Biblical commentary the Old Testament/Volume II. Historical Books/Joshua
The Book of Joshua Edit
Contents, Date, and Character of the Book Edit
The book of Joshua derives its name, יהושע, Ἰησοῦς Ναυή or υἱὸς Ναυή (lxx), not from its author, but from its contents, viz., the history of the guidance of Israel into the land of Canaan, the land promised to the fathers, by Joshua the son of Nun. It commences immediately after the death of Moses, with the command addressed by the Lord to Joshua, to lead the children of Israel over the Jordan into Canaan, and not only to take possession of this land, but to divide it among the tribes of Israel (Jos 1:1-9), and closes with the death and burial of Joshua and his contemporary, the high priest Eleazar (Jos 24:29-33). The contents may be divided into two parts of nearly equal length-the conquest of Canaan (Josh 1-12), and the division of it among the tribes of Israel (Josh 12-24); Jos 1:1-9 forming the introductory notice, that when Moses was dead the Lord commanded Joshua, who had been called to be the leader of Israel in his stead, to carry out the work entrusted to him, and encouraged him by the promise of His omnipotent help in the completion of it (Jos 1:1-9), the history opens in the first part, (1) with the preparations made by Joshua for advancing into Canaan; viz., (a) the command of Joshua to the people to prepare for crossing the Jordan, the summons to the two tribes and a half to help their brethren to conquer Canaan (Jos 1:10-18), and the despatch of spies to Jericho (Josh 2); (b) the crossing of the river, which had been laid dry by a divine miracle (Josh 3 and 4); and (c) the preparation of Israel for the conquest of the land, by the performance of circumcision and the passover at Gilgal (Jos 5:1-12). Then follow (2) the conquest and subjugation of Canaan; viz., (a) the commencement of it by the miraculous fall of Jericho (Josh 5:13-6:27), the attack upon Ai, and capture of that town, after the expiation of the guilt that had been brought upon the congregation through the sin of Achan against the ban (Josh 7-8:29), and the solemn act of setting up the law in the land on Ebal and Gerizim (Jos 8:30-35); (b) the further conquest of the land through the subjugation of the Gibeonites, who had succeeded surreptitiously in obtaining a treaty from Israel which guaranteed their safety (Josh 9); the two great victories over the allied kings of Canaan in the south (Josh 10) and north (Josh 11), with the capture of the fortified towns of the land; and lastly, at the close of the first part, the list of the conquered kings (Josh 12). - The second part commences with the command of God to Joshua to divide the whole land among the nine tribes and a half for a possession, although several parts of it still remained unconquered; as two tribes and a half had already received from Moses their inheritance on the eastern side of the Jordan, the boundaries and towns of which are then described (Josh 13). Accordingly Joshua, with the heads of the people appointed for the purpose, proceeded to the distribution of the land, first of all (a) in the camp at Gilgal, where Caleb was the first to receive his inheritance (Jos 14:1-15), and then, according to the lot, the tribes of Judah (Josh 15) and Joseph, i.e., Ephraim and (half) Manasseh (Jos 16:1-10 and 17); and afterwards (b) at Shiloh, where the tabernacle was first of all erected, and a description of the land to be divided written down (Jos 18:1-10), and then the rest of the tribes-Benjamin (Josh 18:11-28), Simeon, Zebulun, Issachar, Asher, Naphtali, and Dan (Josh 19), - received their inheritance, after which the cities of refuge were selected (Jos 20:1-9), and forty-eight cities were given up by the twelve tribes for the Levites to occupy (Josh 21); and finally, (c) the warriors belonging to the tribes beyond Jordan were sent back by Joshua to their own inheritance (Josh 22). To this there is appended, in the next place, an account of what Joshua did towards the end of his life to establish the tribes of Israel securely in their inheritance: viz., (a) an exhortation to the heads of the tribes, who were gathered round him, to carry out their calling with fidelity (Josh 23); and (b) the renewal of the covenant at the diet at Shechem (Josh 24:1-28). This is followed by an account of the close of Joshua's life, and the conclusion of the whole book (Jos 24:29-33). Thus the two parts or halves of the book correspond exactly to one another, both in form and in contents. As the events described in Josh 1:10-5:12 were preparatory to the conquest of Canaan, so the diets held by Joshua after the distribution of the land by lot (Josh 23-24:28) had no other object than to establish the covenant people firmly in the inheritance bestowed upon them by God, by exhorting them to be faithful to the Lord. And just as Josh 12 rounds off the first part, as a kind of appendix which completes the history of the conquest of the land, so Josh 22 is obviously an appendix to the distribution of the land among the tribes, which brings to a close the dismission of the people to the separate portions of their inheritance.
The book of Joshua is not intended merely as a continuation of the history of Israel from the death of Moses to the death of Joshua, still less as a description of the acts of Joshua only. The purpose of the book is rather to show how, after the death of Moses, the faithful covenant God fulfilled to the children of Israel, whom He had adopted as His people of possession through the mediation of His servant, the promise which He had made to the patriarchs; how the Canaanites were destroyed, and their land given to the tribes of Israel for an hereditary possession through the medium of Joshua, the servant of Moses, whom he had consecrated as leader of the people through the laying on of hands and by putting some of his honour upon him. As the servant of Moses treading in his footsteps, Joshua finished the work which Moses was not allowed to bring to a conclusion on account of his sin at the water of strife, viz., the planting and establishment of Israel in Canaan, the land of its inheritance, which the Lord had selected for His dwelling (Exo 15:17) and chosen as the nursery ground of His kingdom. As Joshua simply carried on in this respect, and brought to completion, the work which Moses had begun, arranged, and set on foot, the book of Joshua is naturally connected very closely with the books of Moses, though without forming an integral part, or the last portion of it, and without being written by Joshua himself.
The origin of the book of Joshua is involved in obscurity, as we can neither find out its author, nor determine with certainty the date of its composition. Whereas, on the one hand, the historical account bears throughout the mark of having been written by an eye-witness, and even by one who had taken part in the events described, and the description given of the possessions allotted to the different tribes according to their respective boundaries and the cities which they contained is unquestionably founded upon contemporaneous writings, and in one passage the writer actually classes himself with those who crossed over Jordan into Canaan under the guidance of Joshua (Jos 5:1, “until we were passed over”); on the other hand we find a number of historical statements in the book, which point beyond the life of Joshua and are opposed to the idea that it was written by Joshua himself. We do not include in these either the closing accounts of the death of Joshua and Eleazar (Jos 24:29, Jos 24:33), or the allusion to the “book of the righteous” (Jos 10:13): for these accounts might have been appended to a writing of Joshua's by a later hand, just as in the case of the Pentateuch; and the book of the righteous is not a work that was composed after the time of Joshua, but a collection of odes in praise of the acts of the Lord in Israel, which were composed by pious minstrels during the conquest of the land, and were added one by one to this collection. Even the frequent repetition of the statement that this or the other has continued “to this day,” furnishes no certain proof that the book was not written in the closing years of Joshua's life, when we consider the purely relative signification of the formula, which is sometimes used in connection with things that only lasted a few years. Apart from such passages as Jos 22:3, Jos 22:17, and Jos 23:8-9, in which no one has discovered any allusion to a later time than that of Joshua, we find the formula “to this day” in Jos 4:9; Jos 5:9; Jos 6:25; Jos 7:26; Jos 8:28-29; Jos 9:27; Jos 13:13; Jos 14:14; Jos 15:63, and Jos 16:10. But if the remark made in Jos 6:25 with regard to Rahab, “she dwelleth in Israel unto this day,” was certainly written during her lifetime, such statements as that the first encampment of Israel in Canaan “is called Gilgal unto this day,” on account of the circumcision of the people that took place there, and that the valley in which Achan was stoned is called Achor “unto this day” (Jos 5:9; Jos 7:26), or that the memorial stones set up in the bed of the Jordan (Jos 4:9), and the heaps of stones raised upon the bodies of Achan and the king of Ai (Jos 7:26; Jos 8:29), remain “unto this day;” that “unto this day” Ai remains an heap (Jos 8:28), the Gibeonites are hewers of wood and drawers of water to the congregation (Jos 9:27), and Hebron is the inheritance of Caleb (Jos 14:14); that the Geshurites and Maachathites have not been expelled (Jos 13:13), nor the inhabitants of Jerusalem and Gezer (Jos 15:63; Jos 16:10), but dwell among and by the side of Israel “unto this day,” may be just as easily understood, if they were made ten of fifteen years after the conquest and division of Canaan, as if they were made after an interval of eighty or a hundred years. For even in giving names, the remark that the new name has remained to this day is of greater significance at the end of ten years than after an interval of a century, since its permanence would be fully secured if it made its way to general adoption during the first ten years. The formula “to this day” proves nothing more than that the written record was not quite contemporaneous with the events; but it does not warrant us in concluding that the book itself was written several generations, or even centuries, after the settlement of Israel in Canaan.
It is different with the accounts of the conquest of Hebron by Caleb, Debir by Othniel, and Leshem by the Danites (Jos 15:13-19 and Jos 19:47). Considered by themselves, these conquests could no doubt have taken place before the death of Joshua, as he lived for some time after the distribution of the land and the settlement of the different tribes in the possessions allotted to them (compare Jos 19:50 and Jos 23:1, with Jos 22:4 and Jos 21:43-44). But if we compare these accounts with the parallel accounts of the same conquests in Jdg 1:10-16 and Jdg 1:18, there can be no doubt that it was after Joshua's death that the places mentioned were taken permanently from the Canaanites, came into the actual and permanent possession of the Israelites. For, according to Jdg 1:1-15, the Israelites inquired of the Lord, after the death of Joshua, who should begin the war with the Canaanites, i.e., with those who had not yet been destroyed, and received this reply, “Judah shall go up: behold, I have delivered the land into his hand;” whereupon Judah and Simeon smote the Canaanites at Bezek, then advanced against Jerusalem, took this city and set it on fire, and “afterward” (Jdg 1:9) proceeded against the Canaanites on the mountains and in the south, and took Hebron and Debir. From this account it is evident at once that even the capture of Jerusalem did not take place till after the death of Joshua, and that even then the Jebusites were not driven out of Jerusalem, but continued to dwell there by the side of the Benjamites (Jdg 1:21), so that the same statement in Jos 15:63 also points beyond the death of Joshua. It is equally evident from Judg 18 that the Danites of Zorah and Eshtaol did not enter upon the expedition against Leshem or Laish till after Joshua's death. This also applies to the other statements concerning the failure to expel the Canaanite out of different districts and towns, which are common to this book and the book of Judges (compare Jos 13:2-5; Jos 16:10, and Jos 17:11-12, with Jdg 3:3; Jdg 1:29, and Jdg 1:27-28), so that we might infer from every one of these passages that this book of Joshua was not written till after Joshua's death, and therefore that the closing accounts of his death in Jos 24:29-33 formed a part of the original work.
If we endeavour to determine the date of composition more exactly, we have first of all to bear in mind the fact, that the wars and conquests just referred to cannot have occurred a very long time after Joshua's death; for, in the first place, it was in the very nature of things, that when the different tribes of Israel proceeded into their different possessions, even if they did not commence the attack upon the remaining Canaanites immediately, they would certainly do so very soon, in order that they might obtain complete and undisputed possession of the land. Moreover, when the division of the land by lot took place, Caleb was eighty-five years old; and yet he lived to see the capture of Hebron and Debir, and even took part in it, inasmuch as he not only promised but was able to give his daughter to the conqueror of Debir for a wife (Jos 15:13-19; Jdg 1:11.). It was no doubt shortly after these wars, in which Judah took possession of the mountains, but was unable to destroy the Canaanites who dwelt in the valley, because of their possessing iron chariots (Jdg 1:19), that the Danites felt obliged to go northwards to conquer Leshem, and take it for a possession, on account of the inheritance assigned them by lot between Judah and Ephraim being too small for them, because the Canaanites had not been expelled. And whilst all these occurrences, which are mentioned in the book of Joshua, fell within the period immediately succeeding the death of Joshua, we can find distinct evidence in the book itself that it was not written after, but before, the establishment of the monarchy in Israel. According to Jos 16:10, the Canaanites were still dwelling in Gezer; yet they were destroyed at the close of David's reign, or the commencement of that of Solomon, when Pharaoh, the king of Egypt, conquered the town (1Ki 9:16). According to Jos 15:63, the Jebusites had not yet been driven out of Jerusalem; but this was accomplished by David at the beginning of his reign over all the tribes of Israel (2Sa 5:3, 2Sa 5:6-9). According to Jos 9:27, the place for the temple had not yet been chosen, but this was done in the time of David (2Sa 24:8.; 1Ch 21:16.). And the Gibeonites were still hewers of wood and drawers of water to the congregation for the altar of the Lord, by virtue of the treaty which Joshua and the elders had made with them; whereas this treaty was violated by Saul, who endeavoured to destroy the Gibeonites (2Sa 21:1.). If we add to this, that our book shows no traces whatever of later times and circumstances either in its style or contents, but that it is closely connected with the Pentateuch in the language as well as in its peculiar stand-point-for example, when the only Phoenicians mentioned are the Sidonians, and they are reckoned as belonging to the Canaanites who were to be destroyed (Jos 13:4-6), whereas in the time of David we find the circumstances entirely changed (2Sa 5:11; 1Ki 5:15; 1Ch 14:1); and again when Sidon is referred to as the chief city of Phoenicia, and the epithet “great” is applied to it (Jos 11:8; Jos 19:28), whereas Tyre had outstripped Sidon even in the days of David, - the conclusion becomes an extremely probable one, that the book was written not later than twenty or twenty-five years after the death of Joshua, in all probability by one of the elders who crossed the Jordan with Joshua, and had taken part in the conquest of Canaan (vid., Jos 5:1, Jos 5:6), but who survived Joshua a considerable time (Jos 24:31; Jdg 2:7).
But even if the book of Joshua was not composed till some time after the events recorded (and the authorship cannot be determined with certainty), this does not affect its historico-prophetic character; for both the contents and form of the book show it to be an independent and simple work composed with historical fidelity, and a work which is as thoroughly pervaded with the spirit of the Old Testament revelation as the Pentateuch itself. However closely it is connected with the Pentateuch both in language and contents, there is no tenable ground for the hypothesis set up in various forms by modern critics, that it has arisen, just like the Pentateuch, from the fusion of two or three earlier writings, and was composed by the so-called “Deuteronomist.” For, even if we leave altogether out of sight the fact that this hypothesis is unfounded and untenable in the case of the Pentateuch, the supposed community of authorship between the book of Joshua and that of Deuteronomy, as well as the rest of the Pentateuch, in the revised from in which it has come down to us, is founded chiefly upon the opinion that the death of Moses, with which the Pentateuch closes, “does not form a fitting conclusion for a work which commenced with the creation, and treated the earlier history in the manner in which this is done in the Pentateuch;” because “it is hardly conceivable that a historical work, which was written at any rate some time after the conquest of the land of Canaan by the Israelites, should describe all the preparations that were made for the conquest of the land, and then break off without including either the capture of the land, or the division of it among the remaining tribes” (Bleek's Einleitung, Stähelin, and others). But, in the first place, it is to be observed that the Pentateuch was not written “some time after the conquest of Canaan by the Israelites,” and is not to be regarded as a historical work in the sense intended by these critics. It is the law book of the Old Testament, to which, as even Bleek admits, the book of Deuteronomy forms an appropriate close. And, in the second place, although the book of Joshua is closely connected with the Pentateuch, and carries on the history to the conquest of the promised land by the Israelites, there is evidence that it is an independent work, in the fact that it repeats the account of the conquest of the land on the east of Jordan, and its distribution by Moses among the two tribes and a half, and also of the cities of refuge which Moses had already appointed in that part of the land, for the purpose of giving a full and complete account of the fulfilment of the promise made by God to the patriarchs, that their seed should receive the land of Canaan for a possession; and still more in the peculiarities of language by which it is obviously distinguished from the books of Moses. In the book of Joshua not only do we find none of the archaisms which run pretty uniformly through all the books of the Pentateuch, such as הוּא for היא, נער for נערה, האל for האלּה, and other words which are peculiar to the Pentateuch; but we find, on the other hand, words and expressions which never occur in the Pentateuch, e.g., the constant form יריחי (Jos 2:1-3, etc., in all twenty-six times) instead of the form ירחי, which is quite as uniformly adopted in the Pentateuch (Num 22:1; Num 26:3, etc., in all eleven times): also ממלכוּת, for the kingdom of Sihon and Og (Jos 13:12, Jos 13:21, Jos 13:27, Jos 13:30-31), instead of ממלכת (Num 32:33; Deu 3:4, Deu 3:10, etc.); קנּוא (Jos 24:19) instead of קנּא (Exo 20:5; Exo 34:14; Deu 4:24; Deu 5:9, etc.); שׁמע, fama (Jos 6:27; Jos 9:9), for שׁמע (Gen 29:13, etc.); ירא (Jos 22:25) for יראה (Deu 4:10; Deu 5:26, etc.); and lastly, החיל גּבּורי (Jos 1:14; Jos 6:2; Jos 8:3; Jos 10:7) for חיל בּני (Deu 3:18); נאד, a bottle (Jos 9:4, Jos 9:13), for חמת (Gen 21:14-15, Gen 21:19); hitsiyt, to set on fire or burn (Jos 8:8, Jos 8:19); צנח, to spring down (Jos 15:18); קצין, a prince or leader (Jos 10:24); שׁקט, to rest (Jos 11:23; Jos 14:15); and other words besides, which you seek for in vain in the Pentateuch, whereas they frequently occur in the later books.
Whilst the independence of the book of Joshua is thus placed beyond all doubt, its internal unity, or the singleness of the authorship, is evident in general from the arrangement and connection of the contents, as shown above, and in particular from the fact, that in the different parts of the book we neither meet with material differences or discrepancies, nor are able to detect two different styles. The attempt which was formerly made by De Wette, Hauff, and others, to show that there were material discrepancies in the different parts, has been almost entirely given up by Bleek and Stähelin in their introductions. What Bleek still notices in this respect, in chs. 3 and 4, Josh 8:1-29 and other passages, will be examined in our exposition of the chapters in question, along with the arguments which Knobel employs against the unity of the book. The many traces of different modes of thought which were adduced by Stähelin in 1843, have been dropped in his special introduction (1862): the only one that he insists upon now is the fact, that the way in which Joshua acts in Jos 18:1-10 is very different from Jos 14:1-15 ff.; and that in the historical sections, as a rule, Joshua is described as acting very differently from what would be expected from Num 27:21, inasmuch as he acts quite independently, and never asks the high priest to give him an answer through the Urim and Thummim. This remark is so far correct, that throughout the whole book, and not merely in the historical sections, Joshua is never said to have inquired the will of the Lord through the medium of the Urim and Thummim of the high priest, and Eleazar is not mentioned at all in the historical portions. But it does not follow from this that there is any such difference in the mode of thought as would point to a difference of authorship. For, on the one hand, Joshua is blamed in Jos 14:14 for having made a treaty with the Gibeonites, without asking at the mouth of Jehovah, and in this there is evidently a gentle allusion to Num 27:21; and on the other hand, even Num 27:21 by no means implies that God would only make known His will to Joshua through the Urim and Thummim: so that when Joshua is there referred to the high priest for instructions, all other communications, such as those which he received directly from the Lord with regard to the conquest and division of Canaan, are thereby precluded. If the Lord made known to him what he was to do in this respect, partly by the direct communication of His will, and partly by His angel (Jos 5:13.), there was no occasion at all for Eleazar to be mentioned in the historical portion of the book, since the direction of the army to fight battles and conquer towns did not form part of the official functions of the high priest, even if he did accompany Joshua in his campaigns. In the geographical portion, however, Eleazar is only mentioned in connection with the committee of heads of the nation appointed according to the law in Num 34:17. for the distribution of the land (Jos 14:1; Jos 19:51; Jos 21:1); and even here he does not stand out with any peculiar prominence, as Joshua was still at the head of the whole nation when this was performed (Jos 13:1, Jos 13:7). Consequently, not only did Caleb apply to Joshua with the request for the inheritance promised him by the Lord (Jos 14:6.); but even in other cases, where there was no reason for enumerating the different members of the commission for dividing the land, Joshua is mentioned as appointing and superintending the casting of the lots (Jos 18:3-10; Jos 20:1).
The proofs adduced of the “double style” of the book are equally weak. The principal ones are the fact, that the word generally used for tribe in the historical sections is shebet, whereas matteh is the word employed in the geographical sections, and that in the latter the word machaloketh is altogether wanting (Jos 11:23; Jos 12:7). But the interchange of shebet and matteh may be fully explained from the difference in the meaning of these two words, shebet denoting the tribe as a political corporation, possessing independence and power, and matteh having simple regard to its genealogical aspect-a distinction which is not overthrown by the assurance, that “in Jos 7:14, Jos 7:16, Jos 7:18, and Jos 22:1, as compared with Jos 13:29, and in Jos 3:12, as compared with Num 34:18, the charge is perfectly arbitrary.” But whether it be involuntary or carefully considered, there is no ground for inferring that there have been two writers engaged upon the work, for the simple reason that both words occur in the historical as well as the geographical sections-sometimes, in fact, in the very same verse, e.g., Jos 13:29 and Num 18:2, where we cannot possibly imagine a fusion of different documents to have taken place. (For further remarks, see at Jos 7:1.) The word machaloketh, however, is not synonymous with mishpachah, as Stähelin supposes, but denotes the various subdivisions of the tribes into families, fathers' houses and families; and this also not only occurs in Jos 11:23 and Jos 12:7, but in the geographical portion also, in Jos 18:10. The other remark, viz., that “in the place of the אבות ראשׁי, who are the leading actors in the geographical sections, we find the elders, judges, heads ראשׁים and שׁטרים in the historical, or else simply the shoterim (Jos 1:10; Jos 3:2; Jos 8:33; Jos 23:2; Jos 24:1), or the elders,” is neither quite correct, nor in the least degree conclusive. It is incorrect, inasmuch as even in the geographical portion, namely Jos 17:4, the נשׂיאים are mentioned instead of the raa'sheey 'aabowt, along with Eleazar and Joshua. But the notion upon which this argument is founded is still more erroneous, viz., that “the נשׂיאים, אבות ראשׁי, זקנים, שׁפטים and שׁטרים are all the same, as we may clearly see from Deu 1:15;” for the identity of the terms elders and heads with the terms judges and officers (shoterim) cannot possibly be inferred from this passage, in which the judges and shoterim are said to have been chosen from the elders of the nation. Even the “heads of the fathers' houses” (see at Exo 6:14) were only a section of the princes and heads of the nation, and those mentioned in the book of Joshua are simply those who were elected as members of the distribution committee, and who are naturally referred to in connection with the division of the land by lot; whereas the judges and shoterim had nothing to do with it, and for this very reason are not mentioned at all in the geographical sections. - And if, instead of confining ourselves to the words, we turn our attention to the facts, all the peculiarities that we meet with in the different parts of the book may be explained in this way, and the seeming differences brought into harmony. In a work which embraces two such different subjects as the forcible conquest and the peaceable distribution of the land of Canaan, the same ideas and expression cannot possibly be constantly recurring, if the words are to be at all in conformity with the actual contents. And not the smallest conclusion can be drawn from such differences as these with regard to the composition of the book; much less can they be adduced as proofs of diversity of authorship. Moreover, the unity of authorship is not to be overthrown by proving, or showing it to be probable, that the author made use of written documents for some of the sections, - such, for example, as the official records prepared for the distribution of the land by lot, - in his description of the possession of the different tribes.
Lastly, the historical fidelity of the book of Joshua cannot justly be called in question; and so far as all the narratives and descriptions are concerned, which lie within the sphere of the ordinary laws of nature, this is generally admitted. This applies not only to the description oft he possessions of the different tribes according to their boundaries and towns, which are almost universally acknowledged to have been derived from authentic records, but to such historical passages as the words of Caleb (Jos 14:6.), the address of Phinehas, and the reply of the two tribes and a half (Josh 22), the complaint of the children of Joseph on account of the smallness of the possessions that had fallen to their lot, and Joshua's answer (Jos 17:14.), which are so thoroughly original, and so perfectly appropriate to the persons and circumstances, that their historical credibility cannot be disputed.
It is chiefly at the miraculous occurrences that the opponents of the biblical revelation have taken offence: partly therefore because of the miracles themselves, and partly because the statement that God commanded the destruction of the Canaanites is irreconcilable with correct (?) views of the Godhead, they deny the historical character of the whole book. But the miracles recorded in this book do not stand alone; on the contrary, they are most intimately connected with the great work of divine revelation, and the redemption of the human race; so that it is only through unscriptural assumptions as to the character of God, and His operations in nature and the world of men, that they can be pronounced unreal, or altogether denied.
And the objection, that the destruction of the Canaanites, as an act commanded by God, “cannot be reconciled even with only half correct notions of the Deity,” as Eichhorn maintains, rests upon totally unscriptural and irrational views of God and the divine government, which deny a priori all living influence on the part of the “Deity” upon the earth and its inhabitants. But the true God is not a Deity who can neither help nor injure men (Jer 10:5); He is the almighty creator, preserver, and governor of the world. This God was Jehovah, who chose Israel for His own people, “a living God, an everlasting King” (Jer 10:10); who not only fixed for the nations the bounds of their habitations, but their appointed times as well, that they should seek Him, if haply they might feel after Him, and find Him (Deu 32:8; Act 17:26-27); who, because He has given to every nation upon earth life and being, property and land, to be rightly used, and to promote their own happiness through the glorification of the name of God, possesses both the power and the right to deprive them of all their possessions, and wipe out every trace of them from the earth, if they dishonour and disgrace the name of God by an obstinate abuse of the blessings and gifts entrusted to them. Thus the only true God, who judges the earth in eternally unchangeable wisdom and righteousness, and manifests His wrath in great judgments, as well as His mercy in innumerable blessings to all the children of men, had promised to Abraham that He would give him the land of Canaan for a possession for his seed the children of Israel, when the iniquity of the Amorites, who possessed it at that time, was full, i.e., had reached its full measure (Gen 12:7; Gen 15:13-16). The expulsion of the Canaanites, therefore, from possessions which they had no doubt rightfully held, but to which they had forfeited their right through the misuse they had made of them, is to be regarded quite as decidedly as an act of penal justice on the part of God, as the presentation of this land to Israel was an act of His free grace; and the destruction of the Canaanites by the Israelites, as well as their capture of the possession which the Canaanites had forfeited through their sins (vid., Lev 18:24-28; Deu 12:29-31), was perfectly justifiable, if, as our book affirms, the Israelites were only acting as instruments in the hands of the Lord. It is true they were not warranted in carrying on a war of extermination against the Canaanites simply because the land had been given them by God, any more than David was warranted in putting Saul to death and wresting the kingdom from him, although he had been rejected by the Lord, simply because Samuel had promised him the kingdom by the command of God, and had even anointed him king over Israel. But the Israelites did not proceed from Egypt to Canaan of their own accord, or by their own power; they were brought out of this land of their bondage by the God of their fathers with a mighty arm, and led by Him through the wilderness into the promised land. Joshua acted, as Moses had done before him, by the immediate command of God; and the fact that this command was real and well-founded, and not a mere fancy, is proved by the miraculous signs through which God accredited the armies of Israel as the servants of His judicial righteousness, who were fighting in His name and by His command, when the Lord of the whole earth divided the waters of Jordan before them, threw down the walls of Jericho, filled the Canaanites with fear and despair, killed them with hailstones at Gibeon, and brought to nought all their plans and endeavours to resist the advance of Israel, so that Joshua smote great and mighty nations, and no one could stand before him. Hence the Psalmist was able to write, “Thou didst drive out the heathen with Thy hand, and plantedst them (the Israelites); Thou hast destroyed nations, and cast them out. For they got not the land in possession by their own sword, neither did their own arm help them; but Thy right hand, and Thine arm, and the light of Thy countenance, because Thou hadst a favour unto them” (Psa 44:2-3). - And whilst the Israelites were thus proved to be the executors of the penal judgments of God, they acted in perfect accordance with this vocation by the manner in which they carried out the judgment entrusted to them. They submitted cheerfully and obediently to all the appointments of Joshua; they sanctified themselves by the circumcision of all who had remained uncircumcised in the desert and by keeping the passover at Gilgal; they set up the law of the Lord upon Ebal and Gerizim; they executed the ban upon the Canaanites, as the Lord had commanded, and punished Achan and his house for transgressing this ban, that they might expunge the sin from their midst; they vowed, in the most solemn manner, that when they had come into peaceable possession of the promised inheritance, they would renounce all idolatry, would serve Jehovah their God alone, and would hearken to His voice, to renew the covenant with the Lord; and they served the Lord as long as Joshua lived, and the elders after him, who knew all the works of the Lord which He had done for Israel. - (For further remarks upon this subject, see Hengstenberg's Dissertations on the Pentateuch, vol. ii. pp. 387-417, Eng. trans., Art. “On the Right of the Israelites to Palestine.”)
Thus the contents of the book have their higher unity and their truth in the idea of the justice, holiness, and grace of God, as they were manifested in the most glorious manner in the great historical event which forms the subject of the whole. Whilst justice was revealed in the case of the Canaanites, and grace in that of the Israelites, the holiness of the Almighty God was manifested in both, - in the Canaanites, who were liable to judgment, through their destruction; and in the Israelites, who were chosen to fellowship with the Lord, through the sanctification of their lives to the faithful performance of the duties of their vocation, both to the honour of God and the glory of His name.
The different views that have been expressed as to the time when the book was written are given more fully in Keil's Commentary on Joshua (1847, Eng. trans. 1857), where the exegetical aids are also given.
Chap. 1 Edit
The imperfect with vav consec., the standing mode of expressing a continued action or train of thought, “simply attaches itself by the conjunction 'and' to a completed action, which has either been mentioned before, or is supposed to be well known” (Ewald, §231, b.). “After the death of Moses,” i.e., after the expiration of the thirty days of general mourning for him (vid., Deu 34:8). “Servant of Jehovah” is a standing epithet applied to Moses as an honourable title, and founded upon Num 12:7-8 (vid., Deu 34:5; 1Ki 8:56; 2Ki 18:12; Psa 105:26, etc.). On “Joshua, Moses' minister,” see at Exo 17:9 and Num 13:16. Minister (meshareth), as in Exo 24:13, etc. Although Joshua had already been called by the mouth of the Lord to be the successor of Moses in the task of leading the people into Canaan (Num 27:15.), and had not only been presented to the people in this capacity, but had been instituted in this office by the Lord, with the promise of His help (Deu 31:3-7 and Deu 31:23), the word of the Lord came to him a second time after the death of Moses, with the command to enter upon the office to which he had been called, and with the promise that He would help him to fulfil its duties, as he had already helped His servant Moses. “Because even some of the bravest men, although fully prepared beforehand, either stand still or hesitate when the thing has to be done: this exhortation to Joshua, to gird himself at once for the expedition, was by no means superfluous; though his call was ratified again not only for his own sake, but in order that the people might not hesitate to follow him with their minds collected and calm, when they saw that he took no step without the guidance of God” (Calvin). - Joshua received this word of the Lord by a direct address from God, and not through the intervention of the Urim and Thummim of the high priest; for this appointed medium for the revelation of the will of God, to which he had been referred on the occasion of his first call (Num 27:21), whenever difficulties should arise in connection with his office, was not sufficient for the renewal and confirmation of his divine calling, since the thing required here was not merely that the will of God should be made known to him, but that he should be inspired with courage and strength for the fulfilment of it, i.e., for discharging the duties of his office, just as he afterwards was then in front of the fortified town of Jericho which he was directed to take, where the angel of the Lord appeared to him and assured him of its fall (Jos 5:13). Moreover, the conquest of Canaan formed part of the work which the Lord entrusted to His servant Moses, and in which therefore Joshua was now Moses' successor. Consequently the Lord would be with him as He had been with Moses (Jos 1:5); and for this reason He revealed His will directly to him, as He had done to Moses, though without talking with him mouth to mouth (Num 12:8).
Verse 2 Edit
As Moses had died without having brought the Israelites to Canaan, Joshua was to arise and go with all the nation over this Jordan (i.e., the river then before him) into the land which the Lord would give them.
Verse 3 Edit
“Namely, every place that the sole of your foot shall tread upon,” i.e., I have given you the whole land, not excepting a single foot's breadth. The perfect, “I have given,” refers to the counsel of God as having been formed long before, and being now about to be carried into execution. These words, which are connected with Deu 11:24, so far as the form is concerned, rest upon the promise of God in Exo 23:30-31, to which the words “as I said unto Moses” refer.
Verses 4-5 Edit
The boundaries of the land are given as in Deu 11:24, with the simple difference in form, that the boundary line from the desert (of Arabia) and Lebanon, i.e., from the southern and northern extremity, is drawn first of all towards the east to the great river, the Euphrates, and then towards the west to “the great sea, toward the going down of the sun,” i.e., the Mediterranean; and then between these two termini ad quem the more precise definition is inserted, “all the land of the Hittites;” whereas in Deuteronomy the southern, northern, and eastern boundaries are placed in antithesis to the western boundary, and the more precise definition of the country to be taken is given by an enumeration of the different tribes that were to be destroyed by the Israelites (Deu 11:23). On the oratorical character of these descriptions, see at Gen 15:18. The demonstrative pronoun “this,” in connection with Lebanon, may be explained from the fact that Lebanon, or at all events Anti-libanus, was visible from the Israelitish camp. The expression “the Hittites” (see at Gen 10:15) is used here in a broader sense for Canaanites in general, as in 1Ki 10:29; 2Ki 7:6; Eze 16:3. The promise in Jos 1:5 is adopted from Deu 11:25, where it was made to the whole nation, and specially transferred to Joshua; and Jos 1:5 is repeated from Deu 31:8, as compared with Jos 1:6.
Verses 6-8 Edit
The promise is followed by the condition upon which the Lord would fulfil His word. Joshua was to be firm and strong, i.e., well-assured, courageous, not alarmed (vid., Deu 31:6). In the first place (Jos 1:6), he was to rely firmly upon the Lord and His promise, as Moses and the Lord had already told him (Deu 31:7 and Deu 31:23), and as is again repeated here, whilst at the same time the expression, “thou shalt divide for an inheritance,” recalls to mind Deu 1:38; Deu 3:28; and in the second place (Jos 1:7, Jos 1:8), he was to strive to attain and preserve this firmness by a careful observance of the law. “Observe to do,” etc., as Moses had already impressed upon the hearts of all the people (Deu 5:29, cf. Deu 28:14 and Deu 2:27). The suffix in ממּנּוּ is to be explained on the supposition that the speaker had the book of the law in his mind. The further expansion, in Jos 1:8, is not only attached to the exhortations, with which Moses urges upon all the people in Deu 6:6-7, and Deu 11:18-19, an uninterrupted study and laying to heart of the commandments of God, but even more closely to the directions to the king, to read every day in the law (Deu 17:19). “Not to depart out of the mouth,” is to be constantly in the mouth. The law is in our mouth, not only when we are incessantly preaching it, but when we are reading it intelligently for ourselves, or conversing about it with others. To this there was to be added meditation, or reflection upon it both day and night (vid., Psa 1:2). הגה does not mean theoretical speculation about the law, such as the Pharisees indulged in, but a practical study of the law, for the purpose of observing it in thought and action, or carrying it out with the heart, the mouth, and the hand. Such a mode of employing it would be sure to be followed by blessings. “Then shalt thou make they way prosperous,” i.e., succeed in all thine undertakings (vid., Deu 28:29), “and act wisely” (as in Deu 29:8).
Verse 9 Edit
In conclusion, the Lord not only repeats His exhortation to firmness, but the promise that He gave in Jos 1:5 and Jos 1:6. “Have I not” (nonne) is a rhetorical mode of saying, “Behold, I have,” the assurance being clothed in the form of an affirmative question. On the words “be not afraid,” etc., see Deu 31:6 and Deu 31:8.
Verses 10-11 Edit
Preparations for Crossing the Jordan. - Jos 1:10-11. For the purpose of carrying out the commands of the Lord, Joshua first of all directed the officers of the people (shoterim: see at Ex 5-6), ), whose duty it was, as the keepers of the family registers, to attend not only to the levying of the men who were bound to serve in the army, but also to the circulation of the commands of the general, to issue orders to the people in the camp to provide themselves with food, so that they might cross the Jordan within three days, and take the land that was promised them by God. By zedah, provision for a journey (Gen 42:25, etc.), we are not to understand manna, for that had already ceased (see at Jos 5:12), but simply the natural produce of the inhabited country. The expression “in three days,” i.e., as we may see from comparing Gen 40:13, Gen 40:19, with Gen 40:20, on the third day from the publication of the command, “will ye go over the Jordan,” is not to be regarded as a prediction of the time when the crossing actually took place, but to be taken as the latest time that could be allowed to the people to prepare for crossing: viz., in this sense, “Prepare you victuals for crossing over the Jordan within three days,” i.e., that you may be able to leave Shittim within that time, to cross over the Jordan, and commence the conquest of Canaan. If we understand the words in this way, they are in perfect harmony with Josh 2 and 3. According to Josh 2, Joshua sent out spies from Shittim to Jericho, who were obliged to hide themselves for three days in the mountains after their flight from that city (Jos 2:22), before they could return to the Israelitish camp; so that they were absent three or four days at any rate, and came back at the earliest in the evening or night of the fourth day after they had been sent out. It was not till the morning after this that the Israelites left Shittim and proceeded to the Jordan, where they halted again. Then, three days afterwards, they went across the river (Jos 3:1-2), so that at least 4 + 1 + 3, i.e., eight whole days must have intervened between the day when the spies were sent out and the day on which the people crossed the river. Joshua no doubt intended to proceed to the Jordan and cross it within three days after despatching the spies; he therefore sent the spies to Jericho on the same day on which he issued the command to the people to prepare for crossing within three days, so that he might reasonably hope that they would fulfil their commission and return in two or three days. But as they were compelled to hide themselves for three days in the mountains, in consequence of the unexpected discovery of their arrival in Jericho, and the despatch of men in pursuit of them, Joshua could not remove with the people from Shittim and proceed to the Jordan till the day after their return; and even then he could not cross the river at once, but waited three days after reaching the bank of the river before he crossed to the other side (vid., Jos 3:1.).
Verses 12-18 Edit
Joshua's appeal to the two tribes and a half, to remember the condition on which Moses gave them the land on the east of the Jordan for an inheritance, and to fulfil it, met with a ready response; to that these tribes not only promised to obey his commandments in every respect, but threatened every one with death who should refuse obedience. In recalling this condition to the recollection of the tribes referred to, Joshua follows the expressions in Deu 3:18-20, where Moses himself recapitulates his former command, rather than the original passage in Num 32. The expression “this land” shows that the speaker was still on the other side of the Jordan. חמשׁים, with the loins girded, i.e., prepared for war, synonymous with חלצים in Deu 3:18 and Num 32:32 (see at Exo 13:18). חיל כּל־גּבּורי, all the mighty men of valour, i.e., the grave warriors (as in Jos 6:2; Jos 8:3; Jos 10:7, and very frequently in the later books), is not common to this book and Deuteronomy, as Knobel maintains, but is altogether strange to the Pentateuch. The word “all” (v. 14, like Num 32:21, Num 32:27) must not be pressed. According to Jos 4:13, there were only about 40,000 men belonging to the two tribes and a half who crossed the Jordan to take part in the war; whereas, according to Num 26:7, Num 26:18, Num 26:34, there were 110,000 men in these tribes who were capable of bearing arms, so that 70,000 must have remained behind for the protection of the women and children and of the flocks and herds, and to defend the land of which they had taken possession. On Jos 1:15 see Deu 3:18; and on the more minute definition of “on this side (lit. beyond) Jordan” by “toward the sun-rising,” compare the remarks on Num 32:19. The answer of the two tribes and a half, in which they not only most cheerfully promise their help in the conquest of Canaan, but also express the wish that Joshua may have the help of the Lord (Jos 1:17 compared with Jos 1:4), and after threatening all who refuse obedience with death, close with the divine admonition, “only be strong and of a good courage” (Jos 1:18, cf. Jos 1:6), furnishes a proof of the wish that inspired them to help their brethren, that all the tribes might speedily enter into the peaceable possession of the promised inheritance. The expression “rebel against the commandment” is used in Deu 1:26, Deu 1:43; Deu 9:23; 1Sa 12:14, to denote resistance to the commandments of the Lord; here it denotes opposition to His representative, the commander chosen by the Lord, which was to be punished with death, according to the law in Deu 17:12.
Chap. 2 Edit
Verse 1 Edit
Two Spies Sent Over to Jericho. - Jos 2:1. Although Joshua had received a promise from the Lord of His almighty help in the conquest of Canaan, he still thought it necessary to do what was requisite on his part to secure the success of the work committed to him, as the help of God does not preclude human action, but rather presupposes it. He therefore sent two men out secretly as spies from Shittim the place of encampment at that time (see at Num 25:1), to view, i.e., explore, the land, especially Jericho, the strongly fortified frontier town of Canaan (Jos 6:1). The word “secretly” is connected by the accents with “saying,” giving them their instructions secretly; but this implies that they were also sent out secretly. This was done partly in order that the Canaanites might not hear of it, and partly in order that, if the report should prove unfavourable, the people might not be thrown into despair, as they had been before in the time of Moses. The spies proceeded to Jericho, and towards evening they entered the house of a harlot named Rahab, and lodged there, lit. laid themselves down, intended to remain or sleep there. Jericho was two hours' journey to the west of the Jordan, situated in a plain that was formerly very fertile, and celebrated for its palm trees and balsam shrubs, but which is now quite desolate and barren. This plain is encircled on the western side by a naked and barren range of mountains, which stretches as far as Beisan towards the north and to the Dead Sea on the south. Every trace of the town has long since passed away, though it evidently stood somewhere near, and probably on the northern side of, the miserable and dirty village of Rîha, by the Wady Kelt (see Robinson, Pal. ii. pp. 279ff., 289ff.; v. Raumer, Pal. pp. 206ff.). Rahab is called a zonah, i.e., a harlot, not an innkeeper, as Josephus, the Chaldee version, and the Rabbins render the word. Their entering the house of such a person would not excite so much suspicion. Moreover, the situation of her house against or upon the town wall was one which facilitated escape. But the Lord so guided the course of the spies, that they found in this sinner the very person who was the most suitable for their purpose, and upon whose heart the tidings of the miracles wrought by the living God on behalf of Israel had made such an impression, that she not only informed the spies of the despondency of the Canaanites, but, with believing trust in the power of the God of Israel, concealed the spies from all the inquiries of her countrymen, though at the greatest risk to herself.
Verses 2-6 Edit
When the king of Jericho was informed of the fact that these strange men had entered the house of Rahab, and suspecting their reason for coming, summoned Rahab to give them up, she hid them (lit., hid him, i.e., each one of the spies: for this change from the plural to the singular see Ewald, §219), and said to the king's messengers: כּן, recte, “It is quite correct, the men came to me, but I do not know where they were from; and when in the darkness the gate was at the shutting (i.e., ought to be shut: for this construction, see Gen 15:12), they went out again, I know not whither. Pursue them quickly, you will certainly overtake them.” The writer then adds this explanation in Jos 2:6 : she had hidden them upon the roof of her house among stalks of flax. The expression “to-night” (lit., the night) in Jos 2:2 is more precisely defined in Jos 2:5, viz., as night was coming on, before the town-gate was shut, after which it would have been in vain for them to attempt to leave the town. “Stalks of flax,” not “cotton pods” (Arab., J. D. Mich. ), or “tree-flax, i.e., cotton,” as Thenius explains it, but flax stalks or stalk-flax, as distinguished from carded flax, in which there is no wood left, λινοκαλάμη, stipula lini (lxx, Vulg.). Flax stalks, which grow to the height of three or four feet in Egypt, and attain the thickness of a reed, and would probably be quite as large in the plain of Jericho, the climate of which resembles that of Egypt, would form a very good hiding-place for the spies if they were piled up upon the roof to dry in the sun. The falsehood by which Rahab sought not only to avert all suspicion from herself of any conspiracy with the Israelitish men who had entered her house, but to prevent any further search for them in her house, and to frustrate the attempt to arrest them, is not to be justified as a lie of necessity told for a good purpose, nor, as Grotius maintains, by the unfounded assertion that, “before the preaching of the gospel, a salutary lie was not regarded as a fault even by good men.” Nor can it be shown that it was thought “allowable,” or even “praiseworthy,” simply because the writer mentions the fact without expressing any subjective opinion, or because, as we learn from what follows (Jos 2:9.), Rahab was convinced of the truth of the miracles which God had wrought for His people, and acted in firm faith that the true God would give the land of Canaan to the Israelites, and that all opposition made to them would be vain, and would be, in fact, rebellion against the Almighty God himself. For a lie is always a sin. Therefore even if Rahab was not actuated at all by the desire to save herself and her family from destruction, and the motive from which she acted had its roots in her faith in the living God (Heb 11:31), so that what she did for the spies, and thereby for the cause of the Lord, was counted to her for righteousness (“justified by works,” Jam 2:25), yet the course which she adopted was a sin of weakness, which was forgiven her in mercy because of her faith.
Verse 7 Edit
Upon this declaration on the part of the woman, the king's messengers (“the men”) pursued the spies by the road to the Jordan which leads across the fords. Both the circumstances themselves and the usage of the language require that we should interpret the words in this way; for המּעבּרות על cannot mean “as far as the fords,” and it is very improbable that the officers should have gone across the fords. If they did not succeed in overtaking the spies and apprehending them before they reached the fords, they certainly could not hope to do this on the other side of the river in the neighbourhood of the Israelitish camp. By “the fords” with the article we are to understand the ford near to Jericho which was generally used at that time (Jdg 3:22; 2Sa 19:16.); but whether this was the one which is commonly used now at the mouth of Wady Shaib, almost in a straight line to the east of Jericho, or the more southerly one, el Helu, above the mouth of Wady Hesban (Rob. Pal. ii. p. 254), to the south of the bathing-place of Christian pilgrims, or el Meshra (Lynch, p. 155), or el Mocktaa (Seetzen, ii. p. 320), it is impossible to determine. (On these and other fords near Beisan, and as far up as the Sea of Galilee, see Rob. ii. p. 259, and Ritter Erdk. xv. pp. 549ff.) After the king's messengers had left the town, they shut the gate to prevent the spies from escaping, in case they should be still in the town. כּאשׁר אהרי for אשׁר אהרי is uncommon, but it is analogous to אחרי־כן אשׁר in Gen 6:4.
Verses 8-9 Edit
Notwithstanding these precautions, the men escaped. As soon as the officers had left Rahab's house, she went to the spies, who were concealed upon the roof, before they had lain down to sleep, which they were probably about to do upon the roof, - a thing of frequent occurrence in the East in summer time, - and confessed to them all that she believed and knew, namely, that God had given the land to the Israelites, and that the dread of them had fallen upon the Canaanites (“us,” in contrast with “you,” the Israelites, signifies the Canaanites generally, and not merely the inhabitants of Jericho), and despair had seized upon all the inhabitants of the land. The description of the despair of the Canaanites (Jos 2:9) is connected, so far as the expressions are concerned, with Exo 15:15 and Exo 15:16, to show that what Moses and the Israelites had sung after crossing the Red Sea was now fulfilled, that the Lord had fulfilled His promise (Exo 23:27 compared with Deu 2:25 and Deu 11:25), and had put fear and dread upon the Canaanites.
Verse 10 Edit
The report of the drying up of the Red Sea (Exo 14:15.), of the defeat of the mighty kings of the Amorites, and of the conquest of their kingdoms, had produced this effect upon the Canaanites. Even in the last of these occurrences the omnipotence of God had been visibly displayed, so that what the Lord foretold to Moses (Deu 2:25) had now taken place; it had filled all the surrounding nations with fear and dread of Israel, and the heart and courage of the Canaanites sank in consequence.
Verse 11 Edit
“When we heard this” - Rahab proceeded to tell them, transferring the feelings of her own heart to her countrymen - “our heart did melt” (it was thus that the Hebrew depicted utter despair; “the hearts of the people melted, and became as water,” Jos 7:5), “and there did not remain any more spirit in any one:” i.e., they lost all strength of mind for acting, in consequence of their fear and dread (vid., Jos 5:1, though in 1Ki 10:5 this phrase is used to signify being out of one's-self from mere astonishment). “For Jehovah your God is God in heaven above, and upon the earth beneath.” To this confession of faith, to which the Israelites were to be brought through the miraculous help of the Lord (Deu 4:39), Rahab also attained; although her confession of faith remained so far behind the faith which Moses at that time demanded of Israel, that she only discerned in Jehovah a Deity (Elohim) in heaven and upon earth, and therefore had not yet got rid of her polytheism altogether, however close she had come to a true and full confession of the Lord. But these miracles of divine omnipotence which led the heart of this sinner with its susceptibility for religious truth to true faith, and thus became to her a savour of life unto life, produced nothing but hardness in the unbelieving hearts of the rest of the Canaanites, so that they could not escape the judgment of death.
Verses 12-14 Edit
After this confession Rahab entreated the spies to spare her family (father's house), and made them promise her on oath as a sign of their fidelity, that on the capture of Jericho, which is tacitly assumed as self-evident after what had gone before, they would save alive her parents, and brothers and sisters, and all that belonged to them (i.e., according to Jos 6:23, the children and families of her brothers and sisters), and not put them to death; all of which they promised her on oath. “A true token,” lit. a sign of truth, i.e., a sign by which they guaranteed the truth of the kindness for which she asked. This sign consisted in nothing but the solemn oath with which they were to confirm their assurance, and, according to Jos 2:14, actually did confirm it. The oath itself was taken in these words, “our soul shall die for you,” by which they pledged their life for the life of Rahab and her family in this sense: God shall punish us with death if we are faithless, and do not spare thy life and the lives of thy relations. Though the name of God is not really expressed, it was implied in the fact that the words are described as swearing by Jehovah. But the spies couple their assurance with this condition, “if ye utter not this our business,” do not betray us, sc., so that we should be pursued, and our life endangered; “then will we show thee mercy and truth” (cf. Gen 24:27).
Verses 15-16 Edit
Rahab then let them down by a rope through the window, namely, into the open country; for her house stood against or upon the town wall, so that she lived upon the wall, and advised them to get to the mountains, that they might not meet the men who had been sent out in pursuit of them, and to hide themselves there for three days, when the pursuers would have returned.
Verse 17 Edit
In conclusion, the spies guarded against any arbitrary interpretation and application of their oath, by imposing three conditions, on the non-fulfilment of which they would be released from their oath. הזּה for הזּאת is to be explained in Jos 2:17 from the fact that the gender is often disregarded in the use of the pronoun (see Ewald, §183, a.), and in Jos 2:18 from the fact that there the gender is determined by the nomen rectum (see Ewald, §317, d.).
Verse 18 Edit
The first condition was, that when the town was taken Rahab should make her house known to the Israelites, by binding “the cord of this crimson thread,” i.e., this cord made of crimson thread, in the window from which she had let them down. The demonstrative “this” leads to the conclusion adopted by Luther and others, that “this cord” is the rope (חבל) mentioned in Jos 2:15, as no other word had been mentioned to which they could refer; and the fact that nothing has been said about the sign in question being either given or received, precludes the idea that the spies gave the cord to Rahab for a sign. The crimson or scarlet colour of the cord (שׁני = שׁני תּולעת; see at Exo 25:4), as the colour of vigorous life, made this cord an expressive sign of the preservation of Rahab's life and the lives of her relations. The second condition was, that when the town was taken, Rahab should collect together her parents, and her brothers and her sisters, into her own house.
Verses 19-20 Edit
Whoever went outside the door, his blood should be upon his own head; i.e., if he was slain outside by the Israelitish soldiers, he should bear his death as his own fault. But every one who was with her in the house, his blood should fall upon their (the spies') head, if any hand was against them, i.e., touched them or did them harm (vid., Exo 9:3). The formula, “his blood be upon his head,” is synonymous with the legal formula, “his blood be upon him” (Lev 20:9). The third condition (Jos 2:20) is simply a repetition of the principal condition laid down at the very outset (Jos 2:14).
Verse 21 Edit
When Rahab had accepted all these conditions, she let the men go, and bound the red cord in the window. It is not to be supposed that she did this at once, but merely as soon as it was necessary. It is mentioned here for the purpose of bringing the subject to a close.
Verse 22 Edit
The spies remained three days in the mountains, till the officers returned to the town, after searching for them the whole way in vain. The mountains referred to are probably the range on the northern side of Jericho, which afterwards received the name of Quarantana (Arab. Kuruntul), a wall of rock rising almost precipitously from the plain to the height of 1200 or 1500 feet, and full of grottoes and caves on the eastern side. These mountains were well adapted for a place of concealment; moreover, they were the nearest to Jericho, as the western range recedes considerably to the south of Wady Kelt (vid., Rob. ii. p. 289).
Verses 23-24 Edit
After this they returned to the camp across the Jordan, and informed Joshua of all that had befallen them, and all that they had heard. On Jos 2:24, see Jos 2:9. Passage Through the Jordan - Joshua 3-4
The following morning, after the return of the spies into the camp, Joshua proceeded with the people from Shittim to the bank of the Jordan, to complete the necessary preparations there, and then cross the river and enter Canaan (Jos 3:1). The crossing of this boundary river of Canaan, or rather the passage through the bed of the river, which had been dried up by a miracle of divine omnipotence at the place of crossing, is narrated in these two chapters in the following manner: first (Jos 3:1-6), the final preparations for crossing; and then the passage through the bed of the river and the erection of stones as a permanent memorial of this miracle. This is arranged in three parts: viz., Jos 3:7-17, the commencement of the crossing; Jos 4:1-14, its further progress; and Jos 4:15-24, its close. The account is also arranged upon the following plan: in every one of these three sections the command of God to Joshua is mentioned first (cf. Jos 3:7-8; Jos 4:2-3, Jos 4:15-16); then the communication of this command to the people by Joshua; and finally its execution (Jos 3:9-17; Jos 4:4-13, Jos 4:17-20). This arrangement was adopted by the author for the purpose of bringing distinctly out to view, not only the miracle itself, but also the means with which God associated the performance of the miracle, and also of impressing deeply upon the memory of the people both the divine act and the end secured. In doing this, however, some repetitions were inevitable, in consequence of the endeavour, so peculiar to the Hebrew mode of writing history to mark and round off the several points in the occurrences described, by such comprehensive statements as anticipate the actual course of events. It is to this arrangement and dovetailing of the differing points that we must attribute the distribution of the revelation and commands which Joshua received from God, over the several portions of the history; and consequently we are not to suppose, that at each separate point during the passage God revealed to Joshua what he was to do, but must rather assume that He actually revealed and commanded whatever was requisite all at once, on the day before the miraculous passage.
Chap. 3 Edit
Verses 1-4 Edit
“Arrangements for the Passage through the Jordan. - When they reached the Jordan, the Israelites rested till they passed over. לוּן, to pass the night; then in a wider sense to tarry, Pro 15:31; here it means to rest. According to Jos 3:2, they stayed there three days. “At the end (after the expiration) of three days” cannot refer to the three days mentioned in Jos 1:11, if only because of the omission of the article, apart from the reasons given in the note upon Jos 1:11, which preclude the supposition that the two are identical. The reasons why the Israelites stayed three days by the side of the Jordan, after leaving Shittim, are not given, but they are not difficult to guess; for, in the first place, before it could be possible to pass into an enemy's country, not only with an army, but with all the people, including wives, children, and all their possessions, and especially when the river had first of all to be crossed, it must have been necessary to make many preparations, which would easily occupy two or three days. Besides this, the Jordan at that time was so high as to overflow its banks, so that it was impossible to cross the fords, and they were obliged to wait till this obstruction was removed. But as soon as Joshua was assured that the Lord would make a way for His people, he issued the following instructions through the proper officers to all the people in the camp: “When ye see the ark of the covenant of the Lord your God, and (see)the Levitical priests bear it, then ye shall remove from your place, and go after it: yet there shall be a space between you and it, about two thousand cubits by measure: come not near unto it; that ye may know the way by which ye must go: for ye have not passed this way yesterday and the day before.” On the expression “the Levitical priests,” see at Deu 31:25, as compared with Jos 3:9 and Jos 17:9. בּינו, both here and in Jos 8:11, should probably be pointed בּינו (vid., Ewald, §266, a.). This command referred simply to the march from the last resting-place by the Jordan into the river itself, and not to the passage through the river, during which the priests remained standing with the ark in the bed of the river until the people had all passed through (Jos 3:8 and Jos 3:17).
The people were to keep about 2000 cubits away from the ark. This was not done, however, to prevent their going wrong in the unknown way, and so missing the ford, for that was impossible under the circumstances; but the ark was carried in front of the people, not so much to show the road as to make a road by dividing the waters of the Jordan, and the people were to keep at a distance from it, that they might not lose sight of the ark, but keep their eyes fixed upon it, and know the road by looking at the ark of the covenant by which the road had been made, i.e., might know and observe how the Lord, through the medium of the ark, was leading them to Canaan by a way which they had never traversed before, i.e., by a miraculous way.
