Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges
Now these are the kings of the land, which the children of Israel smote, and possessed their land on the other side Jordan toward the rising of the sun, from the river Arnon unto mount Hermon, and all the plain on the east:Ch. Joshua 12:1-6. Catalogue of the Kings conquered in Eastern Palestine
1. Now these] This Chapter may be termed an official summary, suitable to a public record, of the whole territory conquered by Moses and by Joshua. “It contains no new matter, except that certain cities and their rulers are specified by name, which have previously been included in more general statements of Joshua’s wars.”
from the river Arnon] The first province described is the south-eastern, previously the territory of the Amorite king, Sihon, “from the river Arnon unto Mount Hermon.” The Arnon (the rushing river), now the Wady el-Mojeb, flows in part, through a deep rocky bed, into the Dead Sea. “As far as we could calculate by observation, the width of the ravine is about 3 miles from crest to crest; the depth by our barometers 2150 feet from the south side, which runs for some distance nearly 200 feet higher than the northern edge.” Tristram’s Land of Moab, p. 126.
unto mount Hermon] Called by the Sidonians Sirion = “breastplate,” a name suggested by its rounded glittering top, when the sun’s rays are reflected by the snow that covers it (Deuteronomy 3:9; Song of Solomon 4:8). It was also called Sion = “the elevated,” and is now known as Jebel-es-Sheikh, “the chief mountain,” which rises over 9000 feet. “In whatever part of Palestine the Israelite turned his eye northward, Hermon was there terminating the view. From the plain along the coast, from the mountains of Samaria, from the Jordan valley, from the heights of Moab and Gilead, from the plateau of Bashan, the pale blue, snow-capped cone forms the one feature in the northern horizon.” In Psalm 42:6 we have a vivid description of the mountain landscape on Hermon, but “the land of splendour, of heaven-towering mountains, and of glorious streams, offers no compensation to the heart of the Psalmist for the humbler hills of Zion where his God abides.”
all the plain on the east] “al the est coost that beholdith the wildernes,” Wyclif; i.e. part of the great valley, now called the Ghor, from the Sea of Galilee to the Ælamitic Gulf, along the east bank of the Jordan.
Sihon king of the Amorites, who dwelt in Heshbon, and ruled from Aroer, which is upon the bank of the river Arnon, and from the middle of the river, and from half Gilead, even unto the river Jabbok, which is the border of the children of Ammon;2. Sihon king of the Amorites] See Numbers 21:24; Deuteronomy 2:33; Deuteronomy 3:6; Deuteronomy 3:16.
who dwelt in Heshbon] On the western border of the high plain (Mishor, Joshua 13:17), and on the boundary line between the tribes of Reuben and Gad. “The ruins of Hesbân, 20 miles east of the Jordan, on the parallel of the northern end of the Dead Sea, mark the site, as they bear the name, of the ancient Heshbon.” “There is little, of a place once famed in olden story, for the traveller to see. A large piece of walling at the west end of the bold isolated hill, on which the old fortress stood; with a square block house, and a pointed archway adjoining; a temple on the crest of the hill, with the pavement unbroken and the bases of four columns still in situ; on the east, in the plain, just at the base of the hill, a great cistern, called by some ‘the fish-pools of Hesbon,’ but more probably only the reservoir for the supply of the city—these are all that remain.” Tristram’s Land of Moab, pp. 338, 339.
from Aroer] “which is set on the brenke of the stronde of Arnon,” Wyclif. Aroer lay partly on and partly in the Arnon, i. e. on an island, now ’Arâir. It was allotted to Reuben (Joshua 13:16), but later came into the possession of Moab (Jeremiah 48:19). Bochardt found ruins with the name ’Arâir on the old Roman road, upon the very edge of the precipitous north bank of the Wady Mojeb.
half Gilead] Properly Gilead denotes (i) a mountain on the south bank of the Jabbok (Genesis 31:21-48) with a city of the same name; (ii) the immediate neighbourhood of this mountain (Numbers 32:1; Deuteronomy 2:36-37); (iii) the whole mountain district between the Arnon and the Jabbok, now called Belka (see Deuteronomy 34:1; 1 Kings 4:19).
the river Jabbok] “The streem of Jabuch,” Wyclif, = “the gushing-brook,” now the Wady Zurka.
