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Bible Commentaries
Joshua 12

Keil & Delitzsch Old Testament CommentaryKeil & Delitzsch


List of the Kings Slaughtered by the Israelites - Joshua 12

In the historical account of the wars of Joshua in the south and north of Canaan, the only kings mentioned by name as having been conquered and slain by the Israelites, were those who had formed a league to make war upon them; whereas it is stated at the close, that Joshua had smitten all the kings in the south and north, and taken possession of their towns ( Joshua 10:40; Joshua 11:17). To complete the account of these conquests, therefore, a detailed list is given in the present chapter of all the kings that were slain, and not merely of those who were defeated by Joshua in the country on this side of the Jordan, but the two kings of the Amorites who had been conquered by Moses are also included, so as to give a complete picture of all the victories which Israel had gained under the omnipotent help of its God.

Verses 1-6

List of the kings whom the Israelites smote, and whose land they took, on the other side of the Jordan, - namely, the land by the brook Arnon (Mojeb; see Numbers 21:13) to Hermon (Jebel es Sheikh, Deuteronomy 3:8), and the whole of the eastern Arabah (the valley of the Jordan on the eastern side of the river).

Joshua 12:2-3

On Sihon and his kingdom, see Numbers 21:24; Deuteronomy 2:36; Deuteronomy 3:16-17. “ Aroër on the Arnon:” the present ruins of Araayr, on the northern bank of the Mojeb (see Numbers 32:34). הנּחל ותוך , “ and (from) the middle of the valley onwards:” i.e., according to the parallel passages in Joshua 13:9, Joshua 13:16, and Deuteronomy 2:36, from the town in the Arnon valley, the city of Moab mentioned in Numbers 22:36, viz., Ar or Areopolis (see at Numbers 21:15) in the neighbourhood of Aroër, which is mentioned as the exclusive terminus a quo of the land taken by the Israelites along with the inclusive terminus Aroër. “ Half-Gilead,” i.e., the mountainous district on the south side of the Jabbok (see at Deuteronomy 3:10), “ to the river Jabbok,” i.e., the upper Jabbok, the present Nahr Ammân (see at Numbers 21:24).

Joshua 12:3

And (over) the Arabah, etc., Sihon reigned,” i.e., over the eastern side of the Ghor, between the Sea of Galilee and the Dead Sea (see at Deuteronomy 3:17). “ By the way to Bethjeshimoth, and towards the south below the slopes of Pisgah ” (see at Numbers 21:15 and Numbers 27:12), i.e., to the north-eastern border of the desert by the Dead Sea (see at Numbers 22:1).

Joshua 12:4-5

And the territory of Og,” sc., they took possession of (Joshua 12:1). On Og, vid., Deuteronomy 3:11; and on his residences, Ashtaroth (probably to be seen in Tell Ashtereh) and Edrei (now Draa or Dêra), see at Genesis 14:5 and Numbers 21:33. On his territory, see Deuteronomy 3:10, Deuteronomy 3:13-14.

Joshua 12:6

These two kings were smitten by Moses, etc.: vid., Numbers 21:21., and Numbers 32:33.

Verses 7-8

List of the thirty-one kings of Canaan whom Joshua smote on the western side of the Jordan, “ from Baal-gad, in the valley of Lebanon, to the bald mountain that goeth up towards Seir ” (see Joshua 11:17). This land Joshua gave to the other tribes of Israel. (On the different parts of the land, see at Joshua 9:1; Joshua 10:40, and Joshua 11:2.)

