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Bible Commentaries
Joshua 13

Kretzmann's Popular Commentary of the BibleKretzmann's Commentary

Verses 1-14

The Command to Distribute the Land

v. 1. Now, Joshua was old and stricken in years, literally, "well advanced in days," said of one whose age is showing plainly; and the Lord said unto him, Thou art old and stricken in years, and there remaineth yet very much land to be possessed. These sections are now, by way of parenthesis, enumerated.

v. 2. This is the land that yet remaineth: all the borders of the Philistines, literally, all the circles of the Philistines, the five city-states of the country being referred to, the capitals with their suburbs and vicinity being joined in a confederacy, and all Geshuri, a small principality south of the Philistines, on the border of Egypt, 1 Samuel 27:8,

v. 3. from Sihor, which is before Egypt, the so-called brook of Egypt, 1 Chronicles 13:5, for this actually flows northeastwardly from or before Egypt, even unto the borders of Ekron northward, for thus far the territory of the Philistines extended, which is counted to the Canaanite: five lords of the Philistines: the Gazathites, and the Ashdothites, the Eshkalonites, the Gittites, and the Ekronites, that is, the inhabitants of Gaza, mentioned frequently in the Old and also in the New Testament, of Ashdod, of Ashkelon, of Gath, and of Ekron, all of which have been identified with the exception of Gath, which seems to have been totally destroyed; also the Avites, or Avim, a small tribe living southwest of Gaza; from the south, that is, in the south;

v. 4. all the land of the Canaanites, of the Phenicians living along the coast to the northwest, and Mearah that is beside the Sidonians, a well-known cave on Lebanon, east of Sidon, unto Aphek, a small city northeast of what is now Beirut, to the borders of the Amorites, the country of Bashan; for the entire Leontes Valley and the region in the neighborhood of Damascus was really included in the territory as the Lord intended it for Israel;

v. 5. and the land of the Giblites, of the race of Gebal, on the Mediterranean Sea, north of what is now Beirut, and all Lebanon, the entire region included within this range with its foothills, toward the sun-rising, from Baal-gad, under Mount Hermon, Joshua 12:7, unto the entering into Hamath, a small territory in the Orontes Valley, Numbers 34:8.

v. 6. All the inhabitants of the hill country from Lebanon unto Misrephothmaim, Joshua 11:8, the present promontory of Ra-sen-Nakura, and all the Sidonians, an ancient name for all the Phenicians, them will I drive out from before the children of Israel; only, although it is not yet conquered, divide thou it by lot unto the Israelites for an inheritance, as I have commanded thee. The distribution of the country was to go on with a view toward the eventual possession of the entire country, as here described by the Lord. Israel afterward neglected to drive out the nations occupying all this territory, thereby not only reducing its own heritage, but also keeping these tribes as a continual temptation to idolatry.

v. 7. Now, therefore, divide this land for an inheritance unto the nine tribes and the half tribe of Manasseh, those that had not yet been assigned a part of Canaan,

v. 8. with whom the Reubenites and the Gadites have received their inheritance, they had already entered upon the possession of the territory assigned to them, which Moses gave them beyond Jordan eastward, even as Moses, the servant of the Lord, gave them, there was no change made either in the extent or in the boundaries of their possessions:

v. 9. from Aroer, that is upon the bank of the river Arnon, and the city that is in the midst of the river, of the valley of the Arnon, Joshua 12:2, and all the plain of Medeba unto Dibon, the plateau east of Mount Pisgah, so named after its principal city;

v. 10. and all the cities of Sihon, king of the Amorites, which reigned in Heshbon, unto the border of the children of Ammon;

v. 11. and Gilead, and the border of the Geshurites and Maachathites, Joshua 12:5, and all Mount Hermon, and all Bashan unto Salcah;

v. 12. a ll the kingdom of Og in Bashan, which reigned in Ashtaroth and in Edrei, who remained of the remnant of the giants; for these did Moses smite, and cast them out, Numbers 21:24-35.

v. 13. Nevertheless, the children of Israel expelled not the Geshurites nor the Maachathites, Joshua 15:63; Joshua 16:10; Joshua 17:12-13; but the Geshurites and the Maachathites dwell among the Israelites until this day.

v. 14. Only unto the tribe of Levi he gave none inheritance, no separate territory; the sacrifices of the Lord God of Israel made by fire are their inheritance, as he said. unto them, Numbers 18:20-24. They possessed no earthly inheritance; with all the greater zeal they should therefore devote themselves to Jehovah and His worship. In a similar manner Christians know that they have here no continuing city, but they seek one to come, Hebrews 13:14.

