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Bible Commentaries

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible
Joshua 12




Consult the notes to the passages referred to in the margin.

Verses 1-6

All the plain on the east - i. e. the Arabah or depressed tract along the east bank of Jordan, the modern El-Ghor (see Numbers 22:1).

Joshua 12:2

From the middle of the river - i. e. as appears from Joshua 13:9, Joshua 13:16, “from the city that is in the midst of the river;” namely,, Ar Moab (see Deuteronomy 2:36).

Joshua 12:3

From the plain - Render “over the plain;” for the words describe not one of the boundaries of Sihon‘s kingdom, but part of the territory included in it, i. e. the eastern portion of the Ghor, between the Sea of Tiberias and the Dead Sea.

Verses 7-24

The names of the kings are given in the order of their actual encounter with Joshua. Those enumerated in Joshua 12:10-18 either belonged to the league of the southern Canaanites (Joshua 10:1 ff), the power of which was broken in the battle of Beth-horon, or were at any rate conquered in the campaign following that battle. Those mentioned in Joshua 12:19-24 were in like manner connected with the northern confederates (Joshua 11:1 ff), who were defeated at the Waters of Merom.

Joshua 12:13-20

The identification of several of these places is still uncertain: the same name (e. g. Aphek, Joshua 12:18) being applied to various places in various parts of Palestine. Geder, or Gedor Joshua 15:58, a city in the mountain district in the south of the territory of Judah, is no doubt the modern “Jedur”.

Joshua 12:21

Taanach - A Levitical town Joshua 21:25 in the territory of Issachar, but assigned to the Manassites (Joshua 17:11; Compare 1 Chronicles 7:29), is identified with “Taanuk”. It was here that Barak encountered the host of Sisera Judges 5:19. Megiddo was near it, and is thought to have been “el Lejjun” (the Roman Legion), (or Mujedd‘a (Conder)).

Joshua 12:22

Kedesh - i. e. Kedesh Naphtali, a city of refuge, a Levitical city, and the home of Barak Judges 9:6.

Jokneam - A Levitical city in the territory of Zebulon Joshua 19:11; perhaps the modern “Kaimon”. “Tell Kaimon” is a conspicuous and important position, commanding the main pass across the ridge of Carmel from Phoenicia to Egypt. This famous mountain range (about 15 miles long) no doubt received the name Carmel (the word means “a fruitful field” as opposed to “wilderness”) as descriptive of its character; and thus the name became an emblem of beauty and luxuriance (Isaiah 35:2; 1 Kings 18:30 was an old one which had been broken down, Carmel was probably no less esteemed by the Israelites also. In later times the caves which abound toward the western bluffs of the range have been frequented by Christian, Jewish, and Mussulman anchorites. The order of Carmelite or barefooted friars took its rise from the convent founded by Louis, which still crowns the western headland.

Joshua 12:23

The king of the nations - See Genesis 14:1 and note. It means king of certain mixed and probably nomadic tribes, which regarded Gilgal Joshua 9:19 as their center and capital.

Joshua 12:24

Tirzah - This place, the capital of Jeroboam and his successors until the clays of Omri (1 Kings 14:17; 1 Kings 15:21, etc.), is identified by some with “Tulluzah”, a town 3 miles northeast of Nablous, (by others with Teiasir).


Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.

Bibliography Information
Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Joshua 12:4". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". 1870.

Lectionary Calendar
Saturday, November 28th, 2020
the Week of Christ the King / Proper 29 / Ordinary 34
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