JOSHUA 15
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[Yehoshua 15 Orthodox Jewish Bible (OJB)]

The Borders of Judah 

1 This then was the lot [goral] of the tribe of the children of Judah [Bnei Yehudah] by their families [mishpekhot]; even to the border [territory] of Edom the wilderness of Zin southward was the uttermost part of the south coast [midbar of Tzin toward the Negev in the extreme south].

Sections of the book of Joshua provide remarkable detail concerning the boundaries of the tribal territories. With an appreciable knowledge of the geography of the Holy Land these chapters should prove most interesting, and at times intriguing.

For those not so well advanced in their understanding of the topography of the Land, a careful study of these chapters is highly recommended...

With the objective of gaining a better understanding concerning the geography of the Land, the student will become increasingly enthusiastic as places are pinpointed, their topography noted, their relevance to other towns and places identified, and major events associated with those places brought to mind.

A study of the natural features of the Land, its towns and cities, plains and mountains, rivers and valleys, helps to make the Bible "live" more clearly in the mind of the student. Events and personalities become more vivid when considered in relation to their relative environment.

Caleb, a man of outstanding faith and spiritual virtue, had been allotted his portion in the land. Now the time had come for the assigning of territory to the "families" (lit. clans) of the "tribe" of Judah. The word rendered "tribe" signifies "a branch" - as something extending.

The word relates to something which is "stretched" or "spread out". In itself, the word (Heb., mattah) is strongly exhortational. It implies the development and expansion of the tribes of Israel.

The ideal expressed at the time of creation: "Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth. . ." (Gen. 1:28) has never changed in its spiritual concept. Yahweh desires the development of a "godly seed" from generation to generation (Mai. 2:15). The word "tribe" therefore presents a challenge to the Israel of God: the purpose of Yahweh must continue unabated, the people of Yahweh labouring to ''spread" and "extend" the work of the Truth, especially insofar as their own descendants are concerned.

The inheritance of Judah was to reach "unto the boundary of Edom, the desert of Zin southward, on the extreme south" (Roth.). The southern extremity was to be "at the end of the Salt Sea" (Roth.) from the "peninsula" (see marg.). Maaleh-acrabbim was between the

Arabah and the hill country of Judea. Kadesh-barnea lay between the wilderness of Zin and Paran. The southern boundary would reach from "the Sea" unto "the end of Jordan" - that is, where Jordan emptied into the Dead Sea.

These verses are referring directly to Num.34:1-5. Subsequent verses in Joshua's fifteenth chapter may be identified with the thirty fourth chapter of Numbers. *


8 And the border went up by the [by Ben Hinnom Valley] unto the south side of the Jebusite [ the slope of the Yevusi]; the same is Jerusalem [Yerushalayim]: and the border went up to the top of the mountain [har] that lieth before the valley of Hinnom westward, which is at the end of the valley of the giants [Repha'im] northward:

The eighth verse shows that the original city of Jerusalem was placed within the canton of Benjamin. David added to the original city, building towards the south. These additions were thus within Judah's territory. For example, in the days of Hezekiah the Pool of Siloam was within the walls of Jerusalem (2 Chron. 32:30).

This would not have been so in the days of Joshua. Ultimately, the city straddled the border, and therefore lay partly within the province of Benjamin and partly within Judah. However, from the times of David, Jerusalem was always identified with the tribe of Judah. *



11 And the border went out unto the side of Ekron northward: and the border was drawn to Shicron [Shikkeron], and passed along to Mount Baalah, and went out unto [Yavne'el]; and the goings out of the border were at the sea [Yam (Mediterranean Sea)].

This was one of the five great cities of the Philistines. All Philistine territory should have been subdued by Judah; and although Judges 1:18 indicates partial success in that regard, the Israelites did not control the Philistine cities for long (1 Sam. 4, 5). * 

Caleb, Achsah and Othniel (Vv.13-19)

13 And unto Caleb the son of Jephunneh [Kalev ben Yephunneh] he gave a part [chelek] among (in the midst of) the children of Judah [Bnei Yehudah], according to the commandment of Yahweh to Joshua [Yehoshua], even the city of Arba [Kiryat-Arba] the father of Anak [ avi HaAnak], which city is Hebron [Chevron].

