Joshua 15


The lot of the tribe of Judah described, 1.

Their south border, 2-4.

Their east border, 5-11.

Their west border, 12.

Caleb's conquest, 13-15.

Promises his daughter to the person who should take

Kirjath-sepher, 16.

Othniel his kinsman renders himself master of it, and gets

Achsah to wife, 17.

Her request to her father to get a well watered land, which

is granted, 18, 19.

The cities of the tribe of Judah are enumerated, 20-63.


Verse 1. This then was the lot of the tribe of-Judah] The

geography of the sacred writings presents many difficulties,

occasioned by the changes which the civil state of the promised

land has undergone, especially for the last two thousand years.

Many of the ancient towns and villages have had their names so

totally changed, that their former appellations are no longer

discernible; several lie buried under their own ruins, and others

have been so long destroyed that not one vestige of them remains.

On these accounts it is very difficult to ascertain the situation

of many of the places mentioned in this and the following

chapters. But however this may embarrass the commentator, it

cannot affect the truth of the narrative. Some of the principal

cities in the universe, cities that were the seats of the most

powerful empires, are not only reduced to ruins, but so completely

blotted out of the map of the world that their situation cannot be

ascertained. Where is Babylon? Where are Nineveh, Carthage,

Thebes, Tyre, Baalbec, Palmyra, and the so far-famed and greatly

celebrated TROY? Of the former and the latter, so renowned by

historians and poets, scarcely a vestige, properly speaking,

remains; nor can the learned agree on the spot once occupied by

the buildings of those celebrated cities! Should this circumstance

invalidate the whole history of the ancient world, in which they

made so conspicuous a figure? And can the authenticity of our

sacred historian be impaired, because several of the places he

mentions no longer exist? Surely no: nor can it be called in

question but by the heedless and superficial, or the decidedly

profane. Although some of the cities of the holy land are

destroyed, and it would be difficult to ascertain the geography of

several, yet enough remain, either under their ancient names, or

with such decisive characteristics, that through their new names

their ancient appellatives are readily discernible.

It is natural to suppose that the division mentioned here was

made after an accurate survey of the land, which might have been

made by proper persons accompanying the conquering army of the

Israelites. Nine tribes and a half were yet to be accommodated,

and the land must be divided into nine parts and a half. This was

no doubt done with the utmost judgment and discretion, the

advantages and disadvantages of each division being carefully

balanced. These were the portions which were divided by lot; and

it appears that Judah drew the first lot; and, because of the

importance and pre-eminence of this tribe, this lot is first


By their families] It is supposed that the family divisions were

not determined by lot. These were left to the prudence and

judgment of Joshua, Eleazar, and the ten princes, who appointed to

each family a district in proportion to its number, &c., the

general division being that alone which was determined by the lot.

To the border of Edom] The tribe of Judah occupied the most

southerly part of the land of Canaan. Its limits extended from the

extremity of the Dead Sea southward, along Idumea, possibly by the

desert of Sin, and proceeding from east to west to the

Mediterranean Sea, and the most eastern branch of the river Nile,

or to what is called the river of Egypt. Calmet very properly

remarks, that Joshua is particular in giving the limits of this

tribe, as being the first, the most numerous, most important; that

which was to furnish the kings of Judea; that in which pure

religion was to be preserved, and that from which the Messiah was

to spring.

Verse 2. From the bay that looketh southward] These were the

southern limits of the tribe of Judah, which commenced at the

extremity of the lake Asphaltites or Dead Sea, and terminated at

Sihor or the river of Egypt, and Mediterranean Sea; though some

think it extended to the Nile.

Verse 3. Maaleh-acrabbim] The ascent of the Mount of Scorpions,

probably so called from the multitude of those animals found in

that place.

Kadesh-barnea] This place was called Enmishpat, Ge 14:7. It

was on the edge of the wilderness of Paran, and about twenty-four

miles from Hebron. Here Miriam, the sister of Moses and Aaron,

died; and here Moses and Aaron rebelled against the Lord; hence

the place was called Meribah-Kadesh, or the contention of Kadesh.

Karkaa] Supposed to be the Coracea of Ptolemy, in Arabia


Verse 4. Toward Azmon] This was the last city they possessed

toward Egypt.

The river of Egypt] The most eastern branch of the river Nile.

See Clarke on Jos 13:3. But there is much reason to doubt whether

any branch of the Nile be meant, and whether the promised land

extended to that river. On this subject it is impossible to decide

either way.

Verse 5. The east border was the Salt Sea] The Salt Sea is the

same as the Dead Sea, lake Asphaltites, &c. And here it is

intimated that the eastern border of the tribe of Judah extended

along the Dead Sea, from its lowest extremity to the end of

Jordan, i.e., to the place where Jordan falls into this sea.

