The writer recorded the boundaries of the whole tribal territory first. The description proceeds counterclockwise from south ( Joshua 15:2-4) to east ( Joshua 15:5) to north ( Joshua 15:5-11) to west ( Joshua 15:12).
Judah"s boundaries and Caleb and Othniel"s inheritances15:1-20
3. Judah"s inheritance ch15
The tribe of Judah probably received first consideration in the text, because it was this tribe that had received Jacob"s special patriarchal blessing. It was also the largest tribe.
Ancient Near Easterners used natural landmarks (rivers, mountains, deserts, towns, etc.) to construct borders as well as artificial boundaries that they made by drawing lines between sites. Virtually all nations have used these methods, and they are still common today.
Judah was the southernmost tribe west of the Jordan. Caleb"s family and the Simeonites lived within Judah"s territory. Simeon was the smallest tribe except Levi, and lost its territorial identity within Judah shortly after the conquest (cf. Genesis 49:5-7). For this reason some maps of the tribal allotments do not include Simeon.
The writer probably included the record of Caleb"s success in driving out the Canaanites in his area to highlight the effect of faith in the settling of the land. Othniel ( Joshua 15:17) was one of Israel"s prominent judges ( Judges 3:9), probably the first whom God raised up in Israel after Joshua"s death. He was Caleb"s younger brother (Heb. "ah, cf. Judges 1:13; Judges 3:9) and bore the spiritual characteristics of his sibling. Some translators and commentators believed Othniel was Caleb"s nephew, but this seems unlikely.
"Acsah"s request for the springs is reminiscent of Rebekah"s meeting with Isaac ( Genesis 24:61-67) in which she also (1) approaches riding on an animal; (2) descends; (3) makes a request; and (4) receives the desired result from the person whom she approaches. Both accounts involve an inheritance of the blessing that God had promised to Abraham. This is probably the reason for the inclusion of this particular note." [Note: Hess, p245.]
This verse concludes the description of the tribal boundaries of Judah given in Joshua 15:1-19.
The Negev (south land) formed a region between the more fertile parts of Judah to the north and the desert to the south. The writer listed four groups of towns: the first nine ( Joshua 15:21-23), the second five ( Joshua 15:24-25), the third nine ( Joshua 15:26-28), and the fourth13 ( Joshua 15:29-32).
The towns in Judah15:21-62
The writer grouped the towns in Judah according to that tribe"s four districts. This part of Canaan contained four distinct regions: the southern Negev, the lowland plain (Shephelah), the mountains (hill country), and the desert.
The Shephelah (lowland) was the area between the Coastal Plain to the west and the hill country of Judah to the east. The Negev lay to its south. The writer grouped the towns in this area also. He named14towns in the northern part of the Shephelah ( Joshua 15:33-36): 16 in the northwest ( Joshua 15:37-41), nine in the south ( Joshua 15:42-44), and three in the southwest ( Joshua 15:45-47).
Five groups of cities stood in the mountainous hill country of Judah north of the Negev, east of the Shephelah, and west of the wilderness of Judah. This area became home to a large number of Judahites. Eleven towns stood in the southwest section ( Joshua 15:48-51) and nine to the north of these (near Hebron, Joshua 15:52-54). Ten more stood to the east of both former groups toward the desert wilderness ( Joshua 15:55-57), six to the north of Hebron ( Joshua 15:58-59), and two on Judah"s northern border ( Joshua 15:60).
The wilderness of Judah was the northeastern part of the tribal inheritance. It bordered the hill country to the west, the Dead Sea to the east, and the Negev to the south. Six cities occupied this area.
Even though the Israelites defeated the king of Jerusalem ( Joshua 10:1-27), they were not able to exterminate the Jebusites who lived there. This city remained an island of Canaanite domination on the northern border of Judah.
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Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Joshua 15". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". https://www.studylight.org/
the Third Sunday after Epiphany