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Coffman Commentaries on the Old and New Testament

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JOSHUA 15

This chapter deals with the actual division of the land of Canaan. Judah, as we have seen, was first by right of Jacob's blessing, and here we have an outline of the borders of Judah's territory in ideal terms Josh. 15:1-12), an account of Caleb's occupation of Hebron and Debir (Joshua 15:13-19), and a statistical list of the cities awarded to Judah (Joshua 15:20-63).

OUTLINE OF JUDAH'S TERRITORY


 
Verses 1-12
And the lot for the tribe of the children of Judah according to their families was unto the border of Edom, even to the wilderness of Zin southward, at the uttermost part of the south. And their south border was from the uttermost part of the Salt Sea, from the bay that looketh southward; and it went out southward of the ascent of Akrabbim, and passed along to Zin, and went up by the south of Kadesh-barnea, and passed along by Hezron, and went up to Addar, and turned about to Karka; and it passed along to Azmon, and went out at the brook of Egypt; and the goings out of the border were at the sea: this shall be your south border. And the east border was the Salt Sea, even unto the end of the Jordan. And the border of the north quarter was from the bay of the sea at the end of the Jordan; and the border went up to Beth-hoglah, and passed along by the north of Beth-arabah; and the border went up to the stone of Bohan the son of Reuben; and the border went up to Debir from the valley of Achor, and so northward, looking toward Gilgal, that is over against the ascent of Adummim, which is on the south side of the river; and the border passed along to the waters of En-shemesh, and the goings out thereof were at En-rogel; and the border went up by the valley of the son of Hinnom unto the side of the Jebusite southward (the same is Jerusalem); and the border went up to the top of the mountain that lieth before the valley of Hinnom westward, which is at the uttermost part of the vale of Rephaim northward; and the border extended from the top of the mountain unto the fountain of the waters of Nephtoah, and went out to the cities of mount Ephron; and the border extended to Baalah (the same is Kiriath-jearim); and the border turned about from Baalah westward unto mount Seir, and passed along unto the side of mount Jearim on the north (the same is Chesalon), and went down to Beth-shemesh, and passed along by Timnah; and the border went out unto the side of Ekron northward; and the border extended to Shikkeron, and passed along to mount Baalah, and went out at Jabneel; and the goings out of the border were at the sea. And the west border was to the great sea, and the border [thereof]. This is the border of the children of Judah round about according to their families.

Philbeck gives us this approximation of Judah's border:

"It ran from the lower tip of the Dead Sea southwest to Kadesh-barnea, and thence northwest to the Mediterranean Sea. This was the southern border. The northern border followed the line a traveler would normally follow in going from the northern tip of the Dead Sea (where Jordan enters) to the Mediterranean, Judah's land included all the territory between the Dead Sea and the Mediterranean as restricted by the north and south borders. This included all the land of the Philistines. It did not include Jerusalem, but lay south of that city."F1

Jabneel, or Jabneed…
(Joshua 15:11). This is the place where the northern border of Judah met the Mediterranean. This place is located seven or eight miles south of Joppa.F2

Of course, Judah did not subdue the Philistines who remained powerful enemies of Israel right down to the times of David and Solomon. As many have pointed out, these boundaries were more ideal than actual, dealing with what God had promised Israel rather than being restricted to what Israel was able to possess. A comparison with Num. 34:3-5 reveals that these are essentially the same boundaries of southern Israel that are mentioned there.

CALEB POSSESSES HEBRON AND DEBIR


 
Verses 13-19
And unto Caleb the son of Jephunneh he gave a portion among the children of Judah, according to the commandment of Jehovah to Joshua, even Kiriath-arba, [which Arba was] the father of Anak (the same is Hebron). And Caleb drove out thence the three sons of Anak: Sheshai, and Ahiman, and Talmai, the children of Anak. And he went up thence against the inhabitants of Debir: now the name of Debir beforetime was Kiriath-sepher. And Caleb said, He that smiteth Kiriath-sepher, and taketh it, to him will I give Achsah my daughter to wife. And Othniel the son of Kenaz, the brother of Caleb, took it: and he gave him Achsah his daughter to wife. And it came to pass, when she came [unto him], that she moved him to ask of her father a field: and she alighted from off her ass; and Caleb said, What wouldest thou? And she said, Give me a blessing; for that thou hast set me in the land of the South, give me also springs of water. And he gave her the upper springs and the nether springs.

