Notes & Commentary:
Ver. 2. Juda. Thus was verified the prediction of Jacob, that Simeon and Levi, who had been too much united for the destruction of Sichem, should be scattered among their brethren, Genesis xxxiv., and xlix. 6. The tribe of Simeon was not very numerous, Numbers xxvi. 14. Yet all his cities are not here enumerated, but only such as served to point out the limits. The Jews suppose that this tribe occupied the cities of Juda only as long as the latter pleased, and that it was driven out of them in the days of David, (1 Paralipomenon iv. 31.; Rabbins ap. Mas.) or at least under the reign of Ezechias, when it was forced to seek fresh settlements in Gador and Seir, 1 Paralipomenon v. 39. It was, however, led into captivity by Salmanasar along with the other nine tribes, in the sixth year of Ezechias, 4 Kings xvii. 6. The lot of Simeon was not in the centre of Juda, but only within his limits, (Calmet) either on the south, (Cellarius) or on the west side, (Calmet) or on both. (Haydock) — And Sabee. This is the same town with the preceding, otherwise there would be 14 instead of 13, ver. 6. (Menochius) — If this be not the case, we may give the same solution as chap. xv. 62.
Ver. 4. Bethul. We shall see elsewhere whether this be the Bethulia of Judith. Some place a town of this name in Galilee, near Tiberias, (Brocard) of which, however, there is no proof. (Cellar. iii. 31.)
Ver. 9. Great. The land measurers, it seems, had been under a mistake, (Menochius) which was corrected by the ancients. Distributive justice was to be observed.
Ver. 11. From the sea. Hebrew, “towards the sea.” Bonfrere asserts that Zabulon did not extend quite to the shore of the Mediterranean, chap. xvii. 10. (Calmet) — Torrent, near Sidon, which some call the river Belus or Papis. (Pliny, [Natural History?] v. 19.
Ver. 13. Geth-hepher, the birth-place of Jonas, 4 Kings xiv. 25. See chap. xii. 17.
Ver. 15. Bethlehem, very different from that of Juda. — Twelve. Nineteen are mentioned, but some of them belong to other tribes, (Calmet) or were not properly cities. (Menochius) — All the towns of Zabulon are not specified. (Calmet)
Ver. 17. Issachar. The reason why he has been placed after his younger brother, Zabulon, both here and in the blessing of Jacob, is not known.
Ver. 18. Jezrael. This was a city of the first note, (Menochius) situated in the vale between Mount Hermon and Gelboe, having Bethsan on the east. — Sunem, where Eliseus raised the child to life, five miles south of Thabor. (St. Jerome) — Here the Philistines were encamped the day before the battle, in which Saul was slain and Israel dispersed, 1 Kings xxviii. 4. (Calmet)
Ver. 20. Rabbath. These four cities formed the western boundary, though Serarius observes, this tribe extended as far as the Mediterranean, being in possession of Carmel, which lay close to the shore. (Menochius)
Ver. 21. Engannim, called Enam, 1 Paralipomenon vi. 73. — Enhadda. There was another town of this name, 10 miles from Eleutheropolis. (Calmet) — This and the four following towns lay on the north of Issachar. (Menochius) — Bethsames, “the house of the sun.” Juda and Nephthali had also a Bethsames.
Ver. 26. Carmel, so famous for the miracles of Elias, 3 Kings xviii. 20. Josephus (Jewish Wars ii. 17,) places it 120 stadia south of Ptolemais. This range of mountains extended northward through the tribes of Issachar and of Zabulon. Pliny ([Natural History?] v. 17,) speaks of a promontory and of a town of this name. Here also the god Carmel was adored, having an altar, but no temple or image, as the ancients had decreed. Nec simulacrum Deo aut templum, (sic tradidere majores) ara tantum et reverentia. (Tacitus, Hist. ii. 78.) — Vespasian consulted the priest Basilides. Carmel means “the vineyard of the Lord,” or the excellent vineyard, &c. It was so rich and beautiful as to become proverbial. The spouse compares the head of his beloved to Carmel, chap. vii. 5. Isaias (xxxii. 15,) foretels that the deserts shall be equal to Carmel. It was covered with wood and fruit. (St. Jerome in Isaias x. 18., and Jeremias iv. 26.) The city, which was built upon this mountain, and which Pliny calls by the same name, was formerly styled Ecbatana. The oracle had denounced to Cambyses that he should die at Ecbatana, and he concluded that the city of Media was meant; but it was “that of Syria,” says Herodotus, (iii. 64,) where he died. — Labanath. Hebrew leaves out the conjunction. — Sihor means a “troubled” river, (chap. xiii. 3,) or brook, which probably ran near the white promontory mentioned by Pliny, (v. 19,) near Tyre. Labanath signifies “white.”
