Joshua 13




1 “Now Joshua was old” -  This is usually regarded as the second

part of the Book of Joshua; the first being devoted to the history of the

conquest of Palestine, while the second is engaged with the history of its

division among the conquerors. Dean Stanley, in his ‘Sinai and Palestine,’

as well as in his ‘Lectures on the History of the Jewish Church,’ describes

this portion of the Book of  Joshua as the ‘Domesday Book’ of the land of

Canaan, and the remark has been constantly repeated. There is, however, a

considerable difference between the great survey of the William the Conqueror and

this one. The former was an accurate account, for purposes of taxation,

national detente, and public order, of the exact extent of soil owned by

each landowner, and it went so far as to enumerate the cattle on his estate,

to the great disgust of the Saxon chronicler, who had an Englishman’s

dislike of inquisitorial proceedings. There is no trace either of such

completeness, or of such an inquisitorial character in this survey, neither

has it quite the same object. It assigns to each tribe the limits of its future

possessions, and enumerates the cities contained in each portion of

territory. But it makes scarcely any effort to describe the possessions of

particular families, still less of individual landowners. Joshua and Caleb are

the only exceptions.  The most powerful tribes were first settled in their territory —

those, namely, of Judah and Joseph.  The author must have had written sources

for his information, for no single Israelite could have been personally acquainted

with all the details here given - “and stricken in years; and the LORD said

unto him, Thou art old and stricken in years,” - Rather, advanced in age.

There is no foundation for the idea of some commentators that the Jews, at the

time this book was written, made any formal distinction in these words

between different stages of old age. The Hebrew language rejoiced in

repetition, and this common phrase is only a means of adding emphasis to

the statement already made - “and there remaineth yet very much land to

be possessed.”  The Hebrew daom] is stronger than our version. Perhaps the

best equivalent in modern English is, “And the amount of land that

remaineth for us to occupy is very great indeed.” We may observe here

that, as with the literal so with the spiritual Israel, whether the antitype be

the Christian Church or the human heart, the work of subduing God’s

enemies is gradual. One successful engagement does not conclude the war.

The enemy renews his assaults, and when force fails he tries fraud; when

direct temptations are of no avail he resorts to enticements. The only

safeguard in the war is strength, alertness, courage, patience. The faint

hearted and unwatchful alike fail in the contest, which can be carried on

successfully only by him who has learned to keep guard over himself, and

to direct his ways by the counsels of God.



Old Age (v. 1)


The most active servant of God may be overtaken by old ago before he has

completed what he believes to be the task of his life.  Reflect:






Ø      We must not postpone the commencement of work. Joshua

began to serve God in his youth; yet his work was not finished

in his old age.

Ø      We must not be satisfied with any amount of work done. Joshua

Had accomplished great things, but much remained undone.

Ø      We must not be willing to work at intervals or with wastefulness of

time. The work of life is too great for the longest, most earnest life.

Time is short; the day of work will soon pass. Jesus said “Work while

 it is day for the night cometh when no man can work! ” (John 9:4).




all that God requires of us. We may not be able to do all we wish, all we

set before ourselves, all that appears to be needed, all that we think it our

duty to do. But God apportions our duty according to our opportunities.

Therefore in His eyes the broken, unfinished life is really finished if all is

done for which opportunities have been given.



not they who effect much, but they who serve truly, whom God accepts.

We cannot command success. The finishing of our work is not in our

hands. We can be faithful (Luke 16:10).



FUTURE LIFE. Our aspirations exceed our capacities. It is not simply that

we desire the unattainable; but we are conscious of duties which reach

beyond present opportunities, and of possibilities within us which the limits

of life prevent us from developing (see Ecclesiastes 3:11).  If God is too wise

to waste His gifts and too good to deceive His children, we may take the

broken life, and still more the incomplete life even of old age, as mute prophecies

of a larger life beyond.



of declining powers, of insufficient time, and of all other limits of earthly

life will be gone. Eternity will give leisure for all service!   The eternal life

will not grow old, but FLOURISH IN PERPETUAL YOUTH!




BEFORE THEMSELVES. It is well that they should leave work for

smaller men. The necessity thus created becomes a stimulus to others.

When one falls, another is raised to continue his work (John 4:37-38).

The following is an excerpt from notes on ch. 1 concerning Joshua

succeeding Moses in the above scenario – CY – 2012):



magnify Joshua in the eyes of the Israelites, the command is

at once given to prepare for that entrance into the land of promise

which Moses had so ardently longed for but was not permitted to

witness. “One soweth, another reapeth (John 4:37).  The law

paved the way for the gospel.  It is well to follow a period of inaction

by vigorous measures. Active employment would turn away the people’s

thoughts from unduly dwelling  upon the absence of Moses, and would

 prove that all wisdom and energy had not died with him, nor had God

also perished in His servant’s death.  And so today the class in the

Sunday school shall continue its training, though the much loved teacher

has been compelled to renounce his work; THE CONGREGATION


DIFFERENT VOICE!   Let class and congregation rally around

their new chief. The appointment of a new leader should be the signal

for a fresh advance.  Let “Onward!” be the cry.



COMES WITHIN HIS POWERS. At best we are unprofitable servants;

but we are all also negligent and slothful. We have left undone many things

which we ought to have done (Luke 17:10).  None of us can say with Christ,

“It is finished” (John 19:30).  Therefore we should review our lives with

humility, contrition, and repentance, seeking forgiveness for the failings

 of the past and more grace for the duties of the future.



ACCEPTANCE BY GOD. Our work is unfinished. It is faulty for the

negligence it proves. It can earn us nothing on its own merits. CHRIST’S

WORK IS FINISHED   On this our faith can rest. Then we may

offer our own imperfect work TO GOD THROUGH CHRIST and

He will transform it for us by lifting it into the light of His merits,

till it will be worthy as dust shines like gold when the sunbeam passes through it.


2 “This is the land that yet remaineth:” - The powerful league of

the Philistines, as well as the tribes near them, remained unsubdued. In the

north, likewise, the neighborhood of Sidon, and the territory of Coele,

Syria, which lay between Lebanon and Anti-Lebanon, was as yet in the

hands of the enemy. Rabbis Kimchi and Solomon Jarchi translate by

“borders” - “all the borders of the Philistines,” -  Literally, all the circles

(Geliloth) of the Philistines. The expression is found in several places in this book

(see ch.18:17; 22:10-11). We may compare the expression the circles of Swabia,

Franconia, etc., in the history of Germany. The expression here may have more

affinity with what is known as the “mark system” in the history of ancient Germany,

and refer to the patch of cultivated ground which extended for some distance round

each city. But this is rendered improbable by the fact that one circle only

retained its name ( ch. 20:7; 21:32), and is still known as Galilee (see notes on these

 passages). Galilee was too large a district to have been originally a clearing round a town –

“and all Geshuri,”  Geshur (see note on ch.12:5).  It is conjectured that these Geshurites

were the aboriginal inhabitants of the country (see I Samuel 27:8), and were the same as

the Avites or Avvites. See next verse, where the Avvites are distinguished from the five

lords of the Philistines. It is worthy of remark that the name Talmai, the name of one of

the “sons of Anak” (ch.15:14), comes in again as the name of a king of Geshur

(II Samuel 3:3 13:37). It occurs, however, as a Hebrew name in Bartholomew, or

Bar-Tolmai, i.e., the son of Talmai, or Tolmai, one of the twelve apostles. It is

hought  that these aborigines were dispossessed by the Canaanitish tribes, and that

the old name of Geshur was still applied to those regions on which this primitive race

had retained its hold.


