Numbers 34:4
And your border shall turn from the south to the ascent of Akrabbim, and pass on to Zin: and the going forth thereof shall be from the south to Kadeshbarnea, and shall go on to Hazaraddar, and pass on to Azmon:
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(4) And your border shall turn from the south . . . —Better, And your border shall turn on (or, to) the south side of the ascent of Akrabbim, and shall pass over to Zin; and the goings forth thereof shall be on the south of Kadesh-barnea. The meaning appears to be that the boundary line was to go in a south-westerly direction from the southern point (or, tongue) of the Dead Sea, as far as the height (or, ascent) of Akrabbim; and was to be continued from this point in a westerly direction as far as Kadesh-barnea, which was at the western extremity of the desert of Zin, and was to be included within the Israelitish territory. What is here called the height of Akrabbim is supposed to be a row of white cliffs, which run obliquely across the Arabah, at a distance of about eight miles from the Dead Sea. (Comp. Joshua 15:3-4.)

Numbers 34:4-6. From the south to Kadesh-barnea — Rather, shall extend on the south to Kadesh-barnea westward. Unto the river of Egypt — That is, the Nile. Not that the Jews did really extend their territories so far as the Nile; but thus far they were allowed to extend them. The goings out of it shall be at the sea — The Midland or Mediterranean sea, called the sea, emphatically, and (Numbers 34:6,) the great sea, in opposition to the sea of Galilee, and the Dead sea, which are indeed but lakes. This midland sea was to be their western border.

34:1-15 Canaan was of small extent; as it is here bounded, it is but about 160 miles in length, and about 50 in breadth; yet this was the country promised to the father of the faithful, and the possession of the seed of Israel. This was that little spot of ground, in which alone, for many ages, God was known. This was the vineyard of the Lord, the garden enclosed; but as it is with gardens and vineyards, the narrowness of the space was made up by the fruitfulness of the soil. Though the earth is the Lord's, and the fulness thereof, yet few know him, and serve him; but those few are happy, because fruitful to God. Also, see how little a share of the world God gives to his own people. Those who have their portion in heaven, have reason to be content with a small pittance of this earth. Yet a little that a righteous man has, having it from the love of God, and with his blessing, is far better and more comfortable than the riches of many wicked.The southern boundary commenced at the Dead Sea. The broad and desolate valley by which the depressed bed of that sea is protected toward the south, is called the Ghor. A deep narrow glen enters it at its southwest corner; it is called Wady-el-Fikreh, and is continued in the same southwestern direction, under the name of Wady el-Marrah; a wady which loses itself among the hills belonging to "the wilderness of Zin;" and Kadesh-barnea (see Numbers 13:26 note), which is "in the wilderness of Zin," will be, as the text implies, the southernmost point of the southern boundary. Thence, if Kadesh be identical with the present Ain el-Weibeh, westward to the river, or brook of Egypt, now Wady el-Arish, is a distance of about seventy miles. In this interval were Hazar-addar and Azmon; the former being perhaps the general name of a district of Hazerim, or nomad hamlets (see Deuteronomy 2:23), of which Adder was one: and Azmon, perhaps to be identified with Kesam, the modern Kasaimeh, a group of springs situate in the north of one of the gaps in the ridge, and a short distance west of Ain el-Kudeirat.

(Others consider the boundary line to have followed the Ghor along the Arabah to the south of the Azazimeh mountains, thence to Gadis round the southeast of that mountain, and thence to Wady el-Arish.)

3-5. your south quarter—The line which bounded it on the south is the most difficult to trace. According to the best biblical geographers, the leading points here defined are as follows: The southwest angle of the southern boundary should be where the wilderness of Zin touches the border of Edom, so that the southern boundary should extend eastward from the extremity of the Dead Sea, wind around the precipitous ridge of Akrabbim ("scorpions"), thought to be the high and difficult Pass of Safeh, which crosses the stream that flows from the south into the Jordan—that is, the great valley of the Arabah, reaching from the Dead to the Red Sea. Akrabbim, called Maaleh-acrabbim, Joshua 15:3, which was at the south end of the Salt or Dead Sea.

From the south, or, on the south, i.e. proceeding onward towards the south.

Kadesh-barnea was on the southern part of Canaan, Numbers 13:17.