Ver. 27. Bethdagon. “The temple of Dagon, or of the fish,” different from the town of Juda, chap. xv. 41. — Zabulon, a city which took its name from the tribe, and separated Ptolemais from Judea. (Josephus, Jewish Wars ii. 37.) — Left; that is, the north side of Cabul, which means either the canton where the 20 cities of Hiram were situated, or a village which Josephus (Vita) calls Chabolo, which lies near the sea, and Ptolemais.
Ver. 28. Rohob, on the northern extremity of the land, Numbers xiii. 22. It was assigned to the Levites. But the tribe of Aser never drove out the Chanaanites, Judges i. 31. — Cana, where Christ wrought his first miracle, about 23 miles west of Tiberias, as we may gather from Josephus. (Vita) (Cellarius) — Some would admit another Cana nearer Sidon.
Ver. 29. Horma. Hebrew, Septuagint, &c., Rama, “a height.” — Of Tyre. When this city was founded, is wrapped up in obscurity. The Tyrian priests claim a very high antiquity; whereas Josephus (Antiquities viii. 2,) allows that the city was founded only 200 years after Josue, on which supposition this name must have been added by a subsequent writer. The matter, however, is so uncertain, that nothing can be concluded. It was a colony of Sidon, Isaias xxiii. 12. Old Tyre was on the continent; the new city was built in an island, where the temple of Jupiter Olympius formerly stood. Alexander made a road between the two cities, when he besieged New Tyre: which, on that account, may be considered either as an island, or as part of the continent. He used for this purpose the ruins of the old city, which he threw into the sea. Hiram had formed a similar road to the temple of Jupiter. (Dius. ap. Josephus, contra Apion i.) Whether Nebuchodonosor besieged the Old or the New Tyre, soon after he had taken Jerusalem, authors are not agreed. St. Jerome (in Ezechiel xxviii., and Amos i., &c.) seems to think that he attacked the new city; whereas Marsham believes that it was built only after the other had fallen a prey to the arms of the Chaldeans. It was only five or 700 paces from the continent. Tyrus quondam insula pręalto mari septingentis passibus divisa, nunc vero Alexandri oppugnantis operibus continens. (Pliny, [Natural History?] v. 19.) — Portion. Hebrew, “from the coast of Achzib,” which is the same town as Ecdippe, south of Tyre, and nine miles from Ptolemais. (Calmet)
Ver. 30. Amma; perhaps on mount Amana, a part of Libanus, Canticle of Canticles iv. 8. For though the Israelites had possession of these parts only a short time, they had a right to them, and to the countries as far as the Euphrates and Pelusium. Septuagint read, “Akom or Archob,” (Calmet) in some copies, though the Alexandrian agrees with the Vulgate. (Haydock) — Perhaps Acco, the ancient name of Ptolemais, may be meant, as it is hardly probable that so famous a city should be omitted. — Aphec, beyond Antilibanus, from which city the Israelites could not drive the Chanaanites, Judges i. 31. Here the kings of Syria assembled their forces to attack the people of God, 1 Kings xx. 26. Profane authors speak of the temple of Venus Aphachitis, who appeared in the eyes of the superstitious to shed tears. The city lay between Biblus and Heliopolis. (Zozimus, i. 58.; Eusebius (laud. Const.); Macrob. i. 21.) — Twenty-two. More are mentioned above, but some might belong to other tribes.
Ver. 33. Heleph seems to have been on the north-eastern limits of Nephthali. The cities on the Jordan southwards, as far as Genesareth, are specified. (Haydock)
Ver. 34. Juda was in possession of the southern parts of the Jordan, as Nephthali had the northern, so that by means of navigation they might enjoy the riches (Calmet) of each other, and of the other tribes. (Haydock) (Deuteronomy xxxiii. 23.) — Septuagint do not read Juda, which forms all the difficulty, as five tribes lay between these two. They have “and the Jordan is towards the rising sun.” (Calmet) — Grabe inserts, with a star, “to Juda, the Jordan,” &c., intimating that to Juda, was not a part of the Septuagint version.
