Joshua 19

 

 

1 “And the second lot came forth to Simeon, even for the tribe of the children

of Simeon according to their families: and their inheritance was within the

inheritance of the children of Judah.” -  ἀνὰ μέσονana meson - in the midst

ofSeptuagint; in medio, Vulgate (compare v.9). Simeon, at the last census

(Numbers 26:14), was the smallest of the tribes of Israel, a fulfillment of the prophecy

of Jacob, and possibly the result of the command given in Ibid. 25:5, since the

Simeonites were the chief offenders on that occasion (Ibid. v.14; see also

I Chronicles 4:24-27). The distribution of territory was in accordance with this, and

it is possible that the lot only determined the priority of choice among the tribes.

The territory of Judah seems to have been recognized as too large, in spite of

the importance of the tribe. They therefore willingly gave up a portion of their

territory to the Simeonites.

 

2 “And they had in their inheritance Beersheba,” – A locality well known in

Scripture, from Genesis 21:31 onwards -“or Sheba,” - Some would translate here,

 and Sheba (see below). No doubt the city, of which nothing further is known,

derived its name from Beer-sheba, “the well of the oath,” close by. It is true that

some little difficulty is caused by the omission of this city in I Chronicles 4:28, by

the identification of Shebah with Beer-sheba in Genesis 26:33, and by the fact

that in v. 6 we are told that there were thirteen cities in this catalogue, whereas there

are fourteen. On the other hand, in ch.15:32 the number of names does not

correspond to the whole number  of cities given; and we have a Shema, probably

a mistake for Sheba, in Ibid. v.26, mentioned before Moladah among the cities

of Judah. And, lastly, we have very few instances in Scripture of the disjunctive

use of w, though it seems impossible to deny that it is used in this sense in I Kings

18:27 - “and Moladah,”

 

3 “And Hazarshual,” -  The “hamlet of jackals.” The word Hazar is translated

village in our version (see note on ch.15:32). So also with Hazar-susah or

Hazar-susim, “the hamlet of horses” (I Chronicles 4:31) – below in v.6 - “and

Balah, and Azem,

4  And Eltolad, and Bethul, and Hormah,

5 And Ziklag, and Bethmarcaboth, and Hazar-susah,

6 And Bethlebaoth, and Sharuhen; thirteen cities and their villages:

7 Ain, Remmon, and Ether, and Ashan; four cities and their villages:

8 And all the villages that were round about these cities to

Baalath-beer, Ramath of the south. This is the inheritance of the

tribe of the children of Simeon according to their families.

9 Out of the portion of the children of Judah was the inheritance of

the children of Simeon: for the part of the children of Judah was

too much for them: therefore the children of Simeon had their

inheritance” -  Of the later history of the children of Simeon we find a little

recorded in I Chronicles 4:39-42, and some suppose that the event recorded

there is a fulfillment of the prophecy in Obadiah 1:19. Dr. Pusey mentions a tribe

still existing in the south, professing to be of the sons of Israel, and holding

no connection with the Arabs of the neighborhood, and supposes them to

be the descendants of the five hundred Simeonites who took possession of

Mount Seir in the days of Hezekiah. No border seems to have been given

of Simeon - “within the inheritance of them.”

 

10 And the third lot came up for the children of Zebulun according to

their families: and the border of their inheritance was unto Sarid:”

Sarid - This seems to have been a middle point, from which the border is

traced eastward and westward, as in ch.16:6, and perhaps in v. 32. But the

Septuagint and other versions have a variety of readings here.

 

11 “And their border went up toward the sea,” - Rather, westward. The

original is touched or skirted (פגע) - “and Maralah, and reached

to Dabbasheth, and reached to the river that is before Jokneam;”

This, with the assistance of ch.12:22, which mentions Jokneam as near to Mount

Carmel, enables us to identify this river (or rather, winter torrent), as “that

ancient river, the river Kishon.” (Judges 5:21)

 

12 “And turned from Sarid eastward toward the sunrising unto the

border of Chisloth-tabor,” -  The loins or flanks of Tabor. Tabor (the

name signifies either quarry — see note on Shebarim, probably a kindred

word, ch.7:5, or navel), is one of the most conspicuous mountains of Palestine.

The cone-shaped figure of Tabor can be seen on all sides, though it rises only

1,750 feet above the level of the sea, 800 above the plain at its northeastern base,

and 600 above Nazareth on the north-west.  Chisloth-Tabor was on the

northwest side of the base of Tabor. Tabor has been supposed to have been

the scene of the Transfiguration,  but from the time of Antiochus the Great, 200

years before Christ, to the destruction of Jerusalem, the summit of Tabor was a

fortress. Modern critics favor Mt. Hermon, the highest mountain-top in

Gaulanitis, or one of the spurs of the Anti-Lebanus.  (Smith’s Dictionary of

the Bible) -  “and then goeth out to Daberath, and goeth up to Japhia,”

 

13 “And from thence passeth on along on the east to Gittah-hepher,” - 

Or, Gathhepher (II Kings 14:25) was the birth place of the prophet Jonah.

Now el-Mesh-hed, where the tomb of Jonah is still shown. The Rabbinical

writers and the Onomasticon mention this tradition -“to Ittahkazin, and

goeth out to Remmonmethoar to Neah;”

 

14 “And the border compasseth it” - The verb נסב is here used transitively.

