Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary, 1859 edition.

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Josue 15

Josue xv.

Ver. 1. Sin, or Sina, (ver. 3,) bordering upon Idumea, where the city of Cades-barne was situated, Numbers xiii. 22. It is now impossible to ascertain the precise situation of all the place mentioned in Scripture, as the land of Chanaan has been subject to so many changes. But this inconvenience attends all ancient geography. If those who attempt to unravel such labyrinths in profane authors, deserve praise, much more do those who do their utmost to explain the difficulties of sacred history. It was once very necessary to have the limits of the tribes marked out with precision, that, at the return from captivity, they might occupy their own. Now we may be satisfied if we can point out some of the places of the greatest importance. The limits of the tribe of Juda are specified with particular care, on account of the dignity and power of that tribe, which was to give kings to all the land, and a Messias to the world, as well as to preserve the true religion. The greatest part of the southern regions of Chanaan fell to their share, from the Dead Sea, by Idumea, to the Nile, and as far north as Jerusalem and the torrent of Cedron. (Calmet)

Ver. 2. Bay, (lingua,) tongue. Chaldean, "a promontory," or rather a gulph. (Calmet)

Ver. 3. Scorpion. A mountain infested with those creatures, by which people travelled from Idumea into Chanaan, leaving Sina on the left.

Ver. 4. Asemona, which lies nearest to the river of Egypt of all the cities of Juda, Numbers xxxiv. 4., chap. xiii. 3.

Ver. 5. Jordan, where it discharges itself into the Dead Sea, or mixes its waters with the latter; which, as we observe, (chap. v. 16,) does not take place for three miles. (Haydock) --- the north-western part of this sea belonged to Benjamin.

Ver. 6. Stone. It is not certain that this was a city.

Ver. 7. Galgal. Hebrew Gilgal, may designate "the limits." The valley of Achor lay south of Galgal. --- Sun. Hebrew, "Hen-Shemesh." It was not "a city." --- Rogel, "of the fuller." This fountain was in the king's gardens, running eastward from Sion into the torrent of Cedron. (Josephus, [Antiquities?] vii. 11.) It was used to wash linen. Rogel, signifies "to trample on," as they formerly washed their linen with their feet. Nausicrae is represented in Homer doing so, in holes or basins, prepared for the purpose. (Odyssey S)

Ver. 8. Ennom. Hebrew, Ge-ben-Hinnom, or simply Ge-ennom, whence Gehenan has probably been formed. In this vale, children were immolated to Moloc: the beating of drums, to hinder their lamentations from being heard, caused it perhaps to be called Tophet. It was to the east of Jerusalem, (Calmet) inclining to the south. (Haydock) --- Northward. The valley extends south to Bethlehem. (Josephus, [Antiquities?] vii. 10.) Here David gained a great victory, 2 Kings v. 23. (Calmet) --- Woods. This explanation is added by St. Jerome. (Haydock) --- The ark remained at this city for some time, 1 Kings xv. 6. It was 10 miles north of Jerusalem.

Ver. 10. Bethsames, "the house of the sun," was at the same distance, westward. Here the sight of the ark proved so fatal to 50,070 of the inhabitants, 1 Kings vi. 19. (Calmet)

Ver. 13. Arbe, who was the father, and the greatest man of the race of Enac, chap. xiv. 15. (Haydock)

Ver. 14. Enac. These three giants were at Hebron when the spies came thither, Numbers xiii.

Ver. 15. Letters, as the Septuagint render it. St. Jerome adds this interpretation. (Haydock) --- It means literally "the city of the book." Senna, may also mean "instruction," ver. 49. Here probably a famous school was kept, before the arrival of the Israelites; or the archives of the nation might be deposited among these giants, as the Chaldean Kiriat-arche, "the city of the library, or archives," insinuates. (Bochart, Phaleg. ii. 17.)

Ver. 16. Wife. Parents had full authority to do this. Saul promised his daughter to the person who should overcome Goliah. Something was required by way of dowry for the lady. (Grotius) (1 Kings xvii. 25.)

