For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.
Romans 15:4



 A Bible Study - Commentary by Jim Melough

Copyright 2000 James Melough

The attitude of the average commentator towards this and similar chapters has been summed up by Calvin, “great labor would produce little fruit to the reader.”  The result has been that such chapters are largely ignored, a neglect that has robbed God’s people of much very profitable instruction: for, contrary to the general view, there is a great deal to be gained by the study of just such lists as are now before us.  It must never be forgotten that such segments of Scripture as this are included in the assurance that “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished (thoroughly equipped) unto all good works,” 2 Tim.3:16-17.  As with all such portions of Scripture, the key lies in the meanings of the names, the numbers, the compass directions, etc. 

Before looking at those details, however, there are other points to be noted in connection with this section which begins the record of the Divine appointment of each tribe’s portion in the land of Canaan; and the spiritual significance of those details will be better understood if we remember that Israel, though not the Church, nevertheless represents the Church.  Twelve is the number of Divine government on display.  As Israel, built upon the foundation of the twelve sons of Jacob, was to be the living witness that obedience under that government brought blessing; and disobedience, chastisement, so is the Church, “built upon the foundation of the (twelve) Apostles....” Eph.2:20, to be the witness that the same results attend that government today.

It will be helpful also to note that each tribe is represen­tative of an attribute of the Church, e.g., Judah, meaning praise reminds us that the Church is a corporate body of men and women who have every reason to be a praising, worshiping people.  Reuben see ye, a son, and Benjamin son of the right hand, combine to declare the relationship that exists between the believer and God: we are His sons.  Simeon hearkening, and Levi joined, remind us that we are responsible to obey, and to live in the enjoyment of the fact that we are one with Christ, joined to Him eternally.  Each tribal name has similar spiritual significance.

Another fact requiring explanation relates to the frequent mention of the same places in connection with each tribe.  This has often been assumed to be mere needless repetition.  It isn’t.  It is to remind us that the same instruction applies to us whether the focus is on us as portrayed by Judah, Reuben, Benjamin, or any of the other tribes.

15:1.  “This then was the lot of the tribe of the children of Judah by their families; even to the border of Edom the wilderness of Zin southward was the uttermost part of the south coast (border).”

It was according to the lot or appointment of God that each received his portion in Canaan, and the lesson God would have us learn is that each believer’s portion here on earth is given also by Him - according to perfect love and perfect wisdom.  Are we tempted to murmur and complain that others seem to have received a better portion?  Such murmuring impugns God’s love and wisdom; and advertises our lack of faith.

It is to be noted also that though Reuben was Jacob’s firstborn, the tribe which received the first allotment wasn’t that of Reuben, but Judah; a choice which teaches the value God sets upon what Judah represents - praise and worship.  Important as service is, it must take second place to worship; which is why on the first day of the week we come in to worship, and then, and only then, go out to serve.  Each believer’s first concern should be to learn how to worship, how to conduct himself at the Lord’s table, for it is there that worship, which begins with the presentation of an obedient life (1 Sa 15:22), reaches its pinnacle, finding its source in the One Whose broken body is portrayed in the loaf, and Whose precious blood is portrayed in the cup, the elements He Himself appointed to remind His own of His death, resurrection, and impending return. 

The difference between God’s estimate of worship, and ours is painfully apparent today both in our lives, and in what passes for worship at the Lord’s supper.  The lack of obedience in the life is unwittingly announced in the fact that in too many instances “worship” has degenerated into a dead formality, where sharing experiences has replaced occupation with Christ, where the Scriptures are used to draw attention to the speaker instead of the Savior, where the hymns are chosen for the tunes rather than for what they have to say of Christ, where ability to distinguish between the appropriate and the inappropriate is totally lacking, where the leading of the Holy Spirit is a thing unknown.

But man will insist on preserving the form when the power has gone.  Early in her history the Church substituted human organization for the departed power and leading of the Holy Spirit; and sadly, the assemblies, which of all Christian groups should know better, appear to be ready to follow the rest of Christendom in making that same substitution.

It is significant that it is the south border that is mentioned first, for south is the Biblical direction of faith, and for the believer everything begins with faith.

The general description of the border is given first, “to the border of Edom the wilderness of Zin southward was the uttermost part of the south coast (border).”  Edom and Adam are almost identical in meaning, for Edom means “red”; and Adam, “man: red earth.”  Since man in his natural state is “of the earth, earthy,” 1 Co 15:47, this reference to Edom declares that faith constitutes the “border” between what is earthy and what is spiritual.  On one side dwells the believer; on the other, the unbeliever.  It is significant that the land of Edom wasn’t given to the Israelites, and that they were in fact forbidden to hate the Edomites, “Thou shalt not abhor an Edomite; for he is thy brother” De 23:7.  The lesson being taught is that though believers are to maintain a border between themselves and the unbeliever, they are not to hate him; but are, in fact, to make every effort to win him to Christ.

As Edom represents the men of the world, so does the wilderness of Zin represent the world in which they live, for Zin means a thorn, and thorns are the symbol of the earth’s cursed state, see Ge 3:17-18.  This is in sharp contrast with the spiritual realm in which the believer dwells, represented by Canaan, which is described as a land flowing with milk and honey.

Having looked briefly at the spiritual significance of the land of Edom, and the wilderness of Zin, as Judah’s southern border, we will now look at the spiritual significance of some of the place names lying along that same border; for however dull we may be in discerning that significance, there can be no question that all the place names of Scripture have a spiritual lesson to teach.  There are no unnecessary words in Scripture.

15:2.  “And their south border was from the shore of the salt sea, from the bay that looketh southward:”

It is interesting to note that the direction in which the Holy Spirit moves in recording the names lying along both the southern and northern borders is from east to west; and to note also that in regard to the east and west borders themselves, He moves also from east to west.  As has been noted in other studies, the east speaks of departure from God; and the west, of approach to Him.  One lesson at least being taught in this movement from east to west, is that in this, as in all Scripture, the purpose is to lead the reader, not just symbolically, but spiritually “westward,” i.e., closer to God.

It is equally interesting to note also that the southern border is mentioned before the northern, for the south is connected with faith, as the north is with intelligence.  In spiritual things, there must first be faith, and then intelligence to appreciate what was first appropriated by faith.

15:3.  “And it went out to the south side to Maaleh-acrabbim, and passed along to Zin, and ascended up on the south side unto Kadesh-barnea, and passed along to Hezron, and went up to Adar, and fetched a compass to Karkaa:"

Maaleh-acrabbim means ascent of the scorpions, and while certainly the reference may be to a place literally infested with scorpions, we must look beyond the literal if we are to perceive the spiritual message; and such passages as Eze 2:6; Re 9:3,10, e.g, make it clear that the scorpion represents both evil men and evil spirits in connection with evil doctrine.  The lesson of Maaleh-acrabbim therefore isn’t difficult to read.  Its being on the south border (direction of faith) reminds us that we too have on the border of our spiritual inheritance, evil men and evil spirits, under the guise of being emissaries of good, waiting the opportunity to inject both individual believers and churches with the poison of wrong doctrine.

The next place mentioned is the wilderness of Zin thorn, and we have noted already that it represents the world in which we live, as a place under the curse of God.

Next comes Kadesh-barnea, meaning the son of wandering was set apart.   The “son of wandering” isn’t difficult to identify: it is man himself, wandering (lost), drifting aimlessly towards eternal destruction.  This border point, however, reminds us that humanity is divided into two classes: one, through faith in Christ, is set apart for God, to be eternally blessed; the other, through refusal to believe, is also set apart, but for judgment, to be eternally punished.  Faith is the border that separates them.

Hezron is the next named border point, and it has three meanings, enclosed: arrow of song: division of song.  As literal Israel was enclosed by God’s protecting care, Isa 5:1-7; Ps 80:8-19, so is spiritual Israel, the Church, and so is each individual comprising the Church.  The knowledge that “all things work together for good to them that love God,” that nothing can happen to me apart from the permission or direction of the God Who is my Father, should produce peace in the heart, that will enable the believer, even in adversity, to sing praises to God, as did Paul and Silas in Ac 16:24-25.

The meaning arrow of song should remind us that the believer’s songs of praise and worship ascend like arrows bringing pleasure to the heart of God.  It is very different with the unconverted.  His songs, evoked by the fleeting pleasures of this world, will return in a lost eternity like arrows to convict him of the folly that led him to barter his soul for such worthless things.

The meaning division of song, continues to emphasize that the unconverted also sing, the source of their joy being the passing pleasures of this world; their song soon to be exchanged for eternal weeping.  That knowledge, far from producing complacency in the hearts of believers, should impel us to greater diligence in preaching the Gospel.

Adar, meaning ample: exceeding glorious, comes next, and may be intended to remind believers that what Balaam unwillingly pronounced in regard to literal Israel, Nu 23:20-24, applies in far fuller measure to her spiritual counterpart, the Church.

Karkaa means to the bottom: ground-floor, with pavement of many pieces as another possible meaning.  I regret being unable to discern its spiritual significance, though Grant in his Numerical Bible p.83 suggests that, “The lesson may be of that mutual help rendered by those each severally feeble, which is indeed God’s way of making His people realize their need of each other, and training them in lowliness: a barrier against independence surely.”

15:4.  “From thence it passed toward Azmon, and went out unto the river of Egypt; and the goings out of that coast (border) were at the sea: this shall be your south coast (border).”

Azmon, meaning mighty: depth: robust, may be the symbolic announcement of the truth that believers are mighty: robust, not because of any personal power, but because our God and Father is the Almighty Who indwells each believer through His Holy Spirit, making available to us His own almighty power.

From Azmon to the Mediterranean coast, the border is the river of Egypt (not the Nile, but the very much smaller stream entering the Mediterranean about half way between Gaza and the mouth of the Nile).  Beyond that river lay Egypt, the land which represents the world of business and pleasure living in independence of God.  Beyond the river of Egypt the Israelite was not to go, nor are we to go beyond the spiritual equivalent of that same boundary.  Physically we are in the world, but in all other respects we are to keep ourselves separate from it, remembering that it is no less the place of spiritual bondage for God’s people today than it was the place of literal bondage long ago.

15:5.  “And the east border was the salt sea, even unto the end of Jordan.  And their border in the north quarter was from the bay of the sea at the uttermost part of Jordan:”

Since a movement eastward is always indicative of departure from God; and since the Jordan represents death; and the Dead Sea, the lake of fire, the lesson being taught in this eastern border is that when a man deliberately turns his back on God, death lies before him.  For the true believer, time spent in such rebellion is time in which he might as well be dead, for it profits nothing for eternity; and for the unbeliever, to turn from the knowledge of God is to perish eternally, “For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries” Heb 10:26-27.

15:6.  “And the border went up to Beth-hogla, and passed along by the north of Beth-arabah; and the border went up to the stone of Bohan the son of Reuben.”

This begins the description of Judah’s north border, and since the north is the Biblical direction that speaks of mere human intelligence, the general lesson is of the need to live by faith, and not by what man’s corrupt intellect would dictate.

Beth-hoglah means house of the languished feast, with house of a partridge as another possible meaning.  I can see no spiritual truth connected with this latter meaning, but house of the languished feast certainly calls to mind the feast which transcends all others: the Lord’s Supper.  Nor will any spiritual mind refuse to acknowledge that it has become a languished feast, for what Scripture declares to be a weekly celebration, Christendom for the most part, has relegated to an annual observance.  The method of its celebration has also become a travesty so different from the Divine order as to be barely recognizable, God’s order being for believers, and only believers, to assemble on the first day of the week around the Lord’s table, as a royal kingdom of priests, to remember the Lord’s death, the women, with covered heads worshipping silently, and the men, as the Spirit leads, audibly expressing the worship of the whole company through prayers, hymns, and Scripture reading.  That order is a far cry from what prevails generally in Christendom where a cleric acts as spokesman for the whole congregation which consists of a mixed multitude of saved and unsaved together.

That unscriptural system is the product of man’s corrupt intelligence, and the lesson of Beth-hoglah is that we are not to be involved in it.  As Judah had no possession north of Beth-hoglah, neither do we have any part in any of the schemes or systems conceived by mere human intelligence divorced from faith.

