Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Joshua 18:9

So the men went and passed through the land, and described it by cities in seven divisions in a book; and they came to Joshua to the camp at Shiloh.
New American Standard Version

Bible Study Resources

Concordances:
Nave's Topical Bible - Civil Engineering;   Shiloh;   Topography;   Torrey's Topical Textbook - Sciences;  
Dictionaries:
Bridgeway Bible Dictionary - Gilgal;   Joshua, book of;   Shiloh;   Fausset Bible Dictionary - Bochim;   Shiloh (1);   Shiloh (2);   Holman Bible Dictionary - Book(s);   Joshua, the Book of;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Joshua;   Priests and Levites;   Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament - Lots;   Morrish Bible Dictionary - Shiloh ;   People's Dictionary of the Bible - Shiloh;  
Encyclopedias:
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Describe;   Joshua, Book of;   Libraries;   The Jewish Encyclopedia - Lots;   Pedagogics;  

Adam Clarke Commentary

And described it in a book - This as far as I can recollect, is the first act of surveying on record. These men and their work differed widely from those who had searched the land in the time of Moses; they went only to discover the nature of the country, and the state of its inhabitants; but these went to take an actual geographical survey of it, in order to divide it among the tribes which had not yet received their portions. We may suppose that the country was exactly described in a book, that is, a map, pointing out the face of the country, accompanied with descriptions of each part.

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Bibliographical Information
Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Joshua 18:9". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/joshua-18.html. 1832.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

And the men went and passed through the land,.... Undisturbed by the inhabitants that remained; the fear of the Israelites being still upon them, and the providence of God restraining them, so that the men passed through the whole country, and took a survey of it without any molestation:

and described it by cities, into seven parts, in a book; or map, or rather made seven maps of it, and set down the several cities in each division, with the places adjacent, hills and vales, and marked out a plain and exact chorography of the whole, by which it appears they must be men well skilled in geometry. JosephusF2Antiqu. l. 5. c. 1. sect. 21. says, that Joshua added to them some that understood geometry; but doubtless the persons each tribe chose and sent were such whom they knew were well versed in that art, and so fit for the business; and which they had, no doubt, learned in Egypt, this being one part of the wisdom and learning of the Egyptians; who boasted of it as an invention of theirs, as Diodorus SiculusF3Bibliothec. l. 1. p. 63. relates; and indeed they were obliged to study it, their country being divided into several homes, and these into lesser districts, and which also were subdivided, and according thereunto were the king's taxes levied upon them; and what with the confusion frequently made by the overflowings of the Nile, they were frequently obliged to measure their land over again; and hence they became expert in this science, which is commonly believed took its rise from them, and passed into Greece, as HerodotusF4Euterpe, sive, l. 2. c. 109. , and StraboF5Geograph. l. 17. p. 541,542. Vid. Suidam in voce γεωμετρια. , and other authors relate; however, it is certain from this instance in the time of Joshua, that geometry was not the invention of Anaximander, about five hundred years before Christ, as some have assertedF6Vid. Strabo. Geograph. l. 1. p. 5. Lar. l. 2. Vit. Anaximan I. :

and came again to Joshua to the host at Shiloh; where the camp, as well as the people in common, and the tabernacle, were; they returned, as JosephusF7Ut supra. (Antiqu. l. 5. c. 1. sect. 21.) says, at the end of seven months; and to measure so much land, and make such divisions of it, and give the plans and maps of each division, must take up a considerable time.

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The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rights Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
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Bibliographical Information
Gill, John. "Commentary on Joshua 18:9". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/joshua-18.html. 1999.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

The men went and passed through the land, and described it by cities into seven parts in a book — 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 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.

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These files are a derivative of an electronic edition prepared from text scanned by Woodside Bible Fellowship.
This expanded edition of the Jameison-Faussett-Brown Commentary is in the public domain and may be freely used and distributed.
Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Joshua 18:9". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfb/joshua-18.html. 1871-8.

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

And the men went and passed through the land, and described it by cities into seven parts in a book, and came again to Joshua to the host at Shiloh.

By cities — Or, according to the cities, to which the several parties or territories belonged.

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These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website.
Bibliographical Information
Wesley, John. "Commentary on Joshua 18:9". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/wen/joshua-18.html. 1765.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

Joshua 18:9 And the men went and passed through the land, and described it by cities into seven parts in a book, and came [again] to Joshua to the host at Shiloh.

