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Adam Clarke Commentary

Joshua 18

Introduction

The tabernacle is set up at Shiloh, Joshua 18:1 . Seven of the tribes having not yet received their inheritance, Joshua 18:2 . Joshua orders three men from each tribe to be chosen, and sent to examine the land and divide it into seven parts, which should be distributed among them by lot, Joshua 18:3 -7. The men go and do as commanded, and return to Joshua, Joshua 18:8 , Joshua 18:9 . Joshua casts lots for them, Joshua 18:10 . The lot of Benjamin, how situated, Joshua 18:11 . Its northern boundaries, Joshua 18:12 -14. Its southern boundaries, Joshua 18:15 -19. Its eastern boundary, Joshua 18:20 . Its cities, Joshua 18:21 -28.

Verse 1

Israel assembled together at Shiloh - This appears to have been a considerable town about fifteen miles from Jerusalem, in the tribe of Ephraim, and nearly in the center of the whole land. To this place both the camp of Israel, and the ark of the Lord, were removed from Gilgal, after a residence there of seven years. Here the tabernacle remained one hundred and thirty years, as is generally supposed, being the most conveniently situated for access to the different tribes, and for safety, the Israelites having possession of the land on all sides; for it is here added, the land was subdued before them - the Canaanites were so completely subdued, that there was no longer any general resistance to the Israelitish arms.

Verse 3

How long are ye slack to go to possess the land - We find an unaccountable backwardness in this people to enter on the inheritance which God had given them! They had so long been supported by miracle, without any exertions of their own, that they found it difficult to shake themselves from their inactivity. When it was necessary that all the people should go out to battle, they went with a measure of confidence, expecting miraculous help from God, and confiding in their numbers, but when each tribe found it necessary to fight for itself, in order to its establishment and the extension of its borders, it was discouraged, and chose rather a life of inglorious ease than the possession of an inheritance which would cost it much labor to conquer.

Verse 4

Three men for each tribe - Probably meaning only three from each of the seven tribes who had not yet received their inheritance. It is likely that these twenty-one men were accompanied by a military guard, for without this they might have been easily cut off by straggling parties of the Canaanites.They shall - describe it - It is likely they were persons well acquainted with geography and mensuration, without which it would have been impossible for them to have divided the land in the way necessary on this occasion.

Verse 5

Judah shall abide - on the south, and the house of Joseph - on the north - Joshua does not mean that the tribe of Judah occupied the south, and the tribe of Ephraim and Manasseh the north of the promised land; this was not the fact: but being now at Shiloh, a considerable way in the territory of Ephraim, and not far from that of Judah, he speaks of them in relation to the place in which he then was. Calmet considers him as thus addressing the deputies: "Go and examine the whole of the country which remains yet to be possessed; do not take into consideration the tribe of Judah, which is on the south, nor the tribe of Ephraim, which is on the north of where we now are, but carefully divide the remaining land which is not occupied by these tribes into seven equal parts." This makes a very good sense, and frees the place from embarrassment.

Verse 7

The priesthood of the Lord is their inheritance - We have already seen that the priests and Levites had the sacrifices, oblations tithes, first-fruits, redemption-money of the firstborn, etc., for their inheritance; they had no landed possessions in Israel; the Lord was their portion.

Verse 9

And described it in a book - This as far as I can recollect, is the first act of surveying on record. These men and their work differed widely from those who had searched the land in the time of Moses; they went only to discover the nature of the country, and the state of its inhabitants; but these went to take an actual geographical survey of it, in order to divide it among the tribes which had not yet received their portions. We may suppose that the country was exactly described in a book, that is, a map, pointing out the face of the country, accompanied with descriptions of each part.

Verse 11

And the lot - of Benjamin came up - On the manner of casting the lot, see on Joshua 14:2 (note), and Numbers 26:55 (note). There were probably two urns, one of which contained the names of the seven tribes, and the other that of the seven portions. They therefore took out one name out of the first urn, and one portion out of the second, and thus the portion was adjudged to that tribe.

Verse 12

The wilderness of Beth-aven - This was the same as Beth-el; but this name was not given to it till Jeroboam had fixed one of his golden calves there. Its first name signifies the house of God; its second, the house of iniquity.

Verse 16

To the side of Jebusi - The mountain of Zion, that was near Jerusalem; for Jebusi, or Jebus, was the ancient name of this city.

Verse 17

En-shemesh - The fountain of the sun; a proof of the idolatrous nature of the ancient inhabitants of this land.Geliloth - As the word signifies borders or limits, it is probably not the proper name of a place: And went forth towards the Borders which are over against the ascent to Adummim.

Verse 19

The north bay of the Salt Sea - As the word לשון leshon signifies the tongue, it may here refer to the point of the Dead or Salt Sea. Of these tongues or points it had two, one on the north, and the other on the south.

Verse 21

Now the cities - Some of these cities have been mentioned before, and described; of others we know nothing but the name.

Verse 24

And Gaba - Supposed to be the same as Gibeah of Saul, a place famous for having given birth to the first king of Israel; and infamous for the shocking act towards the Levite's wife, mentioned Judges 19:16 -30, which was the cause of a war in which the tribe of Benjamin was nearly exterminated. Judges 20:29-48.

Verse 25

Gibeon - See before, Joshua 10:1 -14 (note). This place is famous for the confederacy of the five kings against Israel, and their miraculous defeat. Ramah, a place about six or eight miles north of Jerusalem. Beeroth, i.e., wells; one of the four cities which belonged to the Gibeonites, who made peace with the Israelites by stratagem. See Joshua 9:3 -15.

