Chapter 19

1 The lot of Simeon, 10 of Zebulun, 17 of Issachar, 24 of Asher, 32of Naphtali, 40 of Dan. 49 The children of Israel give an inheritance to Joshua.

1. Within the inheritance. Joshua had ordered the remaining part of the land, after Judah and the children of Joseph had received their inheritance, to be divided into seven portions (ch. 18:4–6).However, it may have been that the land was not sufficient for seven parts so as to give every tribe a fair portion. Probably also the contour of the land was not such as to be conveniently divided into seven. Inasmuch as Judah had received such a large share, it was probably suggested that Judah share its territory with one of the tribes. When the lot was cast the portion fell to Simeon. Perhaps, at the beginning, the Israelites had supposed the land to bee large enough to give Judah a large share. In fact, if the people had possessed all the land that God originally intended “from the river of Egypt unto the great river, the river Euphrates” (Gen. 15:18; cf. Deut. 11:24), Judah would have been able to retain her full allotment. But Israel had become negligent and content. Now the boundaries had to be adjusted according to their faith. Similarly with us—we too could have much more from the Lord if we possessed the faith to attempt great things for Him. These things are “written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come” (1 Cor. 10:11).

In the lot of Simeon it can be seen how explicitly God guided in the selection of the inheritances. Because of the massacre of the people of Shechem by Simeon and Levi (Gen. 34), Jacob, in his dying prophecy, had prophesied that he would divide these two tribes in Jacob and scatter them in Israel (Gen. 49:7). Levi, as has already been noted, was not to have any inheritance of his own, but was to have cities in the various tribes, and now Simeon was to have his portion inside the inheritance of Judah. Simeon was still further isolated, so that at the time of the division of Judah and Israel in the reign of Rehoboam (1 Kings 12), the tribe of Simeon, though adhering to the kingdom of the 10 tribes, was separated from the territory of that kingdom by the kingdom of Judah. Thus they were divided in Jacob. Nothing much is said in Scripture concerning the tribe of Simeon. It gave to the nation neither judge, prophet, nor any other illustrious person. We may suppose, therefore, that this tribe became absorbed in that of Judah, and its individual identity was probably, to a large extent, lost (see on Gen. 49:7).

2. In their inheritance. The writer enumerates 17 cities that were given to Simeon, 13 of which were chiefly in the Negeb, and four largely in the Shephelah, although the dividing line between the Negeb and the Shephelah cannot be too distinctly drawn. He does not specify any boundary for this tribe, since Simeon did not receive so much a definite portion of territory, but rather certain cities with their surrounding lands, and these within the limits originally allotted to Judah. Many of these cities were occupied conjointly with Judah, and hence ascribed sometimes to one tribe and sometimes to the other.

Beer-sheba, and Sheba. Literally, “Beer-sheba and [or, even] Sheba.” It seems to be clear that these are one and the same city; otherwise there would have been 14 cities instead of 13. Furthermore, in 1 Chron. 4:28, where Simeon’s cities are enumerated, the name Sheba is omitted. Abraham’s Beer-sheba (“well of the oath”) lay in the present city of Beer-sheba, approximately 27 mi. (43.6 km.) southwest of Hebron. Later, during the Hebrew monarchy, the town of Beer-sheba was about 3 mi. (5 km.) east, at Tell esРSeba, 24 3/4 mi. (39.7 km.) from Hebron.

Of the 13 cities (vs. 2–6), and 4 cities (v. 7), the site of only 1, Beersheba, is definitely known.

5. Ziklag. Possibly identified with Tell elРKhuweilfeh, which is southeast of Gaza, between Beersheba and Debir. Although given to Simeon, it was either not taken by this tribe, or, later lost, because it was given to David, at the tim of his banishment by Saul, by the Philistine ruler, Achish (1 Sam. 27:6).

Beth-marcaboth, and Hazar-susah. These two towns, the latter possibly Sbalat Abuµ SuЖsein, were probably located near the north-south highway to Egypt. Their names suggest that they may have been the place where the Hyksos, and possibly later Solomon, kept their chariots and horses (1 Kings 10:26). The former name signifies “the house of chariots,” and the latter, “the village of horses.”

