Joshua 18


The tabernacle is set up at Shiloh, 1.

Seven of the tribes having not yet received their inheritance, 2.

Joshua orders three men from each tribe to be chosen, and sent

to examine the land and divide it into seven parts, which

should be distributed among them by lot, 3-7.

The men go and do as commanded, and return to Joshua, 8, 9.

Joshua casts lots for them, 10.

The lot of Benjamin, how situated, 11.

Its northern boundaries, 12-14.

Its southern boundaries, 15-19.

Its eastern boundary, 20.

Its cities, 21-28.


Verse 1. Israel assembled together at Shiloh] This appears to

have been a considerable town about fifteen miles from Jerusalem,

in the tribe of Ephraim, and nearly in the centre of the whole

land. To this place both the camp of Israel, and the ark of the

Lord, were removed from Gilgal, after a residence there of seven

years. Here the tabernacle remained one hundred and thirty years,

as is generally supposed, being the most conveniently situated for

access to the different tribes, and for safety, the Israelites

having possession of the land on all sides; for it is here added,

the land was subdued before them-the Canaanites were so

completely subdued, that there was no longer any general

resistance to the Israelitish arms.

Verse 3. How long are ye slack to go to possess the land] We

find an unaccountable backwardness in this people to enter on the

inheritance which God had given them! They had so long been

supported by miracle, without any exertions of their own, that

they found it difficult to shake themselves from their inactivity.

When it was necessary that all the people should go out to battle,

they went with a measure of confidence, expecting miraculous help

from God, and confiding in their numbers, but when each tribe

found it necessary to fight for itself, in order to its

establishment and the extension of its borders, it was

discouraged, and chose rather a life of inglorious ease than the

possession of an inheritance which would cost it much labour to


Verse 4. Three men for each tribe] Probably meaning only three

from each of the seven tribes who had not yet received their

inheritance. It is likely that these twenty-one men were

accompanied by a military guard, for without this they might have

been easily cut off by straggling parties of the Canaanites.

They shall-describe it] It is likely they were persons well

acquainted with geography and mensuration, without which it would

have been impossible for them to have divided the land in the way

necessary on this occasion.

Verse 5. Judah shall abide-on the south, and the house of

Joseph-on the north.] Joshua does not mean that the tribe of Judah

occupied the south, and the tribe of Ephraim and Manasseh the

north of the promised land; this was not the fact: but being now

at Shiloh, a considerable way in the territory of Ephraim, and not

far from that of Judah, he speaks of them in relation to the place

in which he then was. Calmet considers him as thus addressing the

deputies: "Go and examine the whole of the country which remains

yet to be possessed; do not take into consideration the tribe of

Judah, which is on the south, nor the tribe of Ephraim, which is

on the north of where we now are, but carefully divide the

remaining land which is not occupied by these tribes into seven

equal parts." This makes a very good sense, and frees the place

from embarrassment.

Verse 7. The priesthood of the Lord is their inheritance] We

have already seen that the priests and Levites had the sacrifices,

oblations tithes, first-fruits, redemption-money of the firstborn,

&c., for their inheritance; they had no landed possessions in

Israel; the LORD was their portion.

Verse 9. 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.

Verse 11. And the lot-of Benjamin came up] On the manner of

casting the lot, see on Jos 14:2, and Nu 26:55. There were

probably two urns, one of which contained the names of the seven

tribes, and the other that of the seven portions. They therefore

took out one name out of the first urn, and one portion out of the

second, and thus the portion was adjudged to that tribe.

Verse 12. The wilderness of Beth-aven.] This was the same as

Beth-el; but this name was not given to it till Jeroboam had

fixed one of his golden calves there. Its first name signifies the

house of God; its second, the house of iniquity.

Verse 16. To the side of Jebusi] The mountain of Zion, that was

near Jerusalem; for Jebusi, or Jebus, was the ancient name of

this city.

Verse 17. En-shemesh] The fountain of the sun; a proof of the

idolatrous nature of the ancient inhabitants of this land.

Geliloth] As the word signifies borders or limits, it is

probably not the proper name of a place: And went forth towards

the BORDERS which are over against the ascent to Adummim.

Verse 19. The north bay of the Salt Sea] As the word leshon

signifies the tongue, it may here refer to the point of the Dead

or Salt Sea. Of these tongues or points it had two, one on the

north, and the other on the south.

Verse 21. Now the cities] Some of these cities have been

mentioned before, and described; of others we know nothing but the


Verse 24. And Gaba] Supposed to be the same as Gibeah of Saul, a

place famous for having given birth to the first king of Israel;

and infamous for the shocking act towards the Levite's wife,

mentioned Jud 19:16-30, which was the cause of a war in which the

tribe of Benjamin was nearly exterminated. Jud 20:29-48.

Verse 25. Gibeon] See before, Jos 10:1-14. This place is famous

for the confederacy of the five kings against Israel, and their

miraculous defeat. Ramah, a place about six or eight miles north

of Jerusalem. Beeroth, i.e., wells; one of the four cities which

belonged to the Gibeonites, who made peace with the Israelites by

stratagem. See Jos 9:3-15.

Verse 26. And Mizpeh] This place is celebrated in the sacred

writings. Here the people were accustomed to assemble often in the

presence of the Lord, as in the deliberation concerning the

punishment to be inflicted on the men of Gibeah, for the abuse of

the Levite's wife. Jud 20:1-3. Samuel assembled the people here

to exhort them to renounce their idolatry, 1Sa 7:5, 6. In this

same place Saul was chosen to be king, 1Sa 10:17. It was deemed a

sacred place among the Israelites; for we find, from 1Mac 3:46,

that the Jews assembled here to seek God, when their enemies were

in possession of the temple.

Verse 28. And Zelah] This was the burying-place of Saul,

Jonathan, and the family of Kish. See 2Sa 21:14.

Jebusi, which is Jerusalem] We often meet with this name, and it

is evident that it was the ancient name of Jerusalem, which was

also called Salem; and was probably the place in which Melchizedek

reigned in the days of Abraham; though some think a different

place is meant; for that there was another place of the same name,

is evident from Joh 3:23. This place, called Salim by the

evangelist, is said to be near to Enon, and there John baptized,

because there was much water in the place. This, however, must not

be confounded with the Salem mentioned above; for that this was a

name of Jerusalem, is evident from Ps 76:1, 2:

In Judah is God known: his name is great in Israel. In SALEM

also is his tabernacle, and his dwelling-place in Zion. This must

refer to Jerusalem, where the temple was situated. Whether Jebus

or Jebusi had its name from the Jebusites, or the Jebusites from

it, cannot be ascertained.

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