Author: John Whitmarsh
This chapter and the following chapters have to do with inheritance. The word has only appeared on a couple of occasions until now but from here to the end of the book there are 57 references to the word/associated words. In the introduction it was stated that chapters 1-12 deal with the land being subdued and chapters 13-24 with the land being subdivided. This was a simplification and it may be more accurate to say that the territories occupied by each tribe are known by the end of chapter 19. Thereafter the matter of the cities of refuge is raised and, in chapter 21, the special position of the Levites. The final chapters of the book deal with the tribes taking up their positions and Joshua's last days starting with the verse in 23.1 where it states that 'Joshua was old and well stricken in age.' It is conceivable that this phrase, which appears the beginning of this chapter, marks the dividing points in the whole book:
1-12 The land subdued
13-22 The land subdivided
23-24 Joshua's last days.
The land was allocated to the twelve tribes. Levi did not receive an inheritance. Joseph was represented by his two sons, Manasseh and Ephraim. In Numbers 1 and 26 there are two censuses made of the children of Israel. The first one is taken in the second year after coming out of Egypt and in the second month of that year. We are not told when the second census is taken but presumably it was at the end of the sojourning in the wilderness. The table shows the numbers in each tribe at the two numberings (the order in Genesis 49 has been chosen; this is a different order from the birth order):
|Tribe Genesis 49 Order||Numbers 1 Census||Tribe Order in Numbers 1||Numbers 26 Census||Tribe Order in Numbers 26||Change %|
Whilst there is little change in the number of males over 20 years of age in the whole of the children of Israel between the two censuses there are many changes in the numbers of certain tribes. There is a phenomenal reduction in the numbers of Simeonites (see the whole of Numbers 25 was a possible explanation Simeon was deeply involved in the idolatry of Baal-peor). Likewise there is an incredible increase in the numbers of Manasseh (and a significant reduction in the numbers of those in Ephraim) that a person could be forgiven for questioning whether a scribe's error had been made in the two records. Note that the order of Manasseh and Ephraim in Numbers 26 is reversed from that in Numbers 1 and that this is the only change in the order of the tribes between the two. That said, the table shows that other tribes have large percentage changes. It is considered important that the numbers in each tribe be known before an examination of the text regarding the allocation of land is made. This is especially important when passages like Joshua 19.1-9 are studied.
Chapter 13 describes the inheritance that Moses gave to the two and a half tribes that lived on the eastern side of the river Jordan (see verses 15, 24 and 29).
15-27 Reuben's inheritance
24-28 Gad's inheritance
29-33 Half tribe Manasseh's inheritance
This clearly leaves another 14 verses in this chapter that do not fall under these headings. There is mention made of territory that had not been possessed. The first seven verses describe the land on the western side of the river Jordan that was, as verse 7 declares, to be divided among the nine and a half tribes and that by Joshua. The extent of the land on the east side of the river (see verse 7) that Moses apportioned to the two and a half tribes and some of its history is described in verses 8-14 before the division of the eastern territory is given. Many of the place names have been mentioned before (especially in chapter 12) and the reader does well to revert back to these notes from time to time when reading this chapter. Following this chapter there is a break from tribal to individual inheritance while Caleb and his exploits are rehearsed. Caleb's inheritance is described and then Judah's inheritance is described in chapter 15. Then the subject of the division of the land into the territories occupied by the different tribes continues to, as stated, the end of chapter 19.
Chapters 20-21 talk of cities and not areas that include many towns and cities. In the case of the cities of refuge there were three either side of the Jordan. According to Numbers 35 these were classified as Levitical cities. In the case of the 48 Levite cities (see Numbers 35.7) these were scattered throughout the tribes. We do not have to wait until chapter 21 to realise that God had a special portion for them for this is constantly reiterated before we get to that chapter. In this chapter we read that Moses did not give an inheritance to Israel for the sacrifices of the Lord made by fire and the Lord Himself were their inheritance according to verses 14 and 33. Chapter 14 and verses 3-4 states the same truth. The same is true of chapter 18 verse 7, the truth being declared to the people by Joshua. God did not want people to think that He had forgotten the Levites as all these tribes were given their territory.