6. Sharuhen. This was a town on the main route between Palestine and Egypt. It has been identified with Tell elРFaЖrФah, which shows impressive evidence of ancient Hyksos, Egyptian, and Roman fortifications. It lies about 15 mi. (24 km.) south of Gaza.

9. Too much for them. For the present it was too much, but had they by faith looked to the future, it would not have been more than, under the blessing of God, they would need. But the Israelites by this time had begun to lose their vision of God’s plan for them, and were content to receive only enough for their present need. God temporarily permitted the readjustment, but even under the adapted program it was Israel’s privilege to grow and to expand her territories until eventually she would again have need of every part. How narrow and often selfish grows our own vision when we lose sight of God’s plan for us. We accomplish little because we attempt little, and we attempt so little because we are so prone to count our strength by the arm of flesh rather than by the mighty arm of God.

10. The third lot. Either the tribes were called up in the order designated by God in His prediction through Jacob, according to their pre-eminence, or the lot was drawn in this order. Though Zebulun was younger than Issachar, yet, in both the prophetic blessing of Jacob (Gen. 49) and that of Moses (Deut. 33) Zebulun came before him. Now again the precedence is shown in the allotment of the inheritance. According to the prediction of Jacob, the lot of Zebulun was to “dwell at the haven of the sea,” and Zebulun was to be a “haven of ships” (Gen. 49:13). Josephus (Antiquities vi. i. 22) held that their possession extended from the Sea of Chinnereth to Carmel and the sea. But from the description of the territory in the book of Joshua it is doubtful whether their boundary actually extended to the sea.

If the land of the Manassites touched upon that of the tribe of Asher (see Joshua 17:10), the land of Zebulun, unless in some detached way, could not have extended continuously to the Mediterranean. Perhaps Zebulun had access to the sea through Asher, or by a corridor that might have included the bay area north of the base of Mt. Carmel. The prediction was that Zebulun was to be a people dwelling at the haven of the sea, and this was probably accomplished by some arrangement with Asher whereby the children of Zebulun had easy access to harbors and thus were in convenient reach of rich markets. It has also been noted that their country was traversed by the ancient international highway known as “the way of the sea.”

Unto Sarid. The LXX (Codex Alexandrinus) agrees with this reading, but the Codex Vaticanus has Esedek Gola. The Syriac has “Ashdod.” But this cannot be the Ashdod of the Philistines. Some MSS read “Shadud,” which means “ruins.” There is a Tell ShaduЖd, an extensive ruin, on the northern side of the plain of Esdraelon, 4 1/2 mi. (7.2 km.) southwest of Nazareth.

11. Toward the sea. That is, “westward.” The expression denotes this direction.

Maralah. Neither Maralah nor Dabbasheth can be definitely identified.

12. Chisloth-tabor. Literally, “the flanks of Tabor.” Now believed to be IksaЖl, a rocky height to the west of the base of Tabor, which is one of the most conspicuous mountains of Palestine. Some have supposed Tabor to have been the later mount of transfiguration.

Japhia. Believed to be the same as YaЖfaµ. It lies about 13 3/4 mi. (2.8 km.) southwest of Nazareth.

13. Gittah-hepher. The same as Gath-hepher, “wine press of Hepher,” the birthplace of Jonah (2 Kings 14:25). It is supposed to be Khirbet ezРZurraЖФ, near which a tomb claimed to be that of Jonah is shown. The place is 2 3/4 mi. (4.4 km.) north by east of Nazareth on the road to Tiberias.

Remmon-methoar to Neah. Or, “Remmon, which extends to Neah,” which some hold to be the same as the present RummaЖneh, north of Nazareth, but the location seems too far west.

14. Compasseth it. The border bent around it (Neah) on the north side to Hannathon. The description of the northern border begins at Neah.

Jiphthah-el. This valley has been identified with the Wadi elРMelek, near Bethlehem in Galilee. Here the northern boundary ended.

15. Kattath. It is not clearly stated whether Kattath and the other cities mentioned belonged to Zebulon or are merely noted here as border cities. Kattath is possibly Khirbet Qoteina, northwest of Megiddo. Nahallal is possibly Tell enРNahl, a place near the Kishon brook. Shimron was a principal city whose king was conquered by Joshua (ch. 12:20). Bethlehem is not Bethlehem-ephrata of Judah, but a place 7 mi. (11.2 km.) northwest of Nazareth, and now called Beit Lahm.

