Joshua 13:24-28: The Inheritance of Gad

Verse 24:[1] And Moses gave inheritance unto the tribe of Gad, even unto the children of Gad according to their families.

[And he gave] Understand, possession (Vatablus). In these verses is described the portion of the Tribe of Gad. It was bordering the Reubenites on the South; the Ammonites and Arabian mountains on the East; the Jordan on the West; the Manassites on the North, on which side it was extended beyond the Jabbok unto Mahanaim (Masius).


Verse 25:[2] (Num. 32:25) And their coast was Jazer, and all the cities of Gilead, (compare Numbers 21:26, 28, 29, with Deut. 2:19 and Judg. 11:13, 15, etc.) and half the land of the children of Ammon, unto Aroer that is before (2 Sam. 11:1; 12:26) Rabbah…

[The border, הַגְּבוּל] The boundary, that is, the allotted regions (Vatablus).

[Jazer] It designates the Southern border (Masius). It was rather on the eastern borders. For it was situated near the springs of Arnon, and mount Gilead, Numbers 21:32 (Bonfrerius).

[And all the cities of Gilead] This comprehends in a general way the possessions of the Gadites, especially the Northern possessions. For there was the entrance of Gilead (Masius). Question: How did all belong to the Gadites, since half of it is given to the Manassites? Responses: 1. That whole is limited by these words, and half the land of the Ammonites: that is to say, Only thus far upwards was it extended into Gilead, etc., as far as half the dominion of the Ammonites was including Gilead on the East (Masius). 2. A restriction is to be understood here, all the cities, namely, that were contained within the bounds assigned to them. See on verse 21 (Bonfrerius).

All the cities of Gilead, that is, all the cities of note and eminency; all cities properly so called, which it seems lay in that part of Gilead; and so this may well agree with verse 31, where half the country of Gilead is said to be given to the Manassites; but there is no mention of any cities there.

[And the half part of the land of the children of Ammon] Objection: But in Deuteronomy 2:19 it is said, I will not give thee of the land of the children of Ammon. Response 1: This is to be taken of that land which God granted to them, not of that which they had acquired through violence (certain interpreters in Lyra). But that land they had acquired by fighting against the giants, Deuteronomy 2 (Lyra). Response 2: Just as Sihon had taken a part of the Moabite domain, so also of the Ammonite domain, which, with Sihon defeated, the Israelites claimed for themselves by right of war (Lapide, Bonfrerius, Masius). This finds support in Judges 11:13 (Bonfrerius, Masius), and everywhere the torrent Jabbok is said to be the border of the children of Ammon. See Deuteronomy 3:16 (Bonfrerius). But one thing hinders, that in Numbers 21:26, there is no mention of Ammonites (Masius). But, what Scriputre omits in one place, it frequently supplies in other passages (Bonfrerius). Others say that the half part of the Ammonites is here mentioned, not because the Gadites obtained it, but because it bounded the possession of the Gadites on the East (Malvenda).

Half the land of the children of Ammon; not of that which now was theirs, for that they were forbidden to meddle with, Deuteronomy 2:19, but of that which was anciently theirs, but taken from them by the Amorites, Numbers 21:26, from whom the Israelites took it, Judges 11:15.

[Unto Aroer] Thus Judges 11:33. Jephthah smote the Ammonites from Aroer unto Abel-keramim.[3] Therefore, near Aroer were the confines both of the Moabites and Ammonites, and also of the Midianites. But you will contend that the Ammonites did not reach to Aroer, because it is certain that the torrent Jabbok separated them from the kingdom of Sihon. But I respond that Jabbok, setting out not far from those rugged places through which Arnon (on the bank of which Aroer is everywhere said to have been situated [Bonfrerius]) rushes down, through a long course closes off a great part of the kingdom of Sihon from the Ammonites, although not the whole, which lies from Aroer to Mahanaim (Masius). From Jabbok to Aroer was extended this region of the Ammonites, taken from them by Sihon. Thus Judges 11:13, …from the borders of Arnon unto Jabbok (Bonfrerius).

Unto Aroer, the border between them and Moab.

[Which is over against Rabbah, עַל־פְּנֵ֥י רַבָּֽה׃] Upon the faces of Rabbah[4] (Montanus, Jonathan, similarly Munster, Septuagint); before Rabbah (Syriac, Pagnine, Tigurinus); opposite to (before the sight of [Junius and Tremellius, similarly the Arabic]) Rabbah (Masius, Bonfrerius). Moreover, it is said that Aroer is opposite to Rabbah, evidently Rabbah of the Ammonites, that is, Philadephia,[5] because, in accordance with that side of the Ammonites of which we now treat, Aroer, situated toward the South, looks toward Northern Rabbah (Masius). The latter was near Jabbok; yet the Israelites appear never to have possessed it, either because that city had not been taken from the Ammonites previously (by Sihon), or because they recovered it afterwards. But this explanation appears more than a little harsh and twisted, that Aroer is said to be over against Rabbah, that is, on the opposite boundary. Therefore, it does not displease to take this of Ar, metropolis of the Moabites: for this is also called Moab Rabbah, or Rabbath Moab, as Jerome testifies[6] (Bonfrerius). Concerning Rabbah see Deuteronomy 3:11 (Malvenda).

