Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Joshua 13:15

So Moses gave an inheritance to the tribe of the sons of Reuben according to their families.
New American Standard Version

Bible Study Resources

Concordances:
Nave's Topical Bible - Amorites;   Reubenites;   Topography;   Torrey's Topical Textbook - Amorites, the;   Reuben, the Tribe of;  
Dictionaries:
Bridgeway Bible Dictionary - Gad;   Heshbon;   Manasseh, tribe of;   Reuben;   Baker Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology - Land (of Israel);   Easton Bible Dictionary - Reuben, Tribe of;   Fausset Bible Dictionary - Ar;   Ashtaroth;   Numbers, the Book of;   Holman Bible Dictionary - Joshua, the Book of;   Moab and the Moabite Stone;   Tribes of Israel, the;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Gad;   Joshua;   Medeba;   Numbers, Book of;   Priests and Levites;   Reuben;   People's Dictionary of the Bible - Heshbon;   Smith Bible Dictionary - Village;  
Encyclopedias:
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Joshua, Book of;   Reuben;   Siddim, Vale of;   The Jewish Encyclopedia - Gad;   Moab;   Reuben, Tribe of;   War;  

Coffman Commentaries on the Bible

"And Moses gave unto the tribe of the children of Reuben according to their families. And their border was from Aroer, that is on the edge of the valley of the Arnon, and the city that is in the middle of the valley, and all the plain by Medeba; Heshbon, and all its cities that are in the plain: Dibon, and Bamoth-baal, and Beth-baal-meon, and Jahaz, and Kedemoth, and Mephaath, and Kiriathaim, and Sibmah, and Zereth-shahar in the mount of the valley, and Beth-peor, and the slopes of Pisgah, and Beth-jeshimoth, and all the cities of the plain, and all the kingdom of Sihon king of the Amorites, who reigned in Heshbon, whom Moses smote with the chiefs of Midian, Evi, and Rekem, and Zur, and Hur, and Reba, the princes of Sihon, that dwelt in the land. Balaam also the son-of Beor, the soothsayer, did the children of Israel slay with the sword among the rest of the slain. And the border of the children of Reuben was the Jordan, and the border thereof. This was the inheritance of the children of Reuben, according to their families, the cities and the villages thereof."

This material is an expansion of Numbers 32:33-42; and this location of Reuben east of the Jordan was discussed in Vol. 3 of our Pentateuchal series under that reference. There we learned that Israel actually took possession of that land; "But in the reigns of the wicked Omri and Ahab, the power of Israel declined; and, following the battle of Ramoth-Gilead and the defeat and death of Ahab, the Moabites succeeded in shaking off the Israelitish yoke and even recovering a portion of Sihon's former kingdom."[23]

Due to the uncertainty regarding the identity of some of the places mentioned here, we cannot now precisely outline the territory of Reuben; but, as Morton said, "Essentially, it was as follows:"[24] the Arnon river was the south boundary; on the north the boundary was the Wadi Hesban; on the west was the Jordan river and the Dead Sea; and on the east was an indefinite boundary marked by the edge of the desert.

The tragic story of Reuben was summarized this way by Cook:

"The Reubenites became much intermixed afterward with the Moabites, who, in fact, later acquired much of their land, and several, if not all of the cities mentioned in this passage"[25]

It was the shameful worship of Baal as promulgated by the daughters of Moab in the disaster at Baal-Peor that proved to be very attractive to the Israelites; and it must be accepted as very probable that this was precisely the thing that, in the end, destroyed Reuben, whose tribe was the very first to go into captivity. (See my comments on this in the parallel text in Numbers.)

"Bamoth-baal ... Beth-baal ... etc." (Joshua 13:17). Note the predominance of the name of the Moabitish god, "Baal" in these place-names. These "high places were probably so-called from the altars that were erected on hills for the impure worship of this Canaanite Priapus."[26] This pagan god was the god of gardens, fertility, and procreation. His worship was an excuse for lewdness, lustfulness, and persistent, morbid and excessive sexual excitement.[27]

Beth-peor is the place where Israel received Moses' farewell address (Deuteronomy 3:29); here Balaam uttered one of his prophesies (Numbers 23:28); "It was also in easy reach of Shittim, where Israel followed Baal-peor (Numbers 25:3)."[28] Woudstra also thought that the inclusion a moment later in the sacred text of an account of Balaam's death might have been intended as an indirect warning to the Reubenites. This is certainly possible.

(For full comment on Balaam and his efforts to curse Israel, see our discussion of this in Vol. 3 of the Pentateuchal series, pp. 459-488.)

