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Bible Commentaries
Joshua 15

Layman's Bible CommentaryLayman's Bible Commentary

Verses 1-63

Judah’s Allotment (15:1-63)

The material of this chapter falls into several parts. First are recorded the south, east, north, and west boundaries of the allotment of Judah (vss. 2-12). This is followed by another reference to the awarding of Hebron to Caleb, including a brief reference to the capture of Debir (vss. 13-19). Next a list of Judean towns (comprising eleven, or perhaps originally twelve, administrative districts) is offered (vss. 20-62). Finally, a reference to the in-vincibility of the Jebusites of Jerusalem is appended (vs. 63).

The territory here delineated as Judah’s is large in comparison with other tribal allotments. But much of it is desert or semi-desert. Its southern boundary runs southwest from the south end of the Dead Sea to Kadesh-barnea (about 55 miles) and northwest along "the Brook of Egypt" to the Mediterranean Sea (about 60 miles). The eastern boundary is the full length of the shoreline of the Dead Sea (about 50 miles). The north boundary runs irregularly (some 60 miles) from the north end of the Dead Sea to the Mediterranean just south of Joppa, skirting Jerusalem on the south.

A touch of romance is introduced with the story of the capture of Debir (Kiriath-sepher, known today as Tell Beit Mirsim). According to the story in verses 15-19 (told in almost identical language in Judges 1:11-15), Othniel—Caleb’s brother or nephew —won his wife (Caleb’s daughter) as a reward for the capture of the city. Caleb subsequently gave Othniel a field and some springs (or perhaps cisterns) of water, probably as a dowry, since Debir belonged to Othniel by right of conquest.

How the capture of Debir as described here is to be related to the conquest of Debir by Joshua (Joshua 10:38-39) is a problem. Excavations conducted at the site of Debir revealed that toward the end of the thirteenth century B.C.—the time of Joshua —the city was violently destroyed. So intense was the burning that in places the ashes were three feet thick. Either we have variant and discrepant accounts of the conquest of the city or a second assault was necessary somewhat later than the one by Joshua. The latter is not impossible, since Joshua’s military efforts were scarcely thorough enough to achieve permanent subjugation of the areas initially captured.

The list of cities (vss. 20-62), grouped according to administrative districts, probably comes from the time of Jehoshaphat in the ninth century B.C. It was David who began administrative districting. This late list, reflecting the situation in Judah of the ninth century, was used by the Deuteronomic writer as a source of information concerning the allotment of land during the earlier period under Joshua.

Jerusalem, a strongly fortified Jebusite city on the border of Judah, was not conquered until the time of David (2 Samuel 5:6-10).

Bibliographical Information
"Commentary on Joshua 15". "Layman's Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/lbc/joshua-15.html.
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