Verses 5-6 Edit
Joshua then issued instructions (a) to the people to sanctify themselves, because on the morrow the Lord would do wonders among them; and (b) to the priests, to carry the ark of the covenant in front of the people. The issuing of these commands with the prediction of the miracle presupposes that the Lord had already made known His will to Joshua, and serves to confirm our conclusions as to the arrangement of the materials. The sanctification of the people did not consist in the washing of their clothes, which is mentioned in Exo 19:10, Exo 19:14, in connection with the act of sanctification, for there was no time for this; nor did it consist in merely changing their clothes, which might be a substitute for washing, according to Gen 35:2, or in abstinence from connubial intercourse (Exo 19:15), for this was only the outward side of sanctification. It consisted in spiritual purification also, i.e., in turning the heart to God, in faith and trust in His promise, and in willing obedience to His commandments, that they should lay to heart in a proper way the miracle of grace which the Lord was about to work in the midst of them and on their behalf on the following day. “Wonders:” those miraculous displays of the omnipotence of God for the realization of His covenant of grace, which He had already promised in connection with the conquest of Canaan (Exo 34:10). In Jos 3:6, where the command to the priests is given, the fulfilment of the command is also mentioned, and the course of events anticipated in consequence.
Verses 7-8 Edit
Jos 3:7-8Commencement of the Crossing. - First of all (in Jos 3:7 and Jos 3:8), the revelation made by God to Joshua, that He would begin this day to make him great, i.e., to glorify him before the Israelites, and the command to the priests who bore the ark of the covenant to stand still in the river, when they came to the water of the Jordan; then (Jos 3:9-13) the publication of this promise and command to the people; and lastly (Jos 3:14-17), the carrying out of the command. אחל, I will begin to make thee great. The miraculous guidance of the people through the Jordan was only the beginning of the whole series of miracles by which the Lord put His people in possession of the promised land, and glorifies Joshua in the sight of Israel in the fulfilment of his office, as He had glorified Moses before. Just as Moses was accredited in the sight of the people, as the servant of the Lord in whom they could trust, by the miraculous division of the Red Sea (Exo 14:31), so Joshua was accredited as the leader of Israel, whom the Almighty God acknowledged as He had His servant Moses, by the similar miracle, the division of the waters of Jordan. Only the most important points in the command of God to the priests are given in v. 8. The command itself is communicated more fully afterwards in the address to the people, in v. 13. When they came with the ark to the end of the waters of Jordan-i.e., not to the opposite side, but to the nearest bank; that is to say, as soon as they reached the water in the bed of the river-they were to stand still (vid., v. 15, and Jos 4:11), in order, as we see from what follows, to form a dam as it were against the force of the water, which was miraculously arrested in its course, and piled up in a heap. Moses divided the waters of the Red Sea with his rod; Joshua was to do the same to the Jordan with the ark of the covenant, the appointed symbol and vehicle of the presence of the Almighty God since the conclusion of the covenant. Wherever the ordinary means of grace are at hand, God attaches the operations of His grace to them; for He is a God of order, who does not act in an arbitrary manner in the selection of His means.
Verses 9-10 Edit
The summons to the children of Israel, i.e., to the whole nation in the persons of its representatives, to draw near (גּשׁוּ for גּשׁוּ, as in 1Sa 14:38; Rth 2:14) to hear the words of the Lord its God, points to the importance of the following announcement by which Israel was to learn that there was a living God in the midst of it, who had the power to fulfil His word. Jehovah is called a “living God,” in contrast with the dead gods of the heathen, as a God who proved himself to be living, with special reference to those “divine operations by which God had shown that He was living and watchful on behalf of His people; just as His being in the midst of the people did not denote a naked presence, but a striking degree of presence on the part of God in relation to the performance of extraordinary operations, or the manifestation of peculiar care” (Seb. Schmidt). The God of Israel would now manifest himself as a living God by the extermination of the Canaanites, seven tribes of whom are enumerated, as in Deu 7:1 (see the remarks on this passage). Joshua mentions the destruction of these nations as the purpose which God had in view in the miraculous guidance of Israel through the Jordan, to fill the Israelites with confidence for their entrance into the promised land.
Verse 11 Edit
After this inspiriting promise, Joshua informed the people what the Lord intended to do first: “Behold, the ark of the covenant of the Lord of the whole earth will go before you into Jordan.” כּל־הארץ 'adown is a genitive dependent upon הברית ארון, the strict subordination of the construct state being loosened in this case by the article before the nomen regens. The punctuators have therefore separated it from the latter by sakeph-katon, without thereby explaining it as in opposition or giving any support to the mistaken exposition of Buxtorff and Drusius, that “the ark of the covenant is called the ruler of the whole earth.” The description of Jehovah as “Lord of the whole earth,” which is repeated in Jos 3:13, is very appropriately chosen for the purpose of strengthening confidence in the omnipotence of the Lord. This epithet “exalted the government of God over all the elements of the world, that the Israelites might have no doubt that as seas and rivers are under His control, the waters, although liquid by nature, would become stable at His nod” (Calvin). The expression, “passeth over before you into Jordan,” is more precisely explained in the course of the narrative: the ark of the covenant went (was carried) before the people into the river, and then stood still, as the bulwark of the people, till the passage was completed; so that the word “before” indicates the protection which it would afford.
Verses 12-13 Edit
“And take to you (i.e., appoint) twelve men out of the tribes of Israel, one for each tribe.” For what purpose is not stated here, but is apparent from what follows (Jos 4:2.). The choice or appointment of these men was necessarily commanded before the crossing commenced, as they were to stand by the side of Joshua, or near the bearers of the ark of the covenant, so as to be at hand to perform the duty to be entrusted to them (Jos 4:3.). Joshua then concludes by foretelling the miracle itself: “It will come to pass, that when the soles of the feet of the priests who bear the ark of the Lord shall settle down in the water of the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan shall be cut off; namely, the waters flowing down from above, and shall stand still as one heap.” “Shall be cut off,” so as to disappear; namely, at the place where the priests stand with the ark of the covenant. This took place through the waters standing still as a heap, or being heaped up, at some distance above the standing-place. אחד נד is an accusative of more precise definition. The expression is taken from the song of Moses (Exo 15:8).
Verses 14-16 Edit
The event corresponded to the announcement. - Jos 3:14-16. When the people left their tents to go over the Jordan, and the priests, going before the ark of the covenant, dipped their feet in the water (“the brim of the water,” Jos 3:15, as in Jos 3:8), although the Jordan was filled over all its banks throughout the whole time of harvest, the waters stood still: the waters flowing down from above stood as a heap at a very great distance off, by the town of Adam, on the side of Zarthan; and the waters flowing down to the salt sea were entirely cut off, so that the people went through the dried bed of the river opposite to Jericho. Jos 3:14-16 form one large period, consisting of three protases (Jos 3:14, Jos 3:15), the first and third of which are each of them more precisely defined by a circumstantial clause, and also of three apodoses (Jos 3:16). In the protases the construction passes from the infinitive (בּנסע and כּבוא) into the finite verb (נטבּלוּ), - a thing of frequent occurrence (see Ewald, §350). The circumstantial clause (Jos 3:15), “and the Jordan was filled over all its banks all the days of harvest,” brings out in all its fulness the miracle of the stoppage of the water by the omnipotence of God. Every attempt to explain the miracle as a natural occurrence is thereby prevented; so that Eichhorn pronounces the clause a gloss, and endeavours in this manner to get rid of it altogether. על־כּל־גּבותיו might mean full against all its banks, flowing with its banks full, or “full to the brim” (Robinson, Pal. ii. p. 262, according to the lxx and Vulg.); but if we compare Jos 4:18, “the waters of Jordan returned to their place, and went over all its banks as before,” with the parallel passage in Isa 8:7, “the river comes up over all its channels and goes over all its banks,” there can be no doubt that the words refer to an overflowing of the banks, and not merely to their being filled to the brim, so that the words must be rendered “go over the banks.” But we must not therefore understand them as meaning that the whole of the Ghor was flooded. The Jordan flows through the Ghor, which is two hours' journey broad at Beisan, and even broader to the south of that (see at Deu 1:1), in a valley about a quarter of an hour in breadth which lies forty or fifty feet lower, and, being covered with trees and reeds, presents a striking contrast to the sandy slopes which bound it on both sides. In many places this strip of vegetation occupies a still deeper portion of the lower valley, which is enclosed by shallow banks not more than two or three feet high, so that, strictly speaking, we might distinguish three different banks at the places referred to: namely, the upper or outer banks, which form the first slope of the great valley; the lower or middle banks, embracing that strip of land which is covered with vegetation; and then the true banks of the river's bed (see Burckhardt, Syr. pp. 593ff., and Robinson, Pal. ii. pp. 254ff., and Bibl. Researches, pp. 333ff.). The flood never reaches beyond the lower line of the Ghor, which is covered with vegetation, but even in modern times this line has sometimes been overflowed. For example, Robinson (Pal. ii. p. 255, compared with p. 263) found the river so swollen when he visited it in 1838, that it filled its bed to the very brim, and in some places flowed over and covered the ground where the bushes grew. This rise of the water still takes place at the time of harvest in April and at the beginning of May (see at Lev 23:9.), and therefore really at the close of the rainy reason, and after the snow has been long melted upon Hermon, as it is then that the lake of Tiberias reaches its greatest height, in consequence of the rainy season and the melting of the snow, so that it is only then that the Jordan flows with its full stream into the Dead Sea (Robinson, ii. p. 263). At this time of the year the river cannot of course be waded through even at its shallowest fords, whereas this is possible in the summer season, when the water is low. It is only by swimming that it can possibly be crossed, and even that cannot be accomplished without great danger, as it is ten or twelve feet deep in the neighbourhood of Jericho, and the current is very strong (vid., Seetzen, R. ii. pp. 301, 320-1; Rob. ii. p. 256). Crossing at this season was regarded as a very extraordinary feat in ancient times, so that it is mentioned in 1Ch 12:15 as a heroic act on the part of the brave Gadites. It may possibly have been in this way that the spies crossed and recrossed the river a few days before. But that was altogether impossible for the people of Israel with their wives and children.
It was necessary, therefore, that the Lord of the whole earth should make a road by a miracle of His omnipotence, which arrested the descending waters in their course, so that they stood still as a heap “very far,” sc., from the place of crossing, “by the town of Adam” (בּאדם must not be altered into מאדם, from Adam, according to the Keri), “which is by the side of Zarthan.” The city of Adam, which is not mentioned anywhere else (and which Luther has erroneously understood as an appellative, according to the Arabic, “people of the city”), is not to be confounded with Adamah, in the tribe of Naphtali (Jos 19:36). The town of Zarthan, by the side of which Adam is situated, has also vanished. Van de Velde and Knobel imagine that the name Zarthan has been preserved in the modern Kurn (Horn) Sartabeh, a long towering rocky ridge on the south-west of the ford of Damieh, upon which there are said to be the ruins of a castle. This conjecture is not favoured by any similarity in the names so much as by its situation. For, on the one hand, the mountain slopes off from the end of this rocky ridge, or from the loftiest part of the horn, into a broad shoulder, from which a lower rocky ridge reaches to the Jordan, and seems to join the mountains on the east, so that the Jordan valley is contracted to its narrowest dimensions at this point, and divided into the upper and lower Ghor by the hills of Kurn Sartabeh; and consequently this was apparently the most suitable point for the damming up of the waters of the Jordan (see Robinson, Bibl. Researches, pp. 293-4). On the other hand, this site tallies very well with all the notices in the Bible respecting the situation of the town of Zarthan, or Zeredetha (1Ki 7:46, compared with 2Ch 4:17): viz., at 1Ki 4:12, where Zarthan is said to have been by the side of the territory of Bethshean; also at 1Ki 7:46, where Zarthan and Succoth are opposed to one another; and at Jdg 7:22, where the reading should be צרדתה, according to the Arabic and Syriac versions. Hence Knobel supposes that Adam was situated in the neighbourhood of the present ford Damieh, near to which the remains of a bridge belonging to the Roman era are still to be found (Lynch, Expedition). The distance of Kurn Sartabeh from Jericho is a little more than fifteen miles, which tallies very well with the expression “very far.” Through this heaping up of the waters coming down from above, those which flowed away into the Dead Sea (the sea of the plain, see Deu 4:49) were completely cut off (נכרתוּ תּמּוּ are to be taken together, so that תּמּוּ merely expresses the adverbial idea wholly, completely), and the people went over, probably in a straight line from Wady Hesbân to Jericho.
Verse 17 Edit
But the priests stood with the ark of the covenant “in the midst of Jordan,” i.e., in the bed of the river, not merely by the river, “upon dry ground, הכן,” lit., firmando, i.e., with a firm foot, whilst all Israel went over upon dry ground, “till all the people were passed over.” This could easily have been accomplished in half a day, if the people formed a procession of a mile or upwards in breadth.Crossing the River. - In the account of the crossing, the main point is their taking twelve stones with them from the bed of the river to the opposite side to serve as a memorial. To set forth the importance of this fact as a divine appointment, the command of God to Joshua is mentioned first of all (Jos 4:2, Jos 4:3); then the repetition of this command by Joshua to the men appointed for the work (Jos 4:4-7); and lastly, the carrying out of the instructions (Jos 4:8). This makes it appear as though God did not give the command to Joshua till after the people had all crossed over, whereas the twelve men had already been chosen for the purpose (Jos 3:12). But this appearance, and the discrepancy that seems to arise, vanish as soon as we take the different clauses-which are joined together here by vav consec., according to the simple form of historical composition adopted by the Hebrews, “and Jehovah spake, saying,” etc. (Jos 4:2, Jos 4:3); “and Joshua called the twelve men,” etc. (Jos 4:4), - and arrange them in logical order, and with their proper subordination to one another, according to our own modes of thought and conversation, as follows: “Then Joshua called the twelve men-as Jehovah had commanded him, saying, 'Take you twelve men out of the people,' etc. - and said to them,” etc.
Chap. 4 Edit
Verses 1-5 Edit
When all the people had crossed over Jordan,
Joshua issued to the twelve men who had been appointed by the twelve tribes the command given to him by God: “Go before the ark of Jehovah into the midst of Jordan, and take every man a stone upon his shoulder, according to the number of the tribes of the Israelites,” or, as it is expressed in the fuller explanation in the divine command in Jos 4:3, “from the standing-place of the priests, the setting up of twelve stones (הכין is an infinitive used as a substantive, or else it should be pointed as a substantive), and carry them over with you, and lay them down in the place of encampment where ye shall pass the night.”
Verses 6-7 Edit
This (viz., their taking the twelve stones with them and setting them up) was to be a sign in Israel; the stones were to serve as a memorial of the miraculous crossing of the Jordan to all succeeding generations. For the expression “if your children ask to-morrow (in future),” etc., see Exo 13:14; Exo 12:26-27, and Deu 6:20-21.
Verses 8-9 Edit
The children of Israel carried out these instructions. The execution is ascribed to the “children of Israel,” i.e., to the whole nations, because the men selected from the twelve tribes acted in the name of the whole nation, and the memorial was a matter of equal importance to all. ינּחוּם does not signify that they set up the stones as a memorial, but simply that they laid them down in their place of encampment. The setting up at Gilgal is mentioned for the first time in Jos 4:20. In addition to this, Joshua set up twelve stones for a memorial, on the spot where the feet of the priests had stood as they bore the ark of the covenant, which stones were there “to this day,” i.e., the time when the account was written. There is nothing to warrant our calling this statement in question, or setting it aside as a probable gloss, either in the circumstance that nothing is said about any divine command to set up these stones, or in the opinion that such a memorial would have failed of its object, as it could not possibly have remained, but would very speedily have been washed away by the stream. The omission of any reference to a command from God proves nothing, simply because divine commands are frequently hinted at but briefly, so that the substance of them has to be gathered from the account of their execution (compare Jos 3:7-8, with Jos 3:9-13, and Jos 4:2-3, with Jos 4:4-7); and consequently we may assume without hesitation that such a command was given, as the earlier commentators have done. Moreover, the monument did not fail of its object, even if it only existed for a short time. The account of its erection, which was handed down by tradition, would necessarily help to preserve the remembrance of the miraculous occurrence. But it cannot be so absolutely affirmed that these stones would be carried away at once by the stream, so that they could never be seen any more. As the priests did not stand in the middle or deepest part of the river, but just in the bed of the river, and close to its eastern bank, and it was upon this spot that the stones were set up, and as we neither know their size nor the firmness with which they stood, we cannot pronounce any positive opinion as to the possibility of their remaining. It is not likely that they remained there for centuries; but they were intended rather as a memorial for the existing generation and their children, than for a later age, which would be perpetually reminded of the miraculous help of God by the monument erected in Gilgal.
Verses 10-11 Edit
Whilst Joshua was carrying out all that Jehovah had commanded him to say to the people, according to the command of Moses-that is to say, whilst the people were passing through the Jordan before the ark, and the twelve men were carrying over the stones out of the river to the resting-place on the other side, and Joshua himself was setting up twelve stones in Jordan for a memorial-during all this time, the priests stood with the ark in the bed of the river; but after all the people, including the twelve men who took the stones out of the Jordan, had finished crossing, the ark of the Lord passed over, with the priests, before the people: that is to say, it stationed itself again, along with the priests, at the head of the people. The words “according to all that Moses had commanded Joshua” do not refer to any special instructions which Moses had given to Joshua with reference to the crossing, for no such instructions are to be found in the Pentateuch, nor can they be inferred from Num 27:23; Deu 3:28, or Deu 31:23; they simply affirm that Joshua carried out all the commands which the Lord had given him, in accordance with the charge which he received from Moses at the time when he was first called. Moses had called him and instructed him to lead to the people into the promised land, in consequence of a divine command; and had given him the promise, at the same time, that Jehovah would be with him as He had been with Moses. This contained implicite an admonition to Joshua to do only what the Lord should command him. And if this was how Joshua acted, the execution of the commands of God was also an observance of the command of Moses. The remark in Jos 4:10, “and the people hastened and passed over,” i.e., passed hastily through the bed of the river, is introduced as an explanation of the fact that the priests stood still in the bed of the river the whole time that the crossing continued. As the priests stood in one spot whilst all the people were passing over, it was necessary that the people should hasten over, lest the strength of the priests should be exhausted. This reason for hastening, however, does not preclude the other-namely, that the crossing had to be finished in one day, before night came on. The statement in Jos 4:11, that when all the people had passed over, the ark of the Lord also passed over with the priests, is so far anticipatory of the actual course of the events, that up to this time nothing has been said about the fighting men belonging to the two tribes and a half having passed over (Jos 4:12, Jos 4:13); nor has the command of God for the ark to pass over been mentioned (Jos 4:15.), though both of these must have preceded the crossing of the ark in order of time. It is to be observed, that, in the words “the art of the Lord passed over, and the priests,” the priests are subordinate to the ark, because it was through the medium of the ark of the Lord that the miracle of drying up the river had been effected: it was not by the priests, but by Jehovah the Almighty God, who was enthroned upon the ark, that the waters were commanded to stand still. “Before the people” (Eng. Ver. “in the presence of the people”) has the same signification in Jos 4:11 as in Jos 3:6, Jos 3:14.
Verses 12-14 Edit
The account of the fighting men of the tribes on the east of the Jordan passing over along with them, in number about 40,000, is added as a supplement, because there was no place in which it could be appropriately inserted before, and yet it was necessary that it should be expressly mentioned that these tribes performed the promise they had given (Jos 1:16-17), and in what manner they did so. The words וגו ויּעברוּ do not imply that these 40,000 men crossed over behind the priests with the ark, which would not only be at variance with the fact so expressly stated, that the ark of the covenant was the medium of the miraculous division of the water, but also with the distant statement in Jos 4:18, that when the priests, with the ark, set their feet upon the dry land, the waters filled the river again as they had done before. The imperfect with vav consec. here expresses simply the order of thought, and not of time. “Arboth Jericho,” the steppes of Jericho, were that portion of the Arabah or Ghor which formed the environs of Jericho, and which widens here into a low-lying plain of about three and a half or four hours' journey in breadth, on account of the western mountains receding considerably to the south of the opening of the Wady Kelt (Rob. Pal. ii. pp. 263ff.). - In Jos 4:14 the writer mentions still further the fact that the Lord fulfilled His promise (in Jos 3:7), and by means of this miracle so effectually confirmed the authority of Joshua in the eyes of Israel, that the people feared him all the days of his life as they had feared Moses. “This was not the chief end of the miracle, that Joshua increased in power and authority; but since it was a matter of great importance, so far as the public interests were concerned, that the government of Joshua should be established, it is very properly mentioned, as an addition to the benefits that were otherwise conferred, that he was invested as it were with sacred insignia, which produced such a felling of veneration among the people, that no one dared to treat him with disrespect” (Calvin).
Verses 15-18 Edit
Jos 4:15-18Termination of the miraculous Passage through the Jordan. - As soon as the priests left their standing-place in the river with the ark of the covenant, according to the command of God made known to them by Joshua, and the soles of their feet “tore themselves loose upon the dry ground” (נתּקוּ אל החרבה, constructio praegnans, for they tore themselves loose from the soft soil of the river, and trode upon the dry or firm ground), the waters of the Jordan returned again to their place, and went over all its banks as before (vid., Jos 3:15). This affirms as clearly as possible that it was the ark which kept back the stream.
Verse 19 Edit
The crossing took place on the tenth day of the first month, that is to say, on the same day on which, forty years before, Israel had begun to prepare for going out of Egypt by setting apart the paschal lamb (Exo 12:3). After crossing the river, the people encamped at Gilgal, on the eastern border of the territory of Jericho. The place of encampment is called Gilgal proleptically in Jos 4:19 and Jos 4:20 (see at Jos 5:9).
Verses 20-24 Edit
There Joshua set up the twelve stones, which they had taken over with them out of the Jordan, and explained to the people at the same time the importance of this memorial to their descendants (Jos 4:21, Jos 4:22), and the design of the miracle which had been wrought by God (Jos 4:24). On Jos 4:21, Jos 4:22, see Jos 4:6, Jos 4:7. אשׁר (Jos 4:23), quod, as (see Deu 2:22). The miracle itself, like the similar one at the Dead Sea, had a double intention, viz., to reveal to the Canaanites the omnipotence of the God of Israel, the strong hand of the Lord (compare Exo 14:4, Exo 14:18, with Jos 6:6; and for the expression “the hand of the Lord is mighty,” see Exo 3:19; Exo 6:1, etc.), and to serve as an impulse to the Israelites to fear the Lord their God always (see at Exo 14:31). Circumcision of the People, and Celebration of the Passover at Gilgal - Jos 5:1-12
When the Israelites had trodden the soil of Canaan, Joshua began immediately to make arrangements for conquering the land, and destroying its inhabitants. As the Lord had only promised his His assistance on condition that the law given by Moses was faithfully observed (Jos 1:7.), it was necessary that he should proceed first of all to impose it as an inviolable obligation, not only upon himself, but also upon all the people entrusted to his charge, to fulfil all the precepts of the law, many of which could not be carried out during the journey through the wilderness, whilst many others had only been given with special reference to the time when the people should be dwelling in Canaan. The first duty which devolved upon him in this respect, was to perform the rite of circumcision upon the generation that had been born in the wilderness, and had grown up without circumcision, so that the whole congregation might be included in the covenant of the Lord, and be able to keep the passover, which was to be celebrated in a few days in the manner prescribed by the law.
Chap. 5 Edit
Verse 1 Edit
Circumcision of the People. - Jos 5:1. Whilst, on the one hand, the approach of the passover rendered it desirable that the circumcision of those who had remained uncircumcised should be carried out without delay, on the other hand the existing circumstances were most favourable for the performance of this covenant duty, inasmuch as the miracle wrought in connection with the passage through the Jordan had thrown the Canaanites into such alarm that there was no fear of their attacking the Israelitish camp. To indicate this, the impression produced by this miracle is described, namely, that all the kings of Canaan had been thrown into despair in consequence. All the tribes of Canaan are grouped together here under the names of Amorites and Canaanites, the tribes in possession of the mountains being all called Amorites, and those who lived by the sea, i.e., by the shore of the Mediterranean, Canaanites (vid., Jos 1:4): for the Amorites upon the mountains were the strongest of all the Canaanitish tribes at that time (see at Gen 10:16); whilst the name Canaanites, i.e., the bent one (see at Gen 9:25), was peculiarly appropriate to the inhabitants of the lowlands, who relied upon trade more than upon warfare, and were probably dependent upon the strong and mighty Amorites. The application of the expression “beyond Jordan” (Eng. Ver. “on the side of”) to the country on this side, may be explained on the ground that the historian was still writing from the stand-point of the crossing. But in order to prevent any misunderstanding, he adds “towards the west,” as he had previously added “towards the sunrise,” in Jos 1:15, when speaking of the land on the eastern side. That we have the report of an eye-witness here is evident from the words, “until we were passed over:” the reading of the Keri, עברם (till they were passed over), is nothing but an arbitrary and needless conjecture, and ought not to have been preferred by Bleek and others, notwithstanding the fact that the ancient versions and some MSS also adopt it.
Verses 2-8 Edit
At that time (sc., the time of their encampment at Gilgal, and when the Canaanites were in despair) Joshua had the people “circumcised again, the second time.” The word שׁנית (a second time) is only added to give emphasis to שׁוּב, or as an explanation of it, and is not to be pressed, either here or in Isa 11:11, as though it denoted the repetition of the same act in every respect, i.e., of an act of circumcision which had once before been performed upon the whole nation. It merely expresses this meaning, “circumcise the people again, or the second time, as it was formerly circumcised” (i.e., a circumcised people, not in the same manner in which it once before had circumcision performed upon it). When the people came out of Egypt they were none of them uncircumcised, as distinctly affirmed in Jos 5:5; but during their journey through the wilderness circumcision had been neglected, so that now the nation was no longer circumcised, and therefore it was necessary that circumcision should be performed upon the nation as a whole, by circumcising all who were uncircumcised. The opinion of Masius and O. v. Gerlach, that the expression “the second time” refers to the introduction of circumcision, when Abraham was circumcised with all his house, is very far-fetched. צרים חרבות are not “sharp knives,” but “stone knives,” which were used according to ancient custom (see at Exo 4:25), literally knives of rocks (the plural zurim is occasioned by charboth, as in Num 13:32, etc.; the singular might have been used: see Ewald, §270, c.).
Verse 3 Edit
Joshua had the circumcision performed “at the hill of the foreskins,” as the place was afterwards called from the fact that the foreskins were buried there.
Verses 4-7 Edit
The reason for the circumcision of the whole nation was the following: all the fighting men who came out of Egypt had died in the wilderness by the way; for all the people that came out were circumcised; but all that were born in the wilderness during the journey had not been circumcised (ממּצרים בּצאתם, on their coming out of Egypt, which only came to an end on their arrival in Canaan). They walked forty years in the wilderness; till all the people - that is to say, all the fighting men - who came out of Egypt were consumed, because they had not hearkened to the voice of the Lord, and had been sentenced by the Lord to die in the wilderness (Jos 5:6; cf. Num 14:26., Num 26:64-65, and Deu 2:14-16). But He (Jehovah) set up their sons in their place, i.e., He caused them to take their place; and these Joshua circumcised (i.e., had them circumcised), for they were uncircumcised, because they had not been circumcised by the way. This explains the necessity for a general circumcision of all the people, but does not state the reason why those who were born in the wilderness had not been circumcised. All that is affirmed in Jos 5:5 and Jos 5:7 is, that this had not taken place “by the way.” The true reason may be gathered from Jos 5:6, if we compare the statement made in this verse, “for the children of Israel walked forty years in the wilderness, till all the men that were capable of bearing arms were consumed ... unto whom the Lord sware that He would not show them the land promised to the fathers,” with the sentence pronounced by God to which these words refer, viz., Num 14:29-34. The Lord is then said to have sworn that all the men of twenty years old and upwards, who had murmured against Him, should perish in the wilderness; and though their sons should enter the promised land, they too should pasture, i.e., lead a nomad life, for forty years in the wilderness, and bear the apostasy of their fathers, till their bodies had fallen in the desert. This clearly means, that not only was the generation that came out of Egypt sentenced to die in the wilderness because of its rebellion against the Lord, and therefore rejected by God, but the sons of this generation had to bear the whoredom, i.e., the apostasy of their fathers from the Lord, for the period of forty years, until the latter had been utterly consumed; that is to say, during all this time they were to endure the punishment of rejection along with their fathers: with this difference alone, that the sons were not to die in the wilderness, but were to be brought into the promised land after their fathers were dead. The sentence upon the fathers, that their bodies should fall in the desert, was unquestionably a rejection of them on the part of God, an abrogation of the covenant with them. This punishment was also to be borne by their sons; and hence the reason why those who were born in the desert by the way were not circumcised. As the covenant of the Lord with the fathers was abrogated, the sons of the rejected generation were not to receive the covenant sign of circumcision. Nevertheless this abrogation of the covenant with the generation that had been condemned, was not a complete dissolution of the covenant relation, so far as the nation as a whole was concerned, since the whole nation had not been rejected, but only the generation of men that were capable of bearing arms when they came out of Egypt, whilst the younger generation which had grown up in the desert was to be delivered from the ban, which rested upon it as well, and brought into the land of Canaan when the time of punishment had expired. For this reason the Lord did not withdraw from the nation every sign of His grace; but in order that the consciousness might still be sustained in the young and rising generation, that the covenant would be set up again with them when the time of punishment had expired, He left them not only the presence of the pillar of cloud and fire, but also the manna and other tokens of His grace, the continuance of which therefore cannot be adduced as an argument against our view of the time of punishment as a temporary suspension of the covenant.
But if this was the reason for the omission of circumcision, it did not commence till the second year of their journey, viz., at the time when the murmuring nation was rejected at Kadesh (Num 14); ); so that by “all the people that were born in the wilderness” we are to understand those who were born after that time, and during the last thirty-eight years of their wanderings, just as “all the people that came out of Egypt” are to be understood as signifying only those men who were twenty years old and upwards when they came out. Consequently circumcision was suspended as long as the nation was under the ban of the divine sentence pronounced upon it at Kadesh. This sentence was exhausted when they crossed the brook Zared and entered the country of the Amorites (compare Deu 2:14 with Num 21:12-13). Why, then, was not the circumcision performed during the encampment in the steppes of Moab either before or after the numbering, since all those who had been sentenced to die in the wilderness were already dead (Num 26:65)? The different answers which have been given to this question are some of them wrong, and others incomplete. For example, the opinion held by some, that the actual reason was that the forty years had not yet expired, is incorrect (see Deu 2:14). And the uncertainty how long they would remain in the steppes of Moab cannot be adduced as an explanation, as there were no circumstances existing that were likely to occasion a sudden and unexpected departure from Shittim. The reason why Moses did not renew the circumcision before the end of his own life, is to be sought for in the simple fact that he would not undertake an act of such importance without an express command from the Lord, especially as he was himself under sentence to die without entering the promised land. But the Lord did not enjoin the renewal of the covenant sign before Israel had been conducted into the promised land, because He saw fit first of all to incline the hearts of the people to carry out His commandment through this magnificent proof of His grace. It is the rule of divine grace first to give and then to ask. As the Lord did not enjoin circumcision as a covenant duty upon Abraham himself till He had given him a practical proof of His grace by leading him to Canaan, and by repeated promises of a numerous posterity, and of the eventual possession of the land; and just as He did not give the law to the children of Israel at Sinai till He had redeemed them with a mighty arm from the bondage of Egypt, and borne them on eagles' wings, and brought them to Himself, and had thereby made them willing to promise gladly to fulfil all that He should say to them as His covenant nation; so now He did not require the renewal of circumcision, which involved as the covenant sign the observance of the whole law, till He had given His people practical proofs, through the help afforded in the defeat of Sihon and Og, the kings of the Amorites, and in the miraculous division of the waters of Jordan, that He was able to remove all the obstacles that might lie in the way of the fulfilment of His promises, and give them the promised land for their inheritance, as He had sworn to their fathers.
Verse 8 Edit
When the rite of circumcision had been performed upon them all, the people remained quietly in the camp till those who were circumcised had recovered. “They abode in their places,” i.e., sat still as they were, without attempting anything. חיה, to revive (Gen 45:27; Job 14:14), or recover (2Ki 1:2; 2Ki 8:8, etc.). The circumcision of the people could not be performed earlier than the day after the crossing of the Jordan, i.e., according to Jos 4:19, not earlier than the 11th day of the first month. Now, as the passover was to be kept, and actually was kept, on the 14th (Jos 5:10), the two accounts are said to be irreconcilable, and the account of the circumcision has been set down as a later and unhistorical legend. But the objections made to the historical credibility of this account - viz., that the suffering consequent upon circumcision made a person ill for several days, and according to Gen 34:25 was worst on the third day, so that the people could not have kept the passover on that day, and also that the people could not possibly have been all circumcised on one day - are founded upon false assumptions. In the latter, for example, the number of persons to be circumcised is estimated, most absurdly, at a million; whereas, according to the general laws of population, the whole of the male population of Israel, which contained only 601,730 of twenty years of age and upwards, besides 23,000 Levites of a month old and upwards, when the census was taken a short time before in the steppes of Moab, could not amount to more than a million in all, and of these between 280,000 and 330,000 were thirty-eight years old, and therefore, having been born before the sentence was pronounced upon the nation at Kadesh, and for the most part before the Exodus from Egypt, had been already circumcised, so that there were only 670,000, or at the most 720,000, to be circumcised now. Consequently the proportion between the circumcised and uncircumcised was one to three or three and a half; and the operation could therefore be completed without any difficulty in the course of a single day. As regards the consequences of this operation, Gen 34:25 by no means proves that the pain was most acute on the third day; and even it this really were the case, it would not prevent the keeping of the passover, as the lambs could have been killed and prepared by the 280,000 or 330,000 circumcised men; and even those who were still unwell could join in the meal, since it was only Levitical uncleanness, and not disease or pain, which formed a legal impediment to this (Num 9:10.).
But if there were about 300,000 men of the age of forty and upwards who could not only perform the rite of circumcision upon their sons or younger brother, but, if necessary, were able at any moment to draw the sword, there was no reason whatever for their being afraid of an attack on the part of the Canaanites, even if the latter had not been paralyzed by the miraculous crossing of the Jordan.
Verse 9 Edit
When the circumcision was completed, the Lord said to Joshua, “This day have I rolled away the reproach of Egypt from off you.” “The reproach of Egypt” is the reproach proceeding from Egypt, as “the reproach of Moab,” in Zep 2:8, is the reproach heaped upon Israel by Moab (cf. Isa 51:7; Eze 16:57). We are not to understand by this the Egyptian bondage, or the misery which still cleaved to the Israelites from Egypt, and the still further misery which they had suffered during their journey, on account of the displeasure of Jehovah (Knobel), but the reproach involved in the thoughts and sayings of the Egyptians, that Jehovah had brought the Israelites out of Egypt to destroy them in the desert (Exo 32:12; Num 14:13-16; Deu 9:28), which rested upon Israel as long as it was condemned to wander restlessly about and to die in the wilderness. This reproach was rolled away from Israel with the circumcision of the people at Gilgal, inasmuch as this act was a practical declaration of the perfect restoration of the covenant, and a pledge that the Lord would now give them the land of Canaan for their inheritance. From this occurrence the place where the Israelites were encamped received the name of Gilgal, viz., “rolling away,” from גּלל, to roll. This explanation and derivation of the name is not to be pronounced incorrect and unhistorical, simply because it merely preserves the subordinate idea of rolling, instead of the fuller idea of the rolling away of reproach. For the intention was not to form a word which should comprehend the whole affair with exhaustive minuteness, but simply to invent a striking name which should recall the occurrence, like the name Tomi, of which Ovid gives the following explanation: Inde Tomos dictus locus est quia fertur in illo membra soror fratris consecuisse sui (Trist. iii. 9, 33). Knobel is wrong in maintaining that the name should be explained in a different way, and that this Gilgal is the same as Geliloth (circles) in Jos 18:17 (see the explanation given at Jos 15:7). The word gilgal, formed from גלל, to roll, signifies primarily rolling, then a wheel (Isa 28:28); and if by possibility it signifies orbis also, like גּליל, this is neither the original nor the only meaning of the word. According to Josephus (Ant. Jos 18:1, Jos 18:4), Israel encamped fifty stadia, i.e., two hours and a half, from the Jordan, and ten stadia, or half an hour, from Jericho-that is to say, in the plain or steppe between Jericho and the Jordan, in an uninhabited and uncultivated spot, which received the name of Gilgal for the first time, as the place where the Israelites were encamped. No town or village ever existed there, either at the period in question or at any later time. The only other places in which this Gilgal can be shown to be evidently referred to, are Mic 6:5 and 2Sa 19:6, 2Sa 19:41; and the statement made by Eusebius in the Onom. s. v. Galgala, δείκνυται ὁ τόπος ἔρημος ὡς ἱερὸς θρησκευόμενος, which Jerome paraphrases thus, “Even to the present day a deserted place is pointed out at the second mile from Jericho, which is held in amazing reverence by the inhabitants of that region,” by no means proves the existence of a town or village there in the time of the Israelites. Consequently it is not to be wondered at, that in spite of repeated search, Robinson has not been able to discover any remains of Gilgal to the east of Jericho, or to meet with any Arab who could tell him of such a name in this locality (see Rob. Pal. ii. pp. 287-8 and 278). On the situation of the Gilgal mentioned in Jos 9:6; Jos 10:6, etc., see at Jos 8:35.
Verses 10-12 Edit
The Passover at Gilgal. - When the whole nation had been received again into covenant with the Lord by circumcision, they kept the passover, which had no doubt been suspended from the time that they left Sinai (Num 9:1.), on the 14th of the month (Nisan), in the evening (according to the law in Exo 12:6, Exo 12:18; Lev 23:5; Num 28:16; Deu 16:6). The next day, i.e., on the 16th, or the day after the first feast-day, they ate unleavened loaves and parched corn (“roasted grains,” see at Lev 2:14) of the produce of the land (עבוּר, which only occurs in Jos 5:11 and Jos 5:12, is synonymous with תּבוּאה in Jos 5:12), i.e., corn that had grown in the land of Canaan, as the manna entirely ceased from this day forwards. “The morrow after the passover” is used in Num 33:3 for the 15th Nisan; but here it must be understood as signifying the 16th, as the produce of the land, of which they ate not only on that day, but, according to Jos 5:12, throughout that year, cannot mean the corn of the previous year, but the produce of this same year, i.e., the new corn, and they were not allowed to eat any of that till it had been sanctified to the Lord by the presentation of the wave sheaf on the second day of the passover (Lev 23:11). According to Lev 23:11, the presentation was to take place on the day after the Sabbath, i.e., the first day of the feast of Mazzoth, which was kept as a Sabbath, or the 16th of Nisan, as the seven days' feast of Mazzoth commenced on the 15th (Lev 23:6; Num 28:17). “On the morrow after the passover” is the same as “on the morrow after the Sabbath” in Lev 23:11, the term passover being used here not in its original and more restricted sense, in which it applies exclusively to the observance of the paschal meal, which took place on the evening of the 14th, and is expressly distinguished from the seven days' feast of Mazzoth (Exo 12:23, Exo 12:27; Lev 23:5; Num 28:16), but in the broader sense, which we have already met with in Deu 16:2, in which the name was gradually extended to the whole of the seven days' feast. The writer assumed that the facts themselves were already well known from the Mosaic law, and therefore did not think it necessary to give any fuller explanation. Moreover, the words, “they did eat of the fruit of the land,” etc., are not to be understood as signifying that they began to eat unleavened bread for the first time on the 16th Nisan (they had already eaten is as an accompaniment to the paschal lamb); but unleavened bread of the produce of the land, the green corn of that year, was what they ate for the first time on that day. Especial prominence is given to this by the words, “in the self-same day,” because not only did the eating of the new corn commence on that day, but from that day forward “the children of Israel had manna no more.” This statement is evidently related to Exo 16:35, and must be understood, according to that passage, as merely signifying, that on that day the gift of the manna entirely ceased (see Pentateuch, pp. 366ff.).
Verses 13-15 Edit
Appearance and Message of the Angel of the Lord. - Jos 5:13-15. When Joshua was by Jericho, בּיריחו, lit., in Jericho (בּ expressing immediate proximity, the entrance as it were into some other object, vid., Ewald, §217), - that is to say, inside it in thought, meditating upon the conquest of it-he saw, on lifting up his eyes, a man standing before him with a drawn sword in his hand; and on going up to him, and asking, “Dost thou belong to us or to our enemies?” he received this reply: “Nay (לא is not to be altered into לו, which is the reading adopted in the Sept., Syr., and a few MSS), but I am the prince of the army of Jehovah; now I am come.” The person who had appeared neither belonged to the Israelites nor to their enemies, but was the prince of the army of Jehovah, i.e., of the angels. “The Lord's host” does not mean “the people of Israel, who were just at the commencement of their warlike enterprise,” as v. Hofmann supposes; for although the host of Israel who came out of Egypt are called “the hosts of the Lord” in Exo 12:41, the Israelites are never called the host or army of Jehovah (in the singular). “The host of Jehovah” is synonymous with “the host of heaven” (1Ki 22:19), and signifies the angels, as in Psa 148:2 and Psa 103:21. With the words “now I am come,” the prince of the angels is about to enter upon an explanation of the object of his coming; but he is interrupted in his address by Joshua, who falls down before him, and says, “What saith my lord to his servant?” so that now he first of all commands Joshua to take off his shoes, as the place on which he stands is holy. It by no means follows that because Joshua fell down upon the ground and ישׁתּחוּ (Eng. Ver. “did worship”), he must have recognised him at once as the angel of the Lord who was equal with God; for the word השׁתּחוה, which is connected with the falling down, does not always mean divine worship, but very frequently means nothing more than the deep Oriental reverence paid by a dependant to his superior or king (e.g., 2Sa 9:6; 2Sa 14:33), and Joshua did not address the person who appeared to him by the name of God, אדני, but simply as אדני, “My lord.” In any case, however, Joshua regarded him at once as a superior being, i.e., an angel. And he must have recognised him as something more than a created angel of superior rank, that is to say, as the angel of Jehovah who is essentially equal with God, the visible revealer of the invisible God, as soon as he gave him the command to take off his shoes, etc. - a command which would remind him of the appearance of God to Moses in the burning bush, and which implied that the person who now appeared was the very person who had revealed himself to Moses as the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. (On the meaning of the command to take off the shoes, see the exposition of Exo 3:5.) The object of the divine appearance was indicated by the drawn sword in the hand (cf. Num 22:31), by which he manifested himself as a heavenly warrior, or, as he describes himself to Joshua, as prince of the army of Jehovah. The drawn sword contained in itself this practical explanation: “I am now come with my heavenly army, to make war upon the Canaanites, and to assist thee and thy people” (Seb. Schmidt). It was not in a vision that this appearance took place, but it was an actual occurrence belonging to the external world; for Joshua saw the man with the drawn sword at a certain distance from himself, and went up to him to address him, - a fact which would be perfectly incompatible with an inward vision. When Joshua had taken off his shoes, the prince of the army of God made known to him the object of his coming (Jos 6:2-5). But before relating the message, the historian first of all inserts a remark concerning the town of Jericho, in the form of an explanatory clause, for the purpose of showing the precise meaning of the declaration which follows.
This meaning is to be found not merely in the fact that the Lord was about to give Jericho into the hands of the Israelites, but chiefly in the fact that the town which He was about to give into their hands was so strongly fortified.
Chap. 6 Edit
Verse 1 Edit
Jos 6:1“Jericho was shutting its gates (vid., Jdg 9:51), and closely shut.” The participles express the permanence of the situation, and the combination of the active and passive in the emphatic form מסגּרת (lxx συγκεκλεισμένη καὶ ὠχυρωμένη; Vulg. clausa erat atque munita) serves to strengthen the idea, to which still further emphasis is given by the clause, “no one was Jos 6:2-5 going out and in,” i.e., so firmly shut that no one could get out or in.
Verses 2-5 Edit
“And the Lord said to Joshua:” this is the sequel to Jos 5:15, as Jos 6:1 is merely a parenthesis and Jehovah is the prince of the army of Jehovah (Jos 5:14), or the angel of Jehovah, who is frequently identified with Jehovah (see Pentateuch, pp. 106ff.). “See, I have given into thy hand Jericho and its king, and the mighty men of valour.” (“Have given,” referring to the purpose of God, which was already resolved upon, though the fulfilment was still in the future.) “The mighty men of valour” (brave warriors) is in apposition to Jericho, regarded as a community, and its king. In Jos 6:3-5 there follows an explanation of the way in which the Lord would give Jericho into the hand of Joshua. All the Israelitish men of war were to go round the town once a day for six days. אחת פּעם ... הקּיף, “going round about the city once,” serves as a fuller explanation of סבּותם (“ye shall compass”). As they marched in this manner round the city, seven priests were to carry seven jubilee trumpets before the ark, which implies that the ark itself was to be carried round the city in solemn procession. But on the seventh day they were to march round the town seven times, and the priests to blow the trumpets; and when there was a blast with the jubilee horn, and the people on hearing the sound of the trumpet raised a great cry, the wall of the town should fall down “under itself.” The “jubilee trumpets” (Eng. Ver. “trumpets of rams' horns”) are the same as the “jubilee horn” (Eng. Ver. “rams' horn”) in Jos 6:5, for which the abbreviated form shophar (trumpet, Jos 6:5; cf. Exo 19:16) or jobel (jubilee: Exo 19:13) is used. They were not the silver trumpets of the priests (Num 10:1.), but large horns, or instruments in the shape of a horn, which gave a loud far-sounding tone (see at Lev 23:24; Lev 25:11). For בש תּקע, blow the trumpet (lit. strike the trumpet), in Jos 6:4, בּקּרן משׁך, draw with the horn, i.e., blow the horn with long-drawn notes, is used in Jos 6:5 (see at Exo 19:13). The people were then to go up, i.e., press into the town over the fallen wall; “every one straight before him,” i.e., every one was to go straight into the town without looking round at his neighbour either on the right hand or on the left (vid., Jos 6:20).
Taking of Jericho. - In the account of this we have first of all a brief statement of the announcement of the divine message by Joshua to the priests and the people (Jos 6:6, Jos 6:7); then the execution of the divine command (Jos 6:8-20); and lastly the burning of Jericho and deliverance of Rahab (Jos 6:21-27).
Verses 6-7 Edit
In communicating the divine command with reference to the arrangements for taking Jericho, Joshua mentions in the first place merely the principal thing to be observed. The plural ויּאמרוּ (“they said”), in Jos 6:7, must not be altered, but is to be explained on the ground that Joshua did not make the proclamation to the people himself, but through the medium oft he shoterim, who were appointed to issue his commands (see Jos 1:10-11; Jos 3:2-3). In this proclamation the more minute instructions concerning the order of march, which had been omitted in Jos 6:3-5, are given; namely, that החלוּץ was to march in front of the ark. By החלוּץ, “the equipped (or armed) man,” we are not to understand all the fighting men, as Knobel supposes; for in the description of the march which follows, the whole of the fighting men (“all the men of war,” Jos 6:3) are divided into החלוּץ and המּאסּף (Eng. Ver. “the armed men” and “the rereward,” Jos 6:9 and Jos 6:13), so that the former can only have formed one division of the army. It is very natural therefore to suppose, as Kimchi and Rashi do, that the former were the fighting men of the tribes of Reuben, Gad, and half Manasseh (הצּבא חלוּצי, Jos 4:13), and the latter the fighting men of the rest of the tribes. On the meaning of מאסּף, see at Num 10:25. If we turn to the account of the facts themselves, we shall see at once, that in the report of the angel's message, in Jos 6:3-5, several other points have been passed over for the purpose of avoiding too many repetitions, and have therefore to be gathered from the description of what actually occurred. First of all, in Jos 6:8-10, we have the appointment of the order of marching, namely, that the ark, with the priests in front carrying the trumpets of jubilee, was to form the centre of the procession, and that one portion of the fighting men was to go in front of it, and the rest to follow after; that the priests were to blow the trumpets every time they marched round during the seven days (Jos 6:8, Jos 6:9, Jos 6:13); and lastly, that it was not till the seventh time of going round, on the seventh day, that the people were to raise the war-cry at the command of Joshua, and then the walls of the town were to fall (Jos 6:10, Jos 6:16). There can be no doubt that we are right in assuming that Joshua had received from the angel the command which he issued to the people in Jos 6:17., that the whole town, with all its inhabitants and everything in it, was to be given up as a ban to the Lord, at the time when the first announcement concerning the fall of the town was made. ==Verses 8-10== Jos 6:8-10Execution of the divine Command. - Jos 6:8-11. The march round on the first day; and the instructions as to the war-cry to be raised by the people, which are appended as a supplement in Jos 6:10. “Before Jehovah,” instead of “before the ark of Jehovah,” as the signification of the ark was derived entirely from the fact, that it was the medium through which Jehovah communicated His gracious presence to the people. In Jos 6:9, תּקעוּ is in the perfect tense, and we must supply the relative אשׁר, which is sometimes omitted, not only in poetry, but also in prose, after a definite noun in the accusative (e.g., Exo 18:20; see Ewald, §332, a.). There is not sufficient ground for altering the form of the word into תּקעי, according to the Keri, as תּקע is construed in other cases with the accusative השּׁופר, instead of with בּ, and that not only in poetry, but also in prose (e.g., Jdg 7:22, as compared with Jdg 7:18-20). ותקוע הלוך, “trumpeting continually” (Eng. Ver. “going on and blowing”). הלוך is used adverbially, as in Gen 8:3, etc.
Verse 11 Edit
Verses 12-14 Edit
The march on each of the next five days resembled that on the first. “So they did six days.” In Jos 6:13, ותקעוּ does not stand for ותקוע, but corresponds to ותקעוּ in Jos 6:8; and the participle הולך is used interchangeably with the inf. abs. הלוך, as in Gen 26:13; Jdg 4:24, etc., so that the Keri הלוך is an unnecessary emendation.
Verses 15-20 Edit
On the seventh day the marching round the town commenced very early, at the dawning of the day, that they might go round seven times. כּמּשׁפּט, in the manner prescribed and carried out on the previous days, which had become a right through precept and practice. On the seventh circuit, when the priests had blown the trumpet, Joshua commanded the fighting men to raise a war-cry, announcing to them at the same time that the town, with all that was in it, was to be a ban to the Lord, with the exception of Rahab and the persons in her house, and warning them not to take of that which was laid under the ban, that they might not bring a ban upon the camp of Israel. The construction in v. 16, “it came to pass at the seventh time the priests had blown the trumpets, then Joshua said, ... ” is more spirited than if the conjunction כּאשׁר had been used before תּקעוּ, or בּתקוע had been used. Because the Lord had given Jericho into the hands of the Israelites, they were to consecrate it to Him as a ban (cherem), i.e., as a holy thing belonging to Jehovah, which was not to be touched by man, as being the first-fruits of the land of Canaan. (On cherem, see the remarks at Lev 27:28-29.) Rahab alone was excepted from this ban, along with all that belonged to her, because she had hidden the spies. The inhabitants of an idolatrous town laid under the ban were to be put to death, together with their cattle, and all the property in the town to be burned, as Moses himself had enjoined on the basis of the law in Lev 27:29. The only exceptions were metals, gold, silver, and the vessels of brass and iron; these were to be brought into the treasury of the Lord, i.e., the treasury of the tabernacle, as being holy to the Lord (Jos 6:19; vid., Num 31:54). Whoever took to himself anything that had been laid under the ban, exposed himself to the ban, not only because he had brought an abomination into his house, as Moses observes in Deu 7:25, in relation to the gold and silver of idols, but because he had wickedly invaded the rights of the Lord, by appropriating that which had been laid under the ban, and had wantonly violated the ban itself. The words, “beware of the ban, that ye do not ban and take of the ban” (Jos 6:18), point to this. As Lud. de Dieu observes, “the two things were altogether incompatible, to devote everything to God, and yet to apply a portion to their own private use; either the thing should not have been devoted, or having been devoted, it was their duty to abstain from it.” Any such appropriation of what had been laid under the ban would make the camp of Israel itself a ban, and trouble it, i.e., bring it into trouble (conturbare, cf. Gen 34:30). In consequence of the trumpet-blast and the war-cry raised by the people, the walls of the town fell together, and the Israelites rushed into the town and took it, as had been foretold in Jos 6:5. The position of העם ויּרע is not to be understood as signifying that the people had raised the war-cry before the trumpet-blast, but may be explained on the ground, that in his instructions in Jos 6:16 Joshua had only mentioned the shouting. But any misinterpretation is prevented by the fact, that it is expressly stated immediately afterwards, that the people did not raise the great shout till they heard the trumpet-blast.
As far as the event itself is concerned, the difference attempts which have been made to explain the miraculous overthrow of the walls of Jericho as a natural occurrence, whether by an earthquake, or by mining, or by sudden storming, for which the inhabitants, who had been thrown into a false security by the marvellous procession repeated day after day for several days, were quite unprepared (as Ewald has tried to explain the miracle away), really deserve no serious refutation, being all of them arbitrarily forced upon the text. It is only from the naturalistic stand-point that the miracle could ever be denied; for it not only follows most appropriately upon the miraculous guidance of Israel through the Jordan, but is in perfect harmony with the purpose and spirit of the divine plan of salvation. “It is impossible,” says Hess, “to imagine a more striking way, in which it could have been shown to the Israelites that Jehovah had given them the town. Now the river must retire to give them an entrance into the land, and now again the wall of the town must fall to make an opening into a fortified place. Two such decisive proofs of the co-operation of Jehovah so shortly after Moses' death, must have furnished a pledge, even to the most sensual, that the same God was with them who had led their fathers so mightily and so miraculously through the Read Sea.” That this was in part the intention of the miracle, we learn from the close of the narrative (Jos 6:27). But this does not explain the true object of the miracle, or the reason why God gave up this town to the Israelites without any fighting on their part, through the miraculous overthrow of their walls. The reason for this we have to look for in the fact that Jericho was not only the first, but the strongest town of Canaan, and as such was the key to the conquest of the whole land, the possession of which would open the way to the whole, and give the whole, as it were, into their hands. The Lord would give His people the first and strongest town of Canaan, as the first-fruits of the land, without any effort on their part, as a sign that He was about to give them the whole land for a possession, according to His promise; in order that they might not regard the conquest of it as their own work, or the fruit of their own exertions, and look upon the land as a well-merited possession which they could do as they pleased with, but that they might ever use it as a gracious gift from the Lord, which he had merely conferred upon them as a trust, and which He could take away again, whenever they might fall from Him, and render themselves unworthy of His grace. This design on the part of God would of necessity become very obvious in the case of so strongly fortified a town as Jericho, whose walls would appear impregnable to a people that had grown up in the desert and was so utterly without experience in the art of besieging or storming fortified places, and in fact would necessarily remain impregnable, at all events for a long time, without the interposition of God. But if this was the reason why the Lord gave up Jericho to the Israelites by a miracle, it does not explain either the connection between the blast of trumpets or the war-cry of the people and the falling of the walls, or the reason for the divine instructions that the town was to be marched round every day for seven days, and seven times on the seventh day. Yet as this was an appointment of divine wisdom, it must have had some meaning.
The significance of this repeated marching round the town culminates unquestionably in the ark of the covenant and the trumpet-blast of the priests who went before the ark. In the account before us the ark is constantly called the ark of the Lord, to show that the Lord, who was enthroned upon the cherubim of the ark, was going round the hostile town in the midst of His people; whilst in Jos 6:8 Jehovah himself is mentioned in the place of the ark of Jehovah. Seven priests went before the ark, bearing jubilee trumpets and blowing during the march. The first time that we read of a trumpet-blast is at Sinai, where the Lord announced His descent upon the mount to the people assembled at the foot to receive Him, not only by other fearful phenomena, but also by a loud and long-continued trumpet-blast (Exo 19:16, Exo 19:19; Exo 20:14-18). After this we find the blowing of trumpets prescribed as part of the Israelitish worship in connection with the observance of the seventh new moon's day (Lev 23:24), and at the proclamation of the great year of jubilee (Lev 25:9). Just as the trumpet-blast heard by the people when the covenant was made at Sinai was as it were a herald's call, announcing to the tribes of Israel the arrival of the Lord their God to complete His covenant and establish His kingdom upon earth; so the blowing of trumpets in connection with the round of feasts was intended partly to bring the people into remembrance before the Lord year by year at the commencement of the sabbatical month, that He might come to them and grant them the Sabbath rest of His kingdom, and partly at the end of every seven times seven years to announce on the great day of atonement the coming of the great year of grace and freedom, which was to bring to the people of God deliverance from bondage, return to their own possessions, and deliverance from the bitter labours of this earth, and to give them a foretaste of the blessed and glorious liberty to which the children of God would attain at the return of the Lord to perfect His kingdom (vid., Pentateuch, pp. 631f.). But when the Lord comes to found, to build up, and to perfect His kingdom upon earth, He also comes to overthrow and destroy the worldly power which opposes His kingdom. The revelation of the grace and mercy of God to His children, goes ever side by side with the revelation of justice and judgment towards the ungodly who are His foes. If therefore the blast of trumpets was the signal to the congregation of Israel of the gracious arrival of the Lord its God to enter into fellowship with it, no less did it proclaim the advent of judgment to an ungodly world. This shows clearly enough the meaning of the trumpet-blast at Jericho. The priests, who went before the ark of the covenant (the visible throne of the invisible God who dwelt among His people) and in the midst of the hosts of Israel, were to announce through the blast of trumpets both to the Israelites and Canaanites the appearance of the Lord of the whole earth for judgment upon Jericho, the strong bulwark of the Canaanitish power and rule, and to foretel to them through the falling of the walls of this fortification, which followed the blast of trumpets and the wary-cry of the soldiers of God, the overthrow of all the strong bulwarks of an ungodly world through the omnipotence of the Lord of heaven and earth. Thus the fall of Jericho became the symbol and type of the overthrow of every worldly power before the Lord, when He should come to lead His people into Canaan and establish His kingdom upon earth. On the ground of this event, the blowing of trumpets is frequently introduced in the writings of the prophets, as the signal and symbolical omen of the manifestations of the Lord in great judgments, through which He destroys one worldly power after another, and thus maintains and extends His kingdom upon earth, and leads it on towards that completion to which it will eventually attain when He descends from heaven in His glory at the time of the last trump, with a great shout, with the voice of the archangel and the trump of God, to raise the dead and change the living, to judge the world, cast the devil, death, and hell into the lake of fire, create a new heaven and new earth, and in the new Jerusalem erect the tabernacle of God among men for all eternity (1Co 15:51.; 1Th 4:16-17; Rev 20:1; 21).