3 “From Sihor,” -  This word, which has the article in Hebrew, is literally

the black river. This has been thought to be the Nile, known to both Greeks and

Latins by that title. The Greeks called it μέλας melasblack.  The Septuagint

translates by ἀοίκητοςaoikaetouShihor.  The phrase which is “before”

(עַל־פְנֵי) Egypt seems to exclude the idea of the Nile, since the Nile flowed

through the center of Egypt, and it is impossible to make עַל־פְנֵ equivalent to

בְּקֶרֶב. Moreover, the Nile is always called either יְאֹר or “the river of Egypt.”

The interpretation which has found most favor of late, therefore, refers this

expression to a small river that flows into the sea at the extreme southern border of

Palestine. This river was known as the river of Egypt (Genesis15:18), and is now

called the Wady-el-Arisch (compare also ch.15:4, 47, as well as Numbers 34:5;

 I Kings 8:65; Isaiah 27:12, where the word is nahal, or winter torrent, a word

 inapplicable to the Nile). For Sihor, or Shichor, see Isaiah 23. 3; Jeremiah 2:18,

and especially I Chronicles 13:5, which seems decisive against the Nile -“which is

before Egypt, even unto the borders of Ekron northward, which is counted

to the Canaanite:” - These words are connected by the Masorites with what

follows: The five lords of the Philistines are reckoned to the Canaanite -

 “five lords of the Philistines;” - The Philistines (Deuteronomy 2:23.  Compare

Genesis 10:14, and I Chronicles 1:12) are supposed to be of Egyptian origin. Ewald

believes Caphtor to be Crete, and supposes the Cherethites and Pelethites

who formed David’s body-guard (II Samuel 15:18) to be Cretans and

Philistines (see Ezekiel 25:16). But this opinion is disputed by many

commentators of note, and is far from probable in itself. They were David’s

most trusted and faithful troops, and it seems hardly probable that so truly

national a monarch would have assigned the post of honor around his

person to the hereditary enemies of his race. Ritter, however, believes the

Cherethites and Pelethites to be Philistines, and appeals to I Samuel

30:14, and still more forcibly to Zephaniah 2:4-5. It should be remembered, too,

that Ittai was a Gittite, or native of Gath (see II Samuel 15:21). The term here used,

translated lords (satraps, Septuagint), is peculiar to the Philistines. It is to be found

also in Judges 3:3; I Samuel 5:8, etc. In I Kings 7:30 the word means an axle, or

perhaps the outside plating of the wheel, and in the kindred languages it signifies a

wheel. The expression is remarkable in connection with the phrase “circles

of the Philistines” -  “the Gazathites, and the Ashdothites, the Eshkalonites,” –

The inhabitants of Ashkelon, as the Gittites are of Gath - the Gittites, and the

Ekronites; also the Avites:” Literally, “and the Avites.” There

is no “also” in the original, though the Avites or Avim are supposed (see

Deuteronomy 2:23, and note on Geshuri in the last verse) to have been

aborigines preceding the Canaanites, and dispossessed by the Philistines.

Keil, however, disputes this view, and holds that we have no evidence that

any but a Canaanitish people dwelt in southwestern Palestine. This

Canaanitish tribe, he thinks, was driven out by the Philistines. Some few of

the Avites, or rather Avvites, continued to dwell among their conquerors.

But the coincidence between Deuteronomy 2:22-23, and I Samuel

27:8, makes strongly for Ewald’s view above. And Keil and Delitzsch, in

their later joint work, incline to it. The word Avvim, like Havoth, or Havvoth

(see v. 30), is supposed to mean villages, or inhabited enclosures.


4 “From the south,” – The Septuagint 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 ch 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 - “all the land of the Canaanites, and Mearah” - The margin

has “the cave.” But there is no article in the original The Septuagint reads ἀπὸ Γάζης

apo Gazaes - 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 -“that is beside the

Sidonians” - Rather, near, or in the direction of, or which belong to the

 Sidonians -  “unto Aphek,” - Or Aphekah. This was the northern Aphek

(ch.19:30; Judges 1:31), in the tribe of Asher, known later as Aphaca, and

now as Afka. Not the Aphekah of ch.15:53, probably the Aphek of I 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 (I Kings 20:26, 30; II Kings 13:17).

It is doubtful which Aphek is meant in ch.12:18, though it is probably

the southern Aphek. The situation is described as one of “rare beauty”

(Delitzsch), “on the north.west 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.  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 I Kings 20. The term “Mishor” is, however, applied to

other places beside the territory east of Jordan. The Aphek in I 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 neighborhood of Mount Hermon.


5 “And the land of the Giblites,” - The inhabitants of Gebal, called Jebail (i.e., hill

city, from Jebel) by the Arabs, and Byblus by the Greeks. This is Masius’s

idea, and other commentators have accepted it (see I Kings 5:18; Psalm 83:7; and

Ezekiel 27:9, where the Septuagint translates by Byblus). In the first named passage

the word is translated “stone squarers,” in our version. All the other versions render

Giblites as here, and no doubt the inhabitants of the Phoenician city of Jebail are

meant, since in the ruins of Jebail the same kind of masonry is found as is seen in

Solomon’s temple. Byblus was the great seat of the worship of Tammuz, or Adonis. 

Here his father Cinyras was supposed to have been king, and the licentious worship,

with its corrupting influences, was spread over the whole region of Lebanon

and even Damascus.  This territory was never actually occupied by the Israelites

(see for this passage also ch.11:8,17; and 12:7) - “and all Lebanon, toward the

sunrising, from Baalgad under mount Hermon unto the entering into Hamath.”

The spies penetrated nearly as far as this (Numbers 13:21), and David reduced the

land into subjection as far as the borders of this territory. But the Israelites never

subdued it. Toi, king of Hamath, was an ally, not a tributary of David (II Samuel 8:9).

The border of Israel is always described as extending “to the entering in of Hamath

(I Kings 8:65; II Kings 14:25), though Jeroboam II is said to have “recovered” (Ibid.

v. 28)  Hamath itself.  This “entering in of Hamath” commences at the end of the region

called Coele Syria at the northeast end of the Lebanon range.  Vandevelde remarks that

the expression refers to an “entrance formed by nature herself,” namely, the termination

of the Lebanon and Anti-Lebanon ranges. The city of Hamath, which gave its

name to the territory, is situated on the Orontes, and was known later as

Epiphaneia, no doubt after Antiochus Epiphanes, king of Syria.


6 “All the inhabitants of the hill country from Lebanon unto Misrephothmaim,

and all the Sidonians,” - The word lko here, as elsewhere, must be taken in a

restricted sense. A large portion of the Sidonian territory was taken, but Sidon

retained its independence (see Judges 1:31-32). It is clear, too, that the promise

was conditional. Had not the Asherites been willing to tolerate the existence of the

Canaanites in their midst, they need not have done so (see Judges 1:28) -“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.”  7  Now therefore

divide this land for an inheritance unto the nine tribes, and the half tribe of



8 “With whom” - Literally, with him. The construction is defective, but the meaning

is clear enough. To avoid the repetition of the words “the half tribe of Manasseh,”

the historian writes עִמּו meaning thereby the other half of the tribe - “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;”


9 “From Aroer,” - Three, or even four, cities of this name were known, and

have been identified by modern travelers under names somewhat similar.


