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Bible Commentaries

Keil & Delitzsch Commentary on the Old Testament

Joshua 19



Verses 1-9

The Inheritance of Simeon fell within the inheritance of the children of Judah, because the land allotted to them at Gilgal was larger than they required (Joshua 19:9). Thus the curse pronounced upon Simeon by Jacob of dispersion in Israel (Genesis 49:7) was fulfilled upon this tribe in a very peculiar manner, and in a different manner from that pronounced upon Levi. The towns allotted to the tribe of Simeon are divided into two groups, the first (Joshua 19:2-6) consisting of thirteen or fourteen towns, all situated in the Negeb (or south country); the second (Joshua 19:7) of four towns, two of which were in the Negeb and two in the shephelah . All these eighteen towns have already been enumerated among the towns of Judah (Joshua 15:26-32, Joshua 15:42), and are mentioned again in 1 Chronicles 4:28-32, in just the same order, and with only slight differences in the spelling of some of the names. If the classification of the names in two groups might seem to indicate that Simeon received a connected portion of land in Judah, this idea is overthrown at once by the circumstance that two of the four towns in the second group were in the south land and two in the lowland, and, judging from Joshua 15:32, Joshua 15:42, at a great distance from one another. At the same time, we cannot decide this point with any certainty, as the situation of several of the towns is still unknown.

Joshua 19:2-6

Beersheba: see at Joshua 15:28. Sheba is wanting in the Chronicles, but has no doubt been omitted through a copyist's error, as Shema answers to it in Joshua 15:26, where it stands before Moladah just as Sheba does here. - On the names in Joshua 19:3-6 , see the exposition of Joshua 15:28-32. - The sum total given in Joshua 19:6 , viz., thirteen towns, does not tally, as there are fourteen names. On these differences, see the remarks on Joshua 15:32.

Joshua 19:7

Ain and Rimmon were in the south land (Joshua 15:32), Ether and Ashan in the lowlands (Joshua 15:42).

Joshua 19:8-9

In addition to the towns mentioned, the Simeonites received all the villages round about the towns to Baalath-beer , the Ramah of the south . This place, up to which the territory of the Simeonites extended, though without its being actually assigned to the Simeonites, is simply called Baal in 1 Chronicles 4:33, and is probably the same as Bealoth in Joshua 15:24, though its situation has not yet been determined (see at Joshua 15:24). It cannot be identified, however, with Ramet el Khulil , an hour to the north of Hebron, which Roediger supposes to be the Ramah of the south, since the territory of Simeon, which was situated in the Negeb, and had only two towns in the shephelah , cannot possibly have extended into the mountains to a point on the north of Hebron. So far as the situation is concerned, V. de Velde would be more likely to be correct, when he identifies Rama of the south with Tell Lekiyeh on the north of Beersheba, if this conjecture only rested upon a better foundation than the untenable assumption, that Baalath-beer is the same as the Baalath of Dan in Joshua 19:44.

Verses 10-16

The Inheritance of Zebulun fell above the plain of Jezreel, between this plain and the mountains of Naphtali, so that it was bounded by Asher on the west and north-west (Joshua 19:27), by Naphtali on the north and north-east (Joshua 19:34), and by Issachar on the south-east and south, and touched neither the Mediterranean Sea nor the Jordan. It embraced a very fertile country, however, with the fine broad plain of el Buttauf , the μέγα πεδίον above Nazareth called Asochis in Joseph . vita , §41, 45 (see Rob. iii. p. 189, Bibl. Res. pp. 105ff.; Ritter , Erdk. xvi. pp. 742, 758-9).

Joshua 19:10

And the boundary (the territory) of their inheritance was (went) to Sarid .” This is no doubt the centre of the southern boundary, from which it is traced in a westerly direction in Joshua 19:11, and in an easterly direction in Joshua 19:12, in the same manner as in Joshua 16:6. Unfortunately, Sarid cannot be determined with certainty. Knobel 's opinion, is, that the name, which signifies “hole” or “incision,” after the analogy of שׂרד , perforavit , and שׂרט , incidit , does not refer to a town, but to some other locality, probably the southern opening of the deep and narrow wady which comes down from the basin of Nazareth, and is about an hour to the south-east of Nazareth, between two steep mountains ( Seetzen , ii. pp. 151-2; Rob. iii. p. 183). This locality appears suitable enough. But it is also possible that Sarid may be found in one of the two heaps of ruins on the south side of the Mons praecipitii upon V. de Velde 's map (so called from Luke 4:29).

Joshua 19:11

From this point “ the border went up westwards, namely to Mar'ala, and touched Dabbasheth, and still farther to the brook of Jokneam .” If Jokneam of Carmel has been preserved in the Tell Kaimûn (see at Joshua 12:22), the brook before Jokneam is probably the Wady el Milh , on the eastern side of which, near the point where it opens into the plain, stands Kaimûn , and through which the road runs from Acca to Ramleh, as this wady separates Carmel from the small round hills which run to the south-east (see Rob. Bibl. Res. p. 114, and V. de Velde , i. p. 249). Here the boundaries of Zebulun and Asher met (Joshua 19:27). Mar'ala and Dabbasheth are to be sought for between Kaimûn and Sarid. The Cod. Vat. has Μαγελδά instead of Μαριλά . Now, however, little importance we can attach to the readings of the lxx on account of the senseless way in which its renderings are made-as, for example, in this very passage, where ועלה עד־שׂריד׃ is rendered Ἐσεδεκγώλα , - the name Magelda might suggest a Hebrew reading Magedlah or Mageldah , and thus lead one to connect the place with the village of Mejeidil ( Rob. Bibl. Res. p. 114), or Mshedil ( Seetzen , ii. p. 143), on the west of Mons praecipitii , though neither of these travellers visited the place, or has given us any minute description of it. Its situation upon a mountain would suit Mar'ala , to which the boundary went up from Sarid. In the case of Dabbasheth , the name, which signifies “lump” (see Isaiah 30:6), points to a mountain. Upon this Knobel has founded the conjecture that Gibeah or Gibeath took the place of this uncommon word, and that this is connected with the Gabathon of the Onom. ( juxta campum Legionis ), the present Jebâta between Mejeidil and Kaimûn, upon an isolated height on the edge of the mountains which skirt the plain of Jezreel, where there are signs of a remote antiquity ( Rob. iii. p. 201, and Bibl. Res. p. 113; Ritter , Erdk. xvi. p. 700); although Tell Thureh (i.e., mountain) might be intended, a village upon a low and isolated hill a little farther south (see Rob. Bibl. Res. p. 116, and Ritter, ut sup. ).

