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Joshua 15


Territory of Judah The Land of Judah The Territory Assigned to Judah The Territory Assigned to Judah The Tribe of Judah
15:1-12 15:1-12 15:1-12 15:1-4 15:1-4
      15:5a 15:5
      15:12b 15:12
  Caleb Occupies Hebron and Debir   Caleb Conquers Hebron and Debir The Calebites Occupy the Territory of Hebron
15:13-19 15:13-19 15:13-19 15:13-19 15:13-19
Cities of Judah The Cities of Judah   The Cities of Judah  
15:20 15:20-32 15:20-32 15:20-32 15:20
        Names of Places Owned by Judah
15:21-32       15:21a
15:33-36 15:33-47 15:33-36 15:33-36 15:33-36
15:37-41   15:37-41 15:37-41 15:37-41
15:42-44   15:42-44 15:42-44 15:42-44
15:45-46   15:45-46 15:45-46 15:45-47
15:47   15:47 15:47  
15:48-51 15:48-60 15:48-51 15:48-51 15:48-51
15:52-54   15:52-54 15:52-54 15:52-54
15:55-57   15:55-57 15:55-57 15:55-56
15:58-59   15:58-59 15:58-59 15:58-59a
15:60   15:60 15:60 15:60
15:61-62 15:61-63 15:61-62 15:61-62 15:61-62
15:63   15:63 15:63 15:63

READING CYCLE THREE (from "A Guide to Good Bible Reading")


This is a study guide commentary, which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

Read the chapter in one sitting. Identify the subjects. Compare your subject divisions with the five translations above. Paragraphing is not inspired but it is the key to following the original author's intent which is the heart of interpretation. Every paragraph has one and only one subject.

1. First paragraph

2. Second paragraph

3. Third paragraph

4. Etc.



Several items in Joshua point toward a contemporary date (in the day that Joshua lived).

A. The ancient Canaanite names of cities are preserved.

1. Baalah (Kiriath-jearim) - 15:9

2. Kiriath-sannah (Debir) - 15:49

3. Kiriath-arba (Hebron) - 15:54


B. Canaanites were still in control of

1. Gezer - 16:10

2. Jebus - 18:28


C. Sidon, not Tyre, is listed as the main city of Phoenicia (cf. Jos. 13:4,6)



 1Now the lot for the tribe of the sons of Judah according to their families reached the border of Edom, southward to the wilderness of Zin at the extreme south. 2Their south border was from the lower end of the Salt Sea, from the bay that turns to the south. 3Then it proceeded southward to the ascent of Akrabbim and continued to Zin, then went up by the south of Kadesh-barnea and continued to Hezron, and went up to Addar and turned about to Karka. 4It continued to Azmon and proceeded to the brook of Egypt, and the border ended at the sea. This shall be your south border. 5The east border was the Salt Sea, as far as the mouth of the Jordan. And the border of the north side was from the bay of the sea at the mouth of the Jordan. 6Then the border went up to Beth-hoglah, and continued on the north of Beth-arabah, and the border went up to the stone of Bohan the son of Reuben. 7The border went up to Debir from the valley of Achor, and turned northward toward Gilgal which is opposite the ascent of Adummim, which is on the south of the valley; and the border continued to the waters of En-shemesh and it ended at En-rogel. 8Then the border went up the valley of Ben-hinnom to the slope of the Jebusite on the south (that is, Jerusalem); and the border went up to the top of the mountain which is before the valley of Hinnom to the west, which is at the end of the valley of Rephaim toward the north. 9From the top of the mountain the border curved to the spring of the waters of Nephtoah and proceeded to the cities of Mount Ephron, then the border curved to Baalah (that is, Kiriath-jearim). 10The border turned about from Baalah westward to Mount Seir, and continued to the slope of Mount Jearim on the north (that is, Chesalon), and went down to Beth-shemesh and continued through Timnah. 11The border proceeded to the side of Ekron northward. Then the border curved to Shikkeron and continued to Mount Baalah and proceeded to Jabneel, and the border ended at the sea. 12The west border was at the Great Sea, even its coastline. This is the border around the sons of Judah according to their families.

