Notes & Commentary:
Ver. 3. The most salt sea. The lake of Sodom, otherwise called the Dead Sea. (Challoner) — Limits. These are very properly defined in this place, that the Hebrews may know what nations they ought to destroy. (Menochius) — A line may be drawn from the southern point of the Dead Sea, through Adar, as far as the Nile and the Mediterranean Sea, comprising a part of the desert of Sin, or Zin.
Ver. 4. The Scorpion. A mountain so called, from having a great number of scorpions. (Challoner) — Hebrew Hakrabbim. There was a city of the same name, the capital of Acrabathene, (1 Machabees iii. 3,) not far from Petra. — Senna, a town of the desert of Zin, (Calmet) or a mountain specified [in] Judges i. 36. (St. Jerome) — Adar. Hebrew, “Hasor Adar.” But they seem to be two distinct towns, Josue xv. 3. — Asemona. See chap. xxxiii. 30.
Ver. 5. Egypt. Many suppose the rivulet of Rinocorura is meant. (Menochius) — But it seems more probable that the Nile, the only river of Egypt, or the eastern branch of it, where Pelusium stands, is designated. There is no proof that the former rivulet belonged to Egypt; and though some assert that the Hebrews never dwelt to the west of it, the territory was so barren, that nothing may be said respecting that affair. We find, however, that under Solomon they inhabited as far as the river of Egypt; (1 Paralipomenon xiii. 5., and 3 Kings viii. 65,) and if they had not, God’s promise entitled them to that part of the country; as well as to that which extends to the great river Euphrates, though they perhaps never took possession of it. See Genesis xv. 18., and Josue xiii. 3. Pelusium is commonly reckoned the frontier town of Egypt, Ezechiel xxx. 15. (Stabo xvi.) In another place, the promised land extends from Emath to the torrent of Egypt, (1 Kings viii. 55,) or of the desert, Amos vi. 15. (Calmet)
Ver. 6. Great sea, compared with those of Palestine, which were only like pools or lakes. The Hebrews call every great collection of water, a sea. The Mediterranean bounded the promised land entirely, on the west.
Ver. 7. The most high mountain. Libanus. (Challoner) — Hebrew, “the mountain of the mountain, or of Hor.” Some understand Mount Casius, Hermon, Taurus, or Amanus; which last lies on the confines of Cilicia, and hence the Rabbins draw a line by the straits of Gibraltar to Pelusium, so as to comprise all the islands and the waters of the Mediterranean. (Selden, Marc. Claus. i. 6.) But Grotius denies that the sea can be claimed by any one, nor was it, even for fishing, says he, before the days of Justinian. (Jur. ii. 2, 3.) (Calmet) — At any rate, Moses here seems to mean the northern limits from the point of the Mediterranean, where Libanus is situated, across the country eastward to Emath, and as far as the village of Enan, ver. 9. (Haydock)
Ver. 8. Emath. It is of great importance to fix the situation of this city. Some take it to be Antioch, the capital of Syria, on the Orontes. But that was a modern city, founded by Nicanor, and called after his father, Antiochus, and embellished by Callinicus and Epiphanes. (Strabo xvi.) — Others believe it is Epiphania, at the foot of Libanus, on the same river, and a distinct city from Emath Rabba, or “the great,” of Amos vi. 2. Josephus [Antiquities?] i. 7, (Calmet) and St. Jerome (in Isaias x.) seem to be of this opinion. (Menochius) — But the city in question was most probably Emesa, of which Amos speaks above. It was also upon the river Orontes, at a small distance to the east of Libanus, on the road to Damascus. This road was the northern boundary. Emesa was perhaps formerly the capital of the country of Soba, (2 Paralipomenon viii. 3,) and was taken by Solomon. Reblatha, or Rebla, (ver. 11,) was a part of its territory. (Theodoret in Jer. xxxix. 5.) (Calmet)
Ver. 9. Enan. Hebrew, “Hazer Henan.” In Ezechiel, (xlvii. 17,) it is called the court of Enon. It may be Gaana, north of Damascus, or rather Inna, placed to the south of that city by Ptolemy.