The appointment of the march round Jericho, which was to be continued for seven days, and to be repeated seven times on the seventh day, was equally significant. The number seven is a symbol in the Scriptures of the work of God and of the perfection already produced or to be eventually secured by Him; a symbol founded upon the creation of the world in six days, and the completion of the works of creation by the resting of God upon the seventh day. Through this arrangement, that the walls of Jericho were not to fall till after they had been marched round for seven days, and not till after this had been repeated seven times on the seventh day, and then amidst the blast of the jubilee trumpets and the war-cry of the soldiers of the people of God, the destruction of this town, the key to Canaan, was intended by God to become a type of the final destruction at the last day of the power of this world, which exalts itself against the kingdom of God. In this way He not only showed to His congregation that it would not be all at once, but only after long-continued conflict, and at the end of the world, that the worldly power by which it was opposed would be overthrown, but also proved to the enemies of His kingdom, that however long their power might sustain itself in opposition to the kingdom of God, it would at last be destroyed in a moment.
Verses 21-23 Edit
After the taking of Jericho, man and beast were banned, i.e., put to death without quarter (Jos 6:21; cf. Jos 6:17); Rahab and her relations being the only exceptions. Joshua had directed the two spies to fetch them out of her house, and in the first instance had them taken to a place of safety outside the camp of Israel (Jos 6:22, Jos 6:23). “Her brethren,” i.e., her brothers and sisters, as in Jos 2:13, not her brothers only. “All that she had” does not mean all her possessions, but all the persons belonging to her house; and “all her kindred” are all her relations by birth or marriage, with their dependants (cf. Jos 2:13). Clericus is correct in observing, that as Rahab's house was built against the town-wall, and rested partly upon it (Jos 2:15), when the wall fell down, that portion against or upon which the house stood cannot have fallen along with the rest, “otherwise when the wall fell no one would have dared to remain in the house.” But we must not draw the further inference, that when the town was burned Rahab's house was spared. וגו מחוּץ ויּנּיחוּם (Jos 6:23; cf. Gen 19:16), “they let them rest,” i.e., placed them in safety, “outside the camp of Israel,” sc., till they had done all that was requisite for a formal reception into the congregation of the Lord, viz., by giving up idolatry and heathen superstition, and turning to the God of Israel as the only true God (to which circumcision had to be added in the case of the men), and by whatever lustrations and purifications were customary at the time in connection with reception into the covenant with Jehovah, of which we have no further information.
Verses 24-25 Edit
After man and beast had been put to death, and Rahab and her relatives had been placed in security, the Israelites set the town on fire with everything in it, excepting the metals, which were taken to the treasury of the tabernacle, as had been commanded in Jos 6:19. On the conquest of the other towns of Canaan the inhabitants only were put to death, whilst the cattle and the rest of the booty fell to the conquerors, just as in the case of the conquest of the land and towns of Sihon and Og (compare Jos 8:26-27; Jos 10:28, with Deu 2:34-35, and Deu 3:6-7), as it was only the inhabitants of Canaan that the Lord had commanded to be put under the ban (Deu 7:2; Deu 20:16-17). In the case of Jericho, on the contrary, men, cattle, and booty were all put under the ban, and the town itself was to be laid in ashes. This was because Jericho was the first town of Canaan which the Lord had given up to His people. Israel was therefore to sacrifice it to the Lord as the first-fruits of the land, and to sanctify it to Him as a thing placed under the ban, for a sign that they had received the whole land as a fief from his hand, and had no wish to grasp as a prey that which belonged to the Lord.
Verse 25 Edit
But Rahab and all that belonged to her Joshua suffered to live, so that she dwelt in Israel “unto this day.” It is very evident from this remark, that the account was written not very long after the event.
Verses 26-27 Edit
But in order to complete the ban pronounced upon Jericho in perfect accordance with the command of God in Deu 13:17, and to make the destruction of it a memorial to posterity of the justice of God sanctifying itself upon the ungodly, Joshua completed the ban with an oath: “Cursed be the man before the Lord that riseth up and buildeth this city Jericho; he shall lay the foundation thereof at the price of his first-born, and set up its gates at the price of his youngest son” (בּ denoting the price of a thing). The rhythmical parallelism is unmistakeable in this curse. The two last clauses express the thought that the builder of the town would pay for its restoration by the loss of all his sons, from the first-born to the very youngest. The word “buildeth,” however, does not refer to the erection of houses upon the site of the town that had been burnt to ashes, but to the restoration of the town as a fortification, the word בּנה being frequently used to denote the fortification of a town (e.g., 1Ki 15:17; 2Ch 11:6; 2Ch 14:5-6). This is evident in general from the fact that a town is not founded by the erection of a number of houses upon one spot, but by the joining of these houses together into an enclosed whole by means of a surrounding wall, but more particularly from the last words of the verse, in which בּנה is explained as ייסּדנּה (lay the foundation thereof) and דּלתיה יצּיב (set up the gates of it). Setting up the gates of a town is not setting up doors to the houses, but erecting town-gates, which can only be done when a town-wall has been built. But if setting up the gates would be a sign of the completion of the wall, and therefore of the restoration of the town as a fortification, the “founding” (laying the foundation) mentioned in the parallel clause can only be understood as referring to the foundation of the town-wall. This view of the curse, which is well supported both by the language and the facts, is also confirmed by the subsequent history. Joshua himself allotted Jericho to the Benjamites along with certain other towns (Jos 18:21), which proves that he intended them to inhabit it; and accordingly we find the city of palms, i.e., Jericho, mentioned afterwards as an inhabited place (Jdg 3:13; 2Sa 10:5), and yet it was not till the time of Ahab that Joshua's curse was fulfilled, when Hiel the Bethelite undertook to make it into a fortified town (1Ki 16:34).
Verse 27 Edit
Thus the Lord was with Joshua, fulfilling His promise to him (Jos 1:5.), so that his fame spread through all the land.
Chap. 7 Edit
Verse 1 Edit
At Jericho the Lord had made known to the Canaanites His great and holy name; but before Ai the Israelites were to learn that He would also sanctify Himself on them if they transgressed His covenant, and that the congregation of the Lord could only conquer the power of the world so long as it was faithful to His covenant. But notwithstanding the command which Joshua had enforced upon the people (Jos 6:18), Achan, a member of the tribe of Judah, laid hands upon the property in Jericho which had been banned, and thus brought the ban upon the children of Israel, the whole nation. His breach of trust is described as unfaithfulness (a trespass) on the part of the children of Israel in the ban, in consequence of which the anger of the Lord was kindled against the whole nation. מעל מעל, to commit a breach of trust (see at Lev 5:15), generally against Jehovah, by purloining or withholding what was sanctified to Him, here in the matter of the ban, by appropriating what had been banned to the Lord. This crime was imputed to the whole people, not as imputatio moralis, i.e., as though the whole nation had shared in Achan's disposition, and cherished in their hearts the same sinful desire which Achan had carried out in action in the theft he had committed; but as imputatio civilis, according to which Achan, a member of the nation, had robbed the whole nation of the purity and holiness which it ought to possess before God, through the sin that he had committed, just as the whole body is affected by the sin of a single member.
Instead of Achan (the reading here and in Jos 22:20) we find Achar in 1Ch 2:7, the liquids n and r being interchanged to allow of a play upon the verb עכר in Jos 7:25. Hence in Josephus the name is spelt Acharos, and in the Cod. Vat. of the lxx Achar, whereas the Cod. Al. has Achan. Instead of Zabdi, we find Zimri in 1Ch 2:6, evidently a copyist's error. Zerah was the twin-brother of Pharez (Gen 38:29-30). Matteh, from נטה, to spread out, is used to denote the tribe according to its genealogical ramifications; whilst shebet (from an Arabic root signifying “uniform, not curled, but drawn out straight and long with any curvature at all”) was applied to the sceptre or straight staff of a magistrate or ruler (never to the stick upon which a person rested), and different from matteh not only in its primary and literal meaning, but also in the derivative meaning tribe, in which it was used to designate the division of the nation referred to, not according to its genealogical ramifications and development, but as a corporate body possessing authority and power. This difference in the ideas expressed by the two words will explain the variations in their use: for example, matteh is used here (in Jos 7:1 and Jos 7:18), and in Jos 22:1-14, and in fact is the term usually employed in the geographical sections; whereas shebet is used in Jos 7:14, Jos 7:16, in Jos 3:12; Jos 4:2, and on many other occasions, in those portions of the historical narratives in which the tribes of Israel are introduced as military powers.
Verses 2-5 Edit
The anger of God, which Achan had brought upon Israel, was manifested to the congregation in connection with their attempt to take Ai. This town was situated near Bethaven, on the east of Bethel. Bethel was originally called Luz (see at Gen 28:19), a place on the border of Ephraim and Benjamin (Jos 16:2; Jos 18:13). It is frequently mentioned, was well known at a later time as the city in which Jeroboam established the worship of the calves, and was inhabited again even after the captivity (see v. Raumer, Pal. pp. 178, 179). It has been preserved, in all probability, in the very extensive ruins called Beitin (see Robinson, Pal. ii. pp. 126ff.), about four hours' journey on horseback to the north of Jerusalem, and on the east of the road which leads from Jerusalem to Sichem (Nablus).
No traces have ever been discovered of Bethaven. According to Jos 18:12-13, the northern boundary of the tribe of Benjamin, which ran up from Jericho to the mountains on the west, passed on to the desert of Bethaven, and so onwards to Luz (Bethel). If we compare with this the statement in 1Sa 13:5, that the Philistines who came against Israel encamped at Michmash before (in front of) Bethaven, according to which Bethaven was on the east or north-east of Michmash (Mukhmas), the desert of Bethaven may very possibly have been nothing more than the table-land which lies between the Wady Mutyah on the north and the Wadys Fuwar and Suweinit (in Robinson's map), or Wady Tuwâr (on Van de Velde's map), and stretches in a westerly direction from the rocky mountain Juruntel to Abu Sebah (Subbah). Bethaven would then lie to the south or south-east of Abu Sebah. In that case, however, Ai (Sept. Gai or Aggai, Gen 12:8) would neither be found in the inconsiderable ruins to the south of the village of Deir Diwan, as Robinson supposes (Pal. ii. pp. 312ff.), nor on the site of the present Tell el Hajar, i.e., stone hill, three-quarters of an hour to the S.E. of Beitin, on the southern side of the deep and precipitous Wady Mutyah, as Van de Velde imagines; but in the ruins of Medinet Chai or Gai, which Krafft and Strauss discovered on the flat surface of a mountain that slopes off towards the east, about forty minutes on the eastern side of Geba (Jeba), where “there are considerable ruins surrounded by a circular wall, whilst the place is defended on the south by the valley of Farah, and on the north by the valley of Es Suweinit, with steep shelving walls of rock” (Strauss: vid., C. Ritter Erdk. xvi. pp. 526-7). On the advice of the men who were sent out to explore the land, and who described the population on their return as small (“they are but few”), Joshua did not send the whole of the fighting men against Ai, but only about 3000 men. As there were not more than 12,000 inhabitants (Jos 8:25), there could hardly have been 3000 fighting men, who might easily have been beaten by 3000 Israelitish warriors. But when the Israelites attacked the town they fled before its inhabitants, who slew about thirty-six men, and pursued them before the gate, i.e., outside the town, to the stone quarries, and smote them on the sloping ground. The Shebarim, from sheber, a breach or fracture, were probably stone quarries near the slope on the east of the town. Nothing more can be decided, as the country has not been thoroughly explored by travellers. On account of this repulse the people lost all their courage. “The hearts of the people melted” (see Jos 2:15): this expression is strengthened still further by the additional clause, “and became as water.”
Verses 6-7 Edit
Joshua and the elders of the people were also deeply affected, not so much at the loss of thirty-six men, as because Israel, which was invincible with the help of the Lord, had been beaten, and therefore the Lord must have withdrawn His help. In the deepest grief, with their clothes rent (see at Lev 10:6) and ashes upon their heads, they fell down before the ark of the Lord (vid., Num 20:6) until the evening, to pour out their grief before the Lord. Joshua's prayer contains a complaint (Jos 7:7) and as question addressed to God (Jos 7:8, Jos 7:9). The complaint, “Alas, O Lord Jehovah, wherefore hast Thou brought this people over Jordan, to deliver us into the hand of the Amorites, to destroy us?” almost amounts to murmuring, and sounds very much like the complaint which the murmuring people brought against Moses and Aaron in the desert (Num 14:2-3); but it is very different from the murmuring of the people on that occasion against the guidance of God; for it by no means arose from unbelief, but was simply the bold language of faith wrestling with God in prayer - faith which could not comprehend the ways of the Lord - and involved the most urgent appeal to the Lord to carry out His work in the same glorious manner in which it had been begun, with the firm conviction that God could neither relinquish nor alter His purposes of grace. The words which follow, “Would to God that we had been content (see at Deu 1:5) to remain on the other side of the Jordan,” assume on the one hand, that previous to the crossing of the river Israel had cherished a longing for the possession of Canaan, and on the other hand, that this longing might possibly have been the cause of the calamity which had fallen upon the people now, and therefore express the wish that Israel had never cherished any such desire, or that the Lord had never gratified it. (On the unusual form העברתּ for העברתּ, see Ges. §63, anm. 4, and Ewald, §41, b.) The inf. abs. העביר (with the unusual i in the final syllable) is placed for the sake of emphasis after the finite verb, as in Gen 46:4, etc. The Amorites are the inhabitants of the mountains, as in Gen 46:4, etc.
Verses 8-9 Edit
The question which Joshua addresses to God he introduces in this way: “Pray (בּי contracted from בּעי), Lord, what shall I say?” to modify the boldness of the question which follows. It was not because he did not know what to say, for he proceeded at once to pour out the thoughts of his heart, but because he felt that the thought which he was about to utter might involve a reproach, as if, when God permitted that disaster, He had not thought of His own honour; and as he could not possibly think this, he introduced his words with a supplicatory inquiry. What he proceeds to say in Jos 7:8, Jos 7:9, does not contain two co-ordinate clauses, but one simple thought: how would God uphold His great name before the world, when the report that Israel had turned their back before them should reach the Canaanites, and they should come and surround the Israelites, and destroy them without a single trace from off the face of the earth.
In the words, “the Canaanites and all the inhabitants of the land,” there is involved the thought that there were other people living in Canaan beside the Canaanites, e.g., the Philistines. The question, “What wilt Thou do with regard to Thy great name?” signifies, according to the parallel passages, Exo 32:11-12; Num 14:13., Deu 9:28, “How wilt Thou preserve Thy great name, which Thou hast acquired thus far in the sight of all nations through the miraculous guidance of Israel, from being misunderstood and blasphemed among the heathen?” (“what wilt Thou do?” as in Gen 26:29).
Verse 10 Edit
The answer of the Lord, which was addressed to Joshua directly and not through the high priest, breathed anger against the sin of Israel. The question, “Wherefore liest thou upon thy face?” (“fallest,” as in Deu 21:1) involved the reproof that Joshua had no reason to doubt the fidelity of the Lord. Instead of seeking for the cause of the calamity in God, he ought to seek it in the sin of the people.
Verse 11 Edit
Israel had sinned, and that very grievously. This is affirmed in the clauses which follow, and which are rendered emphatic by the repetition of גּם as an expression of displeasure. The sin of one man was resting as a burden upon the whole nation in the manner explained above (on Jos 7:1). This sin was a breach of the covenant, being a transgression of the obligation into which the people had entered in their covenant with the Lord, to keep His commandments (Exo 19:8; Exo 24:7); yea, it was a grasping at the ban, and a theft, and a concealment, and an appropriation of that which was stolen to their own use. The first three clauses describe the sin in its relation to God, as a grievous offence; the three following according to its true character, as a great, obstinate, and reckless crime. “They have put it among their own stuff” (house furniture), viz., to use and appropriate it as their own property. As all that had been stolen was a property consecrated to the Lord, the appropriation of it to private use was the height of wickedness.
Verse 12 Edit
On account of this sin the Israelites could not stand before their foes, because they had fallen under the ban (cf. Jos 6:18). And until this ban had been removed from their midst, the Lord would not help them any further.
Verses 13-15 Edit
Joshua was to take away this ban from the nation. To discover who had laid hands upon the ban, he was to direct the people to sanctify themselves for the following day (see at Jos 3:5), and then to cause them to come before God according to their tribes, families, households, and men, that the guilty men might be discovered by lot; and to burn whoever was found guilty, with all that he possessed. נקרב, “to come near,” sc., to Jehovah, i.e., to come before His sanctuary. The tribes, families, households, and men, formed the four classes into which the people were organized. As the tribes were divided into families, so these again were subdivided into houses, commonly called fathers' houses, and the fathers' houses again into men, i.e., fathers of families (see the remarks on Exo 18:25-26, and by Bibl. Archaeology, §140). Each of these was represented by its natural head, so that we must picture the affair as conducted in the following manner: in order to discover the tribe, the twelve tribe princes came before the Lord; and in order to discover the family, the heads of families of the tribe that had been taken, and so on to the end, each one in turn being subjected to the lot. For although it is not distinctly stated that the lot was resorted to in order to discover who was guilty, and that the discovery was actually made in this way, this is very evident from the expression אשׁר־ילכּדנּה (which the Lord taketh), as this was the technical term employed, according to 1Sa 14:42, to denote the falling of the lot upon a person (see also 1Sa 10:20). Moreover, the lot was frequently resorted to in cases where a crime could not be brought home to a person by the testimony of eye-witnesses (see 1Sa 14:41-42; Jon 1:7; Pro 18:18), as it was firmly believed that the lot was directed by the Lord (Pro 16:33). In what manner the lot was cast we do not know. In all probability little tablets or potsherds were used, with the names written upon them, and these were drawn out of an urn. This may be inferred from a comparison of Jos 18:11 and Jos 19:1, with Jos 18:6, Jos 18:10, according to which the casting of the lot took place in such a manner that the lot came up (עלה, Jos 18:11; Jos 19:10; Lev 16:9), or came out (יצא, Jos 19:1; Jos 19:24; Num 33:54). בּחרם הנּלכּד, the person taken in (with) the ban, i.e., taken by the lot as affected with the ban, was to be burned with fire, of course not alive, but after he had been stoned (Jos 7:25). The burning of the body of a criminal was regarded as heightening the punishment of death (vid., Lev 20:14). This punishment was to be inflicted upon him, in the first place, because he had broken the covenant of Jehovah; and in the second place, because he had wrought folly in Israel, that is to say, had offended grievously against the covenant God, and also against the covenant nation. “Wrought folly:” an expression used here, as in Gen 34:7, to denote such a crime as was irreconcilable with the honour of Israel as the people of God.
Verses 16-18 Edit
Jos 7:16-18Execution of the Command. - Jos 7:16-18. Discovery of the guilty man through the lot. In Jos 7:17 we should expect “the tribe” (shebet) or “the families” (mishpachoth) of Judah, instead of “the family.” The plural mishpachoth is adopted in the lxx and Vulgate, and also to be met with in seven MSS; but this is a conjecture rather than the original reading Mishpachah is either used generally, or employed in a collective sense to denote all the families of Judah. There is no ground for altering לגּברים (man by man) into לבתּים (house by house) in Jos 7:17, according to some of the MSS; the expression “man by man” is used simply because it was the representative men who came for the lot to be cast, not only in the case of the fathers' houses, but in that of the families also.
Verse 19 Edit
When Achan had been discovered to be the criminal, Joshua charged him to give honour and praise to the Lord, and to confess without reserve what he had done. It is not ironically, or with dissimulation, that Joshua addresses him as “my son,” but with “sincere paternal regard.”“Give glory to the Lord:” this is a solemn formula of adjuration, by which a person was summoned to confess the truth before the face of God (cf. Joh 9:24). “And give Him praise:” the meaning is not, “make confession,” but give praise, as Ezr 10:11 clearly shows. Through a confession of the truth Achan was to render to God, as the Omniscient, the praise and honour that were due.
Verses 20-21 Edit
Achan then acknowledge his sin, and confessed that he had appropriated to himself from among the booty a beautiful Babylonish cloak, 200 shekels of silver, and a tongue of gold of 50 shekels weight. The form ואראה is not to be abbreviated into וארא, according to the Keri, as the form is by no means rare in verbs ה.ל “A Babylonish cloak” (lit. a cloak of Shinar, or Babylon) is a costly cloak, artistically worked, such as were manufactured in Babylon, and distributed far and wide through the medium of commerce.
Two hundred shekels of silver was about £25. “A tongue of gold” (according to Luther, “ornaments made in the shape of tongues”) was certainly a golden ornament in the form of a tongue, the use of which is unknown; it was of considerable size, as it weighed 50 shekels, i.e., 13,700 grains. It is not necessary to suppose that it was a golden dagger, as many do, simply because the ancient Romans gave the name lingula to an oblong dagger formed in the shape of a tongue. Achan had hidden these things in the ground in the midst of his tent, and the silver “under it,” i.e., under these things (the suffix is neuter, and must be understood as referring to all the things with the exception of the silver). The Babylonish cloak and the tongue of gold were probably placed in a chest; at any rate they would be carefully packed up, and the silver was placed underneath. The article in האהלי, which occurs twice, as it also does in Jos 8:33; Lev 27:33; Mic 2:12, is probably to be explained in the manner suggested by Hengstenberg, viz., that the article and noun became so fused into one, that the former lost its proper force.
Verses 22-23 Edit
Joshua sent two messengers directly to Achan's tent to fetch the things, and when they were brought he had them laid down before Jehovah, i.e., before the tabernacle, where the whole affair had taken place. הצּיק, here and in 2Sa 15:24, signifies to lay down (synonymous with הצּיג), whilst the Hiphil form is used for pouring out.
Verses 24-26 Edit
Then Joshua and all Israel, i.e., the whole nation in the person of its heads or representatives, took Achan, together with the things which he had purloined, and his sons and daughters, his cattle, and his tent with all its furniture, and brought them into the valley of Achor, where they stoned them to death and then burned them, after Joshua had once more pronounced this sentence upon him in the place of judgment: “How hast thou troubled us” (עכר, as in Jos 6:18, to bring into trouble)! “The Lord will trouble thee this day.” It by no means follows from the expression “stoned him” in Jos 7:25, that Achan only was stoned. The singular pronoun is used to designate Achan alone, as being the principal person concerned. But it is obvious enough that his children and cattle were stoned, from what follows in the very same verse: “They burned them (the persons stoned to death, and their things) with fire, and heaped up stones upon them.” It is true that in Deu 24:16 the Mosaic law expressly forbids the putting to death of children for their fathers' sins; and many have imagined, therefore, that Achan's sons and daughters were simply taken into the valley to be spectators of the punishment inflicted upon the father, that it might be a warning to them. But for what reason, then, were Achan's cattle (oxen, sheep, and asses) taken out along with him? Certainly for no other purpose than to be stoned at the same time as he. The law in question only referred to the punishment of ordinary criminals, and therefore was not applicable at all to the present case, in which the punishment was commanded by the Lord himself. Achan had fallen under the ban by laying hands upon what had been banned, and consequently was exposed to the same punishment as a town that had fallen away to idolatry (Deu 13:16-17). The law of the ban was founded upon the assumption, that the conduct to be punished was not a crime of which the individual only was guilty, but one in which the whole family of the leading sinner, in fact everything connected with him, participated. Thus, in the case before us, the things themselves had been abstracted from the booty by Achan alone; but he had hidden them in his tent, buried them in the earth, which could hardly have been done so secretly that his sons and daughters knew nothing of it. By so doing he had made his family participators in his theft; they therefore fell under the ban along with him, together with their tent, their cattle, and the rest of their property, which were all involved in the consequences of his crime. The clause בּאבנים אתם ויּסקלוּ does not refer to the stoning as a capital punishment, but to the casting of stones upon the bodies after they were dead and had been burned, for the purpose of erecting a heap of stones upon them as a memorial of the disgrace (vid., Jos 8:29; 2Sa 18:17). - In Jos 7:26, the account of the whole affair closes with these two remarks: (1) That after the punishment of the malefactor the Lord turned from the fierceness of His anger; and (2) That the valley in which Achan suffered his punishment received the name of Achor (troubling) with special reference to the fact that Joshua had described his punishment as well as Achan's sin as עכר (troubling: see Jos 7:25), and that it retained this name down to the writer's own time. With regard to the situation of this valley, it is evident from the word ויּעלוּ in Jos 7:24 that it was on higher ground than Gilgal and Jericho, probably in one of the ranges of hills that intersect the plain of Jericho, and from Jos 15:7, where the northern border of the possessions of Judah is said to have passed through this valley, that it is to be looked for to the south of Jericho. The only other places in which there is any allusion to this event are Hos 2:17 and Isa 65:10.
Chap. 8 Edit
Blessings and curses upon Gerizim and Ebal Edit
Conquest and Burning of Ai. - Jos 8:1, Jos 8:2. After the ban which rested upon the people had been wiped away, the Lord encouraged Joshua to make war upon Ai, promising him that the city should be taken, and giving him instructions what to do to ensure the success of his undertaking. With evident allusion to Joshua's despair after the failure of the first attack, the Lord commences with these words, “Fear not, neither be thou dismayed” (as in Deu 1:21; Deu 31:8), and then commands him to go against Ai with all the people of war. By “all the people of war” we are hardly to understand all the men out of the whole nation who were capable of bearing arms; but as only a third of these were contributed by the two tribes and a half to cross over into Canaan and take part in the war, the other tribes also are not likely to have levied more than a third, say about 160,000, which would form altogether an army of about 200,000 men. But even such an army as this seems out of all proportion to the size of Ai, with its 12,000 inhabitants (Jos 8:25). On the other hand, however, we must bear in mind that the expression “all the people of war” simply denotes the whole army, in contrast with the advice of the spies that only a portion of the army should be sent (Jos 7:3), so that we are not warranted in pressing the word “all” to absolutely; and also that this command of God was not given with reference to the conquest of Ai alone, but applied at the same time to the conquest of the whole land, which Joshua was not to attempt by sending out detachments only, but was to carry out with the whole of the force at his command. עלה, to go up, is applied to the advance of an army against a hostile town, independently of the question whether the town was situated upon an eminence or not, as every town that had to be taken was looked upon as a height to be scaled, though as a fact in this instance the army had really to ascend from Jericho to Ai, which was situated up in the mountains (On Jos 8:1, see Jos 6:2.) “His land” is the country round, which belonged to the town and was under its king.
Verse 2 Edit
Joshua was to do the same to Ai and her king as he had already done to Jericho and her king, except that in this case the conquerors were to be allowed to appropriate the booty and the cattle to themselves. In order to conquer the town, he was to lay an ambush behind it. ארב, a collective noun, signifying the persons concealed in ambush; מארב (Jos 8:9), the place of ambush. “Behind it,” i.e., on the west of the town.
Verses 3-9 Edit
Accordingly Joshua set out with all the people of war against Ai, and selected 30,000 brave men, and sent them out in the night, with instructions to station themselves as an ambuscade behind the town, and at no great distance from it. As the distance from Gilgal to Ai was about fifteen miles, and the road runs pretty straight in a north-westerly direction from Jericho through the Wady Faran, the detachment sent forward might easily accomplish the distance in a night, so as to arrive on the western side of Ai before the break of day. They were then to hold themselves in readiness to fight. He (Joshua) himself would approach the town with the people of war that remained with him; and if the inhabitants of Ai should come out against him as they did before, they would flee before them till they had drawn them quite away from their town (Jos 8:5). This was to be expected; “for they will say, They flee before us, as at the first: and we will flee before them” (Jos 8:6). When this was done, the warriors were to come forth from their ambush, fall upon the town, and set it on fire (Jos 8:7, Jos 8:8). Having been sent away with these instructions, the 30,000 men went into ambush, and posted themselves “between Bethel and Ai, on the west side of Ai” (Jos 8:9), i.e., according to Strauss, in the Wady es Suweinit, to the north-west of Ai, where it forms almost a perpendicular wall, near to which the ruins of Chai are to be found, though “not near enough to the rocky wady for it to be possible to look down its almost perpendicular wall” (Ritter, Erdk. xvi. p. 528). Joshua remained for the night in the midst of the people, i.e., in the camp of that portion of the army that had gone with him towards Ai; not in Gilgal, as Knobel supposes.
Verse 10 Edit
The next morning he mustered the people as early as possible, and then went, with the elders of Israel, “before the people of Ai.” The elders of Israel are not “military tribunes, who were called elders because of their superiority in military affairs,” as Masius supposes, but, as in every other case, the heads of the people, who accompanied Joshua as counsellors.
Verses 11-13 Edit
The whole of the people of war also advanced with him to the front of the town, and encamped on the north of Ai, so that the valley was between it (בינו, as in Jos 3:4) and Ai. This was probably a side valley branching off towards the south from the eastern continuation of the Wady es Suweinit. - In Jos 8:12, Jos 8:13, the account of the preparations for the attack is founded off by a repetition of the notice as to the forces engaged, and in some respects a more exact description of their disposition. Joshua, it is stated in Jos 8:12, took about 5000 men and placed them in ambush between Bethel and Ai, on the west of the town. As the place where this ambuscade was posted is described in precisely the same terms as that which was occupied, according to Jos 8:9, by the 30,000 men who were sent out to form an ambuscade in the night before the advance of the main army against Ai (for the substitution of “the city” for Ai cannot possibly indicate a difference in the locality), the view held by the majority of commentators, that Jos 8:12 refers to a second ambuscade, which Joshua sent out in addition to the 30,000, and posted by the side of them, is even more than questionable, and is by no means raised into a probability by the expression את־עקבו (Eng. “their liers in wait”) in Jos 8:13. The description of the place, “on the west of the city,” leaves no doubt whatever that “their liers in wait” are simply the ambuscade (ארב) mentioned in Jos 8:12, which was sent out from the whole army, i.e., the ambuscade that was posted on the west of the town. עקב signifies literally the lier in wait (Psa 49:5), from עקב, insidiari, and is synonymous with ארב. The meaning which Gesenius and others attach to the word, viz., the rear or hinder part of the army, cannot be sustained from Gen 49:19. If we add to this the fact that Jos 8:13 is obviously nothing more than a repetition of the description already given in Jos 8:11 of the place where the main army was posted, and therefore bears the character of a closing remark introduced to wind up the previous account, we cannot regard Jos 8:12 as anything more than a repetition of the statements in Jos 8:3, Jos 8:9, and can only explain the discrepancy with regard to the number of men who were placed in ambush, by supposing that, through a copyist's error, the number which was expressed at first in simple letters has in one instance been given wrongly. The mistake, however, is not to be found in the 5000 (Jos 8:12), but in the 30,000 in Jos 8:3, where ה has been confounded with ל. For a detachment of 5000 men would be quite sufficient for an ambuscade that had only to enter the town after the soldiers had left it in pursuit of the Israelites, and to set it on fire, whereas it hardly seems possible that 30,000 men should have been posted in ambush so near to the town. - In Jos 8:13, העם (the people) is to be taken as the subject of the sentence: “The people had set all the host, that was on the north of the city, and its ambuscade on the west of the city.” In the night, namely the night before the army arrived at the north of the town, Joshua went through the midst of the valley, which separated the Israelites from the town, so that in the morning he stood with all the army close before the town.
Verses 14-23 Edit
When the king of Ai saw the Israelites, he hurried out in the morning against them to battle at the (previously) appointed place (למּועד, in locum condictum, as in 1Sa 20:35) before the steppe (Arabah, not the valley of the Jordan, but the steppe or desert of Bethaven; see at Jos 7:2), as he knew nothing of the ambuscade behind the town.
Verse 15 Edit
But the Israelites let them beat them, and fled along the desert (of Bethaven).
Verses 16-17 Edit
And all the people in the town were called together to pursue the Israelites, and were drawn away from the town, so that not a man, i.e., not a single soldier who could take part in the pursuit, remained either in Ai or the neighbouring town of Bethel, and the town stood open behind them. It is evident from Jos 8:17 that the inhabitants of Bethel, which was about three hours' journey from Ai, took part in the battle, probably in consequence of a treaty which the king of Ai had made with them in the expectation of a renewed and still stronger attack on the part of the Israelites. Nothing further is known upon this point; nor can anything be inferred from the fact that the king of Bethel is included in the list of the kings slain by Joshua (Jos 12:16). Consequently, we cannot decide whether the Bethelites came to the help of the Aites for the first time on the day of the battle itself, or, what is more probable, had already sent men to Ai, to help to repulse the expected attack of the Israelites upon that town.
Verses 18-19 Edit
At the command of God Joshua now stretched out the javelin in his hand towards the town. At this sign the ambuscade rose hastily from its concealment, rushed into the town, and set it on fire. בּכּידון נטה signifies to stretch out the hand with the spear. The object יד, which is missing (cf. Jos 8:19, Jos 8:26), may easily be supplied from the apposition בּידך אשׁר. The raising of the javelin would probably be visible at a considerable distance, even if it was not provided with a small flag, as both earlier and later commentators assume, since Joshua would hardly be in the mist of the flying Israelites, but would take his station as commander upon some eminence on one side. And the men in ambush would have scouts posted to watch for the signal, which had certainly been arranged beforehand, and convey the information to the others.
Verses 20-22 Edit
The men of Ai then turned round behind them, being evidently led to do so by the Israelites, who may have continued looking round to the town of Ai when the signal had been given by Joshua, to see whether the men in ambush had taken it and set it on fire, and as soon as they saw that this had been done began to offer still further resistance to their pursuers, and to defend themselves vigorously against them. On looking back to their town the Aites saw the smoke of the town ascending towards heaven: “and there were not hands in them to flee hither and thither,” i.e., they were utterly unable to flee. “Hand,” as the organs of enterprise and labour, in the sense of “strength,” not “room,” for which we should expect to find להם instead of בּהם. There is an analogous passage in Psa 76:6, “None of the men of might have found their hands.” For the people that fled to the wilderness (the Israelitish army) turned against the pursuers (the warriors of Ai), or, as is added by way of explanation in Jos 8:21, when Joshua and all Israel saw the town in the hands of the ambuscade, and the smoke ascending, they turned round and smote the people of Ai; and (Jos 8:22) these (i.e., the Israelites who had formed the ambuscade) came out of the town to meet them. “These” (Eng. the other), as contrasted with “the people that fled” in Jos 8:20, refers back to “the ambush” in Jos 8:19. In this way the Aites were in the midst of the people of Israel, who came from this side and that side, and smote them to the last man. “So that they let none of them remain:” as in Num 21:35 and Deu 3:3, except that in this case it is strengthened still further by וּפליט, “or escape.”
Verse 23 Edit
The king of Ai was taken alive and brought to Joshua.
Verses 24-26 Edit
When all the men of Ai, who had come out to pursue the Israelites, had been slain upon the field (namely) in the desert, all Israel returned to Ai and smote it (the town, i.e., the inhabitants), so that on that day there fell of men and women, 12,000, all the people of Ai: for Joshua did not draw back his hand, which had been stretched out with the javelin, till all the inhabitants of Ai were smitten with the ban, i.e., put to death; according to the common custom of war, that the general did not lower the war-signal till the conflict was to cease (see Suidas in Σημεῖα, andLipsius de militia, Rom. iv. dial. 12).
Verse 27 Edit
Only the cattle and the rest of the booty the conquerors retained for themselves, according to the word of the Lord (Jos 8:2).
Verse 28 Edit
Joshua had the town burnt down and made into a heap of rubbish for ever.
Verse 29 Edit
He had the king of Ai hanged upon a tree, i.e., put to death, and then suspended upon a stake (see Num 25:4) until the evening; but at sunset he had him taken down (in accordance with Deu 21:22-23), and thrown at the entrance of the town-gate, and a heap of stones piled upon him (as in the case of Achan, Jos 7:26).
Verses 30-35 Edit
Blessings and Curses upon Gerizim and Ebal. - After the capture of Ai, Israel had gained so firm a footing in Canaan that Joshua was able to carry out the instructions of Moses in Deut 27, that, after crossing the Jordan, he was to build an altar upon Mount Ebal for the setting up the covenant. The fulfilment of these instructions, according to the meaning of this solemn act, as a symbolical setting up of the law of the Lord to be the invariable rule of life to the people of Israel in the land of Canaan (see at Deut 27), ), was not only a practical expression of thanksgiving on the part of the covenant nation for its entrance into this land through the almighty assistance of its God, but also a practical acknowledgement, that in the overthrow of the Canaanites thus far it had received a strong pledge of the conquest of the foes that still remained and the capture of the whole of the promised land, provided only it persevered in covenant faithfulness towards the Lord its God. The account of this transaction is attached, it is true, to the conquest of Ai by the introduction, “Then Joshua built,” etc. (Jos 8:30); but simply as an occurrence which had no logical connection with the conquest of Canaan and the defeat of its kings. The particle אז (sequ. imperf.) is used, for example, in cases where the historian either wishes to introduce contemporaneous facts, that do not carry forward the main course of the history, or loses sight for the time of the strictly historical sequence and simply takes note of the occurrence of some particular event (vid., Ewald, §136, b.). The assertion of modern critics, which Knobel repeats, that this account is out of place in the series of events as contained in Josh 6-12, is so far correct, that the promulgation of the law and the renewal of the covenant upon Ebal form no integral part of the account of the conquest of Canaan; but it by no means proves that this section has been interpolated by the Jehovist from his first document, or by the last editor of this book from some other source, and that what is related here did not take place at the time referred to. The circumstance that, according to Josh 6-8:29, Joshua had only effected the conquest of Jericho in the south of the land from Gilgal as a base, and that even in Josh 9-10 he was still engaged in the south, by no means involves the impossibility or even the improbability of a march to Shechem, which was situated further north, where he had not yet beaten the Canaanites, and had not effected any conquests. The distance from Ai to Shechem between Gerizim and Ebal is about thirty miles in a straight line. Robinson made the journey from Bireh (Beeroth) to Sichem on mules in eleven and a half hours, and that not by the most direct route (Pal. iii. pp. 81-2), and Ai was not more than an hour to the south of Beeroth; so that Joshua could have gone with the people from Ai to Gerizim and Ebal in two days without any excessive exertion. Now, even if the conquests of the Israelites had not extended further north than Ai at that time, there was no reason why Joshua should be deterred from advancing further into the land by any fear of attack from the Canaanites, as the people of war who went with him would be able to repulse any hostile attack; and after the news had spread of the fate of Ai and Jericho, no Canaanitish king would be likely to venture upon a conflict with the Israelites alone. Moreover, Shechem had no king, as we may gather from the list of the thirty-one kings who were defeated by Joshua. To the further remark of Knobel, that “there was no reason for their hurrying with this ceremony, and it might have been carried out at a later period in undisturbed security,” we simply reply, that obedience to the command of God was not a matter of such indifference to the servant of the Lord as Knobel imagines. There was no valid reason after the capture of Ai for postponing any longer the solemn ceremony of setting up the law of Jehovah which had been enjoined by Moses; and if we consider the reason for this solemnity, to which we have already referred, there can be no doubt that Joshua would proceed without the least delay to set up the law of the Lord in Canaan as early as possible, even before the subjugation of the whole land, that he might thereby secure the help of God for further conflicts and enterprises.
The account of this religious solemnity is given very briefly. It presupposes an acquaintance with the Mosaic instructions in Deut 27, and merely gives the leading points, to show that those instructions were carefully carried out by Joshua. Of the three distinct acts of which the ceremony consisted, in the book of Deuteronomy the setting up of the stones with the law written upon them is mentioned first (Deu 27:2-4), and then (Jos 8:5-7) the building of the altar and the offering of sacrifice. Here, on the contrary, the building of the altar and offering of sacrifice are mentioned first (Jos 8:30, Jos 8:31), and then (Jos 8:32) the writing of the law upon the stones; which was probably the order actually observed. - In Jos 8:30 Jehovah is called “the God of Israel,” to show that henceforth no other god was to be worshipped in Canaan than the God of Israel. On Mount Ebal, see at Deu 11:29 and Deu 27:4.
Verses 31-33 Edit
“As Moses commanded:” namely, Deu 27:5. “As it is written in the book of the law of Moses:” viz., in Exo 20:22 (25). On the presentation of burnt-offerings and slain-offerings, see at Deu 27:6-7. - In Jos 8:32 nothing is mentioned but the writing of the law upon the stones; all the rest is presupposed from Deu 27:2., to which the expression “the stones” refers. “Copy of the law:” as in Deu 17:18; see the explanation at Deu 27:3. In connection with the third part of the ceremony the promulgation of the law with the blessing and cursing, the account of the Mosaic instructions given in Deu 27:11. is completed in Jos 8:33 by the statement that “all Israel, and their elders (i.e., with their elders), and shoterim, and judges,” stood on both sides of the ark before the Levitical priests, the stranger as well as the native, i.e., without any exception, one half (i.e., six tribes) towards Mount Ebal, and the other half towards Mount Gerizim. For further remarks, see at Deu 27:11. “As Moses commanded to bless the people before:” i.e., as he had previously commanded. The fact that the thought itself does not suit the context is quite sufficient to show that the explanation given by many commentators, viz., that they were to commence with the blessings, is incorrect. But if, on the other hand, we connect the word “before” with the principal verb of the sentence, “commanded,” the meaning will be that Moses did not give the command to proclaim the blessings and cursings to the people for the first time in connection with these instructions (Deut 27), ), but had done so before, at the very outset, namely, as early as Deu 11:29.
Verses 34-35 Edit
“And afterwards (after the people had taken the place assigned them) he read to them all the words of the law,” i.e., he had the law proclaimed aloud by the persons entrusted with the proclamation of the law, viz., the Levitical priests. קרא, lit. to call out of proclaim, then in a derivative sense to read, inasmuch as reading aloud is proclaiming (as, for example, in Exo 24:7). The words “the blessing and the curse” are in apposition to “all the words of the law,” which they serve to define, and are not to be understood as relating to the blessings in Deu 28:1-14, and the curses in Deu 27:15-26 and 28:15-68. The whole law is called “the blessing and the curse” with special reference to its contents, inasmuch as the fulfilment of it brings eo ipso a blessing, and the transgression of it eo ipso a curse. In the same manner, in Deu 11:26, Moses describes the exposition of the whole law in the steppes of Moab as setting before them blessing and cursing. In Jos 8:35 it is most distinctly stated that Joshua had the whole law read to the people; whilst the expression “all Israel,” in v. 33, is more fully explained as signifying not merely the congregation in its representatives, or even the men of the nation, but “all the congregation of Israel, with the women, and the little ones, and the strangers that were in the midst of it.”
Nothing is said about the march of Joshua and all Israel to Gerizim and Ebal. All that we know is, that he not only took with him the people of war and the elders or heads of tribes, but all the people. It follows from this, however, that the whole of the people must have left and completely vacated the camp at Gilgal in the valley of the Jordan. For if all Israel went to the mountains of Gerizim and Ebal, which were situated in the midst of the land, taking even the women and children with them, it is not likely that they left their cattle and other possessions behind them in Gilgal, exposed to the danger of being plundered in the meantime by the Canaanites of the southern mountains. So again we are not informed in what follows (Jos 9:1) in which direction Joshua and the people went after these solemnities at Ebal and Gerizim were over. It is certainly not stated that he went back to Gilgal in the Jordan valley, and pitched his tent again on the old site. No doubt we find Gilgal still mentioned as the encampment of Israel, not only in Jos 9:6; Jos 10:6, Jos 10:9, Jos 10:15, Jos 10:43, but even after the defeat and subjugation of the Canaanites in the south and north, when a commencement was made to distribute the land (Jos 14:6). But when it is asked whether this Gilgal was the place of encampment on the east of Jericho, which received its name from the circumcision of the whole nation which took place there, or the town of Gilgal by the side of the terebinths of Moreh, which is mentioned in Deu 11:30, and by which Moses defines the situation of Gerizim and Ebal, this question cannot be answered unhesitatingly according to the traditional view, viz., in favour of the encampment in the Jordan valley. For when not only the army, but all the people with their wives and children, had once proceeded from the Jordan valley to the mountains of Gerizim and Ebal, we cannot imagine any reason why Joshua should go back again to the plain of Jericho, that is to say, to the extreme corner of Canaan on the east, for the purpose of making that the base of his operations for the conquest and extermination of the Canaanites. And there is just as much improbability in the assumption, that after Joshua had not only defeated the kings of southern Canaan, who had allied themselves with Adonizedek of Jerusalem in the battle fought at Gibeon (Josh 10), but had also overthrown the kings of northern Canaan, who were allied with Jabin of Hazor at the waters of Merom above the Sea of Galilee (Josh 11), he should return again to Gilgal in the Jordan valley, and there quietly encamp with all the people, and commence the distribution of the land. The only thing that could bring us to assent to such extremely improbable assumptions, would be the fact that there was no other Gilgal in all Canaan than the encampment to the east of Jericho, which received the name of Gilgal for the first time from the Israelites themselves. But as the other Gilgal by the side of the terebinths of Moreh-i.e., the present Jiljilia, which stands upon an eminence on the south-west of Shiloh at about the same distance from Jerusalem as from Sichem-was a well-known place even in Moses' days (Deu 11:30), and from its situation on a lofty ridge, from which you can see the great lowlands and the sea towards the west, the mountains of Gilead towards the east, and far away in the north-east even Hermon itself (Rob. Pal. iii. p. 81), was peculiarly well adapted for a place of encampment, from which Joshua could carry on the conquest of the land toward both the north and south, we can come to no other conclusion than that this Gilgal or Jiljilia was the Gilgal mentioned in Jos 9:6; Jos 10:6, Jos 10:9,Jos 10:15, Jos 10:43, and Jos 14:6, as the place where the Israelites were encamped. We therefore assume, that after the setting up of the law on Gerizim and Ebal, Joshua did not conduct the people with their wives and children back again to the camp which they had left in the Jordan valley on the other side of Jericho, but chose the Gilgal which was situated upon the mountains, and only seven hours' journey to the south of Sichem, as the future place of encampment, and made this the central point of all his further military operations; and that this was the place to which he returned after his last campaign in the north, to commence the division of the conquered land among the tribes of Israel (Jos 14:6), and where he remained till the tabernacle was permanently erected at Shiloh, when the further distribution was carried on there (Jos 18:1.). This view, which even Van de Velde (Memoir, p. 316) has adopted as probable, is favoured still further by the fact that this Gilgal of Jiljilia, which is still a large village, is frequently mentioned in the subsequent history of Israel, not only in 2Ki 2:1 and 2Ki 4:38, as the seat of a school of the prophets in the time of Elijah and Elisha, and in Hos 4:15; Hos 9:15; Hos 12:12; Amo 4:4; Amo 5:5, as a place which was much frequented for the purpose of idolatrous worship; but even at an earlier date still, namely, as one of the places where Samuel judged the people (1Sa 7:16), and as the place where he offered sacrifice (1Sa 10:8; cf. Jos 13:7-9), and where he gathered the people together to confirm the monarchy of Saul (1Sa 11:14-15), at a time when the tabernacle at Shiloh had ceased to be the only national sanctuary of Israel, on account of the ark having been taken away. Gilgal had no doubt acquired this significance along with Bethel, which had been regarded as a holy place ever since the time of Jacob, from the fact that it was there that Joshua had established the camp of Israel with the ark of the covenant, until the land was divided, and Shiloh was appointed as the site for the national sanctuary.
Chap. 9 Edit
Stratagem of the Gibeonites, and Their Consequent Preservation - Joshua 9 Edit
The victorious advance of the Israelites in the land induced the kings of Canaan to form a common league for the purpose of resisting them. But, as frequently happens, the many kings and lords of the towns and provinces of Canaan were not all united, so as to make a common and vigorous attack. Before the league had been entered into, the inhabitants of Gibeon, one of the largest towns in the central part of Canaan, together with the smaller neighbouring towns that were dependent upon it, attempted to anticipate the danger which threatened them by means of a stratagem, and to enter into a friendly alliance with the Israelites. And they succeeded, inasmuch as Joshua and the elders of the congregation of Israel fell into the snare that was laid for them by the ambassadors of the Gibeonites, who came to the camp at Gilgal, and made the desired treaty with them, without inquiring of the Lord. “This account,” as O. v. Gerlach says, “is a warning to the Church of God of all ages against the cunning and dissimulation of the world, which often seeks for a peaceable recognition on the part of the kingdom of God, and even for a reception into it, whenever it may be its advantage to do so.”
Jos 9:1, Jos 9:2 form the introduction to chs. 9-11, and correspond to the introduction in Jos 5:1. The news of the miraculous passage of the Israelites through the Jordan had thrown all the kings of Canaan into such despair, that they did not venture to make any attack upon Israel. But they gradually recovered from their first panic, partly, no doubt, in consequence of the failure of the first attack of the Israelites upon Ai, and resolved to join together in making war upon the foreign invaders. The kings of Canaan did this when they heard, sc., what Israel had hitherto undertaken and accomplished, not merely “what Joshua had done to Jericho and Ai” (Knobel): that is to say, all the kings across the Jordan, i.e., in the country to the west of the Jordan (היּרדּן עבר, as in Jos 5:1), viz., “upon the mountains” (not only the mountains of Judah, as in Jos 10:40; Jos 11:16, etc., but all the mountains which run throughout the whole length of Canaan, as in Deu 1:7 and Num 13:17 : see the explanation of the latter passage); “in the lowlands” (shephelah, the low-lying country between the mountains and the sea-coast, which is simply intersected by small ranges of hills; see at Deu 1:7); “and on all the coast of the Great Sea towards Lebanon,” i.e., the narrow coast of the Mediterranean Sea from Joppa up to the Ladder of Tyre (see at Deu 1:7). The different tribes of the Canaanites are also mentioned by name, as in Jos 3:10, except that the Girgashites are omitted. These gathered themselves together to fight with Joshua and Israel with one mouth, or with one accord (1Ki 22:13).
Verses 3-5 Edit
But the inhabitants of a republic, which included not only Gibeon the capital, but the towns of Chephirah, Beeroth, and Kirjath-jearim also, acted differently from the rest. Gibeon (Γαβάων, Gabaon, lxx Vulg.) was larger than Ai, being one of the royal cities (Jos 10:2), and was inhabited by Hivites, who were a brave people (Jos 10:7; Jos 11:19). It was afterwards allotted to the tribe of Benjamin, and set apart as a Levitical town (Jos 18:25; Jos 21:17). After the destruction of Nob by Saul, the tabernacle was removed thither, and there it remained till the building of Solomon's temple (1Ch 16:39; 1Ch 21:29; 1Ki 3:4-5; 2Ch 1:3.). According to Josephus, it was forty or fifty stadia from Jerusalem, and judging from its name was built upon a hill. It is to be found in the modern Jib, two good hours' journey to the north-west of Jerusalem, a village of moderate size, on a long chalk hill which overlooks a very fertile, well cultivated plain, or rather a basin, consisting of broad valleys and plains, and rises like a vineyard, in the form of separate terraces (Strauss, Sinai, p. 332). The remains of large massive buildings of great antiquity are still to be seen there, also some fountains, and two large subterraneous reservoirs (vid., Rob. Pal. ii. p. 136). When the Gibeonites heard of the fate of Jericho and Ai, they also did (something) with stratagem. In the expression המּה גּם (“they also”) there is a reference implied to what Joshua had done at Jericho and Ai; not, however, to the stratagem resorted to in the case of Ai, as such an allusion would not apply to Jericho. They set out as ambassadors: יצטיּרוּ, from צרר, which occurs in every other instance in the form of a noun, signifying a messenger (Pro 13:17, etc.). In the Hithpael it means to make themselves ambassadors, to travel as ambassadors. The translators of the ancient versions, however, adopted the reading יצטיּדוּ, they provided themselves with food; but this was nothing more than a conjecture founded upon Jos 9:12, and without the slightest critical value. They also took “old sacks upon their asses, and old mended wineskins.” מצררים, from צרר, lit. bound together, is very characteristic. There are two modes adopted in the East of repairing skins when torn, viz., inserting a patch, or tying up the piece that is torn in the form of a bag. Here the reference is to the latter, which was most in harmony with their statement, that the skins had got injured upon their long journey. Also “old mended sandals upon their feet, and old clothes upon them (upon their bodies);and all the bread of their provisions had become dry and quite mouldy.” נקּדים, lit. furnished with points; נקוד, pointed, speckled (Gen 30:32.). Hence the rendering of the lxx, εὐρωτιῶν; Theod., βεβρωμένοι; Luther, schimmlicht, mouldy; whereas the rendering adopted by Aquila is ἐψαθυρωμένος; by Symmachus, κάπορος, i.e., adustus, torridus; and by the Vulgate, in frusta comminuti, i.e., crumbled.
Verses 6-7 Edit
Having made these preparations, they went to the Israelitish camp at Gilgal (Jiljilia), introduced themselves to the men of Israel (אישׁ, in a collective sense, the plural being but little used, and only occurring in Pro 8:4; Isa 53:3, and Psa 141:4) as having come from a distant land, and asked them to make a league with them. But the Israelites hesitated, and said to the Hivites, i.e., the Gibeonites who were Hivites, that they might perhaps be living in the midst of them (the Israelites), i.e., in the land of Canaan, which the Israelites already looked upon as their own; and if so, how could they make a league with them? This hesitation on their part was founded upon the express command of God, that they were not to make any league with the tribes of Canaan (Exo 23:32; Exo 34:12; Num 33:55; Deu 7:2, etc.). In reply to this the Gibeonites simply said, “We are thy servants” (Jos 9:8), i.e., we are at thy service, which, according to the obsequious language common in the East, was nothing more than a phrase intended to secure the favour of Joshua, and by no means implied a readiness on their part to submit to the Israelites and pay them tribute, as Rosenmüller, Knobel, and others suppose; for, as Grotius correctly observes, what they wished for was “a friendly alliance, by which both their territory and also full liberty would be secured to themselves.” The Keri ויּאמר (Jos 9:7) is nothing more than a critical conjecture, occasioned not so much by the singular אישׁ, which is frequently construed in the historical writings as a collective noun with a plural verb, as by the singular suffix attached to בּקרבּי, which is to be explained on the ground that only one of the Israelites (viz., Joshua) was speaking as the mouthpiece of all the rest. The plural ויּאמרוּ is used, because Joshua spoke in the name of the people.
Verses 8-10 Edit
To the further question put by Joshua, where they had come from, the Gibeonites replied, “From a very distant land have thy servants come, because of the name of Jehovah thy God,” or as they themselves proceed at once to explain: “for we have heard the fame (fama) of Him, and all that He did in Egypt, and to Sihon and Og, the two kings of the Amorites.” They very wisely say nothing about the miracles connected with the crossing of the Jordan and the taking of Jericho, since, “as the inhabitants of a very far distant region, they could not have heard anything about things that had occurred so lately, even by report” (Masius).
Verses 11-13 Edit
When these tidings reached them, they were sent off by the elders (the leaders of the republic) and the inhabitants of the land to meet the Israelites, that they might offer them their service, and form an alliance with them. In confirmation of this, they point to their dried provisions, and their torn and mended skins and clothes.
Verse 14 Edit
The Israelites suffered themselves to be taken in by this pretence. “The men (the elders of Israel) took of their provisions; but they did not ask the mouth of the Lord.” Instead of inquiring the will of the Lord in this matter through the Urim and Thummim of the high priest (Num 27:21), they contented themselves with taking some of the bread that was shown them, and tasting it; as if the dry mouldy bread furnished a safe guarantee of the truth of the words of these foreign ambassadors. Some commentators regard their taking of their provisions as a sign of mutual friendship, or of the league which they made; but in that case their eating with them would at any rate have been mentioned. Among the Arabs, simply eating bread and salt with a guest is considered a sign of peace and friendship.
Verse 15 Edit
So Joshua made (granted) them peace (vid., Isa 27:5), and concluded a covenant with them (להם, in their favour), to let them live; and the princes of the congregation sware unto them. Letting them live is the only article of the league that is mentioned, both because this was the main point, and also with special reference to the fact that the Gibeonites, being Canaanites, ought properly to have been destroyed. It is true that Joshua and the princes of the congregation had not violated any express command of God by doing this; for the only thing prohibited in the law was making treaties with the Canaanites, which they did not suppose the Gibeonites to be, whilst in Deu 20:11, where wars with foreign nations (not Canaanites) are referred to, permission is given to make peace with them, so that all treaties with foreign nations are not forbidden. But they had failed in this respect, that, trusting to the crafty words of the Gibeonites, and to outward appearances only, they had forgotten their attitude to the Lord their God who had promised to His congregation, in all important matters, a direct revelation of His own will.
