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Debir, from a Hebrew word pronounced deb-beer, meaning sanctuary or oracle (hence the city name meant "oracle town" - see Oracles) was one of the cities taken by the Israelites in the time of Joshua, whereby it was designated as a Levite town (see below). Later, after the Israelites irresponsibly permitted the Canaanites to take it back, it was again taken by Caleb.

"And all these kings and their land did Joshua take at one time, because The Lord God of Israel fought for Israel"

When they crossed the Jordan, the Israelites were not invading someone else's nation. The Lord had long before declared that the land of Israel was to be the national property of the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob e.g. "I will bring you in unto the land, concerning the which I did swear to give it to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob; and I will give it you for an heritage: I am The Lord" (Exodus 6:8 KJV). The God-empowered Israelite military onslaught against the occupiers was not a war of aggression; it was a war in sovereign defense of their own land.

Israelite Tribal Lands

"And Joshua went up from Eglon, and all Israel with him, unto Hebron; and they fought against it: And they took it, and smote it with the edge of the sword, and the king thereof, and all the cities thereof, and all the souls that were therein; he left none remaining, according to all that he had done to Eglon; but destroyed it utterly, and all the souls that were therein."

"And Joshua returned, and all Israel with him, to Debir; and fought against it: And he took it, and the king thereof, and all the cities thereof; and they smote them with the edge of the sword, and utterly destroyed all the souls that were therein; he left none remaining: as he had done to Hebron, so he did to Debir, and to the king thereof; as he had done also to Libnah, and to her king."

"So Joshua smote all the country of the hills, and of the south, and of the vale, and of the springs, and all their kings: he left none remaining, but utterly destroyed all that breathed, as The Lord God of Israel commanded [see also YHVH, Adonai, Jehovah, LORD]. And Joshua smote them from Kadeshbarnea even unto Gaza, and all the country of Goshen, even unto Gibeon. And all these kings and their land did Joshua take at one time, because The Lord God of Israel fought for Israel." (Joshua 10:36-42 KJV)

Debir was one of the northern border points that marked the tribal territory of Judah, south of Jerusalem.

"And the east border was The Salt Sea, even unto the end of Jordan [see The Jordan Valley]. And their border in the north quarter was from the bay of the sea at the uttermost part of Jordan: And the border went up to Bethhogla, and passed along by the north of Betharabah; and the border went up to the stone of Bohan the son of Reuben: And the border went up toward Debir from the valley of Achor, and so northward, looking toward Gilgal, that is before the going up to Adummim, which is on the south side of the river: and the border passed toward the waters of Enshemesh, and the goings out thereof were at Enrogel"

"And the border went up by the valley of the son of Hinnom [see The Valley Of Hell] unto the south side of the Jebusite; the same is Jerusalem: and the border went up to the top of the mountain that lieth before the valley of Hinnom westward, which is at the end of the valley of the giants northward: And the border was drawn from the top of the hill unto the fountain of the water of Nephtoah, and went out to the cities of mount Ephron; and the border was drawn to Baalah, which is Kirjathjearim: And the border compassed from Baalah westward unto mount Seir, and passed along unto the side of mount Jearim, which is Chesalon, on the north side, and went down to Bethshemesh, and passed on to Timnah: And the border went out unto the side of Ekron northward: and the border was drawn to Shicron, and passed along to mount Baalah, and went out unto Jabneel; and the goings out of the border were at the sea." (Joshua 15:5-11 KJV)

Debir was later designated as a Levite city. The Levites did not receive a tribal territory of their own, but as the priests, were given towns throughout the territories of the other Israelite tribes. Nine cities, including Debir, were given to the Levites out of the territory of "the tribe of the children of Judah, and out of the tribe of the children of Simeon" (Joshua 21:9 KJV)

"Thus they gave to the children of Aaron the priest Hebron with her suburbs, to be a city of refuge for the slayer; and Libnah with her suburbs, And Jattir with her suburbs, and Eshtemoa with her suburbs, And Holon with her suburbs, and Debir with her suburbs, And Ain with her suburbs, and Juttah with her suburbs, and Bethshemesh with her suburbs; nine cities out of those two tribes" (Joshua 21:13-16 KJV)

After the Canaanites crept back in, Debir, which was earlier known as "Kirjathsepher," was taken again by Caleb.

"And Judah went against the Canaanites that dwelt in Hebron: now the name of Hebron before was Kirjatharba: and they slew Sheshai, and Ahiman, and Talmai. And from thence he went against the inhabitants of Debir: and the name of Debir before was Kirjathsepher: And Caleb said, He that smiteth Kirjathsepher, and taketh it, to him will I give Achsah my daughter to wife. And Othniel the son of Kenaz, Caleb's younger brother, took it: and he gave him Achsah his daughter to wife" (Judges 1:10-13 KJV)

Fact Finder: Who were the people who occupied Jerusalem before the Israelites took it? What was the name of the city before it was known as Jerusalem?
See Jebusites

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