Verse 6. Beth-hogla] A place between Jericho and the Dead Sea,

belonging to the tribe of Benjamin, Jos 18:21, though here

serving as a frontier to the tribe of Judah.

Stone of Bohan] This must have been some remarkable place,

probably like the stone of Jacob, which afterwards became Bethel;

but where it was situated is uncertain.

Verse 7. The valley of Achor] Debir mentioned in this verse is

unknown. The valley of Achor had its name from the punishment of

Achan. See the account, Jos 7:24, &c.

En-shemesh] The fountain of the sun; it was eastward of

Jerusalem, on the confines of Judah and Benjamin.

Verse 8. The valley of the son of Hinnom] Who Hinnom was is not

known, nor why this was called his valley. It was situated on the

east of Jerusalem; and is often mentioned in Scripture. The image

of the idol Molech appears to have been set up there; and there

the idolatrous Israelites caused their sons and daughters to pass

through the fire in honour of that demon, 2Ki 23:10. It was also

called Tophet, see Jer 7:32. When King Josiah removed the image

of this idol from this valley, it appears to have been held in

such universal execration, that it became the general receptacle

of all the filth and impurities which were carried out of

Jerusalem; and it is supposed that continual fires were there kept

up, to consume those impurities and prevent infection. From the

Hebrew words gei ben Hinnom, the valley of the son of

Hinnom, and by contraction, gei Hinnom, the valley of

Hinnom, came the γεεννα, Gehenna of the New Testament, called

also γεεννατουπυρος, the Gehenna of fire, which is the emblem of

hell, or the place of the damned. See

Mt 5:22, 29, 30; 10:28; 18:9, &c.

In the East it is common to add the name of the father to that

of the son, e.g., "This land belongs to Goborka the son of Kake

Prusada." But this addition is not made till after the father's

death. This custom prevailed also in the west. It is common among

the aborigines of both Ireland and Wales.

The same is Jerusalem] This city was formerly called Jebus; a

part of it was in the tribe of Benjamin; Zion, called its citadel,

was in the tribe of Judah.

The valley of the giants] Of the Rephaim. See the notes on

Ge 6:4; 14:5; De 2:7, 11.

On this subject, a very intelligent clergyman favours me with

his opinion in the following terms:-

"The boundary between Judah and Benjamin went up from the valley

of Hinnom on the east to the top of the hill southward, leaving

Jebusi (or Jerusalem) to the northwest adjoining to Benjamin. This

mount (Jebusi) lay between the two tribes, which the Jebusites

possessed till the time of David. At the 63d verse here,

Jos 15:63 it is said Judah could not drive out these people;

and in Jud 1:21, the same is said of the Benjamites. Each tribe

might have attacked them at various times. There were various

mounts or tops to these hills. Mount Zion and Moriah, where the

temple stood, was in the tribe of Judah; Ps 78:68, 69; 87:2.

"In De 33:12 it is said of Benjamin,

the Lord shall dwell by him, i.e., near him, or beside his

borders, between his shoulders; the line might be circular between

the two hills or tops so as in part to encompass Mount Zion in the

tribe of Judah, on which the temple stood. Benjamin's gate,

(mentioned Jer 37:12, 13; 38:7,) was the gate leading out of the

city, into the tribe of Benjamin. So the gate of Ephraim,

(2Ki 14:13,) was a gate which led towards the tribe of Ephraim.

We give names to roads, &c., in the same way now.

"Mount Calvary, (which was on the outside of the gate,) seems to

have been in the tribe of Benjamin. Query. Whether Calvary or

Golgotha was so called from skulls being scattered about there,

(as say some,) or rather from the figure of the rock being shaped

like a man's skull, with one face of it nearly perpendicular? I

incline to this latter opinion. I believe the Jews did not suffer

human bones, even of malefactors, to lie about."-J. C.

Verse 9. Baalah, which is Kirjath-jearim] This place was

rendered famous in Scripture, in consequence of its being the

residence of the ark, for twenty years after it was sent back by

the Philistines; see 1Sa 5:1-7:2.

Verse 10. Beth-shemesh] The house or temple of the sun. It is

evident that the sun was an object of adoration among the

Canaanites; and hence fountains, hills, &c., were dedicated to

him. Beth-shemesh is remarkable for the slaughter of its

inhabitants, in consequence of their prying curiously, if not

impiously, into the ark of the Lord, when sent back by the

Philistines. See 1Sa 6:19.

Verse 12. The great sea] The Mediterranean.

Verse 13. And unto Caleb-he gave a part]

See Clarke on Jos 14:14, &c.

Verse 14. The three sons of Anak] See Clarke on Jos 14:15.

