Joshua 19:27-31: The Borders of Asher, Part 2

Verse 27:[1] And turneth toward the sunrising to Beth-dagon, and reacheth to Zebulun, and to the valley of Jiphthah-el toward the north side of Beth-emek, and Neiel, and goeth out to Cabul on the left hand…

[And it is turned again toward the east, etc.] It is to be noted that the Tribe of Asher more Northerly, but the Tribe of Zebulun more easterly (Vatablus). Here the Southern borders are depicted from the West unto the East (Masius). Here the line in recalled from the sea, and it is brought toward the East and North, and unto the West near the sea, and that, as it appears, without angles and specified distinction of the sides, but rather bending the line into arc, as it were. The border is said to be returned, that is, to go back from the sea (Bonfrerius).

[Beth-dagon] That is, The Sanctuary of Dagon (Masius). This idol was in the form of a fish. Now, that fish were worshipped among the Syrians and Philistines as gods, is noted in Xenophon’s The Education of Cyrus[2] 1, Diodorus Siculus’ Historical Library 3:2, Cicero’s Concerning the Nature of the Gods, and elsewhere (Bonfrerius).

[All the way to Zebulun] Some take it of the tribe: thus a fair number (Malvenda). At it passes along all the way to the borders of the Tribe of Zebulun (Osiander). In such a way that this Tribe touches the extremity of the Tribe of Zebulun, and its North-Western corner, near which was the valley of Jiphthah-el (which here follows [Bonfrerius]). Others take it of the city of Zebulun, situated nor far from Ptolemais, rival to Tyre and Sidon, as Josephus testifies in Jewish Wars 2:22 (thus Masius).

[Toward the North unto Beth-emek, etc.] Hebrew: toward the North, etc.[3] (Malvenda, Masius). It is not the sense, as if the border was proceeding by advancing toward those places Northerward, although this also would be true; but that the border in advancing toward those places is farther to the North than the same (Bonfrerius, similarly Masius, Malvenda). The Hebrew accents indicate this (Malvenda, Masius).

[וְיָצָא וגו״] And it goes forth, that is, it arrives (Vatablus).

[Unto the left of Cabul] Question 1: What here is to the left? Response: that is, on the North, or, toward the North (Vatablus, similarly Masius, Junius, Bonfrerius, Malvenda). If a man directs his face toward the East, the south will be to him on the right hand, the North on the left hand (Bonfrerius). Question 2: What is Cabul? Responses: 1. Some take it of that region in 1 Kings 9:13. Thus most interpreters (Malvenda, thus Masius, Grotius, Junius). Which name the land received from Hiram in the time of Solomon. Whence it is demonstrated that this Register was written down long after the time of Joshua (Masius). 2. But others take it of a certain city (certain interpreters in Malvenda, Bonfrerius). For it is contrary to custom for borders to be described by entire regions (Bonfrerius). It goes forth to the left, etc. The eastern side from the South to the North: and also in this verse is contained the Northern side from the East unto the West; for those two borders, eastern and Northern, are set forth together in one arc, as it were (Menochius).

Cabul: Either, 1. That country called Cabul, wherein were twenty cities, of which 1 Kings 9:13. But this is not probable, because that was not within nor belonging to any particular tribe; for then Solomon could not have alienated it from them, and given it unto Hiram, whereas this did belong to Asher. Or 2. A certain city so called. On the left hand, that is, on the north, which, when men look towards the east, as is usual, is on their left hand.


Verse 28:[4] And Hebron, and Rehob, and Hammon, and Kanah, even (Josh. 11:8; Judg. 1:31) unto great Zidon…

[Hebron, וְעֶבְרֹן] Hebron: which is עַבְדּוֹן/Habdon/Abdon in Joshua 21:30 and 1 Chronicles 6:74 (Junius). ר/r and ד/d are easily exchanged (Malvenda). Something is to be understood here, in addition in that tract are the cities of Hebron, etc. (Vatablus).

[Rehob, וּרְחֹב] It is assigned to the Levites below, Joshua 21:31, unless you would prefer it to be another of the same name (Bonfrerius) [which Malvenda does prefer.]

[Kanah] This was twofold: Kanah the less, in the tribe of Zebulun, and in Lower Galilee; concerning which John 2: and Kanah the greater, which is in this tribe of Asher, and in Upper Galilee, or Galilee of the Nations (Masius, Bonfrerius, Malvenda).

Kanah, to wit, Kanah the greater, in the Upper Galilee, not Kanah the less, which was in the Lower Galilee.