Joshua was old. As if to emphasise the point he is also described as being well stricken in years as though this was some kind of affliction. This was not the case but described his limitations, limitations that affect us all. He had led the people well. He had done much and we have read that he did all that Moses commanded him to do. But there was unfinished business. He ran out of time. He was a creature of time as are we all. He now had to turn his attentions, under God's guidance and help, to another matter this being the division of the land. This could not wait until later. Perhaps it could be said that someone else, someone younger, could perform the task but God has made it clear that Joshua was to perform this task with the help of others.
He is not the only man to get to the end of his days and have things left to do. David was the same though his unfinished work was not due to lack of time (David lived for a much shorter period of time than Joshua did (70 years compared to 110 years)) but a lack of power that had to do with the sins in his life.
Joshua, though a picture of the heavenly Joshua even the Lord Jesus, was only a picture by contrast in that he was unable to give them rest (Hebrews 4.8-9 where Jesus in the AV should be translated Joshua as explained earlier see chapter 11 notes). The beginning of chapter 23 says this of Joshua, 'And it came to pass a long time after that the Lord had given rest unto Israel from all their enemies round about, that Joshua waxed old and stricken in age.' This verse is specific. The Lord is said to have given them rest from all their enemies round about. There may have been rest but it was a temporal rest. There were enemies within the land. They may have been subdued and many were utterly destroyed in order to give the rest that the children of Israel enjoyed but they were not all expelled.
The Lord Jesus was able to and is able to finish the work. When it comes to eternal rest the Lord Jesus has made sure that there are no enemies within that land (subdued or active). The very next verse lets us know about the Philistines showing that not all the enemies were permanently subdued. Even when we come to the book of the Judges we find that the children of Benjamin did not drive out the Jebusites and the children of Manasseh did not drive out those in Bethshean and so the Canaanites dwelt in the land and so on (Judges 1). It is interesting to note that the children of Judah were able to drive out the people of the mountain but the inhabitants of the valley were not able to be moved as they had chariots of iron. This was the same story with many of the tribes. By the time of Judges 3 this was the state of affairs, 'Now these are the nations which the Lord left, to prove Israel by them, even as many of Israel as had not known all the wars of Canaan; only that the generations of the children of Israel might know, to teach them war, at the least such as before knew nothing thereof; namely, the five lords of the Philistines, and all the Canaanites, and the Sidonians, and the Hivites that dwelt in mount Lebanon, from mount Baal-Hermon unto the entering in of Hamath. And they were to prove Israel by them, to know whether they would hearken unto the commandments of the Lord, which He commanded their fathers by the hand of Moses. And the children of Israel dwelt among the Canaanites, the Hittites, and Amorites and Perizzites, and Hivites, and Jebusites, and they took their daughters to be their wives, and gave their daughters to their sons, and served their gods.' It is interesting to note that, at this time, it was not a case of the tribes of the land of Canaan living among the children of Israel but rather them dwelling among the Canaanites, etc. How sad.
This is the first mention of the Philistines in the book of Joshua. That the first mention should come just at the point of describing the division of the land is significant for the Philistines were to be a thorn in the side (see Numbers 33.55) of the twelve tribes right on into David's days as we well know. That the Philistines should head the list of all those areas that had not been possessed is also quite significant (see also the passage from Judges 3 in the notes on verse 1 where the Philistines head the list). It is as if God is saying that this people were the most important of all that were to trouble the twelve tribes in the land. What do the Philistines represent? They were a people who were in the land but not under the rule of the God of the land. They were a people in the land but had not got there by being redeemed by the blood of the lamb. They were an idolatrous people (as the early chapters of I Samuel inform us). As such they were a threat to the people of God for many years after Joshua 13. Joshua did not deal with them and they established their own territory within the land.
