Joshua 13:8-13: The Inheritance of the Trans-Jordanian Tribes

Verse 8:[1] With whom the Reubenites and the Gadites have received their inheritance, (Num. 32:33; Deut. 3:12, 13; Josh. 22:4) which Moses gave them, beyond Jordan eastward, even as Moses the servant of the LORD gave them…

[With which Reuben and God possessed, עִמּוֹ וגו״] With it (Munster, Pagnine, Tigurinus, Montanus, Jonathan). With the other half of it (Junius and Tremellius, Arabic, similarly the Syriac, Castalio, Vatablus). With him, that is, Manasseh, that is with the Manassites: Metonymy of the efficient. Now, with the Manassites, that is, with the half part of the Manassites: Synecdoche of thw whole (Piscator). The pronoun, it, is attached to the half tribe of Manasseh, which nevertheless is not understood, according to the words, of that half tribe to which God commanded just now that an inheritance be divided across Jordan, but according to the sense, namely, of the other have on this side Jordan (Masius). He used עִמּוֹ, with it, as if he had been mindful of the other part also (Kimchi in Glassius). A relative is frequently put in the place of the antecedent, which is aptly elicited from the text. Thus in Numbers 7:89, …so that he might speak אִתּוֹ, with him, that is, with God, elicited out of what follows: thus in Psalm 114:2, Judah was made לְקָדְשׁוֹ, the sanctuary of him, that is, of God, of whom there is no previous mention in the Psalm: thus in Isaiah 8:21, and they shall pass through בָּהּ, in it, that is, Judea: thus in Jonah 1:3, so that he might go עִמָּהֶם, with them, that is, with the sailors (Glassius’ “Grammar” 1:2:12:195). Here end the words of God, commanding that the land be distributed, etc., and beging the words of the author, historically narrating how Moses previously distributed to them portions on this side Jordan (Lapide, similarly Masius).

With whom; Hebrew, with him, that is, with the half tribe of Manasseh; not that half which is expressed verse 7, as is evident from the thing; but the other half, which is sufficiently and necessarily understood, the relative being here put for the antecedent, understood, as it is, Numbers 7:89; Psalm 114:2; Isaiah 8:21; Jonah 1:3.

[Which Moses bequeathed] This clause shows that the distribution of Moses was authoritative to Joshua, etc. (Masius).

As Moses the servant of the Lord gave them; which Moses gave them by my command, and therefore do not thou disturb them in their possessions, but proceed to divide the other possessions to the rest.


Verse 9:[2] From Aroer, that is upon the bank of the river Arnon, and the city that is in the midst of the river, (Josh. 13:16; Num. 21:30) and all the plain of Medeba unto Dibon…

[From Aroer, מֵעֲרוֹעֵר] Understand, they received (Vatablus). Since עִיר signifies a city, it appears that עֲרוֹעֵר/Aroer was a double city, as we previously said, and that it stood forth partly on the bank, partly with the river-bed. And that Aroer was certain double appears from Isiah 17:2, the cities of Aroer: although this Aroer is able to be understood of municipalities (Masius).

The city that is in the midst of the river; of which see on Deuteronomy 3:16, and see on Joshua 12:2. Either this is the same city now mentioned, even Aroer, which is said to have been a double city, as the very name seems to import, whereof one part was on the bank of the river, and the other in the middle of it, whence we read of the cities of Aroer, Isaiah 17:2; or it is another city, possibly Ar, as it is elsewhere named.

[Medeba] Medava in Ptolemy[3] (Masius).

[Dibon] I think that this is the same city that afterwards built by the Gadites in those places where the Israelites pitched their fourth camp before the death of Moses; which places, in Numbers 33:45, were called by the name of this city κατὰ πρόληψιν, proleptically: similarly also the Lavinian shores, Æneid 1, before the marriage of Lavinia.[4] Mention is made of Dibon and Medeba in Isaiah 15:2, speaking of the Moabites: for formerly they both belonged to the Moabites, before the Amorites had seized them, Numbers 21:30 (Masius).

Medeba and Dibon; two cities anciently belonging to the Moabites, and taken from them by the Amorites, Numbers 21:30, and from them by the Israelites; and after the Israelites were gone into captivity, recovered by the first possessors the Moabites, as may seem from Isaiah 15:2.


Verse 10:[5] And (Num. 21:24, 25) all the cities of Sihon king of the Amorites, which reigned in Heshbon, unto the border of the children of Ammon…


Verse 11:[6] (Josh. 12:5) And Gilead, and the border of the Geshurites and Maachathites, and all mount Hermon, and all Bashan unto Salcah…

[And Gilead] Understand the region which everywhere goes by this name, which is at the foot of mount Gilead all the way to Jordan (Bonfrerius).

Maachathites; whose land God had given to the Israelites without Jordan, though they had not yet used the gift of God, nor taken possession of it, as is noted, Joshua 13:13.


Verse 12:[7] All the kingdom of Og in Bashan, which reigned in Ashtaroth and in Edrei, who remained of (Deut. 3:11; Josh. 12:4) the remnant of the giants: (Num. 21:24, 35) for these did Moses smite, and cast them out.

These did Moses smite; not all now mentioned, as appears from verse 13, but Sihon and Og, and their people, and the generality of them, which he had now named, some of them being excepted.


Verse 13:[8] Nevertheless the children of Israel expelled (Josh. 13:11) not the Geshurites, nor the Maachathites: but the Geshurites and the Maachathites dwell among the Israelites until this day.