Twelve cities. The 5 cities just mentioned are 7 short of the 12. If all the cities named in connection with the borders of Zebulun are counted, there are more than 12. It may be that some of these cities were merely border cities that did not belong to Zebulun. Some of the names may not have represented cities at all, so that the actual cities would have made up the number 12. From the following verse it would seem that the 12 cities had been enumerated in the preceding list, but which they are is difficult to determine. That all the cities belonging to Zebulun are not set down is clear from ch. 21:34, 35, where Kartah and Dimnah are mentioned as being given to the Levites.

18. Jezreel. Literally, “God sows.” This is a town on the south edge of the valley by the same name. The valley is triangular in shape with its base, about 15 mi. (24 km.) in length, facing the Jordan valley. The north side is bounded by the mountains of Nazareth, including Mt. Tabor, and its south side is formed by the hills of Samaria, including the Gilboa Mts. Its apex is a narrow pass through which the brook Kishon makes its way to the Bay of Acre, formerly Accho. The town of Jezreel, now called ZerФйЖn, is on a northwest spur of the Gilboa Mts. overlooking the plain and commanding a view of the Jordan pass.

Chesulloth. Thought to be the same as Chisloth-tabor of v. 12.

Shunem. The modern SoЖlem, just east of the main north-south road running from Nazareth to Jerusalem. It was about 3 1/2 mi. (5.6 km.) north of Jezreel, the two cities being on either side of the Valley of Jezreel at its western extremity.

19. Haphraim. The writer does not describe the borders on all sides of Issachar, but seems only to set down some of the principal cities, the reason obviously being that its border would be quite sufficiently known, seeing it lay between Manasseh and Zebulun. Most of the cities are unknown.

21. En-gannim. Literally, “fountain of gardens.” Probably the “garden house” to which Jehu pursued the fleeing Ahaziah (2 Kings 9:27). It is possibly the modern JenйЖn, which stands at the lower end of the plain, about 6 mi. (9.6 km.) from the slopes of Mt. Gilboa, on the main road from Megiddo through Samaria to Jerusalem.

22. The coast. Rather “the boundary.” The Hebrew has the same word that is usually translated “boundary,” or “border.” From the places mentioned, the reference is probably to the northern boundary.

Tabor. The city probably received its name from Mt. Tabor, on whose plateau it is thought to have been situated. It is identified, probably correctly, with the village of DebuЖriyeh, west of the mountain, on the ridge leading to Nazareth.

Shahazimah. The site of Shahazimah is not definitely known, butt is was probably, like this Beth-shemesh, on the north border of Issachar toward the Jordan, perhaps a little to the northeast.

Beth-shemesh. “House of the sun,” not to be confused with a town of the same name in Judah (ch. 15:10) and one in Naphtali (ch. 19:38). It has been identified with elРФAbeidiyeh. The number of cities by this name shows the prevalence of sun worship.

Sixteen cities. Including Tabor. Otherwise there would be only 15, which shows that Tabor should be considered as a city rather than a mountain. Their total inheritance was not large, but it contained some of the richest soil of the country. Issachar was quite powerful. When counted at Sinai, the adult males numbered 54,400 (Num. 1:28, 29), and later, on the plains of Shittim, they had increased to 64,300 (Num. 26:25), being exceeded only by Judah and Dan.

24. Asher. This tribe received the fertile region along the Mediterranean coast west and north of Zebulun. It is a little uncertain whether the author, in the description of Asher’s inheritance, proceeds to enumerate the border or merely mentions various leading cities, inasmuch as most of the towns mentioned are unknown. However, it would seem that the boundary begins from a point approximately in the center of the territory on the coast and then goes south to the border, turns east to Zebulun, then through a series of towns and valleys on the eastern sector until it comes north to Sidon; then it turns south again, terminating where it began.

25. Helkath. A city given later to the Levites (ch. 21:31). Perhaps the modern Tell elРHarbaj, 11 1/2 mi. (18.4 km.) south of Acre.

Achshaph. Referred to in chs. 11:1 and 12:20. Its location is unknown, but was probably in the vicinity of Helkath.

