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Bible Commentaries
Joshua 18

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - UnabridgedCommentary Critical Unabridged

Verse 1

And the whole congregation of the children of Israel assembled together at Shiloh, and set up the tabernacle of the congregation there. And the land was subdued before them.

The whole congregation of the children of Israel assembled together at Shiloh. The main body of the Israelites had been diminished by the separation of the three tribes, Judah, Ephraim, and Manasseh, into their respective allotments; and the country having been in a great measure subdued, the camp was removed to Shiloh, anciently Taanath (Joshua 16:6; according to Kurtz, vol. 2:, p. 70), now Seilun. "Shiloh," denoting 'rest,' was a name given in allusion to the ark being now placed in a permanent station. It was 20 or 25 miles north of Jerusalem, twelve north of Beth-el, and ten south of Shechem, and embosomed in a rugged and romantic glen. This sequestered spot in the heart of the country might have been recommended by the dictates of convenience: there the allotment of the territory could be most conveniently made, north, south, east, and west, to the different tribes. But, 'the tabernacle of the congregation was also set up there, and its removal therefore must have been made or sanctioned by divine intimation (Deuteronomy 12:11). It remained in Shiloh for more than 300 years (1 Samuel 4:1-11).

Verse 2

And there remained among the children of Israel seven tribes, which had not yet received their inheritance.

There remained ... seven tribes, which had not yet received their inheritance. The selection of Shiloh for There remained ... seven tribes, which had not yet received their inheritance. The selection of Shiloh for the seat of worship, together with the consequent removal of the camp there, had necessarily interrupted the casting of lots, which was commenced by fixing localities for the tribes of Judah and Joseph. Various causes led to a long delay in resuming it. The satisfaction of the people with their change to so pleasant and fertile a district, their preference of a nomad life, a love of ease, and reluctance to renew the war, seem to have made them indifferent to the possession of a settled inheritance. But Joshua was too much alive to the duty laid on him by the Lord to let matters continue in that state; and accordingly, since a general conquest of the land had been made, he resolved to proceed immediately with the lot, believing that when each tribe should receive its inheritance, a new motive would arise to lead them to exert themselves in securing the full possession.

Verse 3

And Joshua said unto the children of Israel, How long are ye slack to go to possess the land, which the LORD God of your fathers hath given you?

How long are ye slack to go to possess the land. This reproof conveys an impression that the seven tribes were dilatory to a criminal extent.

Verse 4

Give out from among you three men for each tribe: and I will send them, and they shall rise, and go through the land, and describe it according to the inheritance of them; and they shall come again to me.

Give out from among you three men for each tribe. Though the lot determined the part of the country where each tribe was to be located, it could not determine the extent of territory which might be required; and the dissatisfaction of the children of Joseph with the alleged smallness of their possession gave reason to fear that complaints might arise from other quarters, unless precautions were taken to make a proper distribution of the land. For this purpose a commission was given to 21 persons-three chosen from each of the seven tribes which had not yet received their inheritance-to make an accurate survey of the country. They "went and passed through the land, and described it by cities into seven parts in a book" (Joshua 18:9); dividing the land according to its value, and the worth of the cities which it contained, into seven equal portions.

This was no light task to undertake. It required learning and intelligence, which they or their instructors had, in all probability, brought with them out of Egypt. Accordingly, Josephus ('Antiquities,' b. 5:, ch. 1:, sec. 21) says that the survey was performed by men expert in geometry. And, in fact, the circumstantial account which is given of the boundaries of each tribe and its situation well proves it to have been the work of no mean or incompetent hands.

Verses 5-9

And they shall divide it into seven parts: Judah shall abide in their coast on the south, and the house of Joseph shall abide in their coasts on the north.

No JFB commentary on these verses.

Verse 10

And Joshua cast lots for them in Shiloh before the LORD: and there Joshua divided the land unto the children of Israel according to their divisions.

Joshua cast lots for them in Shiloh before the Lord - before the tabernacle, where the divine presence was manifested, and which associated with the lot the ides of divine sanction.

Verse 11

And the lot of the tribe of the children of Benjamin came up according to their families: and the coast of their lot came forth between the children of Judah and the children of Joseph.

The lot of ... Benjamin came up. It has been supposed that there were two urns or vessels from which the lots were drawn, one containing the names of the tribes, the other containing those of the seven portions, and that the two were drawn out simultaneously.

The coast of their lot ... between the children of Judah the children of Joseph. It lay intermediate on the south of Ephraim and northeast of Judah (cf. Joshua 15:5-9). Its northern border, commencing on the east from the Jordan, extended on the north of Jericho as far as the wilderness of Beth-aven. From this point its western border ran to the nether Beth-horon, whence, west (not by "the sea," as in our version), it descended southward to the wooded district of Kirjath-jearim, forming there an angle with the north border of the canton of Judah. The southern border was drawn from Jericho to Jerusalem, the principal landmarks which divided it from Judah being Nephtoah, Eu-rogel, Eu-shemesh (now Bir el-Haoud), and the stone of Bohan (see the note at Joshua 15:6). The eastern border was the Jordan. It was the smallest allotment of all the tribes, in consequent, as Josephus says, of the superior richness of the soil ('Antiquities,' b. 5:, ch. 1:, sec. 22). Thus the prophecy of Moses respecting the inheritance of Benjamin was remarkably accomplished (see the note at Deuteronomy 33:12).

Verses 12-20

And their border on the north side was from Jordan; and the border went up to the side of Jericho on the north side, and went up through the mountains westward; and the goings out thereof were at the wilderness of Bethaven.

No JFB commentary on these verses.

