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Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary Preacher's Homiletical
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Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on Joshua 15". Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary. https://studylight.org/
commentaries/ eng/ phc/ joshua-15.html. Funk & Wagnalls Company, 1892.
Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on Joshua 15". Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary. https://studylight.org/
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THE INHERITANCE OF JUDAH
Joshua 15:1. This verse states the position of the lot of Judah in relation to the whole of Canaan; it was in the extreme south of the land. In Joshua 15:2-4 we have given the particulars of the southern border of the southern lot.
Joshua 15:2. Their south border] Compare Numbers 34:3-5. The bay that looketh southward] Marg.=“the tongue.” “This tongue is the southernmost portion of the Dead Sea, reaching from the peninsula, which runs out a great distance into the sea on the west of Kerek (Robinson ii. 216, sqq.), to the south point of the sea by the so-called Salt-hill and Salt-marsh. At this point the boundary of Judah commenced.” [Keil.]
Joshua 15:3. To Maaleh-Acrabbim] Lit., “The acclivity of scorpions;” marg., “The going up to Acrabbim.” Robinson concluded that the range of cliffs, a few miles south of the Dead Sea, was the place indicated. The remaining places named in this verse are unknown, though Hezron is mentioned in Joshua 15:25, as being the same as Hazor.
Joshua 15:4. Azmon Unknown: the name occurs also in Numbers 34:4-5. The “river” or “torrent of Egypt” is thought to be the Wady el Arish. At the Sea] The Mediterranean Sea; the southern border thus extending from the “tongue” of the Dead Sea to the Wady el Arish, on the coast of the Mediterranean. Robinson says that ruins of cities are still to be found as far south as is indicated by this line of boundary, in what was subsequently known as part of the desert.
Joshua 15:5. The Salt Sea, unto the end of Jordan] That is, the eastern boundary extended from the southernmost point of the Dead Sea, to the mouth of the Jordan. Their border in the north] This was from near the mouth of the Jordan, on the north-east, to Jabneel, not far from the coast of the Mediterranean, and thence to the sea itself. The particulars of this boundary line extend to the close of Joshua 15:11, and are given with more fulness of detail than those of even the southern boundary. This was the more necessary on account of adjoining tribes on this border.
Joshua 15:6. Up to Beth-Hogla] Discovered by Robinson, near to Gilgal, about two miles westward from the Jordan, and about four miles north of the Dead Sea. It is now called Ain Hadjla. Though a frontier town, it belonged to the lot of Benjamin (chap. Joshua 18:19; Joshua 18:21). By the north of Beth-Arabah] By this it would seem that this place was at first allotted to Judah. This, in Joshua 15:61, is said to have been the case. Yet, in chap. Joshua 18:22, we learn that it was subsequently given to the tribe of Benjamin. The stone of Bohan] Thought to have stood upon the side of the mountains. It was so called after a Reubenite, who possibly may have distinguished himself in some manner in this neighbourhood soon after the crossing of the Jordan.
Joshua 15:7. Debir] There were two other places of this name; Debir, near Hebron, also called Kirjath-Sepher, and a Debir on the east of Jordan, near Mahanaim (chap. Joshua 13:26). Gilgal that is before the going up to Adummim] “The valley of Achor must be the Wady Kelt. Up that wady the line ran toward Debir (somewhere near the Khan Hudrur, near which is Wady Dabor). Then it turned northward to Gilgal (‘Geliloth’ in chap. Joshua 18:17), which is opposite the going up to Adummim. This latter place is identified with Kalaat ed-Dem on the north of the Jerusalem and Jericho road, where the soil is red. Adummim signifies red. This Gilgal (or Gehloth), therefore, is a place near this spot, and not the Gilgal where Israel encamped down in the Arabah or Ghor.’ [Crosby.] With this also agrees Keil, but Von Raumer, Fay, and others, think the Gilgal to be the place of the first encampment. The river, or “torrent,” is, of course, not the Jordan, but the Wady Kelt, or, as in chap. Joshua 16:1, “the water of Jericho.” En-Shemesh]=“The spring,” or “fountain, of the sun;” below Bethany, on the road to Jericho. En-Rogel] Cf. chap. Joshua 18:16; 2 Samuel 17:17; 1 Kings 1:9. “In more modern times, a tradition, apparently first recorded by Brocardus, would make En-Rogel the well of Job or Nehemiah (Bir Eyub), below the junction of the valleys of Kedron and Hinnom, and south of the pool of Siloam. Against this general belief some strong arguments are urged by Dr. Bonar, in favour of identifying En-Rogel with the ‘fountain of the Virgin,’ ’Ain Umm ed-Daraj—the perennial source from which the pool of Siloam is supplied.” [Smith’s Bib. Dic.].
