Chapter 5
Failure of Asher            [Judges 1:31, 32]


31 Neither did Asher drive out the inhabitants of Accho, nor the inhabitants of Zidon, nor of Ahlab, nor of Achzib, nor of Helbah, nor of Aphik, nor of Rehob:
32 But the Asherites dwelt among the Canaanites, the inhabitants of the land: for they did not drive them out.


31 Neither did Asher drive out the inhabitants of Accho, nor the inhabitants of Zidon, nor of Ahlab, nor of Achzib, nor of Helbah, nor of Aphik, nor of Rehob:
32 But the Asherites dwelt among the Canaanites, the inhabitants of the land: for they did not drive them out.

After the Israelites settled in the land of Canaan, Sidon was near the territory of Zebulun [1](Gen. 49:13 ) and Asher [2](Jos. 19:28 ). But the tribe of Asher failed to drive out the inhabitants of Sidon. This indicates something about the strength of that city. Sidon, however, frequently was destroyed by foreign invaders during the next several centuries. But it was rebuilt following each defeat and restored to a position of prominence.

Asher conducted itself worse than any of the other tribes, not only by leaving more towns than any of them in the hands of the Canaanites, but in submitting to the Canaanites instead of making them pay tribute. They dwelt among the Canaanites, as if the Canaanites were the more numerous and the more powerful, and like they were still the lords of the country, and they permitted the Israelites to live among them.

Asher was unable or unwilling to drive out the inhabitants of Accho (also known as Acre, north of Mount Carmel)—Zidon (the famous, the powerful Phoenician city on the Mediterranean coast)—Ahlab (unknown)—Achzib (about ten miles north of Accho)—Helbah (Mahalliba, northeast of Tyre)—Aphik (Tell Kurdaneh, south of Accho)—Rehob (Tell Berweh). Even in the time of David and Solomon the Israelites never conquered Phoenicia, but were able to maintain friendly relationships with them. It is most likely that it was from them that they borrowed the concept of the alphabet.

Article 1.8: ASHER, TRIBE OF

Ash´er, A´ser (blessed), the eighth son of Jacob, by Zilpah, Leah’s handmaid, Gen. 30:13. (b.c. 1753.) The general position of his tribe was on the seashore from Carmel northward, with Manasseh on the south, Zebulun and Issachar on the southeast, and Naphtali on the northeast. Josh. 19:24-31; 17:10, 11 and Judges 1:31, 32. They possessed the maritime portion of the rich plain of Esdraelon, probably for a distance of 8 or 10 miles from the shore. This territory contained some of the richest soil in all Palestine.

The Asherites never succeeded in expelling the inhabitants of the Phoenician strongholds—such as Tyre, Sidon, and Acco (Judg. 1:31–32)—which were in their territory.

These Canaanite cities that successfully resisted Asher formed a line of opposition across their territory:

Accho [ACK coe] (“compressed”), alternate spelling acco. A town on the coast of Palestine about 40 km. (25 mi.) south of Tyre and about 15 kilometers (9 miles) north of Mount Carmel, apportioned to the tribe of Asher; also called Ptolemais in Acts 21:7 . Situated on the north shore of a broad bay, Accho was at the entrance to the rich, fertile plain of Jezreel. Although Accho was located in the portion of land assigned to the tribe of Asher, the Hebrews were never able to drive out the original Canaanite inhabitants.

Accho was mentioned in the Amarna letters of the 14th century b.c. In the Hellenistic period the name was changed to Ptolemais. It came under Roman domination in 65 b.c.

Accho is mentioned only once in the New Testament and then as Ptolemais, the name coming from Ptolemy, the king of Egypt who rebuilt the city. Sailing from Tyre to Caesarea at the end of his third missionary journey, the apostle Paul docked at Ptolemais and spent the day with his fellow Christians while his ship was anchored in the harbor.

During the Crusades, Ptolemais recaptured some of its former prominence under the name Acre, by which name it is still known today. Its importance has once again waned, being overshadowed by the city of Haifa, which lies directly across the bay.