The meaning is that the border makes a curve round the city of Neah. Neah

seems to have been the extreme eastern border. Methoar is supposed to be

the Pual participle, and has been freely translated, “which is marked out,”

or, “which belongs to,” Neah. But the passage is obscure. on the north

side to Hannathon: and the outgoings thereof are in the valley” - גֵי.

(see note on ch.8:13;15:8). So in v.27 -of  Jiphthahel:”

 

15 “And Kattath, and Nahallal, and Shimron, and Idalah, and Bethlehem:” –

This name, signifying the “house of bread,” would naturally enough be given to

a place in a fertile situation. We are not to suppose that it was “Bethlehem-Ephratah,

among the thousands of Judah” (Micah 5:2). It is now Beit-lahm, about eight miles

in a westerly direction from Nazareth -“twelve cities with their villages.”

 

16 “This is the inheritance of the children of Zebulun-  It is strange that the

beautiful and fertile land occupied by the tribe of Zebulun does not appear to

have brought prosperity with it. Possibly the fact that the “lines” of this tribe

had “fallen in pleasant places,” (Psalm 16:6) had tended to induce sloth.

Certain it is that we hear but little of this tribe in the after history of Israel.

They were not, like Reuben, absent from the great battle of Tabor, for

there we read that, like Issachar, they jeoparded their lives unto the death”

(Judges 5:18) for their homes and liberties. Yet though they seem thenceforth to have

slackened in their zeal, theirs was a fair portion. It bordered on the slopes of Tabor,

and seems (though the fact is not mentioned here) to have extended to the Sea of

Galilee, as we may gather from Isaiah 9:1 -“according to their families, these

cities with their villages.

 

17 And the fourth lot came out to Issachar, for the children of Issachar

according to their families.”  18 And their border was toward Jezreel,” - 

The valley (עֵמֶק) of Jezreel, known in later Greek as the plain of Esdrsela or

Esdraelon (Judith 1:8; 7:2; II Maccabees 12:49) was“the perennial battlefield

of Palestine from that time to the present” (the way I understand it, it

will also be the scene in the last days of the last great battle between Satan’s

forces and God’s people – CY – 2012)  The great battles of Joshua were fought

far to the south. The majority of Joshua’s other “battles” were sieges. “David’s wars

were fought with the Philistines, while the invasions of the Syrians were directed

to the neighborhood of Samaria.” But I Samuel 29:1, I Kings 20:26, II Kings

13:17,25, expressly state that the great battles of Gilboa and Megiddo, in

which Saul and Josiah were defeated and met their deaths, were fought

here. And we have already seen that twice did the Egyptians invade Syria

by this plain. One of these invasions took place while Moses was in Egypt,

under Thothmes III. The other was the famous expedition of Rameses II.

against Syria, about the time of Deborah and Barak. If we add to these the

victory of Gideon over the Midianites and the overthrow of Sisera, we

shall have reason to think that the epithet “the battlefield of Palestine

applied to this plain is not altogether misplaced, especially if, with a large

number of critics, we regard the Book of Judith as founded on fact, but

relating to events of some other time than that of Nebuchadnezzar. “Well

may it be fertile,” exclaims Mr. Bartlett (‘From Egypt to Palestine,’ p.

478), “for it has drunk the blood of the Midianite, the Philistine, the Jew,

the Roman, the Babylonian, the Egyptian, the Frenchman, the Englishman,

the Saracen, and the Turk. It is a singular group to summon up to the

imagination, Gideon, Saul, and Jonathan, Deborah, Barak, and Sisera,

Ahab, Jezebel, Jehu, Josiah, Omri, and Azariah, Holofernes and Judith,

Vespasian and Josephus, Saladin and the Knights Templar, Bonaparte and

Kleber.” The list is a striking one. But certain it is that the plains of Jezreel

have been noted as the highway of every conqueror who wished to make

the fertile fields of Palestine his own. The Israelite invasion alone seems

to have been decided elsewhere than on that plain, stretching as it does

from the foot of Carmel in a southeasterly direction, and divided in the

direction of Jordan by Mount Gilboa and Little Hermon into three distinct

branches, in the midst of the southernmost and most extensive of which

stands the famous city of Jezreel — God’s acre, or sowing ground, as the

name indicates. Here Barak and Deborah fell upon the hosts of Jabin

(Judges 4:14), descending suddenly from the heights of Tabor with

10,000 men upon the vast and evidently undisciplined host that lay in the

plain. Here Gideon encountered the vast host of the Midianites (Ibid. ch.7:12),

who, after laying waste the south country, finally encamped in this

fertile plain (accurately called עֵמֶק in Ibid. ch.6:33), and with their

leaders Oreb and Zeeb, and their princes Zebah and Zalmunna, were swept

away in one of those sudden and irrational panics so often fatal to Eastern

armies. Here Saul, hard by Jezreel, dispirited by his visit to the witch of

Endor, on the north of Gilboa, gathered his men together as a forlorn hope,

to await the attack of the Philistines, their numbers at first swelled by a

number of Israelites whom Saul’s tyranny and oppression had driven into

exile (I Samuel 29). Advancing to Jezreel, the Philistine host carried all

before them, and drove the Israelites in headlong flight up the steeps of

Gilboa, where Saul and his sons fell fighting bravely to the last (Ibid. ch.30.).

