Thursday, August 26, 2010

Joshua 18 and 19

Surveying the rest of the land (18:1-7)--These two chapters are fairly simple and discuss the division of the rest of the land, i.e., who got what. A map is essential if the reader is interested in following the borders. Again, I strongly suggest that every Bible student at least take a look at a map of Israel to see where the various tribes had their borders. Not all of them are terribly important, but it's still a good idea a have a general vision in mind. In the first seven verses of chapter 18, the children of Israel set up the tabernacle at Shiloh (v. 1). It will eventually be moved to Jerusalem. There were seven tribes who had not yet received their allotment (v. 2). Joshua chides them a bit (v. 3) for delaying in obtaining their parcel, so three men from each tribe are sent out to survey the rest of the country (v. 4). He mentions again in verse 7 that the Levites have no territory of their own.

The land surveyed (18:8-10)--The men sent did as charged, "and wrote the survey in a book in seven parts by cities" (v. 9). They brought the survey back to Joshua who cast lots to determine boundaries. We don't know exactly what the casting of lots consisted of, but it was an effective means for distributing the land.

Benjamin's territory (vs. 11-28)--Some of the tribes in subsequent Israeli history are more important than others. Judah and Ephraim will be the most important, and Benjamin probably ranks third. This tribe will stay with Judah when the kingdom is divided under Rehoboam, and there are other instances where Benjamin is involved in significant matters. It almost got obliterated because of an event that took place as described in the last few chapters of Judges. The territory of Benjamin and its cities are discussed in the remainder of chapter 18. It bordered on both Ephraim and Judah, and important cities such as Jericho and Gibeon were within its territory.

The rest of the land divided (19:1-48)--There is nothing more here than a listing of the land given to the remaining tribes, with one addition at the end of the chapter to be duly noted. Here's the lineup:

The territory of Simeon (vs. 1-9). It's important to note that Simeon's territory was entirely within the borders Judah, and apparently this tribe will be eventually be swallowed up by Judah.

The territory of Zebulon (vs. 10-16). There are no cities listed here that play any significant role in the subsequent history of Israel.

The territory of Issachar (vs. 17-23). Issachar’s territory “went to Jezreel” (v. 18) which is of some importance in later centuries.

The territory of Asher (vs. 24-31). Asher’s region “reached to Mount Carmel”—the location of Elijah’s battle with the 400 prophets of Baal (I Kings 18), and apparently touched the powerful Phoenician cities of Tyre and Sidon (vs. 28-29).

The territory of Naphtali (vs. 32-39). It bordered Judah and the Jordan River.

The territory of Dan (vs. 40-48). Judges 18 tells us a little more about how Dan came about conquering the territory it eventually possessed.

It’s important to remember that very little of this land had been conquered and settled yet. Joshua gave the people a foothold in the land of Canaan, but the full conquest is far from complete.

The inheritance given to Joshua (vs. 49-51)—To reward him for his wonderful, dedicated service, the people gave Joshua a special plot of land. His home was in the “mountains of Ephraim” (v. 50). A lovely retirement home for a great man.

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