Lectionary Calendar
Monday, July 15th, 2024
the Week of Proper 10 / Ordinary 15
For 10¢ a day you can enjoy StudyLight.org ads
free while helping to build churches and support pastors in Uganda.
Click here to learn more!

Bible Commentaries
Joshua 15

Utley's You Can Understand the BibleUtley Commentary


Joshua 15:0


Territory of JudahThe Land of JudahThe Territory Assigned to JudahThe Territory Assigned to JudahThe Tribe of Judah
Joshua 15:1-12Joshua 15:1-12Joshua 15:1-12Joshua 15:1-4Joshua 15:1-4
Joshua 15:5aJoshua 15:5
Joshua 15:5-12a
Joshua 15:6-11
Joshua 15:12bJoshua 15:12
Caleb Occupies Hebron and DebirCaleb Conquers Hebron and DebirThe Calebites Occupy the Territory of Hebron
Joshua 15:13-19Joshua 15:13-19Joshua 15:13-19Joshua 15:13-19Joshua 15:13-19
Cities of JudahThe Cities of JudahThe Cities of Judah
Joshua 15:20Joshua 15:20-32Joshua 15:20-32Joshua 15:20-32Joshua 15:20
Names of Places Owned by Judah
Joshua 15:21-32Joshua 15:21a
Joshua 15:21-32
Joshua 15:33-36Joshua 15:33-47Joshua 15:33-36Joshua 15:33-36Joshua 15:33-36
Joshua 15:37-41Joshua 15:37-41Joshua 15:37-41Joshua 15:37-41
Joshua 15:42-44Joshua 15:42-44Joshua 15:42-44Joshua 15:42-44
Joshua 15:45-46Joshua 15:45-46Joshua 15:45-46Joshua 15:45-47
Joshua 15:47Joshua 15:47Joshua 15:47
Joshua 15:48-51Joshua 15:48-60Joshua 15:48-51Joshua 15:48-51Joshua 15:48-51
Joshua 15:52-54Joshua 15:52-54Joshua 15:52-54Joshua 15:52-54
Joshua 15:55-57Joshua 15:55-57Joshua 15:55-57Joshua 15:55-56
Joshua 15:58-59Joshua 15:58-59Joshua 15:58-59Joshua 15:58-59a
Joshua 15:59b
Joshua 15:60Joshua 15:60Joshua 15:60Joshua 15:60
Joshua 15:61-62Joshua 15:61-63Joshua 15:61-62Joshua 15:61-62Joshua 15:61-62
Joshua 15:63Joshua 15:63Joshua 15:63Joshua 15:63

READING CYCLE THREE (from “A Guide to Good Bible Reading”)


This is a study guide commentary, which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

Read the chapter in one sitting. Identify the subjects. Compare your subject divisions with the five translations above. Paragraphing is not inspired but it is the key to following the original author's intent which is the heart of interpretation. Every paragraph has one and only one subject.

1. First paragraph

2. Second paragraph

3. Third paragraph

4. Etc.


Several items in Joshua point toward a contemporary date (in the day that Joshua lived).

A. The ancient Canaanite names of cities are preserved.

1. Baalah (Kiriath-jearim) - Joshua 15:9

2. Kiriath-sannah (Debir) - Joshua 15:49

3. Kiriath-arba (Hebron) - Joshua 15:54

B. Canaanites were still in control of

1. Gezer - Joshua 16:10

2. Jebus - Joshua 18:28

C. Sidon, not Tyre, is listed as the main city of Phoenicia (cf. Joshua 13:4, Joshua 13:6)

Verses 1-12

NASB (UPDATED TEXT): Joshua 15:1-12 1Now the lot for the tribe of the sons of Judah according to their families reached the border of Edom, southward to the wilderness of Zin at the extreme south. 2Their south border was from the lower end of the Salt Sea, from the bay that turns to the south. 3Then it proceeded southward to the ascent of Akrabbim and continued to Zin, then went up by the south of Kadesh-barnea and continued to Hezron, and went up to Addar and turned about to Karka. 4It continued to Azmon and proceeded to the brook of Egypt, and the border ended at the sea. This shall be your south border. 5The east border was the Salt Sea, as far as the mouth of the Jordan. And the border of the north side was from the bay of the sea at the mouth of the Jordan. 6Then the border went up to Beth-hoglah, and continued on the north of Beth-arabah, and the border went up to the stone of Bohan the son of Reuben. 7The border went up to Debir from the valley of Achor, and turned northward toward Gilgal which is opposite the ascent of Adummim, which is on the south of the valley; and the border continued to the waters of En-shemesh and it ended at En-rogel. 8Then the border went up the valley of Ben-hinnom to the slope of the Jebusite on the south (that is, Jerusalem); and the border went up to the top of the mountain which is before the valley of Hinnom to the west, which is at the end of the valley of Rephaim toward the north. 9From the top of the mountain the border curved to the spring of the waters of Nephtoah and proceeded to the cities of Mount Ephron, then the border curved to Baalah (that is, Kiriath-jearim). 10The border turned about from Baalah westward to Mount Seir, and continued to the slope of Mount Jearim on the north (that is, Chesalon), and went down to Beth-shemesh and continued through Timnah. 11The border proceeded to the side of Ekron northward. Then the border curved to Shikkeron and continued to Mount Baalah and proceeded to Jabneel, and the border ended at the sea. 12The west border was at the Great Sea, even its coastline. This is the border around the sons of Judah according to their families.

