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Joshua 15-17 New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)

Chapter 15

Boundaries of Judah. The lot for the tribe of Judah by their clans fell toward the boundary of Edom, the wilderness of Zin in the Negeb, in the extreme south. Their southern boundary ran from the end of the Salt Sea,[a] from the tongue of land that faces the Negeb, and went southward below the pass of Akrabbim, across through Zin, up to a point south of Kadesh-barnea, across to Hezron, and up to Addar; from there, looping around Karka, it crossed to Azmon and then joined the Wadi of Egypt[b] before coming out at the sea. (This is your southern boundary.) The eastern boundary was the Salt Sea as far as the mouth of the Jordan.

The northern boundary climbed northward from the tongue of the sea, toward the mouth of the Jordan, up to Beth-hoglah, and ran north of Beth-arabah, up to Eben-Bohan-ben-Reuben. Thence the boundary climbed to Debir, north of the Valley of Achor, in the direction of the Gilgal that faces the pass of Adummim, on the south side of the wadi; from there it crossed to the waters of En-shemesh and emerged at En-rogel. Climbing again to the Valley of Ben-hinnom[c] on the southern flank of the Jebusites (that is, Jerusalem), the boundary rose to the top of the mountain at the northern end of the Valley of Rephaim, which bounds the Valley of Hinnom on the west. From the top of the mountain it ran to the fountain of waters of Nephtoah, extended to the cities of Mount Ephron, and continued to Baalah, or Kiriath-jearim. 10 From Baalah the boundary curved westward to Mount Seir and passed north of the ridge of Mount Jearim (that is, Chesalon); it descended to Beth-shemesh, and ran across to Timnah. 11 It then extended along the northern flank of Ekron, continued through Shikkeron, and across to Mount Baalah, from there to include Jabneel, before it came out at the sea. 12 The western boundary was the Great Sea[d] and its coast. This was the complete boundary of the Judahites by their clans.

Conquest by Caleb. 13 As the Lord had commanded, Joshua gave Caleb, son of Jephunneh, a portion among the Judahites, namely, Kiriath-arba (Arba was the father of Anak), that is, Hebron. 14 And Caleb dispossessed from there the three Anakim, the descendants of Anak: Sheshai, Ahiman, and Talmai. 15 From there he marched up against the inhabitants of Debir, which was formerly called Kiriath-sepher. 16 Caleb said, “To the man who attacks Kiriath-sepher and captures it, I will give my daughter Achsah in marriage.” 17 [e]Othniel captured it, the son of Caleb’s brother Kenaz; so Caleb gave him his daughter Achsah in marriage. 18 When she came to him, she induced him to ask her father for some land. Then, as she alighted from the donkey, Caleb asked her, “What do you want?” 19 She answered, “Give me a present! Since you have assigned to me land in the Negeb, give me also pools of water.” So he gave her the upper and the lower pools.

Cities of Judah.[f] 20 This is the heritage of the tribe of Judahites by their clans: 21 The cities of the tribe of the Judahites in the extreme southern district toward Edom were: Kabzeel, Eder, Jagur, 22 Kinah, Dimonah, Adadah, 23 Kedesh, Hazor, and Ithnan; 24 Ziph, Telem, Bealoth, 25 Hazor-hadattah, and Kerioth-hezron (that is, Hazor); 26 Amam, Shema, Moladah, 27 Hazar-gaddah, Heshmon, Beth-pelet, 28 Hazar-shual, Beer-sheba, and Biziothiah; 29 Baalah, Iim, Ezem, 30 Eltolad, Chesil, Hormah, 31 Ziklag, Madmannah, Sansannah, 32 Lebaoth, Shilhim, and Ain and Rimmon; a total of twenty-nine cities with their villages.

