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This chapter gives a short account of the conquests made by the Israelites, both in the times of Moses and of Joshua, and first of the kingdom of Sihon and Og on the other side Jordan, in the times of Moses, and which he gave to the two tribes of Reuben and Gad, and the half tribe of Manasseh, and which are particularly described, ( Joshua 12:1-6); and then of the kings and the countries on this side Jordan whom Joshua conquered, ( Joshua 12:7,8); and the names of the thirty one kingdoms are recited, that so it might be exactly known and observed what were afterwards divided among the tribes and possessed by them, ( Joshua 12:9-24).
Ver. 1 . Now these [are] the kings of the land which the children of Israel smote , etc.] In the days of Moses, as Jarchi remarks, and as it clearly appears from what follows: and possessed, their land on the other side Jordan toward the rising of the sun ; on the east of the land of Canaan: from the river Arnon unto the mount Hermon, and all the plain on the east ; Arnon was the border of Moab between them and the Amorites, ( Numbers 21:13); and from hence to Hermon, a mountain adjoining to Lebanon, lay the country of the two kings of the Amorites after mentioned, ( Deuteronomy 3:8,9); and the plain on the east were the plains of Moab, which lay to the east of Jordan.
Ver. 2 . Sihon king of the Amorites, who dwelt in Heshbon , etc.] Which he took from the Moabites, and made his capital city, ( Numbers 21:26); [and] ruled from Aroer, which [is] upon the bank of the river of Arnon ; a city of Moab, which never fell into the hands of Sihon, and therefore he is said to rule from it but not over it: and from the middle of the river ; that is, the river Arnon, which being the boundary of the Moabites and Amorites, the king of the Amorites might be said to rule from the middle of it: and from half Gilead even unto the river Jabbok, [which is] the border of the children of Ammon ; so it is said to be, ( Deuteronomy 3:16); it should be rendered, not “from half Gilead”, but “and half Gilead”, as it is in the Hebrew text, and so in the Targum; for half Gilead belonged to the kingdom of Sihon, as the other half did to the kingdom of Og, as in ( Joshua 12:5); and so Jarchi remarks.
Ver. 3 . And from the plain , etc.] Or rather, “and the plain”, the plains of Moab, which, before possessed by the Israelites, belonged to the kingdom of Sihon; and the plains of Jordan, which reached to the sea of Cinneroth on the east ; the same with the lake of Gennesaret, and sea of Tiberias, mentioned in the New Testament, ( Matthew 14:34 Mark 6:53 Luke 5:1 John 6:1 21:1): and unto the sea of the plain ; where stood the cities of the plain, Sodom, Gomorrah, etc. [even] the salt sea on the east ; the same with the dead sea, into which the plain the above cities stood on was converted: the way to Bethjeshimoth ; which was a place in the plains of Moab, ( Numbers 33:49); and from the south under Ashdothpisgah ; or the springs of Pisgah, which flowed from the mount of that name, ( Deuteronomy 3:17 4:49).
Ver. 4 . And the coast of Og king of Bashan , etc.] The country that he reigned over, who was another king of the Amorites, smitten by Israel in the times of Moses: [which was] of the remnant of the giants ; (see Gill on “ Deuteronomy 3:11”): that dwelt at Ashtaroth and at Edrei ; of which two places (see Deuteronomy 1:4); it seems as if Og had a palace in each of those cities, and sometimes was at one and sometimes at another, as is usual with kings.
Ver. 5 . And reigned in Mount Hermon , etc.] That is, over all the people that inhabited that mount or dwelt under it, ( Joshua 11:17), and adjacent to it, of which mountain, (see Gill on “ Deuteronomy 3:8-9”) and in Salcah : which was a city belonging to the kingdom of Og, ( Deuteronomy 3:10); and in all Bashan ; or Batanea, a country famous for pasturage, ( Micah 7:14 Jeremiah 50:19), and for fat cattle, ( Ezekiel 39:18), and for oaks, ( Isaiah 2:13 Ezekiel 27:6 Zechariah 11:2), frequently mentioned in Scripture: unto the border of the Geshurites, and the Maachathites ; which were two nations the Israelites never expelled, ( Joshua 13:13); of which (see Deuteronomy 3:14); and half Gilead ; which belonged to Og, as the other half did to Sihon, before observed, which was as follows: the border of Sihon king of Heshbon ; here the two kingdoms joined, even in the midst of Gilead, which was divided between them, but now wholly fell into the hands of Israel.
Ver. 6 . Them did Moses the servant of the Lord, and the children of Israel, smite , etc.] That is, the inhabitants of those kingdoms they smote with the edge of the sword, and took possession of them, the history of which see in ( Numbers 21:1-3,21-35); and Moses the servant of the Lord gave it ; the whole dominion of the two kings before mentioned: [for] a possession unto the Reubenites, and the Gadites, and the half tribe of Manasseh : of which grant, and the conditions of it, (see Numbers 32:1-42).
