Now Joshua was old and stricken in years; and the LORD said unto him, Thou art old and stricken in years, and there remaineth yet very much land to be possessed.Joshua 13:1. Now Joshua was old — To what age Joshua was advanced we cannot determine, because we do not know how old he was when the Israelites came out of Egypt. Some think he was three and forty at that time, and then he was fourscore and three when they came into Canaan. And now, it may be gathered from probable conjectures, that he wanted not much of a hundred. And, in this declining age, he could not hope to live to conquer what remained of the land unsubdued, and therefore he was to go about another business, namely, the dividing of it. The Lord said unto him, Thou art old — Therefore delay not to do the work which I have commanded thee to do. It is good for those that are stricken in years to be reminded that they are so; that they may be quickened to do the work of life, and prepare for death, which is coming on apace.
This is the land that yet remaineth: all the borders of the Philistines, and all Geshuri,Joshua 13:2-3. This is the land that yet remaineth — Unconquered by thee, and to be conquered by the Israelites, if they behave themselves aright. All Geshuri — A people in the north-east of Canaan, as the Philistines were on the south-west. Which is counted to the Canaanite — That is, which, though now possessed by the Philistines, who drove out the Canaanites, the old inhabitants of it, Deuteronomy 2:23; Amos 9:7; yet it is a part of the land of Canaan, and therefore belongs to the Israelites. The Avites — Or, the Avims, as they are called Deuteronomy 2:23, who, though they were expelled out of their ancient seat, and most of them destroyed by the Caphtorims or Philistines, as is there said, yet many of them escaped, and planted themselves not very far from the former.
From Sihor, which is before Egypt, even unto the borders of Ekron northward, which is counted to the Canaanite: five lords of the Philistines; the Gazathites, and the Ashdothites, the Eshkalonites, the Gittites, and the Ekronites; also the Avites:
From the south, all the land of the Canaanites, and Mearah that is beside the Sidonians, unto Aphek, to the borders of the Amorites:Joshua 13:4. From the south — That is, from those southern parts of the sea- coast now possessed by the Philistines, all the more northern parts of the sea-coast being yet inhabited by the Canaanites, almost as far as Sidon. The Amorites — The Amorites were a very strong and numerous people, and we find them dispersed in several parts, some within Jordan, and some without it, some in the south, and others in the north, of whom he speaks here.
And the land of the Giblites, and all Lebanon, toward the sunrising, from Baalgad under mount Hermon unto the entering into Hamath.
All the inhabitants of the hill country from Lebanon unto Misrephothmaim, and all the Sidonians, them will I drive out from before the children of Israel: only divide thou it by lot unto the Israelites for an inheritance, as I have commanded thee.Joshua 13:6. Them will I drive out — Whatever becomes of us, however we may be laid aside as broken vessels, God will do his work in his own time. I will do it by my word; so the Chaldee here, as in many other places: by the eternal Word, the captain of my host. But the promise of driving them out from before the children of Israel, supposes that the Israelites must use their own endeavours, must go up against them. If Israel, through sloth or cowardice, let them alone, they are not likely to be driven out. We must go forth in our Christian warfare, and then God will go before us.
Now therefore divide this land for an inheritance unto the nine tribes, and the half tribe of Manasseh,Joshua 13:7. Now, therefore, divide this land — Both that which was conquered and that which remained unconquered was to be divided, that every tribe might know what belonged to them by God’s gift, and be encouraged to attempt the conquest of it when they were able; might be preserved from entering into any covenant or society with those who kept their inheritance from them; and likewise with a view to hinder the unconquered people from joining their forces together to recover their country, the Israelites inhabiting the cities and fields that lay between them.
