Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges
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.Ch. Joshua 13:1-7. The Divine Command to Joshua to distribute the Land
1. Now Joshua] With the thirteenth chapter begins the Second Part of the Book of Joshua. It describes the division of the Land, and rests no doubt on definite records which lay before the writer. “There is one document in the Hebrew Scriptures to which probably no parallel exists in the topographical records of any other ancient nation. In the Book of Joshua we have what may without offence be termed the Domesday Book of the conquest of Canaan. Ten chapters of that Book are devoted to a description of the country, in which not only are its general features and boundaries carefully laid down, but the names and situations of its towns and villages enumerated with a precision of geographical terms which encourages and almost compels a minute investigation.” Stanley’s Sinai and Palestine, p. xiii.
Now Joshua was old] The Hebrew leader was now about ninety years of age. Much land still remained to be occupied. Strong fortresses—like Jerusalem, Gezer, and Bethshean—still remained in the hands of the defeated Canaanites. Their reduction by ordinary means would require time and entail difficulty. The command, therefore, is now given to wait no longer, but proceed to the division of the Land.
and stricken in years] “Thou hast woxe eld, and art of loong age,” Wyclif. Comp. Genesis 18:11; Genesis 24:1; Joshua 23:1-2.
This is the land that yet remaineth: all the borders of the Philistines, and all Geshuri,2. the land that yet remaineth] It is described as lying partly (a) in the south (Joshua 13:3-4), and partly (b) in the north (Joshua 13:5-6). The cities still occupied by the Canaanites were left for reduction by the tribes into whose allotment they might severally fall.
all the borders of the Philistines] Literally, all the circles of the Philistines. Vulgate, “Galilæa Philisthiim;” “Galilee of the Philistines,” Luther. “Galile Philistym,” Wyclif. The unsubdued district commences on the south with the Shephêlah and the maritime plain. The Philistines are now first prominently mentioned. Since the time of Abraham (Genesis 21:32; Genesis 21:34; Genesis 26:1; Genesis 26:8), this people had been transformed from a pastoral tribe to a settled and powerful nation, and had advanced northwards into “the plain of Philistia” or the “Shephêlah,” so well suited for war chariots, and offering by its occasional elevations secure sites for towns and strongholds.
and all Geshuri] The Geshurites, not the country mentioned in chs. Joshua 12:5, Joshua 13:13, but an ancient tribe, which dwelt in the desert between Arabia and Philistia. See 1 Samuel 27:8.
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:3. from Sihor] = “the Black Stream,” the usual name of the Nile. Here probably it is “the river of Egypt,” the Wady el Arish (1 Chronicles 13:5), the Rhinokolura or Rhinokorura. Wyclif, following the Vulg., “a fluvio turbido qui irrigat Ægyptum,” renders it, “the trubli flood that weetith Egipt.”
which is before Egypt] The “brook of Egypt” flows actually before, i.e. in a N. E. direction from Egypt, while the Nile takes its course through the middle of that country.
unto the borders of Ekron] The most northerly of the five towns belonging to the lords of the Philistines. The city of the fly-god Beelzebub. In the Apocrypha it appears as Accaron (1Ma 10:89).
which is counted to the Canaanite] Or better, shall it be counted to the Canaanites. The western strip of country beginning at Sihor, and extending northward to Ekron, was to be regarded as Canaanitish, and so subject to conquest; although the Philistines were not Canaanites, but were sprung from Mizraim (Genesis 10:13) and had dispossessed the Canaanite Avites or Avim.
five lords] A special word is here used, and the cities over which they held sway are enumerated as (i) Gaza; (ii) Ashdod; (iii) Ashkelon; (iv) Gath; (v) Ekron.
the Gazathites] See above, Joshua 10:41, Joshua 11:22.
the Ashdothites] See above, Joshua 11:22.