Beth-arabah means house of the desert, and again the lesson is easily read when we remember that believers are “a spiritual house” composed of “living stones” 1 Pe 2:5, passing as redeemed pilgrims and strangers through the spiritual desert of this world on our way home to heaven, just as redeemed Israel (type of the Church) walked through a literal desert on their way to Canaan.  The Church is God’s “house of the desert.”

One lesson at least which God would teach us through the appointment of Beth-arabah as one of Judah’s northern border points is the need to maintain our pilgrim character as a redeemed company which has been separted from the world by the cross of Christ, as it is written, “But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world” Ga 6:14.

Bohan, meaning thumb, was a border stone on Judah’s northern boundary, and appears to have been named after a son of Reuben, though apart from here and in 18:17, there is no other Scriptural reference to anyone of the name of Bohan.  The association of the name with Reuben see ye, a son appears to be for the purpose of reminding us that the lesson is specifically for those who through faith in Christ are God’s sons.

In Beth-arabah we are reminded that we are God’s sons, living stones comprising His house here on earth during this present dispensation, but the stone of Bohan reminds us that the Foundation of that house is Christ the living Stone, the true Reuben, God’s only begotten Son, His firstborn of Whom it is written, “I will make him my firstborn, higher than the kings of the earth” Ps 89:27.

As the hand without the thumb is a maimed weak thing, so are we apart from Christ, but with Him what was true of Paul is true also of us, as it is written, “My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness,” so that the Apostle could exult, “Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.  Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong” 2 Co 12:9-10.  See also Php 4:13 “I can do all things through Christ who strengtheneth me.”

The stone of Bohan ought to remind us that Christ is the great foundation stone upon which we rest, and apart from Whom we can do nothing, as He Himself declared, “Without me ye can do nothing” Jn 15:5

The absence of this name from Scripture, except here in Joshua, is interesting, for it might have been expected to be found in other places, e.g., in the lists of Reuben’s sons.  The ommission is clearly deliberate, and we do well to pay attention to such ommissions for by just such means God instructs us.  It seems that His intention here is to set before us the uniqueness of Christ.  Of the Son, as well as of the Father and the Holy Spirit, it is written, “Thus saith the Lord the King of Israel, and his redeemer the Lord of hosts: I am the first, and I am the last; and beside me there is no God” Isa 44:6; “Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth, for I am God, and there is none else” Isa 45:22.

15:7.  “And the border went up toward Debir from the valley of Achor, and so northward, looking toward Gilgal, that is before the going up to Adummim, which is on the south side of the river: and the border passed toward the waters of Enshemesh, and the goings out thereof were at Enrogel.”

Debir, meaning an oracle, represents the written Word of the living God, which presents the Lord Jesus Christ on every page.  Its being on Judah’s northern border (the direction that speaks of intelligence) is designed to teach us the folly of valueing the “wisdom” of the world above the Word of God, for relative to that imagined “wisdom” He has written, “For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God” 1 Co 3:19; “But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom....” 1 Co 1:30.  As is written in Pr 9:10 “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.”

The next place mentioned in connection with Judah’s northern boundary is “the valley of Achor,” and it is suggested that the reader review the notes on chapter 7 for a discussion of that valley.

Gilgal means rolling: a wheel, and as already discussed, it speaks of the cutting off of the deeds of the flesh.  The fact that Israel returned frequently to Gilgal in the days of Joshua is meant to teach us the necessity of exercising unceasing vigilance over the flesh, and keeping it in the place of death.  Its activity may not be found in the life of the believer who would walk in communion with Christ.

Adummim, meaning ruddy ones: quieted ones, is the next boundary point mentioned, and very clearly is the typological description of believers, for the word ruddy is twice used to describe David’s beauty, see 1 Sa 16:12; 17:42; once to describe Christ’s, Ca 5:10; and once to describe that of Israel’s distinguished ones, La 4:7.  The word ruddy means healthy, fresh, rosy, glowing, blooming, full-blooded.  No better word can be found to describe those who possess eternal life.

Quieted ones is likewise a fitting description of believers, for the word conveys the thought of peace, tranquility, etc., and certainly is most appropriate for those who have been delivered from the need of any anxious care since they have the assurance that all the circumstances of life are ordered or permitted by God’s perfect love and wisdom.  It belies our state, and dishonors God when we act contrary to our standing in Christ.  Adummim is the reminder of the need to obey the injunction, “Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.  And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” Php 4:6-7.

The next boundary mark is Enshemesh which means fount of the sun, and since the sun is the source of the world’s light it seems that God is directing our attention to the Lord Jesus Christ Who is the source of all light, physical and spiritual, He Himself declaring, “I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life” Jn 8:12.  The way to follow Him is to obey His Word, for it is written, “Thy word is a lamp unto feet, and a light unto my path” Ps 119:105.

Enrogel, meaning fount of the spy or fountain of a traveller, is the next border marker, and like Enshemesh, also points us to Christ, but as the fountain of life as well as the source of all light, as it is written, “Whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life” Jn 4:14,” and “Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let thim come unto me, and drink.  He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water” Jn 7:37-38.

What is portrayed by Enrogel ought to be a border marker in the life of every believer, keeping us separate from the world which rejects Him Who is the Light of the world and the Water of life.

15:8.  “And the border went up by the valley of the son of Hinnom unto the south side of the Jebusite; the same is Jerusalem: and the border went up to the top of the mountain that lieth before the valley of Hinnom westward, which is at the end of the valley of the giants northward:”

Hinnom means to make self drowsy: behold them; and since Hinnom is a border point, “drowsy” directs attention to what is written in Scripture concerning sleep, especially in relation to the sleep of the slothful and careless, see e.g., Pr 6:9-10; 20:13.  Nor is the NT lacking in warning against the sleep of the careless and slothful, e.g., Ro 13:11 “... it is high time to awake out of sleep....”; 1 Th 5:5-7 “Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness.  Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober.  For they that sleep sleep in the night....”

A border is to be carefully guarded, and these designated points on Judah’s border are symbolic of the things believers are to guard against.  The type of sleep against which we are warned is that of the slothful and careless.  How easy it is to become careless relative to spiritual things such as Bible study, prayer, the spread of the Gospel, ministry to believers, to name but a few!

It is to be noted also that Hinnom is mentioned in relation to a valley, for in Scripture the valley represents the sphere of fruitbearing.  We are therefore being warned especially against becoming slothful in fruitbearing, i.e., in producing the fruits of the spirit, Ga 5:22-23; and in leading others to Christ, for all such become our spiritual sons and daughters, and God would have us thus reproduce ourselves abundantly.

The second meaning of Hinnom behold them is ambiguous, but may be intended to emphasize the need of carefully beholding (watching) the spiritual border points that separate us from an evil world, to ensure that nothing of that world crosses over into our lives.

The next boundary point is “the Jebusite; the same is Jerusalem.”  The Jebusites, meaning he will be trodden down (as a threshing floor), were the original inhabitants of Jerusalem which means dual peace shall be taught: lay (set) ye double peace.  Jerusalem is a type or figure of the human heart, and as there will be no peace in Jerusalem until the Prince of peace returns as King, neither will there be peace in a man’s heart until Christ reigns there as Lord of the life.  The Jebusite represents the old nature, their original control of Jerusalem portraying the truth that until he has been born again a man’s heart or life is under the control of the old nature, associated with which are all the evils listed in Ga 5:19-21, in contrast with which are the things pertaining to the new nature as enumerated in Ga 5:22-23.  The contrast between the old nature and the new is emphasized in the meanings of Jebusite and Jerusalem.  Associated with the former are judgment and destruction; with the latter, peace.  Where Christ has control of the life there is “the peace of God, which passeth all understanding” Php 4:7.

Significantly the border is described as being “on the south side of the Jebusite,” that is, on the faith side, for in Scripture the south is always associated with faith.  If we would enjoy the peace of which Jerusalem speaks, we must “walk by faith, not by sight” 2 Co 5:7.

“... and the border went up to the top of the mountain that lieth before the valley of Hinnom westward....”  In Scripture a mountain represents a king and/or kingdom, but it also speaks of separation from the world.  We can’t live victorious Christian lives unless we set aside a time each day “to go up to the mountain,” i.e., reserve time to be alone with God to allow Him to speak to us from His Word, following which we speak to Him in prayer, the Lord Himself being our example, “... He went up into a mountain apart to pray” Mt 14:23.

“... that lieth before the valley of Hinnom westward....”  The west is the Biblical direction that speaks of approach to God, and it is no accident that links what speaks symbolically of drawing nearer to Him, with what is portrayed by the mountain.  If we would be spiritually fruitful, and enjoy closer communion with God, we must spend time daily on “the mountain.” 

“... which is at the end of the valley of the giants northward.”  These giants, the Rephaim (of whom Scripture records nothing good) represent some of the evil forces arrayed against us, and significantly their valley was “northward” - the Biblical direction which speaks of mere natural intelligence or worldly wisdom, of which Scripture also has nothing good to say.  Too often their degrees and titles invest the intelligentsia with a totally unwarranted superiority, which intimidates those less educated.  It shouldn’t be forgotten that their expertise is almost always confined to the discipline in which they obtained their degrees.  The believer who takes the time to study his Bible makes himself master of an area of knowledge beyond the grasp of the world’s intellectuals.  They are “giants” only in the estimate of a spiritually ignorant world, but very tiny dwarfs in the spiritual sphere.  The believer should have no fear of them.  The world’s wisdom is lightly esteemed by God, and should be also by those who belong to Him, as it is written, “The wisdom of this world is foolishnes with God” 1 Co 3:19.

15:9.  “And the border was drawn from the top of the hill unto the fountain of the water of Nephtoah, and went out to the cities of mount Ephron; and the border was drawn to Baalah, which is Kirjath-jearim:”

This continues the delineation of Judah’s northern border.  Nephtoah means opening: a spring, and clearly is a figure or type of the written Word which on every page presents Him Who is the living Word and the Water of life.  The crystal clear spring of the written Word reveals the wells of the world’s wisdom to be but mud holes, and in Nephtoah God would teach us the need of rightly estimating the value of Scripture.  Compared to it, all the world’s wisdom is worse than foolishness, for as James has written concerning it, “This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish” Jas 3:15.

“... and went out to the cities of mount Ephron.”  Ephron was a Hittite from whom Abraham bought a burying place for Sarah, see Ge 23, and this mount of the same name has the same evil connotation, for Ephron means he of dust, and Hittite means terror.  In this mount, then, God is presenting us with a typological picture of the men of the world: they are creatures of dust, yet they succeed all too often in filling the hearts of believers with fear.  It is instructive, however, to read what God has written concerning fear: “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” Pr 9:10, but “The fear of man bringeth a snare” Pr 29:25.

In this border point which “went out to the cities of mount Ephron” God would teach us the folly of fearing men, who are but creatures of dust on their way to the lake of fire; and the wisdom of fearing Him Who is their Creator and the One Who, by the death of His Son, has redeemed us from suffering their fate.

“... and the border was drawn to Baalah, which is Kirjath-jearim.”

Baalah means mistress: sorceress (having a familiar spirit); and Kirjath-jearim, city of forests: city of towns.  Baalah can only be viewed in a bad sense, for while Baal means lord, it is a title never applied to God, but to what represents Satan.  Mistress: sorceress therefore seems to point to the great harlot church described in Re 17:1 as “sitting upon (ruling over) many waters (peoples)”; and in Re 17:5 as “the mother of harlots, and abominations of the earth.”  This evil apostate travesty of the true Church sits right on the border of the believer’s domain, and we are to be vigilant in seeing that she is not permitted to intrude into that domain.

Since trees represent men, and towns are the places where they congregate, a lesson being taught in the change of name of this city as it came into the possession of Judah, is that conversion should transform our vision: we should see the world’s perishing masses as forests of humanity in desperate need of a Savior.  The praise which Judah represents, and which is prompted by love for Christ, is twin to a love for men, and it should impel us to selfless effort to win them for Him.

15:10.  “And the border compassed from Baalah westward unto mount Seir, and passed along unto the side of mount Jearim, which is Chesalon, on the north side, and went down to Beth-shemesh, and passed on to Timnah:”

This Seir is not the same as the land of Seir or Edom given to Esau, but it has the same meaning shaggy: hairy: goat-like, and the same evil connotation, see comments on 11:17 and 12:7.  The mention of it here as one of Judah’s boundary points is to remind us of the need to be on constant guard against being enticed into sin.

