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the Week of Proper 6 / Ordinary 11
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Bible Commentaries
Joshua 13

Keil & Delitzsch Old Testament CommentaryKeil & Delitzsch


II. Division of the Land of Canaan Among the Tribes of Israel - Joshua 13-24

The distribution of the conquered land among the Israelites is introduced by the command of the Lord to Joshua to enter upon this work, now that he was old, although different portions of land were still unconquered (Joshua 13:1-7); and to this there is appended a description of the land on the east of the Jordan which had already been conquered and divided among the two tribes and a half (Josh 13:8-33). The distribution of the land on this side among the nine tribes and a half is related in its historical order; so that not only are the territories assigned by lot to the different tribes described according to their respective boundaries and towns, but the historical circumstances connected with the division and allotting of the land are also introduced into the description. These historical accounts are so closely connected with the geographical descriptions of the territory belonging to the different tribes, that the latter alone will explain the course pursued in the distribution of the land, and the various ways in which the different territories are described (see the remarks on Joshua 14:1). For example, in the account of the inheritance which fell to the lot of the tribes of Judah and Benjamin, not only are the boundaries most carefully traced, but the towns are also enumerated one by one (Josh 15 and Josh 18:11-28); whereas in the tribe of Joseph (Ephraim and half Manasseh) the list of the towns is altogether wanting (Joshua 16:1-10 and 17); and in the possessions of the other tribes, either towns alone are mentioned, as in the case of Simeon and Dan (Joshua 19:1-9, Joshua 19:40-48), or the boundaries and towns are mixed up together, but both of them given incompletely, as in the case of Zebulun, Issachar, Asher, and Naphtali (Joshua 19:10-16, Joshua 19:17-23, Joshua 19:24-31, Joshua 19:32-39). This incompleteness, particularly in the territories of the tribes mentioned last, may be explained from the fact, that in northern Canaan there were still very many tracts of land in the hands of the Canaanites, and the Israelites had not acquired a sufficiently exact or complete knowledge of the country, either through Joshua's campaign in the north, or through the men who were sent out to survey the northern land before it was divided (Joshua 18:4-9), to enable them to prepare a complete account of the boundaries and towns at the very outset. In the same way, too, we may explain the absence of the list of towns in the case of the tribes of Ephraim and half Manasseh-namely, from the fact that a large portion of the territory assigned to the tribe of Joseph was still in the possession of the Canaanites (vid., Joshua 17:14-18); whilst the omission of any account of the boundaries in the case of Simeon and Dan is attributable to the circumstance that the former received its inheritance within the tribe of Judah, and the latter between Judah and Ephraim, whilst the space left for the Danites was so small, that Ephraim and Judah had to gave up to them some of the town in their own territory. Thus the very inequality and incompleteness of the geographical accounts of the possessions of the different tribes decidedly favour the conclusion, that they are the very lists which were drawn up at the time when Joshua divided the land. There is nothing to preclude this supposition in the fact that several towns occur with different names, e.g., Beth-shemesh and Ir-shemesh (Joshua 15:10; Joshua 19:41; Joshua 21:16), Madmannah and Beth-marcaboth, Sansanna and Hazar-susa (Joshua 15:31; Joshua 19:5), Shilchim and Sharuchen (Joshua 15:32; Joshua 19:6), Remeth and Jarmuth (Joshua 19:21; Joshua 21:29), or in other smaller differences. For variations of this kind may be sufficiently explained from the fact that such places were known by two different names, which could be used promiscuously; whilst in other cases the difference in the name amounts to nothing more than a different mode of writing or pronouncing it: e.g., Kattah and Kartah (Joshua 19:15; Joshua 21:34), Eshtemoh and Eshtemoa (Joshua 15:50; Joshua 21:14), Baalah and Balah (Joshua 15:29; Joshua 19:3); or simply in the contraction of a composite name, such as Ramoth in Gilead for Ramoth-mizpeh (Joshua 21:36; Joshua 13:26); Bealoth and Baalath-beer (Joshua 15:24; Joshua 19:8), Lebaoth and Beth-lebaoth (Joshua 15:32; Joshua 19:6), Hammath and Hammoth-dor (Joshua 19:35; Joshua 21:32).

If the author, on the other hand, had drawn from later sources, or had simply given the results of later surveys, as Knobel supposes, there can be no doubt that much greater uniformity would be found in the different lists.