26. Alammelech. This name may be preserved in the modern Wadi elРMelek, which empties into the Kishon from the northeast.

Carmel. This site, being definitely known, enables us to fix the southern extent of Asher’s territory.

Shihor-libnath. Some have interpreted this name as a city, others as a promontory, and still others as a river (see on ch. 13:3). The modern stream, called the Nahr ezРZerka, which flows into the sea south of Carmel, probably answers best to this description because of the direction in which the author is enumerating the places listed (see also ch. 17:10). This stream empties into the sea a short distance south of Dor. Others take Shihor-libnath to be a town in this area. Still others consider it a town on Mt. Carmel.

27. Beth-dagon. From Shihor-libnath the border turned east to Beth-dagon. The site of Beth-dagon is unknown, but the name indicates the widespread worship of Dagon, the god of the Philistines, an ancient Canaanite deity.

Jiphthah-el. See on v. 14.

Cabul on the left hand. This is understood by some translators as “north to Cabul”; by others as “Cabul on the north.” This is the town of Cabul; it is not to be confused with the land of Cabul (1 Kings 9:11–13), which Solomon gave to Hiram. If the verse is describing the east border, Cabul would form the northeast corner, from where the boundary would turn in the direction of Sidon (see Joshua 19:28). Josephus speaks of a Choboulo in his day as being by the seaside, and near to Ptolemaпs (War iii. c. 4).

28. Hammon. This is thought by some to be the present Umm elРФAwaµmйЖd, 7 mi. north of Achzib, which is the modern ezРZйЖb, on the seacoast 5 mi. (8 km.) above Acre. Others take Hammon to be a village 3/4 mi. from Umm elРФAwaµmйЖd.

Kanah. This is thought to be a town southeast of Tyre, probably the modern QaЖnah.

29. The coast turneth. Rather, “the boundary turneth.”

Ramah. The site of Ramah is unknown, but has been thought by some to be the present Rameh, 25 mi. (40.3 km.) southeast by south from Tyre.

The strong city Tyre. Literally, “the city of the fortified rock.” The famous city on the rock was not built until about 200 years later. Therefore the reference must be either to mainland Tyre or some other fortified rock in Asher.

Coast to Achzib. Literally, “district of Achzib.” The sentence means that the boundary just described ends at the sea in the district or region that belonged to Achzib. Achzib has been identified with the modern city of ezРZйЖb, 8 3/4 mi. (14 km.) above Acre.

30. Aphek. See on ch. 13:4. A town in the north border area.

Twenty and two cities. Not counting Carmel (a mountain) and Jiphthah-el (a valley), 24 places are named. Therefore, at least two of the names were probably border towns, not belonging to Asher.

32. Children of Naphtali. The younger son of Bilhah, the handmaid of Rachel, is preferred before the elder, who was Dan (Gen. 30:6–8), as Zebulun was before Issachar. God values men, not according to who they are but what they are.

33. Heleph. The first part of this verse reads literally, “their boundary was from Heleph, from the oak in Zaanannim.” Heleph is unknown, but Judges 4:11 mentions the “plain” (oak) of Zaanannim as near Kedesh, although the exact site remains unknown. It was at this place that Jael, the wife of Heber the Kenite, slew Sisera (Judges 4:21). The name Zaanannim is derived from the Hebrew verb saФan, which means “to wander.” This definition indicates a place where the tents of wanderers, nomads, were pitched. Heber was probably such a nomadic herdsman.

Adami, Nekeb. Probably a compound name, Adami-Nekeb.

Jordan. The description of the border begins at the upper Jordan valley above the former Lake Huleh. The eastern boundary was the Jordan, including Lake Huleh and the Sea of Chinnereth. The description is next of the southern boundary.

34. Aznoth-tabor. Literally, “ears of Tabor.” The site has been identified with Umm Jebeil, in the vicinity of Mt. Tabor. Beyond Mt. Tabor, Zebulun and Asher would form the southern and western boundaries.