“...mount Jearim, which is Chesalon, on the north side” is the next border point.  Jearim, the same as Kirjath-jearim, here means simply forests; and its other name Chesalon, foolish confidence: as extolled: silly.  The emphasis upon its being “on the north side” confirms that the warning is against that false confidence which many place in the world’s wisdom.  The believer is not to make the mistake of putting his confidence in that same worthless wisdom.

Beth-shemesh, meaning house of the sun, is set in sharp contrast with Jearim/Chesalon, for it seems to speak of the true source of light for the believer, i.e., the Scriptures.  Its being one of Judah’s boundary points is the symbolic announcement of the truth that we are not to go beyond what Scripture authorizes, nor are we to permit in our lives or assemblies what lacks the authority of Scripture.

“...and passed on to Timnah.”  Here and in 2 Ch 28:18 Timnah means thou wilt number: a portion, but elsewhere it means thou wilt withhold.  Since numbering is Biblically associated with ownership, the meaning in the present context seems to be that in this border point we have the symbolic assurance that it is God Who numbers believers as His own, and He Who assigns each one his portion according to His own perfect love and wisdom, knowledge which should encourage us to obey Paul’s injunction, “Let your conversation (manner of life) be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee” Heb 13:5, he himself declaring, “I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content” Php 4:11.  Timnah, it seems, is designed to teach us to be content with the portion which God has assigned us.

15:11.  “And the border went out unto the side of Ekron northward: and the border was drawn to Shicron, and passed along to mount Baalah, and went out unto Jabneel; and the goings out of the border were at the sea.”

15:12.  “And the west border was to the great sea, and the coast thereof.  This is the coast (border) of the children of Judah round about according to their families.”

Ekron means uprooting, and it has an evil connotation, for it was one of the five principal Philistine cities, and as noted already the Philistine represents apostasy.  This border point therefore becomes the symbolic warning against becoming apostate, that is, of abandoning one’s religious faith.  The warning was never more needed than today when the tidal wave of ecumenism is sweeping multitudes into abandonment of belief’s they once appeared to hold dear.  The NT counterpart of the symbolic warning being conveyed in Ekron is the epistle of Jude.  It should be studied carefully, for the very things against which it warns are already wreaking havoc amongst God’s people.  Verses 14-16 of Jude’s epistle should be particularly noted “... Behold the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints, to execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him.  These are murmurers, complainers, walking after their own lusts; and their mouth speaketh great swelling words, having men’s persons in admiration because of advantage.”

Its being emphasized that Ekron was northward is of particular significance, for Scripturally the north speaks of mere human intelligence.  Today, as never before, the wisdom of the world is uprooting the truths of God’s Word, the academic titles of many of the enemy blinding believers to their true character.

“...and the border was drawn to Shicron” meaning drunkenness.  This continues to enhance the clarity of the dark picture being painted by the Divine artist, for the spiritual equivalent of literal drunkenness is the pursuit of the pleasures of this world.  This same spiritual drunkenness has befuddled the minds of many believers today, for their pursuit of the world’s pleasures has left neither time nor desire for the study of Scripture, so that in their ignorance they can’t distinguish right from wrong.  We do well to heed the command “Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober.  For they that sleep sleep in the night; and they that be drunken are drunken in the night.  But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love, and for an helmet, the hope of salvation” 1 Th 5:6-8

Since Baalah has already been discussed in our study of verse 9, we will go on to examine Jabneel, meaning God will build.  In spite of all that the enemy may do to frustrate God’s building plans that work goes on, as the Lord Himself declared, “...upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it ”Mt 16:18.  The great work is almost finished, it being our privilege to do our part to help in bringing in the last few living stones to complete the magnificent building, His Church.  This, it seems, is the encouragement God would have us derive from this boundary point on Judah’s northern border.

“... and the goings out of the border were at the sea (the Mediterranean).”

The sea is the symbol of earth’s unconverted masses, see Isa 57:20 “The wicked are like the troubled sea, when it cannot rest, whose waters cast up mire and dirt.”  Inasmuch as the coast of that sea was Judah’s western border, the lesson God would have us learn is that our only business with that great sea is to be His fishermen on it seeking to catch men in the net of the Gospel and bring them to Christ, He Himself declaring to the first disciples, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men” Mt 4:19.

It is instructive to note that virtually all of the coastal region of Judah’s lot was occupied by the Philistines who controlled access to the sea.  This, however, is but the typological portrait of truth relative to the Church.  The false church, the great apostate travesty, typified by the Philistines, and that has ruled Christendom for almost two thousand years, also stands between the true Church and earth’s unsaved masses, her deadly doctrine having been one of the most formidable barriers confronting God’s “fishermen” during those two millennia.  Nor will these closing days of the age bring any improvement, for Scripture makes it very clear that the age will end with the great harlot, the apostate world church being produced by today’s evil ecumenism, sitting as a queen, and ruling over “many waters” (people), Re 17.  All of this is graphically portrayed in the experience of Israel during the era of the Judges.  As that age ended with Israel scattered, and the Philistines victorious, so will this present age also end with the apostate travesty, the harlot church, reigning supreme, and the true Church scattered and broken. 

That Philistine victory in the days of Saul (himself a type of the Tribulation era beast), however, isn’t the end of the story.  The evil disasterous reign of Saul was followed by that of the victorious David, which was followed by that of Solomon, which brought Israel to the zenith of her OT glory.  The reign of the beast will be followed by that of Christ Who will lead Israel into an even greater glory than that which was hers in the days of Solomon.  During the Millennium she will rule supreme over all the nations on earth.  And the Church?  She, having been raptured to heaven prior to the beginning of the Tribulation, which will precede the Millennium, will enjoy an even greater glory.  She will be reigning with Christ over the whole earth, not from the earthly Jerusalem, but from the heavenly.

Significantly the delineation of Judah’s borders ends with “the west border,” the direction that speaks of approach to God.  One day, surely very near, we too will come to the “west” border, and as faith gives place to sight, the praise of which Judah so clearly speaks, will ring out in heaven.

15:13.  “And unto Caleb the son of Jephunneh he gave a part among the children of Judah, according to the commandment of the Lord to Joshua, even the city of Arba the father of Anak, which city is Hebron.”

It is suggested that the reader here review the comments on 14:6,13-15.  From Nu 13:2,3,6, we learn that this man was a ruler in Judah, one of the spies sent by Moses to search the land; and when the others discouraged the people, “Caleb stilled the people ... and said, Let us go up at once, and possess it; for we are well able to overcome it” Nu 13:30.  His faithfulness was rewarded with the promise of God, “But my servant Caleb, because he had another spirit with him, and hath followed me fully, him will I bring into the land whereinto he went; and his seed shall possess it” Nu 14:24.  And when the unbelieving spies, “died by the plague before the Lord ... Joshua ... and Caleb ... lived still” Nu 14:37-38.  Nu 34:17-19 informs us also, that having appointed Eleazar the priest, and Joshua the sun of Nun, to divide the land to the tribes of Israel, God also declared, “And ye shall take one prince of every tribe, to divide the land by inheritance,” and first on that list of princes is, “Caleb, the son of Jephunneh.”

Having considered the spiritual significance of the meanings of Caleb and Jephunneh in our study of chapter 14, we will not repeat it here, but go on to examine what hasn’t yet been discussed.  Arba, meaning four, was famous among the Anakim, the giants, who were eventually driven out of most of Canaan except for a few Philistine cities.  Hebron had formerly been called Kirjath-arba in honor of Arba the father of Anak.

Anak means neck-chain: long-necked, the meaning neck-chain being associated with the idea of strangling.  He seems to represent pride, for in Isa 3:16 under the figure of a stretched out neck we are given God’s angry description of Israel’s pride, “the daughters of Zion are haughty, and walk with stretched forth necks.”  The neck-chain in association with strangling is the symbolic reminder that pride brings death, pride being first on the list of the things which God hates, “These six things doth the Lord hate: yea seven are an abomination unto him: a proud look....” Pr 6:16-17.

The association of Hebron communion (formerly Kirjath-arba), with Arba four (number of testing), and Anak (representing pride), teaches the lesson that the world has also its own form of communion enjoyed by its own; but we do will to note that the “communion” available to the worldling binds him to the necessity of keeping up with those whose fellowship he covets.  Let his income, or his political power cease, however, and see how quickly the “fellowship” also ceases.

How different is the realm of faith!  The communion which the believer enjoys with God, and with every other believer, is not dependent on the fluctuating values of earth, but on the changeless eternal love of God.

We have noted in our study of chapter 14 that for forty-five years, since the day he first caught a glimpse of it, Caleb had never lost his desire to possess Hebron.  The same desire for what Hebron represents would preserve us from many a sorrow, for communion can’t be separated from obedience, nor obedience from blessing.

15:14.  “And Caleb drove thence the three sons of Anak, Sheshai, and Ahiman, and Talmai, the children of Anak.” 

Arba’s posterity didn’t end with Anak.  Anak had three sons, Sheshai, meaning my fine linen (garments): whitish; Ahiman brother of a portion: brother of whom; and Talmai my furrows.

As the children of one who represents pride, these three are themselves representative of what characterizes pride.  The significance of Sheshai is easily deciphered.  He represents the proud satisfaction with their own righteousness that marks so many of the world’s unconverted.  Claeb’s expulsion of Sheshai, however, reminds us that the believer may also become proud of his righteousness, forgetting that it is the righteousness of Christ that gives him acceptance with a Holy God.  Religious pride is much more prevalent than many of us would care to admit.

The lesson of Ahiman is also easily read, for the “brotherhood” of the world depends on the “portion” possessed by the man who wants to have fellowship.  Let his “portion” (of wealth, power, influence, etc.,) fall below that of those with whom he has fellowship, and he finds himself very quickly unwelcome within that circle.  This is a form of pride regrettably rampant in Christendom today, in spite of the numerous Scriptural warnings against it, e.g., Jas 2:1-9 “... if ye have respect to persons, ye commit sin....” and 1 Co 11:22 “... despise ye the church of God, and shame them that have not?”

The spiritual significance of Talmai is likewise easily translated.  The furrow is produced by plowing, and in an agricultural society there was an obvious correlation between the number of furrows, and the amount of a man’s wealth.  It is regrettably true also in Christendom today that all too often a man is esteemed in proportion to his secular success, while he who labors in spiritual things is despised.  “Talmai” remains unexpelled in many a church today.  Countless believers groan under the misrule of men whose only leadership qualifications are secular or academic rather than spiritual.

There is just as great need for individual believers, and churches today, to expel these spiritual sons of the giant Pride, as there was for Caleb to expel the literal sons of Anak.  Caleb’s enjoyment of Hebron depended on their expulsion.  Our enjoyment of the communion which Hebron represents depends on our expulsion of what these sons of the giant represent.

15:15.  “And he went up thence to the inhabitants of Debir: and the name of Debir before was Kirjath-sepher.”

15:16.  “And Caleb said, He that smiteth Kirjath-sepher, and taketh it, to him will I give Achsah my daughter to wife.”

Having expelled the sons of the giant from Hebron, Caleb’s next concern was to take possession of the place, which under the control of the Canaanite, was called Kirjath-sepher, meaning, city of the book, but under Israelite control, Debir, meaning, an oracle. The spiritual lesson isn’t difficult to learn.  This city represents the Word of God, which to the natural man, is simply another book - as literature, the finest in the world, but still just another piece of literature.  Faith, however, transforms that piece of literature into the written Word which is the God-breathed revelation of Him Who is the Living Word, the Lord Jesus Christ.

The whole-hearted faith which Caleb represents is marked by an equally strong desire to take possession of what it viewed once as simply another book, but now recognizes as the inspired Word, the spiritual food without which spiritual life can’t exist.  Regrettably there are many today content to leave “Kirjath-sepher” with the “Canaanite”; few willing to devote the time and effort needed to wrest it from the control of the enemy, and make it their own.  The indifference that is satisfied with its ignorance of Scripture is apparent everywhere today amongst those professing faith in Christ, raising the question of the reality of their profession, and explaining the rapid abandonment of Scriptural order amongst the assemblies of God’s people, and their inability to recognize error when it confronts them.