  • Aroer upon Arnon, on the north bank of that river, at the extreme south

of the territory of Reuben (see Deuteronomy 2:36; 3:12; 4:48; ch.12:2;

here, vs.9,16; and probably Jeremiah 48:19).


  • Aroer in Gad (v.:25), described there as “before,” i.e., on the way to

Rabbah.” It was no doubt some short distance to the westward of

this chief city of the Ammonites (see also Numbers 32:34, where the

Gadites are said to have built it). These two are probably the “cities of

Aroer referred to in Isaiah 17:2 (but see next note but one, where also

II Samuel 24:5 will be discussed).


  • A city in Judah (I Samuel 30:28). To one of these cities probably

belonged Shammah or Shammoth, the Hararite or Harorite (II Samuel 23:11;

he is called Harodite – Ibid. v.25, and I Chronicles 11:27) –


“that is upon the bank of the river Arnon,” -   (see note on ch.12:2) -“and the

city that is in the midst of the river,” - This city (or perhaps cities) has received

but little attention from commentators, probably by reason of its bearing no name.

Those who have tried to identify it have failed In Deuteronomy 2:36, in this

passage, and in II Samuel 24:5, it is mentioned in connection with Aroer. In ch.12:2,

instead of “the city that is in the midst of the river,” we find simply “the middle

 (תוך) of the river. But as II Samuel 24:5 stands in our version, the city referred

to stood in the middle of the river of Gad. This would suggest the idea that the old

derivation of Aroer by Wells and others from the word ry[i (city) doubled, with the

signification of the double city, is nearer the mark than that of wasteness, or

desolateness, or nakedness, as of a region bare of trees, which has found

favor of late, and it is not without support in Hebrew forms. A city,

moreover, in the midst of or “on the brink of” a winter torrent would be

less likely to be waste or desolate than in other situations. But we are not

yet at the end of our difficulties. The word Nahal, which comes before Gad

in the passage of which we are now speaking, has the article. Thus the

translation, “river of Gad” cannot be maintained. And besides, the

enumeration of the people must have begun at the Arnon, or southern

border of Israel beyond Jordan. It is possible that the text may be corrupt

here, as it is in other parts of II Samuel, and possibly the meaning may be

that the officers pitched in Aroer, passed through Reuben, and having

come within the confines of Gad arrived at Jazer. This again is rendered

doubtful by the close connection of Aroer and Jazer in v.25. It

is of course, therefore, possible that the reference in II Samuel 24 is to the

Jabbok, not the Arnon ravine. A question, of such intricacy can only be

settled, if settled at all, by an investigation on. the spot - “and all the plain” - 

The word here is מִישׁור. This derived from the root rv;y; signifies level ground,

and is applied to the region north of Moab, especially that part of it which

belonged to Reuben. Flat, and almost unbroken, even by trees, it was

particularly adapted for grazing land (see also note above, and on v. 4) -

 “of  Medeba” - This is mentioned in Scripture, together with Dibon, as here in

Numbers 21:30; Isaiah 15:2. It was on the level ground before mentioned -

 “unto Dibon;” - Dibon (see Jeremiah 48:18, 22, called Dimon in Isaiah 15:9;

but Dibon in Ibid. v. 2; see also Numbers 33:45-46). It was one of the cities built

by the children of Gad (Ibid. ch. 32:34). It is now called Dhiban, and is a short distance

north of the Arnon. The Moabite stone was found at Dibon in 1868.  It mentions the

occupation of Medeba by Omri, and implies that Dibon, the principal city in those

parts, was also subject to him, but recovered finally by Mesha.


10 “And all the cities of Sihon king of the Amorites, which reigned in Heshbon,

unto the border of the children of Ammon;  11 And Gilead, and the border of the

Geshurites and Maachathites,” - See note on ch.12:5, of which this passage is little

else but a repetition -“and all mount Hermon, and all Bashan unto Salcah;

12 All the kingdom of Og in Bashan, which reigned in Ashtaroth and in Edrei,

who remained of the remnant of the giants:” - See note on ch.12:4 - “for these

did Moses smite, and cast them out.  13  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.”


14 “Only unto the tribes of Levi” -  See Numbers 18:20-24, where the original

command is recorded. Like the clergy under the Christian dispensation, it was seen

that they could not at once perform the duties of the priesthood, and act as instructors

of the people, if they were burdened, like the rest, with the duty of carrying on war.

Their place was supplied by the division of the tribe of Joseph into two, so that the

inheritance of Israel was still divided among twelve tribes. If the Levites were to keep

the Law and Word of God, to take measures for its being properly kept by

the nation in general, to spread abroad a knowledge of the precepts of the

religion of Israel, to stir up the tribes to a devout and religious life, it was

not merely desirable, but absolutely necessary, that they should be

scattered among the tribes. On the other hand, to secure a proper esprit de

corps, a mutual sustaining influence, and a common action, too complete a

dispersion would have been a mistake. Hence their collection into the

Levitical cities, which, however (see note on ch.21:11), were not

given up wholly to them. The Divine wisdom which dictated the provisions

of the Mosaic law is clearly visible here. The instinct of the Christian

Church in early times devised a similar provision for the evangelization of

the people in the organization of the ancient and mediaeval cathedrals  -“he gave

none inheritance; the sacrifices of the LORD God of Israel made by fire

are their inheritance, as he said unto them.”  This quotation of Numbers 18:20,

24 by a later writer would, under all ordinary circumstances, be regarded as a proof

That the Book of Joshua was quoting one of the books of Moses. The Sacrifices.

The word is derived from אֵשׁ fire. It does not itself signify fire in any place in

Holy Writ, but it is used of the shewbread in Leviticus 24:7, 9. It thus came to mean

any sacrifice, whether offered by fire or not. And thus the tenth which (Numbers

18:21, 23-24) was given to the Levites, as being offered for God’s service,

might be reckoned as in some sense a sacrifice. With this passage we may

compare various passages in the New Testament, where, in this respect at

least, the Christian ministry stands on the same footing (I Corinthians 9:11,13;

Galatians 6:6-7). Thus the maintenance of the Christian ministry is a kind of

sacrifice — as we find such deeds called, in fact, in Hebrews 13:16. And an order

of men who are set apart to the ministry of souls has a right to claim a sufficient

maintenance at the hands of those to whom they minister — a point which in these

days of affluence and clerical destitution combined ought to be more largely

recognized than it is (see Numbers 18:20-24). “For the law is entrusted to the

priests and Levites, and they devote their energies to this alone, and without any

anxiety are able to give their time to the Word of God. But that they may

be able to do this, they ought to depend upon the support of the laity. For

if the laity do not allow the priests and Levites all the necessaries of life,

they would be obliged, to engage themselves in temporal occupations, and

would thus have less time for the law of God. And when they had no time

to spare for the study of God’s law, it is thou who wouldst be in danger.

