Joshua 19

The Word Made Fresh

1The second portion (Benjamin was the first) was allotted to the families of Simeon, and it lay within the territory of Judah. 2It included Beersheba, Sheba, Moladah, 3Hazar-Shual, Balah, Ezem, 4Eltolad, Bethul, Hormah, 5Ziklag, Beth-Marcaboth, Hazar-Susah, 6Beth-Lebaoth, and Sharuhen – thirteen towns and their settlements. 7Also Ain, Rimmon, Ether and Ashan – four towns and their settlements; 8plus all the settlements around these towns as far as Baalath-Beer (also called Ramah) in the Negeb. All these were allotted to the tribe of Simeon and its families. 9Their lot included part of the territory assigned to Judah because Judah had been allotted more than their number required.

10The third portion was allotted to Zebulun and its families. Their boundary reached all the way to Sarid, 11then westward to Maralah near Dabbesheth and then to the streambed east of Jokneam. 12Eastward from Sarid it went to Chisloth-Tabor and from there to Daberath and on up to Japhia. 13From Japhia the borderline continues eastward to Gath-Hepher, Eth-Kazin, then on to Rimmon where it curves toward Neah. 14From just north of Neah the borderline turns toward Hannathon and ends at the Iphtah-El Valley 15and includes Kattath, Nahalal, Shimron, Idalah, and Bethlehem – twelve towns in all with their settlements. 16This is the inheritance given to Zebullun.

17The fourth portion was allotted to Issachar and its families. 18It included Jezreel, Chesulloth, Shunem, 19Hapharaim, Shion, Anaharath, 20Rabbith, Kishion, Ebez, 21Remeth, En-Gannim, En-Haddah, and Beth-Pazzez. 22From there the borderline skirts along beside Tabor, Shahazumah and Beth-Shemesh, and ends at the Jordan River – sixteen towns and their settlements. 23This is the inheritance given to Issachar.

24The fifth portion was awarded to Asher and its families. 25Within its boundary was Helkath, Hali, Beten, Achshaph, 26Allammelech, Amad and Mashal. On the west it touches Carmel and Shihor-Libnath 17and then turns toward the east to Beth-Dagon and skirts past Zebulun and the valley of Iphtah-El and goes northward to Cabul, 28Ebron, Rehob, Hammon, Kanah, and on to Great Sidon. 29Then the line turns to Ramah and continues to the fortress city of Tyre. From there it turns to Hosah and ends at the sea. It includes Mahebel, Achzib, 30Ummah, Aphek and Rehob – twenty-two towns and their surrounding settlements. 31This is what Asher and its families inherited.

32The sixth portion was awarded to Naphtali and its families. 33Its borderline went from Helephto the oak tree at Zaanannim, to Adami-Nekeb, and on to Jabneel as far as Lakkum. It ends at the Jordan, 34then turns westward to Aznoth-Tabor, from there to Hukkok, then skirting past Zebulun on the south and Asher on the west and Judah on the east at the Jordan. 35It includes the walled towns of Ziddim, Zer, Hammath, Rakkath, Chinnereth, 36Adamah, Ramah, Hazor, 37Kadesh, Edrei, Enhazor, 38Iron, Migdal-El, Horem, Bethanath and Beth-Shemesh – nineteen towns with their outlying settlements. 39This is the territory Naphtali and its families inherited with its villages.

40The seventh portion was awarded to the tribe of Dan and its families. 41Its territory included Zorah, Eshtaol, Ir-Shemesh, 42Shaalabbin, Aijalon, Ithlah, 43Elon, Timnah, Ekron, 44El-Tekeh, Gibbethon, Baalath, 45Jehud, Beneberak, Gath-Rimmon, 46Me-Jarkon and Rakkon across the border from Joppa. 47Later, when they lost their territory, they attacked Leshem, defeated them in battle and captured it. They took possession of it and settled there, changing its name from Leshem to Dan after their ancestor. 48So this became the territory of Dan and its families.

49When the distribution was completed the Israelites granted a separate inheritance to Joshua son of Nun. 50At the LORD’s command they gave him the town he asked for – Timnath-Serah in the hill country of Ephraim. He rebuilt the town and settled there.

51These are the inherited territories the priest Eleazar and Joshua son of Nun and the heads of the families of the tribes of Israel distributed at Shiloh by casting lots before the LORD at the entrance of the meeting tent. The division of the land was complete.

Commentary

1-9: Simeon’s inheritance is defined. Now we learn that the process of meting out territory was not without its flaws: Judah has been given too much land, so Benjamin is allowed to settle some of it.

10-16: Zebulun’s lot is next.

17-23: Then Issachar.

24-31: Asher.

32-39: Naphtali.

40-48: Dan’s territory included some Philistine cities, and apparently the Philistines didn’t care much for that arrangement. Verse 47 tells us that Dan quickly lost their territory, and in Judges 18 we will read the story of the tribe of Dan seeking another area. Rather than wear themselves out against the Philistines, they made the practical decision to take somebody else’s town.

49-51: Finally, Joshua is given a special inheritance in the territory of Ephraim.

During the time of Israel’s kings, Judah and Ephraim will become the dominant tribes. When they separate into north and south after Solomon’s reign, the southern kingdom (capital at Jerusalem) will be called Judah. The northern kingdom (capital at Shechem) will be called Israel but will often be referred to as Ephraim.

Takeaway

The distribution of land is given a great deal of attention because it is seen as the fulfillment of the promise God made to Abraham centuries before, that his descendants would inherit the land of Canaan. God’s promises are always fulfilled; but we have the power to delay their fulfilment when we follow our own interests and plans.