Caleb’s magnanimous spirit is disclosed in his willingness to accord others a share in his victories.  There is no question that he could have taken Kirjath-sepher himself, but he would encourage others also to expel the enemy and enjoy the privilege of having a part in the conquest of the God-given inheritance.  His encouragement, however, went beyond mere words.  He would substantially reward the overcomer, the prize being his daughter Achsah, meaning to tinkle: anklet.

The spiritual significance of this is easily discerned, for that ornament encircling the ankle and emitting a pleasant tinkle with each step, speaks of testimony.  The foot represents the walk or manner of life, so that what Achsah portrays is a life encircled by the obedience that produces an effective witness.  The conqueror of Kirjath-sepher would be joined to this woman: she would be a part of him.  So is it with the man who takes the Word from the enemy’s control and makes it his own.  Obedience will encircle his life, and, fulfilling the type of the tinkling bells on the hem of the high priest’s robe (Ex 28:33-35), the obedience of his life and the testimony of his lips will be a witness for God.

Satan has succeeded in deluding many into believing that a verbal testimony is unnecessary, his lie being, “It’s better to let your life speak for itself.”  Acceptance of this deadly doctrine has silenced many, with the result that the unconverted, observing the believer’s circumspect life, have been led to conclude that all that is needed to fit one for heaven is a moral life.  God’s word is, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart, that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.  For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation” Ro 10:9-10.  It is that same truth that is being taught in Caleb’s promise to give his daughter Achsah to the man who would take Kirjath-sepher, for that victor represents the believer whose obedience to God’s Word produces not only an obedient life, but also a courageous verbal testimony.

15:17.  “And Othniel the son of Kenaz, the brother of Caleb, took it: and he gave him Achsah his daughter to wife.”

Othniel means seasonable speaking of God; and while the meaning of Kenaz is uncertain, it is, as noted already, understood by many competent scholars to mean, the nest sprinkled, or receptacle of strength.

Since Achsah represents testimony, it is not just coincidence that her husband’s name should also speak so clearly of testimony; nor is it mere chance that we should find these two mentioned in connection with the capture of Kirjath-sepher, which we have seen to represent the Word of God - to the natural man, merely a book, but to faith, the God-breathed Word.  He who takes possession of that Word, i.e., makes it his own, by obeying its precepts, can’t fail to be an effective witness for God. 

Nor should we miss the spiritual significance of his being the son of Kenaz, for as was noted in our study of chapter 14:6,

since a nest is the birthplace of a bird (creature of heaven), “the nest sprinkled” may be a symbolic reference to a spiritual beginning - the sprinkling by faith of the blood of Christ.  And certainly every believer is the “receptacle of strength,” for all the power of heaven is available to the obedient Christian. 

The fact that Kenaz was the brother of Caleb scarcely needs comment, for since Kenaz was of the family of Caleb, so also is an effective witness inseparable from the humility and whole-heartedness which Caleb represents.

15:18.  “And it came to pass, as she came unto him, that she moved him to ask of her father a field: and she lighted off her ass; and Caleb said unto her, What wouldest thou?”

In the symbolic language of Scripture a wife represents the expression of a man’s spiritual life: the godly wife representing true spiritual life; the ungodly wife, what passes with the natural man for spiritual life.  (For example, Adam, alone, represents man unconverted; and it is significant that God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone” Ge 2:18.  But Adam, with Eve, was capable of reproducing his kind - being fruitful - so that with a wife, he represents the converted man, capable of being fruitful for God, Eve representing the expression of the new spiritual life, apart from which spiritual fruit is impossible. 

A field represents, not only the world, but also one of the spheres of Christian service, so that Achsah’s request for a field portrays the desire of the new spiritual life for a sphere of service.  There is something wrong with the faith that has no desire to serve; and the lesson to be learnt from the fact that it is Caleb who gives the field, is that whole-heartedness will always furnish a sphere of service.  Absence of any desire to serve indicates a divided heart, and we shouldn’t forget that it is written, “My son give me thine heart, and let thine eyes observe my ways” Pr 23:26.

“... and she lighted off her ass.”  Recognizing that the wild ass is a type of the old nature unrestrained; and the domesticated ass, a type of that same old nature, but under some degree of moral restraint, Achsah’s dismounting from the ass speaks of Faith’s refusal to be carried along by the impulses of the old nature.  He who would serve God must divorce himself from the dominion of the old nature.

15:19.  “Who answered, Give me a blessing; for thou hast given me a south land; give me also springs of water.  And he gave her the upper springs, and the nether springs.”

Her plea, “Give me a blessing,” portrays the desire of faith for the blessing of God, and it must not be forgotten that obedience is a prerequisite of blessing.

“... for thou hast given me a south land,” scarcely needs comment.  Since the south is always associated with faith, the lesson being taught is that the believer’s portion is in the realm of faith, not sight.  We are not to measure blessing in terms of earthly things.  Faith’s blessings are spiritual, and are incomprehensible to the natural man, and therefore in his sight, worthless.  Those blessings, however, are precious to the obedient believer, for he walks by faith and not by sight, 2 Co 5:7.

“... give me also springs of water.”  Apart from the dew (type of the Holy Spirit); and the early and the latter rains (type of Divine blessing); and the springs of water (type of the Word), the south land would have been a parched desert.  So is it in the spiritual realm.  The disobedience of the believer, however, also converts the realm of faith into a barren desert, for disobedience stays the “dew” (quenches and grieves the Holy Spirit); cuts off the essential “rain” (God’s blessing); and dries up the “springs,” for apart from the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit, the believer can no more understand Scripture than can the unbeliever, so that he goes without essential spiritual food.

The springs, bubbling up by a mysterious unseen force, represent the different parts of the written Word, whose spiritual meaning is unfolded to obedient Faith by the Holy Spirit.  Disobedience shuts off that ministry of the Holy Spirit, and reduces the living Word to nothing more than a piece of literature, as incomprehensible to the believer as to the unbeliever.

Various suggestions have been offered concerning the spiritual significance of “the upper springs, and the nether springs,” the most popular being that they represent the Old and the New Testaments; while others suggest that they represent truth appropriate to the spiritual growth of the hearer or reader - the lower springs representing truth that may be grasped by the newest convert, while the upper springs represent what is intelligible to a mature spiritual state.  Whatever the exact explanation, the lesson remains that the “springs” of Scripture are essential to the fruitfulness of the believer’s life.  Our spiritual fruitfulness will be in proportion to the measure that we study and obey God’s Word.

15:20.  “This is the inheritance of the tribe of the children of Judah according to their families.”

This concludes the delineation of Judah’s borders, and of the portion given to Caleb, and as already discussed, the people and places mentioned represent the things which are to mark the border between the believer and the unbelieving world through which he passes on his way home to heaven.

15:21.  “And the uttermost cities of the tribe of the children of Judah toward the coast (border) of Edom southward were Kabzeel, and Eder, and Jagur,”  

For the spiritual significance of Edom, please see the comments on 15:1.

Kabzeel means gathered of God, and in harmony with its being the first mentioned city within Judah’s borders, it is the symbolic assurance that the designation “gathered of God” is descriptive of all who know the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior. 

Eder, meaning a flock, continues the symbolic description of those who belong to Christ, His assurance to them being, “Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom” Lk 12:32.  The reference here, incidentally, is to the “little flock” of Jewish believers, but in Jn 10:16 He declares, “And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold (properly flock), and one shepherd.”

The next city is Jagur meaning he will sojourn, the typological reference appearing to be to the believer, for it is he who sojourns here on earth as a pilgrim and stranger, in which character he passes through this world on his way home to heaven.

15:22.  “And Kinah, and Dimonah, and Adadah,”

The significance of Kinah, meaning a lamentation, will be the more apparent when we remember that this group of towns was located “toward the coast (border) of Edom southward” for while the south speaks of faith, Edom speaks of the flesh.  As believers, we walk by faith, but the flesh is still with us, and who will refuse to confess that the proximity of the flesh to the spirit has all too often caused us to lament the folly of having yielded to the enticements of the flesh?  No one knew better than Paul the propensity of the flesh to cause lamentation, impelling him to exclaim, “O wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me from the body of this death (this body of death)?” Ro 7:24.  But the victories of the flesh are fleeting, and while Paul lamented them, he could exult in the ultimate victory of the spirit, and the deliverance that was his, and ours through the Lord Jesus Christ, “I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord.  So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God: but with the flesh the law of sin” Ro 7:25.

Dimonah means the quieter: silence: sufficient numbering.  All these meanings are ambiguous.  In a bad sense they carry the thought of God’s enemies being put to silence as in Ro 3:19 “... that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God,” while in the same context sufficient numbering would apply to those who are numbered amongst His enemies.  Its being the name of a place given to Judah, however, indicates that the meanings are to be taken in a good sense, so that the quietness or silence would be that of the peace and quietness which are the portion of those who are numbered amongst God’s people. 

Since every believer is included in that number, we should seek to cultivate “the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price” 1 Pe 3:4, our incentive being the assurance of Ro 8:31-32 “If God be for us, who can be against us?  He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?”

Adadah means for ever adorned: the prey adorned, with festival a possible third meaning.  Whatever else may be the significance of for ever adorned one thought certainly suggests itself: in the eternal state believers will be adorned with a glory and beauty beyond the comprehension of finite minds, for we are assured that we will have bodies “fashioned like unto his glorious body” Php 3:21, for relative to the death of the believer’s body it is written, “It is sown in dishonor; it is raised in glory” 1 Co 15:43.

I cannot discern the spiritual lesson of the second meaning the prey adorned, but the third meaning festival may point also to the blissful character of the eternal state for the believer.

15:23.  “And Kedesh, and Hazor, and Ithnan,”

For comments on Kedesh please see 12:22; and for Hazor, 11:1,10,11,13; 12:19.  Since Hazor portrays the present evil world system and its equally evil worldly wisdom, the lesson here is that what Hazor represents is to have no part in the life of the believer.  Its being within Judah’s border teaches the lesson that the world and its wisdom lie dangerously close to each believer’s life, hence the need of constant vigilance against these evils.

Ithnan means he will hire them: he will stretch out, and may be designed to teach the lesson that God has work for each believer, but He will compel no one to do that work.  It must be voluntary; but what a privilege it is to be “fellow laborers together with God” 1 Co 3:9 in the great work of spreading the Gospel.  All such work increases or “stretches out” the family of faith, and who knows whether that person I lead to the Savior may be that last “living stone” which will complete the Church, and bring the Lord to the air to rapture His own home to heaven!

15:24.  “Ziph, and Telem, and Bealoth,”

Ziph means melting or flowing, a word which almost invariably has a bad connotation in Scripture, being connected with the judgment of God against His enemies, and also against His people as chastisement for sin.  Ziph’s being in the possession of Judah may be to teach the lesson that today also the disobedience of believers brings chastisement instead of blessing.

Telem means covering them: casting them out, and the first meaning conveys the assurance that God’s redeemed are the objects of His unfailing care, as it is written, “He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust: his truth shall be thy shield and buckler” Ps 91:4.

The second meaning, however, is His warning to unbelievers.  All who die without having been born again will ultimately be cast out of His sight into the eternal torment of the lake of fire.

Bealoth means mistresses, and while the plural form doesn’t occur in Scripture, the singular mistress occurs nine times.  In seven of those instances the word means literally lady of the house; but here and in 1 Ki 17:17 a slightly different form of the word is used, there being no question that in 1 Ki 17:17 the meaning is also lady of the house.  The other use is in Na 3:4, however, and is very different, for clearly it describes the great false church, “... the mistress of witchcrafts, that selleth nations through her whoredoms, and families through her witchcrafts.”  Bealoth therefore can scarcely be construed as anything other that the OT symbolic warning that there would develop in the midst of Israel an apostate system, history confirming the accuracy of the warning.  Israel’s history, however, is the symbolic prewritten history of the professing church, so that the warning relates to the development of the great apostate travesty of the true Church, which rules Christendom today, and in whose shadow the true Church exists.