Ver. 35. Ser. The Septuagint seem to have read rather differently. “And the fortified, or walled cities of the Tyrians, Tyre and Emath, (and) Bekkath,” &c. (Haydock) — Assedim may be the name of a people. The situation of Ser is also unknown. — Emath is the famous Emesa, Numbers xiii. 22. (Calmet) — Tyre, &c., belong to Aser, and not to Nephthali, as the Septuagint might insinuate. But Emesa would be within the borders of the latter. (Haydock) — Cenereth, the lake of that name, as St. Jerome says that the city of Cenereth was Tiberias, on the southern extremity of the lake whereas Nephthali possessed only the northern part. (Calmet) — Bonfrere supposes that Caphernaum, or some adjacent city, is meant; and indeed the first words of the verse indicate that a list is given of the strong cities, unless that should be restricted to those of the Assedim, which are not specified. (Haydock)
Ver. 36. Arama. Hebrew, “Rama.” — Asor, the capital of Jabin, chap. xi. 1.
Ver. 37. Enhasor, “the fountain of Asor,” or Daphne, a delightful spot resembling the famous suburbs of Antioch. (Josephus, Jewish Wars iv. init.)
Ver. 38. Bethanath, “the house of poverty,” is Betanea, 15 miles from Cęsarea. (Eusebius) — Nineteen. Twenty-three places are mentioned. But some might only be villages, &c., chap. xv. 62.
Ver. 41. Sun. Some suppose that it is the same with Bethsames of Juda, which was ceded to the Levites. (Calmet) — Dan lay on the west of Juda. (Haydock) — Selebin, where the Amorrhites maintained themselves, Judges i. 35.
Ver. 43. Themna; the Thamna of the tribe of Juda, chap. xv. 10. — Acron, or Accaron.
Ver. 44. Elthece, or Elthecon of Juda, given to the Levites. All the three tribes might dwell in it.
Ver. 45. Barach. Hebrew, “Bene-barac,” or “Jud, of the sons of Barac.”
Ver. 46. Mejarcon, “the waters of Jarcon” and Arecon, were near Joppe. (Calmet)
Ver. 47. There. Hebrew, “and the limits of Dan went out from them. They were not able to keep the cities in subjection; so that, finding themselves too much confined, they sought for fresh settlements at Lessem; or, their borders were known by these cities, through which they passed, (Calmet) though most of them had been already assigned to the tribe of Juda. (Menochius) — Dan. This city was not Peneas, or Cęsarea, but the utmost boundary of Palestine on the north, as Bersabee was on the south. This history is given more at large, Judges xviii. 1. The Septuagint vary from the Hebrew in verses 46, 47, and 48, (Calmet) and add that “the children of Dan did not destroy the Amorrhites, who afflicted them in the mountain, and would not suffer them to descend into the plain….But the hand of Ephraim lay heavy upon them, and they became tributary to them. (See chap. xvii. 13.) 49. And they went to take possession of their limits, and the children of Israel,” &c. (Haydock)
Ver. 50. Lord, by the mouth of Eleazar. Josue was content with one of the most barren parts of the country. He waits till all are provided for, shewing throughout his life a pattern of moderation and disinterestedness, which render him worthy to be considered as a figure of Jesus Christ, who reduced himself to the lowest state of abjection for our sakes. (Calmet) See chap. xiv. 6. (Menochius) — Ephraim. It was before called Gaas; and the city, which Josue enlarged, lay on the north side of it, chap. xxiv. 30., and Judges ii. 9.
Bible Text & Cross-references:
The lots of the tribes of Simeon, Zabulon, Issachar, Aser, Nephthali, and Dan. A city is given to Josue.
1 And the second lot came forth for the children of Simeon by their kindreds: and their inheritance was
2 In the midst of the possession of the children of Juda: Bersabee, and Sabee, and Molada,
3 And Hasersual, Bala, and Asem,
4 And Eltholan, Bethul, and Harma,
5 And Siceleg, and Bethmarchaboth, and Hasersusa,
6 And Bethlebaoth, and Sarohen: thirteen cities, and their villages:
7 Ain, and Remmon, and Athor, and Asan: four cities, and their villages.
8 And all the villages round about these cities to Baalath Beer Ramath, to the south quarter. This is the inheritance of the children of Simeon according to their kindreds,
9 In the possession and lot of the children of Juda: because it was too great, and therefore the children of Simeon had their possession in the midst of their inheritance.