the Eshkalonites] Or Ashkalonites of Ashkelon, which is mentioned nowhere else in the book of Joshua. Next to Gaza it was probably the most important city of the Philistines. Hither Samson repaired from Timnath (Jdg 14:19); there David would not have the deaths of Saul and Jonathan proclaimed (2 Samuel 1:20), lest the daughters of the Philistines should rejoice. Like the other Philistine cities, it was threatened by the prophets with the Divine judgment (see Jeremiah 25:20; Jeremiah 47:5; Jeremiah 47:7; Amos 1:8; Zephaniah 2:7; Zechariah 9:5). Near the town afterwards rose the celebrated temple of Derceto, the Syrian Venus. It played a conspicuous part in the struggles of the Crusades, and within the walls and towers now standing Richard I. held his court. See Smith’s Dictionary of the Bible, sub voc.
the Gittites] i.e. the people of Gath, the home of Goliath (1 Samuel 17:4); connected with Ashkelon in David’s lamentation (2 Samuel 1:20); conquered by David (1 Chronicles 18:1). See above, Joshua 11:22.
also the Avites] Avim, or Avims. These people, a portion of the early inhabitants of Palestine, are mentioned in Deuteronomy 2:23 as dwelling in the villages in the southern part of the great western lowland as far as Gaza. Here they were attacked by the invading Philistines, who drove them northwards and occupied their rich possessions.
From the south, all the land of the Canaanites, and Mearah that is beside the Sidonians, unto Aphek, to the borders of the Amorites:4. from the south] The LXX. here gives a proper name, “from Teman.” This was the former southern limit of the Avites’ territory.
all the land of the Canaanites] Here some would insert a full stop, as though the words summed up what had gone before.
and Mearah] “Mara of Sydonys,” Wyclif. This place is only mentioned in this passage. The word meârâh means in Hebrew “a cave” (see margin), and it has been commonly supposed that the reference is to a remarkable cavern near Zidon. A village called el-Mughâr has been found in the mountains of Naphtali some 10 miles west of the northern extremity of the Sea of Galilee, which it has been thought may possibly represent the ancient Mearab. See Menke’s Bible Atlas, Plate iii.
unto Aphek] A city in the extreme north of Asher, now Afka, N. E. of Beyrout, and apparently beyond Sidon. It was called by the Greeks Aphaca, and was noted for a temple of Venus destroyed by Constantine.
to the borders of the Amorites] i.e. on the extreme north border of the Amorites, or the land once inhabited by them, and which afterwards passed to Og, king of Bashan.
And the land of the Giblites, and all Lebanon, toward the sunrising, from Baalgad under mount Hermon unto the entering into Hamath.5. the land of the Giblites] i.e. the land of the inhabitants of Gebal, a name which occurs in Psalm 83:7,
“Gebal, and Ammon, and Amalek;
The Philistines with the inhabitants of Tyre;”
and Ezekiel 27:8-9, “The inhabitants of Zidon and Arvad were thy mariners: thy wise men, O Tyrus, that were in thee, were thy pilots. The ancients of Gebal and the wise men thereof were in thee thy calkers.” It was a maritime town of Phœnicia. Its inhabitants are written “Giblians” in the Vulgate, and “Byblians” in the LXX. (while in 1 Kings 5:18 the word is rendered “stone-squarers”), whence we may infer the identity of the city with the Byblus of classical literature. Byblus was a seat of the worship of Adonis or Syrian Tammuz. The modern name is Jebail, about 22 miles north of Beyrout. The coins of Byblus have frequently the type of Astarte, also of Isis, who came here in search of the body of Osiris. “At Jebail and in other ancient Phœnician cities there are traces of the same large bevelled stones clamped with iron, which appear in the foundations of Solomon’s temple. These are probably the work of the Giblites.” See Ritter’s Geog. Pal. II. 214, 215.
all Lebanon, toward the sunrising] i.e. Anti-Lebanon.
from Baal-gad] See above, note on Joshua 11:17.
the entering into Hamath] The extreme northern boundary point of Palestine whither the spies originally penetrated (Numbers 13:21), and to which the kingdom of David and Solomon once actually extended (2 Samuel 8:3-12; 1 Chronicles 13:5; 1 Chronicles 18:3-11; 2 Chronicles 8:3-4). In the time of the Crusades it was called Epiphaneia, a town situated on the western bank of the Orontes, lower down the stream than Emesa. It is called “Hamath the Great” (Amos 6:2), and commanded the whole of the Orontes valley, from the low screen of hills which forms the watershed between the Orontes and the Litâny—“the entrance of Hamath”—to the defile of Daphne below Antioch.