Verse 15. Kirjath-sepher.] The city of the book. Why so named is

uncertain. It was also called Debir, and Kirjath-sannah. See

Jos 15:49.

Verse 16. Will I give Achsah my daughter] In ancient times

fathers assumed an absolute right over their children, especially

in disposing of them in marriage; and it was customary for a king

or great man to promise his daughter in marriage to him who should

take a city, kill an enemy, &c. So Saul promised his daughter in

marriage to him who should kill Goliath, 1Sa 17:25; and Caleb

offers his on this occasion to him who should take Kirjath-sepher.

Profane writers furnish many similar examples.

Verse 18. As she came] As she was now departing from the house

of her father to go to that of her husband.

She moved him] Othniel, to ask of her father a field, one on

which she had set her heart, as contiguous to the patrimony

already granted.

She lighted off her ass] vattitsnach, she hastily,

suddenly alighted, as if she had forgotten something, or was about

to return to her father's house. Which being perceived by her

father, he said, What wouldest thou? What is the matter? What dost

thou want?

Verse 19. Give me a blessing] Do me an act of kindness. Grant me

a particular request.

Thou hast given me a south land] Which was probably dry, or very

ill, watered.

Give me also springs of water.] Let me have some fields in which

there are brooks or wells already digged.

The upper springs, and the nether springs.] He gave her even

more than she requested; he gave her a district among the

mountains and another in the plains well situated and well

watered. There are several difficulties in this account, with

which I shall not trouble the reader. What is mentioned above

appears to be the sense.

Verse 24. Ziph] There were two cities of this name in the tribe

of Judah, that mentioned here, and another Jos 15:55. One of

these two is noted for the refuge of David when persecuted by

Saul; and the attempts made by its inhabitants to deliver him into

the hands of his persecutor. See 1Sa 23:14-24.

Verse 28. Beer-sheba] A city, famous in the book of Genesis as

the residence of the patriarchs Abraham and Jacob,

Ge 22:19; 28:10; 46:1. See Clarke on Ge 21:31. It lay

on the way between Canaan and Egypt, about forty miles from


Verse 30. Hormah] A place rendered famous by the defeat of the

Hebrews by the Canaanites. See Nu 14:45, De 1:44.

Verse 31. Ziklag] The Philistines seem to have kept possession

of this city till the time of David, who received it from Achish,

king of Gath, 1Sa 27:6; after which time it remained in the

possession of the kings of Judah.

Verse 32. All the cities are twenty and nine, with their

villages] But on a careful examination we shall find thirty-eight;

but it is supposed that nine of these are excepted; viz.,

Beersheba, Moladah, Hazarshual, Baalah, Azem, Hormah, Ziklag,

Ain, and Rimmon, which were afterwards given to the tribe of

Simeon. This may appear satisfactory, but perhaps the truth will

be found to be this: Several cities in the promised land are

expressed by compound terms; not knowing the places, different

translations combine what should be separated, and in many cases

separate what should be combined. Through this we have cities

formed out of epithets. On this ground we have thirty-eight cities

as the sum here, instead of twenty-nine.

Verse 33. Eshtaol, and Zoreah] Here Samson was buried, it being

the burial-place of his fathers; see Jud 16:31. These places

though first given to Judah, afterwards fell to the lot of Dan,

Jos 19:41.

Verse 35. Jarmuth] See Clarke on Jos 10:3.

Adullam] See Clarke on Jos 12:15.

Socoh] It was near this place that David fought with and slew

Goliath, the champion of the Philistines, 1Sa 17:1.

Verse 36. Gederah] See Clarke on Jos 12:13.

Fourteen cities] Well reckoned, we shall find fifteen cities

here; but probably Gederah and Gederothaim (Jos 15:36) are the

same. See Clarke on Jos 15:32.

Verse 39. Lachish-and Eglon] See Clarke on Jos 10:3.

Verse 41. Beth-dagon] The house or temple of Dagon. This is a

well known idol of the Philistines, and probably the place

mentioned here was in some part of their territories; but the

situation at present is unknown.

Verse 42. Libnah] See Clarke on Jos 10:29.

Ether] From Jos 19:7 we learn that this city was afterwards

given to the tribe of Simeon.

Verse 44. Keilah] This town was near Hebron, and is said to have

been the burying-place of the prophet Habakkuk. David obliged the

Philistines to raise the siege of it; (see 1Sa 23:1-13;) but

finding that its inhabitants had purposed to deliver him into the

hands of Saul, who was coming in pursuit of him, he made his

escape. See this remarkable case explained in the note on

De 32:15.

