Joshua 13
Lange Commentary on the Holy Scriptures

The Division of the Land of Canaan







1. God’s Command to Joshua to distribute the Land


1Now [And] Joshua was old and stricken in years [far gone in years; Fay: come into the days; De Wette: come into the years]; and the Lord [Jehovah] said unto him, Thou art old and stricken [far-gone] in years, and there remaineth 2yet very much land to be possessed. This is the land that yet remaineth: all the borders [circles] of the Philistines, and all Geshuri, 3From Sihor, which is before Egypt, even unto the borders of Ekron, northward, which is [shall it be] counted to the Canaanite: five lords of the Philistines, the Gazathites,1 and the Ashdothites, the Eshkalonites, the Gittites [Gathite], and the Ekronites; [,] also [and] the Avites; 4[,] From [in] the south [;] all the land of the Canaanites, and Mearah that is beside [which belongs to] the Sidonians, unto Aphek, to the borders [border] of the Amorites; 5And the land of the Giblites, and all Lebanon, toward the sunrising, from Baal-gad under mount Hermon unto the entering into Hamath. 6All the inhabitants of the hill country [the mountain] from Lebanon unto Misrephoth-maim, and all the Sidonians, them will I drive out from before the children [sons] of Israel: only divide thou it by lot unto the Israelites for an inheritance [for a possession], as I have 7commanded thee. Now therefore [And now] divide this land for an inheritance [a possession] unto the nine tribes, and the half-tribe of Manasseh.

2. The Territory of the Two and a Half Tribes East of the Jordan, as already granted to them by Moses

CHAPTERS 13:8–33

a. Its Boundaries. The Tribe of Levi

CHAPTERS 13:8–14

8With whom [him] the Reubenites and the Gadites have received their inheritance [possession], which Moses gave them, beyond [the] Jordan eastward, even 9as Moses the servant of the Lord [Jehovah] gave them; From Aroer that is upon the bank of the river [water-course] Arnon, and the city that is in the midst of the river 10[water-course], and all the plain [table-land] of Medeba unto Dibon; And all the cities of Sihon king of the Amorites, which [who] reigned in Heshbon, unto the border of the children of Ammon; 11and Gilead, and the border of the Geshurites 12and Maachathites, and all mount Hermon, and all Bashan unto Salcah; All2 the kingdom of Og in Bashan, which [who] reigned in Ashtaroth and Edrei, which remained of the remnant of the giants. For these did Moses smite and cast them out. 13Nevertheless the children [sons] of Israel expelled not the Geshurites, nor the Maachathites; but the Geshurites and the Maachathites dwell among the Israelites until this day.

14Only unto the tribe of Levi he gave none inheritance [no possession]; the sacrifices of the Lord [Jehovah] God of Israel made by fire [Fay and De Wette: offering of Jehovah; Bunsen, after the Berleburg Bibel: fire-offerings] are their inheritance, as he said unto them.

b. The Possession of the Tribe of Reuben

CHAPTERS 13:15–23

15And Moses gave unto the tribe of the children [sons] of Reuben inheritance 16[omit: inheritance] according to their families. And their coast [border] was from Aroer that is on the bank of the river [water-course of] Arnon, and the city that is in the midst of the river [water-course] and all the plain [table-land] by Medeba; 17[:] Heshbon, and all her cities that are in the plain [table-land], Dibon, and Bamoth-baal, 18 19and Beth-baal-meon, And Jahaza, and Kedemoth, and Mephaath, And 20Kirjathaim, and Sibmah, and Zareth-shahar in the mount of the valley, And Beth-peor, and Ashdoth-pisgah [the foot-hills of Pisgah], and Beth-jeshimoth, 21And all the cities of the plain [table-land], and all the kingdom of Sihon king of the Amorites which [who] reigned in Heshbon, whom Moses smote with the princes of Midian, Evi, and Rekem, and Zur, and Hur, and Reba, which were dukes [Fay: the anointed] 22of Sihon, dwelling in the country. Balaam also [and Balaam] the son of Beor, the soothsayer, did the children [sons] of Israel slay with the sword, among them that were slain by them [in addition to their slain]. 23And the border of the children [sons] of Reuben was [the] Jordan, and the border thereof [De Wette, Fay: and that which bordered it; Bunsen: that is, its margin]. This was the inheritance [possession] of the children [sons] of Reuben, after their families, the cities and the villages3 thereof.

c. The Possession of the Tribe of Gad

CHAPTER 13:24–28

24And Moses gave inheritance [omit: inheritance] unto the tribe of Gad, even 25[omit: even] unto the children [sons] of Gad according to their families. And their coast [border] was Jazer, and all the cities of Gilead, and half the land of the children of Ammon, unto Aroer that is before Rabbah; 26and from Heshbon unto Ramath-Mizpeh, and Betonim; and from Mahanaim unto the border of Debir; 27And in the valley, Beth-aram, and Beth-nimrah, and Succoth, and Zaphon, the rest of the kingdom of Sihon king of Heshbon, [the] Jordan and his [its] border, even unto the edge of the sea of Cinnereth, on the other side [of the] Jordan eastward. 28This is the inheritance [possession] of the children [sons] of Gad after their families, the cities, and their villages.