Joshua 15:8. The valley of the son of Hinnom] This is the first mention in Scripture of the valley which afterwards became so notorious as the scene of a most revolting form of idolatry (cf. 2 Chronicles 28:3; 2 Chronicles 33:6, etc.), and which came to be known as a symbol of hell. Valley of the Giants] Lit. = “of the Rephaim.” This valley lies on the south-west of Jerusalem.
Joshua 15:9. The water of Nephtoah] Now Liftah. “Liftah numbers its fighting men by hundreds, and provides Jerusalem, among other things, with water from its copious fountains.” [Valentiner.] Mount Ephron] Only mentioned here. Thought to be the high ridge between Liftah and Kuryet el-Enab, the modern name of Baalah. or Kirjath-jearim, next mentioned. This latter place was one of the cities formerly belonging to Gibeon (chap. Joshua 9:17).
Joshua 15:10. Mount Seir … Mount Jearim, etc. “Mount Seir is the high ridge on which is Saris. Mount Jearim, or Chesalon (on Mount Jearim), is now Kesla, on the lofty summit between Wady Ghurah and Wady Ismain. Beth-Shemesh is now Ain Shems. Timnath, conspicuous in Samson’s history, is Tibneh, where one looks out on the Philistine plain.” [Crosby.]
Joshua 15:11. Ekron] Cf. on chap. Joshua 13:3. Nothing is known of Shieron. Mount Baalah] A short ridge of hills on the west of Ekron, noticed by Robinson. Jabneel] Elsewhere = Jabneh (2 Chronicles 26:6), and frequently alluded to in Maccabees. Robinson supposed that from Jabneel the boundary proceeded in a direct line to the sea, others think that it may have followed the course of the adjacent valley.
Joshua 15:12. The west border] This, like the opposite boundary on the east, being formed throughout by sea-coast, is thus briefly indicated.
Joshua 15:13-16. And unto Caleb, etc.] Cf. on chap. Joshua 14:6-15. Compare, also, Judges 1:10-20. Keil contends that neither of these passages is copied from the other, but that both were compiled from a common document of an earlier date.
Joshua 15:17. Othniel the son of Kenaz, the brother of Caleb] “The Masorites, by their pointing (both here and in Judges 1:13; Judges 3:9), make Othniel the brother of Caleb. This would make Achsah marry her uncle, which Keil asserts was not forbidden in the law. It seems, however, to be against the spirit of Leviticus 18:14. Moreover, it is unlikely that Caleb would have a brother so young as to be a judge of Israel for forty years after Joshua’s death (Judges 3:11). I prefer, therefore, to take the word ‘brother’ to refer to Kenaz, the younger brother of Caleb, whose son was Othniel. Kenaz would be a family name repeated in Othniel’s father.” [Crosby.]
Joshua 15:20. This is the inheritance] Keil and Fay make this verse to be the concluding formula to the first division of the chapter, but it seems more natural to read it as introductory to the catalogue of cities which follows.