We will have missed an essential part of the lesson, however, if we fail to remember that before there can be an apostate system, there must be apostasy in the heart of an individual.  It is the Lord Himself Who warns that not all those professing to be believers are His sheep, “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven” Mt 7:21.  See also verses 13-23 of that same chapter.

15:25.  “And Hazor, Hadattah, and Kerioth, and Hezron, which is Hazor.”

According to Grant’s Numerical Bible, p. 97, and Knox, and The New Modern Language Bible (The New Berkley Version in Modern English), the names in this verse are simply descriptive of Hazor, and are not the names of separate towns.  Whether that is correct is of relatively little importance, for the instruction lies in the meanings of the names, and relative to Hazor the reader is referred to the notes on 11:1,10,11,13.

Hadattah means sharpness: newness, and while I can’t discern the spiritual significance of sharpness, it is instructive to note that in that general area Hazor was the only city burnt in the initial conquest of the land by Joshua, 11:13.  Hadattah therefore emphasizes that the existing Hazor was new, having been built by Israel in place of the Canaanite original, the spiritual lesson for us being that conversion is literally a new birth, a new beginning.   The believer has the same physical body as he had prior to conversion; he lives in the same house, is a member of the same human family, usually continues in the same job....  Outwardly little has changed, but inwardly the change is phenomenal.  He has become a new creature, “If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature (creation): old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” 2 Co 5:17.  And because he is a new creature he is responsible to live in such fashion as will demonstrate that truth to others.

As we noted in our study of chapter 11, Hazor is a type of this present evil world system, particularly its wisdom, and in this connection it is instructive to note what is written in Ro 12:1-2 “I beseech you therefore, brethren by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.  And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind....” and Php 2:5 “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus.”

As in the days of Joshua the old Hazor was burnt, and a new city built, so is there to be the spiritual equivalent in the life of every believer.  All that pertains to the flesh is to be “burned” (put away); and we are to put on Christ, as it is written, “... let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light.... But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof” Ro 13:12-14.

Kerioth means cities, particularly the building of cities, and surely reminds us that we are to be builders: first, helping to build the Church through the preaching of the Gospel, each one we lead to the Savior becoming a living stone added to that great building; and secondly, helping to build up God’s people by the faithful ministry of the Word.

Since Hezron has already been discussed in our examination of verse 3 there is no need to repeat those remarks here.

15:26.  “Amam, and Shema, and Moladah.”

Amam means their mother, with gathering spot also a possible meaning. Since Amam was within Judah’s territory it seems that their mother should be viewed in a good context, and this reminds us of what is written concerning the heavenly Jerusalem in Ga 4:26 “But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all,” the context making it clear that the heavenly Jerusalem represents the principle of grace as opposed to law.  As it is by grace that we are saved, so also by that same grace we will all dwell eternally in that heavenly Jerusalem, it being the eternal “gathering spot” for everyone redeemed by the precious blood of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Amam’s being within the territory of Judah (which speaks of praise) declares the truth that the heavenly Jerusalem will echo eternally with the grateful praise of those who by God’s grace will be its inhabitants.

Shema means a report, and is linked also with the idea of hearing and obeying, so that the lesson seems to be of the need for believers to hear and obey all that is “reported” in the written Word.  What is contained in that “report” must surely impel the worship of every redeemed heart. 

Inseparably linked with Shema is Moladah meaning birth: bringing forth, for the whole purpose of Scripture is to bear witness to the One Who was willing to lay aside His Divine glory, and be born into this world as a man, so that He might die in man’s guilty place, and by that death make atonement for man’s sin.  His willingness to be born into this world, to die, and to rise again, has made it possible for men born into this world under sentence of death, to be delivered from that sentence, and to have a new spiritual birth which makes them the recipients of eternal life, for His vicarious death cleanses them from all sin, saves them from hell, and fits them for heaven.

15:27.  “And Hazar-gaddah, and Heshmon, and Beth-palet,”

Hazar-gaddah, meaning enclosure of conflict, speaks very clearly of the conflict between the old and the new nature, which begins at the moment of conversion, and continues till the moment the believer enters heaven.  But the “enclosure” within which that strife occurs embraces more than just the years of the believer’s earthly life as a believer.  That boundary limits also what Satan may do through our own old nature to accomplish our harm.  In the case of Job for example, Satan was not permitted to take Job’s life.  In the midst of that warfare we have the assurance, “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it” 1 Co 10:13.  (Temptation is used here in the sense of testing).

Heshmon is generally taken to mean quiet reckoning, other suggested possible meanings being hasting the separation: firm: capacious: wealthy.  Quiet reckoning suggests the idea of quietly taking account of all the circumstances of life, having the assurance that each one is ordered or permitted by God Who works all things together for good to them that love Him, Ro 8:28.  I regret being unable to see the spiritual significance of the other suggested meanings, though hasting the separation may have reference to the truth that each testing simply brings nearer the moment when by death or rapture we will be eternally separated from all earthly trials.

Bethpalet, meaning house of escape, evokes the thought that as living stones we constitute that spiritual house, the Church, which will escape the judgment that will overtake all who remain in unbelief.  That knowledge enables the believer to view with equanimity every trial to which he may be subjected, and to rest in the Lord’s assurance, “There shall not an hair of your head perish.  In your patience possess ye your souls” Lk 21:18-19.

15:28.  “And Hazar-shual, and Beer-sheba, and Bizjothjah,”

Hazar-shual means enclosure of the jackal, and having seen no interpretation better than that offered by F.W. Grant in his Numerical Bible, p.99, I quote him, “... it (the jackal) is the symbol of the evil nature, the flesh, with its earthliness and its greed for corruption.  This jackal-nature cannot be slain, moreover.  It can be ‘penned,’ and thus practically ‘annulled,’ the real word in Ro 6:6, the fruit of faith in what the cross has done for us: ‘Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be annulled, that henceforth we should not serve sin.’  Faith indeed must keep the pen, even when deliverance is fully known; and so it is further written, ‘Reckon yourselves dead indeed unto sin, and alive unto God in Christ Jesus;’ and ‘Let not sin, therefore, reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof.’ (vv. 11,12).  The knowledge of deliverance, however, by a soul practically in the faith of it, pens the jackal-nature.”

Beer-sheba, meaning well of the oath, is clearly a type of the written Word which guarantees the believer present and eternal blessings.  As Beer-sheba was the literal well belonging to Abraham, so are the Scriptures the spiritual well of the water of life given to everyone who knows the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior.  That “well” is filled with God’s immutable promises, as it is written, “According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue: whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partaker of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust” 2 Pe 1:3-4.

Bizjothjah means among Jah’s olives, with contempt of Jah a possible second meaning.  The first meaning speaks clearly of the Holy Spirit of Whom olive oil is a consistent biblical type.  The truth being conveyed therefore in the meaning of this place is that those who belong to Christ are indwelt and sealed by the Holy Spirit.

If contempt of Jah is accepted as a legitimate meaning of Bizjothjah, then the lesson is that those who have not been born again will be the eternal objects of His contempt.  And how fitting the punishment, for to reject Christ is nothing less than to express contempt for God! 

Further warning lies in the fact that Bizjothjah was within Judah’s borders.  There are amongst God’s people today, as there have been in every age, those who are in reality the spiritual children of Satan.

15:29.  “Baalah, and Iim, and Azem,”

This Baalah is not to be confused with the place of the same name in the north of Judah’s territory, but since the meaning is the same, as is also the spiritual lesson, the reader should consult the notes on verses 9-11.

Iim (plural of Ai) means heaps of ruins, and since it lay very close to Edom, which was Esau’s land, and Esau represents the flesh or the old nature, the lesson being taught by Iim is that the believer who indulges the flesh, will discover when he stands at the Bema, that the activity of his life has left nothing but a heap of ruins unworthy of any reward.

Azem, meaning strenuous: bone: self-same is also associated with strength.  It seems therefore to serve as a reminder that God is our strength, His power being available to us when we are willing to confess that we have no strength in ourselves.  On this same subject Paul has written concerning his thorn in the flesh, “For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me.  And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness.  Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.  Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong” 2 Co 12:8-10.  Our strength too lies in acknowledged weakness.

15:30.  “And Eltolad, and Chesil, and Hormah.”

Eltolad, meaning may God cause thee to beget, obviously speaks of fruitfulness, for as in Israel a large family was the sign of God’s blessing, so during this present age is the spiritual equivalent a similar sign.  Each man and woman we lead to Christ is our spiritual son and daughter, and God wants us to have many such children.

Chesil has two meanings: a fool; and Orion.  Relative to the first meaning, it is to be noted that it is properly fat, but used figuratively in the sense of being silly or stupid.  It may be, however, that in the present context, the literal meaning fat (in the sense of being prosperous) may be more likely, because of the significance of Orion.  Many competent scholars have noted that in the twelve signs of the zodiac mentioned in Job 9:9; 38:31-33, God has set in the night sky twelve figures of the Lord Jesus Christ, Orion portraying Him as the mighty Conqueror returning in power and glory, having vanquished all His foes.  (Those interested in examining the significance of the signs of the zodiac are referred to The Gospel In The Stars, by Dr. Seiss, and published by Kregel Publishers; or God’s Voice In The Stars, by Kenneth C. Fleming, and published by Loizeaux Brothers.  Fleming’s book is less detailed than that of Seiss, but is excellent, and one I would recommend highly).

The lesson of Chesil therefore may be that we are to live in the expectation of the Lord’s imminent return.  Today could be our last on earth!

Hormah, meaning destruction, has been discussed in 12:14, and has the same spiritual significance here.

15:31.  “And Ziklag, and Madmannah, and Sansannah.”

Ziklag, meaning enveloped in grief, may be meant to remind us that here on earth there is much to grieve the obedient believer, the Lord Himself declaring, “In the world ye shall have tribulation....” Jn 16:33.  Transcending the sorrow, however, is His assurance, “... but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.”  Further comfort is found also in Ps 30:5 “Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.”  The believer’s ultimate consolation, however, comes from the assurance that every circumstance of life is ordained or permitted by God for our eternal good, as it is written, “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God.... What shall we then say to these things?  If God be for us, who can be against us?  He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?” Ro 8:28-32.

Madmannah means dung heap: thou art simulating a garment.  Since a garment is the scriptural symbol of righteousness (the righteousness of Christ which clothes the believer, or the “filthy rags” of self-righteousness which clothe the moral but unconverted professor), the lesson of Madmannah appears to be that the garment of simulated righteousness may deceive men, but it can’t deceive God.  All the seeming good works of such a life will prove in the end to be worthless, fit only for the dung heap.  As David has declared concerning God, “Behold, thou desirest truth in the inward parts” Ps 51:6.

Sansannah means thorniness, and since thorns are the Biblical symbol of sin, see Ge 3:18, the lesson of Sansannah appears to be that we live in a sin-cursed earth from which we are to keep ourselves separate, walking in the spirit, and not in the flesh, Ro 8:1-12.

15:32.  “And Lebaoth, and Shilhim, and Ain, and Rimmon: all the cities are twenty and nine, with their villages:”

Before looking at the meanings of these names it is necessary to explain the seeming discrepancy between the actual number of the cities, and the stated twenty-nine.  Since all of Simeon’s possession lay within the territory of Judah some of these places listed belonged to Simeon.  The siritual lesson connected with each city, however, applies to all believers whether it be related to our worship, as symbolically portrayed by Judah he shall be praised, or to our obedience, as portrayed by Simeon hearkening.

Lebaoth means lionesses, and since Christ and Satan are both presented in Scripture under the figure of a lion, it is first necessary to realize that the present context is good, so that the spiritual lesson relates to believers as those who are to reflect in their lives the attributes of Christ.  The lion portrays Christ as the mighty Lion of Judah Who will come in power and glory to judge the nations, destroy His foes, and inaugurate His millennial kingdom, so it seems that Lebaoth is meant to remind us that every believer will share in that glorious reign, as it is written, “If we suffer (endure), we shall also reign with him (Christ)” 2 Tim 2:12.  Since, however, the female in Scripture always speaks of submission of the will, as the male does of activity, the feminine form lionesses teaches the further lesson that our future glory will be related to the degree of our subjection to His will during our present time on earth.

