The praise of Judah
This was the homeland allocated to the clans of the tribe of Judah. The towns of Judah situated along the borders of Edom in the extreme south were Kabzeel, Eder, Jagur, Kinah, Dimonah, Adadah, Kedesh, Hazor, Ithnan, Ziph, Telem, Bealoth, Hazor-hadattah, Kerioth-hezron (that is, Hazor), Amam, Shema, Moladah, Hazar-gaddah, Heshmon, Beth-pelet, Hazar-shual, Beersheba, Biziothiah, Baalah, Iim, Ezem, Eltolad, Kesil, Hormah, Ziklag, Madmannah, Sansannah, Lebaoth, Shilhim, Ain, and Rimmon—twenty-nine towns with their surrounding villages. The following towns situated in the western foothills were also given to Judah: Eshtaol, Zorah, Ashnah, Zanoah, En-gannim, Tappuah, Enam, Jarmuth, Adullam, Socoh, Azekah, Shaaraim, Adithaim, Gederah, and Gederothaim—fourteen towns with their surrounding villages. Also included were Zenan, Hadashah, Migdal-gad, Dilean, Mizpeh, Joktheel, Lachish, Bozkath, Eglon, Cabbon, Lahmam, Kitlish, Gederoth, Beth-dagon, Naamah, and Makkedah—sixteen towns with their surrounding villages. Besides these, there were Libnah, Ether, Ashan, Iphtah, Ashnah, Nezib, Keilah, Aczib, and Mareshah—nine towns with their surrounding villages... But the tribe of Judah could not drive out the Jebusites, who lived in the city of Jerusalem, so the Jebusites live there among the people of Judah to this day. Joshua 15: 20-44, 63 NLT
Judah’s inheritance was the largest of any territorial lists. The very magnitude of the list points to the fact that Judah will be the most prominent territory. Though many names in the list will remain obscured and of no historical significance, the fact that the writer of Joshua mentioned them signified Judah’s importance. Due to the enormity of the inheritance, not every city was mentioned including Bethlehem. Later on Bethlehem will be referred to as the city of David. Bethlehem though a tiny city will also be highly esteemed because of the birth of the Lord Jesus Christ. This was prophesied in the Book of Micah. “But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, are only a small village among all the people of Judah. Yet a ruler of Israel, whose origins are in the distant past, will come from you on my behalf” (Micah 5:2). Once Joshua divided the inheritance and Jerusalem was included in the tribe of Judah, it was not immediately taken over by the Israelites. “The tribe of Judah could not drive out the Jebusites, who lived in the city of Jerusalem, so the Jebusites live there among the people of Judah to this day” (Joshua 15:63). It was not until the leadership of David that Jerusalem was taken from the Jebusites. It was in Judah where King Saul reigned as the first king of Israel (1 Kings 9). It was in Judah where John the Baptist proclaimed the Kingdom of God and the coming of the Messiah. “‘In those days John the Baptist came to the Judean wilderness and began preaching. His message was, ‘Repent of your sins and turn to God, for the Kingdom of Heaven is near’” (Matthew 3:1-2). The richest of Judah no doubt was declared when Jacob pronounced its blessings. “Judah, your brothers will praise you. You will grasp your enemies by the neck. All your relatives will bow before you. Judah, my son, is a young lion that has finished eating its prey. Like a lion he crouches and lies down; like a lioness—who dares to rouse him? The scepter will not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from his descendants, until the coming of the one to whom it belongs, the one whom all nations will honor” (Genesis 49:8-10).