World Wide Study Bible

Study

a Bible passage

Click a verse to see commentary

13. Land East of Jordan

1Now Joshua was old and well stricken in years; and Jehovah said unto him, Thou art old and well stricken in years, and there remaineth yet very much land to be possessed. 2This is the land that yet remaineth: all the regions of the Philistines, and all the Geshurites; 3from the Shihor, which is before Egypt, even unto the border of Ekron northward, which is reckoned to the Canaanites; the five lords of the Philistines; the Gazites, and the Ashdodites, the Ashkelonites, the Gittites, and the Ekronites; also the Avvim, 4on the south; all the land of the Canaanites, and Mearah that belongeth to the Sidonians, unto Aphek, to the border of the Amorites; 5and the land of the Gebalites, and all Lebanon, toward the sunrising, from Baal-gad under mount Hermon unto the entrance of Hamath; 6all the inhabitants of the hill-country from Lebanon unto Misrephoth-maim, even all the Sidonians; them will I drive out from before the children of Israel: only allot thou it unto Israel for an inheritance, as I have commanded thee. 7Now therefore divide this land for an inheritance unto the nine tribes, and the half-tribe of Manasseh.

8With him the Reubenites and the Gadites received their inheritance, which Moses gave them, beyond the Jordan eastward, even as Moses the servant of Jehovah gave them: 9from 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 of Medeba unto Dibon; 10and all the cities of Sihon king of the Amorites, who reigned in Heshbon, unto the border of the children of Ammon; 11and Gilead, and the border of the Geshurites and Maacathites, and all mount Hermon, and all Bashan unto Salecah; 12all the kingdom of Og in Bashan, who reigned in Ashtaroth and in Edrei (the same was left of the remnant of the Rephaim); for these did Moses smite, and drove them out. 13Nevertheless the children of Israel drove not out the Geshurites, nor the Maacathites: but Geshur and Maacath dwell in the midst of Israel unto this day. 14Only unto the tribe of Levi he gave no inheritance; the offerings of Jehovah, the God of Israel, made by fire are his inheritance, as he spake unto him.

15And Moses gave unto the tribe of the children of Reuben according to their families. 16And 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; 17Heshbon, and all its cities that are in the plain; Dibon, and Bamoth-baal, and Beth-baal-meon, 18and Jahaz, and Kedemoth, and Mephaath, 19and Kiriathaim, and Sibmah, and Zereth-shahar in the mount of the valley, 20and Beth-peor, and the slopes of Pisgah, and Beth-jeshimoth, 21and 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. 22Balaam also the son of Beor, the soothsayer, did the children of Israel slay with the sword among the rest of their slain. 23And 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.

24And Moses gave unto the tribe of Gad, unto the children of Gad, according to their families. 25And their border was Jazer, and all the cities of Gilead, and half the land of the children of Ammon, unto Aroer that is before Rabbah; 26and from Heshbon unto Ramath-mizpeh, and Betonim; and from Mahanaim unto the border of Debir; 27and in the valley, Beth-haram, and Beth-nimrah, and Succoth, and Zaphon, the rest of the kingdom of Sihon king of Heshbon, the Jordan and the border thereof, unto the uttermost part of the sea of Chinnereth beyond the Jordan eastward. 28This is the inheritance of the children of Gad according to their families, the cities and the villages thereof.

29And Moses gave inheritance unto the half-tribe of Manasseh: and it was for the half-tribe of the children of Manasseh according to their families. 30And their border 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: 31and half Gilead, and Ashtaroth, and Edrei, the cities of the kingdom of Og in Bashan, were for the children of Machir the son of Manasseh, even for the half of the children of Machir according to their families.

32These are the inheritances which Moses distributed in the plains of Moab, beyond the Jordan at Jericho, eastward. 33But unto the tribe of Levi Moses gave no inheritance: Jehovah, the God of Israel, is their inheritance, as he spake unto them.

