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Bible Commentaries

Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible
Joshua 13

 

 

Introduction

CHAP. XIII.

The boundaries of the land not yet conquered: the countries and cities beyond Jordan assigned to the two tribes of Reuben and Gad, and the half tribe of Manasseh, are specified.

Before Christ 1445.


Verse 1

Ver. 1. Now Joshua was old and stricken in years By assigning to Joshua the same age with Caleb, it is easy to justify what the sacred historian says; for Caleb was now eighty-five years old, ch. Joshua 14:10. Joshua, however, is commonly made to be more, for reasons drawn from the chronology of the time which elapsed from the departure out of Egypt, till the building of the temple of Solomon. See Bedford's Script. Chronol. b. v. c. 2. We suppose him, with the generality of interpreters, to have been about one hundred years of age; for, allowing him to have been forty-five when he left Egypt, if we add to them the forty years spent in the wilderness, and the seven which it took him to conquer the land of Canaan, we shall find him to be ninety-two years of age at the end of the war. Now he lived one hundred and ten years; so that, according to our supposition, he must have made the division of the country seven or eight years after the conquest. See Vignoles, tom. 1: p. 1-16.

And the Lord said unto him, Thou art old, &c.— It is evident that Joshua meditated new conquests: to divert him from which, God leads him to reflect on his great age; as if he had said, "Although a part of the country which I promised to give unto my people remains still to be conquered, yet it is time to make a division of the whole. If this people keep my covenant, I will fully perform my promises; but, in the mean time, it is proper to exercise their faith, and try their submission." God had never promised Joshua that he should conquer the whole land of Canaan; but only, that he should bring his people into it, Deuteronomy 31:23 and divide its territories among them, ch. Joshua 1:6. On the one hand, his great age no longer allowed him to bear the fatigues of war; and, on the other, it invited him to a speedy division of the country among the children of Israel, in order to prevent, by his authority, all contest and ground of discontent among them.


Verse 2

Ver. 2. This is the land that yet remaineth; all the borders of the Philistines i.e. The country which they kept upon the sea-coast, to the south-west of the land of Canaan. See ch. Joshua 22:10-11.

And all Geshuri This name was given to a city and region situate on the north-east of the Holy Land, toward mount Hermon. Both of them fell to the lot of the tribe of Manasseh, Deuteronomy 3:14. Joshua 12:5. It should, however, be observed, that there was another country of Geshuri, on the south of the land of Canaan, towards Egypt, the inhabitants of which country are sometimes joined with the Amalekites. It was they who tried David's valour; 1 Samuel 27:10; 1 Samuel 30:20. There was a third city of Geshuri in Syria, the king of which protected Absalom his son-in-law, 2 Samuel 3:3; 2 Samuel 13:37; 2 Samuel 15:8 and which appears to have been not far from the land of Geshuri situate in the tribe of Manasseh, 1 Chronicles 2:23.


Verse 3

Ver. 3. From Sihor, which is before Egypt Here the sacred historian, intending, in a particular manner, to describe the extent of the country of the Philistines, fixes its northern limits at the river Sihor, which, it is generally thought, was only the Pelusiack branch of the Nile. See on Numbers 34:5.

Le Clerc, Calmet, Mills, Bishop Clayton, and many others, are of this opinion.

Even unto the borders of Ekron northward Ekron was a considerable city in the land of the Philistines, particularly famous for the altars of Beelzebub, called, in the New Testament, the prince of the devils. He was esteemed the chief deity of the country. Ekron was a portion of the tribe of Judah, and afterwards of Dan; but neither of them took it from its original possessors.

Which is counted to the Canaanite The first possessors of the country were the descendants of Canaan, the youngest son of Ham. With respect to the Philistines, they, it is well known, sprung from Mizraim, the second son of Ham; and, in a course of time, dispossessed the Avims of the places they held in the land of Canaan, and there settled themselves under the name of Philistines. See on Genesis 10:13 and Deuteronomy 2:23.

Five lords of the Philistines The whole country of the Philistines, from Sihor to Ekron, was divided into five governments. The Scripture calls them chiefs, saraim, or saranaim; an old Phoenician word, as some think, signifying the same as sarim in Hebrews 1.e. prince or governor: the LXX translate it, satrapes, and the Vulgate petty kings; which does not answer, so well as the expression used by the LXX, to the idea that the Scripture gives of the government of the Philistines, which was rather aristocratical than monarchical. Achish, king of Gath in the time of David, is perhaps the only one of these lords who became absolute in his government. The land of the Philistines was of inconsiderable extent, not above forty English miles long, and very narrow, but rendered famous for its fertility and commerce. The Avites are to be distinguished from the Hivites, who inhabited the country near mount Hermon, to the north of Canaan; the latter dwelt on the west, and did not make a separate government. Though they, as well as the Philistines, were deprived of their country by the Caphtorims, yet some of them remained in certain districts, where they lived under the dominion of their conquerors.


Verse 4

Ver. 4. From the south, all the land of the Canaanites To the south of the country of the Philistines, on the sea-coast, lay the Canaanites, properly so called, who remained still unconquered. Mearah, a city unknown, towards the north, but in the territory of Sidon, was in the same class. See Calmet. Aphek was probably the city which we find in the tribe of Asher, not very distant from Sidon, but farther eastward.

To the borders of the Amorites There were Amorites in all the land of Canaan, to the north as well as to the south and east. Joshua proceeds from Sidon to Aphek, a city in Syria, betwixt Heliopolis and Byblos, where stood the temple of Venus of Aphek, and which is spoken of 1 Kings 20:26. 2 Kings 13:17 as the capital of Syria. From this place, in the verse following, he passes on to the borders of the Syrians, towards Gabal, or Gebala, which, according to Ptolemy, lay in Phoenicia.