For the light of knowledge that is in them would grow dim, because thou

hast given no oil for the lamp, and through thy fault it would come to pass,

what the Lord said, ‘If the blind lead the blind, shall they not both fall into

the ditch?’” (Origen, Homily 17 on Joshua). These words are well worthy of

attention now, when a multiplicity of worldly business and a weight of worldly

cares are devolved upon God’s ministers by a laity which has to too great an extent

washed its hands of all cooperation in the work of God’s Church.


15 “And Moses gave unto the tribe of the children of Reuben” - This passage

is an expansion of Numbers 32:33-42. We learn from it that the Israelites actually

took possession of this land.  But in the reigns of the wicked kings Omri and Ahab

the power of Israel declined, and after the battle of Ramoth-Gilead, and the defeat

and death of Ahab, the Moabites succeeded in shaking off the Israelitish yoke, and

in wresting from Israel moreover a considerable portion of the territory of

Sihon. In the next reign an attempt was made to regain possession of the

lost territory. We learn from the Moabite stone that the important towns

here mentioned, Medeba, Dibon, Baalmeon, Kiriathaim (or Kirjathalm, as it

is here called), Ataroth, Nebo, Aroer, had fallen into the hands of Mesha at

the rebellion, and that he had erected a citadel at Dibon, which had become

his capital. Hence the endeavor to invade Moab from the south, recorded

in I Kings 3, which, however, though successful as a military promenade,

was attended with no permanent results. For Isaiah (ch. 15.)and Jeremiah

(ch. 48.) mention most of these places, as well as Elealeh and Heshbon, the

former capital of Sihon, as being strongholds of the Moabite power. Jahaz,

too, the place where Sihon gave battle of the Israelites, is numbered by

Mesha, as well as at a later date by Isaiah and Jeremiah, among the

possessions of Moab; while Horonaim, mentioned among the Moabite

cities by the two prophets, is incidentally noticed by Mesha as having been

captured from the Edomites. In this early extinction of the tribe of Reuben

we may see the fulfilment of Jacob’s prophecy (Genesis 49.) -“inheritance

according to their families.  16 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;” -  See v. 10; so again in the next verse.


17 Heshbon, and all her cities that are in the plain; Dibon, and

Bamothbaal, and Bethbaalmeon,” - Bamoth Baal. The high places or altars

of Baal. The frequent mention of Baal in this passage shows how common the

worship of Baal was in Palestine. The Moabites worshipped him under the name of

Chemosh, to whom Mesha, on the Moabite stone, attributes all his victories

(compare Numbers 21:29; Judges 11:24; I Kings 11:7, 33. So Beth-Peor below

(compare Numbers 25:3).  18 And Jahaza, and Kedemoth, and Mephaath,”


19 “And Kirjathaim, and Sibmah,” -   (see Numbers 32:38). The vine of Sibmah

forms a feature in the lament of Isaiah 16:8 and Jeremiah 48:32 over Moab. It was

close by Heshbon, on the borders of Reuben and Gad (compare v. 17 with ch.21:39) –

“and Zarethshahar” – or the splendor of the dawn, now garar, was on the borders

of the Dead Sea. Canon Tristram, in his ‘Land of Moab,’ mentions the gorgeous

coloring of the landscape here, more beautiful and varied, no doubt, at dawn than at

any other time of the day - “in the mount of the valley,  20  And Bethpeor, and

Ashdothpisgah, and Bethjeshimoth,”


21 “And all the cities of the plain,” -  Mishor” once more. See above, v. 9,

not as in Genesis 19, where the word is Ciccar. These, therefore, were not

Sodom and its neighbors, but cities of the Amorites. Such touches as this,

which display the minute acquaintance of our author with his subject, are

almost of a necessity lost in a translation. But where our version has

“plain,” the original has Mishor when the uplands of Gilead and Bashan are

meant, Arabah when the writer is speaking of the Wadys in the

neighborhood of the Dead Sea, Shephelah when he refers to the lowlands

of Western Palestine, bordering on the Mediterranean, Bik’ah when he

speaks of the great valley of Coele Syria, Ciccar when he speaks of the

territory due north of Jordan - “and all the kingdom of Sihon king of

the Amorites, which reigned in Heshbon, whom Moses smote with

the princes of Midian,” -  The word here used, נְשִׂיא signifies exalted

persons, persons of rank, as we should say. It would seem to imply rather

civil functions than the more absolute authority which the word שַׂר also

rendered “prince” in Hebrew, carries with it. With this passage compare

Numbers 31:8. The Hebrew has no “with,” so that the difficulty some have

found in the passage need not have arisen. It is nowhere said that Moses

smote the “princes of Midian together with Sihon. All that is stated is that

they, as well as Sihon, were smitten, as the history in Numbers tells us they were -

Evi, and Rekem, and Zur, and Hur, and Reba, which were dukes of Sihon,” -

 According to Gesenius, Rosenmiiller, and others, the word here translated “dukes”

is derived from נָסַך - to pour out, means “anointed.” See Psalm 2:6, where it

is translated “set.” But Keil rejects this interpretation, and says that the

word never signifies to anoint. It is always used, he says, of foreign

princes. But he has overlooked Micah 5:4 (Hebrews). See Knobel, who

explains it of drink offerings, and regards these “dukes” as men pledged by

a solemn treaty to be Sihon’s allies, though not vassals. Kimchi thinks that

Sihon, before his reverses at the hand of Israel, had held some authority in

Midian, and these were his prefects, or under-kings. The term is applied to

Zebah and Zalmunna in Psalm 83:12-13 (in the Hebrew) -“dwelling in the



22 “Balaam also the son of Beor, the soothsayer,” - Or diviner, one who

pretended to foretell future events. Balaam, it would seem, instead of returning to

his own land, went to visit the Midianites, whose elders had joined in the invitation

given by Moab (Numbers 22:7), and persuaded them to entice the Israelites

into idolatry and licentiousness (see Numbers 25.) For this crime he met

with the punishment he had deserved, and was involved in the destruction

which fell on the Midianites by God’s express command, in consequence of

their treachery (Numbers 25:16-18 -“did the children of Israel slay with the

sword among them that were slain by them.”



The Fate of Balaam (v. 22)




Numbers (chps. 22-24, 31) Balaam appears as a prophet inspired by God.

In the Book of Joshua he is only named as a common soothsayer. All

spiritual gifts, of insight, of power, of sympathy, are worthy only so long

as they are well used. As they become degraded by evil uses they lose

their Divine character and become mere talents of cleverness and ability.




prophetic powers for money, consenting to use them on the side of evil

and falsehood. Now his sin has found him out. He who receives great gifts

incurs great responsibility. No spiritual power is bestowed for merely

selfish uses. The greater the talents we abuse, the greater will be the

judgment we shall invoke.




gifts, yet he suffered the fate of the heathen. Our privileges are no proof of

a Divine favor which will overlook our sins. Salvation comes not from the

gifts of the Spirit, but from the grace of God in Christ. The least gifted has

as good ground for salvation as the most highly endowed. Pulpit power,

the “gift of prayer,” theological insight, and religious susceptibilities may

all be found in a Christless life, and if so they will be of no avail as grounds

of merit in the day of judgment.




true God and the way of right. But not living according to his knowledge,

his guilt was aggravated, and HIS DOOM CERTAIN!   It is worse

than useless to know Christian truth unless we obey it (James 1:22-24).

