The Cities of Judah Joshua 15:21-53 Summary
The cities of Judah’s territory are listed in verses 21–63. Some of these cities should be familiar to us from our study of the patriarchs: Hebron (v. 54) (also called Kirjath Arba and Mamre) was familiar to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (Gen. 13:18; 35:27), and they were all buried there (Gen. 23:17– 20).Perhaps this is what made it so precious to the spiritually discerning Caleb. Beersheba (v. 28) means “the well of the oath”; the patriarchs spent much time there. It was a place of renewal, refreshment, and rest (Gen. 21:31; 26:33; 46:1).
Jerusalem (v. 63) was held by the Jebusites. It was not until the time of David that they were finally driven out of Jerusalem (2 Sam. 5:6, 7).
These cities provided a rich heritage for Judah and a powerful stimulus to strengthen their faith. The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob was in the midst of their children to perform His ancient promise.
The upper part of the city, Mount Zion, was not taken until the time of David. The lower city, Jerusalem, was taken by Judah (Judg. 1:8), then later recaptured by the Jebusites (Judg. 1:21). Jerusalem is listed as belonging to Benjamin (18:28) as well as to Judah; it was located on the border between these two tribes.
Joshua 16 summary- Ephraim and West Manasseh and The Land of Ephraim
16:1–4 The tribe of Joseph is taken up next. To Joseph had been given the birthright (i.e., the double portion, 1 Chron. 5:1) which Reuben had forfeited (Gen. 49:4). The general boundaries of Joseph’s territory are given in verses 1–4. This was, of course, divided between Ephraim and half of the tribe of Manasseh which settled west of the Jordan.
16:5–10 Ephraim’s boundaries are described in verses 5–10. Pay particular attention to verse 10. Failure to drive out the Canaanites brought grief to the Israelites in their later history. How can we apply this to our lives?
Joshua 17:1-11 Summary
The inheritance of Manasseh was partly in Gilead and Bashan, on the east side of the Jordan (v. 1), and partly on the west side (vv. 7–11). The territory west of the Jordan was flanked on the north by six Canaanite fortresses—Beth Shean, Ibleam, Dor, En Dor, Taanach, and Megiddo (vv. 11, 12).Some of the cities of Ephraim were in the territory of Manasseh, and some of Manasseh’s towns were in the territory of Asher … and Issachar (vv. 7–12).
The daughters of Zelophehad inherited with the sons of Manasseh, as God had commanded Moses (vv. 3, 4) (Num. 27:1–7). This was done to insure that the house of Zelophehad would have a portion even though there were no male heirs. The daughters had to marry within their own tribe so that the land which belonged to Manasseh would not be absorbed by another tribe through intermarriage (Num. 36:1–13).
Joshua 17:12 Yet the children of Manasseh could not drive out the inhabitants of those cities, but the Canaanites were determined to dwell in that land. :13 And it happened, when the children of Israel grew strong, that they put the Canaanites to forced labor, but did not utterly drive them out.
The same tragic mistake made by the Ephraimites (see 16:10) is now recorded of The Manassites. They opted wrongly to force The peoples of their land into forced labor rather than drive out the inhabitants of those cities.
Joshua 17:14 Then the children of Joseph spoke to Joshua, saying, “Why have you given us only one lot and one share to inherit, since we are a great people, inasmuch as the Lord has blessed us until now?”
Upon receiving their inheritance, the descendants of Joseph complained that it was not enough. The Ephraimites were notorious complainers (see also Jud 8:1–3; 12:1–6).
Joshua 17:15 So Joshua answered them, “If you are a great people, then go up to the forest country and clear a place for yourself there in the land of the Perizzites and the giants, since the mountains of Ephraim are too confined for you.”
At the census of Numbers 1 the tribe of Joseph outnumbered all but the tribe of Judah. At the census taken in the plains of Moab (Num 26) they outnumbered all the other tribes. Joshua chided them not to complain.
Joshua 17:16 But the children of Joseph said, “The mountain country is not enough for us; and all the Canaanites who dwell in the land of the valley have chariots of iron, both those who are of Beth Shean and its towns and those who are of the Valley of Jezreel.” :17 And Joshua spoke to the house of Joseph—to Ephraim and Manasseh—saying, “You are a great people and have great power; you shall not have only one lot, :18 but the mountain country shall be yours. Although it is wooded, you shall cut it down, and its farthest extent shall be yours; for you shall drive out the Canaanites, though they have iron chariots and are strong.”
Joshua’s sarcasm was directed at those who wanted their inheritance simply handed to them, those who would not work for it.
Their complaint that the Canaanites who dwell in the valley have chariots of iron apparently fell on deaf ears. Joshua simply encouraged them that they indeed were a great people and would not just have one portion But the mountain shall be yours. All they had to do was clear the forest and drive out the Canaanites.
The Remainder of the Land Divided
Joshua 18:1 Now the whole congregation of the children of Israel assembled together at Shiloh, and set up the tabernacle of meeting there. And the land was subdued before them.
The text does not tell who called for this assembly, but the whole congregation closed ranks in a show of national and religious unity at the tabernacle.
This is similar to the “of one accord” expressions in Acts (2:1, 46, etc.) where the church assembled in a spirit of unity.
Having moved the administrative affairs of Israel to Shiloh, this town was to become the center of Israelite political and religious life for the next three hundred years.
Joshua 18:2 But there remained among the children of Israel seven tribes which had not yet received their inheritance. :3 Then Joshua said to the children of Israel: “How long will you neglect to go and possess the land which the Lord God of your fathers has given you?
Now Joshua accuses the Israelites, and rightly so, of being slack to go to possess the land. How frequently God’s people give up just before victory.
Joshua 18:4 Pick out from among you three men for each tribe, and I will send them; they shall rise and go through the land, survey it according to their inheritance, and come back to me. :5 And they shall divide it into seven parts. Judah shall remain in their territory on the south, and the house of Joseph shall remain in their territory on the north. :6 You shall therefore survey the land in seven parts and bring the survey here to me, that I may cast lots for you here before the Lord our God.
To prod Israel into possessing her inheritance, Joshua commanded that a twenty-one-man task force be formed, three men for each tribe, and that these men bring back a written report in seven parts indicating a fair distribution of the remaining land among the remaining tribes.
Joshua 18:7 But the Levites have no part among you, for the priesthood of the Lord is their inheritance. And Gad, Reuben, and half the tribe of Manasseh have received their inheritance beyond the Jordan on the east, which Moses the servant of the Lord gave them.”
Joshua 18:8 Then the men arose to go away; and Joshua charged those who went to survey the land, saying, “Go, walk through the land, survey it, and come back to me, that I may cast lots for you here before the Lord in Shiloh.” :9 So the men went, passed through the land, and wrote the survey in a book in seven parts by cities; and they came to Joshua at the camp in Shiloh. :10 Then Joshua cast lots for them in Shiloh before the Lord, and there Joshua divided the land to the children of Israel according to their divisions.
Then, in order to decide which tribe would be awarded which portion of land, Joshua cast lots for them in Shiloh before the Lord.
Hinson, E. E., & Kroll, W. M. (Eds.). (1994). KJV Bible Commentary (p. 121). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.
MacArthur, J. F., Jr., MacDonald, Farstad, Believers Bible; Hinson, E. E., & Kroll, W. M. (Eds.). (1994). KJV Bible Commentary (p. 2195). Nashville: Thomas Nelson