From all the clans in Judah's tribe, Caleb had been given a "portion" (J.B., Roth.) "in the midst of" the children of Judah (Roth.). This implies that a great honour had been heaped upon Caleb for his faithfulness. His reward had been "according to the commandment of

Yahweh" - a warm and encouraging reminder to all God's servants that He may be fully relied upon to remain faithful to that which He has promised.

Caleb had become a recipient of the gratuitous goodness of Yahweh because he had "staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief" (Rom. 4:20). Arba, an earlier name for Hebron, had been seized by Caleb despite the enormous strength and stature of its inhabitants. Faith is able to conquer the greatest of adversaries. *



14 And Caleb [Kalev] drove thence the three sons [Bnei] of Anak, Sheshai, and [Achiman], and Talmai, the children [descendants] of Anak.

Anak means "long-necked" and was doubtless reflective of the great height of the Anakim.

Willingly and courageously, Caleb had gone to war against these powerful Canaanites. And had defeated them. Caleb "drove thence" the sons of Anak. The Heb. word signifies

"to take possession, to occupy, especially by force" (Ges.). Significantly, the same word occurs in relation to the future inheritance of God's immortalised saints.

"What man is he that feareth Yahweh? . . . His soul shall dwell at ease; and his seed shall inherit the earth . . .". "Those that wait upon Yahweh, they shall inherit the earth . . . The meek shall inherit the earth . . . Such as be blessed of Him shall inherit the earth . . . The righteous shall inherit the land (eretz), and dwell therein for ever . . ." (Ps. 25:13; 37:9, 11, 22, 29).

Using the same word, Isaiah wrote: "He that putteth his trust in me shall possess the land, and shall inherit my holy mountain . . . " (Isa.57:13).

A correct understanding of the meaning of this word is most advantageous. Its usage both in relation to Israel's inheritance under Joshua and the inheritance which awaits those who will establish the Kingdom of God under the direction of the Greater Joshua shows that, as with Caleb, the immortalised saints will not merely be "given" the land: they will take possession of their inheritance by force.

As in the past, so in the future: the gentiles will be dispossessed. Those who offer opposition will be destroyed or rendered powerless. Their governments, armed forces, social, economic and religious systems will be overthrown (Dan. 2:44; 7:14; Rev. 11:15, etc.). In that day, "a

king shall reign in righteousness, and princes shall rule in judgment . . . And the work of righteousness shall be peace; and the effect of righteousness, quietness and assurance for the olahm" - the hidden period of one thousand years (Isa. 32:1. 17, cp. Rev. 20:4, 6).

... Thus, through faith, Caleb and his clan triumphed over the Anakim. *



16 And Caleb [Kalev] said, He that smiteth Kirjathsepher [strikes down Kiryat Sefer], and taketh it, to him will I give Achsah my daughter to wife [bat as isha].

Having stormed and taken Hebron, Caleb then moved his family army on to Debir, which was twelve miles south-west of Hebron, on the edge of the Shephilah. There, he issued a challenge to the members of his clan.

It should be observed that Caleb's invitation required not simply war against the ungodly, but a continuation of the fight until victory was attained. This attitude was typical of the man. His desire was to inspire sufficient faith amongst his kin that they would be united, under the leadership of a man of faith, striving together in the warfare against sin. *


***

The name Achsah means "an ornament," particularly around the feet - the basic idea being a binding around the feet - an anklet. We think of that beautiful picture of Mary anointing the feet of Jesus with the precious ointment, and wiping them with the hair of her head. It is recorded that-

"The house was filled with the odour of the ointment" (Jhn. 12:3).

Certainly Mary's humble attitude made her a beautiful ornament around the Master's feet. Her ways are related to the path followed by the Master. We recall it was recorded of Mary, she-"also sat at Jesus' feet, and heard his word" (Lk, 10:39)...

The Berean Christadelphian, Nov 2017



17 And Othniel the son of Kenaz [Otniel ben Kenaz], the brother of Caleb [Kalev], took it: and he gave him Achsah his daughter to wife [bat as isha].

