Joshua 13-19 – The Apportioned Inheritances (2)
The previous outline dealt with the allotment of Canaan under the leadership of Joshua after Israel's entry into the Promised Land. In this outline we will focus on some particulars, which are mentioned in chapters 13 ‑ 19.
1. Simeon and Levi; Judah
It may seem odd to discuss these tribes separately, but there are reasons for that. Simeon received its inheritance in the midst of the tribe of Judah, because Judah's portion was too large for them (19:9). Levi only obtained cities in the midst of all the other tribes of Israel (ch.21).
Genesis 49 sheds much light on the situation of Simeon and Levi. As God's servant, Jacob spoke about the inheritances of his sons, including Simeon and Levi. His words came true. Read Genesis 49 to see what Jacob said.
Question 1: Was Levi's inheritance of lesser, equal, or more importance than that of the other tribes? (See 13:14, 13:33 and Num 18:20.)
Levi's inheritance showed that there is a better inheritance than the land of Canaan that we know. As one of the twelve tribes, Levi received this better inheritance in an Old-Testamentary form. All God's people in the New Testament may receive another inheritance. What is that inheritance like?
Question 2: But what about Simeon's inheritance? Why did Levi receive a better portion? (See Ex 32:26‑28.)
The lot for Judah, according to their families, was cast first. In addition, its inheritance is described in more detail than any of the other tribes (15:1‑63; Gen 49).
Did Simeon's punishment only work to its disadvantage?
Question 3: Later, the kingdom would be split in two. Close to which sanctuary did Simeon live at a time when Jeroboam caused the northern ten tribes to worship at two other sanctuaries, Bethel and Dan?
2. Caleb (14:6‑15)
Apparently, Caleb was a man of great importance in Judah. You will notice that after reading 14:6. (See also Num 34:13‑29.) This verse begins to speak about the people of Judah who came to Joshua at Gilgal. However, immediately following this the focus is on Caleb, the son of Jephunneh, the Kenizzite. Some people have suggested that Caleb actually did not belong to the tribe of Judah. Reading 1 Chronicles 4:13 and 15 shows that this opinion is unwarranted.
Again, we need to call to mind the history of the twelve spies (Num 13,14). Caleb refers back to those events. At that time he was 40 years old.
Caleb reminds the others that he and Joshua alone remained faithful to the LORD.
Question 4: How did he prove his faithfulness? (See v.8.)
In addition, Caleb reminds Joshua of what the LORD had said to Moses at Kadesh‑barnea about himself and about Joshua. At that time, Moses had sworn an oath. You can read that in Numbers 14:24 and 30.
With thankfulness, Caleb mentions the fact that the LORD has kept his promises concerning himself. A generation of Israelites died in the desert, but God maintained Caleb's vigour and strength. (See v.10 and esp. v.11.)
The ten spies had at that time reported that the Anakim, the giants, lived in Canaan. However, Caleb is now going to show that the words that he spoke in faith 45 years ago, were not hollow boasts. How does he want to show that? (See v.12.) In the next chapter (15:13‑19) special mentioning is made of Caleb's inheritance and how he obtains it.
Joshua listens to Caleb. He rejoices and is in agreement with Caleb. This becomes clear from his choice of words in v.13: "Then Joshua blessed him; and he gave Hebron to Caleb..." The name of Hebron was formerly called Kiriath‑arba. 'Kiriath' means 'city'. Kiriath‑arba therefore meant 'city of...' (See v.15.)
Together with Joshua, Caleb had at that time realized that the honour of God was at stake. The point was: Do you trust him or not? Do you rely on him who had accomplished such great deeds or not? (Which great deeds?) Caleb does trust in him and does rely on his power. However, such faith cannot easily be found among the people of Judah and all the other Israelites. The following events make this clear.
3. Women who live by faith (17:3‑6)
In ch.17, mention is made of a member of the tribe of Manasseh who is in a special predicament.
Question 5: What was his predicament? (Read 17:3.)
The daughters of this man go to Eleazar, the priest, and to Joshua and the leaders of Israel. What is their request? They ask for their inheritance. They appeal to the command of the LORD to Moses (17:4). For them that command contained a promise of the LORD.
Question 6: You can read the history surrounding this event in Numbers 27:1‑11. Were they pleading their own cause? (See Num 27:3‑5.) Are you able to demonstrate that their request has nothing to do with modern women's emancipation? The company of Korah did not receive an inheritance in Canaan. However, the father of these women had not participated in Korah's rebellion. These women are concerned. They ask, "Why should the name of our father be taken away from his family because he had no son?" (Num 27:4; Is 56:5b).
Question 7: Where was their inheritance located? (See 17:1,3,6.)
4. The allocation of the land
The command of the LORD to divide the land (ch.13) was carried out by Eleazar the priest, Joshua son of Nun, and the leaders of the families belonging to the tribes (14:1). Numbers 34:13‑29 provides a list of those different leaders.
According to God's command and Joshua's request, Israel gave the city Timnath‑serah in the hill country of Ephraim, to Joshua (19:49,50).
Question 8: Why did Joshua get an inheritance in the territory of Ephraim (Num 13:8)?
The allotment of the Promised Land (ch.14‑19) starts with the inheritance of Caleb and is concluded with the inheritance of Joshua. Caleb and Joshua were the only two spies, of the twelve, who remained faithful to the LORD (Num 14:10).
The land was allocated by casting lots (13:6; 14:2), according to the command of the LORD given through his servant Moses (Num 26:52‑56).
Question 9: Why was the land allocated by lot? (See outline 10 section 1 and 4.)
The (renewed) division of the inheritances took place at Shiloh (19:51). Again, the division took place by lot at the entrance of the Tent of Meeting. Clearly, it is the LORD who grants these inheritances. Israel needs to accept their portions faithfully and fight in reliance on God's promises.
Question 10: This attitude is also expected from us. How can we apply this to our lives?
It is remarkable that, in connection with the division of the land, Balaam the soothsayer is mentioned (13:15‑23).
Question 11: What had been Balaam's plan? (See 24:9,10.) These chapters in the book of Joshua show that Balaam's curse had indeed turned into a blessing.
It is striking that the situation of the two‑and‑a‑half tribes is detailed again (13:8‑33; 14:3).
Question 12: Can you think of a reason why this is done? You may think of the event that is recorded in chapter 22 (esp. v.25) and will be discussed later on.