Bible Commentaries
Joshua 15

Barnes' Notes on the Whole BibleBarnes' Notes

Verse 1

The inheritance of the tribe of Judah is described first by its general boundaries on all four sides Joshua 15:1-12; then reference is again made, for the sake of completeness, to the special inheritance of Caleb which lay within these boundaries Joshua 15:13-20; and lastly a list of the towns is given Joshua 15:21-63. Consult the marginal references.

Verse 6

The stone of Bohan - This stone perhaps commemorated some deed of valor belonging to the wars of Joshua (compare 1 Samuel 7:12). The stone was erected on the slope of a hill (see the marginal reference), no doubt one of the range which hounds the Jordan valley on the west. But its exact site is wholly uncertain.

Verse 7

The going up to Adummim - Rather, “the ascent or pass of Adummim” (compare Joshua 15:3, margin), on the road from Jerusalem to Jericho. Its name signifies “red” and is explained by Jerome as given because of the frequent bloodshed there by robbers. This road is the scene of the parable of the Good Samaritan. Possibly the name may be due to some aboriginal tribe of “red men,” who held their ground in these fastnesses after the invaders had driven them from the face of the country elsewhere.

En-shemesh - i. e. “fountain of the sun;” no doubt that now called “the Fountain of the Apostles,” about two miles from Jerusalem, and the only well on the road to Jericho.

En-rogel - i. e. “fountain of the fullers” near the walls of Jerusalem. It was here that Jonathan and Ahimaaz concealed themselves after the rebellion of Absalom, in order to procure tidings for David, and here Adonijah gave a feast to his adherents preparatory to making an attempt on the crown (compare the marginal references). It is probably the modern “Fountain of the Virgin,” the only real spring near Jerusalem, from which the Pool of Siloam is supplied. Others identify it, less probably, with the “Well of Job,” situated where the valleys of Kedron and Hinnom unite.

Verse 8

The valley of the son of Hinnom - This valley begins on the west of Jerusalem at the road to Joppa, and turning southeastward round the foot of Mount Zion joins the deeper valley of Kedron on the south of the city. It was in this ravine, more particularly at Tophet in the more wild and precipitous part of it toward the east, that the later kings of Judah offered the sacrifices of children to Moloch (2Ch 28:3; 2 Chronicles 33:6, etc.). After these places had been defiled by Josiah, Tophet and the whole valley of Hinnom were held in abomination by the Jews, and the name of the latter was used to denote the place of eternal torment Matthew 5:22. The Greek term Gehenna (γεέννα geenna) is in fact formed from the Hebrew הנם גיא gay' hı̂nnôm, “valley of Hinnom.” Hinnom is regarded either as the name of some ancient hero, or as an appellative ( “groaning” or “moaning”), bestowed on the spot because of the cries of the victims here offered to Moloch, and of the drums with which those cries were drowned.

The valley of the giants - Rather “the plain of Rephaim.” This plain, named after an ancient and gigantic tribe of the land Genesis 14:5, lies southwestward of Jerusalem, and is terminated by a slight rocky ridge forming the brow of the valley of Hinnom. The valley is fertile Isaiah 17:5 and broad, and has been on more than one occasion the camping ground for armies operating against Jerusalem 2 Samuel 5:18, 2Sa 5:22; 2 Samuel 23:13.

Verse 9

Nephtoab is probably the modern “Ain Lifta”, two miles and a half northwestward of Jerusalem: and Mount Ephron is conjecturally connected with the city Ephrain 2 Chronicles 13:19 or Ophrah Joshua 18:23.

Verse 10

Mount Seir is not the well-known range of Edom. The name ( “shaggy mountain”) is applicable to any rugged or well-wooded hill. Here it probably denotes the range which runs southwestward from Kirjath-jearim to the Wady Surar. Mount Jearim, i. e. “woody mountain,” is through its other name, Chesalon, identified with the modern “Kesla”.