Shilhim meaning missiles: sent ones: javelines, is clearly meant to remind us that we are God’s emissaries whose commission has been given by the Lord Himself in His command, “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature” Mk 16:15.

Ain means an eye: fountain.  Jer 9:1 speaks of the eyes as being figuratively a fountain of tears; and James, speaking of the tongue as being capable of both blessing and cursing, asks “Doth a fountain send forth at the same place sweet water and bitter” Jas 3:10-11.  Inasmuch therefore as the meanings of Ain link together the idea of seeing (the eye) and response (the fountain sending out sweet or bitter water), the lesson appears to be of the need for care as to how we respond to what we see.  How easy it is to look on the world and respond by desiring its wealth, fame, and pleasure!  But the Lord once bade His disciples, “Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest.”  Jn 4:35.  His love for the perishing men and women represented by those whitened harvest fields led Him out to Calvary to die for them, for us.  If our love for Him is what it should be, our response to the sight of those same dying multitudes should surely impel a willing response to His command to bring them the Gospel.

Rimmon means pomegranate, the spiritual significance of which is clearly declared in the fact that there hung from the hem of the high priest’s ephod alternating blue, and purple, and scarlet pomegranates, and golden bells, see Ex 28:33-34.  Spiritual discernment has never failed to detect in those pomegranates typological pictures of local churches; and in the golden bells the testimony each church is to bear.  Rimmon therefore, as one of the cities given to Judah, reminds that each one of us is responsible to be an effective witness for the Lord Jesus Christ, both in the character of our daily lives, and in the courageous spread of the Gospel.

15:33.  “And in the valley, Eshtaol, and Zoreah, and Ashnah,”

In Scripture the valley speaks of the sphere of service and fruitfulness; and Eshtaol, meaning I will be entreated, assures us that our enablement comes from Him Who assigns each believer his work, and Who equips each man for the task assigned.  He is the One Who delights to respond abundantly to the entreaties of His people, the Lord Himself assuring us, “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: for every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened” Mt 6:7-8.

Relative to asking, Scripture makes it crytal clear that the above assurance refers to spiritual rather than temporal enrichment, and many, through failure to understand that, have experienced disappointment through what they mistakenly perceive to be God’s failure to keep His promise.  In regard to such wrong asking, James has written, “Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts” Jas 4:3. 

The same writer also deals with another aspect of entreaty in 3:17 “The wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy.”  In other words, the man who is possessed of the wisdom which comes from heaven is one who is ever ready to respond in Christ-like manner to the entreaties of others.

Zoreah means she was smitten with leprosy,

and since leprosy is a type of sin, the application can only be to the believer’s original state, for once cleansed by the blood of Christ, we are never again viewed by God as sinners.  It is instructive to note, however, that at the presentation of the sheaf of firstfruits each Israelite was to confess, “A Syrian ready to perish was my father” Dt 26:5.  There is no better antidote for pride than the recollection of our former state, the need for that corrective being the innate tendency to become proud of our salvation, and to disdain those still in their sins.  We are to look on sinners, not with disdain, but with compassion.

The Jewish leaders of Christ’s day are an example of those who had forgotten their former state.  Zoreah is designed to preserve us from following in their footsteps.

Asnah means I will cause change, and is related to the idea of growing old and dying.  Physically all men, believer and unbeliever alike, are growing old, dying.  For believers this knowledge serves a twofold purpose.  First, by reminding us that we have but a brief time in which to serve the Master and thereby lay up treasure for ourselves, it furnishes an incentive to redeem the time, and live in view of the judgment seat of Christ.  And second, it provides encouragement, as it is written, “For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day.  For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal” 2 Co 4:16-18.

15:34.  “And Zanoah, and Engannim, Tappuah, and Enam.”

Zanoah, meaning to cast off: reject, conveys two messages.  First, we are to cast off or reject everything that would hinder us in running the heavenly race.  And second, we are to heed the warning given by Paul in 1 Co 9:25-27 “And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things.  Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible.  I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air: but I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.”  Vine defines castaway as “rejected (i.e., disapproved, and so rejected from present testimony, with loss of future reward).”

Engannim means fountain of gardens; and of Israel walking in obedience, God declares, “thou shalt be like a watered garden....” Isa 58:11; and in Ca 4:12 the Church is also likened to a garden, the further description of that garden being given in verse 15 as “a fountain of gardens.”  As it is with the Church, so is it with the individuals who comprise that mystical “garden” - the life of each believer is a garden, designed to produce the fruits that will delight God’s heart, but sadly, all too often producing instead weeds.  Engannim emphasizes the fountain which waters the garden, and tells us that if the garden of our lives is to produce what will please God it must be watered daily by the fountain of the written Word which is the revelation of Him Who is the living Word.

Tappuah means thou wilt cause to breathe, there being the added thought that associated with the breathing will be the fragrance of apples.  Since breathing is inseparable from life, the truth being declared by Tappuah is that the life that is watered by the Word will be abundantly fruitful, and will be fragrant to God and to man.

Enam means their fountain: double fountain, and surely no one will fail to note the connection between Enam and the two cities we have just discussed.  The life that is watered by the fountain of the written Word will become itself a fountain for the refreshment of others, as the Lord declared to the woman at the well, “Whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life” Jn 4:14, and again, “He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water” Jn 7:38.

15:35.  “Jarmuth, and Adullam, Socoh, and Azekah,”

Jarmuth means he will be lifted up: elevation, and as a city given to Judah it is the symbolic declaration of the truth that as we honor Christ by lifting Him up here on earth as the Savior of sinners, so will He in a coming day elevate us to positions of eternal glory, as it is written, “Them that honor me I will honor” 1 Sa 2:30, and again, “Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess before my Father which is in heaven” Mt 10:32.

Since Adullam, meaning a testimony to them, has been discussed in our study of 12:15, the reader is referred to the notes on that verse.

Shocoh means his hedge: his branch: shut in, and serves to remind us, that as believers, we are hedged about by God’s protecting care, and need have no fear of what man may do to us.

Azekah, meaning fenced round: dug over: tilled, has been discussed in our study of 10:10,11, and since the same comments apply here the reader is referred to the notes on those verses.

15:36.  “And Sharaim, and Adithaim, and Gederah, and Gederothaim; fourteen cities with their villages.”

Sharaim, meaning double gate, continues to suggest God’s protecting care of His own; but a gate also suggests entry and exit, so that the further lesson of Sharaim may be to remind us that it is our privilege to come in on the first day of each week to commemorate the Lord’s death by eating the Lord’s supper, and then to go out to serve by ministering to fellow believers, and by bringing the Gospel to the unconverted.

Adithaim means double ornament, with double prey suggested as a possible second meaning.  I can’t discern any spiritual lesson in the second meaning, but relative to the first, double ornament, Scripture speaks of instruction as an ornament to the head, Pr 1:9; of wisdom as an ornament of grace to the head, Pr 4:9; and of obedience to wise reproof as an ornament of fine gold, Pr 25:12; and Peter declares relative to adornment or ornamentation “Let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; but let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price” 1 Pe 3:4-5.

The lesson of Adithaim therefore appears to be that the acquisition of godly wisdom, and the development of a meek and quiet spirit, are two things which God values very highly.

Gederah means a fold for sheep: an enclosure, and as part of Judah’s inheritance, reminds us that all believers are safely gathered into that fold, that enclosure, where nothing can befall them but what God permits or orders.  And relative to what may befall them, there is the assurance that “all things work together for good to them that love God” Ro 8:28.

Gederothaim means double sheep-cote, and the lesson it teaches symbolically appears to be the truth explicitly stated by the Lord in Jn 10:16, “And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold (flock), and one shepherd,” the “other sheep” being the Gentiles of this present age.

“... fourteen cities with their villages.” 

The apparent discrepancy between the “fourteen” cities, and the fifteen actually listed, lies in the fact that Gederah and Gederothaim are generally recognized as being variant spellings of the same name.

15:37.  “Zenan, and Hadashah, and Migdalgad,”

Zenan, meaning their flock, or flock of sheep, continues to emphasize that men and women of faith, whether in the OT age or the New, are God’s sheep, and as such are the objects of His unfailing shepherd care.

Hadashah means renewal: with belt or girdle suggested by some as a possible second meaning.  One obvious thought connected with the first meaning renewal is that everyone who belongs to the Lord has experienced renewal through the new birth; while the second meaning belt or girdle suggests the idea of His unfailing watchful care over them.

Migdalgad means tower of Gad, and in Scripture a tower is almost invariably associated with the idea of protection and safety, as David, for example, has witten, “The Lord is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower” Ps 18:2.  The lesson of Migdalgad therefore is to emphasize that God’s love and omnipotence are the strong “tower” within which His own can rest in peace and safety amid all the changing circumstances of life.

Gad, incidentally, as already noted in our study of 13:24, 28 means an invader: a troop: fortune.

15:38.  “And Dilean, and Mizpeh, and Joktheel,”

Dilean means brought low in affliction, with the emptied beclouded suggested by some as a questionable second meaning.  Clearly the meaning of this place is designed to preserve balance in connection with truth relative to the believer’s position in Christ.  Objects of God’s love and care though we are, the fact remains that our faith must be tested, not only to reveal its reality, but also to purge and refine it, as the Lord Himself declared, “These things have I spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace.  In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world” Jn 16:33.  And Peter adds the further explanation, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a living hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.  Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations (testings): that the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honor and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ” 1 Pe 1:3-7.

Mizpeh means a watch-tower: observatory, and since it has been discussed in 11:3,8 the reader is referred to the notes on those two verses.

Joktheel means absolved of God, and a variant spelling Jekuthiel means veneration of God: preservation of God: with to glisten suggested by some as another possible meaning.  Relative to the believer’s complete absolution by God, the timely lesson of Joktheel appears to be that while certainly He may, as our Father, have to chasten us for sin, the fact remains that that chastening never breaks the bond that unites us to Him as His children.  Judicially all our  sins, past, present, and those we may still commit, have all been atoned for and blotted out by the precious blood shed at Calvary.  The chastening endured by disobedient believers is designed to preserve us from continuing in the sin which will result in our losing reward at the Bema, but it never lessens the degree of our eternal security in Christ.  See Heb 12:5-13 for the Biblical explanation of chastening.

15:39.  “Lachish, and Bozkath, and Eglon,”

Lachish means walk of a man, and since its spiritual significance has been discussed in our study of 10:3,5,31-35 and 12:11 the reader is invited to review the notes on those verses.

Bozkath means a swelling (as of dough to which leaven has been added), but leaven is a type of sin, so the lesson of Bozkath seems to be a warning against the “puffing up” produced by pride.  It is, in fact, the OT typological counterpart of the warning given explicitly by Paul in 1 Co 4:6,18-19; 5:2, “... learn in us (himself and Apollos) not to think of men above that which is written, that no one of you be puffed up for one against another.... Now some are puffed up, as though I would not come to you.  But I will come to you shortly, if the Lord will, and will know, not the speech of them which are puffed up, but the power.... And ye are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he that hath done this deed might be taken away from among you.” 

It is very easy to become puffed up with self-righteousness, or with knowledge, and we do well to take to heart the lesson being presented in Bozkath.

Eglon, meaning a bull calf: circular, has already been discussed in our study of 10:3,5,23,34,36,37 and 12:12, which notes should be reviewed here, since the spiritual lesson is the same.

15:40.  “And Cabbon, and Lahmam, and Kithlish,”

Cabbon means as the prudent: as the builder: to heap up, and clearly the lesson here has to do with that wisdom which begins with the fear of the Lord (Ps 111:10), which leads the sinner to trust in the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior.  In the obedient believer that wisdom keeps on increasing, and leads to the building up of the man himself, he in turn contributing to the building up of the saints, and of all that pertains to the kingdom of God.  The exercise of that wisdom results in the man’s heaping up for himself an abundant treasure to be enjoyed eternally.

Lahmam means their bread, with to the violent suggested by some as a possible second meaning.  I can’t see any spiritual significance to the second meaning, but their bread clearly points us to the written Word, and reminds us that it is the spiritual bread which nourishes the believer’s new spiritual life.  The man who feeds upon that bread, i.e., who reads and obeys the written Word, will make himself spiritually rich, not only in time, but in eternity.

