Over the next few days you’ll notice a resemblance to Numbers, with lists of conquered cities and boundary markers. While this might seem tedious to us – and it’s certainly tempting to skim – the meaning for this generation, and future generations, cannot be overstated. Since in Numbers 36 the LORD commanded that “the inheritance of the people of Israel shall not be transferred from one tribe to another,” the borders established here would govern inheritances for hundreds of years.
The author takes care to make sure you know that the land was allotted according to what the LORD had commanded Moses. It seems throughout that “Moses” and “The LORD” are interchangeable subjects in allotting the land. Joshua is barely mentioned, except where he’s fulfilling Moses’ commands. This expresses a great reverence for the leader, even in the decades after his death.
One time that Joshua does need to act is when Caleb reemerges and reminds Joshua that he was promised “the land on which your foot has trodden.” He comes to Joshua a spritely 85 years old, “still as strong today as I was in the day that Moses sent me,” and ready to take the hill country. “For you heard on that day how the Anakim – the giants – were there…It may be that the LORD will be with me, and I shall drive them out just as the LORD said.”
Caleb is the headliner for the distribution to the tribe of Judah in chapter 15. Specific geographic markers are listed, including the western boundary of the Salt Sea, what we now call the Dead Sea. You’ll also hear that the Jebusites still possess Jerusalem, and they “dwell with the people of Judah there to this day.” So not only does this date the writing of the passage – at some point before Jerusalem is taken – it also foreshadows that more effort will be required to subdue the land.
Our verse for this week is Hebrews 11:30: By faith the walls of Jericho fell down after they had been encircled for seven days.
Joshua chapters 13 through 15. Now let’s read it!
Joshua 13 - 15
13:1 Now Joshua was old and advanced in years, and the LORD said to him, “You are old and advanced in years, and there remains yet very much land to possess. This is the land that yet remains: all the regions of the Philistines, and all those of the Geshurites (from the Shihor, which is east of Egypt, northward to the boundary of Ekron, it is counted as Canaanite; there are five rulers of the Philistines, those of Gaza, Ashdod, Ashkelon, Gath, and Ekron), and those of the Avvim, in the south, all the land of the Canaanites, and Mearah that belongs to the Sidonians, to Aphek, to the boundary of the Amorites, and the land of the Gebalites, and all Lebanon, toward the sunrise, from Baal-gad below Mount Hermon to Lebo-hamath, all the inhabitants of the hill country from Lebanon to Misrephoth-maim, even all the Sidonians. I myself will drive them out from before the people of Israel. Only allot the land to Israel for an inheritance, as I have commanded you. Now therefore divide this land for an inheritance to the nine tribes and half the tribe of Manasseh.”
With the other half of the tribe of Manasseh the Reubenites and the Gadites received their inheritance, which Moses gave them, beyond the Jordan eastward, as Moses the servant of the LORD gave them: from Aroer, which is on the edge of the Valley of the Arnon, and the city that is in the middle of the valley, and all the tableland of Medeba as far as Dibon; and all the cities of Sihon king of the Amorites, who reigned in Heshbon, as far as the boundary of the Ammonites; and Gilead, and the region of the Geshurites and Maacathites, and all Mount Hermon, and all Bashan to Salecah; all the kingdom of Og in Bashan, who reigned in Ashtaroth and in Edrei (he alone was left of the remnant of the Rephaim); these Moses had struck and driven out. Yet the people of Israel did not drive out the Geshurites or the Maacathites, but Geshur and Maacath dwell in the midst of Israel to this day.
To the tribe of Levi alone Moses gave no inheritance. The offerings by fire to the LORD God of Israel are their inheritance, as he said to him.
And Moses gave an inheritance to the tribe of the people of Reuben according to their clans. So their territory was from Aroer, which is on the edge of the Valley of the Arnon, and the city that is in the middle of the valley, and all the tableland by Medeba; with Heshbon, and all its cities that are in the tableland; Dibon, and Bamoth-baal, and Beth-baal-meon, and Jahaz, and Kedemoth, and Mephaath, and Kiriathaim, and Sibmah, and Zereth-shahar on the hill of the valley, and Beth-peor, and the slopes of Pisgah, and Beth-jeshimoth, that is, all the cities of the tableland, and all the kingdom of Sihon king of the Amorites, who reigned in Heshbon, whom Moses defeated with the leaders of Midian, Evi and Rekem and Zur and Hur and Reba, the princes of Sihon, who lived in the land. Balaam also, the son of Beor, the one who practiced divination, was killed with the sword by the people of Israel among the rest of their slain. And the border of the people of Reuben was the Jordan as a boundary. This was the inheritance of the people of Reuben, according to their clans with their cities and villages.