Joshua 15:21-32. The cities of the Negeb, or south] Thirty-six names are given, and in Joshua 15:32 the number of the cities is said to be twenty-nine. It has been contended by some, that several of the names are double; by others, that additional names are added to the list by some later writer, who omitted altering the number given as the total; while others have sought to reconcile the discrepancy by suggestions still more remote and unlikely. In the utter absence of positive evidence of alteration by any later writer, the tendency of the German critics to imagine an additional author cannot but be regretted. Such a view ought to be more than a speculation. Till reasons be given for some other course, the opinion that the number “twenty-nine” is a transcriber’s error is as good as any other, while it is less cumbrous, and thus more natural.
Joshua 15:21-23. Kabzeel … Dimonah] Kabzeel may be the Jekabzeel of Nehemiah 11:25; cf., also, 2 Samuel 23:2. Dimonah is thought to be the same as Dibon of Nehemiah 11:25. Of the remaining cities of this group, nothing is known.
Joshua 15:24-25. Ziph, and Telem, and Bealoth] These are unknown. Hazor-Hadattah = “New Hazor.” Kerioth-Hezron is also to be read as a compound name. The sites are not known.
Joshua 15:26-28. Amam, etc.] Amam is unknown. Shema, said by Capellus and Reland to be the Sheba of chap. Joshua 19:2, where it is again mentioned with Moladah. Moladah was afterwards assigned to Simeon (cf., also, Nehemiah 11:26). It is thought to be the modern el-Milh, about four miles from Tel Arad, and nine east of Beersheba. The places named in Joshua 15:27 are unknown. The same remark applies to Hazar-Shual, and Bizjothjab. Beer-sheba = “well of seven,” or “well of the oath,” referring to the oath of Abraham on setting apart the seven lambs for Abimelech (Genesis 21:28-32. Compare, also, Genesis 26:26-33). The modern name is Bir es-Seba.
Joshua 15:29-32 Baalah, Iim, etc.] Little, or nothing, is known of the first five places named in this group Baalah, however, must be distinguished from Kirjath-jearim as named in Joshua 15:9-10 of this chapter. Hormah; cf. on chap. Joshua 12:14. Ziklag became famous as the residence of David, to whom it was given by Achish. Notwithstanding so many notices of this place, the site is uncertain. With the exception of being mentioned elsewhere, and perhaps in some cases under other names, these remaining cities of the south are unknown.
Joshua 15:33-47. The cities of the Shephelah, or lowlands] Several of these have been noticed under other chapters, and others which are unknown may be passed over. As several cities in the Negeb were afterwards allotted to Simeon (chap. Joshua 19:1-9), so some in this district were subsequently assigned to Dan (chap. Joshua 19:40-48).
Joshua 15:33. Eshtaol and Zoreah] Generally mentioned together. Memorable in connection with the life of Samson, and as the burial-place on himself and his father. By a comparison of chaps. Joshua 13:25, Joshua 18:12, both places were evidently near to each other and to Kirjath-jearim.
Joshua 15:34. Zanoah] Robinson places it on the eastern side of the ruins of Zoreah, identifying it with the modern Zannah.
Joshua 15:35. Jarmuth, etc.] Cf. on chaps. Joshua 10:3; Joshua 10:10, Joshua 12:15. Socoh] Identified by Robinson in Shuweikeh. Near to Azekah (1 Samuel 17:1), fortified by Rehoboam (2 Chronicles 11:7), and taken by the Philistines in the time of Ahaz. There was another place of this name in the mountains, which is also called Shuweikeh (cf. Joshua 15:48).
Joshua 15:36. Gederah and Gederothaim] Marg. =“or” Gederothaim. The LXX. omit the latter name, with whom agree Winer and Knobel. thus making the number of cities in this group to be “fourteen.”
Joshua 15:37. Zenan] Thought to be the Zaanan of Micah 1:11.
Joshua 15:38. Mizpeh] There were several places bearing this descriptive name (cf. on chap. Joshua 11:3).
Joshua 15:39. Lachish … Eglon] Cf. on chap. Joshua 10:3. “Bozkath, the birth-place of the mother of Josiah (2 Kings 22:1), stood somewhere near to these two cities.” [Keil.]
Joshua 15:42. Makkedah] Cf. on chap. Joshua 10:10.