Kitlish means as if she would knead, with wall of a man suggested by some as a possible questionable second meaning.  Since kneading is related to the working of dough as part of the bread making process, the lesson of Kitlish appears to be to remind us that reading of the Word must be accompanied by a diligent study of what is read if we are to enjoy the maximum profit.  There is much evidence that spiritual “kneading” is a work done by a very small number of professing Christians today. 

In the present context wall of a man may be meant to teach the truth that the Word read, studied, and obeyed, is as a protecting wall around the man who gives himself to spiritual “kneading.”

15:41.  “And Gederoth, Bethdagon, and Naamah, and Makkedah; sixteen cities with their villages:”

Gederoth, meaning sheep cotes, suggests the safe place within the circle of God’s protecting care, where every believer dwells in the assurance that every event of our lives is ordered or permitted by God.

Bethdagon, meaning house of the fish god, yields no readily discernible message, except that since Dagon was a Philistine god, and the Philistines represent the great apostate church, which is the inveterate enemy of the true Church, the lesson of Bethdagon may be to remind us that here on earth we sojourn as pilgrims and strangers in a world, which by God’s permission, lies under the dominion of that great false system.  As Satan, however, could do nothing to Job but what God permitted, neither can the evil system portrayed by Bethdagon do anything to us but what God permits.

Naamah, meaning pleasantness, should remind us of what is written concerning wisdom, “Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace” Pr 3:17.  He who has the wisdom to obey God will know what it is to walk in those pleasant ways, and to enjoy that peace which passeth all understanding.

Makkedah means branding (spotting) place, and since its spiritual significance has already been considered in our study of 10:10,16,17,21,28,29, and 12:16, it is suggested that the reader consult the notes on those verses.

15:42.  “And Libnah, and Ether, and Ashan,”

Libnah, meaning whiteness, has been discussed in our study of 10:29,31,32,39, and 12:15, and since the meaning is the same here, the reader should review the notes on those verses.

Ether means entreaty: abundance, and may be meant to remind us that our God is always waiting to hear the entreaties of His people, and delights to respond to those entreaties by doing for us “exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think” Eph 3:20.  God’s willingness to respond to our entreaties, however, ought to produce in us the same willingness to respond to those who intreat us, as it is written, “The wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy” Jas 3:17.

Ashan means smoke, the vast majority of scriptural references to which make it clear that it is a symbol of God’s anger.  This town therefore may be meant to remind us that while obedience brings God’s blessing, disobedience will just as surely provoke Him to anger.

15:43.  “And Jiphtah, and Ashnah, and Nezib,”

Jiphtah, meaning he shall open, suggests several things which God will open.  For example, Mt 7:7 assures the obedient believer that the doors at which he knocks will be opened to him; and it is scarcely necessary to note that every believer has the assurance that at the end of life’s journey the gate of heaven will open to receive him.  

Ashnah means I will cause change, the change being related to the idea of growing old and dying.  This change is appointed for believer and unbeliever alike, but with a very great difference relative to each.  For the believer, death liberates the soul from the mortal body and transports it into heaven; but for the unbeliever, death carries his soul into hell to await the resurrection of death when body, soul, and spirit will be consigned to the eternal torment of the lake of fire.  And for the believer, even as his body grows old and draws near to death, he has the assurance that “though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day” 2 Co 4:16.

Nezib means a garrison, and in the present context appears to continue the assurance to the believer that he is kept by a power greater than anything earthly or infernal - God’s omnipotence.

15:44.  “And Keilah, and Achzib, and Mareshah; nine cities with their villages:”

Keilah means let the faint be alienated: to sling out.  It appears to speak of that faint-heartedness which is the opposite of faith, i.e., unbelief.  There are many who claim to be believers, but whose lives offer little evidence that there has ever been a genuine conversion.  Keilah therefore suggests the need to examine ourselves lest on that day when the tares and the wheat are separated we be found to have been false professors whom God will “sling out” from His presence into the eternal torment of the lake of fire, as it is written, “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? And in thy name have cast out devils? And in thy name done many wonderful works?  And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity” Mt 7:21-23.

Achzib, meaning I shall make a lie, continues the warning conveyed by Keilah, for it means literally a winter torrent which fails in summer, that is, a profession, which in the day of judgment will be shown to have been false.

It is possible for an outward morality to disguise a wrong condition of heart.  The Pharisees of Christ’s day are the prime examples of such dissemblance.  We may deceive men, but we cannot deceive God, for He discerns the thoughts and intents of the heart.

Service may also be a sphere in which we “make a lie.”  The motive must be pure if the service is to have value for eternity.  Spiritual gift may corrupt by begetting pride.  Following the list of Lucifer’s endowments comes the pronouncement of God, “Thine heart was lifted up because of thy beauty, thou hast corrupted thy wisdom by reason of thy brightness....” Eze 28:17.   Fear of man may induce the preacher to adapt his message to suit the taste of his hearers.  The evangelist may be lured into being more concerned with the number of converts than with the reality of their profession.

Purity of motive is essential in all we do.

Mareshah means headship: forget to be arrogant, and its lesson may be to remind us of the headship of Christ.  Though He is Head of all things yet “He humbled Himself, and became obedient unto death, even  the death of the cross” Php 2:8.  If we walk in His footsteps, as we are commanded, “Be ye followers of me (Paul), even as I also am of Christ” 1 Co 11:1, then we too will be marked by humility, the memory of His degradation preserving us from that arrogance which not infrequently becomes the companion of righteousness when we forget how our righteousness was obtained.

“... nine cities with their villages.”  Since nine is the Biblical number of resurrection, these nine cities point to the truth that every believer stands on resurrection ground: we have been raised up out of spiritual death, and have the assurance that these earthly bodies have also been redeemed, and either by literal resurrection, or translation at Christ’s coming to the air, will be transformed into glorious spiritual bodies, as it is written, “... we look for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ: who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body....” Php 3:20-21.

15:45.  “Ekron, with her towns and her villages:”

15:46.  “From Ekron even unto the sea, all that lay near Ashdod, with their villages:”

Since Ekron has already been discussed in our study of verse 11 and 13:3, it is suggested that the reader review those notes.    

Ashdod, meaning I will spoil, has been discussed in our study of 11:22 where we noted that it represents the influence of the great apostate church, and the warning here is that when we submit to the influence of that evil system the Divine order will be spoiled in the assemblies of God’s people.

15:47.  “Ashdod with her towns and her villages, Gaza with her towns and her villages, unto the river of Egypt, and the great sea, and the border thereof:”

Gaza means she was strong, and since its spiritual significance has already been discussed in our study of 10:41 and 11:22, the reader is referred to those notes.

The notes on 15:4 should be consulted relative to the river of Egypt, and those on 15:11-12 for the spiritual significance of the great sea.

15:48.  “And in the mountains, Shamir, and Jattir, and Socoh,”

In Scripture a mountain symbolizes a king and/or a kingdom, but it speaks also of nearness to God, for as the literal mountain top is above the ordinary activity of earth, so does the man walking closely with God dwell spiritually above the things of earth.  In general this seems to be the lesson of these mountain cities given to Judah.

Shamir means keeping: guarding, and experience itself teaches us that to walk closely with God is the surest guardianship against the allurements of this present evil world.

Jattir, meaning excellent: he will search out, continues to emphasize the same truth as is taught in the meaning of Shamir.  The obedient believer will attain to excellence, for his desire to please God will impel him to “search out” the meaning of the written Word in which God reveals Himself.

Socoh, meaning his hedge: his branch, has been discussed in our study of verse 35.

15:49.  “And Dannah, and Kirjath-sannah, which is Debir,”

Dannah means thou hast judged: judgment.  If the application is to God, the lesson is that He has judged all our sins at Calvary, so that we will never be brought into judgment for them.  If the application is to us, the lesson is that if we would attain to that excellence which is the mark of God’s favor we must constantly judge ourselves according to the written Word, as it is written, “For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged.  But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world” 1 Co 11:31-32.  (It is necessary to note that the judgment from which Christ’s death has delivered the believer is that of the great white throne, at which judgment the penalty is consignment to the eternal torment of the lake of fire.  No believer will ever experience that judgment.  The believer’s sins, however, also have eternal consequences.  Time spent in sin will rob us of peace here on earth, and of eternal reward at the judgment seat of Christ).

Kirjath-sannah, meaning city of the thorn-bush, is another name for Debir an oracle, Debir itself being another name for Kirjath-sepher city of the book.  There is therefore obviously some special instruction related to God’s use here of the name Kirjath-sannah for the place more commonly called Debir or Kirjath-sepher, both of which speak of the written Word.  Since thorns are one of the Biblical symbols of sin, see Ge 3:18, Kirjath-sannah may be intended to remind us that this world in which our lot is cast is the place where sin reigns, but God’s Word is our safeguard against all

the evil which surrounds us.  The Word obeyed enables us not only to pass through this sinful world without incurring defilement, but to walk in peace with God on “mountain top.”

15:50.  “And Anab, and Eshtemoh, and Anim,”

Anab means grape-ish: grape-dom: fruit, and since the grape is the source of wine which is a Biblical symbol of joy, the lesson of Anab appears to be that of all the people on earth believers alone possess true joy.

Eshtemoh, meaning I shall cause my own ruin: fire of astonishment: I shall soar aloft, is also related to the idea of obedience, and is difficult to interpret because of these seemingly contradictory meanings.  It may be, however, that this city is intended to remind us that the alternative to obedience which causes us to metaphorically “soar aloft,” is disobedience which will cause our ruin, not in the sense of losing our salvation but our reward when we stand at the Bema.  It is to be feared that that day, when our works are judged, will bring astonishment to many of us as we learn that much of what we considered the equivalent of gold, silver, and precious stones, were but wood, hay, and stubble to be consumed in the fire, see 1 Co 3:12-15.

Anim means fountains, and calls to mind the Lord’s words to the woman at the well of Sychar, “Whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life” Jn 4:14.  We who have received that living water are responsible to be “fountains,” making it available to others through our faithful witness in the Gospel.

15:51.  “And Goshen, and Holon, and Giloh; eleven cities with their villages:”

Goshen, meaning drawing near, has already been discussed in our study of 10:41 and 11:16, to which notes the reader is now referred.

Holon means anguished: sand or sandy, and since sand is associated with the desert, the lesson of Holon may be to remind us that anguish is associated with everything which pertains to this spiritual desert through which we pass as pilgrims and strangers on our way home to heaven.  It is our privilege, however, to “walk in the spirit,” Ga 5:25, so that instead of suffering anguish we shall enjoy “the peace of God, which passeth all understanding,” Php 4:7.

Giloh means uncovered: stripped (as a captive), meanings which seem strangely out of place in relation to a believer, unless it is understood as applying to his having been stripped of the “filthy rags” of self-righteousness so that he might be covered with the righteousness of Christ.  In the same context the idea of captivity would relate to his having been once the captive of Satan, but now through faith, his having become the willing bondslave of his Liberator.

As already noted the meaning of prime numbers such as eleven seems to be derived by separating one, the number of God, and then considering the meaning of the remainder, which in the present instance is ten, the number of God in government.  The lesson of the eleven towns therefore is that believers are they who are responsible to live in obedience to the government of God.

15:52.  “Arab, and Dumah, and Eshean,”

Arab, meaning an ambush, in the present context can scarcely have any other meaning than to warn us that Satan watches ceaselessly to attack us suddenly and without warning, hence the need of constant vigilance on our part lest we fall victim to his wiles.

Dumah means silence, and may be meant to teach the lesson that Satan will exert every effort to silence our testimony, one of his most successful ploys being to whisper, “Let your life be your testimony.”  The command of God, however, is “... confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus” Ro 10:9.  The terrible danger of a moral life unaccompanied by a verbal confession of faith in Christ is that men will be deluded into the false belief that a moral life is all that is needed to take them to heaven.  Only eternity will reveal how many deluded dupes have been led down to hell by professed Christians who have heeded Satan’s subtle seduction.

Eshean means I will rely (lean upon), and would remind us that the believer’s safety and blessing rest upon his willingness to rely on God amid all the varied circumstances of life.

