Were the cities of Eshtaol and Zorah given to Judah (Joshua 15:20, 33) or Dan (Joshua 19:40-41)?
Without a doubt, Joshua 19 says these two cities were given to the tribe of Dan. The text says:
The seventh lot came out for the tribe of the children of Dan according to their families. And the territory of their inheritance was Zorah, Eshtaol, Ir Shemesh… (Joshua 19:40-41)
The questioner cites Joshua 15:20, 33 as evidence that these cities were given to the people of Judah, and thus concludes that a contradiction is present. The text reads:
This was the inheritance of the tribe of the children of Judah according to their families … in the lowland: Eshtaol, Zorah, Ashnah… (Joshua 15:20, 33)
It sure sounds like we have a contradiction. Consider a few possible explanations.
Reallocation: Adam Clarke suggests that these were for Judah at first, but then were given to Dan instead after.
Border town: There are several towns in the world that are divided by a border. A few examples in the USA are Kansas Ctiy (MO & KS), Bristol (TN & VA), and Texarkana (TX & AR). There are cities in other countries that are also divided by a border.
Establishing Limits: Joshua 15:21 says the list of cities below are given to reveal the limits of their borders in various directions. It’s possible the cities of Eshtaol and Zorah belonged to the tribe of Dan, but were used to establish part of the northern border of Judah.
Living in the days of Joshua or at least not 3400 years removed from that time would help to know which of these is the case. Regardless, there are possible solutions. There is no contradiction.
A response to 1001 Bible Contradictions.