Debir — A Puzzle Solved -- By: Anonymous

Journal: Bible and Spade (First Run)
Volume: BSP 02:1 (Winter 1973)
Article: Debir — A Puzzle Solved
Author: Anonymous


Debir — A Puzzle Solved

[We are grateful to Dr. G. Douglas Young, Director of the American Institute of Holy Land Studies in Jerusalem, for the material for the above article. This is the first report to be published in the English language on the excavation at Debir. (Other article’s have appeared in Hebrew.) — Ed.]

Although the Bible states that Debir is located in the hill country of Southern Judah, scholars argue that the town is situated in the lowlands. Is the Bible wrong? Let’s take a look.

Joshua and the Israelites conquered the Canaanite city of Debir during the conquest of Canaan. (Joshua 10:38, 39; 11:21; 12:13). When the land was divided, Joshua gave Hebron and Debir, part of the territory of the tribe of Judah, to Caleb because he “wholly followed the Lord God of Israel” (Joshua 14:14).

When Caleb began mopping-up operations as he moved in to occupy his newly acquired possession, he first took Hebron (Joshua 15:13, 14). When he came to Debir, however, he did not conquer it himself, but instead made an offer: “He that smiteth Kirjath-sepher [Debir], and taketh it, to him will I give Achsah my daughter to wife” (Joshua 15:16). Othniel, Calab’s nephew, accepted the challenge and took the city, thereby gaining for himself not only a place to live but also a wife (Joshua 15:17).

When the young bride looked over her new home, as with most astute wives, Achsah decided that the facilities were inadequate. So she went to her father Caleb and said, “thou hast given me a south land; give me also springs of water.” Caleb, loving father as he was, “gave her the upper springs and the nether [lower] springs” (Joshua 15:19).

This incident not only gives us a glimpse into life in ancient Israel, but also tells us something about Debir. In fact, it was Joshua 15:19 which gave the clues that led to the eventual identification of the site.

The young bride Achsah complained that the climate was that of the south land or, in Hebrew, the “negev”. So the climate in Debir was like that of the Biblical Negev, the desert region south of Judah. For this reason, she asked Caleb for “gulloth”, or springs.

The term “gulloth” literally mean...

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