Joshua 13:4
From the south, all the land of the Canaanites, and Mearah that is beside the Sidonians, unto Aphek, to the borders of the Amorites:
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
Joshua 13:4. From the south — That is, from those southern parts of the sea- coast now possessed by the Philistines, all the more northern parts of the sea-coast being yet inhabited by the Canaanites, almost as far as Sidon. The Amorites — The Amorites were a very strong and numerous people, and we find them dispersed in several parts, some within Jordan, and some without it, some in the south, and others in the north, of whom he speaks here.

13:1-6 At this chapter begins the account of the dividing of the land of Canaan among the tribes of Israel by lot; a narrative showing the performance of the promise made to the fathers, that this land should be given to the seed of Jacob. We are not to pass over these chapters of hard names as useless. Where God has a mouth to speak, and a hand to write, we should find an ear to hear, and an eye to read; and may God give us a heart to profit! Joshua is supposed to have been about one hundred years old at this time. It is good for those who are old and stricken in years to be put in remembrance of their being so. God considers the frame of his people, and would not have them burdened with work above their strength. And all people, especially old people, should set to do that quickly which must be done before they die, lest death prevent them, Ec 9:10. God promise that he would make the Israelites masters of all the countries yet unsubdued, through Joshua was old, and not able to do it; old, and not likely to live to see it done. Whatever becomes of us, and however we may be laid aside as despised, broken vessels, God will do his own work in his own time. We must work out our salvation, then God will work in us, and work with us; we must resist our spiritual enemies, then God will tread them under our feet; we must go forth to our Christian work and warfare, then God will go forth before us.Read "on the south," and connect the words with the verse preceding. They indicate the southern limit of the still unconquered territory in this neighborhood, as Joshua 13:3 gives the northern one.

Mearah - The "cave" (see the margin) has been referred to "Mugar Jczzin" ("cave of Jezzin"), between Tyre and Sidon, or to a district characterized by deep cave-like ravines near Sidon and Dan-Laish.

4. all the land of the Canaanites, and Mearah—("the cave")

that is beside the Sidonians—a mountainous region of Upper Galilee, remarkable for its caves and fastnesses.

unto Aphek—now Afka; eastward, in Lebanon.

to the borders of the Amorites—a portion of the northeastern territory that had belonged to Og. The third district that remained unsubdued:

i.e. From those southern parts of the sea-coast now possessed by the Philistines, all the more northern parts of the sea-coast being yet inhabited by the Canaanites, almost as far as Sidon, as it here follows; for there is no mention made of any conquests of Joshua upon the sea-coast. The Canaanites, properly so called, are said to

dwell by the sea, Numbers 13:29, and these are here spoken of, though some of them dwelt in other parts of the land.

Mearah; a strong place; it matters not whether it was a city, or an impregnable cave, which some writers mention to be in those parts.

Aphek; not that of Judah, of which Joshua 15:53 but another in the tribe of Asher, of which Joshua 12:18 Judges 1:31.

To the borders of the Amorites: the Amorites were a strong and very numerous people, and we find them dispersed in several parts, some within Jordan, and some without it; some in the south, and others in the north, of whom he speaks there.

From the south, all the land of the Canaanites,.... That is, of those Canaanites who were particularly so called, in distinction from those of the other nations or tribes, and who dwelt in several parts of the land, some in the east and others in the west, see Joshua 11:3; and, as it seems here, some in the south: now on the side of the south, as Kimchi interprets it, all the land of the Canaanites was left, that is, remained unconquered and not possessed:

and Mearah that is beside the Sidonians; the inhabitants of Sidon, and parts adjacent: what this place was, which belonged to the Sidonians, for so it may better be rendered, is not certain; some take it to be a cave belonging to them: Sandys (b) speaks of a number of caves cut out of the rock in those parts, called the caves of the Sidonians, and afterwards the caves of Tyre; so it is interpreted by the Targum, and in the Syriac and Arabic versions others take it to be the river Magoras, Pliny (c) makes mention of as on the borders of Lebanon near Zidon and Berytus: mention is made of the waters of Mearah along with the waters of Tiberias in Jewish writings (d); but rather something of more importance than a cave or a river is meant; most likely a tract of land near Sidon, and which belonged to it, and reached

unto Aphek, to the borders of the Amorites; of this place; see Gill on Joshua 12:18.

(b) Travels, l. 3. p. 169. Ed. 5. (c) Nat. Hist. l. 5. c. 20. (d) Misn. Sabbat. c. 22. sect. 5. T. Hieros. Sabbat, fol. 6. 1.