Ver. 7 . And these [are] the kings of the country , etc.] After particularly named, ( Joshua 12:9-24): which Joshua and the children of Israel smote on this side Jordan on the west ; that is, on the west of Jordan: from Baalgad, in the valley of Lebanon, even unto the mount Halak , that goeth up to Seir ; of which (see Joshua 11:17); which Joshua gave unto the tribes of Israel [for] a possession , according to their divisions ; as after related in this book.
Ver. 8 . In the mountains, and in the valleys, and in the plains, and in the springs, and in the wilderness, and in the south country , etc.] Which is a description of the whole land of Canaan; some parts of which were hills and mountains, others vales and champaign fields; others were dry and barren, and others well watered; some part of it lay to the north, as towards Lebanon, and others to the south, towards Seir: the Hittites, the Amorites, and the Canaanites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites ; which were the nations that inhabited the land of Canaan before it was taken and possessed by the Israelites.
Ver. 9 . The king of Jericho, one , etc.] Who was first taken, and so named first, ( Joshua 6:21); the king of Ai, which [is] beside Bethel, one ; who was next taken and though Bethel was so near Ai, it had a king of its own, after mentioned, (see Joshua 7:1-8:29).
Ver. 10 . The king of Jerusalem, one , etc.] Whose name was Adonizedek, and was one of the five kings taken and hanged, ( Joshua 10:1,26); the king of Hebron, one ; another of the five kings, whose name was Hoham, ( Joshua 10:3).
Ver. 11 . The king of Jarmuth, one , etc.] Whose name was Piram, a third of the five kings before observed, ( Joshua 10:3); the king of Lachish, one ; another of them, whose name was Japhia, ( Joshua 10:3).
Ver. 12 . The king of Eglon, one , etc.] The last of the five kings, and his name was Debir, ( Joshua 10:3); the king of Gezer, one ; who came up to help Lachish, and his name was Horam, ( Joshua 10:33).
Ver. 13 . The king of Debir, one , etc.] The same with Kirjathsepher, of which place, (see Gill on “ Joshua 10:38”); the king of Geder, one : Jerom seems to confound this with the tower of Eder, beyond which Jacob pitched his tent, ( Genesis 35:21); and he speaks of a Gaddera in the tribe of Judah, in his time a village belonging to the country about Aelia or Jerusalem, and of Gahedur in the tribe of Judah, a large village, ten miles from Diospolis or Lydda, as you go to Eleutheropolis: it seems to be the same with Gederah, ( Joshua 15:36), or Gedor, ( Joshua 15:58).
Ver. 14 . The king of Hormah, one , etc.] Which was formerly called Zephath, ( Judges 1:17); (see Joshua 15:3); the king of Arad, one ; perhaps the same with Arath, which, Jerom says, is the border of the land of Judah, and is twenty miles distant from Hebron to the south; (see Numbers 21:1 Judges 1:16).
Ver. 15 . The king of Libnah, one , etc.] Taken at the same time as the kings of Makkedah, Debir, and of other places were, ( Joshua 10:29,30); the king of Adullam, one ; a city in the tribe of Judah, ( Joshua 15:35); Jerom says there was a village in his time, not a small one, called by this name, ten miles to the east of Eleutheropolis: near to this place was a cave where David hid himself when he fled from Saul, ( 1 Samuel 22:1); (see Gill on “ Micah 1:15”).
Ver. 16 . The king of Makkedah, one , etc.] In a cave near to which five kings hid themselves, and were taken out and hanged, and the city afterwards was taken by Joshua, ( Joshua 10:16); which fell to the lot of the tribe of Judah, ( Joshua 15:41); the king of Bethel, one ; a city near to Ai, about a mile from it, and yet had a king over it: it was taken at the same time that Ai was, ( Joshua 7:2 8:17); and fell to the lot of Benjamin, ( Joshua 18:22).
Ver. 17 . The king of Tappuah, one , etc.] Which Jerom calls Thaffu; it signifies an apple, and perhaps had its name from plenty of that fruit that grew there: a city of this name fell to the tribe of Judah, ( Joshua 15:34); where also was another place called Bethtappuah, ( Joshua 15:53); and both different from another Tappuah on the border of Manasseh, which belonged to the tribe of Ephraim, ( Joshua 17:8); by some thought to be meant here: the king of Hepher, one ; mention is made of Gittahhepher as on the border of Zebulun, ( Joshua 19:13); the same with Gathhepher, of which place was the Prophet Jonah, ( 2 Kings 14:25); and of the land of Hepher in ( 1 Kings 4:10); which is said by Jerom to be in the same tribe, and not far from Diocaesarea or Zippore; and we read of a Chepher or Hepher in the Jewish writings f259 , which, according to the account of it there given, could not be far from the same place, at least it must be less than twelve miles from it.
