Notes on Joshua chapter 12

by Jonathan Spurlock
(Holts Summit, MO)

Jos 12:1-24 KJV
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, from the river Arnon unto mount Hermon, and all the plain on the east:

Toward the “rising of the sun” is a way to express the east. Mount Hermon is in the northern part of Canaan, later Israel, and the Arnon River is the border between Moab, farther to the south, and the other dwellers on the east side of Jordan (Numbers 21:13). Moab, in fact, was about as far south as Jerusalem.

2 Sihon king of the Amorites, who dwelt in Heshbon, (and) ruled from Aroer, which (is) upon the bank of the river Arnon, and from the middle of the river, and from half Gilead, even unto the river Jabbok, (which is) the border of the children of Ammon;

Sihon is mentioned several times in the Old Testament. Even Rahab of Jericho (and perhaps any number of other citizens of Jericho) knew about Sihon and how Israel defeated him (Josh. 2:10).

The Jabbok River is located about the middle of Canaan, somewhat north of Jerusalem, and located on the east side of Jordan also. The Jabbok was also the border of the Ammonites’ territory.

3 And 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, the way to Bethjeshimoth; and from the south, under Ashdothpisgah:

The sea of Chinneroth was also known as the Sea of Galilee in New Testament times. Beth-Jeshimoth was apparently located on the east side of Jordan, close to the plains of Moab (Numbers 33:49). It is only mentioned four times in the Bible.

Ashdoth-Pisgah is only mentioned three times in Scripture. According to Deut. 3:17, the “salt sea” or the Dead Sea was “ . . .under Ashdothpisgah eastward”.

4 And the coast of Og king of Bashan, (which was) of the remnant of the giants, that dwelt at Ashtaroth and at Edrei, 5 And reigned in mount Hermon, and in Salcah, and in all Bashan, unto the border of the Geshurites and the Maachathites, and half Gilead, the border of Sihon king of Heshbon.

Og is also mentioned a number of times in the Scripture. He and the army of Bashan fought against Israel at the Battle of Edrei (Numbers 21:33) but Israel defeated him and his soldiers completely. Something remarkable: Og was the last remaining one of the giants (Deut. 3:11)—not counting the Anakim—and Israel had been afraid to enter the land because of the giants (Numbers 13:32-33). When Israel did engage Og and the Bashanites in battle, God helped Israel win a complete victory!

6 Them did Moses the servant of the LORD and the children of Israel smite: and Moses the servant of the LORD gave it (for) a possession unto the Reubenites, and the Gadites, and the half tribe of Manasseh.

They had requested the land for their inheritance because the land, they said, was good for cattle. Numbers 32 has the story. The Reubenites, Gadites, and half-Manasseh promised to assist the other tribes with the conquest of Canaan on the west side of the Jordan (Josh 1:12-18).

7 And these (are) the kings of the country which Joshua and the children of Israel smote on this side Jordan on the west, from Baalgad in the valley of Lebanon even unto the mount Halak, that goeth up to Seir; which Joshua gave unto the tribes of Israel (for) a possession according to their divisions;

Verses 1-6 summarize Israel’s conquests before they crossed the Jordan and entered Canaan to stay (Joshua 1). These next verses summarize the victories on the Canaan side of Jordan, or the west side, The locations of some of these places are uncertain now, but they were very well known to Joshua and the nation of Israel.

The actual distribution of the land, or which tribe received which portion, actually took place after this chapter. Please remember that sometimes events are mentioned as completed actions before they took place. This is the case here.

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; the Hittites, the Amorites, and the Canaanites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites:

Some of the variety in Canaan’s geography at the time. The tribes/nations listed are those whom God promised to drive out if Israel would follow His commands.

9 The king of Jericho, one; the king of Ai, which (is) beside Bethel, one;

These places were in central Canaan, not too far from Gilgal.

10 The king of Jerusalem, one; the king of Hebron, one; 11 The king of Jarmuth, one; the king of Lachish, one; 12 The king of Eglon, one; the king of Gezer, one; 13 The king of Debir, one; the king of Geder, one; 14 The king of Hormah, one; the king of Arad, one; 15 The king of Libnah, one; the king of Adullam, one; 16 The king of Makkedah, one; the king of Bethel, one;

These cities were located in southern Canaan (chapter 10). It is uncertain why Bethel is listed twice (vv.9 and 16) . One possible explanation is that the city of Bethel was apparently left alone after the second battle of Ai (chapter 8) but was conquered later in a battle which was not recorded in the Book of Joshua.

17 The king of Tappuah, one; the king of Hepher, one; 18 The king of Aphek, one; the king of Lasharon, one; 19 The king of Madon, one; the king of Hazor, one; 20 The king of Shimronmeron, one; the king of Achshaph, one; 21 The king of Taanach, one; the king of Megiddo, one; 22 The king of Kedesh, one; the king of Jokneam of Carmel, one;

These cities were mostly located in northern Canaan. Chapter 11 gives the story of these campaigns.

23 The king of Dor in the coast of Dor, one; the king of the nations of Gilgal, one;

Dor seems to be located near the coast. There is no record of its conquest.

24 The king of Tirzah, one: all the kings thirty and one.

Scripture quotations taken from the King James Version of the Bible (KJV)

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