Select a resource above

1. Now Joshua was old, etc 127127     The words, “old and stricken in years,” do not contain a tautology, but accurately express the period of life according to a division which was long familiar to the Jews, and may have been not unknown to them even at this early period. According to this division, old age consisted of three stages, — the first extending from the sixtieth to the seventieth year, constituting the commencement of old age properly so called; the second extending from the seventieth to the eightieth year, and constituting what was called hoary, or hoary-headed age; and the third extending from the eightieth year to the end of life, and constituting what was called advanced age, and caused the person who had reached it to be described as one stricken in years. At this closing stage Joshua had now arrived. — Ed. Since we have seen above that the land was pacified by the subjugation of thirty-one kings, it is probable that some cessation now took place for the purpose of resting from their fatigues, lest the people should be worn out by continual service. Nor could that justly be blamed, provided they rested only for a time and continued always intent on the goal set before them. But lest that intermission which was given for the purpose of recruiting new vigor might prove an occasion of sloth, the Lord employs a new stimulus to urge them to proceed. For he orders the whole inheritance to be divided into tribes, and the whole line of the Mediterranean coast which was possessed by the enemy to be put into the lot. A division of this kind might indeed seem absurd and ludicrous, nay, a complete mockery, seeing they were dealing among themselves with the property of others just as if it had been their own. But the Lord so appointed for the best of reasons. First, they might have cast away the hope of the promise and been contented with their present state. Nay, although after the lot was cast they had security in full for all that God had promised, they by their own cowardice, as far as in them lay, destroyed the credit of his words. Nor was it owing to any merit of theirs that his veracity did not lie curtailed and mutilated. The allocation by lot must therefore have been to them an earnest of certain possession so as to keep them always in readiness for it. Secondly, Those who happened to have their portion assigned in an enemy’s country, inasmuch as they were living in the meanwhile as strangers on precarious hospitality beyond their own inheritance, must have acted like a kind of task-masters spurring on the others. And it surely implied excessive stupor to neglect and abandon what had been divinely assigned to them.

We now see to what intent the whole land behooved to be divided by lot, and the seat of each tribe allocated. It was also necessary that this should be done while Joshua was alive, because after his death the Israelites would have been less inclined to obedience, for none of his successors possessed authority sufficient for the execution of so difficult a task. Moreover, as God had already by the mouth of Moses commanded it to be done, had he not performed the business thus committed to him, the whole work might have gone to wreck when the lawful minister was removed. Although the exact time is not stated, still it is probable that as there was no hope that while Joshua continued alive the people would again take up arms with the view of giving a wider extent to their boundaries, he then only attempted to divide the land, as if he were proclaiming and promising, by a solemn attestation, that the distribution would certainly be carried into effect, because the truth of God could not fail in consequence of the death of any man.

2. This is the land, etc The ancient boundaries long ago fixed by God, are recalled to remembrance, in order that Joshua. and the people may feel fully persuaded that the covenant made with Abraham would be fulfilled in every part. Wherefore they are enjoined to make it their study to acquire the parts still remaining to be possessed. The inference will be appropriate if we make a practical application of this perseverance to that which is required of us, viz., to forget the things which are behind, and reach forth unto those that are before, and press toward the mark for the prize of our high calling. (Philippians 3:14.) 128128     The original text had the reference to Philippians 2:14, an obvious typesetting error. —fj. For it would be of no use to run in the race without endeavoring to reach the goal.

The boundary commenced with a river separating Egypt toward the sea from the Holy Land, and most probably the river Nile, as we interpret it according to the received opinion, or a small stream which flowed past the town of Rhinocornea, believed by many to be Raphia or Raphane. 129129     The opinion generally entertained in Calvin’s time, that the river here meant was the Nile, or at least one of its branches, was founded partly on the meaning of the word sihor, which is literally black, and was explained by expositors as equivalent to turbid, a term strictly applicable to the Nile; and partly from a passage in Jeremiah, (Jeremiah 2:18) in which the Prophet asks, “What has thou to do in the way of Egypt to drink the waters of Sihor?” — Sihor being here undoubtedly used as a proper name for the Nile. The second opinion mentioned by Calvin is now almost universally admitted to be the only one tenable. Even the description here given of Sihor, (Joshua 13:3,) as “before Egypt,” is totally inapplicable to the Nile which, instead of being before Egypt, or on its frontiers, flows nearly through its center. The river meant and expressly referred to both by Moses (Numbers 34:5) and by Joshua (Joshua 15:4) under the name of the river of Egypt, is now called the Wady El-Arisch, from the town of that name situated near its mouth, and not far from the site of the ancient Rhinocolura, or perhaps more properly Rhinocorura. Calvin spells Rhinocornea, which if it had not been repeated by the French, might seem to be a misprint. — Ed. It is indeed beyond dispute that the inheritance of the people commencing in that quarter was contiguous to Egypt. But although I have followed the opinion of the majority of expositors, that the boundaries were not extended further than to the less cultivated and in a manner desert land, lest greater proximity might have been injurious by leading to too close familiarity with the Egyptians, I by no means repudiate a different opinion.

The third verse raises a question. After it is said that the territories towards the sea-coast were five, a sixth is added, namely, that of the Avites. Some think that it is not counted among the five because it was an insignificant province. But I would have my readers to consider whether there may not be an indirect antithesis between a free people, their own masters, and five territories ruled by sovereigns. Hence the Avites being in different circumstances are mentioned separately, the plural number being used for the sake of distinction. In the enumeration of the sovereignties they are not arranged in the order of their dignity or opulence, but the first place is given to Aza because of its nearness to Egypt, and the same remark applies to Ashdod and the others.

The Septuagint translators, according to their usual custom, employ the Greek γ (gamma) to express the Hebrew ע (ain), and thus give the name of Gaza to that which in Hebrew is Aza, in the same way as they convert Amorrha into Gomorrha. 130130     It is here assumed that the only genuine sound represented by the Hebrew letter Ain is that of a. Is this the fact? Gesenius, on the contrary, while repudiating the modern Jewish pronunciation of it by the nasal gn or ng as decidedly false, says that its hardest sound is that of a g referring to Gaza and Gomorrha, the two words referred to by Calvin in illustration of the contrary. See Gesenius’s Hebrew Grammar. (Bagster, 1852.) This sufficiently exposes the mistake of those who suppose that its name is Persian, and derived from its resources 131131     The French adds, “Et qu’il signifie Richesses;” “And that it means Riches.” — Ed. in consequence of Cambyses, when about to carry on war in Greece, having made it the depot of his treasures. But as in the Acts, (Acts 8:26,) Luke speaks of “Gaza which is desert,” it appears that a city of the same name was erected near it, but on a different site. Ashdod is the same as that which the Greeks called Azotus. The whole of this tract, which is either on the sea-coast or verging towards it, extends as far as Sidon. And there are some who think that the Phoenicians were once masters both of Gaza and Azotus. How far Lebanon extends is sufficiently known. 132132     French, “Quant au Liban, c’est une chose assez notoire quelle longeur d’etendue il a;” “As to Lebanon it is sufficiently well known what length of extent it has.” For it sometimes comprehends Mount Hermon; and on account of its length part of it is surnamed Antilibanus. 133133     This is certainly incorrect. Antilibanus received its name, not from its length, but from its being a mountain chain opposite and parallel to Libanus or Lebanon proper, from which it is separated by the beautiful valley known to the Greeks and Romans by the names of Coele-Syria, or rather Koile (Hollow) Syria, and watered by the Leontes. — Ed. The reader will find the subject of Mount Hermon considered in the fourth chapter of Deuteronomy. Towards the east is Hamath, which is also Antioch of Syria.

6. All the inhabitants of the hill country, etc Joshua is again admonished, though the Israelites do not yet possess those regions, not to defer the partition, but trust to the promise of God, because it would detract injuriously from his honor if there were any doubt as to the event. It is accordingly said: Only do what is thy duty in the distribution of the land; nor let that which the enemy still hold securely be exempted from the lot; for it will be my care to fulfil what I have promised. Hence let us learn in undertaking any business, so to depend on the lips of God as that no doubt can delay us. It is not ours, indeed, to fabricate vain hopes for ourselves; but when our confidence is founded on the Lord, let us only obey his commands, and there is no reason to fear that the event will disappoint us.