The faith in Christ which secures to us salvation is not the bare intellectual

belief in the doctrines of redemption (Ibid. 2:19), but submissive trust and

loyal obedience to Christ as both Lord and Saviour (Mark 2:14).


God is patient in the exercise of His justice as well as in His compassions, for He

is the Lord, with whom “a thousand years are as one day” (II Peter 3:8).  He

knows that His threatenings, like His promises, cannot fail. Of this we have a

striking proof, both in the punishment which came upon Balaam, during the war

for the conquest of Canaan, and in the blessing of Caleb.


Balaam.  For many years Balaam had been untrue to his own conscience, in

going back to the idolatries of Canaan, after having been made for one day the

organ of the most glorious oracles of the true God. He is thus an illustration

of the truth that the baser passions of the heart, if not subdued, will

always quench the clearest light of the intellect. Balaam chose wittingly

the evil part. He plunged again into the corrupt practices of the heathen.

For a long time it seemed to the eyes of men, who judge only by the

appearance, that he had made the right choice. Was it not better to sit

under his own vine and fig tree, and enjoy the riches heaped upon him by

Balak, than to join the Israelites in their dreary desert pilgrimage, beneath a

blazing sky, and over the burning sand? Had not Balaam acted wisely?

Unquestionably he had if the rule of true philosophy be, “Let us eat and

drink, for tomorrow we die;” that is to say, if God does not reign in

righteousness forever and ever. But when the old soothsayer fell beneath

the sword of those Israelites whose warfare he had not been willing to

share, HE UNDERSTOOD TOO LATE  it was these despised people

who had alone been wise, and that, in spite of all the light he had received, he had

lived and acted like a fool. (I recommend Proverbs ch14 v14 – Spurgeon Sermon –

How a Man’s Conduct Comes Home to Him – this web site – CY – 2012) 

How many are there now living who recognize with their minds the truth of the

gospel, but who are unwilling to give up their sinful indulgences, UNTIL


(Peter says “the Day of the Lord WILL COME” (II Peter 3:10).   Happy those

for whom this day of awakening comes before death, so that they do not go down

to the grave with their hearts made gross by merely material prosperity, only to be

aroused by the stroke of Divine retribution. Let us remember the punishment of

Balaam, which came surely, though it seemed to tarry, when the prosperity of the

wicked seems to us a stumbling block.  (See Psalm 73:3-22*** - CY – 2012)


Caleb.  The promises of God’s love are not less faithful and sure than His

threatenings, though they also may seem slow of fulfillment. This is

illustrated in the history of Caleb, who courageously served his people

through a long lifetime, bringing back a good report of the land garrisoned

by the enemy, which Moses sent him to explore. “Therefore Moses sware

on that day, saying, Surely the land whereon thy feet have trodden shall be

thine inheritance and thy children’s forever, because thou hast WHOLLY

FOLLOWED THE LORD THY GOD,” (ch.14:9). This promise was not

forgotten.  Caleb received, as an inheritance, that hill of Hebron which was

assured to him in the name of the God whom he served. Thus the promises of

God are yea and amen.  (II Corinthians 1:20)



Balaam (v. 22)


A study of pathetic interest; one of the great “MIGHT-HAVE-BEENS of the

world. One capable of winning an immortal fame, but actually finding only

an immortal infamy. The Judas of the Old Testament: one travelling on the

right road till within sight of heaven, and then TURNING ASIDE UNTO

PERDITION!  Consider:


  • THE GREATNESS OF THE MAN. Evidently his position is one of

great dignity and influence. He has raised himself to priest-kingship among

the Midianitish tribes. He is considered to have such power in divination

and forecast that he is brought all the way from a city in Mesopotamia to

the borders of Canaan to “curse Israel.” This reputation would lead you to

expect to find him at least a man possessed of great spiritual insight; able at

least to guess well concerning all moral probabilities, He has, moreover,

reached a clear knowledge of God; has not become entangled by any

service of the lower deities whose degrading worship was so prevalent;

showing that he was a spiritually minded man, who had gone on and on

following the light which reached him, until that light exceeded that of any

one else among his people. His divination is no black art — carried on by

appeals to demons — but by pure sacrifices offered to the supreme God.

He had evidently been accustomed to utter exactly what God imparted.

Pleasant or painful, what God sent him he said. And his honesty and

courage are conspicuous in his actual declarations concerning Israel. When

we have put together these qualities: spirituality sufficient to discover and

serve the true God; great strength of integrity; the keen perception which

can discern the essential differences and destinies of things; the fear of God

to which “the secret of the Lord is always revealed” — you get a

character of the first quality, one that has in it the making of a Moses or an

Abraham, one who could and should have been one of the grandest of the

prophets of the Lord. If only he had reached the full development of his

spiritual powers, Midian might have been another Israel, for generations a

source of highest good. Doubtless till middle life this course of high

righteousness, consecration to and communion with God had gone on.

But beginning well and running well, he falls at last into ignominy and

shame.  Mark:


  • THE PROCESS OF HIS FALL. It must not be dated strictly from the

temptation before which he fell. There is always, or almost always, some

declension before a fall. No one falls into crime by one stumble. Can we

trace the process? The writer of the Apocalypse, with his power of going

straight to the mark, sums up in one word: He loved the wages of iniquity;

not iniquity, but what iniquity could give him (Revelation 2:14).  First the

selling of his spiritual power was a declension. To seek God’s light in order

to get man’s money was an activity damaging to his conscience. Whether

it be the sale of masses, absolutions, indulgences, or oracles, the vitiation is in

each case the same. A seemingly slender line divides Samuel’s acceptance of an

honorarium (I Samuel 9:6-10) from Balaam’s eager desire for it. But seeming

alike, they essentially differ. In Balaam’s case the greed got headway, and instead

of the prophet’s simple acceptance of gifts as a means of living, there was a

valuing of all his spiritual powers and privileges only for their market value.

[It is an awful thing when a Christian minister values his creed and his

experience only as a means of making money.] Then hankering after

money, he soon loses the fine edge of honor. When once God refused to

give him leave to go with the messengers of Balak, there should have been

no reopening of the question. But so anxious is he for the “rewards of

divination,” that on their second embassy he goes to God for a second

time, for the chance of finding Him PERMIT WHAT HE HAD ALREADY

REFUSED!  Declining to accept a reluctant service, God at once permits

and punishes a less honorable course. Again and again he tries to get permission

to curse Israel, just in order to get gold. That desire to get a different light

from what God has given him is degrading and demoralizing. Each

dishonorable and dishonoring attempt to get God’s anathemas to hurl

against a righteous nation fails to hurt Israel, but terribly damages himself;

until, hunting after some means of possessing himself of Balak’s gold, in

the pursuit he falls down, and down in degradation until, God refusing to

inspire him with evil, his heart is ready to welcome and utter an inspiration

from below. And his character is so disintegrated in this hankering

 after money, that at last he gives the most diabolical advice that

man could give; viz., that instead of fighting Israel, they should endeavor

to corrupt them (Numbers 31:16). The licentious feasts, the heathen orgies

are of his counseling, and but for Phinehas (Ibid. 25:7-8) might have been

as disastrous to Israel as their intent was diabolical. What a fall, from the

level of highest character, influence, and opportunity, down to the

level of A SATANIC CRIME!   The love of money is DAILY




  • Lastly observe THE RETRIBUTION. Likely enough he got his reward,

and was for a moment as pleased as Achan. But had he satisfaction in it?


