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The kings are named who were conquered and driven from their kingdom; two on the east side of Jordan, namely, Sihon and Og; and thirty-one on the west.
Before Christ 1445.
Ver. 1. Now these are the kings, &c.— Having concluded the relation of the wars of Joshua, the sacred historian, now about to enter into a detail of the division made of the conquered country among the tribes, lays in some measure before the reader a map of that country, beginning with those places which the Israelites took under the conduct of Moses. The country extended from the river Arnon on the south, to mount Hermon on the north, and included all the plain, i.e. all the plains of Moab, on the east of Jordan.
Note; On this side Jordan, the people of God have possession of some blessings, as pardon, peace, comfort, &c.; but their chief inheritance lies beyond the grave, where the fulness of the promises shall be accomplished in the glory which shall be revealed.
Ver. 7, 8. And these are the kings of the country which Joshua and the children of Israel smote, on this side Jordan— The author wrote in the country of Canaan, properly so called; and this region was, with respect to him, on this side Jordan, to the west of that river. With respect to the limits which he describes of this conquered land, he specifies them as in ver. 17 of the foregoing chapter. Here Calmet is of opinion, that instead of translating even unto the mount Halak, &c. we should render it, even to the mountains of separation, which serve as limits betwixt the land of Canaan and that of Seir, and rise towards Idumea. Nothing can better suit with those mountains which lay to the south of Judaea, than this name mountains of separation; to be convinced, we need only cast our eyes over any accurate map of the country.
Ver. 13. The king of Geder— This is the first and only time that mention is made of a king of Geder. This city is in all probability the same as Gedera, Gederothaim, Gederoth or Geder, in the tribe of Judah, mentioned chap. Joshua 15:36; Joshua 15:41; Jos 15:58 and 2 Chronicles 28:18. We cannot tell the exact situation of it; but it seems not to have been far distant from Jamnia. Strabo calls it Godara, and places it within the territory of Joppa and Jamnia. Bochart says, that all these names carry the idea of cities inclosed with hedges. See Can. lib. 1: cap. 34.
Ver. 15. The king of Adullam— A city of Judah, chap. Jos 15:35 well known for the retreat of David, who, during his disgrace, often concealed himself in the caves of Adullam, 1 Samuel 22:1. Eusebius says, that it was a very large city in his time, about ten miles from Eleutheropolis; and St. Jerome, that it was not a small city. See de. Loc. Heb.
Ver. 17. The king of Tappuah— It seems that there were two cities of this name; one in the tribe of Judah, chap. Joshua 15:34 Jos 16:8 Jos 17:8 the other belonging to that of Ephraim, on the borders of Manasseh. It is difficult to say which of the two is here spoken of; perhaps the last: what would incline to this opinion is, that the king of Tappuah is named immediately after the king of Beth-el, a city placed on the confines of Ephraim and Benjamin, and before the king of Hepher, a city of the tribe of Zebulun, not far from Beth-el. Calmet places Tappuah in the tribe of Judah.
The king of Hepher— The land of Hepher is spoken of, 1 Kings 4:10. St. Jerome places it in the tribe of Zebulun, near Sephorim or Diocesarea.
Ver. 18. The king of Aphek— In the country conquered by Joshua, there were at least two cities of this name; one in the tribe of Judah, chap. Jos 15:53 the other in the tribe of Asher, chap. Joshua 19:30. But we cannot venture to determine which of the two is here spoken of.
The king of Lasharon— There is no city of this name now known. Modern interpreters, following the Vulgate, consider the letter ל l, in the Hebrew, as a mark of the genitive, and translate of Sharon, as it stands in the margin of our Bibles. The place now in question, we should apprehend to be that city of Saron which was near Lydda, (Acts 9:35.) and whose delightful and fertile plains are so often celebrated in other parts of Scripture. Isaiah 33:9; Isaiah 35:2. There was also a Sharon to the east of Jordan, in the tribe of Gad, which some think to be mentioned, Isaiah 65:10. Eusebius and St. Jerome say, that the whole country from Cesarea to Joppa went by the name of Joppa, as well as the plains which extended from mount Tabor to the lake of Gennesareth. Perhaps it is this district, not a city, that is here intended by the sacred writer. Reland asserts, that the name of Sharon was given only to the country situated between Joppa and Cesarea, and that there was no city of this name in the tribe of Gad; but that the people of this tribe sent their flocks to the rich pastures of Sharon. Indeed, in 1Ch 5:16 it is only said, that the children of Gad dwelt in all the suburbs of Sharon; but why in the suburbs, and not in the cities, if the country had belonged to them? It was in the suburbs that the beasts were lodged; Numbers 35:3.Joshua 14:4; Joshua 14:4. And the law allowed the sending them from one place to another, in the pastures belonging to the suburbs dependant on cities of a tribe to which they did not belong.
Ver. 19, 20. The king of Madon—The king of Shimron-meron— See on chap. Joshua 11:1.