With whom the Reubenites and the Gadites have received their inheritance, which Moses gave them, beyond Jordan eastward, even as Moses the servant of the LORD gave them;Joshua 13:8. With whom — That is, with the other half of the tribe before mentioned. Which Moses gave them — By my command, and therefore do not thou disturb them in their possessions, but proceed to divide the other possessions to the rest. With this verse end the words of God to Joshua, begun Joshua 13:1; and in the next verse the writer of this book begins to describe the country which God ordered to be given to the fore-named two tribes and a half, that there might be no future dispute about this division; but it might be held as good as that which was made by lot among the rest of the tribes.
From Aroer, that is upon the bank of the river Arnon, and the city that is in the midst of the river, and all the plain of Medeba unto Dibon;Joshua 13:9-11. The city that is in the midst of the river — Some interpreters render this clause, The city in the midst of the valley; judging that, as Arnon was but a small brook, it could hardly have a city, or an island large enough for a city to be built on, in the midst of it. But certainly a city might be built on ground lying between two streams of the same river: see on Joshua 12:2. Medeba unto Dibon — Two cities anciently belonging to the Moabites, and taken from them by the Amorites, (Numbers 21:30,) and from them by the Israelites; and, after the Israelites were gone into captivity, recovered by the first possessors, the Moabites. And Maachathites — Whose land God had given to the Israelites without Jordan, though they had not yet used the gift of God, nor taken possession of it, as is noted, Joshua 13:13.
And all the cities of Sihon king of the Amorites, which reigned in Heshbon, unto the border of the children of Ammon;
And Gilead, and the border of the Geshurites and Maachathites, and all mount Hermon, and all Bashan unto Salcah;
All the kingdom of Og in Bashan, which reigned in Ashtaroth and in Edrei, who remained of the remnant of the giants: for these did Moses smite, and cast them out.
Nevertheless the children of Israel expelled not the Geshurites, nor the Maachathites: but the Geshurites and the Maachathites dwell among the Israelites until this day.
Only unto the tribe of Levi he gave none inheritance; the sacrifices of the LORD God of Israel made by fire are their inheritance, as he said unto them.Joshua 13:14. To the tribe of Levi he — Namely, Moses; gave none inheritance — That is, none in the land beyond Jordan, where yet a considerable part of the Levites were to have their settled abode. This is mentioned as the reason both why Moses gave all that land to the Reubenites, and Gadites, and Manassites, and why Joshua should divide the land only into nine parts and a half, as was said, Joshua 13:7; because Levi was otherwise provided for. Made by fire — Which are here put for all the sacrifices and oblations, including first-fruits and tithes, that were assigned to the Levites, and this passage is repeated to prevent those calumnies and injuries which God foresaw the Levites were likely to meet with, from the malice, envy, and covetousness of their brethren.
And Moses gave unto the tribe of the children of Reuben inheritance according to their families.Joshua 13:15. Moses gave, &c. — Having informed us in general what Moses gave to the two tribes and a half, the sacred historian proceeds to set down in particular what share each of them had in this country. According to their families — Dividing the inheritance into as many parts as they had families. But this is only spoken of the greater families; for the lesser distributions to the several small families were made by inferior officers, according to the rules which Moses had given them.
And their coast was from Aroer, that is on the bank of the river Arnon, and the city that is in the midst of the river, and all the plain by Medeba;
Heshbon, and all her cities that are in the plain; Dibon, and Bamothbaal, and Bethbaalmeon,
And Jahazah, and Kedemoth, and Mephaath,
And Kirjathaim, and Sibmah, and Zarethshahar in the mount of the valley,Joshua 13:19. In the mount of the valley — In the mount which overlooked the great plain before mentioned, or which bordered upon the valley, a mount which, it seems, was then famous among the Israelites; whether that where Moses was buried, which was near to Beth-peor, or some other.
