The Word Made Fresh
1Here are the territories the Israelites were allotted in Canaan by Eleazar the priest, Joshua son of Nun, and tribal family heads. 2The land they were to inherit was assigned by casting lots for the remaining nine and a half tribes, as the LORD explained to Moses. 3He had already given land east of the Jordan to the two and a half tribes who wished to settle there. The Levites were not given land grants. 4The number of tribal groups was kept at twelve by dividing Joseph into two tribes, Manasseh and Ephraim. The Levites were only given towns to live in, plus surrounding pastureland for their animals. 5Thus, the land was divided among the Israelites as the LORD had commanded Moses.
6Some leaders from Judah came to Joshua. Caleb, son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite said, “You remember what the LORD told Moses the man of God at Kadesh Barnea about you and me. 7I was forty years old when Moses sent us to explore the land. I brought back a report that I believed was the right course of action, 8but the men who went with me frightened the people. I stuck with my convictions because that’s what the LORD wanted us to do. 9At that time Moses promised, ‘The land you explored will belong to you and your descendants forever because you totally agreed with the LORD my God.’ 10Now, as the LORD promised, I am still alive, forty-five years after the LORD promised this to me while Israel was still wandering in the wilderness. I’m eighty-five years old now, but I’m still here, 11and I’m as strong today as the day Moses sent me to explore the land. I am able to do anything now that I could do back then. 12So, I’m asking you to give me this hill country the LORD was speaking of that day; we both know that the Anakim were there with large walled cities like fortresses. But it may be that the LORD will be with me and help me drive them out as the LORD said.”
13So, Joshua agreed with Caleb son of Jephunneh, and gave Hebron to him as his special inheritance in the land. 14That is how Caleb the Kenizzite, son of Jephunneh, came to possess Hebron, because he was faithful to the LORD, the God of Israel.
15Hebron was originally called Kiriath-Arba (“city of Arba”), because Arba was the most famous of the Anakim.
Then the land was allowed to rest from war.
1-5: Now Joshua’s attention turns to the land between the Jordan and the Mediterranean. In verse 1 we are told that the distribution was made by Joshua and Eleazar the priest. This separation of duties between military and religious leaders was started after the death of Moses. In Israel’s future there will be many times when the military/political leader or the religious leader will try to take on both mantles, almost always with bad results. The idea for separation of church and state dates back to Joshua’s time!
6-15: Caleb comes to Joshua to request a special allotment for him and his descendants. He reminds Joshua of the story we read in Numbers 13, about the initial sortie authorized by Moses to spy out the land (Caleb was the only one of the 12 spies who believed they could conquer it). In verse 7 Caleb says that he was 40 years old when that event took place, and in verse 10 he says that he is now 85. Between 38 and 39 years passed between the spy episode and the crossing of the Jordan. So, Joshua and the people have been fighting for territory in Canaan now for six years or so.
Most of the rest of Joshua will be lists of towns and cities and hills and valleys and mountains and wadis and rivers and lakes – the allotment of territory to the remaining ten tribes (well, 9½ tribes). Most of the place names will be completely unfamiliar, and many of them are lost to the past. The process is different, but still I see a comparison with the way our country was divided into states. A good Bible atlas will be very helpful! Don’t get discouraged! Keep in mind that this history was of tremendous importance to the people of Israel for many centuries, and the details given in the book of Joshua was absolutely essential to their peace and prosperity – as long as they kept the faith. I believe that is also true of these United States of America. Keep the faith!