Verses 15-33

The Territory of the two and one Half Tribes

v. 15. And Moses gave unto the tribe of the children of Reuben inheritance according to their families, Numbers 32.

v. 16. And their coast, their boundary, was from Aroer, that is on the bank of the river Arnon, and the city that is in the midst of the river, Ar in the valley of the Arnon, and all the plain by Medeba, east of the Dead Sea;

v. 17. Heshbon, the former capital of Sihon, and all her cities that are in the plain; Dibon, about four miles north of Arnon, and Bamothbaal, Numbers 24:20, and Bethbaalmeon, a short distance southeast of Heshbon, Numbers 32:38,

v. 18. and Jahaza, where Sihon was defeated, almost at the eastern edge of the plateau, and Kedemoth, later a city of the Levites, 1 Chronicles 6:79, and Mephaath, another Levite city,

v. 19. and Kirjathaim, where Chedorlaomer defeated the Enim, Genesis 14:5, and Sibmah, a suburb of Heshbon, and Zarethshahar in the mount of the valley, nearer to the Dead Sea than Heshbon,

v. 20. and Bethpeor, opposite Jericho, on the slopes of Mount Peor, and Ashdothpisgah, on the northeastern shore of the Dead Sea, and Bethjeshimoth, near the mouth of the Jordan,

v. 21. and all the cities of the plain, and all the kingdom, of Sihon, king of the Amorites, so far as it was contained in this plateau, which reigned in Heshbon, whom Moses smote with the princes of Midian, Numbers 21:24, Evi, and Rekem, and Zur, and Hur, and Reba, which were dukes of Sihon, vassals or tributaries, dwelling in the country, Numbers 31:8.

v. 22. Balaam, also, the son of Beor, the soothsayer, the diviner by the casting of lots, a name which brands him a false prophet, did the children of Israel slay with the sword among them that were slain by them, Numbers 22:5; Numbers 31:8.

v. 23. And the border, the boundary, of the children of Reuben was Jordan and the border thereof, to the territory of the Jordan in the west, for its main part was east of the Dead Sea. T his was the inheritance of the children of Reuben after their families, the cities and the villages thereof, the latter being open towns, without walls or fortifications.

v. 24. And Moses gave inheritance unto the tribe of Gad, even unto the children of Gad, according to their families.

v. 25. And their coast, their boundary, as it included their territory, was Jazer, a city taken from the Amorites, Numbers 21:32, and all the cities of Gilead, that is, its southern part, below the Jabbok, the part of Ammonitis between the Arnon and the Jabbok, which the Amorites under Sihon had taken from the Ammonites (both the Aroer and the Rabbah here mentioned are not to be confounded with those of Moabitis);

v. 26. and from Heshbon, which was practically on the northern boundary of Reuben, unto Ramathmizpeh, that is, Ramoth in Gilead, and Betonim, these being the most important cities in the north; and from Mahanaim, Genesis 32:2, a Levite city north of Jabbok, unto the border of Debir, or Lidhbir, probably on the heights which border the Jordan;

v. 27. and in the valley, Betharam, later Libias, Numbers 32:36, and Bethnimrah, and Succoth, where Jacob lived for some time. Genesis 33:17, and Zaphon, the rest of the kingdom of Sihon, king of Heshbon, Jordan and his border, the river valley proper, even unto the edge of the Sea of Chinnereth, the southern end of the Sea of Galilee, on the other side Jordan eastward. While the Jabbok was, generally speaking, the northern boundary of the territory of Gad, the latter extended northward at least to include the plateau of Mahanaim and the Jordan valley to the Sea of Galileo.

v. 28. This is the inheritance of the children of Gad after their families, the cities, and their villages.

v. 29. And Moses gave inheritance unto the half tribe of Manasseh; and this was the possession of the half tribe of the children of Manasseh by their families.

v. 30. And their coast was from Mahanaim, from the boundaries of this city, all Bashan, all the kingdom of Og, king of Bashan, and all the towns of Jair which are in Bashan, threescore cities, Numbers 32:41;

v. 31. and half Gilead, the northern half, and Ashtaroth, and Edrei, cities of the kingdom of Og in Bashan, were pertaining unto the children of Machir, the son of Manasseh, even to the one half of the children of Machir by their families.

v. 32. These are the countries which Moses did distribute for inheritance in the Plains of Moab, while the children of Israel were encamped there, on the other side Jordan, by Jericho, eastward.

v. 33. But unto the tribe of Levi Moses gave not any inheritance; the Lord God of Israel was their inheritance, as he said unto them, Numbers 18:20; Deuteronomy 10:9. Note: The end of Balaam is an example of warning. Like him all those who come to the knowledge of the truth, but reject it, preferring the froth of this world to the substance of eternity, will be subject to a severe condemnation.

Bibliographical Information
Kretzmann, Paul E. Ph. D., D. D. "Commentary on Joshua 13". "Kretzmann's Popular Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/kpc/joshua-13.html. 1921-23.
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