JOSHUA - CHAPTER 13
Bible Study - Commentary by Jim Melough
2000 James Melough
“Now Joshua was old and stricken in years; and the Lord said unto him, Thou
art old and stricken in years, and there remaineth yet very much land to be
this section foreshadows the end of the Apostolic age, Joshua’s old age and
approaching death picturing the aging and passing on of the Apostles; and as it was
with regard to Israel literally at the end of Joshua’s life, so was it also
spiritually as the Apostolic age drew to a close. Of those days also it could have been said that spiritually
“there remaineth yet very much land to be possessed.”
Virtually there was a whole world remaining to be evangelized.
And as it was at the close of the Apostolic age, so is it also today at what
is clearly the closing days of the Church age. There
remains still the greater part of the world to be evangelized, relative to which we
should note in passing that it is a mistake to believe that Christ won’t come to
rapture the Church home to heaven until the whole world has heard the Gospel.
If it were otherwise no one could be saved in the fast approaching Tribulation
period, for as 2 Th 2 makes very clear, the only ones who can be saved in that era
will be they who had never before heard the Gospel.
“This is the land that yet remaineth: all the borders of the Philistines,
and all Geshuri,”
gives us a symbolic description not only of the end of the Apostolic age, but also of
the end of this the Church age, for the Philistine represents apostasy; and two
thousand years ago the great apostate system of Judaism ruled religiously, while the
great apostate system which now rules Christendom was even then also developing.
means wallowing, and it is significant that in 1 Pe 2:22 it is written
concerning apostates that “The dog is turned to his own vomit again; and the sow
that was washed to her wallowing in the mire,” i.e., the apostate returns
again to feed spiritually on that which he once professed to reject; and to wallow
again in the sin from which he once professed to have been washed.
means proud beholders, and as noted in our study of 12:5 they represent the
men of the world, governed by worldly wisdom, looking with proud disdain on believers
and on faith in Christ as a way to heaven. Together the Philistines and the Geshuri represent the world as it
was at the end of the Apostolic age, and as it is also today.
“From Sihor, which is before Egypt, even unto the borders of Ekron
northward, which is counted to the Canaanite: five lords of the Philistines; the
Gazathites, and the Ashdothites, the Eshkalonites, the Gittites, and the Ekronites;
also the Avites:”
meaning black: turbid is another name for the Nile, but the words “which is
before Egypt” preclude that great river, and indicate that the reference is rather
to the small stream in the desert between Israel and Egypt, and forming Israel’s
southern boundary. Since Canaan
represents the realm of faith into which conversion brings the believer, and since
Egypt represents the world, this early mention of this southern boundary between the
two reminds us that we are to maintain the line of demarkation between the world and
the realm of faith, which this boundary represents.
As Israel was not to go over that boundary into Egypt, neither are we to
return again to the world from which we have been separated by the cross of Christ. And as Israel was not to permit Egypt to trespass beyond that
river, neither are we to permit the world to intrude into the realm of faith.
The world’s ways and wisdom have no place in the Church.
The extent, however, to which the believer and the “Egyptian” have
disregarded that boundary, is painfully apparent in the lives of the multitudes of
professed believers who live like worldlings, and in the countless churches which are
governed more by the world’s methods than by the word of God.
“Sihor,” for the most part, has been left in the possession of the enemy.
the most northerly Philistine city near the Mediterranean, and directly west of the
northern end of the Dead Sea, means uprooting, a meaning which reminds us that
apostasy, which the Philistine represents, has done immeasurable harm to the true
Church by uprooting sound doctrine. Since
the north is the Biblical direction that speaks of human wisdom, the association of
Ekron with the north scarcely needs comment. Human
wisdom and apostasy almost invariably dwell together.
The apostate state of Christendom trumpets the fact that “Israel” (the
true Church) still hasn’t wrested “Ekron” from the hand of the enemy.
And since the Canaanite means trafficker, the description of Ekron as
that “which is counted to the Canaanite,” enhances the symbolic picture still
further. Those who traffick in spiritual
things abound in Christendom, the state of the great false church, in fact, being
largely the result of the work of the spiritual “Canaanite.”
five lords of the Philistines.” Since
five is the Biblical number of responsibility, this five reminds us that the apostasy
which the Philistine represents is largely the result of responsibility abandoned.
As believers we are responsible to live in obedience to God’s Word, and to
be unceasing in our warfare against the great Philistine travesty which rules
Christendom today, and is wreaking havoc in the midst of the true Church.
That system, and everything pertaining to it, is the foe of faith, and must be
recognized as such.
reference to “the five lords of the Philistines” has also something to
teach us. Five is associated with
sensuality, for it is by means of our five senses that we have awareness of the
physical world. The great harlot church
represented by the Philistine, like the wisdom which governs her, is
“earthly, sensual, devilish” Jas 3:15.
the Gazathites” were the inhabitants of Gaza which means she was strong.
The mention of them here is to remind us that for all its religious facade the
great harlot church is far more powerful than most people imagine, nor have we any
power against her except as we abide in Christ.
The evil system won’t be destroyed until the Lord returns to inaugurate His
millennial kingdom, but that knowledge shouldn’t deter us from exerting every
effort to thwart her nefarious activity today.
the Ashdothites.” Ashdod was another
Philistine city directly west of the north end of the Dead Sea, and about 3 miles
from the Mediterranean coast. Its
meaning I will spoil, continues to warn that everything “Philistine” is
the enemy of faith, and where permitted, will spoil everything that is of God.
Eshkalonites” were Philistines who inhabited Ashkelon or Eshkalon, meaning the
fire of infamy: I shall be weighed, meanings which remind us that for all her
outward power and glory, the great apostate system, weighed in God’s balances has
been found wanting, her infamy bringing upon her the fire of His wrath to be endured
eternally in the lake of fire. Her power and glory are but for a day: her torment will continue
for ever. The believer’s suffering, on
the other hand, is but for a day, while his bliss and glory will continue eternally.
Such a prospect should encourage us to bear with patience the worst that
Satan’s apostate system may do to us.