Geshuri means 'proud beholder'. Geshur was the name of the place with Geshurites being the name of the people. We came across this people in chapter 12. We do not want to be leaving a proud beholder in the land. Anything to do with pride will spoil our enjoyment of the land.
13:3 From Sihor, which is before Egypt, even unto the borders of Ekron northward, which is counted to the Canaanite: five lords of the Philistines; the Gazathites, and the Ashdothites, the Eshkalonites, the Gittites, and the Ekronites; also the Avites:
The area of land described here is in the southern part (south western) of what we know as Israel today. It would appear that there are three groups of people mentioned in this verse the Canaanites, the Philistines (subdivided in to the five lords) and the Avites.
Sihor means 'dark' and is a river or canal on the east border of Egypt and a branch of the Nile. It is commonly known as the brook of Egypt (see Numbers 34.5). Ekron means 'emigration' or 'torn up by the roots' and is the most northerly of the 5 principal cities of the Philistines. It is located in the lowlands of Judah and was later given to Dan.
This is the first mention of the five lords of the Philistines in the scriptures.
Avites means 'ruins' and was a people among the early inhabitants of Palestine located in the southwest corner of the seacoast. The RV translates this part of the verse as the Avvim (see Deuteronomy 2.23 which may also be an early reference to the Philistine the Caphtorims, which came forth out of Caphtor).
Verse 4 takes us from the south right up outside the territory occupied by the Israelites today.
This is the only time that Mearah appears in scripture. It means 'cave' and is an area or cavern in the neighbourhood east of Sidon. Sidon is in present day Lebanon.
There are three Apheks in scripture. The word means 'enclosure'. The three places are:
1) a Canaanite city near Jezreel 2) a city in territory of Asher 3) a city northeast of modern Beirut
It is believed that this Aphek is number three on the list. More details on the borders of the Amorites can be found in the last few verses (34-36) of Judges 1.
It is quite clear that the children of Israel were to occupy an area of land that is far greater than that occupied by Israelites today.
Lebanon is mentioned in this verse. Giblites means 'a boundary'. The word is only used twice and is translated once as Giblites and the other time as stonesquarers. They were the inhabitants of Gebal. The RV of I Kings 5.18 mentions the Giblites, 'And Solomon's builders and Hiram's builders and the Gebalites did fashion them, and prepared the timber and the stones to build the house.' (RV). Much of the material (especially the cedars and the firs I Kings 5.10) for the temple came from the land of Lebanon with the king of Tyre (Hiram) being a lover of David (I Kings 5.1). There was no one in Israel able to cut timber like unto the Sidonians (I Kings 5.6). For further study, Gebal is mentioned in Psalm 83.7 and Ezekiel 27.9.
Baalgad has been mentioned in both chapter 11 and chapter 12 for which see.
Hamath means 'fortress'. It is the principal city of upper Syria in the valley of the Orontes. Numbers 34 lets us know details of the extent of the territory that was to belong to the children of Israel and verses 7-8 of that chapter mentions Hamath as forming part of the northern border.
13:6 All the inhabitants of the hill country from Lebanon unto Misrephothmaim, and all the Sidonians, them will I drive out from before the children of Israel: only divide thou it by lot unto the Israelites for an inheritance, as I have commanded thee.
For Misrephothmaim see 11.8. This verse refers to the northern part of the territory, which was yet to be conquered. God promised that He would drive out these people from before the children of Israel. Once this was complete the land was to be divided by lot among the nine and a half tribes as the next verse indicates.
We must remember from verse 1 of this chapter that God had been speaking with Joshua. It was Joshua who was to divide the land (Numbers 34.16-17, 'And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, These are the names of the men which shall divide the land unto you: Eleazar the priest, and Joshua the son of Nun.') It is also of note that there was to be a prince from each tribe to divide the land by inheritance and that each prince is named at the end of Numbers 34. This is confirmed in the text of Joshua 14.1-2.
