Joshua 13
Clarke's Commentary
Joshua being old, the Lord informs him of the land yet remaining to be possessed, Joshua 13:1. Of the unconquered land among the Philistines, Joshua 13:2, Joshua 13:3. Among the Canaanites, Sidonians, and Amorites, Joshua 13:4, Joshua 13:5. The inhabitants of the hill country and the Sidonians to be driven out, Joshua 13:6. The land on the east side of Jordan, that was to be divided among the tribes of Reuben and Gad, and the half tribe of Manasseh, Joshua 13:7-12. The Geshurites and the Maachathites not expelled, Joshua 13:13. The tribe of Levi receive no inheritance, Joshua 13:14. The possessions of Reuben described, Joshua 13:15-23. The possessions of Gad, Joshua 13:24-28. The possessions of the half tribe of Manasseh, Joshua 13:29-31. Recapitulation of the subjects contained in this chapter, Joshua 13:32, Joshua 13:33.

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 was old - He is generally reputed to have been at this time about a hundred years of age: he had spent about seven years in the conquest of the land, and is supposed to have employed about one year in dividing it; and he died about ten years after, aged one hundred and ten years. It is very likely that he intended to subdue the whole land before he made the division of it among the tribes; but God did not think proper to have this done. So unfaithful were the Israelites that he appears to have purposed that some of the ancient inhabitants should still remain to keep them in check, and that the respective tribes should have some labor to drive out from their allotted borders the remains of the Canaanitish nations.

There remaineth yet very much land to be possessed - That is, very much when compared with that on the other side Jordan, which was all that could as yet be said to be in the hands of the Israelites.

This is the land that yet remaineth: all the borders of the Philistines, and all Geshuri,
The borders of the Philistines, and all Geshuri - The borders of the Philistines may mean the land which they possessed on the sea-coast, southwest of the land of Canaan. There were several places named Geshuri, but that spoken of here was probably the region on the south of Canaan, towards Arabia, or towards Egypt. - Calmet. Cellarius supposes it to have been a country in the vicinity of the Amalekites.

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 Sihor, which is before Egypt - Supposed by some to be the Pelusiac branch of the Nile, near to the Arabian Desert; called also the river of Egypt, Numbers 34:5; Jeremiah 2:18. On this subject an intelligent friend favors me with the following opinion: - "The river Sihor is supposed by some to be the Nile, or a branch of it. Others think it the same as what is frequently called the river of Egypt, which lay before or towards the borders of Egypt; which arose out of the mountains of Paran, and ran westward, falling into that bay of the Mediterranean which lies south of the land of the Philistines. This river is often mentioned as the boundary of the Israelites to the southwest, as Euphrates, the great river, was on the northeast. "There was a desert of considerable distance between what is called the river of Egypt and the isthmus of Suez. Solomon reigned to the borders of Egypt, i.e., to this desert; but not in Egypt, nor to the river Nile. "Upon the whole, (though there are difficulties in the matter), I incline to think that the river in question was not the Nile. Sihor (black) might, from some circumstances, be applied to another river as well as the Nile; though some places in Isaiah and Jeremiah seem to restrict it to the Nile." - J. C.

Ekron northward - Ekron was one of the five lordships of the Philistines, and the most northern of all the districts they possessed. Baal-zebub, its idol, is famous in Scripture; see 2 Kings 1:2, etc. The five lordships of the Philistines were Gaza, Ashdod, Askalon, Gath, and Ekron. There is no proof that ever the Israelites possessed Ekron; though, from Joshua 15:11, some think it was originally given to Judah, but the text does not say so; it only states that the border of the tribe of Judah went out Unto the Side of Ekron. From Joshua 19:43, we learn that it was a part of the lot of Dan, but it does not appear to have been possessed by any of those tribes.

Counted to the Canaanite - It is generally allowed that the original possessors of this country were the descendants of Canaan, the youngest son of Ham. The Philistines sprang from Mizraim, the second son of Ham, and, having dispossessed the Avim from the places they held in this land, dwelt in their stead. See Genesis 10:13, Genesis 10:14.

Five lords of the Philistines - These dynasties are famous in the Scriptures for their successful wars against the Israelites, of whom they were almost the perpetual scourge.

