Saturday, December 9, 2017

Joshua: Chapter 15

To everyone their place.
What you are given
What you give
Where you lie.

[For full chapter, click here
This chapter begins the actual allotment of the Land, which was introduced in the previous chapter.  The tribe of Judah, who "approached" with Caleb, are given their inheritence first, and Caleb's inheritance of Hebron is placed within the broader context of the borders of his tribe. Yet the broadening of the context does not come with a loss of detail--on the contrary, the story is expanded here. Instead of a quick "resting from war", we are told the names of the Children of Anak whom Caleb defeated, as well as of the conquest of Debir / Kiryat Sefer, with the fairytale element of the promise of Caleb's daughter's hand in marriage to the man who could win the battle.
This same city of Debir punctuates the chapter at three seperate points: the border rises to Debir from "Emek Ahor"--the "valley of ugliness" that is the site of Ahan's execution and burial ; Debir is the site of Otniel's victory, earning him the right to Ahsa's hand; and it is mentioned in the litany of the cities of Judah asan  alternative name for Beet Saana. 
The repetition of Debir points to how the inheritence of the tribe creates a space for the interaction of its members. Even Ahan, disgraced and rejected, is kept within the borders of his tribe, his burial place defining its boundary. Human interelationships become defined by place. Otniel marries Ahsa through Debir; Ahsa approaches her father with a complex mix of complaint and demand that is expressed in terms of place: "you have given me dry lands, give me water." Whether this evocative exchange is meant literally or as a comment on her marriage, the act of "giving" between parent and child becomes a function of  place. And while the names change, these places remain the same, providing a prims for a slice of history.]

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