Rabbah, the chief city of the Ammonites, 2 Samuel 11:1; 2 Samuel 12:26, 27.


Verse 26:[7] And from Heshbon unto Ramath-mizpeh, and Betonim; and from Mahanaim unto the border of Debir…

[And from Heshbon, etc.] That is, From the south towards the North. He here describes the eastern side, in which he consumes more labor than in the rest, lest there be any suspicion that anything was taken from the Ammonites (Masius).

From Heshbon, either exclusively or inclusively. See before on verse 17.

[Unto Ramoth, Mizpeh: but it is to be read conjoinedly, as it is evident from the with, with no pause interposed, says Bonfrerius (correcting the Vulgate), עַד־רָמַ֥ת הַמִּצְפֶּ֖ה] It signifies the hill (or height [Malvenda]) of a watchtower[8] (Masius), perhaps because the city was situated in a high place (Malvenda). This city is elsewhere called Ramoth-gilead[9] (Junius, Bonfrerius, Malvenda); so called because it was in the region of Gilead. This has regard to the Northern boundary, just as Heshbon was on the Southern boundary; so that accordingly a longitudinal line is here drawn in the tribe of Gad (Bonfrerius).

Ramath-mizpeh, called Ramoth-gilead, or Ramoth in Gilead, Joshua 20:8, and elsewhere.

[And Betonim[10]] It is likely that it was near Ramath-mizpeh. It appears to have been named after a species of tree. If the נ/Nun could be used as in the place of a מ/Mem, I would decisively judge it to be a terebinth, making the inference from the language of the Syrians (Masius).

[From Manaim] Mahanaim. This city was situated in the Northern extremity, that is, not far from the torrent Jabbok, as it is evident from Genesis 32 (Bonfrerius, Masius). It is no hindrance that that place was on the other side of the Jabbok, and so appears not to have been in the lot of the Tribe of Gad, which was bounded by the torrent Jabbok, as is evident from Deuteronomy 3:16, for nothing prevents the description of any region, whether of longitude or latitude, from being taken from extrinsic citys and places, provided that they be near the border. I add that this city appears to have been in the Tribe of Gad, because it was next to the torrent, as is indicated by Joshua 21:38, unless one should said that it was on the common border of two tribes, and pertained to both tribes (Bonfrerius). This city shows that the inheritance of the Gadites was not precisely defined by the stream Jabbok (Masius).

Mahanaim, exclusively; for Mahanaim was in the portion of Manasseh, beyond Jabbok, which was the border of Gad and Manasseh.

[Unto the borders of Debir] The extreme Northern boundary is here described: Mahanaim was on the northern corner closest to the East: but Debir was near the mouth of Jabbok, where it flows out into Jordan (Masius). But, if we believe Adrichomius, this is a description of longitude toward the West. The matter is obscure, because it not able to be known easily where that Debir was, since it occurs nowhere else in Scripture (Bonfrerius).


Verse 27:[11] And in the valley, (Num. 32:36) Beth-aram, and Beth-nimrah, (Gen. 33:17; 1 Kings 7:46) and Succoth, and Zaphon, the rest of the kingdom of Sihon king of Heshbon, Jordan and his border, even unto the edge (Num. 34:11) of the sea of Chinnereth on the other side Jordan eastward.

[In the valley (thus Montanus, Junius and Tremellius, Syriac, Munster, Tigurinus), וּבָעֵמֶק] And in the plain (Vatablus, Jonathan), or, in a level place (Vatablus).

[Beth-aram] Beth-haram,[12] elsewhere Beth-haran (Numbers 32:36), appears to have been named after some man, whose name was Haram, or Haran (Masius).

[Beth-nimrah] It signifies house of the leopard, whence Isaiah called it נִמְרִים/Nimrim, that is, Leopards, Isaiah 15:6, while he commends it for its waters and rich pasture-lands (Masius).

