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Bible Commentaries

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged
Joshua 13

 

 

Verse 1

Now Joshua was old and stricken in years; and the LORD said unto him, Thou art old and stricken in years, and there remaineth yet very much land to be possessed.

Now Joshua was old and stricken in years. He was probably more than 100 years old; because the conquest and survey of the land occupied about 7 years, the partition one; and he died at the age of 110 years (Joshua 24:29). The distribution, as well as the conquer of the land, was included in the mission of Joshua; and his advanced age supplied a special reason for entering on the immediate discharge of that duty-namely, of allocating Canaan among the tribes of Israel, not only the parts already won, but those also which were still to be conquered.


Verse 2

This is the land that yet remaineth: all the borders of the Philistines, and all Geshuri,

This is the land that yet remaineth - i:e., to be acquired. This section forms a parenthesis, in which the historian briefly notices the districts yet unsubdued-namely, first, all the borders of the Philistines. Beginning with the southwestern district and proceeding northward, the historian specifies [ g


Verse 3

From Sihor, which is before Egypt, even unto the borders of Ekron northward, which is counted to the Canaanite: five lords of the Philistines; the Gazathites, and the Ashdothites, the Eshkalonites, the Gittites, and the Ekronites; also the Avites:

Ekron , [Septuagint, Akkaroon] - now Akir (Robinson's 'Biblical Researches,' 3:, 22-25), the northernmost of the five townships of the Philistines (see the note at Joshua 15:11; Joshua 15:45, and at Joshua 19:43).

Which is counted to the Cannanite. The land occupied by these was promised to the Israelites, because, previously to the Philistine invasion, it had belonged to the doomed Canaanites.

Five lords of the Philistines , [ carneey (Hebrew #5633), princes] - the special designation of the five Philistine rulers; metaphorically for axles, or hinges - i:e., of a people.

The Gazathites - or Gazites, the inhabitants of Gaza, which stood on the southern border of Canaan.

The Ashdothites - of Ashdod [Septuagint, Azootos (Greek #108)], now Esdud, 18 geographical miles northeast of Gaza.

The Eshkalonites - of Ashkelon, Askelon [Septuagint, Askaloon], the only maritime town of the Philistines.

The Gittites - of Gath. The site of this ancient city has been identified by Porter with 'a conspicuous hill called Tell-es-Safieh, about 200 feet high, with steep sides. It is about 7 miles from Beth-shemesh, 8 miles from Shochoh toward Ekron, and 6 miles north of Eleutheropolis.' All these names are in the Hebrew singular: the Gazathite, etc.

Also the Avites - or Avim (dwellers in ruins). A nomadic tribe, who may have pushed their way, as Stanley says ('Sinai and Palestine,' app., sec. 85), from the desert, and established their circuit of pastoral encampments on the fertile district as far as Gaza, until they were dispossessed by the invading Philistines (Deuteronomy 2:23; also Genesis 10:17-19). Mr. Grove thinks, from the enumeration of places in the context being from south to north, it must be inferred that the Avites had effected a settlement northward of the Philistine Pentapolis. But there is no foundation for that suggestion, nor for Stanley's conjecture that they were nomads from the desert. They must have been of the same race as the Canaanites; and, in fact, the two clauses, "also the Avites (Joshua 11:4) from the south," which in our translation appear separate and distinct, are in the Septuagint and other versions closely connected [ek Thaiman], the word "south" being taken as the proper name of a territory south of that of the Philistines. The sum, then, of what is said here and elsewhere concerning the Avites is, that their northern boundary was Gaza, while their southern one was Teman, and that their territory was included in the enumeration of the districts in Palestine 'that yet remained to be possessed.' [From the Septuagint calling them hoi Euaioi, the name which that version always applies to the Hivites, it has been concluded by some that the Avites and Hivites were synonymous appellations of the same people. There is a radical distinction between the two Hebrew words `Awiym (Hebrew #5757) and Hiwiy, and yet it is very singular that both the Septuagint and Jerome should translate both by the same word.]


Verse 4

From the south, all the land of the Canaanites, and Mearah that is beside the Sidonians, unto Aphek, to the borders of the Amorites:

All the land of the Canaanites, and Mearah that is beside the Sidonians. The second division of the unconquered country comprised on the northwest the portion of Canaan which was then within the Sidonian territory, and a mountainous region of Upper Galilee, remarkable for its caves and fastnesses. "Mearah" signifies cave; and several writers have suggested its identification with a particular cave such as that which was a stronghold of the Crusaders (Robinson's 'Biblical Researches,' 3:, p. 412). But this is an unreliable guess, and, besides, is objectionable, as the original word wants the definite article, which would have been prefixed had there been a reference to some remarkable cave. Far more likely is it the designation of that special district which is known as the cave-country of the Sidonians, where, among the mountains, between which the river Kadisha flows, there are 800 caves or grottoes (De la Roque, 'Palestine').