Judah upon Jordan. The inheritance of Judah was not anywhere near the border of Naphtali. How, then, could the border of Naphtali extend to Judah upon Jordan to the east? One explanation notes that on the eastern side of the Jordan, as it leaves the Sea of Chinnereth, were a number of villages of tents called Havoth-jair (Judges 10:3–5). This Jair was a grandson of Hezron, the father of Caleb, by a later wife of the tribe of Manasseh, but the grandfather was of Judah (see 1 Chron. 2:21–23). According to the law of Moses, every one of the children of Israel kept himself to the inheritance of the tribe of his fathers, and thus the possessions of Jair were reckoned as belonging, not to the tribe of Manasseh, but to that of Judah, and this may explain how the territory of Naphtali, which was opposite Havoth-jair, is said to extend “to Judah upon Jordan toward the sunrising.”

Perhaps a more plausible explanation would be to have the territory of Issachar extending down the west side of the Jordan to the territory of Benjamin and Judah. Issachar would thus have the west valley of the Jordan as Gad had the east valley (ch. 13:27).

35. Fenced cities. Of these 16 fortified cities named in vs. 35–39, Zer, Adamah, Edrei, and Horem have not been definitely identified.

Ziddim. Signifying “the sides.” The Kefar Hattya, “the village of the Hittites,” mentioned in the Talmud, now called HattйЖn. It is situated on the plain 5 1/2 mi. (8.8 km.) northwest of Tiberias.

Hammath. Signifying “warm.” Believed to have been a village with warm baths a little south of Tiberias. It is probably the present HammaЖm TabarйЖyeh.

Rakkath. Perhaps from the verb “to pound out.” Thought by some to have been 1 1/2 mi. (2.4 km.) north of the later Tiberias. Its name would suit the site. At least, it was somewhere in that area.

Chinnereth. Signifying “a lyre,” in KJV “a harp.” A fortified city on the northwest shore of the Sea of Chinnereth (Galilee). It gave its name to the harp-shaped lake known later as Gennesaret, or Galilee.

36. Hazor. See on ch. 11:1.

37. Kedesh. Generally called Kedesh-naphtali to distinguish it from the other cities by the same name. It is about 4 mi. (7 km.) northwest of the former Lake Huleh. It was the home of Barak (Judges 4:6, 9), and the place where he and Deborah assembled their troops to fight with Sisera.

38. Migdal-el. Signifying “tower of God.” Situated west of the Lake Huleh district, possibly Khirbet Mejdel, near Kedesh.

Beth-shemesh. Another of the many cities by the name which signifies “house of the sun,” showing the extent of sun worship among the earlier inhabitants of Canaan. The city was situated in the northern part of Naphtali.

40. Dan. The most numerous of the tribes, next to Judah, in each census taken during the Exodus (see Num. 1 and 26). Though holding the important position of commander of the rear guard during the march from Egypt, Dan was the last to receive his inheritance. His lot fell in the southern part of Canaan between Judah on the east and the land of the Philistines on the west, bordered by Ephraim on the north and Simeon on the south.

The author does not describe the lot of Dan by its borders, but mentions only the cities that were in it. Some of these cities were at first given to Judah, but Judah’s share being too large, some were given to the Danites as others were to the Simeonites.

41. Zorah. A town probably in the Wadi esРSarar about 14.7 mi. (23.6 km.) west of Jerusalem. It was the home of Samson’s father, Manoah (Judges 13:2, 25). Here Samson was born, and between Zorah and Eshtaol he was buried (Judges 16:31). Both Zorah and Eshtaol, and probably the Irshemesh mentioned in this verse, were, at first, given to the tribe of Judah (chs. 15:10, 33). Ir-shemesh and Beth-shemesh may have been the same, since they both have the same signification. The first means “the city of the sun,” and the second, “the house of the sun.”

42. Shaalabbin. Called Shaalbim in Judges 1:35. Perhaps the modern SelbйЖt, a town of central Palestine, between Jerusalem and Lydda. The place was, for a time, held by the Amorites, who would not permit the Danites to occupy it. Later the Hebrews took it (1 Kings 4:9).

Ajalon. A city, probably in the Valley of Aijalon, which the Amorites refused to yield. The valley runs from Jerusalem toward the Mediterranean, cutting across the hills of the Shephelah toward Lydda.

