Joshua 18-19: Dividing the Land (Benjamin, Simeon, Zebulun, Issachar, Asher, Naphtali, Dan)
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Joshua 18-19: Dividing the Land (Benjamin, Simeon, Zebulun, Issachar, Asher, Naphtali, Dan)

Original Publication Date
August 4, 2016
Updated
Jun 3, 2023 6:39 PM
Tags
JoshuaChapter StudyTempleBenjaminSimeonZebulunIssacharAsherNaphtaliDanProphecy
Bible References
Joshua 18-19
Status
Done
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Table of Contents
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This page was originally posted on my Blogger version of the blog on August 4, 2016 The content below has a few minor tweaks for clarity, and additional references, and some updated information.

Introduction

Once the tribes of Judah, Manasseh, and Ephraim receive their inheritance, the Israelites move the tabernacle to Shiloh, where it stays for quite some time. The other 7 tribes still hadn't claimed any land for themselves, so Joshua orders them to each send 3 men to go out and describe the land. The land described was then divided amongst them. The process of dividing the land consisted of Joshua casting lots before God (at the tabernacle). Note, the description of the land was recorded in a book; this book is likely a lost book as there was no reason to preserve it.

The Tribe of Benjamin

The inheritance of Benjamin was just north of the tribe of Judah and south of the tribe of Ephraim. With this territory, Benjamin inherited the cities of Jericho, Gibeon, Jerusalem, among many others. Jerusalem, which is also listed in the cities given to Judah, was likely a border city for the two tribes. Since in the passage on Judah's inheritance we are told that Jerusalem had not been captured yet, it may have been understood that whichever tribe secured it could have it.

The Tribe of Simeon

As mentioned in a previous post, Simeon's inheritance was within the tribe of Judah's territory. They were given this land because the inheritance given to Judah proved to be too much for their tribe. The most well known city listed for Simeon is Beersheba, known as Be'er Sheva today;[1] in total, 17 cities are named.

Note as discussed in the post describing Judah's inheritance, we can compare the list of cities in Joshua 15:21-32 and find 8 cities that are duplicated with exact spelling (Azem, Ain, Beersheba, Eltolad, Hazarshul, Hormah, Moladah, and Ziklag). Counting the cities in Joshua 15 gives me 36 (if you consider Hazor is mentioned 3 times). However, there are sources that suggest the four cities mentioned in Joshua 15:25 are actually only two cities (Hazor-hadattah and Kerioth-hezron), both of which were used to differentiate between the city of Hazor mentioned in Joshua 15:23.[2] Counting this way would give us 37 cities, implying the 8 duplicate cities make up the difference between the 37 listed and the given total of 29. Most scholars are unsure how many cities are actually listed. A second suggestion for the clarification, which makes more sense to me, is that some of the locations are actually villages or hamlets opposed to walled cities.[3][4]

The Tribe of Zebulun

Within the passage outlining the territory of Zebulun, 12 cities are listed. This tribe received a landlocked portion west of Galilee. Despite being the fourth largest tribe, Zebulun receives one of the smallest inheritances. This could be because he was the youngest of Leah's sons, or it could have been a measure of the tribe's faith. Those who had faith in God (like Joshua and Caleb) were not afraid to go out and conquer the land, while those who were lacking in faith were afraid. Possibly this is what constrained their inheritance.

Personally, I look at it as a reminder to count your blessings. Zebulun may not have inherited as much territory as Manasseh or Judah, but he was counted among God's people and received at least something in the promised land.

The Tribe of Issachar

Issachar is given 16 cities; this land is south of the sea of Galilee, between the Jordan River and Zebulun. Issachar, who was the third largest tribe, also receives a small allotment compared to Judah and Manasseh.

The Tribe of Asher

Asher is given a coastal inheritance, bordering the Mediterranean. The western portion of Manasseh bordered them to the south. Zebulun and Naphtali bordered Asher to the east. Asher receives the city of Tyre, as well as a city called Cabul, which is later given to the king of Tyre. Note that the city of Tyre was not the same as the kingdom; according to the maps of ancient Israel during this time, the kingdom of Tyre is north of Asher's territory.

The Tribe of Naphtali

The inheritance of Naphtali was located east of Asher and west of the Sea of Galilee. East Manasseh was on Naphtali's eastern border. The southern border was shared by the tribe of Zebulun. A total of 19 cities are named in the passage discussing the borders of Naphtali.

The Tribe of Dan

The inheritance of Dan is sandwiched between Judah and Ephraim. Dan receives coastal territory with the Mediterranean bordering it to the west. The tribe of Dan is unable to hold on to their inheritance and by the time of Judges, will have lost at least a portion of land (see Judges 1:34).

Joshua Inherits

Once each tribe was given an inheritance, the people of Israel gave Joshua an inheritance. Joshua's territory was Timnath-serah, which is modern day Khirbet-Tibnah. This city is located in the West Bank today.[5][6]

Prophecy Fulfilled?

In Genesis, Jacob blesses his sons; some of these blessings predict the land specific tribes will inherit. GotQuestions.org has an article with more information on this.

Photocredit: Holman KJV Study Bible, pg. 391
Photocredit: Holman KJV Study Bible, pg. 391

References and Footnotes

  1. "Beersheva". Jewish Virtual Library. 2016
  2. Cayce, Ken. "Joshua Chapter 15". Discover Books of The Bible. 2016
  3. "Joshua 15:32". Bible Hub. 2016
  4. Gills, John. "Joshua 15:32". Bible Study Tools. 2016
  5. "Khirbet Tibnah". Wikipedia. 2016
  6. Holman Bible Publishers. Holman KJV Study Bible. pg. 397-398. 2014

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