Unto Aphek - a northern city (see the note at Joshua 19:30), the Aphaca of the classics, situated in Lebanon, on the river Adonis, and famous for a temple of Venus. The modern Afka probably marks its site, which was quite distinct from that of Aphek (1 Kings 20:26-30), and another place of the same name in Esdraelon (1 Samuel 29:1).

To the borders of the Amorites. In tracing the outline of the unconquered country, the historian seems to pass across the country from Aphek, in a northeasterly direction, to a part of Bashan. The third district that remained unsubdued was.


Verse 5

And the land of the Giblites, and all Lebanon, toward the sunrising, from Baalgad under mount Hermon unto the entering into Hamath.

The land of the Giblites. Their capital was Gebal or Byblos (Greek), on the Mediterranean, forty miles north of Sidon (1 Kin. ,32 , Hebrew text).

All Lebanon, toward the sun-rising - i:e., Antilibanus; the eastern ridge, which, running in a course nearly parallel to that of Lebanon, extends from Banias, and has its proper termination in Hermon.

From Baal-gad under mount Hermon. 'It would seem that Baal-gad and Baal-hermon were different names of the same place; that this place was in a valley under Hermon; and that it here served to mark the northernmost limit of Palestine to which the conquests of Joshua extended; just as at a later period, after the city of Dan had been built, that place is always put as the northern limit. The name Baal-gad (god of fortune) implies a place of pagan worship, being referred by Gesenius to Jupiter, by Movers to Venus; and the name of Baal-hermon was taken apparently from its connection with that mountain. All these considerations go to make it probable that Baal-gad was the romantic spot, the secluded grotto, at the fountain of Jordan where the Phoenicians or Syrians had established the worship of one of their Baals' (Robinson). Entering into Hamath - the valley of Baalbec. The tract of country described comprised all Lebanon, from the region of Dan and Banias to its northern extremity (Robinson's 'Later Biblical Researches,' pp. 409, 568).


Verse 6

All the inhabitants of the hill country from Lebanon unto Misrephothmaim, and all the Sidonians, them will I drive out from before the children of Israel: only divide thou it by lot unto the Israelites for an inheritance, as I have commanded thee.

All the inhabitants of the hill country from Lebanon unto Misrephoth-maim (see the note at Joshua 11:8) - that is, 'all the Sidonians and Phoenicians.'

Them will I drive out. Biblical writers differ in opinion as to the exact limits of the Israelite possession on the northwest-whether the land of promise was to extend to the shores of the Mediterranean, or a narrow tract was to be reserved to the Sidonians. The former view is most generally preferred, for this reason, that the phrase "all the Sidonians" seems clearly to include the inhabitants of that district among the people who were to be driven out (cf. Joshua 19:28-29; Judges 1:31). The fulfillment of this promise was conditional. In the event of the Israelites proving unfaithful or disobedient, they would not subdue the districts now specified; and, in point of fact, the Israelites never possessed them, though the inhabitants were subjected to the power of David and Solomon.

Only divide thou it by lot. The parenthetic section being closed, the historian here resumes the main subject of this chapter-the order of God to Joshua to make an immediate allotment of the land. The method of distribution by lot was in all respects the best that could have been adopted, as it prevented all ground of discontent, as well as charges of arbitrary or partial conduct on the part of the leaders; and its being announced in the life of Moses (Numbers 33:54) as the system according to which the allocations to each tribe should be made, was intended to lead the people to the acknowledgment of God as the proprietor of the land, and having the entire right of its disposal.

Moreover, a solemn appeal to the lot showed it to be the dictate, not of human, but divine wisdom. It was used, however, only in determining the Dart of the country where a tribe was to be settled-the extent of the settlement was to be decided on a different principle (Numbers 26:54); and what proves the overruling control of God, each tribe received the possession predicted by Jacob, Genesis 49:1-33, and by Moses, Deuteronomy 33:1-29.


Verse 7

Now therefore divide this land for an inheritance unto the nine tribes, and the half tribe of Manasseh, No JFB commentary on this verse.


