2 Samuel 24:5
And they passed over Jordan, and pitched in Aroer, on the right side of the city that lies in the middle of the river of Gad, and toward Jazer:
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(5) Pitched in Aroer.—The census began on the east of Jordan, at the extreme south, thence passed northwards through the eastern tribes, and crossing the Jordan, passed southwards through the western tribes. Aroer is the city described in Deuteronomy 2:36; Joshua 13:16 as on the river Arnon, at the extreme southern border of the trans-Jordanie territory.

Of Gad.—This follows the Masoretic reading. It is better to put a period after the word river, and for “of Gad” to read “towards Gad.” Perhaps the words “and they came” (towards Gad) may have been lost from the text.

Jazer.—A boundary city of Gad (Joshua 13:25). Thence they went to Gilead.

2 Samuel 24:5-7. They passed over Jordan — They went first into the eastern part of the country, and so by the northern coasts to the west, and then to the south. And pitched in Aroer — These words seem to import, that they pitched their tents in the field, and thither summoned the neighbouring towns to come unto them: which was very troublesome, and at last proved intolerably grievous. And to the land of Tahtim-hodshi — It is in vain to seek after this land, which is not mentioned in the book of Joshua, but, it is likely, was near to Gilead; and had been lately recovered, some think, from other people, and was now inhabited by the Israelites. And they came to — about Zidon — Not to the city of Zidon, for that was not in their power; but to the coast about it. And came to the strong hold of Tyre — To the territory near it. And to all the cities of the Hivites, &c. — Who lived in those north-west parts of the country. Even to Beer-sheba — On the south side.24:1-9 For the people's sin David was left to act wrong, and in his chastisement they received punishment. This example throws light upon God's government of the world, and furnishes a useful lesson. The pride of David's heart, was his sin in numbering of the people. He thought thereby to appear the more formidable, trusting in an arm of flesh more than he should have done, and though he had written so much of trusting in God only. God judges not of sin as we do. What appears to us harmless, or, at least, but a small offence, may be a great sin in the eye of God, who discerns the thoughts and intents of the heart. Even ungodly men can discern evil tempers and wrong conduct in believers, of which they themselves often remain unconscious. But God seldom allows those whom he loves the pleasures they sinfully covet.Aroer - Aroer on the Arnon (Deuteronomy 2:36 note). Aroer itself stood on the very edge of the precipitous cliff of the valley; and in the valley beneath, possibly in an island in the stream, stood another city which is here alluded to.

River - Rather, "the valley" (margin). They passed from Aroer, northward to Gad, and so pitched at Jazer (see the marginal references), which is on the frontier of Gad and Reuben.

5. they passed over Jordan—This census was taken first in the eastern parts of the Hebrew kingdom; and it would seem that Joab was accompanied by a military force, either to aid in this troublesome work, or to overawe the people who might display reluctance or opposition.

the river of Gad—"Wady" would be a better term. It extends over a course estimated at about sixty miles, which, though in summer almost constantly dry, exhibits very evident traces of being swept over by an impetuous torrent in winter (see De 2:36).

They passed over Jordan; they began their computation in the eastern part of David’s dominions, which were beyond Jordan.

Pitched, or encamped. For Joab carried with them divers of his commanders, and others; partly, for his honour, and, the credit of the work; partly, to assist him in that troublesome work; and partly, to overcome the people, in case they should oppose it as sinful or burdensome, or savouring of some evil design which David might have upon them.

Of the river of Gad, i. e. of the river which lay in the tribe of Gad, or upon the borders of Gad and Reuben, which was called Arnon, Deu 2:36.

Toward Jazer, or, near Jazer, which also was upon the river Arnon. And they passed over Jordan,.... To take the number of the tribes of Reuben and Gad and the half tribe of Manasseh first:

and pitched in Aroer; for it seems that Joab and the captains had the army with them, and the several captains under their command, partly to assist in numbering the people, and partly to keep them in awe, lest they should oppose them, not knowing what was the design of all this Aroer was a city given to the tribe of Gad, and rebuilt by them, Numbers 32:34,

on the right side of the city; that is, of Aroer, the south side of it, as the Targum, did Joab and his army pitch:

that lieth in the midst of the river of Gad; which was the river Arnon, so called now from the tribe of Gad, which possessed it, and so the Targum, in the midst of the river of the tribe of Gad; for in the midst of the river Arnon Aroer lay, see Joshua 13:9,

and toward Jazer; another city given to the Gadites, Numbers 32:3; and, according to Bunting (u), was sixteen miles from Aroer.

(u) Travels, &c. p. 147.