Joshua 19:12

And from Sarid the boundary turned eastwards toward the sun-rising to the territory of Chisloth-tabor, and went out to Dabrath, and went up to Japhia .” Chisloth-tabor , i.e., according to Kimchi's explanation lumbi Taboris (French, les flancs ), was at any rate a place on the side of Tabor, possibly the same as Kesulloth in Joshua 19:18, as Masius and others suppose, and probably the same place as the Xaloth of Josephus (Bell. Jud. iii. 3, 1), which was situated in the “great plain,” and the vicus Chasalus of the Onom. ( juxta montem Thabor in campestribus ), i.e., the present village of Iksâl or Ksâl , upon a rocky height on the west of Thabor, with many tombs in the rocks ( Rob. iii. p. 182). Dabrath , a place in the tribe of Issachar that was given up to the Levites (Joshua 21:28; 1 Chronicles 6:57), called Dabaritta in Josephus (Bell. Jud. ii. 21, 3) and Dabira in the Onom. ( villula in monte Thabor ), the present Deburieh , an insignificant village which stands in a very picturesque manner upon a stratum of rock at the western foot of Tabor ( Rob. iii. p. 210; V. de Velde , R. ii. p. 324). Japhia certainly cannot be the present Hepha or Haifa ( Khaifa ) on the Mediterranean, and near to Carmel (Rel. Pal. p. 826, and Ges. Thes. s. v. ); but it is just as certain that it cannot be the present Jafa , a place half an hour to the south-west of Nazareth, as Robinson (Pal. iii. p. 200) and Knobel suppose, since the boundary was running eastwards, and cannot possibly have turned back again towards the west, and run from Deburieh beyond Sarid. If the positions assigned to Chisloth-tabor and Dabrath are correct, Japhia must be sought for on the east of Deburieh.

Joshua 19:13

From thence it went over towards the east to the sun-rising to Gath-hepher, to Eth-kazin, and went out to Rimmon, which is marked off to Neah .” Gath-hepher , the home of the prophet Jonah (2 Kings 14:25), was “ haud grandis viculus Geth ” in the time of Jerome (see prol. ad Jon. ). It was about two miles from Sephoris on the road to Tiberias, and the tomb of the prophet was shown there. It is the present village of Meshed , a place about an hour and a quarter to the north of Nazareth ( Rob. iii. p. 209; V. de Velde , Mem. p. 312). Eth-kazin is unknown. Rimmon , a Levitical town (Joshua 21:35; 1 Chronicles 6:62), has probably been preserved in the village of Rummaneh , about two hours and a half to the north of Nazareth ( Rob. iii. p. 195). Ham-methoar is not a proper name, but the participle of תּאר , with the article in the place of the relative pronoun, “bounded off,” or pricked off. Neah is unknown; it is possibly the same place as Neiel in the tribe of Asher (Joshua 19:27), as Knobel supposes.

Joshua 19:14

And the boundary turned round it (round Rimmon), on the north to Channathon, and the outgoings thereof were the valley of Jiphtah-el .” Judging from the words נסב and מצּפון , this verse apparently gives the north-west boundary, since the last definition in Joshua 19:13, “to Gath-hepher,” etc., points to the eastern boundary. Jiphtah-el answers no doubt to the present Jefât , two hours and a half to the north of Sefurieh, and is the Jotapata which was obstinately defended by Josephus (Bell. Jud. iii. 7, 9: see Rob. Bibl. Res. pp. 104ff.). Consequently the valley of Jiphtah-el , at which Zebulun touched Asher (Joshua 19:27), is probably “no other than the large Wady Abilîn, which takes its rise in the hills in the neighbourhood of Jefât” ( Rob. Bibl. Res. p. 107). And if this be correct, Channathon (lxx Ἐνναθώθ ) is probably Cana of Galilee, the home of Nathanael (John 2:1, John 2:11; John 4:46; John 21:2), the present Kana el Jelil , between Rummaneh and Yefât, on the northern edge of the plain of Buttauf, upon a Tell, from which you overlook the plain, fully two hours and a half in a straight line from Nazareth, and directly north of that place, where there are many ruins found (see Rob. iii. p. 204; Bibl. Res. p. 108).

Joshua 19:15-16

The towns of Zebulun were the following. Kattath , probably the same as Kitron , which is mentioned in Judges 1:30 in connection with Nahalol, but which is still unknown. Nehalal , or Nahalol (Judges 1:30), is supposed by V. de Velde (Mem. p. 335), who follows Rabbi Schwartz , to be the present village of Maalul , a place with ruins on the south-west of Nazareth (see Seetzen , ii. p. 143; Rob. iii. App.; and Ritter , Erdk. xvi. p. 700). Simron is supposed by Knobel to be the village of Semunieh (see at Joshua 11:1). But neither of these is very probable. Idalah is supposed by V. de Velde to be the village of Jeda or Jeida , on the west of Semunieh, where are a few relics of antiquity, though Robinson (Bibl. Res. p. 113) states the very opposite. Bethlehem (of Zebulun), which many regard as the home of the judge Ibzan (Judges 12:8), has been preserved under the old name in a miserable village on the north of Jeida and Semunieh (see Seetzen , ii. p. 139; Rob. Bibl. Res. p. 113). The number of the towns is given as twelve , though only five are mentioned by name. It is true that some commentators have found the missing names in the border places mentioned in Joshua 19:11-14, as, after deducting Chisloth-tabor and Dabrath, which belonged to Issachar, the names Sarid, Maralah, Dabbasheth, Japhia, Gittah-hepher, Eth-kazin, and Channathon give just seven towns. Nevertheless there is very little probability in this conjecture. For, in the first place, not only would it be a surprising thing to find the places mentioned as boundaries included among the towns of the territory belonging to the tribe, especially as some of the places so mentioned did not belong to Zebulun at all; but the copula vav , with which the enumeration of the towns commences, is equally surprising, since this is introduced in other cases with הארים והיוּ ( ויּהיוּ ), e.g., Joshua 18:21; Joshua 15:21. And, in the second place, it is not a probable thing in itself, that, with the exception of the five towns mentioned in Joshua 19:15, the other towns of Zebulun should all be situated upon the border. And lastly, the towns of Kartah and Dimnah , which Zebulun gave up to the Levites (Joshua 21:34), are actually wanting. Under these circumstances, it is a natural conclusion that there is a gap in the text here, just as in Joshua 15:59 and Joshua 21:36.