The first chapter of Judges carries this same episode in almost exactly the same language given here. Plummer affirmed that the author of Judges copied this episode from Joshua, declaring that:

"We may safely regard this quotation of the Book of Joshua in that of Judges as evidence that Joshua was in existence when Judges was written, just as the quotations of Deuteronomy in Joshua may naturally be taken as evidence that Deuteronomy was in existence when Joshua was written."F3

Thou hast set me in the land of the South…
Some of the versions use Negeb here instead of South, but the true meaning of what Caleb's daughter here said was that, You have given me a dry or an arid estate.F4 It was for that reason that she requested springs, which her father willingly gave her. From Judg. 3:9, it is apparent that Othniel was an able and successful commander. He was, as here stated, a brother of Caleb, and his being called the son of Kenaz means that Kenaz was the father of both Caleb and Othniel, hence, his being called Kenezite (Joshua 14:6).

The balance of this chapter is given over to the enumeration of the cities of Judah. There are well over a hundred of these, some of more than one name. And there is a wide disparity in the spelling of most of them, as a glance at the Septuagint (LXX) will prove. A full discussion of all of these would be equivalent to a detailed history of Israel itself, although, of course, we have already given many notes and comments on many of the places mentioned here. A number of commentators have pointed out that this list was complied by a person who was thoroughly familiar with the geography of Palestine. As an old preacher replied, "Why not? God made Palestine; so, of course, he was familiar with it!"

These cities are here classified as to their general location, the first group, composed of 36 cities, lying along the southern border (Joshua 15:20-32). It is of interest that the Sacred Text refers to this group as composed of "twenty-nine" cities, whereas, there are actually 36 names of places mentioned. Longacre cited this as "an error."F5 We do not know if the discrepancy is a simple error, or whether the names of certain "villages" which were not reckoned as cities in some way found their way into the text. Certainly, the "error" if it is that has been there a long time. It also appears in the LXX.F6

The second group was "in the lowland" (Joshua 15:33) and was composed of fifteen cities (Joshua 15:33-36), and again we have a discrepancy in the summary of these which speaks of them as "fourteen cities" (Joshua 15:36). The Septuagint omitted the reference to "fourteen cities."

The third group, composed of sixteen cities (Joshua 15:37-41) were on the intermediate plateau called the Shephelah.

A fourth group (Joshua 15:42-44) was composed of nine cities (Joshua 15:44). Apparently, both this group and the following one lay between the Shephelah and the coast. These are the non-Philistines. And, the next group is composed of the Philistine cities.

A fifth group of Philistine cities, i.e., Ekron, Ashdod, and Gaza were the westernmost cities of Judah toward the Mediterranean (Joshua 15:45-47). These were three in number.

A sixth group (Joshua 15:48-50) was composed of eleven cities, and they occupied sites in the hill-country.

A seventh group (Josh. 15:52:54) were the northernmost of the hill-country cities, lying just south of Jerusalem. There were nine of these.

An eighth group (Joshua 15:55-57) was composed of ten cities, these cities lying along the plains of Esdraelon.

A ninth group (Joshua 15:58-59) was composed of six cities.

A tenth group (Joshua 15:60-62) tallied eight cities. The reason for two paragraphs in this group is not known.

Josh. 15:63, the final verse in the chapter, has a note about the city of the Jebusites (Jerusalem) which Judah could not take, and which apparently remained independent until the times of David who took the city and made it his capital.

The grand total of cities enumerated here is 119.

THE CITIES OF JUDAH ENUMERATED

This is the inheritance of the tribe of the children of Judah, according to their families.

