Numbers 21:24
And Israel smote him with the edge of the sword, and possessed his land from Arnon to Jabbok, even to the children of Ammon: for the border of the children of Ammon was strong.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(24) For the border of the children of Ammon was strong.—These words assign the reason why the conquests of the Amorites were arrested, not why the children of Israel did not take possession of the land of the Ammonites, with whom they were forbidden to meddle, and whose land they were not to occupy. (See Deuteronomy 2:19.)

Numbers 21:24. From Arnon — Or, which reached from Arnon; and so here is a description or limitation of Sihon’s conquest and kingdom, that it extended only from Arnon unto the children of Ammon — And then the following words, for the border of the children of Ammon was strong, come in very fitly, not as a reason why the Israelites did not conquer the Ammonites, for they were absolutely forbidden to meddle with them, (Deuteronomy 3:8,) but as a reason why Sihon could not enlarge his conquests to the Ammonites, as he had done to the Moabites. Jabbok — A river by which the countries of Ammon and Moab were in part bounded and divided. Strong — Either by the advantage of the river, or by their strong holds in their frontiers.21:21-35 Sihon went with his forces against Israel, out of his own borders, without provocation, and so ran upon his own ruin. The enemies of God's church often perish by the counsels they think most wisely taken. Og, king of Bashan, instead of being warned by the fate of his neighbours, to make peace with Israel, makes war with them, which proves in like manner his destruction. Wicked men do their utmost to secure themselves and their possessions against the judgments of God; but all in vain, when the day comes on which they must fall. God gave Israel success, while Moses was with them, that he might see the beginning of the glorious work, though he must not live to see it finished. This was, in comparison, but as the day of small things, yet it was an earnest of great things. We must prepare for fresh conflicts and enemies. We must make no peace or truce with the powers of darkness, nor even treat with them; nor should we expect any pause in our contest. But, trusting in God, and obeying his commands, we shall be more than conquerors over every enemy.Jabbok (now Wady Zerka: compare Genesis 32:22) runs eastward under Rabbah of the children of Ammon, thence westward, and reaches the Jordan, 45 miles north of the Arnon. It was between Rabbah and Gerasa that it formed the Ammonite boundary. 24. from Arnon unto Jabbok—now the Zurka. These rivers formed the southern and northern boundaries of his usurped territory.

for the border of … Ammon was strong—a reason stated for Sihon not being able to push his invasion further.

From Arnon; or which reached from Arnon, &c. such supplements being very usual; and so here is contained a description or limitation of Sihon’s conquest and kingdom, that it extended only from Arnon—unto the children of Ammon; and then the following words, for the border of the children of Ammon was strong, come in very fitly, not as a reason why the Israelites did not or could not conquer the Ammonites, for they were absolutely forbidden to meddle with them, Deu 3:8; but as a reason why Sihon could not enlarge his conquests and empire to the Ammonites, as he had done to the Moabites.

Jabbok; a river by which the countries of Ammon and Moab were in part bounded and divided.

Was strong; either by the advantage of the river, or by their strong holds in their frontiers. And Israel smote him with the edge of the sword,.... Slew him and his army, entirely routed them, and got a complete victory over them; God giving them up into their hands, who otherwise were a very strong, powerful, and warlike people; see Amos 2:9.

and possessed his land from Arnon unto Jabbok; two rivers, the one to the south, the other to the north of his country; the one was the boundary of his country between him and the Moabites, the other the boundary of his country between him and the Ammonites, as it follows:

even unto the children of Ammon; for the border of the children of Ammon was strong; which is given as a reason why the Israelites proceeded no further in their conquest; there was another reason for that, which was the order of the Lord not to distress the Ammonites, nor meddle with them; though Jarchi makes this prohibition to be their strength, Deuteronomy 2:19, but this is given as a reason why Sihon could not extend his conquests further, because it was so well fortified, either by nature or art, or both, by the river Jabbok, by mountains and frontier towns, and particularly by Rabbah, as the Targum of Jonathan suggests, which was their royal city in later times, and a very strong place; see 2 Samuel 12:26.

And Israel smote him with the edge of the sword, and possessed his land from Arnon unto {h} Jabbok, even unto the children of Ammon: for the border of the children of Ammon was {i} strong.

(h) The river.

