Commentary on the Bible, by Adam Clarke, , at sacred-texts.com
The lot of Simeon, Jos 19:1-9. Of Zebulun, Jos 19:10-16. Of Issachar, Jos 19:17-23. Of Asher, Jos 19:24-31. Of Naphtali, Jos 19:32-39. Of Dan, Jos 19:40-48. Joshua's portion, Jos 19:49, Jos 19:50. The conclusion of the division of the land, Jos 19:51.
The second lot came forth to Simeon - In this appointment the providence of God may be especially remarked. For the iniquitous conduct of Simeon and Levi, in the massacre of the innocent Shechemites, Gen 34:25-31, Jacob, in the spirit of prophecy, foretold that they should be divided in Jacob, and scattered in Israel, Gen 49:7. And this was most literally fulfilled in the manner in which God disposed of both these tribes afterwards. Levi was scattered through all Palestine, not having received any inheritance, only cities to dwell in, in different parts of the land; and Simeon was dispersed in Judah, with what could scarcely be said to be their own, or a peculiar lot. See the note on Gen 49:7.
Beer-sheba - The well of the oath. See the note on Gen 21:31.
Hazar-shual - For this and several of the following places, see the notes on Jos 15:32.
Beth-marcaboth - The house or city of chariots. Probably a place where their war-chariots and cavalry were laid up.
Beth-lebaoth - The house or city of lionesses. Probably so called from the numbers of those animals which bred there.
Baalath-beer - The well of the mistresses. Probably so called from some superstitious or impure worship set up there.
Gittah-hepher - The same as Gath-hepher, the birth-place of the prophet Jonah.
Shimron - See on Jos 12:20 (note).
Beth-lehem - The house of bread; a different place from that in which our Lord was born.
The fourth lot came out to Issachar - It is remarkable, that though Issachar was the eldest brother, yet the lot of Zebulun was drawn before his lot; and this is the order in which Jacob himself mentions them, Gen 49:13, Gen 49:14, though no reason appears, either here or in the place above, why this preference should be given to the younger; but that the apparently fortuitous lot should have distinguished them just as the prophetic Jacob did, is peculiarly remarkable. Known unto God are all his works from the beginning: he has reasons for his conduct, which in many cases are too great for any of his creatures to comprehend, but he works all things after the counsel of his own will, which is ever right and good; and in this case his influence may be as easily seen in the decision by the lot, as on the mind of the patriarch Jacob, when he predicted what should befall his children in the latter days, and his providence continued to ripen, and bring forward what his judgment had deemed right to be done.
Jezreel - This city, according to Calmet, was situated in an open country, having the town of Legion on the west, Bethshan on the east, on the south the mountains of Gilboa, and on the north those of Hermon.
Shunem - This city was rendered famous by being the occasional abode of the prophet Elisha, and the place where he restored the son of a pious woman to life. Kg2 4:8. It was the place where the Philistines were encamped on that ruinous day in which the Israelites were totally routed at Gilboa, and Saul and his sons Jonathan, Abinadab, and Malchi-shua, killed. Sa1 28:4; Sa1 31:1, etc.
Beth-shemesh - The house or temple of the sun; there were several cities or towns of this name in Palestine; an ample proof that the worship of this celestial luminary had generally prevailed in that idolatrous country.
Carmel - The vineyard of God; a place greatly celebrated in Scripture, and especially for the miracles of Elijah; see 1 Kings 18:19-40. The mountain of Carmel was so very fruitful as to pass into a proverb. There was another Carmel in the tribe of Judah, (see Jos 15:55), but this, in the tribe of Asher, was situated about one hundred and twenty furlongs south from Ptolemais, on the edge of the Mediterranean Sea. Calmet observes that there was, in the time of Vespasian, a temple on this mountain, dedicated to a god of the same name. There was a convent, and a religious order known by the name of Carmelites, established on this mountain in honor of Elijah: the time of the foundation of this order is greatly disputed. Some pretend that it was established by Elijah himself; while others, with more probability, fix it in a.d. 1180 or 1181, under the pontificate of Pope Alexander III.
Cabul on the left hand - That is, to the north of Cabul, for so the left hand, when referring to place, is understood among the Hebrews. We must not confound this town or Cabul with the twenty cities given by Solomon to Hiram, with which he was displeased, and which in contempt he called the land of Cabul, the dirty or paltry land, Kg1 9:11-13 : there was evidently a town of this name, widely different from the land so called, long before the time of Solomon, and therefore this cannot be adduced as an argument that the book of Joshua was written after the days of David. The town in question is supposed to be the same which Josephus in his Life calls Χωβουλω Choboulo, and which he says was situated by the sea-side, and nigh to Ptolemais. De Bell. Jud., lib. iii., c. 4.
Unto great Zidon - The city of Sidon and the Sidonians are celebrated from the remotest antiquity. They are frequently mentioned by Homer. See the note on Jos 11:8.
