Joshua Chapter 12
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Go to Bible: Joshua 12
“Now these are the kings of the land whom the children of Israel struck.” Joshua 12 contains a summary of the conquests of Israel. The description is divided into two parts, the east of Jordan, then the west of Jordan. The repetition of the word “king” over and over is emphatic and suggests the subjugation and removal of human kings and human rule and government when the inheritance is given to Yahweh’s people. The men that humans call kings are removed. Eventually, all over the earth man’s kings and rulers will be removed and Yahweh will give authority to His Son.
“beyond the Jordan toward the sunrise.” The phrase “beyond the Jordan” in this context means to the east of the Jordan River; on the east side of the Jordan River. Israel was now west of the Jordan River, in the land promised to Abraham, so “beyond the Jordan” meant east of the Jordan River. The phrase “beyond the Jordan” gets used both to mean the east side of the Jordan and to mean the west side of the Jordan; the reader must determine the perspective of the writer in any given context. Joshua 12:1-6 describes the territory that Israel inherited east of the Jordan River, while Joshua 12:7-24 describes the territory that Israel inherited west of the Jordan River.(top)
“edge of the Arnon River valley.” The city of Aroer is south of Heshbon and on the north side of the Arnon River valley (which often is more of a canyon than what we normally think of as a valley, which is wider and does not necessarily have steep sides).
“and half of Gilead (as far as to the Jabbok River valley).” This is to the north. So Joshua 12:2 describes Sihon’s territory to the south first, then to the north. The Jabbok River goes eastward from the Jordan River but then swings southward to Rabbah, the ancient capital of the Ammonites.
“the border of the children of Ammon.” The Ammonites were descended from Abraham’s nephew Lot, and God gave the territory of the Ammonites to them and did not allow Israel to attack or try to conquer it (Deut. 2:19).(top)
“Sea of Chinneroth.” The Old Testament name for the Sea of Galilee. The name is plural here in Joshua 12:3. For more on the name, see commentary on Deut. 3:17.
“sea of the Arabah, even the Salt Sea.” The Arabah is the rift valley through which the Jordan River runs. The Sea of the Arabah is the Salt Sea, the Dead Sea, but the “Dead Sea” is never called the Dead Sea in the Bible. Rather, it is referred to by a characteristic that was more identifiable at the time, and called the “Salt Sea” or the “Sea of the Arabah.” The surface of the Dead Sea is the lowest place on the face of the earth, about 1300 feet below sea level.
“Beth-jeshimoth.” Beth-jeshimoth is below and west of Mount Nebo close to the north part of the Dead Sea.
“on the south under the slopes of Pisgah.” Sihon did not rule as far south right at the Dead Sea as he rules further east, on the plateau, where he rules to the Arnon River valley.(top)
“lived.” The Hebrew is literally “sat,” and it can refer to living in a place or ruling there, sitting on a throne. Here it likely means both.
“Og king of Bashan, of the remnant of the Rephaim.” The king of Bashan, Og, was one of the Rephaim, the descendants of Rapha, who was one of Nephilim, the “fallen ones” of Genesis 6:4. The conquest of Og and his kingdom is in Deuteronomy 3.
[For more on the Nephilim, see commentary on Gen. 6:4.](top)
“Salecah.” A city quite a distance east of the Jordan.(top)
“Moses the servant of Yahweh.” This phrase is repeated twice in close proximity to show that the inheritance was from Yahweh and Moses was being obedient to Him.(top)
“These are the kings of the land.” The book of Joshua now switches its attention from the territory east of the Jordan River to the territory west of the Jordan River, the land promised to Abraham west of the Jordan River. Joshua 12:1-6 described the territory that Israel inherited east of the Jordan River, and now Joshua 12:7-24 describes the territory that Israel inherited west of the Jordan River.
“Joshua and the children of Israel struck.” Like Moses was on the east side of the Jordan, Joshua is now Yahweh’s representative, and ultimately it is Yahweh who gives the land to Israel (cp. Num. 14:8, Joshua 1:2, 11, 8:1, etc.). Some of these places were conquered and lived in. Others were just conquered but Joshua’s army moved on and the Israelites were not able to occupy them at the time, and sometimes in those cases the Canaanites moved back into the cities and they had to be conquered again later.
“westward.” The Hebrew can also be understood as “toward the (Mediterranean) Sea.”
“from Baal-gad in the valley of Lebanon even to Mount Halak that goes up to Seir.” Baal-gad is in the north part of Israel, while Mount Halak is in the far south of Israel (cp. Josh. 11:17).
“Joshua gave it.” The “it” is the land, as is clear from the context.(top)
|Jos 12:8||- (top)|
“the king of.” The repetition of the phrase “the king of” over and over is the figure of speech anaphora (“the same sentence (or phrase) beginnings”) and it emphasizes each individual phrase as well as in this case emphasizing the human kings that Joshua removed, which is a foreshadowing of the work of Christ who will remove all human kings and reign from Zion over the whole earth as Yahweh’s sole king and agent.
[See figure of speech “anaphora.”](top)
“king of Jerusalem.” Jerusalem was not conquered by Israel until the time of David, so it seems that the king of Jerusalem must have come out of the city but been defeated in a battle in the field.(top)
|Jos 12:11||- (top)|
|Jos 12:12||- (top)|
|Jos 12:13||- (top)|
|Jos 12:14||- (top)|
|Jos 12:15||- (top)|
|Jos 12:16||- (top)|
“Tappuah.” Along with Tirzah in Joshua 12:24, the only other site listed that is in Samaria Hill Country.(top)
|Jos 12:18||- (top)|
“king of Hazor.” A number of cities in this list were apparently conquered by Joshua, but because the army of Joshua stayed together and traveled together to conquer city after city they had no occupation force to occupy the cities they conquered, and after a while, the Canaanites moved back in. In this case, Hazor was again a Canaanite stronghold in Judges 4-5, and there is no indication that the Canaanites had to reconquer the city from Israel.(top)
|Jos 12:20||- (top)|
|Jos 12:21||- (top)|
|Jos 12:22||- (top)|
“in Gilgal.” This is not the Gilgal that was Joshua’s camp, but must be another Gilgal.(top)
“Tirzah.” Along with Tappuah, Tirzah is the only other city in the hill country of Samaria that is listed (cp. Josh. 12:17).(top)