Gittites” were Philistine inhabitants of Gath, both names meaning a wine-press,
a term used symbolically to describe the
outpouring of Divine wrath and judgment, see for example Isa 63:3; Re 14:19-20, and
Re 19:15. Scripture records that Philistine oppression was the
“wine-press” into which Israel’s disobedience very often brought her, and it is
instructive to note that part of her disobedience was her failure to drive out the
Philistines; and the pattern has repeated itself in the history of the Church: her
failure to stamp out apostasy has left her today, as she has been for almost two
thousand years, under the oppression of the great apostate travesty which calls
itself the true church, and which rules virtually all of Christendom.
consolation to the faithful who also suffer under the tyranny of the harlot church is
that in a fast approaching day that whole corrupt system will be cast into the
winepress of His fierce wrath, nor will there ever be an end to her torment.
the Ekronites.” Since we have already
discussed Ekron at the beginning of our study of this verse there is no need to
repeat those comments here.
the Avites.” The name means perverters.
They were a people about whom little is known except that they lived in the
vicinity of Gaza, but were destroyed by the Philistines, apparently after the days of
pervert is to lead astray morally, or to turn one aside from the right moral path.
Christendom abounds with spiritual “Avites” today, many of them holding
impressive titles, and occupying the pulpits of churches so-called.
Such people are to be recognized for what they are: enemies of God and His
people, and are to be dealt with as such.
“From the south, all the land of the Canaanites, and Mearah that is beside
the Sidonians, unto Aphek, to the borders of the Amorites:”
south is the Biblical direction invariably associated with faith, and the lesson
being taught here is that from the moment we enter that “southland” by trusting
in Christ as Savior, we are to wage unremitting war against the “Canaanites,”
i.e., those who traffick in spiritual things for an ulterior motive.
And we will have missed an important part of the lesson if we fail to remember
that the Canaanite occupied, and had given his name to the whole land which
represents the realm of faith. The Lord
Himself when questioned as to the number of those who were saved, emphasized that
true converts were relatively few, see Mt 7:13-23.
We shouldn’t be deceived into believing that every professor is a genuine
believer. Many of those who constitute
professed Christendom today are Christians in name only, many of them never having
had a new birth. As the literal
Canaanites abounded in Canaan, so do their spiritual counterparts abound in
Mearah that is beside the Sidonians.” Mearah
means a cave, and is associated with the idea of making naked, and of causing
darkness by boring out the eyes; while Sidon means hunting.
Evil is associated with these two places, for a cave is associated with death,
being frequently used as a burial place, while nakedness portrays lack of
righteousness; and literal blindness is the counterpart of a corresponding spiritual
state. Sidon has an equally bad connotation, for hunting is never found
in Scripture in anything except a bad spiritual context.
and Sidon therefore continue to portray the evil that abounds in that spiritual realm
into which faith has brought us. While
it is the sphere where we can enjoy all the spiritual blessings secured for us by
Christ’s death, it is also the sphere occupied by all the evil powers of darkness
striving continually to pervert Scripture, and prevent our entering into the
enjoyment of the riches made available to us through Christ’s death and
resurrection.. As Israel was to
exterminate those literal foes, and claim the land that God had given them, so are we
to engage in war to the death with the spiritual foes represented by all the varied
tribes of the Canaanites, and take possession of all the spiritual riches God has
given and wants us to enjoy.
Aphek, to the borders of the Amorites:” Aphek
means restraint; and Amorite, sayer, and since Aphek was an enemy city,
and the Amorites an enemy people, the meanings must be understood in connection with
evil. The two, in fact, combine to
present us with a symbolic picture of the great false church, the clergy of both
Roman Catholicism and Protestantism maintaining
that only they are qualified to interpret Scripture, a Satanic restraint which denies
the truth that the Holy Spirit alone gives the believer the revelation of the meaning
of what God has written.
stranglehold which clericalism maintains over the professing church today is the
irrefutable evidence that Israel’s delinquency has been duplicated by the Church.
“Aphek” and the “Amorite” still control much of what God meant to be
subject to faith. It is an obedient
walk, not a theological education, which enables a man to understand the Scriptures.
must also be recognized that the evil of clericalism goes far beyond the imposition
of a boundary between clerics and laymen (a boundary which is abhorrent to God
because it constitutes the division into classes of a priesthood which by its very
nature cannot be divided): it stifles the development of spiritual gift, for where
the clerical system reigns, there is virtually no opportunity for the exercise of
“And the land of the Giblites, and all Lebanon, toward the sunrising, from
Baal-gad under mount Hermon unto the entering into Hamath.”
Giblites were the inhabitants of Gebal (Greek Byblos a book).
Giblite and Gebal both mean the same thing, a boundary.
It is on the coast a few miles north of Sidon.
The control of the place by the Giblites constituted a boundary that kept
Israel from the enjoyment of territory which God had given her, the restriction of
the enemy being made possible only because of Israel’s refusal to go forward and
take possession. A clue to the evil
represented by the Giblites is furnished by the Greek name of the place Byblos a
book, the same word from which Bible is derived. This enemy therefore represents someone or something that keeps us
from taking possession of, or understanding the Scriptures as God wants us to.
There are many such hindrances, but since the focus is on the inhabitants of
Gebal rather than on the city itself, our attention is being directed to people
rather than things, and in this connection one group stands out beyond all others. The clerics who rule Christendom, have placed a boundary between
themselves and what they term the “laity,” having arrogated the sole right to
interpret Scripture, that arrogation having been made easy by the willing
acquiescence of that same laity.
when that false claim is rejected, and believers give themselves to the study of
Scripture, depending on the Holy Spirit to give them understanding, will “the land
of the Giblites” be taken out from the control of the enemy, for God’s glory and
all Lebanon... from Baal-gad... mount Hermon.”