In the later and sadder days of the Israelite monarchy, when the ten

tribes had been carried into captivity by the Assyrian conqueror, Josiah

courted disaster by a rash onslaught upon the Egyptian troops as they

marched against Assyria. No details of this fight at Megiddo are preserved,

save the fatal fire of the Egyptian archers, who marked Josiah as their

victim, and drove, no doubt, his leaderless troops from the field (II  Kings 23:29;

II Chronicles 35:22). At Jezreel, too, Ahab made his capital. Hither Elijah, when

the hand of the Lord was upon him” (I Kings 18:46), ran after the wondrous

scene on Mount Carmel, when he alone, in a strength not his own, withstood the

prophets of Baal, even four hundred and fifty men.” Here Jehoram stood

on the hill, with its commanding view, watching with an uneasy distrust the furious

rush of Jehu with his troop from the other side Jordan, and here, in the plat of

 Naboth the Jezreelite, so fatal to Ahab and his house, did the vengeance

 decreed overtake the unhappy monarch (II Kings 9:25), The spot may be

still identified. It is the modern Zerin. Ritter describes it (and so does Robinson)

as standing on the edge of a precipice 100 feet high, and commanding a fine view

of the plain of Beth-shean on the east, and of Esdraelon on the west. (See photo

below: 

 

                                    Valley of Jezreel - Wikipedia

 

There is a tower here which commands the same view as the watchmen

of Jehoram commanded, bearing witness to the accuracy of the historian. So in

I Kings 4:12, the mention of Taanach, Megiddo, and the region of Bethshean,

as beneath (מִַץחַתלְ). Jezreel is another instance of topographical

detail which marks the correctness of the record. Another point is that we

read in the narrative above mentioned of “chariots.” Wilson (‘Lands of the

Bible,’ 2:303) was surprised, on leaving the rugged heights of the hill

country, to find how easily, if the civilization of Palestine permitted,

excellent roads might be made throughout this region; and Canon Tristram

(‘Land of Israel,’ p. 421) has remarked on the desolate appearance now

presented by that fertile region, the result of the insecurity for life and

property which is so commonly remarked by all who have travelled in the

East. Here, where under a better rule would be the abode of peace and

plenty, no cultivator of the land dare venture to pass the night, exposed to

the depredations of the wild tribes that infest the country. Only a mountain

fastness, hard to climb and comparatively easy to defend, affords a secure

retreat for those who would live peaceably in that once favored land -

 and Chesulloth, and Shunem,” -  Shunem. Now Sulem: the place of the

encampment of the Philistines before they “pitched in Aphek(I Samuel 28:4;

29:1). It was “five Roman miles south of Mount Tabor” (Vandevelde) and an

hour and a half (i.e. about six miles) north of Jezreel (Keil and Delitzsch). Here

Abishag the Shunammite lived  (I Kings 1:3; 2:17,21), and here Elisha lodged,

 And afterwards restored the son of his entertainers to life (2 Kings chapters 4 & 8.).

 

19 “And Haphraim, and Shihon, and Anaharath,

20 And Rabbith, and Kishion, and Abez,

21 And Remeth, and Engannim,” -  Supposed to be the same as the

“garden house” (the Bethgan of the Septuagint) mentioned in II Kings 9:27) where

Ahaziah, king of Judah, met with the wound of which he afterwards died at

Megiddo. It was one of the Levitical cities of Issachar (ch.21:29).

Robinson, Vandevelde, and others identify it with the modern Jenin, the

Ginaea of Josephus. The meaning of the name is “fountain of the gardens”

and the present Jenin is situated, so Robinson tells us, in the midst of

gardens -“and Enhaddah, and Bethpazzez;”

 

22 “And the coast reacheth” - Literally, the border skirteth, as in v. 11 –

to Tabor,” -  Perhaps the same as Chisloth-Tabor in v. 12 (compare I Chronicles

6:77). It would therefore be, as Mount Tabor certainly was, on the boundary

between the tribes of Issachar and Zebulun - “and Shahazimah, and

Bethshemesh;” - Not the well known town in the  tribe of Judah (ch.15:10).

The repetition of this name is a proof of the extent  to which sun worship

 prevailed in Palestine before the Israelite invasion -  “and the outgoings

of their border were at Jordan: sixteen cities with their villages.”

 

23 “This is the inheritance of the tribe of the children of Issachar” -

Jacob, whose dying eye pierced far into the future, discerned beforehand the

situation of the tribe of Issachar, and its results upon its conduct. Situated

in the midst of this fertile plain, accessible alike to Egypt by the way of the

Shephelah, and to the east by way of the fords of the Jordan, the tribe of

Issachar became in the end the prey of the various nationalities, who

made the plain of Esdraelon their battlefield, and it was the first to “bow his

shoulder to bear” and to “become a servant unto tribute” (Genesis 49:15).

