King Rehoboam fortifies cities in Judah (2 Chr 11:5-11:12)

“King Rehoboam resided in Jerusalem. He built cities for defense in Judah. He built up Bethlehem, Etam, Tekoa, Beth-zur, Soco, Adullam, Gath, Mareshah, Ziph, Adoraim, Lachish, Azekah, Zorah, Aijalon, and Hebron. There were fortified cities in Judah and in Benjamin. He made the fortresses strong. He put commanders in them. They had stores of food, oil, and wine. He also put large shields and spears in all the cities. He made them very strong. So he held Judah and Benjamin.”

There is no other source for this material here. Certainly some of these 15 cities already existed. This was a defensive gesture. He seems to have fortified them with shields, spears, food, commanders, and troops. These cities became strong fortresses against any enemy. Bethlehem was the birthplace of David, just 6 miles south of Jerusalem. Etam was about 2 miles southwest of Bethlehem. Tekoa was about 6 miles south of Bethlehem. Beth-zur was on the main road between Jerusalem and Hebron, about 4 miles north of Hebron, which was about 20 miles south of Jerusalem. Adullam was about 16 miles southwest of Jerusalem and about 10 miles west of Bethlehem. Gath was 1 of the 5 major cities of the Philistines that has been lost, but was on the west side of Judah. Mareshah was also in western Judah, while Ziph was in southern Judah. Adoraim only appears here but probably is a lost southwest town near the sea. Lachish was about 15 miles west of Hebron, probably close to Azekah. Zorah and Aijalon were western cities that were originally in the territory of Dan. About a half of these cities were within 20 miles of Jerusalem. Most of the fortified cities were in the south and west since the Dead Sea was on the east and Benjamin and northern Israel was to the north.

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Dwelling places of the Simeonites (1 Chr 4:28-4:33)

“The Simeonites lived in Beersheba, Moladah, Hazar-shual, Bilhah, Ezem, Tolad, Bethuel, Hormah, Ziklag, Beth-marcaboth, Hazar-susim, Beth-biri, and Shaaraim. These were their towns until David became king. Their villages were Etam, Ain, Rimmon, Tochen, and Ashan, five towns, along with all their villages which were around about these towns as far as Baal. These were their settlements. They kept a genealogical record.”

This list is almost the same as Joshua, chapter 19. Simeon got many of these towns in the partition of the Promised Land, because Judah had too much land. These towns lay within the inheritance of the tribe of Judah. They got the towns of Beersheba, Moladah, Hazar-shual, Ezem, Eltolad or Tolad, Bethul or Bethuel, Hormah, Ziklag, Beth-marcaboth, Hazar-susah, Beth-biri or Beth-lebaoth, and Sharuhen or Shaaraim. They also got villages of Ain, Rimmon, Ether or Tochen, and Ashan. They also got all the villages all around these towns as far as Baal or Baalath-beer. Only 2 towns are mentioned here that were in Joshua, Bilhah and Etam. Bilhah was the name of the slave girl of Rachel in Genesis, chapter 30. Etam was a town in Judah. Most of these towns were in part of the territory of Judah. Thus the tribe of Simeon literally got no land, much like the Levites. However, it is not clear why. Perhaps they were too small of a tribe. Remember that the tribe of Simeon did not get a blessing from Moses in Deuteronomy, chapter 33. They were really at the bottom of the totem pole. What land they had was on the southern border of Judah, just before the wilderness. Of the 17 towns mentioned here, 12 towns were also mentioned as belonging to Judah in Joshua, chapter 15.