From the south, all the land of the Canaanites, and Mearah that is beside the Sidonians unto Aphek, to the borders of the Amorites:
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
4. from the south] The LXX. here gives a proper name, “from Teman.” This was the former southern limit of the Avites’ territory.

all the land of the Canaanites] Here some would insert a full stop, as though the words summed up what had gone before.

and Mearah] “Mara of Sydonys,” Wyclif. This place is only mentioned in this passage. The word meârâh means in Hebrew “a cave” (see margin), and it has been commonly supposed that the reference is to a remarkable cavern near Zidon. A village called el-Mughâr has been found in the mountains of Naphtali some 10 miles west of the northern extremity of the Sea of Galilee, which it has been thought may possibly represent the ancient Mearab. See Menke’s Bible Atlas, Plate iii.

unto Aphek] A city in the extreme north of Asher, now Afka, N. E. of Beyrout, and apparently beyond Sidon. It was called by the Greeks Aphaca, and was noted for a temple of Venus destroyed by Constantine.

to the borders of the Amorites] i.e. on the extreme north border of the Amorites, or the land once inhabited by them, and which afterwards passed to Og, king of Bashan.

Verse 4. - From the south. The LXX. and the best modern commentators connect these words with what precedes. This gives a better sense than joining it to what follows. For the south was not "all the land of the Canaanites," but a large part of it belonged, as we have just seen, to a tribe not of Canaanitish origin, while the land of the Canaanites (see note on Joshua 3:10) extended far to the northward. Therefore we must understand the words "all the land of the Canaanites" to begin a fresh section, and to be descriptive of the territory extending from Philistia northward towards Sidon. So the Chaldee, Syriac, and Arabic. Mearah. The margin has "the cave." But there is no article in the original The LXX. reads ἀπὸ Γάζης for Mearah, having clearly, as Masius observes, substituted Zain for Resh. But this mistaken reading compels a mistranslation of the passage. Vandevelde supposes it to be a remarkable cave still existing near Sidon, which is mentioned by William of Tyre as having been fortified by the Crusaders. He speaks of it as municipium quoddam, and states that it was commonly known as the "cave of Tyre." "spelunca inexpugnabilis." It was afterwards "the last retreat of the Emir Fakkr-ed-Din" (Vandevelde, s.v. Mearah). There is a village now, north of Sidon, called Mog-heiriyeh, or the village of the cave. So also Kuobel. Beside the Sidonians. Rather, near, or in the direction of, or which belong to the Sidonians. Aphek. Or Aphekah. This (Knobel) was the northern Aphek (Joshua 19:30; Judges 1:31), in the tribe of Asher, known later as Aphaca, and now as Afka. Not the Aphekah of Joshua 15:53, probably the Aphek of 1 Samuel 4:1. It is the same Aphek which in later times was captured by the Syrians, and was the scene of several decisive victories of Israel (1 Kings 20:26, 30; 2 Kings 13:17). It is doubtful which Aphek is meant in Joshua 12:18, though it is probably the southern Aphek. The situation is described as one of "rare beauty" (Delitzsch), "on the northwest slopes of Lebanon," amid exquisite groves (Conder). Here the Syrian Astarte was worshipped, and the ruins of her temple, dedicated to her as mourning for Tammuz, or Adonis, may still be seen. See Kenrick, 'Phoenicia,' 310,311, and Mover's 'Die Phonizier,' 1:192. Perhaps it was never actually occupied by the Asherites, but remained in the hands of Syria, and as a place of great resort was the natural point to which the attacks of Israel would be directed. Vandevelde, however, believes in four and Conder in seven cities of this name, and they suppose the Aphek which was the scene of the battle with the Syrians to have been on the east of Jordan, from the occurrence of the word "Mishor" in the narrative in 1 Kings 20. The term "Mishor" is, however, applied to other places beside the territory east of Jordan (see Gesenius, s.v. Mishor). The Aphek in 1 Samuel 29:1 cannot be identified with any that have been named. To the borders of the Amorites. This can hardly be anything but the northern border of the kingdom of Bashan, in the neighbourhood of Mount Hermon. Joshua 13:4All the circles of the Philistines (geliloth, circles of well-defined districts lying round the chief city). The reference is to the five towns of the Philistines, whose princes are mentioned in Joshua 13:3. "And all Geshuri:" not the district of Geshur in Peraea (Joshua 13:11, Joshua 13:13, Joshua 12:5; Deuteronomy 3:14), but the territory of the Geshurites, a small tribe in the south of Philistia, on the edge of the north-western portion of the Arabian desert which borders on Egypt; it is only mentioned again in 1 Samuel 27:8. The land of the Philistines and Geshurites extended from the Sichor of Egypt (on the south) to the territory of Ekron (on the north). Sichor (Sihor), lit. the black river, is not the Nile, because this is always called היאר (the river) in simple prose (Genesis 41:1, Genesis 41:3; Exodus 1:22), and was not "before Egypt," i.e., to the east of it, but flowed through the middle of the land. The "Sichor before Egypt" was the brook (Nachal) of Egypt, the Ῥινοκοροῦρα, the modern Wady el Arish, which is mentioned in Joshua 15:4, Joshua 15:47, etc., as the southern border of Canaan towards Egypt (see at Numbers 34:5). Ekron (Ἀρρακών, lxx), the most northerly of the five chief cities of the Philistines, was first of all allotted to the tribe of Judah (Joshua 15:11, Joshua 15:45), then on the further distribution it was given to Dan (Joshua 19:43); after Joshua's death it was conquered by Judah (Judges 1:18), though it was not permanently occupied. It is the present Akr, a considerable village in the plain, two hours to the south-west of Ramlah, and on the east of Jamnia, without ruins of any antiquity, with the exception of two old wells walled round, which probably belong to the times of the Crusaders (see Rob. Pal. iii. p. 23). "To the Canaanites is reckoned (the territory of the) five lords of the Philistines," i.e., it was reckoned as belonging to the land of Canaan, and allotted to the Israelites like all the rest. This remark was necessary because the Philistines were not descendants of Canaan (see at Genesis 10:14), but yet were to be driven out like the Canaanites themselves as being invaders of Canaanitish territory (cf. Deuteronomy 2:23). סרני, from סרן, the standing title of the princes of the Philistines (vid., Judges 3:3; Judges 16:5.; 1 Samuel 5:8), does not mean kings, but princes, and is interchangeable with שׂרים (cf. 1 Samuel 29:6 with 1 Samuel 29:4, 1 Samuel 29:9). At any rate, it was the native or Philistian title of the Philistine princes, though it is not derived from the same root as Sar, but is connected with seren, axis rotae, in the tropical sense of princeps, for which the Arabic furnishes several analogies (see Ges. Thes. p. 972).

