Joshua 13:1. Now Joshua was old — To what age Joshua was advanced we cannot determine, because we do not know how old he was when the Israelites came out of Egypt. Some think he was three and forty at that time, and then he was fourscore and three when they came into Canaan. And now, it may be gathered from probable conjectures, that he wanted not much of a hundred. And, in this declining age, he could not hope to live to conquer what remained of the land unsubdued, and therefore he was to go about another business, namely, the dividing of it. The Lord said unto him, Thou art old — Therefore delay not to do the work which I have commanded thee to do. It is good for those that are stricken in years to be reminded that they are so; that they may be quickened to do the work of life, and prepare for death, which is coming on apace.
Joshua 13:2-3. This is the land that yet remaineth — Unconquered by thee, and to be conquered by the Israelites, if they behave themselves aright. All Geshuri — A people in the north-east of Canaan, as the Philistines were on the south-west. Which is counted to the Canaanite — That is, which, though now possessed by the Philistines, who drove out the Canaanites, the old inhabitants of it, Deuteronomy 2:23; Amos 9:7; yet it is a part of the land of Canaan, and therefore belongs to the Israelites. The Avites — Or, the Avims, as they are called Deuteronomy 2:23, who, though they were expelled out of their ancient seat, and most of them destroyed by the Caphtorims or Philistines, as is there said, yet many of them escaped, and planted themselves not very far from the former.
Joshua 13:4. From the south — That is, from those southern parts of the sea- coast now possessed by the Philistines, all the more northern parts of the sea-coast being yet inhabited by the Canaanites, almost as far as Sidon. The Amorites — The Amorites were a very strong and numerous people, and we find them dispersed in several parts, some within Jordan, and some without it, some in the south, and others in the north, of whom he speaks here.
Joshua 13:6. Them will I drive out — Whatever becomes of us, however we may be laid aside as broken vessels, God will do his work in his own time. I will do it by my word; so the Chaldee here, as in many other places: by the eternal Word, the captain of my host. But the promise of driving them out from before the children of Israel, supposes that the Israelites must use their own endeavours, must go up against them. If Israel, through sloth or cowardice, let them alone, they are not likely to be driven out. We must go forth in our Christian warfare, and then God will go before us.
Joshua 13:7. Now, therefore, divide this land — Both that which was conquered and that which remained unconquered was to be divided, that every tribe might know what belonged to them by God’s gift, and be encouraged to attempt the conquest of it when they were able; might be preserved from entering into any covenant or society with those who kept their inheritance from them; and likewise with a view to hinder the unconquered people from joining their forces together to recover their country, the Israelites inhabiting the cities and fields that lay between them.
Joshua 13:8. With whom — That is, with the other half of the tribe before mentioned. Which Moses gave them — By my command, and therefore do not thou disturb them in their possessions, but proceed to divide the other possessions to the rest. With this verse end the words of God to Joshua, begun Joshua 13:1; and in the next verse the writer of this book begins to describe the country which God ordered to be given to the fore-named two tribes and a half, that there might be no future dispute about this division; but it might be held as good as that which was made by lot among the rest of the tribes.
Joshua 13:9-11. The city that is in the midst of the river — Some interpreters render this clause, The city in the midst of the valley; judging that, as Arnon was but a small brook, it could hardly have a city, or an island large enough for a city to be built on, in the midst of it. But certainly a city might be built on ground lying between two streams of the same river: see on Joshua 12:2. Medeba unto Dibon — Two cities anciently belonging to the Moabites, and taken from them by the Amorites, (Numbers 21:30,) and from them by the Israelites; and, after the Israelites were gone into captivity, recovered by the first possessors, the Moabites. And Maachathites — Whose land God had given to the Israelites without Jordan, though they had not yet used the gift of God, nor taken possession of it, as is noted, Joshua 13:13.
Joshua 13:14. To the tribe of Levi he — Namely, Moses; gave none inheritance — That is, none in the land beyond Jordan, where yet a considerable part of the Levites were to have their settled abode. This is mentioned as the reason both why Moses gave all that land to the Reubenites, and Gadites, and Manassites, and why Joshua should divide the land only into nine parts and a half, as was said, Joshua 13:7; because Levi was otherwise provided for. Made by fire — Which are here put for all the sacrifices and oblations, including first-fruits and tithes, that were assigned to the Levites, and this passage is repeated to prevent those calumnies and injuries which God foresaw the Levites were likely to meet with, from the malice, envy, and covetousness of their brethren.
Joshua 13:15. Moses gave, &c. — Having informed us in general what Moses gave to the two tribes and a half, the sacred historian proceeds to set down in particular what share each of them had in this country. According to their families — Dividing the inheritance into as many parts as they had families. But this is only spoken of the greater families; for the lesser distributions to the several small families were made by inferior officers, according to the rules which Moses had given them.
Joshua 13:19. In the mount of the valley — In the mount which overlooked the great plain before mentioned, or which bordered upon the valley, a mount which, it seems, was then famous among the Israelites; whether that where Moses was buried, which was near to Beth-peor, or some other.
Joshua 13:21. Cities of the plain — Opposed to the cities of the mountain or the valley. All the kingdom of Sihon — A great part of it; in which sense we read of all Judea, and all the region round about Jordan, Matthew 3:5; and all Galilee, Matthew 4:23. Whom Moses smote — Not in the same time or battle, as appears by comparing Numbers 21:23-24, with Numbers 31:8, but in the same manner. Dukes of Sihon — But how could they be so, when they were kings of Midian? Numbers 31:8. There were divers petty kings in those parts, who were subject to other kings, and such these were, but are here called dukes or princes of Sihon, because they were subject and tributaries to him, and therefore did one way or other assist Sihon in this war, though they were not killed at this time.
Joshua 13:22. Were slain by them — This was recorded before, (Numbers 31:8,) and is here repeated, because the defeating of Balaam’s purpose to curse Israel, and the turning that curse into a blessing, was such an instance of the power and goodness of God, as was fit to be had in everlasting rememberance.
Joshua 13:25. All the cities of Gilead — All the cities of eminence; all the cities properly so called, which lay in that part of Gilead; and thus what is here assured may well agree with Joshua 13:31, where half the country of Gilead is said to be given to the Manassites, for there is no mention of any cities being there. Half the land of the children of Ammon — Not of that which was now theirs, for that the Israelites were forbidden to meddle with; but of that which was anciently theirs, till taken from them by the Amorites, from whom the Israelites took it. Aroer — The border between them and Moab. Rabbah — The chief city of the Ammonites.
Joshua 13:29. Unto the half-tribe of Manasseh — Not that they desired it, as Reuben and Gad did, (Numbers 32:1,) but partly as a recompense to Machir the Manassite, for his valiant acts against Og, and partly because the country was too large for the two tribes of Reuben and Gad.
Joshua 13:30. All the towns of Jair — Who, though of the tribe of Judah, by the father, (1 Chronicles 2:21-22,) yet is called the son of Manasseh, (Numbers 32:41,) because he married a daughter of Manasseh, and wholly associated himself with those valiant Manassites; and with their help took sixty cities or great towns, (Deuteronomy 3:4; Deuteronomy 3:14,) which thence were called the towns of Jair.
Joshua 13:31. Children of Machir — Whom before he called the children of Manasseh, he now calls the children of Machir, because Machir was the most eminent, and, as it may seem, the only surviving son of Manasseh, Numbers 26:29; 1 Chronicles 7:14-16.
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Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Joshua 13". Joseph Benson's Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week of Lent