List of the towns of the tribe of Judah. These are arranged in four divisions, according to the natural features of the district; namely,, those of the Negeb or south country Joshua 15:21-32; of “the valley,” or “the plain” (“Shephelah”, Joshua 15:33-47); of “the mountains” Joshua 15:48-60; and of “the wilderness” Joshua 15:61-62. Many of the identifications are still conjectural only.
Joshua 15:21-32. The Negeb was for the most part rocky and arid, and cannot have been at any time very thickly populated.
Kabzeel was the native place of Benaiah 2 Samuel 23:20, who was famous as a slayer of lions. The Negeb was a principal haunt of these beasts.
Telem may be the Telaim of 1 Samuel 15:4, where Saul mustered his army for the expedition against the Amalekites. It is possibly to be looked for at “El-Kuseir”, a spot where the various routes toward different parts of the Negeb converge, and which is occupied by the Arab tribe the “Dhullam”, a word identical with Telem in its consonants. Bealoth is probably the “Baalath-beer - Ramath of the south” Joshua 19:8, and was one of the towns afterward assigned to the Simeonites. It is identified with the modern Kurnub.
And Hezron which is Hazor - In this verse are the names of two towns only, not of four. Two places bearing the common topographical appellation, Hazor (“enclosure”) are here mentioned and distinguished as “Hazor Hadattah” and “Kerioth-Hezron,” otherwise termed Hazor, simply: the former has been identified by some with “El-Hudhera”; the latter is probably the modern “El-Kuryetein”. Kerioth, prefixed to a name, bespeaks military occupation, as Hazor points to pastoral pursuits. The place would therefore seem to be an ancient pastoral settlement which had been fortified by the Anakims, and called accordingly Kerioth; to which name the men of Judah, after they had captured it, added that of Hezron, in honor of one of their leading ancestors (compare Genesis 46:12; Rth 4:18 ). Kerioth was the home of Judas the traitor, if the ordinary derivation of Iscariot (= קריות אישׁ 'ı̂ysh qerı̂yôth ), i. e. man of Kerioth) be accepted: Matthew 10:4.
Moladah is probably the modern “El-Milh”, and like Hazar-shual (“Berrishail” near Gaza) (“enclosure of foxes”) occurs Joshua 19:2-3; 1 Chronicles 4:28, as a town belonging to Simeon, and Nehemiah 11:26-27 as a place occupied by Jews after the captivity.
Baalah Joshua 19:3 is found in the modern “Deir-el-Belah”, near Gaza. Iim, i. e. “ruinous heaps” or “conical hills” (Numbers 21:11 note) is by some connected with Azem; and the compound name, “Ije Azem”, is traced in El-Aujeh, in the country of the Azazimeh Arabs, in whose name the ancient Azem may perhaps be traced. Eltolad is connected with “Wady-el-Thoula”, in the extreme south of the Negeb. Chesil appears to be the town called Bethul Joshua 19:4, and probably the Bethel 1 Samuel 30:27 situated not far from Ziklag. The name Chesil (“fool”) was most likely bestowed by way of opprobrium (compare the change of Bethel, house of God, into Bethaven, house of vanity, Hosea 4:15). As Chesil signifies the group of stars known as Orion (compare Job 38:31; Amos 5:8), probably it was the worship of the heavenly bodies in particular that was carried on here. Bethel may have been the ancient name, and the spot was perhaps the very one near Beer-sheba where Abraham planted a tamarisk tree Genesis 21:33.
The place is probably “El Khulasah”, the Elusa of ecclesiastical writers, situated some fifteen miles southwest of Beer-sheba. Jerome testifies to the fact, that the worship of Venus as the morning star was practiced there, and Sozomen appears to be speaking of this place, when he mentions a Bethel Βηθελια Bēthelia in the territory of Gaza, populous and famous for an ancient and splendid temple. The site of Ziklag is uncertain. Madmannah and Sansannah correspond to Beth-marcaboth (“house of chariots”) and Hazar-susah (“horse enclosure”) in Joshua 19:5 1 Chronicles 4:31. The latter names point to two stations of passage on or near the high road between Egypt and Palestine, and are represented by the modern “Minyay” and “Wady-es-Suny”, on the caravan route south of Gaza. Shilhim or Sharuhen, Joshua 19:6, and Shaaraim 1 Chronicles 4:31 is traced in “Khirbet-es-Seram”, near El Aujeh. Ain and Rimmon were possibly originally two towns, but in process of time became so connected as to be treated as one name Nehemiah 11:29. The place is probably the present “Um-er-Rummamim,” i. e. “mother of pomegranates,” a place about ten miles north of Beer-sheba.
Twenty and nine - The King James Version gives 34 names. The difference is due either to the confusion by an early copyist of letters similar in form which were used as numerals; or to the separation in the King James Version of names which in the original were one (e. g. Joshua 15:25).
