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.
Joshua is bidden to allot the whole of the promised land among the twelve tribes in faith that God would perfect in due time that expulsion of the Canaanites which Joshua himself could not carry further (see Joshua 11:23).
This is the land that yet remaineth: all the borders of the Philistines, and all Geshuri,
This and Joshua 13:3 name the still unconquered districts in the southern half of the land, Joshua 13:4-6 those in the north.
Geshuri - A district on the south of Philistia, the inhabitants of which are again named in 1 Samuel 27:8; but are not to be confounded with the land of the Geshurites mentioned in Joshua 13:13; Joshua 12:5.
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:
Sihor is derived from a root signifying "to be black," and is suitable enough as an appellative of the Nile Isaiah 23:3. Here it most probably stands for "the river of Egypt" (Numbers 34:3 note), the modern "Wady el Arish".
Ekron ("Akir") lay on the northern boundary of Judah Joshua 15:11, and was actually conquered by the men of that tribe Judges 1:18, though assigned in the allotment of the land to Dan Jos 19:43. It seems to have fallen again into the hands of the Philistines in the days of the Judges 1 Samuel Judges 5:10, was reconquered by Samuel (compare 1 Samuel 7:14), but figures in subsequent times as a Philistine city only (compare 1 Samuel 17:52; 2 Kings 1:2, 2 Kings 1:16, etc.).
Gaza was the most southern of the Philistine cities (compare Joshua 10:41; Joshua 11:22). It was allotted to the tribe of Judah Joshua 15:47, and was, with Askalon, taken by the warriors of that tribe Judges 1:18. Both cities were soon re-occupied by the Philistines, and subsequently are always mentioned as Philistine cities. Gaza lay on the direct route of the Egyptian armies in their invasions of Syria, by whom it was captured more than once. Special judgments are denounced against Gaza for the cruelty of its people toward the Jews in the time of their humiliation Amos 1:6-7; Zephaniah 2:4; Zechariah 9:5, and in the time of Jerome the ancient city was a ruin of which the foundations could hardly be traced, and the then existing town was built on another site. Gaza was in later times an episcopal see, and is now a thriving place containing some 15,000 inhabitants, a larger population than that of Jerusalem.
Ashdod ("Esdud;" Azotus, Acts 8:40) was, like Gaza, allotted to Judah (see Joshua 15:46-47), but was soon regained by the Philistines, and became a principal seat of their Dagon worship. Here the ark of God was taken after its capture by the Philistines (1 Samuel 5:1 ff). Its name ( "fortress," "castle"), no less than its history (compare 2 Chronicles 26:6; Isaiah 20:1; Nehemiah 4:7, etc.) indicates its importance as a stronghold; it withstood for twenty-nine years the longest siege on record by the Egyptian king Psammetichus. Like Gaza, it was doomed by the Jewish prophets to desolation, and it was utterly destroyed by the Maccabees (1 Macc. 10:77-84; 11:4). It was, however, rebuilt by the Romans, and figures in Christian times as an episcopal city.
Askelon (see Judges 1:18), the birthplace of Herod the Great, figures as an important town and seaport in the history of the Crusades, and very massive ruins still attest the ancient strength and grandeur of the place. It is situated about midway between Gaza and Ashdod.
Gath seems to have been first taken by David 1 Chronicles 18:1. It is not named again in the book of Joshua. It was the town of Goliath 1 Samuel 17:4, and is mentioned in David's elegy over Saul as a leading Philistine city 2 Samuel 1:20. It was the nearest of the Philistine cities to Jerusalem, but both the name and the city have perished; its site is conjecturally placed (by Condor) at Tell es Safi.
Avites - See Deuteronomy 2:23 note.
From the south, all the land of the Canaanites, and Mearah that is beside the Sidonians, unto Aphek, to the borders of the Amorites:
Read "on the south," and connect the words with the verse preceding. They indicate the southern limit of the still unconquered territory in this neighborhood, as Joshua 13:3 gives the northern one.
Mearah - The "cave" (see the margin) has been referred to "Mugar Jczzin" ("cave of Jezzin"), between Tyre and Sidon, or to a district characterized by deep cave-like ravines near Sidon and Dan-Laish.
And the land of the Giblites, and all Lebanon, toward the sunrising, from Baalgad under mount Hermon unto the entering into Hamath.
Giblites - The people of Gebal ("Jebail", 22 miles north of Beyronut). They were "stone-squarers" 1 Kings 5:18 and (ship) "caulkers" Ezekiel 27:9.
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.
The King James Version would exhibit the sense more clearly if the words from the beginning of Joshua 13:2 to the words "the Sidonians" in this verse were placed in a parenthesis, and the order of the words before us changed thus: "I will drive them out." The "them" meaning the inhabitants of the "very much land to be possessed," spoken of in Joshua 13:1.