Zidon (Zi´don, or Si´don), Gen. 10:15 , 19; Josh. 11:8; 19:28; Judges 1:31; 18:28; Isa. 23:2, 4, 12; Jer. 25:22; 27:3; Ezek. 28:21–22; Joel 3:4 (4:4); Zech. 9:2; Matt. 11:21–22; 15:21; Mark 3:8; 7:24, 31; Luke 6:17; 10:13–14, an ancient and wealthy city of Phœnicia, on the eastern coast of the Mediterranean Sea, less than twenty English miles to the north of Tyre. Its Hebrew name, Tsı̂dôn, signifies fishing or fishery. Its modern name is Saida. It is situated in the narrow plain between Lebanon and the sea. From a biblical point of view this city is inferior in interest to its neighbor Tyre; though in early times Sidon was the more influential of the two cities. This view is confirmed by Zidonians being used as the generic name of Phœnicians or Canaanites. [3]Josh. 13:6; [4]Judges 18:7. From the time of Solomon to the invasion of Nebuchadnezzar Zidon is not often directly mentioned in the Bible, and it appears to have been subordinate to Tyre. When the people called “Zidonians” are mentioned, it sometimes seems that the Phœnicians of the plain of Zidon are meant. 1 Kings 5:6 ; 11:1, 5, 33; 16:31; 2 Kings 23:13. All that is known respecting the city is very scanty, amounting to scarcely more than that one of its sources of gain was trade in slaves, in which the inhabitants did not shrink from selling inhabitants of Palestine, and that it was governed by kings. [5]Jer. 25:22; [6]27:3. During the Persian domination Zidon seems to have attained its highest point of prosperity; and it is recorded that, toward the close of that period, it far excelled all other Phœnician cities in wealth and importance. Its prosperity was suddenly cut short by an unsuccessful revolt against Persia, which ended in the destruction of the town, b.c. 351. Its king, Tennes, had proved a traitor and betrayed the city to Ochus, king of the Persians; the Persian troops were admitted within the gates, and occupied the city walls. The Zidonians, before the arrival of Ochus, had burnt their vessels to prevent any one’s leaving the town; and when they saw themselves surrounded by the Persian troops, they adopted the desperate resolution of shutting themselves up with their families, and setting fire each man to his own house. Forty thousand persons are said to have perished in the flames. Zidon, however, gradually recovered from the blow, and became again a flourishing town. It is about fifty miles distant from Nazareth, and is the most northern city which is mentioned in connection with Christ’s journeys. (The town Saida still shows signs of its former wealth, and its houses are better constructed and more solid than those of Tyre, many of them being built of stone; but is a poor, miserable place, without trade or manufactures worthy of the name. The city that once divided with Tyre the empire of the seas is now almost without a vessel. Silk and fruit are its staple products. Its population is estimated at 10,000, 7000 of whom are Moslems, and the rest Catholics, Maronites, and Protestants.—McClintock and Strong’s Cyclopædia. There is a flourishing Protestant mission here.—Ed.)

Ahlab [A lub] (“fertile”), a town assigned to Asher, but never captured from the Canaanites; its probable location is about 6 km. (4 mi.) northeast of Tyre.

Achzib[ACK zib] (falsehood) the name of two towns in Israel:
1. A town in the Shephelah, the lowland of western Judah [7](Josh. 15:44), probably the same town as Chezib [8](Gen. 38:5) and Chozeba [9](1 Chr. 4:22).
2. A town in western Galilee, on the Mediterranean Sea near the border of ancient Phoenicia [10](Josh. 19:29; [11]Judg. 1:31). Identified as modern ez–Zib, Achzib was located about 15 kilometers (9 miles) north of Acre.

Helbah[HEL buh] (fertile) A town of the tribe of Asher probably on the plain of Phœnicia, not far from Sidon.

Aphek [Aphik] (“strength”). Probably the same place as Aphik A town assigned to the tribe of Asher but never captured from the Canaanites; located just southeast of Acco [12](Josh. 19:30) and forms the extreme north “border of the Amorites,” identified with the Aphaca of classical times, and Afka in modern times.

Rehob[REE hahb] (open space). A city in the territory of Asher, near Sidon [13](Josh. 19:28).