It seems to have been to the east of Manasseh (see ch.17:10), and may have

extended much further south than is usually supposed. Since but small mention

of the Jordan is made in the boundary of Joseph, it may have extended as far

or farther south than the Jabbok (see ZZZ Map of Canaan as Divided among

the Twelve Tribes – this web site – CY – 2012 -see also note, Joshua 17:10).

The general belief of explorers at present is that the inheritance of Issachar

extended from Jezreel to the Jordan, and from the Sea of Tiberias southward

as far as the border of Manasseh, above mentioned -“according to their

families, the cities and their villages.”

 

24 And the fifth lot came out for the tribe of the children of Asher

according to their families.”

 

25 “And their border was Helkath,” - A Levitical city (ch.21:31; I Chronicles

6:75, where it is called Hukok) - “and Hali, and Beten, and Achshaph,

26 And Alam-melech, and Amad, and Misheal; and reacheth-  Literally,

toucheth, i.e. skirteth, as in vs. 11, 22. So in the next verse, with regard to Zebulun.

The term appears to be the invariable one when a district, not a particular place,

is spoken of -“to Carmel westward,” -  The Carmel range appears to have been

included in the tribe of Asher. For we read (ch.17:10-11) that Asher met

Manasseh on the north, whence we conclude that it must have cut off

Issachar from the sea, and that as Dor was among the towns which

Manasseh held within the territory of Issachar and Asher, it must therefore

have been within the boundaries of the latter “and to Shihor-libnath;”

For Shihor see ch.13:3. Libnath, which signifies white or shining, has been

supposed by some to mean the glassy river, from its calm, unbroken flow,

though this appears improbable, since Shihor means turbid. It is far more

probable that the current was rendered turbid by a quantity of chalk or

limestone which it carried along in its course, and hence the name “muddy

white.” Keil thinks it to be the Nahr-el-Zerka, or crocodile river, of Pliny,

in which Beland, Von Raumer, Knobel, and Rosenmuller agree with him.

Gesenius, from the glazed appearance of burnt brick or tiles (l’banah),

conjectures,that it may be the Belus, or “glass river,” so called, however, in

ancient times because the fine sand on its banks enabled the manufacture of

glass to be carried on here. But this, emptying itself into the sea near Acre, has

been thought to be too far north.  Vandevelde, however, one of the latest

authorities, as well as Mr. Conder, is inclined to agree with Gesenius. The

difficulty of this identification consists in the fact that Carmel and Dor (Joshua

17:11) are said to have been in Asher (see note on Ibid. v.10). The Nahr-el-Zerka

has not been found by recent explorers to contain crocodiles, but it has been

thought possible that they have hitherto eluded observation. Kenrick,

however (‘Phoenicia,’ p. 24), thinks that as crocodilus originally meant a

lizard, the lacertus Niloticus is meant, the river being, in his opinion, too

shallow in summa to be the haunt of the crocodile proper (see also

Tristram, ‘Land of Israel.’ p. 103, who believes it possible that the

crocodile may be found there, though no specimen has as yet been

produced). The Zerkais described in Palestine Exploration Fund Quarterly

Paper, January, 1874, as “a torpid stream flowing through fetid marshes, in

which reeds, canes, and the stunted papyrus grow.” When it is added, “and

where alone in Palestine the crocodile is found,” no evidence is given in

favour of the statement. It empties itself into the sea between Dor and

Caesarea, a few miles north of the latter.

 

27 “And turneth toward the sunrising to Bethdagon,” - We learn that Dagon,

the fish-god, was worshipped here as well as in the south of Palestine (see ch.15:41) -

 and reacheth to Zebulun, and to the valley of Jiphthahel” -  This valley, or

gai, is mentioned above, v. 14, as the extreme northern border of Zebulun -“toward

the north side of Bethemek, and Neiel, and goeth out to Cabul” -  We read

of a Cabul in I Kings 9:11-13, but it can hardly be this place, though clearly not

far off. For we read that the name given to that territory was given then by

Hiram.  There is a village four hours northeast of Acre, which still bears this name -

 on the left hand,”

 

28 “And Hebron,” -  Rather, Ebron. It is not the same word as the Hebron

in Judah, but is spelt with Ain instead of Hheth. In ch.21:30, I Chronicles 6:59,

Abdon is the name of the city assigned to the Levites in Asher. Twenty manuscripts

says Keil, have the same reading here. But the Septuagint  has Ἐβρων Hebron

Hebron here and Αβδων - AbdonAbdonin ch.21:30. The Hebrew ד and ר

here and Are so much alike that there is no doubt that the mistake has arisen earlier

than the time when that translation was made. It is true that the lists of Levitical

cities in Joshua 21 and I Chronicles 6 do not entirely correspond. But the

resemblance here between the names is too striking to allow of the

supposition that two different cities are meant -  “and Rehob, and Hammon,

and Kanah, even unto great Zidon;”  This city, as well as Tyre, remained

unsubdued, although assigned by Joshua to Asher. The boundary of Asher appears

to have been traced first towards the west, then eastward, from a middle point on

the southern border (see note on v. 11 and for simplification, see: ZZZ Map of Canaan

as Divided among the Twelve Tribes – this web site – CY – 2012), then to have been

carried northward from the same point (the left hand usually means the north; see note

on Teman ch.15:1), on the east side till it reached Cabul. Then the northern border is

traced westward to Sidon. Then the border turned southward along the sea, which is

not mentioned, because it would seem to be sufficiently defined by the mention

of Ramah and Tyre. Between Hosah and Achzib there would seem to have

been a greater paucity of cities, and therefore the sea is mentioned.