(Note: The arguments employed by Knobel in support of his assertion, consist on the one had of inconclusive and incorrect assertions, and are founded on the other hand upon arbitrary assumptions. In the first place, for example, he asserts that “a large number of towns are omitted from the lists, which were within the boundaries mentioned and were in existence in the very earliest times, viz., in the south, Tamar (Genesis 14:7), Arad (Numbers 21:1), Atbach, Rachal, Aroer, and Siphamoth (1 Samuel 30:28.), Gerar (Gen. 20:26); in the Shephelah, Gaza, Askalon, Gath, Ashdod, Jabne, and Joppa (see Joshua 15:45.); in Benjamin, Michmash and Nob (1 Samuel 13:2., Joshua 22:19); in the north, Aphek, Lassaron, Madon, Shimron-meron, and Merom (Joshua 11:5; Joshua 12:18-20), as well as Meroz and Ajjalon (Judges 5:23; Judges 12:12); and these with other places would assuredly not be wanting here, if Joshua and his associates had distributed the towns as well as the land, and furnished our author with the lists.” But it would be difficult to bring forward the proofs of this, since Knobel himself acknowledges that there are gaps in the lists which have come down to us, some of which can be proved to be the fault of the copyists, - such, for example, as the want of a whole section after Joshua 15:19 and Joshua 21:35. Moreover, the Philistine towns of Ashdod and Gaza are really mentioned in Joshua 15:46, and the others at all events hinted at; whereas Knobel first of all arbitrarily rejects Joshua 15:45-47 from the text, in order that he may afterwards be able to speak of it as omitted. Again, with many of the places mentioned as omissions, such as Atbach, Rachal, Siphamoth, etc., it is very questionable whether they were towns at all in Joshua's time, or, at all events, such towns as we should expect to find mentioned. And lastly, not only are no catalogues of towns given at all in the case of Ephraim and Manasseh, but we have only imperfect catalogues in the case of Zebulun, Asher, and Naphtali; and, as we have already observed, this incompleteness and these gaps can be satisfactorily explained from the historical circumstances under which the allotment of the land took place. Secondly, Knobel also maintains, that “Joshua's conquests did not extend to the Lebanon (Joshua 13:4-5), and yet the author mentions towns of the Asherites there (Joshua 19:28, Joshua 19:30): Bethel was not taken till after the time of Joshua (Judges 1:22.), and this was also the case with Jerusalem (Judges 1:8), and in the earliest times of the judges they had no Hebrew inhabitants (Judges 19:12), yet the author speaks of both places as towns of the Benjamites (Joshua 18:22, Joshua 18:28); Jericho and Ai were lying in ruins in Joshua's time (Joshua 6:24; Joshua 8:28), yet they are spoken of here as towns of Benjamin that had been rebuilt (Joshua 18:21, Joshua 18:23); it is just the same with Hazor in Naphtali (Joshua 11:13; Joshua 19:36); and according to Judges 1:1, Judges 1:10., Hebron and Debir also were not conquered till after Joshua's time.” But all this rests (1) upon the false assumption, that the only towns which Joshua distributed by lot among the tribes of Israel were those which he permanently conquered, whereas, according to the command of God, he divided the whole land among the Israelites, whether it was conquered or not; (2) upon the erroneous opinion, that the towns which had been destroyed, such as Jericho, Ai, and Hazor, were allotted to the Israelites as “rebuilt,” whereas there is not a word about this in the text. It is just the same with the arguments used by Knobel in proof of the composition of Josh 13-21 from three different documents. The material discrepancies have been forced upon the text, as we shall see when we come to an explanation of the passages in question; and the verbal differences prove nothing more than that the geographical account of the boundaries and towns contains no allusion to the priesthood, to sacrifice, or to certain other things which no one would think of looking for here.)

