Bible Commentaries
Joshua 15

Benson's Commentary of the Old and New TestamentsBenson's Commentary


A.M. 2560. B.C. 1444.

The bounds of the inheritance of Judah, Joshua 15:1-12 . The assignment of Hebron to Caleb and his family, Joshua 15:13-19 . The cities of Judah, Joshua 15:20-63 .

Verse 1

Joshua 15:1. This then was the lot For the general understanding of this business of casting lots, it must be observed, 1st, That it was transacted with great seriousness and solemnity, in God’s presence, with prayer and appeal to him for the decision of the matter. 2d, That although an exact survey of this land was not taken till afterward, Joshua 18:4-5; yet there was, and must needs be, a general description of it, and a division thereof into nine parts and a half; which, as far as they could guess, were equal either in quantity or quality. 3d, That the lot did not at this time so unchangeably determine the portion of each tribe that it could neither be increased nor diminished, as is manifest; because, after Judah’s lot was fixed, Simeon’s lot was taken out of it, Joshua 19:9. 4th, That the lot determined only in general what part of the land belonged to each tribe, but left the particulars to be determined by Joshua and Eleazar. For the manner of this, it is probably conceived, that there were two urns, into one of which were put the names of all the tribes, each in a distinct paper, and into the other the names of each portion described; then Eleazar, or some other person, drew out first the name of one of the tribes out of one urn, and then the name of one portion out of the other, and that portion was appropriated to that tribe. And with respect to these urns, in the bottom of which the papers lay, these lots are often said to come up, or come forth.

Of Judah Whose lot came out first by God’s disposition, as a note of his pre-eminency above his brethren. To the border of Edom Which lay south-east from Judah’s portion. Judah and Joseph were the two sons of Jacob on whom Reuben’s forfeited birthright devolved. Judah had the dominion entailed upon him, and Joseph the double portion. Therefore these two tribes are first appointed; and on them the other seven attended. By their families The lot, it appears, determined only the right of each tribe to such or such a portion of the general division of the country. Joshua, Eleazar, and the rest of the commissioners, when they had thus given each tribe its province, by lot, did afterward (and it is probable by lot likewise) subdivide those larger portions, and assign to each family its inheritance, and then to each household; which would be better done by this supreme authority, and in a way less apt to give disgust, than if it had been left to the inferior magistrates of each tribe to make that distribution.

Verse 2

Joshua 15:2. The bay that looketh southward Hebrew, the tongue; either a creek or arm of that sea, or a promontory, which by learned authors is sometimes called a tongue. Every sea is salt, but this had an extraordinary saltness, the effect of that fire and brimstone which destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah.

Verses 5-6

Joshua 15:5-6. The end of Jordan The place where Jordan runs into the salt sea. The stone of Bohan A place so called, not from Bohan’s dwelling there, (for the Reubenites had no portion on this side Jordan,) but from some notable exploit which he did there, though it is not recorded in Scripture.

Verses 7-8

Joshua 15:7-8. Northward looking toward Gilgal Having Gilgal to the north of it. Which is to be understood, not of that Gilgal near Jericho, but of that place called Geliloth, (Joshua 18:17,) which was distant from thence, as appears by what follows. And the border went up Properly; for the line went from Jordan and the salt sea, to the higher grounds nigh Jerusalem; and, therefore, the line is said to go down, (Joshua 18:16,) because there it takes a contrary course, and goes downward to Jordan and the sea. By the valley of the son of Hinnom A famous place on the east side of Jerusalem; and so delightfully shady, that it invited the Israelites to idolatrous worship in it, whereby it became infamous, 2 Kings 23:10; Jeremiah 7:32. Hinnom, in all probability, was some eminent person in ancient times, who was the owner of this valley; for it is sometimes called the valley of the children of Hinnom; which shows his posterity were planted here. After it was polluted by idolatry it became a place where they threw all their filth and dead carcasses; and where there was a continual fire, the Jews say, to burn bones, and such sordid things as were thrown there; from whence they think it became the name for hell fire. The south side of the Jebusites Namely, the city of the Jebusites. The same is Jerusalem Which is called Jebusi in the last verse of the eighteenth chapter, and Jebus, Judges 19:10, especially that part of it fortified by the Jebusites, which was called mount Sion, and lay on the south of Jerusalem. And the border went up to the top of the mountain Which is thought to be mount Moriah. The end of the valley of the giants northward Which mountain had on the north part of it the valley of Rephaim, (as the word is in the Hebrew,) which was in the tribe of Judah, extending itself from mount Moriah as far as Bethlehem, as Josephus informs us.

