Numbers 34:11
And the coast shall go down from Shepham to Riblah, on the east side of Ain; and the border shall descend, and shall reach unto the side of the sea of Chinnereth eastward:
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(11) Riblah, on the east side of Ain.—Ain (Heb., a fountain) is supposed to be the great fountain of Neba Anjar at the foot of Antilibanus, in which case Riblah must be distinguished from the Riblah in the land of Hamath, which is mentioned in 2Kings 23:33 and in Jeremiah 39:9. From this point the boundary went further southward by the side (Heb., shoulder) of the lake of Chinnereth, or Sea of Galilee, from whence the eastern boundary was the Jordan down to the Dead Sea. This was to be the land of the Israelites, according to its borders on every side.

The sea of Chinnereth.—Chinnereth, or Cinnereth, appears to have been the name of a district, and also of a town. The name is supposed to be derived from kinnor, a “harp.” In later times the city was called Genusar, whence the name Gennesareth, as we find it in the Gospels.

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. Chinnereth; of this name we have a city, Joshua 19:35, and a country, Joshua 11:2 1 Kings 15:20 and a sea or lake, here an Joshua 12:3 13:27 which in the New Testament is called the sea of Gennesaret, Luke 5:1 and of Galilee, and of Tiberas John 6:1.

And the coast shall go down from Shepham to Riblah,.... Said to be in the land of Hemath, Jeremiah 52:9, which, according to Jerom (x), was Antioch of Syria; and both the Targums of Jonathan and Jerusalem understand by it Daphne, which was in the suburbs of Antioch; but this seems to be carrying the limits of the land too far: Jarchi remarks, that when the border goes from the north towards the south, it is said to go down:

on the east side of Ain; a city in the tribe of Judah; according to Jerom (y) now a village that goes by the name of Bethennim, two miles from the turpentine tree, that is, from the tent of Abraham or oak of Mamre, and four from Hebron:

and the border shall descend, and shall reach unto the side of the sea of Chinnereth eastward; the same with the sea of Tiberius, and the sea of Gennesaret, frequently made mention of in the New Testament, and in Ezekiel 47:18, called the east sea.

(x) Comment. ut supra. (cf. ver. 15.) (y) De loc. Heb. fol. 88. F.

And the coast shall go down from Shepham to Riblah, on the east side of Ain; and the border shall descend, and shall reach unto the side of the sea of {e} Chinnereth eastward:

(e) Which in the Gospel is called the lake of Gennesaret.

11. the side of the sea] lit. ‘the shoulder of the sea.’ The word is a descriptive term referring to the mountain slopes on the N.E. of the lake; cf. Joshua 15:10. The sea or lake is that known in N.T. times as the Sea, or Lake, of Galilee.

Verse 11. - Shepham is unknown. Riblah cannot possibly be the Riblah in the land of Hamath (Jeremiah 39:5), now apparently Ribleh on the Orontes. This one example will serve to show how delusive are these identifications with modern places. Even if Ribleh represents an ancient Riblah, it is not the Riblah which is mentioned here. On the east side of Ain, i.e., of the fountain. The Targums here imply that this Ain was the source of Jordan below Mount Hermon, and that would agree extremely well with what follows. The Septuagint has ἐπὶ πηγάς, and there is in fact more than one fountain from which this head-water of Jordan takes its rise. Immediately before the Septuagint has Βηλά where we read Riblah. It has been supposed that the word was originally Ἀρβηλά, a transliteration of "Har-bel," the mountain of Bel or Baal, identical with the Harbaal-Hermon (our Mount Hermon) of Judges 3:3. The Hebrew הָרִבְלָה being differently pointed, and the final ה taken as the suffix of direction, we get הָר־בֵל; but this is extremely precarious. Shall reach unto the side of the sea of Chinnereth eastward. Literally, "shall strike (מָחָה) the shoulder of the sea," &c. The line does not seem to have descended the stream from its source, but to have kept to the east, and so to have struck the lake of Galilee at its north-eastern corner. From this point it simply followed the water-way down to the Salt Sea. The lands beyond Jordan were not reckoned as within the sacred limits. Numbers 34:11The Eastern Boundary. - If we endeavour to trace the upper line of the eastern boundary from the fountain-place just mentioned, it ran from Hazar-enan to Shepham, the site of which is unknown, and "from Shepham it was to go down to Riblah, on the east of Ain" (the fountain). The article הרבלה, and still more the precise description, "to the east of Ain, the fountain, or fountain locality" (Knobel), show plainly that this Riblah is to be distinguished from the Riblah in the land of Hamath (2 Kings 23:33; 2 Kings 25:21; Jeremiah 39:9; Jeremiah 52:27), with which it is mostly identified. Ain is supposed to be "the great fountain of Neba Anjar, at the foot of Antilibanus, which is often called Birket Anjar, on account of its taking its rise in a small reservoir or pool" (Robinson, Bibl. Res. p. 498), and near to which Mej-del-Anjar is to be seen, consisting of "the ruins of the walls and towers of a fortified town, or rather of a large citadel" (Robinson, p. 496; cf. Ritter, xvii. pp. 181ff.).

(Note: Knobel regards Ain as the source of the Orontes, i.e., Neba Lebweh, and yet, notwithstanding this, identifies Riblah with the village of Ribleh mentioned above. But can this Ribleh, which is at least eight hours to the north of Neba Lebweh, be described as on the east of Ain, i.e., Neba Lebweh?)

From this point the boundary went farther down, and pressed (מחה) "upon the shoulder of the lake of Chinnereth towards the east," i.e., upon the north-east shore of the Sea of Galilee (see Joshua 19:35). Hence it ran down along the Jordan to the Salt Sea (Dead Sea). According to these statements, therefore, the eastern boundary went from Bekaa along the western slopes of Antilibanus, over or past Rasbeya and Banyas, at the foot of Hermon, along the edge of the mountains which bound the Huleh basin towards the east, down to the north-east corner of the Sea of Galilee; so that Hermon itself (Jebel es Sheikh) did not belong to the land of Israel.

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