Verses 17-23

The Inheritance of Issachar. - In this instance only towns are given, and the boundaries are not delineated, with the exception of the eastern portion of the northern boundary and the boundary line; at the same time, they may easily be traced from the boundaries of the surrounding tribes. Issachar received for the most part the large and very fertile plain of Jezreel (see at Joshua 17:16, and Ritter , Erdk. xvi. pp. 689ff.), and was bounded on the south by Manasseh, on the west by Manasseh and Asher, on the north by Zebulun, and farther east by Naphtali also, and on the east by the Jordan.

Joshua 19:18

And their boundary was towards Jezreel ,” i.e., their territory extended beyond Jezreel. Jezreel, the summer residence of Ahab and his house (1 Kings 18:45-46, etc.), was situated upon a mountain, with an extensive and splendid prospect over the large plain that was called by its name. It was afterwards called Esdraela , a place described in the Onom. ( s. v. Jezreel ) as standing between Scythopolis and Legio; it is the present Zerמn, on the north-west of the mountains of Gilboa (see Seetzen , ii. pp. 155-6; Rob. iii. pp. 161ff.; Van de Velde , R. ii. pp. 320ff.). Chesulloth , possibly the same as Chisloth-tabor (see at Joshua 19:12). Sunem , the home of Abishag (1 Kings 1:3-15, etc.), also mentioned in 1 Samuel 28:4 and 2 Kings 4:8, was situated, according to the Onom. , five Roman miles (two hours) to the south of Tabor; it is the present Solam or Sulem , at the south-western foot of the Duhy or Little Hermon, an hour and a half to the north of Jezreel (see Rob. iii. pp. 170ff.; Van de Velde , R. ii. p. 323).

Joshua 19:19

Haphraim , according to the Onom. ( s. v. Aphraim ) villa Affaraea , six Roman miles to the north of Legio, is identified by Knobel with the village of Afuleh , on the west of Sulem, and more than two hours to the north-east of Legun ( Rob. iii. pp. 163, 181). Sion , according to the Onom. villa juxta montem Thabor , has not yet been discovered. Anaharath is supposed by Knobel to be Na'urah , on the eastern side of the Little Hermon (Bibl. Res. p. 337); but he regards the text as corrupt, and following the Cod. Al. of the lxx, which has Ῥενάθ and Ἀῤῥανέθ , maintains that the reading should be Archanath , to which Arâneh on the north of Jenin in the plain corresponds ( Seetzen , ii. p. 156; Rob. iii. p. 157). But the circumstance that the Cod. Al. has two names instead of one makes its reading very suspicious.

Joshua 19:20

Harabbit is supposed by Knobel to be Araboneh , on the north-east of Arâneh, at the southern foot of Gilboa ( Rob. iii. p. 157). Kishion , which was given up to the Levites (Joshua 21:28) and is erroneously written Kedesh in 1 Chronicles 6:57, is unknown. This also applies to Abez or Ebez , which is never mentioned again.

Joshua 19:21

Remeth , for which Jarmuth stands in the list of Levitical towns in Joshua 21:29, and Ramoth in 1 Chronicles 6:58, is also unknown.

(Note: Knobel imagines Remeth , whose name signifies height, to be the village of Wezar , on one of the western peaks of Gilboa ( Seetzen , ii. p. 156; Rob. iii. p. 166, and Bibl. Res. p. 339), as the name also signifies “a lofty, inaccessible mountain, or a castle situated upon a mountain.” This is certainly not impossible, but it is improbable. For this Mahometan village evidently derived its name from the fact that it has the appearance of a fortification when seen from a distance (see Ritter , Erdk. xv. p. 422). The name has nothing in common therefore with the Hebrew Remeth , and the travellers quoted by him say nothing at all about the ruins which he mentions in connection with Wezar (Wusar).)

En-gannim , which was also allotted to the Levites (Joshua 21:29; also 1 Chronicles 6:73, where it is called Anem ), has been associated by Robinson (iii. p. 155) with the Γιναία of Josephus , the present Jenin . The name En-gannim signifies fountain of gardens, and Jenin stands at the southern side of the plain of Jezreel in the midst of gardens and orchards, which are watered by a copious spring (see Seetzen , ii. pp. 156ff.); “unless perhaps the place referred to is the heap of ruins called Um el Ghanim , on the south-east of Tabor, mentioned by Berggren , ii. p. 240, and Van de Velde , Mem. p. 142” ( Knobel ). En-chadda and Beth-pazzez are only mentioned here, and have not yet been discovered. According to Knobel , the former of the two may possibly be either the place by Gilboa called Judeideh , with a fountain named Ain Judeideh ( Rob. Bibl. Res. p. 337), or else Beit-kad or Kadd near Gilboa, mentioned by Seetzen (ii. p. 159) and Robinson (iii. p. 157).

