Bible Commentaries

Matthew Poole's English Annotations
on the Holy Bible

Joshua 15

Verse 1

JOSHUA CHAPTER 15

The borders of the lot of Judah, Joshua 15:1-12. Among them Kirjath-arba, Caleb’s inheritance: he drives thence the three sons of Anak; promises to give his daughter in marriage to him who should smite Kirjath-sepher; which Othniel does, and obtains her: she requests of her father some land for a dowry; which he grants, Joshua 15:13-19. The cities of Judah, Joshua 15:20-62. The Jebusites could not be conquered by them, Joshua 15:63.

For the general understanding of this business, it must be known,

1. That this work of casting lots was transacted with great seriousness and solemnity, in God’s presence, with prayer and appeal to him for the decision of the matter.

2. That although an exact survey of this land was not taken till Joshua 18:4,5, yet there was, and must needs be, a general description of it, and a division thereof into nine parts and a half; which as far as they could guess, were equal either in quantity or in quality.

3. That the lot did not at this time so peremptorily and unchangeably determine each tribe, that their portion could neither be increased nor diminished; as is manifest, because after Judah’s lot was fixed, Simeon’s lot was taken out of it, Joshua 19:9, though after the land was more distinctly known and surveyed, Jos 18, it is likely the bounds were more certain and fixed.

4. That the lot determined only in general what part or quarter of the land belonged to each tribe, but left the particulars to be determined by Joshua and Eleazar, &c. For the manner of this lottery, it is probably conceived that there were two urns or pots, into one of which were put the names of all the tribes, each in a distinct paper, and into the other the names of each portion described; then Eleazar, or some other person, drew out first the name of one of the tribes out of one pot, and then the name of one portion out of the other pot, and that portion was appropriated to that tribe; and so in the rest. And with respect to these pots, in the bottom of which the papers lay, these lots are oft said to come up, or come forth. The lot of the tribe of the children of Judah came out first by God’s disposition, as a note of his preeminency above his brethren. Edom lay south-east from Judah’s portion.

Verse 2

The bay, Heb. the tongue; by which he understands either a creek or arm of that sea; or a promontory, which by learned authors is sometimes called a tongue; it is not material to know which of these it was.

Verse 3

Concerning this description of the southern coast of Judah, see Numbers 34:3-5.

Verse 5

The end of Jordan, i.e. the place where Jordan runs into the Salt Sea.

Verse 6

By the north of Beth-arabah, or, on the north, or northward to Beth-arabah; which place is attributed to Judah here, Joshua 15:61; and to Benjamin, Joshua 18:22; because it was a frontier town in the borders of Judah and Benjamin, and therefore promiscuously belonging to both; which also was the case of some other places: and this cohabitation was convenient to maintain brotherly love and union between the several tribes, especially in the borders, where differences oft arise.

The stone of Bohan; a place so called, not from Bohan’s dwelling there, (for the Reubenites had no portion on this side Jordan,) but from some notable exploit which he did there, though it be not recorded in Scripture.

Verse 7

Debir; a differing place from that Debir, Numbers 15:15, which was near Hebron, and remote from Judah’s border; as also from that

Debir, Joshua 13:26, which was beyond Jordan.

Gilgal; either that Gilgal nigh Jordan, Joshua 4:19, or another place of that name. On the south side of the river, or brook, or valley.

Verse 8

The border went up; properly, for the line went from Jordan and the Salt Sea, to the higher grounds nigh Jerusalem; and therefore the line is said to go down, Joshua 18:16, because there it takes a contrary course, and goes downwards to Jordan and the sea.

Hinnom; a very pleasant place, but afterwards made infamous, 2 Kings 23:10.

Of the Jebusite, i.e. of the city of the Jebusites, which was anciently called Jebusi, Joshua 18:28 Jude 19:10.

The same is Jerusalem: it may seem hence, and from Deuteronomy 33:12 Joshua 18:28 Jude 1:21, that Jerusalem, properly, or at least principally, belonged to Benjamin; and yet it is ascribed to Judah also here, Joshua 15:63, and elsewhere, either because a part of the city was allotted to Judah; or because the Benjamites needed or desired the help and conjunction of this powerful tribe of Judah, for the getting and keeping of this most important place. And when the Benjamites had in vain attempted to drive out the Jebusites, this work was at last done by the tribe of Judah, who therefore had an interest in it by the right of war; as Ziklag, which belonged to the tribe of Simeon, being gotten from the Philistines by David, was adjoined by him to his tribe of Judah, 1 Samuel 27:6.