15:1 "Now the lot for the tribe of the sons of Judah according to their families" The tribe of Simeon was incorporated very early into the tribe of Judah and lost all of its identity (cf. Jos. 19:1-9).

▣ "Edom" This refers to the nation east of the Jordan which came from the descendants of Esau. The basic meaning is "red" (BDB 10).

The term "south" (BDB 616) is Teman, which is the same term as the name of one of Edom's major cities.

▣ "Wilderness of Zin" This should not be confused with the Wilderness of Sin, which is located in the southern part of the Sinai peninsula. This wilderness is in the northern part of the Sinai peninsula in which Kadesh-barnea is located (cf. Num. 34:2-5).

15:3 "Akrabbim" This is the name for "scorpions" (BDB 785). The boundaries of the Promised Land are given in Numbers 34 (cf. Num. 34:4). This pass was part of the unconquered Amorite territory in Jdgs. 1:36.

15:4 "the brook of Egypt" The term "brook" (BDB 636) is "wadi," which denotes a river bed or channel which is dry part of the year.

Water (i.e., rivers, wadis, lakes, streams, oceans) were often used as boundaries. This one is the most southern boundary of the Promised Land and Egypt (here the southern boundary of Judah, cf. Num. 34:5).

Other natural barriers or topological distinctives, like valleys, mountain ranges, plains, were also used as boundary markers.

15:6 "the stone of Bohan the son of Reuben" We know nothing about this young man or why a memorial stone was raised for him. It is surely possible that this was a boundary marker and not a memorial (cf. Jos. 18:17).

15:7 "Gilgal" This does not refer to the first Israeli campsite (cf. Jos. 4:19). It is possible that it should be translated "Gelioth" (cf. Jos. 18:17), because this location is also related to En-shemesh.

▣ "En-shemesh and En-rogel" These were two springs (BDB 745) which seem to be located on the road from Jericho to Jerusalem.

15:8 "the valley of Ben-hinnom . . . the valley of Hinnom" This is the place where the fertility fire god, Molech, was worshiped. It was just outside the city of Jerusalem (Jebus, cf. Jos. 15:63) to the south. This is the place which later the Jews turned into a garbage dump and which Jesus used as His metaphor to describe Hell (Gehenna).

SPECIAL TOPIC: Where Are the Dead?

▣ "Rephaim" See notes at Jos. 11:21.

15:9 "Baalah" This seems to be the feminine form for the term baal, and it may mean "mistress." It was the older name of Kiriath-jearim.

15:10 "Mount Seir" This means "rough," "hairy," or "shaggy" (BDB 973). There are several different sites by this name. This does not refer to Mt. Seir in Edom, but a hill close to Jerusalem.

▣ "Beth-shemesh" This means "house of the sun" (BDB 112, cf. 1 Sam. 6:9,12,13,15,19,20; 1 Kgs. 4:9; 2 Kgs. 14:13). Many believe that this refers to sun worship. There are several cities by this name.

▣ "Timnah" This was a town which was later associated with the exploits of Samson.

15:11 "Ekron" This was one of the five main Philistine walled cities (cf. Jos. 15:45-47). Apparently Judah never fully captured it or any of the main cities on the plain where chariot forces were used. See NIDOTTE, vol. 4, pp. 568-569.

15:12 "the Great Sea" This refers to the Mediterranean Ocean.