d. The Possession of the Half Tribe of Manasseh. A Word concerning the Tribe of Levi

CHAPTER 13:29–33

29And Moses gave inheritance [omit: inheritance] unto the half-tribe of Manasseh: and this was the possession of the half-tribe [properly: and it was for the half-tribe] of the children [sons] of Manasseh by their families. 30And their coast [border] was from Mahanaim, all Bashan, all the kingdom of Og king of Bashan, and all the towns [villages] of Jair, which are in Bashan, threescore cities. 31And half Gilead, and Ashtaroth, and Edrei, cities [De Wette, Fay: the cities] of the kingdom of Og in Bashan, were pertaining unto the children of Machir the son of 32Manasseh, even to the one half of the children of Machir by their families. These are the countries which [are what] Moses did distribute for inheritance [possession] in the plains of Moab, on the other side [of the] Jordan by Jericho eastward.

33But unto the tribe of Levi Moses gave not any inheritance [possession]: the Lord [Jehovah] God of Israel was [is] their inheritance, as he said unto them.


With the thirteenth chapter begins Part Second of the book. This describes the division of the land, and rests no doubt on definite records which lay before the author. Such records must have been prepared on taking possession of the land, and such are in fact referred to, Joshua 18:8, 9. “Without them a single Hebrew writer would hardly have had so accurate a knowledge of the land as this author displays, especially in regard to the boundaries” (Knobel). When these registers were established, whether already in Joshua’s time,4 or, as Knobel, from certain circumstances feels obliged to infer, “at a somewhat later period,” cannot be made out with certainty. We have, at all events, to deal here, for the most part, with very ancient writings, reminding us of Ex. 20, Num. 33.

1. Jehovah’s Command to Joshua to divide the Land, Joshua 13:1–7. Joshua has become old, much land is yet to be conquered, and no prospect of his completing the conquest of it; therefore God gives him the command to wait no longer, but to undertake the division. What yet remains is accurately mentioned, Joshua 13:2–6, and in Joshua 13:7 it is said, that it shall be given to the nine and a half tribes.

Joshua 13:1. Well-stricken [far gone] in years, as Joshua 23:1, 2; Gen. 24:1; 18:11.

Joshua 13:2–6. The land that remains to be occupied. It lies part in the south (Joshua 13:3, 4), and part in the north (Joshua 13:5, 6).

Joshua 13:2. All the circles of the Philistines, and all Geshuri. כָּל־גְּלִילוֹת, LXX. rightly: ὅρια, Vulg.: Galilæa, and hence Luther: Galilee of the Philistines. Geshuri is not to be confounded with the country of the Geshurites on. Lebanon, mentioned Joshua 12:5; 13:13, but is to be looked for in the south of Palestine near Philistia.

Joshua 13:3. From Sihor. שִׁיחוֹר from שָׁחַר, to be black, properly, black stream; but not here, as in Is. 23:3; Jer. 2:18, the Nile, which De Wette judges it to be, but, according to the convincing analogy of 1 Chron. 13:5, the נַחַל ,מִצְרַים, the brook of Egypt, Rhinokolura, or Rhinokorura, which actually flows before, i.e. eastwardly (more accurately northeastwardly) from Egypt, while the Nile takes its course through the middle of that country. Von Raumer well remarks in his excursus on this passage (p. 53): “That under the name Shihor the Nile was by no means alone intended, is evident from the single fact that Josh. 19:26 refers to a border stream of Asher of the same name. If the Nile was called Shihor, niger, quia nigrum lutum devehit, why should not other streams receive the same name for the same reason. Have we not in Germany and America streams which are called Schwartzbach, Black Creek, Black River, Green River, etc.?” It may be added that many names of streams and streamlets may be met with bearing the same or closely related names, from the repetition of the same features in different places.

Even unto the border of Ekron. Ekron, ’Ακάοων, ’Ακκάρων in the LXX., between Ashdod and Jamnia, one of the five cities of the Philistines, mentioned elsewhere in the Book of Joshua several times, Joshua 15:11, 45, 46; 19:43; according to Judg. 1:18 conquered by Judah, afterward lost again, then again conquered, under Samuel (1 Sam. 7:14). It was the city of the fly-Baal, Baal-zebub, whose protegés are still to be found there in great numbers. At least Van de Velde complains (ii. 173 apud von Raumer, p. 185) very bitterly of them. Jeremiah (25:20); Amos (1:8); Zephaniah (2:4); Zecharia (9:5, 7) prophesied against Ekron. Robinson (3:23–25) thinks he discovered it in Ahir, pronounced Aghrum, according to Furrer, p. 135, a small village built of unburnt bricks or clay. “The radical letters of the Arabic name are the same as those of the Hebrew, and the position too corresponds with all we know of Ekron,” that is, with the statement of Eusebius and Jerome, that it should be between Ashdod and Jamnia; for “such is the actual position of Akir relative to Esdud and Gebna at the present day.”

