1 Kings 4:13
The son of Geber, in Ramothgilead; to him pertained the towns of Jair the son of Manasseh, which are in Gilead; to him also pertained the region of Argob, which is in Bashan, three score great cities with walls and brazen bars:
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(13) The sixth division, large, but probably less fertile, crosses the Jordan, and includes a great portion of the territory of Manasseh and Gad. The region of Argob, “the rocky region” (afterwards translated into the Greek name Trachonitis), is noticed in Deuteronomy 3:4; Deuteronomy 3:13-14, as the land of Og, covered with great cities, taken by Jair, son of Manasseh, and called Havoth-Jair—“the towns of Jair.” Ramoth-gilead was a Levitical city and a city of refuge, in Gad (Deuteronomy 4:43; Joshua 20:8; Joshua 21:38), famous afterwards in the wars with the Syrians (1Kings 22:3; 2Kings 8:28; 2Kings 9:1).

4:1-19 In the choice of the great officers of Solomon's court, no doubt, his wisdom appeared. Several are the same that were in his father's time. A plan was settled by which no part of the country was exhausted to supply his court, though each sent its portion.It will be observed that five out of the twelve prefects are designated solely by their father's names, Ben-Hur, etc., while one (Ahimaaz, 1 Kings 4:15) has no such designation. Probably the document, which the author of the Book of Kings consulted, had contained originally the proper name and father's name of each prefect; but it was mutilated or illegible in places at the time when he consulted it. If it was in the shape of a list, a single mutilation at one corner might have removed four of the six wanting names. 8. The son of Hur—or, as the Margin has it, Benhur, Bendekar. In the rural parts of Syria, and among the Arabs, it is still common to designate persons not by their own names, but as the sons of their fathers. In Ramoth-gilead; Ramoth in the land of Gilead, Deu 4:43 Joshua 20:8 1 Kings 22:3; so called to difference it from Ramoth in Issachar, 1 Chronicles 6:73.

Jair; in Manasseh beyond Jordan. See Numbers 32:41 Deu 3:14.

Great cities with walls and brasen bars: this is added by way of distinction from those towns of Jair; for being without Jordan, they were liable to the attempts of their enemies. The son of Geber in Ramothgilead,.... A city in the tribe of Gad, and was a city of refuge, Joshua 20:8;

to him pertained the towns of Jair the son of Manasseh, which are in Gilead; of which see Numbers 32:41;

to him also pertained the region of Argob, which is in Bashan,

threescore great cities with walls, and brasen bars; called by Josephus (s) Ragaba, beyond Jordan; See Gill on Deuteronomy 3:4.

(s) Antiqu. l. 13. c. 15. sect. 5.

The son of Geber, in Ramothgilead; to him pertained the towns of {d} Jair the son of Manasseh, which are in Gilead; to him also pertained the region of Argob, which is in Bashan, threescore great cities with walls and brasen bars:

(d) Which bore Jair's name, because he took them from the Canaanites, Nu 32:41.

13. the son of Geber] Better, Ben-Geber. The name ‘Geber’ occurs again in 1 Kings 4:19, but whether the same person is meant by it there is nothing to shew. It is only found in these two places.

in Ramoth-gilead] We now come to the mountainous district on the eastern side of the Jordan, in which were settled the tribes of Reuben, Gad, and half of Manasseh.

the towns of Jair] As the Hebrew word (havvoth) rendered ‘towns’ is found only in this connexion it is better to treat it as a part of the proper name and render Havvoth-Jair. About these ‘towns’ there is some difficulty. They are first mentioned (Numbers 32:41) as ‘small towns’ in Gilead, and occupied by Jair the son of Manasseh. They are mentioned again (Deuteronomy 3:14) and said (Joshua 13:30) to be in Bashan and to be 60 in number, whereas in 1 Chronicles 2:23 they are counted as 60 only with the addition of certain other places. In this chapter the question is, are the Havvoth-Jair included in the region of Argob or not? As there is no conjunction, between the two clauses, it seems most natural to take the latter as a fuller definition of the former. ‘To him belonged Havvoth-Jair, even the region of Argob &c.’ This has the advantage of coupling with Havvoth-Jair the number 60 which plays such a part in the other passages quoted above.

In Jdg 10:4 where the Havvoth-Jair are again mentioned, though they are connected with the history of the judge who was so called, yet there is nothing to indicate that the naming of the cities was due to him. As Jair the son of Manasseh first occupied these places, it is likely that his name would become a common one. The sons of Jair the judge held but half the number of the towns, but that is no evidence that the other thirty were then non-existent or that they were not also included in the name Havvoth-Jair, but in the hands of different governors.

in Gilead] Gilead is the name of that mountainous district, east of the Jordan, which had on the north the country of Bashan and on the south Moab and Ammon. Its chief towns were Ramoth-gilead and Jabesh-gilead. Sometimes also Jaazer is counted as belonging to it.

Argob] The district which in later times was called Trachonitis. (See Deuteronomy 3:4.)