Ver. 11. Sephama, or Apamea. (Targum) — Rebla. Septuagint, “Bela, or Asbela.” (Haydock) — St. Jerome understands Antioch, near which was the fountain of Daphnis, or Daphne, a word which is inserted in the Targum, though it be not found in Hebrew. But Antioch did not lie on the eastern borders, and this fountain may be the same place as Enan, ver. 9. — Against. Hebrew, “on the east side of Ain, or the fountain.” (Calmet) — Cenereth. This is the sea of Galilee, illustrated by the miracles of our Lord. (Challoner) — The line was not drawn to this lake of Genesareth, or of Tiberias, as it was likewise called, but comprised a large territory lying to the east of it, (Calmet) and given to the tribes of Manasses, Gad, and Ruben, which inhabited the country east of the Jordan and of the Salt Sea. (Haydock) — Eastward: the Septuagint insinuate, “to the south, leaving the sea of Cenereth on the east.” — The fountain of Daphnis may probably be that near the Semechonite lake, through which the Jordan runs. (Josephus, Jewish Wars iv. 1.) It may have received the title of Daphnis, from the laurels with which it is adorned, like the suburbs of Antioch. (Bonfrere) (Menochius) — It appears that Moses has only in view, the nine tribes for which a provision was not yet made; and their eastern limits extended from Emath, down the Jordan to the Dead Sea, so as to comprise no part to the east of that river, which was already given to their brethren; (see ver. 13, 15, 29;) and thus the observation of Calmet, respecting the countries east of Cenereth, will be rather inaccurate, as the line must run through that sea, following the course of the Jordan. These were properly the eastern limits of Chanaan, which country comprised all between Egypt and Idumea, as far as Sidon and Mount Libanus, being bounded by the Jordan on the east. The other three tribes were hemmed in on the north and east by the mountains of Hermon, Basan, Galaad, and Arnon; beyond which, the nations about Damascus, and the descendants of Ammon, Ismael, and Moab dwelt, in Syria and the desert of Arabia, so that the latter country was the eastern boundary of the promised land, taken in its utmost extent. (Haydock) — The respective limits must naturally vary, when we speak of the whole or a part only. (Du Hamel) (Tirinus)
Bible Text & Cross-references:
The limits of Chanaan: with the names of the men that shall make the division of it.
1 And the Lord spoke to Moses, *saying:
2 Command the children of Israel, and thou shalt say to them: When you are entered into the land of Chanaan, and it shall be fallen unto your possession by lot, it shall be bounded by these limits:
3 *The south side shall begin from the wilderness of Sin, which is by Edom: and shall have the most salt sea for its furthest limits eastward:
4 Which limits shall go round on the south side by the ascent of the Scorpion, and so into Senna, and reach toward the south as far as Cades-barne, from whence the frontiers shall go out to the town called Adar, and shall reach as far as Asemona.
5 And the limits shall fetch a compass from Asemona to the torrent of Egypt, and shall end in the shore of the great sea.
6 And the west side shall begin from the great sea, and the same shall be the end thereof.
7 But toward the north side, the borders shall begin from the great sea, reaching to the most high mountain,
8 From which they shall come to Emath, as far as the borders of Sedada:
9 And the limits shall go as far as Zephrona, and the village of Enan. These shall be the borders on the north side.
10 From thence they shall mark out the bounds towards the east side, from the village of Enan unto Sephama,
11 And from Sephama the bounds shall go down to Rebla, over-against the fountain of Daphnis: from thence they shall come eastward to the sea of Cenereth,
12 And shall reach as far as the Jordan, and at the last shall be closed in by the most salt sea. This shall be your land with its borders round about.
13 And Moses commanded the children of Israel, saying: This shall be the land which you shall possess by lot, and which the Lord hath commanded to be given to the nine tribes, and to the half tribe.
14 For the tribe of the children of Ruben by their families, and the tribe of the children of Gad according to the number of their kindreds, and half of the tribe of Manasses,
15 That is, two tribes and a half, have received their portion beyond the Jordan, over-against Jericho, at the east side.
16 And the Lord said to Moses:
17 *These are the names of the men, that shall divide the land unto you: Eleazar the priest, and Josue, the son of Nun,
18 And one prince of every tribe,
19 Whose names are these: Of the tribe of Juda, Caleb, the son of Jephone.
20 Of the tribe of Simeon, Samuel, the son of Ammiud.
21 Of the tribe of Benjamin, Elidad, the son of Chaselon.
22 Of the tribe of the children of Dan, Bocci, the son of Jogli.
23 Of the children of Joseph of the tribe of Manasses, Hanniel, the son of Ephod.
24 Of the tribe of Ephraim, Camuel, the son of Sephthan.
25 Of the tribe of Zabulon, Elisaphan, the son of Phamach.
26 Of the tribe of Issachar, Phaltiel, the prince, the son of Ozan.
27 Of the tribe of Aser, Ahiud, the son of Salomi.
28 Of the tribe of Nephtali[Nephthali?]: Phedael, the son of Ammiud.
29 These are they whom the Lord hath commanded to divide the land of Chanaan to the children of Israel.
1: Year of the World 2553.
3: Josue xv. 1.
17: Josue xiv. 1. and 2.