Numbers 32:34
And the children of Gad built Dibon, and Ataroth, and Aroer,
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(34) And the children of Gad built Dibon . . . Better, repaired or fortified. Some of the cities mentioned in this and the following verses—as, e.g., Dibon and Heshbon—are mentioned also in Numbers 21 in connection with the conquest of the Amoritish territory. It is not probable that new cities would have been built at this time, nor did the circumstances of the Israelites admit of the delay which would have been involved in such an undertaking. It was at Dibon that the Moabite stone was discovered by Mr. Klein in 1868. For the geographical position and modern names of the towns mentioned in these verses, see Keil (in loc). In the distribution of the towns by Joshua, some of the southernmost towns repaired or fortified by the Gadites appear to have fallen to the tribe of Reuben. (See Joshua 13:16-17.) Heshbon, on the other hand, appears to have fallen to the lot of the tribe of Gad, and to have been assigned to the Levites (1Chronicles 6:80-81).

Numbers 32:34. Built — Repaired and fortified. For they neither had need nor leisure as yet to do more, the old cities not being burned and ruined, as divers in Canaan were.32:28-42 Concerning the settlement of these tribes, observe, that they built the cities, that is, repaired them. They changed the names of them; probably they were idolatrous, therefore they should be forgotten. A spirit of selfishness, of seeking our own, not the things of Christ, when each one ought to assist others, is as dangerous as it is common. It is impossible to be sincere in the faith, sensible of the goodness of God, constrained by the love of Christ, sanctified by the power of the Holy Ghost, and yet be indifferent to the progress of religion, and the spiritual success of others, through love of ease, or fear of conflict. Let then your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.The cities here named fall into three groups. On Dibon, compare Numbers 21:19. The Moabite stone was discovered here in 1868. This city, occupied on the first acquisition of the territory by the Gadites, and assigned by Joshua to the Reubenites, was eventually recaptured by the Moabites, in whose hands it remained. Ataroth, i. e., "crowns" (Attarus?) was seven miles northwest of Dibon. Aroer (Arair) lay between Dibon and the Arnon.

Atroth, Shophan - , was Atroth-Shophan, i. e., Atroth, or Ataroth of Shophan, or "of the burrow;" thus distinguished from the Ataroth named in the verse preceding from which it was probably not far distant. These four cities may be styled the Dibon settlement.

34-36. And the children of Gad built—(See on [97]Nu 32:16).

Dibon—identified with Dheban, now in ruins, an hour's distance from the Arnon (Mojeb).

Ataroth (Hebrew, "crowns")—There are several towns so called in Scripture, but this one in the tribe of Gad has not been identified.

Aroer—now Arair, standing on a precipice on the north bank of the Arnon.

i.e. Repaired and fortified, as that word is oft used, as 1 Kings 12:25 2 Kings 14:22 2 Chronicles 8:1 11:5 26:2 Daniel 4:30; for they neither had need nor leisure as yet to do more, the old cities not being burnt and ruined, as divers in Canaan were. And the children of Gad built,.... Or rather repaired the walls and fortifications, and rebuilt houses which had been demolished in the wars with Sihon and Og; when the following places were taken by the Israelites:

Dibon, and Ataroth, and Aroer; the two first are mentioned in Numbers 32:3. Aroer was a city situated on the river Arnon, and was after this in the hands of the Moabites: Jerom says (q), it was showed in his day on the top of the mountain, upon the bank of the river Arnon, which flows into the Dead sea, Jeremiah 48:19.

(q) De loc. Heb. fol. 87. I.

And the children of Gad built Dibon, and Ataroth, and Aroer,
34–38. Many of these towns have been identified with some probability. But the list represents a tradition very different from that in Joshua 13:15-28 (P ), and must be ultimately derived from an earlier source, though in its present form it was probably written by a priestly writer. In Joshua 13:15-28 Reuben occupies the position which is ordinarily represented on modern maps, on the south of Gad, the dividing line between them running east from about the northern point of the Dead Sea. But in the present passage Reuben’s position is not so independent. Five of the six towns assigned to them in Numbers 32:37-38 are situated in a district about midway between the Jabbok and the Arnon, and lie between Gadite towns to the north and south of them. They are thus represented as occupying an enclave within the Gadite area. Sibmah is unknown, as also are Atroth-shophan and Beth-nimrah. See G. A. Smith, Hist. Geogr. p. 567.Verse 34. - The children of Gad built, i.e., no doubt, they put these places in some habitable and defensible state of repair until they should return. Dibon. Now Dhiban, four miles north of Arnon. It is called Dibon-gad in chapter Numbers 33:45, 46, but it is doubtful whether there is any allusion to its present occupation, since "Gad" was a common affix in the languages of Canaan (cf. Joshua 11:17). Dibon was subsequently assigned to Reuben (Joshua 13:9), but was recovered by Moab, and became one of his strongholds (of Isaiah 15:2; Jeremiah 48:18, 22) The Moabite stone was found here. Ataroth. Now Attarus, seven miles from Dibon. Aroer. Not the Aroer before Rabbath (Joshua 13:25), but the Aroer by the brink of Arnon (Deuteronomy 2:36; Joshua 13:16). Moses thereupon commanded Eleazar, Joshua, and the heads of the tribes of Israel, i.e., the persons entrusted in Numbers 34:17. with the division of the land of Canaan, to give the Gadites and Reubenites the land of Gilead for a possession, after the conquest of Canaan, if they should go along with them across the Jordan equipped for battle. But if they should not do this, they were to be made possessors (i.e., to be settled; נאחז in a passive sense, whereas in Genesis 34:10; Genesis 47:27, it is reflective, to fix oneself firmly, to settle) in the land of Canaan along with the other tribes. In the latter case, therefore, they were not only to receive no possession in the land to the east of the Jordan, but were to be compelled to go over the Jordan with their wives and children, and to receive an inheritance there for the purpose of preventing a schism of the nation.
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