 

29 “And then the coast turneth to Ramah, and to the strong city Tyre;” -

Rather, the fortified city. The general impression among commentators appears

to be that the island city of Tyre, afterwards so famous, had not as yet come into

existence. And the word here used, מִבְצַר seems to be more in accordance

with the idea of a land fortress than of one so exceptionally protected.as an island

fortress would be. This expression, like “great Zidonabove, implies the

comparative antiquity of the Book of Joshua. The island city of Tyre, so famous in

later history, was not yet founded. The city on the mainland (called Ancient

Tyre by the historians) was “the chief seat of the population till the wars of

the Assyrian monarchs against Phoenicia” (Kenrick, ‘Phoenicia,’ p. 344).

He adds, “The situation of Palae-Tyrus was one of the most fertile spots on

the coast of Phoenicia. The plain, is here about five miles wide; the soil is

dark, and the variety of its productions excited the wonder of the

Crusaders.” William of Tyre, the historian of the Crusades, tells us that,

although the territory was scanty in extent, “exiguitatem suam multa

redimit ubertate.” The position of Tyre, as a city of vast commercial

importance and artistic skill in the time of David and Solomon, is clear

enough from the sacred records. It appears still (II Samuel 24:6-7) to

have been on the mainland, for the successors of Rameses II., up to the

time of Sheshonk, or Shishak, were unwarlike monarchs, and the Assyrian

power had not yet attained its subsequent formidable dimensions. We meet

with Eth-baal, or Itho-baal, in later Scripture history, remarkable as the

murderer of the last of Hiram’s descendants, and the father of the infamous

Jezebel, from which we may conclude that a great moral and therefore

political declension had taken place since the days of Hiram. The later

history of Tyre may be inferred from the prophetic denunciations,

intermingled with descriptive passages, found in Isaiah 23, and Ezekiel 26.,

27.; Joel (3:3-8) and Amos (1:9) had previously complained of the way in

which the children of Israel had become the merchandise of Tyre, and had

threatened the vengeance of God. But the minute and powerful description

in Ezekiel 27, shows that Tyre was still great and prosperous. She was

strong enough to resist the attacks of successive Assyrian monarchs.

Shalmaneser’s victorious expedition (so Alexander tells us) was driven

back from the island fortress of Tyre. Sennacherib, in his vainglorious

boast of the cities he has conquered (Isaiah 36., 37.), makes no mention of

Tyre. Even Nebuchadnezzar, though he took and destroyed Palae-Tyrus,

appears to have been baffled in his attempt to reduce the island city. Shorn

of much of its ancient glory, Tyre still remained powerful, and only

succumbed, after a resistance of seven months, to the splendid military

genius of Alexander the Great. But Alexander refounded Tyre, and its

position and its commercial reputation secured for it a large part of its

former importance. The city continued to flourish, even though Phoenicia

was for a long period the battleground between the Syrian and the

Egyptian monarchies. To Christian readers, the description by Eusebius of

the splendid church erected at Tyre by its Bishop Paulinus will have an

interest. He describes it as by far the finest in all Phoenicia, and appends

the sermon he preached on the occasion. Even in the fourth century after

Christ, St. Jerome (‘Comm. ad Ezekiel,’ 26:7.) wonders why the prophecy

concerning Tyre has never been fulfilled. “Quod sequitur, ‘nee aedificaberis

ultra,’ videtur facere quaestionem quomodo non sit aedificata, quam hodie

cernimus nobilissimam et pulcherrimam civitatem.” But the present state of

Tyre warns us not to be too hasty in pronouncing any Scripture prophecy

to have failed. Even Sidon is not the wretched collection of huts and ruined

columns which is all that remains of the once proud city Tyre. and the

coast turneth to Hosah; and the outgoings thereof are at the sea from

the coast to Achzib:”  Rather, and the western extremity is from Hebel to

Achzib. Hebel signifies a region or possession, as in v. 9. Here, however, it seems

to be a proper name. Achzib. “A city of Asher, not conquered by that tribe

(Judges 1:31), now the village of Zib, two-and-a-half hours north of Akka,” or

Acre (Vandevelde). Keil and Delitzsch make the journey a three hours’ one. But

Manndrell, who also corroborates St. Jerome in the distance (nine Roman

miles), states that he performed the journey hence to Acre in two hours.

 

30 Ummah also, and Aphek” – (see ch.13:4) -“and Rehob: twenty and two

cities with their villages.”  The difficulty of tracing the boundary of Asher seems

to be that it was traced, not by a line plainly marking out the territory, but less

accurately, by a reference to the relative position of its principal cities.

 

31 “This is the inheritance of the tribe of the children of Asher” -

Asher appears to have been allotted a long but narrow strip of territory between

Naphtali and the sea. The natural advantages of the territory must have been great.