Shall it be counted to the Canaanites. This land shall be regarded as Canaanitish, and so subject to conquest, although the Philistines were not Canaanites, but according to Gen. 10:13 sprang from Mizraim. So also Knobel: “The country from the brook of Egypt, northward, is reckoned to the Canaanite, i.e. to Canaan, and was therefore to be taken into account also, since Israel was to receive the whole of Canaan.”

Five lords of the Philistines: the Gazathite (Gazite), the Ashdothite, the Ashkelonite, the Gittite (Gathite) and the Ekronite. The lords or chiefs are named instead of the cities. The Gazite, ruler of Gaza, עַזָּה, Γάζα, first mentioned, Gen. 10:19, as a border town of the Canaanite peoples; in our book, 10:41; 11:22; 15:47, conquered by Judah, Judg. 1:18, afterward lost again, Judg. 3:3. Samson carried the gates of Gaza to a hill (Judg. 16:21–30) which is now shown one half hour from the city. As against Ekron, the prophets prophesied also against Gaza, Jeremiah (25:20; 47:5), Amos (1:6, 7) Zephaniah (2:4), Zechariah (9:5). On the road from Jerusalem to Gaza, Philip baptized the eunuch (Acts 8:30). It lies in a fruitful region, rich in palms and olive-trees, on a small hill about an hour from the sea; is at present larger than Jerusalem (Robinson, ii. 372), a chief emporium between Egypt and Syria, lying on the great caravan route, and distinguished by good springs. The population may be about fifteen or sixteen thousand. Robinson (ubi sup.) gives a very instructive sketch of the history of the city, which has suffered much in the military campaigns of thousands of years. A very pleasant description is found in Furrer (p. 119–122). The Ashdothite. Ashdod, אַשְׁדּוֹד, ’́Αζωτος, Joshua 11:22; 15:46, 47. Here Dagon fell before the ark of God (1 Sam. 5:1–7; 6:17); and this city also shared in the maledictions of the prophets mentioned above, in the same passages which were there quoted. It likewise is named in the account of the eunuch from Ethiopia (Acts 8:40). It is now called Esdud, a village of a hundred or a hundred and fifty miserable hovels, lying on a “low round eminence,” and surrounded by an extensive grove of olive trees (Furrer, p. 133, Robinson, ii. 368). Of antiquities Furrer found in the village, not a single one. “Of the ancient city of the Philistines which once stood here,” he says, “that Ashdod about which the Assyrian (Is. 20:1) and Egyptian armies often encamped, everything but the name has utterly vanished.” The Ashkelonite. Ashkelon (and Askelon), אָשְׁקְלוֹן, mentioned nowhere else in our book, conquered by Judah (Judg. 1:18), but not named among the cities of Judah (Josh. 15:45–47),—a circumstance which favors the opinion that the list was composed in the time of Joshua, and not later—was, next to Gaza, probably the most important city of the Philistines, at whose gates David would not have the tidings of the death of Saul and Jonathan proclaimed (2 Sam. 1:20), lest the daughters of the Philistines should rejoice. Like the other Philistine cities, Ashkelon was threatened by the prophets with divine punishment. Samson slew here thirty Philistines. Jonathan the Maccabæan conquered the city twice (1 Mac. 10:86; 11:60). Herod the Great was born here, according to Eusebius (Hist. Eccl. i. 6), was called Ascalonita, and adorned the place with baths and fountains. It was distinguished originally for hatred against the Jews, later for enmity toward the Christians. During the Crusades many conflicts took place here. Its destruction by Saladin (1191) terminated its splendor forever; and Lady Hester Stanhope, as Ritter relates at large, (16:70 ff. [Gage’s Transl. iii. 213 ff.]), caused its ruins to be explored without finding silver or gold. The ruins are of vast proportions. The village of New Ashkelon lying near the sea is surrounded with green. “Thus Ashkelon, with the adjacent village, formed an extremely fertile oasis in the midst of a perfectly desert region; although, through the numerous gaps and rents in the gigantic stone wall, the wind has at certain points swept the sand of the desert into the very site of the city” (Furrer, p. 128). The Gittite (Gathite) Gath, mentioned already, Joshua 11:22; גַּת, Γίττα, (Joseph.), Γεθ (LXX.), was the home of Goliath (1 Sam. 17:4); connected with Ashkelon in David’s lamentation (2 Sam. 1:20), conquered by David (1 Chron. 19:1). Micha (1:10) and Amos (6:2) make mention of this city, whose ruins Robinson (ii. 220) sought for in vain. On Menke’s atlas, map iii., its name is brought in without the sign of a town, on the border of the second group of low land cities belonging to the tribe of Judah. Knobel (p. 433), after the example of Hitzig (Urgeschichte der Philister, p. 154), conjectures that Βαιτογάβρα in Ptolem. 5, 16, 6, Betogabri in Tab. Peuting. ix. 6, Eleutheropolis of the Fathers, the present Beit Jibrin, is the same as Gath.—The Ekronite, see above Joshua 13:3.—The Avites, “south of Gaza,” Deut. 2:23.

