The writer appends to the command of God Joshua 13:1-7 a statement that the other two tribes and a half had already had their inheritance marked out for them by Moses in the land east of Jordan. The boundaries of this territory as a whole are first set forth Joshua 13:8-14, and afterward the portions assigned within it to the two tribes and a half are severally described Joshua 13:14
See Deuteronomy 18:1-5 and notes.
Inheritance of the tribe of Reuben. This territory was the most southerly of the trans-Jordanic possessions of Israel, and adjoined Moab, which lay only on the other side of the Arnon. Hence, the Reubenites became in after times much intermixed with the Moabites, who in fact eventually acquired much of the land, and several, if not all, of the cities here named as belonging to Reuben. This acquisition was probably assisted by the fact that the territory north of Arnon had formerly belonged to the Moabites, from whom it was wrested by the Amorites (see Numbers 21:27, etc. notes). It is not likely that the Amorite conquerors had completely extirpated the Moabite inhabitants. Hence, in the days when the Reubenites became engrossed in their pastoral pursuits, and probably not very long after the days of Joshua, the Moabites easily encroached on their inheritance, and in the end probably reoccupied nearly the whole of the ancient kingdom of Sihon (Compare Deuteronomy 33:6 note).
See the marginal references for some of these names. Heshbon, Kedemoth, and Mephaath became eventually Levitical cities.
Dukes of Sihon - Rather “vassals of Sihon,” probably those “dedicated” or “appointed” with a libation.
Jordan - i. e. the Jordan and its territory (compare similar expressions in Numbers 34:6; Deuteronomy 3:16). The portion of the tribe of Reuben at its northern extremity touched the Jordan; the main part of his inheritance lay on the east of the Dead Sea.
All the cities of Gilead - i. e. of Gilead in the narrower sense, included in the territory of Sihon, and distinct from Bashan Deuteronomy 3:10.
Half the land of the children of Ammon - i. e. that half of the Ammonite territory which had been conquered by the Amorites. This, after the overthrow of Sihon, the Israelites took for their own. The land which the Ammonites still held in the days of Moses, the Israelites were not permitted to attack.
Rabbah was a border fortress, the principal stronghold of the Ammonites Numbers 21:24, and the residence of their king. It was attacked and taken by Joab 1 Chronicles 20:1, but appears in later times again as an Ammonitish city Jeremiah 49:3; Ezekiel 25:5; Amos 1:13-15. In the third century B.C. it received from Ptolemy Philadelplus the name of Philadelphia, and was in later times the seat of a Christian bishop; but has now for many centuries been in ruins, remarkable for their grandeur and extent.
The border of Debir - Rather perhaps “the border of Lidbir,” which is regarded as identical with the Lo-debar of 2 Samuel 9:4; 2 Samuel 17:27, one of the towns from which provisions were brought to David at Mahanaim Genesis 32:2.
On the conquest of Bashan, see especially Numbers 32:33, etc. and notes.