Not only was it described prophetically by Jacob (Genesis 49:20) and by Moses

(Deuteronomy 33:24-25), but the prosperity of the two great maritime cities of

Tyre and Sidon was due to the immense commercial advantages the neighbouhood

afforded. St. Jean d’Acre, within the territory once assigned to Asher, has inherited

the prosperity, so far as anything under the Turkish rule can be prosperous, once

enjoyed by her two predecessors. Maundrell, the acute English chaplain at Aleppo,

who visited Palestine in 1696, describes the plain of Acre in his day as about six

hours’ journey from north to south, and two from west to east; as being

well watered, and possessing “everything else that might render it both

pleasant and fruitful. But,” he adds, “this delicious plain is now almost

desolate, being suffered, for want of culture, to run up to rank weeds, as

high as our horses’ backs.” Asher, however, never employed the advantages

its situation offered. They never subdued the Canaanites around

them, but, unquestionably at a very early date (see Judges 5:17) preferred a life

of compromise and ignoble ease to the national welfare. But

it would be incorrect to suppose that because the tribe is omitted in the list

of rulers given in I Chronicles 27., it had ceased to be a power in Israel.

For Gad is also omitted in that list, while among the warriors who came to

greet David when he became undisputed king of Israel, Asher sent 40,000

trained warriors, a number exceeding the men of Ephraim, and those of

Simeon, of Dan, and of the half tribe of Manasseh (see I Chronicles 12.),

and far exceeding the numbers of Benjamin, which had never recovered the

war of almost extermination waged against it, in consequence of the

atrocity at Gibeah (Judges 20.). Possibly the reason why so few are

mentioned of the tribe of Judah on that occasion is because so many were

already with David. There seems no ground for the idea of Dean Stanley,

that the allusion to Asher in Judges 5:17 is any more contemptuous

than the allusion to any other tribe - “according to their families, these

cities with their villages.”

 

32 “The sixth lot came out to the children of Naphtali, even for the

children of Naphtali according to their families.  33  And their coast was

from Heleph, from Allon to Zaanannim,” -  Or, the oak which is at

Zaanannim (compare Allon-bachuth, the oak of weeping, Genesis 35:8).

Zaanannim is the same as the Zaanaim mentioned in Judges 4:11. For

the Keri is Zaanannim there, and the word here rightly translated “oak”

is rendered there “plain,” as in Genesis 12:6 and elsewhere. It has been

supposed to lie northwest of Lake Huleh, the ancient Merom, whence we

find that the scene of that famous battle was assigned to the tribe of

Naphtali. The border of Naphtali is more lightly traced than any previous

one, and is regarded as being sufficiently defined, save toward the north, by

the boundaries of the other tribes -“and Adami, Nekeb, and Jabneel, unto

Lakum; and the outgoings thereof were at Jordan:”

 

34 “And then the coast turneth westward” - Here the words are

literally translated without any confusion between the west and the sea, nor

any misapprehension of the meaning of the word נסב - “to Aznothtabor,

and goeth out from thence to Hukkok, and reacheth” - This is

the same word translated skirteth above, v. 11, note. We have it here

clearly stated that Naphtali was bordered on the south by Zebulun, on the

west by Asher, and on the east by “Judah upon Jordan.” To Judah. These

words have caused great trouble to translators and expositors for 2,000

years. The Septuagint omits them altogether, rendering, “and the Jordan to the

eastward.” The Masorites, by inserting a disjunctive accent between them

and the words that follow, would have us render, “and to Judah: Jordan

towards the sun rising,” or, “is towards the sunrising,” a rendering which

gives no reasonable sense. They unquestionably form part of the text, since

no version but the Septuagint omits them. A suggestion of Von Raumer’s has

found favor that the cities called Havoth Jair, which were on the eastern

side of Jordan, opposite the inheritance of Naphtali, are meant. Jair was a

descendant of Judah by the father’s side, through Hezron. So Ritter, 4:338

(see I Chronicles 2:21-23). It would seem that the principle of female

inheritance, having once been admitted in the tribe of Manasseh, was found

capable of further extension. But to the majority of the Israelites this

settlement would no doubt be regarded as an offshoot of the tribe of Judah -

 to Zebulun on the south side, and reacheth to Asher on the west side,

and to Judah upon Jordan toward the sunrising.”

 

35 “And the fenced cities” -  The remark is made in the ‘Speaker’s

Commentary’ that the number of fenced cities in the north were no doubt

owing to a determination to protect the northern boundary of Israel by a

chain of fortresses. The word fenced is the same that is rendered strong in

v. 29, “the strong city Tyre.” - “are Ziddim, Zer, and Hammath,

Rakkath, and Chinnereth,” -  (see ch. 11:2).  36 And Adamah, and

Ramah, and Hazor,” -  (see above, ch.11:1-10).  37 And Kedesh,” - 

(see ch.12:22). It was the residence of Barak (Judges 4:6). Known to

Josephus (Bell. Jud., 4. 2 3.) as Cydoessa, to Eusebius and Jerome as

Cydissus; it is now Kedes (see Robinson, ‘Later Biblical Researches’) –

and  Edrei,” - Not the Edrei of Og, which was beyond Jordan -  “and

Enhazor,”

 

38 “And Iron, and Migdalel,” -  The Magdala of the New Testament. It lay

on the lake of Gennesareth -Horem, and Bethanath, and Bethshemesh;” -

A common name, derived from the worship of the sun. This is neither

Beth-shemesh  of Judah nor of Issachar (see v. 22).  nineteen cities with

their villages.  39 This is the inheritance of the tribe  of the children of

Naphtali” – Naphtali, Beyond the not too heroic leader Barak,  we hear nothing

in the after history of Israel, until the fulfillment of the prophecy in Isaiah 9:1-2.