"And the uttermost cities of the tribe of the children of Judah toward the border of Edom in the South were: Kabzeel, and Eder, and Jagur, and Kinah, and Dimonah, and Adada, and Kedesh, and Hazor, and Ithnan, Ziph, and Telem, and Bealoth, and Hazor-hadattah, and Keiloth-hezron (the same is Hazor), Amam, and Shema, and Moladah, and Hazar-gaddah, and Heshmon, and Beth-Pelet, and Hazar-shuai, and Beersheba, and Biziothiah, Baalah, and Iim, and Ezem, and Eltolad, and Chesil, and Hormah, and Ziklag, and Madmannah, and Sansannah, and Lebaoth, and Shilhim, and Ain, and Rimmon: all the cities are twenty-nine, with their villages.

"In the lowland Eshtaol, and Zorah, and Ashnah, and Zanoah, and Engannim, Tappuah, and Enam, Jarmuth, and Adullam, Socoh, and Azekah, and Shaharaim, and Adithaim, and Gederah, snd Gederothaim; fourteen cities with their villages.

"Zenan, and Hadashah. and Magdal-gad, and Dilean, and Mizpeh, and Joktheel, Lachish, and Bozkath, and Eglon, and Cabbon, and Lahmam, and Chitlish, and Gederoth, Beth-dagon, and Naamah, and Makkedah; sixteen cities with their villages.

"Libmnah, and Ether, and Ashan, and iphtah, and Ashnah, and Nezib, and Keilah, and Achzib, and Mareshah; nine cities with their villages.

"Ekron, with its towns and its villages; from Ekron even unto the sea, all that were by the side of Ashdod, with their villages.

"Ashdod, its towns and its villages, Gaza, its towns and its villages; unto the brook of Egypt, and the great sea, and the border thereof.

"And in the hill-country, Shamir, and Jattir, and Secoh, and Dannah, and Kiriath-sannah (the same is Debir), and Ahab, and Estemoh, and Anim, and Goshen, and Holon, and Giloh, eleven cities with their villages.

"Arab, and Dumah, and Eshan, and Janim, and Bethtappuah, and Aphekah, and Humtah, and Kiriah-arba (the same is Hebron), and Zior; nine cities with their villages.

"Maon, Carmel, and Ziph, and Jutah, and Jezreel, and Jokdeam, and Zanoah, Kain, Gibeah, and Timnah; ten cities with their villages.

"Halhul, Beth-zur, and Gedor, and Maarath, and Beth-anoth, and Eltekon; six cities with their villages.

"Kiriath-baal (the same is Keilath-jearim), and Rabbah; two cities with their villages.

"In the wilderness, Beth-arabah, and Middin, and Secacah, and Nibshan, and the City of Salt, and Engedi; six cities with their villages.

"And as for the Jebusites, the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the children of Judah could not drive them out: but the Jebusites dwell with the children of Judah at Jerusalem unto this day."

Due to the classification of these cities having fallen into about 10 groups, critics jump to the conclusion that, "This grouping corresponds to the administrative districts of the kingdom of Judah, probably as represented on an official province list of the ninth century B.C."F7 What an unreasonable criticism! The last verse here (Joshua 15:63) effectively refutes such an error. Note that when this list was written, the Jews did NOT control Jerusalem, nor had they ever done so at that time, but in the 9th century B.C., Jerusalem had been in the hands of David and his successors for ages. Many criticisms, in the final analysis, just as in the case here, are flatly contradicted by the Word of God.

Since our task is not that of writing a Bible dictionary, we shall refrain from any city-by-city comment on these 119 towns and cities in the territory of Judah. In the previous chapters, we have already supplied notes and comments regarding many of these towns.

Nevertheless, we have compiled the following alphabetical list of these towns, and it reveals several towns such as Ziph and Zanoah having sister towns of the same name. Thus, there are two Ziph's (Joshua 15:34,55), two Zanoah's (Joshua 15:34,56), two Ashnah's (Joshua 15:33,43), and two Socoh's (Joshua 15:35,48).