Ver. 21. The king of Taanach—The king of Megiddo— Taanach, a city assigned to the Levites, chap. Jos 21:25 in the half tribe of Manasseh, to the west of Jordan, chap. Jos 17:11 was not far from the frontiers of Zebulun. Eusebius and St. Jerome place it four miles from Legion; but this latter city, well known in the book of the Laws of Palestine, written by the first, and translated by the second of these learned men, being now unknown, cannot help us to fix the precise distances. Cellarius places Taanach between mount Tabor and the Mediterranean sea, fifteen miles from Nazareth westward. Taanach seems to have been not far from the river Kishon, and the city of Megiddo. Judges 5:19-21. We should add that the Canaanites were not entirely driven from thence: probably, they seized upon it after the death of Joshua: see Judges 1:27-28. Megiddo, situate near the Kishon, belonged as well as Taanach, to the half tribe of Manasseh; Judges 5:19. The Canaanites held it a long time; ch. Joshua 17:11-13. Solomon rebuilt it; 1Ki 9:15 and in its neighbourhood Josiah was defeated by the king of Egypt, 2 Chronicles 25:22.
Ver. 22. The king of Kedesh— There were two cities of this name; one in the tribe of Judah; chap. Jos 15:23 the other in the tribe of Naphtali, chap. Joshua 19:37. The king of the latter is thought to be here meant; 1st, Because it was at the same time a considerable city, a city of the Levites, and a city of refuge; chap. Joshua 20:7. 2nd, Because Kadesh is named in this chapter among other places which were all situated in North Canaan. Calmet thinks Kedesh might be the Kadytis of Herodotus.
The king of Jokneam of Carmel— The city of Jokneam was at the foot of Carmel, near the river Belus, in the tribe of Zebulun, chap. Joshua 19:11. It was given to the Levites, chap. Joshua 21:34. Bochart derives its name from the beauty of its situation. Canaan, lib. 1: cap. 28.
Ver. 23. The king of Dor, in the coast of Dor— The city of this name fell to the lot of the children of Manasseh; chap. Joshua 17:11. It appears to have commanded a great territory; and Bochart observes, that it was one of the oldest royal cities in Phoenicia. The Canaanites held it; Judges 1:27. Antiochus Sydetes besieged it in after times, but could not make himself master of it. See Boch. Can. lib. 1: cap. 28.
The king of the nations of Gilgal— The LXX have it, the king of Gei of Galile, or rather, as Dr. Hammond renders it, of Galilee; for so he thinks it should be read: by which Galilee, he understands the Galilee of the nations, the same country whose king was Tidal, Genesis 14:1. See Hamm. on Matt. note e. The Gilgal here mentioned cannot be the place where Joshua had his camp; there was no city at that time, and Joshua gave the spot the name of Gilgal for the reason mentioned, chap. Joshua 5:9. Several learned men understand, by the king of the nations of Gilgal, a king who ruled over some district of Galilee of the Gentiles or nations; but, as St. Jerome remarks, this name, Galilee of the nations, was unknown in Joshua's time; and we should fix its rise in the time of Solomon, when that prince gave Hiram the twenty cities spoken of 1 Kings 9:11-13. St. Jerome further observes, that there was, in his time, a city named Gelgel, near the sea, not far from Joppa, and six miles from Antipatris. Perhaps this is the city we are looking for. Trade bringing people from all nations into these parts, perhaps the petty king of Gelgel might from thence have been called the king of the nations settled in the territories of this place. We must confess however, notwithstanding what Bishop Patrick mentions to the contrary in his notes on Genesis 14:1., that there seems to be a more plausible opinion respecting the matter; for, first, it is certain that the name Gojim, which we find here in the Hebrew, is the same that we read of in Gen 14:1 where Tidal is called king of Gojim, or the nations. It is also as certain that the kingdom of this Tidal was neither near the sea, nor in the neighbourhood of Joppa: thus the conjecture of St. Jerome, approved by the Bishop of Ely, is not easily supported; on the contrary, the kingdom of Tidal may very naturally be supposed to be in north Galilee. It is strongly asserted, that the name of Galilee of the nations commenced in the time of Solomon; but it is more easy to assert than to prove. The name constantly implies a country much more extensive than the twenty cities which Solomon gave to Hiram. We do not see why it might not be anterior to that offer, and as old as Tidal. Though in the passage of Genesis the LXX render Gojim as a name appellative, they render it here as a proper name, and in all probability it should be so translated. Our historian, therefore, signifies to us, a king of Gojim of Galilee. See Wells's Paraphrase. and notes; Calmet and Le Clerc.
Ver. 24. All the kings thirty and one— The LXX reckon and specify but twenty-nine, and of them too they disfigure the names. We must not be surprised at seeing so many kings in so small a country. Each city and its territory had its own. What was the king of Beth-el? He and the king of Ai together had hardly twelve thousand subjects. Such were kingdoms in their first state everywhere. Caesar, in his Commentaries, speaks of four kings in the single county of Kent. How many then must there have been in all Great Britain? Tacitus says, that the Silures and Brigantes had each of them their own king. Caesar tells us, that among the Gauls there were as many kings as princes. Livy says the same thing of Spain; and Vopiscus introduces the emperor Probus writing to the senate, that he had subdued Germany, and saw at his feet nine kings of different nations, &c.
REFLECTIONS.—The conquered countries of Canaan are here described, and the cities with their kings, no less than thirty-one: a proof of the vast fertility of the land, which could maintain such a number of populous cities with their villages. But as God's blessing made it thus fruitful for his people's sake, their sin has long since brought down a curse of barrenness upon it, so that there is hardly a town of importance left; and the land is so desolate, that it scarcely maintains the few wretched inhabitants which remain.
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Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Joshua 12". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 24 / Ordinary 29