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.6. All the inhabitants] In addition to those already enumerated there remained to be conquered all the inhabitants of the mountains from Lebanon unto Mizrephoth-maim, which has been already mentioned above, ch. Joshua 11:8. “May it not be the place,” asks Mr Grove, “with which we are familiar in the later history as Zarephath?” Smith’s Bibl. Dict.
only divide thou it by lot] These words connect themselves with Joshua 13:1.
Now therefore divide this land for an inheritance unto the nine tribes, and the half tribe of Manasseh,7. Now therefore divide] Here we have a more definite statement of the tribes amongst whom western Palestine was to be divided.
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;8–14. The Territory of the Two Tribes and a Half East of the Jordan. Its Boundaries
8. With whom] i.e. with Manasseh. It alludes to the other half of that tribe.
the Reubenites and the Gadites] These statements are the same as in ch. Joshua 12:1-6.
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;9. and all the plain of Medeba] Instead of “half Gilead,” as in ch. Joshua 12:2, we have here “all the plain (= Mishor = “table-land” or “downs”) of Medeba unto Dibon,” “the wijld feeldis of Medeba,” Wyclif. Medeba is first mentioned in the fragment of a populare song of the time of the conquest, Numbers 21:30, “Heshbon is perished even unto Dibon, and we have laid them waste even unto Nophah, which reacheth unto Medeba.” It is in the pastoral district of the Belka, four miles S. E. of Heshbon, and like it lying on a rounded but rocky hill. In Christian times it was a noted bishopric of the patriarchate of Becerra. Dibon, or Dibon-Gad, from its being taken possession of and rebuilt by the children of Gad (Numbers 32:3; Numbers 32:34), or Dimon (in Isaiah 15:9), has been discovered with the name Dhiban on the Roman road three miles north of the Arnon (Wady el-Mojeb). Here the inscribed block of basalt, known as “the Moabite stone,” was discovered in 1868.
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.12. all the kingdom of Og in Bashan] “With respect to the two tribes and a half beyond the Jordan, nothing is more striking at the first glance than their wide extent, compared with the narrow space into which the western tribes were compressed … it is certainly a domain which, taken in its entire superficies, would not yield in extent to the whole region on the west of the Jordan.” Ewald’s History of Israel, 11. 294, 295.
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.13. expelled not the Geshurites] “Valiant as was the contest long kept up against their enemies, Israel could not prevent two little kingdoms in the north-east from maintaining their independence within her own borders. One of these was the Aramean Maachah, probably extending to the sources of the Jordan; and the other belonged to the aborigines, and was called Geshur. These two little kingdoms are generally mentioned together, and they existed till after David’s time.” Ewald, p. 302.
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.14. Only unto the tribe of Levi] The Levites not being destined for agriculture, but being intended to become the regular teachers of the people, received no inheritance. See Joshua 13:33, and ch. Joshua 14:3-4.
the sacrifices of the Lord God] “the sacryfices, and the slayn offryngis of the Lord God of Yrael,” Wyclif. The offerings of Jehovah were to be their portion (Numbers 18:20; Deuteronomy 10:9; Deuteronomy 18:2).
And Moses gave unto the tribe of the children of Reuben inheritance according to their families.15–23. The Possession of the Tribe of Reuben
15. the tribe of the children of Reuben] The historian now gives us, on the faith of the ancient registers, the several boundaries of the tribes east of the Jordan.
Reuben] Reuben naturally comes first. His boundaries are more briefly given, Numbers 32:33-42.
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;16. their coast] Observe the use of the word “coast” here, without any allusion to the seaboard. The word comes from the Latin costa = “a rib,” “side,” through the Fr. “coste.” Hence it = “a border” generally, though now applied to the sea-coast only. Comp. “Bethlehem and in all the coasts thereof” (Matthew 2:16); “the coasts of Judæa” (Matthew 19:1); the coasts of Gadara (Mark 5:17); “the coasts” of Antioch in Pisidia (Acts 13:50). The portion of country this tribe selected, under its modern name of the Belka, is still esteemed beyond all others by the Arab sheepmasters. It was the southernmost and smallest portion of the district east of the Jordan.
from Aroer] See above, ch. Joshua 12:2; all the plain by Medeba = the plateau east of Abarim or mount Pisgah. See above, Joshua 12:3.
the city that is in the midst] = Ar of Moab, as above, Joshua 13:9.