Verses 1-14

Introduction to the Division of the Land. - Joshua 13:1-7. Command of the Lord to Joshua to distribute the land of Canaan by lot among the nine tribes and a half. Joshua 13:1 contains only the commencement of the divine command; the conclusion follows in Joshua 13:7. Joshua 13:2-6 form a parenthesis of several clauses, defining the last clause of Joshua 13:1 more fully. When Joshua had grown old, the Lord commanded him, as he was advanced in years, and there was still much land to be taken, to divide “ this land,” i.e., the whole of the land of Canaan, for an inheritance to the nine tribes and a half, and promised him at the same time that He would drive out the Canaanites from those portions of the land that were not yet conquered (Joshua 13:6). The words “ grown old and come into years ” (vid., Genesis 24:1; Genesis 18:11, etc.) denote advanced age in its different stages up to the near approach of death (as, for example, in Joshua 23:1). Joshua might be ninety or a hundred years old at this time. The allusion to Joshua's great age serves simply to explain the reason for the command of God. As he was already old, and there still remained much land to be taken, he was to proceed to the division of Canaan, that he might accomplish this work to which he was also called before his death; whereas he might very possibly suppose that, under existing circumstances, the time for allotting the land had not yet arrived. - In Joshua 13:2-6 the districts that were not yet conquered are enumerated separately.

Joshua 13:2-4

All the circles of the Philistines ( geliloth , circles of well-defined districts lying round the chief city). The reference is to the five towns of the Philistines, whose princes are mentioned in Joshua 13:3. “ And all Geshuri: ” not the district of Geshur in Peraea (Joshua 13:11, Joshua 13:13, Joshua 12:5; Deuteronomy 3:14), but the territory of the Geshurites, a small tribe in the south of Philistia, on the edge of the north-western portion of the Arabian desert which borders on Egypt; it is only mentioned again in 1 Samuel 27:8. The land of the Philistines and Geshurites extended from the Sichor of Egypt (on the south) to the territory of Ekron (on the north). Sichor ( Sihor), lit. the black river, is not the Nile, because this is always called היאר (the river) in simple prose (Genesis 41:1, Genesis 41:3; Exodus 1:22), and was not “before Egypt,” i.e., to the east of it, but flowed through the middle of the land. The “ Sichor before Egypt ” was the brook ( Nachal) of Egypt, the Ῥινοκοροῦρα , the modern Wady el Arish, which is mentioned in Joshua 15:4, Joshua 15:47, etc., as the southern border of Canaan towards Egypt (see at Numbers 34:5). Ekron ( Ἀρρακών , lxx), the most northerly of the five chief cities of the Philistines, was first of all allotted to the tribe of Judah (Joshua 15:11, Joshua 15:45), then on the further distribution it was given to Dan (Joshua 19:43); after Joshua's death it was conquered by Judah (Judges 1:18), though it was not permanently occupied. It is the present Akîr, a considerable village in the plain, two hours to the south-west of Ramlah, and on the east of Jamnia, without ruins of any antiquity, with the exception of two old wells walled round, which probably belong to the times of the Crusaders (see Rob. Pal. iii. p. 23). “ To the Canaanites is reckoned (the territory of the) five lords of the Philistines,” i.e., it was reckoned as belonging to the land of Canaan, and allotted to the Israelites like all the rest. This remark was necessary because the Philistines were not descendants of Canaan (see at Genesis 10:14), but yet were to be driven out like the Canaanites themselves as being invaders of Canaanitish territory (cf. Deuteronomy 2:23). סרני , from סרן , the standing title of the princes of the Philistines (vid., Judges 3:3; Judges 16:5.; 1 Samuel 5:8), does not mean kings, but princes, and is interchangeable with שׂרים (cf. 1 Samuel 29:6 with 1 Samuel 29:4, 1 Samuel 29:9). At any rate, it was the native or Philistian title of the Philistine princes, though it is not derived from the same root as Sar , but is connected with seren , axis rotae , in the tropical sense of princeps , for which the Arabic furnishes several analogies (see Ges. Thes. p. 972).