Joshua 13:4. In the South. The Masoretic division of the verse we must here give up, as Hävernick. Keil, and Knobel have done, since the specification—מתימן, standing unquestionably in contrast with צָפוֹנָה (Joshua 13:3), suits very well with the preceding, but not at all with what follows. Rather the author turns here, Joshua 13:4, to an enumeration of the portions of the country lying in the north which require yet to be fully subjugated.

All the land of the Canaanites. Phœnicia is intended, and in particular, the low-land there as well as the “mountain country from Mearah even to the border of the Amorites” (Knobel).

Mearah. Since מערה properly signified a cave, the conjecture proposed by Rosenmüller (Bibl. Geog. ii. 1, pp. 39, 40), although Robinson (iii. 412) regards it “as of very questionable value,” may safely be approved, with Ritter (xvii. 99) and Knobel, namely, that we here have a reference to the cavea de Tyro mentioned by Will. Tyr. (19:11), which he describes as a spelunca inexpugnabilis, an old burial-place of the Sidonians; at present, Mughr Jezzin, i.e. Cave of Jezzin, on Lebanon, east of Sidon. Ritter, ubi sup.

Aphek, now Afka (Robinson, Later Bibl. Res. p. 603 ff.), northeast of Beirut; not to be confounded with the better known Aphek, in the tribe of Issachar, where the camp of the Philistines was pitched before their victory over Saul (1 Sam. 29:1–31), and where Benhadad was subsequently captured (1 K. 20:26–30). The Aphek before us, called by the Greeks ’́Αφακα, noted for the temple of Venus, destroyed by Constantine the Great, belonged, as we see from Joshua 19:30, to Asher. A third Aphek (von Raum. p. 242), now Feik, a village of 200 families, lies on the east side of the sea of Tiberias, on the road from Hauran to the Jordan. This place is indicated in the Onom. as a castellum grande. There was also a fourth place of the name (Joshua 15:53) on the mountain of Judah.

To the borders of the Amorites,i.e. to the land once inhabited by the Amorites, which belonged to Og, king of Bashan (Mich., Dereser, Rosenmüller, Keil).

Joshua 13:5. The land of the Giblites. The land of Gibli, i.e. of the race of Gebal (1 K. 5:32 (18); Ez. 27:9), a district north of Berytus, on the sea, still called Jobail, by the Arabs, but in the classics “Byblus” (Knobel). Byblus itself lay on the sea (Ez. 27:9), was a seat of the Adonis-worship (Winer, i. 206), “home of the Phœnician artisans called by Solomon to the building of the temple (1 K. 5:32 (18). The country belonging to it probably lay east of the city” (von Raum. p. 26, 28).

All Lebanon towards the sun-rising,i.e. the Anti-Lebanon.

Baal-Gad, not Baalbec, as Knobel here again maintains, but, as was shown on Joshua 11:17, Cæsaræa Philippi. So also Menke on Map iii., who strangely writes Baal-Gath instead of Baal-Gad—perhaps a mere oversight.

Hamath. A northern boundary point of Palestine, mentioned Num. 34:8, in our book here and in Joshua 19:33, and many times throughout the O. T., particularly during the period of greatest renown of the Jewish dominion under David and Solomon. Then the kingdom actually extended to that point (see the side-map to Map iii. in Menke’s Atlas), 2 Sam. 8:3–12; 1 Chron. 18:3–11; 1 Chron. 13:5; 1 K. 8:65; 2 Chron. 7:8; 2 K. 14:25–28. So far had the spies originally penetrated (Num. 13:21). According to the Onom. Hamath = Epiphania on the Orontes, at the present time, Hamah, seat of a Greek bishop (Robinson, iii. 456 [see also Later Bibl. Res. p. 568]). Yet Jacobites also dwell there subject to the Jacobite patriarch who resides in Mesopotamia (Robinson, iii. 461). The city is very large, and numbers 100,000 inhabitants (Winer, i. 158).

Joshua 13:6. There remain besides, and are to be conquered, all the inhabitants of the mountains from Lebanon unto Misrephoth-maim, all the Sidonians,i.e. all the heathen tribes dwelling south of the Lebanon as far as to the present promontory Ras en-Nakura (see on Joshua 11:8). Knobel here explains Misrephoth-maim simply as “promontory of Nakura,” while, according to the comments on Joshua 11:8, his opinion, there controverted by us, appears to include under the name the other promontory also, Ras el-Abiad.

Only divide thou it by lot unto Israel for a possession. These words connect themselves with Joshua 13:1, and particularly the conclusion of that verse, as Keil has well observed. As I have commanded thee, comp. Joshua 1:6.