Othniel came forward to take up the challenge. It is difficult to establish his precise relationship to Caleb. The word rendered "brother" in the A.V. had "wider use among the Hebrews, and is used for any relative, kinsman" (Gesenius). The word has been used to

describe a man of the same tribe, an ally, one confederate with another, any friend, or any Israelite. Perhaps the most accurate answer to this question is found in the Book of Judges, where it is stated that he was "the son of Kenaz, Caleb's younger brother . . ." (3:9).

It appears, then, that Othniel was Caleb's nephew. In this incident Othniel showed himself to be a dedicated man of faith; and suchwas the extent of his spiritual stature that he later rose to become a Judge in Israel (see again, Judg. 3:9). His name means "Lion of Ail" (Gesenius). As such, he was a type of Christ: he won his bride through the exercise of faith and devotion to the cause of Yahweh.

As Caleb's nephew, it is reasonable to assume that he was well acquainted with Achsah. To meet the standards of such a spirituallyminded man, Achsah must have been a woman of fine character and sound spiritual qualities. Her name means "an anklet" - typifying the spiritual beauty of Christ's Bride.

Similar to Christ's attitude towards his Bride, it is evident that Othniel had a deep love and affection for Achsah. Otherwise, why would he have risked his life in such a venture as Caleb had proposed? With Othniel, as a type of Christ, faith and love conquered fear and overcame the sin-power. In this incident, sinful flesh is typified in the Canaanitish inhabitants of Debir, who fell before the sword of Othniel and those who fought by his side. *


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

19 [She] answered, Give me a blessing [brocha]; for thou hast given me a south land [eretz HaNegev (land in the southern desert)]; give me also springs of water. And he gave her the upper springs, and the nether [lower] springs.

True to his word, Caleb presented his daughter Achsah to Othniel, and she became his wife.

Coming into the presence of her father, she "lighted off her ass" - an expression meaning "to alight, to cause to descend, to drive down". Whilst obviously relating to her action, the word is expressive of her reverence for her father, and her humility. In her approach to her father, she combined the qualities of submission and confidence.

Yahweh's sons and daughters must approach Him in a similar manner. Caleb asked her: "What do you want?" (J.B.). She replied: "Give me a blessing", indicating that she sought an additional gift. She had considered the land which her father had offered, but realised that its water supply was inadequate. What was the advantage of possessing land which would prove unproductive? The earth must bring forth fruit to meet the needs of mankind. Similarly, in a spiritual sense, God's servants must have the "water of life" if they are to produce "fruit" to the glory of Yahweh.

It is evident that Achsah was petitioning her father in the same way and upon the same principle as God's children make known their needs to their Heavenly Father. "Thou hast given me a south land", she acknowledged. The word negev means "to be parched or dry". She therefore presented a line of reasoning which would have been difficult to deny. "Give me a present, for dry land hast thou given me, therefore must thou give me pools of water" (Roth.).

Caleb understood that her request was not unreasonable. Being a fair man, and having in mind the best interests of his children (a divine characteristic), he acquiesced. He displayed no selfishness; there was no friction or debate over the matter. This is indicative of a strong

bond of love and unity within Caleb's family. Caleb's response also implies that his daughter had approached him in a proper and loving manner in regard to the question.

Her attitude did not reveal any element of petulance or avarice. He was thus pleased to grant her request. "So he gave her upper pools and lower pools" (Roth.). In view of the

conditions which were in evidence in that area, it is likely that these "pools" were wells which were fed from springs. 

Achsah was very much like her father. Her ready acceptance of Othniel, together with her attitude towards her father, reveals qualities of integrity and spirituality.

Like her father, she was zealous and quick to seize upon an opportunity. As a type of Christ's Bride, Achsah sought from her father something which, apart from his graciousness, she was unable to attain. At the same time, she had sufficient confidence in her father that she did not hesitate to make her needs known to him in a correct and respectful way.

She sought a greater inheritance - a total blessing - that her inheritance might be complete.