The capitals of these five princes were the following. Azzah ( Gaza, i.e., the strong): this was allotted to the tribe of Judah and taken by the Judaeans (Joshua 15:47; Judges 1:18), but was not held long. It is at the present time a considerable town of about 15,000 inhabitants, with the old name of Ghazzeh, about an hour from the sea, and with a seaport called Majuma; it is the farthest town of Palestine towards the south-west (see Rob. Pal. ii. pp. 374ff.; Ritter, Erdk. xvi. pp. 35ff.; Stark, Gaza, etc., pp. 45ff.). Ashdod ( Ἄζωτος , Azotus): this was also allotted to the tribe of Judah (Joshua 15:46-47), the seat of Dagon-worship, to which the Philistines carried the ark (1 Samuel 5:1.). It was conquered by Uzziah (2 Chronicles 26:6), was afterwards taken by Tartan, the general of Sargon (Isaiah 20:1), and was besieged by Psammetichus for twenty-nine years ( Herod. ii. 157). It is the present Esdud, a Mahometan village with about a hundred or a hundred and fifty miserable huts, upon a low, round, wooded height on the road from Jamnia to Gaza, two miles to the south of Jamnia, about half an hour from the sea (vid., Rob. i. p. 368). Ashkalon: this was conquered by the Judaeans after the death of Joshua (Judges 1:8-9); but shortly afterwards recovered its independence (vid., Judges 14:19; 1 Samuel 6:17). It is the present Askulân on the sea-shore between Gaza and Ashdod, five hours to the north of Gaza, with considerable and widespread ruins (see v. Raum. pp. 173-4; Ritter, xvi. pp. 69ff.). Gath ( Γέθ ): this was for a long time the seat of the Rephaites, and was the home of Goliath (Joshua 11:22; 1 Samuel 17:4, 1 Samuel 17:23; 2 Samuel 21:19.; 1 Chronicles 20:5.); it was thither that the Philistines of Ashdod removed the ark, which was taken thence to Ekron (1 Samuel 5:7-10). David was the first to wrest it from the Philistines (1 Chronicles 18:1). In the time of Solomon it was a royal city of the Philistines, though no doubt under Israelitish supremacy (1 Kings 2:39; 1 Kings 5:1). It was fortified by Rehoboam (2 Chronicles 11:8), was taken by the Syrians in the time of Joash (2 Kings 12:18), and was conquered again by Uzziah (2 Chronicles 26:6; Amos 6:2); but no further mention is made of it, and no traces have yet been discovered

(Note: According to the Onom. ( s. v. Geth), it was a place five Roman miles from Eleutheropolis towards Diospolis, whereas Jerome (on Mic 1) says: “ Gath was near the border of Judaea, and on the road from Eleutheropolis to Gaza; it is still a very large village;” whilst in the commentary on Jer 25 he says: “Gath was near to and conterminous with Azotus,” from which it is obvious enough that the situation of the Philistine city of Gath was altogether unknown to the Fathers. Hitzig and Knobel suppose the Βαιτογάβρα of Ptolemy (5:16, 6), Betogabri in Tab. Peuting. ix. e. (the Eleutheropolis of the Fathers, and the present Beit Jibrin, a very considerable ruin), to be the ancient Gath, but this opinion is only founded upon very questionable etymological combinations; whereas Thenius looks for it on the site of the present Deir Dubban, though without any tenable ground.)

(see Rob. ii. p. 420, and v. Raumer, Pal. pp. 191-2). “ And the Avvites (Avvaeans) towards the south.” Judging from Deuteronomy 2:23, the Avvim appear to have belonged to those tribes of the land who were already found there by the Canaanites, and whom the Philistines subdued and destroyed when they entered the country. They are not mentioned in Genesis 10:15-19 among the Canaanitish tribes. At the same time, there is not sufficient ground for identifying them with the Geshurites as Ewald does, or with the Anakites, as Bertheau has done. Moreover, it cannot be decided whether they were descendants of Ham or Shem (see Stark. Gaza, pp. 32ff.). מתּימן ( from, or on, the south) at the commencement of Joshua 13:4 should be attached to Joshua 13:3, as it is in the Septuagint, Syriac, and Vulgate, and joined to העוּים (the Avvites). The Avvaeans dwelt to the south of the Philistines, on the south-west of Gaza. It gives no sense to connect with the what follows, so as to read “ towards the south all the land of the Canaanites; ” for whatever land to the south of Gaza, or of the territory of the Philistines, was still inhabited by Canaanites, could not possibly be called “all the land of the Canaanites.” If, however, we were disposed to adopt the opinion held by Masius and Rosenmüller, and understand these words as relating to the southern boundaries of Canaan, “the possessions of the king of Arad and the neighbouring petty kings who ruled in the southern extremity of Judaea down to the desert of Paran, Zin, Kadesh,” etc., the fact that Arad and the adjoining districts are always reckoned as belonging to the Negeb would at once be decisive against it (compare Joshua 15:21. with Joshua 10:40; Joshua 11:16, also Numbers 21:1). Moreover, according to Joshua 10:40, Joshua 10:21, and Joshua 11:16-17, Joshua had smitten the whole of the south of Canaan from Kadesh-barnea to Gaza and taken it; so that nothing remained unconquered there, which could possibly have been mentioned in this passage as not yet taken by the Israelites. For the fact that the districts, which Joshua traversed so victoriously and took possession of, were not all permanently held by the Israelites, does not come into consideration here at all. If the author had thought of enumerating all these places, he would have had to include many other districts as well.