Beth-shemesh - i. e. “house of the sun,” called “Ir-shemesh” or “city of the sun” (Joshua 19:41; Compare 1 Kings 4:9), a place assigned to Dan, and one of the cities which fell by lot to the Levites Joshua 21:16. Beth-shemesh was the first place at which the ark rested after its return from the hands of the Philistines 1 Samuel 6:12. It was the residence of one of Solomon’s purveyors 1 Kings 4:9, and was the spot where at a later date Amaziah was defeated and slain by Jehoash (2 Kings 14:11 ff). It is no doubt the modern “Ain Shems”.

Timnah, called also Timnath, and Timnathah, belonged likewise to Dan, and is to be distinguished from other places of like name Genesis 38:12; Joshua 24:30. Timnah ( “portion”) was evidently, like Gilgal, Ramah, Kirjath, and several other towns, of frequent use in Canaanite topography.

Verse 11

Jabneel - The modern “Yebna”, about three miles from the coast and twelve miles south of Joppa. It is called Jabneh in 2 Chronicles 26:6, where Uzziah is recorded to have taken it from the Philistines and destroyed its fortifications. The town is repeatedly mentioned with its haven in the wars of the Maccabees (1 Macc. 4:15; 2 Macc. 12:8), and by Josephus under the name of Jamnia. It is described by Philo as a very populous town; and after the destruction of Jerusalem was, for a long time, the seat of the Sanhedrin, and was a famous school of Jewish learning. Its ruins, which are still considerable, stand on the brink of the “Wady Rubin”.

Verse 14

See the marginal references.

Verse 15

The name Debir belonged to two other places; namely,, that named in Joshua 15:7, between Jerusalem and Jericho, and the Gadite town mentioned in Joshua 13:26. The Debir here meant appears (and its site has been conjecturally placed at Dhaheriyeh (Conder)) to have been situated in the mountain district south of Hebron. It was one of the towns afterward assigned to the Levites. Its other name Joshua 15:49, “Kirjath-sannah”, i. e. perhaps, “city of palm branches,” or “city of law, or sacred learning,” no less than the two given in the text, would indicate that Debir was an ancient seat of Canaanite learning, for Debir probably is equivalent to “oracle,” and Kirjath-sepher means “city of books.” This plurality of names marks the importance of the town, as the inducement held out in Joshua 15:16, by Caleb, to secure its capture (compare 1 Samuel 17:25; 1 Samuel 18:17), points to its strength.

Verse 17

Othniel was probably Caleb’s younger brother; the expression “son of Kenaz” being only an equivalent for the “Kenezite” Joshua 14:6.

Verse 18

Afield - In Judges 1:14, “the field,” i. e. the well-known field asked by Achsah and given by Caleb as a “blessing,” i. e. as a token of goodwill, which when the Book of Judges was written had become historical. The “field” in question was doubtless in the neighborhood of Debir, and was especially valuable because of its copious springs. Achsah’s dismounting was a sign of reverence.

Verse 19

A south land - This term (“negeb”) which is often equivalent to a proper name Joshua 15:21, importing the well-defined district which formed the south of the promised land (Numbers 13:17 note), seems here used in its more general sense Psalms 126:4, for a dry or barren land. The rendering of this passage adopted by Septuagint, several versions, and Commentators, etc., “thou hast given me into a south land,” i. e. “hast given me in marriage into a south land” is forced; the construction of the verb “to give,” with two accusatives, is natural and common to many languages.

Springs of water - The Hebrew words מים גלה gûllâh mayı̂m are found only here and in the parallel passage, Judges 1:15. Hence, some take it as a proper name, “Gulloth-maim,” which like Beth-horon Joshua 16:3, Joshua 16:5, was applied to two distinct but adjoining places - distinguished as “the upper” and “the lower.” The tract in question was no doubt a mountain slope which had springs both on its higher and lower ground; possibly the modern “Kurmul”.

Verses 21-63

“The city of Salt” is not mentioned elsewhere, but was no doubt connected with “the valley of salt” 2 Samuel 8:13. The name itself, and the mention of En-gedi (Genesis 14:7 note) suggest that its site must be looked for near the Dead Sea.

Bibliographical Information
Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Joshua 15". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". 1870.