Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers
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:)XXXIV.
(2, 3) When ye come . . . —Better, Ye are entering into the land of Canaan; this is the land which shall fall unto you for an inheritance, (even) the land of Canaan, according to the borders thereof. And your south quarter (or, district) shall be from the wilderness of Zin by the side of Edom; and your south border shall be from the extremity of the salt sea eastward (or, on the east). It was important for the Israelites to be taught that, whilst divinely commissioned to exterminate the idolatrous inhabitants of the land of Canaan, they had no commission to make aggressive wars upon the surrounding nations which were beyond the confines of the land which was allotted to them. The southern boundary which is here described is the same as that of the tribe of Judah, as described in Joshua 15:1-2. The land of the Israelites was to extend towards the south as far as the wilderness of Zin, which was to divide their territory from that of the Edomites.
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) And your border shall turn from the south . . . —Better, And your border shall turn on (or, to) the south side of the ascent of Akrabbim, and shall pass over to Zin; and the goings forth thereof shall be on the south of Kadesh-barnea. The meaning appears to be that the boundary line was to go in a south-westerly direction from the southern point (or, tongue) of the Dead Sea, as far as the height (or, ascent) of Akrabbim; and was to be continued from this point in a westerly direction as far as Kadesh-barnea, which was at the western extremity of the desert of Zin, and was to be included within the Israelitish territory. What is here called the height of Akrabbim is supposed to be a row of white cliffs, which run obliquely across the Arabah, at a distance of about eight miles from the Dead Sea. (Comp. Joshua 15:3-4.)
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) And the border shall fetch a compass . . . —Although the exact spots of some of the places which determined the southern border have not been positively ascertained, there seems, on the whole, very little doubt that the boundary line ran along the valleys which form a natural division between the cultivated land and the desert, from the Arabah on the east to the Mediterranean on the west, the Brook of Egypt—i.e., the Wady-el-Arish—forming the western boundary until it reached the sea.
And as for the western border, ye shall even have the great sea for a border: this shall be your west border.(6) And as for the western border . . . —Better, And as for the western border, ye shall have the great sea and (its) border (i.e., its coast). (See Joshua 15:47. “the great sea and the border thereof.”)
And this shall be your north border: from the great sea ye shall point out for you mount Hor:(7) Mount Hor.—It has been thought by some that Hermon is the mountain to which reference is made. But, as Ritter has observed (“Comparative Geography of Palestine,” 3, p. 176), “Hermon stands too far eastward to answer the conditions of the problem,” and he thinks that some peak very near the Mediterranean must be meant. Von Raumer considers that it was probably one of the peaks belonging to the Lebanon range, and discernible from Sidon. (Ib.)
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:(8) From Mount Hor . . . —From Mount Hor the boundary line was to pass the unknown Ziphron to the village of Enan, or Hazar-enan, which is likewise unknown. (Comp. Ezekiel 47:16-18.) This line probably crossed the northern portion of the Lebanon.
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) Riblah, on the east side of Ain.—Ain (Heb., a fountain) is supposed to be the great fountain of Neba Anjar at the foot of Antilibanus, in which case Riblah must be distinguished from the Riblah in the land of Hamath, which is mentioned in 2Kings 23:33 and in Jeremiah 39:9. From this point the boundary went further southward by the side (Heb., shoulder) of the lake of Chinnereth, or Sea of Galilee, from whence the eastern boundary was the Jordan down to the Dead Sea. This was to be the land of the Israelites, according to its borders on every side.
The sea of Chinnereth.—Chinnereth, or Cinnereth, appears to have been the name of a district, and also of a town. The name is supposed to be derived from kinnor, a “harp.” In later times the city was called Genusar, whence the name Gennesareth, as we find it in the Gospels.
The two tribes and the half tribe have received their inheritance on this side Jordan near Jericho eastward, toward the sunrising.(15) On this side Jordan.—Better, Along the side or bank of Jordan. (See Note on chapter 32:19.)
These are the names of the men which shall divide the land unto you: Eleazar the priest, and Joshua the son of Nun.(17) Which shall divide the land unto you.—Better, Which shall give (or, allot) the land as an inheritance unto you.
And ye shall take one prince of every tribe, to divide the land by inheritance.(18) And ye shall take one prince of every tribe . . . —In addition to Eleazar the high priest, and Joshua the commander of the army, one chief man, or prince, was to be selected out of each of the ten tribes which were interested in the division, as at the first census one out of each tribe was associated with Moses and Aaron (Numbers 1:4), and as was probably the case at the second census under Moses and Eleazar. (Comp. Numbers 27:2.) Security was thus afforded for the equity and impartiality of the allotment; the position of the territory only, and not its dimensions, being determined by lot. With the exception of Caleb, the names of the princes selected for this purpose are not mentioned elsewhere.