(i) For the people were tall and strong like giants; De 2:20.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
24. from Arnon unto Jabbok, even unto the children of Ammon] This gives three boundaries of Sihon’s kingdom, the Jordan being the western boundary. Arnon was on the south (Numbers 21:13), Jabbok on the north, and the Ammonites on the east, whither the Amorites had driven them. The Jabbok flows into the Jordan nearly 25 miles north of the Dead Sea. The district here described is now known as the Belka‘ (see G. A. Smith, H. G. [Note: . G. Historical Geography of the Holy Land.] 535 f.).

for the border of the children of Ammon was strong] This may be intended to explain why Sihon’s territory extended no further on the east, or why the Israelites did not push their conquests further. The natural features of the country would afford no special obstacle, but the border fortresses might be impregnable. The Heb. adjective, however, is peculiar; ‘az (עַז) usually denotes ‘fierce,’ ‘cruel,’ rather than strong. The LXX. read the word as ‘Jazer,’ a town mentioned in Numbers 21:32, Numbers 32:3; Numbers 32:35; and it is possible that ‘for strong (כי עז) was the border, &c.’ should be emended to ‘at Jazer (ביעזר) was the border, &c.’ a statement which finds a parallel in Joshua 13:25. The words may have been a comment by the writer or a compiler on the preceding clause.Verse 24. - And Israel smote him with the edge of the sword. This was the first time that generation had seen war, if we except the uncertain episode of the king of Arad, and they could have had no weapons but such as their fathers had brought out of Egypt. It was, therefore, a critical moment in their history when they met the forces of Sihon, confident from their recent victory over Moab. We may suppose that Joshua was their military leader now, as before and after. From Arnon unto Jabbok. The Jabbok, which formed the boundary of Sihon on the north towards the kingdom of Og, and on the east towards the Ammonites, is the modern Zerka: it runs in a large curve northeast, north-west, and west, until it fails into Jordan, forty-five miles north of the mouth of the Arnon. Even unto the children of Ammon: for the border of the children of Ammon was strong. This is perhaps intended to explain rather why the Amorites had not extended their conquests any further, than why the Israelites made no attempt to cross the border of Ammon; they had another and more sufficient reason (see Deuteronomy 2:19). Rabbah of Ammon, which stood upon the right (here the eastern) bank of the Upper Jabbok, was an extremely strong place which effectually protected the country behind it, even until the reign of David (see on 2 Samuel 11, 12). They proceeded thence to Beer (a well), a place of encampment which received its name from the fact that here God gave the people water, not as before by a miraculous supply from a rock, but by commanding wells to be dug. This is evident from the ode with which the congregation commemorated this divine gift of grace. "Then Israel sang this song: Spring up, O well! Sing ye to it! Well which princes dug, which the nobles of the people hollowed out, with the sceptre, with their staves." ענה, as in Exodus 15:21 and Exodus 32:18. מחקק, ruler's staff, cf. Genesis 49:10. Beer, probably the same as Beer Elim (Isaiah 15:8), on the north-east of Moab, was in the desert; for the Israelites proceeded thence "from the desert to Mattanah" (Numbers 21:18), thence to Nahaliel, and thence to Bamoth. According to Eusebius (cf. Reland, Pal. ill. p. 495), Mattanah (Μαθθανέμ) was by the valley of the Arnon, twelve Roman miles to the east (or more properly south-east or south) of Medabah, and is probably to be seen in Tedun, a place now lying in ruins, near the source of the Lejum (Burckhardt, pp. 635, 636; Hengstenberg, Balaam, p. 530; Knobel, and others). The name of Nahaliel is still retained in the form Encheileh. This is the name given to the Lejum, after it has been joined by the Balua, until its junction with the Saide (Burckhardt, p. 635). Consequently the Israelites went from Beer in the desert, in a north-westerly direction to Tedun, then westwards to the northern bank of the Encheileh, and then still farther in a north-westerly and northerly direction to Bamoth. There can be no doubt that Bamoth is identical with Bamoth Baal, i.e., heights of Baal (Numbers 22:4). According to Joshua 13:17 (cf. Isaiah 15:2), Bamoth was near to Dibon (Dibn), between the Wady Wale and Wady Mojeb, and also to Beth-Baal Meon, i.e., Myun, half a German mile (2 1/2 English) to the south of Heshbon; and, according to Numbers 22:41, you could see Bamoth Baal from the extremity of the Israelitish camp in the steppes of Moab. Consequently Bamoth cannot be the mountain to the south of Wady Wale, upon the top of which Burckhardt says there is a very beautiful plain (p. 632; see Hengstenberg, Balaam, p. 532); because the steppes of Moab cannot be seen at all from this plain, as they are covered by the Jebel Attarus. It is rather a height upon the long mountain Attarus, which runs along the southern shore of the Zerka Maein, and may possibly be a spot upon the summit of the Jebel Attarus, "the highest point in the neighbourhood," upon which, according to Burckhardt (p. 630), there is "a heap of stones overshadowed by a very large pistachio-tree." A little farther down to the south-west of this lies the fallen town Kereijat (called Krriat by Seetzen, ii. p. 342), i.e., Kerioth, Jeremiah 48:24; Amos 2:2.
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