 13 Now he gave to Caleb the son of Jephunneh a portion among the sons of Judah, according to the command of the Lord to Joshua, namely, Kiriath-arba, Arba being the father of Anak (that is, Hebron). 14Caleb drove out from there the three sons of Anak: Sheshai and Ahiman and Talmai, the children of Anak. 15Then he went up from there against the inhabitants of Debir; now the name of Debir formerly was Kiriath-sepher. 16And Caleb said, "The one who attacks Kiriath-sepher and captures it, I will give him Achsah my daughter as a wife." 17Othniel the son of Kenaz, the brother of Caleb, captured it; so he gave him Achsah his daughter as a wife. 18It came about that when she came to him, she persuaded him to ask her father for a field. So she alighted from the donkey, and Caleb said to her, "What do you want?" 19Then she said, "Give me a blessing; since you have given me the land of the Negev, give me also springs of water." So he gave her the upper springs and the lower springs.

15:13-19 This describes the fall of Hebron to Caleb (cf. Jos. 11:21-22; 14:13-15; 15:13-19; Jdgs. 1:16-21).

15:14 "Anak" See notes at Jos. 11:21.

15:15 "Kiriath-sepher" This meant "city of scribes" (BDB 900, cf. Jdgs. 1:11,12). Apparently it was the location of a school which trained scribes in writing and recording within the Canaanite culture.

15:17 "Othniel" He was Caleb's younger brother. He later became a judge (cf. Jdgs. 1:13; 3:9).

▣ "son of Kenza" (cf. Jos. 14:6,14).


NASB, NJB"so she alighted from the donkey"
REV"so she dismounted from her donkey"
TEV"she got down from her donkey"
NJB"as she sat on the ass, she broke wind"

The verb's (BDB 856, KB 1038, cf. Jdgs. 1:14) meaning is disputed. In Jdgs. 4:21 it is used of Jael driving the tent peg through Sisera's head into the ground.

Whatever it meant, it was an idiom for getting someone's attention (i.e., a noise, a gesture). The KB 1038 has "clap one's hands."

15:19 This verse describes the bridal gift of Caleb to his daughter (Achsah) and brother (Othniel). Notice the number of times the verb "give" (BDB 678, KB 733) is used.

1. Qal imperative

2. Qal perfect

Qal perfect

4. Qal imperfect


The Negev (i.e., "south country," BDB 616) is very dry. The daughter knew what she was doing! This account is retold at the beginning of Judges (cf. Jos. 1:11-15).

 21Now the cities at the extremity of the tribe of the sons of Judah toward the border of Edom in the south were Kabzeel and Eder and Jagur,
 22and Kinah and Dimonah and Adadah,
 23and Kedesh and Hazor and Ithnan,
 24Ziph and Telem and Bealoth,
 25and Hazor-hadattah and Kerioth-hezron (that is, Hazor),
 26Amam and Shema and Moladah,
 27and Hazar-gaddah and Heshmon and Beth-pelet,
 28and Hazar-shual and Beersheba and Biziothiah,
 29Baalah and Iim and Ezem,
 30and Eltolad and Chesil and Hormah,
 31and Ziklag and Madmannah and Sansannah,
 32and Lebaoth and Shilhim and Ain and Rimmon; in all, twenty-nine cities with their villages.

15:21-32 This names the cities located in the far south (Negev).

15:25 "Kerioth-hezron" This village is often associated with Judas Iscariot ("man of Kerioth"), but this is only one of several other possible meanings of "Iscariot."

Although NASB and RSV (NRSV) translate this as the name of one village, the MT has an accent mark between them, which denotes two cities. This would have reflected the tradition received by the Masoretic scholars.

 33In the lowland: Eshtaol and Zorah and Ashnah,
 34and Zanoah and En-gannim, Tappuah and Enam,
 35Jarmuth and Adullam, Socoh and Azekah,
 36and Shaaraim and Adithaim and Gederah and Gederothaim; fourteen cities with their villages.

15:33-47 This names the cities located in the lowlands. Verses 33-36 were in the northeastern coastal plain, 37-41 in the middle, 42-44 in the southern, and 45-47 in the Philistine coastal area. This section may have a separate source because its form is different from the rest of the lists of cities. These lists seem to reflect a government registry.