Verses 16-17 Edit
Three days after the treaty had been concluded, the Israelites discovered that they had been deceived, and that their allies dwelt among them (see Jos 9:7). They set out therefore to deal with the deceivers, and reached their towns Gibeon, Chephirah, Beeroth, and Kirjath-jearim on the third day. “Chephirah, which was afterwards allotted to the tribe of Benjamin along with Gibeon and Beeroth, and was still inhabited after the captivity (Jos 18:25-26; Ezr 2:25; Neh 7:29), is to be seen in the ruins of Kefir, an hour's journey to the east of Yalo, in the mountains, and three hours to the west of Gibeon (see Rob. Bibl. Res. p. 146, and Van de Velde, Memoir, pp. 303-4). Beeroth, Βηρώθ, according to Eusebius (Onom. s. v.) a hamlet near Jerusalem, and seven miles on the road to Nicopolis (it should read Neapolis), was in the tribe of Benjamin (2Sa 4:2), and still exists in the large village of Bireh, which is situated upon a mountain nine Roman miles to the north of Jerusalem in a stony and barren district, and has still several springs and a good well, besides the remains of a fine old church of the time of the Crusades (see Rob. Pal. ii. pp. 130ff.; Seetzen, R. ii. pp. 195-6). Kirjath-jearim, also called Kirjath-baal (Jos 15:60), Baalah (Jos 15:9), and Baal-Jehuda (2Sa 6:2), was allotted to the tribe of Judah. It stood upon the boundary between Judah and Benjamin (Jos 15:60; Jos 18:15); and the ark remained there, after it had been sent back by the Philistines, until the time of David (1Sa 7:2; 2Sa 6:2; 1Ch 13:5-6). According to the Onom., s. v. Καριαθιαρείμ and Βαάλ, it was nine or ten Roman miles from Jerusalem, on the road to Diospolis (Lydda), and is probably to be seen in the present Kuryet el Enab, a considerable village with a large number of olive trees, figs, pomegranates, and vineyards, from the last of which the old “town of the forests” has received the more modern name of “town of the vine” (see Rob. Pal. ii. p. 335, and Bibl. Res. pp. 156-7; and Seetzen, ii. p. 65). These towns, which formed one republic with Gibeon, and were governed by elders, were at so short a distance from Gilgal (Jiljilia), that the Israelites could reach it in one or two days. The expression “on the third day” is not at variance with this; for it is not stated that Israel took three days to march there, but simply that they arrived there on the third day after receiving the intelligence of the arrival of the ambassadors.
Verses 18-20 Edit
“The Israelites smote them not,” sc., with the edge of the sword, “because the princes of the congregation had sworn to them,” sc., to let them live (Jos 9:15); but, notwithstanding the murmuring of the congregation, they declared that they might not touch them because of their oath. “This (sc., what we have sworn) we will do to them, and let them live (החיה, inf. abs. with special emphasis instead of the finite verb), lest wrath come upon us because of the oath.” Wrath (sc., of God), a judgment such as fell upon Israel in the time of David, because Saul disregarded this oath and sought to destroy the Gibeonites (2Sa 21:1.).
But how could the elders of Israel consider themselves bound by their oath to grant to the Gibeonites the preservation of life which had been secured to them by the treaty they had made, when the very supposition upon which the treaty was made, viz., that the Gibeonites did not belong to the tribes of Canaan, was proved to be false, and the Gibeonites had studiously deceived them by pretending that they had come from a very distant land? As they had been absolutely forbidden to make any treaties with the Canaanites, it might be supposed that, after the discovery of the deception which had been practised upon them, the Israelitish rulers would be under no obligation to observe the treaty which they had made with the Gibeonites in full faith in the truth of their word. And no doubt from the stand-point of strict justice this view appears to be a right one. But the princes of Israel shrank back from breaking the oath which, as is emphatically stated in Jos 9:19, they had sworn by Jehovah the God of Israel, not because they assumed, as Hauff supposes, “that an oath simply regarded as an outward and holy transaction had an absolutely binding force,” but because they were afraid of bringing the name of the God of Israel into contempt among the Canaanites, which they would have done if they had broken the oath which they had sworn by this God, and had destroyed the Gibeonites. They were bound to observe the oath which they had once sworn, if only to prevent the sincerity of the God by whom they had sworn from being rendered doubtful in the eyes of the Gibeonites; but they were not justified in taking the oath. They had done this without asking the mouth of Jehovah (Jos 9:14), and thus had sinned against the Lord their God. But they could not repair this fault by breaking the oath which they had thus imprudently taken, i.e., by committing a fresh sin; for the violation of an oath is always sin, even when the oath has been taken inconsiderately, and it is afterwards discovered that what was sworn to was not in accordance with the will of God, and that an observance of the oath will certainly be hurtful (vid., Psa 15:4).
By taking an oath to the ambassadors that they would let the Gibeonites live, the princes of Israel had acted unconsciously in violation of the command of God that they were to destroy the Canaanites. As soon therefore as they discovered their error or their oversight, they were bound to do all in their power to ward off from the congregation the danger which might arise of their being drawn away to idolatry-the very thing which the Lord had intended to avert by giving that command. If this could by any possibility be done without violating their oath, they were bound to do it for the sake of the name of the Lord by which they swore; that is to say, while letting the Gibeonites live, it was their duty to put them in such a position, that they could not possibly seduce the Israelites to idolatry. And this the princes of Israel proposed to do, by granting to the Gibeonites on the one hand the preservation of their lives according to the oath they had taken, and on the other hand by making them slaves of the sanctuary. That they acted rightly in this respect, is evident from the fact that their conduct is never blamed either by the historian or by the history, inasmuch as it is not stated anywhere that the Gibeonites, after being made into temple slaves, held out any inducement to the Israelites to join in idolatrous worship, and still more from the fact, that at a future period God himself reckoned the attempt of Saul to destroy the Gibeonites, in his false zeal for the children of Israel, as an act of blood-guiltiness on the part of the nation of Israel for which expiation must be made (2Sa 21:1.), and consequently approved of the observance of the oath which had been sworn to them, though without thereby sanctioning the treaty itself.
Verse 21 Edit
The princes declared again most emphatically, “They shall live.” Thus the Gibeonites became hewers of wood and drawers of water to the congregation, as the princes had said to them, i.e., had resolved concerning them. This resolution they communicated to the congregation at the time, using the expression יחיוּ (let them live); but the historian has passed this over at Jos 9:21, and instead of mentioning the resolution proceeds at once to describe its execution.
Verses 22-23 Edit
Joshua then summoned the Gibeonites, charged them with their deceit, and pronounced upon them the curse of eternal servitude: “There shall not be cut off from you a servant,” i.e., ye shall never cease to be servants, ye shall remain servants for ever (vid., 2Sa 3:29; 1Ki 2:4), “and that as hewers of wood and drawers of waters for our God's house.” This is a fuller definition of the expression “for all the congregation” in Jos 9:21. The Gibeonites were to perform for the congregation the slaves' labour of hewing wood and drawing water for the worship of the sanctuary-a duty which was performed, according to Deu 29:10, by the lowest classes of people. In this way the curse of Noah upon Canaan (Gen 9:25) was literally fulfilled upon the Hivites of the Gibeonitish republic.
Verses 24-25 Edit
The Gibeonites offered this excuse for their conduct, that having heard of the command of God which had been issued through Moses, that all the Canaanites were to be destroyed (Deu 7:1; Deu 20:16-17), they had feared greatly for their lives, and readily submitted to the resolution which Joshua made known to them.
Verses 26-27 Edit
“And so did he unto them, and delivered them out of the hand of the children of Israel, that they slew them not. He made them hewers of wood and drawers of water for the congregation, and indeed for the altar of the Lord,” (assigning them) “to the place which God would choose,” viz., for the altar. אלהמּקום (to the place) is grammatically dependent upon ויּתּנם (he “gave them”). It by no means follows, however, that Joshua sent them there at that very time, but simply that he sentenced them to service at the altar in the place which would be chosen for the sanctuary. From the words “unto this day,” it no doubt follows, on the one hand, that the account was written after the fact had taken place; but, on the other hand, it also follows from the future יבחר (should, or shall choose), that it was written before the place was definitely fixed, and therefore before the building of Solomon's temple.
Chap. 10 Edit
Verses 1-4 Edit
The report that Joshua had taken Ai, and put it, like Jericho, under the ban, and that the Gibeonites had concluded a treaty with Israel, filled Adonizedek the king of Jerusalem with alarm, as Gibeon was a large town, like one of the king's towns, even larger than Ai, and its inhabitants were brave men. He therefore joined with the kings of Hebron, Jarmuth, Lachish, and Eglon, to make a common attack upon Gibeon, and punish it for its alliance with the Israelites, and at the same time to put a check upon the further conquests of Israel. Adonizedek, i.e., lord of righteousness, is synonymous with Melchizedek (king of righteousness), and was a title of the Jebusite kings, as Pharaoh was of the Egyptian. Jerusalem, i.e., the founding or possession of peace, called Salem in the time of Abraham (Gen 14:18), was the proper name of the town, which was also frequently called by the name of its Canaanitish inhabitants Jebus (Jdg 19:10-11; 1Ch 11:4), or “city of the Jebusite” (Ir-Jebusi, Jdg 19:11), sometimes also in a contracted form, Jebusi (היבוּסי, Jos 18:16, Jos 18:28; Jos 15:8; 2Sa 5:8).
On the division of the land it was allotted to the tribe of Benjamin (Jos 18:28); but being situated upon the border of Judah (Jos 15:8), it was conquered, and burned by the sons of Judah after the death of Joshua (Jdg 1:8). It was very soon taken again and rebuilt by the Jebusites, whom the sons of Judah were unable to destroy (Jos 15:63; Jdg 19:10-12), so that both Benjaminites and Judahites lived there along with the Jebusites (Jdg 1:21; Jos 15:63); and the upper town especially, upon the summit of Mount Zion, remained as a fortification in the possession of the Jebusites, until David conquered it (2Sa 5:6.), made it the capital of his kingdom, and called it by his own name, “the city of David,” after which the old name of Jebus fell into disuse. Hebron, the town of Arba the Anakite (Jos 14:15, etc.; see at Gen 23:2), was twenty-two Roman miles south of Jerusalem, in a deep and narrow valley upon the mountains of Judah, a town of the greatest antiquity (Num 13:22), now called el Khalil, i.e., the friend (of God), with reference to Abraham's sojourn there. The ruins of an ancient heathen temple are still to be seen there, as well as the Haram, built of colossal blocks, which contains, according to Mohammedan tradition, the burial-place of the patriarchs (see at Gen 23:17). Jarmuth, in the lowlands of Judah (Jos 15:35; Neh 11:29), according to the Onom. (s. v. Jermus) a hamlet, Jermucha (Ἰερμοχωῶς), ten Roman miles from Eleutheropolis, on the road to Jerusalem, is the modern Jarmuk, a village on a lofty hill, with the remains of walls and cisterns of a very ancient date, the name of which, according to Van de Velde (Mem. pp. 115-6), is pronounced Tell 'Armuth by the Arabs (see Rob. Pal. ii. p. 344). Lachish, in the lowlands of Judah (Jos 15:39), was fortified by Rehoboam (2Ch 11:9), and besieged by Sennacherib and Nebuchadnezzar (2Ki 18:14; 2Ki 19:8; Jer 34:7), and was still inhabited by Jews after the return from the captivity (Neh 11:30). It is probably to be found in Um Lakis, an old place upon a low round hill, covered with heaps of small round stones thrown together in great confusion, containing relics of marble columns; it is about an hour and a quarter to the west of Ajlun, and seven hours to the west of Eleutheropolis.Eglon: also in the lowlands of Judah (Jos 15:39). The present name is Ajlân, a heap of ruins, about three-quarters of an hour to the east of Um Lakis (see Rob. Pal. ii. p. 392, and Van de Velde, Mem. p. 308). In the Onom. (s. v. Eglon) it is erroneously identified with Odollam; whereas the situation of Agla, “at the tenth stone, as you go from Eleutheropolis to Gaza” (Onom. s. v. Βηθαλαΐ́μ, Bethagla), suits Eglon exactly.
Verse 5 Edit
These five kings marched against Gibeon and besieged the town. The king of Jerusalem headed the expedition, as his town was so near to Gibeon that he was the first to fear an attack from the Israelites.
Verse 6 Edit
The Gibeonites then sent to Joshua to the camp at Gilgal, and entreated him to come to his help as speedily as possible. “Slack not thy hand from thy servants,” i.e., withhold not thy help from us. The definition appended to “the kings of the Amorites” (“that dwelt in the mountains”) is to be understood a potiori, and does not warrant us in drawing the conclusion, that all the towns mentioned in Jos 10:3 were in the mountains of Judah. The Amorites who dwelt in the mountains were the strongest of all the Canaanites.
Verse 7 Edit
In accordance with this petition Joshua advanced from Gilgal (ויּעל, not went up) with all the people of war, even (vav expl.) all the men of valour.
Verse 8 Edit
The Lord then renewed the assurance of His help in this particular war, in which Joshua was about to fight for the first time with several allied kings of Canaan (cf. Jos 2:24; Jos 6:2; Jos 8:1, Jos 8:18).
Verse 9 Edit
Joshua came suddenly upon them (the enemy), as he had marched the whole night from Gilgal, i.e., had accomplished the entire distance in a night. Jiljilia is fully fifteen miles from el-Jib.
Verse 10 Edit
“Jehovah threw them into confusion,” as He had promised in Exo 23:27, and in all probability, judging from Jos 10:11, by dreadful thunder and lightning (vid., 1Sa 7:10; Psa 18:15; Psa 144:6 : it is different in Exo 14:24). “Israel smote them in a great slaughter at Gibeon, and pursued them by the way of the ascent of Bethhoron,” i.e., Upper Bethhoron (Beit Ur, el-Foka), which was nearest to Gibeon, only four hours distant on the north-west, on a lofty promontory between two valleys, one on the north, the other on the south, and was separated from Lower Bethhoron, which lies further west, by a long steep pass, from which the ascent to Upper Bethhoron is very steep and rocky, though the rock has been cut away in many places now, and a path made by means of steps (see Rob. Pal. iii. p. 59). This pass between the two places leads downwards from Gibeon towards the western plain, and was called sometimes the ascent, or going up to Bethhoron, and sometimes the descent, or going down from it (Jos 10:11), ἀνάβασις καὶ κατάβασις Βαιθωρῶν (1 Macc. 3:16, 24). Israel smote the enemy still further, “to Azekah and Makkedah:” so far were they pursued and beaten after the battle (cf. Jos 10:16, Jos 10:21). If we compare Jos 10:11, according to which the enemy was smitten, from Bethhoron to Azekah, by a violent fall of hail, it is very evident that the two places were on the west of Bethhoron. And it is in perfect harmony with this that we find both places described as being in the lowland; Azekah in the hill-country between the mountains and the plain (Jos 15:35), Makkedah in the plain itself (Jos 15:41). Azekah, which was fortified by Rehoboam (2Ch 11:9), besieged by Nebuchadnezzar (Jer 34:7), and still inhabited after the captivity (Neh 11:30), was not far from Socoh, according to Jos 15:35; whilst sideways between the two was Ephes-dammim (1Sa 17:1). Van de Velde has discovered the latter in the ruins of Damûm, about an hour's journey east by south from Beit Nettif (Mem. p. 290), and consequently imagines that Azekah is to be found in the village of Ahbek, which stands upon a lofty mountain-top a mile and a half to the north of Damûm, and about four of five miles N.N.E. of Shuweikeh, supposing this to be Aphek. The statement in the Onom. (s. v. Ἀζηκά), ἀνάμεσον Ἐλευθεροπολεως καὶ Αἰλίας, agrees with this. Makkedah is described in the Onom. as being eight Roman miles to the east of Eleutheropolis, and hence Knobel supposes it to have been near Terkumieh, or Morak; but he is wrong in his supposition, as in that case it would have been in the hill-country or upon the mountains, whereas it was one of the towns in the plain (Jos 15:41). Van de Velde’s conjecture (p. 332) is a much more probable one, viz., that it is to be found in Summeil, a considerable village on an eminence in the plain, with a large public well 110 feet deep and 11 feet in diameter, with strongly built walls of hewn stones, where there is also part of an old wall, which to all appearance must formerly have belonged to a large square castle built of uncemented stones, resembling in some respects the oldest foundation wall of Beit Jibrin (Rob. Pal. ii. p. 368). It is two hours and a half to the north-west of Beit Jibrin, and there Van de Velde discovered the large cave (see at Jos 10:16), which Robinson has not observed (see his Journey through Syria and Palestine).
Verse 11 Edit
The large stones which the Lord threw upon the flying foe at the slope of Bethhoron were hail-stones (see Isa 30:30), not stone-hail, or a shower of stones, but a terrible hail-storm, in which hail fell upon the foe in pieces as large as stones (see Wis. 46:6), and slew a greater number of them than the swords of the Israelites. This phenomenon, which resembled the terrible hail in Egypt (Exo 9:24), was manifestly a miraculous occurrence produced by the omnipotent power of God, inasmuch as the hail-stones slew the enemy without injuring the Israelites, who were pursuing them. By this the Israelites were to be made to see that it was not their own power, but the supernatural help of their God, which had given them the victory; whilst the enemy discovered that it was not only the people of Israel, but the God of Israel, that had devoted them to destruction.
Verses 12-15 Edit
In firm reliance upon the promise of God (Jos 10:8), Joshua offered a prayer to the Lord during the battle, that He would not let the sun go down till Israel had taken vengeance upon their foes; and the Lord hearkened to the prayer of His servant, and the sun hastened not to go down till the defeat of the Amorites was accomplished. This miraculous victory was celebrated by the Israelites in a war-song, which was preserved in the “book of the Righteous.” The author of the book of Joshua has introduced the passage out of this book which celebrates the mighty act of the Lord for the glorification of His name upon Israel, and their foes the Amorites. It is generally admitted, that Jos 10:12-15 contain a quotation from the “book of Jasher,” mentioned in Jos 10:13. This quotation, and the reference to the work itself, are analogous to the notice of “the book of the wars of the Lord,” in Num 21:14, and to the strophes of a song which are there interwoven with the historical narrative; the object being, not to confirm the historical account by referring to an earlier source, but simply to set forth before other generations the powerful impression which was made upon the congregation by these mighty acts of the Lord. The “book of Jasher,” i.e., book of the upright, or righteous man, that is to say, of the true members of the theocracy, or godly men. ישׁר (Jasher, the righteous) is used to denote the genuine Israelite, in the same sense as in Num 23:10, where Balaam calls the Israelites “the righteous,” inasmuch as Jehovah, the righteous and upright one (Deu 32:4), had called them to be His people, and to walk in His righteousness. In addition to this passage, the “book of the righteous (Jasher)” is also mentioned in 2Sa 1:18, as a work in which was to be found David's elegy upon Saul and Jonathan. From this fact it has been justly inferred, that the book was a collection of odes in praise of certain heroes of the theocracy, with historical notices of their achievements interwoven, and that the collection was formed by degrees; so that the reference to this work is neither a proof that the passage has been interpolated by a later hand, nor that the work was composed at a very late period. That the passage quoted from this work is extracted from a song is evident enough, both from the poetical form of the composition, and also from the parallelism of the sentences. The quotation, however, does not begin with ויּאמר (and he said) in Jos 10:12, but with תּת בּיום (in the day when the Lord delivered) in Jos 10:12, and Jos 10:13 and Jos 10:14 also form part of it; so that the title of the book from which the quotation is taken is inserted in the middle of the quotation itself. In other cases, unquestionably, such formulas of quotation are placed either at the beginning (as in Num 21:14, Num 21:27; 2Sa 1:18), or else at the close of the account, which is frequently the case in the books of Kings and Chronicles; but it by no means follows that there were no exceptions to this rule, especially as the reason for mentioning the original sources is a totally different one in the books of Kings, where the works cited are not the simple vouchers for the facts related, but works containing fuller and more elaborate accounts of events which have only been cursorily described. The poetical form of the passage in Jos 10:13 also leaves no doubt whatever that Jos 10:13 and Jos 10:14 contain the words of the old poet, and are not a prose comment made by the historian upon the poetical passage quoted. The only purely historical statement in Jos 10:15; and this is repeated in Jos 10:43, at the close of the account of the wars and the victory. But this literal repetition of Jos 10:15 in Jos 10:43, and the fact that the statement, that Joshua returned with all the people to the camp at Gilgal, anticipates the historical course of the events in a very remarkable manner, render it highly probable, it not absolutely certain, that Jos 10:15 was also taken from the book of the righteous.
In the day when Jehovah delivered up the Amorites to the children of Israel (“before,” as in Deu 2:31, Deu 2:33, etc.), Joshua said before the eyes (i.e., in the presence) of Israel, so that the Israelites were witnesses of his words (vid., Deu 31:7): “Sun, stand still (wait) at Gibeon; and, Moon, in the valley of Ajalon.” דּמם, to be silent, to keep one's self quiet or still, to wait (1Sa 14:9). The address to the sun and moon implies that they both of them stood, or were visible in the heavens at the time; and inasmuch as it was spoken to the Lord, involves a prayer that the Lord and Creator of the world would not suffer the sun and moon to set till Israel had taken vengeance upon its foes. This explanation of the prayer is only to be found, it is true, in the statement that the sun and moon stood still at Joshua's word; but we must imagine it as included in the prayer itself. גּוי without an article, when used to denote the people of Israel, is to be regarded as a poetical expression. In the sequel (Jos 10:13) the sun only is spoken of: “and the sun stood still in the midst of heaven, and hasted not to go down about a whole day.” The poetical word אוּץ, to press or hurry, is founded upon the idea that the sun runs its course like a strong man, with vigour, and without weariness or cessation (Psa 19:6-7). It follows from this, that Joshua merely prayed for the day to be lengthened, i.e., for the setting of the sun to be delayed; and that he included the moon (Jos 10:12), simply because it was visible at the time. But even if this is the case, we are not therefore to conclude, as C. v. Lapide, Clericus, and others have done, that Joshua spoke these words in the afternoon, when the sun was beginning to set, and the moon had already risen. The expression השּׁמים בּחצי, “in the half,” i.e., the midst, “of the sky,” is opposed to this view, and still more the relative position of the two in the sky, the sun at Gibeon and the moon in the valley of Ajalon, i.e., in the fine broad basin on the north side of Yalo (see at Jos 19:42), the present Merj Ibn Omeir (Rob. iii. p. 63, 64), which is four hours' journey to the west of Gibeon. As Joshua smote the enemy at Gibeon, and they fled to the south-west, he was not doubt on the west of Gibeon when he commanded the sun and moon to stand still; and therefore from his point of view the sun would be in the east when it stood over Gibeon, and the moon in the far west when it stood over the valley of Ajalon. But that could only be the case before noon, a few hours after sunrise, when the moon had not yet set in the western sky. In all probability the battle took place quite early in the morning, as Joshua had marched from Gilgal the night before, and fell quite suddenly upon the enemy (Jos 10:9). But after the conflict had lasted for some hours, and Joshua began to be anxious lest he should be unable to overcome the enemy before night came on, he addressed the prayer to the Lord to lengthen out the day, and in a short time saw his prayer so far fulfilled, that the sun still stood high up in the sky when the enemy was put to flight. We take for granted that these words were spoken by Joshua before the terrible hail-storm which fell upon the enemy in their flight, when they were near Bethhoron, which is about two hours from Gibeon, and smote them to Azekah. There is nothing to prevent our assuming this. The fact, that in the historical account the hail is mentioned before the desire expressed by Joshua and the fulfilment of that desire, may be explained on the simple ground, that the historian, following the order of importance, relates the principal incident in connection with the battle first, before proceeding to the special point to be cited from the book of the righteous. תמים כּיום, “towards (about, or as it were) a whole day,” neither signifies “when the day was ended” (Clericus), nor “as it usually does when the day is perfected or absolutely finished” (Rosenmüller); but the sun did not hasten or press to go down, delayed its setting, almost a whole day (“day” being the time between sunrise and sunset).
What conception are we to form of this miraculous event? It is not stated that the sun actually stood still in one spot in the heavens-say, for instance, in the zenith. And if the expression, “the sun stood still in the midst of heaven,” which is added as an explanation of ויּדּום, is so pressed as to mean that the sun as miraculously stopped in its course, this is hardly reconcilable with לבוא אץ לא, “it hasted not to go down,” as these words, if taken literally, merely denote a slower motion on the part of the sun, as many of the Rabbins have observed. All that is clearly affirmed in Jos 10:12 and Jos 10:13 is, that at Joshua's word the sun remained standing in the sky for almost a whole day longer. To this there is added, in Jos 10:14, “There was no day like that before it, or after it, that Jehovah hearkened to the voice of a man; for Jehovah fought for Israel.” This expression must not be pressed too far, as the analogous passages (“there was none like him,” etc.) in 2Ki 18:5 and 2Ki 23:25 clearly show. They merely express this thought: no other day like this, which God so miraculously lengthened, ever occurred either before or afterwards. So much, therefore, is obvious enough from the words, that the writer of the old song, and also the author of the book of Joshua, who inserted the passage in his narrative, were convinced that the day was miraculously prolonged. At the same time, it must be borne in mind that it is not stated that God lengthened that day at the request of Joshua almost an entire day, or that He made the sun stand still almost a whole day, but simply that God hearkened to the voice of Joshua, i.e., did not permit the sun to go down till Israel had avenged itself upon its enemies. This distinction is not without importance: for a miraculous prolongation of the day would take place not only if the sun's course or sun's setting was delayed for several hours by the omnipotent power of God, and the day extended from twelve to eighteen or twenty hours, but also if the day seemed to Joshua and all Israel to be miraculously prolonged; because the work accomplished on that day was so great, that it would have required almost two days to accomplish it without supernatural aid. It is not easy to decide between these two opposite views; in fact, it is quite impossible if we go to the root of the matter. When we are not in circumstances to measure the length of the day by the clock, it is very easy to mistake its actual length, especially in the midst of the pressure of business or work. The Israelites at that time had neither sun-clocks nor any other kind of clock; and during the confusion of the battle it is hardly likely that Joshua, or any one else who was engaged in the conflict, would watch the shadow of the sun and its changes, either by a tree or any other object, so as to discover that the sun had actually stood still, from the fact that for hours the shadow had neither moved nor altered in length. Under such circumstances, therefore, it was quite impossible for the Israelites to decide whether it was in reality, or only in their own imagination, that the day was longer than others. To this there must be added the poetical character of the verses before us. When David celebrates the miraculous deliverance which he had received from the Lord, in these words, “In my distress I called upon the Lord ... . He heard my voice out of His temple ... . He bowed the heavens also, and came down ... . He sent from above, He took me, He grew me out of many waters” (Psa 18:7-17), who would ever think of interpreting the words literally, and supposing them to mean that God actually came down from the sky, and stretched out His hand to draw David out of the water? Or who would understand the words of Deborah, “They fought from heaven, the stars in their courses fought against Sisera” (Jdg 5:20), in their literal sense? The truthfulness of such utterances is to be sought for in the subjective sphere of religious intuition, and not in a literal interpretation of the words. And it may be just the same with these verses, without their actual contents being affected, if the day was merely subjectively lengthened, - that is to say, in the religious conviction of the Israelites. But even if the words really affirmed that a miraculous and objective lengthening of the day did actually take place, we should have no reason whatever for questioning the credibility of the statement.
All the objections that have been raised with reference to the reality or possibility of such a miracle, prove to have no force when we examine the subject more closely. Thus, for example, the objection that the annals of the other nations of the earth contain no account of any such miracle, which must have extended over the whole world, loses all its significance from the simple fact that there are no annals in existence belonging to other nations and reaching back to that time, and that it is altogether doubtful whether the miracle would extend far beyond the limits of Palestine. Again, an appeal to the unchangeableness of the motions of the stars according to eternal and unchangeable laws, is not adapted to prove the impossibility of such a miracle. The eternal laws of nature are nothing more than phenomena, or forms of manifestation, of those divine creative powers, the true character of which no mortal has ever fathomed. And does not the almighty Creator and Upholder of nature and all its forces possess the power so to direct and govern the working of these forces, as to make them subservient to the realization of His purposes of salvation? And lastly, the objection that a sudden stoppage of the revolution of the earth upon its axis would have dashed to pieces all the works of human hands that were to be found upon its surface, and hurled the earth itself, with its satellite the moon, out of their orbits, cannot prove anything, because it leaves out of sight the fact that the omnipotent hand of God, which not only created the stars, but gave them the power to revolve with such regularity in their orbits as long as this universe endures, and which upholds and governs all things in heaven and on earth, is not too short to guard against any such disastrous consequences as these. But to this we may add, that even the strictest and most literal interpretation of the words does not require us to assume, as the fathers and earlier theologians did, that the sun itself was miraculously made to stand still, but simply supposes an optical stopping of the sun in its course, - that is to say, a miraculous suspension of the revolution of the earth upon its axis, which would make it appear to the eye of an observer as if the sun itself were standing still. Knobel is by no means warranted in pronouncing this view of the matter an assumption at variance with the text. For the Scriptures speak of the things of the visible world as they appear; just as we speak of the sun as rising and setting, although we have no doubt whatever about the revolution of the earth. Moreover, the omnipotence of God might produce such an optical stoppage of the sun, or rather a continuance of the visibility of the sun above the horizon, by celestial phenomena which are altogether unknown to us or to naturalists in general, without interfering with the general laws affecting the revolution of the heavenly bodies. Only we must not attempt, as some have done, to reduce the whole miracle of divine omnipotence to an unusual refraction of the light, or to the continuance of lightning throughout the whole night.
Verses 16-19 Edit
The five kings fled and hid themselves in the cave that was a Makkedah. When they were discovered there, Joshua ordered large stones to be rolled before the entrance to the cave, and men to be placed there to watch, whilst the others pursued the enemy without ceasing, and smote their rear (vid., Deu 25:18), and prevented their entering into their cities. He himself remained at Makkedah (Jos 10:21).
Verses 20-21 Edit
When the great battle and the pursuit of the enemy were ended, and such as remained had reached their fortified towns, the people returned to the camp to Joshua at Makkedah in peace, i.e., without being attacked by anybody. “There pointed not (a dog)its tongue against the sons of Israel, against any one” (see at Exo 11:7). לאישׁ is in apposition to ישׂראל לבני, and serves to define it more precisely. It is possible, however, to regard the ל as a copyist's error, as Houbigant and Maurer do, in which case אישׁ would be the nominative to the verb.
Verses 22-27 Edit
Joshua then commanded the five kings to be fetched out of the cave, and directed the leaders of the army to set their feet upon the necks of the kings; and when this had been done, he ordered the kings to be put to death, and to be hanged upon trees until the evening, when their bodies were to be thrown into the cave in which they had concealed themselves. Of course this did not take place till the day after the battle, as the army could not return from their pursuit of the foe to the camp at Makkedah till the night after the battle; possibly it did not take place till the second day, if the pursuit had lasted any longer. In Jos 10:24, “all the men of Israel” are all the warriors in the camp. ההלכוּא, with ה artic., instead of the relative pronoun (see Ges. §109; Ew. §331, b.); and the ending וּא for וּ or וּן, as in Isa 28:12 (see Ew. §190, b.). The fact that the military leaders set their feet at Joshua's command upon the necks of the conquered kings, was not a sign of barbarity, which it is necessary to excuse by comparing it with still greater barbarities on the part of the Canaanites, as in Jdg 1:7, but was a symbolical act, a sign of complete subjugation, which was customary in this sense even in the Eastern empire (see Bynaeus de calceis, p. 318, and Constant. Porphyrogen de cerimon. aulae Byzant. ii. 19). It was also intended in this instance to stimulate the Israelites to further conflict with the Canaanites. This is stated in the words of Joshua (Jos 10:25): “Fear not, nor be dismayed (vid., Jos 1:9; Jos 8:1); for thus shall the Lord do to all your enemies.” On the putting to death and then hanging, see Jos 8:29 and Deu 21:22-23. The words וגו ויּשׂימוּ (Jos 10:27) are generally understood as signifying, that after the bodies of the kings had been cast into the cave, the Israelites placed large stones before the entrance, just as in other cases heaps of stones were piled upon the graves of criminals that had been executed (vid., Jos 7:25), and that these stones remained there till the account before us was written. But this leaves the words עצם עד unexplained, as עצם never occurs in any other case where the formula “until this day” is used with the simple meaning that a thing had continued to the writer's own time. הזּה היּום עצם expresses the thought that the day referred to was the very same day about which the author was writing, and no other (see Jos 5:11; Gen 7:13; Gen 17:23; Exo 12:17, etc.). If, therefore, it has any meaning at all in the present instance, we must connect the whole clause with the one preceding, and even construe it as a relative clause: “where they (the kings) had hidden themselves, and they (the Israelites) had placed large stones at the mouth of the cave until that very day” (on which the kings were fetched out and executed).
Further prosecution of the victory, by the conquest of the fortified towns of the south, into which those who escaped the sword of the Israelites had thrown themselves.
Verse 28 Edit
On the same day on which the five kings were impaled, Joshua took Makkedah (see at Jos 10:10), and smote the town and its king with the edge of the sword, banning the town and all the persons in it, i.e., putting all the inhabitants to death (many MSS and some editions adopt the reading אתהּ for אתם, as in Jos 10:37), taking the cattle and the property in the town as booty, as in the case of Ai (Jos 8:27-28), and treating its king like the king of Jericho, who was suspended upon a stake, to judge from Jos 8:2, Jos 8:29, although this is not stated in Josh 6.
Verses 29-30 Edit
From Makkedah he went with all Israel, i.e., all the men of war, against Libnah, and after effecting the conquest of it, did just the same as he had done to Makkedah. Libnah was one of the towns of the plain or of the hill-country of Judah (Jos 15:42); it was allotted to the priests (Jos 21:13), revolted from Judah in the reign of Joram (2Ki 8:22), and was besieged by Sennacherib (Isa 37:8). It is to be sought on the north-west of Lachish, not on the south as Knobel erroneously infers from Isa 37:8. According to the Onom. (s. v. Lebna), it was at that time villa in regione Eleutheropolitana, quae appellatur Lobna. It has not been discovered yet; but according to the very probable conjecture of V. de Velde (Mem. p. 330), the ruins of it may perhaps be seen upon the hill called Arâk el Menshiyeh, about two hours to the wets of Beit Jibrin.
Verses 31-32 Edit
Verse 33 Edit
Joshua also smote the king of Gezer, who had come with his people to help of Lachish, and left no one remaining. Nothing is said about the capture of the town of Gezer. According to Jos 16:10 and Jdg 1:29, it was still in the possession of the Canaanites when the land was divided, though this alone is not sufficient to prove that Joshua did not conquer it, as so many of the conquered towns were occupied by the Canaanites again after the Israelites had withdrawn. But its situation makes it very probable that Joshua did not conquer it at that time, as it was too much out of his road, and too far from Lachish. Gezer (lxx Γάζερ, in 1Ch 14:16 Γαζηρά, in 1 Macc. Γαζήρα or Γάζαρα plur., in Josephus Γάζαρα, Ant. vii. 4, 1, viii. 6, 1, and also Γάδαρα, v. 1, 22, xii. 7, 4) was on the southern boundary of Ephraim (Jos 16:3), and was given up by that tribe to the Levites (Jos 16:9-10; Jos 21:20-21. It is very frequently mentioned. David pursued the Philistines to Gezer (Gazer), after they had been defeated at Gibeon or Geba (2Sa 5:25; 1Ch 14:16). At a later period it was conquered by Pharaoh, and presented to his daughter, who was married to Solomon; and Solomon built, i.e., fortified it (1Ki 9:16-17). It was an important fortress in the wars of the Maccabees (1 Macc. 9:52; 2 Macc. 10:32; cf. 1 Macc. 4:15; 7:45; 13:53; 14:34; 15:28, 35). According to the Onom. (s. v. Gazer), it was four Roman miles to the north of Nicopolis, i.e., Anwas, and was called Γαζάρα. This is not only in harmony with Jos 16:3, according to which the southern border of Ephraim ran from Lower Bethhoron to Gezer, and then on to the sea, but also with all the other passages in which Gezer is mentioned, and answers very well to the situation of El Kubab, a village of considerable size on a steep hill at the extreme north of the mountain chain which runs to the north-west of Zorea, and slopes off towards the north into the broad plain of Merj el Omeir, almost in the middle of the road from Ramleh to Yalo. For this village, with which Van Semden identifies Gezer (Van de Velde, Mem. p. 315), was exactly four Roman miles north by west of Anwas, according to Robinson's map, and not quite four hours from Akir (Ekron), the most northerly city of the Philistines; so that Josephus (Ant. vii. 4, 1) could very properly describe Gazara as the frontier of the territory of the Philistines. Robinson discovered no signs of antiquity, it is true, on his journey through Kubab, but in all probability he did not look for them, as he did not regard the village as a place of any importance in connection with ancient history (Bibl. Res. pp. 143-4).
Verses 34-35 Edit
From Lachish Joshua proceeded eastwards against Eglon (Ajlan, see Jos 10:3), took the town, and did to it as he had done to Lachish.
Verses 36-37 Edit
From Eglon he went up from the lowland to the mountains, attacked Hebron and took it, and did to this town and its king, and the towns belonging to it, as he had already done to the others. The king of Hebron cannot of course be the one who was taken in the cave of Makkedah and put to death there, but his successor, who had entered upon the government while Joshua was occupied with the conquest of the towns mentioned in Jos 10:28-35, which may possibly have taken more than a year. “All the cities thereof” are the towns dependent upon Hebron as the capital of the kingdom.
Verses 38-39 Edit
Joshua then turned southwards with all Israel (i.e., all the army), attacked Debir and took it, and the towns dependent upon it, in the same manner as those mentioned before. Debir, formerly called Kirjath-sepher, i.e., book town, πόλις γραμμάτων (lxx Jos 15:15; Jdg 1:11), and Kirjath-sanna, i.e., in all probability the city of palm branches (Jos 15:49), was given up by Judah to the priests (Jos 21:15). It stood upon the mountains of Judah (Jos 15:49), to the south of Hebron, but has not yet been certainly discovered, though V. de Velde is probably correct in his supposition that it is to be seen in the ruins of Dilbeh, on the peak of a hill to the north of Wady Dilbeh, and on the road from Dhoberiyeh to Hebron, about two hours to the south-west of the latter. For, according to Dr. Stewart, there is a spring at Dilbeh, the water of which is conducted by an aqueduct into the Birket el Dilbeh, at the foot of the said hill, which would answer very well to the upper and lower springs at Debir, if only Debir might be placed, according to Jos 15:49, so far towards the north.
Moreover, not very long afterwards, probably during the time when the Israelites were occupied with the subjugation of northern Canaan, Hebron and Debir were taken again by the Canaanites, particularly the Anakites, as Joshua had not entirely destroyed them, although he had thoroughly cleared the mountains of Judah of them, but had left them still in the towns of the Philistines (Jos 11:21-22). Consequently, when the land was divided, there were Anakites living in both Hebron and Debir; so that Caleb, to whom these towns were given as his inheritance, had first of all to conquer them again, and to exterminate the Anakites (Jos 14:12; Jos 15:13-17 : cf. Jdg 1:10-13).
Verses 40-41 Edit
Jos 10:40-41Summary of the Conquest of the Whole of Southern Canaan. - In the further prosecution of his victory over the five allied kings, Joshua smote the whole land, i.e., the whole of the south of Canaan from Gibeon onwards, in all its districts, namely the mountains (Jos 15:48), the Negeb (the south land, Jos 15:21), the lowlands (Jos 15:33), and the slopes, i.e., the hill region (Jos 12:8, and comm. on Num 21:15), and all the kings of these different districts, banning every living thing (כּל־נשׁמה = כּל־נפשׁ, Jos 10:28, Jos 10:30, i.e., all the men; vid., Deu 7:1-2; Deu 20:16. He smote them from Kadesh-barnea, on the southern boundary of Canaan (Jos 15:3; see at Num 12:16), to Gaza (see at Gen 10:9), and all the country of Goshen, a different place from the Goshen of Egypt, deriving its name in all probability from the town of Goshen on the southern portion of the mountains (Jos 15:51). As the line “from Kadesh-barnea to Gaza” defines the extent of the conquered country from south to north on the western side, so the parallel clause, “all the country of Goshen, even unto Gibeon,” defines the extent from south to north on the eastern side. There is no tenable ground for the view expressed by Knobel, which rests upon very uncertain etymological combinations, that the land of Goshen signifies the hill country between the mountains and the plain, and is equivalent to אשׁדות.
Verses 42-43 Edit
All these kings and their country Joshua took “once,” i.e., in one campaign, which lasted, however, a considerable time (cf. Jos 11:18). He was able to accomplish this, because Jehovah the God of Israel fought for Israel (see Jos 10:14). After this he returned with the army to the camp at Gilgal (Jiljilia; cf. Jos 10:15).
Chap. 11 Edit
==Verse 1== The War in Northern Canaan. - Jos 11:1-3. On receiving intelligence of what had occurred in the south, the king of Hazor formed an alliance with the kings of Madon, Shimron, and Achshaph, and other kings of the north, to make a common attack upon the Israelites. This league originated with Jabin the king of Hazor, because Hazor was formerly the head of all the kingdoms of northern Canaan (Jos 11:10). Hazor, which Joshua conquered and burned to the ground (Jos 11:10, Jos 11:11), was afterwards restored, and became a capital again (Jdg 4:2; 1Sa 12:9); it was fortified by Solomon (1Ki 9:15), and taken by Tiglath-Pileser (2Ki 15:29). It belonged to the tribe of Naphtali (Jos 19:36), but has not yet been discovered. According to Josephus (Ant. v. 5, 1), it was above the Lake of Samochonitis, the present Bahr el Huleh. Robinson conjectures that it is to be found in the ruins upon Tell Khuraibeh, opposite to the north-west corner of the lake of Huleh, the situation of which would suit Hazor quite well, as it is placed between Ramah and Kedesh in Jos 19:35-36 (see Bibl. Res. p. 364). On the other hand, the present ruins of Huzzur or Hazireh, where there are the remains of large buildings of a very remote antiquity (see Rob. Bibl. Res. p. 62), with which Knobel identifies Hazor, cannot be thought of for a moment, as these ruins, which are about an hour and a quarter to the south-west of Yathir, are so close to the Ramah of Asher (Jos 19:29) that Hazor must also have belonged to Asher, and could not possibly have been included in the territory of Naphtali. There would be more reason for thinking of Tell Hazûr or Khirbet Hazûr, on the south-west of Szafed (see Rob. Bibl. Res. p. 81); but these ruins are not very ancient, and only belong to an ordinary village, and not to a town at all. Madon is only mentioned again in Jos 12:19, and its situation is quite unknown. Shimron, called Shimron-meron in Jos 12:20, was allotted to the tribe of Zebulun (Jos 19:15), and is also unknown. For Meron cannot be connected, as Knobel supposes, with the village and ruins of Marôn, not far from Kedesh, on the south-west (see Rob. Pal. iii. p. 371), or Shimron with the ruins of Khuraibeh, an hour to the south of Kedesh; as the territory of Zebulun, to which Shimron belonged, did not reach so far north, and there is not the slightest ground for assuming that there were two Shimrons, or for making a distinction between the royal seat mentioned here and the Shimron of Zebulun. There is also no probability in Knobel’s conjecture, that the Shimron last named is the same as the small village of Semunieh, probably the Simonias of Josephus (Vita, §24), on the west of Nazareth (see Rob. Pal. iii. p. 201). Achshaph, a border town of Ashwer (Jos 19:25), is also unknown, and is neither to be sought, as Robinson supposes (Bibl. Res. pp. 55), in the ruins of Kesâf, which lie even farther north than Abel (Abil), in the tribe of Naphtali, and therefore much too far to the north to have formed the boundary of Asher; nor to be identified with Acco (Ptolemais), as Knobel imagines, since Acco has nothing in common with Achshaph except the letter caph (see also at Jos 19:25).
Verse 2 Edit
Jabin also allied himself with the kings of the north “upon the mountains,” i.e., the mountains of Naphtali (Jos 20:7), and “in the Arabah to the south of Chinnereth” (Jos 19:35), i.e., in the Ghor to the south of the sea of Galilee, and “in the lowland,” i.e., the northern portion of it, as far down as Joppa, and “upon the heights of Dor.” The town of Dor, which was built by Phoenicians, who settled there on account of the abundance of the purple mussels (Steph. Byz. s. v. Δῶρος), was allotted to the Manassites in the territory of Asher (Jos 17:11; cf. Jos 19:26), and taken possession of by the children of Joseph (1Ch 7:29). It was situated on the Mediterranean Sea, below the promontory of Carmel, nine Roman miles north of Caesarea, and is at the present time a hamlet called Tantura or Tortura, with very considerable ruins (Wilson, The Holy Land, ii. 249, and V. de Velde, Journey, i. p. 251). The old town was a little more than a mile to the north, on a small range of hills, which is covered with ruins (Ritter, Erdk. xvi. pp. 608-9; V. de Velde, Mem. p. 307), and on the north of which there are rocky ranges, with many grottos, and houses cut in the rock itself (Buckingham, Syria, i. pp. 101-2). These are “the heights of Dor,” or “the high range of Dor” (Jos 12:23; 1Ki 4:11).
Verse 3 Edit
“Namely, with the Canaanites on the east and west, the Amorites” and other tribes dwelling upon the mountains (vid., Jos 3:10), and “the Hivites under the Hermon in the land of Mizpah,” i.e., the country below Hasbeya, between Nahr Hasbany on the east, and Merj. Ayûn on the west, with the village of Mutulleh or Mtelleh, at present inhabited by Druses, which stands upon a hill more than 200 feet high, and from which there is a splendid prospect over the Huleh basin. It is from this that it has derived its name, which signifies prospect, specula, answering to the Hebrew Mizpah (see Robinson, Bibl. Res. p. 372).
Verses 4-5 Edit
These came out with their armies, a people as numerous as the sand by the sea-shore (vid., Gen 22:17, etc.), and very many horses and chariots. All these kings agreed together, sc., concerning the war and the place of battle, and encamped at Merom to fight against Israel. The name Merom (Meirûm in the Arabic version) answers to Meirôm, a village whose name is also pronounced Meirûm, a celebrated place of pilgrimage among the Jews, because Hillel, Shammai, Simeon ben Jochai, and other noted Rabbins are said to be buried there (see Robinson, Pal. iii. p. 333), about two hours' journey north-west of Szafed, upon a rocky mountain, at the foot of which there is a spring that forms a small brook and flows away through the valley below Szafed (Seetzen, R. ii. pp. 127-8; Robinson, Bibl. Res. pp. 73ff.). This stream, which is said to reach the Lake of Tiberias, in the neighbourhood of Bethsaida, is in all probability to be regarded as the “waters of Merom,” as, according to Josephus (Ant. v. 1, 18), “these kings encamped at Berothe (de. Bell. Jud. xx. 6, and Vit. 37, Meroth), a city of Upper Galilee, not far from Kedese.”
Verse 6 Edit
On account of this enormous number, and the might of the enemy, who were all the more to be dreaded because of their horses and chariots, the Lord encouraged Joshua again, as in Jos 8:1, by promising him that on the morrow He would deliver them all up slain before Israel; only Joshua was to lame their horses (Gen 49:6) and burn their chariots. אנכי before נתן gives emphasis to the sentence: “I will provide for this; by my power, which is immeasurable, as I have shown thee so many times, and by my nod, by which heaven and earth are shaken, shall these things be done” (Masius).
Verses 7-8 Edit
With this to inspirit them, the Israelites fell upon the enemy and smote them, chasing them towards the north-west to Sidon, and westwards as far as Misrephothmaim, and into the plain of Mizpah on the east. Sidon is called the great (as in Jos 19:28), because at that time it was the metropolis of Phoenicia; whereas even by the time of David it had lost its ancient splendour, and was outstripped by its daughter city Tyre. It is still to be seen in the town of Saida, a town of five or six thousand inhabitants, with many large and well-built houses (see Rob. Pal. iii. p. 415, and Movers, Phönizier, ii. 1, pp. 86ff.). Misrephothmaim (mentioned also at Jos 13:6), which the Greek translators have taken as a proper name, though the Rabbins and some Christian commentators render it in different ways, such as salt-pits, smelting-huts, or glass-huts (see Ges. Thes. p. 1341), is a collection of springs, called Ain Mesherfi, at the foot of the promontory to which with its steep pass the name of Ras el Nakhûra is given, the scala Tyriorum or Passepoulain of the Crusaders (see V. de Velde, Mem. p. 335, and Ritter, Erdk. xvi. p. 807). מצפּה בּקעת (Eng. Ver. “the valley of Mizpeh”) is probably the basin of the Huleh lake and of Nahr Hasbany, on the western side of which lay the land of Mizpah (Jos 11:3).
Verse 9 Edit
Joshua carried out the command of the Lord with regard to the chariots and horses.
Verses 10-15 Edit
After destroying the foe, and returning from the pursuit, Joshua took Hazor, smote its king and all the inhabitants with the edge of the sword, and burned the town, the former leader of all those kingdoms. He did just the same to the other towns, except that he did not burn them, but left them standing upon their hills. על־תּלּם העמחות (Jos 11:13) neither contains an allusion to any special fortification of the towns, nor implies a contrast to the towns built in the valleys and plains, but simply expresses the thought that these towns were still standing upon their hill, i.e., upon the old site (cf. Jer 30:18 : the participle does not express the preterite, but the present). At the same time, the expression certainly implies that the towns were generally built upon hills. The pointing in תּלּם is not to be altered, as Knobel suggests. The singular “upon their hill” is to be taken as distributive: standing, now as then, each upon its hill. - With Jos 11:15, “as Jehovah commanded His servant Moses” (cf. Num 33:52.; Deu 7:1., Deu 20:16), the account of the wars of Joshua is brought to a close, and the way opened for proceeding to the concluding remarks with reference to the conquest of the whole land (Jos 11:16-23). דּבר הסיר לא, he put not away a word, i.e., left nothing undone.
Verses 16-17 Edit
Retrospective View of the Conquest of the Whole Land. - Jos 11:16, Jos 11:17. Joshua took all this land, namely, those portions of Southern Canaan that have already been mentioned in Jos 10:40-41; also the Arabah, and the mountains of Israel and its lowlands (see Jos 11:2), i.e., the northern part of the land (in the campaign described in Jos 11:1-15), that is to say, Canaan in all its extent, “from the bald mountain which goeth up to Seir” in the south, “to Baal-gad, in the valley of Lebanon under Hermon.” The “bald mountain” (Halak), which is mentioned here and in Jos 12:7 as the southern boundary of Canaan, is hardly the row of white cliffs which stretches obliquely across the Arabah eight miles below the Dead Sea and forms the dividing line that separates this valley into el-Ghor and el-Araba (Rob. Pal. ii. pp. 489, 492), or the present Madara, a strange-looking chalk-hill to the south-west of the pass of Sufah (Rob. ii. p. 589), a steep bare mountain in a barren plain, the sides of which consist of stone and earth of a leaden ashy hue (Seetzen, R. iii. pp. 14, 15); but in all probability the northern edge of the Azazimeh mountain with its white and glistening masses of chalk. Baal-gad, i.e., the place or town of Baal, who was there worshipped as Gad (see Isa 65:11), also called Baal-hermon in Jdg 3:3 and 1Ch 5:23, is not Baalbek, but the Paneas or Caesarea Philippi of a later time, the present Banjas (see at Num 34:8-9). This is the opinion of v. Raumer and Robinson, though Van de Velde is more disposed to look for Baal-gad in the ruins of Kalath (the castle of) Bostra, or of Kalath Aisafa, the former an hour and a half, the latter three hours to the north of Banjas, the situation of which would accord with the biblical statements respecting Baal-gad exceedingly well. The “valley of Lebanon” is not Coele-Syria, the modern Bekâa, between Lebanon and Antilibanus, but the valley at the foot of the southern slope of Jebel Sheik (Hermon).
Verses 18-20 Edit
Joshua made war with the kings of Canaan a long time; judging from Jos 14:7, Jos 14:10, as much as seven years, though Josephus (Ant. v. 1, 19) speaks of five (see at Jos 14:10). No town submitted peaceably to the Israelites, with the exception of Gibeon: they took the whole in war. “For it was of the Lord” (Jos 11:20), i.e., God ordered it so that they (the Canaanites) hardened their heart to make war upon Israel, that they might fall under the ban, and be destroyed without mercy. On the hardening of the heart as a work of God, see the remarks upon the hardening of Pharaoh (Exo 4:21). It cannot be inferred from this, that if the Canaanites had received the Israelites amicably, God would have withdrawn His command to destroy them, and allowed the Israelites to make peace with them; for when they made peace with the Gibeonites, they did not inquire what as the will of the Lord, but acted in opposition to it (see at Jos 9:14). The remark is made with special reference to this, and has been correctly explained by Augustine (qu. 8 in Jos.) as follows: “Because the Israelites had shown mercy to some of them of their own accord, though in opposition to the command of God, therefore it is stated that they (the Canaanites) made war upon them so that none of them were spared, and the Israelites were not induced to show mercy to the neglect of the commandment of God.”
Verses 21-23 Edit
In Jos 11:21, Jos 11:22, the destruction of the Anakites upon the mountains of Judah and Israel is introduced in a supplementary form, which completes the history of the subjugation and extermination of the Canaanites in the south of the land (Josh 10). This supplement is not to be regarded either as a fragment interpolated by a different hand, or as a passage borrowed from another source. On the contrary, the author himself thought it necessary, having special regard to Num 13:28, Num 13:31., to mention expressly that Joshua also rooted out from their settlements the sons of Anak, whom the spies in the time of Moses had described as terrible giants, and drove them into the Philistine cities of Gaza, Bath, and Ashdod. “At that time” points back to the “long time,” mentioned in Jos 11:18, during which Joshua was making war upon the Canaanites. The words “cut off,” etc., are explained correctly by Clericus: “Those who fell into his hands he slew, the rest he put to flight, though, as we learn from Jos 15:14, they afterwards returned.” (On the Anakim, see at Num 13:22.) They had their principal settlement upon the mountains in Hebron (el Khulil, see Jos 10:3), Debir (see at Jos 10:38), and Anab. The last place (Anab), upon the mountains of Judah (Jos 15:50), has been preserved along with the old name in the village of Anâb, four or five hours to the south of Hebron, on the eastern side of the great Wady el Khulil, which runs from Hebron down to Beersheba (Rob. Pal. ii. p. 193). “And from all (the rest of) the mountains of Judah, and all the mountains of Israel:” the latter are called the mountains of Ephraim in Jos 17:15. The two together form the real basis of the land of Canaan, and are separated from one another by the large Wady Beit Hanina (see Rob. Pal. ii. p. 333). They received their respective names from the fact that the southern portion of the mountain land of Canaan fell to the tribe of Judah as its inheritance, and the northern part to the tribe of Ephraim and other tribes of Israel.Gaza, Gath, and Ashdod were towns of the Philistines; of these Gaza and Ashdod were allotted to the tribe of Judah (Jos 15:47), but were never taken possession of by the Israelites, although the Philistines were sometimes subject to the Israelites (see at Jos 13:3). - With Jos 11:23, “thus Joshua took the whole land” etc., the history of the conquest of Canaan by Joshua is brought to a close; and Jos 11:23, “and Joshua gave it for an inheritance unto Israel,” forms a kind of introduction to the second part of the book. The list of the conquered kings in Josh 12 is simply an appendix to the first part.
The taking of the whole land does not imply that all the towns and villages to the very last had been conquered, or that all the Canaanites were rooted out from every corner of the land, but simply that the conquest was of such a character that the power of the Canaanites was broken, their dominion overthrown, and their whole land so thoroughly given into the hands of the Israelites, that those who still remained here and there were crushed into powerless fugitives, who could neither offer any further opposition to the Israelites, nor dispute the possession of the land with them, if they would only strive to fulfil the commandments of their God and persevere in the gradual extermination of the scattered remnants. Moreover, Israel had received the strongest pledge, in the powerful help which it had received from the Lord in the conquests thus far obtained, that the faithful covenant God would continue His help in the conflicts which still remained, and secure for it a complete victory and the full possession of the promised land. Looking, therefore, at the existing state of things from this point of view, Joshua had taken possession of the whole land, and could now proceed to finish the work entrusted to him by the Lord, by dividing the land among the tribes of Israel. Joshua had really done all that the Lord had said to Moses. For the Lord had not only promised to Moses the complete extermination of the Canaanites, but had also told him that He would not drive out the Canaanites at once, or “in one year,” but only little by little, until Israel multiplied and took the land (Exo 23:28-30; cf. Deu 7:22). Looking at this promised, therefore, the author of the book could say with perfect justice, that “Joshua took the whole land according to all that (precisely in the manner in which) the Lord had said to Moses.” But this did not preclude the fact, that a great deal still remained to be done before all the Canaanites could be utterly exterminated from every part of the land. Consequently, the enumeration of towns and districts that were not yet conquered, and of Canaanites who still remained, which we find in Jos 13:1-6; Jos 17:14., Jos 18:3; Jos 23:5, Jos 23:12, forms no discrepancy with the statements in the verses before us, so as to warrant us in adopting any critical hypotheses or conclusions as to the composition of the book by different authors. The Israelites could easily have taken such portions of the land as were still unconquered, and could have exterminated all the Canaanites who remained, without any severe or wearisome conflicts; if they had but persevered in fidelity to their God and in the fulfilment of His commandments. If, therefore, the complete conquest of the whole land was not secured in the next few years, but, on the contrary, the Canaanites repeatedly gained the upper hand over the Israelites; we must seek for the explanation, not in the fact that Joshua had not completely taken and conquered the land, but simply in the fact that the Lord had withdrawn His help from His people because of their apostasy from Him, and had given them up to the power of their enemies to chastise them for their sins. - The distribution of the land for an inheritance to the Israelites took place “according to their divisions by their tribes.” מחלקות denote the division of the twelve tribes of Israel into families, fathers' houses, and households; and is so used not only here, but in Jos 12:7 and Jos 18:10. Compare with this 1Ch 23:6; 1Ch 24:1, etc., where it is applied to the different orders of priests and Levites. “And the land rested from war:” i.e., the war was ended, so that the peaceable task of distributing the land by lot could now be proceeded with (vid., Jos 14:15; Jdg 3:11, Jdg 3:30; Jdg 5:31). List of the Kings Slaughtered by the Israelites - Joshua 12
In the historical account of the wars of Joshua in the south and north of Canaan, the only kings mentioned by name as having been conquered and slain by the Israelites, were those who had formed a league to make war upon them; whereas it is stated at the close, that Joshua had smitten all the kings in the south and north, and taken possession of their towns (Jos 10:40; Jos 11:17). To complete the account of these conquests, therefore, a detailed list is given in the present chapter of all the kings that were slain, and not merely of those who were defeated by Joshua in the country on this side of the Jordan, but the two kings of the Amorites who had been conquered by Moses are also included, so as to give a complete picture of all the victories which Israel had gained under the omnipotent help of its God.