Joshua 19:22-23

And the boundary touched Tabor, Sahazim, and Beth-shemesh .” Tabor is not the mountain of that name, but a town upon the mountain, which was given to the Levites, though not by Issachar but by Zebulun (1 Chronicles 6:62), and was fortified afresh in the Jewish wars ( Josephus , Bell. Jud. iv. 1, 8). In this passage, however, it appears to be reckoned as belonging to Issachar, since otherwise there are not sixteen cities named. At the same time, as there are several discrepancies between the numbers given and the names actually mentioned, it is quite possible that in this instance also the number sixteen is incorrect. In any case, Tabor was upon the border of Zebulun (Joshua 19:12), so that it might have been allotted to this tribe. There are still the remains of old walls and ruins or arches, houses, and other buildings to be seen upon Mount Tabor ; and round the summit there are the foundations of a thick wall built of large and to a great extent fluted stones (see Rob. iii. pp. 453ff.; Seetzen , ii. p. 148; Buckingham , Syr. i. pp. 83ff.). The places which follow are to be sought for on the east of Tabor towards the Jordan, as the boundary terminated at the Jordan. Sachazim (Shahazimah) Knobel connects with el Hazetheh , as the name, which signifies heights, points to a town situated upon hills; and el Hezetheh stands upon the range of hills, bounding the low-lying land of Ard el Hamma, which belonged to Naphtali. The reason is a weak one, though the situation would suit. There is more probability in the conjecture that Beth-shemesh , which remained in the hands of the Canaanites (Judges 1:33), has been preserved in the ruined village of Bessum ( Rob. iii. p. 237), and that this new name is only a corruption of the old one, like Beth-shean and Beisan . It is probable that the eastern portion of the northern boundary of Issachar, towards Naphtali, ran in a north-easterly direction from Tabor through the plain to Kefr Sabt, and thence to the Jordan along the Wady Bessum. It is not stated how far the territory of Issachar ran down the valley of the Jordan (see the remarks on Joshua 17:11).

Verses 24-31

The Inheritance of Asher. - Asher received its territory along the Mediterranean Sea from Carmel to the northern boundary of Canaan itself. The description commences with the central portion, viz., the neighbourhood of Acco (Joshua 19:25), going first of all towards the south (Joshua 19:26, Joshua 19:27), and then to the north (Joshua 19:28, Joshua 19:30).

Joshua 19:25

The territory of the Asherites was as follows. Helkath , which was given up to the Levites (Joshua 21:31, and 1 Chronicles 6:75, where Hukok is an old copyist's error), is the present Jelka , three hours to the east of Acco (Akka: Scholz , Reise, p. 257), or Jerka , a Druse village situated upon an eminence, and judging from the remains, an ancient place ( Van de Velde , R. i. p. 214; Rob. iii. App.). Hali , according to Knobel possibly Julis , between Jerka and Akka, in which case the present name arose from the form Halit , and t was changed into s . Beten , according to the Onom. ( s. v. Βατναι % : Bathne ) as vicus Bethbeten , eight Roman miles to the east of Ptolemais, has not yet been found. Achshaph is also unknown (see at Joshua 11:1). The Onom. ( s. v. Achsaph ) says nothing more about its situation than that it was in tribu Aser , whilst the statement made s. v. Acsaph ( Ἀκσάφ ), that it was villula Chasalus ( κώμη Ἐξάδους ), eight Roman miles from Diocaesarea ad radicem montis Thabor , leads into the territory of Zebulun.

Joshua 19:26

Alammalech has been preserved, so far as the name is concerned, in the Wady Malek or Malik ( Rob. Bibl. Res. p. 110), which runs into the Kishon, since in all probability the wady was named after a place either near it or within it. Amad is supposed by Knobel to be the present Haifa , about three hours to the south of Acre, on the sea, and this he identifies with the sycamore city mentioned by Strabo (xvi. 758), Ptolemy (v. 15, 5), and Pliny (h. n. v. 17), which was called Epha in the time of the Fathers (see Ritter , Erdk. xvi. pp. 722ff.). In support of this he adduces the fact that the Hebrew name resembles the Arabic noun for sycamore-an argument the weakness of which does not need to be pointed out. Misheal was assigned to the Levites (Joshua 21:30, and 1 Chronicles 6:74, where it is called Mashal ). According to the Onom. ( s. v. Masan ) it was on the sea-coast near to Carmel, which is in harmony with the next clause, “ and reacheth to Carmel westwards, and to Shihor-libnath .” Carmel (i.e., fruit-field), which has acquired celebrity from the history of Elijah (1 Kings 18:17.), is a wooded mountain ridge which stretches in a north-westerly direction on the southern side of the Kishon, and projects as a promontory into the sea. Its name, “fruit-field,” is well chosen; for whilst the lower part is covered with laurels and olive trees, the upper abounds in figs and oaks, and the whole mountain is full of the most beautiful flowers. There are also many caves about it (vid., v. Raumer , Pal. pp. 43ff.; and Ritter , Erdk. xvi. pp. 705-6). The Shihor-libnath is not the Belus , or glass-river, in the neighbourhood of Acre, but is to be sought for on the south of Carmel, where Asher was bounded by Manasseh (Joshua 17:10), i.e., to the south of Dor, which the Manassites received in the territory of Asher (Joshua 17:11); it is therefore in all probability the Nahr Zerka , possibly the crocodile river of Pliny ( Reland , Pal. p. 730), which is three hours to the south of Dor, and whose name ( blue ) might answer both to shihor (black) and libnath (white).

Joshua 19:27

From this point the boundary “ turned towards the east ,” probably following the river Libnath for a short distance upwards, “ to Beth-dagon ,” which has not yet been discovered, and must not be identified with Beit Dejan between Yafa and Ludd (Diospolis), “ and touched Zebulun and the valley of Jiphtah-el on the north of Beth-emek, and Nehiël, and went out on the left of Cabul ,” i.e., on the northern side of it. The north-west boundary went from Zebulun into the valley of Jiphtah-el , i.e., the upper part of the Wady Abilîn (Joshua 19:14). Here therefore the eastern boundary of Asher, which ran northwards from Wady Zerka past the western side of Issachar and Zebulun, touched the north-west corner of Zebulun. The two places, Beth-emek and Nehiël (the latter possibly the same as Neah in Joshua 19:13), which were situated at the south of the valley of Jiphtah-el, have not been discovered; they may, however, have been upon the border of Zebulun and yet have belonged to Ashwer. Cabul , the κώμη Χαβωλώ of Josephus (Vit. §43), in the district of Ptolemais, has been preserved in the village of Kabul , four hours to the south-east of Acre ( Rob. Bibl. Res. p. 88, and Van de Velde , R. i. p. 218).