[All the way unto great Zidon] Deservedly so called, both for its antiquity, and for its crafts, and its skill in trade and navigation (Masius, Bonfrerius). This city, just as also Tyre, although allotted to them, the Asherites never possessed; which appears to have come to pass by Divine judgment, lest by maritime commerce they wallow in wealth, luxury, and other sins (Bonfrerius).

Great Zidon; called great for its antiquity, and riches, and glory. This city either was not given to the Israelites, but is only mentioned as their border; or at least was never possessed by them; not without a singular providence of God, that they might not by the opportunity of so good a port be engaged in much commerce with other nations, from which, together with wealth, that great corrupter of mankind, they might contract their errors and vices.


Verse 29:[5] And then the coast turneth to Ramah, and to the strong city (2 Sam. 5:11) Tyre (Heb. Tzor[6]); and the coast turneth to Hosah; and the outgoings thereof are at the sea from the coast to (Gen. 38:5; Judg. 1:31; Mic. 1:14) Achzib…

[And it is turned back, etc.] The border was returning, etc. Because we began the description of those borders under Tyre, but the inheritance of the Asherites was extended above Tyre all the way to Sidon, that distance was trace, which was thence from Sidon all the way to that place was to indicate whence we first began. Therefore, it was done in this verse (Masius). Only the more Southerly part was described in verse 25 and 26; now he adds the more Notherly cities near the same coast of the sea, until the line arrives whence it had begun (Bonfrerius).

The coast turneth from the north southward.

[Unto Hormah, הָרָמָה] To others the ה is a servile letter (certain interpreters in Bonfrerius), and they read Ramah (Septuagint, Jonathan, Syriac, Arabic, Munster, Pagnine, Tigurinus, Junius and Tremellius). The article set before the name indicates that this city was famous. I suppose that it was Sarepta.[7] Each was situated in an elevated place; which the name Ramah,[8] and the vines of Sarepta, indicate. Bacchus loves the hills[9] (Masius).

[Unto that most fortified city, Tyre, צֹר[10]] Unto the fortified city of rock (Pagnine), that is, which was situated on a high rock (Vatablus). Unto the cities of citadels, cities of strength (Jonathan). [All the rest understand here that most renowned city of Tyre: concerning which see Bonfrerius, Malvenda, and Masius.] Nevertheless, it does not signify Tyre itself, which was outside of Canaan, but the coast lying near to Tyre (Masius).

To the strong city Tyre; exclusively, for this city was no part of the land given them.

[And unto Hosah] This border is said to be turned back from Tyre to Hosah, because of the shore of the sea curved there (Masius).

[And its outgoings shall be at the sea from the line of Achzib,הַיָּ֖מָּה מֵחֶ֥בֶל אַכְזִֽיבָה׃] Unto the western part of the valley of Achzib (Syriac). Its border is the sea, which pertains to the line of Achzib (Arabic). Its borders end at the sea on the lot (or, line [Tigurinus]) of Achzib (Munster, Castalio), or, toward Achzib (Pagnine), or, reaching toward Achzib (Dutch), on the tract pertaining to Achzib (Junius and Tremellius), over against the region that looks toward Achzib (Masius out of the Chaldean). That is, it was reaching to those coasts where that line was sitting, on the sea, and was ended near the region of the city of Achzib. Now, it is evident that חֵבֶל signifies region out of Deuteronomy 3:14.[11] Moreover, Achzib is that Ecdippa near Tyre, as Eusebius affirms[12] (Masius). Others: at the sea from the coast to Achzib (English). You would more rightly translate it, from Hebel-Achzib (Osiander). From Hebel to Achzib (certain interpreters in Vatablus). The sense of the passage is: The border shall be complete with the line now led around on every side to the sea, to the sea, I say, that borders on those lands that are under the jurisdiction of the city of Achzib (Bonfrerius).


Verse 30:[13] Ummah also, and Aphek, and Rehob: twenty and two cities with their villages.

Twenty and two cities: Here are more named, but some of them were not within this tribe, but only bordering places.


Verse 31:[14] This is the inheritance of the tribe of the children of Asher according to their families, these cities with their villages.