AN ALPHABETICAL LIST OF CITIES

NAME OF CITY: VERSE:

ACHZIB..............................44

ADADAH..............................22

ADITHAIM............................36

ADULLAM.............................35

AIN.................................32

ANAB................................50

ANIM................................50

AMAM................................26

APHEKAH.............................53

ARAB................................52

ASHAN...............................42

ASHDOD..............................47

ASHNAH..............................33

ASHNAH..............................43

AZEKAH..............................35

BAALAH..............................29

BEALOTH.............................24

BEERSHEBA...........................28

BIZIOTHIAH..........................28

BETH-ANOTH..........................59

BETH-ARABAH.........................61

BETH-DAGON..........................41

BETH-PELET..........................27

BETH-TAPPUAH........................53

BETH-ZUR............................58

BOZKATH.............................39

CABBON..............................40

CARMEL..............................55

CHESIL..............................30

CHITLISH............................40

CITY OF SALT........................62

DANNAH..............................49

DILEAN..............................38

DIMONAH.............................22

DUMAH...............................52

EDER................................21

EGLON...............................39

EKRON...............................45

ELTEKON.............................59

ELTOLAD.............................30

ENAM................................34

ENGANNIM............................34

ENGEDI..............................62

ESHAN...............................52

ESHTAOL.............................33

ESHTEMOH............................50

ETHER...............................42

EZEM................................29

GAZA................................47

GEDERAH.............................36

GEDEROTH............................41

GEDEROTHAIM.........................36

GEDER...............................58

GIBEAH..............................57

GILOH...............................51

GOSHEN..............................51

HADASHA.............................37

HALUL...............................58

HAZAR-GADDAH........................27

HAZAR-HADATTAH......................25

HAZAR-SHUAL.........................28

HAZ.................................23

HESHMON.............................27

HOLON...............................51

HORMAH..............................30

HUMTAH..............................54

IIM.................................29

IPHTAH..............................43

ITHNAN..............................23

JAGUR...............................21

JANIM...............................53

JARMUTH.............................35

JATTIR..............................48

JERUSALEM...........................63

JEZREEL.............................56

JOKDEAM.............................56

JOKTHEAL............................38

JUTAH...............................55

KABZEEL.............................21

KAIN................................57

KEDESH..............................23

KEILAH..............................44

KIRIATH-ARBA (HEBRON)...............54

KIRIATH-BAAL (KIRIATH-JEARIM).......60

KIRIATH-SANNAH (DEBIR)..............49

KERIOTH-HEZRON (HAZOR)..............25

KINAH...............................22

LACHISH.............................39

LAHMAM..............................40

LEBAOTH.............................32

LIBNAH..............................42

MAARATH.............................59

MADMANNAH...........................31

MAKKEDAH............................41

MAON................................55

MARESHAH............................44

MIDDIN..............................61

MIGDAL-GAD..........................37

MIZPEH..............................38

MOLADAH.............................26

NAAMAH..............................41

NEZIB...............................43

NIBSHAN.............................62

RABBAH..............................60

RIMMON..............................32

SANSANNAH...........................31

SECACAH.............................61

SHAMIR..............................48

SHAARAIM............................36

SHEMA...............................26

SHILHIM.............................32

SOCOH...............................48

SOCOH...............................35

TAPPUAH.............................34

TELEM...............................24

TIMNAH..............................57

ZANOAH..............................34

ZANOAH..............................56

ZENAN...............................37

ZIKLAG..............................31

ZIOR................................54

ZIPH................................55

ZIPH................................24

ZORAH...............................33

(Note this list is longer than the total of 119 given earlier. It has some names of cities not awarded to Judah but appearing in this chapter, for example "Jerusalem").


Footnotes for Joshua 15
1: Ben F. Philbeck, The Teachers' Bible Commentary, Joshua (Nashville: Broadman Press, 1972), p. 146.
2: William H. Morton, Beacon Bible Commentary, Joshua (Nashville: Broadman Press, 1970), p. 356.
3: Alfred Plummer, The Pulpit Commentary, Joshua (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1950), p. 250.
4: Ibid.
5: Lindsay B. Longacre, Abingdon Bible Commentary, Joshua (New York: Abingdon Press, 1929), p. 354.
6: Sir Launcelot Charles Lee Brenton, The Septuagint in Greek and in English (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1970), p. 300.
7: William H. Morton, op. cit., p. 357.

Copyright Statement
James Burton Coffman Commentaries reproduced by permission of Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. All other rights reserved.

Bibliography Information
Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on Joshua 15". "Coffman Commentaries on the Old and New Testament". <http://classic.studylight.org/com/bcc/view.cgi?book=jos&chapter=015>. Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.  

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