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Bible Commentaries

Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible

Joshua 19

Verses 1-51

Territories of the Western Tribes

Chs. 14-19 inclusive describe the allotment of territories to the Western Tribes. There are two assignments. The first, embracing Judah and Joseph, is described as taking place at Gilgal (Joshua 14:6) under the auspices of Eleazar and Joshua and the ’heads of the fathers’ (Joshua 14:1). Judah (15), Ephraim (16), and Manasseh (17) each occupy a single chapter The second assignment, to the seven remaining tribes, takes place apparently at a later date (Joshua 18:3), after an elaborate survey (Joshua 18:6, Joshua 18:8-9) of the territory available. Its scene is Shiloh, and Joshua alone is named as presiding. It is noticeable (see further note on the assignment of the territory) that the details of the seven territories are much more meagre than those of the others, except in the case of Benjamin. Joshua 14 itself is introductory, partly (Joshua 14:1-5) to the whole of the 5 chapters following; partly (Joshua 14:6-15) to the first assignment (Joshua 15-17), recording Caleb’s request for Hebron and its favourable reception. This latter section (Joshua 14:6-15) is of special interest in that it affords incidentally one of the few definite chronological data available for this period (see on Joshua 14:10).

Verses 1-51

The Assignment of the Territory

It has been noticed that there are many incidental features in this narrative which point to a contemporary document. Thus in the lot of Judah we have a full description, both of the frontier-lines (Joshua 15:1-12), and also of the chief cities contained within them (Joshua 15:21-62): and the same is true of Benjamin (Joshua 18:11-28). But these are the tribes which seem to have conquered their territory soonest and most completely. Ephraim and Manasseh, on the contrary, have only their boundaries mentioned without any list of cities (16). As a matter of fact, the children of Joseph seem to have had more difficulties with the Canaanites (Joshua 17:12, Joshua 17:16, cp. Judges 1:27); than had Judah and Benjamin. Again, Simeon (Joshua 19:1-9) and Dan (Joshua 19:40-48) have no boundaries mentioned, only cities, because they originally settled in the territory of Judah and Benjamin. Finally, the accounts of the territory of the remaining tribes, Zebulun, Issachar, Asher, Naphtali (Joshua 19:10-39), are defective, as is natural if at the date when the document was originally drawn up, these territories were not yet completely conquered: cp. Judges 1:30-33. But if the document be strictly contemporary, it must be regarded as closing with Joshua 19:46.

Verses 1-51

The Second Allotment (continued). The Territories of Simeon, Zebulun, Issachar, Asher, Naphtali, Dan. The Inheritance of Joshua

1-9. The lot of Simeon. Observe that no borders are named, and the lot includes towns previously taken by Judah (Joshua 15:31-32): see Joshua 19:9. This tribe was settled in the Negeb, or ’south country,’ that slopes away from the Hebron range towards the desert, bounded on the W. by the Mediterranean and on the E. by the Dead Sea and the Valley of Edom.

10-16. The lot of Zebulun: in the low hills W. of Nazareth and E. of Accho.

17-23. The lot of Issachar: comprising the plain of Esdraelon.

22. Tabor] Here Zebulun, Issachar, and Naphtali had a common border.

24-31. The lot of Asher: the coast and low hills, from Carmel to Tyre.

32-39. The lot of Naphtali: the high mountains of upper Galilee, and plateau E. of Mt. Tabor to the W. shores of the Sea of Galilee, and the Jordan Valley N. of it.

40-48. The lot of Dan: (a) the original inheritance (Joshua 19:40-46); (b) the later acquisition in the N. (Joshua 19:47-48). The territory in the S. lies W. of Benjamin along the two parallel valleys that lead through the Shephelah to the sea, viz. Aijalon and Sorek. The song of Deborah. (Judges 5:17) seems to imply that the Danites had then reached the coast, but the maritime plain was probably never fully occupied by them, and what they had held of it was soon abandoned in favour of a new colony(Joshua 19:47-48).

In LXX our Joshua 19:48 follows 46, where it is more naturally in place, and both it and Joshua 19:47 (which follows it in LXX) contain additional matter about the Danites’ struggle with the Amorites, which fits in well with Judges 1:34, where we are told that ’the Amorites forced the children of Dan into the hill-country; for they would not suffer them to come down into the valley.’ This obviously gives the reason for the expedition northward.

47. The taking of Leshem (called in Judges ’Laish’) is related in Judges 18:7, Judges 18:27-29.

49-51. Concluding section: Joshua’s own inheritance. Joshua and his comrade Caleb (Joshua 15:13), the sole representatives of the generation of the exodus, receive each a special ’inheritance’ of his own choice.

50. According to the word of the Lord] cp. Numbers 14:24, Numbers 14:30 with Joshua 14:9, Joshua 14:10. Timnath-serah] cp. Joshua 24:30 called Timnath-heres in Judges 2:9, probably Kefr-Hâris, 9 m. S. of Shechem.

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Bibliographical Information
Dummelow, John. "Commentary on Joshua 19". "Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible". 1909.