called, 1 Chronicles 4:32. Nor are all Simeon’s cities here numbered, for Etam is added, 1 Chronicles 4:32, unless that were built afterward.


Verse 7:[16] Ain, Remmon, and Ether, and Ashan; four cities and their villages…


Verse 8:[17] And all the villages that were round about these cities to Baalath-beer, Ramath of the south. This is the inheritance of the tribe of the children of Simeon according to their families.

[All the way to Baalath-beer, בַּֽעֲלַ֥ת בְּאֵ֖ר] That is to say, having a well.[18] Perhaps this is Beer-sheba, which was toward the South, which here follows (Masius). It is rather Baal, 1 Chronicles 4:33 (Junius).


Verse 9:[19] Out of the portion of the children of Judah was the inheritance of the children of Simeon: for the part of the children of Judah was too much for them: (Josh. 19:1) therefore the children of Simeon had their inheritance within the inheritance of them.

[In the possession of Judah] In which were the majority of these cities named (Bonfrerius). A leveling. See Numbers 34 (Grotius).

[Because it was larger, etc.] Hebrew: greater than them, רַ֣ב מֵהֶ֔ם, that is, than according to the number of them, that is, than that it might be able to be occupied by them (Vatablus). It was larger than what was owed to them, or was necessary (Menochius). This was done by the error of the prior Surveyors (Tostatus in Tirinus, Menochius). Which error was soon discovered and corrected by the second Surveyors, thoroughly searching out all things (Tirinus). The beginnings of arts are generally rude, and the art of measuring fields was not yet brought to the perfection that it now has (Menochius). Thus the prophecy of Genesis 49 was fulfilled. For, although they obtaind by lot a certain seat, nevertheless, because they were at first deprived of their proper seats by this error, only with the tribe of Judah opening its bosom, inviting and receiving them, as if they were settled in the lodging of another, they were alse able most aptly to be said to have been dispersed among the Israelites (Tirinus). Moreover, it is to be noted here the the lots were drawn out in order. For after the Judahites and the Josephites the lot of Benjamin was drawn first, who was the son of beloved Rachel:[20] but following that, the lot of Simeon, since he was the oldest in the order of the birth of children after Reuben, who had been found guilty of incest (Masius).

[1] Hebrew: וַיֵּצֵ֞א הַגּוֹרָ֤ל הַשֵּׁנִי֙ לְשִׁמְע֔וֹן לְמַטֵּ֥ה בְנֵֽי־שִׁמְע֖וֹן לְמִשְׁפְּחוֹתָ֑ם וַֽיְהִי֙ נַֽחֲלָתָ֔ם בְּת֖וֹךְ נַחֲלַ֥ת בְּנֵֽי־יְהוּדָֽה׃

[2] 1 Chronicles 4:41.

[3] 1 Chronicles 4:31:  “And at Beth-marcaboth, and Hazar-susim, and at Beth-birei, and at Shaaraim.  These were their cities unto the reign of David (עַד־מְלֹ֥ךְ דָּוִֽיד׃).”

[4] 1 Chronicles 4:39-43.

[5] Joshua 19:2.

[6] See Judges 20:1; 1 Samuel 3:20; 1 Kings 4:25.

[7] Hebrew: וַיְהִ֥י לָהֶ֖ם בְּנַֽחֲלָתָ֑ם בְּאֵֽר־שֶׁ֥בַע וְשֶׁ֖בַע וּמוֹלָדָֽה׃

[8] Joshua 16:3a:  “And goeth down westward to the coast of Japhleti (הַיַּפְלֵטִי; who may be the פְּלֵתִי/Pelethites of 2 Samuel 8:18; 15:18), unto the coast of Bethhoron the nether, and to Gezer…”

[9] Hebrew: וַחֲצַ֥ר שׁוּעָ֛ל וּבָלָ֖ה וָעָֽצֶם׃

[10] Hebrew: וְאֶלְתּוֹלַ֥ד וּבְת֖וּל וְחָרְמָֽה׃

[11] That is, the loss of a sound or sounds at the beginning of a word.

[12] That is, the contraction of two vowels.