Joshua 19:28-30

In Joshua 19:28-30 the towns and boundaries in the northern part of the territory of Asher, on the Phoenician frontier, are given, and the Phoenician cities Sidon, Tyre, and Achzib are mentioned as marking the boundary. First of all we have four towns in Joshua 19:28, reaching as far as Sidon, no doubt in the northern district of Asher. Ebron has not yet been traced. As Abdon occurs among the towns which Asher gave up to the Levites (Joshua 21:30; 1 Chronicles 6:59), and in this verse also twenty MSS have the reading Abdon, many writers, like Reland (Pal. p. 514), regard Ebron as a copyist's error for Abdon . This is possible enough, but it is by no means certain. As the towns of Asher are not all given in this list, since Acco, Achlab, and Helba (Judges 1:31) are wanting, Abdon may also have been omitted. But we cannot attach any importance to the reading of the twenty MSS, as it may easily have arisen from Joshua 21:30; and in addition to the Masoretic text, it has against it the authority of all the ancient versions, in which the reading Ebron is adopted. But even Abdon cannot be traced with certainty. On the supposition that Abdon is to be read for Ebron , Knobel connects it with the present Abbadiyeh , on the east of Beirut ( Rob. iii. App.; Ritter , Erdk. xvii. pp. 477 and 710), or with Abidat , on the east (not the north) of Jobail (Byblus), mentioned by Burckhardt (Syr. p. 296) and Robinson (iii. App.); though he cannot adduce any other argument in support of the identity of Abdon with these two places, which are only known by name at present, except the resemblance in their names. On the supposition, however, that Abdon is not the same as Ebron, Van de Velde's conjecture is a much more natural one; namely, that it is to be found in the ruins of Abdeh , on the Wady Kurn, to the north of Acca. Rehob cannot be traced. The name occurs again in Joshua 19:30, from which it is evident that there were two towns of this name in the territory of Asher (see at Joshua 19:30). Schultz and Van de Velde connect it with the village of Hamûl by the wady of that name, between Ras el Abyad and Ras en Nakura; but this is too far south to be included in the district which reached to great Sidon. Knobel 's suggestion would be a more probable one, namely, that it is connected with the village of Hammana , on the east of Beirut, in the district of el Metn , on the heights of Lebanon, where there is now a Maronite monastery (vid., Seetzen , i. p. 260; Rob. iii. App.; and Ritter , xvii. pp. 676 and 710), if it could only be shown that the territory of Asher reached as far to the east as this. Kanah cannot be the village of Kâna , not far from Tyre ( Rob. iii. p. 384), but must have been farther north, and near to Sidon, though it has not yet been discovered. For the supposition that it is connected with the existing place called Ain Kanieh ( Rob. iii. App.; Ritter , xvii. pp. 94 and 703), on the north of Jezzin, is overthrown by the fact that that place is too far to the east to be thought of in this connection; and neither Robinson nor Ritter makes any allusion to “Ain Kana , in the neighbourhood of Jurjera, six hours to the south-east of Sidon,” which Knobel mentions without quoting his authority, so that the existence of such a place is very questionable. On Sidon , now Saida , see at Joshua 11:8.

Joshua 19:29-31

And the boundary turned (probably from the territory of Sidon) to Ramah, to the fortified town of Zor .” Robinson supposes that Rama is to be found in the village of Rameh , on the south-east of Tyre, where several ancient sarcophagi are to be seen (Bibl. Res. p. 63). “The fortified town of Zor ,” i.e., Tyre, is not the insular Tyre, but the town of Tyre, which was on the mainland, the present Sur , which is situated by the sea-coast, in a beautiful and fertile plain (see Ritter , Erdk. xvii. p. 320, and Movers , Phönizier, ii. 1, pp. 118ff.). “And the boundary turned to Hosah, and the outgoings thereof were at the sea, by the side of the district of Achzib.” Hosah is unknown, as the situation of Kausah , near to the Rameh already mentioned ( Rob. Bibl. Res. p. 61), does not suit in this connection. מחבל , lit . from the district, i.e., by the side of it. Achzib , where the Asherites dwelt with the Canaanites (Judges 1:31-32), is the Ekdippa of the Greeks and Romans, according to the Onom. ( s. v. Achziph ) nine Roman miles, or according to the Itiner. Hieros. p. 584, twelve miles to the north of Acco by the sea, the present Zib , a very large village, three good hours to the north of Acre, - a place on the sea-coast, with considerable ruins of antiquity (see Ges. Thes. p. 674; Seetzen , ii. p. 109; Ritter , xvi. pp. 811-12). - In Joshua 19:30 three separate towns are mentioned, which were probably situated in the eastern part of the northern district of Asher, whereas the border towns mentioned in Joshua 19:28 and Joshua 19:29 describe this district in its western half. Ummah (lxx Ἀμμά ) may perhaps have been preserved in Kefr Ammeih , upon the Lebanon, to the south of Hammana, in the district of Jurd ( Rob. iii. App.; Ritter , xvii. p. 710). Aphek is the present Afka (see at Joshua 13:4). Rehob cannot be traced with certainty. If it is Hub , as Knobel supposes, and the name Hub , which is borne by a Maronite monastery upon Lebanon, in the diocese of el-Jebail (to the north-east of Jebail), is a corruption of Rehob , this would be the northernmost town of Asher (see Seetzen , i. pp. 187ff., and Ritter , xvii. p. 791). The number “twenty-two towns and their villages” does not tally, as there are twenty-three towns mentioned in Joshua 19:26-30, if we include Sidon, Tyre, and Achzib, according to Judges 1:31-32. The only way in which the numbers can be made to agree is to reckon Nehiel (Joshua 19:27) as identical with Neah (Joshua 19:13). But this point cannot be determined with certainty, as the Asherites received other towns, such as Acco and Aclaph, which are wanting in this list, and may possibly have simply fallen out.

Verses 32-39

The Inheritance of Naphtali. - This fell between Asher and the upper Jordan. It reached northwards to the northern boundary of Canaan, and touched Zebulun and Issachar on the south. In Joshua 19:33 and Joshua 19:34 the boundary lines are given: viz., in Joshua 19:33 the western boundary towards Asher, with the northern and eastern boundaries: in Joshua 19:34 the southern boundary; but with the uncertainty which exists as to several of the places named, it cannot be traced with certainty.