Verses 9-18

The different kings are given in the order in which they were defeated: Jericho (Joshua 6:1); Ai (Joshua 7:2); Jerusalem, Hebron, Jarmuth, Lachish, and Eglon (Joshua 10:3); Gezer (Joshua 10:33); and Debir (Joshua 10:38). Those given in Joshua 12:13 and Joshua 12:14 are not mentioned by name in Josh 10. Geder, possibly the same as Gedor upon the mountains of Judah (Joshua 15:58), which has been preserved under the old name of Jedur ( Rob. Pal. ii. p. 186, and Bibl. Res. p. 282). Hormah (i.e., banning) was in the south of Judah (Joshua 15:30), and was allotted to the Simeonites (Joshua 19:4). It was called Zephath by the Canaanites (Judges 1:17; see at Numbers 21:3), was on the southern slope of the mountains of the Amalekites or Amorites, the present ruins of Sepגta, on the western slope of the table-land of Rakhma, two hours and a half to the south-west of Khalasa (Elusa: see Ritter, Erdk. xiv. p. 1085). Arad, also in the Negeb, has been preserved in Tell Arad (see at Numbers 21:1). Libnah (see at Joshua 10:29). Adullam, which is mentioned in Joshua 15:35 among the towns of the plain between Jarmuth and Socoh, was in the neighbourhood of a large cave in which David took refuge when flying from Saul (1 Samuel 22:1; 2 Samuel 23:13). It was fortified by Rehoboam (2 Chronicles 11:7), and is mentioned in 2 Macc. 12:38 as the city of Odollam. The Onomast. describes it as being ten Roman miles to the east of Eleutheropolis; but this is a mistake, though it has not yet been discovered. So far as the situation is concerned, Deir Dubbגn would suit very well, a place about two hours to the north of Beit Jibrin, near to a large number of caves in the white limestone, which form a kind of labyrinth, as well as some vaulted grottos (see Rob. Pal. ii. p. 353, and Van de Velde, Reise, pp. 162-3). Makkedah: possibly Summeil (see at Joshua 10:10). Bethel, i.e., Beitin (see Joshua 8:17). The situation of the towns which follow in Joshua 12:17 and Joshua 12:18 cannot be determined with certainty, as the names Tappuach, Aphek, and Hefer are met with again in different parts of Canaan, and Lassaron does not occur again. But if we observe, that just as from Joshua 12:10 onwards those kings'-towns are first of all enumerated, the capture of which has already been described in Josh 10, and then in Joshua 12:15 and Joshua 12:16 certain other towns are added which had been taken in the war with the Canaanites of the south, so likewise in Joshua 12:19 and Joshua 12:20 the capitals of the allied kings of northern Canaan are given first, and after that the other towns that were taken in the northern war, but had not been mentioned by name in Josh 11: there can be no doubt whatever that the four towns in Joshua 12:17 and Joshua 12:18 are to be classed among the kings'-towns taken in the war with the king of Jerusalem and his allies, and therefore are to be sought for in the south of Canaan and not in the north. Consequently we cannot agree with Van de Velde and Knobel in identifying Tappuach with En-Tappuach (Joshua 17:7), and looking for it in Atf, a place to the north-east of Nablus and near the valley of the Jordan; we connect it rather with Tappuach in the lowlands of Judah (Joshua 15:34), though the place itself has not yet been discovered. Hefer again is neither to be identified with Gath-hepher in the tribe of Zebulun (Joshua 19:13), nor with Chafaraim in the tribe of Issachar (Joshua 19:19), but is most probably the capital of the land of Hefer (1 Kings 4:10), and to be sought for in the neighbourhood of Socoh in the plain of Judah. Aphek is probably the town of that name not far from Ebenezer (1 Samuel 4:1), where the ark was taken by the Philistines, and is most likely to be sought for in the plain of Judah, though not in the village of Ahbek ( Rob. Pal. ii. p. 343); but it has not yet been traced. Knobel imagines that it was Aphek near to Jezreel (1 Samuel 29:1), which was situated, according to the Onom., in the neighbourhood of Endor (1 Samuel 29:1; 1 Kings 20:25, 1 Kings 20:30); but this Aphek is too far north. Lassaron only occurs here, and hitherto it has been impossible to trace it. Knobel supposes it to be the place called Saruneh, to the west of the lake of Tiberias, and conjectures that the name has been contracted from Lassaron by aphaeresis of the liquid. This is quite possible, if only we could look for Lassaron so far to the north. Bachienne and Rosenmller imagine it to be the village of Sharon in the celebrated plain of that name, between Lydda and Arsuf.