Ver. 17. Brother. It is not clear in the original whether this relates to Cenez or to Othoniel, (Haydock) as younger is not found in [the] Hebrew but it is in the Syriac, Septuagint, and Judges i. 13. Many think that Cenez was the brother of Caleb. If Othoniel had been brother of the latter, they say he could not have legally married his niece. (Calmet) --- But though Moses forbids a nephew to marry his aunt, it does not follow that uncles could not take their nieces to wife, as they would be still the head; (Worthington) whereas there would be a sort of indecency for a nephew to command his aunt. The Jews allow these marriages, while the Samaritans condemn them, Leviticus xviii. 14. In confirmation of the Vulgate, we may remark, that Cenez is never (Calmet) clearly (Haydock) represented as the brother of Caleb; and there is no inconvenience in asserting that Othoniel was the brother of the latter, whether we take this word to denote a near relation, or strictly. In the former supposition, Othoniel might marry his cousin, Axa, the daughter of Caleb, while he himself was descended from Cenez, the brother of Jephone. (Calmet) --- But if we take the word strictly, as the remark of his being younger brother, both here and Judges i. 13., may seem to imply, we must then allow that Othoniel followed the custom of his nation, (Haydock) in marrying his niece. (Menochius) --- Septuagint here make him "the younger son of Cenez, who was brother of Caleb;" and in the Book of Judges, they say, "Gothoniel, the son of Cenez, (and) the younger brother of Caleb, first made himself master of it, under him;" as if Othoniel and Caleb had been born of the same mother, but of a different father, unless we suppose that they were only nearly related, and the former much less advanced in years; so that he might well marry the daughter of Caleb and afterwards become a judge and deliverer of Israel, Judges iii. 9. See Masius; Bonfrere. (Haydock)

Ver. 18. Was moved; as the Syriac, Arabic, Junius, &c., represent the matter. Others render the Hebrew in a different sense: "she moved him to ask of her father a field, and she lighted off her ass, and Caleb said unto her," &c., which seems very abrupt, as she herself is represented as soliciting for the favour in the next verse, instead of her husband. The Chaldean supposes that she was restrained by natural modesty, from preferring the petition; but when Othoniel refused to do it, or was denied what he requested, she took courage and asked herself. The sense of the Vulgate seems more natural, (Calmet) as the husband might easily suppose that she would have greater influence with her father. (Haydock) --- Sighed. The original term is found only in this history, and in that of the death of Sisara, Judges iv. 21. Septuagint, "she cried out." Others translate, "she remained fixed," (Menochius) or "she waited sitting on the ass," till she had obtained her request.

Ver. 19. Blessing, or "favour, present," &c., 1 Kings xxv. 27. (Calmet) --- And dry. This is a farther explanation of southern; as the lands in that situation being exposed to the sun-beams, in Palestine, are often destitute of sufficient moisture, which is the cause of the sterility of Mount Hebal, &c. --- Watery ground. Hebrews, "springs of water, and he gave her the upper springs and the lower springs." Aquila leaves springs untranslated. (Haydock) --- Golgot. Septuagint, "Golathmaim, and the upper Golath," &c. Symmachus translates "possession on the high places," Judges i. (Calmet) --- Caleb had probably given his daughter a part of the mountain. He now grants her also some field that lay lower down, and was better supplied with water on all sides (Haydock) by springs above, and cisterns below.

Ver. 25. New Asor, to distinguish it from the capital of Jabin, in the north. This was dependent on Ascalon. (Eusebius) --- Hebrew, "and Hazor, Hadatta, and (or) Kerioth ("the towns") of Hezron, which is Hazor." The Septuagint only specify the same town of Asor by different names. There was one towards Arabia, Numbers xi. 35.

Ver. 28. Bersabee, noted for the residence of Abraham, &c. It is attributed to Simeon, (chap. xix. 2,) with some other of these towns, as the two tribes lived intermixed, and some changes might be made in the first regulation, to bring things to a greater equality, and as circumstances might require.

Ver. 31. Siceleg. The Philistines kept possession of it till king Achis gave it to David; and it continued afterwards the property of the kings of Juda.

Ver. 32. Villages. Twenty-nine of the former cities were of greater note; the six, or taking in the three belonging to Caleb, the nine others which are mentioned, (Calmet) were only villages. (Menochius) --- Others think that these nine towns are not numbered here, because they were allotted to the tribe of Simeon, chap. xix. 2, &c.

Ver. 33. Plains. Hebrew Schephela, near Eleutheropolis, chap. x. 40. --- Estaol was afterwards given to Dan. Samson was buried near it and Sarea, Judges xvi.