Joshua 19:33

Its boundary was (its territory reached) from Heleph, from the oak-forest at Zaanannim, and Adami Nekeb and Jabneel to Lakkum; and its outgoings were the Jordan .” Heleph is unknown, though in all probability it was to the south of Zaanannim, and not very far distant. According to Judges 4:11, the oak-forest ( allon : see the remarks on Genesis 12:6) at Zaanannim was near Kedesh , on the north-west of Lake Huleh. There are still many oaks in that neighbourhood ( Rob. Bibl. Res. p. 386); and on the south of Bint Jebail Robinson crossed a low mountain-range which was covered with small oak trees (Pal. iii. p. 372). Adami hannekeb , i.e., Adami of the pass ( Nekeb , judging from the analogy of the Arabic, signifying foramen, via inter montes ), is supposed by Knobel to be Deir-el-ahmar , i.e., red cloister, a place which is still inhabited, three hours to the north-west of Baalbek, on the pass from the cedars to Baalbek ( Seetzen , i. pp. 181, 185; Burckhardt , Syr. p. 60; and Ritter , Erdk. xvii. p. 150), so called from the reddish colour of the soil in the neighbourhood, which would explain the name Adami . Knobel also connects Jabneel with the lake Jemun , Jemuni , or Jammune , some hours to the north-west of Baalbek, on the eastern side of the western Lebanon range ( Rob. Bibl. Res. p. 548; Ritter , xvii. pp. 304ff.), where there are still considerable ruins of a very early date to be found, especially the ruins of an ancient temple and a celebrated place of pilgrimage, with which the name “god's building” agrees. And lastly, he associates Lakkum with the mountains of Lokham , as the northern part of Lebanon on the Syrian mountains, from the latitude of Laodicea to that of Antioch on the western side of the Orontes, is called by the Arabian geographers Isztachri , Abulfeda , and others. So far as the names are concerned, these combinations seem appropriate enough, but they are hardly tenable. The resemblance between the names Lakkum and Lokham is only in appearance, as the Hebrew name is written with ק and the Arabic with כ . Moreover, the mountains of Lokham are much too far north for the name to be adduced as an explanation of Lakkum. The interpretation of Adami Nekeb and Jabneel is also irreconcilable with the circumstance that the lake Jamun was two hours to the west of the red convent, so that the boundary, which starts from the west, and is drawn first of all towards the north, and then to the north-east and east, must have run last of all from the red convent, and not from the Jamun lake to the Jordan. As Jabneel is mentioned after Adami Nekeb , it must be sought for to the east of Adami Nekeb, whereas the Jamun lake lies in the very opposite direction, namely, directly to the west of the red convent. The three places mentioned, therefore, cannot be precisely determined at present. The Jordan, where the boundary of Asher terminated, was no doubt the upper Jordan, or rather the Nahr Hasbany , one of the sources of the Jordan, which formed, together with the Huleh lake and the Jordan itself, between Lake Huleh and the Sea of Tiberias, and down to the point where it issues from the latter, the eastern boundary of Asher.

Joshua 19:34

From the Jordan below the Lake of Tiberias, or speaking more exactly, from the point at which the Wady Bessum enters the Jordan, “ the boundary (of Asher) turned westwards to Asnoth-tabor, and went thence out to Hukkok .” This boundary, i.e., the southern boundary of Asher, probably followed the course of the Wady Bessum from the Jordan, which wady was the boundary of Issachar on the north-east, and then ran most likely from Kefr Sabt (see at Joshua 19:22) to Asnoth-tabor , i.e., according to the Onom. ( s. v. Azanoth ), a vicus ad regionem Diocaesareae pertinens in campestribus , probably on the south-east of Diocaesarea , i.e., Sepphoris , not far from Tabor, to which the boundary of Issachar extended (Joshua 19:22). Hukkok has not yet been traced. Robinson (Bibl. Res. p. 82) and Van de Velde (Mem. p. 322) are inclined to follow Rabbi Parchi of the fourteenth century, and identify this place with the village of Yakûk , on the north-west of the Lake of Gennesareth; but this village is too far to the north-east to have formed the terminal point of the southern boundary of Naphtali, as it ran westwards from the Jordan. After this Naphtali touched “Zebulun on the south, Asher on the west, and Judah by the Jordan toward the sun-rising or east.” “The Jordan” is in apposition to “Judah,” in the sense of “Judah of the Jordan,” like “Jordan of Jericho” in Numbers 22:1; Numbers 26:3, etc. The Masoretic pointing, which separates these two words, was founded upon some false notion respecting this definition of the boundary, and caused the commentators great perplexity, until C. v. Raumer succeeded in removing the difficulty, by showing that the district of the sixty towns of Jair, which was upon the eastern side of the Jordan, is called Judah here, or reckoned as belonging to Judah, because Jair, the possessor of these towns, was a descendant of Judah on the father's side through Hezron (1 Chronicles 2:5, 1 Chronicles 2:21-22); whereas in Joshua 13:30, and Numbers 32:41, he is reckoned contra morem , i.e., against the rule laid down in Numbers 36:7, as a descendant of Manasseh, on account of his descent from Machir the Manassite, on his mother's side.

(Note: See C. v. Raumer 's article on “Judaea on the east of Jordan,” in Tholuck's litt. Anz. 1834, Nos. 1 and 2, and his Palästina, pp. 233ff. ed. 4; and for the arbitrary attempts that had been made to explain the passage by alterations of the text and in other ways, see Rosenmüller 's Bibl. Alterthk . ii. 1, pp. 301-2; and Keil's Comm. on Joshua, pp. 438-9.)