33 In the Shephelah: Eshtaol, Zorah, Ashnah, 34 Zanoah, Engannim, Tappuah, Enam, 35 Jarmuth, Adullam, Socoh, Azekah, 36 Shaaraim, Adithaim, Gederah, and Gederothaim; fourteen cities and their villages. 37 Zenan, Hadashah, Migdal-gad, 38 Dilean, Mizpeh, Joktheel, 39 Lachish, Bozkath, Eglon, 40 Cabbon, Lahmas, Chitlish, 41 Gederoth, Beth-dagon, Naamah, and Makkedah; sixteen cities and their villages. 42 Libnah, Ether, Ashan, 43 Iphtah, Ashnah, Nezib, 44 Keilah, Achzib, and Mareshah; nine cities and their villages. 45 Ekron and its towns and villages; 46 from Ekron to the sea, all the towns that lie alongside Ashdod, and their villages; 47 Ashdod and its towns and villages; Gaza and its towns and villages, as far as the Wadi of Egypt and the coast of the Great Sea.

48 In the mountain regions: Shamir, Jattir, Socoh, 49 Dannah, Kiriath-sannah (that is, Debir), 50 Anab, Eshtemoh, Anim, 51 Goshen, Holon, and Giloh; eleven cities and their villages. 52 Arab, Dumah, Eshan, 53 Janim, Beth-tappuah, Aphekah, 54 Humtah, Kiriath-arba (that is, Hebron), and Zior; nine cities and their villages. 55 Maon, Carmel, Ziph, Juttah, 56 Jezreel, Jokdeam, Zanoah, 57 Kain, Gibbeah, and Timnah; ten cities and their villages. 58 Halhul, Beth-zur, Gedor, 59 Maarath, Beth-anoth, and Eltekon; six cities and their villages. Tekoa, Ephrathah (that is, Bethlehem), Peor, Etam, Kulom, Tatam, Zores, Karim, Gallim, Bether, and Manoko; eleven cities and their villages. 60 Kiriath-baal (that is, Kiriath-jearim) and Rabbah; two cities and their villages.

61 In the wilderness:[g] Beth-arabah, Middin, Secacah, 62 Nibshan, Ir-hamelah, and En-gedi; six cities and their villages. 63 But the Jebusites who lived in Jerusalem the Judahites could not dispossess; so the Jebusites dwell in Jerusalem beside the Judahites to the present day.

Chapter 16

The Joseph Tribes.[h] The lot that fell to the Josephites extended from the Jordan at Jericho to the waters of Jericho east of the wilderness; then the boundary went up from Jericho to the heights at Bethel.[i] Leaving Bethel for Luz, it crossed the ridge to the border of the Archites at Ataroth, and descended westward to the border of the Japhletites, to that of the Lower Beth-horon, and to Gezer, and from there to the sea.

Ephraim. Within the heritage of Manasseh and Ephraim, sons of Joseph, the dividing line[j] for the heritage of the Ephraimites by their clans ran from east of Ataroth-addar to Upper Beth-horon and thence to the sea. From Michmethath on the north, their boundary curved eastward around Taanath-shiloh, and continued east of it to Janoah; from there it descended to Ataroth and Naarah, and reaching Jericho, it ended at the Jordan. From Tappuah the boundary ran westward to the Wadi Kanah and ended at the sea. This was the heritage of the Ephraimites by their clans, including the villages that belonged to each city set aside for the Ephraimites within the heritage of the Manassites. 10 But they did not dispossess the Canaanites living in Gezer; they live within Ephraim to the present day, though they have been put to forced labor.

Chapter 17

Manasseh. Now as for the lot that fell to the tribe of Manasseh as the firstborn of Joseph: since Manasseh’s eldest son, Machir, the father of Gilead, was a warrior, who had already obtained Gilead and Bashan, the allotment was now made to the rest of the Manassites by their clans: the descendants of Abiezer, Helek, Asriel, Shechem, Hepher, and Shemida; these are the other male children of Manasseh, son of Joseph, by their clans.

Furthermore, Zelophehad, son of Hepher, son of Gilead, son of Machir, son of Manasseh, had no sons, but only daughters, whose names were Mahlah, Noah, Hoglah, Milcah, and Tirzah. These presented themselves to Eleazar the priest, to Joshua, son of Nun, and to the leaders, saying, “The Lord commanded Moses to give us a heritage among our relatives.” So in accordance with the command of the Lord a heritage was given them among their father’s relatives. Thus ten shares fell to Manasseh apart from the land of Gilead and Bashan beyond the Jordan, since these female descendants of Manasseh received each a portion among his sons. The land of Gilead fell to the rest of the Manassites.

