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So, the father gathered his sons in the central office, handed each of them legal shares in the company and laid it on the line. He knew that it was time for them to move forward without him. So, he gave each of the tribes inheritances in the Promised Land, and called for them to work together as never before. So, our author wrote his book to guide his original audience in each of these areas.
On a large scale, this division of Joshua consists of three main steps. Rather, God only gave Israel a foothold, a strong presence in a portion of it.
Consider first its structure and content. Structure and Content This section of Joshua divides into two episodes. But as our book indicates, settling securely in these lands was a crucial first step for Israel. Beginning with Abraham, God promised a people would come, and that people would be a blessing to the earth, would have important roles to play. Douglas Stuart] Boundaries in Cisjordan The first episode on the boundaries in Cisjordan builds on the list of territories that Joshua had conquered in chapter It opens in with the fact that Joshua was "old and advanced in years," and that "there remain[ed] yet very much land to possess.
In , God promised, "I myself will drive [the inhabitants] out. But our author noted in that the Israelites had not yet driven out some groups, like "the Geshurites or the Maacathites. And to be as comprehensive as possible, our author also added a parenthetical note in He explained that the Levites received an inheritance, but theirs was "the offerings by fire to the Lord," rather than land.
The question of geography in Joshua is very important, and the boundaries of the land is a very important question, especially related to mountains… And what they do, they create a boundary of what the Holy Land will be, and it becomes this marker, this waypoint, if you will. The northern point of Israel is Mount Hermon, traditionally, and then the eastern boundaries of Israel are created by the mountains, especially of Edom in the south, and then the highlands of Moab, the mountains, the plateau, the hill country, if you will, of Moab and Bashan.
So, all across what is modern-day Jordan — all the way, northern Jordan to southern Jordan — that creates the eastern boundaries of the land. Original Meaning To answer this question, we must remember that in the days of the judges, the monarchy and the Babylonian exile, Israel struggled to gain and maintain control over the territories that God had granted them.
By reminding his audience of the extent of these territories, our author pointed out how important it was for them to secure control over these lands. He began his focus on Cisjordan in with the words: "the Lord said to [Joshua].
In we read that these were the lands that "Moses the servant of the Lord gave them. So, he made it clear that if later generations lost their devotion to possessing the full extent of these lands, they would be turning against the authority of God and his authoritative human representatives.
Regarding Cisjordan, God explained in that all of Canaan belonged to Israel as an "inheritance," or "nachalah" in Hebrew. And God confirmed this promise in his covenant in Moses at Mount Sinai.
In the book of Genesis, when God establishes a covenant relationship with Abraham, he promises him, really, four things. For example, in the opening of the section on Cisjordan, God said in , "there remains yet very much land to possess. It was based on areas that Moses had directed Israel to possess in passages like Deuteronomy , In much the same way, when it came to Transjordan, refers to "their inheritance, which Moses gave them.
Moses himself had commanded Israel to take control of these territories. In the section dealing with Cisjordan, God said, in , "I myself will drive [the remaining Canaanites] out from before the people of Israel.
In , he referred to the well-known miraculous victory over "Sihon king of the Amorites. Only then could they realistically hope to gain and hold their inheritance in Cisjordan and Transjordan. Joshua notes that Cisjordan was to be divided among "the nine tribes and half the tribe of Manasseh. As he stressed time and again, our author made it clear to his original audience that the tribes of Israel must stand together.
The unity of the people of God was essential to establishing their presence throughout the initial boundaries on both sides of the Jordan.
How were these lands apportioned? Not surprisingly, the books of Judges, Samuel and Kings tell us that these disparities led to all kinds of distrust, abuse, division, even war among the tribes. To help his original audience deal with these kinds of troubles, our author called for them to respect the specific tribal allotments that God had established in the days of Joshua.
It contains long lists of peoples, regions, cities, towns and villages, interspersed with a number of brief stories and quick asides. To grasp the main ideas in all of this variety, it helps to see that it divides into two main parts: the tribal allotments Moses directed in Transjordan, in , and a much larger record of the tribal allotments that Joshua directed in Cisjordan in — The record of tribal allotments in Transjordan is rather short. It begins with the tribe of Reuben in The tribe of Gad appears in verses Then, our author closed this section, as he did the preceding section, by mentioning the special inheritance of the tribe of Levi in verses 32, Because the tribe of Levi was chosen as the tribe that served and executed the service of the priesthood for the entire nation of Israel, the tribe did not receive any land inheritance.
Because of this, the tribe of Levi was excluded from the allotments among the twelve tribes of Israel, and the portion the tribe of Levi received was the offerings that were made by the Israelites — the gifts and tithes given by the entire nation of Israel. Henryk Turkanik, translation] In these verses, the author of Joshua carefully delineated which portions of lands to the east of the Jordan were allotted to Reuben, Gad, and the half-tribe of Manasseh.