Ver. 18 . The king of Aphek, one , etc.] There was a place called Aphekah in the tribe of Judah, ( Joshua 15:53); and an Aphek that was on the border of the Amorites, ( Joshua 13:4); and another in the tribe of Asher, ( Joshua 19:30); but Adrichomius places this Aphek in the tribe of Issachar, whose king Joshua smote, and takes it to be the same place where the Philistines in the times of Samuel and David brought their armies against Israel, ( 1 Samuel 4:1 29:1); and where the king of Syria fought against Israel, ( 1 Kings 20:26); and says that its ruins were now shown in the great plain not far from Gilboa to the east of Mount Carmel, and five miles from Tabor: the king of Lasharon, one ; which, according to the Vulgate Latin version, is the same with Saron, which, in ( Acts 9:35), in some copies is called Assaron; so Adrichomius f261 , who places it in the tribe of Ephraim, and takes it to be the same Sharon Isaiah speaks of, ( Isaiah 33:9 35:2); and of which Jerom says f262 , to this day there is a country between Tabor and the lake of Tiberias called Saronas, and also that from Caesarea of Palestine to the town of Joppa, all the land that is seen bears that name.
Ver. 20 . The king of Shimronmeron, one , etc.] (see Joshua 11:1): this place fell to the tribe of Zebulun, ( Joshua 19:15); the king of Achshaph, one ; (see Joshua 11:1); this city fell to the lot of Asher, ( Joshua 19:25).
Ver. 21 . The king of Taanach, one , etc.] It was in the tribe of Manasseh, ( Joshua 17:11); Jerom says f263 , in his time it was a large village, distant from Legion on the plain of Esdraelon three miles: the king of Megiddo, one ; which belonged to the same tribe, ( Joshua 17:11); near this place were some waters where the Canaanites fought with the Israelites, ( Judges 5:19); and a valley where Josiah was slain, ( Chronicles 35:22).
Ver. 22 . The king of Kedesh, one , etc.] Which afterwards fell to the tribe of Naphtali, and was one of the cities of refuge, ( Joshua 19:37) ( Joshua 20:7); it was situated in upper Galilee on Mount Naphtali, four miles from the city of Sephet, and as many from Capernaum, and twenty miles from Tyre f264 : the king of Jokneam of Carmel, one ; a city that came to the lot of the tribe of Zebulun, ( Joshua 19:11); and was given to the Levites, ( Joshua 21:34); it was not far from Mount Carmel, from whence it is described.
Ver. 23 . The king of Dor, in the coast of Dor, one , etc.] Of which (see Joshua 11:2); it fell to the lot of Manasseh, but never was possessed by them, as were not Taanach and Megiddo, before mentioned, ( Joshua 17:11) ( Judges 1:27); the king of the nations of Gilgal, one ; not the place where Joshua encamped after he had passed Jordan, for that was then no city; the Septuagint version renders it the land of Galilee; and Dr. Lightfoot is of opinion that Galilee is meant, and in the Apocrypha: ``Who went forth by the way that leadeth to Galgala, and pitched their tents before Masaloth, which is in Arbela, and after they had won it, they slew much people.” (1 Maccabees 9:2) Galgala is spoken of as near to Arbel, a city in Galilee: Jerom takes this to be the same with Glagulis, which in his time was a village six miles from Antipatris to the north.
Ver. 24 . The king of Tirzah, one , etc.] To what tribe this place fell is nowhere said: Adrichomius places it in the tribe of Manasseh; and so does Bunting f268 , who says of it, that it was a fair and beautiful city, situated on a high and pleasant mountain, in the tribe of Manasseh, twenty four miles from Jerusalem to the north: here Jeroboam had his royal seat, and so his successors unto Omri, ( 1 Kings 14:17 15:33) ( 1 Kings 16:6,8,9,15,17,23); and Dr Lightfoot seems to suspect as if Shechem in Mount Ephraim and Tirzah were the same; for, he says, if Shechem and Tirzah were not one and the same town, it appears that Jeroboam had removed his court, when his son died, from where it was when he first erected his idols; compare ( 1 Kings 12:25), with ( 1 Kings 14:17); and so it may argue that there was some space between: it was, no doubt, a very pleasant and beautiful city, as not only appears from its name, but from the allusion to it in ( Song of Solomon 6:4); all the kings thirty and one : it may seem strange that, in so small a country as Canaan was, there should be so many kings in it, since the length of it from Dan to Beersheba was scarce an hundred sixty miles, as Jerom f270 says; who further observes, that he was ashamed to give the breadth of it, lest it should give occasion to Heathens to blaspheme; for, adds he, from Joppa to our little village Bethlehem (where they then were) were forty six miles, to which succeeded only a vast desert: but it may be observed, that in ancient times, in other countries, there were a great many kings, as here in Britain, and in France, Spain, and Germany, as Bishop Patrick has observed from several writers; and Strabo testifies the same of the cities of Phoenicia or Canaan, that they had each of them separate kings, as Joshua here describes them.