Keil and Delitzsch Commentary - Deuteronomy 3:14 - 3:14

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Keil and Delitzsch Commentary - Deuteronomy 3:14 - 3:14

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This Chapter Verse Commentaries:

The region of Argob, or the country of Bashan, was given to Jair (see Num 32:41), as far as the territory of the Geshurites and Maachathites (cf. Jos 12:5; Jos 13:11). “Unto,” as far as, is to be understood as inclusive. This is evident from the statement in Jos 13:13 : “The children of Israel expelled not the Geshurites nor the Maachathites; but the Geshurites and the Maachathites dwell among the Israelites until this day.” Consequently Moses allotted the territory of these two tribes to the Manassites, because it formed part of the kingdom of Og. “Geshuri and Maachathi” are the inhabitants of Geshur and Maachah, two provinces which formed small independent kingdoms even in David's time (2Sa 3:3; 2Sa 13:37, and 2Sa 10:6). Geshur bordered on Aram. The Geshurites and Aramaeans afterwards took from the Israelites the Jair-towns and Kenath, with their daughter towns (1Ch 2:23). In David's time Geshur had a king Thalmai, whose daughter David married. This daughter was the mother of Absalom; and it was in Geshur that Absalom lived for a time in exile (2Sa 3:3; 2Sa 13:37; 2Sa 14:23; 2Sa 15:8). The exact situation of Geshur has not yet been determined. It was certainly somewhere near Hermon, on the eastern side of the upper Jordan, and by a bridge over the Jordan, as Geshur signifies bridge in all the Semitic dialects. Maachah, which is referred to in 1Ch 19:6 as a kingdom under the name of Aram-Maachah (Eng. V. Syria-Maachah), is probably to be sought for to the north-east of Geshur. According to the Onomast. (s. v. Μαχαθί), it was in the neighbourhood of the Hermon. “And he called them (the towns of the region of Argob) after his own name; Bashan (sc., he called) Havvoth Jair unto this day” (cf. Num 32:41). The word חַוֹּת (Havvoth), which only occurs in connection with the Jair-towns, does not mean towns or camps of a particular kind, viz., tent villages, as some suppose, but is the plural of חַוָּה, life (Leben, a common German termination, e.g., Eisleben), for which afterwards the word חַיָּה was used (comp. 2Sa 23:13 with 1Ch 11:15). It applies to any kind of dwelling-place, being used in the passages just mentioned to denote even a warlike encampment. The Jair's-lives (Jairsleben) were not a particular class of towns, therefore, in the district of Argob, but Jair gave this collective name to all the sixty fortified towns, as is perfectly evident from the verse before us when compared with Deu 3:5 and Num 32:41, and expressly confirmed by Jos 13:30 and 1Ki 4:13, where the sixty fortified towns of the district of Argob are called Havvoth Jair. - The statement in 1Ch 2:22-23, that “Jair had twenty-three towns in Gilead (which is used here as in Deu 34:1; Jos 22:9; Jos 13:15; Jdg 5:17; Jdg 20:1, to denote the whole of Palestine to the east of the Jordan), and Geshur and Aram took the Havvoth Jair from them, (and) Kenath and its daughters, sixty towns (sc., in all),” is by no means at variance with this, but, on the contrary, in the most perfect harmony with it. For it is evident from this passage, that the twenty-three Havvoth Jair, with Kenath and its daughters, formed sixty towns altogether. The distinction between the twenty-three Havvoth Jair and the other thirty-seven towns, viz., Kenath and its daughters, is to be explained from the simple fact that, according to Num 32:42, Nobah, no doubt a family of sons of Machir related to Jair, conquered Kenath and its daughters, and called the conquered towns by his name, namely, when they had been allotted to him by Moses. Consequently Bashan, or the region of Argob, with its sixty fortified towns, was divided between two of the leading families of Machir the Manassite, viz., the families of Jair and Nobah, each family receiving the districts which it had conquered, together with their towns; namely, the family of Nobah, Kenath and its daughter towns, or the eastern portion of Bashan; and the family of Jair, twenty-three towns in the west, which are called Havvoth Jair in 1Ch 2:23, in harmony with Num 32:41, where Jair is said to have given this name to the towns which were conquered by him. In the address before us, however, in which Moses had no intention to enter into historical details, all the (sixty) towns of the whole district of Argob, or the whole of Bashan, are comprehended under the name of Havvoth Jair, probably because Nobah was a subordinate branch of the family of Jair, and the towns conquered by him were under the supremacy of Jair. The expression “unto this day” certainly does not point to a later period than the Mosaic age. This definition of time is simply a relative one. It does not necessarily presuppose a very long duration, and here it merely serves to bring out the marvellous change which was due to the divine grace, viz., that the sixty fortified towns of the giant king Og of Bashan had now become Jair's lives.

(Note: The conquest of these towns, in fact, does not seem to have been of long duration, and the possession of them by the Israelites was a very disputed one (cf. 1Ch 2:22-23). In the time of the judges we find thirty in the possession of the judge Jair (Jdg 10:4), which caused the old name Havvoth Jair to be revived.)