[They were unwilling to destroy…the Geshurites] Not that Moses, having been commanded to destroy them, refused to do it, since he was obedient to God to the uttermost; but that for the two tribes, etc., there was at that time enough fields and towns, and there was an obligation to pass over into the Promised Land with the whole army (Lapide). Although Moses overthrew Sihon and Og, he did not pass through the corners of each kingdom, whence those peoples remained intact in mountainous places, etc. Why else would the expeditions of Jair, Nobah, and the Machirites be lauded in Numbers 32 (Masius)?

The children of Israel expelled not, etc.: This seems added by way of anticipation and reflection upon the present Israelites; implying, that although Moses did and might permit them to remain, both because the land which he had conquered was more than enough for the Israelitish possessors, and because being intent upon their passage over Jordan into the land of Canaan, he would not delay them, by searching their enemies out of all their corners; yet they were in fault, in not going on and perfecting the work which was begun by Moses, and carried on so far by Joshua.

[1] Hebrew: עִמּ֗וֹ הָרֽאוּבֵנִי֙ וְהַגָּדִ֔י לָקְח֖וּ נַחֲלָתָ֑ם אֲשֶׁר֩ נָתַ֙ן לָהֶ֜ם מֹשֶׁ֗ה בְּעֵ֤בֶר הַיַּרְדֵּן֙ מִזְרָ֔חָה כַּאֲשֶׁר֙ נָתַ֣ן לָהֶ֔ם מֹשֶׁ֖ה עֶ֥בֶד יְהוָֽה׃

[2] Hebrew: מֵעֲרוֹעֵ֡ר אֲשֶׁר֩ עַל־שְׂפַת־נַ֙חַל אַרְנ֜וֹן וְהָעִ֙יר אֲשֶׁ֧ר בְּתוֹךְ־הַנַּ֛חַל וְכָל־הַמִּישֹׁ֥ר מֵידְבָ֖א עַד־דִּיבֽוֹן׃

[3] Geography 5:17.

[4] Lavinia would become the last wife of Æneas.

[5] Hebrew: וְכֹ֗ל עָרֵי֙ סִיחוֹן֙ מֶ֣לֶךְ הָאֱמֹרִ֔י אֲשֶׁ֥ר מָלַ֖ךְ בְּחֶשְׁבּ֑וֹן עַד־גְּב֖וּל בְּנֵ֥י עַמּֽוֹן׃

[6] Hebrew: וְהַגִּלְעָ֞ד וּגְב֧וּל הַגְּשׁוּרִ֣י וְהַמַּעֲכָתִ֗י וְכֹ֙ל הַ֥ר חֶרְמ֛וֹן וְכָל־הַבָּשָׁ֖ן עַד־סַלְכָֽה׃

[7] Hebrew: כָּל־מַמְלְכ֥וּת עוֹג֙ בַּבָּשָׁ֔ן אֲשֶׁר־מָלַ֥ךְ בְּעַשְׁתָּר֖וֹת וּבְאֶדְרֶ֑עִי ה֤וּא נִשְׁאַר֙ מִיֶּ֣תֶר הָרְפָאִ֔ים וַיַּכֵּ֥ם מֹשֶׁ֖ה וַיֹּרִשֵֽׁם׃

[8] Hebrew: וְלֹ֤א הוֹרִ֙ישׁוּ֙ בְּנֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵ֔ל אֶת־הַגְּשׁוּרִ֖י וְאֶת־הַמַּעֲכָתִ֑י וַיֵּ֙שֶׁב גְּשׁ֤וּר וּמַֽעֲכָת֙ בְּקֶ֣רֶב יִשְׂרָאֵ֔ל עַ֖ד הַיּ֥וֹם הַזֶּֽה׃

1 thought on “Joshua 13:8-13: The Inheritance of the Trans-Jordanian Tribes

  1. Matthew Henry: ‘An account is here given of the distribution of the land on the other side Jordan among the Reubenites, and Gadites, and half the tribe of Manasseh. Observe,

    1. How this account is introduced. It comes in, (1.) As the reason why this land within Jordan must be divided only to the nine tribes and a half, because the other two and a half were already provided for. (2.) As a pattern to Joshua in the work he had now to do. He had seen Moses distribute that land, which would give him some aid in distributing this, and thence he might take his measure; only this was to be done by lot, but it should seem Moses did that himself, according to the wisdom given unto him. (3.) As an inducement to Joshua to hasten the dividing of this land, that the nine tribes and a half might not be kept any longer than was necessary out of their possession, since their brethren of the two tribes and a half were so well settled in theirs; and God their common Father would not have such a difference made between his children.

    2. The particulars of this account.

    (1.) Here is a general description of the country that was given to the two tribes and a half, which Moses gave them, even as Moses gave them, Joshua 13:8. The repetition implies a ratification of the grant by Joshua. Moses settled this matter, and, as Moses settled it, so shall it rest; Joshua will not, under any pretence whatsoever, go about to alter it. And a reason is intimated why he would not, because Moses was the servant of the Lord, and acted in this matter by secret direction from him and was faithful as a servant. Here we have, [1.] The fixing of the boundaries of this country, by which they were divided from the neighbouring nations, Joshua 13:9, etc. Israel must know their own and keep to it, and may not, under pretence of their being God’s peculiar people, encroach upon their neighbours, and invade their rights and properties, to which they had a good and firm title by providence, though not, as Israel, a title by promise. [2.] An exception of one part of this country from Israel’s possession, though it was in their grant, namely, the Geshurites and the Maachathites, Joshua 13:13. They had not leisure to reduce all the remote and obscure corners of the country in Moses’s time, and afterwards they had no mind to it, being easy with what they had. Thus those who are not straitened in God’s promises are yet straitened in their own faith, and prayers, and endeavours.’

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