[13] Hebrew: וְצִֽקְלַ֥ג וּבֵית־הַמַּרְכָּב֖וֹת וַחֲצַ֥ר סוּסָֽה׃

[14] Hebrew: וּבֵ֥ית לְבָא֖וֹת וְשָֽׁרוּחֶ֑ן עָרִ֥ים שְׁלֹשׁ־עֶשְׂרֵ֖ה וְחַצְרֵיהֶֽן׃

[15] חָצֵר may be related to the verbal root חצר, to be present or dwell, or to surround.

[16] Hebrew: עַ֥יִן׀ רִמּ֖וֹן וָעֶ֣תֶר וְעָשָׁ֑ן עָרִ֥ים אַרְבַּ֖ע וְחַצְרֵיהֶֽן׃

[17] Hebrew: וְכָל־הַֽחֲצֵרִ֗ים אֲשֶׁ֤ר סְבִיבוֹת֙ הֶֽעָרִ֣ים הָאֵ֔לֶּה עַד־בַּֽעֲלַ֥ת בְּאֵ֖ר רָ֣אמַת נֶ֑גֶב זֹ֗את נַחֲלַ֛ת מַטֵּ֥ה בְנֵֽי־שִׁמְע֖וֹן לְמִשְׁפְּחֹתָֽם׃

[18] Or, Mistress of a Well.

[19] Hebrew: מֵחֶ֙בֶל֙ בְּנֵ֣י יְהוּדָ֔ה נַחֲלַ֖ת בְּנֵ֣י שִׁמְע֑וֹן כִּֽי־הָיָ֞ה חֵ֤לֶק בְּנֵֽי־יְהוּדָה֙ רַ֣ב מֵהֶ֔ם וַיִּנְחֲל֥וּ בְנֵֽי־שִׁמְע֖וֹן בְּת֥וֹךְ נַחֲלָתָֽם׃

[20] See Genesis 29:18, 20, 30.

1 thought on “Joshua 19:1-9: The Lot of Simeon

  1. Matthew Henry: ‘Simeon’s lot was drawn after Judah’s, Joseph’s, and Benjamin’s, because Jacob had put that tribe under disgrace; yet it is put before the two younger sons of Leah and the three sons of the handmaids. Not one person of note, neither judge nor prophet, was of this tribe, that we know of.

    I. The situation of their lot was within that of Judah (Joshua 19:1) and was taken from it, Joshua 19:9. It seems, those that first surveyed the land thought it larger than it was, and that it would have held out to give every tribe in proportion as large a share as they had carved out for Judah; but, upon a more strict enquiry, it was found that it would not reach (Joshua 19:9): The part of the children of Judah was too much for them, more than they needed, and more, as it proved, than fell to their share. Yet God did not by the lot lessen it, but left it to their prudence and care afterwards to discover and rectify the mistake, which when they did, 1. The men of Judah did not oppose the taking away of the cities again, which by the first distribution fell within their border, when they were convinced that they had more than their proportion. In all such cases errors must be excepted and a review admitted if there be occasion. Though, in strictness, what fell to their lot was their right against all the world, yet they would not insist upon it when it appeared that another tribe would want what they had to spare. Note, We must look on the things of others, and not on our own only. The abundance of some must supply the wants of others, that there may be somewhat of an equality, for which there may be equity where there is not law. 2. That which was thus taken off from Judah to be put into a new lot Providence directed to the tribe of Simeon, that Jacob’s prophecy concerning this tribe might be fulfilled, I will divide them in Jacob. The cities of Simeon were scattered in Judah, with which tribe they were surrounded, except on that side towards the sea. This brought them into a confederacy with the tribe of Judah (Judges 1:3), and afterwards was a happy occasion of the adherence of many of this tribe to the house of David, at the time of the revolt of the ten tribes to Jeroboam. 2 Chronicles 15:9, out of Simeon they fell to Asa in abundance. It is good being in a good neighbourhood.

    II. The cities within their lot are here named. Beersheba, or Sheba, for these names seem to refer to the same place, is put first. Ziklag, which we read of in David’s story, is one of them. What course they took to enlarge their borders and make room for themselves we find 1 Chronicles 4:39, etc.’

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