Ver. 9. And the men went and passed through the land.] The Lord securing them according as their trust was in him. Deo confisi nunquam confusi. A believer walketh through the world as a conqueror, being safe guarded by the peace of God within him, [Philippians 4:7] and the power of God without him. [1 Peter 1:5] He committeth all his ways to God, depending upon him for direction and success, [Psalms 37:5] resting on his might and mercy in time of dread, [Psalms 69:3] yet ever careful to serve God’s providence by use of lawful means, and not to thrust himself into unnecessary dangers. [Proverbs 28:26]

And came again to Joshua.] After seven months, saith Josephus.

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Bibliographical Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on Joshua 18:9". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/joshua-18.html. 1865-1868.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

By cities, or, according to the cities, to which the several parts or territories belonged.

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Bibliographical Information
Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Joshua 18:9". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/joshua-18.html. 1685.

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

9.[Seven parts in a book — The cities and districts were divided into seven parts or groups, and described in a written document. Herodotus (II, 18:109) thought that land-surveying had its origin in Egypt, and thence passed over into Greece, and in Egypt the Hebrews may have acquired some knowledge of this art; but, as shown above, we need not understand this description of the Israelitish territory as a scientific survey.]

Came again to Joshua — We have no note of the time occupied by the survey. Josephus says seven months, while the Rabbins say seven years.

To the host — The Israelitish camp, which assembled at Shiloh to witness this allotment of the rest of the land.

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Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Joshua 18:9". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/joshua-18.html. 1874-1909.

Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible

And the men went and passed through the land, and described it by cities into seven portions in a book, and they came to Joshua to the camp at Shiloh.’

Note that the camp of Israel has now moved from Gilgal to Shiloh along with the Tabernacle. (Gilgal is never again mentioned as the place of encampment. There is absolutely no genuine reason for denying this move, and they were not likely to leave the Tabernacle unattended at this stage). This is another indication that this area was now regarded as safe. And the presence of the whole army of Israel made it even safer. The accomplishment of the task of surveying the land is put in a sentence but it must have taken many a weary and dangerous month.

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Bibliographical Information
Pett, Peter. "Commentary on Joshua 18:9". "Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible ". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/pet/joshua-18.html. 2013.

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Book. Hebrew, "described it, according to the cities, into seven parts, in a volume," (Haydock) or table, resembling a map. The ancients commonly wrote on boards covered with wax, and engraved on stone, lead, &c.

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Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on Joshua 18:9". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hcc/joshua-18.html. 1859.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

in a book. See note on Exodus 17:14 and App-47.

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Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on Joshua 18:9". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bul/joshua-18.html. 1909-1922.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

And the men went and passed through the land, and described it by cities into seven parts in a book, and came again to Joshua to the host at Shiloh.
described
The surveyors seem to have formed some kind of map of the country, as well as a description of it in writing. The Egyptians, from the situation of their fields, as annually overflowed by the Nile, acquired great skill in mensuration and land surveying; and some of the Israelites had, no doubt, learned these from them, without a knowledge of which they could not properly have divided the land. This is probably the first act of surveying on record.
into seven
Acts 13:19
Reciprocal: Joshua 18:4 - describe;  1 Samuel 17:31 - sent for him;  Jeremiah 32:10 - subscribed the evidence

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Bibliographical Information
Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Joshua 18:9". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/joshua-18.html.

Calvin's Commentary on the Bible

9.And the men went and passed, etc Here not only is praise bestowed on the ready obedience by which their virtue shone forth conspicuous, but the Lord gives a signal manifestation of his favor by deigning to bestow remarkable success on pious Joshua and the zeal of the people. Had they crept along by subterranean burrows, they could scarcely have escaped innumerable dangers, but now, when they are taking notes of the cities and their sites, of the fields, the varying features of the districts, and all the coasts, and without meeting with any adverse occurrence, return in safety to their countrymen, who can doubt that their life had been kept safe among a thousand deaths by a wonderful exertion of divine power? It is accordingly said emphatically, that they returned to celebrate the grace of God, which is just equivalent to saying that they were brought back by the hand of God. This made the people proceed more willingly to the casting of lots. For their minds would not yet have been well purged of fastidiousness had they not perceived in that journey a signal display of divine favor, promising them that the final issue would be according to their wish. Joshua is hence said to have divided according to the inheritance of each, as if he were sending them to enter on a quiet possession, though the effect depended on the divine presence, because it ought to have been enough for them that the whole business was carried on by the authority of God, who never deceives his people, even when he seems to sport with them. In what sense the ark of the covenant is called God, or the face of God, I have already explained in many passages.

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Calvin, John. "Commentary on Joshua 18:9". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/cal/joshua-18.html. 1840-57.