Joshua 15:43. Nezib] Thought by Robinson to be Beit Nusib, in the Wady Sur.
Joshua 15:44. Keilah, etc.] Famous in the life of David (1 Samuel 23:0); mentioned also in Nehemiah 3:17-18. “Achzib, mentioned here and Micah 1:14, was probably identical with Chezib, Genesis 38:5 … Mareshah was fortified by Rehoboam (2 Chronicles 11:8; cf., also Micah 1:15; 2 Chronicles 14:9; 2 Chronicles 20:37), and is frequently mentioned in later times.” [Keil.]
Joshua 15:45-47. Ekron, etc.] Cf. under chaps. Joshua 13:3, Joshua 11:22.
Joshua 15:48-60. The cities in the mountains] Many of these also are either little known, or have not been identified.
Joshua 15:48. Jattir] Now ’Attir, about ten miles south of Hebron. Afterwards given to the priests (chap. Joshua 21:13). It was one of the cities to whose elders David made presents, when he resided in Ziklag (1 Samuel 30:27).
Joshua 15:49. Kirjath-Sannah] Cf. on chaps. Joshua 10:38, Joshua 15:7.
Joshua 15:50. Anab, etc.] A former abode of the Anakim. Robinson speaks of it as still retaining its name, and as among the hills near to Shoco and Eshtemoah, about ten miles S.S.W. of Hebron.
Joshua 15:52-54. Arab, and Dumah, etc.] These cities, forming the second group of this division, were all to the north of those named in the four verses preceding. Aphekah, it is thought by some, is not the same as the Aphek of chap. Joshua 12:18, on which see note.
Joshua 15:55-57. Maon, Carmel, etc.] Maon =Maîn, on a conical hill, about seven miles S.S.E. of Hebron. Cf., for associations, 1 Samuel 23:24-25; 1 Samuel 25:2. Carmel (now Kurmul), close to Maon, on the north. Cf. 1 Samuel 15:12; 1 Samuel 27:3. This must have been the place made famous by Uzziah’s husbandry and vines (2 Chronicles 26:10). Ziph is now Tel Zîf. It was famous as a refuge of David (1 Samuel 23:14-15; 1 Samuel 26:2). Juttah, which still bears its ancient name, is between Ziph and Carmel. Jezreel only occurs again in 1 Samuel 25:43. Of the remaining cities of this group, little or nothing is known.
Joshua 15:58-59. Halhul, Bethzur, etc.] These six cities were still more to the north. The three mentioned first, retain their former names. Following Joshua 15:59, a group of eleven cities is given by the LXX., which, it is supposed, have been accidentally omitted from the Hebrew text.
Joshua 15:61-62. The cities in the wilderness] By “the wilderness” is meant “the eastern slope of the mountain region, which is bare and rugged to the Dead Sea, and including so much of the Jordan plain as appertained to Judah. It was all a barren region, except in small oases by fountains.” [Crosby.]
Joshua 15:61. Beth-Arabah] Cf. Joshua 15:6. The three places which follow are not mentioned elsewhere, and are unknown.
Joshua 15:62. The City of Salt] Robinson concluded that this stood in the Salt Valley at the southern end of the Dead Sea. Engedi] =Goat-fountain; now Aim Jidy, originally Hazazon-Tamar (Genesis 14:7; 2 Chronicles 20:2), so called, Josephus thought, on account of its palm groves. Its neighbourhood is celebrated as a refuge of David (1 Samuel 24:1-3), and as remarkable for its vineyards (Song of Solomon 1:14).
Joshua 15:63. The children of Judah at Jerusalem] For remarks on this, as indicating the time at which the book of Joshua was written, see below.