For the significance of these places, see notes on 11:17 and 12:1,5,7.
the sunrising (the east).” Since the
east is the direction associated with mere earthly wisdom, and with sin and departure
from God, this reference to the east reminds us that when we make earthly wisdom,
instead of Scripture, our guide, the inevitable result will be that we will be led
into sin and departure from God. In Israel’s failure to appropriate this territory we see the OT
foreshadowing of the failure of the Church. We
too have not only failed to reject earthly wisdom, we have embraced it, and made it
our guide far more often than we have Scripture, the tragic results of that folly
being all too clearly displayed in the sorry state of the Church today..
the entering into Hamath.” Hamath
means enclosure of wrath, and reminds us that as we leave the spiritual
equivalents of these places in the hand of the enemy they then become an enclosure of
wrath, shutting us up to God’s chastisement rather than blessing.
“All the inhabitants of the hill country from Lebanon unto Misrephoth-maim,
and all the Sidonians, them will I drive out from before the children of Israel: only
divide thou it by lot unto the Israelites for an inheritance, as I have commanded
meaning burnings of waters, speaks
of the judgment that will eventually overtake those who reject God’s Word, the Lord
Himself, declaring relative to the day of judgment, “And if any man hear my words,
and believe not, I judge him not: for I came not to judge the world, but to save the
world. He that rejecteth me, and
receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the
same shall judge him in the last day” Jn 12:47-48.
That very same Word which is living water to the believer, will be
“burnings” for the unbeliever.
promise “... them will I drive out from before the children of Israel,” awaits
fulfillment. The disobedience which
hindered accomplishment in the days of Joshua, will yet give place to the obedience
that will make possible the outpouring of millennial blessing.
In its application to us, the lesson is that the disobedience which now
hinders fullness of blessing, will give place to unhindered, and therefore
unmeasured, eternal blessing.
command, “... divide thou it by lot unto the Israelites for an inheritance,” has
also a valuable lesson. Each received
his portion of the land by Divine appointment: one receiving his allotment in the
mountains; another, in the valley; and yet another by the sea.
Those varied parts should remind us that it is an all-wise and all-loving God
Who assigns to each spiritual Israelite (believer) his portion for his life here on
earth; but as it was with Israel, so is it all too often with us: dissatisfaction
with the lot assigned to us frequently breeds envy of another’s portion. God’s assignment, however, is accom-
by His admonition, “Be content with such things as ye have” Heb 13:5.
We should never forget that His grace which was sufficient for all Paul’s
needs, is sufficient also for ours.
“Now therefore divide this land for an inheritance unto the nine tribes, and
the half tribe of Manasseh,”
command to divide the land to the nine and a half tribes was the guarantee that God
would fulfill His word, but the fact that complete fulfillment is still future is a
sad commentary on Israel’s lack of obedience.
As has been noted already, God’s reason for driving the Canaanites out
gradually was to prevent the multiplication of the wild beasts, and also to test
Israel’s obedience. As all too often, they failed the test; but also as noted already,
Israel’s history is simply the prewritten history of the Church.
We too have failed to take possession of all that has been made available to
us by the Lord’s death and resurrection.
the factors of nine are three by three, and since three is the number of
resurrection, the further lesson being taught in the mention of the nine and a half
tribes is that for Israel, as for us, God’s promises will be made good in
resurrection. We have a foreshadowing of
this in the experience of the generation that came out of Egypt.
That first generation died out in the desert, and a new, a second generation
entered Canaan. But that second
generation failed to possess all the land because they were disobedient.
In the Millennium, however, the whole land will be possessed by another
generation: the one that will pass out of the Tribulation into the millennial
kingdom. For us also it will be in
resurrection that we will enter into the full enjoyment of all that has been secured
for us by Christ’s death and resurrection.
reference to the half tribe of Manasseh is the symbolic announcement of the
truth that here on earth, because of the limitations of these earthly bodies, we can
only partially enter into the enjoyment of our inheritance.
The full enjoyment will come when these earthly bodies will have been replaced
with the new, the spiritual.
as the half tribe was Manasseh, meaning causing to forget, a further lesson
may be that on that day when these earthly bodies will have been replaced with the
new, the spiritual, the splendor of our inheritance will cause us to forget all the
sin, sorrow, and tears of earth. We will
then, like the queen of Sheba, exclaim, “The one half ... was not told me” 2 Ch
can’t consider the meaning of Manasseh without recalling the words of Paul,
“...this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching
forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of
the high calling of God in Christ Jesus” Php 3:13-14.
all of the tribes of Israel, Manasseh represents another characteristic which should
mark us as believers. We too should be
forgetful of the things which are behind. If we keep remembering our failures we will become discouraged;
and if we keep rembering our imagined successes we will become puffed up with pride.
“With whom the Reubenites and the Gadites have received their inheritance,
which Moses gave them, beyond Jordan eastward, even as Moses the servant of the Lord
the significance of Reuben and Gad see notes on 4:12, and for comments on the two and
a half tribes settled east of Jordan, see 1:15.
“From Aroer, that is upon the bank of the river Arnon, and the city that is
in the midst of the river and all the plain of Medeba unto Dibon.”
12:1-2 for comments on Aroer and Arnon.
means waters of rest (quiet), and Dibon the waster.
The spiritual message of Medeba is easily read, for when one is dwelling
obediently in the place of God’s appointment there will always be the spiritual
equivalent of waters of rest or quietness. The
spiritual lesson of Dibon is less obvious, but since it was close to the border of
Moab in the south, and of Ammon in the east (territories God had not given to
Israel), it may be meant to sound a warning to every believer not to go beyond the
boundary of God’s directive will.
“And all the cities of Sihon king of the Amorites, which reigned in Heshbon,
unto the border of the children of Ammon:”
comments on Sihon, the Amorites, Heshbon, and Ammon, please consult the notes on
2:10; 3:10; 5:1; 7:7; 9:10; 10:5,6,12; 12:2,5,8.
“And Gilead, and the border of the Geshurites and Maachathites; and all
mount Hermon, and all Bashan unto Salcah;”
comments on all of the names mentioned in this verse, please consult the notes on
9:10; 11:3,17; 12:1,2,4,5.
“All the kingdom of Og in Bashan, which reigned in Ashtaroth and in Edrei,
who remained of the remnant of the giants: for these did Moses smite, and cast them
comments on all the names mentioned in this verse, please consult 2:10; 9:10; 12:4.
“Nevertheless the children of Israel expelled not the Geshurites, nor the
Maachathites: but the Geshurites and the Maachathites dwell among the Israelites
until this day.”
the significance of the Geshurites and the Maachathites, please see the notes on
12:5. It is instructive to note that the
two and a half tribes don’t appear to have even attempted to expel these enemies,
so that their failure to do so was nothing less than disobedience.
And when we remember that the Geshurites represent the arrogant pride with
which the world’s wisdom views believers and the Gospel of salvation through faith
in a crucified and resurrected Christ; and that the Maachathites symbolize the
spiritual equivalent of castration, it makes the negligence of the Israelites the
more reprehensible. We will have missed
the lesson, however, if we fail to recognize that we too have failed in this same
sphere. As the Geshurites and the
Maachathites dwelt in the midst of Israel, so do their spiritual equivalents dwell in
the midst of those professing faith in Christ. The
professing church today is largely governed by the world’s wisdom rather than the
Word of God, and with the same deadly results. She has become Laodicean in character, so that the Lord’s
condemnation of the church in Sardis, is equally true of the professing church today,
“I know thy works, that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead” Re 3:1.
“Only unto the tribe of Levi he gave none inheritance; the sacrifices of the
Lord God of Israel made by fire are their inheritance, as he said unto them.”
Levites present us with a dual picture. First,
they represent those believers of this present age whose calling to minister to
God’s people has required them to devote themselves to that work to such an extent
that they lack the time that would normally be devoted to obtaining the necessities
of life. They are to be supported by a
reciprocal ministry on the part of those to whom they minister spiritually, “Let
him that is taught in the word communicate unto him that teacheth in all good
things,” Ga 6:6. See also Nu 18:20-32;
Dt 10:9; 18:1-8; 1 Co 9:9-14, and 1 Tim 5:18. From
the offerings brought by the other tribes, God appointed a portion for the support of
the Levites, and it is instructive that their support was entirely dependent on what
the other tribes gave to God. In other
words, it varied. They had no guaranteed
fixed income. This arrangement, however,
was itself a type of the arrangement for the support of those called to a
“full-time” ministry to God’s people today.
These full-time servants are to be supported out of the believers’ free-will
offerings. Three words in our verse
relative to those offerings deserve careful attention.
They are “made by fire.” Fire
is one of the Biblical symbols of the Holy Spirit, and the lesson God would have us
learn from this is that it is the Holy Spirit, and He alone, Who is to direct our
giving, and therefore the amount of the full-time servant’s income.
Scripture knows nothing of the system operating throughout Christendom today
whereby a “pastor, minister, priest, clergyman, etc.,” is hired by a church, and
guaranteed a salary. The whole
worldly-wise scheme, in fact, is contrary to the teaching of Scripture, and like so
much in Christendom, robs the Holy Spirit of His prerogative.
the Levites represent all believers of this present Church age, and in their
receiving no allotment of land, we see in symbol the truth that the believer’s
portion is not here on earth but in heaven. We
are to pass through this world as pilgrims and strangers on their way home to heaven,
as did Abraham, of whom it is written that “he looked for a (the) city which hath
foundations, whose builder and maker is God” Heb 11:10.
Our present position is emphasized in Heb 13:14 “For here we have no
continuing city, but we seek one to come.”
“And Moses gave unto the tribe of the children of Reuben inheritance
according to their families.”
notes on 4:12 for the spiritual significance of Reuben.
Since Moses represents the Lord dying for us; and Joshua, the Lord resurrected
and living for us in heaven, its being Moses rather than Joshua who assigned their
portions to the two and a half tribes east of the river, may be meant to focus
attention on the spiritual significance of what is recorded as it relates to our
lives in the midst of the legitimate affairs of life, e.g., families, jobs,
businesses, etc., rather than on what relates more specifically to the spiritual
warfare in which we are also engaged. The
work of Moses as a type of the Lord in the midst of earthly circumstances, is
therefore particularly appropriate for those also in the midst of earthly
circumstances, for He is our Example in all things.
“And their coast was from Aroer, that is on the bank of the river Arnon, and
the city that is in the midst of the river, and all the plain by Medeba;"
consult verse 9 for the spiritual significance of these places.
“Heshbon, and all her cities that are in the plain; Dibon, Bamoth-baal, and
has already been discussed in 9:10; 12:2,5; 13:10; and Dibon, in 13:9, so it is
necessary only to examine the remaining two places mentioned in this verse.
means high places of Baal; and Beth-baal-meon, house of Baal of the
habitation. Since Baal, the
imaginary god invented by the corrupt mind of fallen man, is nothing less than Satan
himself, these things translate into instruction relative to that evil spirit and the
false religion associated with the worship accorded him.
The high places of which Bamoth-baal speaks, were always associated with the
idolatrous worship of Israel and the nations; but Beth-baal-meon seems to point to a
more sophisticated form of that worship. There
can be little question that it points to that great “house” which rules
Christendom today in the form of Roman Catholicism and apostate Protestantism, both
of which will be joined together in the Tribulation under the rule of Rome. God’s command to divide all these places to Israel, and His
promise that He would one day give her possession of them, had a brief and partial
fulfillment in the days of Solomon. Complete
fulfillment will come in the Millennium. But
the message goes beyond Israel and the land of Canaan.
It is, in fact, His promise to the Church that in the Millennium she will rule
with Christ over the whole earth. While
we await that day we are responsible to ensure that none of the evils portrayed by
these peoples and places have any part in our lives personally or corporately.
is instructive also to note that Bamoth-baal was a Moabite city; and Beth-baal-meon,
though assigned to Reuben, later also fell into the hands of the Moabites.
But as already noted, Moab speaks of the lusts of the flesh, and who will deny
that such lust marks all of Christendom today?
