Gilead abode beyond Jordan
A country which lay on the other side Jordan, and was given by Moses, half of it to the tribes of Reuben and Gad, and the other half to the half tribe of Manasseh, ( Deuteronomy 3:12 Deuteronomy 3:13 ) and being here distinguished from Reuben, it seems that not only that tribe, but also the tribe of Gad, and the half tribe of Manasseh, on that side Jordan, came not to the help of Israel; but abode where they were, attending their flocks and herds, and preferring their own private profit to the public good; yet as Gilead was given to Machir, ( Deuteronomy 3:15 ) and some are said to come out from thence to serve in this expedition, ( Judges 5:14 ) some read the words, as Kimchi observes, with an interrogation, "did Gilead abide beyond Jordan?" no, he did not; though his situation was beyond it, as well as Reuben's, yet he did not continue there, but came over to help his brethren; and so this is introduced to upbraid Reuben, and leave him without excuse, since he could as well have left his flocks as Gilead did, and come over to the help of his brethren as well as he:
and why did Dan remain in ships?
the Danites inhabiting Joppa, and other places bordering on the Mediterranean sea, attended their navigation and merchandise; and which they chose rather to do, than to appear in the field of battle in the behalf of their brethren; judging this to be a sufficient excuse, though the question put implies the contrary; according to the Targum, they were meditating a flight, and put their goods into ships to flee with them, should Sisera get the day:
Asher continued on the sea shore;
on the shore of the Mediterranean sea, attending traffic and business, and did not concern themselves at all in this war:
and abode in his trenches;
in his towns and cities, the walls of which had been broken down by the Canaanites, and remained unrepaired, nor were they suffered to repair them; and therefore excused themselves on this account from engaging in the war, being obliged to stay at home to keep and defend their cities; which were in such a ruinous and weak condition, that the enemy might enter at any time: some render it, "in their creeks" F9 bays and havens where they had much shipping, and which required their attendance.
F9 (wyurpm le) "in portubus", V. L. "ad sinus suos", some in Vatablus.