43. Thimnathah. A city first given to Judah (ch. 15:57). Evidently the same as the Timnath of Judges 14:1–5, where Samson took his wife. The city was under the control of the Philistines, at least for some time, and it is doubtful whether the Danites ever took it. The place is most likely Tell elРBatashi, 4 1/2 mi. (7.2 km.) west-northwest of Beth-shemesh, bordering Judah’s territory.

Ekron. This was the northernmost of the five important cities belonging to the Philistines. It was about halfway between the Mediterranean and the highlands of Judea (see on ch. 13:3). It is thought to be several miles from ФAkir, which preserves the ancient name.

44. Gibbethon. Signifying “mound,” or “height.” It is identified with Tell elРMelaЖt, 7 mi. (11.5 km.) south by east from Japho (Jaffa). The Danites do not seem to have gained possession of it, or if so, the Philistines took it (1 Kings 15:27; 16:15). It was a Levitical city (Joshua 21:23).

45. Gath-rimmon. A Levitical city (Joshua 21:24; 1 Chron. 6:69), possibly to be identified with TellРejРJerйЖsheh, 4 1/2 mi. (7 km.) northeast of Japho.

46. Japho. Signifying “beauty.” The principal port town in all Judea, later called Joppa. The modern name is Jaffa, which is contiguous with the modern Jewish harbor of Tel-Aviv. It is not definitely stated that Japho was a part of the territory of Dan. The statement seems to imply that the border came up before the city but did not include it.

47. Too little for them. Literally, “the territory of the children of Dan went out from them.” That is, it slipped away from them because their powerful neighbors, the Amorites, forced them into the mountains, not permitting them to dwell in the valley (Judges 1:34). This put them into such straits that they had to find different territory where there was not such fierce opposition. Thus the children of Dan refused to occupy the territory assigned them of God, who would have given them complete victory over their enemies if they had cooperated with His plan. Instead, they occupied a territory of their own choosing. It has been suggested that this attitude on the part of Dan accounts for the omission of this tribe from the list of the tribes given in Rev. 7.

Leshem. A town not far from the sources of the river Jordan at the foot of Mt. Lebanon, and called Laish in the book of Judges, before it was taken by the Danites. The town was discovered by five spies whom the Danites had dispatched to spy out the north country. These five spies reported back that the land was very good and that the city was quiet and secure, having no dealings with other cities, being a long distance from Sidon. Immediately 600 armed men set out and took the city and changed its name to Dan (see Judges 18).

Because the conquest of Leshem took place some time after the death of Joshua, some have argued that the book of Joshua was not written by him, but at a much later period. However, this short account of the taking of Leshem was evidently inserted later by some other person, writing under divine guidance, so as to complete the account of the Danites’ possessions.

49. Inheritance to Joshua. Joshua was the last to receive his inheritance. We see in this sequence the magnanimity of this great leader. He was not striving to reap all the benefits by virtue of his office, which he could readily have done. He shunned the temptation to which leaders are constantly exposed, namely, to enhance their own coffers with little consideration for those in less favorable positions. Joshua was last served, though the eldest and greatest man in Israel. He sought the good of his country above any private interests of his own. He is a great example to all who serve in public places whether in civil or church leadership. It is further noted that he did not take the inheritance to himself without the people’s consent and approbation. The record says that the children of Israel gave it to him. They loved their leader. No wonder the people served the Lord all the days of Joshua and all the days of the elders that outlived Joshua (Joshua 24:31; Judges 2:7). Such unselfish service begets love, which, in turn, prompts obedience. No one really has a right to leadership until he has learned to serve unselfishly. Christ, who pleased not Himself (Rom. 15:3), is the great exemplar of unselfish service.

50. Timnath-serah. Literally, “the remaining portion.” Joshua did not choose the best place in all the country, but a convenient place in his own tribe not far from Shiloh, the location of the tabernacle.

51. Door of the tabernacle. The work of division was done in the presence of God and by His direction. It was done publicly, so that all might know that the distribution was not the result of the caprice of men. Such a knowledge would have its influence in curbing any murmuring, but in spite of this there was some discontent (ch. 17:14–18). The lesson is also for us. Every important problem of life should be brought to the “door of the tabernacle” in recognition of God’s authority in every phase of life.

Ellen G. White comments

49, 50 PP 515