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Go to Bible: Joshua 13
Joshua 13. The main divisions of this chapter: Joshua 13:1-7 is a general description of the land that remained to be possessed by Israel. Joshua 13:8-14 are the general borders of the territory east of Jordan. Also, as the end of the chapter, this section ends describing that the Levites received no specific territory for an inheritance, only cities and fields around the cities. Joshua 13:15-33 describes the territory that was inherited by tribes of Israel in the Transjordan (the land east of the Jordan River). Joshua 13:15-23 describes the inheritance of the tribe of Reuben: the plateau. Joshua 13:24-28 describes the inheritance of the tribe of Gad, which was south-Gilead and the Jordan plain to the Sea of Galilee. Joshua 13:29-33 describes the inheritance of the half-tribe of Manasseh, which was north-Gilead and Bashan.
well advanced in years.” An idiom. The Hebrew is “come in days.” The same phrase occurs in Joshua 23:1. . Joshua died at 110 years old (Josh. 24:29, Judg. 2:8).
“the land that remains.” This is the land that remains to be conquered. This needs to be clear because some of the territory they did conquer they did not yet occupy, and in the years it was empty the Canaanites resettled it and it had to be reconquered.
all the regions of the Philistines and all the Geshurites. The next verses that speak of the land left to conquer are mainly speaking of the coastal areas of Israel, but in this verse the area of the Philistines and the area of the Geshurites are not close together. The Philistines are on the southern coast of Israel, while Geshur is quite a bit north of the Sea of Galilee. This is the first mention of the Philistines in the Book of Joshua. The Philistines descended from Ham via Mizraim, Canaan’s brother.(top)
“the Shihor.” This is some kind of body of water. It could be a river, or Fox calls it a lagoon. Because here it seems to be a southern border of Israel, some scholars think that Shihor is another name for the Wadi El-arish, the “river of Egypt” (Gen. 15:18; Num. 34:5; Josh. 15:4, 47), and this might be the case. Some scholars think it could be an eastern branch of the Nile. The Shihor is mentioned four times in the Bible (Josh 13:3; Isa 23:3; Jer 2:18 (translated “Nile”); 1 Chr 13:5), the precise identification is uncertain.
“which is counted as Canaanite.” The Philistines were not Canaanites, but the area they moved into was broadly considered Canaanite.
“the Gittites.” The inhabitants of Gath were referred to as “Gittites” (cp. Josh. 13:3; 2 Sam. 15:18). The Philistines had five ruling cities, and here in Joshua 13:3 we quite clearly see four of them, Gaze, Ashdod, Ashkelon, and Ekron, but the inhabitants of Gath are referred to as “Gittites,” not Gathites.
“the Avvim.” Inhabitants of the southern Philistine coastal plain, but a group that was not Philistines themselves. They were the early inhabitants of the south coastal region who were displaced from some of their holdings by the people of Caphtor (Deut 2:23), but who continued to live south of the Philistines in the time of the conquest (Josh 13:3) (cp. The Anchor Yale Bible Dictionary. “Avvim”).(top)
“and Mearah that belongs to the Sidonians.” Sidon is in the north of Israel; Mearah is unlocated, but would be somewhere between Tyre and Sidon.
“to Aphek.” The Hebrew word “aphek” means “source, spring,” so there is more than one site called Aphek (cp. 1 Sam. 29:1). This is likely the Aphek up north, just south of Acco. The Amorites did have a northern presence. North of the Amorites at this time could even be the Hittites.(top)
“the land of the Gebalites.” This territory is on the coast. From here the verse moves to the east.(top)
“even all the Sidonians. I will drive them out from before the children of Israel.” Israel never really gained any control of this northern land by Tyre and Sidon, and there is no record that they really ever attempted to conquer it.
“only allot it to Israel for an inheritance.” When it comes to the remaining land that Israel had not yet conquered, God told Joshua to divide it up and allot it to Israel and that they would have to possess it later.(top)
“divide this land.” Joshua divided the land by lot, by the Urim and Thummim in the breastplate of the High Priest.
“to the nine tribes and the half-tribe of Manasseh.” These are the tribes that settled in the land of Israel west of the Jordan River. The tribes of Reuben and Gad, and half of the tribe of Manasseh, settled in the Transjordan, east of the Jordan River and the Promised Land.(top)
“the other half of the tribe of Manasseh.” The Hebrew text simply reads “him,” and the reader is supposed to understand from the context and the history of Israel that the “him” is the half tribe of Manasseh that opted to stay on the east side of the Jordan River. The REV explained the “him” for clarity.
“beyond the Jordan toward the sunrise.” That is, beyond the Jordan and eastward.(top)
“from Aroer.” This verse is about the tribes east of the Jordan River.
“all the plateau.” This is actually a high plain, a plateau. The Hebrew comes from the word for “flat,” and from the context it refers to a high flat plain; a plateau.