Chap. 12 Edit
Verse 1 Edit
List of the kings whom the Israelites smote, and whose land they took, on the other side of the Jordan, - namely, the land by the brook Arnon (Mojeb; see Num 21:13) to Hermon (Jebel es Sheikh, Deu 3:8), and the whole of the eastern Arabah (the valley of the Jordan on the eastern side of the river).
Verses 2-3 Edit
On Sihon and his kingdom, see Num 21:24; Deu 2:36; Deu 3:16-17. “Aroër on the Arnon:” the present ruins of Araayr, on the northern bank of the Mojeb (see Num 32:34). הנּחל ותוך, “and (from) the middle of the valley onwards:” i.e., according to the parallel passages in Jos 13:9, Jos 13:16, and Deu 2:36, from the town in the Arnon valley, the city of Moab mentioned in Num 22:36, viz., Ar or Areopolis (see at Num 21:15) in the neighbourhood of Aroër, which is mentioned as the exclusive terminus a quo of the land taken by the Israelites along with the inclusive terminus Aroër. “Half-Gilead,” i.e., the mountainous district on the south side of the Jabbok (see at Deu 3:10), “to the river Jabbok,” i.e., the upper Jabbok, the present Nahr Ammân (see at Num 21:24).
Verse 3 Edit
“And (over) the Arabah, etc., Sihon reigned,” i.e., over the eastern side of the Ghor, between the Sea of Galilee and the Dead Sea (see at Deu 3:17). “By the way to Bethjeshimoth, and towards the south below the slopes of Pisgah” (see at Num 21:15 and Num 27:12), i.e., to the northeastern border of the desert by the Dead Sea (see at Num 22:1).
Verses 4-5 Edit
“And the territory of Og,” sc., they took possession of (Jos 12:1). On Og, vid., Deu 3:11; and on his residences, Ashtaroth (probably to be seen in Tell Ashtereh) and Edrei (now Draa or Dêra), see at Gen 14:5 and Num 21:33. On his territory, see Deu 3:10, Deu 3:13-14.
Verse 6 Edit
Verses 7-8 Edit
List of the thirty-one kings of Canaan whom Joshua smote on the western side of the Jordan, “from Baal-gad, in the valley of Lebanon, to the bald mountain that goeth up towards Seir” (see Jos 11:17). This land Joshua gave to the other tribes of Israel. (On the different parts of the land, see at Jos 9:1; Jos 10:40, and Jos 11:2.)
Verses 9-18 Edit
The different kings are given in the order in which they were defeated: Jericho (Jos 6:1); Ai (Jos 7:2); Jerusalem, Hebron, Jarmuth, Lachish, and Eglon (Jos 10:3); Gezer (Jos 10:33); and Debir (Jos 10:38). Those given in Jos 12:13 and Jos 12:14 are not mentioned by name in Josh 10. Geder, possibly the same as Gedor upon the mountains of Judah (Jos 15:58), which has been preserved under the old name of Jedur (Rob. Pal. ii. p. 186, and Bibl. Res. p. 282). Hormah (i.e., banning) was in the south of Judah (Jos 15:30), and was allotted to the Simeonites (Jos 19:4). It was called Zephath by the Canaanites (Jdg 1:17; see at Num 21:3), was on the southern slope of the mountains of the Amalekites or Amorites, the present ruins of Sepâta, on the western slope of the table-land of Rakhma, two hours and a half to the south-west of Khalasa (Elusa: see Ritter, Erdk. xiv. p. 1085). Arad, also in the Negeb, has been preserved in Tell Arad (see at Num 21:1). Libnah (see at Jos 10:29). Adullam, which is mentioned in Jos 15:35 among the towns of the plain between Jarmuth and Socoh, was in the neighbourhood of a large cave in which David took refuge when flying from Saul (1Sa 22:1; 2Sa 23:13). It was fortified by Rehoboam (2Ch 11:7), and is mentioned in 2 Macc. 12:38 as the city of Odollam. The Onomast. describes it as being ten Roman miles to the east of Eleutheropolis; but this is a mistake, though it has not yet been discovered. So far as the situation is concerned, Deir Dubbân would suit very well, a place about two hours to the north of Beit Jibrin, near to a large number of caves in the white limestone, which form a kind of labyrinth, as well as some vaulted grottos (see Rob. Pal. ii. p. 353, and Van de Velde, Reise, pp. 162-3). Makkedah: possibly Summeil (see at Jos 10:10). Bethel, i.e., Beitin (see Jos 8:17). The situation of the towns which follow in Jos 12:17 and Jos 12:18 cannot be determined with certainty, as the names Tappuach, Aphek, and Hefer are met with again in different parts of Canaan, and Lassaron does not occur again. But if we observe, that just as from Jos 12:10 onwards those kings'-towns are first of all enumerated, the capture of which has already been described in Josh 10, and then in Jos 12:15 and Jos 12:16 certain other towns are added which had been taken in the war with the Canaanites of the south, so likewise in Jos 12:19 and Jos 12:20 the capitals of the allied kings of northern Canaan are given first, and after that the other towns that were taken in the northern war, but had not been mentioned by name in Josh 11: there can be no doubt whatever that the four towns in Jos 12:17 and Jos 12:18 are to be classed among the kings'-towns taken in the war with the king of Jerusalem and his allies, and therefore are to be sought for in the south of Canaan and not in the north. Consequently we cannot agree with Van de Velde and Knobel in identifying Tappuach with En-Tappuach (Jos 17:7), and looking for it in Atûf, a place to the north-east of Nablus and near the valley of the Jordan; we connect it rather with Tappuach in the lowlands of Judah (Jos 15:34), though the place itself has not yet been discovered. Hefer again is neither to be identified with Gath-hepher in the tribe of Zebulun (Jos 19:13), nor with Chafaraim in the tribe of Issachar (Jos 19:19), but is most probably the capital of the land of Hefer (1Ki 4:10), and to be sought for in the neighbourhood of Socoh in the plain of Judah. Aphek is probably the town of that name not far from Ebenezer (1Sa 4:1), where the ark was taken by the Philistines, and is most likely to be sought for in the plain of Judah, though not in the village of Ahbek (Rob. Pal. ii. p. 343); but it has not yet been traced. Knobel imagines that it was Aphek near to Jezreel (1Sa 29:1), which was situated, according to the Onom., in the neighbourhood of Endor (1Sa 29:1; 1Ki 20:25, 1Ki 20:30); but this Aphek is too far north. Lassaron only occurs here, and hitherto it has been impossible to trace it. Knobel supposes it to be the place called Saruneh, to the west of the lake of Tiberias, and conjectures that the name has been contracted from Lassaron by aphaeresis of the liquid. This is quite possible, if only we could look for Lassaron so far to the north. Bachienne and Rosenmüller imagine it to be the village of Sharon in the celebrated plain of that name, between Lydda and Arsuf.
Verses 19-20 Edit
Verse 21 Edit
Jos 12:21Taanach, which was allotted to the Manassites in the territory of Issachar, and given up to the Levites (Jos 17:11; Jos 21:25), but was not entirely wrested from the Canaanites (Jdg 1:27), is the present Tell Taënak, an hour and a quarter to the south-east of Lejun, a flat hill sown with corn; whilst the old name has been preserved in the small village of Taânak, at the south-eastern foot of the Tell (see Van de Velde, i. p. 269, and Rob. Pal. iii. p. 156). - Megiddo, which was also allotted to the Manassites in the territory of Issachar, though without the Canaanites having been entirely expelled (Jos 17:11; Jdg 1:27), was fortified by Solomon (1Ki 9:15), and is also well known as the place were Ahaziah died (2Ki 9:27), and where Josiah was beaten and slain by Pharaoh Necho (2Ki 23:29-30; 2Ch 35:20.). Robinson has shown that it was preserved in the Legio of a later time, the present Lejun (Pal. iii. pp. 177ff.; see also Bibl. Res. p. 116).
Verse 22 Edit
Jos 12:22Kedesh, a Levitical city and city of refuge upon the mountains of Naphtali (Jos 19:37; Jos 20:7; Jos 21:32), the home of Barak (Jdg 4:6), was conquered and depopulated by Tiglath-Pileser (2Ki 15:29), and was also a well-known place after the captivity (1 Macc. 11:61ff.) It is now an insignificant village, still bearing the ancient name, to the north-west of the lake of Huleh, or, according to Van de Velde (Reise. ii. p. 355), nothing but a miserable farmstead upon a Tell at the south-west extremity of a well-cultivated table-land, with a large quantity of antiquities about, viz., hewn stones, relics of columns, sarcophagi, and two ruins of large buildings, with an open and extensive prospect on every side (see also Rob. Bibl. Res. pp. 367ff.). Jokneam, near Carmel, as a Levitical town in the territory of Zebulun (Jos 19:11; Jos 21:34). Van de Velde and Robinson (Bibl. Res. p. 114) suppose that they have found it in Tell Kaimôn, on the eastern side of the Wady el Milh, at the north-west end of a chain of hills running towards the south-east; this Tell being 200 feet high, and occupying a very commanding situation, so that it governed the main pass on the western side of Esdraelon towards the southern plain. Kaimôn is the Arabic form of the ancient Καμμωνά, Cimana, which Eusebius and Jerome describe in the Onom. as being six Roman miles to the north of Legio, on the road to Ptolemais.
Verses 23-24 Edit
Jos 12:23-24Dor: see Jos 11:2. Gilgal: the seat of the king of the Goyim (a proper name, as in Gen 14:1), in all probability the same place as the villa nomine Galgulis mentioned in the Onom. (s. v. Gelgel) as being six Roman miles to the north of Antipatris, which still exists in the Moslem village of Jiljule (now almost a ruin; see Rob. Bibl. Res. p. 136), although this village is only two miles E.S.E. of Kefr Sâba, the ancient Antipatris (see Ritter, Erdk. xvi. pp. 568-9). Thirza, the capital of the kings of Israel down to the time of Omri (1Ki 14:17; 1Ki 15:21, 1Ki 15:33; 1Ki 16:6.), is probably the present Talluza, an elevated and beautifully situated place, of a considerable size, surrounded by large olive groves, two hours to the north of Shechem (see Rob. Bibl. Res. p. 302, and Van de Velde, ii. p. 294).
Chap. 13 Edit
Verse 1 Edit
II. Division of the Land of Canaan Among the Tribes of Israel - Joshua 13-24 Edit
The distribution of the conquered land among the Israelites is introduced by the command of the Lord to Joshua to enter upon this work, now that he was old, although different portions of land were still unconquered (Jos 13:1-7); and to this there is appended a description of the land on the east of the Jordan which had already been conquered and divided among the two tribes and a half (Josh 13:8-33). The distribution of the land on this side among the nine tribes and a half is related in its historical order; so that not only are the territories assigned by lot to the different tribes described according to their respective boundaries and towns, but the historical circumstances connected with the division and allotting of the land are also introduced into the description. These historical accounts are so closely connected with the geographical descriptions of the territory belonging to the different tribes, that the latter alone will explain the course pursued in the distribution of the land, and the various ways in which the different territories are described (see the remarks on Jos 14:1). For example, in the account of the inheritance which fell to the lot of the tribes of Judah and Benjamin, not only are the boundaries most carefully traced, but the towns are also enumerated one by one (Josh 15 and Josh 18:11-28); whereas in the tribe of Joseph (Ephraim and half Manasseh) the list of the towns is altogether wanting (Jos 16:1-10 and 17); and in the possessions of the other tribes, either towns alone are mentioned, as in the case of Simeon and Dan (Jos 19:1-9, Jos 19:40-48), or the boundaries and towns are mixed up together, but both of them given incompletely, as in the case of Zebulun, Issachar, Asher, and Naphtali (Jos 19:10-16, Jos 19:17-23, Jos 19:24-31, Jos 19:32-39). This incompleteness, particularly in the territories of the tribes mentioned last, may be explained from the fact, that in northern Canaan there were still very many tracts of land in the hands of the Canaanites, and the Israelites had not acquired a sufficiently exact or complete knowledge of the country, either through Joshua's campaign in the north, or through the men who were sent out to survey the northern land before it was divided (Jos 18:4-9), to enable them to prepare a complete account of the boundaries and towns at the very outset. In the same way, too, we may explain the absence of the list of towns in the case of the tribes of Ephraim and half Manasseh-namely, from the fact that a large portion of the territory assigned to the tribe of Joseph was still in the possession of the Canaanites (vid., Jos 17:14-18); whilst the omission of any account of the boundaries in the case of Simeon and Dan is attributable to the circumstance that the former received its inheritance within the tribe of Judah, and the latter between Judah and Ephraim, whilst the space left for the Danites was so small, that Ephraim and Judah had to gave up to them some of the town in their own territory. Thus the very inequality and incompleteness of the geographical accounts of the possessions of the different tribes decidedly favour the conclusion, that they are the very lists which were drawn up at the time when Joshua divided the land. There is nothing to preclude this supposition in the fact that several towns occur with different names, e.g., Beth-shemesh and Ir-shemesh (Jos 15:10; Jos 19:41; Jos 21:16), Madmannah and Beth-marcaboth, Sansanna and Hazar-susa (Jos 15:31; Jos 19:5), Shilchim and Sharuchen (Jos 15:32; Jos 19:6), Remeth and Jarmuth (Jos 19:21; Jos 21:29), or in other smaller differences. For variations of this kind may be sufficiently explained from the fact that such places were known by two different names, which could be used promiscuously; whilst in other cases the difference in the name amounts to nothing more than a different mode of writing or pronouncing it: e.g., Kattah and Kartah (Jos 19:15; Jos 21:34), Eshtemoh and Eshtemoa (Jos 15:50; Jos 21:14), Baalah and Balah (Jos 15:29; Jos 19:3); or simply in the contraction of a composite name, such as Ramoth in Gilead for Ramoth-mizpeh (Jos 21:36; Jos 13:26); Bealoth and Baalath-beer (Jos 15:24; Jos 19:8), Lebaoth and Beth-lebaoth (Jos 15:32; Jos 19:6), Hammath and Hammoth-dor (Jos 19:35; Jos 21:32).
If the author, on the other hand, had drawn from later sources, or had simply given the results of later surveys, as Knobel supposes, there can be no doubt that much greater uniformity would be found in the different lists.
COMMAND OF GOD TO DIVIDE THE LAND OF CANAAN. DESCRIPTION OF THE TERRITORY OF THE TWO TRIBES AND A HALF. — CHAP. XIII. Edit
Introduction to the Division of the Land. - Jos 13:1-7. Command of the Lord to Joshua to distribute the land of Canaan by lot among the nine tribes and a half. Jos 13:1 contains only the commencement of the divine command; the conclusion follows in Jos 13:7. Jos 13:2-6 form a parenthesis of several clauses, defining the last clause of Jos 13:1 more fully. When Joshua had grown old, the Lord commanded him, as he was advanced in years, and there was still much land to be taken, to divide “this land,” i.e., the whole of the land of Canaan, for an inheritance to the nine tribes and a half, and promised him at the same time that He would drive out the Canaanites from those portions of the land that were not yet conquered (Jos 13:6). The words “grown old and come into years” (vid., Gen 24:1; Gen 18:11, etc.) denote advanced age in its different stages up to the near approach of death (as, for example, in Jos 23:1). Joshua might be ninety or a hundred years old at this time. The allusion to Joshua's great age serves simply to explain the reason for the command of God. As he was already old, and there still remained much land to be taken, he was to proceed to the division of Canaan, that he might accomplish this work to which he was also called before his death; whereas he might very possibly suppose that, under existing circumstances, the time for allotting the land had not yet arrived. - In Jos 13:2-6 the districts that were not yet conquered are enumerated separately.
Verses 2-4 Edit
All the circles of the Philistines (geliloth, circles of well-defined districts lying round the chief city). The reference is to the five towns of the Philistines, whose princes are mentioned in Jos 13:3. “And all Geshuri:” not the district of Geshur in Peraea (Jos 13:11, Jos 13:13, Jos 12:5; Deu 3:14), but the territory of the Geshurites, a small tribe in the south of Philistia, on the edge of the north-western portion of the Arabian desert which borders on Egypt; it is only mentioned again in 1Sa 27:8. The land of the Philistines and Geshurites extended from the Sichor of Egypt (on the south) to the territory of Ekron (on the north). Sichor (Sihor), lit. the black river, is not the Nile, because this is always called היאר (the river) in simple prose (Gen 41:1, Gen 41:3; Exo 1:22), and was not “before Egypt,” i.e., to the east of it, but flowed through the middle of the land. The “Sichor before Egypt” was the brook (Nachal) of Egypt, the Ῥινοκοροῦρα, the modern Wady el Arish, which is mentioned in Jos 15:4, Jos 15:47, etc., as the southern border of Canaan towards Egypt (see at Num 34:5). Ekron (Ἀρρακών, lxx), the most northerly of the five chief cities of the Philistines, was first of all allotted to the tribe of Judah (Jos 15:11, Jos 15:45), then on the further distribution it was given to Dan (Jos 19:43); after Joshua's death it was conquered by Judah (Jdg 1:18), though it was not permanently occupied. It is the present Akîr, a considerable village in the plain, two hours to the south-west of Ramlah, and on the east of Jamnia, without ruins of any antiquity, with the exception of two old wells walled round, which probably belong to the times of the Crusaders (see Rob. Pal. iii. p. 23). “To the Canaanites is reckoned (the territory of the) five lords of the Philistines,” i.e., it was reckoned as belonging to the land of Canaan, and allotted to the Israelites like all the rest. This remark was necessary because the Philistines were not descendants of Canaan (see at Gen 10:14), but yet were to be driven out like the Canaanites themselves as being invaders of Canaanitish territory (cf. Deu 2:23). סרני, from סרן, the standing title of the princes of the Philistines (vid., Jdg 3:3; Jdg 16:5.; 1Sa 5:8), does not mean kings, but princes, and is interchangeable with שׂרים (cf. 1Sa 29:6 with 1Sa 29:4, 1Sa 29:9). At any rate, it was the native or Philistian title of the Philistine princes, though it is not derived from the same root as Sar, but is connected with seren, axis rotae, in the tropical sense of princeps, for which the Arabic furnishes several analogies (see Ges. Thes. p. 972).
The capitals of these five princes were the following. Azzah (Gaza, i.e., the strong): this was allotted to the tribe of Judah and taken by the Judaeans (Jos 15:47; Jdg 1:18), but was not held long. It is at the present time a considerable town of about 15,000 inhabitants, with the old name of Ghazzeh, about an hour from the sea, and with a seaport called Majuma; it is the farthest town of Palestine towards the south-west (see Rob. Pal. ii. pp. 374ff.; Ritter, Erdk. xvi. pp. 35ff.; Stark, Gaza, etc., pp. 45ff.). Ashdod (Ἄζωτος, Azotus): this was also allotted to the tribe of Judah (Jos 15:46-47), the seat of Dagon-worship, to which the Philistines carried the ark (1Sa 5:1.). It was conquered by Uzziah (2Ch 26:6), was afterwards taken by Tartan, the general of Sargon (Isa 20:1), and was besieged by Psammetichus for twenty-nine years (Herod. ii. 157). It is the present Esdud, a Mahometan village with about a hundred or a hundred and fifty miserable huts, upon a low, round, wooded height on the road from Jamnia to Gaza, two miles to the south of Jamnia, about half an hour from the sea (vid., Rob. i. p. 368). Ashkalon: this was conquered by the Judaeans after the death of Joshua (Jdg 1:8-9); but shortly afterwards recovered its independence (vid., Jdg 14:19; 1Sa 6:17). It is the present Askulân on the sea-shore between Gaza and Ashdod, five hours to the north of Gaza, with considerable and widespread ruins (see v. Raum. pp. 173-4; Ritter, xvi. pp. 69ff.). Gath (Γέθ): this was for a long time the seat of the Rephaites, and was the home of Goliath (Jos 11:22; 1Sa 17:4, 1Sa 17:23; 2Sa 21:19.; 1Ch 20:5.); it was thither that the Philistines of Ashdod removed the ark, which was taken thence to Ekron (1Sa 5:7-10). David was the first to wrest it from the Philistines (1Ch 18:1). In the time of Solomon it was a royal city of the Philistines, though no doubt under Israelitish supremacy (1Ki 2:39; 1Ki 5:1). It was fortified by Rehoboam (2Ch 11:8), was taken by the Syrians in the time of Joash (2Ki 12:18), and was conquered again by Uzziah (2Ch 26:6; Amo 6:2); but no further mention is made of it, and no traces have yet been discovered (see Rob. ii. p. 420, and v. Raumer, Pal. pp. 191-2). “And the Avvites (Avvaeans) towards the south.” Judging from Deu 2:23, the Avvim appear to have belonged to those tribes of the land who were already found there by the Canaanites, and whom the Philistines subdued and destroyed when they entered the country. They are not mentioned in Gen 10:15-19 among the Canaanitish tribes. At the same time, there is not sufficient ground for identifying them with the Geshurites as Ewald does, or with the Anakites, as Bertheau has done. Moreover, it cannot be decided whether they were descendants of Ham or Shem (see Stark. Gaza, pp. 32ff.). מתּימן (from, or on, the south) at the commencement of Jos 13:4 should be attached to Jos 13:3, as it is in the Septuagint, Syriac, and Vulgate, and joined to העוּים (the Avvites). The Avvaeans dwelt to the south of the Philistines, on the south-west of Gaza. It gives no sense to connect with the what follows, so as to read “towards the south all the land of the Canaanites;” for whatever land to the south of Gaza, or of the territory of the Philistines, was still inhabited by Canaanites, could not possibly be called “all the land of the Canaanites.” If, however, we were disposed to adopt the opinion held by Masius and Rosenmüller, and understand these words as relating to the southern boundaries of Canaan, “the possessions of the king of Arad and the neighbouring petty kings who ruled in the southern extremity of Judaea down to the desert of Paran, Zin, Kadesh,” etc., the fact that Arad and the adjoining districts are always reckoned as belonging to the Negeb would at once be decisive against it (compare Jos 15:21. with Jos 10:40; Jos 11:16, also Num 21:1). Moreover, according to Jos 10:40, Jos 10:21, and Jos 11:16-17, Joshua had smitten the whole of the south of Canaan from Kadesh-barnea to Gaza and taken it; so that nothing remained unconquered there, which could possibly have been mentioned in this passage as not yet taken by the Israelites. For the fact that the districts, which Joshua traversed so victoriously and took possession of, were not all permanently held by the Israelites, does not come into consideration here at all. If the author had thought of enumerating all these places, he would have had to include many other districts as well.
Beside the territory of the Philistines on the south-west, there still remained to be taken (Jos 13:4, Jos 13:5) in the north, “all the land of the Canaanites,” i.e., of the Phoenicians dwelling on the coast, and “the caves which belonged to the Sidonians unto Aphek.” Mearah (the cave) is the present Mugr Jezzin, i.e., cave of Jezzin, on the east of Sidon, in a steep rocky wall of Lebanon, a hiding-place of the Druses at the present time (see at Num 34:8; also F. v. Richter, Wallfahrten in Morgenland, p. 133). Aphek, or Aphik, was allotted to the tribe of Asher (Jos 19:30; Jdg 1:31); it was called Ἄφακα by the Greeks; there was a temple of Venus there, which Constantine ordered to be destroyed, on account of the licentious nature of the worship (Euseb. Vita Const. iii. 55). It is the present Afka, a small village, but a place of rare beauty, upon a terrace of Lebanon, near the chief source of the river Adonis (Nahr Ibrahim), with ruins of an ancient temple in the neighbourhood, surrounded by groves of the most splendid walnut trees on the north-east of Beirut (see O. F. v. Richter, pp. 106-7; Rob. Bibl. Res. p. 663; and V. de Velde, Reise. ii. p. 398). “To the territory of the Amorites:” this is obscure. We cannot imagine the reference to be to the territory of Og of Bashan, which was formerly inhabited by Amorites, as that did not extend so far north; and the explanation given by Knobel, that farther north there were not Canaanites, but Amorites, who were of Semitic origin, rests upon hypotheses which cannot be historically sustained.
Verses 5-7 Edit
There still remained to be taken (2) “the land of the Giblites,” i.e., the territory of the population of Gebal (1Ki 5:18; Eze 27:9), the Byblos of the classics, on the Mediterranean Sea, to the north of Beirut, called Jebail by the Arabs, and according to Edrisi (ed. Jaubert, i. p. 356), “a pretty town on the sea-shore, enclosed in good walls, and surrounded by vineyards and extensive grounds planted with fruit trees” (see also Abulfed. Tab. Syr. p. 94). It is still a town with an old wall, some portions of which apparently belong to the time of the Crusades (see Burckhardt, Syr. p. 296, and Ritter, Erdk. xvii. pp. 60ff.).
“And all Lebanon toward the sunrising:” i.e., not Antilibanus (Knobel), but the Lebanon which is to the east of the territory of Gebal, “from Baal-gad under Mount Hermon,” i.e., Paneas Banjas at the foot of Hermon (see at Jos 11:17), “unto the entering in to Hamath,” i.e., as far up as the territory of the kingdom of Hamath, with the capital of the same name on the Orontes (see at Num 34:8). Lastly, there still remained (3) “all the inhabitants of the mountains, from Lebanon to Misrephothmaim,” i.e., the promontory of Nakura (see at Jos 11:8), namely “all the Sidonians,” i.e., all the Phoenicians who dwelt from Lebanon southwards, from the boundary of the territory of Hamath down to the promontory of Nakura. According to ancient usage, the Sidonians stand for the Phoenicians generally, as in Homer, on account of Sidon being the oldest capital of Phoenicia (see Ges. on Isa. i. pp. 724ff.). All these the Lord would root out before Israel, and therefore Joshua was to divide the whole of northern Canaan, which was inhabited by Phoenicians, among the Israelites. “only divide thou it by lot for an inheritance,” etc. רק, only, i.e., although thou hast not yet taken it. הפּיל, to cause it to fall, here used with reference to the lot, i.e., to divide by lot. “Fulfil thy duty in the distribution of the land, not even excepting what is still in the firm grasp of the enemy; for I will take care to perform what I have promised. From this we may learn to rely so perfectly upon the word of God, when undertaking any duty, as not to be deterred by doubts of fears” (Calvin).
Verses 8-10 Edit
To the command of God to divide the land on this side the Jordan among the nine tribes and a half (Jos 13:7), the historian appends the remark, that the other two tribes and a half had already received their inheritance from Moses on the other side (Jos 13:8). This he proceeds to describe in its full extent (Jos 13:9-13), and then observes that the tribe of Levi alone received no landed inheritance, according to the word of the Lord (Jos 13:14). After this he gives a description in vv. 15-33 of the land assigned by Moses to each of the two tribes and a half.
The remark in Jos 13:8 is so closely connected with what precedes by the expression “with whom” (lit., with it), that this expression must be taken as somewhat indefinite: “with whom,” viz., with half Manasseh, really signifying with the other half of Manasseh, with which the Reubenites and Gadites had received their inheritance (see Num 32 and Deu 3:8-17). The last words of Jos 13:8, “as Moses the servant of Jehovah gave them,” are not a tautological repetition of the clause “which Moses gave them,” but simply affirm that these tribes received the land given them by Moses, in the manner commanded by Moses, without any alteration in his arrangements. The boundaries of the land given in Jos 13:9-13 really agree with those given in Jos 12:2-5 and Deu 3:8, although the expression varies in some respects. The words of Jos 13:9, “the city that is in the midst of the river,” i.e., the city in the valley, viz., Ar, are more distinct than those of Jos 12:2, “and from the middle of the river.” “All the plain” is the Amoritish table-land, a tract of land for the most part destitute of trees, stretching from the Arnon to Heshbon, and towards the north-east to Rabbath-Ammân (see at Deu 3:10), which is called in Num 21:20 the field of Moab Medeba, now called Medaba (see at Num 21:30). Dibon, now a ruin called Dibân, to the north of Arnon (see at Num 21:20). - Jos 13:10, as in Jos 12:2.
Verses 11-13 Edit
Jos 13:11-13Gilead is the whole country of that name on both sides of the Jabbok (see at Jos 12:2 and Deu 3:10), the present Belka and Jebel Ajlun, for the description of which see the remarks at Num 32:1. “The territory of the Geshurites and Maachathites” is referred to in Jos 12:5 as the boundary of the kingdom of Og, and in Deu 3:14 as the boundary of the land which was taken by Jair the Manassite; here it is included in the inheritance of the tribes on the other side of the Jordan, but it was never really taken possession of by the Israelites, and (according to Jos 13:13) it had probably never been really subject to king Og. The other notices in Jos 13:11 and Jos 13:12 are the same as in Jos 12:4-5.
Verse 14 Edit
The tribe of Levi was to receive no land, but the firings of Jehovah, i.e., the offerings, including the tithes and first-fruits (Lev 27:30-32, compared with Num 18:21-32), were to be its inheritance; so that the God of Israel himself is called the inheritance of Levi in Jos 13:33 as in Num 18:20, to which the words “as He said unto them” refer (see the commentary on Num 18:20).
The Possessions of the Two Tribes and a Half. - Jos 13:15-23. The tribe of Reuben received its inheritance in the south-namely, the territory from Aroër in the Arnon valley, and from Ar in that valley, onwards, and the plain (table-land) by Medeba (see Jos 13:9), with Heshbon the capital and her towns, i.e., the towns dependent upon it, in the plain. Heshbon, almost in the centre between the Arnon and the Jabbok, was situated upon the border of the inheritance of the Reubenites, and was ceded to the Gadites, who gave it up to the Levites (Jos 21:39; 1Ch 6:66 : see at Num 32:37). Dibon, called Dibon of Gad in Num 33:45, because the Gadites had built, i.e., fortified it, was on the south of Heshbon, only an hour from Aroër, on the Arnon (Jos 13:9). Bamoth-baal, also called Bamoth simply (Num 21:20; Isa 15:2), is to be sought for on the Jebel Attarus (see at Num 21:20). It was thence that Balaam saw the end of the Israelitish camp (Num 22:41). Bethbaal-meon, the present ruin of Myun, three-quarters of an hour S.E. of Heshbon (see at Num 32:38). Jahza, where Sihon was defeated, was to the east of Medeba, according to the Onom.; and Dibon was on the border of the desert (see at Num 21:23). Kedemoth, on the border of the desert, to the north-west of Kalaat Balua, is to be sought on the northern bank of the Balua, or upper Arnon (see at Num 21:13). Mephaath, where there was a garrison stationed (according to the Onom.) as a defence against the inhabitants of the desert, is to be sought for in the neighbourhood of Jahza, with which it is always associated (Jer 48:21). Kedemoth and Mephaath were given up to the Levites (Jos 21:37; 1Ch 6:64).Kirjathaim, where Chedorlaomer defeated the Emim, is probably to be found in the ruins of et-Teym, half an hour to the west of Medaba (see at Gen 14:5). Sibmah (Num 32:38), according to Jerome (on Isa 16:8), only 500 paces from Heshbon, appears to have hopelessly disappeared. Zereth-hashachar, i.e., splendor aurorae, which is only mentioned here, was situated “upon a mountain of the valley.” According to Jos 13:27, the valley was the Jordan valley, or rather (according to Gen 14:3, Gen 14:8) the vale of Siddim, a valley running down on the eastern side of the Dead Sea. Seetzen conjectures that the town referred to is the present ruin of Sará, on the south of Zerka Maein. - Beth-peor, opposite to Jericho, six Roman miles higher than (to the east of) Libias: see at Num 23:28. The “slopes of Pisgah” (Jos 12:3; Deu 3:17): to the south of the former, on the north-eastern shore of the Dead Sea (see at Num 27:12). Beth-jeshimoth (Jos 12:3), in the Ghor el Seisabân, on the north-east side of the Dead Sea (see at Num 22:1). In Jos 13:21, the places which Reuben received in addition to those mentioned by name are all summed up in the words, “and all the (other)towns of the plain, and all the kingdom of Sihon,” sc., so far as it extended over the plain. These limitations of the words are implied in the context: the first in the fact that towns in the plain are mentioned in Jos 13:17; the second in the fact that, according to Jos 13:27, “the rest of the kingdom of Sihon,” i.e., the northern portion of it, was given to the Gadites. The allusion to Sihon induced the author to mention his defeat again; see at Num 31, where the five Midianitish vassals who were slain with Sihon are noticed in Num 31:8, and the death of Balaam is also mentioned. “Dukes of Sihon,” properly vassals of Sihon; נסיכים does not signify anointed, however, but means literally poured out, i.e., cast, moulded, enfeoffed. The word points to the “creation of a prince by the communication or pouring in of power” (Gusset, s. v.). “And (this)was the boundary of the sons of Reuben, the Jordan and its territory,” i.e., the Jordan, or rather land adjoining it. The meaning is, that the territory of Reuben, viz., with the places mentioned last (Jos 13:20), reached to the territory of the Jordan; for so far as the principal part was concerned, it was on the east of the Dead Sea, as it only reached from the Arnon to Heshbon, i.e., up to the latitude of the northern extremity of the Dead Sea. “The towns and their villages.” חצר, farm premises, used, as in Lev 25:31, to denote places not enclosed by a wall.
Verses 24-26 Edit
Inheritance of the tribe of Gad. - This tribe received Jaëzer (probably es Szyr: see at Num 21:32) and “all the towns of Gilead,” i.e., of the southern half of Gilead, which belonged to the kingdom of Sihon; for the northern half, which belonged to the kingdom of Og, was given to the Manassites (Jos 13:31), “and the half of the land of the sons of Ammon, to Aroër before Rabbah,” i.e., that portion of the land of the Ammonites between the Arnon and the Jabbok, which the Amorites under Sihon had taken from the Ammonites, namely, the land on the east of Gilead, on the western side of the upper Jabbok (Nahr Ammân: Deu 2:37; Deu 3:16; cf. Jdg 11:13); for the land of the Ammonites, i.e., the land which they still held in the time of Moses, on the eastern side of Nahr Ammân, the Israelites were not allowed to attack (Deu 2:19). Aroër before Rabbah, i.e., Ammân (see Deu 3:11), is Aroër of Gad, and must be distinguished from Aroër of Reuben on the Arnon (Jos 13:16). It is only mentioned again in Jdg 11:33 and 2Sa 24:5, and was situated, according to 2 Sam., in the valley of Gad, that is to say, in a wady or valley through which Gesenius supposes an arm of the Jabbok to have flowed, and Thenius the Jabbok itself, though neither of them has sufficient ground for his conjecture. It is also not to be identified with the ruin of Ayra to the south-west of Szalt, as this is not in a wady at all; but in all probability it is to be sought for to the north-east of Rabbah, in the Wady Nahr Ammân, on the side of the Kalat Zerka Gadda, the situation of which suits this verse and Jdg 11:33. - In Jos 13:26 the extent of the territory of Gad is first of all described from north to south: viz., from Heshbon (see Jos 13:17) to Ramath-mizpeh, or Ramoth in Gilead (Jos 20:8), probably on the site of the present Szalt (see at Deu 4:43), “and Betonim,” probably the ruin of Batneh, on the mountains which bound the Ghor towards the east between the Wady Shaib and Wady Ajlun, in the same latitude as Szalt (V. de Velde, Mem. p. 298); and then, secondly, the northern boundary is described from west to east, “from Mahanaim to the territory of Lidbir.” Mahanaim (double-camp: Gen 32:2), which was given up by Gad to the Levites (Jos 21:30), in which Ishbosheth was proclaimed king (2Sa 2:8-9), and to which David fled from Absalom (2Sa 17:24, 2Sa 17:27; 1Ki 2:8), is not to be sought for, as Knobel supposes, in the ruins of Meysera, to the south of Jabbok, four hours and a half from Szalt, but was on the north of the Jabbok, since Jacob did not cross the ford of the Jabbok till after the angel had appeared to him at Mahanaim (Gen 32:3, Gen 32:23). It was in or by the valley of the Jordan (according to 2Sa 18:23-24), and has probably been preserved in the ruins of Mahneh, the situation of which, however, has not yet been determined (see at Gen 32:3). Lidbir is quite unknown; the lamed, however, is not to be taken as a prefix, but forms part of the word. J. D. Michaelis and Knobel suppose it to be the same as Lo-debar in 2Sa 9:4-5; 2Sa 17:27, a place from which provisions were brought to David at Mahanaim on his flight from Absalom, and which is to be sought for on the east of Mahanaim.
Verses 27-28 Edit
On the north, the territory of Gad seems to have extended to the Jabbok, and only to have stretched beyond the Jabbok at Mahanaim, which formed the boundary of half-Manasseh, according to Jos 13:30. In the valley of the Jordan, on the other hand, the boundary reached to the Sea of Galilee. “The valley” is the valley of the Jordan, or the Arabah from Wady Hesbân above the Dead Sea up to the Sea of Galilee, along the east side of the Jordan, which belonged to the kingdom of Sihon (Jos 12:3; Deu 3:17). The northern boundary of the tribe of Reuben must have touched the Jordan in the neighbourhood of the Wady Hesbân. In the Jordan valley were Beth-haram, the future Libias, and present er Rameh (see at Num 32:36); Beth-nimra, according to the Onom. five Roman miles to the north, the present ruin of Nimrein (see at Num 32:36); Succoth, according to the Onom. trans Jordanem in parte Scythopoleos (see at Gen 33:17); Zaphon (i.e., north), probably not far from the southern extremity of the Sea of Galilee. “The rest of the kingdom of Sihon,” the other part having been given to the Reubenites (Jos 13:21).
Verses 29-31 Edit
The territory of the half tribe of Manasseh extended from Mahanaim onwards, and embraced all Bashan, with the sixty Jair towns and the (northern) half of Gilead (see the comm. on Deu 3:13-15).
Jos 13:32 is the concluding formula. (For the fact itself, see Num 34:14-15.) Jos 13:33 is a repetition of Jos 13:14.
Chap. 14 Edit
Verses 1-5 Edit
COMMENCEMENT OF THE DIVISION OF THE LAND OF CANAAN. INHERITANCE OF CALEB. — CHAP. XIV. Edit
Jos 14:1-5 form the heading and introduction to the account of the division of the land among the nine tribes and a half, which reaches to Josh 19, and is brought to a close by the concluding formula in Jos 19:51. The division of the land of Canaan according to the boundaries laid down in Num 34:2-12 was carried out, in accordance with the instructions in Num 34:16-29, by the high priest Eleazar, Joshua, and ten heads of fathers' houses of the nine tribes and a half, whose names are given in Num 34:18-28. “By the lot of their inheritance,” i.e., by casting lots for it: this is dependent upon the previous clause, “which they distributed for inheritance to them.” “As the Lord commanded through Moses” (Num 26:52-56; Num 33:54, and Num 34:13), “to the nine tribes and a half” (this is also dependent upon the clause “which they distributed for inheritance”).
So many tribes were to receive their inheritance, for the two tribes and a half had already received theirs from Moses on the other side of the Jordan, and the tribe of Levi was not to receive any land for an inheritance. According to this, there seem to be only eight tribes and a half to be provided for (2 1/2 + 1 + 8 1/2 = 12); but there were really nine and a half, for the sons of Joseph formed two tribes in consequence of the adoption of Ephraim and Manasseh by the patriarch Jacob (Gen 48:5). But although the Levites were to have no share in the land, they were to receive towns to dwell in, with pasture adjoining for their cattle; these the other tribes were to give up to them out of their inheritance, according to the instructions in Num 35:1-8 (see the notes upon this passage).
So far as the division of the land itself was concerned, it was to be distributed by lot, according to Num 26:52.; but, at the same time, the distribution was carried out with such special regard to the relative sizes of the different tribes, that the more numerous tribe received a larger share of the land than one that was not so numerous. This could only be accomplished, however, by their restricting the lot to the discrimination of the relative situation of the different tribes, and then deciding the extent and boundaries of their respective possessions according to the number of families of which they were composed.
The casting of the lots was probably effected, as the Rabbins assumed, by means of two urns, one filled with slips having the names of the tribes upon them; the other, with an equal number, representing separate divisions of the land: so that when one slip, with a name upon it, was taken out of one urn, another slip, with a division of the land upon it, was taken from the other. The result of the lot was accepted as the direct decree of God; “for the lot was not controlled in any way by the opinion, or decision, or authority of men” (Calvin). See the fuller remarks at Num 26:56.
In the account of the casting of the lots, the first fact which strikes us is, that after the tribes of Judah and Joseph had received their inheritance, an interruption took place, and the camp was moved from Gilgal to Shiloh, and the tabernacle erected there (Jos 18:1-9); after which the other tribes manifested so little desire to receive their inheritance, that Joshua reproved them for their indolence (Jos 18:3), and directed them to nominate a committee of twenty-one from their own number, whom he sent out to survey the land and divide it into seven parts; and it was not till after this had been done that the casting of the lots was proceeded with, and each of these seven tribes received its inheritance. The reason for this interruption is not given; and the commentators have differed in their opinions as to the cause (see Keil's former Comm. on Joshua, pp. 347ff.). The following appears to be the most probable supposition. When Joshua received the command from the Lord to divide the land among the tribes, they made an approximative division of the land into nine or ten parts, according to the general idea of its extent and principal features, which they had obtained in connection with the conquest of the country, and then commenced distributing it without any more minute survey or more accurate measurement, simply fixing the boundaries of those districts which came out first according to the size of the tribes upon whom the lots fell. As soon as that was done, these tribes began to move off into the territory allotted to them, and to take possession of it. The exact delineation of the boundaries, however, could not be effected at once, but required a longer time, and was probably not finally settled till the tribe had taken possession of its land. In this manner the tribes of Judah, Ephraim, and half Manasseh had received their inheritance one after another. And whilst they were engaged in taking possession, Shiloh was chosen, no doubt in accordance with divine instructions, as the place where the tabernacle was to be permanently erected; and there the sanctuary was set up, the whole camp, of course, removing thither at the same time. But when the casting of the lots was about to be continued for the remainder of the tribes, they showed no great desire for fixed abodes, as they had become so accustomed to a nomad life, through having been brought up in the desert, that they were much more disposed to continue it, than to take possession of a circumscribed inheritance, - a task which would require more courage and exertion, on account of the remaining Canaanites, than a life in tents, in which they might wander up and down in the land by the side of the Canaanites, and supply their wants from its productions, as Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob had formerly done, since the Canaanites who were left were so weakened by the war that the Israelites had no occasion for a moment's anxiety about them, provided they did not attempt to expel or to exterminate them. But Joshua could not rest contented with this, if he would remain faithful to the charge which he had received from the Lord. He therefore reproved these tribes for their tardiness, and commanded them to take steps for continuing the casting of lots for the land. But as the tribe of Joseph had expressed its dissatisfaction with the smallness of the inheritance allotted to it, and by so doing had manifested its cowardice, which prevented it from attacking the Canaanites who were still left in the territory that had fallen to their lot, Joshua may possibly have had his eyes opened in consequence to the fact that, if the casting of lots was continued in the manner begun, and with nothing more than an approximative definition of the different portions of the land, there was a possibility of still greater dissatisfaction arising among the other tribes, since some of them at any rate would be sure to receive portions of the land in which the Canaanites were more numerous and still stronger than in the possessions of Ephraim. He therefore gave orders, that before the casting of lots was proceeded with any further, the rest of the land should be carefully surveyed and divided into seven districts, and that a statement of the result should be laid before him, that these seven districts might be divided by lot among the seven tribes. This survey of the land no doubt very clearly showed that what remained, after deducting the possessions of Judah and Joseph, was too small for the remaining seven tribes, in proportion to what had been already divided. Moreover, it had also been discovered that Judah's share was larger than this tribe required (Jos 19:9). Consequently it was necessary that certain partial alterations should be made in the arrangements connected with the first division. The lot itself could not be pronounced invalid when it had once been cast, as its falling was regarded as the decision of God himself, and therefore it was impossible to make a fresh division of the whole land among all the tribes. The only thing that could be done was to leave the two tribes in those districts which had fallen to them by lot (Jos 18:5), but to take certain parts of their territory for the other tribes, which would leave the lot in all its integrity, as the lot itself had not determined either the size of the boundaries. This will serve to explain both the interruption to the casting of the lots, which had been commenced at Gilgal, and also the peculiar manner in which it was continued at Shiloh. ==Verse 6== Caleb’s Inheritance. - Jos 14:6. Before the casting of the lots commenced, Caleb came to Joshua along with the sons of Judah, and asked for the mountains of Hebron for his possession, appealing at the same time to the fact, that forty-five years before Moses had promised it to him on oath, because he had not discouraged the people and stirred them up to rebellion, as the other spies that were sent from Kadesh to Canaan had done, but had faithfully followed the Lord.
This occurred at Gilgal, where the casting of the lots as to take place. Caleb was not “the head of the Judahites,” as Knobel maintains, but simply the head of a father's house of Judah, and, as we may infer from his surname, “the Kenizzite” or descendant of Kenaz (“the Kenizzite” here and Num 32:12 is equivalent to “son of Kenaz,” Jos 15:17, and Jdg 1:13), head of the father's house which sprang from Kenaz, i.e., of a subdivision of the Judahite family of Hezron; for Caleb, the brother of Jerahmeel and father of Achzah, according to 1Ch 2:42 (cf. 1Ch 2:49), was the same person as Caleb the descendant of Hezron mentioned in 1Ch 2:18. From the surname “the Kenizzite” we are of course not to understand that Caleb or his father Jephunneh is described as a descendant of the Canaanitish tribe of Kenizzites (Gen 15:19); but Kenaz was a descendant of Hezron, the son of Perez and grandson of Judah (1Ch 2:5, 1Ch 2:18, 1Ch 2:25), of whom nothing further is known. Consequently it was not the name of a tribe, but of a person, and, as we may see from 1Ch 4:15, where one of the sons of Caleb is called Kenaz, the name was repeated in the family. The sons of Judah who came to Joshua along with Caleb were not the Judahites generally, therefore, or representatives of all the families of Judah, but simply members or representatives of the father's house of Judah which took its name from Kenaz, and of which Caleb was the head at that time. Caleb reminded Joshua of the word which the Lord had spoken concerning them in Kadesh-barnea, i.e., the promise of God that they should both of them enter the land of Canaan (Num 14:24, Num 14:30), and then proceeded to observe (Jos 14:7): “When I was forty years old, and was sent by Moses as a spy to Canaan, I brought back an answer as it was in my mind,” i.e., according to the best of my convictions, without fear of man or regard to the favour of the people.
Verse 8 Edit
Whereas the other spies discouraged the people by exaggerated reports concerning the inhabitants of Canaan, he had followed the Lord with perfect fidelity (Num 13:31-33). He had not been made to waver in his faithfulness to the Lord and His promises either by the evil reports which the other spies had brought of the land, or by the murmuring and threats of the excited crowd (see Num 14:6-10). “My brethren” (Jos 14:8) are the rest of the spies, of course with the exception of Joshua, to whom Caleb was speaking. המסין for המסוּ (see Ges. §75, anm. 17, and Ewald, §142, a.), from מסה = מסס (see Jos 2:11).
Verses 9-11 Edit
Jehovah swore at that time, that the land upon which his (Caleb's) foot had trodden should be an inheritance for him and his sons for ever. This oath is not mentioned in Num 14:20., nor yet in Deu 1:35-36, where Moses repeats the account of the whole occurrence to the people. For the oath of Jehovah mentioned in Num 14:21, Num 14:24, viz., that none of the murmuring people should see the land of Canaan, but that Caleb alone should come thither and his seed should possess it, cannot be the one referred to, as the promise given to Caleb in this oath does not relate to the possession of Hebron in particular, but to the land of Canaan generally, “the land which Jehovah had sworn to their fathers.” We must assume, therefore, that in addition to what is mentioned in Num 14:24, God gave a special promise to Caleb, which is passed over there, with reference to the possession of Hebron itself, and that Joshua, who heard it at the time, is here reminded of that promise by Caleb. This particular promise from God was closely related to the words with which Caleb endeavoured to calm the minds of the people when they rose up against Moses (Num 13:30), viz., by saying to them, “We are well able to overcome it,” notwithstanding the Anakites who dwelt in Hebron and had filled the other spies with such great alarm on account of their gigantic size. With reference to this the Lord had promised that very land to Caleb for his inheritance. Upon this promise Caleb founded his request (Jos 14:10-12) that Joshua would give him these mountains, of which Joshua had heard at that time that there were Anakites and large fortified cities there, inasmuch as, although forty-five years had elapsed since God had spoken these words, and he was now eighty-five years old, he was quite as strong as he had been then. From the words, “The Lord hath kept me alive these forty-five years,” Theodoret justly infers, that the conquest of Canaan by Joshua was completed in seven years, since God spake these words towards the end of the second year after the Exodus from Egypt, and therefore thirty-eight years before the entrance into Canaan. The clause וגו הלך אשׁר (Jos 14:10) is also dependent upon וגו ארבּעים יד: viz., “these forty-five years that Israel has wandered in the desert” (on this use of אשׁר, see Ewald, §331, c.). The expression is a general one, and the years occupied in the conquest of Canaan, during which Israel had not yet entered into peaceful possession of the promised land, are reckoned as forming part of the years of wandering in the desert. As another reason for his request, Caleb adds in Jos 14:11 : “I am still as strong to-day as at that time; as my strength was then, so is it now for war, and to go out and in” (see Num 27:17).
Verse 12 Edit
“The mountain,” according to the context, is the mountainous region of Hebron, where the spies had seen the Anakites (Num 13:22, Num 13:28). The two clauses, in Jos 14:12, beginning with כּי are not to be construed as subordinate to one another, but are co-ordinate clauses, and contain two distinct motives in support of his petition: viz., “for thou heardest in that day,” sc., what Jehovah said to me then, and also “for (because) the Anakites are there;” ... ”perhaps Jehovah is with me (אתי for אתּי, see Ges. §103, 1, anm. 1, and Ewald, §264, b.), and I root them out” (vid., Jos 15:14). The word “perhaps” does not express a doubt, but a hope or desire, or else, as Masius says, “hope mixed with difficulty; and whilst the difficulty detracts from the value, the hope stimulates the desire for the gift.”
Verse 13 Edit
Then Joshua blessed Caleb, i.e., implored the blessing of God upon his undertaking, and gave him Hebron for an inheritance. Hebron is mentioned as the chief city, to which the surrounding country belonged; for Caleb had asked for the mountains (Jos 14:9), i.e., the mountainous country with and around Hebron, which included, for example, the fortified town of Debir also (Jos 15:15).
Verses 14-15 Edit
This inheritance, the historian adds, was awarded to Caleb because he had followed the God of Israel with such fidelity. - In Jos 14:15 there follows another notice of the earlier name of Hebron (see at Gen 23:2). The expression לפנים (before), like the words “to this day,” applies to the time when the book was composed, at which time the name Kirjath-arba had long since fallen into disuse; so that it by no means follows that the name Hebron was not so old as the name Kirjath-arba, which was given to Hebron for the first time when it was taken by Arba, “the great man among the Anakites,” i.e., the strongest and most renowned of the Anakites (vid., Jos 15:13). The remark, “and the land had rest from war,” is repeated again at the close of this account from Jos 11:23, to show that although there were Anakites still dwelling in Hebron whom Caleb hoped to exterminate, the work of distributing the land by lot was not delayed in consequence, but was carried out in perfect peace.
Chap. 15 Edit
Verse 1 Edit
Inheritance of the Tribe of Judah - Joshua 15 Edit
Under the superintending providence of God, the inheritance which fell to the tribe of Judah by lot was in the southern part of Canaan, where Caleb had already received his inheritance, so that he was not separated from his tribe. The inheritance of Judah is first of all described according to its boundaries (Jos 15:1-12); then for the sake of completeness it is stated once more with regard to Caleb, that he received Kirjath-arba for his inheritance, and took possession of it by expelling the Anakites and conquering Debir (Jos 15:13-20); and after this a list is given of the towns in the different parts (vv. 21-63).Boundaries of the inheritance of the tribe of Judah. - Jos 15:1. Its situation in the land. “And there was (i.e., fell, or came out; cf. Jos 16:1; Jos 19:1)the lot to the tribe of Judah according to its families to the frontier of Edom (see at Num 34:3), to the desert of Zin southward, against the extreme south” (lit. from the end or extremity of the south), i.e., its inheritance fell to it, so that it reached to the territory of Edom and the desert of Zin, in which Kadesh was situated (see at Num 13:21), on the extreme south of Canaan.
Verses 2-4 Edit
Jos 15:2-4The southern boundary. This was also the southern boundary of the land of Israel generally, and coincided with the southern boundary of Canaan as described in Num 34:3-5. It went out “from the end of the salt sea, namely, from the tongue which turneth to the south,” i.e., from the southern point of the Dead Sea, which is now a salt marsh.
Verses 3-4 Edit
Thence it proceeded “to the southern boundary of the ascent of Akrabbim,” i.e., the row of lofty whitish cliffs which intersects the Arabah about eight miles below the Dead Sea (see at Num 34:4), “and passed across to Zin,” i.e., the Wady Murreh (see at Num 13:21), “and went up to the south of Kadesh-barnea,” i.e., by Ain Kudes (see at Num 20:16), “and passed over to Hezron, and went up to Adar, and turned to Karkaa, and went over to Azmon, and went out into the brook of Egypt,” i.e., the Wady el Arish. On the probable situation of Hezron, Adar, Karkaa, and Azmon, see at Num 34:4-5. “And the outgoings of the boundary were to the sea” (the Mediterranean). The Wady el Arish, a marked boundary, takes first of all a northerly and then a northwesterly course, and opens into the Mediterranean Sea (see Pent. p. 358). היה in the singular before the subject in the plural must not be interfered with (see Ewald, §316, a.). - The words “this shall be your south coast” point back to the southern boundary of Canaan as laid down in Num 34:2., and show that the southern boundary of the tribe-territory of Judah was also the southern boundary of the land to be taken by Israel.
Verse 5 Edit
Jos 15:5 “The eastern boundary was the salt sea to the end of the Jordan,” i.e., the Dead Sea, in all its length up to the point where the Jordan entered it.
Verses 5-11 Edit
In Jos 15:5-11 we have a description of the northern boundary, which is repeated in Jos 18:15-19 as the southern boundary of Benjamin, though in the opposite direction, namely, from west to east. It started “from the tongue of the (salt) sea, the end (i.e., the mouth) of the Jordan, and went up to Beth-hagla,” - a border town between Judah and Benjamin, which was afterwards allotted to the latter (Jos 18:19, Jos 18:12), the present Ain Hajla, an hour and a quarter to the south-east of Riha (Jericho), and three-quarters of an hour from the Jordan (see at Gen 50:11, note), - “and went over to the north side of Beth-arabah,” a town in the desert of Judah (Jos 15:61), afterwards assigned to Benjamin (Jos 18:22), and called Ha-arabah in Jos 18:18, about twenty or thirty minutes to the south-west of Ain Hajla, in a “level and barren steppe” (Seetzen, R. ii. p. 302), with which the name very well agrees (see also Rob. Pal. ii. pp. 268ff.). “And the border went up to the stone of Bohan, the son of Reuben.” The expression “went up” shows that the stone of Bohan must have been on higher ground, i.e., near the western mountains, though the opposite expression “went down” in Jos 18:17 shows that it must have been by the side of the mountain, and not upon the top. According to Jos 18:18-19, the border went over from the stone of Bohan in an easterly direction “to the shoulder over against (Beth) Arabah northwards, and went down to (Beth)Arabah, and then went over to the shoulder of Beth-hagla northwards,” i.e., on the north side of the mountain ridge of Beth-arabah and Beth-hagla. This ridge is “the chain of hills or downs which runs from Kasr Hajla towards the south to the north side of the Dead Sea, and is called Katar Hhadije, i.e., a row of camels harnessed together.”