Beside the territory of the Philistines on the south-west, there still remained to be taken (Joshua 13:4, Joshua 13:5) in the north, “ all the land of the Canaanites,” i.e., of the Phoenicians dwelling on the coast, and “ the caves which belonged to the Sidonians unto Aphek.” Mearah (the cave) is the present Mugr Jezzin, i.e., cave of Jezzin, on the east of Sidon, in a steep rocky wall of Lebanon, a hiding-place of the Druses at the present time (see at Numbers 34:8; also F. v. Richter, Wallfahrten in Morgenland, p. 133). Aphek, or Aphik, was allotted to the tribe of Asher (Joshua 19:30; Judges 1:31); it was called Ἄφακα by the Greeks; there was a temple of Venus there, which Constantine ordered to be destroyed, on account of the licentious nature of the worship ( Euseb. Vita Const. iii. 55). It is the present Afka, a small village, but a place of rare beauty, upon a terrace of Lebanon, near the chief source of the river Adonis ( Nahr Ibrahim), with ruins of an ancient temple in the neighbourhood, surrounded by groves of the most splendid walnut trees on the north-east of Beirut (see O. F. v. Richter, pp. 106-7; Rob. Bibl. Res. p. 663; and V. de Velde, Reise. ii. p. 398). “ To the territory of the Amorites: ” this is obscure. We cannot imagine the reference to be to the territory of Og of Bashan, which was formerly inhabited by Amorites, as that did not extend so far north; and the explanation given by Knobel, that farther north there were not Canaanites, but Amorites, who were of Semitic origin, rests upon hypotheses which cannot be historically sustained.

Joshua 13:5-7

There still remained to be taken (2) “ the land of the Giblites,” i.e., the territory of the population of Gebal (1 Kings 5:18; Ezekiel 27:9), the Byblos of the classics, on the Mediterranean Sea, to the north of Beirut, called Jebail by the Arabs, and according to Edrisi ( ed. Jaubert, i. p. 356), “a pretty town on the sea-shore, enclosed in good walls, and surrounded by vineyards and extensive grounds planted with fruit trees” (see also Abulfed. Tab. Syr. p. 94). It is still a town with an old wall, some portions of which apparently belong to the time of the Crusades (see Burckhardt, Syr. p. 296, and Ritter, Erdk. xvii. pp. 60ff.).

(Note: The evidence adduced by Movers (Phönizier, ii. 1, p. 103), that the Giblites did not belong to the Canaanites, has more plausibility than truth.)

And all Lebanon toward the sunrising:” i.e., not Antilibanus ( Knobel), but the Lebanon which is to the east of the territory of Gebal, “ from Baal-gad under Mount Hermon,” i.e., Paneas Banjas at the foot of Hermon (see at Joshua 11:17), “ unto the entering in to Hamath,” i.e., as far up as the territory of the kingdom of Hamath, with the capital of the same name on the Orontes (see at Numbers 34:8). Lastly, there still remained (3) “ all the inhabitants of the mountains, from Lebanon to Misrephothmaim,” i.e., the promontory of Nakura (see at Joshua 11:8), namely “ all the Sidonians,” i.e., all the Phoenicians who dwelt from Lebanon southwards, from the boundary of the territory of Hamath down to the promontory of Nakura. According to ancient usage, the Sidonians stand for the Phoenicians generally, as in Homer, on account of Sidon being the oldest capital of Phoenicia (see Ges. on Isa. i. pp. 724ff.). All these the Lord would root out before Israel, and therefore Joshua was to divide the whole of northern Canaan, which was inhabited by Phoenicians, among the Israelites. “ only divide thou it by lot for an inheritance,” etc. רק , only, i.e., although thou hast not yet taken it. הפּיל , to cause it to fall, here used with reference to the lot, i.e., to divide by lot. “Fulfil thy duty in the distribution of the land, not even excepting what is still in the firm grasp of the enemy; for I will take care to perform what I have promised. From this we may learn to rely so perfectly upon the word of God, when undertaking any duty, as not to be deterred by doubts of fears” ( Calvin).