Verses 19-20

Madon, Hezor, Shimron-meron, and Achshaph (see at Joshua 11:1).

Verse 21

Taanach, which was allotted to the Manassites in the territory of Issachar, and given up to the Levites (Joshua 17:11; Joshua 21:25), but was not entirely wrested from the Canaanites (Judges 1:27), is the present Tell Taכnak, an hour and a quarter to the south-east of Lejun, a flat hill sown with corn; whilst the old name has been preserved in the small village of Taגnak, at the south-eastern foot of the Tell (see Van de Velde, i. p. 269, and Rob. Pal. iii. p. 156). - Megiddo, which was also allotted to the Manassites in the territory of Issachar, though without the Canaanites having been entirely expelled (Joshua 17:11; Judges 1:27), was fortified by Solomon (1 Kings 9:15), and is also well known as the place were Ahaziah died (2 Kings 9:27), and where Josiah was beaten and slain by Pharaoh Necho (2 Kings 23:29-30; 2 Chronicles 35:20.). Robinson has shown that it was preserved in the Legio of a later time, the present Lejun (Pal. iii. pp. 177ff.; see also Bibl. Res. p. 116).

Verse 22

Kedesh, a Levitical city and city of refuge upon the mountains of Naphtali (Joshua 19:37; Joshua 20:7; Joshua 21:32), the home of Barak (Judges 4:6), was conquered and depopulated by Tiglath-Pileser (2 Kings 15:29), and was also a well-known place after the captivity (1 Macc. 11:61ff.) It is now an insignificant village, still bearing the ancient name, to the north-west of the lake of Huleh, or, according to Van de Velde (Reise. ii. p. 355), nothing but a miserable farmstead upon a Tell at the south-west extremity of a well-cultivated table-land, with a large quantity of antiquities about, viz., hewn stones, relics of columns, sarcophagi, and two ruins of large buildings, with an open and extensive prospect on every side (see also Rob. Bibl. Res. pp. 367ff.). Jokneam, near Carmel, as a Levitical town in the territory of Zebulun (Joshua 19:11; Joshua 21:34). Van de Velde and Robinson (Bibl. Res. p. 114) suppose that they have found it in Tell Kaimפn, on the eastern side of the Wady el Milh, at the north-west end of a chain of hills running towards the south-east; this Tell being 200 feet high, and occupying a very commanding situation, so that it governed the main pass on the western side of Esdraelon towards the southern plain. Kaimפn is the Arabic form of the ancient Καμμωνά , Cimana, which Eusebius and Jerome describe in the Onom. as being six Roman miles to the north of Legio, on the road to Ptolemais.

Verses 23-24

Dor: see Joshua 11:2. Gilgal: the seat of the king of the Goyim (a proper name, as in Genesis 14:1), in all probability the same place as the villa nomine Galgulis mentioned in the Onom. ( s. v. Gelgel) as being six Roman miles to the north of Antipatris, which still exists in the Moslem village of Jiljule (now almost a ruin; see Rob. Bibl. Res. p. 136), although this village is only two miles E.S.E. of Kefr Sגba, the ancient Antipatris (see Ritter, Erdk. xvi. pp. 568-9). Thirza, the capital of the kings of Israel down to the time of Omri (1 Kings 14:17; 1 Kings 15:21, 1 Kings 15:33; 1 Kings 16:6.), is probably the present Talluza, an elevated and beautifully situated place, of a considerable size, surrounded by large olive groves, two hours to the north of Shechem (see Rob. Bibl. Res. p. 302, and Van de Velde, ii. p. 294).

Bibliographical Information
Keil, Carl Friedrich & Delitzsch, Franz. "Commentary on Joshua 12". Keil & Delitzsch Old Testament Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/kdo/joshua-12.html. 1854-1889.
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