Galilee, the scene of the greater part of our Lord’s teaching and

miracles, was divided between Issachar, Asher, Zebulon, and Naphtali.

The majority of the places mentioned in the Gospels were Within the borders of

Zebulon. But as we learn that our Lord penetrated as far as “the coasts of

Caesarea Philippi,” in the extreme north of Palestine, He must have

preached also in the cities of Naphtali. Naphtali sent a goodly number of

warriors to welcome David as “king over all Israel (I Chronicles 12:34).

The inheritance of Naphtali was in the main fertile, but there was a large mountain

district, known as the mountain region of Naphtali (ch.20:7). Some of the mountains

rose to the height of more than 3,000 feet -“according to their families, the

cities and their  villages.”

 

40  And the seventh lot came out for the tribe of the children of Dan

according to their families.”  41 “And the coast of their inheritance was

Zorah, and Eshtaol,” -  On the border between Judah and Dan, but abandoned

by the tribe of Judah to the Danites (see Judges 13:2, 25). “The wild and impassable

wadies, the steep, hard, rocky hills, their wildernesses of mastic, clear springs, and

frequent caves and precipices, are the fastnesses in which Samson was born, and

from which he descended into the plain to harry the Philistines (Lieut. Conder in Pal.

Expl. Fund, Quart. Paper, Jan., 1874). Robinson identifies Zorah with Surat“and

Irshemesh,  -  “the city of the sun.” Another sign of sun-worship.

 

42 “And Shaalabbin, and Ajalon,” -  (see ch.10:12). One of the Levitical

Cities - “and Jethlah,  43 And Elon, and Thimnathah, and Ekron,” –

(see ch. 13:3)  44 And Eltekeh, and Gibbethon,” - A Levitical city, as was

also Eltekeh (see ch.21:23). It was the same city as that mentioned as “belonging

 to the Philistines” in I Kings 15:27; 16:15, 17 - “and Baalath,  45 And Jehud,

and Beneberak, and Gathrimmon,”- Also a Levitical city (see ch.21:24;

I Chronicles 6:69).

 

46 “And Mejarkon,” - The waters of the Jarkon - “and Rakkon, with the border

before Japho.” Or opposite. Japho. The Joppa of the New Testament, and the

 modern Jaffa. It is called Joppa in II Chronicles 2:16, in Ezra 3:7, and in the book

of Jonah (Jonah 1:3), in all which places it is mentioned as a famous seaport, a position

it still maintains, being still, as it was of old, the port of Jerusalem. The Septuagint

and Vulgate have Joppa here, and it is unfortunate that our translators, in this instance

only, should have adhered to the Hebrew form. Joppa appears to have been

an important city in the time of the Maccabees (see I Maccabees 10:75-76; and

II Maccabees  4:21). Its mention in the New Testament as the place where Peter’s

vision occurred will be known to all (Acts 10).  The name signifies “beauty,”

though Joppa does not seem to be distinguished above all other places in

Palestine by the beauty of its situation. But according to Hovers, Japho

signifies in Phoenician, “high place.” It is certainly built on a range of

terraces above the sea, but the term “high place” would seem unsuitable.

The soil is very productive, and it is the only harbor in Central Palestine.

 

47 “And the coast of the children of Dan went out too little for them:” –

The Hebrew is, went out from them; i.e., either went out beyond their own borders,

or went out too small a distance to be sufficient for them. The Septuagint, has the

same reading as ourselves, and the explanation given above is quite consistent

with the fact. The border of Dan did “go out” far beyond the borders

originally assigned to the tribe, in fact to the extreme northern limit of

Palestine. The account of the taking of Laish, or Leshem, is given more

fully in Judges 18. The inheritance assigned to Dan was extremely small,

but it was also extremely fertile – “therefore the children of Dan went up to

fight against Leshem, and took it, and smote it with the edge of the sword,

and possessed it, and dwelt therein, and called Leshem, Dan, after the

name of Dan their father.”

 

48 “This is the inheritance of the tribe of the children of Dan” - We read little

of Dan in the after history of Israel. Samson is the only hero this tribe produced, and

his exploits were limited to a very narrow area, and his influence apparently to his

own tribe - “according to their families, these cities with their villages.”

 

49 “When they had made an end” - The Septuagint, both here and in

v. 51, reads תנךו יךהת יֵלְכוּ  - they went. The last thing Joshua thought of was

himself. It was only when his work was done, and Israel had received her

allotted territory, that Joshua thought it right to take his own inheritance -“of

dividing the land for inheritance by their coasts, the children of Israel

gave an inheritance to Joshua the son of Nun among them:”

 

50 “According to the word of the LORD they gave him the city which

he asked,” -  He asked for a city, certainly. But the law of the inheritance was

not to be set aside for him any more than for the meanest in Israel. Timnath-serah

was in his own tribe - “even Timnathserah” - Called Thamna by Josephus and

the Septuagint, and Timnath-heres, or Tinmath of the sun by a transposition of the l

etters, in Judges 2:9. Rabbi Solomon Jarchi gives a singular reason for the latter name.