Manasseh bordered on Asher.[k] From Michmethath, near Shechem, another boundary ran southward to include the inhabitants of En-Tappuah, because the district of Tappuah belonged to Manasseh, although Tappuah itself was an Ephraimite city on the border of Manasseh. This same boundary continued down to the Wadi Kanah. The cities that belonged to Ephraim from among the cities in Manasseh were those to the south of that wadi; thus the territory of Manasseh ran north of the wadi and ended at the sea. 10 The land on the south belonged to Ephraim and that on the north to Manasseh; with the sea as their common boundary, they reached Asher on the north and Issachar on the east.

11 Moreover, in Issachar and in Asher Manasseh was awarded Beth-shean and its towns, Ibleam and its towns, the inhabitants of Dor and its towns, the inhabitants of Endor and its towns, the inhabitants of Taanach and its towns, the inhabitants of Megiddo and its towns (the third is Naphath-dor). 12 Since the Manassites were not able to dispossess these cities, the Canaanites continued to inhabit this region. 13 When the Israelites grew stronger they put the Canaanites to forced labor, but they did not dispossess them.

Protest of Joseph Tribes. 14 The descendants of Joseph said to Joshua, “Why have you given us only one lot and one share as our heritage? Our people are too many, because of the extent to which the Lord has blessed us.” 15 Joshua answered them, “If you are too many, go up to the forest and clear out a place for yourselves there in the land of the Perizzites and Rephaim, since the mountain regions of Ephraim are so narrow.” 16 For the Josephites said, “Our mountain regions are not enough for us; on the other hand, the Canaanites living in the valley region all have iron chariots, in particular those in Beth-shean and its towns, and those in the valley of Jezreel.” 17 Joshua therefore said to Ephraim and Manasseh, the house of Joseph, “You are a numerous people and very strong. You shall not have merely one share, 18 for the mountain region which is now forest shall be yours when you clear it. Its adjacent land shall also be yours if, despite their strength and iron chariots, you dispossess the Canaanites.”


  1. 15:2 Salt Sea: the Dead Sea. The “tongue,” a prominent feature of the landscape, is a spit of land thrusting into the Dead Sea from its eastern shore; it is now called by its Arabic name, ’el lisân, “tongue.”
  2. 15:4 Wadi of Egypt: the natural boundary between Gaza and the Sinai Peninsula.
  3. 15:8 The Valley of Ben-hinnom: the southern limit of Jerusalem. Ben-hinnom means “son of Hinnom.” The place was also called Valley of Hinnom, in Hebrew ge-hinnom, whence the word “Gehenna” is derived.
  4. 15:12 Great Sea: the Mediterranean.
  5. 15:17–19 The story of Othniel is told again in Jgs 1:13–15; cf. also Jgs 3:9–11.
  6. 15:20–62 This elaborate list of the cities of Judah was probably taken from a document made originally for administrative purposes; the cities are divided into four provincial districts, some of which have further subdivisions. For similar lists of the cities of Judah, cf. 19:2–7; 1 Chr 4:28–32; Neh 11:25–30. This list has suffered in transmission, so that the totals given in vv. 32 and 36 are not exact; many of the cities cannot be identified.
  7. 15:61 In the wilderness: in the Jordan rift near the Dead Sea.
  8. 16:1–17:18 After the boundaries and cities of Judah, the most important tribe, are given, the land of the next most important group, the two Joseph tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh, is described, though it was separated from Judah by the territories of Benjamin (18:11–20) and Dan (19:40–48).
  9. 16:1–3 This line formed the southern boundary of Ephraim and the northern boundaries of Benjamin and of Dan.
  10. 16:5 The dividing line: separating Ephraim from Manasseh. Ephraim’s northern border (v. 5) is given in an east-to-west direction; its eastern border (vv. 6–7) in a north-to-south direction.
  11. 17:7 Manasseh bordered on Asher: only at the extreme northwestern section of Manasseh’s territory. The boundary given in the following sentences (vv. 7–10) is a more detailed description of the one already mentioned in 16:5–7, as separating Manasseh from Ephraim.
New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)

Scripture texts, prefaces, introductions, footnotes and cross references used in this work are taken from the New American Bible, revised edition © 2010, 1991, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Inc., Washington, DC All Rights Reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the copyright owner.


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