Joshua 19:35

The fortified towns of Naphtali were the following. Ziddim: unknown, though Knobel suggests that “it may possibly be preserved in Chirbet es Saudeh , to the west of the southern extremity of the Lake of Tiberias ( Rob. iii. App.);” but this place is to the west of the Wady Bessum, i.e., in the territory of Issachar. Zer is also unknown. As the lxx and Syriac give the name as Zor , Knobel connects it with Kerak , which signifies fortress as well as Zor (= מצור ), a heap of ruins at the southern end of the lake ( Rob. iii. p. 263), the place which Josephus calls Taricheae (see Reland , p. 1026), - a very doubtful combination! Hammath (i.e., thermae ), a Levitical town called Hammaoth-dor in Joshua 21:32, and Hammon in 1 Chronicles 6:61, was situated, according to statements in the Talmud, somewhere near the later city of Tiberias, on the western shore of the Lake of Gennesareth, and was no doubt identical with the κώμεε Αμμαούς in the neighbourhood of Tiberias, a place with warm baths ( Jos. Ant. xviii. 2, 3; Bell. Judg. iv. 1, 3). There are warm springs still to be found half an hour to the south of Tabaria, which are used as baths ( Burckhardt , Syr. pp. 573-4; Rob. iii. pp. 258ff.). Rakkath (according to the Talm . and Rabb. ripa littus ) was situated, according to rabbinical accounts, in the immediate neighbourhood of Hammath, and was the same place as Tiberias ; but the account given by Josephus (Ant. xviii. 2, 3; cf. Bell. Judg. ii. 9, 1) respecting the founding of Tiberias by Herod the tetrarch is at variance with this; so that the rabbinical statements appear to have no other foundation than the etymology of the name Rakkath . Chinnereth is given in the Targums as גניסר , גינוסר , גּנּוסר , i.e., Γεννησάρ . According to Josephus (Bell. Jud. iii. 10, 8), this name was given to a strip of land on the shore of the Sea of Galilee, which was distinguished for its natural beauty, its climate, and its fertility, namely the long plain, about twenty minutes broad and an hour long, which stretches along the western shore of this lake, from el-Mejdel on the south to Khan Minyeh on the north ( Burckhardt , Syr. pp. 558-9; Rob. iii. pp. 279, 290). It must have been in this plain that the town of Chinnereth stood, from which the plain and lake together derived the name of Chinnereth (Deuteronomy 3:17) or Chinneroth (Joshua 11:2), and the lake alone the name of “Sea of Chinnereth,” or “Sea of Chinneroth” (Joshua 12:3; Joshua 13:27; Numbers 34:11).

Joshua 19:36

Adamah is unknown. Knobel is of opinion, that as Adamah signifies red, the place referred to may possibly be Ras el Ahmar , i.e., red-head , on the north of Safed ( Rob. iii. p. 370; Bibl. Res. p. 69). Ramah is the present Rameh ( Ramea ), a large well-built village, inhabited by Christians and Druses, surrounded by extensive olive plantations, and provided with an excellent well. It stands upon the slope of a mountain, in a beautiful plain on the south-west of Safed, but without any relics of antiquity (see Seetzen , ii. p. 129; Rob. Bibl. Res. pp. 78-9). Hazor has not yet been traced with certainty (see at Joshua 11:1).

Joshua 19:37

Kedesh (see at Joshua 12:2). Edrei , a different place from the town of the same name in Bashan (Joshua 1:2, Joshua 1:4), is still unknown. En-hazor is probably to be sought for in Bell Hazur and Ain Hazur , which is not very far distant, on the south-west of Rameh, though the ruins upon Tell Hazur are merely the ruins of an ordinary village, with one single cistern that has fallen to pieces ( Rob. Bibl. Res. pp. 80, 81).

Joshua 19:38-39

Jireon ( Iron ) is probably the present village of Jarûn , an hour to the south-east of Bint-Jebeil, with the ruins of an ancient Christian church ( Seetzen , ii. pp. 123-4; Van de Velde , R. i. p. 133). Migdal-el , so far as the name is concerned, might be Magdala (Matthew 15:39), on the western shore of the Lake of Gennesareth, between Capernaum and Tiberias ( Rob. iii. pp. 279ff.); the only difficulty is, that the towns upon this lake have already been mentioned in Joshua 19:35. Knobel connects Migdal-el with Chorem , so as to form one name, and finds Migdal el Chorem in the present Mejdel Kerum , on the west of Rameh ( Seetzen , ii. p. 130; Van de Velde , i. p. 215), a common Mahometan village. But there is nothing to favour this combination, except the similarity in sound between the two names; whereas it has against it not only the situation of the village, which was so far to the west, being not more than three hours from Acca, that the territory of Naphtali can hardly have reached so far, but also the very small resemblance between Chorem and Kerum , not to mention the fact that the accents separate Chorem from Migdal-el , whilst the omission of the copula ( vav ) before Chorem cannot have any weight, as the copula is also wanting before Zer and Rakkath . Chorem and Beth-anath have not yet been discovered. From the latter place Naphtali was unable to expel the Canaanites (Judges 1:33). Beth-shemesh , a different place from the town of the same name in Issachar (Joshua 19:22), is also still unknown. The total number of towns is given as nineteen, whereas only sixteen are mentioned by name. It is hardly correct to seek for the missing places among the border towns mentioned in Joshua 19:33 and Joshua 19:34, as the enumeration of the towns themselves is introduced by מבצר וערי in Joshua 19:35, and in this way the list of towns is separated from the description of the boundaries. To this we may add, that the town of Karthan or Kirjathaim, which Naphtali gave up to the Levites (Joshua 21:32; 1 Chronicles 6:61), does not occur either among the border towns or in the list of towns, from which we may see that the list of towns is an imperfect one.

Verses 40-48

The Inheritance of the Tribe of Dan. - This fell to the west of Benjamin, between Judah and Ephraim, and was formed by Judah giving up some of its northern towns, and Ephraim some of its southern towns, to the Danites, so as to furnish them with a territory proportionate to their number. It was situated for the most part in the lowland ( shephelah ), including, however, the hill country between the Mediterranean and the mountains, and extended over a portion of the plain of Sharon, so that it belonged to one of the most fruitful portions of Palestine. The boundaries are not given, because they could be traced from those of the adjoining territories.