And from the plain to the sea of Chinneroth on the east, and unto the sea of the plain, even the salt sea on the east, the way to Bethjeshimoth; and from the south, under Ashdothpisgah:3. and from the plain] Rather, and the plain, the Arabah, i. e. the eastern part of the Jordan valley, as far as the Sea of Chinneroth.
the sea of Cinneroth] So called after the city of this name. See above, ch. Joshua 11:2. In the New Testament it is called (a) the “Sea of Galilee” (Matthew 4:18; Matthew 15:29; Mark 1:16); (b) the “lake of Gennesaret” (Luke 5:1); (c) the “sea of Tiberias” (John 6:1; John 21:1); and sometimes (d) simply “the sea.”
and unto the sea of the plain] i. e. of the Arabah. While the Lake of Gennesareth forms the northern boundary of the eastern part of the Jordan valley, it is in like manner bounded on the south by the Salt Sea, i. e. the Dead Sea. Near which lay
Beth-jeshimoth] = “the House of the Wastes.” It was one of the limits of the encampment of Israel before crossing the Jordan (Numbers 33:48-49).
under Ashdoth-pisgah] See above, Joshua 10:40.
And the coast of Og king of Bashan, which was of the remnant of the giants, that dwelt at Ashtaroth and at Edrei,4. the coast of Og] See Numbers 21:33; Numbers 21:35; Deuteronomy 3:4; Deuteronomy 3:10.
at Ashtaroth] The residence of Og. It is now called Tel Ashterah, or Asherah. The Tel (hill) rises to a height of between fifty and a hundred feet from the level of the plain, in which ruins lie scattered. At the foot of the hill are ancient foundations of walls and copious springs.
at Edrei] = Strength. Here, “in the Thermopylæ of his kingdom,” Og was slain. See Numbers 21:33-35; Deuteronomy 3:1-3. On a rocky promontory, 1½ miles wide, and 2½ miles long, south-west of the basaltic district of Argob, rose the city, “without water, without access save over rocks, and through defiles almost impracticable. Strength and security seem to have been the great objects kept in view, and to these all other advantages were sacrificed.” By the Greeks it was called Adraa; by the Crusaders Adratum, also Civitas Bernardi de Stampis, now Edr’a. In a.d. 1142 the Crusaders under Baldwin III. made a sudden attack upon it, but without success. The historian of the Crusades, in his account of this incident, refers to the immense subterranean cisterns that abound in the neighbourhood of the city, among the rocks, and the modern traveller is astonished at the extent and number of reservoirs, not only here but in all the other towns and villages in the Lejah, and in Jebel Haurân. Porter’s Handbook, 11. 533, 534.
And reigned in mount Hermon, and in Salcah, and in all Bashan, unto the border of the Geshurites and the Maachathites, and half Gilead, the border of Sihon king of Heshbon.5. and in Salcah] Identical with the town of Sûlkhad at the southern extremity of the Jebel Haurân. It was conquered by the Israelites, Deuteronomy 3:10. The town is of considerable size, two or three miles in circumference, surrounding a castle on a lofty isolated hill. “The country is stony and undulating; but the soil is rich, and traces of former cultivation are everywhere visible. The view from the top of the castle is extensive and strangely interesting.… On the segment of the plain, extending from the south to the east, I counted the towns or large villages, none of them more than 12 miles distant, and almost all of them, so far as I could see by the aid of a telescope, still habitable like Sulkhad, but entirely deserted. Well may we exclaim with the prophet, as we look over this mournful scene of utter desolation, ‘Moab is confounded; for it is broken down; howl and cry; tell ye it in Arnon, that Moab is spoiled, and judgment is come upon the plain country … upon Beth-gamul, and upon Beth-meon, and upon Kerioth, and upon Bozrah, and upon all the cities of the land of Moab, far or near’ (Jeremiah 48:19-24).” Porter’s Handbook, 11. 522.
the border of the Geshurites] Geshur was a little principality in the N.E. corner of Bashan, adjoining the province of Argob (Deuteronomy 3:14), and the kingdom of Aram or Syria (2 Samuel 15:8). Hither Absalom fled after the murder of Amnon (2 Samuel 13:37).
the Maachathites] The people of Maacha dwelt on the south-west slope of Hermon at the sources of the Jordan (Deuteronomy 3:14).