The capitals of these five princes were the following. Azzah (Gaza, i.e., the strong): this was allotted to the tribe of Judah and taken by the Judaeans (Joshua 15:47; Judges 1:18), but was not held long. It is at the present time a considerable town of about 15,000 inhabitants, with the old name of Ghazzeh, about an hour from the sea, and with a seaport called Majuma; it is the farthest town of Palestine towards the south-west (see Rob. Pal. ii. pp. 374ff.; Ritter, Erdk. xvi. pp. 35ff.; Stark, Gaza, etc., pp. 45ff.). Ashdod (Ἄζωτος, Azotus): this was also allotted to the tribe of Judah (Joshua 15:46-47), the seat of Dagon-worship, to which the Philistines carried the ark (1 Samuel 5:1.). It was conquered by Uzziah (2 Chronicles 26:6), was afterwards taken by Tartan, the general of Sargon (Isaiah 20:1), and was besieged by Psammetichus for twenty-nine years (Herod. ii. 157). It is the present Esdud, a Mahometan village with about a hundred or a hundred and fifty miserable huts, upon a low, round, wooded height on the road from Jamnia to Gaza, two miles to the south of Jamnia, about half an hour from the sea (vid., Rob. i. p. 368). Ashkalon: this was conquered by the Judaeans after the death of Joshua (Judges 1:8-9); but shortly afterwards recovered its independence (vid., Judges 14:19; 1 Samuel 6:17). It is the present Askuln on the sea-shore between Gaza and Ashdod, five hours to the north of Gaza, with considerable and widespread ruins (see v. Raum. pp. 173-4; Ritter, xvi. pp. 69ff.). Gath (Γέθ): this was for a long time the seat of the Rephaites, and was the home of Goliath (Joshua 11:22; 1 Samuel 17:4, 1 Samuel 17:23; 2 Samuel 21:19.; 1 Chronicles 20:5.); it was thither that the Philistines of Ashdod removed the ark, which was taken thence to Ekron (1 Samuel 5:7-10). David was the first to wrest it from the Philistines (1 Chronicles 18:1). In the time of Solomon it was a royal city of the Philistines, though no doubt under Israelitish supremacy (1 Kings 2:39; 1 Kings 5:1). It was fortified by Rehoboam (2 Chronicles 11:8), was taken by the Syrians in the time of Joash (2 Kings 12:18), and was conquered again by Uzziah (2 Chronicles 26:6; Amos 6:2); but no further mention is made of it, and no traces have yet been discovered

