Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges
Numbers 34:1-15. The boundaries of Israelite possessions on the west of the Jordan. Numbers 34:16-29. The appointment of ten princes to superintend the allotment of the land.
The eastern and western boundaries of the country are clearly defined. They are the R. Jordan and the ‘Great Sea,’ the Mediterranean. But the northern and southern limits are very uncertain, hardly any of the places mentioned having been identified. The Southern Border (Numbers 34:3-5) runs from the Salt Sea (i.e. the Dead Sea), along the border of Edom, to the Mediterranean through two known points, Kadesh-Barnea and the ‘Wady of Egypt’ (see on Numbers 34:5). The other places named are unknown. The same names are found in a similar description of the southern border in Joshua 15:2-4, except that Hezron takes the place of Hazar-addar, Addar being given as a distinct spot, and an additional unknown place Karka is named. And in Ezekiel 47:19; Ezekiel 48:28 in the ideal picture of the boundaries of the future Israel four points are given to mark the southern border: Tamar (site unknown, but somewhere near the Dead Sea), Meriboth-Kadesh (= Kadesh-Barnea), ‘the Wady,’ and the Great Sea. The Northern Border (Numbers 34:7-12) is still more uncertain. It started from a point on the Mediterranean described as Mt Hor, passed by the ‘entrance of Hamath’ (see on Numbers 13:21) and Zedad (unknown), ran eastward as far as Hazar-enan (unknown), and then turned southward to the sea of Chinnereth. No such northern boundary is described in Joshua, but Ezekiel 47:15-17 coincides with Num. as regards the Great Sea, Zedad, and Hazar-enan, the last, however, being spelt Hazar-enon.
It is probable that the boundaries here traced in P are, as in Ezekiel, ideal, and that the full extent of country which they imply was never actually possessed by Israel. This is certain as regards the west, for the Hebrews never held a single spot on the Mediterranean coast with the possible exception of Carmel, and, at certain periods, Joppa (see Hastings’ DB. i. 355 and ii. 755). Joppa was captured by Jonathan Maccabaeus in 148 b.c. (1Ma 10:76) and again by his brother Simon six years later (1Ma 12:33 f.; cf. 1Ma 14:5).
For a fuller discussion than is here possible of the localities mentioned in this chapter the reader is referred to Gray, Numbers, pp. 454–462.
And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,
Command the children of Israel, and say unto them, When ye come into the land of Canaan; (this is the land that shall fall unto you for an inheritance, even the land of Canaan with the coasts thereof:)
Then your south quarter shall be from the wilderness of Zin along by the coast of Edom, and your south border shall be the outmost coast of the salt sea eastward:3. your south quarter] your south sida. The word pe’âh frequently occurs in the ideal pictures of Ezekiel (chs. 41–48) always with this meaning. In earlier Heb. it denotes a ‘corner.’
eastward] i.e. on the east. The southern extremity of the Salt Sea is further denned in Joshua 15:2.
And your border shall turn from the south to the ascent of Akrabbim, and pass on to Zin: and the going forth thereof shall be from the south to Kadeshbarnea, and shall go on to Hazaraddar, and pass on to Azmon:4. the ascent of Akrabbim] i.e. the ‘Scorpion Pass.’ ‘From the Dead Sea the line indicated probably ran at first S.W. through the Wady el-Fiḳreh, which is a natural boundary, and then, turning round the Jebel Madurah [see on Numbers 20:22], much more directly south to Ḳadesh. The ascent of ‘Aḳrabbim may be sought in one of the passes on the N. side of the Wady el-Fiḳreh, and perhaps in particular in the Naḳb el-Yemen, which starts just opposite the Jebel Madurah, or in the Naḳb eṣ-Ṣafâ’ (Gray).
And the border shall fetch a compass from Azmon unto the river of Egypt, and the goings out of it shall be at the sea.5. the brook of Egypt] Heb. ‘the naḥal of Miẓraim.’ A.V. ‘the river of Egypt’ gives the erroneous impression that the Nile is meant. The name is that of a wady or torrent, now called Wâdy el-‘Arîsh, which rises in the centre of the Sinaitic peninsula, and flows northward into the Mediterranean about 50 miles S.W. of Gaza. It is possible that Miẓraim here denotes not Egypt proper, but the tract on the east of Egypt. The name Muẓur is frequently applied to the latter in Assyrian inscriptions.
And as for the western border, ye shall even have the great sea for a border: this shall be your west border.6. and the border thereof] These words should be omitted. The word וּגְבוּל (ûgebhûl ‘and a border’) may have been accidentally added as a doublet of the preceding חַגָּדוֹל (haggâdhôl ‘the great’), which it somewhat resembles.
And this shall be your north border: from the great sea ye shall point out for you mount Hor:7. mount Hor] This is, of course, quite distinct from the mountain of the same name in the neighbourhood of Edom (Numbers 20:22 ff., Numbers 33:38).
From mount Hor ye shall point out your border unto the entrance of Hamath; and the goings forth of the border shall be to Zedad:
And the border shall go on to Ziphron, and the goings out of it shall be at Hazarenan: this shall be your north border.
And ye shall point out your east border from Hazarenan to Shepham:
And the coast shall go down from Shepham to Riblah, on the east side of Ain; and the border shall descend, and shall reach unto the side of the sea of Chinnereth eastward:11. the side of the sea] lit. ‘the shoulder of the sea.’ The word is a descriptive term referring to the mountain slopes on the N.E. of the lake; cf. Joshua 15:10. The sea or lake is that known in N.T. times as the Sea, or Lake, of Galilee.
And the border shall go down to Jordan, and the goings out of it shall be at the salt sea: this shall be your land with the coasts thereof round about.
And Moses commanded the children of Israel, saying, This is the land which ye shall inherit by lot, which the LORD commanded to give unto the nine tribes, and to the half tribe:
For the tribe of the children of Reuben according to the house of their fathers, and the tribe of the children of Gad according to the house of their fathers, have received their inheritance; and half the tribe of Manasseh have received their inheritance:
The two tribes and the half tribe have received their inheritance on this side Jordan near Jericho eastward, toward the sunrising.15. beyond the Jordan] The passage is written by some one on the west of the Jordan, which Moses never crossed.
And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,16–29. Ten princes were appointed to superintend the allotment of the land, one from each of the nine and a halt tribes who settled west of the Jordan. In supreme command are Joshua and Eleazar, the successors of Moses and Aaron as the civil and religious beads of the nation.
These are the names of the men which shall divide the land unto you: Eleazar the priest, and Joshua the son of Nun.
And ye shall take one prince of every tribe, to divide the land by inheritance.
And the names of the men are these: Of the tribe of Judah, Caleb the son of Jephunneh.
And of the tribe of the children of Simeon, Shemuel the son of Ammihud.
Of the tribe of Benjamin, Elidad the son of Chislon.
And the prince of the tribe of the children of Dan, Bukki the son of Jogli.
The prince of the children of Joseph, for the tribe of the children of Manasseh, Hanniel the son of Ephod.
And the prince of the tribe of the children of Ephraim, Kemuel the son of Shiphtan.
And the prince of the tribe of the children of Zebulun, Elizaphan the son of Parnach.
And the prince of the tribe of the children of Issachar, Paltiel the son of Azzan.
And the prince of the tribe of the children of Asher, Ahihud the son of Shelomi.
And the prince of the tribe of the children of Naphtali, Pedahel the son of Ammihud.
These are they whom the LORD commanded to divide the inheritance unto the children of Israel in the land of Canaan.