Them did Moses the servant of the LORD and the children of Israel smite: and Moses the servant of the LORD gave it for a possession to the Reubenites, and the Gadites, and the half tribe of Manasseh.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Joshua 12:6. Them did Moses and the children of Israel smite — Fresh mercies must not drown the remembrance of former mercies: nor must the glory of the present instruments of good to the church, diminish the just honour of those that went before them. Joshua’s services were confessedly great. But let not those under Moses be forgotten. Both together proclaim God to be the Alpha and Omega of his people’s salvation.
Jos 12:1-6. The Two Kings Whose Countries Moses Took and Disposed of.
1. Now these are the kings of the land, which the children of Israel smote, and possessed their land on the other side Jordan—This chapter contains a recapitulation of the conquests made in the promised land, with the additional mention of some places not formerly noted in the sacred history. The river Arnon on the south and mount Hermon on the north were the respective boundaries of the land acquired by the Israelites beyond Jordan (see Nu 21:21-24; De 2:36; 3:3-16 [and see on De 2:24]).Numbers 21:1,
and Moses the servant of the Lord gave it; the whole dominion of the two kings before mentioned:
for a possession unto the Reubenites, and the Gadites, and the half tribe of Manasseh: of which grant, and the conditions of it, see Numbers 32:1.Them did Moses the servant of the LORD and the children of Israel smite: and Moses the servant of the LORD gave it for a possession unto the Reubenites, and the Gadites, and the half tribe of Manasseh.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)Verse 6. - Moses, the servant of the Lord, gave. Theodoret makes the tribes which received their inheritance through Moses the types of the believing Jews, and those who received it through Jesus (Joshua) the types of the believing Gentiles. Reuben, Gad, and Manasseh were the first born of their respective mothers, and were thus types of the Jews, who were God's firstborn. As they passed over armed before their brethren, so we received the good tidings of salvation from the lips of Jews. This is a characteristic specimen of the allegorical interpretation of the early fathers. But it will be observed that the children of Bilhah, who might have been selected more naturally than those of Zilpah, are entirely omitted. Joshua 11:21, Joshua 11:22, the destruction of the Anakites upon the mountains of Judah and Israel is introduced in a supplementary form, which completes the history of the subjugation and extermination of the Canaanites in the south of the land (Joshua 10). This supplement is not to be regarded either as a fragment interpolated by a different hand, or as a passage borrowed from another source. On the contrary, the author himself thought it necessary, having special regard to Numbers 13:28, Numbers 13:31., to mention expressly that Joshua also rooted out from their settlements the sons of Anak, whom the spies in the time of Moses had described as terrible giants, and drove them into the Philistine cities of Gaza, Bath, and Ashdod. "At that time" points back to the "long time," mentioned in Joshua 11:18, during which Joshua was making war upon the Canaanites. The words "cut off," etc., are explained correctly by Clericus: "Those who fell into his hands he slew, the rest he put to flight, though, as we learn from Joshua 15:14, they afterwards returned." (On the Anakim, see at Numbers 13:22.) They had their principal settlement upon the mountains in Hebron (el Khulil, see Joshua 10:3), Debir (see at Joshua 10:38), and Anab. The last place (Anab), upon the mountains of Judah (Joshua 15:50), has been preserved along with the old name in the village of Anb, four or five hours to the south of Hebron, on the eastern side of the great Wady el Khulil, which runs from Hebron down to Beersheba (Rob. Pal. ii. p. 193). "And from all (the rest of) the mountains of Judah, and all the mountains of Israel:" the latter are called the mountains of Ephraim in Joshua 17:15. The two together form the real basis of the land of Canaan, and are separated from one another by the large Wady Beit Hanina (see Rob. Pal. ii. p. 333). They received their respective names from the fact that the southern portion of the mountain land of Canaan fell to the tribe of Judah as its inheritance, and the northern part to the tribe of Ephraim and other tribes of Israel.