“And Jahazah, and Kedemoth, and Mephaath,”
means to the treading down: the treading down place: to stamp (as in a
threshing floor). Threshing is a harvest
activity, and in Scripture harvest is always associated with judgment, see, for
example, Mt 13:30-39; Mk 4:29; Re 14:15. This assignment of Jahazah to Israel for her future possession, is
the symbolic announcement that after Christ’s judgment of the nations at the end of
the Tribulation, dominion of the earth will be committed to Israel.
But again the message goes beyond Israel.
It reminds us who comprise the Church that while Israel will rule from the
earthly Jerusalem, we will reign with Christ over the earth from the heavenly
means beginnings: confrontings, and may be intended to teach us that the
activity of God in apportioning the land in the days of Joshua was only the beginning
and the foreshadowing of a far greater work that would culminate in Israel’s being
given dominion over the whole earth in the Millennium, and in our reigning with
means the shining forth, and undoubtedly points to that quickly approaching
day when the Lord Jesus Christ will come in power and glory to inaugurate His
glorious millennial kingdom, and there will be fulfilled the promise recorded in Mt
13:43, “Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their
Father....” As we await that day it is
our privilege to obey the command given in Mt 5:16, “Let your light so shine before
men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in
“And Kirjathaim, and Sibmah, and Zareth-shahar in the mount of the
means double city, and may point symbolically to what is yet future.
In the Millennium the government of the earth will be from two Jerusalems: the
one on earth, and the other in heaven. The
practical lesson is that we are responsible to demonstrate that the rule of heaven
governs our lives.
means why hoary?: spice: fragrance: place of many vines.
I regret being unable to see the significance of the first meaning, but the
others, like Kirjathaim, may be also pointing to what will be in the Millennium.
Spice and fragrance are associated with what is pleasant, and the vine is the
source of wine which is Biblically associated with joy.
They combine to present a typological picture of the character of the
millennial age, but the practical lesson is that our lives should be marked by the
fragrance and joy of heaven even as we pass through this world on our way home to
splendor of the dawn, seems also to point to the splendor of the millennial
age, for the dawn is associated with the introduction of the Millennium, the
expectation of the Church being the coming of Christ as the bright and morning star,
and the expectation of Israel being His coming as the Sun of righteousness, both
comings being the prelude to the inauguration of the millennial kingdom.
“And Bethpeor, and Ashdoth-pisgah, and Bethjeshimoth,”
means house of the opening; Ashdoth-pisgah, spoilers of the survey: ravines
of Pisgah; and Bethjeshimoth, house of the wastes: house of the deserts.
The spiritual message of these three places appears to be evil rather than
good, for while the meaning of Bethpeor is ambiguous, the meanings of Ashdoth-pisgah
and Bethjeshimoth are bad. Pisgah was
the mountain from which Moses was told to survey the land of Canaan, but here the
thought is of that survey spoiled (little can be seen from the bottom of a ravine);
and Bethjeshimoth, associated as it is with that which is waste or desert, has also
an evil connotation. It may be therefore
that we are being directed to consider the evil that will attend the inauguration of
the millennial kingdom. For the
unbelievers the house of the opening will be hell into which they will be
banished to await the resurrection of death, following which they will be consigned
to the eternal torment of the lake of fire. For
them survey of the millennial earth will be prevented by the impenetrable darkness
into which they will descend following Christ’s judgment of the nations prior to
the beginning of the Millennium. The
“house” into which they will descend will be that which is symbolically portrayed
by Bethjeshimoth: it will be the prison house in the “desert” - a place without
water to relieve the torment of the unquenchable fire, the same place from which the
rich man begged that Lazarus might be sent with a drop of water to “cool my tongue,
for I am tormented in this flame” Lk 16:24.
“And all the cities of the plain, and all the kingdom of Sihon king of the
Amorites, which reigned in Heshbon, whom Moses smote with the princes of Midian, Evi,
and Rekem, and Zur, and Hur, and Reba, which were dukes of Sihon, dwelling in the
the significance of Sihon see notes on 2:10; 9:10; 12:2,5; 13:10; and for the
Amorites see 2:10; 3:10; 5:1; 7:7; 9:10; 10:5,6,12; 12:2,8; 13:4,10; and for Heshbon
see 9:10; 12:2,5; 13:10,17.
means contention: strife, and as an enemy of Israel he is the symbolic warning
that contention and strife permitted amongst God’s people will result in their
means my desire: habitation, and as a prince of the Midianites he represents
some powerful force associated with contention and strife related to desire and a
house. The reference may be to the great
“house” of apostate Christendom, the false church whose consuming desire is the
destruction of those who constitute the true Church.
History bears eloquent testimony to the malignant hatred with which that great
“house” has gratified its desire.
meaning embroidery: variegation, appears to speak of that evil work of the
harlot church which has “embroidered” the Scriptures with her own deadly
doctrine, so distorting them that they lead men down to hell instead of to the
Savior. For example, she teaches men to
think positively, to think well of themselves, to have a good self-image, and to
reject the indictment of God that they are ruined, sinful, spiritually dead, and in
desperate need of being saved from hell and fitted for heaven through faith in the
Lord Jesus Christ as Savior. What Rekem
portrays is manifest throughout apostate Christendom today.
Such things as hell, sin, atonement, cleansing by the blood of Christ, eternal
torment, etc., have all but disappeared from the vocabulary of today’s preachers,
but such preaching makes God a liar, and the death of Christ unnecessary.
As Rekem was to be expelled from Canaan so is the evil which he represents to
be banished from the Church. The
doctrine he represents is not to be found in Scripture, and should not therefore be
found in the assemblies of God’s people.
means a rock: to besiege. Since
Christ is the Rock upon which the believer’s every hope rests, this enemy
represents a false Christ - not necessarily one claiming to be Christ, but rather the
misrepresentation of Christ through alteration of Scripture, e.g., the presentation
of Christ as being too loving to send anyone to hell.
second meaning of Zur to besiege is in perfect keeping with this.