Verse 7 Edit
The boundary ascended still farther to Debir from the valley of Achor. Debir is no doubt to be sought for by the Wady Daber, which runs down from the mountains to the Dead Sea to the south of Kasr Hajla, possibly not far from the rocky grotto called Choret ed Daber, between the Wady es Sidr and the Khan Chadrur on the road from Jerusalem to Jericho, about half-way between the two. On the valley of Achor see at Jos 7:24. Then “it turned northwards to Gilgal, opposite to the ascent of Adummim south of the brook.” Gilgal, which must not be confounded, as it is by Knobel, with the first encampment of the Israelites in Canaan, viz., the Gilgal between Jericho and the Jordan, is called Geliloth in Jos 18:17. The situation of this place, which is only mentioned again in Jdg 3:19, and was certainly not a town, probably only a village or farm, is defined more precisely by the clause “opposite to the ascent of Adummim.” Maaleh Adummim, which is correctly explained in the Onom. (s. v. Adommim) as ἀνάβασις πύῤῥηων, ascensus rufforum, “was formerly a small villa, but is now a heap of ruins, which is called even to the present day Maledomim - on the road from Aelia to Jericho” (Tobler). It is mentioned by ancient travellers as an inn called a terra ruffa, i.e., “the red earth;” terra russo, or “the red house.” By later travellers it is described as a small place named Adomim, being still called “the red field, because this is the colour of the ground; with a large square building like a monastery still standing there, which was in fact at one time a fortified monastery, though it is deserted now” (Arvieux, Merk. Nachr. ii. p. 154). It is the present ruin of Kalaat el Dem, to the north of the road from Jerusalem to Jericho, or Kalaat ed Domm, near the Khan Chadrur. Gilgal, or Geliloth (circle), was probably the “small round valley” or “field of Adommim,” of which Pococke speaks as being at the foot of the hill on which the deserted inn was standing (viz., ed Domm; see Pococke, Reise ins Morgenland, ii. p. 46). The valley (nachal, rendered river) to the south of which Gilgal or the ascent of Adummim lay, and which was therefore to the north of these places, may possibly be the Wady Kelt, or the brook of Jericho in the upper part of its course, as we have only to go a quarter or half an hour to the east of Khan Chadrur, when a wide and splendid prospect opens towards the south across the Wady Kelt as far as Taiyibeh; and according to Van de Velde's map, a brook-valley runs in a northerly direction to the Wady Kelt on the north-east of Kalaat ed Dem. It is probable, however, that the reference is to some other valley, of which there are a great many in the neighbourhood. The boundary then passed over to the water of En Shemesh (sun-fountain), i.e., the present Apostle's Well, Ain el Hodh or Bir el Khôt, below Bethany, and on the road to Jericho (Tobler, Topogr. v. Jerus. ii. pp. 398, 400; Van de Velde, Mem. p. 310), and then ran out at the fountain of Rogel (the spies), the present deep and copious fountain of Job or Nehemiah at the south-east corner of Jerusalem, below the junction of the valley of Hinnom and the valley of Jehoshaphat or Kedron valley (see Rob. Pal. i. p. 491, and Tobler, Topogr. v. Jerus. ii. pp. 50ff.).
Verse 8 Edit
It then went up into the more elevated valley of Ben-hinnom, on the south side of the Jebusite town, i.e., Jerusalem (see at Jos 10:1), and still farther up to the top of the mountain which rises on the west of the valley of Ben-hinnom, and at the farthest extremity of the plain of Rephaim towards the north. The valley of Ben-hinnom, or Ben-hinnom (the son or sons of Hinnom), on the south side of Mount Zion, a place which was notorious from the time of Ahaz as the seat of the worship of Moloch (2Ki 23:10; 2Ch 28:3; 2Ch 33:6; Jer 7:31, etc.), is supposed there, but of whom nothing further is known (see Robinson, Pal. i. pp. 402ff.). The plain of Rephaim (lxx γῆ Ῥαφαείν, in 2Sa 5:18, 2Sa 5:22; 2Sa 23:13 κοιλὰς τῶν Τιτάνων), probably named after the gigantic race of Rephaim, and mentioned several times in 2 Sam. as a battle-field, is on the west of Jerusalem, and is separated from the edge of the valley of Ben-hinnom by a small ridge of rock. It runs southwards to Mar Elias, is an hour long, half an hour broad, and was very fertile (Isa 17:5); in fact, even to the present day it is carefully cultivated (see Rob. Pal. i. p. 323; Tobler, Topogr. v. Jerus. ii. pp. 401ff.). It is bounded on the north by the mountain ridge already mentioned, which curves westwards on the left side of the road to Jaffa. This mountain ridge, or one of the peaks, is “the mountain on the west of the valley of Hinnom,” at the northern end of the plain referred to.
Verse 9 Edit
From this mountain height the boundary turned to the fountain of the waters of Nephtoah, i.e., according to Van de Velde's Mem. p. 336, the present village of Liftah (nun and lamed being interchanged, according to a well-known law), an hour to the north-west of Jerusalem, where there is a copious spring, called by the name of Samuel, which not only supplies large basons, but waters a succession of blooming gardens (Tobler, Topogr. v. Jerus. ii. pp. 758ff.; Dieterici, Reisebilder, ii. pp. 221-2). It then “went out to the towns of Mount Ephraim,” which is not mentioned again, but was probably the steep and lofty mountain ridge on the west side of the Wady Beit Hanina (Terebinth valley), upon which Kulonia, a place which the road to Joppa passes, Kastal on a lofty peak of the mountain, the fortress of Milane, Soba, and other places stand (Seetzen, R. ii. pp. 64, 65; Rob. Bibl. Res. p. 158). The boundary then ran to Baala, i.e., Kirjath-jearim, the modern Kureyet el Enab, three hours to the north-west of Jerusalem (see at Jos 9:17).
Verse 10 Edit
From this point “the boundary (which had hitherto gone in a north-westerly direction) turned westwards to Mount Seir, and went out to the shoulder northwards (i.e., to the northern side) of Har-jearim, that is Chesalon, and went down to Beth-shemesh, and passed over to Timnah.” Mount Seir is the ridge of rock to the south-west of Kureyet el Enab, a lofty ridge composed or rugged peaks, with a wild and desolate appearance, upon which Saris and Mishir are situated (Rob. Bibl. Res. p. 155). Chesalon is the present Kesla on the summit of a mountain, an elevated point of the lofty ridge between Wady Ghurâb and Ismail, south-west of Kureyet el Enab (Rob. Bibl. Res. p. 154). Beth-shemesh (i.e., sun-house), a priests' city in the territory of Judah (Jos 21:16; 1Ch 6:44), is the same as Ir-shemesh (Jos 19:41), a place on the border of Dan, where the ark was deposited by the Philistines (1Sa 6:9.), and where Amaziah was slain by Joash (2Ki 14:11-12; 2Ch 25:21). It was conquered by the Philistines in the time of Ahaz (2Ch 28:18). According to the Onom. it was ten Roman miles, i.e., four hours, from Eleutheropolis towards Nicopolis. It is the present Ain Shems, upon a plateau in a splendid situation, two hours and a half to the south-west of Kesla (Rob. Pal. iii. p. 17; Bibl. Res. p. 153). Timnah, or Timnatah, belonged to Dan (Jos 19:43); and it was thence that Samson fetched his wife (Jdg 14:1.). It is the present Tibneh, three-quarters of an hour to the west of Ain Shems (Rob. Pal. i. p. 344).
Verses 11-12 Edit
Thence “the border went out towards the north-west to the shoulder of Ekron (Akir: see at Jos 13:3),then bent to Shichron, passed over to Mount Baalah, and went out to Jabneel.” Shichron is possibly Sugheir, an hour to the south-west of Jebna (Knobel). But if this is correct, the mountain of Baalah cannot be the short range of hills to the west of Akir which runs almost parallel with the coast Rob. Pal. iii. p. 21), as Knobel supposes; but must be a mountain on the south side of the Wady Surar, since the boundary had already crossed this wady between Ekron and Shichron. Jabneel is the Philistine town of Jabneh, the walls of which were demolished by Uzziah (2Ch 26:6), a place frequently mentioned in the books of Maccabees as well as by Josephus under the name of Jamnia. It still exists as a good-sized village, under the name of Jebnah, upon a small eminence on the western side of Nahr Rubin, four hours to the south of Joppa, and an hour and a half from the sea (Rob. Pal. iii. p. 22). From Jabneh the boundary went out to the (Mediterranean) Sea, probably along the course of the great valley, i.e., the Nahr Rubin, as Robinson supposes (Pal. ii. p. 343). The western boundary was the Great Sea, i.e., the Mediterranean.
Verses 13-19 Edit
The account of the conquest of the inheritance, which Caleb asked for and received before the lots were cast for the land (Jos 14:6-15), by the extermination of the Anakites from Hebron, and the capture of the fortified town of Debir, is repeated with very slight differences in Jdg 1:10-15, in the enumeration of the different conflicts in which the separate tribes engaged after the death of Joshua, in order to secure actual possession of the inheritance which had fallen to them by lot, and is neither copied from our book by the author of the book of Judges, nor taken from Judges by the author of Joshua; but both of them have drawn it from one common source, upon which the accounts of the conquest of Canaan contained in the book of Joshua are generally founded.
Verse 13 Edit
As an introduction to the account of the conquest of Hebron and Debir, the fact that they gave Caleb his portion among the sons of Judah, namely Hebron, is first of all repeated from Jos 14:13. נתן impers., they gave, i.e., Joshua (Jos 14:13). The words “according to the command of Jehovah to Joshua” are to be explained from Jos 14:9-12, according to which Jehovah had promised, in the hearing of Joshua, to give Caleb possession of the mountains of Hebron, even when they were at Kadesh (Jos 14:12). The “father of Anak” is the tribe father of the family of Anakites in Hebron, from whom this town received the name of Kirjath-arba; see at Num 13:22 and Gen 23:2.
Verse 14 Edit
Thence, i.e., out of Hebron, Caleb drove (ויּרשׁ, i.e., rooted out: cf. יכּוּ, Jdg 1:10) the three sons of Anak, i.e., families of the Anakites, whom the spies that were sent out from Kadesh had already found there (Num 13:22). Instead of Caleb, we find the sons of Judah (Judaeans) generally mentioned in Jdg 1:10 as the persons who drove out the Anakites, according to the plan of the history in that book, to describe the conflicts in which the several tribes engaged with the Canaanites. But the one does not preclude the other. Caleb did not take Hebron as an individual, but as the head of a family of Judaeans, and with their assistance. Nor is there any discrepancy between this account and the fact stated in Jos 11:21-22, that Joshua had already conquered Hebron, Debir, and all the towns of that neighbourhood, and had driven out the Anakites from the mountains of Judah, and forced them back into the towns of the Philistines, as Knobel fancies. For that expulsion did not preclude the possibility of the Anakites and Canaanites returning to their former abodes, and taking possession of the towns again, when the Israelitish army had withdrawn and was engaged in the war with the Canaanites of the north; so that when the different tribes were about to settle in the towns and districts allotted to them, they were obliged to proceed once more to drive out or exterminate the Anakites and Canaanites who had forced their way in again (see the remarks on Jos 10:38-39, p. 86, note).
Verses 15-16 Edit
From Hebron Caleb went against the Inhabitants of Debir, to the south of Hebron. This town, which has not yet been discovered (see at Jos 10:38), must have been very strong and hard to conquer; for Caleb offered a prize to the conqueror, promising to give his daughter Achzah for a wife to any one that should take it, just as Saul afterwards promised to give his daughter to the conqueror of Goliath (1Sa 17:25; 1Sa 18:17).
Verse 17 Edit
Othniel took the town and received the promised prize. Othniel, according to Jdg 3:9 the first judge of the Israelites after Joshua's death, is called כלב אחי קנז בּן, i.e., either “the son of Kenaz (and) brother of Caleb,” or “the son of Kenaz the brother of Caleb.” The second rendering is quite admissible (comp. 2Sa 13:3, 2Sa 13:32, with 1Ch 2:13), but the former is the more usual; and for this the Masorites have decided, since they have separated achi Caleb from ben-Kenaz by a tiphchah. And this is the correct one, as “the son of Kenaz” is equivalent to “the Kenizzite” (Jos 14:6). According to Jdg 1:13 and Jdg 3:9, Othniel was Caleb's younger brother. Caleb gave him his daughter for a wife, as marriage with a brother's daughter was not forbidden in the law (see my Bibl. Archäol. ii. §107, note 14).
Verses 18-19 Edit
When Achzah had become his wife (“as she came,” i.e., on her coming to Othniel, to live with him as wife), she urged him to ask her father for a field. “A field:” in Jdg 1:14 we find “the field,” as the writer had the particular field in his mind. This was not “the field belonging to the town of Debir” (Knobel), for Othniel had no need to ask for this, as it naturally went with the town, but a piece of land that could be cultivated, or, as is shown in what follows, one that was not deficient in springs of water. What Othniel did is not stated, but only what Achzah did to attain her end, possibly because her husband could not make up his mind to present the request to her father. She sprang from the ass upon which she had ridden when her father brought her to Othniel. צנח, which only occurs again in Jdg 4:21, and in the parallel passage, Jdg 1:14, is hardly connected with צנע, to be lowly or humble (Ges.); the primary meaning is rather that suggested by Fürst, to force one's self, to press away, or further; and hence in this case the meaning is, to spring down quickly from the animal she had ridden, like נפל in Gen 24:64. Alighting from an animal was a special sign of reverence, from which Caleb inferred that his daughter had some particular request to make of him, and therefore asked her what she wanted: “What is to thee?” or, “What wilt thou?” She then asked him for a blessing (as in 2Ki 5:15); “for,” she added, “thou hast given me into barren land.” הנּגב ארץ (rendered a south land) is accus. loci; so that negeb is not to be taken as a proper name, signifying the southernmost district of Canaan (as in Jos 15:21, etc.), but as an appellative, “the dry or arid land,” as in Psa 126:4. “Give me springs of water,” i.e., a piece of land with springs of water in it. Caleb then gave her the “upper springs and lower springs:” this was the name given to a tract of land in which there were springs on both the higher and lower ground. It must have been somewhere in the neighbourhood of Debir, though, like the town itself, it has not yet been found.
Jos 15:20 contains the closing formula to vv. 1-19, i.e., to the description of the territory of Judah by its boundaries (vid., Jos 18:20).
In vv. 21-63 there follows a list of the towns of the tribe of Judah, arranged in the four districts into which the land was divided, according to the nature of the soil, viz., the south-land (negeb), the lowland (shephelah) on the Mediterranean Sea, the mountains, and the desert of Judah.
Verses 21-32 Edit
The towns in the south land. - Negeb (south-land) was the name given to the southernmost district of Canaan in its full extent, from the Arabah, at the southern end of the Dead Sea, right across to the coast of the Mediterranean, and from the southern border of Canaan, as described in Jos 15:2-4, as far north as Wady Sheriah, below Gaza, on the western side, and up to the mountains and desert of Judah on the east, stretching across the wadys of es Seba, Milh, and Ehdeib, above which that part of Palestine commences where rain is more abundant, and to which, as we have already observed at Num 13:17, the Negeb formed a kind of intermediate link between the fertile land and the desert. It was a line of steppe-land, with certain patches here and there that admitted of cultivation, but in which tracts of heath prevailed, for the most part covered with grass and bushes, where only grazing could be carried on with any success. The term which Eusebius and Jerome employ for Negeb in the Onom. is Daromas, but they carry it farther northwards than the Negeb of the Old Testament (see Reland, Pal. Ill. pp. 185ff). The numerous towns mentioned in Jos 15:21-32 as standing in the Negeb, may none of them have been large or of any importance. In the list before us we find that, as a rule, several names are closely connected together by the copula vav, and in this way the whole may be divided into four separate groups of towns.
Verses 21-23 Edit
Jos 15:21-23First group of nine places. - Jos 15:21. The towns “from,” i.e., at “the end of the tribe-territory of Judah, towards the territory of Edom.” Kabzeel: the home of the hero Benaiah (2Sa 23:20), probably identical with Jakabzeel, which is mentioned in Neh 11:25 in connection with Dibon, but has not been discovered. This also applies to Eder and Jagur.
Verse 22 Edit
Jos 15:22Kinah: also unknown. Knobel connects it with the town of the Kenites, who settled in the domain of Arad, but this is hardly correct; for which the exception of Jdg 1:16, where the Kenites are said to have settled in the south of Arad, though not till after the division of the land, the Kenites are always found in the western portion of the Negeb (1Sa 15:6; 1Sa 27:10; 1Sa 30:29), whereas Kinah is unquestionably to be looked for in the east. Dimonah, probably the same as Dibon (Neh 11:25); possibly the ruins of el Dheib, on the south side of the wady of the same name, to the north-east of Arad (V. de Velde, Mem. p. 252), although Robinson (Pal. ii. p. 473) writes the name Ehdeib. Adadah is quite unknown.
Verse 23 Edit
Verses 24-25 Edit
Jos 15:24-25Second group of five or six places. - Of these, Ziph and Telem are not met with again, unless Telem is the same as Telaim, where Saul mustered his army to go against the Amalekites (1Sa 15:4). Their situation is unknown. There was another Ziph upon the mountains (see Jos 15:55). Knobel supposes the one mentioned here to be the ruins of Kuseifeh, to the south-west of Arad (Rob. Pal. ii. p. 620). Ziph would then be contracted from Ceziph; but the contraction of Achzib (Jos 19:29) into Zib does not present a corresponding analogy, as in that case the abbreviated form is the later one, whereas in the case of Ziph a lengthening of the name must have taken place by the addition of a D. Bealoth, probably the same as the Simeonitish Baaloth-beer (Jos 19:8), which is called Baal simply in 1Ch 4:33, and which was also called Ramath-negeb (Jos 19:8) and Ramoth-negeb (1Sa 30:27). It is not to be identified with Baalath, however (Jos 19:45; 1Ki 9:18), as V. de Velde supposes (Reise, ii. pp. 151-2). Knobel fancies it may be the ridge and place called Kubbet el Baul, between Milh and Kurnub (Rob. ii. p. 617); but Baul and Baal are very different. Hazor Hadatta (Chazor Chadathah), i.e., new Hazor, might be the ruins of el Hudhaira on the south of Jebel Khulil (Rob. Appendix). Kenoth was supposed by Robinson (Pal. ii. p. 472, and Appendix) to be the ruins of el Kuryetein, on the north-east of Arad and at the foot of the mountains, and with this V. de Velde agrees. Reland (Pal. p. 708) connects the following word Hezron with Kenoth, so as to read Kenoth-hezron, i.e., Hezron's towns, also called Hazor. This is favoured by the Sept. and Syriac, in which the two words are linked together to form one name, and probably by the Chaldee as well, also by the absence of the copula vav (and) before Hezron, which is not omitted anywhere else throughout this section, except at the beginning of the different groups of towns, as, for example, before Ziph in Jos 15:24, and Amam in Jos 15:26, and therefore ought to stand before Hezron if it is an independent town. The Masoretic pointing cannot be regarded as a decisive proof of the contrary.
Verses 26-28 Edit
Jos 15:26-28Third group of nine towns. - Jos 15:26. Amam is not mentioned again, and is quite unknown. Shema, which is called Sheba in Jos 19:2, and is mentioned among the towns of the Simeonites between Beersheba and Moladah, is supposed by Knobel to the ruins of Saâwe (Sâweh) between Milh and Beersheba (see V. de Velde, ii. p. 148). Molada, which was given to the Simeonites (Jos 19:2; 1Ch 4:28) and was still inhabited by Jews after the captivity (Neh 11:26), was the later Μάλαδα, an Idumaean fortress (Josephus, Ant. 18:6, 2), which Eusebius and Jerome describe as being twenty Roman miles, i.e., eight hours, to the south of Hebron on the road to Aila (Elath). It has been identified by Robinson (Pal. ii. p. 621) in the ruins of el Milh, by the Wady Malath or Malahh.
Verse 27 Edit
Verse 28 Edit
Jos 15:28Hazor-shual, i.e., fox-court, which was assigned to the Simeonites (Jos 19:3) and still inhabited after the captivity (Neh 11:27), answers, so far as the name if concerned, to the ruins of Thâly (Rob. Pal. iii. App.). Beersheba, which was a well-known place in connection with the history of the patriarchs (Gen 21:14., Jos 22:19, etc.), and is frequently mentioned afterwards as the southern boundary of the land of Israel (Jdg 20:1; 2Sa 17:11, etc.), was also given up to the Simeonites (Jos 19:2), and still inhabited after the captivity (Neh 11:27). It is the present Bir es Seba on the Wady es Seba (see at Gen 21:31). Bizjothjah is unknown.
Verses 29-32 Edit
The four groups of thirteen towns in the western portion of the Negeb.
Verse 29 Edit
Jos 15:29Baalah, which was assigned to the Simeonites, is called Balah in Jos 19:3, and Bilhah in 1Ch 4:29. Knobel identifies it with the present Deir Belah, some hours to the south-west of Gaza Rob. iii. App.; Ritter, Erdk. xvi. pp. 41, 42); but it cannot have been so far to the west, or so near the coast as this. Iim (or Ivvim, according to the Αυεἴμ of the lxx) is probably the ruins of Beit-auwa (Rob. iii. App.). Azem, which was also given up to the Simeonites (Jos 19:3; 1Ch 4:29), is supposed by Knobel to be Eboda, the present Abdeh, eight hours to the south of Elusa, a considerable mass of ruins on a ridge of rock (Rob. i. p. 287), because the name signifies firmness or strength, which is also the meaning of the Arabic name-a very precarious reason.
Verses 30-31 Edit
Jos 15:30-31Eltolad, which was given to the Simeonites (Jos 19:4), and is called Tolad (without the Arabic article) in 1Ch 4:29, has not been discovered. Chesil, for which the lxx have Βαιθήλ, is probably, as Reland supposes, simply another name, or as Knobel suggests a corrupt reading for, Bethul or Bethuel, which is mentioned in Jos 19:4 and 1Ch 4:30, between Eltolad and Hormah, as a town of the Simeonites, and the same place as Beth-el in 1Sa 30:27. As this name points to the seat of some ancient sanctuary, and there was an idol called Khalasa worshipped by the Arabs before the time of Mohamet, and also because Jerome observes (vita Hilar. c. 25) that there was a temple of Venus at Elusa, in which the Saracens worshipped Lucifer (see Tuch, Deutsch. Morgenl. Ztschr. iii. pp. 194ff.), Knobel supposes Bethul (Chesil) to be Elusa, a considerable collection of ruins five hours and a half to the south of Beersheba (see Rob. i. p. 296): assuming first of all that the name el Khulasa, as the Arabs called this place, was derived from the Mahometan idol already referred to; and secondly, that the Saracen Lucifer mentioned by Jerome was the very same idol whose image and temple Janhari and Kamus call el Khalasa. Hormah: i.e., Zephoth, the present Sepata (see at Jos 12:14). Ziklag, which was assigned to the Simeonites (Jos 19:5; 1Ch 4:30), burnt down by the Amalekites (1Sa 30:1.), and still inhabited after the captivity (Neh 11:28), is supposed by Rowland to be the ancient place called Asluj or Kasluj, a few hours to the east of Zepata, with which Knobel, however, in a most remarkable manner, identifies the Asluj to the south-west of Milh on the road to Abdeh, which is more than thirty-five miles distant (see Rob. Pal. ii. p. 621). Both places are too far to the south and east to suit Ziklag, which is to be sought for much farther west. So far as the situation is concerned, the ruins of Tell Sheriah or Tell Mellala, one of which is supposed by V. de Velde to contain the relics of Ziklag, would suit much better; or even, as Ritter supposes (Erdk. xvi. pp. 132-3), Tell el Hasy, which is half an hour to the south-west of Ajlan, and in which Felix Fabri found the ruins of a castle and of an ancient town, in fact of the ancient Ziklag, though Robinson (i. pp. 389ff.) could discover nothing that indicted in any way the existence of a town or building of any kind. Madmannah and Sansannah cannot be traced with any certainty. Madmannah, which is confounded in the Onom. (s. v. Medemena) with Madmena, a place to the north of Jerusalem mentioned in Isa 10:31, though elsewhere it is correctly described as Menois oppidum juxta civitatem Gazam, has probably been preserved in the present Miniay or Minieh, to the south of Gaza. Sansannah, Knobel compares with the Wady Suni, mentioned by Robinson (i. p. 299), to the south of Gaza, which possibly received its name from some town in the neighbourhood. But in the place of them we find Beth-marcaboth (i.e., carriage-house) and Hazar-susa (i.e., horse-court) mentioned in Jos 19:5 and 1Ch 4:31 among the towns of the Simeonites, which Reland very properly regards as the same as Madmannah and Sansannah, since it is very evident from the meaning of the former names that they were simply secondary names, which were given to them as stations for carriages and horses.
Verse 32 Edit
Jos 15:32Lebaoth, one of the Simeonite towns, called Beth-lebaoth (i.e., lion-house) in Jos 19:6, and Beth-birei in 1Ch 4:31, has not been discovered yet. Shilchim, called Sharuchen in Jos 19:6, and Shaaraim in 1Ch 4:31, may possibly have been preserved in Tell Sheriah, almost half-way between Gaza and Beersheba (V. de Velde, ii. p. 154). Ain and Rimmon are given as Simeonite towns, and being written without the copula, are treated as one name in Jos 19:7 and 1Ch 4:32, although they are reckoned as two separate towns in Jos 19:7. But as they were also called En Rimmon after the captivity, and are given as one single place in Neh 11:29, they were probably so close together that in the course of time they grew into one. Rimmon, which is mentioned in Zec 14:10 as the southern boundary of Judah, probably the Eremmon of the Onom. (“a very large village of the Judaeans, sixteen miles to the south of Eleutheropolis in Daroma”), was probably the present ruin called Um er Rummanim, four hours to the north of Beersheba (Rob. iii. p. 8). Not more than thirty or thirty-five minutes distant from this, between Tell Khuweilifeh (Rob. iii. p. 8) or Chewelfeh (V. de Velde) and Tell Hhora, you find a large old but half-destroyed well, the large stones of which seem to belong to a very early period of the Israelitish history (V. de Velde, ii. p. 153). This was mentioned as a very important drinking-place even in the lifetime of Saladin, whilst to the present day the Tilâlah Arabs water their flocks there (see Rob. iii. p. 8). To all appearance this was Ain (see V. de Velde, Mem. p. 344). “All the cities were twenty and nine, and their villages.” This does not agree with the number of towns mentioned by name, which is not twenty-nine, but thirty-six; to that the number twenty-nine is probably an error of the text of old standing, which has arisen from a copyist confounding together different numeral letters that resembled one another.
Verses 33-47 Edit
Towns in the lowland or shephelah. - The lowland (shephelah), which is generally rendered ἡ πεδινή in the Sept., rarely τὸ πεδιόν (Deu 1:7), but which is transferred as a proper name ἡ Σεφηλά in Oba 1:19; Jer 32:44; Jer 33:13, as well as in 1 Macc. 12:38, where even Luther has Sephela, is the name given to the land between the mountains of Judah and the Mediterranean Sea, - a broad plain of undulating appearance, intersected by heights and low ranges of hills, with fertile soil, in which corn fields alternate with meadows, gardens, and extensive olive groves. It is still tolerably well cultivated, and is covered with villages, which are situated for the most part upon the different hills. Towards the south, the shephelah was bounded by the Negeb (Jos 15:21); on the north, it reached to Ramleh and Lydda, or Diospolis, where the plain of Sharon began, - a plain which extended as far as Carmel, and was renowned for the beauty of its flowers. Towards the east the hills multiply and shape themselves into a hilly landscape, which forms the intermediate link between the mountains and the plain, and which is distinguished from the shephelah itself, in Jos 10:40 and Jos 12:8, under the name of Ashedoth, or slopes, whereas here it is reckoned as forming part of the shephelah. This hilly tract is more thickly studded with villages than even the actual plain (See Rob. Pal. ii. p. 363, and iii. p. 29.) The towns in the shephelah are divided into four groups.
Verses 33-36 Edit
The first group contains the towns in the northern part of the hilly region or slopes, which are reckoned as forming part of the lowland: in all, fourteen towns. The most northerly part of this district was given up to the tribe of Dan on the second division (Jos 19:41.). Eshtaol and Zoreah, which were assigned to the tribe of Dan (Jos 19:41), and were partly inhabited by Danites (Jdg 13:25; Jdg 18:2, Jdg 18:8,Jdg 18:11) and partly by families of Judah, who had gone out from Kirjath-jearim (1Ch 1:53; 1Ch 4:2), probably after the removal of the 600 Danites to Laish-Dan (Jos 19:47; Jdg 18:1), were situated, according to the Onom. (s. v. Esthaul and Saara), ten Roman miles to the north of Eleutheropolis, on the road to Nicopolis. Zoreah, the home of Samson, who was buried between Zoreah and Eshtaol (Jdg 13:2; Jdg 16:31), was fortified by Rehoboam, and still inhabited by Judaeans after the captivity (2Ch 11:10; Neh 11:29); it has been preserved in the ruins of Surá, at the south-western end of the mountain range which bounds the Wady es Surar on the north (Rob. ii. p. 341, and Bibl. Res. p. 153). Eshtaol has probably been preserved in Um Eshteiyeh, to the south-west (Rob. ii. p. 342). Ashnah is possibly to be read Ashvah, according to the lxx, Cod. Vat. (Ἄσσα). In that case it might resemble a town on the east of Zorea (Tobler, p. 180), as Knobel supposes.
Verse 34 Edit
Jos 15:34Zanoah was still inhabited by Judaeans after the captivity (Neh 11:30; Neh 3:13), and is the present Zanua, not far from Zoreah, towards the east (see Rob. ii. p. 343). Engannim and Tappuah are still unknown. Enam, the same as Enaim (Gen 38:14 : rendered “an open place”), on the road from Adullam to Timnah on the mountains (Jos 15:57), has not yet been discovered.
Verse 35 Edit
Jos 15:35Jarmuth, i.e., Jarmûk; see Jos 10:3. Adullam has not yet been discovered with certainty (see at Jos 12:15). Socoh, which was fortified by Rehoboam, and taken by the Philistines in the reign of Ahaz (2Ch 11:7; 2Ch 28:18), is the present Shuweikeh by the Wady Sumt, half an hour to the south-west of Jarmûk, three hours and a half to the south-west of Jerusalem (see Rob. ii. pp. 343, 349). The Onom. (s. v. Socoh) mentions two viculi named Sochoth, one upon the mountain, the other in the plain, nine Roman miles from Eleutheropolis on the road to Jerusalem. On Azekah, see at Jos 10:10.
Verse 36 Edit
Jos 15:36Sharaim, which was on the west of Socoh and Azekah, according to 1Sa 17:52, and is called Σακαρίμ or Σαργαρείμ in the Sept., is probably to be sought for in the present Tell Zakariya and the village of Kefr Zakariya opposite, between which there is the broad deep valley called Wady Sumt, which is only twenty minutes in breadth (Rob. ii. p. 350). This is the more probable as the Hebrew name is a dual. Adithaim is unknown. Gederah is possibly the same as the Gederoth which was taken by the Philistines in the time of Ahaz (2Ch 28:18), and the Gedrus of the Onom. (s. v. Gaedur, or Gahedur), ten Roman miles to the south of Diospolis, on the road to Eleutheropolis, as the Gederoth in Jos 15:41 was in the actual plain, and therefore did not stand between Diospolis and Eleutheropolis. Gederothaim is supposed by Winer, Knobel, and others, to be an ancient gloss. This is possible no doubt, but it is not certain, as neither the omission of the name from the Sept., nor the circumstance that the full number of towns is given as fourteen, and that this is not the number obtained if we reckon Gederothaim, can be adduced as a decisive proof, since this difference may have arisen in the same manner as the similar discrepancy in Jos 15:32.
Verses 37-41 Edit
The second group, containing the towns of the actual plain in its full extent from north to south, between the hilly region and the line of coast held by the Philistines: sixteen towns in all.
Verse 37 Edit
Jos 15:37Zenan, probably the same as Zaanan (Mic 1:11), is supposed by Knobel to be the ruins of Chirbet-es-Senat, a short distance to the north of Beit-jibrin (Tobler, Dritte Wand. p. 124). Hadashah, according to the Mishnah Erub. v. vi. the smallest place in Judah, containing only fifty houses, is unknown, and a different place from the Adasa of 1 Macc. 7:40, 45, and Joseph. Ant. xii. 10, 5, as this was to the north of Jerusalem (Onom.). - Migdal-gad is unknown. Knobel supposes it to be the small hill called Jedeideh, with ruins upon it, towards the north of Beit-jibrin (V. de Velde, R. ii. pp. 162, 188). os 15:38Dilean is unknown; for Bet Dula, three full hours to the east of Beit-jibrin, with some relics of antiquity (Tobler, pp. 150-1), with which Knobel identifies it, is upon the mountains and not in the plain. Mizpeh, i.e., specula, a different place from the Mizpeh of Benjamin (Jos 18:26), was on the north of Eleutheropolis, according to the Onom. (s. v. Maspha), and therefore may possibly be the castle Alba Specula, or Alba Custodia of the middle ages, the present Tell es Saphieh, in the middle of the plain and upon the top of a lofty hill, from which there is an extensive prospect in all directions (see Rob. ii. p. 363). Joktheel has possibly been preserved in the ruins of Keitulaneh (Rob. Pal. iii. App.), which are said to lie in that neighbourhood.
Verse 39 Edit
Jos 15:39Lachish, i.e., Um Lakis (see at Jos 10:3). Bozkath is unknown: according to Knobel, it may possibly be the ruins of Tubakah, on the south of Um Lakis and Ajlan (Rob. ii. pp. 388, 648). Eglon, i.e., Ajlan; see at Jos 10:3.
Verse 40 Edit
Jos 15:40Cabbon, probably the heap of ruins called Kubeibeh or Kebeibeh, “which must at some time or other have been a strong fortification, and have formed the key to the central mountains of Judah” (v. de Velde, R. ii. p. 156), and which lie to the south of Beit-jibrin, and two hours and a half to the east of Ajlan (Rob. Pal. ii. p. 394). Lachmas: according to Knobel a corruption of Lachmam, which is the reading given in many MSS and editions, whilst the Vulgate has Leheman, and Luther (and the Eng. Ver). Lahmam. Knobel connects it with the ruins of el Lahem to the south of Beit-jibrin (Tobler). Kithlish (Chitlis) is unknown, unless it is to be found in Tell Chilchis, to the S.S.E. of Beit-jibrin (V. de Velde, R. ii. p. 157).
Verse 41 Edit
Jos 15:41Gederoth, Beth-dagon, and Naamah have not yet been traced. The village mentioned in the Onom. (s. v. Beth-dagon) as grandis vicus Capher-dagon, and said to lie between Diospolis and Jamnia, the present Beit-dejan (Rob. iii. p. 30), was far beyond the northern boundary of the tribe of Judah. Makkedah: see at Jos 10:10.
Verses 42-44 Edit
The third group, consisting of the towns in the southern half of the hilly region: nine towns.
Verse 42 Edit
Jos 15:42Libnah: see at Jos 10:29. Ether and Ashan, which were afterwards given to the Simeonites (Jos 19:7), and are probably to be sought for on the border of the Negeb, have not yet been discovered. The conjecture that Ether is connected with the ruins of Attârah (Rob. iii. App.) in the province of Gaza, is a very uncertain one. Ashan, probably the same as Kor-ashan (1Sa 30:30), became a priests' city afterwards (1Ch 6:44; see at Jos 21:16).
Verse 43 Edit
Jos 15:43Jiphtah, Ashnah, and Nezib have not yet been traced. Beit-nesib, to the east of Beit-jibrin on the Wady Sur (Rob. ii. p. 344, and iii. p. 13), the Neesib of the Onom., seven Roman miles to the east of Eleutheropolis, does not suit this group so far as its situation is concerned, as it lies within the limits of the first group.
Verse 44 Edit
Jos 15:44Keilah, which is mentioned in the history of David (1 Sam 23), ), and then again after the captivity (Neh 3:17), is neither the Κεελά, Ceila of the Onom., on the east of Eleutheropolis, the present Kila (Tobler, Dritte Wand. p. 151), which lies upon the mountains of Judah; nor is it to be found, as Knobel supposes, in the ruins of Jugaleh (Rob. iii. App.), as they lie to the south of the mountains of Hebron, whereas Keilah is to be sought for in the shephelah, or at all events to the west or south-west of the mountains of Hebron. Achzib (Mic 1:14), the same as Chesib (Gen 38:5), has been preserved in the ruins at Kussâbeh, a place with a fountain (Rob. ii. p. 391), i.e., the fountain of Kesâba, about five hours south by west from Beit-jibrin. Mareshah, which was fortified by Rehoboam (2Ch 11:8; cf. Mic 1:15), and was the place where Asa defeated Zerah the Ethiopian (2Ch 14:9), the home of Eliezer (2Ch 20:37), and afterwards the important town of Marissa (see v. Raumer, Pal. pp. 211-12), was between Hebron and Ashdod, since Judas Maccabaeus is represented in 1 Macc. 5:65-68 (where the reading should be Μαρίσσαν instead of Σαμάρειαν, according to Joseph. Ant. xii. 8, 6) as going from Hebron through Marissa into the land of the Philistines, and turning to Ashdod. According to the Onom. (s. v. Mareshah), it was lying in ruins in the time of Eusebius, and was about two Roman miles from Eleutheropolis-a description which applies exactly to the ruins of Maresh, twenty-four minutes to the south of Beit-jibrin, which Robinson supposes for this reason to be Maresa (Rob. ii. p. 422), whereas Knobel finds it in Beit-mirsim, a place four hours to the south of Beit-jibrin.
Verses 45-47 Edit
The fourth group, consisting of the towns of the Philistine line of coast, the northern part of which was afterwards given up to the tribe of Dan (Dan Jos 19:43), but which remained almost entirely in the hands of the Philistines (see at Jos 13:3).
Verse 45 Edit
Verse 46 Edit
Judah was also to receive “from Ekron westwards all that lay on the side of Ashdod and their (i.e., Ekron's and Ashdod's) villages.” The different places in this district are not given, because Judah never actually obtained possession of them.
Verse 47 Edit
Jos 15:47Ashdod, now Esdûd, and Gaza, now Ghuzzeh: see at Jos 13:3. Also “the daughter towns and villages, unto the brook of Egypt (Wady el Arish: see Jos 15:4), and the great sea with its territory,” i.e., the tract of land lying between Gaza and the coast of the Mediterranean. Gath and Askalon are not mentioned, because they are both of them included in the boundaries named. Askalon was between Ashdod and Gaza, by the sea-coast (see at Jos 13:3), and Gath on the east of Ekron and Ashdod (see Jos 13:3), so that, as a matter of course, it was assigned to Judah.
Verses 48-60 Edit
The towns on the mountains are divided into five, or more correctly, into six groups. The mountains of Judah, which rise precipitously from the Negeb, between the hilly district on the west, which is reckoned as part of the shephelah, and the desert of Judah, extending to the Dead Sea on the east (Jos 15:61), attain the height of 3000 feet above the level of the sea, in the neighbourhood of Hebron, and run northwards to the broad wady of Beit-hanina, above Jerusalem. They are a large rugged range of limestone mountains, with many barren and naked peaks, whilst the sides are for the most part covered with grass, shrubs, bushes, and trees, and the whole range is intersected by many very fruitful valleys. Josephus describes it as abounding in corn, fruit, and wine; and to the present day it contains many orchards, olive grounds, and vineyards, rising in terraces up the sides of the mountains, whilst the valleys and lower grounds yield plentiful harvests of wheat, millet, and other kinds of corn. In ancient times, therefore, the whole of this district was thickly covered with towns (see Rob. ii. pp. 185, 191-2, and C. v. Raumer, Pal. pp. 45ff.).
Verses 48-51 Edit
The first group consists of eleven towns on the south-west of the mountains.
Verse 48 Edit
Jos 15:48Shamir has probably been preserved in the ruins of Um Shaumerah, mentioned by Robinson (iii. App.), though the situation of these ruins has not yet been precisely determined. Jattir, which was given up to the priests (Jos 21:14), and is mentioned again in 1Sa 30:27, is described in the Onom. (s. v. Jether) as a large placed inhabited by Christians, twenty miles from Eleutheropolis, in interiori Daroma juxta Malathan, - a description which suits the ruins of Attir, in the southern portion of the mountains (see Rob. ii. p. 194; called Ater by Seetzen, R. iii. p. 6). Socoh, two hours N.W. of this, the present Shuweikeh (Rob. ii. p. 194), called Suêche by Seetzen (R. iii. p. 29), a village about four hours from Hebron.
Verse 49 Edit
Jos 15:49Dannah (Sept., Syr., Renna) is unknown. Knobel imagines that Dannah should be Danah, for Deanah, plur. Deanoth, which would then be suggestive of Zanute, the last inhabited place upon the mountains, five hours from Hebron, between Shuweikeh and Attir (see Rob. ii. p. 626; Seetzen, iii. p. 27, 29). Kirjath-sannah, or Debir, has not been traced (see at Jos 10:38).
Verse 50 Edit
Jos 15:50Anab, on the north-east of Socoh (see at Jos 11:21). Eshtemoh, or Eshtemoa, which was ceded to the priests (Jos 21:14; 1Ch 6:42), and is mentioned again in 1Sa 30:28; 1Ch 4:17, 1Ch 4:19, is the present Semua, an inhabited village, with remains of walls, and a castle of ancient date, on the east of Socoh (Rob. ii. pp. 194, 626; Seetzen, iii. 28; and v. Schubert, R. ii. p. 458). Anim, contracted, according to the probable conjecture of Wilson, from Ayanim (fountains), a place still preserved in the ruins of the village of el Ghuwein, on the south of Semua, though Robinson erroneously connects it with Ain (Jos 15:32 : see Rob. Pal. ii. p. 626).
Verse 51 Edit
Jos 15:51Goshen, Holon, and Giloh, are still unknown. On Goshen, see at Jos 10:41. Holon was given up to the priests (Jos 21:15; 1Ch 6:43); and Giloh is mentioned in 2Sa 15:12 as the birth-place of Ahithophel.
Verses 52-54 Edit
The second group of nine towns, to the north of the former, in the country round Hebron.
Verse 52 Edit
Jos 15:52Arab is still unknown; for we cannot connect it, as Knobel does, with the ruins of Husn el Ghurab in the neighbourhood of Semua (Rob. i. p. 312), as these ruins lie within the former group of towns. Duma, according to Eusebius the largest place in the Daromas in his time, and seventeen miles from Eleutheropolis, is probably the ruined village of Daumeh, by the Wady Dilbeh (Rob. i. p. 314), which is fourteen miles in a straight line to the south-east of Eleutheropolis according to the map. Es'an (Eshean) can hardly be identified with Asan (1Ch 4:32), as Van de Velde supposes, but is more likely Korasan (1Sa 30:30). In that case we might connect it with the ruins of Khursah, on the north-west of Daumeh, two hours and a half to the south-west of Hebron (Rob. iii. p. 5). As the Septuagint reading is Σομά, Knobel conjectures that Eshean is a corrupt reading for Shema (1Ch 2:43), and connects it with the ruins of Simia, on the south of Daumeh (Seetzen, iii. 28, and Rob. iii. App.).
Verse 53 Edit
Jos 15:53Janum is still unknown. Beth-tappuah has been preserved in the village of Teffuh, about two hours to the west of Hebron (Rob. ii. p. 428). Apheka has not been discovered.
Verse 54 Edit
Jos 15:54Humtah is also unknown. Kirjath-arba, or Hebron: see at Jos 10:3. Zior has also not been traced; though, “so far as the name is concerned, it might have been preserved in the heights of Tugra, near to Hebron” (Knobel).
Verses 55-57 Edit
The third group of ten towns, to the east of both the former groups, towards the desert.
Verse 55 Edit
Jos 15:55Maon, the home of Nabal (1Sa 25:2), on the border of the desert of Judah, which is here called the desert of Maon (1Sa 23:25), has been preserved in Tell Maîn, on a conical mountain commanding an extensive prospect, east by north of Semua, three hours and three-quarters to the S.S.E. of Hebron (Rob. ii. p. 193). Carmel, a town and mountain mentioned in the history of David, and again in the time of Uzziah (1Sa 15:12; 1Sa 25:2.; 2Ch 26:10). In the time of the Romans it was a large place, with a Roman garrison (Onom.), and is the present Kurmul, on the north-west of Maon, where there are considerable ruins of a very ancient date (Rob. ii. pp. 196ff.). Ziph, in the desert of that name, to which David fled from Saul (1Sa 23:14., 1Sa 26:2-3), was fortified by Rehoboam (2Ch 11:8), and has been preserved in the ruins upon the hill Ziph, an hour and three-quarters to the south-east of Hebron (Rob. ii. p. 191). Juttah, which was assigned to the priests (Jos 21:16), and was a vicus praegrandis Judaeorum in the time of the fathers (Onom. s. v. Jethan), was eighteen Roman miles to the south (south-east) of Eleutheropolis, and is the present Jutta or Jitta, a large Mahometan place with ruins, an hour and three-quarters to the south of Hebron (Seetzen, iii. p. 8; Rob. ii. p. 191, 628).
Verse 56 Edit
Jos 15:56Jezreel, the home of Ahinoam (1Sa 25:43; 1Sa 27:3, etc.), a different place from the Jezreel in the plain of Esdraelon, has not yet been discovered. This also applies to Jokdeam and Zanoah, which are only met with here.
Verse 57 Edit
Jos 15:57Cain (Hakkain)is possibly the same as Jukin, on the south-east of Hebron (Rob. ii. p. 449). Gibeah cannot be the Gabatha near Bethlehem, mentioned in the Onom. (s. v. Gabathaon), or the Gibea mentioned by Robinson (ii. p. 327), i.e., the village of Jeba, on a hill in the Wady el Musurr, as this does not come within the limits of the present group; it must rather be one of the two places (Gebaa and Gebatha) described as viculi contra orientalem plagam Daromae, though their situation has not yet been discovered. Timnah, probably the place already mentioned in Gen 38:12., has not been discovered.
Verses 58-59 Edit
The fourth group of six towns, on the north of Hebron or of the last two groups. - Halhul, according to the Onom. (s. v. Elul) a place near Hebron named Alula, has been preserved in the ruins of Halhûl, an hour and a half to the north of Hebron (Rob. i. p. 319, ii. p. 186, and Bibl. Res. p. 281). Beth-zur, which was fortified by Rehoboam (2Ch 11:7), and is frequently mentioned in the time of the Maccabees as a border defence against the Idumaeans (1 Macc. 4:29, 61, etc.), was twenty (? fifteen) Roman miles from Jerusalem, according to the Onom. (s. v. Beth-zur), on the road to Hebron. It is the present heap of ruins called Beit-zur on the north-west of Halhûl (Rob. Bibl. Res. pp. 276-7; Ritter, Erdk. xvi. pp. 236, 267-8). Gedor, the ruins of Jedûr, an hour and a half to the north-west (Rob. ii. p. 338; Bibl. Res. pp. 282-3).
Verse 59 Edit
Jos 15:59Maarath and Eltekon have not yet been discovered. Beth-anoth (probably a contraction of Beth-ayanoth) has been discovered by Wolcott in the ruins of Beit-anum, on the east of Halhûl (Rob. Bibl. Res. p. 279; cf. Pal. ii. p. 186).
Between Jos 15:59 and Jos 15:60, the fifth group of towns given in the Septuagint is wanting in the Masoretic text. This group lay to the north of the fourth, and reached as far as Jerusalem, It comprised a district in which even now there are at least fifteen places and ruins, so that we have not an arbitrary interpolation made by the lxx, as Jerome assumed, but rather a gap in the Hebrew text, arising from the fact that an ancient copyist passed by mistake from the word וחצריהן in Jos 15:59 to the same word at the close of the missing section. In the Alexandrian version the section reads as follows in Cod. Al. and Vat.: Θεκώ καὶ Ἐφραθά, αὕτη ἐστὶ Βαιθλέεμ, καὶ Φαγώρ καὶ Αἰτὰν καὶ Καολὸν καὶ Τατὰμ καὶ Θωβἠς (Cod. Al. Σωρὴς) καὶ Καρέμ καὶ Γαλὲμ καὶ Θεθὴρ (Cod. Al. Βαιθῆρ) καὶ Μαμοχώ, πόλεις ἕνδεκα καὶ αἱ κῶμαι αὐτῶν. - Theko, the well-known Tekoah, the home of the wise woman and of the prophet Amos (2Sa 14:2; Amo 1:1), was fortified by Rehoboam, and still inhabited after the captivity (2Ch 11:6; Neh 3:5, Neh 3:27). It is the present Tekua, on the top of a mountain covered with ancient ruins, two hours to the south of Bethlehem (Rob. ii. pp. 181-184; Tobler, Denkbl. aus Jerus. pp. 682ff.). Ephratah, i.e., Bethlehem, the family seat of the house of David (Rth 1:1; Rth 4:11; 1Sa 16:4; 1Sa 17:12.; Mic 5:2), was fortified by Rehoboam (2Ch 11:6), and is a place frequently mentioned. It was the birth-place of Christ (Mat 2:1.; Luk 2:4), and still exists under the ancient name of Beit-lahm, two hours to the south of Jerusalem (Seetzen, ii. pp. 37ff.; Rob. ii. pp. 159ff.; Tobler, Topogr. v. Jerus. ii. pp. 464ff.). Bethlehem did not receive the name of Ephratah for the first time from the Calebite family of Ephrathites (1Ch 2:19, 1Ch 2:50; 1Ch 4:4), but was known by that name even in Jacob's time (Gen 35:19; Gen 48:7). Phagor, which was near to Bethlehem according to the Onom. (s. v. Fogor), and is also called Phaora, is the present Faghur, a heap of ruins to the south-west of Bethlehem (Rob. Bibl. Res. p. 275). Aetan was fortified by Rehoboam (2Ch 11:6), and has been preserved in the Wady and Ain Attan between Bethlehem and Faghur (Tobler, Dritte Wand. pp. 88, 89). Kulon, the present village of Kulomeh, an hour and a half west by north from Jerusalem on the road to Ramleh (see Rob. ii. p. 146; Bibl. Res. p. 158: it is called Kolony by Seetzen, ii. p. 64). Tatam cannot be traced. Sores (for Thobes appears to be only a copyist's error) is probably Saris, a small village four hours to the east of Jerusalem, upon a ridge on the south of Wady Aly (Rob. Bibl. Res. pp. 154-5). Karem, now Ain Karim, a large flourishing village two hours to the wets of Jerusalem, with a Franciscan convent dedicated to John the Baptist in the middle, and a fountain (Rob. ii. p. 141; Bibl. Res. p. 271). Galem, a different place from the Gallim on the north of Jerusalem (Isa 10:30), has not yet been discovered. Baither, now a small dirty village called Bettir or Bittir, with a beautiful spring, and with gardens arrange din terraces on the western slope of the Wady Bittir, to the south-west of Jerusalem (Rob. Bibl. Res. p. 266). Manocho, possibly the same place as Manachat (1Ch 8:6), has not been found.
Verse 60 Edit
The sixth group of only two towns, to the west of Jerusalem, on the northern border of the tribe of Judah. - Kirjath-baal, or Kirjath-jearim, the present Kureyet el Enab; see at Jos 15:9, and Jos 9:17. Rabbah (Ha-rabbah, the great) is quite unknown.
Verses 61-62 Edit
The towns in the desert of Judah, which ran along the Dead Sea from the northern border of Judah (Jos 15:6, Jos 15:7) to Wady Fikreh on the south, and reached to the districts of Maon, Ziph, Tekoah, and Bethlehem towards the west. This tract of land is for the most part a terrible desert, with a soil composed of chalk, marl, and limestone, and with bald mountains covered with flint and hornstone, and without the slightest trace of vegetation on the side bordering on the Dead Sea (see v. Schubert, Reise, iii. pp. 94, 96; Rob. ii. pp. 202, 475, 477). Yet wherever there are springs even this desert is covered with a luxuriant vegetation, as far as the influence of the water extends (Seetzen, ii. pp. 249, 258); and even in those parts which are now completely desolate, there are traces of the work of man of a very ancient date in all directions (Rob. ii. p. 187). Six towns are mentioned in the verses before us. Beth-arabah: see at Jos 15:6. Middin and Secaca are unknown. According to Knobel, Middin is probably the ruins of Mird or Mardeh, to the west of the northern end of the Dead Sea (Rob. ii. p. 270).
Verse 62 Edit
Jos 15:62Nibsan, also unknown. The city of salt (salt town), in which the Edomites sustained repeated defeats (2Sa 8:13; Psa 60:2; 2Ki 14:7; 1Ch 18:12; 2Ch 25:11), was no doubt at the southern end of the Dead Sea, in the Salt Valley (Rob. ii. p. 483). Engedi, on the Dead Sea (Eze 47:10), to which David also fled to escape from Saul (1Sa 24:1.), according to the Onom. (s. v. Engaddi) a vicus praegrandis, the present Ain-Jidi, a spring upon a shelf of the high rocky coast on the west of the Dead Sea, with ruins of different ancient buildings (see Seetzen, ii. pp. 227-8; Rob. ii. pp. 214ff.; Lynch, pp. 178-9, 199, 200).
Verse 63 Edit
In Jos 15:63 there follows a notice to the effect that the Judaeans were unable to expel the Jebusites from Jerusalem, which points back to the time immediately after Joshua, when the Judaeans had taken Jerusalem and burned it (Jdg 1:8), but were still unable to maintain possession. This notice is not at variance with either Jos 18:28 or Jdg 1:21, since it neither affirms that Jerusalem belonged to the tribe of Judah, nor that Judah alone laid claim to the possession of the town to the exclusion of the Benjamites (see the explanation of Jdg 1:8).
Inheritance of the Tribe of Joseph - Joshua 16-17 Edit
The descendants of Joseph drew one lot, that the inheritance of the half tribe of Manasseh might not be separated from that of the tribe of Ephraim. But the territory was immediately divided between the two separate tribes of the children of Joseph, Ephraim receiving the southern portion of the land that had fallen to it by lot, and half Manasseh the northern. Accordingly we find the southern boundary of the whole territory described first of all in Jos 16:1-4, both the boundary which separated it from the tribe of Benjamin (Jos 18:11.), and that which divided it from Dan (Jos 19:40.); then the territory of Ephraim is given, with a minute description of the northern boundary (Jos 16:5-10); and finally the territory assigned to the families of Manasseh (Jos 17:1-13), without any precise delineation of its northern boundaries, all that is stated being that the Manassites touched Asher and Issachar towards the north, and also received some scattered towns with their villages in the territory of both those tribes (Jos 17:10-11). To this there is appended in vv. 14-18 the complaint of the children of Joseph concerning the inheritance that had fallen to them.
Chap. 16 Edit
==Verse 1== Territory of the tribe of Joseph. - Jos 16:1. “And there came out the lot of the children of Joseph from Jordan by Jericho.” “The lot came out,” viz., from the turn (cf. Jos 19:1, Jos 19:17, Jos 19:24). The expression “came up” is used in the same sense in Jos 18:11. The connection of these two words with the rest of the sentence, “from Jordan by Jericho,” may be explained on the supposition that the lot which came out of the urn determined the inheritance that fell to the tribe, so that we might paraphrase the verse in this manner: “There came out the lot to the children of Joseph, namely, the inheritance, which goes out from, or whose boundary commences at, the Jordan by Jericho,” i.e., from that part of the Jordan which is opposite to Jericho, and which is still more precisely defined by the additional clause, “by the water of Jericho eastward.” The water of Jericho is the present fountain of es Sultan, half an hour to the north-west of Riha, the only large fountain in the neighbourhood of Jericho, whose waters spread over the plain, and form a small brook, which no doubt flows in the rainy season through the Wady Kelt into the Jordan (see Rob. ii. pp. 283-4; Tobler, Topogr. v. Jerus. ii. pp. 558-9). “The wilderness” is in opposition to “the lot,” so that the sense is, “namely, the desert going up from Jericho to the mountains to Bethel.” According to Jos 18:12, the reference is to the desert of Beth-aven, which was on the east of Bethel, between the Wady Suwar (Tuwar) and Mutyah (see at Jos 7:2). Towards the east this desert terminates with the Jebel Kuruntul (Quarantana) on the north-west of Jericho, where it descends precipitously into the valley of the Jordan, or v. v., where it rises out of the Jordan valley. According to Jos 18:12, the same boundary went up by the shoulder of Jericho towards the north, i.e., along the northern range of mountains by Jericho, which cannot be any other than the “conspicuous double height, or rather group of heights,” in front of the mountain of Quarantana, at the eastern foot of which lies the fountain of Ain es Sultan (Rob. ii. p. 284). In all probability, therefore, the boundary ran up towards the north-west, from the Sultan fountain to Ain Duk, and thence in a westerly direction across to Abu Seba (along which road Robinson had a frightful desert on his right hand: Pal. ii. p. 310), and then again towards the north-west to Beitin (Bethel), according to Jos 18:13, along the southern shoulder (or side) of Luz, i.e., Bethel.
Verse 2 Edit
“And it went out from Bethel to Luz.” Bethel is distinguished from Luz in this passage, because the reference is not to the town of Bethel, which was called Luz by the Canaanites (vid., Gen 28:19), but to the southern range of mountains belonging to Bethel, from which the boundary ran out to the town of Luz, so that this town, which stood upon the border, was allotted to the tribe of Benjamin (Jos 18:22). From this point the boundary went over “to the territory of the Arkite to Ataroth,” We know nothing further about the Arkite than that David's friend Hushai belonged to that family (2Sa 15:32; 2Sa 16:16; 1Ch 27:33). Ataroth, called Ataroth-Adar in Jos 18:13, was not the present village of Atâra, an hour and a half to the south of Jiljilia (Rob. iii. p. 80), as I once supposed, but the ruins of Atâra, three-quarters of an hour to the south of Bireh (Beeroth, Rob. ii. p. 314), with which the expression “descended” in Jos 18:13 perfectly harmonizes. Consequently the boundary was first of all drawn in a south-westerly direction from Beitin to Bireh (Jos 18:25), and then southwards to Atârah.
Verse 3 Edit
From this point “it went down westward to the territory of the Japhletites to the territory of lower Beth-horon,” or, according to Jos 18:13, “to the mountain (or range) which is on the south by lower Beth-horon.” The Japhletite is altogether unknown as the Asherite of this name cannot possibly be thought of (1Ch 7:32-33). Lower Beth-horon is the present Beit-Ur Tachta, a village upon a low ridge. It is separated from Upper Beth-horon, which lies farther east, by a deep wady (see at Jos 10:10, and Rob. iii. p. 59). “And to Gezer,” which was probably situated near the village of el Kubab (see at Jos 10:33). “And the goings out thereof are at the sea” (the Mediterranean), probably running towards the north-west, and following the Wady Muzeireh to the north of Japho, which was assigned to the Danites, according to Jos 19:46.