From a large-scale perspective, these allotments may seem clear enough, but for these tribes, the divisions were not as straightforward.
Overlapping territories and disagreements over borders made our author explain in some detail to whom specific regions, and even towns and villages, belonged. When modern Christians read chapters 13—22 in the book of Joshua, they encounter something that does not really capture our imagination, and that is these long lists of boundaries for this tribe and that tribe, and this tribe had these cities and those tribes had those cities, and so on and so on it goes.
In fact, sometimes when people read these as modern people, they look at it and say, "What in the world does this have to do with religion? It was to be their permanent inheritance, something that they were to hold onto and was to actually be the orientation, their homeland, their piece of the homeland for the entire nation of Israel.
Richard L. Pratt, Jr. These materials divide into six main sections. Closing Summary In balance with this first portion, the record of allotments in Cisjordan ends with a closing summary in Our author explained in that all the tribes "took possession of [their lands], and they settled there.
And when the land is fully apportioned, we now see Israel resting in the Promised Land that God had promised Abraham long ago, starting back in Genesis Mike Glodo] Judah Four main sections stand between these two bookends. According to these verses, Judah received a very large inheritance, stretching southward to the Negev and toward the boundary of Edom. To the west, the border reached the land of Philistia and extended along the coast of the Mediterranean as far as the Wadi of Egypt.
It reached northward along the Mediterranean coast slightly north of Jerusalem — or "Jebus" as it was called at the time — and to the east as far as the Dead Sea. According to Genesis , Judah was destined to be the royal tribe of Israel. Our author highlighted the honor given to Judah, first, by providing a short narrative about the lands given to the prominent Judahite warrior, Caleb.
Ephraim and Manasseh received a great deal of land in the northern regions of Canaan. These territories were among the most fertile in all of the Promised Land. And Joseph was greatly honored because he was so faithful to God in Egypt. One of them, Joseph, was sold as a slave in Egypt. And so, when they go to divide up the land, apportion the land among the twelve tribes, Ephraim and Manasseh each receive an allotment of land, a tribal inheritance… And then, Joseph is represented in his sons, Ephraim and Manasseh.
James M. The prominence given to the tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh is striking because these tribes caused all sorts of troubles by the time our book was written. But our author indicated that, despite this history, Israel should acknowledge how God had honored the tribes of Joseph.
Minor Tribes After dealing with the land allotments to the prominent tribes of Judah, Ephraim and Manasseh, our author turned to the minor tribes in chapters 18, He began in with a narrative of how Joshua called for representatives of each tribe to survey these lands. And he closed in with a story indicating that the tribes approved of these arrangements because they gave Joshua his own special family inheritance.
And, in later times, these lesser tribes had difficulties maintaining their lands. And he also noted in that "the territory of the people of Dan was lost to them" — a story we read in Judges Knowing that these and other instabilities troubled the minor tribes, our author wrote to insure that his audience acknowledged these allotments.
The author of Joshua began his record of the tribe of Levi by naming the cities of refuge in The cities of refuge and other Levitical cities were scattered throughout the territories of other tribes in the land of Israel. Unfortunately, these allotments were easily forgotten in times of trouble.
But the author of Joshua insisted that his audience must remember them because the service of the Levites was so crucial to the well-being of the nation. With the structure and content of these specific tribal allotments in mind, we should briefly summarize the original meaning of these chapters.
Original Meaning Modern audiences often have difficulty appreciating the geographical details that the author of Joshua included in these chapters.
Divine Authority In the first place, he stressed the divine authority that directed the distribution of lands among the tribes. Our author also indicated the divine authority behind the tribal allotments in Cisjordan.
In his opening summary, in , he wrote that "Eleazar the priest and Joshua the son of Nun and the heads of … the tribes" established the divisions of the land. He made the same point in his record of Ephraim and Manasseh in And we see this again in his discussion of the minor tribes in , and in his treatment of the tribe of Levi in In addition to this, our author introduced the inheritance of the tribe of Levi in in his customary way, saying, "Then the Lord said to Joshua…" The implications for anyone in the original audience were clear enough.
Dissatisfaction with these specific tribal allotments amounted to dissatisfaction with what God had directed. The author repeatedly referred to the portions of land allotted to the tribes as their "inheritance," using the Hebrew word, nachalah.
He did the same with Ephraim and Manasseh in and seven more times. And in his last account of the tribe of Levi, in , he spoke of how each tribe gave towns and pasturelands to the Levites from their "inheritance. And if anyone neglected them, they neglected the sacred promise of God to his people as their covenant Lord. This emphasis is most clearly seen in his treatment of Cisjordan.
His opening summary states, in , that Joshua acted "as the Lord had commanded by the hand of Moses.
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