Joshua 12:1: Kings Conquered by Moses, Part 1

[1452 BC] Verse 1:[1] Now these are the kings of the land, which the children of Israel smote, and possessed their land on the other side Jordan toward the rising of the sun, (Num. 21:24) from the river Arnon (Deut. 3:8, 9) unto mount Hermon, and all the plain on the east…

[These are the kings] Because the intention is to set forth hereafter the distribution of the whole land, he first sets in view all the places that pertain to the distribution, and that by the naming of the Kings rather than the places. For this is both more advantageous for a brief narration, because many places were under one King; and more illustrative of the glory of the victory, since among the Nations the name and dignity of the King was always the greatest (Masius). Each one’s kingdom was confined within its own heartland, says Justinus[2] concerning the most ancient times. Now, Strabo speaks particularly concerning these peoples, Τὸ παλαιὸν μὲν οὖν οἱ Ἀράδιοι καθ᾽ αὑτοὺς ἐβασιλεύοντο παραπλησίως, ὥσπερ καὶ τῶν ἄλλων ἑκάστη πόλεων τῶν Φοινικίδων, In ancient times the Aradii (the Kings) were ruling near each other, just like also all the Phœnician cities[3] (Grotius).

[From the torrent Arnon (thus Symmachus, Pagnine, Drusius, Masius), מִנַּ֤חַל אַרְנוֹן֙] From the stream, or river (Junius and Tremellius). Thus Josephus’ Antiquities 4:4, and others (Drusius). Thus נַחַל is taken in Ecclesiastes 1:7[4] (Hebrews in Drusius). A river is called נָהָר, and it runs continually: a torrent is called נַחַל, which is dried in the summer. But נַחַל also signifies river (Drusius). נַחַל is a place more deeply depressed into a sort of trough, whether there be water in it, or not (Masius, Drusius). The Arnon separated the Moabites from the Trans-jordanian Amorites, Numbers 21:13 (Masius).

[Unto mount Hermon] That Hermon is part of Libanus towards the East is demonstrated from this verse (Masius). That Trans-jordanian region is contained by two borders, the Arnon in the south, and Hermon in the North (Bonfrerius).

[And all the eastern plain, etc., וְכָל־הָעֲרָבָ֖ה מִזְרָֽחָה׃] And all the land of Arabah on the east (Septuagint); and all the fields, etc. (Junius and Tremellius), or plain, etc. (Masius, Drusius, Jonathan, Syriac, Arabic, Symmachus in Masius). For so that place was described in Deuteronomy 3:8-10, …all the cities הַמִּישֹׁר, that is, of the plain (Masius, Drusius). This plain is what is wont often to be called the fields of Moab, that is, those plains that, extending upward from Arnon, lie between Jordan on the left and the Arabian mountains on the right. Question: Whether it was lawful for the Israelites to settle on the other side of Jordan in these places, since the promises appear to have regard to the land that was enclosed by Jordan? For it was as a punishment for rebellion that Moses and Aaron were not able to enter into the latter. Wherefore to occupy that region appears to be nothing other than to annul the borders of the inheritance established by God, and to divide the body of the Church. Response: That that Trans-jordanian part pertains to the Promised Land appears to be able thence to be gathered; 1. that the Canaanites were to be expelled; but the Amorites (of whom Sihon and Og were Kings[5]) were Canaanites.[6] 2. From Deuteronomy 2:24, …begin to possess….[7] He appears to say distinctly that the possession of the Promised land is to take its beginning here. For יָרַשׁ is wont to signify the right of inheritance. God did not speak so concerning the land of the Amalekites, neither were the Israelites asking for that.[8] Now, that the land across Jordan is generally presented as the Promised Land alone, since a crossing of Jordan is determined in advance for the people, one may suppose to have been done for these reasons, both because that was the principal portion, and because the mystery of human Salvation was formerly designed to be revealed in it, and for this reason also, that the sanctuary of God was established there. Therefore, since that part alone was hallowed for sacred worship, Moses and Aaron were possessed of the greatest desire to see it, and esteemed it as a punishment that it was denied to them. Add that Moses was concerned about the outcome of the promises because of some new obstinacy of the people, etc. You will say, If those kingdoms of Sihon and Og, into which Moses had already led the people, had pertained to the Promised Land, he was able in great measure to be to be relieved of that concern. But this is not so. For this part was only going to be the people’s by right of inheritance, when that other, holier part across Jordan was occupied, and the worship of God was established in it, Numbers 32:22, 29. You will say, if these things were so, why did Moses so sharply inveigh against the Tribes that asked for this part? Response: He does not accuse them so severely because they asked that land for an inheritance, but because they said, Do not make us cross over Jordan:[9] For in this way they were able to deter the rest from crossing. Now, this part, as already mentioned, was not able to be obtained as an inheritance without the other. And, since they were promising that they were going to cross over, etc., they obtain what they were asking with perfect ease, neither does Moses charge them either with violating the covenant of God, or moving the bounds of the inheritance, or rending the body of the Church. At the same time, I would not argue, if one should think that the two Tribes, etc., placed the covenant of God after their interests; but that God in His secret counsel enlarged the old promise with a new liberality, and at the same time pardoned them for their fault, that is He turned their secret lust into an occasion of His illustrious kindness unto all. Meanwhile, notice that God willed that the richest Tribes remain outside of the Holier land. Thus Matthew 19:24, the rich do not easily enter into heaven (Masius).