Ø      Israel, in whose future well being he recognized the source of the

world’s best help, is crippled, degraded, weakened through his advice,

and that would pain him.

Ø      Midian is all but completely annihilated. All the males and most of the

women are slain (Numbers 31.).

Ø      Balaam himself has but a short lived enjoyment of his wealth, for he

also is slain (Ibid. v. 8).

Ø      The loss of life probably pained less than the everlasting infamy that

made what hitherto had been an honored name a proverb for the

vilest form of treacherous wickedness. These penalties are obvious.

In the world of spirits there must have been others more serious still.

May we fear dishonorable gold, as that which makes the heaviest of

all millstones to drown men in perdition!  (Matthew 18:6)


23 “And the border of the children of Reuben was Jordan, and the border

thereof.” -  These words have been omitted in the Vulgate, which does not

understand them. The Septuagint translates, “And the borders of Reuben were

the Jordan-border.” This seems to be the meaning of the original. The phrase

often occurs, as in ch.15:12 and Numbers 34:6. The phrase probably means 

the natural boundary marked out by the river or sea and its banks. Reuben, as

predicted by Jacob (Genesis 49:4), sank at once into insignificance. No ruler, no

judge arose from this tribe and its territory -“This was the inheritance of the

children of Reuben after their families, the cities and the villages thereof.”

Villages. Hebrew חַצְרֵי, Septuagint  ἐπαύλειςepauleis -  Vulgate viculi.   

The original meaning is a piece of ground enclosed by a hedge or wall. Here it

would mean, either farm hamlets, or perhaps clearings of cultivated ground, which

in Palestine would naturally be enclosed in some way, to prevent the ravages

of wild beasts. In the primitive villages of Servia, where wild beasts are not

entirely extirpated, not only are all the homesteads enclosed, but a fence is

placed across the road, and removed when a vehicle has to pass through.

Or perhaps the primitive Jewish community was similar to the primitive

Teutonic community as described by Marshall in his ‘Elementary and

Practical Treatise on Landed Property,’ published in 1804, who described

the early distribution of land in this country as follows: “Round the village

lay a few small enclosures for rearing young stock. Further a field the best

land for arable purposes was chosen, and divided into three parts, for the

necessary, rotation of fallow, wheat or rye, and spring crops. The meadows

near the water courses were set aside for the growth of fodder for the

cattle or for pasturage for milk cows, etc. The irreclaimable lands were

left for what we now call ‘common’ uses for fuel, and the inferior

pasturage.” These arrangements are found to exist in India (see Sir H.

Maine, ‘Village Communities,’ sec. 4.). But there, as in Palestine, the

necessity for water was the cause of important modifications. Since the

word is used to denote the court


  • of a prison, Jeremiah 32:2;
  • of a palace, I Kings 7:8;
  • of a private house, II Samuel 17:18;
  • of the temple in numberless places,


and as it is used of the enclosure of a nomadic camp (Genesis 25:16,

where our version has towns; perhaps Deuteronomy 2:23, where our

version has Hazerim, following the Septuagint — which, however, alters the

word to the more usual Hazeroth — and the Vulgate; Isaiah 42:11, with which

compare the expression tents of Kedar, Psalm 120:5), the translation villages

can hardly be the correct one here or elsewhere (see also v. 28).



24 “And Moses gave inheritance unto the tribe of Gad,” -  The border of

Gad extended further eastward than that of Reuben. Westward, of course, its

border was the Jordan. Its northern border was nearly coincident with that of the

land of Gilead, and passed by Maha-naim and Jabesh Gilead, unto the extreme

southernmost point of the sea of Galilee. Many of these places also are

mentioned in Isaiah 15 and Jeremiah 48. (see note above, v. 16) - “even unto the

children of Gad according to their families.”


25 “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;”

A different Aroer to that mentioned in v. 9. This was near (Hebrew, opposite to,

 the expression being equivalent to the French en face) Rabbah, or the great city of

the children of Ammon. It is proable that this territory had been taken from

the Ammonites by Sihon, since the Israelites were not permitted to possess

themselves of the land of the Ammonites (Deuteronomy 2:19). For Rabbah,

see II Samuel 11:1; 12:26. It is called Rabbath in Deuteronomy 3:11.


26 “And from Heshbon unto Ramathmizpeh,” - This is idenitified with

Ramoth-Gilead by Vandevelde, and must have been the Mizpeh of Gilead

mentioned in Judges 11:29. It is supposed to be identical with the place called

Mizpah, Galeed, and Jegar-sahadutha by Jacob and Laban respectively

(Genesis 31:47-49). If it be the same as Ramoth-Gilead, it is the scene

of the celebrated battle against the Syrians, in which Ahab lost his life (I Kings 22.),

and where the fall of the dynasty of Omri was brought about by the revolt of Jehu

(II Kings 9). Conder, however, thinks the two are distinct places, and fixes

Ramoth-Mizpeh on the north border of Gad, about 25 miles west of Bozrah -

 and Betonim; and from Mahanaim” -  The dual of מַהֲנהֶ two hosts or

camps. It received its name from Jacob, who with his own company met the

angels of God, and who commemorated the meeting by this name (see Genesis

32:2).  Here Ishbosheth was crowned (II Samuel 2:8). Here David took refuge

when he crossed the Jordan, to avoid falling into the hands of Absalom (II Samuel

17:24) -“unto the border of Debir;” - Not the Debir mentioned in ch. 10., but

another Debir in the land of Gilead, whose site is unknown.


27  “And in the valley,” - The Emek (see ch.8:13) Betharam, and Bethnimrah,” -

(see Numbers 32:36). Afterwards Nimrim (Isaiah 15:6; Jeremiah 48:34). Now Nimrin

 “and Succoth,” - i.e., booths. Here Jacob rested after his meeting with Esau

(Genesis 33:17). Here Gideon “taught the men of Succoth,” who had declined to

provide food for his army (Judges 8:5, 7, 16). It is mentioned in connection with Zarthan,

or Zaretan (compare ch.3:16) as being in the tract or כִכַּר of the Jordan, where the

metal work of the temple was cast (I Kings 7:46; II Chronicles 4:17) -   “and Zaphon,” –

Perhaps, and the North; what remained of the kingdom of Sihon, i.e., as is implied

above, the part which was not assigned to Reuben - “the rest of the kingdom of

Sihon king of Heshbon, Jordan and his border,” -  Literally, Jordan and a border

(see note on v. 23) - “even unto the edge” - Rather, the end (see note on v.24).

 “of the sea of Chinnereth on the other side Jordan eastward.”