Joshua 13:8-10

To the command of God to divide the land on this side the Jordan among the nine tribes and a half (Joshua 13:7), the historian appends the remark, that the other two tribes and a half had already received their inheritance from Moses on the other side (Joshua 13:8). This he proceeds to describe in its full extent (Joshua 13:9-13), and then observes that the tribe of Levi alone received no landed inheritance, according to the word of the Lord (Joshua 13:14). After this he gives a description in vv. 15-33 of the land assigned by Moses to each of the two tribes and a half.

(Note: Knobel 's remark, that Joshua 13:8-14 anticipate the following section (vv. 15-33) in an unsuitable manner, rests upon a thorough misunderstanding of the whole; for the account of the division of the land to the east of the Jordan among the two tribes and a half (vv. 15-33) could not be introduced in a more appropriate manner than by a description of the circumference of the land and of its principal parts (Joshua 13:9-13).)

The remark in Joshua 13:8 is so closely connected with what precedes by the expression “with whom” (lit., with it), that this expression must be taken as somewhat indefinite: “with whom,” viz., with half Manasseh, really signifying with the other half of Manasseh, with which the Reubenites and Gadites had received their inheritance (see Num 32 and Deuteronomy 3:8-17). The last words of Joshua 13:8, “ as Moses the servant of Jehovah gave them,” are not a tautological repetition of the clause “which Moses gave them,” but simply affirm that these tribes received the land given them by Moses, in the manner commanded by Moses, without any alteration in his arrangements. The boundaries of the land given in Joshua 13:9-13 really agree with those given in Joshua 12:2-5 and Deuteronomy 3:8, although the expression varies in some respects. The words of Joshua 13:9, “ the city that is in the midst of the river,” i.e., the city in the valley, viz., Ar, are more distinct than those of Joshua 12:2, “and from the middle of the river.” “ All the plain ” is the Amoritish table-land, a tract of land for the most part destitute of trees, stretching from the Arnon to Heshbon, and towards the north-east to Rabbath-Ammân (see at Deuteronomy 3:10), which is called in Numbers 21:20 the field of Moab Medeba, now called Medaba (see at Numbers 21:30). Dibon, now a ruin called Dibân, to the north of Arnon (see at Numbers 21:20). - Joshua 13:10, as in Joshua 12:2.

Joshua 13:11-13

Gilead is the whole country of that name on both sides of the Jabbok (see at Joshua 12:2 and Deuteronomy 3:10), the present Belka and Jebel Ajlun, for the description of which see the remarks at Numbers 32:1. “ The territory of the Geshurites and Maachathites ” is referred to in Joshua 12:5 as the boundary of the kingdom of Og, and in Deuteronomy 3:14 as the boundary of the land which was taken by Jair the Manassite; here it is included in the inheritance of the tribes on the other side of the Jordan, but it was never really taken possession of by the Israelites, and (according to Joshua 13:13) it had probably never been really subject to king Og. The other notices in Joshua 13:11 and Joshua 13:12 are the same as in Joshua 12:4-5.

Joshua 13:14

The tribe of Levi was to receive no land, but the firings of Jehovah, i.e., the offerings, including the tithes and first-fruits (Leviticus 27:30-32, compared with Numbers 18:21-32), were to be its inheritance; so that the God of Israel himself is called the inheritance of Levi in Joshua 13:33 as in Numbers 18:20, to which the words “as He said unto them” refer (see the commentary on Numbers 18:20).

Verses 15-18

The Possessions of the Two Tribes and a Half. - Joshua 13:15-23. The tribe of Reuben received its inheritance in the south-namely, the territory from Aroכr in the Arnon valley, and from Ar in that valley, onwards, and the plain (table-land) by Medeba (see Joshua 13:9), with Heshbon the capital and her towns, i.e., the towns dependent upon it, in the plain. Heshbon, almost in the centre between the Arnon and the Jabbok, was situated upon the border of the inheritance of the Reubenites, and was ceded to the Gadites, who gave it up to the Levites (Joshua 21:39; 1 Chronicles 6:66: see at Numbers 32:37). Dibon, called Dibon of Gad in Numbers 33:45, because the Gadites had built, i.e., fortified it, was on the south of Heshbon, only an hour from Aroכr, on the Arnon (Joshua 13:9). Bamoth-baal, also called Bamoth simply (Numbers 21:20; Isaiah 15:2), is to be sought for on the Jebel Attarus (see at Numbers 21:20). It was thence that Balaam saw the end of the Israelitish camp (Numbers 22:41). Bethbaal-meon, the present ruin of Myun, three-quarters of an hour S.E. of Heshbon (see at Numbers 32:38). Jahza, where Sihon was defeated, was to the east of Medeba, according to the Onom.; and Dibon was on the border of the desert (see at Numbers 21:23). Kedemoth, on the border of the desert, to the north-west of Kalaat Balua, is to be sought on the northern bank of the Balua, or upper Arnon (see at Numbers 21:13). Mephaath, where there was a garrison stationed (according to the Onom.) as a defence against the inhabitants of the desert, is to be sought for in the neighbourhood of Jahza, with which it is always associated (Jeremiah 48:21). Kedemoth and Mephaath were given up to the Levites (Joshua 21:37; 1 Chronicles 6:64).