Moses gave an inheritance also to the tribe of Gad, to the people of Gad, according to their clans. Their territory was Jazer, and all the cities of Gilead, and half the land of the Ammonites, to Aroer, which is east of Rabbah, and from Heshbon to Ramath-mizpeh and Betonim, and from Mahanaim to the territory of Debir, and in the valley Beth-haram, Beth-nimrah, Succoth, and Zaphon, the rest of the kingdom of Sihon king of Heshbon, having the Jordan as a boundary, to the lower end of the Sea of Chinnereth, eastward beyond the Jordan. This is the inheritance of the people of Gad according to their clans, with their cities and villages.
And Moses gave an inheritance to the half-tribe of Manasseh. It was allotted to the half-tribe of the people of Manasseh according to their clans. Their region extended from Mahanaim, through all Bashan, the whole kingdom of Og king of Bashan, and all the towns of Jair, which are in Bashan, sixty cities, and half Gilead, and Ashtaroth, and Edrei, the cities of the kingdom of Og in Bashan. These were allotted to the people of Machir the son of Manasseh for the half of the people of Machir according to their clans.
These are the inheritances that Moses distributed in the plains of Moab, beyond the Jordan east of Jericho. But to the tribe of Levi Moses gave no inheritance; the LORD God of Israel is their inheritance, just as he said to them.
14:1 These are the inheritances that the people of Israel received in the land of Canaan, which Eleazar the priest and Joshua the son of Nun and the heads of the fathers' houses of the tribes of the people of Israel gave them to inherit. Their inheritance was by lot, just as the LORD had commanded by the hand of Moses for the nine and one-half tribes. For Moses had given an inheritance to the two and one-half tribes beyond the Jordan, but to the Levites he gave no inheritance among them. For the people of Joseph were two tribes, Manasseh and Ephraim. And no portion was given to the Levites in the land, but only cities to dwell in, with their pasturelands for their livestock and their substance. The people of Israel did as the LORD commanded Moses; they allotted the land.
Then the people of Judah came to Joshua at Gilgal. And Caleb the son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite said to him, “You know what the LORD said to Moses the man of God in Kadesh-barnea concerning you and me. I was forty years old when Moses the servant of the LORD sent me from Kadesh-barnea to spy out the land, and I brought him word again as it was in my heart. But my brothers who went up with me made the heart of the people melt; yet I wholly followed the LORD my God. And Moses swore on that day, saying, ‘Surely the land on which your foot has trodden shall be an inheritance for you and your children forever, because you have wholly followed the LORD my God.’ And now, behold, the LORD has kept me alive, just as he said, these forty-five years since the time that the LORD spoke this word to Moses, while Israel walked in the wilderness. And now, behold, I am this day eighty-five years old. I am still as strong today as I was in the day that Moses sent me; my strength now is as my strength was then, for war and for going and coming. So now give me this hill country of which the LORD spoke on that day, for you heard on that day how the Anakim were there, with great fortified cities. It may be that the LORD will be with me, and I shall drive them out just as the LORD said.”
Then Joshua blessed him, and he gave Hebron to Caleb the son of Jephunneh for an inheritance. Therefore Hebron became the inheritance of Caleb the son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite to this day, because he wholly followed the LORD, the God of Israel. Now the name of Hebron formerly was Kiriath-arba. (Arba was the greatest man among the Anakim.) And the land had rest from war.
15:1 The allotment for the tribe of the people of Judah according to their clans reached southward to the boundary of Edom, to the wilderness of Zin at the farthest south. And their south boundary ran from the end of the Salt Sea, from the bay that faces southward. It goes out southward of the ascent of Akrabbim, passes along to Zin, and goes up south of Kadesh-barnea, along by Hezron, up to Addar, turns about to Karka, passes along to Azmon, goes out by the Brook of Egypt, and comes to its end at the sea. This shall be your south boundary. And the east boundary is the Salt Sea, to the mouth of the Jordan. And the boundary on the north side runs from the bay of the sea at the mouth of the Jordan. And the boundary goes up to Beth-hoglah and passes along north of Beth-arabah. And the boundary goes up to the stone of Bohan the son of Reuben. And the boundary goes up to Debir from the Valley of Achor, and so northward, turning toward Gilgal, which is opposite the ascent of Adummim, which is on the south side of the valley. And the boundary passes along to the waters of En-shemesh and ends at En-rogel. Then the boundary goes up by the Valley of the Son of Hinnom at the southern shoulder of the Jebusite (that is, Jerusalem). And the boundary goes up to the top of the mountain that lies over against the Valley of Hinnom, on the west, at the northern end of the Valley of Rephaim. Then the boundary extends from the top of the mountain to the spring of the waters of Nephtoah, and from there to the cities of Mount Ephron. Then the boundary bends around to Baalah (that is, Kiriath-jearim). And the boundary circles west of Baalah to Mount Seir, passes along to the northern shoulder of Mount Jearim (that is, Chesalon), and goes down to Beth-shemesh and passes along by Timnah. The boundary goes out to the shoulder of the hill north of Ekron, then the boundary bends around to Shikkeron and passes along to Mount Baalah and goes out to Jabneel. Then the boundary comes to an end at the sea. And the west boundary was the Great Sea with its coastline. This is the boundary around the people of Judah according to their clans.
