|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
34:1-15 Canaan was of small extent; as it is here bounded, it is but about 160 miles in length, and about 50 in breadth; yet this was the country promised to the father of the faithful, and the possession of the seed of Israel. This was that little spot of ground, in which alone, for many ages, God was known. This was the vineyard of the Lord, the garden enclosed; but as it is with gardens and vineyards, the narrowness of the space was made up by the fruitfulness of the soil. Though the earth is the Lord's, and the fulness thereof, yet few know him, and serve him; but those few are happy, because fruitful to God. Also, see how little a share of the world God gives to his own people. Those who have their portion in heaven, have reason to be content with a small pittance of this earth. Yet a little that a righteous man has, having it from the love of God, and with his blessing, is far better and more comfortable than the riches of many wicked.
Verse 3. - Then your south quarter. Rather, "and your south side." From the wilderness of Zin along by the coast of Edom. This general preliminary definition of the southern frontier marks the "wilderness of Zin" as its chief natural feature, and asserts that this wilderness rested "upon the sides" (עַל־יְדֵי) of Edom. The wilderness of gin can scarcely be anything else than the Wady Murreh, with more or less of the barren hills which rise to the south of it, for this wady undoubtedly forms the natural southern boundary of Canaan. All travelers agree both as to the remarkable character of the depression itself and as to the contrast between its northern and southern mountain walls. To the south lies the inhospitable and un-cultivatable desert; to the north the often arid and treeless, but still partially green and habitable, plateau of Southern Palestine. The expression, "on the sides of Edom," can only mean that beyond the Wady Murreh lay territory belonging to Edom, the Mount Seir of Deuteronomy 1:2, the Seir of Deuteronomy 1:44; it does not seem possible that Edom proper, which lay to the east of the Arabah, and which barely marched at all with the land of Canaan, should be intended here (see on Joshua 15:1, and the note on the site of Kadesh). And your south border. This begins a fresh paragraph, in which the southern boundary, already roughly fixed, is described in greater detail. Shall be the utmost coast of the salt sea eastward. Rather, "shall be from the extremity (מִקְצֵה) of the salt sea eastward" (cf. Joshua 15:2). The easternmost point in this boundary was to be fixed at the southernmost extremity of the Salt Sea.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Then your south quarter,.... Or border of the land; which, as Jarchi observes, was from east to west:
shall be from the wilderness of Zin; which is Kadesh, where Miriam died, Numbers 20:1, and if this Kadesh was Kadeshbarnea, as Dr. Lightfoot seems to have proved (h), from whence the spies were sent, that was clearly on the south of the land of Canaan, for they were bid to go up their way southward, Numbers 13:17, and so Kadeshbarnea is hereafter mentioned, as being in the southern border: the Targum of Jonathan paraphrases it,"from the wilderness of the palm trees of the mountain of iron;''there is a smaller palm tree, which by Jewish writers is called Zin, of which there were great quantities on a mountain famous for iron mines, in this wilderness, from whence it is thought it had its name; hence we read (i) of palm trees of the mountain of iron, as fit to make the bunch of branches of trees, called the "lulab", carried in the hand on the feast of tabernacles:
along by the coast of Edom; the land of Canaan, to the south, bordered on three countries, Egypt, Edom, and Moab; according to Jarchi, some part of Egypt, the whole land of Edom, and the whole land of Moab; the part of the land of Egypt was in the south west corner of it; the land of Edom by it to the east; and the land of Moab by the land of Edom, at the end of the south to the east:
and your south border shall be the outmost coast of the salt sea eastward; the same that is sometimes called the Dead sea, the sea of Sodom, or the lake Asphaltites, as Heathen writers generally call it.
(h) Works, vol. 2. p. 8, 9. (i) Misn. Succah. c. 3. sect. 1.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
3-5. your south quarter—The line which bounded it on the south is the most difficult to trace. According to the best biblical geographers, the leading points here defined are as follows: The southwest angle of the southern boundary should be where the wilderness of Zin touches the border of Edom, so that the southern boundary should extend eastward from the extremity of the Dead Sea, wind around the precipitous ridge of Akrabbim ("scorpions"), thought to be the high and difficult Pass of Safeh, which crosses the stream that flows from the south into the Jordan—that is, the great valley of the Arabah, reaching from the Dead to the Red Sea.
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