Bashan] The country which lay immediately north of Gilead, and stretched northwards to Mount Hermon.

great cities with walls and brasen bars] The cities of this district are so described Deuteronomy 3:5, and there still are found in this neighbourhood ruins of walled cities (see Bunsen’s Bibelwerk in loc.). As the armaments and modes of warfare were of a much more primitive character than in later times, we need not picture to ourselves from this description fortifications such as would now deserve the name.Verse 13. - The son of Geber [possibly son of the Geber mentioned in ver. 19] in Ramothgilead [two districts east of the Jordan are now enumerated. And first, the territory of Gad. Bamoth-gilead was a Levitical city (Deuteronomy 4:43; Joshua 21:38). Its selection as a city of refuge (Joshua 20:8), and as the seat of Bengeber's prefecture, together with the constant wars waged for its possession (1 Kings 22:3; 2 Kings 8:28; 2 Kings 9:14) show that it was a position of great strength and importance]; to him pertained the towns of Jair [the Havoth Jair are strictly the lives (i.e., villages, because men live there) of Jair. So Gesenius, who cites Eisleben and similar names] the son Manasseh [it is doubtful whether the judge of that name (Judges 10:3) or Jair, the son of Segub (called a "son of Manasseh" in Numbers 32:41, because his grandmother was a daughter of the great Machir, though his father belonged to Judah, 1 Chronicles 2:21), is intended. Probably it is the latter. (They can hardly be one and the same person, though they are often identified, as, e.g., in the Speaker's Comm. on Judges 10:3. But they belong to different periods.) Curiously enough, the Havoth Jair are mentioned in connexion with each (see Numbers 32:41; Deuteronomy 3:4, 5, 14; Joshua 13:30; 1 Chronicles 2:22; Judges 10:4), but in every ease except the last the reference is to the son of Segub. As the judge was probably one of his descendants, it is not surprising that the judge's sons should possess some of the villages of Jair], which are in Gilead; to him also pertained the region [חֶבֶל, lit., measuring cord, came to signify the region measured] of Argob [elsewhere "the Argob," i.e., the stony. This is the region subsequently known as Trachonitis, now called the Lejah. It is distinguished here and in Joshua 13:30, and 1 Chronicles 2:22 from the Gileadite district just mentioned, with which it is sometimes confounded. Both seem to have been conquered by Jair, but the towns of the former bore the name of Havoth Jair and these of Bashan Havoth Jair. Cf. Deuteronomy 3:4, 5, 14 with Numbers 32:41. The latter consisted of threescore cities, with walls, gates, and bars. This remarkable district, twenty-two miles in length by fourteen in breadth, is "wholly composed of black basalt, which appears to have issued from innumerable pores in the earth in a liquid state .... Before cooling, its surface was violently agitated, and it was afterwards shattered and rent by convulsions .... Strange as it may seem, this ungainly and forbidding region is thickly studded with deserted cities and villages" (Porter, "Giant Cities of Bashan," also in Kitto's Cycl. 3. p. 1032; Dict. Bib. 1:104)] which is in Bashan, threescore great cities with walls and brazen bars. [These words are a reminiscence of Deuteronomy 3:4, 5.] Solomon's Official Persons and Their Districts. - 1 Kings 4:7. Solomon had (appointed) twelve נצּבים over all Israel, who provided (כּלכּלוּ) for the king and his house, i.e., supplied provisions for the necessities of the court. These prefects are not to be regarded as "chamberlains," or administrators of the royal domains (Michaelis and Ewald), for these are mentioned in 1 Chronicles 27:25. under a different title. They are "general receivers of taxes," or "chief tax-collectors," as Rosenmller expresses it, who levied the king's duties or taxes, which consisted in the East, as they still do to the present time, for the most part of natural productions, or the produce of the land, and not of money payments as in the West, and delivered them at the royal kitchen (Rosenmller, A. und N. Morgenland, iii. p. 166). It cannot be inferred from the explanation given by Josephus, ἡγεμόνες καὶ στρατηγοί, that they exercised a kind of government, as Thenius supposes, since this explanation is nothing but a subjective conjecture. "One month in the year was it every one's duty (אחד על יהיה) to provide." The districts assigned to the twelve prefects coincide only partially with the territories of the tribes, because the land was probably divided among them according to its greater or smaller productiveness. Moreover, the order in which the districts are enumerated is not a geographical one, but probably follows the order in which the different prefects had to send the natural productions month by month for the maintenance of the king's court. The description begins with Ephraim in 1 Chronicles 27:8, then passes over in 1 Chronicles 27:9 to the territory of Dan to the west of it, in 1 Chronicles 27:10 to the territory of Judah and Simeon on the south, in 1 Chronicles 27:11 and 1 Chronicles 27:12 to the territory of Manasseh on this side from the Mediterranean to the Jordan, then in vv. 13 and 14 to the territory of Manasseh on the other side of the Jordan, thence back again in vv. 15 and 16 to the northern parts of the land on this side, viz., the territories of Naphtali and Asher, and thence farther south to Issachar in v. 17, and Benjamin in v. 18, closing at last in v. 19 with Gilead.
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