Joshua 12:3: Kings Conquered by Moses, Part 3

Verse 3:[1] And (Deut. 3:17) from the plain to the sea of Chinneroth on the east, and unto the sea of the plain, even the salt sea on the east, (Josh. 13:20) the way to Beth-jeshimoth; and from the south (or, Teman[2]), under (Deut. 3:17; 4:49) Ashdoth-pisgah (or, the springs of Pisgah, or, the hill[3])…

[And from the wilderness unto the sea of Chinneroth] Here the Northern and Western border of the kingdom of Sihon is described (Bonfrerius).

[וְהָעֲרָבָה] And to the field (Malvenda); and to the fields (Junius and Tremellius); and in the plain (Masius). It is called planities solitudinis, a plain of wilderness, in Deuteronomy 3:17.[4] Evidently this is a plain that runs from East to West (as does also the very torrent through this plain), even unto the sea of Chinneroth, into which the torrent flows, where Jordan erupts from the sea of Chinneroth, and so it is able to be said to flow either into Jordan, or into the sea of Chinneroth: whereby it happens that in Deuteronomy 3 Jordan and the end of the sea of Chinneroth are conjoined (Bonfrerius). Described here is the plain that we are wont to call the plain of the Moabites, which lies between the two seas, the sea of Tiberias and the Dead Sea (Masius).

[Towards the east] Refer this to the plain, which is said to be to the East of the sea of Chinneroth (Bonfrerius). For on the West it is enclosed by that tract of Jordan, where that river, having escaped from the sea of Tiberias, flows into the Dead Sea (Malvenda).

To the sea of Chinneroth on the east; which words describe the situation not of the sea of Chinneroth, which was part of the western border of Sihon’s dominion, but of the plain, which is here said to lie eastward from the sea of Chinneroth, and also eastward from the Salt Sea, as it here follows. And this was indeed the situation of the plains of Moab, which are here spoken of, to wit, that they lay between the two seas, that of Chinneroth and the Salt Sea, and eastward to them both.

[Unto the sea of the desert; or of the wilderness (Syriac, Montanus, Vatablus), וְ֠עַד יָ֣ם הָעֲרָבָ֤ה] To the plain (Jonathan); to the sea of the field, or fields (Malvenda, Junius and Tremellius, Masius, Drusius, Vatablus). Thus it is called, because it stands in a flat and level place (Masius): because a great plain lies next to it (Vatablus).

The sea of the plain; the Salt Sea is so called because it was a famous plain, pleasant and fruitful, before it was turned into a salt sea.

[By the way that leads to Beth-jeshimoth, בֵּ֣ית הַיְשִׁמ֑וֹת] That is to say, a House or place, vast and desolate.[5] The place was in the fields of Moab, Numbers 33:49 (Masius, similarly Junius). See Ezekiel 25:9 (Junius). [To most interpreters it is a proper name; but to Montanus, by way of the house of the wilderness.] This, indeed, it signifies, and the place is thus named, because further towards the Salt Sea nothing else remains but wilderness (Bonfrerius).

From the south, or, on or towards the south.

[Which lies beneath Ashdoth-pisgah, תַּ֖חַת אַשְׁדּ֥וֹת הַפִּסְגָּֽה׃[6]] Under the slopes of the hill (Junius and Tremellius); beneath the outpourings of waters of the hill Pisgah (Pagnine); beneath the springs of the hills (Munster, Tigurinus); under the descent (that is, at the roots) of mount Pisgah (thus the Notes of Vatablus in the Tigurine Bible, similarly Masius). Under the slopes of Pisgah. אַשְׁדּוֹת/Ashdoth signifies the roots of the mountains, and those parts by which those are made steeper. See what things are on Joshua 10:40.[7] He traces here the Southern borders of the kingdom of Sihon, from Jordan or the mouth of Arnon (for these are near to each other), in the opposite direction of the course of Arnon, unto the roots of mount עֲבָרִים/Abarim (part of which is clearly Pisgah,[8] whether it be a proper name, or signify a peak or precipice). We see how accurately fixed borders were set around those possessions of the Israelites. This was done, 1. so that the Israelites settled apart from the profane nations: so that also by this matter it might be made clear to all of what great size God made them. 2. So that the neighboring dominions of Ammon and Moab might be separated from the possessions of the Israelites on all sides (Masius).

[1] Hebrew: וְהָעֲרָבָה֩ עַד־יָ֙ם כִּנְר֜וֹת מִזְרָ֗חָה וְ֠עַד יָ֣ם הָעֲרָבָ֤ה יָם־הַמֶּ֙לַח֙ מִזְרָ֔חָה דֶּ֖רֶךְ בֵּ֣ית הַיְשִׁמ֑וֹת וּמִ֙תֵּימָ֔ן תַּ֖חַת אַשְׁדּ֥וֹת הַפִּסְגָּֽה׃

[2] Hebrew: וּמִתֵּימָן.

[3] Hebrew: אַשְׁדּ֥וֹת הַפִּסְגָּֽה׃.

[4] Thus the Vulgate.

[5] בֵּית signifies house; יָשַׁם, to be desolate.

[6] אֲשֵׁדָה signifies foundation or slope; פִּסְגָּה/Pisgah, hill.

[7] Joshua 10:40:  “So Joshua smote all the country of the hills, and of the south, and of the vale, and of the springs (וְהָאֲשֵׁדוֹת), and all their kings:  he left none remaining, but utterly destroyed all that breathed, as the Lord God of Israel commanded.”

[8] See Numbers 33:47, 48; Deuteronomy 32:49; 34:1.

1 thought on “Joshua 12:3: Kings Conquered by Moses, Part 3

  1. The study of historical geography can be tedious work at times, but the student of the Scriptures will be amply rewarded, as his reading of the ancient text takes on vividness and color.

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