Joshua 13:7. More definite statement as to whom the land should be divided among. According to Joshua 14:1, Joshua did not perform this service alone, but in connection with the high-priest Eleazer, and the elders of the people.

2. The Territory of the Two and a Half Tribes East of the Jordan, as Moses had already bestowed it upon them, Joshua 13:8–33.—a. Its Borders, Joshua 13:8–13. To that is added a notice of the failure of the tribe of Levi to receive a possession, Joshua 13:14.

Joshua 13:8. With him, i. e. Manasseh, but the other half of Manasseh.

Joshua 13:9–12. These statements are, with slight variation, the same as Joshua 12:1–6. Thus instead of the half Gilead in 12:2, we have here All the table-land of Medeba unto Dibon. Of Medeba we shall speak on Joshua 13:16, of Dibon, on Joshua 13:17.

In Joshua 13:13 it is significantly stated that the Geshurites and Maachathites were not driven out. Similar remarks occur Joshua 15:63; 16:10; 17:12 ff.

Joshua 13:14 is repeated in Joshua 13:33, yet not in precisely the same expression. Thus, while it is said here that אִשֵּׁי יי, i.e. the offerings of Jehovah, should be the portion of the tribe of Levi, Jehovah Himself is there called their possession. It is the same in sense; without earthly inheritance Jehovah and his worship should be the only possession of the tribe of Levi. The directions of the law Num. 18, may be compared with this, from which it appears in what manner, through the divine worship itself, the bodily subsistence of the priests and their attendants was provided for.

b. The Possession of the Tribe of Reuben, Joshua 13:15–23. There follow, now evidently on the ground of old registers, the several boundaries of the tribes east of the Jordan; of which Reuben comes first. They are found in shorter compass, Num. 32:34–42.

Joshua 13:16. Medeba, now Medaba, mentioned in a song of triumph, Num. 21:30; according to Joshua 13:9, and this passage, belonging to Reuben; later to Moab, Is. 15:2. The ruins, on a hill, have a compass of half an hour, about two hours from Heshbon. The plain (הַמִּישֹׁר) by Medeba. The plateau east of Abarim or mount Pisgah is meant (comp. Joshua 12:3), comp. also Knobel on Num. 21:10, 11.5

Joshua 13:17.Heshbon, also, lies, like Medeba, on this table-land, comp. 12:2.—Dibon, mentioned Num. 21:30, like Medeba; now Diban [the site of the recently discovered monumental stone (Moabite stone) containing a valuable inscription of great antiquity.—TR.], an hour north of the Arnon. There were not two Dibons, as the Onom. assumes, but the one Dibon is ascribed, Num. 32:3, 34, to Gad, here to Reuben, comp. also, Joshua 13:9.

Bamoth-Baal,Num. 24:20, a stopping place of the Israelites.

Beth-baal-meon, called also, briefly Baal-meon (Num. 32:38), now Maein, at the foot of the Attarus, which raises itself “to the east of the northern end of the Dead Sea” (von Raum. p. 71, 72).

Joshua 13:18. Jahaza. Here Sihon was slain, Num. 21:23; Deut. 2:32; Judg. 11:20. According to Joshua 21:36, a Levitical city, cf. also 1 Chron. 7:28. It was later retaken by Moab, Is. 15:4; Jer. 48:21. Not given on Menke’s map, on von Raumer’s accompanied with an interrogation point.

Kedemoth, another city of the Levites, Joshua 21:37; 1 Chron. 6:79.

Mephaath, also a Levite city, Joshua 21:37; 1 Chron. 6:79, later of the Moabites. In Jerome’s time here was a Roman garrison for a protection against the dwellers in the wilderness (von Raum. p. 265).

Joshua 13:19. Kirjathaim. It is related, Gen. 14:5, that Chedorlaomer here smote the Emim. From the present passage, and Num. 32:37, it belonged to Reuben; later to Moab, Jer. 48:1, 23; Ez. 25:9. In the time of Jerome very many Christians lived here (von Raumer, p. 263).

Sibmah, very near Heshbon.

Zareth-shahar on the mount of the valley. The name signifies “splendor of the dawn,” (צֶרֶת according to Gesenius perhaps =צְחֶרֶת, 1 Chron. 4:7). Von Raumer makes no mention of it. Winer and Keil conjecture that Zerethshahar, which is nowhere else named (nomen loci forsan in aprico colle siti, cujus nusquam alias fit mentio, Rosenm. on this place), may have lain near Nebo or Pisgah, “not far from Heshbon on the west,” (Keil). Menke has introduced the name west of Mount Pisgah, toward the Dead Sea, and somewhat south of Zerka-maim, perhaps because Zereth-shahar is indicated as situated on a mountain of the valley.

Joshua 13:20. Beth-peor, probably not far from the mountain of Peor; opposite Jericho, according to the Onom.

The foot-hills of Pisgah, and Beth-jeshimoth, Joshua 12:3.