Hazar-addar, in Joshua 15:3, may seem distinguished into two places, Hezron and Adar, which here are united, because peradventure they were contiguous, or joined together. Or, the village of Addar; and so this is the same place called Adar, Joshua 15:3; and for Hezron, that may be another place here omitted, and there supplied for more exactness. Azmon is at the west end of the Mount of Edom.

And your border,.... That is, the south border, which is still describing:

shall turn from the south to the ascent of Akrabbim; or Maalehacrabbim, as in Joshua 15:3 so called from the multitude of serpents and scorpions in it, see Deuteronomy 8:15, so Kimchi says (k), a place of serpents and scorpions was this ascent: Dr. Shaw (l) says Akrabbim may probably be the same with the mountains of Accaba, according to the present name, which hang over Eloth, where there is a "high steep road", well known to the Mahometan pilgrims for its ruggedness: and he thinks (m) it very probable, that Mount Hor was the same chain of mountains that are now called Accaba by the Arabs, and were the easternmost range, as we may take them to be, of Ptolemy's black mountains: Josephus (n) speaks of Acrabatene as belonging to the Edomites, which seems to be this same place:

and pass on to Zin; that is, which ascent goes on to it; the Targum of Jonathan is,"and shall pass on to the palm trees of the mountain of iron;''by which is meant the same with the wilderness of Zin: perhaps Zinnah is rather the name of a city; the Septuagint call it Ennac: the Vulgate Latin, Senna: Jerom (o) makes mention of a place called Senna, seven miles from Jericho:

and the going forth thereof shall be from the south to Kadeshbarnea; from whence the spies were sent southward to search the land, Numbers 13:17.

and shall go on to Hazaraddar; called Adar, Joshua 15:3 and where it seems to be divided into two places, Hezron and Adar, which very probably were near each other, and therefore here put together, as if but one place:

and pass on to Azmon; which the Targums call Kesam.

(k) Sepher Shorash. "in voce" (l) Travels, tom. 2. ch. 1. p. 279. (m) Travels, tom. 2. ch. 1. p. 323. (n) Antiqu. l. 12. c. 8. sect. 1. see 1 Maccab. 5. 3.((o) De loc. Heb. fol. 94. H.

And your border shall turn from the south to the ascent of Akrabbim, and pass on to Zin: and the going forth thereof shall be from the south to Kadeshbarnea, and shall go on to Hazaraddar, and pass on to Azmon:
4. the ascent of Akrabbim] i.e. the ‘Scorpion Pass.’ ‘From the Dead Sea the line indicated probably ran at first S.W. through the Wady el-Fiḳreh, which is a natural boundary, and then, turning round the Jebel Madurah [see on Numbers 20:22], much more directly south to Ḳadesh. The ascent of ‘Aḳrabbim may be sought in one of the passes on the N. side of the Wady el-Fiḳreh, and perhaps in particular in the Naḳb el-Yemen, which starts just opposite the Jebel Madurah, or in the Naḳb eṣ-Ṣafâ’ (Gray).