Verses 19-22

Kirjathaim, where Chedorlaomer defeated the Emim, is probably to be found in the ruins of et-Teym, half an hour to the west of Medaba (see at Genesis 14:5). Sibmah (Numbers 32:38), according to Jerome (on Isaiah 16:8), only 500 paces from Heshbon, appears to have hopelessly disappeared. Zereth-hashachar, i.e., splendor aurorae, which is only mentioned here, was situated “ upon a mountain of the valley.” According to Joshua 13:27, the valley was the Jordan valley, or rather (according to Genesis 14:3, Genesis 14:8) the vale of Siddim, a valley running down on the eastern side of the Dead Sea. Seetzen conjectures that the town referred to is the present ruin of Sarב, on the south of Zerka Maein. - Beth-peor, opposite to Jericho, six Roman miles higher than (to the east of) Libias: see at Numbers 23:28. The “ slopes of Pisgah ” (Joshua 12:3; Deuteronomy 3:17): to the south of the former, on the north-eastern shore of the Dead Sea (see at Numbers 27:12). Beth-jeshimoth (Joshua 12:3), in the Ghor el Seisabגn, on the north-east side of the Dead Sea (see at Numbers 22:1). In Joshua 13:21, the places which Reuben received in addition to those mentioned by name are all summed up in the words, “ and all the (other) towns of the plain, and all the kingdom of Sihon,” sc., so far as it extended over the plain. These limitations of the words are implied in the context: the first in the fact that towns in the plain are mentioned in Joshua 13:17; the second in the fact that, according to Joshua 13:27, “the rest of the kingdom of Sihon,” i.e., the northern portion of it, was given to the Gadites. The allusion to Sihon induced the author to mention his defeat again; see at Num 31, where the five Midianitish vassals who were slain with Sihon are noticed in Numbers 31:8, and the death of Balaam is also mentioned. “ Dukes of Sihon,” properly vassals of Sihon; נסיכים does not signify anointed, however, but means literally poured out, i.e., cast, moulded, enfeoffed. The word points to the “creation of a prince by the communication or pouring in of power” ( Gusset, s. v.).

Verse 23

And (this) was the boundary of the sons of Reuben, the Jordan and its territory,” i.e., the Jordan, or rather land adjoining it. The meaning is, that the territory of Reuben, viz., with the places mentioned last (Joshua 13:20), reached to the territory of the Jordan; for so far as the principal part was concerned, it was on the east of the Dead Sea, as it only reached from the Arnon to Heshbon, i.e., up to the latitude of the northern extremity of the Dead Sea. “ The towns and their villages. ” חצר , farm premises, used, as in Leviticus 25:31, to denote places not enclosed by a wall.