Joshua 13:21. All the cities of the table-land and all the kingdom of Sihon king, etc. Meaning: “all the other cities of the level (the plain) and the whole kingdom of Sihon, as far as it extended on the plain.” So Keil, rightly taking into account the statement of Joshua 13:27. The victory of Moses over Sihon is here related more fully than in Joshua 13:12. There are beside himself five Midianite princes named, Evi, Rekem, Zur, Hur, and Reba, and in the same order as Num. 31:8, where, however, they are called מַלְכֵּי מ׳, while here they are styled נְשִׂאֵי מ׳, just as in Gen. 17:20 the princes of the Ishmaelites, and in Num. 4:34 as well as Joshua 9:18 of our book, the princes of the congregation of Israel, נְשִׂאֵי הָעֵדָה, the princes of their tribes are mentioned (Num. 7:11 ff.; 34:18, and often). They are at the same time designated as the anointed of Sihon (נְסִיכֵי ס׳), i.e. his vassals. In this sense of anointed, prince = מָשִׁיחַ, “the word stands only in the plural, and always, as would seem, of native, although dependent and, as in Josh. 13:21, subjugated, princes, and not of installed, ordinary officials” (Gesen.). Keil would, with Hengstenberg (on Ps. 2:6), translate נְסִיכִים by “poured out [founded or cast], because he thinks נסךְ cannot be proved to have been used in the sense of “to anoint.” Hitzig likewise contends that נָסַךְ cannot mean “anoint,” for which rather מָשַֹׁח stands, Ps. 2:6, but will hear nothing of “poured out.” He reaches back after an Arabic root which should signify purify, refine, consecrate to God, so that in the passage above נָסַכְתִּי would be about the same as קִדַּשְׁתִּי. In this view נִסִיכִים would properly mean “consecrated” (to God); comp. Hitzig, Psalms 1. p. 9.

Joshua 13:22. Balaam,Num. 22:5 ff., is here characterized as קֹסֵם, soothsayer, like the prophets of the Philistines, 1 Sam. 6:2, and the necromancers 1 Sam. 28:8, different from the נָבִיא, the true prophet, who is also called רֹאֶה (1 Sam. 9:9), or חֹזֶה (1 Chron. 21:9; 25:5; 29:29). The קֹסֵם divines properly through inscribed lots (βελομαντία).

Joshua 13:23.And the border .… was the Jordan and the border. Houbigant and Clericus, because the passage is obscure, would mend the text here and Num. 34:6; Deut. 3:16, also Josh. 13:27; 15:12, 47. Gesenius (Thes. i. 394 ff.) takes וְ = simul, etiam, thus: Jordanes qui simul terminus erat. Knobel (on Num. 34:6) and Keil (at this place) explain: “The sea (Num. 34:6), the Jordan, with its territory, with its banks, shall be the boundary.” This sense is indicated by De Wette also in his translation, which we have adopted [der Jordan und das Angrenzende, the Jordan and what borders it]. Bunsen appears to take וְ as epexegetical, translating: “that is, its margin,” coming close therefore to Gesenius.

Their villages, comp. Joshua 13:28, 15:32, 36, 41, 47, 48, and often, תָצֵר ׳׳, a farm, village, ἔπαυλις (LXX κώμη), which was not inclosed, like a city, with walls,” (Keil.) By the Caucasians such a village is called an Aul, reminding us of ἔπαυλις [and αὐλή.]

c. Joshua 13:24–28. The Possession of the Tribe of Gad.

Joshua 13:25. Jazer, snatched from the Amorites, Num. 21:32, belonging to Gad, Num. 32:35, as here, a Levite city, Joshua 21:39; 1 Chron. 7:81. Later, like many other of the cities already mentioned, it belonged again to the Moabites (Is. 16:8; 9; Jer. 48:32); conquered by Judas Maccabæus, 1 Mac. 5:8. Burckhardt (p. 609) held the present Ain Hazir to be Jazer (apud von Raumer, p. 262), and with this von Raumer agrees. Seetzen conjectured that Szyr or Seir was to be regarded as this place, with whom, beside Keil, Van de Velde, and Menke (Map iii. compared with Map viii.) coincide.

All the cities of Gilead, i.e. of the southern part of Gilead, to the Jabbok, for the other half which belonged not to the kingdom of Sihon, but to that of Og king of Bashan, fell, as we learn from Joshua 13:31, to the half tribe of Manasseh. For the rest comp. on Joshua 12:2.