Copyright Statement
Coffman Commentaries reproduced by permission of Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. All other rights reserved.
Bibliographical Information
Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on Joshua 13:15". "Coffman Commentaries on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bcc/joshua-13.html. Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

And Moses gave unto the tribe of the children of Reuben inheritance according to their families. According to the number of them, and sufficient for them.

Copyright Statement
The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rights Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
A printed copy of this work can be ordered from: The Baptist Standard Bearer, 1 Iron Oaks Dr, Paris, AR, 72855
Bibliographical Information
Gill, John. "Commentary on Joshua 13:15". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/joshua-13.html. 1999.

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

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

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 was done by inferior officers, according to the rules which Moses gave them.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website.
Bibliographical Information
Wesley, John. "Commentary on Joshua 13:15". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/wen/joshua-13.html. 1765.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

Joshua 13:15 And Moses gave unto the tribe of the children of Reuben [inheritance] according to their families.

Ver. 15. According to their families,] i.e., Proportionably according to the number of their families.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on Joshua 13:15". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/joshua-13.html. 1865-1868.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

Dividing the inheritance into as many parts as they had families; but this is only spoken of the greater families; for the lesser divisions or distributions to the several small families was done by inferior officers, according to the rules which Moses gave them.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Joshua 13:15". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/joshua-13.html. 1685.

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

15.Children of Reuben — In Numbers 32 the children of Reuben and Gad are represented as petitioning Moses for an allotment on the east of Jordan, and they received their portion chiefly between the Arnon and the Jabbok. This district is now called the Belka, and Burckhardt describes the country and climate as exceedingly picturesque and delightful. “In the Belkan mountains we were refreshed by cool winds, and everywhere found a grateful shade of pine, oak, and wild pistachio trees, with a scenery more like that of Europe than any I had yet seen in Syria. The superiority of the pasturage of the Belka over that of all southern Syria is the cause of its possession being much contested. The Bedouins have this saying: ‘Thou canst not find a country like the Belka.’” Reuben and Gad had much cattle, and no wonder they desired a possession in these rich and delightful pasture hinds.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Joshua 13:15". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/joshua-13.html. 1874-1909.

Joseph Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments

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.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Joshua 13:15". Joseph Benson's Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/rbc/joshua-13.html. 1857.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

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

No JFB commentary on this verse.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Joshua 13:15". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/joshua-13.html. 1871-8.

Calvin's Commentary on the Bible

15.And Moses gave unto the tribe, etc What he seemed to have said with sufficient clearness he now follows more fully in detail, not only that the reading might incite the people to gratitude, seeing the divine goodness recorded in public documents, and, as it were, constantly before their eyes, but also that each might enjoy his inheritance without molestation and quarrel. For we know how ingenious human cupidity is in devising pretexts for litigation, so that no one can possess his right in safety unless a plain and perspicuous definition of his right make it impossible to call it in question. That country had been given without casting lots. It was therefore open to others to object that the just proportion had not been kept, and that the inequality behooved to be corrected. Therefore, that no unseasonable dispute might ever disturb the public peace, the boundaries are everywhere fixed by the authority of God, and disputes of every kind are removed by setting up landmarks. God does not by one single expression merely adjudge the whole kingdom of Sihon to the tribe of Reuben, but he traces their extreme limit from Aroer to the banks of the Arnon, and thus, making an entire circuit, contracts or widens their territory so as not to leave the possession of a single acre ambiguous. Moreover, how useful this exact delineation was may be learned from profane history, where we everywhere meet, not only with invidious but pernicious disputes among neighbors as to their boundaries.

We may add that the care which the Lord condescended to take in providing for his people, and in cherishing mutual peace among them, demonstrates his truly paternal love, since he omitted nothing that might conduce to their tranquillity. And, indeed, had not provision been thus early made, they might have been consumed by intestine quarrels. (136)

I again beg my readers to excuse me if I do not labor anxiously in describing the situation of towns, and am not even curious in regard to names. Nay, I will readily allow those names which it was thought proper to leave as proper nouns in Hebrew to be used appellatively, and so far altered as to give them a Latin form. (137)

It is worthy of notice, that when the land of the Midianites is referred to, the princes who ruled over it are called Satraps of Sihon, to let us know that they shared in the same overthrow, because they had involved themselves in an unjust war, and belonged to the government of Sihon, an avowed enemy. And to make it still more clear that they perished justly, it is told that among the slain was Balaam, by whose tongue they had attempted to wound the Israelites more grievously than by a thousand swords; (138) just as if it had been said that in that slaughter they found the hostile banner, by which they had declared themselves at open war with the Israelites. When it is said that the Jordan was a boundary, and a boundary, it will be proper, in order to prevent useless repetition, to interpret that Jordan was a boundary to them according to its limits. (139)

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Bibliographical Information
Calvin, John. "Commentary on Joshua 13:15". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/cal/joshua-13.html. 1840-57.