There may not be much by way of description of the central part of the territory but God has given a general statement regarding the southern and the northern extent of the area that was to be divided between the nine and a half tribes. The western border we know had to be the Mediterranean Sea (less that area occupied by the Philistines). The eastern border was the river Jordan. The river Jordan is mentioned in the next verse.
This truth is stated again in the first three verses of chapter 14. Numbers 32.33 says, 'And Moses gave unto them, even to the children of Gad, and to the children of Reuben, and unto half the tribe of Manasseh the son of Joseph, the kingdom of Sihon king of the Amorites, and the kingdom of Og king of Bashan, the land, with the cities thereof in the coasts ('with their borders' RV), even the cities of the country round about.'
The area involved is then described. It stretched from Aroer on the bank of the river Arnon. Aroer was mentioned in chapter 12 and verse 2. The notes from that verse are repeated here - Aroer is a small town on the north bank of the river Arnon and about 12 miles from the Dead Sea. It marked the southern boundary of the territory of Sihon the king of the Amorites (he 'ruled from Aroer') and later of Reuben; modern Arair. A lot of what is said in this chapter is a repeat of the previous chapter with the emphasis there being on the kings that were smitten. Many of the place names that were to become the inheritance of the children of Israel are introduced here.
The next phrase, 'the city that is in the midst of the river' (!!), seems strange and it is conceded that help is needed to understand what is being said. See notes on verse 16.
Medeba is a city and plain on the right side of the river Arnon. It was an old Moabite town taken by Sihon in Numbers 21.21-30. It is called Madaba today and is located six miles south of Heshbon near to Nebo and to the right of the northern end of the Dead Sea.
Dibon is located on the eastern side of the Dead Sea about midway up the stretch of water, 10 miles inland and a little to the north east of Aroer.
Heshbon itself is mentioned in this verse. For Heshbon see 9.10 and 12.2 and 5.
For Gilead, Geshurites, Salcah and the Maachathites see 12.2 and 5 again. Deuteronomy 3.13-14 say this, 'And the rest of Gilead, and all Bashan, being the kingdom of Og, gave I unto the half tribe of Manasseh; all the region of Argob, with all Bashan, which was called the land of giants. Jair the son of Manasseh took all the country of Argob unto the coasts of Geshuri and Maachathi; and called them after his own name, Bashan-havoth-jair.' The first three chapters of Deuteronomy are interesting in that Moses recounts the events that took place from the time the children of Israel left Horeb until the time, then present, when they were in Beth-peor.
The king of Og and his kingdom have been discussed before in chapter 12. We are told there that he was of the remnant of the giants. The king is also mentioned in the books of the Pentateuch with Deuteronomy 3.11 letting us know that Og was a big man and the last of the giants. His bedstead was made of iron and was nine cubits in length and four cubits wide!! We have read of Og way back in chapter 2 and verse 10. No wonder those at Jericho were frightened of what God was able to do if Og had been slain as the children of Israel were on the other side of the Jordan. The huge man had been cut down. What would happen to Jericho and its inhabitants?
We read of Geshuri at the beginning of the chapter (verse 2). The Geshurites were not expelled from the land. Later David was to take Maacah daughter of Talmai king of Geshur to be his wife and from that union came Absalom (II Samuel 3.3). Absalom fled back to his mother's home town once Amnon was slain and it was to this city that Joab was sent to bring him back to Jerusalem (II Samuel 14.23).
Maachah was a small state that was on the edge of the half tribe Manasseh's territory. In David's time its Aramaean king provided 1000 soldiers for the Aramaean and Ammonite attempt to crush David and Israel. It was later absorbed into Damascus in Syria.
Levi had a special position among the tribes. Their inheritance was the sacrifices made by fire, and, in the last verse of this chapter, the Lord Himself. They were given no inheritance by Moses who is the one dividing this part of the land in this chapter.
The land on the eastern side of Jordan was divided into the portions for Reuben, Gad and the half tribe Manasseh by Moses. Joshua's responsibility (with help) was to apportion the land to the nine and a half tribes (verse 7). Reuben was the southernmost tribe with Gad in the middle and the half tribe Manasseh to the north.