(Note: According to the Onom. (s. v. Geth), it was a place five Roman miles from Eleutheropolis towards Diospolis, whereas Jerome (on Micah 1) says: "Gath was near the border of Judaea, and on the road from Eleutheropolis to Gaza; it is still a very large village;" whilst in the commentary on Jeremiah 25 he says: "Gath was near to and conterminous with Azotus," from which it is obvious enough that the situation of the Philistine city of Gath was altogether unknown to the Fathers. Hitzig and Knobel suppose the Βαιτογάβρα of Ptolemy (5:16, 6), Betogabri in Tab. Peuting. ix. e. (the Eleutheropolis of the Fathers, and the present Beit Jibrin, a very considerable ruin), to be the ancient Gath, but this opinion is only founded upon very questionable etymological combinations; whereas Thenius looks for it on the site of the present Deir Dubban, though without any tenable ground.)

(see Rob. ii. p. 420, and v. Raumer, Pal. pp. 191-2). "And the Avvites (Avvaeans) towards the south." Judging from Deuteronomy 2:23, the Avvim appear to have belonged to those tribes of the land who were already found there by the Canaanites, and whom the Philistines subdued and destroyed when they entered the country. They are not mentioned in Genesis 10:15-19 among the Canaanitish tribes. At the same time, there is not sufficient ground for identifying them with the Geshurites as Ewald does, or with the Anakites, as Bertheau has done. Moreover, it cannot be decided whether they were descendants of Ham or Shem (see Stark. Gaza, pp. 32ff.). מתּימן (from, or on, the south) at the commencement of Joshua 13:4 should be attached to Joshua 13:3, as it is in the Septuagint, Syriac, and Vulgate, and joined to העוּים (the Avvites). The Avvaeans dwelt to the south of the Philistines, on the south-west of Gaza. It gives no sense to connect with the what follows, so as to read "towards the south all the land of the Canaanites;" for whatever land to the south of Gaza, or of the territory of the Philistines, was still inhabited by Canaanites, could not possibly be called "all the land of the Canaanites." If, however, we were disposed to adopt the opinion held by Masius and Rosenmller, and understand these words as relating to the southern boundaries of Canaan, "the possessions of the king of Arad and the neighbouring petty kings who ruled in the southern extremity of Judaea down to the desert of Paran, Zin, Kadesh," etc., the fact that Arad and the adjoining districts are always reckoned as belonging to the Negeb would at once be decisive against it (compare Joshua 15:21. with Joshua 10:40; Joshua 11:16, also Numbers 21:1). Moreover, according to Joshua 10:40, Joshua 10:21, and Joshua 11:16-17, Joshua had smitten the whole of the south of Canaan from Kadesh-barnea to Gaza and taken it; so that nothing remained unconquered there, which could possibly have been mentioned in this passage as not yet taken by the Israelites. For the fact that the districts, which Joshua traversed so victoriously and took possession of, were not all permanently held by the Israelites, does not come into consideration here at all. If the author had thought of enumerating all these places, he would have had to include many other districts as well.

Beside the territory of the Philistines on the south-west, there still remained to be taken (Joshua 13:4, Joshua 13:5) in the north, "all the land of the Canaanites," i.e., of the Phoenicians dwelling on the coast, and "the caves which belonged to the Sidonians unto Aphek." Mearah (the cave) is the present Mugr Jezzin, i.e., cave of Jezzin, on the east of Sidon, in a steep rocky wall of Lebanon, a hiding-place of the Druses at the present time (see at Numbers 34:8; also F. v. Richter, Wallfahrten in Morgenland, p. 133). Aphek, or Aphik, was allotted to the tribe of Asher (Joshua 19:30; Judges 1:31); it was called Ἄφακα by the Greeks; there was a temple of Venus there, which Constantine ordered to be destroyed, on account of the licentious nature of the worship (Euseb. Vita Const. iii. 55). It is the present Afka, a small village, but a place of rare beauty, upon a terrace of Lebanon, near the chief source of the river Adonis (Nahr Ibrahim), with ruins of an ancient temple in the neighbourhood, surrounded by groves of the most splendid walnut trees on the north-east of Beirut (see O. F. v. Richter, pp. 106-7; Rob. Bibl. Res. p. 663; and V. de Velde, Reise. ii. p. 398). "To the territory of the Amorites:" this is obscure. We cannot imagine the reference to be to the territory of Og of Bashan, which was formerly inhabited by Amorites, as that did not extend so far north; and the explanation given by Knobel, that farther north there were not Canaanites, but Amorites, who were of Semitic origin, rests upon hypotheses which cannot be historically sustained.

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