General Notes

[1](Gen. 49:13 ;NLT) “Zebulun will settle by the seashore and will be a harbor for ships; his borders will extend to Sidon." Zebulun's lot or portion in the division of the Promised Land extended from the Mediterranean Sea on the west, to the lake of Gennesareth on the east; see his division, Joshua 19:10, etc. The Targum of Jonathan ben Uzziel paraphrases the passage thus: "Zebulun shall be on the coasts of the sea, and he shall rule over the havens; he shall subdue the provinces of the sea with his, ships, and his border shall extend unto Sidon.—Adam Clarke's Commentary

[2](Jos. 19:28; NKJV ) "including Ebron, Rehob, Hammon, and Kanah, as far as Greater Sidon." The city of Sidon and the Sidonians are celebrated from the remotest antiquity. They are frequently mentioned by Homer.—Adam Clarke's Commentary

[3]Josh. 13:6; NLT: "and all the hill country from Lebanon to Misrephoth-maim, including all the land of the Sidonians. “I myself will drive these people out of the land ahead of the Israelites. So be sure to give this land to Israel as a special possession, just as I have commanded you" These will I drive out—That is, if the Israelites continued to be obedient; but they did not, and therefore they never fully possessed the whole of that land which, on this condition alone, God had promised them: the Sidonians were never expelled by the Israelites, and were only brought into a state of comparative subjection in the days of David and Solomon. Some have taken upon them to deny the authenticity of Divine revelation relative to this business, "because," say they, "God is stated to have absolutely promised that Joshua should conquer the whole land, and put the Israelites in possession of it." This is a total mistake.

1.  God never absolutely, i.e., unconditionally, promised to put them in possession of this land. The promise of their possessing the whole was suspended on their fidelity to God. They were not faithful, and therefore God was not bound by his promise to give them any part of the land, after their first act of national defection from his worship.

2.  God never said that Joshua should conquer the whole land, and give it to them; the promise was simply this: "Thou shalt bring them into the land, and thou shalt divide it among them:" both of which he did, and procured them footing by his conquests, sufficient to have enabled them to establish themselves in it for ever.

3.  It was never said, Thou shalt conquer it all, and then divide it; no. Several of the tribes, after their quota was allotted them, were obliged to drive out the ancient inhabitants. See on Joshua 11:18 (note).—Adam Clarke's Commentary

[4]Judges 18:7; NKJV: "So the five men departed and went to Laish. They saw the people who were there, how they dwelt safely, in the manner of the Sidonians, quiet and secure. There were no rulers in the land who might put them to shame for anything. They were far from the Sidonians, and they had no ties with anyone."After the manner of the Zidonians—Probably the people of Laish or Leshem were originally a colony of the Sidonians, who, it appears, were an opulent people; and, being in possession of a strong city, lived in a state of security, not being afraid of their neighbors. In this the Leshemites imitated them, though the sequel proves they had not the same reason for their confidence.

They were far from the Zidonians—Being, as above supposed, a Sidonian colony, they might naturally expect help from their countrymen; but, as they dwelt a considerable distance from Sidon, the Danites saw that they could strike the blow before the news of invasion could reach Sidon; and, consequently, before the people of Laish could receive any succours from that city.And had no business with any man—In the most correct copies of the Septuagint, this clause is thus translated: Και λογος ουκ ην αυτοις μετα Συριας; and they had no transactions with SYRIA. Now it is most evident that, instead of ‏אדם‎  adam, MAN, they read ‏ארם‎  aram, SYRIA; words which are so nearly similar that the difference which exists is only between the ‏ר‎  resh and ‏ד‎  daleth, and this, both in MSS. and printed books, is often indiscernible. This reading is found in the Codex Alexandrinus, in the Complutensian Polyglot, in the Spanish Polyglot, and in the edition of the Septuagint published by Aldus. It may be proper to observe, that Laish was on the frontiers of Syria; but as they had no intercourse with the Syrians, from whom they might have received the promptest assistance, this was an additional reason why the Danites might expect success.\—Adam Clarke's Commentary

[5]Jer. 25:22; NKJV:  "all the kings of Tyre, all the kings of Sidon, and the kings of the coastlands which are across the sea;" Tyrus and—Zidon—The most ancient of all the cities of the Phoenicians.Kings of the isles which are beyond the sea—As the Mediterranean Sea is most probably meant, and the Phoenicians had numerous colonies on its coasts, I prefer the marginal reading, the kings of the region by the sea side.—Adam Clarke's Commentary