Heshbon, and all her cities that are in the plain; Dibon, and Bamothbaal, and Bethbaalmeon,17. Bamoth-baal] It was a site of the old heathen worship of Baal. It is probably mentioned under the shorter form of Bamoth, Numbers 21:19, or “Bamoth-in-the-ravine.” It occurs again in Isaiah 15:2.
Beth-baal-meon] At the first approach of the Israelites to this part of Palestine (Numbers 32:38) it is called Baal-Meon, or in its contracted form Beon (Numbers 32:3). The Beth is probably a Hebrew addition, and the word denotes “the House of Baal of the den.” The name still clings to a ruined place of considerable size, a short distance S. W. of Heshbân, and bearing the name of the fortress of Mi’ûn.
And Jahazah, and Kedemoth, and Mephaath,18. and Jahazah] Also called Jahaz and Jahaza and Jahzah, in the Hebrew Yahats and Yahtsah. Here the decisive battle was fought between the Israelites and Sihon king of the Amorites (Numbers 21:23).
and Kedemoth] Given to the Merarite Levites (Joshua 21:37).
Mephaath] Lying in the district of the Mishor (see Jeremiah 48:21).
And Kirjathaim, and Sibmah, and Zarethshahar in the mount of the valley,19. and Kirjathaim] In Jeremiah 48:1; Jeremiah 48:23 and Ezekiel 25:9 the name is given in our version as Kiriathaim. This place, as well as Dibon, Beth-baal-meon, and Medeba, is found among the proper names recorded on the now celebrated “Moabite stone.” Canon Tristram would identify it with the modern Kureiyat. “The twin hills explain the Hebrew dual and plural terminations.” Land of Moab, p. 275.
Sibmah] Hardly 500 paces from Heshbon, according to Jerome. Isaiah and Jeremiah mention it in the lament pronounced over Moab (Isaiah 16:8-9; Jeremiah 48:32).
and Zareth-shahar] = “the Splendour of the Dawn,” in Mount Ira-Emak = “the Mountain of the Valley.” Menke places it west of Mount Pisgah, towards the Dead Sea. “Having climbed the hills and traced the feeders of the Callirrhoe to their mountain sources, our next aim was to get down to the shore of the Dead Sea by the unvisited Zara, the ‘Zareth-shahar in the mountain of the valley’ of Joshua 13:19.… At length we reached the Dead Sea shore at Zara, which … is really three miles south of the mouth of the Callirrhoe, and in a wide open belt of land, beyond the opening of Wady Z’gara. The surrounding mountain crescent is beautiful, both in form and colour. The sandstone, gilded by the sun, presents the most gorgeous colouring, red predominating, but white, yellow, and brown patches and streaks abound. Groves of tamarisk and acacia, and all the strange tropical shrubs of Engedi and the Sáfieh, gradually give place to huge tufts of a sort of Pampas-grass ten feet high; and then to impenetrable cane-brakes, which reach to within a few feet of the pebbly shore.… Of Zara, the old Hebrew town of Zareth-shahar, but little remains. A few broken basaltic columns and pieces of wall, about 200 yards back from the shore, and a ruined fort rather nearer the sea, about the middle of the coast-line of the plain, are all that are left, beyond the identity of name. Of Rome, or later work, there is not a vestige. Yet these poor relics have an interest of their own. We are looking here on, perhaps, the only surviving relic of the buildings of the semi-nomad tribe of Reuben, prior to the Babylonish captivity.” Tristram’s Land of Moab, pp. 281–284. See the photograph of the Remains, p. 283.
