|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 29. - The halftribe of Manasseh. The word used for "tribe" in the first and second half of this verse is not the same. Some German critics have derived an argument for the hypothesis that the historical and geographical portions of the book are not by the same hand, from the supposed fact that the former of these words is used almost exclusively in the first, or historical portion, and the latter in the second, or geographical portion, of the book. The word "almost" would be almost sufficient to overthrow the theory, but this verse is an insuperable objection to it. Is it seriously contended that one half of this verse is taken from one author, and the other from another? Or is it possible that the writer of the book may actually have understood the language he was using, and meant to use the two words in somewhat different senses? Gesenius, it is true, would explain the words as being precisely synonymous. But his own etymological remarks are fatal to his theory. מטה the latter of the two words, is a bough, or shoot (derived from a word signifying to grow), capable of throwing out blossoms (Ezekiel 7:10). It refers, therefore, to the natural descent of the tribe from Manasseh their father. But שבט is allied to שׁפט; to judge, and the Greek σκήπτρον, and perhaps the English shaft, and signifies a rod as the emblem of authority. Thus it is used in Genesis 49:10, of a royal sceptre. So Psalm 2:9, an iron sceptre, Psalm 45:6. Thus the latter word has reference to the tribe as an organised community, the former to it in reference to its ancestral derivation. This view would seem to be supported by ver. 24, where the מטה of Gad is further explained to mean his sons and their families, as well as by this verse, where the שׁבט is used absolutely, the מטה in connection with the family
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
And Moses gave inheritance unto the half tribe of Manasseh,.... Whether at their request or of himself, there being land enough for them, and the two tribes of Gad and Reuben, is not certain:
and this is the possession of the half tribe of Manasseh, by their families; which is after related and described.
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