Also the Avites - These must not be confounded with the Hivites. The Avites seem to have been a very inconsiderable tribe, who dwelt in some of the skirts of Palestine. They had been originally deprived of their country by the Caphtorim; and though they lived as a distinct people, they had never afterwards arrived to any authority.

From the south, all the land of the Canaanites, and Mearah that is beside the Sidonians, unto Aphek, to the borders of the Amorites:
The land of the Canaanites - This lay on the south of the country of the Philistines, towards the sea-coast.

Mearah - Supposed to be the city Maratha, on the Mediterranean Sea. - Calmet. Or the river Majora, which falls into the Mediterranean Sea, between Sidon and Berytus. See Pliny, Hist. Nat. lib. v., c. 20.

Aphek - See on Joshua 12:18 (note).

To the borders of the Amorites - Though the term Amorite is sometimes used to designate the inhabitants in general of the land of Canaan, yet it must be considered in a much more restricted sense in this place. As no Amorites are known to have dwelt in this quarter, Calmet supposes we should read Aramites or Syrians. Joshua, says he, proceeds from Sidon to Aphek, a city of Syria, between Heliopolis and Babylon where was the temple of the Venus of Aphek, and which is spoken of in 1 Kings 20:26; 2 Kings 13:17, as the capital of the kings of Syria. From this Joshua passes on to the frontiers of the Syrians, towards Gebal or Gabala, which, according to Ptolemy, was situated in Phoenicia. This conjecture of Calmet is not supported by any authority either from the ancient versions or MSS. Houbigant, however, approves of it: the emendation is simple as it consists in the interchange of only two letters in the same word, הארמי haarammi, for האמרי haemori.

And the land of the Giblites, and all Lebanon, toward the sunrising, from Baalgad under mount Hermon unto the entering into Hamath.
The land of the Giblites - This people dwelt beyond the precincts of the land of Canaan, on the east of Tyre and Sidon. See Ezekiel 27:9; Psalm 83:7; their capital was named Gebal. See Dodd.

All Lebanon - See on Joshua 11:17 (note).

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.
Misrephoth-maim - See on Joshua 11:7 (note).

These will I drive out - That is, if the Israelites continued to be obedient; but they did not, and therefore they never fully possessed the whole of that land which, on this condition alone, God had promised them: the Sidonians were never expelled by the Israelites, and were only brought into a state of comparative subjection in the days of David and Solomon. Some have taken upon them to deny the authenticity of Divine revelation relative to this business, "because," say they, "God is stated to have absolutely promised that Joshua should conquer the whole land, and put the Israelites in possession of it." This is a total mistake.

1. God never absolutely, i.e., unconditionally, promised to put them in possession of this land. The promise of their possessing the whole was suspended on their fidelity to God. They were not faithful, and therefore God was not bound by his promise to give them any part of the land, after their first act of national defection from his worship.

2. God never said that Joshua should conquer the whole land, and give it to them; the promise was simply this: "Thou shalt bring them into the land, and thou shalt divide it among them:" both of which he did, and procured them footing by his conquests, sufficient to have enabled them to establish themselves in it for ever.

3. It was never said, Thou shalt conquer it all, and then divide it; no. Several of the tribes, after their quota was allotted them, were obliged to drive out the ancient inhabitants. See on Joshua 11:18 (note).

Now therefore divide this land for an inheritance unto the nine tribes, and the half tribe of Manasseh,
The nine tribes, and the half tribe of Manasseh - The other half tribe of Manasseh, and the two tribes of Reuben and Gad, had got their inheritance on the other side of Jordan, in the land formerly belonging to Og king of Bashan, and Sihon king of the Amorites.

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;
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;
From Aroer - See on Joshua 12:2 (note).

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;
Border of the Geshurites - See on Joshua 12:5 (note).

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.
And Moses gave unto the tribe of the children of Reuben inheritance according to their families.
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,
Bamoth-baal - The high places of Baal, probably so called from altars erected on hills for the impure worship of this Canaanitish Priapus.

And Jahazah, and Kedemoth, and Mephaath,
Jahaza - A city near Medeba and Dibon. It was given to the Levites, 1 Chronicles 6:78.

