|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
13:7-33 The land must be divided among the tribes. It is the will of God that every man should know his own, and not take that which is another's. The world must be governed, not by force, but right. Wherever our habitation is placed, and in whatever honest way our portion is assigned, we should consider them as allotted of God; we should be thankful for, and use them as such, while every prudent method should be used to prevent disputes about property, both at present and in future. Joshua must be herein a type of Christ, who has not only conquered the gates of hell for us, but has opened to us the gates of heaven, and having purchased the eternal inheritance for all believers, will put them in possession of it. Here is a general description of the country given to the two tribes and a half, by Moses. Israel must know their own, and keep to it; and may not, under pretence of their being God's peculiar people, encroach on their neighbours. Twice in this chapter it is noticed, that to the tribe of Levi Moses gave no inheritance: see Nu 18:20. Their maintenance must be brought out of all the tribes. The ministers of the Lord should show themselves indifferent about worldly interests, and the people should take care they want nothing suitable. And happy are those who have the Lord God of Israel for their inheritance, though little of this world falls to their lot. His providences will supply their wants, his consolations will support their souls, till they gain heavenly joy and everlasting pleasures.
Verse 23. - And the border thereof. These words have been omitted in the Vulgate, which does not understand them. The LXX. translates, "And the borders of Reuben were the Jordan-border." This seems to be the meaning of the original. The phrase often occurs, as in Joshua 15:12 and Numbers 34:6. Knobel's explanation is probably the correct one, that the phrase means to refer to the natural boundary marked out by the river or sea and its banks. "The boundary of the children of Reuben was Jordan and the natural boundary thus formed." As Dean Stanley reminds us in his 'Lectures on the Jewish Church,' Reuben, as predicted by Jacob (Genesis 49:4), sank at once into insignificance. No ruler, no judge arose from this tribe and its territory. Villages. Hebrew חַצְרֵי, LXX. ἐπαύλεις, Vulgate viculi. The original meaning is a piece of ground enclosed by a hedge or wall. Here it would mean,either with Gesenins and Keil, farm hamlets, or perhaps clearings of cultivated ground, which in Palestine would naturally be enclosed in some way, to prevent the ravages of wild beasts. In the primitive villages of Servia, where wild beasts are not entirely extirpated, not only are all the homesteads enclosed, but a fence is placed across the road, and removed when a vehicle has to pass through. Or perhaps the primitive Jewish community was similar to the primitive Teutonic community as described by Marshall in his 'Elementary and Practical Treatise on Landed Property,' published in 1804, who described the early distribution of land in this country as follows: "Round the village lay a few small enclosures for rearing young stock. Further a field the best land for arable purposes was chosen, and divided into three parts, for the necessary, rotation of fallow, wheat or rye, and spring crops. The meadows near the water courses were set aside for the growth of fodder for the cattle or for pasturage for milch cows, etc. The irreclaimable lands were left for what we now call 'common' uses for fuel, and the inferior pasturage." These arrangements are found to exist in India (see Sir H. Maine, 'Village Communities,' sec. 4.). But there, as in Palestine, the necessity for water was the cause of important modifications. Since the word is used to denote the court
(1) of a prison, Jeremiah 32:2;
(2) of a palace, 1 Kings 7:8;
(3) of a private house, 2 Samuel 17:18;
(4) of the temple in numberless places,
and as it is used of the enclosure of a nomadic camp (Genesis 25:16, where our version has towns; perhaps Deuteronomy 2:23, where our version has Hazerim, following the LXX. - which, however, alters the word to the more usual Hazeroth - and the Vulgate; Isaiah 42:11, with which compare the expression tents of Kedar, Psalm 120:5), the translation villages can hardly be the correct one here or elsewhere (see also ver. 28).
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
And the border of the children of Reuben was Jordan, and the border thereof,.... As their border eastward was Aroer on the river Arnon, so their border westward was the river Jordan:
this was the inheritance of the children of Reuben, after their families, the cities and the villages thereof; which Moses gave them on the other side Jordan; and next follow an account of the inheritance of the tribe of Gad in those parts.
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