Dividing the Land
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.
The Land of Benjamin (READ) verses 11-28 Summary
Benjamin’s boundaries are given in verses 11–20, and the cities in verses 21–28. Benjamin’s portion was small, but it was choice. It occupied the heart of the land and possessed within its borders the firstfruits of Israel’s labors in Canaan.
Gilgal was in Benjamin’s territory, the first campsite west of the Jordan. The memorial stones were there to bear witness to the miraculous crossing of the Jordan.
There the people kept the first Passover in Canaan, and began feeding on the produce of the land. There the nation was once again circumcised and the reproach of Egypt was rolled away. There was hardly a more historically significant spot in all of Canaan, because no other place taught so many spiritual lessons.
The ruins of Jericho were still visible in Benjamin’s land. Her walls, once thought invincible, were now laid low. The portion belonging to Rahab’s house remained standing as a testimony to the grace of God, which always responds to faith. A Benjamite could always visit here whenever he needed a fresh reminder that the battle was the Lord’s.
Bethel (the house of God) caused the Benjamites to remember the faith of their fathers and the faithfulness of Israel’s divine Deliverer (Gen. 28:18–22; 35:1–15).
Jerusalem was destined to be the capital city, but it was not until the son of Jesse came that the Jebusites would be driven from their mountain fortress.
Benjamin’s land encompassed many evidences and signs of past, present, and future blessings. What a rich lot fell to Jacob’s youngest son!
Joshua 19 Summary- Dividing the Land Continued
Joshua 19:1–9. Since Simeon had no definite portion alloted to it and since it was the smallest tribe at the last census (Num 26:14), perhaps a fulfillment of Jacob’s prophecy (Gen 44:5–7), her inheritance was within the inheritance of the children of Judah. Two groups of cities were part of this inheritance, including Beer-sheba “the well of the oath,” an important town from Genesis 21:31 onward, Hazar-shual “hamlet of jackals,” Ziklag, and Ramath of the south (cf. 1 Sam 30:27).
Joshua 19:10–16. The third lot went to the descendants of Zebulun; and truly they would say with David, “The lines are fallen unto me in pleasant places; yea, I have a goodly heritage” (Ps 16:6). The border toward the east reached Chis-loth-tabor, “the flanks of Tabor,” at the very edge of Mount Tabor and then went east to Gittahhepher, the birthplace of the prophet Jonah (2 Kgs 14:25), toward Remmon-methoar and Neah, compassing or “skirting” it on the north to the valley of Jiphthah-el.
Included in Zebulun’s inheritance was Beth-lehem, the “house of bread,” not to be confused with the birthplace of Christ. This Beth-lehem is located just west of Nazareth. Thus, it was of the utmost importance that Micah, in his prophecy of the birthplace of the Messiah, made specific reference to Bethlehem Ephratah (Mic 5:2) as being “among the thousands of Judah.” How remarkably accurate indeed are the prophecies of God’s Word!
Joshua 19:17–23. Like Benjamin, the portion given to Issachar was small, but important. The eastern border was at the Jordan, including Beth-shemesh (not the same as the town in Judah’s territory, 15:10) and Mount Tabor. But the major area of Issachar’s inheritance was Jezreel. Without doubt, this is the most famous valley in the world. Later known as the Plain of Esdraelon, the Jezreel Valley is today the “breadbasket of Israel,” being the most fertile valley in the Middle East. But it has not always been so.
Both Thutmose III and Ramses II invaded Syria via this valley. Gideon overthrew the Midianites here. It has been the site of conflict involving armies under the leadership of Saul, Deborah, Barak, Ahab, Jehu, Josiah, Omri, Azariah, Holofernes and Judith, Vespasian, Saladin, and Napoleon. It was the scene of bitter fighting in the 1948 War of Independence and the June of 1967 “Six-Day War” for modern Israel.
But most importantly, it will be the scene of the last great battle of history; for this valley is “… called in the Hebrew tongue Armageddon” (Rev 16:16). It is here that “… the King of kings, and Lord of lords” (1 Tim 6:15) shall ride forth in battle against the nations “… and he shall rule them with a rod of iron …” (Rev 19:15).
Joshua 19:24–31. Asher was allotted a long, narrow strip of territory between Naphtali and the Mediterranean Sea. The difficulty in tracing her boundaries stems from the fact that they are established, not by natural or topographical features, but by the relative position of its principal cities.
The southwestern border began at the sea below Carmel and progressed toward the sunrising to Beth-dagon, finally reaching the territory of Zebulun. Going north past great Zidon, the boundary turned westward toward the strong city of Tyre, meaning a fortified city, “not the insular Tyre, but the town of Tyre, which was on the mainland, … situated by the seacoast, in a beautiful plain”, ending at the sea again. Twenty-two major cities and their villages were included in this territory.
Joshua 19:32–39. Generally, the portion which fell to the descendants of Naphtali was located in the extreme north between the Jordan River and the territory of Asher. Kedesh (home of Barak, Jud 4:6), Migdal-el (Magdala of the New Testament), and Beth-shemesh (a common name derived from the worship of the sun, and not the Bethshemesh of Judah or Issachar).
Joshua 19:40–48. The seventh lot fell to the tribe of Dan. The cities of Zorah and Eshtaol were on the border between Judah and Dan, Judah being to the south. Ajalon was where the sun was commanded to stand still. Ekron was one of the five Philistine cities. The border closed on the sea at Japho (called Joppa in 2 Chron 2:16; Ezr 3:7; in Jon, and in the New Testament), modern Jaffa.
And the coast … of Dan went out too little for them. This is a difficult passage to interpret. “Went out too little” has been interpreted to mean that the territory of Dan was too small for their number, 64,400 at the last census (see Num 26:43). Others have interpreted the expression to mean that the territory of Dan expanded, “went out,” far beyond that originally assigned to them by the taking of Leshem. But Judges 1:34 indicates the probable cause for the expansion of the Danite border when it says, “And the Amorites forced the children of Dan into the mountain: for they would not suffer them to come down to the valley.” At least a part of the tribe of Dan left, or were driven out of, their original territory, migrated north to fight against Leshem (Laish), and took it. The full account is given in Judges 18. The city was then renamed Dan after their ancestor.
Joshua 19:49–51. Only after Joshua had seen to the welfare of his people did he receive an inheritance for himself. This is a mark of a truly great leader.
Joshua’s choice of an inheritance was the city of Timnath-serah, not to be confused with the Timnath of the territory of Dan (see vs. 43). Called Thamna by Josephus and the LXX, it has been identified today with Tibneh, a city of some size in the Old Testament. It was located in the mountainous region of Ephraim. Here Joshua built the city, and dwelt in it.
With this proclamation Eleazar the priest and Joshua, whom God had told Moses to appoint to the task to dividing the land (Num 34:17–29), finished the task given them in Shiloh at the door of the tabernacle. Another plateau in the life of Israel had been reached.
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