OUTLINES AND COMMENTS ON THE PARAGRAPHS
Joshua 15:1-12.—THE GENERAL POSITION OF THE TRIBE OF JUDAH IN THE LAND
“It is to be observed that the lot of the tribe of Judah not only falls on elevated ground, the very elevation of the territory indicating the dignity of the future kingdom, but a similar presage is given by its being the first lot that turns up. Judah is preferred to all others. Who does not see that it is raised to the highest rank, in order that the prophecy of Jacob may be fulfilled? Then, within the limits here laid down, it is well known that there were rich pastures, and vineyards celebrated for their productiveness and the excellence of their wines. In this way, while the lot corresponds with the prophecy of Jacob, it is perfectly clear that it did not so happen by chance; the holy patriarch had only uttered what was dictated by the Spirit.” [Calvin.]
Joshua 15:13-14.—DIVINE PROMISES IN RELATION TO HUMAN EFFORT AND HUMAN STEADFASTNESS
These verses, with the four that follow, were probably inserted by the author of this book to give unity and completeness to the narrative respecting Caleb. As we learn by Judges 1:1-16, the taking of Hebron was not till “after the death of Joshua.” In order that it might be seen that Caleb’s valour was no mere boast, and that the promise of Jehovah was sure to the man who trusted it, the fall of the city is related here.
I. God’s promises are given to the man who has a heart to use them. The “thing that the Lord said unto Moses” (chap. Joshua 14:6) is here said to have become also “the commandment of the Lord to Joshua.” No such promise was given to the ten spies. It was to the man who believed that the walled city and the giant garrison were as nothing before the word of Jehovah, that the word of Jehovah came. The promises are always in the Scriptures; no man ever makes one of them his promise, who does not read with faith.
II. God’s promises are not given to promote our rest, but to provoke us to conflict. They are not to supersede our efforts, but to shew us the necessity of effort. They are not spoken to induce slothfulness, but to stir us to action. Joshua seems to have lived for about seventeen years after the time of conceding Caleb’s request, as narrated in the previous chapter. We must not suppose that during this time Caleb was idle, or that he feared the encounter to which he stood pledged. His whole life forbids that. It is rather to be concluded that with his usual magnanimity he gave his continued services to assist Joshua in bringing others into their inheritance before he sternly set himself to seek an entrance into his own.
III. God’s usual way in His promises is not to make our difficulties less, but our strength more. When Caleb advanced to Hebron, the Anakim were still there. Men cry to the Lord, “Lead me in a plain path, because of mine enemies,” and that prayer, doubtless, has been often answered. But the method of the Lord is usually not to diminish enemies, but to increase faith and strength. He replies: “As thy day is, so shall thy strength be;” and not, “As thy strength is, so shall thy day be.” To the great man who wanted less of the thorn and more of peace, the Divine voice merely answered,” My grace is sufficient for thee.” Hence the Bible is not a continued panorama of green pastures and still waters, but often shews stern battle-fields and glorious victories.
IV. God’s promises are worthy of our trust, not only in the day of peace, but in the time of actual conflict. Caleb had said the thing which was in his heart when he made his report to Moses, and exclaimed of Canaan, “We are well able to overcome it;” forty-five years later, when he made his request to Joshua, his faith was still firm (chap. Joshua 14:12); but no less did this good man believe in his God in the day when he led his brethren to attack the fastness of Hebron, and slew the sons of Anak. God’s promises are not merely something to make the day of peace more peaceful, but stars, which no cloud of unbelief should be suffered to hide, intended to shine out upon us and guide us to victory in the otherwise dark night of actual conflict. “The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.” In view of that stern foe, while it is somewhere in the distance, God’s promise brings peace; the noble host of the believing dead bear witness, with no conspicuous exception, that “the things which the Lord hath said” are equally sufficient when death actually comes. In the days of his health and strength, David sang with a sweetness that has thrilled through all the generations since, “Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for Thou art with me:” in the days when he stood in the actual presence of the last enemy, the aged hand had not lost its former cunning with the harp, the sweet singer of Israel had forfeited nothing of his old sweetness, and the believing heart had been robbed by the veritable presence of its foe of none of its younger faith: “These be the last words of David.… Although my house be not so with God, yet He hath made with me an everlasting covenant, ordered in all things, and sure; for this is all my salvation and all my desire, although He make it not to grow.” The promise which is sufficient to the believing man in the day of his strength and peace, is equally sufficient in the day of his weakness and death.