Joshua 15:1 “Now the lot for the tribe of the sons of Judah according to their families” The tribe of Simeon was incorporated very early into the tribe of Judah and lost all of its identity (cf. Joshua 19:1-9).

“Edom” This refers to the nation east of the Jordan which came from the descendants of Esau. The basic meaning is “red” (BDB 10).

The term “south” (BDB 616) is Teman, which is the same term as the name of one of Edom's major cities.

“Wilderness of Zin” This should not be confused with the Wilderness of Sin, which is located in the southern part of the Sinai peninsula. This wilderness is in the northern part of the Sinai peninsula in which Kadesh-barnea is located (cf. Numbers 34:2-5). See Special Topic: The Wildernesses of the Exodus.

Joshua 15:3 “Akrabbim” This is the name for “scorpions” (BDB 785). The boundaries of the Promised Land are given in Numbers 34:0 (cf. Numbers 34:4). This pass was part of the unconquered Amorite territory in Judges 1:36.

Joshua 15:4 “the brook of Egypt” The term “brook” (BDB 636) is “wadi,” which denotes a river bed or channel which is dry part of the year.

Water (i.e., rivers, wadis, lakes, streams, oceans) were often used as boundaries. This one is the most southern boundary of the Promised Land and Egypt (here the southern boundary of Judah, cf. Numbers 34:5).

Other natural barriers or topological distinctives, like valleys, mountain ranges, plains, were also used as boundary markers.

Joshua 15:6 “the stone of Bohan the son of Reuben” We know nothing about this young man or why a memorial stone was raised for him. It is surely possible that this was a boundary marker and not a memorial (cf. Joshua 18:17).

Joshua 15:7 “Gilgal” This does not refer to the first Israeli campsite (cf. Joshua 4:19). It is possible that it should be translated “Gelioth” (cf. Joshua 18:17), because this location is also related to En-shemesh.

“En-shemesh and En-rogel” These were two springs (BDB 745) which seem to be located on the road from Jericho to Jerusalem.

Joshua 15:8 “the valley of Ben-hinnom . . . the valley of Hinnom” This is the place where the fertility fire god, Molech, was worshiped. It was just outside the city of Jerusalem (Jebus, cf. Joshua 15:63) to the south. This is the place which later the Jews turned into a garbage dump and which Jesus used as His metaphor to describe Hell (Gehenna).

SPECIAL TOPIC: Where Are the Dead?

“Rephaim” See notes at Joshua 11:21.

Joshua 15:9 “Baalah” This seems to be the feminine form for the term baal, and it may mean “mistress.” It was the older name of Kiriath-jearim.

Joshua 15:10 “Mount Seir” This means “rough,” “hairy,” or “shaggy” (BDB 973). There are several different sites by this name. This does not refer to Mt. Seir in Edom, but a hill close to Jerusalem.

“Beth-shemesh” This means “house of the sun” (BDB 112, cf. 1 Samuel 6:9, 1 Samuel 6:12, 1 Samuel 6:13, 1 Samuel 6:15, 1 Samuel 6:19, 1 Samuel 6:20; 1 Kings 4:9; 2 Kings 14:13). Many believe that this refers to sun worship. There are several cities by this name.

“Timnah” This was a town which was later associated with the exploits of Samson.

Joshua 15:11 “Ekron” This was one of the five main Philistine walled cities (cf. Joshua 15:45-47). Apparently Judah never fully captured it or any of the main cities on the plain where chariot forces were used. See NIDOTTE, vol. 4, pp. 568-569.

Joshua 15:12 “the Great Sea” This refers to the Mediterranean Ocean.