On the other side Jordan…all the plain of the east: On the east of Jordan, called the plain, Deuteronomy 1:1, and the plains of Moab, Deuteronomy 34:1.

[1] Hebrew: וְאֵ֣לֶּה׀ מַלְכֵ֣י הָאָ֗רֶץ אֲשֶׁ֙ר הִכּ֤וּ בְנֵֽי־יִשְׂרָאֵל֙ וַיִּֽרְשׁ֣וּ אֶת־אַרְצָ֔ם בְּעֵ֥בֶר הַיַּרְדֵּ֖ן מִזְרְחָ֣ה הַשָּׁ֑מֶשׁ מִנַּ֤חַל אַרְנוֹן֙ עַד־הַ֣ר חֶרְמ֔וֹן וְכָל־הָעֲרָבָ֖ה מִזְרָֽחָה׃

[2] Philippic History 1:1:3.

[3] Geography 16:2:14.

[4] Ecclesiastes 1:7:  “All the rivers (הַנְּחָלִים) run into the sea; yet the sea is not full; unto the place from whence the rivers (שֶׁהַנְּחָלִים) come, thither they return again.”

[5] See Numbers 32:22; Deuteronomy 4:47.

[6] See Genesis 10:15, 16.

[7] Deuteronomy 2:24:  “Rise ye up, take your journey, and pass over the river Arnon:  behold, I have given into thine hand Sihon the Amorite, king of Heshbon, and his land:  begin to possess it (הָחֵ֣ל רָ֑שׁ), and contend with him in battle.”

[8] The Amalekites appear to have lived on the southern border of Canaan and southward.  See Exodus 17.

[9] Numbers 32:5.

1 thought on “Joshua 12:1: Kings Conquered by Moses, Part 1

  1. Matthew Henry: “Joshua, or whoever else is the historian before he comes to sum up the new conquests Israel had made, in these verses recites their former conquests in Moses’s time, under whom they became masters of the great and potent kingdoms of Sihon and Og. Note, Fresh mercies must not drown the remembrance of former mercies, nor must the glory of the present instruments of good to the church be suffered to eclipse and diminish the just honour of those who have gone before them, and who were the blessings and ornaments of their day. Joshua’s services and achievements are confessedly great, but let not those under Moses be overlooked and forgotten, since God was the same who wrought both, and both put together proclaim him the Alpha and Omega of Israel’s great salvation.”

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