Joshua 15:15-19.—OTHNIEIS CONQUEST OF DEBIR.
Debir, or Kirjath-Sepher, has already been briefly noticed under chap. Joshua 10:38. Why it was called “the city of the oracle,” or “the city of the book,” is unknown. Nor has the site of the city been yet determined. Some have identified it with Dewîr-ban, on the hills which stand on the north side of the Wady Nunkûr, about three miles west of Hebron. In this direction, according to Schwarz, there is also a Wady Dibir. Van de Velde, however, placed Debir at Dilbeh, about six miles south-west of Hebron, which seems more in harmony with the order of arrangement in Joshua 15:48-50. In any case Debir must be held to have been sufficiently near to Hebron to have made its possession by an enemy uncomfortable to Caleb. Hence the attack, which is proposed as soon as Hebron is taken.
The narrative of the taking of Debir is scarcely suitable for the purposes of a public discourse, at least not on ordinary occasions, nor by sentimental preachers. Nor can the verses be pleaded as having any authority beyond that which may be found in the conduct of an honourable man like Caleb. The following analysis is given principally as marking certain traits of character in those concerned, which should nevertheless be estimated in view of the then existing opinions as to a father’s rights in giving his daughter in marriage.
I. The spirit which influenced Caleb in the disposal of Achsah. He sought to unite her to a man
(1) honourable for his zeal and energy,
(2) conspicuous for his bravery,
(3) and willing to use his strength in the way of the Lord’s commandments.
(4) It seems likely also that Caleb sought to unite his daughter to one who was in a social station akin to her own. The promise was not to the man who should first enter Kirjath-Sepher. This may have been the nature of the similar promise at the siege of Jerusalem, under David, although it seems by no means certain that, even in this instance, David did not refer to the captain who should first bring his company into Jebus, and smite the garrison. He should be chief captain. (Cf. 2 Samuel 5:8; 1 Chronicles 11:6.) However this may have been, Caleb’s promise ran, “He that smiteth Kirjath-Sepher, and taketh it, to him,” etc. No man single-handed could “smite and take” a fortified city; and thus the promise probably refers to the leaders of the army who were under Caleb. This view has also the advantage that it does not exhibit to us an honourable man like Caleb putting up his daughter as the object of a wretched scramble, where a mere accident of a stumble or a wound might decide whose she should be. Possibly there were but few of the commanders under Caleb officially qualified to lead one or more divisions of the army against Debir; and, of these, Othniel might first have volunteered, or he only might have volunteered to lead the attack. Any way, out of regard for Achsah, Othniel was one who offered to conduct the assault, and he succeeded. It is simply hideous to think of a good man like Caleb putting up his child, with all her future happiness at stake, as a reward to any man who, in the degrading and miserable scramble of an army, might first enter the city. The case so generally quoted, 1 Samuel 17:25, is not parallel to this supposition, and even if it were, Caleb was not Saul.
II. The harmony between the father and the daughter.
1. Achsah accorded with her father’s will and with the custom of the age. There can be no doubt but that, at this period, a father was held to have an absolute right to the disposal of his daughter’s hand (cf. Genesis 29:18-28; Exodus 21:7-11; 1 Samuel 17:25, etc.); it does not follow, however, that a father would not consult his daughter’s wishes.
2. She had confidence in her father’s love, notwithstanding her recognition of his authority. She asked for a larger dowry (Joshua 15:19). On leaving her father, to cleave to her husband, we thus find her seeking her husband’s interest.
3. Her father cheerfully responded to her request. The confidence which was bold to ask, was met by an affection which was pleased to bestow.