And Bethpeor, and Ashdothpisgah, and Bethjeshimoth,
And all the cities of the plain, and all the kingdom of Sihon king of the Amorites, which reigned in Heshbon, whom Moses smote with the princes of Midian, Evi, and Rekem, and Zur, and Hur, and Reba, which were dukes of Sihon, dwelling in the country.Joshua 13:21. Cities of the plain — Opposed to the cities of the mountain or the valley. All the kingdom of Sihon — A great part of it; in which sense we read of all Judea, and all the region round about Jordan, Matthew 3:5; and all Galilee, Matthew 4:23. Whom Moses smote — Not in the same time or battle, as appears by comparing Numbers 21:23-24, with Numbers 31:8, but in the same manner. Dukes of Sihon — But how could they be so, when they were kings of Midian? Numbers 31:8. There were divers petty kings in those parts, who were subject to other kings, and such these were, but are here called dukes or princes of Sihon, because they were subject and tributaries to him, and therefore did one way or other assist Sihon in this war, though they were not killed at this time.
Balaam also the son of Beor, the soothsayer, did the children of Israel slay with the sword among them that were slain by them.Joshua 13:22. Were slain by them — This was recorded before, (Numbers 31:8,) and is here repeated, because the defeating of Balaam’s purpose to curse Israel, and the turning that curse into a blessing, was such an instance of the power and goodness of God, as was fit to be had in everlasting rememberance.
And the border of the children of Reuben was Jordan, and the border thereof. This was the inheritance of the children of Reuben after their families, the cities and the villages thereof.
And Moses gave inheritance unto the tribe of Gad, even unto the children of Gad according to their families.
And their coast was Jazer, and all the cities of Gilead, and half the land of the children of Ammon, unto Aroer that is before Rabbah;Joshua 13:25. All the cities of Gilead — All the cities of eminence; all the cities properly so called, which lay in that part of Gilead; and thus what is here assured may well agree with Joshua 13:31, where half the country of Gilead is said to be given to the Manassites, for there is no mention of any cities being there. Half the land of the children of Ammon — Not of that which was now theirs, for that the Israelites were forbidden to meddle with; but of that which was anciently theirs, till taken from them by the Amorites, from whom the Israelites took it. Aroer — The border between them and Moab. Rabbah — The chief city of the Ammonites.
And from Heshbon unto Ramathmizpeh, and Betonim; and from Mahanaim unto the border of Debir;
And in the valley, Betharam, and Bethnimrah, and Succoth, and Zaphon, the rest of the kingdom of Sihon king of Heshbon, Jordan and his border, even unto the edge of the sea of Chinnereth on the other side Jordan eastward.
This is the inheritance of the children of Gad after their families, the cities, and their villages.
And Moses gave inheritance unto the half tribe of Manasseh: and this was the possession of the half tribe of the children of Manasseh by their families.Joshua 13:29. Unto the half-tribe of Manasseh — Not that they desired it, as Reuben and Gad did, (Numbers 32:1,) but partly as a recompense to Machir the Manassite, for his valiant acts against Og, and partly because the country was too large for the two tribes of Reuben and Gad.
And their coast was from Mahanaim, all Bashan, all the kingdom of Og king of Bashan, and all the towns of Jair, which are in Bashan, threescore cities:Joshua 13:30. All the towns of Jair — Who, though of the tribe of Judah, by the father, (1 Chronicles 2:21-22,) yet is called the son of Manasseh, (Numbers 32:41,) because he married a daughter of Manasseh, and wholly associated himself with those valiant Manassites; and with their help took sixty cities or great towns, (Deuteronomy 3:4; Deuteronomy 3:14,) which thence were called the towns of Jair.
And half Gilead, and Ashtaroth, and Edrei, cities of the kingdom of Og in Bashan, were pertaining unto the children of Machir the son of Manasseh, even to the one half of the children of Machir by their families.Joshua 13:31. Children of Machir — Whom before he called the children of Manasseh, he now calls the children of Machir, because Machir was the most eminent, and, as it may seem, the only surviving son of Manasseh, Numbers 26:29; 1 Chronicles 7:14-16.
These are the countries which Moses did distribute for inheritance in the plains of Moab, on the other side Jordan, by Jericho, eastward.
But unto the tribe of Levi Moses gave not any inheritance: the LORD God of Israel was their inheritance, as he said unto them.