Verses 24-26

Inheritance of the tribe of Gad. - This tribe received Jaכzer (probably es Szyr: see at Numbers 21:32) and “ all the towns of Gilead,” i.e., of the southern half of Gilead, which belonged to the kingdom of Sihon; for the northern half, which belonged to the kingdom of Og, was given to the Manassites (Joshua 13:31), “ and the half of the land of the sons of Ammon, to Aroכr before Rabbah,” i.e., that portion of the land of the Ammonites between the Arnon and the Jabbok, which the Amorites under Sihon had taken from the Ammonites, namely, the land on the east of Gilead, on the western side of the upper Jabbok (Nahr Ammגn: Deuteronomy 2:37; Deuteronomy 3:16; cf. Judges 11:13); for the land of the Ammonites, i.e., the land which they still held in the time of Moses, on the eastern side of Nahr Ammגn, the Israelites were not allowed to attack (Deuteronomy 2:19). Aroכr before Rabbah, i.e., Ammגn (see Deuteronomy 3:11), is Aroכr of Gad, and must be distinguished from Aroכr of Reuben on the Arnon (Joshua 13:16). It is only mentioned again in Judges 11:33 and 2 Samuel 24:5, and was situated, according to 2 Sam., in the valley of Gad, that is to say, in a wady or valley through which Gesenius supposes an arm of the Jabbok to have flowed, and Thenius the Jabbok itself, though neither of them has sufficient ground for his conjecture. It is also not to be identified with the ruin of Ayra to the south-west of Szalt, as this is not in a wady at all; but in all probability it is to be sought for to the north-east of Rabbah, in the Wady Nahr Ammגn, on the side of the Kalat Zerka Gadda, the situation of which suits this verse and Judges 11:33. - In Joshua 13:26 the extent of the territory of Gad is first of all described from north to south: viz., from Heshbon (see Joshua 13:17) to Ramath-mizpeh, or Ramoth in Gilead (Joshua 20:8), probably on the site of the present Szalt (see at Deuteronomy 4:43), “ and Betonim,” probably the ruin of Batneh, on the mountains which bound the Ghor towards the east between the Wady Shaib and Wady Ajlun, in the same latitude as Szalt ( V. de Velde, Mem. p. 298); and then, secondly, the northern boundary is described from west to east, “ from Mahanaim to the territory of Lidbir.” Mahanaim (double-camp: Genesis 32:2), which was given up by Gad to the Levites (Joshua 21:30), in which Ishbosheth was proclaimed king (2 Samuel 2:8-9), and to which David fled from Absalom (2 Samuel 17:24, 2 Samuel 17:27; 1 Kings 2:8), is not to be sought for, as Knobel supposes, in the ruins of Meysera, to the south of Jabbok, four hours and a half from Szalt, but was on the north of the Jabbok, since Jacob did not cross the ford of the Jabbok till after the angel had appeared to him at Mahanaim (Genesis 32:3, Genesis 32:23). It was in or by the valley of the Jordan (according to 2 Samuel 18:23-24), and has probably been preserved in the ruins of Mahneh, the situation of which, however, has not yet been determined (see at Genesis 32:3). Lidbir is quite unknown; the lamed, however, is not to be taken as a prefix, but forms part of the word. J. D. Michaelis and Knobel suppose it to be the same as Lo-debar in 2 Samuel 9:4-5; 2 Samuel 17:27, a place from which provisions were brought to David at Mahanaim on his flight from Absalom, and which is to be sought for on the east of Mahanaim.

Verses 27-28

On the north, the territory of Gad seems to have extended to the Jabbok, and only to have stretched beyond the Jabbok at Mahanaim, which formed the boundary of half-Manasseh, according to Joshua 13:30. In the valley of the Jordan, on the other hand, the boundary reached to the Sea of Galilee. “ The valley ” is the valley of the Jordan, or the Arabah from Wady Hesbגn above the Dead Sea up to the Sea of Galilee, along the east side of the Jordan, which belonged to the kingdom of Sihon (Joshua 12:3; Deuteronomy 3:17). The northern boundary of the tribe of Reuben must have touched the Jordan in the neighbourhood of the Wady Hesbגn. In the Jordan valley were Beth-haram, the future Libias, and present er Rameh (see at Numbers 32:36); Beth-nimra, according to the Onom. five Roman miles to the north, the present ruin of Nimrein (see at Numbers 32:36); Succoth, according to the Onom. trans Jordanem in parte Scythopoleos (see at Genesis 33:17); Zaphon (i.e., north), probably not far from the southern extremity of the Sea of Galilee. “ The rest of the kingdom of Sihon,” the other part having been given to the Reubenites (Joshua 13:21).

Verses 29-31

The territory of the half tribe of Manasseh extended from Mahanaim onwards, and embraced all Bashan, with the sixty Jair towns and the (northern) half of Gilead (see the comm. on Deuteronomy 3:13-15).

Verses 32-33

Joshua 13:32 is the concluding formula. (For the fact itself, see Numbers 34:14-15.) Joshua 13:33 is a repetition of Joshua 13:14.

Bibliographical Information
Keil, Carl Friedrich & Delitzsch, Franz. "Commentary on Joshua 13". Keil & Delitzsch Old Testament Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/kdo/joshua-13.html. 1854-1889.
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