Joshua 13:15
And Moses gave to the tribe of the children of Reuben inheritance according to their families.
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(Joshua 13:15-33).

(15) Reuben.—See also Numbers 32:33-42 and Deuteronomy 3:16, &c.

Joshua 13:15. Moses gave, &c. — Having informed us in general what Moses gave to the two tribes and a half, the sacred historian proceeds to set down in particular what share each of them had in this country. According to their families — Dividing the inheritance into as many parts as they had families. But this is only spoken of the greater families; for the lesser distributions to the several small families were made by inferior officers, according to the rules which Moses had given them.13:7-33 The land must be divided among the tribes. It is the will of God that every man should know his own, and not take that which is another's. The world must be governed, not by force, but right. Wherever our habitation is placed, and in whatever honest way our portion is assigned, we should consider them as allotted of God; we should be thankful for, and use them as such, while every prudent method should be used to prevent disputes about property, both at present and in future. Joshua must be herein a type of Christ, who has not only conquered the gates of hell for us, but has opened to us the gates of heaven, and having purchased the eternal inheritance for all believers, will put them in possession of it. Here is a general description of the country given to the two tribes and a half, by Moses. Israel must know their own, and keep to it; and may not, under pretence of their being God's peculiar people, encroach on their neighbours. Twice in this chapter it is noticed, that to the tribe of Levi Moses gave no inheritance: see Nu 18:20. Their maintenance must be brought out of all the tribes. The ministers of the Lord should show themselves indifferent about worldly interests, and the people should take care they want nothing suitable. And happy are those who have the Lord God of Israel for their inheritance, though little of this world falls to their lot. His providences will supply their wants, his consolations will support their souls, till they gain heavenly joy and everlasting pleasures.Inheritance of the tribe of Reuben. This territory was the most southerly of the trans-Jordanic possessions of Israel, and adjoined Moab, which lay only on the other side of the Arnon. Hence, the Reubenites became in after times much intermixed with the Moabites, who in fact eventually acquired much of the land, and several, if not all, of the cities here named as belonging to Reuben. This acquisition was probably assisted by the fact that the territory north of Arnon had formerly belonged to the Moabites, from whom it was wrested by the Amorites (see Numbers 21:27, etc. notes). It is not likely that the Amorite conquerors had completely extirpated the Moabite inhabitants. Hence, in the days when the Reubenites became engrossed in their pastoral pursuits, and probably not very long after the days of Joshua, the Moabites easily encroached on their inheritance, and in the end probably reoccupied nearly the whole of the ancient kingdom of Sihon (Compare Deuteronomy 33:6 note).8. With whom—Hebrew, "him." The antecedent is evidently to Manasseh, not, however, the half-tribe just mentioned, but the other half; for the historian, led, as it were, by the sound of the word, breaks off to describe the possessions beyond Jordan already assigned to Reuben, Gad, and the half of Manasseh (see on [190]Nu 32:1; [191]Nu 32:33; also see De 3:8-17). It may be proper to remark that it was wise to put these boundaries on record. In case of any misunderstanding or dispute arising about the exact limits of each district or property, an appeal could always be made to this authoritative document, and a full knowledge as well as grateful sense obtained of what they had received from God (Ps 16:5, 6). Dividing the inheritance into as many parts as they had families; but this is only spoken of the greater families; for the lesser divisions or distributions to the several small families was done by inferior officers, according to the rules which Moses gave them. And Moses gave unto the tribe of the children of Reuben inheritance according to their families. According to the number of them, and sufficient for them. And Moses gave unto the tribe of the children of Reuben inheritance according to their families.
15–23. The Possession of the Tribe of Reuben

15. the tribe of the children of Reuben] The historian now gives us, on the faith of the ancient registers, the several boundaries of the tribes east of the Jordan.

Reuben] Reuben naturally comes first. His boundaries are more briefly given, Numbers 32:33-42.Verse 15. - Reuben. This passage is an expansion of Numbers 32:33-42. We learn from it that the Israelites actually took possession of this land. But in the reigns of the wicked kings Omri and Ahab the power of Israel declined, and after the battle of Ramoth-Gilead, and the defeat and death of Ahab, the Moabites succeeded in shaking off the Israelitish yoke, and in wresting from Israel moreover a considerable portion of the territory of Sihon. In the next reign an attempt was made to regain possession of the lost territory. We learn from the Moabite stone that the important towns here mentioned, Medeba, Dibon, Baalmeon, Kiriathaim (or Kirjathalm, as it is here called), Ataroth, Nebo, Aroer, had fallen into the hands of Mesha at the rebellion, and that he had erected a citadel at Dibon, which had become his capital. Hence the endeavour to invade Moab from the south, recorded in 1 Kings 3, which, however, though successful as a military promenade, was attended with no permanent results. For Isaiah (ch. 15.)and Jeremiah (ch. 48.) mention most of these places, as well as Elealeh and Heshbon, the former capital of Sihon, as being strongholds of the Moabite power. Jahaz, too, the place where Sihon gave battle of the Israelites, is numbered by Mesha, as well as at a later date by Isaiah and Jeremiah, among the possessions of Moab; while Horonaim, mentioned among the Moabite cities by the two prophets, is incidentally noticed by Mesha as having been captured from the Edomites. In this early extinction of the tribe of Reuben we may see the fulfilment of Jacob's prophecy (Genesis 49.). The plain by Medeba. See ver. 10; so again in the next verse. To the command of God to divide the land on this side the Jordan among the nine tribes and a half (Joshua 13:7), the historian appends the remark, that the other two tribes and a half had already received their inheritance from Moses on the other side (Joshua 13:8). This he proceeds to describe in its full extent (Joshua 13:9-13), and then observes that the tribe of Levi alone received no landed inheritance, according to the word of the Lord (Joshua 13:14). After this he gives a description in vv. 15-33 of the land assigned by Moses to each of the two tribes and a half.

(Note: Knobel's remark, that Joshua 13:8-14 anticipate the following section (vv. 15-33) in an unsuitable manner, rests upon a thorough misunderstanding of the whole; for the account of the division of the land to the east of the Jordan among the two tribes and a half (vv. 15-33) could not be introduced in a more appropriate manner than by a description of the circumference of the land and of its principal parts (Joshua 13:9-13).)

The remark in Joshua 13:8 is so closely connected with what precedes by the expression "with whom" (lit., with it), that this expression must be taken as somewhat indefinite: "with whom," viz., with half Manasseh, really signifying with the other half of Manasseh, with which the Reubenites and Gadites had received their inheritance (see Numbers 32 and Deuteronomy 3:8-17). The last words of Joshua 13:8, "as Moses the servant of Jehovah gave them," are not a tautological repetition of the clause "which Moses gave them," but simply affirm that these tribes received the land given them by Moses, in the manner commanded by Moses, without any alteration in his arrangements. The boundaries of the land given in Joshua 13:9-13 really agree with those given in Joshua 12:2-5 and Deuteronomy 3:8, although the expression varies in some respects. The words of Joshua 13:9, "the city that is in the midst of the river," i.e., the city in the valley, viz., Ar, are more distinct than those of Joshua 12:2, "and from the middle of the river." "All the plain" is the Amoritish table-land, a tract of land for the most part destitute of trees, stretching from the Arnon to Heshbon, and towards the north-east to Rabbath-Ammn (see at Deuteronomy 3:10), which is called in Numbers 21:20 the field of Moab Medeba, now called Medaba (see at Numbers 21:30). Dibon, now a ruin called Dibn, to the north of Arnon (see at Numbers 21:20). - Joshua 13:10, as in Joshua 12:2.

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