Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible, by John Wesley, [1754-65], at sacred-texts.com
jos 12:1Plain on the east - On the east of Jordan, called the plain, Deu 1:1.
jos 12:2Middle of the river - It is not unusual even among us, for a river to be divided between two lords, and for their territories or jurisdictions to meet in the middle of the river: and besides, here is a very particular reason for this expression, because the city Ar, which was no part of Sihon's dominions, but belonged to the Moabites, Deu 2:9, Deu 2:18, was in the middle of the river Arnon, Deu 2:36, Deu 3:16, and therefore the middle of the river is properly here mentioned, as the bound of Sihon's dominion on that side. Half Gilead - Heb. and the half Gilead, that is, half of the country of Gilead; this doth not denote the bound from which his dominion began, but the country, over which his dominion was, which began at Arnon, and took in half Gilead, and ended at Jabbok, beyond which was the other half of Gilead which belonged to Og.
jos 12:3On the east - Which words describe the situation not of the sea of Cinneroth, which was part of the western border of Sihon's dominion, but of the plain, which is here said to lie eastward from the sea of Cinneroth, and also eastward from the salt sea. And this was indeed the situation of the plains of Moab, which are here spoken of; they lay between the two seas, that of Cinneroth and the salt sea, and eastward to them both. Sea of the plain - The salt sea was a famous plain, pleasant and fruitful, before it was turned into a sea.
jos 12:4Ashtaroth and Edrei - Sometimes at the one, sometimes at the other city; both being his royal mansions. But Israel made one grave serve him, who could not be contented with one palace.
jos 12:6Smile - Fresh mercies must not drown the remembrance of former mercies: nor must the glory of the present instruments of good to the church, diminish the just honour of those that went before them. Joshua's services were confessedly great. But let not those under Moses be forgotten. Both together proclaim God to be the Alpha and Omega of his peoples salvation.
jos 12:8The wilderness - This word here and elsewhere in scripture notes not a land wholly desert and uninhabited, but one thin of inhabitants, as Kg1 2:34, Kg1 9:18; Mat 3:1, Mat 3:3. The Gargashites either were now incorporated with some other of these nations, or as the tradition of the Jews is, upon the approach of Israel under Joshua, they all withdrew and went unto Africk, leaving their land to be possessed by the Israelites, with whom they saw, it was fruitless to contend.
jos 12:23King of Gilgal - Not of that Gilgal where Joshua first lodged after his passage over Jordan; where it doth not appear, that there was either king or city; but of a city of the same name, probably in Galilee towards the sea, where divers people might possibly resort for trade and merchandise, over whom this was a king, as formerly Tidal seems to have been, Gen 14:1.
jos 12:24Thirty one - Each being king only of one city or small province belonging to it, which was by the wise and singular providence of God, that they might be more easily conquered. But what a fruitful land must Canaan then be, which could subsist so many kingdoms! And yet at this day it is one of the most barren and despicable countries in the world. Such is the effect of the curse it lies under, since its inhabitants rejected the Lord of glory!