Them did Moses the servant of the LORD and the children of Israel smite: and Moses the servant of the LORD gave it for a possession unto the Reubenites, and the Gadites, and the half tribe of Manasseh.
And these are the kings of the country which Joshua and the children of Israel smote on this side Jordan on the west, from Baalgad in the valley of Lebanon even unto the mount Halak, that goeth up to Seir; which Joshua gave unto the tribes of Israel for a possession according to their divisions;7–24. Catalogue of the Kings vanquished on the West of the Jordan
7. And these are the kings] This and the following verse coincide with ch. Joshua 11:16, and Joshua 10:40-42. They introduce the following narrative.
In the mountains, and in the valleys, and in the plains, and in the springs, and in the wilderness, and in the south country; the Hittites, the Amorites, and the Canaanites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites:
The king of Jericho, one; the king of Ai, which is beside Bethel, one;9. the king of Jericho] The kings are enumerated generally in the order in which they were conquered. For the overthrow of the kings of Jericho, Ai, Jerusalem, Hebron, Jarmuth, Lachish, Eglon, and Gezer see (a) Joshua 6:2 ff.; (b) Joshua 8:29; (c) Joshua 10:1-5; Joshua 10:33.
The king of Jerusalem, one; the king of Hebron, one;
The king of Jarmuth, one; the king of Lachish, one;
The king of Eglon, one; the king of Gezer, one;12. Gezer] The situation of this royal city has lately (see above, Joshua 10:33) been discovered by M. Clermont Ganneau at Tel-el-Jezar, about four miles from Amwâs (Emmaus), and on the western boundary of the territory of Ephraim. The ruins are extensive, with rock-hewn tombs, quarries, and remains of an aqueduct.
The king of Debir, one; the king of Geder, one;13. the king of Debir] See Joshua 10:39.
the king of Geder] Somewhere in the lowland of Judah. Possibly the same place as the Gedor mentioned in 1 Chronicles 4:39.
The king of Hormah, one; the king of Arad, one;14. the king of Hormah] or Zephath, see Jdg 1:17. Robinson would place it near the pass of Es-Sufah, W.S.W. of the Dead Sea, where the Israelites were defeated by the Canaanites (Numbers 14:44-45), and subsequently the Canaanites by the Israelites (Numbers 21:1-3).
Arad] Near the wilderness of Kadesh, 20 Roman miles S. of Hebron. It is also mentioned in Numbers 21:1-3; Jdg 1:16-17. Now probably Tell’ Arâd.
The king of Libnah, one; the king of Adullam, one;15. Libnah] See Joshua 10:29-30.
Adullam] In the low country of Judah, a place of great antiquity (Genesis 38:1; Genesis 38:12; Genesis 38:20). The limestone cliffs of the locality are pierced with extensive caverns, one of which is famous as the refuge of David (1 Samuel 22:1; 2 Samuel 23:13). The city was fortified by Rehoboam (2 Chronicles 11:7). Adullam has been traditionally identified with a place called Khureitun, where is a great cave which has been explored by Captain Warren and Lieutenant Conder. Later writers are inclined to place it at Deir Dubbân, about six miles north of Beit Jibrîn (Eleutheropolis). M. Clermont Ganneau, however, was the first to discover the site of Adullam and the existing name of Ayd el Mieh, which preserves all the essential letters of the Hebrew. Lieutenant Conder has now made a careful survey of the spot. He finds the ruins of an ancient town (Genesis 38:1; Genesis 38:12; Genesis 38:20), strongly situated (Joshua 12:15, and 2 Chronicles 11:7) on a height commanding the broad valley of Elah, which was the highway by which the Philistines invaded Judah (1 Samuel 17:19), and where David killed Goliath. Roads connect it with Hebron, Bethlehem, and Tell es Safiyeh—the probable site of Gath. There are terraces of the hill for cultivation, scarped rock for fortification, tombs, wells, and aqueducts. The “Cave” is a series of caves, some of moderate size and some small, but quite capable of housing David’s band of followers.