Now therefore divide this land for an inheritance unto the nine tribes, and the half tribe of Manasseh,
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;
The writer appends to the command of God Joshua 13:1-7 a statement that the other two tribes and a half had already had their inheritance marked out for them by Moses in the land east of Jordan. The boundaries of this territory as a whole are first set forth Joshua 13:8-14, and afterward the portions assigned within it to the two tribes and a half are severally described Joshua 13:15-33.
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;
And all the cities of Sihon king of the Amorites, which reigned in Heshbon, unto the border of the children of Ammon;
And Gilead, and the border of the Geshurites and Maachathites, and all mount Hermon, and all Bashan unto Salcah;
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.
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.
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.
See Deuteronomy 18:1-5 and notes.
And Moses gave unto the tribe of the children of Reuben inheritance according to their families.
Inheritance of the tribe of Reuben. This territory was the most southerly of the trans-Jordanic possessions of Israel, and adjoined Moab, which lay only on the other side of the Arnon. Hence, the Reubenites became in after times much intermixed with the Moabites, who in fact eventually acquired much of the land, and several, if not all, of the cities here named as belonging to Reuben. This acquisition was probably assisted by the fact that the territory north of Arnon had formerly belonged to the Moabites, from whom it was wrested by the Amorites (see Numbers 21:27, etc. notes). It is not likely that the Amorite conquerors had completely extirpated the Moabite inhabitants. Hence, in the days when the Reubenites became engrossed in their pastoral pursuits, and probably not very long after the days of Joshua, the Moabites easily encroached on their inheritance, and in the end probably reoccupied nearly the whole of the ancient kingdom of Sihon (Compare Deuteronomy 33:6 note).
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;
Heshbon, and all her cities that are in the plain; Dibon, and Bamothbaal, and Bethbaalmeon,
See the marginal references for some of these names. Heshbon, Kedemoth, and Mephaath became eventually Levitical cities.
And Jahazah, and Kedemoth, and Mephaath,
And Kirjathaim, and Sibmah, and Zarethshahar in the mount of the valley,
And Bethpeor, and Ashdothpisgah, and Bethjeshimoth,
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.
Dukes of Sihon - Rather "vassals of Sihon," probably those "dedicated" or "appointed" with a libation.
Balaam also the son of Beor, the soothsayer, did the children of Israel slay with the sword among them that were slain by them.
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.
Jordan ... - i. e. the Jordan and its territory (compare similar expressions in Numbers 34:6; Deuteronomy 3:16). The portion of the tribe of Reuben at its northern extremity touched the Jordan; the main part of his inheritance lay on the east of the Dead Sea.
And Moses gave inheritance unto the tribe of Gad, even unto the children of Gad according to their families.
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;
All the cities of Gilead - i. e. of Gilead in the narrower sense, included in the territory of Sihon, and distinct from Bashan Deuteronomy 3:10.
Half the land of the children of Ammon - i. e. that half of the Ammonite territory which had been conquered by the Amorites. This, after the overthrow of Sihon, the Israelites took for their own. The land which the Ammonites still held in the days of Moses, the Israelites were not permitted to attack.
Rabbah was a border fortress, the principal stronghold of the Ammonites Numbers 21:24, and the residence of their king. It was attacked and taken by Joab 2 Samuel 11; 12; 1 Chronicles 20:1, but appears in later times again as an Ammonitish city Jeremiah 49:3; Ezekiel 25:5; Amos 1:13-15. In the third century B.C. it received from Ptolemy Philadelplus the name of Philadelphia, and was in later times the seat of a Christian bishop; but has now for many centuries been in ruins, remarkable for their grandeur and extent.
And from Heshbon unto Ramathmizpeh, and Betonim; and from Mahanaim unto the border of Debir;
The border of Debir - Rather perhaps "the border of Lidbir," which is regarded as identical with the Lo-debar of 2 Samuel 9:4; 2 Samuel 17:27, one of the towns from which provisions were brought to David at Mahanaim Genesis 32:2.
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.
This is the inheritance of the children of Gad after their families, the cities, and their villages.
And Moses gave inheritance unto the half tribe of Manasseh: and this was the possession of the half tribe of the children of Manasseh by their families.
On the conquest of Bashan, see especially Numbers 32:33, etc. and notes.
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:
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.
These are the countries which Moses did distribute for inheritance in the plains of Moab, on the other side Jordan, by Jericho, eastward.
But unto the tribe of Levi Moses gave not any inheritance: the LORD God of Israel was their inheritance, as he said unto them.