And Bethpeor, and Ashdothpisgah, and Bethjeshimoth,20. and Beth-peor] A place dedicated to the god Baal-peor, on the east of the Jordan opposite Jericho, about six miles above Libias or Beth-haran. Comp. Deuteronomy 3:29; Deuteronomy 4:46.
and Ashdoth-pisgah] See ch. Joshua 12:3.
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.21. all the cities] = “all the other cities of the table-land, and all the kingdom of Sihon, as far as it extended over the plain.”
with the princes of Midian] They are also mentioned, and in the same order, in Numbers 31:8.
which were dukes of Sihon] “dukys of Sion,” Wyclif, from the Vulgate “duces” = vassals of Sihon, and princes. “The word stands only in the plural, and is always used, as would seem, of native, although dependent and subjugated, princes, and not of installed, ordinary officials.” Gesenius. From the appellation here used, “vassals of Sihon,” we may clearly infer that that king, who had taken from the Moabites the greatest part of their territory, had also made them tributary. From this subjection they were delivered by the defeat of Sihon, and then fearing that they would receive from the Israelites the same treatment as the Amorites, they immediately conspired to destroy the Israelites, and thus brought destruction upon themselves. See Keil.
Balaam also the son of Beor, the soothsayer, did the children of Israel slay with the sword among them that were slain by them.22. Balaam also] The mention of these “vassals of Sihon” leads the historian to record also at this point the death of Balaam, which took place at the same time as that of these vassals (Numbers 31:8). He is here called a “soothsayer” (kosem); “the fals divynor” (Wyclif); like (a) the diviners of the Philistines (1 Samuel 6:2), and (b) the necromancers (1 Samuel 28:8-9) whom Saul had “cut off.”
The late Professor Blunt has drawn attention to the fact that (a) in the original mission to Balaam, the elders of Midian were concerned as much as the elders of Moab (Numbers 22:7); that all mention of Midian is then dropped, and “the princes of Balak” and “the servants of Balak” are the titles given to the messengers, and in the prophet’s fruitless struggle to curse the people whom God had blessed, Balak and the Moabites engrossed all his attention.
(b) Balaam then disappears, on his way apparently to his own country, Pethor in Mesopotamia (Numbers 24:25), while the historian pursues his narrative through several long chapters, which are taken up with entirely different matter.
(c) Then comes an account of an attack made upon the Midianites in revenge for their having seduced the people of Israel by the wiles of their women, at the close of which we find a notice that “Balaam also the son of Beor they slew with the sword” (Numbers 31:8).
(d) It seems, then, that the Prophet did not after all immediately return to Mesopotamia, but paid a visit to the Midianites, who were equally concerned in bringing him where he was, and there suggested the enticements of the licentious orgies of Baal-Peor, into which Israel fell. But his stay was unseasonably protracted, and Moses coming upon the Midianites slew them and him together.
(e) Here an undesigned coincidence lies (a) in the elders of Moab and the elders of Midian going to Balaam; (b) in Midian being then mentioned no more, while Balaam having been sent away from Moab, apparently that he might go home, is subsequently found a corpse amongst the slaughtered Midianites. See Blunt’s Undesigned Coincidences, pp. 86, 87.
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.23. was Jordan] i.e. “the boundary of the children of Reuben was the Jordan and adjoining land.” Comp. Numbers 34:6; Deuteronomy 3:16-17.
the villages thereof] = “farm premises,” not enclosed, like a city, with walls. Thus the boundaries of the tribe of Reuben were, (a) On the West, the Dead Sea; (b) on the South, the country of Moab; (c) on the East, the kingdom of Ammon; (d) on the North, the Arnon, or the Wady Mojeb. Here the tribe settled, “preferring pasturage to agriculture.” His subsequent history fulfils the prophecy of Jacob. “Unstable (or swelling) as water” (Genesis 49:4), he vanishes away into a mere Arabian tribe; “his men are few” (Deuteronomy 33:6); it is all he can do “to live and not die.” The only events of the subsequent history of the tribe are (a) the multiplication of “their cattle in the land of Gilead;” (b) their wars with the Bedouin “sons of Hagar” (1 Chronicles 5:10); (c) their spoils “of camels fifty thousand, and of sheep two hundred and fifty thousand, and of asses two thousand” (1 Chronicles 5:21). In the chief struggle of the nation Reuben never took part. No judge, no prophet, no hero of the tribe is handed down to us. See Stanley’s Lectures, 1. 218.
