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Bible Commentaries

Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable

Numbers 34

Verses 1-15

The borders of the land 34:1-15

Moses described the boundary of the land from south (Numbers 34:3-5) to west (Numbers 34:6) to north (Numbers 34:7-9) to east (Numbers 34:12). This boundary encompassed the territory the people would divide among the nine and one-half tribes. This was not the same territory promised to Abraham but was what God gave the Israelites at their entrance into the land. If they had been obedient to Him, He would have eventually enlarged their borders to include the whole area promised to Abraham. Even though they disobeyed God He still enlarged their border beyond the boundaries given here later in their history though not yet to the extent promised Abraham.

". . . on any estimate and interpretation, the ’Canaan’ that was the inheritance given to Israel was larger and more extensive than they were ever able to possess, even in David’s and Solomon’s time." [Note: Philip, p. 340.]

Some of the sites mentioned are still unknown to archaeologists. Hamath (Numbers 34:8) was a kingdom and a city, the capital of the kingdom. This reference is probably to the kingdom since there is no biblical record that the city of Hamath ever belonged to Israel.

The land included within these boundaries was about 150 miles long and 50 miles wide, about 7,500 square miles. It was the approximate size of New Jersey. One hundred fifty miles is the distance from Dallas to Bryan, Texas. Fifty miles is the distance from West Fort Worth to East Dallas.

"God is portrayed elsewhere in the Pentateuch as one who apportions the boundaries of all the nations (Genesis 10; Deuteronomy 32:8), and here he is shown doing the same for his own people." [Note: Sailhamer, The Pentateuch . . ., p. 420.]

Verses 1-29

A preview of the land ch. 34

God then instructed Moses regarding the extent of the Promised Land and how to divide it among the remaining tribes.

Verses 16-29

The leaders responsible for dividing the land 34:16-29

God next selected ten men, one from each tribe that would settle in Canaan, who would assist Eleazer, the high priest, and Joshua, the military leader of Israel, in apportioning the land. Only Caleb’s name is familiar. None of the other men’s names appears earlier in the text. These were evidently not the heads of the tribes but men chosen specifically for this purpose. Moses listed the tribes here in the general order in which they settled in the land from south to north.

Special cities in the land ch. 35

Next God specified that there were to be special towns set aside in the Promised Land for the Levites and as cities of refuge.

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Bibliographical Information
Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Numbers 34". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/dcc/numbers-34.html. 2012.