III. The honourable character in which this brief history introduces Othniel. He comes before us as a man of courage, willing to risk his life for the woman he loved. He is seen to perhaps even more advantage in not preferring the request which Achsah prompted him to make. He may have refused to comply with his wife’s wishes. The history does not actually say this; it merely shews that Achsah made her request herself. Othniel was bold enough to fight; he seems to have been too manly to have allowed himself to ask for this addition to what was, probably, already a just and good inheritance. He was brave enough to do battle against Debir; he was not mean enough to beg. If Achsah needed a larger dowry, such a request would come better from herself. These features are well in harmony with the dignity to which Othniel afterwards rose, and with the way in which he seems to have acquitted himself as the first of the judges of Israel.
Joshua 15:63.—THE DATE AT WHICH THE BOOK OF JOSHUA WAS WRITTEN.
On this verse Keil remarks as follows:—“The author closes the catalogue of the cities with the historical announcement, that the children of Judah could not drive the Jebusites out of Jerusalem, and that the Jebusites dwell with the children of Judah at Jerusalem unto this day. This statement applies to the interval between Joshua and David, to the period after the death of Joshua, when the children of Judah had already once taken and burnt this city, which stood upon the borders of their territory (Judges 1:8), but were still unable to maintain it, and were therefore obliged, as were also the children of Benjamin, to whom Jerusalem was allotted, to occupy it in common with the Jebusites, whom they could not expel. The statement undoubtedly presupposes the period after Joshua, but it does not involve a contradiction either to chap. Joshua 18:28, or Judges 1:21; for it is not said here that Jerusalem belonged to the tribe of Judah, or that the children of Judah alone had set up a claim to it, to the exclusion of Benjamin.”
Although the verse seems undoubtedly to require a time after the death of Joshua for its insertion here, it still more emphatically claims to have been written prior to the time when David overcame the Jebusites, and henceforth reigned in Jerusalem. After that event, this veres could certainly not have been written. Fay, who more or less fully adopts the view of Knobel (who places the “Jehovist” author of this book as late as “the last years of Hezekiah”), studiously avoids saying anything about the verse, excepting that it is “important for determining the date of the composition of the book.” He refers his readers to his “Introduction, § 2,” where the only notice taken of the passage is in half a line quoted from Keil, and he further says, under this verse, “See more on Joshua 18:28,” where he says about it nothing whatever. It is much to be regretted that when the importance of the verse had been admitted, the direction in which its important testimony bears was not also acknowledged.
THE INABILITY OF JUDAH TO DRIVE OUT THE JEBUSITES
I. The inability which comes through unbelief. Why could not Judah drive out the Jebusites? Had not God promised to be with the Israelites in their conflicts? Was the Lord’s arm shortened, that it could not save? We cannot think this for a moment. God had repeatedly spoken to His people as though they were not only responsible for giving battle, but also responsible for getting the victory (Exodus 23:27-33; Exodus 34:11-12; Deuteronomy 7:17-24, etc.). Only unbelief, coming from conscious sin, or as a weak distrust of God, could have made Judah feel that they were unequal to this task. Is not our unbelief equally manifest now, when we decline work to which God has bidden us, on the ground that we are unable to perform it?
II. Unbelief working fear and inaction. The men of Judah had already been victorious in part. They had overcome and destroyed at least the lower half of the city (Judges 1:8). It needed only that they should continue their struggle, and, according to the Divine promise, they must have taken the upper city also. They could not, however, bring themselves to believe that God would give the fortress of the Jebusites into their hands. When God fails our hearts, our hearts may well fail before our enemies. When faith departs, fear necessarily enters in its place. Thus zeal departs also, and inaction and indifference follow.
III. Fear and inaction resulting in continued shame and suffering. The Israelites had to suffer nearly four centuries of insult and humiliation from the Jebusites. As a crowning exhibition of their scorn, they manned the walls with the lame and the blind, and bade David dispossess them if he could (2 Samuel 5:6). The work which the men of Benjamin and Judah failed to do at first, had to be done, after all. It is ever thus; unbelief delivers us from little of our work ultimately, and so long as it delays our work, is continually fruitful both of shame and pain. It is he who hearkens to his Lord’s commandments, and obeys, who finds that his peace flows like a river.