The strong city Tyre - I suspect this to be an improper translation. Perhaps the words of the original should be retained: And the coast turneth to Ramah and to the city, מבצר צר mibtsar tsor. Our translators have here left the Hebrew, and followed the Septuagint and Vulgate, a fault of which they are sometimes guilty. The former render the place ἑως πολεως οχυρωματος των Τυριων, unto the fortified city of the Tyrians. The Vulgate is nearly the same: ad civitatem munitissimam Tyrum, to the well-fortified city Tyre; but this must be incorrect for the famous city of Tyre was not known till about A.M. 2760, about two hundred years after the days of Joshua. Homer, who frequently mentions Sidon and the Sidonians, never mentions Tyre; a proof that this afterwards very eminent city was not then known. Homer is allowed by some to have flourished in the time of Joshua, though others make him contemporary with the Israelitish judges. The word צר Tsor or Tsar, which we translate or change into Tyre, signifies a rock or strong place; and as there were many rocks in the land of Judea, that with a little art were formed into strong places of defense, hence several places might have the name of Tsar or Tyre. The ancient and celebrated Tyre, so much spoken of both in sacred and profane history, was a rock or small island in the sea, about six or seven hundred paces from the main land. In order to reduce this city, Alexander the Great was obliged to fill up the channel between it and the main land, and after all took it with much difficulty. It is generally supposed that a town on the main land, opposite to this fortified rock, went by the same name; one being called old Tyre, the other, new Tyre: it was out of the ruins of the old Tyre, or that which was situated on the main land, that Alexander is said to have filled up the channel between it and the new city. Of this city Isaiah, Isaiah 23:1-18, and Ezekiel, Ezekiel 27:1-28:26, have given a very grand description, and also predicted its irreparable ruin which prophecies have been most literally fulfilled. See more on the above places.
Achzib - Called afterwards Ecdippe, and now called Zib; it is about nine miles' distance from Ptolemais, towards Tyre.
Twenty and two cities - There are nearly thirty cities in the above enumeration instead of twenty-two, but probably several are mentioned that were but frontier towns, and that did not belong to this tribe, their border only passing by such cities; and on this account, though they are named, yet they do not enter into the enumeration in this place. Perhaps some of the villages are named as well as the cities.
And to Judah upon Jordan - It is certain that the tribe of Naphtali did not border on the east upon Judah, for there were several tribes betwixt them. Some think that as these two tribes were bounded by Jordan on the east, they might be considered as in some sort conjoined, because of the easy passage to each other by means of the river; but this might be said of several other tribes as well as of these. There is considerable difficulty in the text as it now stands; but if, with the Septuagint, we omit Judah, the difficulty vanishes, and the passage is plain: but this omission is supported by no MS. hitherto discovered. It is however very probable that some change has taken place in the words of the text, וביהודה הירדן ubihudah haiyarden, "and by Judah upon Jordan." Houbigant, who terms them verba sine re ac sententia, "words without sense or meaning," proposes, instead of them, to read ובגדות הירדן ubigdoth haiyarden, "and by the banks of Jordan;" a word which is used Jos 3:15, and which here makes a very good sense.
Chinnereth - See the note on Jos 11:2.
Hazor - See the note on Jos 11:1.
Nineteen cities - But if these cities be separately enumerated they amount to twenty-three; this is probably occasioned by reckoning frontier cities belonging to other tribes, which are only mentioned here as the boundaries of the tribe. See on Jos 19:30 (note).
Zorah, and Eshtaol - See the note on Jos 15:33.
Ir-shemesh - The city of sun; another proof of the idolatry of the Canaanites. Some think this was the same as Beth-shemesh.
Shaalabbin - The foxes. Of this city the Amorites kept constant possession. See Jdg 1:35.
Ajalon - There was a place of this name about two miles from Nicopolis or Emmaus, on the road to Jerusalem. - Calmet.
Thimnathah - Probably the same as Timnah. See on Jos 15:57 (note).
Ekron - A well-known city of the Philistines and the metropolis of one of their five dynasties.
Jehud, and Bene-berak - Or Jehud of the children of Berak.
Japho - The place since called Joppa, lying on the Mediterranean, and the chief sea-port, in the possession of the twelve tribes.
Went out too little for them - This is certainly the meaning of the passage; but our translators have been obliged to add the words too little to make this sense apparent. Houbigant contends that an ancient copyist, meeting frequently with the words ויצאהגבול vaiyetse haggebul, in the preceding history, became so familiarized to them that he wrote them here instead of ויאץ הגבול vaiyaats haggebul, and the border of the children of Dan was Strait for them. It was on this account that they were obliged to go and fight against Leshem, and take and possess it, their former inheritance being too strait for their increasing population.
And called Leshem, Dan - This city was situated near the origin of Jordan, at the utmost northern extremity of the promised land, as Beer-sheba was at that of the south; and as after its capture by the Danites it was called Dan, hence arose the expression from Dan even to Beer-sheba, which always signified the whole extent of the promised land. Some suppose that Leshem was the same with Caesarea Philippi, but others with reason reject this opinion. It must be granted that the whole account given in this verse refers indisputably to a fact which did not take place till after the death of Joshua. It is another of the marginal or explicative notes which were added by some later hand. The whole account of this expedition of the Danites against Leshem is circumstantially given in the book of Judges, chapter 18, and to that chapter the reader is referred.
Timnath-serah - Called Timnath-heres in Jdg 2:9, where we find that the mountain on which it was built was called Gaash. It is generally allowed to have been a barren spot in a barren country.
At the door of the tabernacle - All the inheritances were determined by lot, and this was cast before the Lord - every thing was done in his immediate presence, as under his eye; hence there was no murmuring, each having received his inheritance as from the hand of God himself, though some of them thought they must have additional territory, because of the great increase of their families.