Deuteronomy 3:16
And unto the Reubenites and unto the Gadites I gave from Gilead even unto the river Arnon half the valley, and the border even unto the river Jabbok, which is the border of the children of Ammon;
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(16, 17) And unto the Reubenites and unto the Gadites I gave.—The circumstances are detailed in Numbers 32. They desired the land for their cattle.

3:12-20 This country was settled on the Reubenites, Gadites, and half the tribe of Manasseh: see Nu 32. Moses repeats the condition of the grant to which they agreed. When at rest, we should desire to see our brethren at rest too, and should be ready to do what we can towards it; for we are not born for ourselves, but are members one of another.The sense is that the Reubenites and Gadites were to possess the district from the Jabbok on the north to the Arnon on the south, including the middle part of the valley of the Arnon, and the territory ("coast" or "border") thereto pertaining. 16. from Gilead—that is, not the mountainous region, but the town Ramoth-gilead,

even unto the river Arnon half the valley—The word "valley" signifies a wady, either filled with water or dry, as the Arnon is in summer, and thus the proper rendering of the passage will be—"even to the half or middle of the river Arnon" (compare Jos 12:2). This prudent arrangement of the boundaries was evidently made to prevent all disputes between the adjacent tribes about the exclusive right to the water.

Half the valley, or rather to the middle of the river; for the word rendered half signifies commonly middle; and the same Hebrew word signifying both a valley and a brook or river, it seems more reasonable to understand it of a river, as the same word is here rendered in the next foregoing clause of this verse, than of a valley, which was not mentioned before, especially seeing there is here an article added which seems to be emphatical, and to note that river, to wit, now mentioned. Add to this, that there was no such valley, much less any half valley, belonging both unto the Reubenites and Gadites. But according to the other translation the sense is plain and agreeable to the truth, that their land extended from Gilead unto Aroer, and, to speak exactly, to the middle of that river; for as that river was the border between them and others, so one half of it belonged to them, as the other half did to others. And that this is no subtle device, as some may think it, but the truth of the thing, and the real meaning of the place, will appear by comparing this place with two others:

1. With Joshua 12:2, where the same thing is expressed in the same words in the Hebrew which are here, though our translators render the selfsame words there from the middle of the river, which here they render half of the valley; and where the bounds of Sihon’s kingdom, which was the same portion there mentioned as given to Reuben and Gad, are thus described, from Aroer, which is upon the bank of the river of 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.

2. With Deu 2:36, From Aroer, which is by the brink of the river of Arnon, and from the city that is by the river, or rather, as the Hebrew hath it, in the river, i.e. from Ar, which was the chief city of the Moabites, and therefore denied to the Israelites, as is here implied, and more fitly expressed, Deu 2:9, which city was seated in an island in the middle of the river. So that here we have a just and full reason why the border of this land given to Reuben and Gad is so nicely and critically described there, even to the middle of a river, which although in truth and strictness it be the bound of those lands which are divided by a river, yet is not usually expressed in the description of borders, either in Scripture or other authors, because here was an eminent city of the Moabites in the middle of this river, which by this curious and exact description is excepted from their possession, as God would have it to be. And the border even unto the river Jabbok: the meaning seems to be this, and the border, to wit, of their land, was, which verb substantive is commonly understood, or went forth, (as the phrase is, Joshua 15:6,7, &c.,) from thence, to wit, from the river Arnon, even unto the river Jabbok, for so indeed their border did proceed. Which is the border of the children of Ammon. Object. This was the border between them and the Manassites, as is evident, and therefore not the border of the Ammonites.

Answ. It bordered upon the Manassites in one part, and upon the Ammonites in another part, to wit, in that part which is remoter from Jordan, and so both are true.

And unto the Reubenites, and unto the Gadites,.... The tribes of Reuben and Gad:

I gave from Gilead even unto the river Arnon: see Deuteronomy 3:12.

half the valley and the border; or rather half the river, the river Arnon; and so it is rendered "the middle of the river", in Joshua 12:2 and so here the middle of the torrent by the Vulgate Latin and Septuagint versions, and by Onkelos:

even unto the river Jabbok, which is the border of the children of Ammon; beyond which the land given to the tribes of Reuben and Gad reached not; see Deuteronomy 2:37.

And unto the Reubenites and unto the Gadites I gave from Gilead even unto the river Arnon half the valley, and the border even unto the river {f} Jabbok, which is the border of the children of Ammon;

(f) Which separates the Ammonites from the Amorites.

16. And unto the Reubenites, etc.] Since this verse repeats what is already stated, it also is regarded as secondary. ‘The language of 16, however, is harmonious with that of Deuteronomy 2:36, and it is possible that this sequence represents the older form of the narrative, before the incorporation of the account of Og, for there seems no reason why an editorial expounder should thus imperfectly reproduce statements already made.’ (Oxf. Hex., ii. 252.)

the middle of the valley for a border] That is, the exact border was not the edge, but the stream-bed of the wâdy.

Verses 16, 17. - The possession of the tribes of Reuben and Gad is here more exactly defined. Its southern boundary was the middle of the valley (the wady) of the Arnon; half the valley, and the border, i.e. the middle of the ravine (or wady) and its edge; a more precise definition of the river Arnon; the brook which flowed through the middle of the ravine was to be their boundary line to the south. On the northeast the Upper Jabbok (Nahr Amman) was to be their boundary; this separated them from Ammonitis, the region of the children of Ammon (Numbers 21:24). On the west the 'Arabah (Ghor), and the Jordan and its border (its east bank), from Chinnereth (Kinnereth), a fenced city by the sea of Galilee, thence called "the sea of Chinnereth" (Numbers 34:11; Joshua 12:3; Joshua 19:35), to the sea of the 'Arabah, the salt sea, under Ashdoth-pisgah - the slopes (literally, the outpourings, the place where the mountain torrents flow out, hence the base of the hill) of Pisgah (Numbers 21:15; Numbers 27:12) - eastward; i.e. simply the east side of the 'Arabah and the Jordan. CONCLUSION OF HISTORICAL RECAPITULATION. Vers. 18-29. Deuteronomy 3:16Machir received Gilead (see Numbers 32:40). - In Deuteronomy 3:16 and Deuteronomy 3:17 the possession of the tribes of Reuben and Gad is described more fully according to its boundaries. They received the land of Gilead (to the south of the Jabbok) as far as the brook Arnon, the middle of the valley and its territory. הנּחל תּוך is a more precise definition of ארנן נחל, expressive of the fact that the territory of these tribes was not to reach merely to the northern edge of the Arnon valley, but into the middle of it, viz., to the river Arnon, which flowed through the middle of the valley; and וּגבוּל (and the border) is an explanatory apposition to what goes before, as in Numbers 34:6, signifying, "viz., the border of the Arnon valley as far as the river." On the east, "even unto Jabbok the brook, the (western) border of the Ammonites" (i.e., as far as the upper Jabbok, the Nahr Ammn: see at Numbers 21:24); and on the west "The Arabah (the Ghor: see Deuteronomy 1:1) and the Jordan with territory" (i.e., with its eastern bank), "from Chinnereth" (i.e., the town from which the Sea of Galilee received the name of Sea of Chinnereth: Numbers 34:11; see at Joshua 19:35) "to the sea of the Arabah, the Salt Sea under the slopes of Pisgah (see at Numbers 21:15 and Numbers 27:12) eastward" (i.e., merely the eastern side of the Arabah and Jordan). - In Deuteronomy 3:18-20 Moses reminds them of the conditions upon which he had given the two tribes and a half the land referred to for their inheritance (cf. Numbers 32:20-32).
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