[The possession of Asher] Those things that were predicted by Jacob and Moses in Genesis 49:20, his bread shall be fat, etc., are here fulfilled. Now, αὐτόπται/eyewitnesses testify that the valley of Asher is remarkably pleasant, superabounding in over sort of fruit and crop. See Josephus’ Jewish Wars 4:4. Moreover, in Deuteronomy 33:25, thy shoes shall be iron and brass. Which I take of iron and brass enclosures, that is, the pertinacious power of the Barbarians, which the Asherites were not able to break. And with this agrees what follows, וּכְיָמֶ֖יךָ דָּבְאֶֽךָ׃, and as thy days, so shall thy strength be, which I would thus translate with all simplicity, and as many as thy days, so many thine hardships; which is to say, For thee the struggle is going to be perpetual with the ancient inhabitants, by whom, as by iron and brass gates, thou shalt be kept at a distance. And there is an allusion to this in Judges 5:17, Asher remained at his ruins, that is, in his cities ruined by continuous war. But finally, that Moses spoke of iron and brass (as most interpreters maintain), that is also certainly consistent in this way. For, let me say nothing of Carmel, Libanus, Anti-libanus, and the other mountains, unto which the inheritance of the Asherites was reaching, and which are likely to have abounded in veins of metal; certainly Sarepta has its name from the working of metal (Masius); צָרְפַת/Zarephath, from the purging and forging of metals[15] (Masius on verse 29).

[1] Hebrew: וְשָׁ֙ב מִזְרַ֣ח הַשֶּׁמֶשׁ֮ בֵּ֣ית דָּגֹן֒ וּפָגַ֣ע בִּ֠זְבֻלוּן וּבְגֵ֙י יִפְתַּח־אֵ֥ל צָפ֛וֹנָה בֵּ֥ית הָעֵ֖מֶק וּנְעִיאֵ֑ל וְיָצָ֥א אֶל־כָּב֖וּל מִשְּׂמֹֽאל׃

[2] Cyropædia.

[3] Hebrew: צָפ֛וֹנָה בֵּ֥ית הָעֵ֖מֶק וּנְעִיאֵ֑ל.

[4] Hebrew: וְעֶבְרֹ֥ן וּרְחֹ֖ב וְחַמּ֣וֹן וְקָנָ֑ה עַ֖ד צִיד֥וֹן רַבָּֽה׃

[5] Hebrew: וְשָׁ֤ב הַגְּבוּל֙ הָֽרָמָ֔ה וְעַד־עִ֖יר מִבְצַר־צֹ֑ר וְשָׁ֤ב הַגְּבוּל֙ חֹסָ֔ה וְיִהְי֧וּ תֹצְאֹתָ֛יו הַיָּ֖מָּה מֵחֶ֥בֶל אַכְזִֽיבָה׃

[6] Hebrew: צֹר.

[7] See 1 Kings 17:9; Luke 4:26.

[8] רָמָה signifies a high place.

[9] Virgil’s Georgics 2:113.

[10] צֹר can signify Tyre, or flint.

[11] Deuteronomy 3:14a:  “Jair the son of Manasseh took all the country of Argob (כָּל־חֶ֣בֶל אַרְגֹּ֔ב) unto the coasts of Geshuri and Maachathi…”

[12] Onomasticon.

[13] Hebrew: וְעֻמָ֥ה וַאֲפֵ֖ק וּרְחֹ֑ב עָרִ֛ים עֶשְׂרִ֥ים וּשְׁתַּ֖יִם וְחַצְרֵיהֶֽן׃

[14] Hebrew: זֹ֗את נַחֲלַ֛ת מַטֵּ֥ה בְנֵֽי־אָשֵׁ֖ר לְמִשְׁפְּחֹתָ֑ם הֶעָרִ֥ים הָאֵ֖לֶּה וְחַצְרֵיהֶֽן׃

[15] צָרַף signifies to smelt.

1 thought on “Joshua 19:27-31: The Borders of Asher, Part 2

  1. Matthew Henry: ‘The lot of Asher lay upon the coast of the great sea. We read not of any famous person of this tribe but Anna the prophetess, who was a constant resident in the temple at the time of our Saviour’s birth, Luke 2:36. Nor were there many famous places in this tribe. Aphek (mentioned Joshua 19:30) was the place near which Ben-hadad was beaten by Ahab, 1 Kings 20:30. But close adjoining to this tribe were the celebrated seaport towns of Tyre and Sidon, which we read so much of. Tyre is called here that strong city (Joshua 19:29), but Bishop Patrick thinks it was not the same Tyre that we read of afterwards, for that was built on an island; this old strong city was on the continent. And it is conjectured by some that into these two strongholds, Sidon and Tzor, or Tyre, many of the people of Canaan fled and took shelter when Joshua invaded them.’

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