Verse 8

With whom the Reubenites and the Gadites have received their inheritance, which Moses gave them, beyond Jordan eastward, even as Moses the servant of the LORD gave them;

With whom - Hebrew, 'him.' The antecedent is evidently to Manasseh-not, however, the half tribe just mentioned, but the other half; because the historian, led, as it were, by the sound the word, breaks off to describe the possessions beyond Jordan already assigned to Reuben, Gad, and the half of Manasseh (see the note at Numbers 32:1-42; Deuteronomy 3:8-17). It may be proper to remark that it was wise to put these boundaries on record, as, in case of any misunderstanding or dispute arising about the exact limits of each district or property, an appeal could always be made to this authoritative document, and a full knowledge as well as grateful sense obtained of what they had received from God (Psalms 16:5-6).


Verse 9

From Aroer, that is upon the bank of the river Arnon, and the city that is in the midst of the river, and all the plain of Medeba unto Dibon;

From Aroer, that is upon the bank of the river Arnon, and the city that is in the midst of the river. This city was situated on the north side of the river-the southern extremity of the country conquered by the Israelites-where its site is still traceable both in the modern name Ara'ir and from the head of ruins that mark the spot. But Aroer, like Rabbah, consisted of two portions, one on the bank and the other in the bed of the stream (cf. 2 Samuel 24:5). [Septuagint, en mesoo tees farangos, in the midst of the valley or wady.] This latter portion must have been, as Porter ('Handbook, Syria and Palestine,' p. 301) conjectures, 'some fortress (air) in the bed of the Arnon, at or near to Aroer.' There is no trace of any, nor indeed is there room for one, at this spot; but Burckhardt states that about one hour eastward, at the junction of Wady Lejum with the Arnon, there is a level tract of pasture ground, in the midst of which stands a hill with some ruins upon it, and this may probably be the site of "the city that is in the midst of the river."

All the plain of Medeba. This city, the ruins of which occupy a little hill, and are about one and a-half mile in circumference, is one hour fifteen minutes toward the southeast of Heshbon.

Unto Dibon - now Dhiban, the ruins of which are extensive, situated in the low-lying plains of Kura, about three miles northeast from the Arnon (Mojib). Though rebuilt by the Gadites (Numbers 32:34), it was afterward assigned to the Reubenites. Isaiah and Jeremiah rank it in later times as a Moabite town (Isaiah 15:1-9; Jeremiah 48:18-22). "All the plain of Medeba unto Dibon" (Joshua 13:9); "all the plain by Medeba" (Joshua 13:16); "all the cities of the plain" (Joshua 13:21; Deuteronomy 3:10) = 'the country or field of Moab' (Numbers 21:20).


Verse 10

And all the cities of Sihon king of the Amorites, which reigned in Heshbon, unto the border of the children of Ammon;

Heshbon - the capital of Sihon's dominions (Numbers 21:26). It was situated on the border between Reuben and Gad, and afterward appropriated to the Levites (Num. 21:38-39 ).

Unto the border of the children of Ammon - (see the note at Numbers 21:24.)


Verse 11

And Gilead, and the border of the Geshurites and Maachathites, and all mount Hermon, and all Bashan unto Salcah;

Gilead - the southern region of Argob (Lejah).

The border of the Geshurites and Maachathites (Deuteronomy 3:13-14). The district of Maachah probably included Hermon, and extended eastward between Damascus and Trachon (Reland, 'Palestine,' p. 112).

All Bashan unto Salcah. The ancient Bashan comprised what is now known as the provinces of the Jaulan and Hauran, which form an extensive plateau, stretching from the eastern bank of the Jordan valley into the great desert of Arabia.

Salcah - a city with a castle on a conical hill, situated on the eastern boundary of Bashan.


Verse 12

All 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.

Ashtaroth and in Edrei - (see the note at Numbers 21:33.)


Verse 13

Nevertheless the children of Israel expelled not the Geshurites, nor the Maachathites: but the Geshurites and the Maachathites dwell among the Israelites until this day.

Nevertheless the children of Israel expelled not the Geshurites, nor the Maachathites. 'Argob (the Lejah) was probably in these early ages the mountain asylum of the Geshurites, who retired from the adjoining plain on the advance of the Israelites; and perhaps at first submitted to the foreigner, but were permitted to inhabit these strongholds; the Geshurites in the recesses of Argob (the Lejah) (cf. 1 Chronicles 11:23); the Maachathites amid the defiles of Hermon' (see the note at 2 Samuel 3:3) ('Handbook of Syria and Palestine,' p. 506).


Verse 14

Only unto the tribe of Levi he gave none inheritance; the sacrifices of the LORD God of Israel made by fire are their inheritance, as he said unto them.