Verse 4. - Shall turn from the south to the ascent of Akrabbim. It is not at all clear what מִנֶּגֶב לִמַעַלֵה can mean in this sentence. The A.V., which follows the Septuagint and the Targums, does not seem to give any sense, while the rendering, "to the south side of the ascent," does not seem grammatically defensible. Moreover, it is quite uncertain where the "ascent of Akrabbim," i.e., the "Scorpion-pass," or "Scorpion-stairs," is to be placed. Some travelers have recognized both place and name in a precipitous road which ascends the northern cliffs towards the western end of the Wady Murreh, and which the Arabs call Nakb Kareb; others would make the ascent to be the steep pass of es Sufah, over which runs the road from Petra to Hebron; others, again, identify the Scorpion-stairs with the row of white cliffs which obliquely cross and close in the Ghor, some miles south of the Salt Sea, and separate it from the higher level of the Arabah. None of these identifications are satisfactory, although the first and last have more to be said in their favour than the second. Possibly the ascent of Akrabbim may have been only the Wady Fikreh, along which the natural frontier would run from the point of the Salt Sea into the Wady Murreh. Pass on to Zin. It is only here and in Joshua 15:3 that the name Zin stands by itself; it may have been some place in the broadest part of the Wady Murreh which gave its name to the neighbouring wilderness. From the south to Kadesh-barnea. Here again we have the expression מִנֶּגֶב לְאּ, of which we do not know the exact force. But if Kadesh was in the neighbourhood of the present Ain Kudes, then it may be understood that the frontier, after reaching the western end of the Wady Murreh, made a detour to the south so as to include Kadesh, as a place of peculiarly sacred memory in the annals of Israel. It is indeed very difficult, with this description of the southern frontier of Canaan before us, to believe that Kadesh was in the immediate neighbourhood of the Arabah, where many commentators place it; for if that were the case, then the boundary line has not yet made any progress at all towards the west, and the only points given on the actual southern boundary are the two unknown places which follow. Hazar-addar. In Joshua 15:3 this double name is apparently divided into the two names of Hezron and Addar, but possibly the latter only is the place intended here. A Karkaa is also mentioned there, which is equally unknown with the rest. Numbers 34:4The southern boundary is the same as that given in Joshua 15:2-4 as the boundary of the territory of the tribe of Judah. We have first the general description, "The south side shall be to you from the desert of Zin on the sides of Edom onwards," i.e., the land was to extend towards the south as far as the desert of Zin on the sides of Edom. על־ידי, "on the sides," differs in this respect from על־יד, "on the side" (Exodus 2:5; Joshua 15:46; 2 Samuel 15:2), that the latter is used to designate contact at a single point or along a short line; the former, contact for a long distance or throughout the whole extent ( equals כּל־יד, Deuteronomy 2:37). "On the sides of Edom" signifies, therefore, that the desert of Zin stretched along the side of Edom, and Canaan was separated from Edom by the desert of Zin. From this it follows still further, that Edom in this passage is not the mountains of Edom, which had their western boundary on the Arabah, but the country to the south of the desert of Zin or Wady Murreh, viz., the mountain land of the Azazimeh, which still bears the name of Seir or Serr among the Arabs (see Seetzen and Rowland in Ritter's Erdk. xiv. pp. 840 and 1087). The statement in Joshua 15:1 also agrees with this, viz., that Judah's inheritance was "to the territory of Edom, the desert of Zin towards the south," according to which the desert of Zin was also to divide the territory of Edom from that of the tribe of Judah (see the remarks on Numbers 14:45). With Numbers 34:3 the more minute description of the southern boundary line commences: "The south border shall be from the end of the Salt Sea eastward," i.e., start from "the tongue which turns to the south" (Joshua 15:2), from the southern point of the Dead Sea, where there is now a salt marsh with the salt mountain at the south-west border of the lake. "And turn to the south side (מנּגב) of the ascent of Akrabbim" (ascensus scorpionum), i.e., hardly "the steep pass of es Sufah, 1434 feet in height, which leads in a south-westerly direction from the Dead Sea along the northern side of Wady Fikreh, a wady three-quarters of an hour's journey in breadth, and over which the road from Petra to Heshbon passes,"

(Note: See Robinson, vol. ii. pp. 587, 591; and v. Schubert, ii. pp. 443, 447ff.)

as Knobel maintains; for the expression נסב (turn), in Numbers 34:4, according to which the southern border turned at the height of Akrabbim, that is to say, did not go any farther in the direction from N.E. to S.W. than from the southern extremity of the Salt Sea to this point, and was then continued in a straight line from east to west, is not at all applicable to the position of this pass, since there would be no bend whatever in the boundary line at the pass of es Sufah, if it ran from the Arabah through Wady Fikreh, and so across to Kadesh. The "height of Akrabbim," from which the country round was afterwards called Akrabattine, Akrabatene (1 Macc. 5:4; Josephus, Ant. 12:8, 1),

(Note: It must be distinguished, however, from the Akrabatta mentioned by Josephus in his Wars of the Jews (iii. 3, 5), the modern Akrabeh in central Palestine (Rob. Bibl. Res. p. 296), and from the toparchy Akrabattene mentioned in Josephus (Wars of the Jews, ii. 12, 4; 20, 4; 22, 2), which was named after this place.)

is most probably the lofty row of "white cliffs" of sixty or eighty feet in height, which run obliquely across the Arabah at a distance of about eight miles below the Dead Sea and, as seen from the south-west point of the Dead Sea, appear to shut in the Ghor, and which form the dividing line between the two sides of the great valley, which is called el Ghor on one side, and el Araba on the other (Robinson, ii. 489, 494, 502). Consequently it was not the Wady Fikreh, but a wady which opened into the Arabah somewhat farther to the south, possibly the southern branch of the Wady Murreh itself, which formed the actual boundary.

