Joshua 13:4
From the south, all the land of the Canaanites, and Mearah that is beside the Sidonians to Aphek, to the borders of the Amorites:
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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:
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. Kedesh, a Levitical city and city of refuge upon the mountains of Naphtali (Joshua 19:37; Joshua 20:7; Joshua 21:32), the home of Barak (Judges 4:6), was conquered and depopulated by Tiglath-Pileser (2 Kings 15:29), and was also a well-known place after the captivity (1 Macc. 11:61ff.) It is now an insignificant village, still bearing the ancient name, to the north-west of the lake of Huleh, or, according to Van de Velde (Reise. ii. p. 355), nothing but a miserable farmstead upon a Tell at the south-west extremity of a well-cultivated table-land, with a large quantity of antiquities about, viz., hewn stones, relics of columns, sarcophagi, and two ruins of large buildings, with an open and extensive prospect on every side (see also Rob. Bibl. Res. pp. 367ff.). Jokneam, near Carmel, as a Levitical town in the territory of Zebulun (Joshua 19:11; Joshua 21:34). Van de Velde and Robinson (Bibl. Res. p. 114) suppose that they have found it in Tell Kaimn, on the eastern side of the Wady el Milh, at the north-west end of a chain of hills running towards the south-east; this Tell being 200 feet high, and occupying a very commanding situation, so that it governed the main pass on the western side of Esdraelon towards the southern plain. Kaimn is the Arabic form of the ancient Καμμωνά, Cimana, which Eusebius and Jerome describe in the Onom. as being six Roman miles to the north of Legio, on the road to Ptolemais.
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