The land was to be divided by inheritance though it was won by conquest. They had been living together as a whole. Now each tribe was to receive its portion and allotted territory.
We have previously established where each of these places was (see verse 9 as well as 12.2). There is a lot of repetition here but maybe this is done so that we can be absolutely clear where Reuben's territory was to be found. Broadly speaking it was from midway up the Salt Sea (or the Dead Sea) and just above the north eastern tip of the Dead Sea. Bethjeshimoth and Bethpeor (verse 20) appear to be the northern point of the territory.
The midst of the river suggests that this was a boundary between tribes (see verse 9). It is interesting to note, however, that the RV has 'the city that is in the middle of the valley.' If this is the correct translation then why have an unspecified city (a city whose name is not given) in list after list where names (most of which are unknown by us) are given?
Bamoth means 'high places' or 'great high place' and is a town on the river Arnon in Moab. Bethbaalmeon means 'house of Baal' and is a city in the territory of Reuben
Jahazah (see also Joshua 21.36 and Jeremiah 48.21) is also known as Jahaz (Numbers 21.23, Deuteronomy 2.32 and Judges 11.20). It is also known as Jahzah. Kedemoth was a desert area (Deuteronomy 2.26) and is found seven and a half miles north east of Dibon. It is presumed that Mephaath is in the same area.
Kirjathaim is also known as Kiriathaim. This city was conquered by the Reubenites (Numbers 32.37) and they rebuilt it. It is six miles north west of Dibon. Sibmah is the same place as Sebam or Shebam (Numbers 32.3 and 38). By the time of Isaiah and Jeremiah (as with many of these towns) it had reverted to the Moabites. It had been wrested from Sihon king of the Amorites.
Bethpeor means 'house of Peor' and is a place east of the Jordan, in the land of the Amorites, allotted to the tribe of Reuben. Ashdothpisgah can be translated the slopes of Pisgah. We have seen this place mentioned in 12.3.
13:21 And all the cities of the plain, and all the kingdom of Sihon king of the Amorites, which reigned in Heshbon, whom Moses smote with the princes of Midian, Evi, and Rekem, and Zur, and Hur, and Reba, which were dukes of Sihon, dwelling in the country.
It seems strange that in a section which describes the area to be occupied and owned by Reuben that we should hear more about the way by which the land was conquered. Evi means 'my desire' and was one of the five chiefs of Midian. Numbers 31.8 says, 'And they (that is the 12,000 sent out by Moses to avenge the children of Israel of the Midianites) slew the kings of Midian, beside the rest of them that were slain (for they slew all the males); namely, Evi, and Rekem, and Zur, and Hur and Reba, five kings of Midian: Balaam also the son of Beor they slew with the sword.' Joshua 13 lets us know that they were princes of Midian and dukes of Sihon.
Numbers 31 also gives us this information but not as much as Joshua 13 for Balaam is described as a soothsayer or one who used divination. The elders of Moab and Midian had approached Balaam with the rewards of divination in their hand according to Numbers 22.7. God told him not to go for God hates divination (Deuteronomy 18.10) but he went and paid the ultimate price for going against the mind of God.
Here there appears to be repetition within the same verse. The word for 'border' is the same.
Gad came next. Moses gave this inheritance as he had done with Reuben. The boundaries of their territory appear to be Heshbon in the south and Succoth in the north. This leaves one statement in verse 27 unexplained for the sea of Chinnereth is what we would know as the Sea of Galilee. Chinnereth takes its name from the plain on the NW side of the lake by that name a long way up country from, say, Succoth, which is at the head of the Jabbok river (see notes on chapter 12 for Jabbok). This also seems to be a long way from all the other towns and cities that are mentioned in verses 25-27. In fact Mahanaim appears to be the northerly town of the Gadite territory for it is mentioned in verse 26 (belonging to Gad) and in verse 30 (belonging to the half tribe Manasseh). The question is where is Mahanaim? It overlooks the north bank of the river Jabbok, the course of which river marks the boundary of the tribe of Gad.
