Joshua 13
Matthew Poole's Commentary
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.
God makes known to Joshua the bounds of the land not yet conquered, Joshua 13:1-6; commands it to be divided among the nine tribes and a half, Joshua 13:7. The inheritance of the two tribes and a half on the other side Jordan, Joshua 13:8-13. The Lord and his sacrifices the inheritance of Levi, Joshua 13:14. The portion of the Reubenites, Joshua 13:15-23; of the Gadites, Joshua 13:24-28; of the half tribe of Manasseh, Joshua 13:29-32.

Thou art old, therefore delay not to do the work which I have appointed and commanded thee to do.

To be possessed; to be conquered, and so possessed by the people.

This is the land that yet remaineth: all the borders of the Philistines, and all Geshuri,
That yet remaineth unconquered by thee, and to be conquered by the Israelites, if they behave themselves aright.

Geshuri; a people in the north-east of Canaan, of which see Deu 3:14, as the Philistines are on the southwest.

From Sihor, which is before Egypt, even unto the borders of Ekron northward, which is counted to the Canaanite: five lords of the Philistines; the Gazathites, and the Ashdothites, the Eshkalonites, the Gittites, and the Ekronites; also the Avites:
Sihor; a river, of which see Isaiah 23:3 Jeremiah 2:18.

Which is counted to the Canaanite, i.e. which, though now possessed by the Philistines, who drove out the Canaanites, the old inhabitants of it, Deu 2:23 Amos 9:7; yet is a part of the land of Canaan, and therefore belongs to the Israelites.

The Avites, or the Avims, as they are called, Deu 2:23; who though they were expelled out of their ancient seat, and most of them destroyed by the Caphtorims or Philistines, as is there said, yet many of them probably escaped, and planted themselves in some other place not very far from the former.

From the south, all the land of the Canaanites, and Mearah that is beside the Sidonians, unto Aphek, to the borders of the Amorites:
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.

And the land of the Giblites, and all Lebanon, toward the sunrising, from Baalgad under mount Hermon unto the entering into Hamath.
The Gibites; a people dwelling near Sidon in Gebal, of which see 1 Kings 5:18 Ezekiel 27:9.

All the inhabitants of the hill country from Lebanon unto Misrephothmaim, and all the Sidonians, them will I drive out from before the children of Israel: only divide thou it by lot unto the Israelites for an inheritance, as I have commanded thee.
Them will I drive out from before the children of Israel, presently after thy death, if the Israelites do not hinder it by their unbelief or wickedness.

Though they be now unconquered, yet divide them, partly, as a pledge to assure them of my help in conquering them after thy death; partly, to lay an obligation upon the Israelites to proceed in conquering work, and to bear witness against them in case they did not; and partly, as a wall of partition between them and the Canaanites, to prevent all agreements, contracts, and confederacies with them, to which God saw they began to incline.

Now therefore divide this land for an inheritance unto the nine tribes, and the half tribe of Manasseh,
No text from Poole on this verse.

With whom the Reubenites and the Gadites have received their inheritance, which Moses gave them, beyond Jordan eastward, even as Moses the servant of the LORD gave them;
With whom, Heb. with him, i.e. with the half tribe of Manasseh; not that half which is expressed Joshua 13:7, as is evident from the thing; but the other half, which is sufficiently and necessarily understood, the relative being here put for the antecedent, understood, as it is, Numbers 7:89 Psalm 114:2 Isaiah 8:21 Jonah 1:3.

As Moses the servant of the Lord gave them; which Moses gave them by my command, and therefore do not thou disturb them in their possessions, but proceed to divide the other possessions to the rest.

From Aroer, that is upon the bank of the river Arnon, and the city that is in the midst of the river, and all the plain of Medeba unto Dibon;
The city that is in the midst of the river; of which see Poole "Deu 3:16", and see Poole "Joshua 12:2". Either this is the same city now mentioned, even Aroer, which is said to have been a double city, as the very name seems to import, whereof one part was on the bank of the river, and the other in the middle of it, whence we read of the cities of Aroer, Isaiah 17:2; or it is another city, possibly Ar, as it is elsewhere named.

Medeba and

Dibon; two cities anciently belonging to the Moabites, and taken from them by the Amorites, Numbers 21:30, and from them by the Israelites; and after the Israelites were gone into captivity, recovered by the first possessors the Moabites, as may seem from Isaiah 15:2.

And all the cities of Sihon king of the Amorites, which reigned in Heshbon, unto the border of the children of Ammon;
No text from Poole on this verse.

And Gilead, and the border of the Geshurites and Maachathites, and all mount Hermon, and all Bashan unto Salcah;
Maachathites; whose land God had given to the Israelites without Jordan, though they had not yet used the gift of God, nor taken possession of it, as is noted, Joshua 13:13.

