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Saturday, July 13th, 2024
the Week of Proper 9 / Ordinary 14
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Bible Commentaries
Numbers 34

Whedon's Commentary on the BibleWhedon's Commentary



The command to exterminate the Canaanites, and the penalty threatened in case of disobedience, rendered it necessary that very definite geographical limits to the Holy Land should be pointed out in order that Israel might know its exact duty. The early designation of the men who should divide the land is on the assumption of the perfect obedience of Israel and the speedy total extinction of the doomed inhabitants and the immediate allotment to the tribes. But, through Israel’s failure in point of obedience, and for other reasons, the allotment was not completed till after a seven years’ war. Joshua 11:18, note.


By inspecting Genesis 15:18; Deuteronomy 11:24, and 2 Samuel 8:3, it will be seen that the Euphrates was the eastern boundary of the Land of Promise, while this chapter and Joshua 13:9-12, assign a different limit, which greatly diminishes the land. “Keil suggests that these different passages give the limits the maxima and minima of the promise; the actual extent to be determined by and proportionate to Israel’s loyalty and fidelity to God.” Haley.

Verses 1-2


2. With the coasts thereof Literally, according to its boundaries.

Verses 3-5

3-5. Your south quarter The southern boundary is the same as that of the tribe of Judah on the south. Joshua 15:2-5, notes. The Revised Version gives an improved translation, “the brook of Egypt.” Genesis 15:18, note. Edom, here, is not Mount Seir, but the country south of the wilderness of Zin or Wady Murreh, namely, the mountain land of the Azazimeh, which the Arabs still call Seir or Serr.

Verses 7-9

7-9. Your north border This cannot be accurately identified, since the whole topography is in a most unsatisfactory state as regards the comprehension of the original record and knowledge of the ground, all the places being now unknown except Hamath, which must mean the kingdom of Hamath, and not Hamath, its capital city, modern Hamah, called Epiphania by the Greeks and Romans. Numbers 13:21, note.

Mount Hor This is not to be confounded with the Mount Hor of the Seir range. Numbers 20:22, note. This Mount Hor is spoken of only here. Its identification is one of the puzzles of sacred geography. Some suppose that the great chain of Lebanon itself is meant, which is clearly the natural northern boundary of Palestine. Knobel moves the boundary still farther north, and identifies Mount Hor with Mons Casius, southwest of Antioch, on the Orontes. Robinson agrees with him in recognising this Zedad in Zadad, a Syriac Christian village of three thousand inhabitants, to the southeast of Hunes, on the east of the road from Damascus to Hunes.

Wetstein and Knobel suppose that Ziphron is the same as a ruined city, Zifran, of which we have no accurate information except that it is fourteen hours to the northeast of Damascus, near to the road from Palmyra. The location of Hazar-enan is in dispute; some contending for Centum Putea, twenty-seven miles northwest of Palmyra, and others showing that it is impossible that this could be a border town.

Verse 10

10. East border The uncertainty pertaining to the northern boundary renders the beginning of the eastern obscure also. Shepham is not certainly known.

Verses 11-12

11, 12. Riblah cannot be identified with “Riblah in the land of Hamath,” seeing that four landmarks occur between them.

The east side of Ain Since Ain is a common noun signifying a fountain, and since there are many fountains in northern Palestine, we get no clew from it to the eastern borderline. Robinson identifies this spring with the great fountain of Neba or Birket Anjar, at the foot of Antilibanus.

Sea of Chinnereth Sea of Tiberias or Galilee. Joshua 11:2; Matthew 4:13, notes.

Down to Jordan The boundary shall go along the Jordan (downward) and its termination shall be the salt sea, or the Dead Sea. Genesis 14:3, note.

Coasts Boundaries. Thus eastern Palestine, the land beyond the Jordan, is not included in the Holy Land.

Bibliographical Information
Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Numbers 34". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/whe/numbers-34.html. 1874-1909.
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