"And shall pass over to Zin" (i.e., the desert of Zin, the great Wady Murreh, see at Numbers 14:21), "and its going forth shall be to the south of Kadesh-barnea," at the western extremity of the desert of Zin (see at Numbers 20:16). From this point the boundary went farther out (יצא) "to Hazar-Addar, and over (עבר) to Azmon." According to Joshua 15:3-4, it went to the south of Kadesh-barnea over (עבר) to Hezron, and ascended (עלה) to Addar, and then turned to Karkaa, and went over to Azmon. Consequently Hazar-Addar corresponds to Hezron and Addar (in Joshua); probably the two places were so close to each other that they could be joined together. Neither of them has been discovered yet. This also applies to Karkaa and Azmon. The latter name reminds us of the Bedouin tribe Azazimeh, inhabiting the mountains in the southern part of the desert of Zin (Robinson, i. pp. 274, 283, 287; Seetzen, iii. pp. 45, 47). Azmon is probably to be sought for near the Wady el Ain, to the west of the Hebron road, and not far from its entrance into the Wady el Arish; for this is "the river (brook) of Egypt," to which the boundary turned from Azmon, and through which it had "its outgoings at the sea," i.e., terminated at the Mediterranean Sea. The "brook of Egypt," therefore, is frequently spoken of as the southern boundary of the land of Israel (1 Kings 8:65; 2 Kings 24:7; 2 Chronicles 7:8, and Isaiah 27:12, where the lxx express the name by Ῥινοκοροῦρα). Hence the southern boundary ran, throughout its whole length, from the Arabah on the east to the Mediterranean on the west, along valleys which form a natural division, and constitute more or less the boundary line between the desert and the cultivated land.

(Note: On the lofty mountains of Madara, where the Wady Murreh is divided into two wadys (Fikreh and Murreh) which run to the Arabah, v. Schubert observed "some mimosen-trees," with which, as he expresses it, "the vegetation of Arabia took leave of us, as it were, as they were the last that we saw on our road." And Dieterici (Reisebilder, ii. pp. 156-7) describes the mountain ridge at Nakb es Sufah as "the boundary line between the yellow desert and green steppes," and observes still further, that on the other side of the mountain (i.e., northwards) the plain spread out before him in its fresh green dress. "The desert journey was over, the empire of death now lay behind us, and a new life blew towards us from fields covered with green." - In the same way the country between Kadesh and the Hebron road, which has become better known to us through the descriptions of travellers, is described as a natural boundary. Seetzen, in his account of his journey from Hebron to Sinai (iii. p. 47), observes that the mountains of Tih commence at the Wady el Ain (fountain-valley), which takes its name from a fountain that waters thirty date-palms and a few small corn-fields (i.e., Ain el Kuderat, in Robinson, i. p. 280), and describes the country to the south of the small flat Wady el Kdeis (el Kideise), in which many tamarisks grew (i.e., no doubt a wady that comes from Kadesh, from which it derives its name), as a "most dreadful wilderness, which spreads out to an immeasurable extent in all directions, without trees, shrubs, or a single spot of green" (p. 50), although the next day he "found as an unexpected rarity another small field of barley, which might have been an acre in extent" (pp. 52, 53). Robinson (i. pp. 280ff.) also found, upon the route from Sinai to Hebron, more vegetation in the desert between the Wady el Kusaimeh and el Ain than anywhere else before throughout his entire journey; and after passing the Wady el Ain to the west of Kadesh, he "came upon a broad tract of tolerably fertile soil, capable of tillage, and apparently once tilled." Across the whole of this tract of land there were long ranges of low stone walls visible (called "el Muzeirit," "little plantations," by the Arabs), which had probably served at some former time as boundary walls between the cultivated fields. A little farther to the north the Wady es Serm opens into an extended plain, which looked almost like a meadow with its bushes, grass, and small patches of wheat and barley. A few Azazimeh Arabs fed their camels and flocks here. The land all round became more open, and showed broad valleys that were capable of cultivation, and were separated by low and gradually sloping hills. The grass become more frequent in the valleys, and herbs were found upon the hills. "We heard (he says at p. 283) this morning for the first time the songs of many birds, and among them the lark.")

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