“Dibon.” A city just north of the Arnon River gorge. It is where the Mesha stele was found.(top)
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“dispossessed.” This is the same word as “drive them out” (Josh. 13:6, 13), but here, because Moses struck down the people, it has a slightly different emphasis and thus means he dispossessed them; he took over their land.(top)
“drive out.” This is more than just “drive out.” God told Israel to kill the Canaanites, not just make them run away, but some of them did run away.
“Geshur.” An area in the north of Israel east and southeast of the Sea of Galilee. The land was given to Manasseh, but Manasseh did not drive out the inhabitants of Geshur or Maacath. Centuries later, David married Maacah, a princess of Geshur, and she bore David’s son Absalom (2 Sam. 3:3).
“Maacath.” Maacath was to the immediate south of Geshur in the tribal land given to Manasseh. During the reign of David, the king of Maacath sent 1,000 soldiers to help the Ammonites fight against David (2 Sam. 10:6-8; 1 Chron. 19:6-7).(top)
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“the slopes of Pisgah.” The slopes of Pisgah lead westward down to the Dead Sea.
“Beth-jeshimoth.” A site down in the Arabah east of the Jordan River.(top)
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“the one who practiced divination.” In Numbers 22-24 Balaam gave some amazing and accurate prophecies. However, he was fixated on personal enrichment and eventually resorted to using divination against Israel, and ended up being killed by the Israelites.(top)
“was the bank of the Jordan.” The Reubenites got a little piece of the bank of the Jordan River; the rest of their western border was the Dead Sea.(top)
“tribe.” The Hebrew is more literally, “staff.” The leader of the tribe had a staff, and here that staff is put by metonymy for the tribe itself.(top)
“Aroer.” This is a different Aroer from the one mentioned that is on the southern side of Reuben’s territory (Josh. 12:2; 13:16; Deut. 2:36). Aroer is the name of a plant that grows in the desert, and so a few different arid towns were named “Aroer.”
“that is before Rabbah.” From Gad’s perspective, Rabbah is east of Gad’s eastern border. The Israelites were told they could not have the territory of Moab or Ammon. The Ammonites would have normally taken the land west to the Jordan River, but the Amorites kept them to the east.(top)
“Ramath-mizpeh.” This could be the Mizpeh where Laban and Jacob made their covenant to peace (Gen. 31:49; spelled slightly differently in Genesis but only because of a vowel point that was added later). Ramath-mizpeh means, “the viewing height.” It was a high place on the north bank of the Jabbok River.(top)
“and in the valley.” This refers to the east side of the Jordan Valley. For some reason, the tribe of Gad had a strip of land that ran from the main portion of their tribal area east of the Jordan river all along the Jordan River Valley all the way north to the Sea of Galilee. In contrast, the half-tribe of Manasseh did not have any land along the Jordan River. There is no explanation given for why the land was divided like this.
“Beth-haram, Beth-nimrah.” Beth-haram and Beth-nimrah are some five or a little more miles north of the Dead Sea. This means that the territory Reuben had in the Rift Valley was quite small. Eventually Gad intermixed and even took over some of the towns originally allotted to Reuben on the Plateau.
“Sea of Chinnereth.” This is better known as the Sea of Galilee. The word Chinnereth means “harp,” and the Sea of Galilee is shaped like a harp, hence the name. The Sea of Galilee is small, actually it is a lake, and the entire lake can be seen from the cliffs on both the east and west side of the lake, so the shape can be easily seen.(top)
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“from Mahanaim.” Mahanaim was on the Jabbok River and was the south border of the half-tribe of Manasseh that was on the east side of the Jordan River.
“all the towns of Jair.” Jair is the son of Manasseh whose clans inherited the northern towns within the territory of the half-tribe of Manasseh (Num. 32:40-41)(top)
“were for the children of Machir the son of Manasseh.” The clan of Machir, the son of Manasseh, inherited the towns in the southern part of the inheritance of the half-tribe of Manasseh. Machir was the eldest of Manasseh’s two sons (Gen 50:23. Cf. Num 32:39-40, Deu 3:15; Josh. 17:1, 3).
“even for the half of the children of Machir.” Some of the descendants of Machir lived on the west side of the Jordan.(top)
“in the plains of Moab beyond the Jordan.” Moses alloted the land east of the Jordan to the Transjordan tribes while he was still alive. The event is not recorded in Scripture, but Moses was in the plains of Moab (Num. 26:3; 31:12; 33:49-50).
“beyond the Jordan, east of Jericho.” This tells us that Moses was encamped in the plains of Moab north of the Dead Sea, and east from Jericho.(top)
“to the tribe of Levi Moses gave no inheritance.” The Levites got towns to live in, but no tribal territory as an inheritance like the other tribes. Furthermore, the towns of the Levites were scattered throughout all the tribal areas of Israel.
“Yahweh the God of Israel is their inheritance.” This is a powerful statement, almost as if Yahweh belongs to the Levites instead of the Levites belonging to Yahweh.(top)