28 “This is the inheritance of the children of Gad” – The cause of

the difference between the Reubenites and the Gadites may perhaps be thus

explained. While both inhabited a similar tract of country, a country from

its open and pastoral character likely to develop a hardy and healthy race of

men, the Reubenites were exposed to the seductions of the Moabitish

worship of Chemosh, which, when combined with an ancestral

temperament by no means prone to resist such influences (see Genesis 49:4),

soon proved fatal to a tribe, itself not numerous (Deuteronomy 33:6), and

hemmed in on every side but the north by the unbelievers. The temperament

inherited by the Gadites added to their more favorable situation and the nature

of their pursuits, developed a hardy and warlike race ready to do battle, and

fearless of their foes (I Chronicles 5:18).  Of this tribe came the valiant Jephthah,

and of it also came the brave soldiers of David, whose qualifications stir to poetry

the sober chronicler of Judah (I Chronicles 12:8). We may see here the influence of

circumstances on the character of a people. Originally (I Chronicles 5:18) the

Reubenites and the Gadites were alike. But the Reubenites, as we have seen, from

unfavorable surroundings, lost the character which the Gadites, more favorably

situated, were enabled to preserve. And the distinctions of tribes, producing as they

did a separate esprit de corps in each tribe, will serve to explain why one tribe did

not immediately succumb to influences which proved fatal to another. In the end,

as we know, all the people of Gad fell victims to the temptations which surrounded

them, and, save in the case of Levi, Judah, and Benjamin, and the few faithful

Israelites who went over to them, irrevocably. The same phenomenon may

be observed in the history of nations generally. As long as their manners

were simple and their morals pure, they have preserved their liberty, and in

many cases have acquired empire. As soon as their bodies were enervated

by luxury, and their minds corrupted by vice, they fell a prey to foes whom

formerly they would have despised. Thus fell the Greek and Roman republics,

thus the Britons became an easy prey to the Saxons, and the Saxons to the Danes.

In every instance the history of a tribe and of a nation serves to illustrate the maxim


REPROACH TO ANY PEOPLE!” - “after their families, the cities, and

their villages.”


29 “And Moses gave inheritance unto the half tribe of Manasseh:” - The

word used for “tribe” in the first and second half of this verse is not the same..

Is is eriously contended that one half of this verse is taken from one author,

and the other from another? Or is it possible that the writer of the book

may actually have understood the language he was using, and meant to use

the two words in somewhat different senses? Gesenius, it is true, would

explain the words as being precisely synonymous. But his own

etymological remarks are fatal to his theory. מטה the latter of the two

words, is a bough, or shoot (derived from a word signifying to grow),

capable of throwing out blossoms (Ezekiel 7:10). It refers, therefore, to

the natural descent of the tribe from Manasseh their father. But שבט is

allied to שׁפט; to judge, and the Greek σκήπτρονskaeptron  

and perhaps the English shaft, and signifies a rod as the emblem of authority.

Thus it is used in Genesis 49:10, of a royal scepter. So Psalm 2:9, an iron

scepter, Psalm 45:6. Thus the latter word has reference to the tribe as an

organized community, the former to it in reference to its ancestral

derivation. This view would seem to be supported by v. 24, where the

מטה of Gad is further explained to mean his sons and their families, as

well as by this verse, where the שׁבט is used absolutely, the מטה in

connection with the family - “and this was the possession of the half

tribe of the children of Manasseh by their families.”


30 “And their coast was from Mahanaim, all Bashan, all the kingdom

of Og king of Bashan, and all the towns of Jair,” - Literally, Havoth-Jair,

as in Numbers 32:41; Deuteronomy 3:14. The word חַיִּת is derived from חוה

to live, and the word is compared by Gesenius to the names Eisleben and the

like in Germany. So we use the phrase “five,” as synonymous with “dwell.”

Why the term is confined to these particular cities is not known. Gesenius

regards it as equivalent to “nomadic encampment.” But the ruins of the

giant cities of Bashan, recently rediscovered in our own time (by Mr. Cyril

Graham, in 1857), and displaying all the signs of high civilization, dispose

of this idea. These cities are mentioned in Deuteronomy 3:4 as

“threescore cities, all the region of Argob,” and again in v. 13, “all the

region of Argob with all Bashan, which is called the land of giants.” “To

the east he (Abraham) would leave the barren and craggy fatnesses of the

formidable Argob, still (i.e., in Abraham’s time, not Joshua’s) the asylum

of the fiercest outlaws; and would jealously avoid the heathen haunts in

groves and on high places where smoke arose to the foul image, and the

frantic dance swept round.” (Tomkins, ‘Studies on the Time of Abraham,’

p. 69. See also note on ‘Judah upon Jordan,’ ch.19:34) - “which are in

Bashan, threescore cities:” (compare 17:1). It was the martial character, as

well as the half tribe of Manasseh, that qualified him to receive and subdue

this important territory with its wide extent and teeming population. In the

article on Manasseh in Smith’s ‘Dictionary of the Bible,’ reference is made

to the fact that, while Ephraim only sent 20,800, and Western Manasseh

18,000, Reuben, Gad, and Eastern Manasseh sent the immense number of

120,000, and this while Abner, the supporter of Ishbosheth, had his

headquarters at Mahanaim. But the numbers are suspicious, especially

when Judah, always a powerful tribe, comes below the insignificant tribe of

Simeon in number. And a comparison of II Samuel 5:1 with I Chronicles

12:22-23, would lead to the idea that the coronation of David after the death

of Ishbosheth is the event referred to (see also I Chronicles 12:38-40).


31 “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” –

See this question fully discussed in note on ch.17:5-6 - “by their families.”


32 “These are the countries which Moses” -  (see Numbers 22:1; 34:15) –

“did distribute for inheritance in the plains” - Hebrew, Araboth (see ch.3:16.)

 “of Moab, on the other side Jordan, by Jericho, eastward.” 


33  “But unto the tribe of Levi Moses gave not any inheritance: the

LORD God of Israel was their inheritance, as He said unto them.”



     The Allotment of the Inheritance (vs. 1-ch.14:5)




OTHERS. Joshua felt that his end was drawing nigh, and most likely, since

we are not told otherwise, as in the case of Moses, his natural force was

abated. So with ourselves. We cannot expect to see the end of our work.

We must do what God has set before us, and LEAVE THE RESULTS

TO HIM.   Yet we, unlike Joshua, need not fear the failure of our efforts.

The law could not make its votaries perfect; but the bringing in of a better

hope did (Hebrews 7:19).  In this later dispensation no work shall altogether

fail of its effect IF DONE TO GOD!



HENCE. Though Joshua had to leave the completion of the task to others,

he did not fall to put it in train. So we, when we have begun a good work,

are bound to make proper and reasonable provision for its being carried on

when God warns us that our time draws nigh. (I hope to get all the Bible

from the  Pulpit Commentary on this web site before I die.  I have found

out that for $999 the web site will be available for 100 years.  Whether

the Lord will come before then, I know not but I am working towards

this goal.  Will you pray with me that it will be useful to the spiritual needs

of both the lost and Christians.  In the mean time, “Even so, Come Lord

Jesus.” – Revelation 22:20 – CY – 2012)  We are not to expect God to

work miracles where our own reason would suffice. We must leave the

result to God, but not until we have done all in our power to procure the

fulfillment of His will. We must leave proper directions behind us to

indicate what our wishes are, and a proper organization, so far as possible,

to carry out our purposes. We find nothing left to God in the Bible but

what is plainly beyond the reach of man.



the land of Israel, Joshua is a type of Christ, “dividing to each man

severally as He will” (I Corinthians 12:11).  The various powers and

faculties we have, bodily, mental, spiritual, are given us by God. Each one

has his own proper share, according to the work God requires of him. There

must be no murmuring or disputing. The foot must not ask why he is not the

hand, nor the hand why he is not the head (Ibid. vs. 14-31).  Each has his own

proper portion of the good gifts of God, and according as he has so will it be

required of them.  All murmurings were hushed in Israel because Joshua

committed the disposal of the inheritance to the Lord. We are equally bound

to refrain from discontent because it is clear that God has portioned out the

gifts of the spiritual Israel One man has wealth, another strength, another

intellect, another imagination, another wisdom, another energy, another power

over others, or these various gifts are apportioned in various degrees for God’s

own purposes. Let none think of questioning the wisdom of the award.