The half of the land of the sons of Ammon unto Aroer that is before Rabbah. This Aroer is not to be confounded with Aroer of Reuben on the northern bank of the Arnon, Joshua 12:2; 13:9, 16. It is Aroer of Gad, which is before Rabba that is Rabba or Rabbath of the Ammonites (Deut. 3:11), which, again, is different from Rabba of the Moabites (von Raumer, p. 271). Aroer of Gad, from Num. 32:34, was built by the Gadites. From hence to Abel-keramim, Jephtha smote the Ammonites (Judg. 11:33) in that victory so portentous to the life of his daughter. There Joab encamped on the occasion of that census of the people so portentous to David (2 Sam. 24:5). “Probably Ayra, southwest of es-Salt” (von Raumer, p. 259). “For ‘before,’ cannot here,” as von Raumer correctly says, “possibly signify ‘to the east of’ Rabbah, since Aroer, as a city of the tribe of Gad, must have lain west of Rabbah. ‘Before’ signifies, probably, that if one goes from the Jordan toward Rabbah, Aroer lies before Rabbah.” So likewise Burckhardt (p. 609).

Joshua 13:26. From Heshbon to Ramothmizpeh and Betonim. Thus the extension northward of the territory of the tribe is expressed. From Heshbon. We need not suppose with Keil that Heshbon, belonging to Reuben (Joshua 13:17), lay exactly on the border between Reuben and Gad, but “from Heshbon” = “from the region of Heshbon.To Ramath-mizpeh and Betonim. Again, also, ‘into the region of’ these cities. Ramath-mizpeh, i.e. Height of the Watch, as von Raumer translates. We have already, Joshua 11:8, met with a valley of Mizpeh, concerning which see the explanation there. This Ramath-mizpeh is called also בַּגִּלְעָד רָמוֹת, Joshua 20:8; a city of the Levites, Joshua 21:38; 1 Chron. 6:80; a city of refuge, according to Joshua 20:8, and Deut. 4:43; in Solomon’s time the residence of one of his prefects (1 K. 4:13 (see the side map of Menkes’ Map iii.)). Here Ahab was mortally wounded, as Micha had prophesied to him (1 K. 22:1–37; 2 Chron. 18), his son Joram slain by Hazael king of the Syrians, (2 K. 8:28), and Jehu anointed (2 K. 9:1–6). Probably it was the present Salt on the road from Jericho to Damascus. The road from Nablus (Shechem) also here joins the former, as Van de Velde’s map distinctly shows. Without doubt this has been so for thousands of years, and hence the repeated collision of Israelitish and Syrian armies at this point was very natural.—Betonim. It still existed in Jerome’s time (Onom. s. v. “Bothnia”), yet he can say nothing of its site.

From Mahanaim unto the border of Debir. In this language the extension of the country of Gad from east to west is indicated. Mahanaim,i.e. double camp, or double army (of the angels), most familiar both from the narrative of Jacob’s return homeward (Gen. 32:2), and from the history of David who fled thither from Absalom (2 Sam. 17:24, 27; 1 K. 2:8). Here also Ishbosheth was summoned by Abner to be king. A Levitical city, Joshua 21:39; 1 Chron. 7:80; the residence of a prefect in Solomon’s time (1 K. 4:16). The site cannot be accurately given. Von Raumer looks for it in the Jordan meadow (p. 253), because it lay north of the Jabbok, and yet belonged to Gad. But north of the Jabbok Gad’s border (p. 231) only took in the Jordan meadow, as he thinks. To this assumption Keil rightly replies: “But, since Mahanaim, according to Joshua 13:30, lay on the border of Manasseh, and already belonged to Bashan, it may also have lain on the plateau north of the Jabbok, perhaps near a ford of that stream (Gen. 32:22), since nowhere in the O. T. is the Jabbok spoken of as the northern border of the territory of Gad.” This view is adopted also by Menke in his Atlas.

Unto the border of Debir (לִדְבִר). Since לְ as a sign of the Stat. constr. occurs nowhere else in our book, J. D. Michaelis, appealing to 2 Sam. 9:4 and 17:27, proposed to read לֹא דִבָר, which is favored by the circumstance that in 2 Sam. 17:27, לֹא דְבָר occurs in connection with Mahanaim. Hitzig (Begr. d. Krit. p. 137, apud Keil, p. 341) conjectures that the לְ was only an error in copying, from the repetition of the לְ in גּבוּל. Keil thinks it possible that the לְ may have belonged to the name, which would then be sounded Lidhbir. Since the LXX. read Δεβίρ, we decide for the view of Hitzig, rejecting the suppositions of Michaelis and Keil. Where this Debir lay (the third, for there were two in Judæa, von Raumer, p. 184) is not made out. Even Eusebius could say nothing of it except that it was πολὶς τῶν’ Αμοῤῥαίων. Perhaps, on the heights which border the Jordan, and hence named as their western boundary point?

Joshua 13:27. In the valley. The Jordan valley is meant, as in Joshua 17:16, elsewhere called הָעֲרָתָּה.

Betharam, already Num. 32:36 belonging to Gad, at the foot of Mount Peor, afterward called Julius or Livias, but not to be identified with the Gaulanitic Julias (von Raumer, p. 260). Beth-nimra, also Num. 32:36, referred to Gad; now the ruins of Remrim.

Succoth and Zaphon, likewise in the Jordan valley. In regard to Succoth, cf. especially Robinson (Later Bibl. Res., pp. 311, 312) and von Raum. (p. 256, Remark 347). Even unto the end of the sea of Cinnereth, cf. Joshua 12:3.

