Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers
THIRD DIVISION OF THE BOOK.
SUMMARY OF THE CONQUERED TERRITORY.
(a) According to kings.
(2) Sihon king of the Amorites . . .—For a description of his territory see Deuteronomy 2:31-37.
(4) Og king of Bashan.—See Deuteronomy 3:11.
(6) Them did Moses the servant of the Lord . . . smite.—The continuity of the work of Moses and Joshua should be noticed. The land which God gave to Israel is made up of two portions: (1) a territory on the east of Jordan conquered by Moses, and given by him to two and a half tribes, as the “portion of the law-giver;” (2) a territory on the west of Jordan, of larger extent, conquered by Joshua, and given to nine and a half tribes. But the conquest of Canaan is one enterprise, begun by Moses and finished by Joshua. And the land of Israel is one country, though divided by Jordan into two portions. The analogy between the work of Moses and Joshua in this literal conquest, and the work of Moses and the true Joshua in respect of the inheritance of the Church of God, which was partly won before the passage of Jordan—i.e., before the death of Christ—but much more afterwards, is too plain to be overlooked.
(7) And these are the kings of the country which Joshua . . . smote.—There are two kings reckoned to Moses, and thirty-one to Joshua; making a total of thirty-three. Yet the two slain by Moses are individually represented as far greater than any who are named in this book. And in the Psalms, in more than one place, we have “Sihon king of the Amorites, and Og the king of Bashan” expressed by name, and the rest only summarised, as “all the kingdoms of Canaan” (Psalm 135:11-12; Psalm 136:19-20.).
From Baal-gad . . . unto the mount Halak.—See Joshua 11:17.
(9-24) These verses give a list of the thirty-one kings defeated by Joshua. The order of the conquest is followed. We have first the kings of Jericho and Ai; (2) the kings overcome in the southern campaign (Joshua 10) from the king of Jerusalem (Joshua 12:10) to the king of Makkedah (Joshua 12:16). Among these, the kings of Geder, Hormah, Arad, and Adullam have not been previously mentioned in Joshua, nor is the capture of Jarmuth mentioned. The names Hormah and Arad both occur in Numbers 21:1; Numbers 21:3, where the town of Arad is, after its destruction by Israel, called Hormah. As the cities of the king of Arad are mentioned in that place, it is possible that the Hormah and Arad of this chapter may both be of the number. Or they may be different places. It is also just possible that the capture of those cities may be mentioned in Numbers 21 by anticipation, and that the attack of Arad on Israel was not fully avenged until the conquest of Canaan by Joshua. (3) We next read of the kings conquered in the rest of the country, whose cities ranged from Bethel on the south to Hazor on the north. Of the capture of these cities we have no details, with the exception of Hazor (Joshua 11:10). And it should be carefully noticed how very few of them are in the centre of the country.
(16-24) The town of Bethel, on the borders of Benjamin and Ephraim, which passed from the one tribe to the other (Joshua 18:22 and 1Kings 12:29), seems to mark the geographical transition in this list from the territory conquered in the southern campaign of Joshua, to that which he conquered in his northern campaign.
(17) Tappuah.—There were two cities of this name—viz., one in Judah (Joshua 15:34) and one in Ephraim (Joshua 16:8; Joshua 17:8). The latter is probably intended here. This town was on the borders of Ephraim and Manasseh, and nearly all the towns that follow, so far as identified, lie in a northerly direction. This confirms the opinion already expressed, that a large portion of the centre of Palestine was comparatively uncleared and unoccupied at the time of the conquest.
Hepher is not identified, unless it could be the same as Gath-hepher or Gittah-hepher in Zebulun (Joshua 19:13).
(18) Aphek is a name belonging to six different towns, according to Conder, who does not, however, profess to identify this one. Three of those which he does identify lie in the northern districts.
Lasharon.—Rather, perhaps, Sharon (the first syllable seems to be the Hebrew prefix “to the”). Sharon, in every place (except one) where the name occurs in the Old Testament, has the definite article, and appears as Hassharon; and so in the critical text of Acts 9:35, Assaron rather than Saron. It is the Sharon, or plain; and the king of Lasharon seems to mean the king of that district. Madon, Hazor, and Shimron-meron have been identified as northern towns in Joshua 11
(20) Achshaph is thought to be El-Yasif, in the tribe of Asher.
(21) Taanach is Tânah, in the territory of Issachar, but belonging to Manasseh (Joshua 17:11). Megiddo, though famous in Old Testament history, is not yet identified with certainty, though it appears to survive in Mujedd’a, in the plain of Jezreel, near Beisan (Bethshan).
(22) Kedesh is probably Kedesh-Naphtali, and survives in Kedes. There are two others, according to Conder. 1 Chron. (1Chronicles 6:72 and 1Chronicles 6:76) proves that there are two places of the name; but is he right in supposing that the Kedesh of Judges 4:11 differs from Kedesh-Naphtali in Judges 4:6? Jokneam of Carmel is identified as Tell Keimûn.
(23) Dor—i.e., Tantûra.
Gilgal (there are three places of this name also) is probably Jiljilieh, in the plain of Sharon.
(24) Tirzah is thought to be Teiasîr, in the territory of Manasseh.
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: