Numbers 34:10
And you shall point out your east border from Hazarenan to Shepham:
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
Numbers 34:10. Your east border — This ran from the head of Jordan along the course of that river, taking in the lake of Gennesareth, called in the New Testament, the sea of Galilee, and the sea of Tiberias, (John 6:1,) and here, the sea of Chinnereth, or Cinnereth, from the Hebrew, cinnor, a harp, the figure of which it resembles. Shepham and Riblah were two places near Jordan. Ain signifies a fountain, and the passage may be rendered, On the east side of the fountain — Namely, of Jordan, for that river had more sources than one.34:1-15 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.Shepham, the first point after Hazar-enan, is unknown. The name Riblah is by some read Har-bel, i. e., "the Mountain of Bel;" the Har-baal-Hermon of Judges 3:3. No more striking landmark could be set forth than the summit of Hermon, the southernmost and by far the loftiest peak of the whole Antilibanus range, rising to a height of 10,000 feet, and overtopping every other mountain in the Holy land. Ain, i. e. the fountain, is understood to be the fountain of the Jordan; and it is in the plain at the southwestern foot of Hermon that the two most celebrated sources of that river, those of Daphne and of Paneas, are situate.

The "sea of Chinnereth" is better known by its later name of Gennesaret, which is supposed to be only a corruption of Chinnereth. The border ran parallel to this sea, along the line of hill about 10 miles further east.

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. No text from Poole on this verse. And ye shall point out your east border from Hazarenan to Shepham. From the place where the northern border ended, which Jerom says (u) the Hebrews call Apamia, as both the Targums of Jonathan and Jerusalem do here. Shepham was a city between Hazarenan and Riblah in the tribe of Naphtali, where Adrichomius (w) places it.

(u) Comment. ut supra. (cf. ver. 15.) (w) Theatrum Terrae Sanct. p. 114.

And ye shall point out your east border from Hazarenan to Shepham:
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
The southern boundary is the same as that given in Joshua 15:2-4 as the boundary of the territory of the tribe of Judah. We have first the general description, "The south side shall be to you from the desert of Zin on the sides of Edom onwards," i.e., the land was to extend towards the south as far as the desert of Zin on the sides of Edom. על־ידי, "on the sides," differs in this respect from על־יד, "on the side" (Exodus 2:5; Joshua 15:46; 2 Samuel 15:2), that the latter is used to designate contact at a single point or along a short line; the former, contact for a long distance or throughout the whole extent ( equals כּל־יד, Deuteronomy 2:37). "On the sides of Edom" signifies, therefore, that the desert of Zin stretched along the side of Edom, and Canaan was separated from Edom by the desert of Zin. From this it follows still further, that Edom in this passage is not the mountains of Edom, which had their western boundary on the Arabah, but the country to the south of the desert of Zin or Wady Murreh, viz., the mountain land of the Azazimeh, which still bears the name of Seir or Serr among the Arabs (see Seetzen and Rowland in Ritter's Erdk. xiv. pp. 840 and 1087). The statement in Joshua 15:1 also agrees with this, viz., that Judah's inheritance was "to the territory of Edom, the desert of Zin towards the south," according to which the desert of Zin was also to divide the territory of Edom from that of the tribe of Judah (see the remarks on Numbers 14:45). With Numbers 34:3 the more minute description of the southern boundary line commences: "The south border shall be from the end of the Salt Sea eastward," i.e., start from "the tongue which turns to the south" (Joshua 15:2), from the southern point of the Dead Sea, where there is now a salt marsh with the salt mountain at the south-west border of the lake. "And turn to the south side (מנּגב) of the ascent of Akrabbim" (ascensus scorpionum), i.e., hardly "the steep pass of es Sufah, 1434 feet in height, which leads in a south-westerly direction from the Dead Sea along the northern side of Wady Fikreh, a wady three-quarters of an hour's journey in breadth, and over which the road from Petra to Heshbon passes,"

(Note: See Robinson, vol. ii. pp. 587, 591; and v. Schubert, ii. pp. 443, 447ff.)

as Knobel maintains; for the expression נסב (turn), in Numbers 34:4, according to which the southern border turned at the height of Akrabbim, that is to say, did not go any farther in the direction from N.E. to S.W. than from the southern extremity of the Salt Sea to this point, and was then continued in a straight line from east to west, is not at all applicable to the position of this pass, since there would be no bend whatever in the boundary line at the pass of es Sufah, if it ran from the Arabah through Wady Fikreh, and so across to Kadesh. The "height of Akrabbim," from which the country round was afterwards called Akrabattine, Akrabatene (1 Macc. 5:4; Josephus, Ant. 12:8, 1),

(Note: It must be distinguished, however, from the Akrabatta mentioned by Josephus in his Wars of the Jews (iii. 3, 5), the modern Akrabeh in central Palestine (Rob. Bibl. Res. p. 296), and from the toparchy Akrabattene mentioned in Josephus (Wars of the Jews, ii. 12, 4; 20, 4; 22, 2), which was named after this place.)

is most probably the lofty row of "white cliffs" of sixty or eighty feet in height, which run obliquely across the Arabah at a distance of about eight miles below the Dead Sea and, as seen from the south-west point of the Dead Sea, appear to shut in the Ghor, and which form the dividing line between the two sides of the great valley, which is called el Ghor on one side, and el Araba on the other (Robinson, ii. 489, 494, 502). Consequently it was not the Wady Fikreh, but a wady which opened into the Arabah somewhat farther to the south, possibly the southern branch of the Wady Murreh itself, which formed the actual boundary.

"And shall pass over to Zin" (i.e., the desert of Zin, the great Wady Murreh, see at Numbers 14:21), "and its going forth shall be to the south of Kadesh-barnea," at the western extremity of the desert of Zin (see at Numbers 20:16). From this point the boundary went farther out (יצא) "to Hazar-Addar, and over (עבר) to Azmon." According to Joshua 15:3-4, it went to the south of Kadesh-barnea over (עבר) to Hezron, and ascended (עלה) to Addar, and then turned to Karkaa, and went over to Azmon. Consequently Hazar-Addar corresponds to Hezron and Addar (in Joshua); probably the two places were so close to each other that they could be joined together. Neither of them has been discovered yet. This also applies to Karkaa and Azmon. The latter name reminds us of the Bedouin tribe Azazimeh, inhabiting the mountains in the southern part of the desert of Zin (Robinson, i. pp. 274, 283, 287; Seetzen, iii. pp. 45, 47). Azmon is probably to be sought for near the Wady el Ain, to the west of the Hebron road, and not far from its entrance into the Wady el Arish; for this is "the river (brook) of Egypt," to which the boundary turned from Azmon, and through which it had "its outgoings at the sea," i.e., terminated at the Mediterranean Sea. The "brook of Egypt," therefore, is frequently spoken of as the southern boundary of the land of Israel (1 Kings 8:65; 2 Kings 24:7; 2 Chronicles 7:8, and Isaiah 27:12, where the lxx express the name by Ῥινοκοροῦρα). Hence the southern boundary ran, throughout its whole length, from the Arabah on the east to the Mediterranean on the west, along valleys which form a natural division, and constitute more or less the boundary line between the desert and the cultivated land.

(Note: On the lofty mountains of Madara, where the Wady Murreh is divided into two wadys (Fikreh and Murreh) which run to the Arabah, v. Schubert observed "some mimosen-trees," with which, as he expresses it, "the vegetation of Arabia took leave of us, as it were, as they were the last that we saw on our road." And Dieterici (Reisebilder, ii. pp. 156-7) describes the mountain ridge at Nakb es Sufah as "the boundary line between the yellow desert and green steppes," and observes still further, that on the other side of the mountain (i.e., northwards) the plain spread out before him in its fresh green dress. "The desert journey was over, the empire of death now lay behind us, and a new life blew towards us from fields covered with green." - In the same way the country between Kadesh and the Hebron road, which has become better known to us through the descriptions of travellers, is described as a natural boundary. Seetzen, in his account of his journey from Hebron to Sinai (iii. p. 47), observes that the mountains of Tih commence at the Wady el Ain (fountain-valley), which takes its name from a fountain that waters thirty date-palms and a few small corn-fields (i.e., Ain el Kuderat, in Robinson, i. p. 280), and describes the country to the south of the small flat Wady el Kdeis (el Kideise), in which many tamarisks grew (i.e., no doubt a wady that comes from Kadesh, from which it derives its name), as a "most dreadful wilderness, which spreads out to an immeasurable extent in all directions, without trees, shrubs, or a single spot of green" (p. 50), although the next day he "found as an unexpected rarity another small field of barley, which might have been an acre in extent" (pp. 52, 53). Robinson (i. pp. 280ff.) also found, upon the route from Sinai to Hebron, more vegetation in the desert between the Wady el Kusaimeh and el Ain than anywhere else before throughout his entire journey; and after passing the Wady el Ain to the west of Kadesh, he "came upon a broad tract of tolerably fertile soil, capable of tillage, and apparently once tilled." Across the whole of this tract of land there were long ranges of low stone walls visible (called "el Muzeirit," "little plantations," by the Arabs), which had probably served at some former time as boundary walls between the cultivated fields. A little farther to the north the Wady es Serm opens into an extended plain, which looked almost like a meadow with its bushes, grass, and small patches of wheat and barley. A few Azazimeh Arabs fed their camels and flocks here. The land all round became more open, and showed broad valleys that were capable of cultivation, and were separated by low and gradually sloping hills. The grass become more frequent in the valleys, and herbs were found upon the hills. "We heard (he says at p. 283) this morning for the first time the songs of many birds, and among them the lark.")

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