Joshua 13:28. Thus the country of the sons of Reuben and Gad together covers the kingdom of Sihon. Cf. Joshua 12:2, 3.

d. The Possession of the Half Tribe of Manasseh, Joshua 13:29–32. This embraces the kingdom of Og, ch. xii. 4, 5. From Mahanaim. To be understood as was “from Heshbon,” Joshua 13:26.

Villages of Jair. חַיָּה = הַוָּה life, the name of the first woman as the mother of all living, Gen. 3:20; 4:1; here as Num. 32:41; Deut. 3:14 = camp, tent-village. “The name חַוָּה occurs only of the villages of Jair, and probably de notes a particular kind of towns; but it is yet ob scure” (Knobel). Keil translates the name Jair life [Jairleben], thinking probably of names of towns among us, like Eisleben, Aschersleben. Knobel says further, on Num. 32:41, concerning these villages of Jair: “The division of Jair conquered the cities of the Amorites and named them after themselves. These Jair-towns, sometimes given as 23, sometimes 30, and again as 60 in number, as the Manassite occupation of the country changed in the course of time, were given up, together with Kenath and “her daughters,” to the Aramæans and Geshurites (1 Chron. 2:23). They lay in Bashan (Josh. 13:30) or in Argob, reaching as far as the border of Maacha and Geshur (Deut. 3:14); hence in the plain of Jaulan and Hauran, but are also placed in the land of Gilead (Judg. 10:4; 1 Chron. 2:22), and are mentioned with Argob in Bashan (1 K. 4:13). This may be explained in this way. The southern part of Hauran lies east of northern Gilead, then follows, from about Remtha, the district ez-Zueit on as far as the Zerka (Jabbok, which goes up far to the east of Gilead), and is for the most part, a flat country with many uninhabited places (Burck. Syria, pp. 395, 397, 453 ff., Seetzen, i. p. 383). It belonged jointly to Manasseh. According to Arabian authorities there must lie in each of the three districts Zueit, Jaulan, and Ledja, 366 ruined towns and villages (Buckingham, Syria, ii. pp. 118, 142, 434); and Dhaberi speaks of it as a common opinion that in Hauran there are more than a thousand places (Rosenmüller, Analecta Arabica, iii. 22).”

Joshua 13:31, comp. Joshua 12:4. “This northern Gilead belonged to half of the children of Machir (1 Chr. 5:24). The others received their portion west of the Jordan, Joshua 17:2 ff.

Joshua 13:32. A repetition of the statement that Moses had already ordered this division of the trans-Jordanic country.

Joshua 13:33, comp. 5:14.—On von Raumer’s hypothesis concerning the Jair-towns, see the explanation of Joshua 19:34, [comp. also, Stanley, Sin. & Pal. App. § 86; Grove, in Dict. of the Bibl., art. “Jair.”—TR.]


[MATT. HENRY: Note, it is good for those who are old and stricken in years, to be put in remembrance of their being so. Some have gray hairs here and there upon them and perceive it not. Hos. 7:9; they do not care to think of it, and therefore need to be told of it, that they may be quickened to do the work of life, and make preparation for death which is coming on them apace.—All people, but especially old people, should set themselves to do quickly that which must be done before they die, lest death prevent them.

THE SAME, on Deut. 18:2: Care is taken that the priests entangle not themselves with the affairs of this life, nor enrich themselves with the wealth of this world; they have better things to mind,—Note, those that have God for their inheritance, according to the new covenant, should not be greedy of great things in the world, neither gripe what they have, nor grasp at more, but look upon all things present with the indifference which becomes those that believe God to be all-sufficient.—Care is likewise taken that they want not any of the comforts and conveniences of this life. Though God, who is a Spirit, is their inheritance it does not therefore follow that they must live on the air.—TR.]


1[Joshua 13:3. This and the following Gentile nouns in the verse are all singular in the Hebrew and might better be so understood for the English.—TR.]

2[In Joshua 13:12, 13, read: All the kingdom of Og in Bashan, who ruled in Ashtaroth, and in Edrei: he was left of the remnant of the giants, and Moses smote them, and drove them out. And the sons of Israel drove not out the Geshurite, and the Maachathite; and Geshur and Maachath dwelt in the midst of Israel to this day.]

3Some Codd. read here as in Joshua 13:20, הַצְרֶיהֶם, doubtless to make Joshua 13:23 conformable with Joshua 13:28. We abide by the reading חַצְרֵיהֶן.

4[The clear and positive statements made in Joshua 18:4–9 would seem to leave little room for doubt on this point, to one who admits the historical credibility of the book.—TR.]

5[Among recent travellers, the account given by Tristram in his Land of Israel, will be found graphic and instructive.—TR.]

Now Joshua was old and stricken in years; and the LORD said unto him, Thou art old and stricken in years, and there remaineth yet very much land to be possessed.
Lange, John Peter - Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical

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