And they ascended by the south
When they returned, after they had searched the land, then they came into the south country again, which was in their way to Kadesh, where the camp of Israel remained; they are said to ascend, because of the hill country they again came to; for their coming to Hebron, and carrying a cluster of grapes from that place, not far from thence, was upon their return:
and came unto Hebron;
which was in the hill country of Judea, in the tribe of Judah afterwards, which before was called Kirjatharba; in the original text it is, "he came" F19, Caleb, and he only, according to Jarchi and the Rabbins in Abendana; and certain it is that he was there, and he had this place on which his feet trod given him for an inheritance, ( Joshua 14:9 Joshua 14:13-15 ) ; and it is very probable that the spies did not go together, but perhaps singly, and at most but two together, which seems to be the case here by what follows:
where Ahiman, Sheshai, and Talmai, the children of Anak, [were];
where Anak, and these his three sons, dwelt, who were giants; and perhaps from thence Hebron before this was called Kirjatharbah, "the city of the four"; or from Arba, the father of Anak:
now Hebron was built seven years before Zoan in Egypt;
or Tanais, as the Targum of Jonathan, whence one of the nomes of Egypt was called the Tanitic nome: it was the metropolis of that country, and may be observed, to abate the pride and vanity of that kingdom, which boasted of its antiquity. Josephus says F20, that the inhabitants of Hebron not only reckoned it more ancient than any of the cities of the land, but than Memphis in Egypt, accounting it (then in his time) 2300 years old; but who it was built by is not certain; Jarchi thinks it is possible that Ham built Hebron for Canaan his younger son, before he built Zoan for Mizraim his eldest son; which does not seem likely.
F19 (abyw) "et venit", Montanus, Tigurine version, Drusius, so Onkelos; "et venit Caleb", Junius & Tremellius.
F20 De Bello Jud. l. 5. c. 9. sect. 7.