He afterwards assigns the land of Canaan to nine tribes and a half tribe, because the portion of the Reubenites, Gadites, and half tribe of Manasseh had already been assigned beyond the Jordan. Though there is a seeming tautology in the words, Which Moses gave them, as Moses gave them, there is nothing superfluous, because in the second clause the donation is confirmed; as if God were ordering that which was done to be ratified, or saying, in other words, As Moses gave them that land, so let them remain tranquil in the possession of it. 134134     The Septuagint avoids the appearance of tautology, both by abridging the verse and adopting a different punctuation, rendering it thus: “To Reuben and Gad the Lord gave (an inheritance) on the other side of the Jordan; towards the sun-rising did Moses the servant of the Lord give it to them.” This, however, is not the only alteration made by the Septuagint version. For immediately before the verse now quoted, it interpolates another in the following terms, “From the Jordan unto the Great Sea on the west shall thou give it: the Great Sea will be the boundary of the two tribes and of the half tribe of Manasse.” — Ed. For this reason also he is distinguished by the title of servant of God, as if it were said, Let no one interfere with that decree which a faithful minister has pronounced on the authority of God. It was certainly necessary to provide by anticipation against the disputes which otherwise must have daily arisen.

14. Only unto the tribe of Levi, etc This exception was also necessary, lest the Levites might allege that they were unjustly disinherited, and thus excite great commotions in regard to their right. He therefore reminds them that Moses was the author of this distinction, and, at the same time, shows that they have no reason to complain of having been in any way defrauded, because an excellent compensation was given them. For although the sacrifices were not equally divided among the Levites, their subsistence was sufficiently provided for by all the first-fruits and the tithes. Moreover, as God allures them by hire to undertake the charge of sacred things, so he exhorts the people in their turn to be faithful in paying the sacred oblations by declaring that their sacrifices are the maintenance of the Levites. 135135     To the end of this verse the Septuagint adds the following clause: “καὶ οὖτος ὁ καταμερισμὸς ὅν κατεμέρισε Μωνσὢς τοῖς υἱοῖς Ισραὴλ ἐν Αραβὼθ Μωὰβ ἐν τῷ πέραν τοῦ Ιορδάνου κατὰ Ιεριχὼ;” “And this is the division which Moses divided to the children of Israel in Araboth-Moab beyond Jordan opposite to Jericho.” — Ed.

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. 136136     French, “Et de faict, s’il n’euste pourveu a cela de bonne heure, ils se fussent mangez et consumez les uns les autres en debatant entre eux;” “And in fact, had not this been provided for in good time, they would have eaten and consumed one another while debating among themselves.” — Ed.

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. 137137     French, “Qui plus est, je suis content qu’on traduise en d’autres langues certains noms, qu’il m’a semble bon de laisser ici en la langue Hebraique comme noms propres;” “Moreover, I am content that certain words which I have thought good to leave here in the Hebrew tongue as proper names be translated into other languages.” — Ed.

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; 138138     The curious contradictions in the behavior of this remarkable man whose fate is here recorded, and analogous exemplification’s of them in ordinary life, are admirably delineated by Bishop Butler in a sermon on the subject. — Ed. 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. 139139     Latin, “Terminum illis fuisse Jordanem secundum suos fines.” French, “Que le Jordain estoit leur borne selon ses limites;” “That the Jordan was their boundary according to its limits.” The repetition is omitted by the Septuagint. — Ed.

24. And Moses gave inheritance unto the tribe of Gad, etc The observation made above applies also to the tribe of Gad, namely, that their legitimate boundaries were carefully defined in order to prevent disputes as to their possession. Meanwhile God is extolled for his liberality in having expelled nations of great celebrity, and substituted them in their stead. This is expressed more clearly in regard to the half tribe of Manasseh, when sixty cities are enumerated as included in their inheritance. Hence, too, it is manifest that Moses was not munificent through mistake, because it was well known to God how many cities he was giving them out of his boundless liberality. In a short clause the tribe of Levi is again excluded, that the Levites might not be able at some future period to pretend that the grant which the Reubenites, Gadites, and half tribe of Manasseh had obtained without the casting of lots, belonged in common to them also; for they are expressly forbidden to share with their brethren. This made it easy for them to interpret shrewdly for their advantage, that they were entitled to share with others. Here, however, it is not the sacrifices, as a little before, but God Himself that is said to be their inheritance; if they are not satisfied with it, they only convict themselves of excessive pride and insufferable fastidiousness. 140140     The thirty-third verse is entirely omitted by the Septuagint. — Ed.




Advertisements