Verse 5

Ver. 5. And the land of the Giblites This people dwelt out of the land of Canaan; their capital, named Gebal, was seated to the east of Tyre and Sidon. Ezekiel 27:9. Psalms 83:7. The Giblites are named among the workmen sent by king Hiram to Solomon. See 1 Kings 5:18 and the margins of our Bibles. Some traces of the name Giblites are still to be met with in the city of Gibyle in Syria, which Maundrell describes, and thinks to have been the ancient Gebal. See his Journey from Aleppo, p. 33. The Israelites extended their conquers as far as Lebanon, toward the sun rising, penetrating no further. Respecting which, Baal-Gad, and Hamath, see ch. Joshua 11:17 and Numbers 34:8.


Verse 6

Ver. 6. All the inhabitants of the hill-country—will I drive out God promises to expel these nations; but, upon a condition implied, that the Israelites did not render themselves unworthy this favour by their disobedience: a condition which having never been fulfilled, there is no room to wonder that the Lord did not give them all that he had promised. The Sidonians never submitted to the yoke of the Hebrews; and all that David and Solomon could do to the nations about Lebanon was to make them tributary. But why was it that, so far from giving to his people all the land of Canaan, God suffered them to remain so manyyears in a state of war before they became masters of the places which they kept? It was certainly not owing (as Josephus, Hist. Jud. l. v. c. 1. hardily asserts) to the weakness of Joshua, nor to the situation or strength of the cities in the promised land. Providence disposed the event in this manner for reasons well worthy its adorable Wisdom 1. It was not proper that the country should be depopulated all at once. Had the natives been driven out immediately, the wild beasts would have been too numerous for the conquerors. Exodus 23:29. Deuteronomy 22:2. God preserved a part of the Canaanites in order to try the faith, piety, and fidelity of the Israelites. 3. Nor can it be denied, that the progress of the Israelites was retarded through their default, negligence, and improper conduct. Psalms 106:34; Psalms 35:4. And, upon the whole, the goodness of God is, in a very sensible manner, evident, who punishes his enemies slowly and by degrees, to give them time to be converted.

REFLECTIONS.—Joshua now was growing old, and the fatigues of war probably hastened infirmities upon him: God, therefore, gives him rest after his toils; and, as his finishing service, appoints him to make the division of what yet should be conquered, as well as of the country already possessed. Note; (1.) Old age wants a quiet resting-place, and, after a busy life, to be recollected against the near approach of death. (2.) The strongest must bow, and the best of men pay this tribute to nature; and they who are advancing in years need be reminded of it, that what they yet have to do they may do quickly.

The country here described was very extensive; yet God promises to put them in possession of it, if they continue obedient. If the Philistines afterwards proved such troublesome neighbours, they must blame their sins, which prevented their extirpation; and their negligence or cowardice, which restrained them from putting in force the liberty given them by the Divine promise. Note; If we sin against our own mercies, we have nobody but ourselves to blame for our sufferings.


Verses 9-12

Ver. 9-12. From Aroer, &c.— These four verses specify at large the territories on the east of Jordan already occupied by the fore-mentioned two tribes and a half. See Numbers 21:24; Numbers 21:35; Numbers 32:33; Numbers 32:42. Deuteronomy 3 and the six first verses of the foregoing chapter.


Verse 11-12

Ver. 11. And the border of the—Maachathites The Maachathites bordered upon the Geshurites on the north of the land of Canaan, toward mount Hermon. Maacha, their capital, which fell to the half tribe of Manasseh, is the same that Ptolemy calls Epicaeros. The Chaldee paraphrase calls it Aphkeroz in this place, ch. 12: and Deuteronomy 3:14.

See commentary on Joshua 13:9


Verse 20

Ver. 20. Beth-peor, &c.— See Numbers 3:5. Deuteronomy 34 : and ch. Joshua 12:3.


Verse 22

Ver. 22. Balaam also the son of Beor, the sooth-sayer, did the children of Israel slay Why is mention here made of Balaam? Probably, as we must suppose, because he had advised Sihon and the Midianitish princes to engage in war against the children of Israel. At least it is very certain, that he had suggested to the Midianites the means of reducing the Israelites to idolatry. See Numbers 25:17.


Verses 29-31

Ver. 29-31. And Moses gave inheritance unto the half tribe of Manasseh It does not appear that the tribe of Manasseh had desired the settlements which Moses gave to the half tribe of it on the east of Jordan, Numbers 32:1-2. But as it was numerous, Numbers 26:34 and had evidently much cattle, Moses thought proper to associate the half with the tribes of Reuben and Gad. The country was extensive. The half tribe of Manasseh, placed on the north, covered the two others; and Moses, by placing it there, rewarded the family of Machir, who was so famous for his valour in the war against Og. Numbers 32:39.


Verse 31

Ver. 31. Half of the children of Machir, by their families Jair had the honour to be included, though of the tribe of Judah, because he had contributed to the conquest of the country, Numbers 32:41-42.; and was moreover great grand-son, by the grand-mother's side, of Machir, who married Hezron, of the tribe of Judah, 1 Chronicles 2:21.

Note; It is repeatedly mentioned, that the Levites had no lot among their brethren; but they had a better, Jehovah, who was their portion; and by his service they were liberally provided for. Note; They who have a portion in the Lord need not envy the world the possession of the land.

See commentary on Joshua 13:29

 


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Bibliography Information
Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Joshua 13:4". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tcc/joshua-13.html. 1801-1803.

Lectionary Calendar
Tuesday, November 19th, 2019
the Week of Proper 28 / Ordinary 33
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