Verse 12

Joshua 15:12. This is the coast of the children of Judah, round about according to their families That is, thus the lot was bounded on all sides in the first draught of it. Which being afterward found too large, it was contracted into a narrower compass, that more room might be made for the tribe of Simeon, who had part of this lot consigned to them; as some other places were added out of it to the tribes of Benjamin and Dan, as will afterward appear.

Verse 14

Joshua 15:14. Caleb drove thence That is, from the said territory, from their caves and forts in it; these giants having either recovered their cities, or defended themselves in the mountains. Caleb did not drive them out by his own power alone, but by the confederate army of the tribes of Judah and Simeon, (Judges 1:3-9,) in which it is probable he had a principal command, and led on that party which assaulted this city. The three sons of Anak Either the same whom he had seen forty-five years before, and was not at all affrighted at them; (Numbers 13:22; Judges 1:10;) and so they were long-lived men, as many were in those times and places; or their sons called by their fathers’ names, which was very usual.

Verse 16

Joshua 15:16. Caleb said Made proclamation throughout the army which he led against Debir. Achsah my daughter to wife Which is to be understood with some conditions, as, if he were one who could marry her according to God’s law; and if she were willing; for though parents had a great power over their children, they could not force them to marry any person against their own wills. He might otherwise be an unfit and unworthy person; but this was a divine impulse, that Othniel’s valour might be more manifest, and so the way prepared for his future government of the people, Judges 3:9.

Verse 18

Joshua 15:18. As she came Or, as she went; namely, from her father’s house to her husband’s, as the manner was. She moved him She persuaded her husband, either, 1st, That he would ask: or rather, 2d, That he would suffer her to ask, as she did. She lighted That she might address herself to her father in an humble posture, and as a supplicant, which he understood by her gesture.

Verse 19

Joshua 15:19. A blessing That is, a gift, as that word signifies, Genesis 33:11. A south land That is, a dry land, which was much exposed to the south wind, which, in those parts, was very hot and drying, as coming from the deserts of Arabia. Springs of water That is, a field wherein are springs of water, which in that country were of great price. Upper and nether springs Of two fields, one above and the other below that south and dry ground which she complained of, that by this means it might be watered on both sides.

Verse 32

Joshua 15:32. Twenty-nine Here are thirty-seven or thirty-eight cities named before; how then are they only reckoned twenty-nine? There were only twenty-nine of them which either, 1st, Properly belonged to Judah; the rest falling to Simeon’s lot. Or, 2d, Were cities properly so called; that is, walled cities, or such as had villages under them, as it here follows; the rest being great, but unwalled towns, or such as had no villages under them.

Verse 48

Joshua 15:48. The mountains That is, in the higher grounds, called mountains or hills, in comparison of the sea-coast.

Verse 62

Joshua 15:62. City of Salt So called, either from the salt sea, which was near it, or from the salt which was made in, or about it.

Verse 63

Joshua 15:63. The Jebusites, the inhabitants of Jerusalem Jerusalem was in part taken by Joshua before this; but the upper and stronger part of it, called Zion, was still held by the Jebusites, even till David’s time. And, it is probable, they descended from thence to the lower town, called Jerusalem, and took it; so that the Israelites were obliged to win it a second, yea, and a third time also. For afterward it was possessed by the Jebusites, Judges 19:11; 2 Samuel 5:6. 2 Samuel 5:7. The children of Judah could not, &c. A part of Jerusalem was in the tribe of Judah, namely, the tower of Zion, mount Moriah, with some of the south parts adjacent; the rest of it was in the tribe of Benjamin, namely, the greatest part of the city itself. So that it was inhabited promiscuously by them both. They could not drive them out because of their unbelief; as Christ could do no mighty work because of the people’s unbelief, Mark 6:5-6; and because of their sloth, cowardice, and wickedness, whereby they forfeited God’s help. The Jebusites dwell at Jerusalem unto this day When this book was written, whether in Joshua’s life, which continued many years after the taking of Jerusalem, or after his death, when this clause was added, as others were elsewhere in this book, by some other man of God, which must have been done before David’s time, because then the Jebusites were quite expelled and their fort taken.

Bibliographical Information
Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Joshua 15". Benson's Commentary. 1857.