[And Zaphon the remaining part of the kingdom of Sihon,וְצָפ֗וֹן יֶ֚תֶר מַמְלְכ֗וּת סִיחוֹן֙] And Zaphon, the remainder (or, the remains [Munster, Tigurinus], or, and the rest [Septuagint, Arabic]) of the kingdom of Sihon (Pagnine, Montanus); and the Northern tract remaining of the kingdom of Sihon (Junius and Tremellius), or, and the Northern tract, the remainder of the kingdom, etc. (Piscator); and unto the Northern remainder of the kingdom of Sihon (Jonathan). The remainder, etc. Something is to be understood, of this sort, and, if I might say it in a word, the remainder, etc. (Vatablus). Now, it is called the remaining part of the kingdom of Sihon, because the Reubenites held the part closest to the South. It is also likely that these citys, in which order they are reckoned, occurred in the same progression. Therefore, Beth-aram was especially Southern, etc., and Zaphon was further North than the others (which also its name signifies[13]). But that appears certain that all were situated on this side of Jabbok, since the plain of Jordan is mentioned, in which they would have been (Masius).

Rest of the kingdom of Sihon; the northern part of his kingdom.


Verse 28:[14] This is the inheritance of the children of Gad after their families, the cities, and their villages.

[1] Hebrew: וַיִּתֵּ֤ן מֹשֶׁה֙ לְמַטֵּה־גָ֔ד לִבְנֵי־גָ֖ד לְמִשְׁפְּחֹתָֽם׃

[2] Hebrew: וַיְהִ֤י לָהֶם֙ הַגְּב֔וּל יַעְזֵר֙ וְכָל־עָרֵ֣י הַגִּלְעָ֔ד וַחֲצִ֕י אֶ֖רֶץ בְּנֵ֣י עַמּ֑וֹן עַד־עֲרוֹעֵ֕ר אֲשֶׁ֖ר עַל־פְּנֵ֥י רַבָּֽה׃

[3] Judges 11:33:  “And he smote them from Aroer, even till thou come to Minnith, even twenty cities, and unto the plain of the vineyards (וְעַד֙ אָבֵ֣ל כְּרָמִ֔ים, or, and unto Abel-keramim), with a very great slaughter.  Thus the children of Ammon were subdued before the children of Israel.”

[4] A woodenly literalistic rendering of the Hebrew.

[5] Amman, capital of Jordan, was formerly Rabbah of the Ammonites, called Philadelphia during the Hellenistic period.

[6] From his commentary on Isaiah 15:1.

[7] Hebrew: וּמֵחֶשְׁבּ֛וֹן עַד־רָמַ֥ת הַמִּצְפֶּ֖ה וּבְטֹנִ֑ים וּמִֽמַּחֲנַ֖יִם עַד־גְּב֥וּל לִדְבִֽר׃

[8] רָמָה/Ramah signifies a high place; מִצְפֶּה/Mizpeh, a watchtower.

[9] See 1 Kings 4:13; 22:4, 6, 12, 15; 2 Kings 9:1, 4, 14; 2 Chronicles 18:2, 3, 5, 11, 14.

[10] Hebrew: וּבְטֹנִים.

[11] Hebrew: וּבָעֵ֡מֶק בֵּ֣ית הָרָם֩ וּבֵ֙ית נִמְרָ֜ה וְסֻכּ֣וֹת וְצָפ֗וֹן יֶ֚תֶר מַמְלְכ֗וּת סִיחוֹן֙ מֶ֣לֶךְ חֶשְׁבּ֔וֹן הַיַּרְדֵּ֖ן וּגְבֻ֑ל עַד־קְצֵה֙ יָם־כִּנֶּ֔רֶת עֵ֥בֶר הַיַּרְדֵּ֖ן מִזְרָֽחָה׃

[12] Hebrew: בֵּ֣ית הָרָם֩.

[13] צָפוֹן signifies north.

[14] Hebrew: זֹ֛את נַחֲלַ֥ת בְּנֵי־גָ֖ד לְמִשְׁפְּחֹתָ֑ם הֶעָרִ֖ים וְחַצְרֵיהֶֽם׃

1 thought on “Joshua 13:24-28: The Inheritance of Gad

  1. Matthew Henry: ‘The lot of the tribe of Gad, Joshua 13:24-28. This lay north of Reuben’s lot; the country of Gilead lay in this tribe, so famous for its balm that it is thought strange indeed if there be no balm in Gilead, and the cities of Jabesh-gilead and Ramoth-gilead which we often read of in Scripture. Succoth and Penuel, which we read of in the story of Gideon, were in this tribe; and that forest which is called the wood of Ephraim (from the slaughter Jephthah made there of the Ephraimites), in which Absalom’s rebellious army was beaten, while his father David lay at Mahanaim, one of the frontier-cities of this tribe, Joshua 13:26. Sharon, famous for roses, was in this tribe. And within the limits of this tribe lived those Gadarenes that loved their swine better than their Saviour, fitter to be called Girgashites than Israelites.’

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