Ver. 36. Fourteen. One of those mentioned above, may have been a village. (Menochius) --- Others think that Enaim may be the name of a fountain, near which perhaps Juda met Thamar, Genesis xxxviii. 14.

Ver. 44. Ceila, which David took from the Philistines, and were he was nearly betrayed into the hands of Saul, 1 Kings xxiii. Habacuc was buried here, on the road between Eleutheropolis and Hebron.

Ver. 55. Carmel. Not where Elias dwelt, but a city and mountain 10 miles east of Eleutheropolis. Nabal rendered it famous by his imprudence, (1 Kings xxv.) and Saul by a triumphal arch, 1 Kings xv. 12.

Ver. 58. Bessur. About 20 miles from Jerusalem, fortified by Simon, 1 Machabees xiv. 33. It is there said to be only five stadia distant from that city. But the Alexandrian copy reads five schœnus, or cords, each of which consisted of at least 30 stadia. (Cellarius)

Ver. 59. Eltecon: given afterwards to the tribe of Dan, (chap. xix. 44,) and then to the Levites, chap. xxi. 13. The Alexandrian Septuagint here add many cities, which are omitted in Hebrew. (Calmet) --- "Theco and Ephrata, (this is Bethlehem) and Phagor, and Artam, and Koulon, and Tatami, and Sores, and Karem, and Gallim, and Baither, and Manocho, eleven cities and their villages." (Haydock) See St. Jerome in Micheas v. 1. (Calmet) (Deuteronomy xxvii. 4.) --- Dr. Wall says, "these cities were doubtless in the Hebrew copy of the Septuagint" and "they are of such a nature, that it is scarcely possible to think them an interpolation." The former critic thinks "the omission in the Hebrew was occasioned by the word villages occurring immediately before, and at the end of the words thus omitted; and indeed the same word occurring in different places, has been the cause of many and great omissions in the Hebrew manuscripts. He thinks it less likely that the Jews should have designedly omitted Bethlehem here, because that place is mentioned as belonging to Juda, in several other parts of Scripture." But is Ephrata ever joined with it, except in this passage, and in the text of Micheas? "And, therefore, though this remarkable omission was probably owing, at first, to some transcriber's mistake, its not being reinserted might be owing to the reason specified by St. Jerome, out of malice to Christianity." (Kennicott, 2 Diss. 56.) --- Reland is astonished to find a place which was to be rendered so famous by the birth of the Messias, not enumerated in this place among the cities of Juda. But he observes that it is found in the Alexandrian version, p. 643. (Palest.) --- St. Jerome will not decide absolutely whether the Jews have erased these cities, or the Septuagint have inserted them. As he undertook to translate the Hebrew as he found it, he has not admitted these cities into his translation, though there seems to be abundant reason for supposing that they are genuine. (Haydock)

Ver. 62. Salt. Bonfrere supposes it is Segor, which was preserved for Lot's sake. --- Engaddi, which was famous for its balm and palm-trees, in the desert of Jericho. (Solin. xxxv.) --- We may here remark that in the preceding catalogues, many towns are repeated like Zanoe, (ver. 34., and 56,) and others are left out. Some are also afterwards attributed to other tribes. Hence some have inferred that alterations have been made in the original copies. But we may rather believe that the reason of these variations is, because the cities were parcelled out among the 10 families of Juda, (1 Paralipomenon ii. 3,) as was the case in the distribution of land to Manasses; (chap. xvii. 2,) and hence the same cities were sometimes given to two different families. They are also attributed to different tribes, because many families of the respective tribes dwelt in them. The priests, for example, lived along with their brethren of other tribes. (Calmet)

Ver. 63. Jerusalem. The Benjamites claimed the northern part of this city; (Haydock) and they did not drive out the Jebusites, but lived with them, Judges i. 21. The tribe of Juda had burnt a part of the city, Judges i. 8. But it seems the Jebusites kept their hold, (Calmet) at least in the citadel, (Haydock) and frequently in the lower town, till they were entirely banished by David, 2 Kings v. 7. See Judges xix. 11. In latter times, the Jews considered this place as the common city of all the nation, to which none of the tribes had an exclusive right; and hence, in the last siege, there was no head, and all the Jews were admitted without examination. (Josephus, Jewish Wars iv. 5, &c.) (Calmet) --- Day, and even till the reign of David. The author of this observation must have lived before that period. Josue might have made this and many other similar remarks, when he finished this work, towards the end of his life. (Haydock)