10 And the third lot fell to the children of Zabulon by their kindreds: and the border of their possession was unto Sarid.
11 And it went up from the sea, and from Merala, and came to Debbaseth: as far as the torrent, which is over-against Jeconam.
12 And it returneth from Sarid eastward to the borders of Ceseleththabor: and it goeth out to Dabereth, and ascendeth towards Japhie.
13 And it passeth along from thence to the east side of Gethhepher and Thacasin: and goeth out to Remmon, Amthar and Noa.
14 And it turneth about to the north of Hanathon: and the outgoings thereof are the valley of Jepthahel,
15 And Cateth, and Naalol, and Semeron, and Jedala, and Bethlehem: twelve cities and their villages.
16 This is the inheritance of the tribe of the children of Zabulon, by their kindreds, the cities and their villages.
17 The fourth lot came out to Issachar by their kindreds.
18 And his inheritance was Jezrael, and Casaloth, and Sunem,
19 And Hapharaim, and Seon, and Anaharath,
20 And Rabboth, and Cesion, Abes,
21 And Rameth, and Engannim, and Enhadda, and Bethphases.
22 And the border thereof cometh to Thabor, and Sehesima, and Bethsames: and the outgoings thereof shall be at the Jordan: sixteen cities, and their villages.
23 This is the possession of the sons of Issachar by their kindreds, the cities and their villages.
24 And the fifth lot fell to the tribe of the children of Aser by their kindreds:
25 And their border was Halcath, and Chali, and Beten, and Axaph,
26 And Elmelech, and Amaad, and Messal: and it reacheth to Carmel by the sea, and Sihor, and Labanath,
27 And it returneth towards the east to Bethdagon: and passeth along to Zabulon and to the valley of Jephthael towards the north to Bethemec and Nehiel. And it goeth out to the left side of Cabul,
28 And to Abaran, and Rohob, and Hamon, and Cana, as far as the great Sidon.
29 And it returneth to Horma to the strong city of Tyre, and to Hosa: and the outgoings thereof shall be at the sea from the portion of Achziba:
30 And Amma, and Aphec, and Rohob: twenty-two cities, and their villages.
31 This is the possession of the children of Aser by their kindreds, and the cities and their villages.
32 The sixth lot came out to the sons of Nephthali by their families:
33 And the border began from Heleph and Elon to Saananim, and Adami, which is Neceb, and Jebnael even to Lecum: and their outgoings unto the Jordan:
34 And the border returneth westward to Azanotthabor, and goeth out from thence to Hucuca, and passeth along to Zabulon southward, and to Aser westward, and to Juda upon the Jordan towards the rising of the sun.
35 And the strong cities are Assedim, Ser, and Emath, and Reccath and Cenereth,
36 And Edema, and Arama, Asor,
37 And Cedes, and Edrai, Enhasor,
38 And Jeron, and Magdalel, Horem, and Bethanath, and Bethsames: nineteen cities, and their villages.
39 This is the possession of the tribe of the children of Nephthali, by their kindreds, the cities and their villages.
40 The seventh lot came out to the tribe of the children of Dan by their families:
41 And the border of their possession was Saraa, and Esthaol, and Hirsemes, that is, the city of the sun.
42 Selebin, and Aialon, and Jethela,
43 Elon, and Themna, and Acron,
44 Elthece, Gebbethon, and Balaath,
45 And Jud, and Bane, and Barach, and Gethremmon:
46 And Mejarcon, and Arecon, with the border that looketh towards Joppe,
47 And is terminated there. And the children of Dan went up and fought against Lesem, and took it: and they put it to the sword, and possessed it, and dwelt in it, calling the name of it Lesem Dan, by the name of Dan their father.
48 This is the possession of the tribe of the sons of Dan, by their kindreds, the cities and their villages.
49 And when he had made an end of dividing the land by lot to each one by their tribes, the children of Israel gave a possession to Josue, the son of Nun, in the midst of them,
50 According to the commandment of the Lord, the city which he asked for, Thamnath Saraa in Mount Ephraim: and he built up the city, and dwelt in it.
51 These are the possessions, which Eleazar, the priest, and Josue, the son of Nun, and the princes of the families, and of the tribes of the children of Israel, distributed by lot in Silo, before the Lord at the door of the tabernacle of the testimony, and they divided the land.