[6]Jer. 27:3; KJV: " And send them to the king of Edom, and to the king of Moab, and to the king of the Ammonites, and to the king of Tyrus, and to the king of Zidon, by the hand of the messengers which come to Jerusalem unto Zedekiah king of Judah;" And send them to the king of Edom, &c. -- Appropriate symbol, as these ambassadors had come to Jerusalem to consult as to shaking off the yoke of Nebuchadnezzar. According to PHERECYDES in CLEMENT OF ALEXANDRIA [Miscellanies, 567], Idanthura, king of the Scythians, intimated to Darius, who had crossed the Danube, that he would lead an army against him, by sending him, instead of a letter, a mouse, a frog, a bird, an arrow, and a plough. The task assigned to Jeremiah required great faith, as it was sure to provoke alike his own countrymen and the foreign ambassadors and their kings, by a seeming insult, at the very time that all were full of confident hopes grounded on the confederacy.--Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary[7](Josh. 15:44; NKJV) "Keilah, Achzib, and Mareshah: nine cities with their villages;" Keilah—This town was near Hebron, and is said to have been the burying-place of the prophet Habakkuk. David obliged the Philistines to raise the siege of it; (see 1 Samuel 23:1-13); but finding that its inhabitants had purposed to deliver him into the hands of Saul, who was coming in pursuit of him, he made his escape. See this remarkable case explained in the note on Deuteronomy 32:15 (note).

Mareshah—Called also Maresheth and Marasthi; it was the birth-place of the prophet Micah. Near this place was the famous battle between Asa, king of Judah, and Zera, king of Cush or Ethiopia, who was at the head of one thousand thousand men, and three hundred chariots. Asa defeated this immense host and took much spoil, 2 Chronicles 14:9-15.—Adam Clarke's Commentary

[8](Gen. 38:5; NKJV) "And she conceived yet again and bore a son, and called his name Shelah. He was at Chezib when she bore him." And he was at Chezib when she bare him—This town is supposed to be the same with Achzib, which fell to the tribe of Judah, Joshua 15:44. "The name," says Ainsworth, "has in Hebrew the signification of lying; and to it the prophet alludes, saying the houses of Achzib shall be (Achzab) a lie to the kings of Israel, Micah 1:14."—Adam Clarke's Commentary

[9](1 Chr. 4:22; NKJV) "also Jokim, the men of Chozeba, and Joash; Saraph, who ruled in Moab, and Jashubi-Lehem. Now the records are ancient." And Joash, and Saraph—"And the prophets and scribes which sprang from the seed of Joshua, and the Gibeonites, whose office it was to serve in the house of the sanctuary, because they had lied to the princes of Israel; also Joash, who is the same as Mahlon; and Saraph, who is the same as Chilion, who took wives of the daughters of Moab and Boaz, the chief of the wise men of the college of Bethlehem, and of those who existed in former days."—T.—Adam Clarke's Commentary

[10](Josh. 19:29; NLT) "Then the boundary turned toward Ramah and the fortified city of Tyre, where it turned toward Hosah and came to the Mediterranean Sea. The territory also included Mehebel, Aczib" and then the coast turneth to Ramah -- now El-Hamra, which stood where the Leontes (Litany) ends its southern course and flows westward. and to the strong city Tyre -- The original city appears to have stood on the mainland, and was well-fortified. From Tyre the boundary ran to Hosah, an inland town; and then, passing the unconquered district of Achzib (Judges 1:31), terminated at the seacoast.—Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary

[11]Judg. 1:31; NKJV: "Nor did Asher drive out the inhabitants of Acco or the inhabitants of Sidon, or of Ahlab, Achzib, Helbah, Aphik, or Rehob." Neither did Asher—See on Joshua 19:24-31 (note). Accho—Supposed to be the city of Ptolemais, near to Mount Carmel.—Adam Clarke's Commentary

[12](Josh. 19:30; NLT) "Ummah, Aphek, and Rehob—twenty-two towns with their surrounding villages." Twenty and two cities—There are nearly thirty cities in the above enumeration instead of twenty-two, but probably several are mentioned that were but frontier towns, and that did not belong to this tribe, their border only passing by such cities; and on this account, though they are named, yet they do not enter into the enumeration in this place. Perhaps some of the villages are named as well as the cities.—Adam Clarke's Commentary

[13](Josh. 19:28;NKJV) "including Ebron, Rehob, Hammon, and Kanah, as far as Greater Sidon." Unto great Zidon—The city of Sidon and the Sidonians are celebrated from the remotest antiquity. They are frequently mentioned by Homer. See the note on Joshua 11:8.—Adam Clarke's Commentary