And they passed over Jordan, and pitched in Aroer, on the right side of the city that lieth in the midst of the river of Gad, and toward Jazer:
5. in Aroer] This Aroer is generally thought to be Aroer near Rabbah in the tribe of Gad (Joshua 13:25): but since it is natural to suppose that the census began from the southern boundary of the Trans-Jordanic territory, which was the river Arnon, and since the city that is in the midst of the ravine is repeatedly mentioned in connexion with Aroer upon the Arnon (Deuteronomy 2:36; Joshua 13:9; Joshua 13:16; cp. Joshua 12:2) in describing the southern boundary of the tribe of Reuben, it seems far better to understand Aroer to be the Aroer on the Arnon.

The site of Aroer on the Arnon is marked by the ruins of Ara’ar on the northern edge of the Wady Mojeb. This deep gorge in the level plateau is the ravine (E. V. river) of the Arnon. The latest explorer of Moab says: “Above the Roman bridge are some faint remains of early buildings; perhaps ‘the city that is in the midst of the river.’ At least it is scarcely possible that such exuberant vegetation, with perennial moisture, should have remained unappropriated in the time of Israel’s greatness; and whether the place so vaguely spoken of were above or below the fords;—‘cities’ or villages there were sure to be in the midst of the ‘river’ or wady.” Tristram’s Land of Moab, p. 128.

on the right side] On the south, for the Hebrews reckoned the points of the compass facing the east.

of Gad] If the view taken above with regard to Aroer is correct, of Gad must be separated from the river, and rendered towards Gad. Probably some such words as and they came have dropped out, as the preposition towards before Jazer requires a verb of motion. Indeed there are good reasons for supposing that the Heb. text is corrupt, and that we should read with some MSS. of the Sept.: “And they began from Aroer, and from the city which is in the midst of the ravine; and they came to Gad and towards Jazer.”

Jazer] Or Jaazer, a city captured by Israel from the Amorites (Numbers 21:32), rebuilt by the tribe of Gad (Numbers 32:35; Joshua 13:25), allotted to the Levites (Joshua 21:39), subsequently Moabite (Isaiah 16:8-9), and recaptured by Judas Maccabaeus from the Ammonites (1Ma 5:6). Its site is probably to be placed at es Szîr, 7 miles W.S.W. of Ammân (Rabbah) and 9 miles N. of Heshbon.Verse 5. - Aroer. There is some uncertainty as to the Aroer here meant. There is first a city of that name in the tribe of Gad facing Rabbah (Joshua 13:25), and this is apparently the city meant; for it is said that "Joab and his men pitched in Aroer, on the south side of the city situated in the middle of the valley of Gad, and unto Jazer." Now, Jazer is also in Gad, about seven miles west of Rabbah, and as Rabbah is on the extreme east of the Israelite territory towards Ammon, it would be a very convenient spot from which to commence the numbering, But there is another Aroer on the Arnon, to the south of Reuben, and many commentators think that this Aroer must be meant, as otherwise the tribe of Reuben would seem to have been omitted. But this Aroer is regularly called "Aroer on the brink of the valley of Arnon" (Deuteronomy 2:36; Deuteronomy 4:48; Joshua 12:2; Joshua 13:9, 16); or simply Aroer "in the valley of Arnon" (Deuteronomy 3:12; 2 Kings 10:33); and cannot possibly be "the city in the midst of the valley of Gad," nor can this Aroer be "toward Jazer." Really the difficulty is made by commentators whose idea of the method of the census is superficial. Joab, in commencing it, formed an encampment in the open country on the right-hand side, that is, on the south of Aroer in the tribe of Gad, as being central, with Reuben on the south, and Manasseh on the north. It was "toward Jazer," that is, it was on the Jazer side of Aroer, and not on the side opposite Rabbah. We, with our simpler way of describing the points of the compass, would merely say that Joab's camp was in the open pasture land southwest of Aroer. Joab probably selected this spot because, though on the eastern border, it was yet not too far from Jerusalem, was central, and because a brook from Jazer flowing eastward for some distance, and thence to the north past Rabbah, would supply his people with water; and from this camp he would direct the proceedings of those who were to take the census. And as probably there would be considerable opposition - for the people would see in an act which for four centuries had been in desuetude threats of heavier taxation, of heavier forced labour, and of longer service with the army - Joab would require the presence of a body of troops sufficiently powerful to overawe malcontents. And these would be of no use at Aroer on the Arnon, in the distant south, but must lie eneamped in some central position, whence detachments could rapidly be moved to any place where there was danger of resistance. Ira and Gareb, both of them Jithrites, i.e., sprung from a family in Kirjath-jearim (1 Chronicles 2:53). Ira is of course a different man from the cohen of that name (2 Samuel 20:26).
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