|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 8. - From Mount Hor ye shall point out your border unto the entrance of Hamath. Literally, "from Mount Hor point out (תְּתָאוּ, as in the previous verse) to come to Hamath," which seems to mean, "from Mount Hor strike a line for the entrance to Hamath." The real difficulty lies in the expression לְבאֹ חַמָת, which the Septuagint renders εἰσπορευομέν ον εἰς Ἐμάθ, "as men enter into Hamath." The same expression occurs in Numbers 13:21, and is similarly rendered by the Septuagint. A comparison with Judges 3:3 and other passages will show that "Ibo Chamath" had a definite geographical meaning as the accepted name of a locality in the extreme north of Canaan. When we come to inquire where "the entrance to Hamath" was, we have nothing to guide us except the natural features of the country. Hamath itself, afterwards Epiphancia on the Orontes, lay far beyond the extremest range of Jewish settlement; nor does it appear that it was ever conquered by the greatest of the Jewish kings. The Hamath in which Solomon built store cities (2 Chronicles 8:4), and the Hamath which Jeroboam II. "recovered" for Israel (2 Kings 14:28), was not the city, but the kingdom (or part of the kingdom), of that name. We do not know how far south the territory of Hamath may have extended, but it is quite likely that it included at times the whole upper valley of the Leontes (now the Litany). The "entrance to Hamath" then must be looked for at some point, distinctly marked by the natural features of the country, where the traveler from Palestine would enter the territory of Hamath. This point has been usually fixed at the pass through which the Orontes breaks out of its upper valley between Lebanon and anti-Lebanon into the open plain of Hamath. This point, however, is more than sixty miles north of Damascus (which confessedly never belonged to Israel), and nearly a hundred miles north-north-west from Dan. It would require some amount of positive evidence to make it even probable that the whole of the long and narrow valley between Lebanon and anti-Lebanon, widening towards the north, and separated by mountainous and difficult country from the actual settlements of the Jews, was yet Divinely designated as part of their inheritance. No such positive evidence exists, and therefore we are perfectly free to look for "the entrance to Hamath" much further to the south. It is evident that the ordinary road from the land of Canaan or from the cities of Phoenicia to Hamath must have struck the valley of the Leontes, have ascended that river to its sources, and crossed the watershed to the upper stream of Orontes. The whole of this road, until it reached the pass already spoken of leading down to the Emesa of after days, and so to Hamath, lay through a narrow valley of which the narrowest part is at the southern end of the modern district of el Bekaa, almost in a straight line between Sidon and Mount Hermon. Here the two ranges approach most nearly to the bed of the Litany (Leontes), forming a natural gate by which the traveler to Hamath must needs have entered from the south. Here then, very nearly in lat. 88° 80', we may reasonably place the "entrance to Hamath" so often spoken of, and so escape the necessity of imagining an artificial and impracticable frontier for the northern boundary of the promised land. Zedad. Identified by some with the present village of Sadad or Sudad, to the south-east of Emesa (Hums); but this identification, which is at best very problematic, is wholly out of the question if the argument of the preceding note be accepted.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
From Mount Hor ye shall point out your border unto the entrance of Hamath,.... Antiochia, as Jarchi; or rather Epiphania, as Jerom (r); the former being described by Hemath the great, Amos 6:2, this entrance was a narrow pass leading from the land of Canaan to Syria, through the valley which lies between Lebanon and Antilibanus:
and the goings forth of the border shall be to Zedad; the same boundary as here is given in Ezekiel 47:15.
(r) Comment. in Ezekiel 47. 16.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
8. entrance of Hamath—The northern plain between those mountain ranges, now the valley of Balbeck (see on Nu 13:21).
Zedad—identified as the present Sudud (Eze 47:15).
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