To misrepresent Christ is to “besiege” the whole edifice of Scriptural
truth, for it is He the Living Word Who is presented on every page of the written
means a hole: white. Relative to
the first meaning, the thought is of the den of a serpent; the cell of a prison; a
den; a cave, all of which have a bad connotation scripturally.
Relative to the second meaning white, one reference is to white linen,
which is scripturally good, speaking as it does of righteousness; but the other
meaning has an evil connotation, for it means to blanche as with shame; to wax pale.
In the context of this section it is evident that the latter meaning applies.
the present context Hur points symbolically to Satan, the old serpent, the ultimate
enemy; the one whose “house” is a prison cell for all who serve him.
It is a cave, the biblical symbol of the place of death.
evil activity portrayed here by Hur is to be kept out of the assemblies of believers.
means a fourth part, but since four is the number of testing, this name is
meant to remind us that in the final analysis every activity of the enemy is simply a
test of our obedience. Our prayer should
be for the grace to emerge successfully from every test presented by Satan.
“Balaam also the son of Beor, the soothsayer, did the children of Israel
slay with the sword among them that were slain by them.”
means not of the people: a foreigner. He
was the false prophet hired by Balak the Moabite king, to curse Israel, but whom God
compelled to pronounce blessing instead, see Nu 22-24.
It is interesting to note that part of the blessing he was forced to utter
included also the prayer, “Let me die the death of the righteous, and let my last
end be like his” NU 23:10. That prayer
was never answered for he never exercised the faith that would have allied him with
God and His people. To the end he
remained the enemy of God and of Israel so that we read, “And they (Israel) slew
the kings of Midian ... Evi, and Rekem, and Zur, and Hur, and Reba ... Balaam also
the son of Beor they slew with the sword” Nu 31:8.
Balaam was one with whom the Spirit of God had striven, but to no avail.
He appears on the page of Scripture as a warning to all who follow in his
footsteps, as it is written, “My spirit shall not always strive with man” Ge 6:3,
and, “He, that being often reproved hardeneth his neck, shall suddenly be
destroyed, and that without remedy” Pr 29:1. In
addition to being a figure of all who reject salvation, there can be little question
that he is also a type of the final false prophet who will emerge in the Tribulation,
and who, with the beast, will be cast alive into the lake of fire, see Re 19:20.
“And the border of the children of Reuben was Jordan, and the border
thereof. This was the inheritance of the
children of Reuben after their families, the cities and the villages thereof.”
concludes the designation of the borders of the portion given to the Reubenites, and
we must remember that each of the tribes of Israel is the symbolic representation of
a characteristic of us as the spiritual Israel of God.
Reuben therefore, meaning see ye, a son declares that this is God’s
designation of us. We are His sons. It
behooves us therefore to conduct ourselves in a manner becoming our high and
as already noted, the people and places mentioned in connection with Reuben’s
inheritance represent truths relative to our spiritual inheritance, it behooves us to
heed the instruction thus given us symbolically.
There is special significance connected with its being emphasized that Jordan
was Reuben’s border, for the Jordan is one of the biblical symbols of death.
God would remind us that the river of death separates believer from
unbeliever. We stand on the life side of
that river, eternally alive in association with a resurrected Savior: unbelievers lie
on the death side of that river, as it is written, “And you hath he quickened (made
alive), who were “dead in trespasses and sins” Eph 2:1.
We are not to cross over that boundary to live again as we did when
unconverted, to God’s dishonor and our own eternal loss relative to the reward that
will be given at the judgment seat of Christ.
“And Moses gave inheritance unto the tribe of Gad, even unto the children of
Gad according to their families.”
means fortune: troop, and in connection with the latter meaning, is related to
the idea of attacking or invading. The
meaning fortune is associated
with the planet Jupiter who was considered to be the giver of good fortune, but Ge
30:11 makes it very clear that the scriptural meaning - and therefore the one that
concerns us - is troop Like all the tribes
of Israel he represents a characteristic of those who comprise the Church.
In obedience to the Lord’s command to go into all the world with the Gospel,
we are to be as a troop empowered by God, invading Satan’s kingdom with the good
news, which believed, liberates men from his bondage, and brings them into the
kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ, Col 1:13.
being said that the inheritance was given “unto the tribe of Gad, even unto
the children of Gad” reminds us of Paul’s warning, “For they are not all
Israel, which are of Israel. Neither,
because they are the seed of Abraham,are they all children: but, in Isaac shall they
seed be called. That is, They which are
the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God: but the children of the
promise are counted for the seed” Ro 9:6-8. There
were always two Israels: the professing, but apostate mass of the nation; and the
small believing remnant; and there are two churches: the professing, but apostate
mass calling itself the church; and the small believing remnant which is the
“And their coast was Jazer, and all the cities of Gilead, and half the land
of the children of Ammon, unto Aroer that is before Rabbah;”
already noted, the counterpart of the literal boundaries appointed for Israel are the
spiritua1 bounds within which we are to live our lives during this present age of
grace. Jazer, therefore, meaning let
him help: protecting is the symbolic announcement of the fact that we are
to be helpful to saint and sinner alike; and while protecting may certainly be
taken in the same context, it is more likely that it relates to the need to guard
sound doctrine from the activity of those who would seek to destroy it by subverting
meaning heap of witness: rolling for ever, represents testimony; and as the
name of the whole territory given to Gad the reference to “all the cities of
Gilead” reminds us that transcending everything else in our lives is the need to be
the Lord’s witnesses in the Gospel.
the son incestuously begotten by Lot, means tribal (peoplish, inbred), and as
noted in our study of 12:2, which see, he represents the flesh in the believer,
working through the intellect. There is
no more deadly foe of faith than that which would interpret Scripture by mere human
intelligence apart from the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit.
It is by just such a means that the great apostate church has been
established, and it is by the same means that the true Church lies in ruins, ignorant
of the spiritual significance of the literal language of Scripture.