Mareshah] Called also Maresheth and Marasthi; it was the

birth-place of the prophet Micah. Near this place was the famous

battle between Asa, king of Judah, and Zera, king of Cush or

Ethiopia, who was at the head of one thousand thousand men, and

three hundred chariots. Asa defeated this immense host and took

much spoil, 2Ch 14:9-15.

Verse 46. Ekron] One of the five Philistine lordships;

See Clarke on Jos 13:3.

Verse 47. Ashdod] Called also Azotus, Ac 8:40.

Unto the river of Egypt] The Pelusiac branch of the Nile, or

Sihor. But see on Jos 15:4.

The great sea] The Mediterranean.

Verse 48. Socoh] See a town of this name, Jos 15:35.

Verse 49. Kirjath-sannah] See Clarke on Jos 15:15.

Verse 51. Goshen] See Clarke on Jos 10:41.

Giloh] The country of the traitor Ahithophel, 2Sa 15:12.

Verse 53. Beth-tappuah] The house of the apple or citron tree.

Probably a place where these grew in great abundance and


Aphekah] See Clarke on Jos 12:18.

Verse 54. Kirjath-arba] See Clarke on Jos 14:15.

Verse 55. Maon] In a desert to which this town gave name, David

took refuge for a considerable time from the persecution of Saul;

and in this place Nabal the Carmelite had great possessions. See

1Sa 23:24, 25; 25:2.

Carmel] Not the celebrated mount of that name, but a village,

the residence of Nabal. See 1Sa 25:2. It was near

Maon, mentioned above, and was about ten miles eastward of

Hebron. It is the place where Saul erected a trophy to himself

after the defeat of the Amalekites; see 1Sa 15:12.

Ziph] See Clarke on Jos 15:24.

Verse 57. Timnah] A frontier town of the Philistines; it was in

this place that Samson got his wife, see Jud 14:1-15:20.

Verse 58. Gedor] See Clarke on Jos 12:13. In this place

the Alexandrian MS. of the Septuagint and the Codex Vaticanus add the

eleven following towns: Theca, and Ephratha, (that is, Bethlehem,)

and Phagor, and Etan, and Kulon, and Tatam, and Thebes, and Karam,

and Galam, and Thether, and Manocho; eleven cities and their

villages. St. Jerome, on Mic 5:1, mentions them, so that we find

they were in the copies he used. Dr. Kennicott contends that they

should be restored to the text, and accounts thus for their

omission: "The same word vechatsreyhen, and their

villages. occurring immediately before this passage and at the end

of it, the transcriber's eye passed from one to the other by

mistake. A similar accident has caused the omission of two whole

verses, the 35th and 36th of Jos. 21." See the note there.

See Clarke on Jos 21:35; "Jos 21:36".

Verse 60. Kirjath-baal] The same as Baalah.

See Clarke on Jos 15:9.

Verse 62. The city of Salt] Or of Melach. This city was

somewhere in the vicinity of the lake Asphaltites, the waters of

which are the saltest perhaps in the world. The whole country

abounds with salt: See Clarke on Ge 19:25. Some suppose

that it is the same as Zoar, the place to which Lot escaped after the

destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah.

En-gedi] The well of the kid: it was situated between Jericho

and the lake of Sodom or Dead Sea.

Verse 63. The Jebusites dwell-at Jerusalem unto this day.] The

whole history of Jerusalem, previously to the time of David, is

encumbered with many difficulties. Sometimes it is attributed to

Judah, sometimes to Benjamin, and it is probable that, being on

the frontiers of both those tribes, each possessed a part of it.

If the Jebusites were ever driven out before the time of David, it

is certain they recovered it again, or at least a part of it-what

is called the citadel or strong hold of Zion, (see 2Sa 5:7,)

which he took from them; after which the city fell wholly into the

hands of the Israelites. This verse is an additional proof that

the book of Joshua was not written after the times of the Jewish

kings, as some have endeavoured to prove; for when this verse was

written, the Jebusites dwelt with the children of Judah, which

they did not after the days of David; therefore the book was

written before there were any kings in Judea.

IT is very likely, not only that many cities have by the lapse

of time changed their names or been totally destroyed, (see the

note on Jos 15:1,) but that the names of those in the preceding

catalogue have been changed also, several of them repeated that

should have been mentioned but once, and not a few confounded with

the terms by which they are described. But we must not suppose

that every repetition of the name is through the carelessness of

copyists; for there are often two places which bear the same name,

which is frequently the case in England. But besides this,

villages are mentioned as being apparently in the tribe of Judah,

which afterwards appear to have been in an other tribe. The reason

appears to be this: many towns are mentioned which were frontier

towns, and when the limits of a tribe are pointed out, such places

must necessarily be mentioned, though allotted to a different

tribe. This consideration will serve to remove several

difficulties which occur in the reading of this and the following


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