Verse 26

And Mizpeh - This place is celebrated in the sacred writings. Here the people were accustomed to assemble often in the presence of the Lord, as in the deliberation concerning the punishment to be inflicted on the men of Gibeah, for the abuse of the Levite's wife. Judges 20:1 -3. Samuel assembled the people here to exhort them to renounce their idolatry, 1 Samuel 7:5 , 1 Samuel 7:6 . In this same place Saul was chosen to be king, 1 Samuel 10:17 . It was deemed a sacred place among the Israelites; for we find, from 1 Maccabees 3:46, that the Jews assembled here to seek God, when their enemies were in possession of the temple.

Verse 28

And Zelah - This was the burying-place of Saul, Jonathan, and the family of Kish. See 2 Samuel 21:14 .Jebusi, which is Jerusalem - We often meet with this name, and it is evident that it was the ancient name of Jerusalem, which was also called Salem; and was probably the place in which Melchizedek reigned in the days of Abraham; though some think a different place is meant; for that there was another place of the same name, is evident from John 3:23 . This place, called Salim by the evangelist, is said to be near to Enon, and there John baptized, because there was much water in the place. This, however, must not be confounded with the Salem mentioned above; for that this was a name of Jerusalem, is evident from Psalms 76:1 , Psalms 76:2 : In Judah is God known: his name is great in Israel. In Salem also is his tabernacle, and his dwelling-place in Zion. This must refer to Jerusalem, where the temple was situated. Whether Jebus or Jebusi had its name from the Jebusites, or the Jebusites from it, cannot be ascertained.

Joshua 18


  1 And the whole congregation of the children of Israel assembled together at Shiloh, and set up the tabernacle of the congregation there. And the land was subdued before them.
  2 And there remained among the children of Israel seven tribes, which had not yet received their inheritance.
  3 And Joshua said unto the children of Israel, How long are ye slack to go to possess the land, which the LORD God of your fathers hath given you?
  4 Give out from among you three men for each tribe: and I will send them, and they shall rise, and go through the land, and describe it according to the inheritance of them; and they shall come again to me.
  5 And they shall divide it into seven parts: Judah shall abide in their coast on the south, and the house of Joseph shall abide in their coasts on the north.
  6 Ye shall therefore describe the land into seven parts, and bring the description hither to me, that I may cast lots for you here before the LORD our God.
  7 But the Levites have no part among you; for the priesthood of the LORD is their inheritance: and Gad, and Reuben, and half the tribe of Manasseh, have received their inheritance beyond Jordan on the east, which Moses the servant of the LORD gave them.
  8 And the men arose, and went away: and Joshua charged them that went to describe the land, saying, Go and walk through the land, and describe it, and come again to me, that I may here cast lots for you before the LORD in Shiloh.
  9 And the men went and passed through the land, and described it by cities into seven parts in a book, and came again to Joshua to the host at Shiloh.
  10 And Joshua cast lots for them in Shiloh before the LORD: and there Joshua divided the land unto the children of Israel according to their divisions.
  11 And the lot of the tribe of the children of Benjamin came up according to their families: and the coast of their lot came forth between the children of Judah and the children of Joseph.
  12 And their border on the north side was from Jordan; and the border went up to the side of Jericho on the north side, and went up through the mountains westward; and the goings out thereof were at the wilderness of Bethaven.
  13 And the border went over from thence toward Luz, to the side of Luz, which is Bethel, southward; and the border descended to Atarothadar, near the hill that lieth on the south side of the nether Bethhoron.
  14 And the border was drawn thence, and compassed the corner of the sea southward, from the hill that lieth before Bethhoron southward; and the goings out thereof were at Kirjathbaal, which is Kirjathjearim, a city of the children of Judah: this was the west quarter.
  15 And the south quarter was from the end of Kirjathjearim, and the border went out on the west, and went out to the well of waters of Nephtoah:
  16 And the border came down to the end of the mountain that lieth before the valley of the son of Hinnom, and which is in the valley of the giants on the north, and descended to the valley of Hinnom, to the side of Jebusi on the south, and descended to Enrogel,
  17 And was drawn from the north, and went forth to Enshemesh, and went forth toward Geliloth, which is over against the going up of Adummim, and descended to the stone of Bohan the son of Reuben,
  18 And passed along toward the side over against Arabah northward, and went down unto Arabah:
  19 And the border passed along to the side of Bethhoglah northward: and the outgoings of the border were at the north bay of the salt sea at the south end of Jordan: this was the south coast.
  20 And Jordan was the border of it on the east side. This was the inheritance of the children of Benjamin, by the coasts thereof round about, according to their families.
  21 Now the cities of the tribe of the children of Benjamin according to their families were Jericho, and Bethhoglah, and the valley of Keziz.
  22 And Betharabah, and Zemaraim, and Bethel,
  23 And Avim, and Parah, and Ophrah,
  24 And Chepharhaammonai, and Ophni, and Gaba; twelve cities with their villages:
  25 Gibeon, and Ramah, and Beeroth,
  26 And Mizpeh, and Chephirah, and Mozah,
  27 And Rekem, and Irpeel, and Taralah,
  28 And Zelah, Eleph, and Jebusi, which is Jerusalem, Gibeath, and Kirjath; fourteen cities with their villages. This is the inheritance of the children of Benjamin according to their families.

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