Joshua 18

The Word Made Fresh

1Then the Israelites came together at Shiloh and set up the meeting tent. All around them was conquered territory. 2But there were still seven tribes who had not received their inherited land.

3Joshua said, “How long will you wait to go in and take over the land the LORD your God has given you? 4Give me three men from each tribe. I’ll send them out to survey the land, write a description of what they think should be their inheritance, and bring it back to me. 5Divide it into seven parts. Judah has its territory in the south and Joseph in the north. 6Describe the seven parts you survey and show it to me, and I will cast lots for you in the LORD’s presence. 7The Levites will not receive a portion because they are the LORD’s priests. And Moses the servant of the LORD gave Gad and Reuben and the half-tribe of Manasseh their portions east of the Jordan.”

8The men set out. Joshua told them to write a description of the land. “Go through the land and describe it for me and I will cast lots before the LORD in Shiloh,” he had said. 9So they went through the land and kept a written description of it, town by town, in seven sections. They returned to Joshua at Shiloh. 10Joshua rolled the lots for them before the LORD and divided the land into seven portions.

11Benjamin’s portion was between Judah and Joseph (Ephraim and Manasseh). 12Their northern border began at the Jordan, northward on the slope above Jericho, then west through the hill country. It ended in the Beth-Aven wilderness. 13From there it ran southward toward Luz to Bethel, and then down to Ataroth-Addar on the mountain south of Lower Beth-Horon. 14Then it turns south from the mountain across from Beth-Horon and ends at the town of Kiriath-Baal (also known as Kiriath-Jearim), which belongs to Judah. This was the western boundary. 15The southern borderline went from there to the wells of Nephtoah at Ephron. 16Then it ran to the edge of the mountain overlooking the valley of Ben Hinnom where it joins the north end of the valley of Rephaim. Then it went southward down the valley of Hinnom below the Jebusite slopes and on down to En-Rogel. 17From there it curved toward the north to En-Shemesh, then to Geliloth across from Adummim pass; then down to the stone of Bohan (Reuben’s son). 18Passing from there north of the slope of Beth-Arabah it continued to the Arabah. 19Then the borderline ran north of Ben-Hoglah to the northern end of the Dead Sea, which is the southern end of the Jordan. This is the southern border. 20The Jordan is its eastern border. Such is the inheritance of the tribe of Benjamin within these boundaries.

21The following cities were given to Benjamin, family by family: Jericho, Beth-Hoglah, Emekkeziz, 22Beth-Arabah, Zemaraim, Bethel, 23Avvim, Parah, Ophrah, 24Chephar-Ammoni, Ophni and Geba: twelve towns and villages. 25Also, there was Gibeon, Ramah, Beeroth, 26Mizpeh, Chephirah, Mozah, 27Rekem, Irpeel, Taralah, 28Zela, Haeleph, Jebus (also known as Jerusalem), Gibeath and Kiriath-Jearim: fourteen towns and villages. This is the inheritance for the families of the tribe of Benjamin.

Commentary

1-10: A Lewis and Clark type expedition is arranged to map the remaining territory and draw up boundaries for the remaining seven tribes. I wonder how reassuring it was to the tribal leaders when Joshua allotted their portions by casting lots – their version of rolling dice.

11-28: Benjamin’s territory will lie adjacent to Judah and Ephraim. Jebus (Jerusalem) is in their territory – Judah’s boundary passes a few hundred feet south of Jebus through the valley of Hinnom. Benjamin is apparently the first tribe not to have trouble with undefeated Canaanites still in the land.

Takeaway

The small tribe of Benjamin played an important role in the early history of the nation of Israel (Saul, Israel’s first king, was a Benjaminite – see I Samuel 9), but the tribe gets much less mention later. Notably, though, in the New Testament, the apostle Paul is proud to claim his Benjaminite ancestry.