Wednesday, October 10, 2012

LXX - Joshua 13-17 - Land Allotments Begin

{When studying this post, as many others, it would be helpful to have that map.  I makes it so much easier to get a full understanding of the allotments.}

In the last post we saw Joshua and the Israeli army conquer much of Canaan.  Now, as stated in 13:1 Joshua was getting old and there was much more land to be conquered.  But it was time for Joshua to begin alloting out the land among the nine and a half tribes.  The unconquered land in Canaan stretched from south to north, including much of the Mediteranean Sea's coastal areas, mainly occupied by the Philistines.  And these Philistines would be a stubborn people to uproot.  In addition to the Philistines were Geshurites and the Avites.

Moses had already given land to Reubin, Gad, and the half tribe of Manasseh on the east side of the Jordan River.  The boundries of the western allotments are given in 13:8-31. The last two verses of chapter 13 restates that the Levites would not receive an inheritance of land, as they were to be full-time servants of God and overseers of His tabernacle and the rites related to it.  {Here is probably also a good place to remind you that Jacob had 12 sons, including Levi and Joseph. Back in Egypt, as told in Genesis, Jacob adopted Josephs two sons, Epraim and Manasseh.  This totaled 14 sons.  However, Ephraim and Manasseh would represent only a half tribe each since they were not Jacob's direct offspring.  So that takes it down to 13 total tribes.  With Levi not receiving any allotment of land, that takes it down to the original number of 12 tribes making up the twelve territories in The Promised Land, composing the nation Israel.  Clear as mud?}

Chapter 14  -  Joshua, Eleazar the Priest (Aaron's son), and the elders of the tribes would act as the allotment council for the land in Canaan west of the Jordan.  In verse 2, the division of the territory was by casting lots.  {We don't know for certain how the lot worked exactly.  But it was an ancient and honored way of making impartial decisions.  The Jews strongly beleived that God guided the casting of lots.  The word "lot" itself means "pebble".  Some think pebbles bearing each tribe's symbol were put into an urn or container of some type.  When the urn was shaken, a pebble was randomly picked out or came out of the opening which was large enough for only one pebble to pass through.  The pebble was then matched with the numbered territory, which would correspond with the tribe assigned that number.}  Verse 4 mentions about Levi again.  If you want to revisit the explanation about the Levites, see Numbers 18:20-21 and Joshua 13:14,33.  Altough the Levites received no land, they were given forty eight cities plus surrounding pasture land.

I have many favorites among the characters in the Bible, among whom is Caleb.  In verse 6 the tribe of Judah approached Joshua and the council concerning the allotment of land.  Caleb, a membr of the tribe of Judah requested his inheritance.  He based his claim on the promise God had made through Moses concerning him and Joshua at Kedish-barnea.  That was years ago.  Caleb has certainly earned that promise a hundred fold.  He recalled the words of Moses to Joshua in verse 9.  Vs 12 -  Caleb was now 85 years old, but still a strong warrior.  He said to Joshua "give me this mountain".  Caleb reminded Joshua that the hill country he was talking about was still occupied by the Anakites, who were giants and mighty warriors.  Caleb told Joshua that he would drive out the Anakites himself, without the help of the other 11 tribes.  So Joshua gave to Caleb the city of Hebron and the surrounding territory.  {Giving him Hebron would provide him with a base from which to conquer the remainder of Judah's land.  Hebron was an important city, rivaling Jerusalem and Shechem.  Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob all had lived there at one point in their lives.  Later, King David made Hebron his headquarters until he moved his government to Jerusalem.}

Chapter 15  -  Joshua and the council assigned Judah's land, which of course included Hebron, which the family of Caleb was to inhabit.  If you look at the map, Judah is the second southern-most territories (Simeon is most southerly), and Judah is one of the larger portions.  In fact, Judah, Manasseh, and Ephraim end up with the largest allotments of land.  There might be an explanation for that in chapter 18.  We'll visit that later.  Nonetheless,  Judah's territory will prove to be very significant in the future of the nation Israel.  {I think Caleb had much to do with Judah's significant role because of who and what he was.  Remember, Reuben is the eldest of the twelve sons of Jacob.
Futher to Caleb:  15:13-19 tells a bit more about Caleb.  Caleb was the only "person"  who was given a specific piece of land by Joshua.  How the different clans and families of the other tribes divided up the land was to be settled among themselves without Joshua's influence or interference.  In verse 14 Caleb drove out the three sons of Anak the giant.  This was significant because it showed all the Anakites that they could be defeated by the Israelites.  From there, in keeping with his promise to Joshua, Caleb marched southwest to Debir.  In verse 16 Caleb offered his daughter's hand in marriage to whoever captured Debir.  Vs 17 - Othniel, Caleb's nephew captured Debir and won Aksah's hand in marriage.  Vs 18 is a little confusing.  It suggests in both NIV and KJV that Aksah urged Othniel to ask Caleb for a special piece of land, but it is Aksah that actually approaches Caleb with the request.  Not that it makes any difference, but one is inclined to notice little things like that when studying the Scriptures with the quest of understanding.  I submit that it was Othniel who urged Aksah to approach Caleb, which she did and Caleb honored her request.  The remainder of chapter 15 describes the boundries and the cities assigned to the tribe of Judah.  Before we move out of this chapter, it is noteworthy to mention the last verse.  It says that Judah could not dislodge the Jebusites who lived there.  This will become significant shortly.

Chapter 16:1 - 17:17  -  The next tribes to receive their allotment were the two sons of Joseph:  Ephraim, and the remaining half of Manasseh.  (Other half of Manasseh received land on east side of the Jordan River.)  Chapter 16 describes the boundries for Ephraim, but also says in verse 10 that they did not dislodge the Canaanites, but made them slaves of the Ephraimites.  Chapter 17 describes the allotment to the remaninder of the tribe of Manasseh.  But there were several towns that they could not occupy because of the power of the Canaanites in that area.  However, they were able to overpower the Canaanites enough to make them slaves (this was not part of God's original plan).  Then in vs 14--> Ephraim and Manasseh complained to Joshua.  Joshua's response in verse 15 was correct.  "If you are so numerous that you need additonal land, go to the hill country and clear additional land and you can have all you can occupy."  But he warned them that the Canaanites in that area are well armed, even with chariots.

Judah, Ephrain, and Manasseh have been given their land.  We will pick up on the distribution of land to the remaining tribes in our next post.  Notice on your map how Dan and Benjamin are squeezed right between Judah and Joseph.  Interesting.

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