Verse 9

Of Mount Ephron, i.e. belonging to or bordering upon Mount Ephron.

Kirjath-jearim, called Kirjath-baal, Joshua 15:60 Joshua 18:14.

Verse 10

Mount Seir; not that of Edom, but another so called from some resemblance it had with that in quality.

Bethshemesh: there were divers cities of this name; this in Judah here, and Joshua 21:16 2 Kings 14:11, another in Issachar, and a third in Naphtali, Joshua 19:22,38.

Verse 13

He gave, i.e. Joshua, as appears by comparing this with Joshua 14:6,12,13.

Arba, or Kirjath-arba; not the city, which was the Levites’, but the territory of it, Joshua 21:13.

Verse 14

Thence, i.e. from the said territory, from their caves and and forts in it: compare Joshua 14:12. This and the following work was done either in Joshua’s life-time, as may seem from Joshua 11:21, or after his death, as is related Jude 1:10; these giants having either recovered their cities or defended themselves in the mountains.

Sheshai, and Ahiman, and Talmai; either the same who are mentioned Numbers 13:33, and so they were long-lived men, such as many were in those times and places; or their sons, called by their fathers’ names, which is very usual.

Verse 15

Debir; the same mentioned above, Joshua 15:7. The name of Debir before was

Kirjath-sepher: this clause seems to be added to distinguish this from the other Debir subdued by Joshua, Joshua 10:38,39.

Verse 16

Which is to be understood with some conditions, as, if he were one who could marry her by God’s law; for every promise contrary to that is void; and if she were willing; for though parents had a great power over their children, they could not force them to marry any person against their own wills. He might otherwise be an unfit and unworthy person: but this was no ordinary motion propounded to the imitation of others, but a Divine impulse, that Othniel’s valour might be more manifest, and so the way prepared for his future government of the people, Jude 3:9.

Verse 17

Object. This marriage was unlawful.

Answ. No; for it was not Othniel, but Kenaz, who was Caleb’s brother; and besides, the word brother is commonly used for any kinsman; and that Caleb was not properly Othniel’s brother sufficiently appears, because Caleb is constantly called the son of Jephunneh; and Othniel, the son of Kenaz here, and 1 Chronicles 4:13.

Verse 18

As she came unto him, or, as she went, to wit, from her father’s house to her husband’s, as the manner was: see Poole "Matthew 1:18".

She moved him to ask; she persuaded her husband; either,

1. That he would ask; or rather,

2. That he would suffer her to ask, as she did.

She lighted off her ass, that she might address herself to her father in a humble posture, and as a suppliant, which he understood by her gesture.

Verse 19

Give me a blessing, i.e. a gift, as that word signifies, Genesis 33:11.

A south land, i.e. a dry land, which was much exposed to the south wind, which in those parts was very hot and drying, as coming from the deserts of Arabia.

Springs of water, i.e. a.field, as she desired, Joshua 15:18, wherein are springs of water, which in that country were of great price; for it is not probable that he would give her the springs, and give to another the grounds in which the springs were, who could thereby at their pleasure deprive her of the use and benefit of her springs: so she begs a well-moistened field, which also might give some relief to that which was dry and barren.

The upper springs, and the nether springs, i.e. springs both in the higher and in the lower grounds; or two fields, one in high, another in low grounds; or rather, one above, and the other below, that south and dry ground which she complained of, that by this means it might be watered on both sides.

Verse 21

The uttermost cities; those which were on the borders of the land, not the midland cities. It is apparent that all the cities belonging to this tribe are not mentioned in this catalogue.

Kabzeel, called Jekabzeel, Nehemiah 11:25.

Verse 25

Hazor, Hadattah possibly it should be read as one word, Hazor-hadattah, as there is Hazar-gaddah, Joshua 15:27, and Hazar-shual, Joshua 15:28, such compounded proper names being usual; and this may seem the more probable, because if Hazor and Hadattah were two different cities, the conjunction and would have been put between them, as it is generally in the rest.