Only unto the tribe of Levi he gave none inheritance. This interjectional remark was probably occasioned by the circumstance of nine and one-half tribes being mentioned in Joshua 13:7, and then two and a-half tribes in Joshua 13:15-31 of this chapter, among whom the land was to be divided; and as there was now a 13th tribe, in consequence of Joseph's posterity forming two tribes, there was a necessity for a statement of the sources whence a provision for this special tribe was to be derived (see the notes at Lev. 18:30,33; Numbers 18:21-32 : cf. Leviticus 27:30; see also the note at Joshua 13:33).


Verse 15

And Moses gave unto the tribe of the children of Reuben inheritance according to their families.

No JFB commentary on this verse.


Verse 16

And their coast was from Aroer, that is on the bank of the river Arnon, and the city that is in the midst of the river, and all the plain by Medeba;

Aroer - (see the note at Joshua 13:9.)

Medeba - (see the note at Joshua 13:9.)


Verse 17

Heshbon, and all her cities that are in the plain; Dibon, and Bamothbaal, and Beth-baal-meon,

Heshbon - (see the note at Joshua 12:2; Numbers 21:26.)

Dibon - (see the note at Joshua 13:9.)

Bamoth-baal - (see the note at Numbers 21:20; Numbers 22:41.)

Beth-baal-meon (the house or habitations of Baal) - or Baal-meon, now the ruins of Main, situated like Heshbon, from which it is about two miles distant (Burckhardt, 2:, 624), in the Abarim range, on an eminence on the south bank of the Waleh, which commands an extensive view of the subjacent plains (see the notes at Numbers 32:3; Numbers 32:37-38) (Seetzen, p. 431; Burckhardt, p. 632). Dibon (Hebrew #1769), Bajith [ ha-Bayith (Hebrew #1006) = Beth-baal-meon], and Bamoth-baal [ ha-Baamowt (Hebrew #1120] - these three places are all mentioned as contiguous (Isaiah 15:2).


Verse 18

And Jahazah, and Kedemoth, and Mephaath,

Jahaza - or Jahaz, or Jahzah - (see the note at Numbers 21:23; Deuteronomy 2:32; Joshua 13:18; Judges 11:20; 1 Chronicles 6:78; Isaiah 15:4; Jeremiah 48:21; Jeremiah 48:34.)

Kedemoth - (see the note at Joshua 21:37; Numbers 21:21; Deuteronomy 2:26; 1 Chronicles 6:79.)

Mephaath (Joshua 21:37; 1 Chronicles 6:79; Jeremiah 48:21) - its site unknown; but in the latter passage referred to it is associated with Jahazah.


Verse 19

And Kirjathaim, and Sibmah, and Zarethshahar in the mount of the valley,

Kirjathaim - now Kureiyat, or Kureiyeh, at the foot of Jebel-Attarus (Genesis 14:5; Numbers 32:37; Jeremiah 48:1; Jeremiah 48:23; Ezekiel 25:9).

Sibmah - or Shebmah (Numbers 32:38; Isaiah 16:9; Jeremiah 48:32). The vineyards which once rendered it famous have entirely disappeared, and the region is an uninhabited scene of desolation. Jerome ('Onomast.') says that it was only about 500 paces from Heshbon.

Zareth-shahar in the mount of the valley , [the Vulgate reads, in the midst of the valley; but the Septuagint, en too horei Enab, in the mount Enob, meaning probably mount Nebo] - 'the name of a place situated probably upon a sunny hill, which is only mentioned here' (Rosenmuller's 'Scholia').


Verse 20

And Bethpeor, and Ashdothpisgah, and Beth-jeshimoth,

Beth-peor = Baal-peor (Numbers 25:3; Numbers 25:5), and Peor (Numbers 23:28) - not yet identified.

Ashdoth-pisgah - i:e., ravines at foot of Pisgah (Joshua 12:3; Deuteronomy 3:17; Deuteronomy 4:49).

Beth-jeshimoth - i:e., the house of the wastes, or 'house of muir,' as they would call it in Scotland. The waste or wilderness referred to is the desert tract on the east side of the Dead Sea.


Verse 21

And all the cities of the plain, and all the kingdom of Sihon king of the Amorites, which reigned in Heshbon, whom Moses smote with the princes of Midian, Evi, and Rekem, and Zur, and Hur, and Reba, which were dukes of Sihon, dwelling in the country.

And all the cities of the plain, and all the kingdom of Sihon. The sacred historian having particularized a few af the more prominent towns, includes all the other cities within the territory assigned to the tribe of Reuben in a general statement, that it comprised the whole kingdom of Sihon, so far as it extended over the plain (see the note at Joshua 13:27) toward the Gilead hills.

With the princes of Midian, Evi ... - (see the note at Numbers 21:4.) These were native princes, who, on the subjugation of the Emim by Sihon, were invested by that conqueror with his delegated authority over their respective tribes.