According to the commandment of the LORD to Joshua, he gave to Caleb the son of Jephunneh a portion among the people of Judah, Kiriath-arba, that is, Hebron (Arba was the father of Anak). And Caleb drove out from there the three sons of Anak, Sheshai and Ahiman and Talmai, the descendants of Anak. And he went up from there against the inhabitants of Debir. Now the name of Debir formerly was Kiriath-sepher. And Caleb said, “Whoever strikes Kiriath-sepher and captures it, to him will I give Achsah my daughter as wife.” And Othniel the son of Kenaz, the brother of Caleb, captured it. And he gave him Achsah his daughter as wife. When she came to him, she urged him to ask her father for a field. And she got off her donkey, and Caleb said to her, “What do you want?” She said to him, “Give me a blessing. Since you have given me the land of the Negeb, give me also springs of water.” And he gave her the upper springs and the lower springs.
This is the inheritance of the tribe of the people of Judah according to their clans. The cities belonging to the tribe of the people of Judah in the extreme south, toward the boundary of Edom, were Kabzeel, Eder, Jagur, Kinah, Dimonah, Adadah, Kedesh, Hazor, Ithnan, Ziph, Telem, Bealoth, Hazor-hadattah, Kerioth-hezron (that is, Hazor), Amam, Shema, Moladah, Hazar-gaddah, Heshmon, Beth-pelet, Hazar-shual, Beersheba, Biziothiah, Baalah, Iim, Ezem, Eltolad, Chesil, Hormah, Ziklag, Madmannah, Sansannah, Lebaoth, Shilhim, Ain, and Rimmon: in all, twenty-nine cities with their villages.
And in the lowland, Eshtaol, Zorah, Ashnah, Zanoah, En-gannim, Tappuah, Enam, Jarmuth, Adullam, Socoh, Azekah, Shaaraim, Adithaim, Gederah, Gederothaim: fourteen cities with their villages.
Zenan, Hadashah, Migdal-gad, Dilean, Mizpeh, Joktheel, Lachish, Bozkath, Eglon, Cabbon, Lahmam, Chitlish, Gederoth, Beth-dagon, Naamah, and Makkedah: sixteen cities with their villages.
Libnah, Ether, Ashan, Iphtah, Ashnah, Nezib, Keilah, Achzib, and Mareshah: nine cities with their villages.
Ekron, with its towns and its villages; from Ekron to the sea, all that were by the side of Ashdod, with their villages.
Ashdod, its towns and its villages; Gaza, its towns and its villages; to the Brook of Egypt, and the Great Sea with its coastline.
And in the hill country, Shamir, Jattir, Socoh, Dannah, Kiriath-sannah (that is, Debir), Anab, Eshtemoh, Anim, Goshen, Holon, and Giloh: eleven cities with their villages.
Arab, Dumah, Eshan, Janim, Beth-tappuah, Aphekah, Humtah, Kiriath-arba (that is, Hebron), and Zior: nine cities with their villages.
Maon, Carmel, Ziph, Juttah, Jezreel, Jokdeam, Zanoah, Kain, Gibeah, and Timnah: ten cities with their villages.
Halhul, Beth-zur, Gedor, Maarath, Beth-anoth, and Eltekon: six cities with their villages.
Kiriath-baal (that is, Kiriath-jearim), and Rabbah: two cities with their villages.
In the wilderness, Beth-arabah, Middin, Secacah, Nibshan, the City of Salt, and Engedi: six cities with their villages.
But the Jebusites, the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the people of Judah could not drive out, so the Jebusites dwell with the people of Judah at Jerusalem to this day.