FLOCKS FOR SUPPORT. Such is the meaning of Paul when he

speaks of the double honor (no doubt in a pecuniary sense, as we use the

word “honorarium”) to be given to the elders who rule well (I Timothy

5:17).  In consequence of their special aptitude for the work, they were to

be relieved from the burden of their own maintenance, that they might be able

to devote more time to the supervision of the flock. Not necessarily that each

minister should be maintained by his own flock, for he might be thereby

deterred from speaking faithfully to them in the name of Christ. We do not

find that each individual priest and Levite was maintained by some special

synagogue of the Jews. But they who ministered in holy things lived of the

sacrifice nevertheless. The offerings made at the temple at Jerusalem

formed a general fund out of which the tribe of Levi was maintained, as its

members went up by rotation to perform the duties of their office. And

beside this, a proper number of cities was provided them, with a share,

most probably (see note on ch.21:12), in the privileges of their

fellow citizens, of the tribe to which the land belonged. This ample

provision for the ministers under the old law is in striking contrast, save in

some special instances, to the provision made by Christians for their

ministers now. A due maintenance for their clergy was one of the special

characteristics of the Jewish religious system.. According to the principles

laid down by the apostles of Christ, and always acted upon, save in some

special instances, it was an equally marked characteristic of the Christian



  • GOD IS THE PORTION OF HIS MINISTERS. A great comfort for

those who are in straitened circumstances, as many are. They may

remember the words, “I have been young and now am old, yet saw I

 never the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging their bread”

(Psalm 37:25).  If they abstain from murmuring, rigidly adapt their

expenditure to their means, careless of appearances, careful only to do right,

 they wilt find their reward in God’s love and favor. He will be in truth their

portion. (Nothing can top God’s promise to Abraham!  “I AM THY


15:1 – CY – 2012)  Having food and raiment, they will be therewith content

(I Timothy 6:8), for they will have abundance of spiritual blessings, the reward

of an approving conscience, and the respect of all right thinking men. Nor is the

promise confined only to those who lack the good things of this life, but it is

given to those who, by God’s disposition possessing them, know how to use

them. All God’s ministers who love and serve Him SHALL HAVE HIM

AS THEIR PORTION and they will treasure this above all earthly goods.

“They that fear Him lack nothin.”  (Psalm 34:8-9).  The Lord is the

strength of their life, and their portion forever.  (Ibid. 27:1; 28:7-8)



The Border Keep (v. 31)


Machir was a ‘man of war,’ therefore he had Gilead and Bashan.” These

cities include the group which form such a striking stronghold in the

northern part of the land beyond Jordan. Mr. Porter, in his ‘Giant Cities of

Bashan,’ has described the surprising strength of the architecture of these

cities — the failure of even three thousand years of change and wear to

render the houses unfit for habitation; and has also described the strange

formation of the district of Argob, rendering it a natural fortress of the

most formidable kind. Here, by special adaptation of place with people, this

district is assigned to the family of Machir. It was wisely so assigned, for

through all the succeeding generations the keeping of the frontier in this

direction was well done. We may gather one or two hints not altogether

valueless from this assignment. Observe:



HE HAD CONQUERED. From Numbers 32:39 we learn that, gigantic

as were the inhabitants of Gilead, strong as was its cities, impregnable as

its natural fortress seemed, the children of Machir “took it,” and

dispossessed the Amorite that was in it. Now they enjoy that which their

unusual valor won. Like Caleb, whose daring made him ask Hebron, even

when it was in the hands of the enemy, they chose a difficult spot, and

conquering, inherited it. More than any other they had a right to this, for

their courage had conquered it. Your best inheritance will always be some

Gilead that you conquer for yourself. THE TRUTH THAT YOU


I encourage you to study the Bible on your own and with God’s help

it is to be made available for you in an easy format such as this – CY –

2012).  The experience you develop for yourself will be your best guide.

Even the money you make for yourself will be that which you at once

employ and enjoy the best. Conquer what you want to have. By courage,

diligence, enduring hardness, achieve what you would like to keep.



The Jacobs in the middle; the Esaus are better on the borders of the land.

The bravest should be those nearest the foe. They who keep the gates of a

kingdom should be those to whom conflict has no terrors. Theologians that

keep the frontiers of truth should be brave. Timid Christians that think all

the world is going to turn infidel are not men for warfare on the

border. Against assaults there should be placed those who have been

through all the fights of faith and unbelief in their own hearts, and who can

bring a strenuous, cheerful energy to the task of fighting for the truth.

Those strong enough to expect a perpetual victory of truth are those alone

fit to deal with the assaults of error. Ministers of religion, keeping the

frontier between the Church and the world, should be in a good sense men

of war; on their guard against encroachment of worldliness; strong

enough to brave opposition and to be above the seductions of the flattery

which a compromising spirit may win from the world; strong enough to

keep out the intrusions of the SECULAR SPIRIT in all its forms of

caste feeling, of cold heartedness, of indifference to the perishing; strong

enough to carry the war into the enemy’s country, and secure by

extending the kingdom of Christ. On all frontiers there is need of vigor.

Wherever the enemy is near, set what is bravest and stoutest in you to

watch. The pugnacious element in our nature is very valuable — if it

operates in Gilead. There is deficiency of it too often; and too often where

it is, it is just in some position where it quarrels with its friends instead of with

the temptations and the wrongs and the difficulties which are its proper foes.

For frontier work of all kinds, courage is the prime qualification. Lastly:



ENEMY. What he won was his reward, but it was something more. It was

the best stronghold he could have against the enemy. The conquered

fortress makes the best defense. The vigor enough to win it grows

stronger and becomes the power to keep it. A victory is always a point of

strength and a stronghold conquered, a vantage ground against the foe.

The Church differs from all other communities in this, that she is never

weaker by extension; each new conquest gives her a better frontier; every

Gilead subdued becomes a new line of defense, making her more

impregnable against attack. By God’s blessing, conquer a rebellious heart

and subdue it to Him, and it becomes a fortified post from which you can

assail or defend more powerfully than before. Graces that are easily gained

are easily lost. But those that are won with arduous difficulty are invariably

much more securely held. None keep truth like those who have fought hard

to get it. None are more generous than those who have fought hard with

selfish tendencies within them. None keep elevation of thought and feeling

more persistently than those who have reached it by crucifying the flesh. A

conquered temptation is a grand fortress in which you are stronger to

 resist seduction than ever before. A grief conquered by faith becomes

a quiet resting place, and one secure against all assaults of despair. Keep

making daily some conquest, and so you will perfectly secure all that you

have won.


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