The Word Made Fresh
1The LORD said to Moses, 2“Assemble the Israelites and tell them that when they enter Canaan, the land will be divided among them as their inheritance.” Then the LORD informed them of the boundaries of their land. 3“The southern portion will reach from the wilderness of Zin along the territory of Edom. The southern boundary will extend from the Dead Sea on the east, 4turn south of the ridge of Akrabbim and across the wilderness of Zin. It will extend south of Kadesh-Barnea and then to Hazar-Addar and cross over to Azmon. 5Your border will then turn to the stream bed of Egypt and end at the Mediterranean Sea.
6“Your western boundary will be the coastline of the Mediterranean, the Great Sea.
7“From the Great Sea, your northern boundary will run to Mount Hor, 8and from there to Lebo-Hamath, then to Zedad, 9then to Ziphron, and finally to Hazar-Enan.
10“The eastern boundary will be from Hazar-enan to Shepham, 11then to Riblah, east of Ain, and then descend to the eastern edge of Lake Chinnereth. 12From there the boundary will run to the Jordan River and down to the Dead Sea. You will possess all the land within these boundaries.”
13Then Moses told the Israelites, “This is the land that will be divided among you by casting lots. The LORD has commanded that this land will belong to the nine tribes and the half-tribe, 14because Reuben and Gad and the half-tribe of Manasseh 15have claimed their inheritance east of the Jordan across from Jericho toward the sunrise.”
16Again the LORD spoke to Moses and said, 17“Eleazar the priest and Joshua son of Nun will apportion the land to each tribe. 18Select these leaders from each tribe to assist in the division of the land:
19For Judah, Caleb son of Jephunneh.
20For Simeon, Shemuel son of Ammihud.
21For Benjamin, Elidad son of Chislon.
22For Dan, Bukki son of Jogli.
23For the Manasseh division of Joseph, Hanniel son of Ephod.
24For the Ephraim division of Joseph, Kemuel son of Shiphtan.
25For Zebulun, Eli-Zaphan son of Parnach.
26For Issachar, Paltiel son of Azzan.
27For Asher, Ahihud son of Shelomi.
28For Naphtali, Pedahel son of Ammihud.
29These were the leaders the LORD chose to divide the land of Canaan as the inheritance of the tribes of Israel.
1-12: The boundaries are laid out for their occupation of the Promised Land. It is a strip of land bordered on the west by the Mediterranean Sea (“The Great Sea” in verse 6) and on the east by the Jordan River from the Dead Sea in the south to Lake Chinnereth in the north. Of course, three of the tribes have claimed territory east of the Jordan. As for the southern and northern borders, the list of places is mostly unknown today, which makes it Impossible to determine the precise boundary lines, but generally it includes the northern part of the Negeb wilderness, and the areas that will later be known as Judah, Samaria, and Galilee.
13-15: The three tribes (Gad, Reuben, and the half-tribe of Manasseh) that settled on the east side of the Jordan River are not to be included within the boundaries outlined here. Verse 13 specifies that the Promised Land is given to 9 ½ tribes because the 2 ½ tribes had already settled the Trans-Jordan areas. The tribe of Levi is not included in the allotments in the Promised Land; they will be given cities to inhabit scattered throughout all the territories.
16-29: The end of the chapter names new leaders for the tribes that will settle Canaan. Of course, Eleazar the high priest is of the tribe of Levi, and no other leader is named for them in this list. Eleazar the priest and Joshua are again designated as leaders to succeed Moses. Joshua is of the tribe of Ephraim: in the list of new leaders at the end of the chapter the leader of Ephraim is Kemuel (verse 24). So, Joshua’s future duties as overall leader are deemed difficult enough that he cannot also serve as a tribal leader.
God promised Abraham that his “children” would inherit the land of Canaan where Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob had labored under God’s protection. It took over four hundred years for that promise to be realized. Clearly, patience is an indispensable quality of faith.