Joshua 19:41-42

From Judah the families of Dan received Zorea and Eshtaol (see at Joshua 15:33), and Ir-shemesh , also called Beth-shemesh ( 1 Kings 4:9), on the border of Judah (see Joshua 15:10); but of these the Danites did not take possession, as they were given up by Judah to the Levites ( Joshua 21:16 : see at Joshua 15:10). Saalabbin , or Saalbim , which remained in the hands of the Canaanites (Judges 1:35), is frequently mentioned in the history of David and Solomon (2 Samuel 23:32; 1 Chronicles 11:33; 1 Kings 4:9). It may possibly be the present Selbît ( Rob. iii. App.; Bibl. Res. p. 144), some distance to the north of the three places mentioned ( Knobel ). Ajalon , which was also not taken from the Canaanites (Judges 1:35), was assigned to the Levites (Joshua 21:24; 1 Chronicles 6:54). It is mentioned in the wars with the Philistines (1 Samuel 14:31; 1 Chronicles 8:13), was fortified by Rehoboam ( 2 Chronicles 11:10), and was taken by the Philistines from King Ahaz ( 2 Chronicles 28:18). It has been preserved in the village of Yalo (see at Joshua 10:12). Jethlah is only mentioned here, and has not yet been discovered. So far as the name is concerned, it may possibly be preserved in the Wady Atallah , on the west of Yalo (Bibl. Res. pp. 143-4).

Joshua 19:43

Elon , which is mentioned again in 1 Kings 4:9, with the addition of Beth-hanan , has not yet been traced; according to Knobel , it “may possibly be Ellin , near Timnath and Beth-shemesh, mentioned by Robinson in his Pal. vol. iii. App.” Thimna ( Thimnathah ) and Ekron , on the boundary of Judah (see at Joshua 15:10-11).

Joshua 19:44

Eltekeh and Gibbethon , which were allotted to the Levites (Joshua 21:23), have not yet been discovered. Under the earliest kings of Israel, Gibbethon was in the hands of the Philistines (1 Kings 15:27; 1 Kings 16:15, 1 Kings 16:17). Baalath was fortified by Solomon (1 Kings 9:18). According to Josephus (Ant. 8:6, 1), it was “Baleth in the neighbourhood of Geser;” probably the same place as Baalah , on the border of Judah (Joshua 15:11).

Joshua 19:45

Jehud has probably been preserved in the village of Jehudieh ( Hudieh ), two hours to the north of Ludd (Diospolis), in a splendidly cultivated plain ( Berggren , R. iii. p. 162; Rob. iii. p. 45, and App.). Bene-berak , the present Ibn Abrak , an hour from Jehud ( Scholz , R. p. 256). Gath-rimmon , which was given to the Levites (Joshua 21:24; 1 Chronicles 6:54), is described in the Onom. ( s. v. ) as villa praegrandis in duodecimo milliario Diospoleos pergentibus Eleutheropolin , - a statement which points to the neighbourhood of Thimnah, though it has not yet been discovered.

Joshua 19:46

Me-jarkon , i.e., aquae flavedinis , and Rakkon , are unknown; but from the clause which follows, “with the territory before Japho,” it must have been in the neighbourhood of Joppa (Jaffa). “The territory before Japho” includes the places in the environs of Joppa. Consequently Joppa itself does not appear to have belonged to the territory of Dan, although, according to Judges 5:17, the Danites must have had possession of this town. Japho , the well-known port of Palestine (2 Chronicles 2:15; Ezra 3:7; Jonah 1:3), which the Greeks called Ἰόππη (Joppa), the present Jaffa (see v. Raumer , Pal. pp. 204-5, and Ritter , Erdk. xvi. pp. 574ff.).

Joshua 19:47-48

Besides this inheritance, the Danites of Zorea and Eshtaol went, after Joshua's death, and conquered the town of Leshem or Laish , on the northern boundary of Canaan, and gave it the name of Dan , as the territory which was allotted to them under Joshua was too small for them, on account of their inability to drive out the Amorites from several of their towns (Judges 1:34-35; Judges 18:2). For further particulars concerning this conquest, see Judg 18. Leshem or Laish (Judges 18:7, Judges 18:27), i.e., Dan , which the Onom. describes as viculus quarto a Paneade milliario euntibus Tyrum , was the present Tell el Kadi , or el Leddan , the central source of the Jordan, to the west of Banjas, a place with ancient ruins (see Rob. iii. p. 351; Bibl. Res. pp. 390, 393). It was there that Jeroboam set up the golden calves (1 Kings 12:29-30, etc.); and it is frequently mentioned as the northernmost city of the Israelites, in contrast with Beersheba, which was in the extreme south of the land (Judges 20:1; 1 Samuel 3:20; 2 Samuel 3:10 : see also Ritter , Erdk. xvi. pp. 207ff.).

Verse 49-50

Conclusion of the Distribution of the Land . - Joshua 19:49, Joshua 19:50. When the land was distributed among the tribes according to its territories, the Israelites gave Joshua an inheritance in the midst of them, according to the command of Jehovah, namely the town of Timnath-serah , upon the mountains of Ephraim, for which he asked, and which he finished building; and there he dwelt until the time of his death (Joshua 24:30; Judges 2:9). “According to the word of the Lord” (lit. “at the mouth of Jehovah”) does not refer to a divine oracle communicated through the high priest, but to a promise which Joshua had probably received from God at the same time as Caleb, viz., in Kadesh, but which, like the promise given to Caleb, is not mentioned in the Pentateuch (see at Joshua 15:13; Joshua 14:9). Timnath-serah , called Timnath-heres in Judges 2:9, must not be confounded with Timnah in the tribe of Dan (Joshua 19:43; Joshua 15:10), as is the case in the Onom. It has been preserved in the present ruins and foundation walls of a place called Tibneh , which was once a large town, about seven hours to the north of Jerusalem, and two hours to the west of Jiljilia, standing upon two mountains, with many caverns that have been used as graves (see Eli Smith in Ritter , Erdk. xvi. pp. 562ff., and Rob. Bibl. Res. p. 141).

Verse 51

Closing formula to the account of the distribution of the land, which refers primarily to Joshua 18:1., as the expression “ in Shiloh ” shows, but which also includes Josh 14-17.


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The Keil & Delitzsch Commentary on the Old Testament is a derivative of a public domain electronic edition.

Bibliography Information
Keil, Carl Friedrich & Delitzsch, Franz. "Commentary on Joshua 19:4". 1854-1889.

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