We have here a list of the several cities that fell within the lot of the tribe of Judah, which are mentioned by name, that they might know their own, and both keep it and keep to it, and might neither through cowardice nor sloth lose the possession of what was their own.
I. The cities are here named, and numbered in several classes, which they then could account for the reason of better than we can now. Here are, 1. Some that are said to be the uttermost cities towards the coast of Edom, Josh. 15:21-32. Here are thirty-eight named, and yet said to be twenty-nine (Josh. 15:32), because nine of these were afterwards transferred to the lot of Simeon, and are reckoned as belonging to that, as appears by comparing Josh. 19:2-9; therefore those only are counted (though the rest are named) which remained to Judah. 2. Others that are said to be in the valley (Josh. 15:33) are counted to be fourteen, yet fifteen are named; but it is probable that Gederah and Gederathaim were either two names or two parts of one and the same city. 3. Then sixteen are named without any head of distinction, Josh. 15:37-41, and nine more, Josh. 15:42-44. 4. Then the three Philistine-cities, Ekron, Ashdod, and Gaza, Josh. 15:45-47. 5. Cities in the mountains, eleven in all (Josh. 15:48-51), nine more (Josh. 15:52-54), ten more (Josh. 15:55-57), six more (Josh. 15:58, 59), then two (Josh. 15:60), and six in the wilderness, a part of the country not so thick of inhabitants as some others were.
II. Now here, 1. We do not find Bethlehem, which was afterwards the city of David, and was ennobled by the birth of our Lord Jesus in it. But that city, which at the best was but little among the thousands of Judah (Mic. 5:2), except that it was thus dignified, was now so little as not to be accounted one of the cities, but perhaps was one of the villages not named. Christ came to give honour to the places he was related to, not to receive honour from them. 2. Jerusalem is said to continue in the hands of the Jebusites (Josh. 15:63), for the children of Judah could not drive them out, through their sluggishness, stupidity, and unbelief. Had they attempted it with vigour and resolution, we have reason to think God would not have been wanting to them to give them success; but they could not do it, because they would not. Jerusalem was afterwards to be the holy city, the royal city, the city of the great King, the brightest ornament of all the land of Israel. God has designed it should be so. It may therefore be justly looked upon as a punishment of their neglect to conquer other cities which God had given them that they were so long kept out of this. 3. Among the cities of Judah (in all 114) we meet with Libnah, which in Joram’s days revolted, and probably set up for a free independent state (2 Kgs. 8:22), and Lachish, where king Amaziah was slain (1 Kgs. 14:19); it led the dance in idolatry (Mic. 1:13); it was the beginning of sin to the daughter of Zion. Giloh, Ahithophel’s town, is here mentioned, and Tekoa, of which the prophet Amos was, and near which Jehoshaphat obtained that glorious victory, 2 Chron. 20:20-30, and Maresha, where Asa was a conqueror. Many of the cities of this tribe occur in the history of David’s troubles. Adullam, Ziph, Keilah, Maon, Engedi, Ziklag, here reckoned in this tribe, were places near which David had most of his haunts; for, though sometimes Saul drove him out from the inheritance of the Lord, yet he kept as close to it as he could. The wilderness of Judah he frequented much, and in it John Baptist preached, and there the kingdom of heaven commenced, Matt. 3:1. The riches of this country no doubt answered Jacob’s blessing of this tribe, that he should wash his garments in wine, Gen. 49:11. And, in general, Judah, thou art he whom thy brethren shall praise, not envy.