Joshua 19:40-47: The Cities of Dan

Verse 40:[1] And the seventh lot came out for the tribe of the children of Dan according to their families.

[To the tribe of the children of Dan] Here he describes the borders of the Danites in such a way that he enumerates almost only cities, and does not distinctly draw a line around. It is not doubtful that this tribe was on the sea, or not far from the sea; which the city of Joppa sufficiently indicates, which was on the sea:[2] but Benjamin and Judah were on its Eastern side (Bonfrerius). The Danites possessed cities attributed to the Judahites; which was previously discussed. The received a small portion from the Judahites southward; otherwise they withdraw from them unto the North (Masius): and indeed all the way to Dora,[3] says Josephus;[4] how correctly does no appear to me, since the Ephraimites (whose lot reached all the way to the sea) came between the Manassites (in whose lot was Dora) and the Danites (Bonfrerius). But Josephus appears to have been more conversant in arms than in the Holy Books (Masius). Moreover, this Tribe included in its lot three satrapies of the Philistines, namely, Azotus, Gath-rimmon (which was also Gath [Masius, Bonfrerius]), and Ekron. For Josephus ascribes only two of the five satrapies to Judah, namely, Ashkelon and Gaza (Bonfrerius on verse 46). But the Southern side was extended from Azotus beyond Eleutheropolis Westward, and thus it was bent back toward Kirjath-Jearim, and thence to Joppa. Moreover, the lot of Dan appears to have been drawn in the last place, although he was older than Naphtali, because Jacob[5] and Moses[6] had predicted certain inauspicious things concerning him. Furthermore, because those predictions appear to have regard to the character and habits of the men, rathan than to the situation of their inheritance, it would be superfluous to explain them here (Masius on verse 48).


Verse 41:[7] And the coast of their inheritance was Zorah, and Eshtaol, and Ir-shemesh…

Their inheritance; which is here described only by its cities, not by its borders, which are in part the same with Judah’s; and their inheritance is in good part taken out of Judah’s too large portion, as appears from divers of the cities here mentioned, which are also reckoned as in Judah’s portion.

[Ir-shemesh, וְעִ֥יר שָֽׁמֶשׁ׃] That is, City of the Sun. They think that it was a בֵּת שָׁמֶשׁ, Beth Shemesh, House/Temple of the sun of the Jews (Masius). Others maintain that it was Beth-shemesh, 1 Kings 4:9, which is called also Har-Heres, that is, the mountain of the Sun, Judges 1:35 (Malvenda out of Junius).


Verse 42:[8] And (Judg. 1:35) Shaalabbin, and Ajalon, and Jethlah…


Verse 43:[9] And Elon, and Thimnathah, and Ekron…


Verse 44:[10] And Eltekeh, and Gibbethon, and Baalath…

[Baalath, וּבַעֲלָת] I do not know whether this is Baalath of the Judahites, or in fact Baalah, that is, Kirjath-Jearim.[11] The former satisfies the Hebrews, who gather out of Judges 18:12[12] that the city belongs to the Judahites, but a suburban field to the Danites (Masius).


Verse 45:[13] And Jehud, and Bene-berak, and Gath-rimmon…


Verse 46:[14] And Me-jarkon, and Rakkon, with the border before (or, over againt[15]) Japho (or, Joppa, Acts 9:36).

[With the border that looks toward Joppa, עִֽם־הַגְּב֖וּל מ֥וּל יָפֽוֹ׃] With the border over against Japho (Pagnine, Montanus, Jonathan), or, that is opposite to Japho (Munter, Tigurinus); with its border opposite to Japho (Junius and Tremellius), or, Joppa (Junius). With that entire tract that was lying next to Japho (Vatablus). With the borders and region of Japho (Arabic). With all the cities that were situated in sight of Joppa (Malvenda out of Masius).

[1] Hebrew: לְמַטֵּ֥ה בְנֵי־דָ֖ן לְמִשְׁפְּחֹתָ֑ם יָצָ֖א הַגּוֹרָ֥ל הַשְּׁבִיעִֽי׃

[2] See Joshua 19:46; 2 Chronicles 2:16; Ezra 3:7; Jonah 1:3; Acts 9; 10.

[3] Dora was on the Mediterranea coast, almost as far north as the southern tip of the sea of Galilee.

[4] Antiquities 5:1.

[5] Genesis 49:16, 17.

[6] Deuteronomy 33:22.

[7] Hebrew: וַיְהִ֖י גְּב֣וּל נַחֲלָתָ֑ם צָרְעָ֥ה וְאֶשְׁתָּא֖וֹל וְעִ֥יר שָֽׁמֶשׁ׃

[8] Hebrew: וְשַֽׁעֲלַבִּ֥ין וְאַיָּל֖וֹן וְיִתְלָֽה׃

[9] Hebrew: וְאֵיל֥וֹן וְתִמְנָ֖תָה וְעֶקְרֽוֹן׃

[10] Hebrew: וְאֶלְתְּקֵ֥ה וְגִבְּת֖וֹן וּבַעֲלָֽת׃

[11] See Joshua 15:9-11, 29; 1 Chronicles 13:6.

[12] Judges 18:12:  “And they went up, and pitched in Kirjath-jearim, in Judah:  wherefore they called that place Mahaneh-dan (מַחֲנֵה־דָן, the camp of Dan) unto this day:  behold, it is behind Kirjath-jearim.”

[13] Hebrew: וִיהֻ֥ד וּבְנֵֽי־בְרַ֖ק וְגַת־רִמּֽוֹן׃

[14] Hebrew: וּמֵ֥י הַיַּרְק֖וֹן וְהָֽרַקּ֑וֹן עִֽם־הַגְּב֖וּל מ֥וּל יָפֽוֹ׃

[15] Hebrew: מוּל.

1 thought on “Joshua 19:40-47: The Cities of Dan

  1. Matthew Henry: ‘Dan, though commander of one of the four squadrons of the camp of Israel, in the wilderness, that which brought up the rear, yet was last provided for in Canaan, and his lot fell in the southern part of Canaan, between Judah on the east and the land of the Philistines on the west, Ephraim on the north and Simeon on the south. Providence ordered this numerous and powerful tribe into a post of danger, as best able to deal with those vexatious neighbours the Philistines, and so it was found in Samson. Here is an account…Of what fell to this tribe by lot, Zorah, and Eshtaol, and the camp of Dan thereabouts, of which we read in the story of Samson. And near there was the valley of Eshcol, whence the spies brought the famous bunch of grapes. Japho, or Joppa was in this lot.’

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