15:53.  “And Janum, and Beth-tappuah, and Aphekah,”

Janum, meaning he will slumber, may be a warning against the temptation to forget that our time on earth is to be devoted to the Lord’s business.  We are not to be as those who slumber when they should be watching and working in view of the Lord’s return, as it is written, “Let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober.  For they that sleep sleep in the night ... but let us who are of the day be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love, and for an helmet, the hope of salvation” 1 Th 5:6-8.

Beth-tappuah means the apple-house: house of the breather.  Every scriptural reference to apples is good, e.g., in Ca 2:3 the Lord is likened to an apple tree, and in Ca 8:5 the bride is said to have been raised up under the apple tree. 

Breathing likewise has a good connotation, being associated with the impartation of life, Ge 2:7; and in Jn 20:22 with the Lord’s bequeathing the Holy Spirit to the disciples on the evening of His resurrection.  Beth-tappuah therefore is clearly meant to remind believers that we have been given the gift of Divine life, and should therefore live so as to demonstrate that truth.

Aphek, meaning restraint: fortress, teaches several truths relative to the believer.  First, in regard to restraint: all of Satan’s activity against us cannot go beyond the restraint imposed by God; and relative to fortress, the assurance is given that no matter how adverse the circumstances of life may be, God remains the strong fortress of all who belong to Him, e.g., Ps 18:2; 31:3; 71:3; 91:2; 144:2.

15:54.  “And Humtah, and Kirjath-arba, which is Hebron, and Zior; nine cities with their villages:”

Humtah means lowliness: place of lizards.  The word lizard is used only once in Scripture in Le 11:30 where it is described as an unclean creature.  The lesson of Humtah therefore may be to teach us that this world through which we pass on our way to heaven is an unclean place, and we are responsible to keep ourselves separate from its defilements.

Kirjath-arba means city of four or city of the four giants.  As noted in our study of 14:15 it represents the world as the domain ruled by Satan; but in passing from Canaanite to Israelite control it became Hebron meaning communion, and the lesson being taught is that whereas we were once citizens in Satan’s evil kingdom, we have been delivered from that thraldom, so that in that same world we can now walk in communion with God Who has delivered us out of Satan’s hand.

It is suggested that the reader here review the notes on 10:3,5,23,36,39; 11:21; 12:10; 14:13-15; 15:13.

Zior means diminution, and the only thought that suggests itself in the present context is that there is to be a diminution in what marked us as men of this world, and a corresponding increase of that which marks those whose citizenship is in heaven.

15:55.  “Maon, Carmel, and Ziph, and Juttah,”

Maon means habitation, and may be intended to remind us that each believer is a habitation of God through the Holy Spirit Who indwells those who belong to Him, as it is written, “Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?” 1 Co 3:16.  “And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? For ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people” 2 Co 6:16.

Carmel, meaning fruitful field, has been discussed in our study of 12:22, and it is suggested that the reader review the notes on that section.

Ziph means melting: flowing, and since its spiritual significance has been discussed in our study of 15:24 the reader should review those notes.

Juttah means he will be turned aside or extended.  It seems to speak of believers as those who have been turned aside from the broad way which leads to destruction, on to the narrow way which leads to heaven, and whose lives are extended eternally.

15:56.  “And Jezreel, and Jokdeam, and Zanoah,”

Jezreel, meaning it will be sown of God, refers prophetically to that soon coming day when God will execute judgment against the nations in the Tribulation, and by means of that judgment bring a remnant of Israel and of the nations to repentance, it being written concerning that remnant, “I will sow her unto me in the earth; and I will have mercy upon her that had not obtained mercy; and I will say to them which were not my people, Thou art my people; and they shall say, Thou art my God” Ho 2:23.

It should remind us also that we have eternal life through the Word of God received by faith, as it is written concerning us, “Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever” 1 Pe 1:23.

It also declares the truth that death for the believer is a very different thing from what it is for the unbeliever.  At death the believer’s body is sown in the earth as seed, which like literal seed, will spring up again in a far more glorious form, see 1 Co 15:35-58.  For the unbeliever it is very different.  At death his body is sown in the earth to await the resurrection of damnation, following which that body reunited to the soul and spirit, will be cast into the eternal torment of the lake of fire.

Jokdeam means burning of the people: let the people kindle.  These meanings seem very inappropriate descriptions of a place which was part of Israel’s inheritance, but they teach a very necessary lesson.  Here on earth every believer has the opportunity to live his life for God, and thereby enrich himself eternally; but sadly we all too often allow ourselves to be turned aside by Satan’s deadly distractions, forgetting that every such dalliance will prove to be the equivalent of the wood, hay, and stubble which will be consumed in fire at the Bema. 

Zanoah, meaning to cast off: reject, continues the same warning as Jokdeam.  If we don’t reject Satan’s incitements the result will be that the fruit of our disobedience will be rejected by Christ at His judgment seat as being unworthy of any reward.

15:57.  “Cain, Gibeah, and Timnah; ten cities with their villages:”

Cain means maker: fabricator: smith.  It should remind us that here on earth we have the opportunity to produce that which will prove worthy of eternal reward; or that which will be consumed in fire at the Bema.

Gibeah, meaning a hill, has almost invariably a bad connotation in Scripture.  It was the city of Saul who was not only a type of the flesh, but also of the final beast ruler who will work such devastation in the earth during the Tribulation.  In the present context it appears to warn against the folly of acting in the energy of the flesh rather than of the Spirit.

Timnah means thou wilt number: a portion, and in the present context appears to sound the warning that in a quickly approaching day God will reveal that not all who professed to be His people actually belonged to Him, see Mt 7:21-23 “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.  Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? And in they name have cast out devils? And in thy name done many wonderful works?  And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me ye that work iniquity.”

Since ten is the number of God in government, these ten cities declare that those who obey will be blessed, and those who disobey will be punished.

15:58.  “Halhul, Beth-zur, and Gedor,”

Halhul means travail-pain, and would remind us that earth is the place of travail, as it is written, “For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travailelth in pain together until now.  And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body” Ro 8:22-23.

Beth-zur, meaning house of the rock, announces the truth that believers of this present age constitute that house which is built upon the rock, the Lord Jesus Christ.

Gedor means the walling in, and is associated with the idea of felling a tree, or the destruction of anything generally as by a warrior.  It teaches at least two lessons.  Those who belong to Christ are walled in by His protecting care, and will be eternally blessed; but those who refuse His lordship are walled in by His directive will to suffer His wrath eternally.

15:59.  “And Maarath, and Beth-anoth, and Eltekon; six cities with their villages.”

Maarath means naked place: waste place.  It portrays this world, for nakedness symbolizes lack of righteousness, and none will deny that in that sense the world is indeed a naked place.  But it is also a waste place, for apart from righteousness nothing has any lasting value.  The world’s gold and silver, for which men sell their souls, will prove in the end to be but dross.

Beth-anoth, meaning house of responses or afflictions, continues to portray the world.  God’s response to men’s wickedness is to afflict them, in the hope that they will repent and turn to Him, and thus save themselves from the eternal affliction which will be the portion of all who reject His mercy. 

The righteous also, however, suffer affliction here on earth, permitted or ordained by God for the perfecting of our faith, but it is accompanied by the assurance that “Our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal” 2 Co 4:17-18.

Eltekon, meaning made straight by God, is the symbolic assurance that the day is fast approaching when God’s Word will be fulfilled as declared by John the baptist, quoting Isaiah, “Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be brought low; and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough ways shall be made smooth; and all flesh shall see the salvation of God” Lk 3:5-6.

15:60.  “Kirjath-baal, which is Kirjath-jearim, and Rabbah; two cities with their villages:”

The place which under Canaanite rule had been Kirjath-baal, i.e., city of Baal, became Kirjath-jearim under Israelite jurisdiction, i.e., city of forests or city of towns, and since the spiritual significance of this has already been discussed in our study of verse 9, it is suggested that the reader consult the notes on that verse.

Rabbah means populous, and seems to point to that day when Christ will set up His millennial kingdom, at the beginning of which the population of the earth will consist of believers only, all unbelievers having been banished into hell following Christ’s judgment of the nations at the end of the Great Tribulation.  It is to be noted that as the Millennium progresses the population of the earth will again become a mixture of believers and unbelievers, for the children born to that first generation of believers will be unbelievers who will require a new spiritual birth to fit them for the eternal state which will follow the Millennium.

Since two is the number of witness or testimony, the mention of these two cities may be to remind us that the Millennium will be also a time of testimony, the unbelievers who will be born during that era requiring to hear the Gospel so that they may prepare themselves for the eternal state by which the Millennium will be succeeded.  The application to a future day, however, doesn’t diminish the application to the present day.  It is the responsibility of every believer to be a witness for Christ while we are here on earth.

15:61.  “In the wilderness, Beth-arabah, Middin, and Secacah,”

Beth-arabah, meaning the desert house, has been discussed in our study of verse 6, to which notes the reader is referred.

Middin means from judgment: judging, and seems to emphasize the need for the believer to judge all things, including himself, by the infallible standard of the written Word, as it is written, “For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged.  But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world” 1 Co 11:31-32.

Secacah means enclosure, and may be meant to remind us that believers dwell within the enclosure of God’s protecting care where every circumstance of life is ordered or permitted by Him, and is used by Him for our ultimate blessing. 

15:62.  “And Nibshan, and the city of Salt, and Engedi; six cities with their villages.”

Nibshan means we shall prophesy quiet, and seems to suggest that the gospel we preach is that which alone can bring peace and quietness, not only for time, but for eternity, to all who accept it.

The city of salt is believed by many to refer to Qumram, the place associated with the Dead Sea scrolls, or to a place identified by some as Ir-hammelach which means simply city of salt.  Since therefore no certain meaning is available relative to this place we are left with salt as the clue to its spiritual significance.  In Mt 5:13 believers are said to be the salt of the earth, but since salt is that which preserves from corruption this becomes the declaration of the truth that while believers are on the earth moral corruption will in some measure at least be held in check.  In this connection it is instructive to note what is written in 2 Th 2 concerning the power which restrains the full development of evil and the appearance of the man of sin who will rule in the Tribulation.  The Holy Spirit working through believers is that restraining Power, hence the need to allow Him total control of our lives, and to guard against diminishing His power by grieving or quenching Him.

Engedi means fountain of the kid, and the reference can hardly be to anything except that fountain which was opened at Calvary when the Lord Jesus Christ was the “kid” Who died to make atonement for sin.  It is the privilege of every believer to point dying men to that One Who by His death and resurrection has become the fountain of life to all who will trust Him as Savior.

15:63.  “As for the Jebusites the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the children of Judah could not drive them out: but the Jebusites dwell with the children of Judah at Jerusalem unto this day.”

Having regard to the fact that God had promised Israel all the land, and had commanded them to exterminate the inhabitants, Judah’s inability to drive the Jebusites out of Jerusalem must be understood as being due to disobedience on their part, for nothing else could have deprived them of what God had given, see for example, Jos 1:2-9.

The spiritual lesson is easily read.  Jerusalem, meaning dual peace shall be taught: lay (set) ye double peace, is a picture of the human heart: as there will be no peace in Jerusalem until the Prince of Peace reigns there, neither is there peace in the human heart until Christ reigns in the life.  The Jebusite, on the other hand, means, he will be trodden down.  The meaning is ambiguous, however.  Who will be trodden down?  The Jebusite or his victim?  In a sense both meanings are true, for every foe of Faith is the agent of the ultimate Jebusite, Satan; and the day is coming when he will be trodden down; but until that day, he will “tread down” peace in the heart where Christ’s control is not complete.

The extent to which “the Jebusite” has been allowed to remain in “Jerusalem” is glaringly apparent in the lives of God’s people today.  The absence of peace in the average Christian life testifies to the truth that the “Jebusite” dwells in “Jerusalem.”

The Jebusite also represents the old nature, and as Judah, who represents the new spiritual life, dwelt side by side with the Jebusite until the latter was finally driven out by David, so do the old and the new nature dwell side by side in the life of the believer, and will continue to do so until the believer is home in heaven in the presence of the true David, the Lord Jesus Christ.

[Joshua 16]



     Scripture portions taken from the Holy Bible, King James Version
© 2000-2005 James Melough