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A.M. 2553. B.C. 1451.
The conquests of Israel, under Moses, Joshua 12:1-6 ; under Joshua , vv7-24.
Joshua 12:1-2. These are the kings of the land This summary account of Israel’s conquests comes in here not only as a conclusion of the history of the wars of Canaan, that we might at one view see what they had gotten; but as a preface to the history of the dividing of Canaan, that all those territories might be placed together before the reader’s view, which they were now to make the distribution of. All the plain on the east That is, on the east of Jordan, called the plain, Deuteronomy 1:1. From the middle of the river Ar, which was no part of Sihon’s dominions, but belonged to the Moabites, (Deuteronomy 2:9-18,) appears to have been situated in the middle of the river Arnon, (Deuteronomy 2:36; Deuteronomy 3:16,) and therefore the middle of the river is properly here mentioned as the bound of Sihon’s dominion on that side. But it is not unusual even among us for a river to be divided between two lords, and for their territories or jurisdictions to meet in the middle of the river. Some, however, prefer rendering תוךְ הנחל , tock hannachal, between the river; namely, that he reigned over some territory which was situated between different streams of that river. Half Gilead Hebrew, And the half Gilead; that is, half the country of Gilead, over which Sihon’s dominion, which began at Arnon, extended, ending at Jabbok, beyond which river was the other half of Gilead, which belonged to Og.
Joshua 12:6. Them did Moses and the children of Israel smite Fresh mercies must not drown the remembrance of former mercies: nor must the glory of the present instruments of good to the church, diminish the just honour of those that went before them. Joshua’s services were confessedly great. But let not those under Moses be forgotten. Both together proclaim God to be the Alpha and Omega of his people’s salvation.
Joshua 12:8. In the wilderness and in the south country These are joined together because the wilderness was southerly, in the hottest and driest part of the land: but we are not to suppose that the wilderness was a country without people, but only such as was thinly inhabited, in comparison with other parts of the land: for we read of houses and towns in the wilderness, 1 Kings 11:34; 1 Kings 9:18.
Joshua 12:23. The king of Gilgal This Gilgal is not the place where Joshua encamped when he came over Jordan; for there was no city there, nor any king of that country, but the king of Jericho. That place had also its name from the circumcision of the Israelites there, chap. Joshua 5:9.
Joshua 12:24. All the kings, thirty and one It may seem strange to us that in so small a country there were so many kings; but in those ages kings were only petty princes, or lords of cities, which had a few villages depending on them. This appears by Joshua 12:9, where we read of the king of Beth-el; which was so small a place, that he and the king of Ai, joined together, had but twelve thousand subjects, Joshua 8:25. However, the conquering of so many cities and places, within so short a space of time, and with so little loss, showed that the Israelites were marvellously protected and assisted, and was an evidence to them, as it is to us all, of the truth of all God’s promises; and that they will certainly be accomplished, what obstacles soever there may be in the way of them. We here see the Israelites put in possession of that very country, and those very places, which God had promised ages before, to their pious ancestors, to give to their posterity, when they had not so much as a foot of land in any of these countries, and wandered about from place to place, having no possessions anywhere. This promise is not only once, but many times repeated, in books which we are certain were written many years before the Israelites came into possession of any part of the land, and when there was little likelihood of their obtaining it. And, therefore, their coming into actual possession of it, and with so little loss, is a very corroborating proof of the truth of those books which record the promises of God on this occasion; as the event so fully justified what they had recorded.
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Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Joshua 12". Benson's Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/
the Third Week after Epiphany