All the kingdom of Og in Bashan, which reigned in Ashtaroth and in Edrei, who remained of the remnant of the giants: for these did Moses smite, and cast them out.
These did Moses smite; not all now mentioned, as appears from Joshua 13:13, but Sihon and Og, and their people, and the generality of them, which he had now named, some of them being excepted.

Nevertheless the children of Israel expelled not the Geshurites, nor the Maachathites: but the Geshurites and the Maachathites dwell among the Israelites until this day.
This seems added by way of anticipation and reflection upon the present Israelites; implying, that although Moses did and might permit them to remain, both because the land which he had conquered was more than enough for the Israelitish possessors, and because being intent upon their passage over Jordan into the land of Canaan, he would not delay them, by searching their enemies out of all their corners; yet they were in fault, in not going on and perfecting the work which was begun by Moses, and carried on so far by Joshua.

Only unto the tribe of Levi he gave none inheritance; the sacrifices of the LORD God of Israel made by fire are their inheritance, as he said unto them.
He, i.e. Moses, as is expressed Joshua 13:33, gave none inheritance, to wit, in the land beyond Jordan, where yet a considerable part of the Levites were to have their settled abode. This is mentioned as the reason both why Moses gave all that land to the Reubenites, and Gadites, and Manassites; and why Joshua should divide the land only into nine parts and a half, as was said, Joshua 13:7, because Levi was otherwise provided for

Sacrifices of the Lord made by fire; which by a synecdoche are here put for all those sacrifices and oblations, including first-fruits and tithes, which were assigned to the Levites; and this passage is so oft repeated and urged, to prevent those calumnies and injuries which God foresaw the Levites were likely to meet with from the malice, envy, and covetousness of their brethren; and to oblige all the other tribes to a cheerful and conscionable giving to the Levites their dues, to which they had as good a right and title as they had to their several possessions.

And Moses gave unto the tribe of the children of Reuben inheritance according to their families.
Dividing the inheritance into as many parts as they had families; but this is only spoken of the greater families; for the lesser divisions or distributions to the several small families was done by inferior officers, according to the rules which Moses gave them.

And their coast was from Aroer, that is on the bank of the river Arnon, and the city that is in the midst of the river, and all the plain by Medeba;
The city that is in the midst of the river; of which see Deu 3:16 Joshua 12:2.

Heshbon, and all her cities that are in the plain; Dibon, and Bamothbaal, and Bethbaalmeon,
Heshbon: this city and Dibon and Ataroth were upon the borders of Reuben and Gad, and therefore sometimes are ascribed to Reuben, as here, and Numbers 32:37, sometimes to Gad, as Numbers 32:34 1 Chronicles 6:80,81, by whom Heshbon, is said to be given to the Levites, Joshua 21:39. Possibly it and the rest were jointly inhabited by both tribes, as Jerusalem was by Jews and Benjamites.

Bamoth-baal; of which Numbers 21:28. Beth-baal-meon; called Beth-meon, Jeremiah 48:23, and Baal-meon, Ezekiel 25:9, part of the name being cut off, as is usual with the Hebrews.

And Jahazah, and Kedemoth, and Mephaath,
No text from Poole on this verse.

And Kirjathaim, and Sibmah, and Zarethshahar in the mount of the valley,
In the mountain bordering upon that valley, which then was famous among the Israelites, whether that where Moses was buried, which was near to the place here following, Beth-peor, Deu 34:1,6, or some other. And this clause is thought to belong to all the cities now mentioned.

And Bethpeor, and Ashdothpisgah, and Bethjeshimoth,
No text from Poole on this verse.

And all the cities of the plain, and all the kingdom of Sihon king of the Amorites, which reigned in Heshbon, whom Moses smote with the princes of Midian, Evi, and Rekem, and Zur, and Hur, and Reba, which were dukes of Sihon, dwelling in the country.
The cities of the plain; opposed to the foregoing cities of the mountain of the valley.

All the kingdom of Sihon; a synecdochical expression, for a great part of it; in which sense we read of all Judea, and all the region round about Jordan, Matthew 3:5, and all Galilee, Matthew 4:23, and many others. Or, which all were the kingdoms of Sihon, i.e. belonged to his kingdom. The Hebrew conjunction and is oft put for the relative particle which, as Judges 2:21 Proverbs 19:1 Ecclesiastes 6:12.

With the princes of Midian; not in the same time or battle, as appears by comparing Numbers 21:23,24, with Numbers 31:8, but in the same manner. And they are here mentioned, partly because they were slain not long after, and upon the same occasion, even their enmity against Israel; and partly because of their relation and subjection to Sihon, as it here follows.