It came to be so called because there was a representation of the sun upon the tomb

of him who caused the sun to stand still. Timnath-serah must not be confounded

with Timnah, or Timnathah, in the tribe of Dan (v. 48). For a long time its site was

unknown, but it has been identified with Tibneh, seven hours north of Jerusalem,

among the mountains of Ephraim.  Tibneh seems to have anciently been a

considerable town. It is described in Ritter’s ‘Geography of Palestine’ as a gentle

hill, crowned with extensive ruins. Opposite these, on the slope of a much higher

eminence, are excavations like what are called the Tombs of the Kings at

Jerusalem. Jewish tradition, however, points to Kefr Haris, some distance

south of Shechem, as the site of Joshua’s tomb, and several able writers

have advocated its claims in the papers of the Palestine Exploration Fund,

on the ground that on such a point Jewish tradition was not likely to be

mistaken - “in mount Ephraim: and he built the city, and dwelt therein.”

 

51 “These are the inheritances, which Eleazar the priest, and Joshua the

son of Nun, and the heads of the fathers of the tribes of the children of

Israel, divided for an inheritance by lot in Shiloh before the LORD, at

the door of the tabernacle of the congregation.” -  The lots were drawn

under Divine sanction. The ruler of the State and the ruler of the Church combined

in this sacred act, hallowed by all the rites of religion, and confirmed by the presence

and approbation of the heads or representatives of all the tribes. Accordingly, as has

been said above, we hear of no murmurings or disputings afterwards. However much

the Israelites may have quarreled among themselves, there is not a hint of

dissatisfaction with the final distribution of territory.

 

The duty of hallowing all important actions with the sanctions of religion,

OF UNITING PRAYER AND A PUBLIC RECOGNITION OF GOD’S

AUTHORIY with every event of moment, whether in the life of the individual

 or of the body politic, finds an illustration here. AN AGE WHICH, LIKE

THE  PRESENT, IS DISPOSED TO REGULATE TO THE CLOSET

ALL RECOGNITION OF GOD’S AUTHORITY,  which rushes

into wars without God’s blessing, celebrates national or local ceremonials

without acknowledging Him, contracts matrimony without publicly seeking

His blessing, receives children from Him without caring to dedicate them

formally to His service, can hardly plead that it is acting in the spirit of the

Divine Scriptures.

 

“So they made an end of dividing the country.”

 

 

      The Completion of the Allotment of the Land of Canaan (vs. 1-51)

 

The reflections suggested by this chapter are identical with those which

have already occurred to us. They are, perhaps, emphasised by ver. 51, in

which the solemn public division of the land is once more, and yet more

plainly, declared to have taken place with the assent of the heads of Church

and State, and to have been attended with a religious ceremony. Without

pretending to say whose fault it is, or how such a desirable state of things

may be once more attained, we may be allowed to lament that what was

the rule with our forefathers before the Norman conquest is impossible

now. No doubt the separation of ecclesiastical from civil jurisdiction which

the Conqueror effected has been to a great extent the cause of this, as that

measure was also the cause of an assumption of authority by ecclesiastics

which was afterwards found to be intolerable. There should be no

separation between the religious and civil interests of the community.

Every man in the kingdom is, or ought to be, interested in its ecclesiastical

arrangements. No single act of the State ought to be considered as outside

the sphere of religious influence. At the same time we must remember that

the present state of things is the natural result of religious freedom, a

freedom which Christ Himself proclaimed (John 18:36), but which was

unknown to His Church for many centuries, as also to the Jews before He

came (Genesis 17:14; Exodus 12:15; 30:33, 38; 31:14; Leviticus 7:20, 27).

 As has been already intimated, an example which cannot be fulfilled in the letter

may be fulfilled in the spirit. We may strive to hallow great national events with

one heart and soul, though with different forms, waiting for the day when “our

unhappy divisions” have ceased. We may, however, add one consideration

derived from this chapter alone.

 

  • SELFISH AIMS OUGHT NOT TO INTRUDE INTO A GREAT

CAUSE. This principle is illustrated:

 

Ø      by the conduct of Judah,

Ø      by the conduct of Joshua.

 

The rule of the world is

 

Ø      to covet power and possessions, and

Ø      that the successful conqueror has a right to be first considered

in the division of the spoil.

 

Observe how completely the narrative of this chapter implicitly rebukes a

view of things which is assumed as a matter of course in the ordinary

concerns of the world. In past history we read of the greed of individuals

and nations for the annexation of territory, and of the wars and bloodshed

thus caused. It has been a maxim that any ruler or any nation may, and

ought to, add to its territories if it can, without much regard to the

principles of justice or the general good. A man, it is still believed, may

heap to himself possessions in land or money as much as he chooses, and

would be a fool if he did not. The first of these doctrines has only lately

begun to be questioned among us. The second is still an established

principle of action.

 

Ø      Yet Judah voluntarily surrendered its territory to

Simeon for the national welfare and

Ø      Joshua takes care that every one is served before himself.

 

 

 

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