Verse 4 Edit
The territory commencing at the boundary lines mentioned was allotted to Ephraim and Manasseh as their inheritance.
Verses 5-6 Edit
Jos 16:5-6Territory of the tribe of Ephraim, according to its families. - Jos 16:5. “The border of their inheritance was from the east Atroth-addar and (along the line) to Upper Beth-horon,” - a brief description of the southern boundary, which is more minutely described in Jos 16:1-3. Upper Beth-horon is mentioned here instead of Lower Beth-horon (Jos 16:3). This makes no difference, however, as the two places stood quite close to one another (see at Jos 10:10). In Jos 16:6-8 the northern boundary of Ephraim is given, namely, from the middle, or from “a central point near the watershed” (Knobel), first towards the east (Jos 16:6 and Jos 16:7), and then towards the west (Jos 16:8). The eastern half of the northern boundary went ימּה, i.e., when regarded from the west, or looked at towards the west, to the north side of Michmethah. According to Jos 17:7, this place was before Shechem, and therefore in any case it was not far from it, though it has not been discovered yet. Knobel supposes it to have been on the site of the present Kabate (Seetzen, ii. p. 166), Kubatiyeh, an hour and a half to the south of Jenin (Rob. iii. 154), assuming that Michmethah might also have been pronounced Chemathah, and that ב may have been substituted for מ. But Kabate is six hours to the north of Shechem, and therefore was certainly not “before Shechem” (Jos 17:7). It then turned “eastward to Taanath-shiloh” (Τηαν̀θ Σηλώ, lxx), according to the Onom. (s. v. Thenath) ten Roman miles from Neapolis (Sichem), on the way to the Jordan, most probably the Thena of Ptol. (v. 16, 5), the present Tana, Ain Tana, a heap of ruins on the south-east of Nabulus, where there are large cisterns to be found (see Rob. Bibl. Res. p. 295; Ritter, Erdk. xv. p. 471). And “then went by on the east to Janoah” (i.e., Jano in Acrabittena regione, twelve Roman miles from Neapolis: Onom.), the present ruins of Janûn, a miserable village, with extensive ruins of great antiquity, about three hours to the south-east of Nabulus, three-quarters of an hour to the north-east of Akrabeh (Rob. Bibl. Res. p. 297; Van de Velde, R. ii. p. 268).
Verse 7 Edit
From Janoah the boundary went down “to Ataroth and Naarath,” Ataroth, a different place from the Ataroth or Atroth-addar mentioned in Jos 16:3 and Jos 16:5, is apparently to be sought for on the eastern slope of the mountains by the side of the Ghor, judging from the expression “went down;” but it has not yet been discovered. Naarath, probably the same as Naaran, in eastern Ephraim (1Ch 7:28), is described in the Onom. (s. v. Naaratha) as viculus Judaeorum Naorath, five Roman miles (i.e., two hours) from Jericho, probably on the north-east. The boundary line then touched Jericho, i.e., the district of Jericho, namely on the north side of the district, as Jericho was allotted to the tribe of Benjamin (Jos 18:21). At this point it also coincided with the southern boundary of the tribe of Joseph (Jos 16:1) and the northern boundary of Benjamin (Jos 18:12).
Verse 8 Edit
The western half of the northern boundary went from Tappuah westwards to the Cane-brook, and terminated at the sea. Tappuah, called En-tappuah in Jos 17:7, as the southern boundary of Manasseh, which is there described, and which ran from Michmethah to En-tappuah, coincides with the northern boundary of Ephraim, must not be identified with the royal town of that name mentioned in Jos 12:17, and therefore was not Kefr Kud (Capercota), on the west of Jenin (Ginäa). This place was so far to the north, viz., seven hours to the north of Nabulus, that the boundary from Michmethah, in the neighbourhood of Shechem (Nabulus) onwards, would have run from south to north instead of in a westerly direction. Still less can En-tappuah be found, as Van de Velde supposes, in the old well of the deserted village of Atüf, five hours to the east of Nabulus. It must have been to the west of Shechem; but it has not yet been discovered, as the country to the west of Nabulus and Sebastieh has “not been examined” (Van de Velde). The Cane-brook is no doubt the brook of that name mentioned by Bohad. (vita Salad. pp. 191, 193); only it is not quite clear “whether the Abu Zabura is intended, or a brook somewhat farther south, where there is still a Nahr el Kassab.”
Verse 9 Edit
The tribe of Ephraim also received some scattered towns in the territory of the tribe of Manasseh, in fact all those towns to which Tappuah belonged, according to Jos 17:8, with the dependent villaGes.
Verse 10 Edit
From Gezer, however (see Jos 16:3), they could not drive out the Canaanites, so that they still dwelt among the Ephraimites, but were reduced to a state of serfdom. This notice resembles the one in Jos 15:63, and is to be interpreted in the same way.The inheritance of Manasseh on this side of the Jordan was on the north of Ephraim.
Chap. 17 Edit
Verses 1-6 Edit
Before proceeding to the more detailed description of the inheritance, the historian thinks it necessary to observe that the Manassites received a double inheritance. This remark is introduced with the words “for he was the first-born of Joseph.” On this account, in addition to the territory already given to him in Gilead and Bashan, he received a second allotment of territory in Canaan proper. With the word למכיר (for Machir) the more minute account of the division of the Manassites commences. וגו למכיר is first of all written absolutely at the beginning of the sentence, and then resumed in לו ויהי: “to Machir, the first-born of Manasseh ... to him were Gilead and Bashan assigned, because he was a man of war,” i.e., a warlike man, and had earned for himself a claim to the inheritance of Gilead and Bashan through the peculiar bravery which he had displayed in the conquest of those lands. By Machir, however, we are not to understand the actual son of Manasseh, but his family; and הגּלעד אבי does not mean “father of Gilead,” but lord (possessor) of Gilead, for Machir's son Gilead is always called גלעד without the article (vid., Jos 17:3; Num 26:29-30; Num 27:1; Num 36:1; 1Ch 7:17), whereas the country of that name is just as constantly called הגּלעד (see Jos 17:1, the last clause, Jos 17:5; Jos 13:11, Jos 13:31; Num 32:40; Deu 3:10.). “And there came, i.e., the lot fell (the lot is to be repeated from Jos 17:1), to the other descendants of Manasseh according to their families,” which are then enumerated as in Num 26:30-32. “These are the male descendants of Manasseh.” הזּכרים must not be altered, notwithstanding the fact that it is preceded and followed by הגּותרים; it is evidently used deliberately as an antithesis to the female descendants of Manasseh mentioned in Jos 17:3.
Verses 3-6 Edit
Among the six families of Manasseh (Jos 17:2), Zelophehad, a descendant of Hepher, left no son; but he had five daughters, whose names are given in Jos 17:3 (as in Num 26:33; Num 27:1; Num 36:10). These daughters had petitioned Moses for a separate portion in the promised land, and their request had been granted (Num 27:2., compared with Josh 36). They therefore came before the committee appointed for dividing the land and repeated this promised, which as at once fulfilled. Consequently there were ten families of Manasseh who had received portions by the side of Ephraim, five male and five female. “And (Jos 17:5) there fell the measurements of Manasseh (as) ten,” i.e., ten portions were assigned to the Manassites (on the west of the Jordan), beside the land of Gilead, because (as is again observed in Jos 17:6) the daughters of Manasseh, i.e., of Zelophehad the Manassite, received an inheritance among his sons (i.e., the rest of the Manassites).
Verses 7-11 Edit
Jos 17:7-11Boundaries and extent of the inheritance of the ten families of Manasseh. - Jos 17:7-10, the southern boundary, which coincides with the northern boundary of Ephraim described in Jos 16:6-8, and is merely given here with greater precision in certain points. It went “from Asher to Michmethah, before Shechem.” Asher is not the territory of the tribe of Asher, but a distinct locality; according to the Onom. (s. v. Asher) a place on the high road from Neapolis to Scythopolis, fifteen Roman miles from the former. It is not to be found, however, in the ruins of Tell Um el Aschera (V. de Velde) or Tell Um Ajra (Rob. Bibl. Res. pp. 310, 327), an hour to the south of Beisan, as Knobel supposes, but in the village of Yasir, where there are magnificent ruins, about five hours and ten minutes from Nabulus on the road to Beisan (V. de Velde, Mem. pp. 237, 289; R. ii. p. 295). Michmethah, before Shechem, is still unknown (see Jos 16:6). Shechem was founded by the Hivite prince Shechem (Gen 33:18), and is frequently mentioned in the book of Genesis. It stood between Ebal and Gerizim, was given up by Ephraim to the Levites, and declared a free city (city of refuge: Jos 21:21; Jos 20:7). It was there that the ten tribes effected their separation from Judah 1Ki 12:1.), and Jeroboam resided there (1Ki 12:25). In later times it was the chief city of the country of Samaria, and the capital of the Samaritans (Joh 4:5); and the name of Neapolis, or Flavia Neapolis, from which the present Nabulus or Nablus has come, was given to it in honour of Vespasian (see v. Raumer, Pal. pp. 161ff.). From this point the boundary went אל־היּמין (i.e., either “to the right side,” the south side, or to Yamin), “To the inhabitants of En-tappuah.” Whether Yamin is an appellative or a proper name is doubtful. But even if it be the name of a place, it is quite certain that it cannot be the village of Yamôn, an hour to the south-east of Taanuk (Rob. iii. pp. 161, 167, etc.), as this is much too far north, and, judging from Jos 17:11, belonged to the territory of Asher. In the case of En-tappuah, the inhabitants are mentioned instead of the district, because the district belonged to Manasseh, whilst the town on the border of Manasseh was given to the Ephraimites. The situation of the town has not yet been discovered: see at Jos 16:8. From this point the boundary ran down to the Cane-brook (see Jos 16:8), namely to the south side of the brook.
“These towns were assigned to Ephraim in the midst of the towns of Manasseh, and (but) the territory of Manasseh was on the north of the brook.” The only possible meaning of these words is the following: From Tappuah, the boundary went down to the Cane-brook and crossed it, so that the south side of the brook really belonged to the territory of Manasseh; nevertheless the towns on this south side were allotted to Ephraim, whilst only the territory to the north of the brook fell to the lot of the Manassites. This is expressed more plainly in Jos 17:10: “To the south (of the brook the land came) to Ephraim, and to the north to Manasseh.” In Jos 17:10 the northern and eastern boundaries are only briefly indicated: “And they (the Manassites) touched Asher towards the north, and Issachar towards the east.” The reason why this boundary was not described more minutely, was probably because it had not yet been fixed. For (Jos 17:11) Manasseh also received towns and districts in (within the territory of) Issachar and Asher, viz., Beth-shean, etc. Beth-shean, to the wall of which Saul's body was fastened (1Sa 31:10.; 2Sa 21:12), was afterwards called Scythopolis. It was in the valley of the Jordan, where the plain of Jezreel slopes off into the valley; its present name is Beisan, a place where there are considerable ruins of great antiquity, about two hours from the Jordan (vid., Seetzen, ii. pp. 162ff.; Rob. iii. p. 174; Bibl. Res. p. 325; v. Raumer, Pal. pp. 150-1). This city, with its daughter towns, was in the territory of Issachar, which was on the east of Manasseh, and may have extended a considerable distance towards the south along the valley of the Jordan, as the territory of Manasseh and Ephraim did not run into the valley of the Jordan; but Asher (Yasir) is mentioned in Jos 17:7 as the most easterly place in Manasseh, and, according to Jos 16:6-7, the eastern boundary of Ephraim ran down along the eastern edge of the mountains as far as Jericho, without including the Jordan valley. At the same time, the Ghor on the western side of the Jordan below Beisan, as far as the plain of Jericho, was of no great value to any tribe, as this district, according to Josephus (de Bell. Jud. iv. 8, 2, and iii. 10, 7), was uninhabited because of its barrenness. The other towns, Ibleam, etc., with the exception of Endor perhaps, were in the territory of Asher, and almost all on the south-west border of the plain of Esdraelon. Ibleam, called Bileam in 1Ch 6:55 (70), a Levitical town (see at Jos 21:25), was not very far from Megiddo (2Ki 9:27), and has probably been preserved in the ruins of Khirbet-Belameh, half an hour to the south of Jenin; according to Schultz, it is the same place as Belamon, Belmen, or Belthem (Judith 4:4; 7:3; 8:3). With דאר ואת־ישׁבי the construction changes, so that there is an anacolouthon, which can be explained, however, on the ground that ל היה may not only mean to be assigned to, but also to receive or to have. In this last sense ואת is attached. The inhabitants are mentioned instead of the towns, because the historian had already the thought present in his mind, that the Manassites were unable to exterminate the Canaanites from the towns allotted to them. Dor is the present Tortura (see at Jos 11:2). Endor, the home of the witch (1Sa 28:7), four Roman miles to the south of Tabor (Onom.), at present a village called Endôr, on the northern shoulder of the Duhy or Little Hermon (see Rob. iii. p. 225; Bibl. Res. p. 340). Taanach and Megiddo, the present Taanuk and Lejun (see at Jos 12:21). The three last towns, with the places dependent upon them, are connected more closely together by הנּפת שׁלשׁת, the three-hill-country, probably because they formed a common league.
Verses 12-13 Edit
The Manassites were unable to exterminate the Canaanites from these six towns, and the districts round; but when they grew stronger, they made them tributary slaves (cf. Jos 16:10).
Verses 14-18 Edit
Jos 17:14-18Complaint of the Descendants of Joseph respecting the inheritance allotted to them. - Jos 17:14. As the descendants of Joseph formed two tribes (Ephraim and Manasseh), they gave utterance to their dissatisfaction that Joshua had given them (“me,” the house of Joseph, Jos 17:17) but one lot, but one portion (חבל, a measure, then the land measured off), for an inheritance, although they were a strong and numerous people. “So far hath Jehovah blessed me hitherto.” עד־אשׁד, to this (sc., numerous people), is to be understood de gradu; עד־כּה, hitherto, de tempore. There was no real ground for this complaint. As Ephraim numbered only 32,500 and Manasseh 52,700 at the second census in the time of Moses (Num 26), ), and therefore Ephraim and half Manasseh together did not amount to more than 58,000 or 59,000, this tribe and a half were not so strong as Judah with its 76,500, and were even weaker than Dan with its 64,400, or Issachar with its 64,300 men, and therefore could not justly lay claim to more than the territory of a single tribe. Moreover, the land allotted to them was in one of the most fertile parts of Palestine. For although as a whole the mountains of Ephraim have much the same character as those of Judah, yet the separate mountains are neither so rugged nor so lofty, there being only a few of them that reach the height of 2500 feet above the level of the sea (see Ritter, Erdk. xv. pp. 475ff.; V. de Velde, Mem. pp. 177ff.); moreover, they are intersected by many broad valleys and fertile plateaux, which are covered with fruitful fields and splendid plantations of olives,vines, and fig trees (see Rob. iii. p. 78, Bibl. Res. pp. 290ff.; Seetzen, ii. pp. 165ff., 190ff.). On the west the mountains slope off into the hill country, which joins the plain of Sharon, with its invariable fertility. “The soil here is a black clay soil of unfathomable depth, which is nearly all ploughed, and is of such unusual fertility that a cultivated plain here might furnish an almost unparalleled granary for the whole land. Interminable fields full of wheat and barley with their waving ears, which were very nearly ripe, with here and there a field of millet, that was already being diligently reaped by the peasants, presented a glorious sight” (Ritter, Erdk. xvi. pp. 567-8).
Verse 15 Edit
Joshua therefore sent them back with their petition, and said, “If thou art a strong people, go up into the wood and cut it away,” i.e., make room for houses, fields, and meadows, by clearing the forests, “in the land of the Perizzites and Rephaim, if the mountain of Ephraim is too narrow for thee.” The name “mountain of Ephraim” is used here in a certain sense proleptically, to signify the mountain which received its name from the tribe of Ephraim, to which it had only just been allotted. This mountain, which is also called the mountain of Israel (Jos 11:16, Jos 11:21), was a limestone range running from Kirjath-jearim, where the mountains of Judah terminate (see at Jos 11:21), to the plain of Jezreel, and therefore embracing the greater part of the tribe-territory of Benjamin. The wood, which is distinguished from the mountain of Ephraim, and is also described in Jos 17:18 as a mountainous land, is either the mountainous region extending to the north of Yasir as far as the mountains at Gilboa, and lying to the west of Beisan, a region which has not yet been thoroughly explored, or else, as Knobel supposes, “the broad range of woody heights or low woody hills, by which the mountains of Samaria are connected with Carmel on the north-west (Rob. iii. p. 189), between Taanath and Megiddo on the east, and Caesarea and Dor on the west.” Possibly both may be intended, as the children of Joseph were afraid of the Canaanites in Beisan and in the plain of Jezreel (Jos 17:16). The Rephaim were dwelling there, a tribe of gigantic stature (see at Gen 14:5), also the Perizzites (see at Gen 13:7).
Verse 16 Edit
The children of Joseph replied that the mountain (allotted to them) would not be enough for them (מצא, as in Num 11:22; Zec 10:10); and that all the Canaanites who dwelt in the land of the plain had iron chariots, both those in Beth-shean and its daughter towns, and those in the valley of Jezreel. ארץ־העמק, the land of the plain or valley land, includes both the valley of the Jordan near Beisan, and also the plain of Jezreel, which opens into the Jordan valley in the neighbourhood of Beisan (Rob. iii. p. 173). The plain of Jezreel, so called after the town of that name, is called the “great field of Esdrelom” in Judith 1:4, and τὸ μέγα πεδίον by Josephus. It is the present Merj (i.e., pasture-land) Ibn Aamer, which runs in a south-westerly direction from the Mediterranean Sea above Carmel, and reaches almost to the Jordan. It is bounded on the south by the mountains of Carmel, the mountain-land of Ephraim and the range of hills connecting the two, on the north by the mountains of Galilee, on the west by the southern spurs of the Galilean highland, and on the east by the mountains of Gilboa and the Little Hermon (Jebel Duhy). Within these boundaries it is eight hours in length from east to west, and five hours broad; it is fertile throughout, though very desolate now (see v. Raumer, Pal. iii. pp. 39ff.). “Iron chariots” are not scythe chariots, for these were introduced by Cyrus, and were unknown to the Medes, Persians, and Arabians, i.e., to the early Asiatics before his time (Xen. Cyr. vi. 1, 27, 30), as well as to the ancient Egyptians (see Wilkinson, Manners and Customs, i. p. 350); they were simply chariots tipped with iron, just as the Egyptian war-chariots were made of wood and strengthened with metal nails and tips (Wilkinson, pp. 342, 348).
Verses 17-18 Edit
As the answer of the children of Joseph indicated cowardice and want of confidence in the help of God, Joshua contented himself with repeating his first reply, though more fully and with the reasons assigned. “Thou art a strong people, and hast great power; there will not be one lot to thee:” i.e., because thou art a numerous people and endowed with strength, there shall not remain one lot to thee, thou canst and wilt extend thine inheritance. “For the mountain will be thine, for it is forest, and thou wilt hew it out, and its goings out will become thine.” By the mountain we are not to understand the mountains of Ephraim which were assigned to the Ephraimites by the lot, but the wooded mountains mentioned in Jos 17:15, which the children of Joseph were to hew out, so as to make outlets for themselves. “The outgoings of it” are the fields and plains bordering upon the forest. For the Canaanites who dwelt there (Jos 17:15) would be driven out by the house of Joseph, just because they had iron chariots and were strong, and therefore only a strong tribe like Joseph was equal to the task. “Not one of the tribes of Israel is able to fight against them (the Canaanites) because they are strong, but you have strength enough to be able to expel them” (Rashi).
Chap. 18 Edit
Verse 1 Edit
The Tabernacle Set Up at Shiloh. - As soon as the tribe of Ephraim had received its inheritance, Joshua commanded the whole congregation to assemble in Shiloh, and there set up the tabernacle, in order that, as the land was conquered, the worship of Jehovah might henceforth be regularly observed in accordance with the law. The selection of Shiloh as the site for the sanctuary was hardly occasioned by the fitness of the place for this purpose, on account of its being situated upon a mountain in the centre of the land, for there were many other places that would have been quite as suitable in this respect; the reason is rather to be found in the name of the place, viz., Shiloh, i.e., rest, which called to mind the promised Shiloh (Gen 49:10), and therefore appeared to be pre-eminently suitable to be the resting-place of the sanctuary of the Lord, where His name was to dwell in Israel, until He should come who was to give true rest to His people as the Prince of Peace. In any case, however, Joshua did not follow his own judgment in selecting Shiloh for this purpose, but acted in simple accordance with the instructions of God, as the Lord had expressly reserved to himself the choice of the place where His name should dwell (Deu 12:11). Shiloh, according to the Onom., was twelve Roman miles or five hours to the south of Neapolis (Nablus), and about eight hours to the north of Jerusalem; at present it is a heap of ruins, bearing the name of Seilun (see Rob. iii. p. 85). The tabernacle continued standing at Shiloh during the time of the judges, until the ark of the covenant fell into the hands of the Philistines, in the lifetime of Eli, when the holy tent was robbed of its soul, and reduced to the mere shadow of a sanctuary. After this it was removed to Nob (1Sa 21:2); but in consequence of the massacre inflicted by Saul upon the inhabitants of this place (1Sa 22:19), it was taken to Gibeon (1Ki 3:4 : see Keil, Bibl. Arch. i. §22). From this time forward Shilloh continued to decline, because the Lord had rejected it (Psa 78:60; Jer 7:12; Jer 26:6). That it was destroyed by the Assyrians, as Knobel affirms, is not stated in the history.
Verse 2 Edit
Survey of the Land that had yet to be Divided. - Jos 18:2. After the tabernacle had been set up, the casting of the lots and division of the land among the other seven tribes were to be continued; namely at Shiloh, to which the congregation had removed with the sanctuary.
Verses 3-4 Edit
But, for the reasons explained in Jos 14:1, these tribes showed themselves “slack to go to possess the land which the Lord had given them,” i.e., not merely to conquer it, but to have it divided by lot, and to enter in and take possession. Joshua charged them with this, and directed them to appoint three men for each of the seven tribes, that they might be sent out to go through the land, and describe it according to the measure of their inheritance. “According to their inheritance,” i.e., with special reference to the fact that seven tribes were to receive it for their inheritance. The description was not a formal measurement, although the art of surveying was well known in Egypt in ancient times, and was regularly carried out after the annual inundations of the Nile (Herod. ii. 109; Strabo, xvii. 787; Diod. Sic. i. 69); so that the Israelites might have learned it there. But כּתב does not mean to measure; and it was not a formal measurement that was required, for the purpose of dividing the land that yet remained into seven districts, since the tribes differed in numerical strength, and therefore the boundaries of the territory assigned them could not be settled till after the lots had been cast. The meaning of the word is to describe; and according to Jos 18:9, it was chiefly to the towns that reference was made: so that the description required by Joshua in all probability consisted simply in the preparation of lists of the towns in the different parts of the land, with an account of their size and character; also with “notices of the quality and condition of the soil; what lands were fertile, and what they produced; where the country was mountainous, and where it was level; which lands were well watered, and which were dry; and any other things that would indicate the character of the soil, and facilitate a comparison between the different parts of the land” (Rosenmüller). The reasons which induced Joshua to take steps for the first time now for securing a survey of the land, are given in Jos 14:1. The men chosen for the purpose were able to carry out their task without receiving any hindrance from the Canaanites. For whilst the latter were crushed, if not exterminated, by the victories which the Israelites had gained, it was not necessary for the twenty-one Israelitish men to penetrate into every corner of the land, and every town that was still inhabited by the Canaanites, in order to accomplish their end.
Verses 5-6 Edit
“And divide it into seven parts,” viz., for the purpose of casting lots. Judah, however, was still to remain in its land to the south, and Ephraim in its territory to the north. The seven portions thus obtained they were to bring to Joshua, that he might then cast the lot for the seven tribes “before the Lord,” i.e., before the tabernacle (Jos 19:51).
Verse 7 Edit
There were only seven tribes that had still to receive their portions; for the tribe of Levi was to receive no portion in the land (vid., Josh 13-14), and Gad, Reuben, and half Manasseh had received their inheritance already on the other side of the Jordan.
Verses 8-9 Edit
Execution of this command.
Verse 10 Edit
Joshua finishes the casting of the lots at Shiloh.
Inheritance of the Tribe of Benjamin. - Jos 18:11-20. Boundaries of the inheritance. - Jos 18:11. The territory of their lot (i.e., the territory assigned to the Benjaminites by lot) came out (through the falling out of the lot) between the sons of Judah and the sons of Joseph.
Verses 12-14 Edit
The northern boundary (“the boundary towards the north side”) therefore coincided with the southern boundary of Ephraim as far as Lower Beth-horon, and has already been commented upon in the exposition of Jos 16:1-3. The western boundary follows in Jos 18:14. At Beth-horon the boundary curved round and turned southwards on the western side, namely from the mountain before (in front of) Beth-horon southwards; and “the going out thereof were at Kirjath-baal, which is Kirjath-jearim,” the town of the Judaeans mentioned in Jos 15:60, the present Kureyet el Enab (see at Jos 9:17).
Verses 15-19 Edit
“As for the southern boundary from the end of Kirjath-jearim onwards, the (southern) boundary went out on the west (i.e., it started from the west), and went out (terminated) at the fountain of the water of Nephtoah.” Consequently it coincided with the northern boundary of Judah, as described in Jos 15:5-9, except that it is given there from east to west, and here from west to east (see at Jos 15:5-9). In the construction haגּבוּל תּוצאותיו, the noun הגּבוּל is in apposition to the suffix: the outgoings of it, namely of the border (see Ewald, §291, b.).
Verse 20 Edit
The eastern boundary was the Jordan.
Verses 21-28 Edit
The towns of Benjamin are divided into two groups. The first group (Jos 18:21-24) contains twelve towns in the eastern portion of the territory. Jericho: the present Riha (see at Jos 2:1). Beth-hoglah, now Ain Hajla (see Jos 15:6). Emek-keziz: the name has been preserved in the Wady el Kaziz, on the road from Jerusalem to Jericho, on the south-east of the Apostle's Well (see Van de Velde, Mem. p. 328).
Verse 22 Edit
Jos 18:22Beth-arabah: see at Jos 15:6. Zemaraim, probably the ruins of es Sumrah, on the road from Jerusalem to Jericho, to the east of Khan Hadhur, on Van de Velde’s map. Bethel: now Beitin (see Jos 7:2).
Verse 23 Edit
Jos 18:23Avvim (i.e., ruins) is unknown. Phara has been preserved in the ruins of Fara, on Wady Fara, three hours to the north-east of Jerusalem, and the same distance to the west of Jericho. Ophrah is mentioned again in 1Sa 13:17, but it is a different place from the Ophrah of Gideon in Manasseh (Jdg 6:11, Jdg 6:24; Jdg 8:27). According to the Onom. (s. v. Aphra), it was a κώμη Ἀφρήλ in the time of Eusebius (Jer. vicus Effrem), five Roman miles to the east of Bethel; and according to Van de Velde, v. Raumer, and others, it is probably the same place as Ephron or Ephrain, which Abijah took from Jeroboam along with Jeshanah and Bethel (2Ch 13:19), also the same as Ephraim, the city to which Christ went when He withdrew into the desert (Joh 11:54), as the Onom. (s. v. Ephron) speaks of a villa praegrandis Ephraea nomine (Ἐφρα̈́́ι in Euseb.), although the distance given there, viz., twenty Roman miles to the north of Jerusalem, reaches far beyond the limits of Benjamin.
Verse 24 Edit
Jos 18:24Chephar-haammonai and Ophni are only mentioned here, and are still unknown. Gaba, or Geba of Benjamin (1Sa 13:16; 1Ki 15:22) which was given up to the Levites (Jos 21:17; 1Ch 6:45), was in the neighbourhood of Ramah (1Ki 15:22; 2Ch 16:6). It is mentioned in 2Ki 23:8; Zec 14:10, as the northern boundary of the kingdom of Judah, and was still inhabited after the captivity (Neh 7:30). It is a different place from Gibea, and is not to be found, as I formerly supposed, in the Moslem village of Jibia, by the Wady el Jib, between Beitin and Sinjil (Rob. iii. p. 80), but in the small village of Jeba, which is lying half in ruins, and where there are relics of antiquity, three-quarters of an hour to the north-east of er-Râm (Ramah), and about three hours to the north of Jerusalem, upon a height from which there is an extensive prospect (vid., Rob. ii. pp. 113ff.). This eastern group also included the two other towns Anathoth and Almon (Jos 21:18), which were given up by Benjamin to the Levites. Anathoth, the home of the prophet Jeremiah (Jer 1:1; Jer 11:21.), which was still inhabited by Benjaminites after the captivity (Neh 11:32), is the present village of Anâta, where there are ruins of great antiquity, an hour and a quarter to the north of Jerusalem (Rob. ii. pp. 109ff.). Almon, called Allemeth in 1Ch 6:45, has been preserved in the ruins of Almît (Rob. Bibl. Res. pp. 287ff.), or el-Mid (Tobler, Denkbl. p. 631), on the south-east of Anâta.
Verses 25-28 Edit
The second group of fourteen towns in the western portion of Benjamin. - Jos 18:25. Gibeon, the present Jib: see at Jos 9:3. Ramah, in the neighbourhood of Gibeah and Geba (Jdg 19:13; Isa 10:29; 1Ki 15:17; Ezr 2:26), most probably the Ramah of Samuel (1Sa 1:19; 1Sa 2:11; 1Sa 25:1; 1Sa 28:3), is the present village of er-Râm, upon a mountain with ruins between Gibeon and Geba, half an hour to the west of the latter, two hours to the north of Jerusalem (see Rob. ii. p. 315). Beeroth, the present Bireh: see at Jos 9:17.
Verses 26-27 Edit
Jos 18:26-27Mizpeh, commonly called Mizpah, where the war with Benjamin was decided upon (Judg 20-21), and where Samuel judged the people, and chose Saul as king (1Sa 7:5., Jos 10:17), was afterwards the seat of the Babylonian governor Gedaliah (2Ki 25:23; Jer 40:6.). According to the Onom. (s. v. Massepha), it was near Kirjath-jearim, and Robinson (ii. p. 139) is no doubt correct in supposing it to be the present Neby Samvil (i.e., prophet Samuel), an hour and a quarter to the east of Kureyet Enab (Kirjath-jearim), two hours to the north-west of Jerusalem, half an hour to the south of Gibeon, a place which stands like a watch-tower upon the highest point in the whole region, and with a mosque, once a Latin church, which is believed alike by Jews, Christians, and Mahometans to cover the tomb of the prophet Samuel (see Rob. ii. pp. 135ff.). Chephirah, i.e., Kefir: see at Jos 9:17. Mozah is only mentioned here, and is still unknown. Jos 18:27. This also applies to Rekem, Irpeel, and Taralah.
Verse 28 Edit
Jos 18:28Zelah, the burial-place of Saul and his family (2Sa 21:14), is otherwise unknown. Gibeath or Gibeah, i.e., Gibeah of Benjamin, which was destroyed by the other tribes of Israel in the time of the judges, on account of the flagrant crime which had been committed there (Judg 19-20), is also called Gibeah of Saul, as being the home and capital of Saul (1Sa 10:26; 1Sa 11:4, etc.), and was situated, according to Jdg 19:13 and Isa 10:29, between Jerusalem and Ramah, according to Josephus (Bell. Jud. v. 2, 1, 8) about twenty or thirty stadia from Jerusalem. These statements point to the Tell or Tuleil el Phul, i.e., bean-mountain, a conical peak about an hour from Jerusalem, on the road to er-Râm, with a large heap of stones upon the top, probably the ruins of a town that was built of unhewn stones, from which there is a very extensive prospect in all directions (Rob. ii. p. 317). Consequently modern writers have very naturally agreed in the conclusion, that the ancient Gibeah of Benjamin or Saul was situated either by the side of or upon this Tell (see Rob. Bibl. Res. p. 286; Strauss, Sinai, etc., p. 331, ed. 6; v. Raumer, Pal. p. 196). Kirjath has not yet been discovered, and must not be confounded with Kirjath-jearim, which belonged to the tribe of Judah (Jos 18:14; cf. Jos 15:60).
Chap. 19 Edit
Verse 1 Edit
INHERITANCE OF THE TRIBES OF SIMEON, ZEBULUN, ISSACHAB, ASHER, NAPHTALI, AND DAN. CHAP. XIX. Edit
The Inheritance of Simeon fell within the inheritance of the children of Judah, because the land allotted to them at Gilgal was larger than they required (Jos 19:9). Thus the curse pronounced upon Simeon by Jacob of dispersion in Israel (Gen 49:7) was fulfilled upon this tribe in a very peculiar manner, and in a different manner from that pronounced upon Levi. The towns allotted to the tribe of Simeon are divided into two groups, the first (Jos 19:2-6) consisting of thirteen or fourteen towns, all situated in the Negeb (or south country); the second (Jos 19:7) of four towns, two of which were in the Negeb and two in the shephelah. All these eighteen towns have already been enumerated among the towns of Judah (Jos 15:26-32, Jos 15:42), and are mentioned again in 1Ch 4:28-32, in just the same order, and with only slight differences in the spelling of some of the names. If the classification of the names in two groups might seem to indicate that Simeon received a connected portion of land in Judah, this idea is overthrown at once by the circumstance that two of the four towns in the second group were in the south land and two in the lowland, and, judging from Jos 15:32, Jos 15:42, at a great distance from one another. At the same time, we cannot decide this point with any certainty, as the situation of several of the towns is still unknown.
Verses 2-6 Edit
Jos 19:2-6Beersheba: see at Jos 15:28. Sheba is wanting in the Chronicles, but has no doubt been omitted through a copyist's error, as Shema answers to it in Jos 15:26, where it stands before Moladah just as Sheba does here. - On the names in Jos 19:3-6, see the exposition of Jos 15:28-32. - The sum total given in Jos 19:6, viz., thirteen towns, does not tally, as there are fourteen names. On these differences, see the remarks on Jos 15:32.
Verse 7 Edit
Verses 8-9 Edit
In addition to the towns mentioned, the Simeonites received all the villages round about the towns to Baalath-beer, the Ramah of the south. This place, up to which the territory of the Simeonites extended, though without its being actually assigned to the Simeonites, is simply called Baal in 1Ch 4:33, and is probably the same as Bealoth in Jos 15:24, though its situation has not yet been determined (see at Jos 15:24). It cannot be identified, however, with Ramet el Khulil, an hour to the north of Hebron, which Roediger supposes to be the Ramah of the south, since the territory of Simeon, which was situated in the Negeb, and had only two towns in the shephelah, cannot possibly have extended into the mountains to a point on the north of Hebron. So far as the situation is concerned, V. de Velde would be more likely to be correct, when he identifies Rama of the south with Tell Lekiyeh on the north of Beersheba, if this conjecture only rested upon a better foundation than the untenable assumption, that Baalath-beer is the same as the Baalath of Dan in Jos 19:44.
The Inheritance of Zebulun fell above the plain of Jezreel, between this plain and the mountains of Naphtali, so that it was bounded by Asher on the west and north-west (Jos 19:27), by Naphtali on the north and north-east (Jos 19:34), and by Issachar on the south-east and south, and touched neither the Mediterranean Sea nor the Jordan. It embraced a very fertile country, however, with the fine broad plain of el Buttauf, the μέγα πεδίον above Nazareth called Asochis in Joseph.vita, §41, 45 (see Rob. iii. p. 189, Bibl. Res. pp. 105ff.; Ritter, Erdk. xvi. pp. 742, 758-9).
Verse 10 Edit
“And the boundary (the territory) of their inheritance was (went) to Sarid.” This is no doubt the centre of the southern boundary, from which it is traced in a westerly direction in Jos 19:11, and in an easterly direction in Jos 19:12, in the same manner as in Jos 16:6. Unfortunately, Sarid cannot be determined with certainty. Knobel’s opinion, is, that the name, which signifies “hole” or “incision,” after the analogy of שׂרד, perforavit, and שׂרט, incidit, does not refer to a town, but to some other locality, probably the southern opening of the deep and narrow wady which comes down from the basin of Nazareth, and is about an hour to the south-east of Nazareth, between two steep mountains (Seetzen, ii. pp. 151-2; Rob. iii. p. 183). This locality appears suitable enough. But it is also possible that Sarid may be found in one of the two heaps of ruins on the south side of the Mons praecipitii upon V. de Velde’s map (so called from Luk 4:29).
Verse 11 Edit
From this point “the border went up westwards, namely to Mar'ala, and touched Dabbasheth, and still farther to the brook of Jokneam.” If Jokneam of Carmel has been preserved in the Tell Kaimûn (see at Jos 12:22), the brook before Jokneam is probably the Wady el Milh, on the eastern side of which, near the point where it opens into the plain, stands Kaimûn, and through which the road runs from Acca to Ramleh, as this wady separates Carmel from the small round hills which run to the south-east (see Rob. Bibl. Res. p. 114, and V. de Velde, i. p. 249). Here the boundaries of Zebulun and Asher met (Jos 19:27). Mar'ala and Dabbasheth are to be sought for between Kaimûn and Sarid. The Cod. Vat. has Μαγελδά instead of Μαριλά. Now, however, little importance we can attach to the readings of the lxx on account of the senseless way in which its renderings are made-as, for example, in this very passage, where ועלה עד־שׂריד׃ is rendered Ἐσεδεκγώλα, - the name Magelda might suggest a Hebrew reading Magedlah or Mageldah, and thus lead one to connect the place with the village of Mejeidil (Rob. Bibl. Res. p. 114), or Mshedil (Seetzen, ii. p. 143), on the west of Mons praecipitii, though neither of these travellers visited the place, or has given us any minute description of it. Its situation upon a mountain would suit Mar'ala, to which the boundary went up from Sarid. In the case of Dabbasheth, the name, which signifies “lump” (see Isa 30:6), points to a mountain. Upon this Knobel has founded the conjecture that Gibeah or Gibeath took the place of this uncommon word, and that this is connected with the Gabathon of the Onom. (juxta campum Legionis), the present Jebâta between Mejeidil and Kaimûn, upon an isolated height on the edge of the mountains which skirt the plain of Jezreel, where there are signs of a remote antiquity (Rob. iii. p. 201, and Bibl. Res. p. 113; Ritter, Erdk. xvi. p. 700); although Tell Thureh (i.e., mountain) might be intended, a village upon a low and isolated hill a little farther south (see Rob. Bibl. Res. p. 116, and Ritter, ut sup.).
Verse 12 Edit
“And from Sarid the boundary turned eastwards toward the sun-rising to the territory of Chisloth-tabor, and went out to Dabrath, and went up to Japhia.” Chisloth-tabor, i.e., according to Kimchi's explanation lumbi Taboris (French, les flancs), was at any rate a place on the side of Tabor, possibly the same as Kesulloth in Jos 19:18, as Masius and others suppose, and probably the same place as the Xaloth of Josephus (Bell. Jud. iii. 3, 1), which was situated in the “great plain,” and the vicus Chasalus of the Onom. (juxta montem Thabor in campestribus), i.e., the present village of Iksâl or Ksâl, upon a rocky height on the west of Thabor, with many tombs in the rocks (Rob. iii. p. 182). Dabrath, a place in the tribe of Issachar that was given up to the Levites (Jos 21:28; 1Ch 6:57), called Dabaritta in Josephus (Bell. Jud. ii. 21, 3) and Dabira in the Onom. (villula in monte Thabor), the present Deburieh, an insignificant village which stands in a very picturesque manner upon a stratum of rock at the western foot of Tabor (Rob. iii. p. 210; V. de Velde, R. ii. p. 324). Japhia certainly cannot be the present Hepha or Haifa (Khaifa) on the Mediterranean, and near to Carmel (Rel. Pal. p. 826, and Ges. Thes. s. v.); but it is just as certain that it cannot be the present Jafa, a place half an hour to the south-west of Nazareth, as Robinson (Pal. iii. p. 200) and Knobel suppose, since the boundary was running eastwards, and cannot possibly have turned back again towards the west, and run from Deburieh beyond Sarid. If the positions assigned to Chisloth-tabor and Dabrath are correct, Japhia must be sought for on the east of Deburieh.
Verse 13 Edit
“From thence it went over towards the east to the sun-rising to Gath-hepher, to Eth-kazin, and went out to Rimmon, which is marked off to Neah.” Gath-hepher, the home of the prophet Jonah (2Ki 14:25), was “haud grandis viculus Geth” in the time of Jerome (see prol. ad Jon.). It was about two miles from Sephoris on the road to Tiberias, and the tomb of the prophet was shown there. It is the present village of Meshed, a place about an hour and a quarter to the north of Nazareth (Rob. iii. p. 209; V. de Velde, Mem. p. 312). Eth-kazin is unknown. Rimmon, a Levitical town (Jos 21:35; 1Ch 6:62), has probably been preserved in the village of Rummaneh, about two hours and a half to the north of Nazareth (Rob. iii. p. 195). Ham-methoar is not a proper name, but the participle of תּאר, with the article in the place of the relative pronoun, “bounded off,” or pricked off. Neah is unknown; it is possibly the same place as Neiel in the tribe of Asher (Jos 19:27), as Knobel supposes.
Verse 14 Edit
“And the boundary turned round it (round Rimmon),on the north to Channathon, and the outgoings thereof were the valley of Jiphtah-el.” Judging from the words נסב and מצּפון, this verse apparently gives the north-west boundary, since the last definition in Jos 19:13, “to Gath-hepher,” etc., points to the eastern boundary. Jiphtah-el answers no doubt to the present Jefât, two hours and a half to the north of Sefurieh, and is the Jotapata which was obstinately defended by Josephus (Bell. Jud. iii. 7, 9: see Rob. Bibl. Res. pp. 104ff.). Consequently the valley of Jiphtah-el, at which Zebulun touched Asher (Jos 19:27), is probably “no other than the large Wady Abilîn, which takes its rise in the hills in the neighbourhood of Jefât” (Rob. Bibl. Res. p. 107). And if this be correct, Channathon (lxx Ἐνναθώθ) is probably Cana of Galilee, the home of Nathanael (Joh 2:1, Joh 2:11; Joh 4:46; Joh 21:2), the present Kana el Jelil, between Rummaneh and Yefât, on the northern edge of the plain of Buttauf, upon a Tell, from which you overlook the plain, fully two hours and a half in a straight line from Nazareth, and directly north of that place, where there are many ruins found (see Rob. iii. p. 204; Bibl. Res. p. 108).
Verses 15-16 Edit
The towns of Zebulun were the following. Kattath, probably the same as Kitron, which is mentioned in Jdg 1:30 in connection with Nahalol, but which is still unknown. Nehalal, or Nahalol (Jdg 1:30), is supposed by V. de Velde (Mem. p. 335), who follows Rabbi Schwartz, to be the present village of Maalul, a place with ruins on the south-west of Nazareth (see Seetzen, ii. p. 143; Rob. iii. App.; and Ritter, Erdk. xvi. p. 700). Simron is supposed by Knobel to be the village of Semunieh (see at Jos 11:1). But neither of these is very probable. Idalah is supposed by V. de Velde to be the village of Jeda or Jeida, on the west of Semunieh, where are a few relics of antiquity, though Robinson (Bibl. Res. p. 113) states the very opposite. Bethlehem (of Zebulun), which many regard as the home of the judge Ibzan (Jdg 12:8), has been preserved under the old name in a miserable village on the north of Jeida and Semunieh (see Seetzen, ii. p. 139; Rob. Bibl. Res. p. 113). The number of the towns is given as twelve, though only five are mentioned by name. It is true that some commentators have found the missing names in the border places mentioned in Jos 19:11-14, as, after deducting Chisloth-tabor and Dabrath, which belonged to Issachar, the names Sarid, Maralah, Dabbasheth, Japhia, Gittah-hepher, Eth-kazin, and Channathon give just seven towns. Nevertheless there is very little probability in this conjecture. For, in the first place, not only would it be a surprising thing to find the places mentioned as boundaries included among the towns of the territory belonging to the tribe, especially as some of the places so mentioned did not belong to Zebulun at all; but the copula vav, with which the enumeration of the towns commences, is equally surprising, since this is introduced in other cases with הארים והיוּ (ויּהיוּ), e.g., Jos 18:21; Jos 15:21. And, in the second place, it is not a probable thing in itself, that, with the exception of the five towns mentioned in Jos 19:15, the other towns of Zebulun should all be situated upon the border. And lastly, the towns of Kartah and Dimnah, which Zebulun gave up to the Levites (Jos 21:34), are actually wanting. Under these circumstances, it is a natural conclusion that there is a gap in the text here, just as in Jos 15:59 and Jos 21:36.
The Inheritance of Issachar. - In this instance only towns are given, and the boundaries are not delineated, with the exception of the eastern portion of the northern boundary and the boundary line; at the same time, they may easily be traced from the boundaries of the surrounding tribes. Issachar received for the most part the large and very fertile plain of Jezreel (see at Jos 17:16, and Ritter, Erdk. xvi. pp. 689ff.), and was bounded on the south by Manasseh, on the west by Manasseh and Asher, on the north by Zebulun, and farther east by Naphtali also, and on the east by the Jordan.
Verse 18 Edit
“And their boundary was towards Jezreel,” i.e., their territory extended beyond Jezreel. Jezreel, the summer residence of Ahab and his house (1Ki 18:45-46, etc.), was situated upon a mountain, with an extensive and splendid prospect over the large plain that was called by its name. It was afterwards called Esdraela, a place described in the Onom. (s. v. Jezreel) as standing between Scythopolis and Legio; it is the present Zerîn, on the north-west of the mountains of Gilboa (see Seetzen, ii. pp. 155-6; Rob. iii. pp. 161ff.; Van de Velde, R. ii. pp. 320ff.). Chesulloth, possibly the same as Chisloth-tabor (see at Jos 19:12). Sunem, the home of Abishag (1Ki 1:3-15, etc.), also mentioned in 1Sa 28:4 and 2Ki 4:8, was situated, according to the Onom., five Roman miles (two hours) to the south of Tabor; it is the present Solam or Sulem, at the south-western foot of the Duhy or Little Hermon, an hour and a half to the north of Jezreel (see Rob. iii. pp. 170ff.; Van de Velde, R. ii. p. 323).
Verse 19 Edit
Jos 19:19Haphraim, according to the Onom. (s. v. Aphraim) villa Affaraea, six Roman miles to the north of Legio, is identified by Knobel with the village of Afuleh, on the west of Sulem, and more than two hours to the north-east of Legun (Rob. iii. pp. 163, 181). Sion, according to the Onom. villa juxta montem Thabor, has not yet been discovered. Anaharath is supposed by Knobel to be Na'urah, on the eastern side of the Little Hermon (Bibl. Res. p. 337); but he regards the text as corrupt, and following the Cod. Al. of the lxx, which has Ῥενάθ and Ἀῤῥανέθ, maintains that the reading should be Archanath, to which Arâneh on the north of Jenin in the plain corresponds (Seetzen, ii. p. 156; Rob. iii. p. 157). But the circumstance that the Cod. Al. has two names instead of one makes its reading very suspicious.
Verse 20 Edit
Jos 19:20Harabbit is supposed by Knobel to be Araboneh, on the north-east of Arâneh, at the southern foot of Gilboa (Rob. iii. p. 157). Kishion, which was given up to the Levites (Jos 21:28) and is erroneously written Kedesh in 1Ch 6:57, is unknown. This also applies to Abez or Ebez, which is never mentioned again.
Verse 21 Edit
Jos 19:21Remeth, for which Jarmuth stands in the list of Levitical towns in Jos 21:29, and Ramoth in 1Ch 6:58, is also unknown.En-gannim, which was also allotted to the Levites (Jos 21:29; also 1Ch 6:73, where it is called Anem), has been associated by Robinson (iii. p. 155) with the Γιναία of Josephus, the present Jenin. The name En-gannim signifies fountain of gardens, and Jenin stands at the southern side of the plain of Jezreel in the midst of gardens and orchards, which are watered by a copious spring (see Seetzen, ii. pp. 156ff.); “unless perhaps the place referred to is the heap of ruins called Um el Ghanim, on the south-east of Tabor, mentioned by Berggren, ii. p. 240, and Van de Velde, Mem. p. 142” (Knobel). En-chadda and Beth-pazzez are only mentioned here, and have not yet been discovered. According to Knobel, the former of the two may possibly be either the place by Gilboa called Judeideh, with a fountain named Ain Judeideh (Rob. Bibl. Res. p. 337), or else Beit-kad or Kadd near Gilboa, mentioned by Seetzen (ii. p. 159) and Robinson (iii. p. 157).
Verses 22-23 Edit
“And the boundary touched Tabor, Sahazim, and Beth-shemesh.” Tabor is not the mountain of that name, but a town upon the mountain, which was given to the Levites, though not by Issachar but by Zebulun (1Ch 6:62), and was fortified afresh in the Jewish wars (Josephus, Bell. Jud. iv. 1, 8). In this passage, however, it appears to be reckoned as belonging to Issachar, since otherwise there are not sixteen cities named. At the same time, as there are several discrepancies between the numbers given and the names actually mentioned, it is quite possible that in this instance also the number sixteen is incorrect. In any case, Tabor was upon the border of Zebulun (Jos 19:12), so that it might have been allotted to this tribe. There are still the remains of old walls and ruins or arches, houses, and other buildings to be seen upon Mount Tabor; and round the summit there are the foundations of a thick wall built of large and to a great extent fluted stones (see Rob. iii. pp. 453ff.; Seetzen, ii. p. 148; Buckingham, Syr. i. pp. 83ff.). The places which follow are to be sought for on the east of Tabor towards the Jordan, as the boundary terminated at the Jordan. Sachazim (Shahazimah) Knobel connects with el Hazetheh, as the name, which signifies heights, points to a town situated upon hills; and el Hezetheh stands upon the range of hills, bounding the low-lying land of Ard el Hamma, which belonged to Naphtali. The reason is a weak one, though the situation would suit. There is more probability in the conjecture that Beth-shemesh, which remained in the hands of the Canaanites (Jdg 1:33), has been preserved in the ruined village of Bessum (Rob. iii. p. 237), and that this new name is only a corruption of the old one, like Beth-shean and Beisan. It is probable that the eastern portion of the northern boundary of Issachar, towards Naphtali, ran in a north-easterly direction from Tabor through the plain to Kefr Sabt, and thence to the Jordan along the Wady Bessum. It is not stated how far the territory of Issachar ran down the valley of the Jordan (see the remarks on Jos 17:11).
The Inheritance of Asher. - Asher received its territory along the Mediterranean Sea from Carmel to the northern boundary of Canaan itself. The description commences with the central portion, viz., the neighbourhood of Acco (Jos 19:25), going first of all towards the south (Jos 19:26, Jos 19:27), and then to the north (Jos 19:28, Jos 19:30).
Verse 25 Edit
The territory of the Asherites was as follows. Helkath, which was given up to the Levites (Jos 21:31, and 1Ch 6:75, where Hukok is an old copyist's error), is the present Jelka, three hours to the east of Acco (Akka: Scholz, Reise, p. 257), or Jerka, a Druse village situated upon an eminence, and judging from the remains, an ancient place (Van de Velde, R. i. p. 214; Rob. iii. App.). Hali, according to Knobel possibly Julis, between Jerka and Akka, in which case the present name arose from the form Halit, and t was changed into s. Beten, according to the Onom. (s. v. Βατναι%: Bathne) as vicus Bethbeten, eight Roman miles to the east of Ptolemais, has not yet been found. Achshaph is also unknown (see at Jos 11:1). The Onom. (s. v. Achsaph) says nothing more about its situation than that it was in tribu Aser, whilst the statement made s. v. Acsaph (Ἀκσάφ), that it was villula Chasalus (κώμη Ἐξάδους), eight Roman miles from Diocaesarea ad radicem montis Thabor, leads into the territory of Zebulun.
Verse 26 Edit
Jos 19:26Alammalech has been preserved, so far as the name is concerned, in the Wady Malek or Malik (Rob. Bibl. Res. p. 110), which runs into the Kishon, since in all probability the wady was named after a place either near it or within it. Amad is supposed by Knobel to be the present Haifa, about three hours to the south of Acre, on the sea, and this he identifies with the sycamore city mentioned by Strabo (xvi. 758), Ptolemy (v. 15, 5), and Pliny (h. n. v. 17), which was called Epha in the time of the Fathers (see Ritter, Erdk. xvi. pp. 722ff.). In support of this he adduces the fact that the Hebrew name resembles the Arabic noun for sycamore-an argument the weakness of which does not need to be pointed out. Misheal was assigned to the Levites (Jos 21:30, and 1Ch 6:74, where it is called Mashal). According to the Onom. (s. v. Masan) it was on the sea-coast near to Carmel, which is in harmony with the next clause, “and reacheth to Carmel westwards, and to Shihor-libnath.” Carmel (i.e., fruit-field), which has acquired celebrity from the history of Elijah (1Ki 18:17.), is a wooded mountain ridge which stretches in a north-westerly direction on the southern side of the Kishon, and projects as a promontory into the sea. Its name, “fruit-field,” is well chosen; for whilst the lower part is covered with laurels and olive trees, the upper abounds in figs and oaks, and the whole mountain is full of the most beautiful flowers. There are also many caves about it (vid., v. Raumer, Pal. pp. 43ff.; and Ritter, Erdk. xvi. pp. 705-6). The Shihor-libnath is not the Belus, or glass-river, in the neighbourhood of Acre, but is to be sought for on the south of Carmel, where Asher was bounded by Manasseh (Jos 17:10), i.e., to the south of Dor, which the Manassites received in the territory of Asher (Jos 17:11); it is therefore in all probability the Nahr Zerka, possibly the crocodile river of Pliny (Reland, Pal. p. 730), which is three hours to the south of Dor, and whose name (blue) might answer both to shihor (black) and libnath (white).
Verse 27 Edit
From this point the boundary “turned towards the east,” probably following the river Libnath for a short distance upwards, “to Beth-dagon,” which has not yet been discovered, and must not be identified with Beit Dejan between Yafa and Ludd (Diospolis), “and touched Zebulun and the valley of Jiphtah-el on the north of Beth-emek, and Nehiël, and went out on the left of Cabul,” i.e., on the northern side of it. The north-west boundary went from Zebulun into the valley of Jiphtah-el, i.e., the upper part of the Wady Abilîn (Jos 19:14). Here therefore the eastern boundary of Asher, which ran northwards from Wady Zerka past the western side of Issachar and Zebulun, touched the north-west corner of Zebulun. The two places, Beth-emek and Nehiël (the latter possibly the same as Neah in Jos 19:13), which were situated at the south of the valley of Jiphtah-el, have not been discovered; they may, however, have been upon the border of Zebulun and yet have belonged to Ashwer. Cabul, the κώμη Χαβωλώ of Josephus (Vit. §43), in the district of Ptolemais, has been preserved in the village of Kabul, four hours to the south-east of Acre (Rob. Bibl. Res. p. 88, and Van de Velde, R. i. p. 218).
Verses 28-30 Edit
In Jos 19:28-30 the towns and boundaries in the northern part of the territory of Asher, on the Phoenician frontier, are given, and the Phoenician cities Sidon, Tyre, and Achzib are mentioned as marking the boundary. First of all we have four towns in Jos 19:28, reaching as far as Sidon, no doubt in the northern district of Asher. Ebron has not yet been traced. As Abdon occurs among the towns which Asher gave up to the Levites (Jos 21:30; 1Ch 6:59), and in this verse also twenty MSS have the reading Abdon, many writers, like Reland (Pal. p. 514), regard Ebron as a copyist's error for Abdon. This is possible enough, but it is by no means certain. As the towns of Asher are not all given in this list, since Acco, Achlab, and Helba (Jdg 1:31) are wanting, Abdon may also have been omitted. But we cannot attach any importance to the reading of the twenty MSS, as it may easily have arisen from Jos 21:30; and in addition to the Masoretic text, it has against it the authority of all the ancient versions, in which the reading Ebron is adopted. But even Abdon cannot be traced with certainty. On the supposition that Abdon is to be read for Ebron, Knobel connects it with the present Abbadiyeh, on the east of Beirut (Rob. iii. App.; Ritter, Erdk. xvii. pp. 477 and 710), or with Abidat, on the east (not the north) of Jobail (Byblus), mentioned by Burckhardt (Syr. p. 296) and Robinson (iii. App.); though he cannot adduce any other argument in support of the identity of Abdon with these two places, which are only known by name at present, except the resemblance in their names. On the supposition, however, that Abdon is not the same as Ebron, Van de Velde's conjecture is a much more natural one; namely, that it is to be found in the ruins of Abdeh, on the Wady Kurn, to the north of Acca. Rehob cannot be traced. The name occurs again in Jos 19:30, from which it is evident that there were two towns of this name in the territory of Asher (see at Jos 19:30). Schultz and Van de Velde connect it with the village of Hamûl by the wady of that name, between Ras el Abyad and Ras en Nakura; but this is too far south to be included in the district which reached to great Sidon. Knobel’s suggestion would be a more probable one, namely, that it is connected with the village of Hammana, on the east of Beirut, in the district of el Metn, on the heights of Lebanon, where there is now a Maronite monastery (vid., Seetzen, i. p. 260; Rob. iii. App.; and Ritter, xvii. pp. 676 and 710), if it could only be shown that the territory of Asher reached as far to the east as this. Kanah cannot be the village of Kâna, not far from Tyre (Rob. iii. p. 384), but must have been farther north, and near to Sidon, though it has not yet been discovered. For the supposition that it is connected with the existing place called Ain Kanieh (Rob. iii. App.; Ritter, xvii. pp. 94 and 703), on the north of Jezzin, is overthrown by the fact that that place is too far to the east to be thought of in this connection; and neither Robinson nor Ritter makes any allusion to “Ain Kana, in the neighbourhood of Jurjera, six hours to the south-east of Sidon,” which Knobel mentions without quoting his authority, so that the existence of such a place is very questionable. On Sidon, now Saida, see at Jos 11:8.
