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Bible Commentaries

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

Numbers 34

Verse 1

And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,

No JFB commentary on this verse.

Verse 2

Command the children of Israel, and say unto them, When ye come into the land of Canaan; (this is the land that shall fall unto you for an inheritance, even the land of Canaan with the coasts thereof:)

This is the land of Canaan. The details given in this chapter mark the general boundary of the inheritance of Israel west of the Jordan. The Israelites never actually possessed all the territory comprised within these boundaries, even when it was most extended by the conquests of David and Solomon.

Verse 3

Then your south quarter shall be from the wilderness of Zin along by the coast of Edom, and your south border shall be the outmost coast of the salt sea eastward:

Your south quarter. The line which bounded it on the south is the most difficult to trace. According to the best Biblical geographers, the leading points here defined are as follows: The southwest angle of the southern boundary should be where the wilderness of Zin touches the border of Edom, so that the southern boundary should extend eastward from the extremity of the Dead Sea, wind around the precipitous ridge of Akrabbim (scorpions), thought to be the high and difficult Pass of Safeh, which crosses the stream that flows from the south into the Jordan - i:e., the great valley of the Arabah, reaching from the Dead to the Red Sea.

Verse 4

And your border shall turn from the south to the ascent of Akrabbim, and pass on to Zin: and the going forth thereof shall be from the south to Kadesh-barnea, and shall go on to Hazar-addar, and pass on to Azmon:

Kadesh-barnea - (see the note at Numbers 13:26).

Hazar-addar, and ... Azmon. Rowlands discovered the names of these two border towns in wells close to the site he assigns to Kadesh.

Verse 5

And the border shall fetch a compass from Azmon unto the river of Egypt, and the goings out of it shall be at the sea.

River of Egypt - the ancient brook Sihor, the Rhinocolura of the Greeks, a little to the south of El-Arish, where this wady gently descends towards the Mediterranean (Joshua 13:3). Dr. Hales ('Sac. Chron.,' vol. 1:, pp. 413, 414) and others suppose that the reference rather is to the Pelusiac branch of the Nile, (cf. 'Herodotus,' b.

iii., ch. 5:) The southern boundary line, as traced in this passage, ran in an irregular curve between the southern extremity of the Dead Sea on the east, through the places here mentioned, to the river of Egypt on the west. But this curvature cannot be exactly described, although the important discoveries of Rowlands in the Negeb have contributed much to illustrate its course (see also Osborn's 'Palestine,' p. 392; Allen's 'Dead Sea,' vol. 1:, p. 324, note; Williams' 'Holy City;' Kurtz, 3:, pp. 228, 229; Bochart's 'Hieroz,' lib. 5:, cap. 15:, p.

763).

Verse 6

And as for the western border, ye shall even have the great sea for a border: this shall be your west border.

The western border. There is no uncertainty about this boundary, since it is universally allowed to be the Mediterranean Sea, which is called "the great sea," in comparison with the small inland seas or lakes known to the Hebrews (cf. Joshua 1:4; Joshua 15:12; Joshua 20:1; Ezekiel 47:10-20).

Verse 7

And this shall be your north border: from the great sea ye shall point out for you mount Hor:

North border. The principal difficulty in understanding the description here arises from what our translators have called mount Hor. The Hebrew words, however, Hor-ha-Hor, properly signify 'the mountain of the mountain," the high double mountain,' which from the situation, can mean nothing else than the northern and highest summit of the Lebanon range. Dr. Keith thinks it refers to mount Casius ('Land of Israel)'; but his reasoning is unsatisfactory.

Verse 8

From mount Hor ye shall point out your border unto the entrance of Hamath; and the goings forth of the border shall be to Zedad:

Entrance of Hamath - the pass at Kalat-el-Husn, near Hums, the entrance between the Libanus and the Nusairijeh mountains from the west. It is identical with what Ezekiel (Ezekiel 48:1) calls "the way of Hethlon" - the northern plain between those mountain ranges, now the valley of Baalbeck (see the notes at Numbers 13:21-24).

Zedad - identified as the present Sudud (Ezekiel 17:15).