Dukes of Sihon.

Quest. How could they be so, when they were kings of Midian? Numbers 31:8.

Answ. There were divers petty kings in those parts, which were subject to greater kings; and such these were, but are here called dukes or princes of Sihon, because they were subject and tributaries to him, and therefore did one way or other assist Sihon in this war, though they were not killed at this time. It is probable, that when Sihon destroyed those Moabites which dwelt in these parts, he frighted the rest of them, and with them their neighbours and confederates the Midianites, into some kind of homage or tribute, which they were willing to pay to him.

Dwelling in, the country, Heb. inhabiting that land, namely,

Midian, last mentioned; whereby he signifies, that though they were subject to Sihon, yet they did not dwell in his land, but in another.

Balaam also the son of Beor, the soothsayer, did the children of Israel slay with the sword among them that were slain by them.
The soothsayer; so he was in truth, though a prophet { 2 Peter 2:16} in title and profession. See Numbers 24:25.

And the border of the children of Reuben was Jordan, and the border thereof. This was the inheritance of the children of Reuben after their families, the cities and the villages thereof.
And the border thereof, i.e. those cities or places which bordered upon Jordan. Compare Numbers 34:6.

And Moses gave inheritance unto the tribe of Gad, even unto the children of Gad according to their families.
No text from Poole on this verse.

And their coast was Jazer, and all the cities of Gilead, and half the land of the children of Ammon, unto Aroer that is before Rabbah;
All the cities of Gilead, i.e. all the cities of note and eminency; all cities properly so called, which it seems lay in that part of Gilead; and so this may well agree with Joshua 13:25, where half the country of Gilead is said to be given to the Manassites; but there is no mention of any cities there.

Half the land of the children of Ammon; not of that which now was theirs, for that they were forbidden to meddle with, Deu 2:9, but of that which was anciently theirs, but taken from them by the Amorites, Numbers 21:26, from whom the Israelites took it, Judges 11:15.

Unto Aroer, the border between them and Moab.

Rabbah, the chief city of the Ammonites, 2 Samuel 11:1 12:26,27.

And from Heshbon unto Ramathmizpeh, and Betonim; and from Mahanaim unto the border of Debir;
From Heshbon, either exclusively or inclusively. See Poole on "Joshua 13:17".

Ramath-mizpeh, called Ramoth-gilead, or Ramoth in Gilead, Joshua 20:8, and elsewhere

Mahanaim, exclusively; for Mahanaim was in the portion of Manasseh, beyond Jabbok, which was the border of Gad and Manasseh.

And in the valley, Betharam, and Bethnimrah, and Succoth, and Zaphon, the rest of the kingdom of Sihon king of Heshbon, Jordan and his border, even unto the edge of the sea of Chinnereth on the other side Jordan eastward.
Rest of the kingdom of Sihon; the northern part of his kingdom.

This is the inheritance of the children of Gad after their families, the cities, and their villages.
No text from Poole on this verse.

And Moses gave inheritance unto the half tribe of Manasseh: and this was the possession of the half tribe of the children of Manasseh by their families.
Unto the half tribe of Manasseh; not that they desired it, as Reuben and Gad did, Numbers 32:1, but partly as a recompence to Machir the Manessite for his valiant acts against Og; and partly for the better security and defence of the other two tribes, by so considerable an accession to them, which also was without any inconvenience to them, because the country was too large for the two tribes of Reuben and Gad.

And their coast was from Mahanaim, all Bashan, all the kingdom of Og king of Bashan, and all the towns of Jair, which are in Bashan, threescore cities:
Jair, who, though of the tribe of Judah by the father, 1 Chronicles 2:21,22, yet is called the son of Manasseh, Numbers 32:41, because he married a daughter of Manasseh, and wholly associated himself with those valiant Manassites, and with their help took sixty cities or great towns, Deu 3:4,14, which thence were called the towns of Reuben and Gad.

And half Gilead, and Ashtaroth, and Edrei, cities of the kingdom of Og in Bashan, were pertaining unto the children of Machir the son of Manasseh, even to the one half of the children of Machir by their families.
The children of Machir; whom before he called the children of Manasseh, he now calls the children of machir, because Machir was the most eminent, and, as it may seem, the only surviving son of Manasseh, Numbers 26:29 1 Chronicles 7:14-16. For the other half of Machir’s or Manasseh’s children, see Joshua 17:1, &c.

These are the countries which Moses did distribute for inheritance in the plains of Moab, on the other side Jordan, by Jericho, eastward.
No text from Poole on this verse.

But unto the tribe of Levi Moses gave not any inheritance: the LORD God of Israel was their inheritance, as he said unto them.
No text from Poole on this verse.

Matthew Poole's Commentary

Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.

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