Such is the spirit which will be developed in all who will be numbered among the redeemed. "Shew us thy mercy, Ο Yahweh, and grant us thy salvation . . . " (Ps. 85:7). Of Christ it was prophesied:

"Because he hath set his love upon me, therefore will I deliver him, and honour him. With long life will I satisfy him, and shew him my salvation . . ." (Ps. 91:14-16).

And Yahweh will exhibit these same qualities of character towards all His sons and daughters who follow in the footsteps of His greatest Son. Othniel and Achsah provide wonderful examples.

Those who have been called to serve Yahweh cannot hope to justify their dismay and disappointment if, having manifested an unacceptable attitude, they find themselves rejected at the Judgment Seat. Slothfulness, apathetic disinterest in what God has to offer and in that

which He requires from his servants, lack of zealous dedication, little appreciation of the Hope of Israel - these are weaknesses which can hardly be calculated to elicit Christ's approval. If men and women are not sufficiently interested in the things of the Kingdom of God, they should not be surprised if they are found unworthy to inherit it.

Following the example of Othniel and Achsah, it is necessary to 'seek . . . first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness. . ."(Matt. 6:33). Those who do so, in spirit and in truth, will rejoice together, approved in the day of Judgment with those of like mind, who, down through the ages, have manifested a similar disposition. Like Othniel and Achsah. And her father, Caleb. *


Cities, Towns and Villages in Judah's Portion

20 This is the inheritance [ nachalah] of the tribe of the children of Judah [ Bnei Yehudah] according to their families [mishpekhot].

With meticulous care, they are divided into four sections: the area of the "south" (Vv.21-32), the 'Valley"Lit., shephilah, Vv.33-47), the "mountains" (Vv.48-60) and the "wilderness" (Vv.61-62). *



32 And [Levaot, and Shilchim, and Ayin], and Rimmon: all the cities are 29, with their villages:

The word "villages" occurs many times throughout the book of Joshua. It is generally used to describe relatively small hamlets, and thus defines much smaller settlements than those described as "towns". *


47 Ashdod with her towns and her villages, Gaza [Azah] with her towns and her villages, unto the river of Egypt [Wadi Mitzrayim], and the great sea [Yam HaGadol], and the border [ coastline] thereof:

The word "towns" occurs three times: once in v.45 and twice in v.47. The Hebrew word bath literally means "a daughter" - the obvious implication being that such towns were regarded as "offspring" from the "parent" city. It is, in fact, the word used by Caleb, when he spoke of Achsah, my daughter. . ." (v.16, cp. occ. in v.l7 also).

However, the manner in which the word has been used in this chapter is intriguing: it is used only of cities associated with the Philistines. Why should this be so? Since all Philistine towns and cities were included in the territory of Judah, it appears that the Philistines, above all others, typified "Mystery, Babylon the great, the mother of harlots and abominations of the earth . . ." (Rev. 17:5). *



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

The final verse in the chapter highlights a sobering lesson...When this verse is compared with Judg. 1:8, 21 and 2 Sam. 5:6, it appears that the men of Judah subdued the lower part of the city only, but failed to drive the Jebusites from the heights of Zion and the northern part of the city - a task which was not accomplished until the days of David.

The name Jebus means "trodden down, as a threshing-floor" (Ges.). But the men of Judah did not tread them down! Why did the men of Judah fail? It is not without significance that the words "drive them out" are identical to the words used of Caleb, in regard to his successful warfare against the Anakim.

Caleb succeeded. But his brethren who attacked Jebus failed. Why? Simply, because their hearts were not really in that which they did. They lacked the faith and wholehearted dedication of Caleb. There were not many in Judah like Caleb. Or Othniel. Or Achsah.

"So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief. . ." (Heb. 3:19).

In contrast to faithless Israelites, Abraham is held forth as a great example. The same word is used of him: "He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith . . . " (Rom.4:20).

Abraham's example is the one to follow - not that of the faithless men of Judah who refused to believe that Yahweh could bring them through warfare to victory. Trust in Yahweh's ability and willingness to deliver and save is an absolute prerequisite to successfully pursuing the warfare of faith. *

* Bro John Ullman - Joshua His Life and Times