Verses 13-19

NASB (UPDATED TEXT): Joshua 15:13-19 13 Now he gave to Caleb the son of Jephunneh a portion among the sons of Judah, according to the command of the LORD to Joshua, namely, Kiriath-arba, Arba being the father of Anak (that is, Hebron). 14Caleb drove out from there the three sons of Anak: Sheshai and Ahiman and Talmai, the children of Anak. 15Then he went up from there against the inhabitants of Debir; now the name of Debir formerly was Kiriath-sepher. 16And Caleb said, “The one who attacks Kiriath-sepher and captures it, I will give him Achsah my daughter as a wife.” 17Othniel the son of Kenaz, the brother of Caleb, captured it; so he gave him Achsah his daughter as a wife. 18It came about that when she came to him, she persuaded him to ask her father for a field. So she alighted from the donkey, and Caleb said to her, “What do you want?” 19Then she said, “Give me a blessing; since you have given me the land of the Negev, give me also springs of water.” So he gave her the upper springs and the lower springs.

Joshua 15:13-19 This describes the fall of Hebron to Caleb (cf. Joshua 11:21-22; Joshua 14:13-15; Joshua 15:13-19; Judges 1:16-21).

Joshua 15:14 “Anak” See notes at Joshua 11:21.

Joshua 15:15 “Kiriath-sepher” This meant “city of scribes” (BDB 900, cf. Judges 1:11, Judges 1:12). Apparently it was the location of a school which trained scribes in writing and recording within the Canaanite culture.

Joshua 15:17 “Othniel” He was Caleb's younger brother. He later became a judge (cf. Judges 1:13; Judges 3:9).

“son of Kenza” (cf. Joshua 14:6, Joshua 14:14).

Joshua 15:18

NASB, NJB“so she alighted from the donkey” NKJV, NRSV, REV“so she dismounted from her donkey” TEV“she got down from her donkey” NJB“as she sat on the ass, she broke wind”

The VERB'S (BDB 856, KB 1038, cf. Judges 1:14) meaning is disputed. In Judges 4:21 it is used of Jael driving the tent peg through Sisera's head into the ground.

Whatever it meant, it was an idiom for getting someone's attention (i.e., a noise, a gesture). The KB 1038 has “clap one's hands.”

Joshua 15:19 This verse describes the bridal gift of Caleb to his daughter (Achsah) and brother (Othniel). Notice the number of times the VERB “give” (BDB 678, KB 733) is used.





The Negev (i.e., “south country,” BDB 616) is very dry. The daughter knew what she was doing! This account is retold at the beginning of Judges (cf. Joshua 1:11-15).

Verses 21-32

NASB (UPDATED TEXT): Joshua 15:21-32 21Now the cities at the extremity of the tribe of the sons of Judah toward the border of Edom in the south were Kabzeel and Eder and Jagur, 22and Kinah and Dimonah and Adadah, 23and Kedesh and Hazor and Ithnan, 24Ziph and Telem and Bealoth, 25and Hazor-hadattah and Kerioth-hezron (that is, Hazor), 26Amam and Shema and Moladah, 27and Hazar-gaddah and Heshmon and Beth-pelet, 28and Hazar-shual and Beersheba and Biziothiah, 29Baalah and Iim and Ezem, 30and Eltolad and Chesil and Hormah, 31and Ziklag and Madmannah and Sansannah, 32and Lebaoth and Shilhim and Ain and Rimmon; in all, twenty-nine cities with their villages.

Joshua 15:21-32 This names the cities located in the far south (Negev).

Joshua 15:25 “Kerioth-hezron” This village is often associated with Judas Iscariot (“man of Kerioth”), but this is only one of several other possible meanings of “Iscariot.”

Although NASB and RSV (NRSV) translate this as the name of one village, the MT has an accent mark between them, which denotes two cities. This would have reflected the tradition received by the Masoretic scholars.

Verses 33-36

NASB (UPDATED TEXT): Joshua 15:33-36 33In the lowland: Eshtaol and Zorah and Ashnah, 34and Zanoah and En-gannim, Tappuah and Enam, 35Jarmuth and Adullam, Socoh and Azekah, 36and Shaaraim and Adithaim and Gederah and Gederothaim; fourteen cities with their villages.

Joshua 15:33-47 This names the cities located in the lowlands. Verses Joshua 15:33-36 were in the northeastern coastal plain, 37-41 in the middle, 42-44 in the southern, and 45-47 in the Philistine coastal area. This section may have a separate source because its form is different from the rest of the lists of cities. These lists seem to reflect a government registry.

Joshua 15:34 “Tappuah” This term means “apple tree” (BDB 656, cf. Joshua 12:17; Joshua 16:8; Joshua 17:8).