Jazer (meaning helpful) was given at first to the tribe of Gad and later ascribed to the Merarite family of the tribe of Levi (Joshua 21.39). It is mentioned at the beginning of Numbers 32. This Aroer is a different place with the same name as the city on the river Arnon to the south.
13:27 And in the valley, Betharam, and Bethnimrah, and Succoth, and Zaphon, the rest of the kingdom of Sihon king of Heshbon, Jordan and his border, even unto the edge of the sea of Chinnereth on the other side Jordan eastward.
Thus verses 24-28 have described the territory that Moses gave as an inheritance to Gad in response to the request that they, with Reuben, stay on this side of the Jordan and raise their livestock in the Gilead region as mentioned in the earliest verses of Numbers 32. They had fulfilled the request that they join with the people on the western side of Jordan for the period of the conquest as requested by Moses (Numbers 32.20-22 verses that are followed by the phrase 'be sure your sin will find you out' referring to them not joining the rest of the tribes for the period of the conquest).
See notes on 15.7 for the different Debirs in the land.
This last section of the chapter describes the inheritance given by Moses to the half tribe Manasseh. This was the most northerly of the three tribes on the eastern side of Jordan.
13:31 And half Gilead, and Ashtaroth, and Edrei, cities of the kingdom of Og in Bashan, were pertaining unto the children of Machir the son of Manasseh, even to the one half of the children of Machir by their families.
These verses describe the boundaries of the territory by the half tribe Manasseh and their portion of the land stretched from Mahanaim in the south to Bashan in the north. We have come across most of these cities already. The possible reason for the term 'half Gilead' maybe because this area was shared. It is interesting to note that although Reuben asked for the land of Gilead for its cattle in Numbers 32 that it appears that it did not get the land. This seems to have gone to the half tribe Manasseh.
Machir was one of the sons of Manasseh. The end of Numbers 32 makes it clear that there was another by the name of Jair though I Chronicles 7 does not mention him. There is a Machir mentioned in I Chronicles 2.23, the same chapter in which a Jair, the son of Segub, is mentioned. Machir is interesting in that he appears in the last chapter of Genesis where we are told that he was the grandson of Joseph and that Joseph even had Machir's children on his knees. This would have been some time before the exodus so that Machir by this time was a very old man. The whole question of Machir and Jair is complex and warrants further study.
Though these were the distribution of countries accomplished by Moses, the link with the western side of Jordan is made clear by the association with Jericho. Verse 32 makes it sound as though the inheritance was only the land that was over the river from Jericho this being the plains of Moab. We have seen in the early part of this chapter, the earlier chapters in this book and the end of Numbers and beginning of Deuteronomy that the land extended for some distance.
As mentioned already, this is an oft-repeated phrase. Moses did not give the Levites any inheritance. We know that they had 48 cities given to them towards the end of this book by Joshua.
We have to be careful with pictures from the OT. We can read into events, like those recorded in this chapter, things that do not apply to the Christian age.
If Joshua was to divide the land as instructed towards the end of the book of Numbers then he, now being old, had to leave off the matter of subjugation and concentrate on the matter of subdivision of the land. His lack was not of willingness but of time and the explanation that Joshua was old and that there were still parts of the land that were not possessed should not be used to teach deficiency apart from that which plagues us all, namely lack of time. We are all creatures of time but how well do use the time at our disposal? This chapter starts with the statements regarding Joshua's need to accomplish this particular task in order to fulfil the mind of God before proceeding to explain that two and a half tribes had already been apportioned their land by Moses.
We must never take the picture too far and think that heaven is going to be like this. 'That they may be one, even as we are one.' Heaven is not going to be subdivided into territories, one for this group and another for that. Though the children of Israel were going to be united in that they were in the land together, they were divided in this sense that they maintained their tribal status in those early days.