“And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, Command the children of Israel, and say unto them, When ye come into the land of Canaan; (this is the land that shall fall unto you for an inheritance, even the land of Canaan with the coasts thereof:) Then your south quarter shall be from the wilderness of Zin along by the coast of Edom, and your south border shall be the outmost coast of the salt sea eastward: And your border shall turn from the south to the ascent of Akrabbim, and pass on to Zin: and the going forth thereof shall be from the south to Kadeshbarnea, and shall go on to Hazaraddar, and pass on to Azmon: And the border shall fetch a compass from Azmon unto the river of Egypt, and the goings out of it shall be at the sea.”(Numbers 34:1-5)
Israel was a relatively small group of people, only about two million. The land was already occupied by several ethnic groups that God was going to displace because of their wickedness. God specified the boundaries of the area they were to take at that time. It was considerably smaller than the area God had promised Abraham they would eventually hold, but it was as large and area as they needed at the time.
The Southern border was to run from the wilderness of Zin along the coast or border of Edom to the eastern edge of the Salt or Dead Sea. From there it was to proceed south along the valley toward the Gulf of Aqaba turning westward where the caravan route climbed out of the valley containing the Dead Sea and the Gulf of Aqaba at the ascent of Akrabbim. From there it followed the caravan route to the villages of Zin, Kadesh Barnea, Hazaraddar, and Azmon. At the river marking the eastern boundary of Egypt, the southern boundary turned northwest to the Mediterranean Sea.
“And as for the western border, ye shall even have the great sea for a border: this shall be your west border. And this shall be your north border: from the great sea ye shall point out for you mount Hor: From mount Hor ye shall point out your border unto the entrance of Hamath; and the goings forth of the border shall be to Zedad: And the border shall go on to Ziphron, and the goings out of it shall be at Hazarenan: this shall be your north border.” (Numbers 34:6-9)
The western boundary was the Mediterranean Sea and extended from present day Al-Arish to present day Mount Carmel. The Mount Hor mentioned here is not the same one Mentioned earlier, which is about three hundred miles to the south. Once again we are reminded that descriptive names may be used repeatedly for different places, creating confusion as to what place is actually referred to.
From Mount Carmel it extended to the entrance of Hamath, along the border of Phonecia, of present day Lebanon, and across to Zedad, Ziphron, and Hazarenon of present day Syria.
“And ye shall point out your east border from Hazarenan to Shepham: And the coast shall go down from Shepham to Riblah, on the east side of Ain; and the border shall descend, and shall reach unto the side of the sea of Chinnereth eastward: And the border shall go down to Jordan, and the goings out of it shall be at the salt sea: this shall be your land with the coasts thereof round about.” (Numbers 34:10-12)
The eastern border was to encompass basically the eastern boundary of Israel as established by the UN after the war of 1967, including the Golan heights and the West Bank where most of the Palestinian conflict is. Modern Israel now occupies most of the land bounded by these boundaries, extending farther to the south to the Gulf of Aqaba, but not as far as the River of Egypt on the west. This does not include the land given to the Trans-Jordan tribes.
“And Moses commanded the children of Israel, saying, This is the land which ye shall inherit by lot, which the LORD commanded to give unto the nine tribes, and to the half tribe: For the tribe of the children of Reuben according to the house of their fathers, and the tribe of the children of Gad according to the house of their fathers, have received their inheritance; and half the tribe of Manasseh have received their inheritance: The two tribes and the half tribe have received their inheritance on this side Jordan near Jericho eastward, toward the sunrising.” (Numbers 34:13-15)
The area within the boundaries described was to be given by lot to the nine and a half tribes. The Tribes of Reuben and Gad, and half the tribe of Manasseh had already been given their portion on the east side of Jordan, occupying about a third of present day Jordan.
“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. And ye shall take one prince of every tribe, to divide the land by inheritance.” (Numbers 34:16-18)
God was specific who was to be responsible for overseeing the casting of lots to divide the land so there would be no question of cheating of favoritism. Besides Joshua and Eleazar, a leader from each tribe was designated to see that everything was done fairly.
“And the names of the men are these: Of the tribe of Judah, Caleb the son of Jephunneh. And of the tribe of the children of Simeon, Shemuel the son of Ammihud. Of the tribe of Benjamin, Elidad the son of Chislon. And the prince of the tribe of the children of Dan, Bukki the son of Jogli. The prince of the children of Joseph, for the tribe of the children of Manasseh, Hanniel the son of Ephod. And the prince of the tribe of the children of Ephraim, Kemuel the son of Shiphtan. And the prince of the tribe of the children of Zebulun, Elizaphan the son of Parnach. And the prince of the tribe of the children of Issachar, Paltiel the son of Azzan. And the prince of the tribe of the children of Asher, Ahihud the son of Shelomi. And the prince of the tribe of the children of Naphtali, Pedahel the son of Ammihud.
These are they whom the LORD commanded to divide the inheritance unto the children of Israel in the land of Canaan.” (Numbers 34:19-29)
These were all men who had earned the respect of the people in day to day situations. They were not politicians who had become leaders by playing the system, but men who had demonstrated the ability and confidence to make wise decisions, and to commit to effective action, even when others wavered. Caleb is the best known of the group and illustrates the nature of such natural leaders. They are unlikely to be swayed by reputation or entreaty.