Verses 37-51

NASB (UPDATED TEXT): Joshua 15:37-41 37Zenan and Hadashah and Migdal-gad, 38and Dilean and Mizpeh and Joktheel, 39Lachish and Bozkath and Eglon, 40and Cabbon and Lahmas and Chitlish, 41and Gederoth, Beth-dagon and Naamah and Makkedah; sixteen cities with their villages.

NASB (UPDATED TEXT): Joshua 15:42-44 42Libnah and Ether and Ashan, 43and Iphtah and Ashnah and Nezib, 44and Keilah and Achzib and Mareshah; nine cities with their villages.

NASB (UPDATED TEXT): Joshua 15:45-46 45Ekron, with its towns and its villages; 46from Ekron even to the sea, all that were by the side of Ashdod, with their villages.

NASB (UPDATED TEXT): Joshua 15:47 47Ashdod, its towns and its villages; Gaza, its towns and its villages; as far as the brook of Egypt and the Great Sea, even its coastline.

NASB (UPDATED TEXT): Joshua 15:48-51 48 In the hill country: Shamir and Jattir and Socoh, 50and Anab and Eshtemoh and Anim, 51and Goshen and Holon and Giloh; eleven cities with their villages.

Joshua 15:48-60 This names the cities located in the hill country.

Verses 52-57

NASB (UPDATED TEXT): Joshua 15:52-54 52Arab and Dumah and Eshan, 53and Janum and Beth-tappuah and Aphekah, 54and Humtah and Kiriath-arba (that is, Hebron), and Zior; nine cities with their villages.

NASB (UPDATED TEXT): Joshua 15:55-57 55Maon, Carmel and Ziph and Juttah, 56and Jezreel and Jokdeam and Zanoah, 57Kain, Gibeah and Timnah; ten cities with their villages.

Joshua 15:56 “Jezreel” This place name means “God sows” (BDB 283). It is used of two villages.

1. tribal allocation of Judah, Joshua 15:56

2. tribal allocation of Issachar, Joshua 19:18

Joshua 15:57 “Gibeah” There seem to be several cities by this name (“hill,” BDB 149 II).

1. in the tribal allocation of Judah in the hill country, Joshua 15:57

2. in the tribal allocation of Benjamin, Joshua 18:28

3. in the tribal allocation of Ephraim, where Eleazar (Aaron's son) was buried on a hill, Joshua 24:33

Verses 58-59

NASB (UPDATED TEXT): Joshua 15:58-59 58Halhul, Beth-zur and Gedor, 59and Maarath and Beth-anoth and Eltekon; six cities with their villages.

Joshua 15:59 The Septuagint has an additional list of eleven cities not found in the MT. It is uncertain whether this reflects a manuscript error in the MT or extraneous material added by the translators of the LXX.

Verses 60-62

NASB (UPDATED TEXT): Joshua 15:60 60Kiriath-baal (that is, Kiriath-jearim), and Rabbah; two cities with their villages.

NASB (UPDATED TEXT): Joshua 15:61-62 61In the wilderness: Beth-arabah, Middin and Secacah, 62and Nibshan and the City of Salt and Engedi; six cities with their villages.

Joshua 15:61-62 This names the cities located in the wilderness.

Verse 63

NASB (UPDATED TEXT): Joshua 15:63 63 Now as for the Jebusites, the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the sons of Judah could not drive them out; so the Jebusites live with the sons of Judah at Jerusalem until this day.

Joshua 15:63 “the Jebusites, the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the sons of Judah could not drive them out” The Jebusites (BDB 101) seem to have held on to the fortress of the city of Jebus (cf. Judges 1:8) until the time of David. The VERBAL (BDB 439, KB 441) is a Hiphil INFINITIVE CONSTRUCT, cf. Judges 1:21, Judges 1:29, Judges 1:30, Judges 1:31, Judges 1:32, Judges 1:33.

“until this day” This use of the phrase shows that the scribe lived and wrote before David's day. Because Moses grew up and was trained in Egypt, which explains why Jewish scribes felt free to upgrade the literary works of Israel. From archaeology it is obvious that Mesopotamian scribes never changed their national texts whereas Egyptian scribes felt free to upgrade their national/religious texts. See notes at Joshua 7:26.


This is a study guide commentary, which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

These discussion questions are provided to help you think through the major issues of this section of the book. They are meant to be thought-provoking, not definitive.

1. Why is the division of the land so important to the Jewish people?

2. Did the Israelites fully occupy their tribal allocations?

3. Who are the Nephilim and Anakim?

4. What was the lot and how did it work?

5. Describe the Canaanite fertility religion.

Bibliographical Information
Utley. Dr. Robert. "Commentary on Joshua 15". "Utley's You Can Understand the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ubc/joshua-15.html. 2021.
Ads FreeProfile