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;24–28. The Possession of the Tribe of Gad
25. their coast was Jazer] or Jaazer. We first hear of it in possession of the Amorites, and as taken by Israel after Heshbon, and on their way from thence to Bashan (Numbers 21:32). At present it is identified with Szîr, or Seir, nine Roman miles west of Ammân, and about 12 from Heshbon. For coast see above, Joshua 13:16.
all the cities of Gilead] i.e. of the southern part of Gilead, which belonged to the kingdom of Sihon, for the other half, on the north of the Jabbok, which was governed by king Og, was allotted to the half tribe of Manasseh.
half the land of the children of Ammon] i.e. that portion of the land which had been taken from them by the Amorites under Sihon, for the Israelites were not allowed to attack the land of the Ammonites themselves (Deuteronomy 2:19; Jdg 11:13 sq.).
unto Aroer] i.e. unto Aroer of Gad (Numbers 32:34), not the Aroer near the Arnon (of Joshua 13:16), that is before Rabbah, the capital of the Ammonites, famous (a) in the history of Jephthah (Jdg 11:33), and (b) in the history of David (2 Samuel 24:5).
And from Heshbon unto Ramathmizpeh, and Betonim; and from Mahanaim unto the border of Debir;26. and from Heshbon] Thus the extension northward of the tribe is expressed, unto Ramath-mizpeh, which is identical with the early sanctuary at which Jacob and Laban set up their cairn of stones, and which received the names of Mizpeh, Galeed, and Jegar-Sahadutha, and which probably was the same as the famous Ramoth-gilead, where (a) Ahab was slain (1 Kings 22:1-37), (b) his son Joram was wounded by Hazael (2 Kings 8:28), (c) Jehu was anointed king (2 Kings 9:1-6). It is the modern es-Salt on the road from Jericho to Damascus.
and Betonim] a town somewhere on the northern boundary of Gad. Its site was unknown to Jerome.
and from Mahanaim] in the east, unto Debir, on the heights which border the Jordan on the west. Mahanaim (= the two hosts) is famous in the history (a) of Jacob’s return from Padanaram (Genesis 32:2), (b) of Ishbosheth’s reign (2 Samuel 2:8), (c) of David’s flight from Absalom (2 Samuel 17:24; 2 Samuel 17:27). The site of Debir is undetermined.
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.27. and in the valley] i. e. the valley of the Jordan. The possessions of the Gadites are now described in this valley as far north as the Sea of Galilee.
Beth-aram] or Beth-haran, the modern Beit-haran (Numbers 32:36). In later times it was known as Bethramphtha, and was called Julias or Livias by Herod Antipas in honour of the Emperor Augustus.
Beth-nimrah] or Nimrah (Numbers 32:3), which name still survives in the Nahr Nimrîn, close to one of the fords of Jordan just above Jericho.
and Succoth] (“Booths”), in the Jordan valley, between Peniel, near the ford of the torrent Jabbok, and Shechem (Genesis 32:30; Genesis 33:18). It is famous (a) in the history of Jacob’s return from Padan-aram; of (b) Gideon’s pursuit of Zebah and Zalmunna (Jdg 8:5-17); (c) as the spot at which the brass foundries were placed for casting the metal-work of the Temple (1 Kings 7:46; 2 Chronicles 4:17). Its position has not been exactly ascertained, and no place resembling Zaphon also has yet been discovered.
Jordan and his border] See above, Joshua 13:23. For the Sea of Chinnereth = the “sea of Galilee,” see above, Joshua 12:3.
