To the rest of the children of Merari were given out of the tribe of Zebulun, Rimmon with her suburbs, Tabor with her suburbs:
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)THE CITIES OF THE MERARITES.
(77) Unto the rest of the children of Merari.—Rather, Unto the sons of Merari, the remaining Levites, as at Joshua 21:34. The cities of the Kohathites and Gershonites having been rehearsed, it was natural to speak of the Merarites as “those who were left.”
Were given.—They gave, as before (1Chronicles 6:71).
Rimmon . . . Tabor.—Heb. Rimmônô. The reading of Joshua 21:34-35 is quite different. We there find mention of Jokneam, Kartah, Dimnah, and Nahalal, “four cities.” The first pair of names may be accidentally omitted from our text. Dimnah, in Joshua, should probably be Rimmonah, answering to the present Rimmono or Rimmon (Joshua 19:13). Rimmon, the Assyrian Rammânu. (See Note on 2Kings 5:18.) Nahalal is mentioned again (Joshua 19:15) as a city-of Zebulun; while Tabor is only known as the name of the mountain which rises north-east of the plain of Esdraelon, and is famous as the traditional scene of the Transfiguration (Judges 8:18; Psalm 89:12). Nahalal means “pasture,” or “sheep-walk” = Nahalôl (Isaiah 7:19); and the original reading of our text may have been, Nahalal-tabôr (pasturage of Tabor)—a compound proper name like Hamm-thôdôr, and many-others.
(78, 79) Bezer in the wilderness.—A city of refuge (Deuteronomy 4:43). The phrase “on the east or Jordan” fixes the meaning of the indefinite expression “on the other side Jordan.”
Jahzah is a form of Jahaz, originally meaning, “to Jahaz.” (Comp. the modern names Stamboul = ἐς τὰν πόλιν, Stanchio = ἐς τὰν χίω) Jahaz was assigned to Reuben at the partition of Canaan (Joshua 13:18), along with Kedemoth and Mephaath. Mesha, king of Moab, recovered it from Israel (see Note on 2Kings 1:1). Mephaath belonged to Moab temp. Jeremiah (Jeremiah 48:21). It was, according to Jerome, a garrison town in the Roman age. (See also Joshua 13:18; Joshua 21:37; Deuteronomy 2:26.)
(80) Ramoth in Gilead.—A city of refuge (Joshua 21:36). Jazer, Heshbon, Mahanaim, were given by Moses to the Gadites (Joshua 13:25-26). Ramoth Gilead (see 1 Kings 22; 2 Chronicles 18, and 2Kings 8:28). Its position is unknown.
Mahanaim, now Maneh, lay on the north border of Gad.
In regard to this entire list of the Levitical cities, it has been asserted that it is based upon a theory which is historically false; the theory, namely, that certain towns with their pasture-grounds were assigned by lot to the Levites for their exclusive possession. The objection is irrelevant, for the sacred records neither affirm nor imply that none but Levitical families dwelt in the forty-eight Levitical cities. It is à priori probable that the bulk of their population would be ordinary Israelites of the tribes in which they were situated. (Comp. Leviticus 25:32-34, and 1Chronicles 6:55-57 supra, and Numbers 35:1-5.)
Variations in local names, such as we have noted in comparing this list with those in Joshua, are not at all surprising, when it is remembered that centuries elapsed between the composition of the two books; and that names of places, like other names, are liable to phonetic change in the course of time. Something also must be allowed for errors of transcription.Joshua 21:1 with some few variations of names of places, which have been there observed: see the notes there; only in 1 Chronicles 6:57 two cities are omitted, Juttah and Gibeon, through want of care in transcribing, since they are said to be "thirteen", as they should be, whereas eleven only are mentioned. The Jews say (h), the cities of the suburbs (those here mentioned) ceased from the time the first temple was destroyed; and yet Ezra, who lived after the captivity, and the building the second temple, here gives a very particular account of them; the suburbs belonging to every city, which he particularly mentions, were 2000 cubits, both to the cities of refuge, and the rest, Numbers 35:5 Hebron, the first city mentioned in the next verse, was a city of refuge, and had suburbs of such a space; and it is remarkable, that some of the temples with the Heathens, which were asylums, or places of refuge, had the space of 2000 paces assigned them for the same sanctity and privilege (i). Unto the rest of the children of Merari were given out of the tribe of Zebulun, Rimmon with her suburbs, Tabor with her suburbs:
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)Joshua 21:34-39). The [twelve] cities of the sons of Merari
77. Rimmon … Tabor] Against these two names there are four in Joshua 21:34-35; Jokneam, Kartah, Dimnah and Nahalal. As regards the number of the cities the text of Joshua is certainly right. See Critical Note on 1 Chronicles 6:54-81.
Tabor] No city, but only a mountain named Tabor is known to us, as having certainly existed in Old Testament times. A city however named Tabor existed on the Mountain as early as 218 b.c., and it may have been as old as the times of the Chronicler. Mount Tabor was in Zebulun. Cp. Bädeker, p. 248.Verse 77. - Unto the rest of the children of Merari. Since none have yet been spoken of as having received their cities, we find the explanation of these words in their order in Joshua 21:34, "Unto the families of the children of Merari, the rest of the Levites." To our list here, Jokneam and Kartah (Joshua 21:34) need to be supplied, and Rimmon and Tabor here appear (Joshua 21:35), there as Dimnah and Nahalai. 1 Chronicles 6:56-61). The cities of the Gershonites; cf. Joshua 21:27-33. "To the sons of Gershon (they gave) out of the family of the half-tribe of Manasseh, Golan and Ashtaroth;" see on Joshua 21:27. In 1 Chronicles 6:72, קדשׁ is a mistake for קשׁיון, Joshua 21:28 (see on Joshua 19:20); in 1 Chronicles 6:73, ראמות for the more correct ירמות, Joshua 21:29, a city which was also called רמת, Joshua 19:21, or had been so called originally; and ענם for עין־גּנּים (Josh.), as the city is called also in Joshua 19:21. It cannot be determined whether ענם is a transcriber's error, or another name for עין־גּנּים. In 1 Chronicles 6:74, משׁל (which should perhaps be pointed משׁל) is a contracted form of משׁאל, Joshua 31:30; Joshua 19:26; and in 1 Chronicles 6:75, חוּקק is probably an error for חלקת, Joshua 21:31; Joshua 19:25, occasioned by its being confounded with חקּק in the tribe of Naphtali, Joshua 19:34. In 1 Chronicles 6:76 the fact that Kadesh was a city of refuge is not mentioned, as it is in Joshua 21:32. חמּון is a shortened form of חמּות־דּאר, Joshua 21:32; for this city is called in Joshua 19:35 חמּת, from the warm springs in the neighbourhood. Finally, Kirjathaim is contracted in Joshua 21:32 into קרתּן.
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