Notes & Commentary:
Ver. 1. Princes, whose names are given, Numbers xxxiv. 17. There were 12, including Josue and Eleazar. The tribes of Ruben and Gad sent none of their princes, as they were not concerned in this distribution.
Ver. 2. Tribe. God regulated the lots, as he had authorized Jacob and Moses to foretell how the country should be divided. By this method, he precluded every pretence of discontent among the tribes. Each of them drew a ticket, on which a certain portion of land was described; or perhaps in one urn the names of the tribes, and in another the lands were specified, (Calmet) and the tickets were drawn by two persons of irreproachable character, probably by Eleazar and Josue. (Haydock) (Numbers xxvi. 54.) — Only the tribes of Juda and of Joseph received their portions at Galgal, chap. xviii.
Ver. 4. Suburbs. A certain quantity of ground, which the Levites were not allowed to till or plant with vines. (Grotius) (Numbers xxxv. 4.) — The tribe of Manasses, which was divided, fell heir to the portion which would have been allotted to Levi, who was also scattered among his brethren. (Haydock) — Thus Joseph obtained the birth-right of Ruben. (Calmet) — Twelve portions were made, as Jacob had adopted Ephraim and Manasses, Genesis xlviii. (Worthington)
Ver. 5. Land: or they were making all necessary preparations for the work, when Caleb came to remind Josue of what had been promised to him. No doubt land-measurers would be sent through the country.
Ver. 6. Jephone was the father of Caleb. Esron and Cenez probably some of his ancestors, 1 Paralipomenon ii. 18., and Numbers xxxiii. 12. What Caleb here asserts, must have been delivered by word of mouth, in the hearing of the people, Deuteronomy i. 36. Moses declared not that Caleb was to have the whole country but that he should enter into it, and possess the environs of Hebron. (Calmet)
Ver. 11. March. Hebrew, “to enter and to go out.” Septuagint add, “to war.”
Ver. 12. Me. He trusts not in his own strength, but in the assistance of God, which he modestly acknowledges is not due to him. (Calmet) — God’s promises are indeed sure on his part; but being conditional, and the will of man being free, he adds perhaps. (Worthington)
Ver. 13. Blessed him, wishing him all success. — Gave him. Some think that Josue himself attacked the giants of that country with all the forces, as it is mentioned by anticipation, chap. x. 28. But there seems to be no need of this, as Caleb might attack them a second time with his own family and the assistance of the tribe of Juda, after they had seized those places again, while Josue was in the north. Hebron was granted to him without drawing lots. When he was besieging Cariath Sepher, he promised his daughter to the person who should first enter; and Othoniel, his brother, or nephew, obtained her in marriage, chap. xv. 17., and Judges i. 10. It seems, therefore, that this family carried on this war, as the Fabii did at Rome, without the interference of the commonwealth, though Grotius asserts the contrary. (Calmet)
Ver. 14. Hebron belonged, &c. All the country thereabouts, depending on Hebron, was given to Caleb; but the city itself, with the suburbs, was one of those that were given to the priests to dwell in. (Challoner) — Caleb might also dwell, (Calmet) and be lord of the city, (Salien) though the profits (Haydock) or the town belonged to the priests, chap. xxi. 11. (Worthington)
Ver. 15. Cariath Arbe, “the city of Arbe,” and ancient giant; or “of four,” which the Jews explain of four great patriarchs, who were buried there. — Adam, &c. St. Jerome seems to favour the opinion that Adam was one of these, whose tomb ennobled Hebron, though many of the Fathers think he was buried on Mount Calvary. Others think that his body, or skull at least, was translated thither. But we cannot depend on any of these traditions. Most commentators explain the Hebrew, “The ancient name of Hebron with Cariath Arbe; (Calmet) he was a man great among the Enacim.” (Haydock) — Adam is often put for a man in general, 2 Kings vii. 19., and Osee xi. 4. (Calmet; Amama) — Septuagint, “the city of Arbo. This was the metropolis of the Enacim.” (Haydock) — Wars, for a time, particularly from such wars as engaged the attention of all Israel. The different tribes had to encounter and drive out the Chanaanites who might be left in their respective districts. (Calmet)
Bible Text & Cross-references:
Caleb’s petition. Hebron is given to him, and to his seed.
1 This is what the children of Israel possessed in the land of Chanaan, which Eleazar the priest, and Josue, the son of Nun, and the princes of the families, by the tribes of Israel, gave to them:
2 Dividing all by lot, *as the Lord had commanded by the hand of Moses, to the nine tribes, and the half tribe.
3 For to two tribes and a half, Moses had given possession beyond the Jordan: besides the Levites, who received no land among their brethren:
4 But in their place succeeded the children of Joseph, divided into two tribes, of Manasses and Ephraim: neither did the Levites receive other portion of land, but cities to dwell in, and their suburbs to feed their beasts and flocks.
5 As the Lord had commanded Moses, so did the children of Israel, and they divided the land.
6 Then the children of Juda came to Josue, in Galgal; and Caleb, the son of Jephone, the Cenezite, spoke to him: *Thou knowest what the Lord spoke to Moses, the man of God, concerning me and thee in Cades-barne.
7 I was forty years old when Moses, the servant of the Lord, sent me *from Cades-barne, to view the land, and I brought him word again as to me seemed true.
8 But my brethren, that had gone up with me, discouraged the heart of the people: and I nevertheless followed the Lord my God.
9 And Moses swore in that day, saying: The land which thy foot hath trodden upon, shall be thy possession, and thy children’s, for ever, because thou hast followed the Lord my God.
10 The Lord therefore hath granted me life, as he promised, until this present day. It is forty and five years since the Lord spoke this word to Moses, when Israel journeyed through the wilderness: this day I am eighty-five years old.
11 As strong as I was at that time when I was sent to view the land: *the strength of that time continueth in me until this day, as well to fight, as to march.
12 Give me therefore this mountain, which the Lord promised, in thy hearing also, wherein are the Enacims, and cities great and strong: if so be the Lord will be with me, and I shall be able to destroy them, as he promised me.
13 And Josue blessed him, and gave him Hebron in possession.
14 And from that time Hebron belonged to Caleb, the son of Jephone, the Cenezite, until this present day: because he followed the Lord, the God of Israel.
15 The name of Hebron before was called Cariath Arbe: Adam, the greatest among the Enacims, was laid there: *and the land rested from wars.
2: Numbers xxxiv. 13.
6: Numbers xiv. 24.
7: Deuteronomy ii. 14.
11: Ecclesiasticus xlvi. 11.
15: Josue xi. 23.