Joshua 15 Bible Commentary

John Wesley’s Explanatory Notes

(Read all of Joshua 15)

Verse 1

[1] This then was the lot of the tribe of the children of Judah by their families; even to the border of Edom the wilderness of Zin southward was the uttermost part of the south coast.

The lot — For the general understanding of this, it must be known 1. That casting lots was transacted with great seriousness and solemnity, in God's presence, with prayer and appeal to him for the decision of the matter. 2. That although exact survey of this land was not taken 'till chap. 18:4,5, yet there was, and must needs be a general description of it, and a division thereof into nine parts and an half; which, as far as they could guess, were equal either in quantity or quality. 3. That the lot did not at this time so unchangeably determine each tribe, that their portion could neither be increased or diminished; as is manifest, because after Judah's lot was fixed, Simeon's lot was taken out of it, chap. 19:9, though after the land was more distinctly known and surveyed, it is likely the bounds were more certain and fixed. 4. 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 was two pots, 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 pot, and then the name of one portion out of the other, and that portion was appropriated to that tribe. And with respect to these pots, 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 preeminency above his brethren.

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 seated: and on them the other seven attended.

Verse 2

[2] And their south border was from the shore of the salt sea, from the bay that looketh southward:

The bay — Heb. 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: the ruins of which lie buried at the bottom of this dead water, which never was moved itself by any tides, nor had any living thing in it.

Verse 5

[5] And the east border was the salt sea, even unto the end of Jordan. And their border in the north quarter was from the bay of the sea at the uttermost part of Jordan:

The end of Jordan — That is, the place where Jordan runs into the salt-sea.

Verse 6

[6] And the border went up to Bethhogla, and passed along by the north of Betharabah; and the border went up to the stone of Bohan the son of Reuben:

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.

Verse 8

[8] And the border went up by the valley of the son of Hinnom unto the south side of the Jebusite; the same is Jerusalem: and the border went up to the top of the mountain that lieth before the valley of Hinnom westward, which is at the end of the valley of the giants northward:

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, chap. 18:16, because there it takes a contrary course, and goes downward to Jordan and the sea.

Valley of Hinnom — A very pleasant place, but afterward made infamous.

Of the Jebusites — Of the city of the Jebusites, which was anciently called Jebussi.

Jerusalem — It may seem hence, that Jerusalem properly, or at least principally, belonged to Benjamin; and yet it is ascribed to Judah also; either because a part of the city was allotted to Judah; or because the Benjamites desired the help and conjunction of this powerful tribe of Judah, for the getting and keeping of this most important place. And when the Benjamites had in vain attempted to drive out the Jebusites, this work was at last done by the tribe of Judah, who therefore had an interest in it by the right of war; as Ziglag which belonged to the tribe of Simeon, being gotten from the Philistines by David, was joined by him to his tribe of Judah, 1 Samuel 27:6.

Verse 10

[10] And the border compassed from Baalah westward unto mount Seir, and passed along unto the side of mount Jearim, which is Chesalon, on the north side, and went down to Bethshemesh, and passed on to Timnah:

Mount Seir — Not that of Edom, but another so called from some resemblance it had to it.

Verse 13

[13] And unto Caleb the son of Jephunneh he gave a part among the children of Judah, according to the commandment of the LORD to Joshua, even the city of Arba the father of Anak, which city is Hebron.

He — Joshua.

City of Arba — Or, Kirjath-arba. Not the city, which was the Levites, but the territory of it, chap. 21:13.

Verse 14

[14] And Caleb drove thence the three sons of Anak, Sheshai, and Ahiman, and Talmai, the children of Anak.

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.

Three sons of Anak — Either the same who are mentioned, Numbers 13:33, and so they were long-lived men, such as mainly were in those times and places: or their sons, called by their father's names, which is very usual.

Verse 15

[15] And he went up thence to the inhabitants of Debir: and the name of Debir before was Kirjathsepher.

Debir — The same mentioned above, verse 7. The name was Kirjath-sepher - This clause seems to be added to distinguish this from the other Debir subdued by Joshua, chap. 10:38,39.

Verse 16

[16] And Caleb said, He that smiteth Kirjathsepher, and taketh it, to him will I give Achsah my daughter to wife.

To wife — Which is to be understood with some conditions, as, if he were one who could marry her by 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

[18] And it came to pass, as she came unto him, that she moved him to ask of her father a field: and she lighted off her ass; and Caleb said unto her, What wouldest thou?

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, 1. That he would ask: or rather, 2. 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 suppliant, which he understood by her gesture.

Verse 19

[19] Who answered, Give me a blessing; for thou hast given me a south land; give me also springs of water. And he gave her the upper springs, and the nether springs.

A blessing — That is, a gift, as that word signifies, Genesis 33:11.

A south land — That is, a dry land, 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; she begs a well moistened field, which also might give some relief to that which was dry and barren.

Upper and nether springs — Or 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

[32] And Lebaoth, and Shilhim, and Ain, and Rimmon: all the cities are twenty and nine, with their villages:

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, 1. properly belonged to Judah; the rest fell to Simeon's lot; or 2. 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

[48] And in the mountains, Shamir, and Jattir, and Socoh,

The mountains — That is, in the higher grounds called mountains or hills, in comparison of the sea-coast.

Verse 55

[55] Maon, Carmel, and Ziph, and Juttah,

Ziph — Which gave its name to the neighbouring mountains, 1 Samuel 26:1.

Verse 62

[62] And Nibshan, and the city of Salt, and Engedi; six cities with their villages.

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

[63] As for the Jebusites the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the children of Judah could not drive them out: but the Jebusites dwell with the children of Judah at Jerusalem unto this day.

Inhabitants of Jerusalem — For though Jerusalem was in part taken by Joshua before this; yet the upper and stronger part of it, called Zion, was still kept by the Jebusites, even until David's time; and it seems from thence they descended to the lower town called Jerusalem, and took it so that the Israelites were forced to win it a second time; yea, and a third time also: for afterwards it was possessed by the Jebusites, Judges 19:11; 2 Samuel 5:6,7.

Could not drive them out — Namely, because of their unbelief, as Christ could do no mighty work, because of the peoples unbelief, Mark 6:5,6; Matthew 13:58, and because of their sloth, and cowardice, and wickedness, whereby they forfeited God's help.

The children of Judah — The same things which are here said of the children of Judah, are said of the Benjamites, Judges 1:21. Hence ariseth a question, To which of the tribes Jerusalem belonged? It seems probable, that part of it, and indeed the greatest part, stood in the tribe of Benjamin; and hence this is mentioned in the list of their cities, and not in Judah's list; and part of it stood in Judah's share, even mount Moriah, on which the temple was built; and mount Sion, when it was taken from the Jebusites.

To 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 by some other man of God. But this must be done before David's time, when the Jebusites were quite expelled, and their fort taken.