(Note: The distinction here made may be explained without difficulty even from the circumstances of Joshua's own time. Judah and the double tribe of Joseph (Ephraim and Manasseh) received their inheritance by lot before any of the others. But whilst the tribe of Judah proceeded into the territory allotted to them in the south, all the other tribes still remained in Gilgal; and even at a later period, when Ephraim and Manasseh were in their possessions, all Israel, with the exception of Judah, were still encamped at Shiloh. Moreover, the two parts of the nation were now separated by the territory which was afterwards assigned to the tribe of Benjamin, but had no owner at this time; and in addition to this, the altar, tabernacle, and ark of the covenant were in the midst of Joseph and the other tribes that were still assembled at Shiloh. Under such circumstances, then, would not the idea of a distinction between Judah, on the one hand, and the rest of Israel, in which the double tribe of Joseph and then the single tribe of Ephraim acquired such peculiar prominence, on the other, shape itself more and more in the mind, and what already existed in the germ begin to attain maturity even here? And what could be more natural than that the mountains in which the "children of Judah" had their settlements should be called the mountains of Judah; and the mountains where all the rest of Israel was encamped, where the "children of Israel" were gathered together, be called the mountains of Israel, and, as that particular district really belonged to the tribe of Ephraim, the mountains of Ephraim also? (Joshua 19:50; Joshua 20:7; also Joshua 24:30.))
Gaza, Gath, and Ashdod were towns of the Philistines; of these Gaza and Ashdod were allotted to the tribe of Judah (Joshua 15:47), but were never taken possession of by the Israelites, although the Philistines were sometimes subject to the Israelites (see at Joshua 13:3). - With Joshua 11:23, "thus Joshua took the whole land" etc., the history of the conquest of Canaan by Joshua is brought to a close; and Joshua 11:23, "and Joshua gave it for an inheritance unto Israel," forms a kind of introduction to the second part of the book. The list of the conquered kings in Joshua 12 is simply an appendix to the first part.
The taking of the whole land does not imply that all the towns and villages to the very last had been conquered, or that all the Canaanites were rooted out from every corner of the land, but simply that the conquest was of such a character that the power of the Canaanites was broken, their dominion overthrown, and their whole land so thoroughly given into the hands of the Israelites, that those who still remained here and there were crushed into powerless fugitives, who could neither offer any further opposition to the Israelites, nor dispute the possession of the land with them, if they would only strive to fulfil the commandments of their God and persevere in the gradual extermination of the scattered remnants. Moreover, Israel had received the strongest pledge, in the powerful help which it had received from the Lord in the conquests thus far obtained, that the faithful covenant God would continue His help in the conflicts which still remained, and secure for it a complete victory and the full possession of the promised land. Looking, therefore, at the existing state of things from this point of view, Joshua had taken possession of the whole land, and could now proceed to finish the work entrusted to him by the Lord, by dividing the land among the tribes of Israel. Joshua had really done all that the Lord had said to Moses. For the Lord had not only promised to Moses the complete extermination of the Canaanites, but had also told him that He would not drive out the Canaanites at once, or "in one year," but only little by little, until Israel multiplied and took the land (Exodus 23:28-30; cf. Deuteronomy 7:22). Looking at this promised, therefore, the author of the book could say with perfect justice, that "Joshua took the whole land according to all that (precisely in the manner in which) the Lord had said to Moses." But this did not preclude the fact, that a great deal still remained to be done before all the Canaanites could be utterly exterminated from every part of the land. Consequently, the enumeration of towns and districts that were not yet conquered, and of Canaanites who still remained, which we find in Joshua 13:1-6; Joshua 17:14., Joshua 18:3; Joshua 23:5, Joshua 23:12, forms no discrepancy with the statements in the verses before us, so as to warrant us in adopting any critical hypotheses or conclusions as to the composition of the book by different authors. The Israelites could easily have taken such portions of the land as were still unconquered, and could have exterminated all the Canaanites who remained, without any severe or wearisome conflicts; if they had but persevered in fidelity to their God and in the fulfilment of His commandments. If, therefore, the complete conquest of the whole land was not secured in the next few years, but, on the contrary, the Canaanites repeatedly gained the upper hand over the Israelites; we must seek for the explanation, not in the fact that Joshua had not completely taken and conquered the land, but simply in the fact that the Lord had withdrawn His help from His people because of their apostasy from Him, and had given them up to the power of their enemies to chastise them for their sins. - The distribution of the land for an inheritance to the Israelites took place "according to their divisions by their tribes." מחלקות denote the division of the twelve tribes of Israel into families, fathers' houses, and households; and is so used not only here, but in Joshua 12:7 and Joshua 18:10. Compare with this 1 Chronicles 23:6; 1 Chronicles 24:1, etc., where it is applied to the different orders of priests and Levites. "And the land rested from war:" i.e., the war was ended, so that the peaceable task of distributing the land by lot could now be proceeded with (vid., Joshua 14:15; Judges 3:11, Judges 3:30; Judges 5:31).
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