This is the inheritance of the children of Gad after their families, the cities, and their villages.28. This is the inheritance] Thus, speaking roughly, the country allotted to Gad appears to have lain chiefly about the centre of the land east of the Jordan. Commencing at or about Heshbon on the south, it extended to the ancient sanctuary of Mahanaim on the north; on the east the furthest landmark was “Aroer that faces Rabbah;” while the Jordan formed the boundary on the west. The character of the tribe was throughout fierce and warlike (Genesis 49:19), “strong men of might, men of war for the battle, that could handle shield and buckler, their faces the faces of lions, and like roes upon the mountains for swiftness” (1 Chronicles 5:18; 1 Chronicles 12:8). In the finest region south of the Jabbok Gad “dwelt as a lion” (Deuteronomy 33:20), and that the civilisation attained by this tribe was of a higher order than “the mere fierceness necessary to repel the attacks of the plunderers of the desert” comes out in (a) the history of Jephthah (Jdg 11:1); of (b) the eleven valiant chiefs who crossed the fords of Jordan in flood-time to join David—“their faces like the faces of lions, as swift as the gazelles upon the mountains” (1 Chronicles 12:8-15); in (c) the loyalty and generosity of Barzillai (2 Samuel 19:32-39); (d) the marvellous career of Elijah “the Tishbite, of the inhabitants of Gilead” (1 Kings 17:1).
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.29–32. The Possession of the Half Tribe of Manasseh
29. the half tribe of Manasseh] “The fact that it is always called a half tribe appears curious, especially on comparison with the similar, yet widely different, case of Dan, which sent out to the north an army which surprised the Phœnician town of Laish.” Ewald, 11. 299.
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:30. from Mahanaim] Which formed its southern border. For “the kingdom of Og” see above, Joshua 13:12.
all the towns of Jair] The whole of Bashan embraced
(i) The Havoth-Jair, sixty cities in the district of Argob (Deuteronomy 3:4), which had been captured by Jair the son of Manasseh and called after his name (Numbers 32:41; Deuteronomy 3:14).
(ii) “half Gilead,” i.e. the northern half, together with the two capitals, Ashtaroth and Edrei.
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.31. Ashtaroth] See ch. Joshua 12:4, so called doubtless from being a seat of the worship of Ashtoreth, the principal female divinity of the Phœnicians, the Astarte of the Greeks and Romans. The only trace of the name yet recovered is Tell-Ashterah or Asherah.
and Edrei] See above, ch. Joshua 12:4. The northern part of Gilead was given to Machir, the eldest son of the patriarch Manasseh (1 Chronicles 7:14), or rather the half of his male descendants. They consisted of seven families, whose heads are named 1 Chronicles 5:24. So great was their power, that the name of Machir occasionally supersedes that of Manasseh. They took the bold “tract of Argob … sixty great cities (Deuteronomy 3:14), among the most difficult, if not the most difficult, district in the whole country.” Thus it is plain that the half tribe of Manasseh occupied by far the largest extent of land on the east of the Jordan. It embraced (a) the inaccessible heights and impassable ravines of Gilead; and (b) the almost impregnable tract of Argob, where “all is stone,” “an ocean of basaltic rocks and boulders tossed about in the wildest confusion.” “The same martial spirit, which fitted the western Manasseh to defend the passes of Esdraelon, fitted ‘Machir, the firstborn of Manasseh, the father of Gilead,’ to defend the passes of Haurân and Anti-Libanus; ‘because he was a man of war, therefore he had Gilead and Bashan.’ ” Stanley’s Lectures, I. 219. Of the development of the tribe subsequently we have a remarkable illustration at the time of the coronation of David at Hebron. On that occasion, “while the western Manasseh sent 18,000, and Ephraim itself but 20,800, the eastern Manasseh, with Gad and Reuben, mustered to the number of 120,000, thoroughly armed—a remarkable demonstration of strength, still more remarkable when we remember the fact that Saul’s house, with the great Abner at its head, was then residing at Mahanaim on the border of Manasseh and Gad.” See Smith’s Bib. Dict. Art. “Manasseh.”
These are the countries which Moses did distribute for inheritance in the plains of Moab, on the other side Jordan, by Jericho, eastward.32. in the plains of Moab] This distribution had been made during the lifetime of Moses in “the plains of Moab,” opposite to the city of Jericho (Numbers 22:1; Numbers 34:15).
But unto the tribe of Levi Moses gave not any inheritance: the LORD God of Israel was their inheritance, as he said unto them.33. But unto the tribe of Levi] See above, Joshua 13:14, and comp. Numbers 18:20.