Verses 29-31 Edit
“And the boundary turned (probably from the territory of Sidon) to Ramah, to the fortified town of Zor.” Robinson supposes that Rama is to be found in the village of Rameh, on the south-east of Tyre, where several ancient sarcophagi are to be seen (Bibl. Res. p. 63). “The fortified town of Zor,” i.e., Tyre, is not the insular Tyre, but the town of Tyre, which was on the mainland, the present Sur, which is situated by the sea-coast, in a beautiful and fertile plain (see Ritter, Erdk. xvii. p. 320, and Movers, Phönizier, ii. 1, pp. 118ff.). “And the boundary turned to Hosah, and the outgoings thereof were at the sea, by the side of the district of Achzib.” Hosah is unknown, as the situation of Kausah, near to the Rameh already mentioned (Rob. Bibl. Res. p. 61), does not suit in this connection. מחבל, lit. from the district, i.e., by the side of it. Achzib, where the Asherites dwelt with the Canaanites (Jdg 1:31-32), is the Ekdippa of the Greeks and Romans, according to the Onom. (s. v. Achziph) nine Roman miles, or according to the Itiner. Hieros. p. 584, twelve miles to the north of Acco by the sea, the present Zib, a very large village, three good hours to the north of Acre, - a place on the sea-coast, with considerable ruins of antiquity (see Ges. Thes. p. 674; Seetzen, ii. p. 109; Ritter, xvi. pp. 811-12). - In Jos 19:30 three separate towns are mentioned, which were probably situated in the eastern part of the northern district of Asher, whereas the border towns mentioned in Jos 19:28 and Jos 19:29 describe this district in its western half. Ummah (lxx Ἀμμά) may perhaps have been preserved in Kefr Ammeih, upon the Lebanon, to the south of Hammana, in the district of Jurd (Rob. iii. App.; Ritter, xvii. p. 710). Aphek is the present Afka (see at Jos 13:4). Rehob cannot be traced with certainty. If it is Hub, as Knobel supposes, and the name Hub, which is borne by a Maronite monastery upon Lebanon, in the diocese of el-Jebail (to the north-east of Jebail), is a corruption of Rehob, this would be the northernmost town of Asher (see Seetzen, i. pp. 187ff., and Ritter, xvii. p. 791). The number “twenty-two towns and their villages” does not tally, as there are twenty-three towns mentioned in Jos 19:26-30, if we include Sidon, Tyre, and Achzib, according to Jdg 1:31-32. The only way in which the numbers can be made to agree is to reckon Nehiel (Jos 19:27) as identical with Neah (Jos 19:13). But this point cannot be determined with certainty, as the Asherites received other towns, such as Acco and Aclaph, which are wanting in this list, and may possibly have simply fallen out.
The Inheritance of Naphtali. - This fell between Asher and the upper Jordan. It reached northwards to the northern boundary of Canaan, and touched Zebulun and Issachar on the south. In Jos 19:33 and Jos 19:34 the boundary lines are given: viz., in Jos 19:33 the western boundary towards Asher, with the northern and eastern boundaries: in Jos 19:34 the southern boundary; but with the uncertainty which exists as to several of the places named, it cannot be traced with certainty.
Verse 33 Edit
“Its boundary was (its territory reached) from Heleph, from the oak-forest at Zaanannim, and Adami Nekeb and Jabneel to Lakkum; and its outgoings were the Jordan.” Heleph is unknown, though in all probability it was to the south of Zaanannim, and not very far distant. According to Jdg 4:11, the oak-forest (allon: see the remarks on Gen 12:6) at Zaanannim was near Kedesh, on the north-west of Lake Huleh. There are still many oaks in that neighbourhood (Rob. Bibl. Res. p. 386); and on the south of Bint Jebail Robinson crossed a low mountain-range which was covered with small oak trees (Pal. iii. p. 372). Adami hannekeb, i.e., Adami of the pass (Nekeb, judging from the analogy of the Arabic, signifying foramen, via inter montes), is supposed by Knobel to be Deir-el-ahmar, i.e., red cloister, a place which is still inhabited, three hours to the north-west of Baalbek, on the pass from the cedars to Baalbek (Seetzen, i. pp. 181, 185; Burckhardt, Syr. p. 60; and Ritter, Erdk. xvii. p. 150), so called from the reddish colour of the soil in the neighbourhood, which would explain the name Adami. Knobel also connects Jabneel with the lake Jemun, Jemuni, or Jammune, some hours to the north-west of Baalbek, on the eastern side of the western Lebanon range (Rob. Bibl. Res. p. 548; Ritter, xvii. pp. 304ff.), where there are still considerable ruins of a very early date to be found, especially the ruins of an ancient temple and a celebrated place of pilgrimage, with which the name “god's building” agrees. And lastly, he associates Lakkum with the mountains of Lokham, as the northern part of Lebanon on the Syrian mountains, from the latitude of Laodicea to that of Antioch on the western side of the Orontes, is called by the Arabian geographers Isztachri, Abulfeda, and others. So far as the names are concerned, these combinations seem appropriate enough, but they are hardly tenable. The resemblance between the names Lakkum and Lokham is only in appearance, as the Hebrew name is written with ק and the Arabic with כ. Moreover, the mountains of Lokham are much too far north for the name to be adduced as an explanation of Lakkum. The interpretation of Adami Nekeb and Jabneel is also irreconcilable with the circumstance that the lake Jamun was two hours to the west of the red convent, so that the boundary, which starts from the west, and is drawn first of all towards the north, and then to the north-east and east, must have run last of all from the red convent, and not from the Jamun lake to the Jordan. As Jabneel is mentioned after Adami Nekeb, it must be sought for to the east of Adami Nekeb, whereas the Jamun lake lies in the very opposite direction, namely, directly to the west of the red convent. The three places mentioned, therefore, cannot be precisely determined at present. The Jordan, where the boundary of Asher terminated, was no doubt the upper Jordan, or rather the Nahr Hasbany, one of the sources of the Jordan, which formed, together with the Huleh lake and the Jordan itself, between Lake Huleh and the Sea of Tiberias, and down to the point where it issues from the latter, the eastern boundary of Asher.
Verse 34 Edit
From the Jordan below the Lake of Tiberias, or speaking more exactly, from the point at which the Wady Bessum enters the Jordan, “the boundary (of Asher) turned westwards to Asnoth-tabor, and went thence out to Hukkok.” This boundary, i.e., the southern boundary of Asher, probably followed the course of the Wady Bessum from the Jordan, which wady was the boundary of Issachar on the north-east, and then ran most likely from Kefr Sabt (see at Jos 19:22) to Asnoth-tabor, i.e., according to the Onom. (s. v. Azanoth), a vicus ad regionem Diocaesareae pertinens in campestribus, probably on the south-east of Diocaesarea, i.e., Sepphoris, not far from Tabor, to which the boundary of Issachar extended (Jos 19:22). Hukkok has not yet been traced. Robinson (Bibl. Res. p. 82) and Van de Velde (Mem. p. 322) are inclined to follow Rabbi Parchi of the fourteenth century, and identify this place with the village of Yakûk, on the north-west of the Lake of Gennesareth; but this village is too far to the north-east to have formed the terminal point of the southern boundary of Naphtali, as it ran westwards from the Jordan. After this Naphtali touched “Zebulun on the south, Asher on the west, and Judah by the Jordan toward the sun-rising or east.” “The Jordan” is in apposition to “Judah,” in the sense of “Judah of the Jordan,” like “Jordan of Jericho” in Num 22:1; Num 26:3, etc. The Masoretic pointing, which separates these two words, was founded upon some false notion respecting this definition of the boundary, and caused the commentators great perplexity, until C. v. Raumer succeeded in removing the difficulty, by showing that the district of the sixty towns of Jair, which was upon the eastern side of the Jordan, is called Judah here, or reckoned as belonging to Judah, because Jair, the possessor of these towns, was a descendant of Judah on the father's side through Hezron (1Ch 2:5, 1Ch 2:21-22); whereas in Jos 13:30, and Num 32:41, he is reckoned contra morem, i.e., against the rule laid down in Num 36:7, as a descendant of Manasseh, on account of his descent from Machir the Manassite, on his mother's side.
Verse 35 Edit
The fortified towns of Naphtali were the following. Ziddim: unknown, though Knobel suggests that “it may possibly be preserved in Chirbet es Saudeh, to the west of the southern extremity of the Lake of Tiberias (Rob. iii. App.);” but this place is to the west of the Wady Bessum, i.e., in the territory of Issachar. Zer is also unknown. As the lxx and Syriac give the name as Zor, Knobel connects it with Kerak, which signifies fortress as well as Zor (= מצור), a heap of ruins at the southern end of the lake (Rob. iii. p. 263), the place which Josephus calls Taricheae (see Reland, p. 1026), - a very doubtful combination! Hammath (i.e., thermae), a Levitical town called Hammaoth-dor in Jos 21:32, and Hammon in 1Ch 6:61, was situated, according to statements in the Talmud, somewhere near the later city of Tiberias, on the western shore of the Lake of Gennesareth, and was no doubt identical with the κώμεε Αμμαούς in the neighbourhood of Tiberias, a place with warm baths (Jos. Ant. xviii. 2, 3; Bell. Judg. iv. 1, 3). There are warm springs still to be found half an hour to the south of Tabaria, which are used as baths (Burckhardt, Syr. pp. 573-4; Rob. iii. pp. 258ff.). Rakkath (according to the Talm. and Rabb. ripa littus) was situated, according to rabbinical accounts, in the immediate neighbourhood of Hammath, and was the same place as Tiberias; but the account given by Josephus (Ant. xviii. 2, 3; cf. Bell. Judg. ii. 9, 1) respecting the founding of Tiberias by Herod the tetrarch is at variance with this; so that the rabbinical statements appear to have no other foundation than the etymology of the name Rakkath. Chinnereth is given in the Targums as גניסר, גינוסר, גּנּוסר, i.e., Γεννησάρ. According to Josephus (Bell. Jud. iii. 10, 8), this name was given to a strip of land on the shore of the Sea of Galilee, which was distinguished for its natural beauty, its climate, and its fertility, namely the long plain, about twenty minutes broad and an hour long, which stretches along the western shore of this lake, from el-Mejdel on the south to Khan Minyeh on the north (Burckhardt, Syr. pp. 558-9; Rob. iii. pp. 279, 290). It must have been in this plain that the town of Chinnereth stood, from which the plain and lake together derived the name of Chinnereth (Deu 3:17) or Chinneroth (Jos 11:2), and the lake alone the name of “Sea of Chinnereth,” or “Sea of Chinneroth” (Jos 12:3; Jos 13:27; Num 34:11).
Verse 36 Edit
Jos 19:36Adamah is unknown. Knobel is of opinion, that as Adamah signifies red, the place referred to may possibly be Ras el Ahmar, i.e., red-head, on the north of Safed (Rob. iii. p. 370; Bibl. Res. p. 69). Ramah is the present Rameh (Ramea), a large well-built village, inhabited by Christians and Druses, surrounded by extensive olive plantations, and provided with an excellent well. It stands upon the slope of a mountain, in a beautiful plain on the south-west of Safed, but without any relics of antiquity (see Seetzen, ii. p. 129; Rob. Bibl. Res. pp. 78-9). Hazor has not yet been traced with certainty (see at Jos 11:1).
Verse 37 Edit
Jos 19:37Kedesh (see at Jos 12:2). Edrei, a different place from the town of the same name in Bashan (Jos 1:2, Jos 1:4), is still unknown. En-hazor is probably to be sought for in Bell Hazur and Ain Hazur, which is not very far distant, on the south-west of Rameh, though the ruins upon Tell Hazur are merely the ruins of an ordinary village, with one single cistern that has fallen to pieces (Rob. Bibl. Res. pp. 80, 81).
Verses 38-39 Edit
Jos 19:38-39Jireon (Iron) is probably the present village of Jarûn, an hour to the south-east of Bint-Jebeil, with the ruins of an ancient Christian church (Seetzen, ii. pp. 123-4; Van de Velde, R. i. p. 133). Migdal-el, so far as the name is concerned, might be Magdala (Mat 15:39), on the western shore of the Lake of Gennesareth, between Capernaum and Tiberias (Rob. iii. pp. 279ff.); the only difficulty is, that the towns upon this lake have already been mentioned in Jos 19:35. Knobel connects Migdal-el with Chorem, so as to form one name, and finds Migdal el Chorem in the present Mejdel Kerum, on the west of Rameh (Seetzen, ii. p. 130; Van de Velde, i. p. 215), a common Mahometan village. But there is nothing to favour this combination, except the similarity in sound between the two names; whereas it has against it not only the situation of the village, which was so far to the west, being not more than three hours from Acca, that the territory of Naphtali can hardly have reached so far, but also the very small resemblance between Chorem and Kerum, not to mention the fact that the accents separate Chorem from Migdal-el, whilst the omission of the copula (vav) before Chorem cannot have any weight, as the copula is also wanting before Zer and Rakkath. Chorem and Beth-anath have not yet been discovered. From the latter place Naphtali was unable to expel the Canaanites (Jdg 1:33). Beth-shemesh, a different place from the town of the same name in Issachar (Jos 19:22), is also still unknown. The total number of towns is given as nineteen, whereas only sixteen are mentioned by name. It is hardly correct to seek for the missing places among the border towns mentioned in Jos 19:33 and Jos 19:34, as the enumeration of the towns themselves is introduced by מבצר וערי in Jos 19:35, and in this way the list of towns is separated from the description of the boundaries. To this we may add, that the town of Karthan or Kirjathaim, which Naphtali gave up to the Levites (Jos 21:32; 1Ch 6:61), does not occur either among the border towns or in the list of towns, from which we may see that the list of towns is an imperfect one.
The Inheritance of the Tribe of Dan. - This fell to the west of Benjamin, between Judah and Ephraim, and was formed by Judah giving up some of its northern towns, and Ephraim some of its southern towns, to the Danites, so as to furnish them with a territory proportionate to their number. It was situated for the most part in the lowland (shephelah), including, however, the hill country between the Mediterranean and the mountains, and extended over a portion of the plain of Sharon, so that it belonged to one of the most fruitful portions of Palestine. The boundaries are not given, because they could be traced from those of the adjoining territories.
Verses 41-42 Edit
From Judah the families of Dan received Zorea and Eshtaol (see at Jos 15:33), and Ir-shemesh, also called Beth-shemesh (1Ki 4:9), on the border of Judah (see Jos 15:10); but of these the Danites did not take possession, as they were given up by Judah to the Levites (Jos 21:16 : see at Jos 15:10). Saalabbin, or Saalbim, which remained in the hands of the Canaanites (Jdg 1:35), is frequently mentioned in the history of David and Solomon (2Sa 23:32; 1Ch 11:33; 1Ki 4:9). It may possibly be the present Selbît (Rob. iii. App.; Bibl. Res. p. 144), some distance to the north of the three places mentioned (Knobel). Ajalon, which was also not taken from the Canaanites (Jdg 1:35), was assigned to the Levites (Jos 21:24; 1Ch 6:54). It is mentioned in the wars with the Philistines (1Sa 14:31; 1Ch 8:13), was fortified by Rehoboam (2Ch 11:10), and was taken by the Philistines from King Ahaz (2Ch 28:18). It has been preserved in the village of Yalo (see at Jos 10:12). Jethlah is only mentioned here, and has not yet been discovered. So far as the name is concerned, it may possibly be preserved in the Wady Atallah, on the west of Yalo (Bibl. Res. pp. 143-4).
Verse 43 Edit
Jos 19:43Elon, which is mentioned again in 1Ki 4:9, with the addition of Beth-hanan, has not yet been traced; according to Knobel, it “may possibly be Ellin, near Timnath and Beth-shemesh, mentioned by Robinson in his Pal. vol. iii. App.” Thimna (Thimnathah) and Ekron, on the boundary of Judah (see at Jos 15:10-11).
Verse 44 Edit
Jos 19:44Eltekeh and Gibbethon, which were allotted to the Levites (Jos 21:23), have not yet been discovered. Under the earliest kings of Israel, Gibbethon was in the hands of the Philistines (1Ki 15:27; 1Ki 16:15, 1Ki 16:17). Baalath was fortified by Solomon (1Ki 9:18). According to Josephus (Ant. 8:6, 1), it was “Baleth in the neighbourhood of Geser;” probably the same place as Baalah, on the border of Judah (Jos 15:11).
Verse 45 Edit
Jos 19:45Jehud has probably been preserved in the village of Jehudieh (Hudieh), two hours to the north of Ludd (Diospolis), in a splendidly cultivated plain (Berggren, R. iii. p. 162; Rob. iii. p. 45, and App.). Bene-berak, the present Ibn Abrak, an hour from Jehud (Scholz, R. p. 256). Gath-rimmon, which was given to the Levites (Jos 21:24; 1Ch 6:54), is described in the Onom. (s. v.) as villa praegrandis in duodecimo milliario Diospoleos pergentibus Eleutheropolin, - a statement which points to the neighbourhood of Thimnah, though it has not yet been discovered.
Verse 46 Edit
Jos 19:46Me-jarkon, i.e., aquae flavedinis, and Rakkon, are unknown; but from the clause which follows, “with the territory before Japho,” it must have been in the neighbourhood of Joppa (Jaffa). “The territory before Japho” includes the places in the environs of Joppa. Consequently Joppa itself does not appear to have belonged to the territory of Dan, although, according to Jdg 5:17, the Danites must have had possession of this town. Japho, the well-known port of Palestine (2Ch 2:15; Ezr 3:7; Jon 1:3), which the Greeks called Ἰόππη (Joppa), the present Jaffa (see v. Raumer, Pal. pp. 204-5, and Ritter, Erdk. xvi. pp. 574ff.).
Verses 47-48 Edit
Besides this inheritance, the Danites of Zorea and Eshtaol went, after Joshua's death, and conquered the town of Leshem or Laish, on the northern boundary of Canaan, and gave it the name of Dan, as the territory which was allotted to them under Joshua was too small for them, on account of their inability to drive out the Amorites from several of their towns (Jdg 1:34-35; Jdg 18:2). For further particulars concerning this conquest, see Judg 18. Leshem or Laish (Jdg 18:7, Jdg 18:27), i.e., Dan, which the Onom. describes as viculus quarto a Paneade milliario euntibus Tyrum, was the present Tell el Kadi, or el Leddan, the central source of the Jordan, to the west of Banjas, a place with ancient ruins (see Rob. iii. p. 351; Bibl. Res. pp. 390, 393). It was there that Jeroboam set up the golden calves (1Ki 12:29-30, etc.); and it is frequently mentioned as the northernmost city of the Israelites, in contrast with Beersheba, which was in the extreme south of the land (Jdg 20:1; 1Sa 3:20; 2Sa 3:10 : see also Ritter, Erdk. xvi. pp. 207ff.).Conclusion of the Distribution of the Land. - Jos 19:49, Jos 19:50. When the land was distributed among the tribes according to its territories, the Israelites gave Joshua an inheritance in the midst of them, according to the command of Jehovah, namely the town of Timnath-serah, upon the mountains of Ephraim, for which he asked, and which he finished building; and there he dwelt until the time of his death (Jos 24:30; Jdg 2:9). “According to the word of the Lord” (lit. “at the mouth of Jehovah”) does not refer to a divine oracle communicated through the high priest, but to a promise which Joshua had probably received from God at the same time as Caleb, viz., in Kadesh, but which, like the promise given to Caleb, is not mentioned in the Pentateuch (see at Jos 15:13; Jos 14:9). Timnath-serah, called Timnath-heres in Jdg 2:9, must not be confounded with Timnah in the tribe of Dan (Jos 19:43; Jos 15:10), as is the case in the Onom. It has been preserved in the present ruins and foundation walls of a place called Tibneh, which was once a large town, about seven hours to the north of Jerusalem, and two hours to the west of Jiljilia, standing upon two mountains, with many caverns that have been used as graves (see Eli Smith in Ritter, Erdk. xvi. pp. 562ff., and Rob. Bibl. Res. p. 141).
Verse 51 Edit
Closing formula to the account of the distribution of the land, which refers primarily to Jos 18:1., as the expression “in Shiloh” shows, but which also includes Josh 14-17. The Preamble - Jos 1:1-9
After the death of Moses the Lord summoned Joshua, the servant of Moses, whom He had appointed as the leader of Israel into Canaan, to go with all the people across the Jordan, and take the land which had been promised to the fathers on oath, assuring him at the same time of His powerful aid, on condition that he observed the law of Moses faithfully. This summons and promise of God form the preamble to the whole book, which is linked on to the conclusion of the Pentateuch by the introductory words, “And it came to pass after the death of Moses, the servant of the Lord,” though it is not so closely connected as to warrant the conclusion that the two works have been written by the same author.
Chap. 20 Edit
Verses 1-6 Edit
After the distribution of the land by lot among the tribes of Israel, six towns were set apart, in accordance with the Mosaic instructions in Num 35, as places of refuge for unintentional manslayers. Before describing the appointment and setting apart of these towns, the writer repeats in Jos 20:1-6 the main points of the Mosaic law contained in Num 35:9-29 and Deu 19:1-13, with reference to the reception of the manslayers into these towns. לכם תּנוּ, “give to you,” i.e., appoint for yourselves, “cities of refuge,” etc. In Jos 20:6, the two regulations, “until he stand before the congregation for judgment,” and “until the death of the high priest,” are to be understood, in accordance with the clear explanation given in Num 35:24-25, as meaning that the manslayer was to live in the town till the congregation had pronounced judgment upon the matter, and either given him up to the avenger of blood as a wilful murderer, or taken him back to the city of refuge as an unintentional manslayer, in which case he was to remain there till the death of the existing high priest. For further particulars, see at Num 35.List of the cites: Levitical cities were chosen, for the reasons explained in the Commentary on the Pentateuch.
Verse 7 Edit
In the land on this side (viz., Canaan) they sanctified the following cities. In the north, Kedesh (see at Jos 12:22), in Galil, on the mountains of Naphtali. Galil (a circle) was a district in the northern part of the subsequent province of Galilee; it is called הגּוים גּליל, circle of the heathen, in Isa 9:1, because an unusually large number of heathen or Gentiles were living there. In the centre of the land, Shechem, upon the mountains of Ephraim (see at Jos 17:7). And in the south, Kirjath-arba, i.e., Hebron, upon the mountains of Judah (see at Jos 10:3).
Verses 8-9 Edit
The cities in the land on the other side had already been appointed by Moses (Deu 4:41-43). For the sake of completeness, they are mentioned here again: viz., Bezer, Ramoth in Gilead, and Golan (see at Deu 4:43). The subject is brought to a close in Jos 20:9. המּוּעדה ערי signifies neither urbes congregationis (Kimchi) nor urbes asyli (Gesenius), but cities of appointment, - those which received the appointment already given and repeated again in what follows.
Chap. 21 Edit
Verses 1-3 Edit
After the cities of refuge had been set apart, the towns were also selected, which the different tribes were to give up for the priest and Levites to dwell in according to the Mosaic instructions in Num 35:1-8, together with the necessary fields as pasturage for their cattle. The setting apart of the cities of refuge took place before the appointment of the Levitical towns, because the Lord had given commandment through Moses in Num 35:6, that they were to give to the Levites the six cities of refuge, and forty-two cities besides, i.e., forty-eight cities in all. From the introductory statement in Jos 21:1, Jos 21:2, that the heads of the fathers (see Exo 6:14, Exo 6:25) of the Levitical families reminded the distribution committee at Shiloh of the command of God that had been issued through Moses, that towns were to be given them to dwell in, we cannot infer, as Calvin has done, that the Levites had been forgotten, till they came and asserted their claims. All that is stated in these words is, “that when the business had reached that point, they approached the dividers of the land in the common name of the members of their tribe, to receive by lot the cities appointed for them. They simply expressed the commands of God, and said in so many words, that they had been deputed by the Levites generally to draw lots for those forty-eight cities with their suburbs, which had been appointed for that tribe” (Masius). The clause appended to Shiloh, “in the land of Canaan,” points to the instructions in Num 34:29 and Num 35:10, to give the children of Israel their inheritance in the land of Canaan.Number of the cities which the different families of Levi received from each tribe. The tribe of Levi was divided into three branches, - The Gershonites, the Kohathites, and the Merarites (see Num 3 and Exo 6:16-19). The Kohathites again were divided into the four families of Amram, Izhar, Hebron, and Uzziel (Exo 6:18); and the family of Amram into two lines, consisting of the descendants of Moses and Aaron (Exo 6:20). The priesthood was committed to the line of Aaron (Num 18:1-7); but the other descendants of Amram, i.e., the descendants of Moses, were placed on a par with the other descendants of Levi, and numbered among the simple Levites (Num. 3; 1Ch 6:1-7). The towns in which the different families of Levi were to dwell were determined by lot; but in all probability the towns which each tribe was to give up to them were selected first of all, so that the lot merely decided to which branch of the Levites each particular town was to belong.
Verse 4 Edit
The first lot came out for the families of Kohath, and among these again for the sons of Aaron, i.e., the priests. They received thirteen towns from the tribes of Judah, Simeon, and Benjamin. “This did not happen by chance; but God, according to His wonderful counsel, placed them just in that situation which He had determined to select for His own temple” (Calvin).
Verse 5 Edit
The rest of the Kohathites, i.e., the descendants of Moses, Izhar, Hebron, and Uzziel, received ten towns from Ephraim, Dan, and half Manasseh.
Verse 6 Edit
The Gershonites received thirteen towns from Issachar, Asher, Naphtali, and half Manasseh in Bashan.
Verses 7-8 Edit
The Merarites received twelve towns from Reuben, Gad, and Zebulun.
The number of towns thus assigned to the Levites will not appear too large, if we consider, (1) that judging from the number of towns in so small a land, the greater part of them cannot have been very large; (2) that the Levites were not the sole possessors of these towns, but simply received the number of dwelling-houses which they actually required, with meadow land for their cattle in the suburbs of the towns, whilst the rest of the space still belonged to the different tribes; and (3) that if the 23,000 males, the number of the Levites at the second census which was taken in the steppes of Moab, were distributed among the thirty-five towns, it would give 657 males, or 1300 male and female Levites for every town. On the other hand, offence has been taken at the statement, that thirteen towns were given up to the priests; and under the idea that Aaron could hardly have had descendants enough in Joshua's time from his two sons who remained alive to fill even two towns, to say nothing of thirteen, the list has been set down as a document which was drawn up at a much later date (Maurer, etc.). But any one who takes this ground not only attributes to the distribution commission the enormous shortsightedness of setting apart towns for the priests merely to meet their existing wants, and without any regard to the subsequent increase which would take place in their numbers, but also forms too large an estimate of the size of the towns, and too small an estimate of the number of the priests. Moreover, it was never intended that the towns should be filled with priests' families; and the number of priests alive at that time is not mentioned anywhere. But if we bear in mind that Aaron died in the fortieth year of the journeys of the Israelites, at the age of 123 years (Num 33:38), and therefore was eighty-three years old at the time of the Exodus from Egypt, his descendants might have entered upon the fourth generation seven years after his death. Now his two sons had twenty-four male descendants, who were the founders of the twenty-four classes instituted by David (1 Chron 24). And if we only reckon six males to each of the next generations, there would be 144 in the third generation, who would be between the ages of twenty-five and thirty-five when the distribution of the land took place, and who might therefore have had 864 male children living at that time; so that the total number of males in the families of the priests might have amounted to more than 1000, that is to say, might have consisted of at least 200 families.Names of the Levitical Towns.
Verses 9-19 Edit
Verses 9-12 Edit
In the tribe of Judah the priests received Kirjath-arba, or Hebron, with the necessary pasturage round about the town (see Num 35:2), whilst the field of the town with the villages belonging to it remained in the hands of Caleb and his family as their possession (Jos 14:12.).
Verses 13-16 Edit
Jos 21:13 contains a repetition of Jos 21:11, occasioned by the parenthetical remark in Jos 21:12. They also received Libnah in the lowland (see Jos 15:42; Jos 10:29); Jattir (Jos 15:48), Eshtemoah (Jos 15:50), Holon (Jos 15:51), and Debir (Jos 15:15, Jos 15:49; Jos 10:38) on the mountains of Judah; Ain, for which we should read Ashan (1Ch 6:44; cf. Jos 15:42), in the tribe of Simeon (Jos 19:7); Juttah on the mountains (Jos 15:55); and Beth-shemesh in the lowland (Jos 15:10).
Verses 17-19 Edit
Verses 20-25 Edit
Jos 21:20-25Towns of the Levites. - Jos 21:20-26. The other Kohathites received four towns from the tribe of Ephraim (Jos 21:21, Jos 21:22), four from Dan (Jos 21:23, Jos 21:24), and two from the half tribe of Manasseh on this side of the Jordan (Jos 21:25). From Ephraim they received Shechem (see Jos 17:7), Gezer (Jos 10:33), Kibzaim - for which we find Jockmeam in 1Ch 6:68, possibly a different name for the same place, which has not yet been discovered - and Beth-horon, whether Upper or Lower is not stated (see Jos 10:10). From Dan they received Elthekeh and Gibbethon (Jos 19:44), Ajalon and Gath-rimmon (Jos 19:42, Jos 19:45). From half Manasseh they received Taanach (Jos 17:11; Jos 12:21) and Gath-rimmon - eye to the previous verse, for Bileam (1Ch 6:70), i.e., Jibleam (Jos 17:11).
Verse 26 Edit
Thus they received ten towns in all.
Verses 27-33 Edit
The Gershonites received two towns from eastern Manasseh: Golan (Jos 20:8; Deu 4:43), and Beeshterah. Beeshterah (contracted from Beth-eshterah, the house of Astarte), called Ashtaroth in 1Ch 6:56, may possibly have been the capital of king Og (Ashtaroth-karnaim, Gen 14:5), if not one of the two villages named Astaroth, which are mentioned by Eusebius in the Onom. (s. v. Astharoth-karnaim), and are described by Jerome as duo castella in Batanaea, novem inter se millibus separata inter Adaram et Abilam civitates, though Adara and Abila are too indefinite to determine the situation with any exactness. At any rate, the present Busra on the east of the Hauran cannot be thought of for a moment; for this was called Βόσσορα or Βοσορρά, i.e., בּצרה, in ancient times, as it is at the present day (see 1 Macc. 5:26, and Joseph. Ant. xii. 8, 3), and was corrupted into Bostra by the Greeks and Romans. Nor can it be the present Kul'at Bustra on the north of Banyas upon a shoulder of the Hermon, where there are the ruins of a magnificent building, probably a temple of ancient date (Burckhardt, Syr. pp. 93, 94; Rob. Bibl. Res. pp. 414-15), as Knobel supposes, since the territory of the Israelites did not reach so far north, the land conquered by Joshua merely extending to Baal-gad, i.e., Banyas, at the foot of the Hermon (see Jos 11:17), and the land to the east of the Jordan, or Bashan, only to the Hermon itself, or more correctly, merely to the districts of Geshuri and Maacah at the south-eastern border of the Hermon (see at Deu 3:8, Deu 3:14).
Verses 28-29 Edit
Verses 30-31 Edit
Verse 32 Edit
From Naphtali they received three towns: Kedesh (Jos 19:37 and Jos 12:22), Hammoth-dor (called Hammath in Jos 19:35, and Hammon in 1Ch 6:76), and Kartan (contracted from Kartain for Kirjathaim, 1Ch 6:76; like Dothan in 2Ki 6:13, from Dothain in Gen 37:17). Kartan is not mentioned among the towns of Naphtali in Jos 19:33.; according to Knobel it may possibly be Katanah, a place with ruins to the north-east of Safed (Van de Velde, Mem. p. 147).
Verse 33 Edit
They received thirteen towns in all.
Verses 34-35 Edit
The Merarites received twelve towns. From the tribe of Zebulun they received four: Jokneam (Jos 19:11 : see at Jos 12:22), Kartah and Dimnah, which are not mentioned among the towns of Zebulun in Jos 19:11., and are unknown, and Nahalal (Jos 19:15).
Verses 36-37 Edit
Verses 38-39 Edit
Verses 40-42 Edit
They received twelve towns in all. - In Jos 21:41 and Jos 21:42 the list of the Levitical towns is closed with a statement of their total number, and also with the repetition of the remark that “these cities were every one with their suburbs round about them.” ום עיר עיר, city city, i.e., every city, with its pasture round about it.
Jos 21:43-45 form the conclusion to the account of the division of the land in Josh 13-21, which not only points back to Jos 11:23, but also to Jos 1:2-6, and connects the two halves of our book together. By the division of Canaan among the tribes of Israel, the promise which Joshua had received from God after the death of Moses was fulfilled (Jos 1:2.). The Lord had given Israel the whole land which He had sworn to the fathers (Gen 12:7; Gen 15:18, compared with Jos 1:3-4); and they had now taken possession of it to dwell therein.
Verse 44 Edit
He had also procured them rest round about, as He had sworn to their fathers, inasmuch as not a man of all their enemies stood against them. The expression “gave them rest,” etc., points back to Deu 12:9-10, and refers to all the divine promises of the Pentateuch which assured the Israelites of the peaceable possession of Canaan, such as Exo 33:14; Deu 3:20, etc. No enemy had been able to withstand them, as the Lord had promised Joshua (Jos 1:5). “The Lord delivered all their enemies into their hand.” It is true the Canaanites were not all exterminated; but those who were left had become so powerless, that they could neither accomplish nor attempt anything against Israel, so long as the Israelites adhered faithfully to their God, or so long as Joshua and the elders who were his contemporaries were alive (Jdg 2:6.), because the Lord had overwhelmed them with fear and terror before the Israelites.
Verse 45 Edit
Of all the good words which the Lord had spoken to the house of Israel not one had fallen, i.e., remained unfulfilled (Num 6:12); all had come to pass (vid., Jos 23:14). הטּוב כּל־הדּבר relates to the gracious promises of God with regard to the peaceful possession of Canaan, which formed the basis of all the salvation promised to Israel, and the pledge of the fulfilment of all the further promises of God. Notwithstanding the fact that many a tract of country still remained in the hands of the Canaanites, the promise that the land of Canaan should be given to the house of Israel for a possession had been fulfilled; for God had not promised the immediate and total destruction of the Canaanites, but only their gradual extermination (Exo 23:29-30; Deu 7:22). And even though the Israelites never came into undisputed possession of the whole of the promised land, to the full extent of the boundaries laid down in Num 34:1-12, never conquering Tyre and Sidon for example, the promises of God were no more broken on that account than they were through the circumstance, that after the death of Joshua and the elders his contemporaries, Israel was sometimes hard pressed by the Canaanites; since the complete fulfilment of this promise was inseparably connected with the fidelity of Israel to the Lord.
Chap. 22 Edit
RETURN OF THE TWO TRIBES AND A HALF TO THEIR OWN INHERITANCE. — CHAP.XXII. Edit
Verse 1 Edit
After the conquest and division of the land, Joshua sent the auxiliaries of the tribes of Reuben, Gad, and half Manasseh back to their homes, with a laudatory acknowledgment of the help they had given to their brethren, and a paternal admonition to adhere faithfully to the Lord and His law, and with a parting blessing (Jos 22:1-6). By the expression “then Joshua called,” etc., the occurrence described in this chapter is placed in a general manner after the conquest and subjugation of Canaan, though not of necessity at the close of the distribution of the land. As the summons to these tribes to go with their brethren into Canaan, to assist them in the war, formed the commencement of Joshua's plans for the conquest of Canaan (Jos 1:12.), their dismission to their home very properly forms the conclusion to the history of the conquest of this land by the Israelites. We might therefore assume, without in any way contradicting the words of the text, that these auxiliaries had been dismissed immediately after the war was ended. Even in that case, the account of their dismission would stand in its proper place, “since it was only right that the history itself, which relates to the conquest and possession of the land, should be fully completed before any other narratives, or any casual occurrences which took place, were introduced to break the thread” (Lightfoot, App. i. p. 42). On the other hand, however, the circumstance that the two tribes and a half were dismissed from Shiloh, where the tribes assembled for the first time during the casting of the lots, favours the conclusion that the dismission did not take place till after the lots had been cast; that is to say, contemporaneously with the advance of the other tribes into their possessions.
Verses 2-3 Edit
Joshua acknowledged that they had done all that they were under any obligation to do towards Moses and himself (Num 32:20.; Jos 1:16-17). “Kept the charge of the commandment,” i.e., observed what had to be observed in relation to the commandment of the Lord (see at Lev 8:35 and Gen 26:5).
Verse 4 Edit
Verse 5 Edit
Remembering, however, the changeableness of the human heart, Joshua appends to the acknowledgment of their fidelity in the performance of their duty the pressing admonition, to continue still to observe the law of Moses faithfully, to walk in the ways of the Lord and serve Him with the whole heart, which was simply a repetition of what Moses had impressed in a fatherly way upon the hearts of the people (see Deu 4:4, Deu 4:29; Deu 6:5; Deu 10:12; Deu 11:13, etc.).
Verses 6-8 Edit
Thus Joshua dismissed them with blessings. - In Jos 22:7, the writer, for the sake of clearness, refers again to the fact that only half of Manasseh had received its inheritance from Moses in Bashan, whereas the other had received its inheritance through Joshua on the west of the Jordan (cf. Jos 14:3, and Jos 18:7). To us such repetitions appear superfluous; but they are closely connected with the copious breadth of the early historical style of the Hebrews, which abounded in repetitions. The verb נתן (gave) wants its object, אחזּתו or נחלתו, which may easily be supplied from the context. This interpolation involved a further repetition of the fact, that Joshua also dismissed them (the Manassites of the other side) with a blessing, in order that the words might be appended with which Joshua dismissed the two tribes and a half to their homes, namely, the admonition to share the rich booty which they had accumulated with their brethren at home, in accordance with the instructions which Moses had given them with reference to the war with the Midianites (Num 31:25.).
Verses 9-10 Edit
On the way home, when the two tribes and a half had reached the border of Canaan, they built a large conspicuous altar in the district of the Jordan, in the land of Canaan, i.e., on this side of the Jordan: “a great altar to see to,” i.e., one which caught the eye on account of its size, since it was to serve for a memorial (Jos 22:24.). The definition appended to Shiloh, “in the land of Canaan” (Jos 22:9), serves to bring out the antithesis “into the land of Gilead,” by which we are to understand the whole of the country to the east of the Jordan, as in Num 32:29; Deu 34:1; Jdg 5:17, etc. נאחז, both in the form and meaning the same as in Num 32:30, made possessors, i.e., settled down. היּרדּן גּלילות, the circles of the Jordan, is synonymous with היּרדּן כּכּר in Gen 13:10, and signifies that portion of the Ghor which was upon the western side of the Jordan.
Verses 11-12 Edit
The Israelites (on this side) heard that the tribes in question had built the altar “opposite to the land of Canaan” (lit. in the face or in front of the land of Canaan), אל־אבר, “at the opposite region of the children of Israel” (two descriptions which may be explained on the supposition that the name of Canaan is used in a restricted sense, the valley of the Jordan being expressly excepted, and Canaan considered as only extending to the valley of the Jordan). When they heard this, the whole congregation (in its heads and representatives) assembled at Shiloh, to go up, i.e., with the intention of going, to make war against them. The congregation supposed that the altar had been built as a place for sacrifice, and therefore regarded it as a wicked violation of the commandment of God with regard to the unity of the sacrificial altar (Lev 17:8-9; Deu 12:4.), which they ought to punish according to the law in Deu 13:13. This zeal was perfectly justifiable, and even praiseworthy, as the altar, even if not erected as a place for sacrifice, might easily be abused to that purpose, and thus become an occasion of sin to the whole nation. In any case, the two tribes and a half ought not to have erected such a building without the consent of Joshua or of the high priest.
Verses 13-15 Edit
The congregation therefore sent Phinehas, the son of the high priest and his presumptive successor in this office, with ten princes, one from each tribe (not the tribe-princes, but a head of the fathers' houses of the families of Israel), to Gilead, to the two tribes and a half, to call them to account for building the altar.
Verse 16 Edit
Assuming at the outset that the altar was intended for a second place of sacrifice in opposition to the command of God, the delegates, with Phinehas no doubt as their speaker, began by reproaching them for falling away from the Lord. “What faithlessness is this (מעל: see at Lev 5:15) that ye have committed against the God of Israel, to turn away this day from Jehovah, in that ye have builded you an altar, that ye might rebel this day against Jehovah?” מרד (to rebel) is stronger than מעל.
Verse 17 Edit
To show the greatness of the sin through apostasy from the Lord, the speaker reminds them of two previous acts of sin on the part of the nation, which had brought severe judgments upon the congregation. “Is there too little for us in the iniquity of Peor (i.e., with Peor, or through the worship of Peor, Num 25:3), from which we have not cleansed ourselves till this day, and there came the plague upon the congregation of Jehovah?” את־עון is an accusative: see Ges. §117, 2; Ewald, §277, d. That plague, of which 24,000 Israelites died, was stayed through the zeal of Phinehas for the honour of the Lord (Num 25:4-9, Num 25:11). The guilt connected with the worship of Peor had thereby been avenged upon the congregation, and the congregation itself had been saved from any further punishment in consequence of the sin. When Phinehas, therefore, affirmed that the congregation had not yet been cleansed from the crime, he did not mean that they were still bearing or suffering from the punishment of that crime, but that they were not yet cleansed from that sin, inasmuch as many of them were still attached to idolatry in their hearts, even if they had hitherto desisted from it outwardly from fear of the infliction of fresh judgment.
Verse 18 Edit
Jos 22:18 “And to-day ye turn away from the Lord again,” and are about to bring His wrath upon the whole congregation again through a fresh rebellion.
Verse 19 Edit
“And truly,” the speaker continued, “if the land of your possession should be unclean,” sc., so that you think it necessary to have an altar in the neighbourhood to expiate your sins and wipe away your uncleanness, “pass over into the land of Jehovah's possession, where His dwelling-place stands, and settle in the midst of us ('settle,' as in Gen 34:10); but do not rebel against Jehovah nor against us, by building an altar beside the (one) altar of Jehovah our God.” מרד is construed first of all with בּ, and then with the accusative; the only other place in which the latter occurs is Job. Jos 24:13.
Verse 20 Edit
He finally reminded them of the sin of Achan, how that had brought the wrath of God upon the whole congregation (Josh 7); and, moreover, Achan was not the only man who had perished on account of the sin, but thirty-six men had fallen on account of it at the first attack upon Ai (Jos 7:5). The allusion to this fact is to be understood as an argument a minori ad majus, as Masius has shown. “If Achan did not perish alone when he committed sacrilege, but God was angry with the whole congregation, what think ye will be the consequence if ye, so great a number, commit so grievous a sin against God?”
Verses 21-25 Edit
In utter amazement at the suspicion expressed by the delegates of the congregation, the two tribes and a half affirm with a solemn oath, that it never entered into their minds to build an altar as a place of sacrifice, to fall away from Jehovah. The combination of the three names of God-El, the strong one; Elohim, the Supreme Being to be feared; and Jehovah, the truly existing One, the covenant God (Jos 22:22), - serves to strengthen the invocation of God, as in Psa 50:1; and this is strengthened still further by the repetition of these three names. God knows, and let Israel also know, sc., what they intended, and what they have done. The אם which follows is the usual particle used in an oath. “Verily (it was) not in rebellion, nor in apostasy from Jehovah,” sc., that this was done, or that we built the altar. “Mayst Thou not help us to-day,” sc., if we did it in rebellion against God. An appeal addressed immediately to God in the heat of the statement, and introduced in the midst of the asseveration, which was meant to remove all doubt as to the truth of their declaration. The words which follow in Jos 22:23, “that we have built,” etc., continue the oath: “If we have done this, to build us an altar, to turn away from the Lord, or to offer thereon burnt-offering, meat-offering, or peace-offering, may Jehovah himself require it (דּרשׁ, as in Deu 18:19; cf. 1Sa 20:16). Another earnest parenthetical adjuration, as the substance of the oath, is continued in Jos 22:24. “But truly (לא ואם, with an affirmative signification) from anxiety, for a reason (lit. on account of a thing) have we done this, thinking (לאמר, since we thought) in time to come your sons might say to our sons, What have ye to do with Jehovah, the God of Israel?” i.e., He does not concern you; He is our God. “Jehovah has made the Jordan a boundary between us and your sons; ye have no part in Jehovah. Thus your sons might make our sons cease to fear Jehovah,” i.e., might make them desist from the worship of Jehovah (for the infinitive form ירא instead of the abbreviated form לרא used in 1Sa 18:29, there are analogies in יצק in Eze 24:3, and לישׁון, Ecc 5:11, whereas יראה is the only form used in the Pentateuch). There was some reason for this anxiety. For, inasmuch as in all the promises and laws Canaan alone (the land on this side of the Jordan, Num 34:1-12) is always mentioned as the land which Jehovah would give to His people for their inheritance, it was quite a possible thing that at some future time the false conclusion might be drawn from this, that only the tribes who dwelt in Canaan proper were the true people of Jehovah.
Verses 26-28 Edit
“So we thought, we will make ourselves to build an altar (an expression derived from the language of ordinary life, for 'we will build ourselves an altar'), not for burnt-offerings and slain-offerings; but it shall be a witness between us and you, and between our generations after us, that we may perform the service of Jehovah before His face (i.e., before the tabernacle in which Jehovah was enthroned), with our burnt-offerings, slain-offerings, and peace-offerings,” - in order, as they repeat in Jos 22:27 from Jos 22:24, Jos 22:25, that they might not be denied a part in Jehovah in time to come. For if it should so happen in time to come, that this should be said to them and to their descendants, they would say (or reply), “Behold the copy of the altar of Jehovah, which our fathers made, not for burnt-offerings,” etc. (Jos 22:28, as in Jos 22:26, Jos 22:27). For this reason they had built the altar according to the pattern of the altar before the tabernacle, and that not in their own land, but on the western side of the Jordan, where the dwelling-place of Jehovah was standing, as a witness that they worshipped one and the same God with the tribes on this side.
Verse 29 Edit
The speakers conclude with an expression of horror at the thought of rebelling against Jehovah. ממּנּוּ לנוּ חלילה, “far be it from us away from Him (ממּנּוּ = מיהוה, 1Sa 24:7; 1Sa 26:11; 1Ki 21:3), to rebel against Jehovah,” etc.
Verses 30-31 Edit
This explanation pleased the delegates of the congregation, so that Phinehas bore this testimony to the tribes on the east of the Jordan: “Now (to-day) we perceive that Jehovah is in the midst of us; because (אשׁר, quod, as in Gen 31:49, etc.) ye have not committed this unfaithfulness towards Jehovah, since (אז, then, if ye had only this intention) ye have saved the children of Israel out of the hand of Jehovah,” i.e., preserved them from His judgments.
Verses 32-33 Edit
They then returned to Canaan and informed the congregation. And the thing pleased them, so that they praised the Lord, sc., for having kept their brethren on the other side from rebellion, and they thought no more of going to war against them, or laying waste the land of the tribes on the east of the Jordan.
Verse 34 Edit
The Reubenites and Gadites (half Manasseh is omitted in Jos 22:33, Jos 22:34, for the sake of brevity) called the altar “witness is it between us that Jehovah is God” (כּי introduces the words). This is at once a name and an explanation, namely in this sense: they gave the altar the name of “witness between us,” because it was to be a witness that they also acknowledged and worshipped Jehovah as the true God.
Chap. 23 Edit
Verse 1 Edit
Joshua's Farewell and Death - Joshua 23-24 Edit
After the division of the land among the tribes, Joshua had withdrawn to Timnath-serah, on the mountains of Ephraim (Jos 19:50), to spend the last days of his life there in the quiet enjoyment of his own inheritance. But when the time of his departure from the earth was drawing near, remembering the call which he had received from the Lord (Jos 1:6-8), he felt constrained to gather the people together once more in the persons of their representatives, to warn them most earnestly of the dangers of apostasy from the Lord, and point out the evils that would follow (Josh 23); and then after that, in a solemn assembly of the nation at Shechem, to review the abundant mercies which the Lord had conferred upon Israel from the calling of Abraham to that day, that he might call upon them to remain stedfast and faithful in the worship of their God, and then solemnly renew the covenant with the Lord.
Exhortation to the Tribes of Israel to Remain Faithful to their Calling. - Jos 23:1, Jos 23:2. The introduction to the discourse which follows is attached in its first part to Jos 22:3-4, and thus also to Jos 21:43-44, whilst in the second part it points back to Jos 13:1. The Lord had given the people rest from all their enemies round about, after the land had been subdued and divided by lot (Jos 21:43-44). Joshua was already an old man at the termination of the war (Jos 13:1); but since then he had advanced still further in age, so that he may have noticed the signs of the near approach of death. He therefore called together the representatives of the people, either to Timnath-serah where he dwelt (Jos 19:50), or to Shiloh to the tabernacle, the central sanctuary of the whole nation, as the most suitable place for his purpose. “All Israel” is still further defined by the apposition, “its elders, and its heads, and its judges, and its officers.” This is not to be understood, however, as referring to four different classes of rulers; but the term elders is the general term used to denote all the representatives of the people, who were divided into heads, judges, and officers. And the heads, again, were those who stood at the head of the tribes, families, and fathers' houses, and out of whose number the most suitable persons were chosen as judges and officers (Deu 1:15; see my Bibl. Arch. ii. § 143). Joshua's address to the elders of all Israel consists of two parts, which run parallel to one another so far as the contents are concerned, Jos 23:2-13 and Jos 23:14-16. In both parts Joshua commences with a reference to his age and his approaching death, in consequence of which he felt constrained to remind the people once more of all the great things that the Lord had done for them, and to warn them against falling away from their gracious covenant God. Just as Joshua, in this the last act of his life, was merely treading in the footsteps of Moses, who had concluded his life with the fullest exhortations to the people to be faithful to the Lord (Deu 1:30), so his address consists entirely of reminiscences from the Pentateuch, more especially from Deuteronomy as he had nothing fresh to announce to the people, but could only impress the old truth upon their minds once more.
Joshua commenced his address by reminding them of the greatest manifestations of grace which they had received from the Lord, namely, by referring to what the Lord had done to all these nations (the Canaanites) before them, when He fought for Israel, as Moses had promised them (Deu 1:30 and Deu 3:22).
Verse 3 Edit
“Before you,” sc., smiting and driving them away.
Verse 4 Edit
He (Joshua) had now divided by lot among the tribes of Israel as their inheritance these still remaining (Canaanitish) nations, as the Lord had commanded (Jos 13:6-7), “from Jordan and further all the nations, which I have exterminated (i.e., which Joshua had destroyed when Canaan was taken), and the great sea (for 'to the great sea') in the west.” The breadth of the land of Canaan is here given in a peculiar manner, the terminus a quo being mentioned in the first clause, and the terminus ad quem (though without the preposition עד) in the second; and through the parallelism which exists between the clauses, each clause is left to be completed from the other. So that the whole sentence would read thus: “All these nations which remain ... from Jordan to the great sea, also all the nations which I have cut off from Jordan, and to the great sea westward.”
Verse 5 Edit
For the Lord would drive all these still remaining nations before the Israelites, and cut them off, and give the Israelites their land for a possession, as He had promised (Jos 13:6; cf. Exo 23:23.). הדף, as in Deu 6:19; Deu 9:4; and the form יהדּפם, with Chateph-kametz, on account of the weakness of the ה, as in Num 35:20. ירשׁתּם, as in Jos 1:15.
Verses 6-8 Edit
Only let them be strong, i.e., be brave, to keep the law of Moses without fail (cf. Jos 1:7), to enter into no fellowship with these remaining nations (בּוא, to enter into close intimacy with a person; see Jos 23:12), and not to pay reverence to their gods in any way, but to adhere stedfastly to the Lord their God as they had hitherto done. To make mention of the names of the idols (Exo 23:13), to swear by them, to serve them (by sacrifices), and to bow down to them (to invoke them in prayer), are the four outward forms of divine worship (see Deu 6:13; Deu 10:20). The concluding words, “as ye have done unto this day,” which express a reason for persevering in the attachment they had hitherto shown to Jehovah, “do not affirm that the Israelites had hitherto done all these things fully and perfectly; for who does not know how few mortals there are who devote themselves to God with all the piety and love which He justly demands? But because the nation as a whole had kept the laws delivered to them by Moses, during the time that the government had been in the hands of Joshua, the sins of individual men were left out of sight on this occasion” (Masius).
Verses 9-13 Edit
For this reason the Lord had driven out great and strong nations before the Israelites, so that no one was able to stand before them. The first hemistich points to the fulfilment of Deu 4:38; Deu 7:1; Deu 9:1; Deu 11:23; the second to that of Deu 7:24; Deu 11:25. ואתּם is placed at the beginning absolutely. - In Jos 23:10, the blessing of fidelity to the law which Israel had hitherto experienced, is described, as in Deu 32:30, upon the basis of the promise in Lev 26:7-8, and Deu 28:7, and in Jos 23:10 the thought of Jos 23:3 is repeated. To this there is attached, in Jos 23:11-13, the admonition to take heed for the sake of their souls (cf. Deu 4:15), to love the Lord their God (on the love of God as the sum of the fulfilment of the law, see Deu 6:5; Deu 10:12; Deu 11:13). For if they turned, i.e., gave up the faithfulness they had hitherto displayed towards Jehovah, and attached themselves to the remnant of these nations, made marriages with them, and entered into fellowship with them, which the Lord had expressly forbidden (Exo 34:12-15; Deu 7:3), let them know that the Lord their God would not cut off these nations before them any more, but that they would be a snare and destruction to them. This threat is founded upon such passages of the law as Exo 23:33; Deu 7:16, and more especially Num 33:55. The figure of a trap, which is employed here (see Exo 10:7), is still further strengthened by פּח, a snare (cf. Isa 8:14-15). Shotet, a whip or scourge, an emphatic form of the word derived from the poel of שׁוּט, only occurs here. “Scourges in your sides, and thorns in your eyes” (see Num 33:55). Joshua crowds his figures together to depict the misery and oppression which would be sure to result from fellowship with the Canaanites, because, from his knowledge of the fickleness of the people, and the wickedness of the human heart in its natural state, he could foresee that the apostasy of the nation from the Lord, which Moses had foretold, would take place but too quickly; as it actually did, according to Jdg 2:3., in the very next generation. The words “until ye perish,” etc., resume the threat held out by Moses in Deu 11:17 (cf. Josh Deu 28:21.).
In the second part of his address, Joshua sums up briefly and concisely the leading thoughts of the first part, giving greater prominence, however, to the curse which would follow apostasy from the Lord.
Verses 14-16 Edit
Now that Joshua was going the way of all the earth (all the inhabitants of the earth), i.e., going to die (1Ki 2:2), the Israelites knew with all the heart and all the soul, i.e., were fully convinced, that of all the good words (gracious promises) of God not one had failed, but all had come to pass (vid., Jos 21:45). But it was just as certain that the Lord would bring upon them every evil word that He spake through Moses (Lev 26:14-33; Deut 28:15-68, and Deu 29:14-28), if they transgressed His covenant. “The evil word” is the curse of rejection (Deu 30:1, Deu 30:15). “Until He have destroyed:” see Deu 7:24, and Deu 28:48. The other words as in Jos 23:13. If they went after other gods and served them, the wrath of the Lord would burn against them, and they would be quickly destroyed from the good land which He had given them (vid., Deu 11:17).
Chap. 24 Edit
==Verse 1== Renewal of the Covenant at the National Assembly in Shechem. - Jos 24:1. Joshua brought his public ministry to a close, as Moses had done before him, with a solemn renewal of the covenant with the Lord. For this solemn act he did not choose Shiloh, the site of the national sanctuary, as some MSS of the lxx read, but Shechem, a place which was sanctified as no other was for such a purpose as this by the most sacred reminiscences from the times of the patriarchs. He therefore summoned all the tribes of Israel, in their representatives (their elders, etc., as in Jos 23:2), to Shechem, not merely because it was at Shechem, i.e., on Gerizim and Ebal, that the solemn establishment of the law in the land of Canaan, to which the renewal of the covenant, as a repetition of the essential kernel of that solemn ceremony, was now to be appended, had first taken place, but still more because it was here that Abraham received the first promise from God after his migration into Canaan, and built an altar at the time (Gen 12:6-7); and most of all, as Hengstenberg has pointed out (Diss. ii. p. 12), because Jacob settled here on his return from Mesopotamia, and it was here that he purified his house from the strange gods, burying all their idols under the oak (Gen 33:19; Gen 35:2, Gen 35:4). As Jacob selected Shechem for the sanctification of his house, because this place was already consecrated by Abraham as a sanctuary of God, so Joshua chose the same place for the renewal of the covenant, because this act involved a practical renunciation on the part of Israel of all idolatry. Joshua expressly states this in Jos 24:23, and reference is also made to it in the account in Jos 24:26. “The exhortation to be faithful to the Lord, and to purify themselves from all idolatry, could not fail to make a deep impression, in the place where the honoured patriarch had done the very same things to which his descendants were e