Verse 9

And the border shall go on to Ziphron, and the goings out of it shall be at Hazar-enan: this shall be your north border.

Ziphron - sweet odour.

Hazar-enan - village of fountains. But the places are unknown. 'The border, therefore, ran from the shore of the Mediterranean across the level tract on the coast toward the northern brow of this range, and then swept through the great pass to the border of the plain on the east' (Porter's 'Damascus,' 2:, pp. 356, 357; Drew's 'Scripture Lands,' p. 127).

Verse 10

And ye shall point out your east border from Hazar-enan to Shepham:

East border. This is very clearly defined.

Verse 11

And the coast shall go down from Shepham to Riblah, on the east side of Ain; and the border shall descend, and shall reach unto the side of the sea of Chinnereth eastward:

Shepham ... Riblab - which were in the valley of Lebanon-are mentioned as the boundary line, which commenced a little higher than the sources of the Jordan.

Ain - is supposed to be the source of that river; and thence the eastern boundary extended along the Jordan, the sea of Chinnereth (Lake of Tiberias), the Jordan, and again terminated at the Dead Sea. The line being drawn on the east of the river and the seas, included those waters within the territory of the western tribes.

Verses 12-14

And the border shall go down to Jordan, and the goings out of it shall be at the salt sea: this shall be your land with the coasts thereof round about.

No JFB commentary on these verses.

Verse 15

The two tribes and the half tribe have received their inheritance on this side Jordan near Jericho eastward, toward the sunrising.

The two tribes and the half tribe have received. The conquered territories of Sihon and Og, lying between the Arnon and mount Hermon, were allotted to them-that of Reuben in the most southerly part, Gad north of it, and the half Manasseh in the northernmost portion. Near Jericho eastward, toward the sun-rising. The direction was far from being due east; because the territories assigned to those two tribes and a half lay partly northeast and southwest of Jericho. In reality, however, they were all east; and the additional clause, "toward the sun-rising," makes that general term more specific.

Verse 16

And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,

No JFB commentary on this verse.

Verses 17-28

These are the names of the men which shall divide the land unto you: Eleazar the priest, and Joshua the son of Nun.

Names of the men which shall divide the land. This appointment by the Lord before the passage of the Jordan tended not only to animate the Israelites' faith in the certainty of the conquest, but to prevent all subsequent dispute and discontent, which might have been dangerous in presence of the natives. The nominees were ten princes for the nine and a half tribes, one of them being selected from the western section of Manasseh, and all subordinate to the great military and ecclesiastical chiefs, Joshua and Eleazar. The names are mentioned in the exact order in which the tribes obtained possession of the land, and according to brotherly connection.

Verse 29

These are they whom the LORD commanded to divide the inheritance unto the children of Israel in the land of Canaan.

The Lord commanded to divide the inheritance ... in the land of Canaan. The boundaries of the promised land are fully stated in the following passages of Scripture besides the present chapter: Genesis 15:18-21; Exodus 23:31; Deuteronomy 1:6-8; Deuteronomy 11:24; 2 Samuel 8:3; 1 Kings 4:21-24; 1 Chronicles 8:1-6; 1 Chronicles 9:26; and it is observable, that while in all these the Euphrates is spoken of as the eastern limit, the Jordan is expressly named here (Numbers 34:12) as the boundary on the east. Also, the southern border is traced in this chapter by an irregular curve from the Dead Sea to the river of Egypt; whereas in Exodus 23:31 the inheritance of Israel is described as extending southward to the Red Sea. But there is no discrepancy; because, while Canaan proper-the promised land-was comprised within the former boundaries, their acquisitions by conquest were permitted to extend as far as the latter. Within the narrower limits lay the country destined for the Israelites; but they were allowed to possess the larger region east of the Jordan, which for the most part was pasture-land. Accordingly, the country between the Mediterranean on the west and the Jordan on the east was counted 'the holy or consecrated land' (Joshua 22:25); and the accessions to the Hebrews, won by force of arms over the enemies who provoked them, never, even in the palmy days of David and Solomon, extended further than the Euphrates on the east, and the Red Sea on the south.

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Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Numbers 34". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jfu/numbers-34.html. 1871-8.