Which were dukes of Sihon, dwelling in the country , [ n


Verse 22

Balaam also the son of Beor, the soothsayer, did the children of Israel slay with the sword among them that were slain by them.

Balaam also ... the soothsayer, did the children of Israel slay with the sword , [ haqowceem (Hebrew #7080)] - the diviner (see the note at Numbers 22:5; Numbers 31:8). The notice of his death is repeated here as having taken place in the battle in which the princes of Midian fell.


Verse 23

And the border of the children of Reuben was Jordan, and the border thereof. This was the inheritance of the children of Reuben after their families, the cities and the villages thereof.

And the border of the children of Reuben was Jordan, and the border , [ uwg


Verse 24

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

No JFB commentary on this verse.


Verse 25

And their coast was Jazer, and all the cities of Gilead, and half the land of the children of Ammon, unto Aroer that is before Rabbah;

Their coast was Jazer , [ Ya`


Verse 26

And from Heshbon unto Ramath-mizpeh, and Betonim; and from Mahanaim unto the border of Debir;

From Heshbon unto Ramath-mizpeh - Heshbon (see the note at Joshua 13:17). Porter ('Handbook of Syria and Palestine, p. 310) thinks 'it is highly probable that Jebel Osh'a may be the Ramath-mizpeh (the heights of the watch-tower) referred to in this passage and Judges 11:1-40.'

Betonim - perhaps Batneh, in the vicinity of the former.

And from Mahanaim (the two hosts, Genesis 32:1-32) - a town near the fords north of the Jabbok, on the border of the tribes Gad and Manasseh, and given to the Levites (Joshua 21:38).

Unto the border of Debir , [ g


Verse 27

And in the valley, Betharam, and Bethnimrah, and Succoth, and Zaphon, the rest of the kingdom of Sihon king of Heshbon, Jordan and his border, even unto the edge of the sea of Chinnereth on the other side Jordan eastward.

And in the valley - i:e., of the Jordan, which on the east of the river extended from Hesban, north of the Dead Sea, to the lake of Tiberias (Joshua 12:3). The site of Beth-aram (Numbers 32:36) was, according to Jerome ('Onomast.'), below Wady Phogor, at the foot of Peor. Grove places it in Wady Seif, or Sir, which falls into the Ghor opposite Jericho, and half-way between Wady Hesban and Wady Shoaib. Beth-nimrah (Numbers 32:36; Isaiah 15:6) - or simply Nimrah (Numbers 32:3), now the ruins called Nimrim, at the mouth of Wady Shoaib. Jerome ('Onomast.') states that the town was still standing in his day, two miles from Jordan and five miles north of Beth-aram, called by Herod Livias in honour of Augustus.

Succoth - perhaps the ruins called Sukkot, described by Burck-hardt (p. 345).

And Zaphon - near the sea of Galilee. The enumeration of places in the valley of Jordan, which formed the boundary of the Gadite territory, is made from south to north. [Septuagint, Safan.]


Verse 28-29

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

No JFB commentary on these verses.


Verse 30

And their coast was from Mahanaim, all Bashan, all the kingdom of Og king of Bashan, and all the towns of Jair, which are in Bashan, threescore cities:

Their coast was from Mahanaim. The region occupied by the half tribe of Manasseh on the east of the Jordan was won by their own bravery, and confirmed to them by Moses (Numbers 32:39-42; Deuteronomy 33:13-15). For Mahanaim, the point from which the boundary line is traced, see the note at Joshua 13:26. The description embraces the border of "all Bashan," which comprehended the 60 cities of Jair (Deuteronomy 3:4), together with "half Gilead" - i:e., the northern part of it (Deuteronomy 3:4-5; 1 Kings 4:13) - of which the chief cities were Ashtaroth and Edrei. Ashtaroth had the epithet Karnaim ('the two horns,' or the crescent) Joined to it; so called from the worship of Astarte, or Ashtaroth, the Dea Syria being established there. This city was the capital of Bashan at the time of the Israelite invasion.

Edrei - now called Edhr'a (see the note at Numbers 21:33).


Verse 31

And half Gilead, 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.

Pertaining unto the children of Machir - (see the note at Joshua 17:2; Numbers 26:29-33; 1 Chronicles 5:23-24.)


Verse 32

These are the countries which Moses did distribute for inheritance in the plains of Moab, on the other side Jordan, by Jericho, eastward.

These are the countries which Moses did distribute ... in the plains of Moab - (see the note at Numbers 22:1; Numbers 26:3; Numbers 34:15.)

 


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Bibliography Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Joshua 13:4". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/joshua-13.html. 1871-8.

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