Verse 21

Now the cities of the tribe of the children of Benjamin according to their families were Jericho, and Beth-hoglah, and the valley of Keziz,

The cities of the tribe of ... Benjamin ... were Jericho (see the note at Joshua 11:1)

... Beth-hoglah (see the note at Joshua 15:6)

... the valley of Keziz, [Septuagint, Amekasis] - situated toward the eastern boundary of the territory. The name is derived from a root verb signifying to cut off; and hence, Mr. Grove remarks suggestively, 'Is it possible that this place can have any connection with the general circumcision which took place at Gilgal, in the neighbourhood?'

Verse 22

And Betharabah, and Zemaraim, and Bethel,

Beth-arabah - (see the note at Joshua 15:61.)

Zemaraim, [Septuagint, Sara] - now es-Sumrah, in the Jordan valley, between Beth-arabah and Beth-el.

Beth-el - (see the note at Joshua 16:1: cf. Genesis 28:19.)

Verse 23

And Avim, and Parah, and Ophrah,

Avim, [Septuagint, Aiein] - probably a corruption of Ai.

Parah, [Septuagint, Fara]. Jerome ('Onomast.') says it stood 5 miles off Bethel.

Ophrah, [Septuagint, Efratha] (cf. 1 Samuel 13:17) - said by Eusebius and Jerome ('Onomast.') to have been 5 Roman miles east of Beth-el; and supposed by Robinson ('Biblical Researches,' 2:, p. 125) to be identified in et-Taiyibeh.

Verse 24

And Chephar-haam'monai, and Ophni, and Gaba; twelve cities with their villages:

Chephar-haammonai - i:e., hamlet of the Ammonites [Septuagint, Karafa, Kefima, Moni] - not ascertained.

Ophni, [ wªhaa-`Aapªniy (H6078)] - the Ophnite. The Septuagint omits.

Gaba, [Septuagint, Gabaa] - the same as Geba.

Twelve cities with their villages. This group of cities lay in the north and northeastern parts of the allotment of Benjamin.

Verse 25

Gibeon, and Ramah, and Beeroth,

Gibeon - i:e., situated on a hill [Septuagint, Gabaoon] - one of the Hivite cities (see the note at Joshua 9:17).

Ramah, [ wªhaa-Raamaah (H7414), the height; Septuagint, Rama]. Its position is indicated by its being mentioned here between Gibeon and Beeroth, and still more exactly in Isaiah 10:28-32.

Beeroth, [Septuagint, Beeerootha] - (see the note at Joshua 9:17.)

Verse 26

And Mizpeh, and Chephirah, and Mozah,

Mizpeh, [ wªha-Mitspeh (H4708), the watch-tower, pillar, or elevated place; Septuagint, Masseema] - a place of popular convention (Judges 20:1; Judges 20:3; 1 Samuel 7:5-16: cf. 1 Kings 15:22; 2 Chronicles 16:6).

Chephirah, [ wªha-Kªpiyraah (H3716), the hamlet; Septuagint, Kefira] - identified with Kefir, two miles east of Yalo (see the note at Joshua 9:17).

Mozah, [ wªha-Motsaah (H4681) - i:e., the springhead (Stanley, 'Sinai and Palestine,' Appendix, see. 53); Septuagint, Amookee] - supposed to have stood on the site now occupied by Kulonieh (Colonia), a village on the Jaffa road, 4 miles west of Jerusalem (Schwarz; Robinson, 'Biblical Researches,' 3:, see Appendix; 'Arab. List,' Part I., 8:, 4).

Verse 27

And Rekem, and Irpeel, and Taralah,

Rekem - perhaps Ain Karim, near Kulonieh (Motza).

Irpeel - i:e., what God heals (Gesenius). Its position has not been discovered.

Taralah, [Septuagint, Thareeela] - not yet identified.

Verse 28

And Zelah, Eleph, and Jebusi, which is Jerusalem, Gibeath, and Kirjath; fourteen cities with their villages. This is the inheritance of the children of Benjamin according to their families.

Zelah, [the Septuagint omits] - (cf. 2 Samuel 21:14.) No trace of it has been found.

Eleph, [ haa-'Elep (H507)] - the ox or cow, indicating the pastoral character of the place.

Jebusi, which is Jerusalem, [ wªha-Yªbuwciy (H2983), the Jebusite; Septuagint, Iebous] - (see the note at Joshua 15:8.) The import of Jerusalem is, according to Reland ('Palaestina,' p. 832), Hengstenberg (Psalms 3:1-8:, p. 331), and Ewald ('Hebrew Grammar'), the peaceful possession; but according to Hofmann, the foundation of peace (cf. Genesis 31:51: see the note at 2 Samuel 5:9). Another derivation has been suggested from Luke 19:42.

Gibeath, [Septuagint, Gabaooth]. The three towns, Gibeon, Gibeah, and Geba, are all enumerated as belonging to Benjamin. The two latter are clearly distinguished, 1 Samuel 13:2-3. Gibeah of Benjamin (Tuleil el-Tul, the hill of the beans) was at least five miles north of Jerusalem, in the immediate vicinity of Gibeon and Ramah, with which, therefore, it might have been expected to be associated in this enumeration. But it is here in the construct state; and hence, it has been suggested that it should be joined to the following word, Gibeath-kirjath - i:e., the hill of Kirjath, namely, Kirjath-jearim. It is no fatal objection to this conjecture that it diminishes the number of cities. The Septuagint version shows plainly that the text here has been altered.

Fourteen cities with their villages. This second group of cities was situated in the southern part of the allotment.

Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Joshua 18". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jfu/joshua-18.html. 1871-8.
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