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  • ADAM CLARKE'S BIBLE COMMENTARY -
    NUMBERS 34

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    CHAPTER XXXIV

    The land of Canaan is described, 1, 2. The south quarter, 3- 5. The western border, 6. The north border, 7-9. The east border, 10-12. This land to be divided by lot among the nine tribes and half, 13; two tribes and half, Reuben and Gad, and the half of Manasseh, having already got their inheritance on the east side of Jordan, 14, 15. Eleazar the priest, and Joshua, to assist in dividing the land, 16, 17; and with them a chief out of every tribe, 18. The names of the twelve chiefs, 19-29.

    NOTES ON CHAP. XXXIV

    Verse 2. "The land of Canaan with the coasts thereof" - All description here is useless. The situation and boundaries of the land of Canaan can only be known by actual survey, or by consulting a good map.

    Verse 3. "The salt sea" - The Dead Sea, or lake Asphaltites. See the note on "Gen. xix. 25".

    Verse 5. "The river of Egypt" - The eastern branch of the river Nile; or, according to others, a river which is south of the land of the Philistines, and fails into the gulf or bay near Calieh.

    Verse 6. "Ye shall even have the great sea for a border" - The Mediterranean Sea, called here the Great Sea, to distinguish it from the Dead Sea, the Sea of Tiberias, &c., which were only a sort of lakes. In Hebrew there is properly but one term, y yam, which is applied to all collections of water apparently stagnant, and which is generally translated sea. The Greek of the New Testament follows the Hebrew, and employs, in general, the word qalassa, SEA, whether it speaks of the Mediterranean, or of the sea or lake of Galilee.

    Verse 11. "The sea of Chinnereth" - The same as the sea of Galilee, sea of Tiberias, and sea of Gennesareth.

    Verse 12. "The border shall go down to Jordan" - This river is famous both in the Old and New Testaments. It takes its rise at the foot of Mount Libanus, passes through the sea of Chinnereth or Tiberias, and empties itself into the lake Asphaltites or Dead Sea, from which it has no outlet. In and by it God wrought many miracles. God cut off the waters of this river as he did those of the Red Sea, so that they stood on a heap on each side, and the people passed over on dry ground. Both Elijah and Elisha separated its waters in a miraculous way, 2 Kings ii. 8-14. Naaman, the Syrian general, by washing in it at the command of the prophet, was miraculously cured of his leprosy, 2 Kings v. 10-14. In this river John baptized great multitudes of Jews; and in it was CHRIST himself baptized, and the Spirit of God descended upon him, and the voice from heaven proclaimed him the great and only Teacher and saviour of men, Matt. iii. 16, 17; Mark i. 5-11.

    Verse 13. "This is the land which ye shall inherit by lot" - Much of what is said concerning this land is peculiarly emphatic. It is a land that contains a multitude of advantages in its climate, its soil, situation, &c. It is bounded on the south by a ridge of mountains, which separate it from Arabia, and screen it from the burning and often pestiferous winds which blow over the desert from that quarter. On the west it is bounded by the Mediterranean Sea; on the north, by Mount Libanus, which defends it from the cold northern blasts; and on the east by the river Jordan, and its fertile, well-watered plains. It is described by God himself as "a good land, a land of brooks of water, of fountains, and depths that spring out of valleys and hills; a land of wheat, and barley, and vines, and fig trees, and pomegranates; a land of olive oil and honey; a land wherein there was no scarcity of bread, and where both iron and copper mines abounded," Deut. viii. 7-i10: a land finely diversified with hills and valleys, and well watered by the rain of heaven, in this respect widely different from Egypt; a land which God cared for, on which his eyes were continually placed from the beginning to the end of the year; watched over by a most merciful Providence; in a word, a land which flowed with milk and honey, and was the most pleasant of all lands; Deut. xi. 11, 12; Ezek. xx. 6. Such was the land, and such were the advantages that this most favoured people were called to possess. They were called to possess it by lot that each might be satisfied with his possession, as considering it to be appointed to him by the especial providence of God; and its boundaries were ascertained on Divine authority, to prevent all covetousness after the territories of others.

    Verse 19. "&c. And the names of the men-are these" - It is worthy of remark that Moses does not follow any order hitherto used of placing the tribes, neither that in chap. 1., nor that in chap. 7., nor that in chap. 26., nor any other; but places them here exactly in that order in which they possessed the land. 1. Judah; 2. Simeon; 3. Benjamin; 4. Dan; 5. Manasseh; 6. Ephraim; 7. Zebulun; 8. Issachar; 9. Asher; 10. Naphtali. Judah is first, having the first lot; and he dwelt in the south part of the land, Josh. xv. 1, &c.; and next to him Simeon, because his inheritance was within the inheritance of the children of Judah, Josh. xix. 1. Benjamin was third; he had his inheritance by Judah, between the children of Judah and the children of Joseph, Josh. xviii. 11. Dan was the fourth; his lot fell westward of that of Benjamin, in the country of the Philistines, as may be seen in Josh. xix. 40, 41, &c. Fifth, Manasseh; and sixth, by him, his brother Ephraim, whose inheritances were behind that of Benjamin, Josh. xvi. 7.

    Next to these dwelt, seventh, Zebulun; and eighth, Issachar; concerning whose lots see Josh. xix. 10-17. Ninth, Asher; and tenth, Naphtali; see Josh. xix. 24, 32, &c. And as in encamping about the tabernacle they were arranged according to their fraternal relationship, (see chap. 2.,) so they were in the division and inheriting of the promised land. Judah and Simeon, both sons of Leah, dwelt abreast of each other. Benjamin, son of Rachel, and Dan, son of Rachel's maid, dwelt next abreast. Manasseh and Ephraim, both sons of Joseph, son of Rachel, had the next place abreast.

    Zebulun and Issachar, who dwelt next together, were both sons of Leah; and the last pair were Asher, of Leah's maid, and Naphtali, of Rachel's maid. Thus God, in nominating princes that should divide the land, signified beforehand the manner of their possession, and that they should be so situated as to dwell together as brethren in unity, for the mutual help and comfort of each other. See Ainsworth. In this arrangement there is much skill, judgment, and kindness every where displayed.

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