So successful has the enemy been in the use of this strategy that the
typological method of Bible study is rejected by the vast majority of even true
and half the land of the children of Ammon....” It may seem at first glance that this is a contradiction of Dt
2:19 which records God’s decree “... I will not give thee of the land of the
children of Ammon.” It is to be
remembered, however, that according to Judges 13 the Amorites, three hundred years
earlier, had conquered this section of Ammon’s territory, and it came into the
possession of Israel when they defeated Sihon while on their way to take possession
of Canaan at the end of their forty years in the wilderness.
the significance of Aroer see 12:2.
means populous, and its being one of Gad’s border towns may be meant to
teach the lesson that there is a “Rabbah” at the border of every believer’s
life, and at the border of every local church: a vast multitude of men and women who
need to hear the Gospel. These lost
souls may be members of our own families, our neighbors, people we work with, those
we encounter every day. If we don’t bring them the Gospel, who will?
Remember the Lord’s command, “Go ye into all the world, and preach the
gospel to every creature” Mk 16:15.
“And from Heshbon unto Ramath-mizpeh, and Betonim; and from Mahanaim unto
the border of Debir.”
the significance of Heshbon see 9:10.
meaning the watch-tower height, conveys a message easily read.
We can never afford to relax our vigilance in the conflict with an enemy who
never sleeps, and who is tireless in his efforts to destroy us.
But if there is the need to “watch and pray” because of a vigilant foe,
there is another and very different reason: the Lord is coming “in a moment, in the
twinkling of an eye” 1 Co 15:52. That
promise is for our encouragement. A
moment from now could bring our removal to heaven where no foe can follow.
next border point was Betonim, meaning cavities (as the womb).
It also means pistachio nuts (because of their shape), but it is
the first meaning that conveys spiritual instruction relative to the Gospel which, of
course, is designed to result in the new birth.
As spiritual Gadites we are being reminded here in symbol that our primary
business is to be fruitful in begetting many spiritual sons and daughters.
meaning double camp, was the next place on Gad’s border, and is surely meant
to remind us that though the enemy may encamp against us with all his legions, we are
protected, as was Jacob (see Ge 32:1-2), by a far more powerful army.
God stands between us and our enemies. Satan
can do nothing without God’s permission.
next border point was Debir meaning oracle and speaking of the Word of God.
Under Canaanite control it was called Kirjath-sepher, meaning city of the
book, and the lesson God would teach in the change of name is that to the
unconverted the Bible is simply another book, but to the believer it is “Debir”
the living Word of the living God, presenting Christ to the eye of faith on every
page. It is to govern every aspect of
“And in the valley, Betharam, and Bethnimrah, and Succoth, and Zaphon, the
rest of the kingdoms of Sihon King of Heshbon, Jordan and his border, even unto the
edge of the sea of Chinnereth on the other side Jordan eastward.”
valley speaks of cultivation and fruitfulness, and reminds us of the need to produce
not only the fruits of the Spirit, but also spiritual children, men and women led to
the Savior through the Gospel.
means the house of the exalted: the house of their hill.
As a place given to Gad to mark the border of his inheritance, this place
assures us that those who are faithful in proclaiming the Gospel, and in producing
fruit for God’s glory, are they who occupy an exalted position in God’s sight,
even though men may ccount them of little worth.
God’s appraisal of them will be revealed at the judgment seat of Christ.
meaning house of the leopardess, is also related to the thought of clear
water. The leopard (masculine) is the
Biblical symbol of Greece and of the Tribulation age beast emperor, but it is also
used to portray God ready to execute judgment against rebellious Israel.
water is one of the symbols of the written Word, and it is to be remembered that it
is by that same Word that all things will finally be judged, as declared by the Lord
Himself, “He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth
him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day” Jn
13:48. Symbolically therefore the
leopard and the Word are very closely linked together, for they speak of the judgment
of God by means of the written Word.
in the portion we are now considering the meaning of Bethnimrah is house of the
leopardess, (femine), and speaking therefore as always, in a good context, of
obedient submission, and reminding us that those who have willingly accepted
Christ’s rule here on earth, will one day reign with Him.
meaning booths is the next border point, and is clearly meant to remind us of
our pilgrim character here on earth, for during the feast of Tabernacles Israel was
to dwell in booths for seven days as a reminder of their wilderness journeyings
following their redemption from Egyptian bondage, Le 23:39-43.
That deliverance, and those journeyings are symbolic of our own experience.
We have enjoyed a greater redemption, and are travelling as pilgrims and
strangers towards a better place than Canaan. It
behooves us therefore to manifest that we are pilgrims and strangers passing
through this evil world on our way home to heaven.
next border point is Zaphon, which has as its primary meaning the north (from to
hide), but it is also associated with the idea of darkness, and of lurking.
The context seems to be evil, for the north is the direction which speaks of
the intellect, and almost invariably of the intellect in rebellion against God. It may be therefore that it is meant to warn us against the danger
of allowing human reasoning to take the place of faith.
Satan, lurking in the darkness, is ever ready to use human reasoning to make
faith appear foolish, but we are never to forget that the just live by faith, and are
also to walk by it. It is worldly wisdom
that is folly in God’s sight.
already discussed Sihon, Heshbon, and Jordan, we will look now at the spiritual
significance of Chinnereth (the Sea of Galilee) meaning a harp (because of its
shape). Throughout Scripture Galilee a
circuit (as enclosed or rolled around) is frequently associated with the
believing remnant, e.g., Mt 26:32; 28:7,10,16; Ac 1:11.
In making Chinnereth a part of Gad’s boundary God would encourage His own by
reminding them that they are the privileged members of that despised minority
destined to reign with Christ in a soon coming day.
the other side Jordan eastward.” As
already noted, the two and a half tribes on the eastern side of Jordan represent, not
carnal, world-bordering believers, but rather, saints living in the midst of earthly
circumstances in a world spiritually “east” of God, i.e., far away from Him.
In that world and in those circumstances, His own are here encouraged to live
in separation from that evil world until the day when their earthly sojourn ends and
they are home in heaven with Christ.
