Commentary on the Bible, by Adam Clarke, , at sacred-texts.com
A list of the kings on the east of Jordan, which were conquered by Moses, with their territories, Jos 12:1-6. A list of those on the west side of Jordan, conquered by Joshua, in number thirty-one, vv. 7-24.
From the river Arnon unto Mount Hermon - Arnon was the boundary of all the southern coast of the land occupied by the Israelites beyond Jordan; and the mountains of Hermon were the boundaries on the north. Arnon takes its rise in the mountains of Gilead, and having run a long way from north to south falls into the Dead Sea, near the same place into which Jordan discharges itself.
And all the plain on the east - All the land from the plains of Moab to Mount Hermon.
From Aroer - Aroer was situated on the western side of the river Arnon, in the middle of the valley through which this river takes its course. The kingdom of Sihon extended from the river Arnon and the city of Aroer on the south to the river Jabbok on the north.
And from half Gilead - The mountains of Gilead extended from north to south from Mount Hermon towards the source of the river Arnon, which was about the midst of the extent of the kingdom of Sihon: thus Sihon is said to have possessed the half of Gilead, that is, the half of the mountains and of the country which bore the name of Gilead on the east of his territories.
River Jabbok - This river has its source in the mountains of Gilead; and, running from east to west, falls into Jordan. It bounds the territories of Sihon on the north, and those of the Ammonites on the south.
The sea of Chinneroth - Or Gennesareth, the same as the lake or sea of Tiberias.
The Salt Sea on the east - ים המלח yam hammelach, which is here translated the Salt Sea, is understood by others to mean the sea of the city Melach. Where can we find any thing that can be called a salt sea on the east of the lake of Gennesareth? Some think that the lake Asphaltites, called also the Dead Sea, Sea of the Desert, Sea of Sodom, and Salt Sea, is here intended.
Beth-jeshimoth - A city near the Dead Sea in the plains of Moab.
Ashdoth-pisgah - Supposed to be a city at the foot of Mount Pisgah.
Coast of Og king of Bashan - Concerning this person see the notes on Deu 3:11, and on Num 21:35, etc.
The remnant or the giants - Or, Rephaim. See the notes on Gen 6:4; Gen 14:5, and Deu 2:7, Deu 2:11.
The border of the Geshurites - The country of Bashan, in the days of Moses and Joshua, extended from the river Jabbok on the south to the frontiers of the Geshurites and Maachathites on the north, to the foot of the mountains of Hermon.
From Baal-gad - A repetition of what is mentioned Jos 11:17.
The king of Jericho, etc. - On this and the following verses see the notes on Jos 10:1-3 (note).
The king of Geder - Probably the same with Gedor, Jos 15:58; it was situated in the tribe of Judah.
The king of Hormah - Supposed to be the place where the Israelites were defeated by the Canaanites see Num 14:45; and which probably was called Hormah, הרמה chormah, or destruction, from this circumstance.
Adullam - A city belonging to the tribe of Judah, Jos 15:35. In a cave at this place David often secreted himself during his persecution by Saul; Sa1 22:1.
Tappuah - There were two places of this name: one in the tribe of Judah, Jos 15:34, and another in the tribe of Ephraim on the borders of Manasseh; but which of the two is meant here cannot be ascertained. See the note on Jos 15:53.
Hepher - The same, according to Calmet, as Ophrah in the tribe of Benjamin, Jos 18:23.
Aphek - There were several cities of this name: one in the tribe of Asher, Jos 19:30, another in the tribe of Judah, Sa1 4:1; Sa1 29:1; and a third in Syria, Kg1 20:26, and Kg2 13:17. Which of the two former is here intended cannot be ascertained.
Lasharon - There is no city of this name known. Some consider the ל lamed in the word לשרון lashsharon to be the sign of the genitive case, and in this sense it appears to have been understood by the Vulgate, which translates rex Saron, the king of Sharon. This was rather a district than a city, and is celebrated in the Scriptures for its fertility; Isa 33:9; Isa 35:2. Some suppose it was the same with Saron, near Lydda, mentioned Act 9:35.
Shimron-meron - See on Jos 11:1 (note).
Taanach - A city in the half tribe of Manasseh, to the west of Jordan, not far from the frontiers of Zebulun, Jos 17:11. This city was assigned to the Levites, Jos 21:25.
Kedesh - There was a city of this name in the tribe of Naphtali, Jos 19:37. It was given to the Levites, and was one of the cities of refuge, Jos 20:7.
Jokneam of Carmel - This city is said to have been at the foot of Mount Carmel, near the river Belus, in the tribe of Zebulun, Jos 19:11. It was given to the Levites, Jos 21:34.
The king of Dor - The city of this name fell to the lot of the children of Manasseh, Jos 17:11. Bochart observes that it was one of the oldest royal cities in Phoenicia. The Canaanites held it, Jdg 1:27. Antiochus Sydetes besieged it in aftertimes, but could not make himself master of it. See Bochart, Canaan, lib. i., c. 28, and Dodd.
The king of the nations of Gilgal - This is supposed to mean the higher Galilee, surnamed Galilee of the Gentiles or, nations, as the Hebrew word גוים goyim means. On this ground it should be read king of Galilee of the nations. Others suppose it is the same country with that of which Tidal was king, see Gen 14:1. The place is very uncertain, and commentators have rendered it more so by their conjectures.
King of Tirzah - This city appears to have been for a long time the capital of the kingdom of Israel, and the residence of its kings. See Kg1 14:17; Kg1 15:21, Kg1 15:33. Its situation cannot be exactly ascertained; but it is supposed to have been situated on a mountain about three leagues south of Samaria.
All the kings thirty and one - The Septuagint say εικοσι εννεα, twenty-nine, and yet set down but twenty-eight, as they confound or omit the kings of Beth-el, Lasharon, and Madon.
So many kings in so small a territory, shows that their kingdoms must have been very small indeed. The kings of Beth-el and Ai had but about 12,000 subjects in the whole; but in ancient times all kings had very small territories. Every village or town had its chief; and this chief was independent of his neighbors, and exercised regal power in his own district. In reading all ancient histories, as well as the Bible, this circumstance must be kept constantly in view; for we ought to consider that in those times both kings and kingdoms were but a faint resemblance of those now.
Great Britain, in ancient times, was divided into many kingdoms: in the time of the Saxons it was divided into seven, hence called the Saxon heptarchy. But when Julius Caesar first entered this island, he found four kings in Kent alone; Cingetorix, Carnilius, Taximagulus, and Segonax. Hence we need not wonder at the numbers we read of in the land of Canaan. Ancient Gaul was thus divided; and the great number of sovereign princes, secular bishops, landgraves, dukes, etc., etc., in Germany, are the modern remains of those ancient divisions.