Which is Hazor, or, which also is called Hazor; but to distinguish it from the other Hazor, Joshua 15:23, this was called also Hezron.

Verse 32

Object. Here are thirty-seven or thirty-eight cities named before; how then are they only reckoned twenty-nine?

Answ. There were only twenty-nine of them, which either,

1. Properly belonged to Judah; the rest fell to Simeon’s lot; or,

2. Were cities properly so called, i.e. walled cities, or such as had villages under them, as it here follows, the rest being great but unwalled towns, or such as had no villages under them.

Verse 36

Object. There are fifteen numbered.

Answ. Either one of them was no city strictly called; or

Gederah and

Gederothaim is put for Gederah or Gederothaim, so called, possibly, because the city was double, as there want not instances of one city divided into two parts, called the old and the new city. So the conjunction and is put for the disjunctive or, whereof examples have been given before.

Verse 42

Libnah, Heb. Libnah. See Joshua 10:29

Verse 45

Here and in the following verses are contained all the cities of the Philistines, among which are Gath and Askelon, which peradventure are here omitted, because they were not at this time places of such power and eminency as afterwards they were, but were the daughters of some of these following cities, though afterwards the daughter might overtop the mother, as is usual.

Her towns, Heb. her daughters, i.e. lesser cities, or great towns, subject to Ekton’s jurisdiction.

Her villages, i.e. lesser towns or hamlets.

Verse 47

i.e. The sea-coast, and all other cities, towns, and villages upon it.

Verse 48

i.e. In the higher grounds, called mountains or hills, in comparison of the sea-coast.

Verse 49

Debir is also called Kirjath-sepher, above, Joshua 15:15. So this city had three names.

Verse 51

Goshen. Joshua 10:41

Verse 55

Maon; of which see 1 Samuel 23:25 25:2.

Carmel; Nabal’s country, 1Sa 25$.

Ziph; which gave its name to the neighbouring mountain, 1 Samuel 26:1.

Verse 61

The wilderness; so the Hebrews call places either uninhabited by men, or having but few inhabitants.

Verse 62

The city of Salt; so called either from the Salt Sea, which was near it; or from the salt which was made in it, or about it.

Verse 63

For though Jerusalem was in part taken by Joshua before this, yet the upper and stronger part of it, called Zion, was still kept by the Jebusites, even until David’s time; and it seems from thence they descended to the lower town called Jerusalem, and took it; so that the Israelites were forced to win it a second time; yea, and a third time also, for afterwards it was possessed by the Jebusites, Jude 19:11 2 Samuel 5:6,7.

Could not drive them out; namely, because of their unbelief, as Christ could do no mighty work—because of the people’s unbelief, Mark 6:5,6 Mt 13:58, and because of their sloth, and cowardice, and wickedness, whereby they forfeited God’s help, and then they must needs be impotent; but this inability was wilful, and brought upon them by themselves.

Jebusites dwell with the children of Judah at Jerusalem: the same things which are here said of the children of Judah, are said of the Benjamites, Jude 1:21. Hence ariseth a question, To which of the tribes Jerusalem belonged? whether to Benjamin, as is gathered from Genesis 49:27 Deuteronomy 33:12 Jeremiah 6:1, or to Judah, as is implied here, and Psalms 78:68,69. Some think, that being in the borders of both, it was common to both, and promiscuously inhabited by both; and it is certain that after the captivity it was possessed by both, Nehemiah 11:4. But for the present, though it did belong to Benjamin, yet the children of Judah being possibly very active in the first taking of it by Joshua, as they certainly were after his death, Jude 1:8, they might thereby get some right share with the Benjamites in the possession of it. It seems most probable that part of it, and indeed the greatest part and main body of it, stood in the tribe of Benjamin; and hence this is mentioned in the list of their cities, and not in Judah’s list: and part of it stood in Judah’s share, even Mount Moriah, on which the temple was built; and Mount Sion, when it was taken from the Jebusites.

Unto this day; when this book was written, whether in Joshua’s life and old age, which continued many years after the taking of Jerusalem; or after his death, when this clause was added here and elsewhere in this book by some other man of God, which must needs be done before David’s time, when the Jebusites were quite expelled, and their fort taken.

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Bibliographical Information
Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Joshua 15". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://beta.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/mpc/joshua-15.html. 1685.