15:34 "Tappuah" This term means "apple tree" (BDB 656, cf. Jos. 12:17; 16:8; 17:8).

 37Zenan and Hadashah and Migdal-gad,
 38and Dilean and Mizpeh and Joktheel,
 39Lachish and Bozkath and Eglon,
 40and Cabbon and Lahmas and Chitlish,
 41and Gederoth, Beth-dagon and Naamah and Makkedah; sixteen cities with their villages.

 42Libnah and Ether and Ashan,
 43and Iphtah and Ashnah and Nezib,
 44and Keilah and Achzib and Mareshah; nine cities with their villages.

 45Ekron, with its towns and its villages;
 46from Ekron even to the sea, all that were by the side of Ashdod, with their villages.

 47Ashdod, its towns and its villages; Gaza, its towns and its villages; as far as the brook of Egypt and the Great Sea, even its coastline.

 48 In the hill country: Shamir and Jattir and Socoh, 50and Anab and Eshtemoh and Anim,
 51and Goshen and Holon and Giloh; eleven cities with their villages.

15:48-60 This names the cities located in the hill country.

 52Arab and Dumah and Eshan,
 53and Janum and Beth-tappuah and Aphekah,
 54and Humtah and Kiriath-arba (that is, Hebron), and Zior; nine cities with their villages.

 55Maon, Carmel and Ziph and Juttah,
 56and Jezreel and Jokdeam and Zanoah,
 57Kain, Gibeah and Timnah; ten cities with their villages.

15:56 "Jezreel" This place name means "God sows" (BDB 283). It is used of two villages.

1. tribal allocation of Judah, Jos. 15:56

2. tribal allocation of Issachar, Jos. 19:18


15:57 "Gibeah" There seem to be several cities by this name ("hill," BDB 149 II).

1. in the tribal allocation of Judah in the hill country, Jos. 15:57

2. in the tribal allocation of Benjamin, Jos. 18:28

3. in the tribal allocation of Ephraim, where Eleazar (Aaron's son) was buried on a hill, Jos. 24:33


 58Halhul, Beth-zur and Gedor,
 59and Maarath and Beth-anoth and Eltekon; six cities with their villages.

15:59 The Septuagint has an additional list of eleven cities not found in the MT. It is uncertain whether this reflects a manuscript error in the MT or extraneous material added by the translators of the LXX.

 60Kiriath-baal (that is, Kiriath-jearim), and Rabbah; two cities with their villages.

 61In the wilderness: Beth-arabah, Middin and Secacah,
 62and Nibshan and the City of Salt and Engedi; six cities with their villages.

15:61-62 This names the cities located in the wilderness.

 63 Now as for the Jebusites, the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the sons of Judah could not drive them out; so the Jebusites live with the sons of Judah at Jerusalem until this day.

15:63 "the Jebusites, the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the sons of Judah could not drive them out" The Jebusites (BDB 101) seem to have held on to the fortress of the city of Jebus (cf. Jdgs. 1:8) until the time of David. The verbal (BDB 439, KB 441) is a Hiphil infinitive construct, cf. Jdgs. 1:21,29,30,31,32,33.

▣ "until this day" This use of the phrase shows that the scribe lived and wrote before David's day. Because Moses grew up and was trained in Egypt, which explains why Jewish scribes felt free to upgrade the literary works of Israel. From archaeology it is obvious that Mesopotamian scribes never changed their national texts whereas Egyptian scribes felt free to upgrade their national/religious texts. See notes at Jos. 7:26.


This is a study guide commentary, which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

These discussion questions are provided to help you think through the major issues of this section of the book. They are meant to be thought-provoking, not definitive.

1. Why is the division of the land so important to the Jewish people?

2. Did the Israelites fully occupy their tribal allocations?

3. Who are the Nephilim and Anakim?

4. What was the lot and how did it work?

5. Describe the Canaanite fertility religion.


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