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the Week of Proper 10 / Ordinary 15
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Bible Commentaries
Joshua 15

Dummelow's Commentary on the BibleDummelow on the Bible

Verses 1-51

The Assignment of the Territory

It has been noticed that there are many incidental features in this narrative which point to a contemporary document. Thus in the lot of Judah we have a full description, both of the frontier-lines (Joshua 15:1-12), and also of the chief cities contained within them (Joshua 15:21-62): and the same is true of Benjamin (Joshua 18:11-28). But these are the tribes which seem to have conquered their territory soonest and most completely. Ephraim and Manasseh, on the contrary, have only their boundaries mentioned without any list of cities (16). As a matter of fact, the children of Joseph seem to have had more difficulties with the Canaanites (Joshua 17:12, Joshua 17:16, cp. Judges 1:27); than had Judah and Benjamin. Again, Simeon (Joshua 19:1-9) and Dan (Joshua 19:40-48) have no boundaries mentioned, only cities, because they originally settled in the territory of Judah and Benjamin. Finally, the accounts of the territory of the remaining tribes, Zebulun, Issachar, Asher, Naphtali (Joshua 19:10-39), are defective, as is natural if at the date when the document was originally drawn up, these territories were not yet completely conquered: cp. Judges 1:30-33. But if the document be strictly contemporary, it must be regarded as closing with Joshua 19:46.

Verses 1-63

The Lot of Judah

1-12. The boundaries of Judah’s lot. There is a valuable descriptive note on this section and on Joshua 15:20-63 in Black’s Commentary on ’Joshua’ in the Smaller Cambridge Bible.

2-4. The S. Frontier. This coincides, of course, with the S. Frontier of the whole land as given in Numbers 34:3-5.

4. The river of Egypt] RV ’brook of Egypt,’ not the Nile, but the Wâdy el Arish: cp. Joshua 15:47.

5. The E. Frontier, viz. the Dead Sea.

5-11. The N. Frontier. Cp. the account in Joshua 18:15-20 of the S. Frontier of Benjamin. This is by far the most complicated of the four frontiers, but its line can be fairly well traced. It leaves the Jordan some 4 m. N. of the Dead Sea, and runs W., then SW. past Jerusalem, W. again near Bethlehem, and NW. as it descends to the maritime plain.

7. Debir] This cannot be the same as the Debir of Joshua 11:21; Joshua 15:15, Joshua 15:49. Perhaps the reading here should be ’toward the wilderness.’ The going up to (RV ’the ascent of) Adummim] This was the steep pass on the road from Jericho to Jerusalem. Enrogel] a spring near Jerusalem which supplies the Pool of Siloam.

8. Valley of the giants] RV ’vale of Rephaim,’ SW. of Jerusalem.

9. Kirjath-jearim] 7 m. NW. of Jerusalem.

10. Mount Seir] in Judah, distinct from the Mt. Seir in Edom. Beth-shemesh Timnah] in Dan.

11. Jabneel] on the coast, known later as Jamnia (cp. 1 Maccabees 4:15; 2 Maccabees 12:8), in later days a famous seat of Jewish learning.

12. The W. Frontier, viz. the Mediterranean. Practically, however, the Philistines held the coast for many centuries.

13-19. The inheritance of Caleb. This passage is repeated in Judges 1:10-15, where, however, the expulsion of the Anakim from Hebron, attributed (Joshua 11:21-23) to Joshua and Israel, and here (cp. Joshua 14:12) to Caleb, is ascribed more vaguely to Judah. For further instances of parallels or quasi-parallels, with the book of Judges see on Joshua 15:63; Joshua 19:47; Joshua 24:28.

13. Caleb] = ’dog.’ He seems to have been of Edomite origin (Joshua 14:6). He was by no means a solitary instance of an alien adopted into the tribe of Judah. In the ancestry of David himself we find the Canaanitess Rahab and the Moabitess Ruth. Father of Anak] LXX has ’metropolis of Anak’: see on Joshua 14:15.

15. Debir] see on Joshua 10:38.

17. Othniel] (=’Lion of God’). For his subsequent career see Judges 3:9-11.

20-62. The cities of Judah.

20-32. Cities in the Negeb, or ’south country’: see on Genesis 12:9.

33-47. Cities in the Shephelah, or ’lowland’ (not as AV ’valley’): the fertile undulating tract between the central ridge and the maritime plain.

48-60. Cities in the ’Mountain,’ i.e. the rocky backbone of Judah, the limestone watershed between the Mediterranean and the Dead Sea. Mt. Ephraim is its continuation northwards.

59. LXX inserts here a list of 11 cities (including Tekoa and ’Ephrata which is Bethlehem’) which seems to have dropped out of the Massoretic text.

61, 62. Cities in the ’Wilderness,’ i.e. the steep and barren slopes between the Mountain and the Dead Sea eastward.

63. The Jebusites dwell with the children of Judah at Jerusalem unto this day] The parallel passage in Judges 1:21 has ’Benjamin’ for ’Judah,’ which may be an earlier form. At first sight this v. seems to belong to a time anterior, or at latest to the time when David (2 Samuel 5:6.) captured from the Jebusites the citadel of Zion. But that capture did not mean expulsion, as is clear from the later incident of Araunah (2 Samuel 24:16 cp. 1 Chronicles 21:15; Cp. also the mention of Jebusites as late as Zechariah 9:7); and in a sense it may be true that Judahite and Jebusite only began to live together in Jerusalem when David made it his capital, though Judges 1:21 may represent an earlier state of things.

Bibliographical Information
Dummelow, John. "Commentary on Joshua 15". "Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/dcb/joshua-15.html. 1909.
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