Kedemoth - Mentioned Deuteronomy 2:26; supposed to have been situated beyond the river Arnon.

Mephaath - Situated on the frontiers of Moab, on the eastern part of the desert. It was given to the Levites, Joshua 21:37.

And Kirjathaim, and Sibmah, and Zarethshahar in the mount of the valley,
Kirjathaim - This city, according to Eusebius, was nine miles distant from Medeba, towards the east. It passed from the Emim to the Moabites, from the Moabites to the Amorites, and from the Amorites to the Israelites, Genesis 14:6; Deuteronomy 2:20. Calmet supposes the Reubenites possessed it till the time they were carried away by the Assyrians; and then the Moabites appear to have taken possession of it anew, as he collects from Jeremiah 48:1 etc., and Ezekiel 25:9 etc.

Sibmah - A place remarkable for its vines. See Isaiah 16:8, Isaiah 16:9, Jeremiah 48:32.

Zareth-shahar, in the mount of the valley - This probably means a town situated on or near to a hill in some flat country.

And Bethpeor, and Ashdothpisgah, and Bethjeshimoth,
Beth-peor - The house or temple of Peor, situated at the foot of the mountain of the same name. See Numbers 25:3.

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.
The princes of Midian - See the history of this war, Numbers 31:1, etc.; and from that place this and the following verse seem to be borrowed, for the introduction of the death of Balaam here seems quite irrelevant.

Balaam also the son of Beor, the soothsayer, did the children of Israel slay with the sword among them that were slain by them.
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.
The cities and the villages - By villages, חצרים chatserim, it is likely that moveable villages or tents are meant, such as are in use among the Bedouin Arabs; places where they were accustomed to feed and pen their cattle.

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;
Half the land on the children of Ammon - This probably was land which had been taken from the Ammonites by Sihon, king of the Amorites, and which the Israelites possessed by right of conquest. For although the Israelites were forbidden to take the land of the Ammonites, Deuteronomy 2:37, yet this part, as having been united to the territories of Sihon, they might possess when they defeated that king and subdued his kingdom.

And from Heshbon unto Ramathmizpeh, and Betonim; and from Mahanaim unto the border of Debir;
Ramath-mizpeh - The same as Ramoth-gilead. It was one of the cities of refuge, Joshua 20:8; Deuteronomy 4:47.

Mahanaim - Or the two camps. Situated on the northern side of the brook Jabbok, celebrated for the vision of the two camps of angels which Jacob had there; see Genesis 32:2.

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.
Beth-aram - This city was rebuilt by Herod, and called Livias, in honor of Livia, the wife of Augustus. Josephus calls it Julias, Julia being the name which the Greeks commonly give to Livia. - Calmet.

Succoth - A place between Jabbok and Jordan where Jacob pitched his tents, from which circumstance it obtained its name, see Genesis 33:17.

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.
The half tribe of Manasseh - When the tribes of Reuben and Gad requested to have their settlement on the east side of Jordan, it does not appear that any part of the tribe of Manasseh requested to be settled in the same place. But as this tribe was numerous, and had much cattle, Moses thought proper to appoint one half of it to remain on the east of Jordan, and the other to go over and settle on the west side of that river.

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:
The towns of Jair - These were sixty cities; they are mentioned afterwards, and in 1 Chronicles 2:21, etc. They are the same with the Havoth-jair mentioned Numbers 32:41. Jair was son of Segub, grandson of Esron or Hezron, and great-grandson of Machir by his grandmother's side, who married Hezron of the tribe of Judah. See his genealogy, 1 Chronicles 2:21-24.

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.
These are the countries which Moses did distribute for inheritance in the plains of Moab, on the other side Jordan, by Jericho, eastward.
Which Moses did distribute - Moses had settled every thing relative to these tribes before his death, having appointed them to possess the territories of Og king of Bashan, and Sihon king of the Amorites. For particulars on this chapter, the reader, if he judge it of consequence, may consult Calmet.

But unto the tribe of Levi Moses gave not any inheritance: the LORD God of Israel was their inheritance, as he said unto them.
Commentary on the Bible, by Adam Clarke [1831].
Text Courtesy of Internet Sacred Texts Archive.

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