The bounds of the promised land. (1-15) Those appointed to divide the land. (16-29)
Verses 1-15 Canaan was of small extent; as it is here bounded, it is but about 160 miles in length, and about 50 in breadth; yet this was the country promised to the father of the faithful, and the possession of the seed of Israel. This was that little spot of ground, in which alone, for many ages, God was known. This was the vineyard of the Lord, the garden enclosed; but as it is with gardens and vineyards, the narrowness of the space was made up by the fruitfulness of the soil. Though the earth is the Lord's, and the fulness thereof, yet few know him, and serve him; but those few are happy, because fruitful to God. Also, see how little a share of the world God gives to his own people. Those who have their portion in heaven, have reason to be content with a small pittance of this earth. Yet a little that a righteous man has, having it from the love of God, and with his blessing, is far better and more comfortable than the riches of many wicked.
Verses 16-29 God here appoints men to divide the land to them. So sure must they feel of victory and success while God fought for them, that the persons are named who should be intrusted with the dividing of the land.
Numbers 34:1-29 . THE BORDERS OF THE LAND OF CANAAN.
2. this is the . . . land of Canaan--The details given in this chapter mark the general boundary of the inheritance of Israel west of the Jordan. The Israelites never actually possessed all the territory comprised within these boundaries, even when it was most extended by the conquests of David and Solomon.
3-5. your south quarter--The line which bounded it on the south is the most difficult to trace. According to the best biblical geographers, the leading points here defined are as follows: The southwest angle of the southern boundary should be where the wilderness of Zin touches the border of Edom, so that the southern boundary should extend eastward from the extremity of the Dead Sea, wind around the precipitous ridge of Akrabbim ("scorpions"), thought to be the high and difficult Pass of Safeh, which crosses the stream that flows from the south into the Jordan--that is, the great valley of the Arabah, reaching from the Dead to the Red Sea.
5. river of Egypt--the ancient brook Sihor, the Rhinocolura of the Greeks, a little to the south of El-Arish, where this wady gently descends towards the Mediterranean ( Joshua 13:3 ).
6. the western border--There is no uncertainty about this boundary, as it is universally allowed to be the Mediterranean, which is called "the great sea" in comparison with the small inland seas or lakes known to the Hebrews.
7-9. north border--The principal difficulty in understanding the description here arises from what our translators have called mount Hor. The Hebrew words, however, Hor-ha-Hor, properly signify "the mountain of the mountain," or "the high double mountain," which, from the situation, can mean nothing else than the mountain Amana ( Solomon 4:8 ), a member of the great Lebanon range ( Joshua 13:5 ).
8. entrance of Hamath--The northern plain between those mountain ranges, now the valley of Balbeck
Zedad--identified as the present Sudud ( Ezekiel 47:15 ).
9. Ziphron--("sweet odor").
Hazar-enan--("village of fountains"); but the places are unknown. "An imaginary line from mount Cassius, on the coast along the northern base of Lebanon to the entering into the Bekaa (Valley of Lebanon) at the Kamosa Hermel," must be regarded as the frontier that is meant [VAN DE VELDE].
10-12. east border--This is very clearly defined. Shepham and Riblah, which were in the valley of Lebanon, are mentioned as the boundary line, which commenced a little higher than the sources of the Jordan. Ain is supposed to be the source of that river; and thence the eastern boundary extended along the Jordan, the sea of Chinnereth (Lake of Tiberias), the Jordan; and again terminated at the Dead Sea. The line being drawn on the east of the river and the seas included those waters within the territory of the western tribes.
13-15. The two tribes and the half-tribe have received their inheritance on this side Jordan--The conquered territories of Sihon and Og, lying between the Arnon and mount Hermon, were allotted to them--that of Reuben in the most southerly part, Gad north of it, and the half Manasseh in the northernmost portion.
16-29. names of the men . . . which shall divide the land--This appointment by the Lord before the Jordan tended not only to animate the Israelites faith in the certainty of the conquest, but to prevent all subsequent dispute and discontent, which might have been dangerous in presence of the natives. The nominees were ten princes for the nine and a half tribes, one of them being selected from the western section of Manasseh, and all subordinate to the great military and ecclesiastical chiefs, Joshua and Eleazar. The names are mentioned in the exact order in which the tribes obtained possession of the land, and according to brotherly connection.