“The valley” or the Shephelah, is bounded on the south by the Negeb, on the west by the Mediterranean, on the north by the plain of Sharon, on the east by “the mountains” Joshua 15:48. It is a well-defined district, of an undulating surface and highly fertile character, thickly dotted, even at the present time, with villages, which are for the most part situated on the different hills. The towns in this district, like those in the Negeb, are classed in four groups.
First group of fourteen towns: these belong to the northeastern portion of the Shephelah. Eshtaol and Zoreah were afterward assigned to the tribe of Dan, and inhabited by Danites Judges 13:25; Judges 18:2, Judges 18:8, Judges 18:11. The latter place was the home of Samson Judges 13:2. It was one of the cities fortified by Rehoboam 2 Chronicles 11:10, and was re-occupied by the Jews after the captivity Nehemiah 11:29. It is probably the modern Surah. (Eshtaol has been identified with Eshua (Conder)). Both places were in later times partly populated by Judahites from Kirjath-jearim; perhaps after the departure of the colony of Danites for Dan-Laish. Zanoah is the present “Zanna”, not far from Surah. Socoh is the modern “Shuweikah”. Sharaim is perhaps to be sought in the modern “Zakariya”. Gederah (“wall” or “fortress”) was a name borne with various terminations by several places.
Third group; towns in the south of the Shephelah. For Libnah see Joshua 10:29. Mareshah is believed to be near Beit-jibrin, the ancient “Eleutheropolis.”
Fourth group: the towns of the Philistine seacoast: see Joshua 13:3.
This highland district extends from the Negeb on the south to Jerusalem, and is bounded by the Shephelah on the west, and the “wilderness” Joshua 15:61-62 on the east. The mountains, which are of limestone, rise to a height of near 3,000 feet. At present, the highlands of Judah present a somewhat dreary and monotonous aspect. The peaks are for the most part barren, though crowned almost everywhere with the ruins of ancient towns, and bearing on their sides marks of former cultivation. Many of the valleys, especially toward the south, are, however, still very productive. The towns here enumerated are given in six groups.
First group: towns on the southwest. Dannah (is identified with “Idnah” (Conder)). Jattir (“Attir”), and Eshtemoh (“Semua”) were priestly cities Joshua 21:14; 1 Chronicles 6:57, and the place to which David, after routing the Amalekites, sent presents 1 Samuel 30:27-28. Socoh is “Suweikeh.”
Second group of nine towns, situated somewhat to the north of the last mentioned. Of these Dumah is perhaps the ruined village “Ed Daumeh,” in the neighborhood of Hebron; and Beth-tappuah, i. e. “house of apples,” “Teffuh,” a place which has still a good number of inhabitants, is conspicuous for its olive groves and vineyards, and bears on every side the traces of industry and thrift.
Third group; lying eastward of the towns named in the last two, and next to “the wilderness.”
The four towns retain their ancient names with but little change. Maon 1 Samuel 23:24; 1 Samuel 25:2, the home of Nabal, is to be looked for in the conical hill, “Main,” the top of which is covered with ruins. It lies eight or nine miles southeast of Hebron Carmel 1 Samuel 25:2, the modern “Kurmul,” is a little to the north of “Main.” The name belongs to more than one place Joshua 12:22. Ziph gave its name to “the wilderness” into which David fled from Saul 1 Samuel 23:14.
Joshua 15:58, Joshua 15:59
Fourth group. Towns north of the last mentioned, of which Beth-zur and Gedor are represented by “Beit-sur” and “Jedur.”
After Joshua 15:59 follows in the Greek version a fifth group of eleven towns, which appears to have dropped in very ancient times out of the Hebrew text, probably because some transcriber passed unawares from the word “villages” at the end of Joshua 15:59, to the same word at the end of the missing passage. The omitted group contains the towns of an important, well-known, and populous district lying immediately south of Jerusalem, and containing such towns as Tekoah 2 Samuel 14:2; Nehemiah 3:5, Nehemiah 3:27; Amos 1:1; Bethlehem, the native town of David and of Christ Genesis 35:19; and Aetan, a Grecised form of Etam 2 Chronicles 11:6.
Joshua 15:61, Joshua 15:62
This district, including the towns in “the wilderness,” the scene of David‘s wanderings (1 Samuel 23:24; Psalm 63:1-11 title), and of the preaching of the Baptist Matthew 3:1, and perhaps of our Lord‘s temptation Joshua 15:62
“The city of Salt” is not mentioned elsewhere, but was no doubt connected with “the valley of salt” 2 Samuel 8:13. The name itself, and the mention of En-gedi (Genesis 14:7 note) suggest that its site must be looked for near the Dead Sea.