“This is the inheritance of the children of Gad after their families, the
cities, and their villages.”
families appear to represent the individual assemblies of this present Church age,
and as there is within the family a mutual concern for its wellbeing, so is there to
be within each local church the same mutual loving care.
seem to speak of government, and as the elders of each city were responsible for its
government so are the elders of each local church responsible to govern as God’s
representatives. The mention of cities
(plural) is the symbolic reminder that each one was governed by its own elders, the
spiritual lesson being that the authority of elders does not extend beyond their own
appear to represent the day-to-day activities of each local church, which is of
course ultimately the activities of each member. The lesson God would teach in this verse is that every detail of
our lives is to be under His direction.
“And Moses gave inheritance unto the half tribe of Manasseh: and this was
the possession of the half tribe of the children of Manasseh by their families.”
the spiritual significance of Manasseh please see comments on 13:7.
“And their coast was from Mahanaim, all Bashan, all the kingdom of Og king
of Bashan, and all the towns of Jair, which are in Bashan, threescore cities:”
notes on verse 26 for the significance of Mahanaim; and for Bashan and Og see
comments on 12:4,5.
general meaning of Jair is he will enlighten, but in 1 Ch 20:5 it means he
will stir up. Jair was the name of
several Israelites, one being the man mentioned here; another was the judge of Israel
mentioned in Jg 10:3,5; another was the father of one of David’s valiant men; and
another was the father of Mordecai, see Est 2:5.
All of these are found in a good connection, and the lesson connected with the
name is that every believer is responsible to enlighten others: believers, with a
deeper knowledge of God; and unbelievers, with their need of a Savior.
cities.” Since six - the number of
man, weakness, failure, and sin - is an obvious factor of sixty, the lesson of the
sixty conquered cities seems to be that everything pertaining to this world is
stamped with the evil associated with six. In
spite of a good beginning, Israel failed to fulfill those early expectations; nor has
the Church been any different. She too has failed, so that Israel’s history has proved to be
but the symbolic duplicate of that of the Church.
The melancholy histories of both, however, are relieved by the recorded
exploits of individuals who stood fearlessly for God in the midst of general weakness
and apostasy. The lesson God would teach
in the towns of Jair is that however great the general failure in the Church,
individuals may still acquit themselves like Jair.
There has probably never been a time when saints and sinners alike were in
greater need of being enlightened and stirred up relative to the the knowledge of
God, and in this mention of Jair, God would encourage His own to fulfill the type.
“And half Gilead, and Ashtaroth, and Edrei, cities of the kingdom of Og in
Bashan, were pertaining unto the children of Machir the son of Manasseh, even to the
one half of the children of Machir by their families.”
the significance of Gilead please see notes on 12:2; and for Ashtaroth, Edrei, Og,
and Bashan, 12:4.
means a salesman. He was
Manasseh’s firstborn, see 17:1, and is not to be confused with the Machir of 2 Sa
9:4,5, who befriended Mephibosheth, and ministered to David, see 2 Sa 17:27-29.
Several things indicate that the spiritual message here is to be understood in
a bad context. First, salesman
itself doesn’t seem to be good; and second, the firstborn always speaks of that
which pertains to the flesh. The lesson
therefore may be that while we are here on earth the flesh is still with us, and
unless kept under strict control, will produce the same evil in our lives as it did
when we were unconverted. The repeated
mention of “the one half” continues also to emphasize the inferiority of the
believer’s earthly state as compared with the eternal.
“These are the countries which Moses did distribute for inheritance in the
plains of Moab on the other side Jordan, by Jericho, eastward.”
context continues the lesson of the previous verse. As discussed already Moses represents Christ leading us out of
spiritual death into eternal life, while Joshua represents Him as the Captain of our
salvation leading us into the enjoyment of our spiritual inheritance.
Here on earth our attention tends to be focused on what we have been delivered
from, rather than on the eternal riches that are ours in Christ, simply because we
can comprehend only faintly what awaits us in heaven, as it is written, “Eye hath
not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which
God hath prepared for them that love him” 1 Co 2:9.
in the plains of Moab” continues the symbolic description of our earthly state as
compared with the heavenly, for Moab, as noted already, speaks of the flesh,
particularly in connection with the gratification of lust.
We are to keep the flesh in the place of death, and to afford it no
opportunity to indulge lustful desires.
on the other side Jordan” continues to emphasize the contrast between the earthly
and the spiritual, the spiritual being represented by the Canaan side of Jordan.
by Jericho let him smell it: place of fragrance: his fragrance,” which as
discussed already in 12:9, portrays the world as man sees it, but what is fragrant to
the natural man is a stench to God. We are to view the world from God’s perspective.
eastward.” Since the east is always
associated with sin and departure from God, the emphasis upon the portion assigned by
Moses, as being on the eastern side of Jordan, continues to press home the lesson
that our earthly state can’t begin to compare with what awaits us in heaven.
“But unto the tribe of Levi Moses gave not any inheritance: the Lord God of
Israel was their inheritance, as he said unto them.”
the spiritual significance of Levi please see notes on verse 14 which declares that
“the sacrifices of the Lord God of Israel made by fire are their inheritance,”
but here it is stated that “the Lord God of Israel was their inheritance.”
verse 14 they are assured of His provision for their needs, but here it He, not the
sacrifices brought by Israel, Who is their inheritance.
Abraham was given the same assurance in Ge 15:1, “Fear not, Abram: I am thy
shield, and thy exceeding great reward.” As
those who are also still on the “eastern” side of Jordan, i.e., here on earth, we
tend to be more concerned about temporal things than spiritual, but in both these
verses God would direct our attention to Him. Since
He is our God, and He the One Who gave His Son to redeem our souls, we can
confidently echo the words of Paul, “He that spared not his own Son, but delivered
him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?” Ro
8:32. Relative to our needs, temporal
and spiritual, the Apostle also exhorts us, “Be careful for nothing; but in every
thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known
unto God. And the peace of God, which
passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus”
Php 6-7. Sadly, we impoverish ourselves
because deep down in most of our hearts lurks the truth that we’d rather have the
dollars than this transcendent peace, in spite of the incontrovertible evidence that
money doesn’t bring peace.