The king of Makkedah, one; the king of Bethel, one;16. Makkedah] See Joshua 10:10; Joshua 10:16-17; Joshua 10:21.
Beth-el] Earlier, Luz, famous for (i) Jacob’s dream (Genesis 28:11-19); (ii) the worship of the calves in Jeroboam’s reign (1 Kings 12:28-33), hence called Beth-aven = “the house of naught.”
The king of Tappuah, one; the king of Hepher, one;17. Tappuah] In the Shephelah, or lowland of Judah, on the lower slopes of the mountains of the N. W. portion of Judah, about 12 miles W. of Jerusalem. Now called Teffûh.
Hepher] Mentioned in 1 Kings 4:10. Situation not known.
The king of Aphek, one; the king of Lasharon, one;18. Aphek] A royal city of the Canaanites, probably the same as the Aphekah of Joshua 15:53.
Lasharon] Only mentioned here. The site is unknown.
The king of Madon, one; the king of Hazor, one;19. Madon] See ch. Joshua 11:1.
Hazor] Ch. Joshua 11:1; Joshua 11:10.
The king of Shimronmeron, one; the king of Achshaph, one;20. Shimron-meron] Ch. Joshua 11:1. Achshaph] Joshua 11:1.
The king of Taanach, one; the king of Megiddo, one;21. Taanach] Almost always in company with Megiddo, one of the chief towns of the rich district which forms the western portion of the great plain of Esdraelon (1 Kings 4:12). It was a city of the Levites (Joshua 21:25), and was famous for the victory of Barak (Jdg 5:19). Under the form Ta’annuk it retains its old name with hardly the change of a letter.
Megiddo] which commanded one of those passes from the north into the hill country, which were of such critical importance in the history of Judæa. It does not seem to have been really occupied by the Israelites till the time of Solomon, and is famous as the place (i) where Ahaziah died in his flight from Jehu (2 Kings 9:27), and (ii) where Josiah was fatally wounded in the battle against Necho king of Egypt (2 Chronicles 35:22-24). The modern name is el-Lejjûn, the “Legio” of Eusebius and Jerome.
The king of Kedesh, one; the king of Jokneam of Carmel, one;22. Kedesh] in Issachar, allotted to the Gershonite Levites (1 Chronicles 6:72). Sometimes called Kishon or Kishion (Joshua 21:28).
Jokneam of Carmel] Or, on Carmel, a city of the tribe of Zebulun, allotted with its suburbs to the Merarite Levites (Joshua 21:34). The modern site Tell Kaimon stands just below the eastern termination of Carmel.
Carmel] = “the park,” or “the well-wooded place,” almost always with the definite article. Rightly does it bear its name, being covered below with laurels and olive trees, above with pines and oaks, and full of the most beautiful flowers, “hollyhocks, jasmine, and various flowering creepers.” It is famous for its connection with the history of the two great prophets Elijah and Elisha (1 Kings 18:19-20; 1 Kings 18:42; 2 Kings 2:25; 2 Kings 4:25; 2 Kings 19:23; Isaiah 33:9; Isaiah 35:2).
The king of Dor in the coast of Dor, one; the king of the nations of Gilgal, one;23. Dor] See Joshua 11:2.
the nations of Gilgal] “The kyng of the Gentils (folkis) of Galgal,” Wyclif. For the word here rendered “nations” comp. Genesis 10:5, “every one after his tongue, after their families, in their nations;” Genesis 14:1, “Tidal king of nations.” The Gilgal here mentioned is not the Gilgal on the Jordan, but the modern Jiljilieh, west of Ebal and Gerizim, in the plain along the Mediterranean. See above, ch. Joshua 9:6.
The king of Tirzah, one: all the kings thirty and one.24. Tirzah] Three miles from the city of Samaria, now called Tellûzah, of proverbial beauty. Song of Solomon 6:4, “Thou art beautiful, O my love, as Tirzah.” It was to Shechem afterwards “what Windsor is to London,” and became the residence of Jeroboam and his successors (1 Kings 14:17). Here Zimri was besieged by Omri, and perished in the flames of his palace (1 Kings 16:18).