Thursday, November 1, 2012

Time to Divide The Land

Joshua 13:1-6

“Now Joshua was old and stricken in years; and the LORD said unto him, Thou art old and stricken in years, and there remaineth yet very much land to be possessed. 

This is the land that yet remaineth: all the borders of the Philistines, and all Geshuri, 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: From the south, all the land of the Canaanites, and Mearah that is beside the Sidonians unto Aphek, to the borders of the Amorites: And the land of the Giblites, and all Lebanon, toward the sunrising, from Baalgad under mount Hermon unto the entering into Hamath.” (Joshua 13:1-5) 

We do not know Joshua’s age at this time except he was old.  We do know that he was in command of the army when Israel was attacked by the Amalekites in Exodus 17, and that he served as one of the twelve spies in Numbers 13.  It is logical to assume he was at least as old as Caleb, making him at least eighty five or ninety years old at this time.  He may have been over a hundred.  In any case he was no longer as vigorous as he had once been.

While they had defeated most of the major armies in the land, there were many small communities yet to be taken.  They had not yet taken the Philistines land, or part of the land toward Egypt.  They also had not taken southern Lebanon and part of Syria.  At his age Joshua would be unable to complete the job.

“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.” (Joshua 13:6)

In Exodus 23:28-30, God had promised, “And I will send hornets before thee, which shall drive out the Hivite, the Canaanite, and the Hittite, from before thee.  I will not drive them out from before thee in one year; lest the land become desolate, and the beast of the field multiply against thee.  By little and little I will drive them out from before thee, until thou be increased, and inherit the land.”  With the land under their control, a massive military force would not be required to take the rest of the land.  God would gradually drive out the people who were already there as the land was needed.  Joshua just needed to divide up the land so they could begin to occupy it.

Dividing the Land Between The Trans-Jordanian Tribes
Joshua 13:7-32

“Now therefore divide this land for an inheritance unto the nine tribes, and the half tribe of Manasseh, With whom the Reubenites and the Gadites have received their inheritance, which Moses gave them, beyond Jordan eastward, even as Moses the servant of the LORD gave them; From Aroer, that is upon the bank of the river Arnon, and the city that is in the midst of the river, and all the plain of Medeba unto Dibon; And all the cities of Sihon king of the Amorites, which reigned in Heshbon, unto the border of the children of Ammon; And Gilead, and the border of the Geshurites and Maachathites, and all mount Hermon, and all Bashan unto Salcah; All the kingdom of Og in Bashan, which reigned in Ashtaroth and in Edrei, who remained of the remnant of the giants: for these did Moses smite, and cast them out. 

Nevertheless the children of Israel expelled not the Geshurites, nor the Maachathites: but the Geshurites and the Maachathites dwell among the Israelites until this day. ” (Joshua 13:7-13)

The newly conquered land only needed to be divided among nine tribes and half the tribe of Manasseh, as the other half of Manasseh, and Reuben and Gad had received their inheritance on the east of Jordan in the land Moses had captured.   Unfortunately, the trans-Jordan tribes never completely expelled the Geshurites or the Maachathites, allowing some to remain.

“Only unto the tribe of Levi he gave none inheritance; the sacrifices of the LORD God of Israel made by fire are their inheritance, as he said unto them. 

And Moses gave unto the tribe of the children of Reuben inheritance according to their families. And their coast was from Aroer, that is on the bank of the river Arnon, and the city that is in the midst of the river, and all the plain by Medeba; Heshbon, and all her cities that are in the plain; Dibon, and Bamothbaal, and Bethbaalmeon, And Jahaza, and Kedemoth, and Mephaath, And Kirjathaim, and Sibmah, and Zarethshahar in the mount of the valley, And Bethpeor, and Ashdothpisgah, and Bethjeshimoth, 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.

 Balaam also the son of Beor, the soothsayer, did the children of Israel slay with the sword among them that were slain by them. 

And the border of the children of Reuben was Jordan, and the border thereof. This was the inheritance of the children of Reuben after their families, the cities and the villages thereof.” (Joshua 13:14-23)

Reuben received the land which had belonged to the Amorite kin, Sihon.  It was the southernmost of the lands east of Jordan, separated from Moab on the south by the river Arnon.  Their eastern border was shared with Ammon. The Dead sea and the Jordan river marked their western and northern boundaries.  We are reminded again that Moab had hired Balaam against Israel, and he had been slain along with the Midianite leaders subject to Sihon in the process of taking that area, as described in Numbers 31:8.

“And Moses gave inheritance unto the tribe of Gad, even unto the children of Gad according to their families.  And their coast was Jazer, and all the cities of Gilead, and half the land of the children of Ammon, unto Aroer that is before Rabbah; And from Heshbon unto Ramathmizpeh, and Betonim; and from Mahanaim unto the border of Debir; 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.  This is the inheritance of the children of Gad after their families, the cities, and their villages.” (Joshua 13:24-28)

The tribe of Gad received the rest of Sihon’s lands, stretching from just north of the Dead Sea north to the Sea of Galilee and from the Jordan river to the southern branch of the river Jabok near present day Amman in Jordan.  The Ammonites were their eastern neighbors.

“And Moses gave inheritance unto the half tribe of Manasseh: and this was the possession of the half tribe of the children of Manasseh by their families.  And their coast was from Mahanaim, all Bashan, all the kingdom of Og king of Bashan, and all the towns of Jair, which are in Bashan, threescore cities: 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.” (Joshua 13:29-31)

The half tribe of Manasseh, the descendants of his son Machir received all the land which had belonged to Og, king of Bashan, east of the Sea of Galilee, reaching as far north as Mount Hermon in present day Syria.  It included a far larger piece of present day Syria than the Golan heights area which Israel recaptured in 1967.

“These are the countries which Moses did distribute for inheritance in the plains of Moab, on the other side Jordan, by Jericho, eastward.  But unto the tribe of Levi Moses gave not any inheritance: the LORD God of Israel was their inheritance, as he said unto them.” (Joshua 13:32-33)

While the tribe of Levi received some cities on the eastern side of Jordan, they held no land of their own, but were just occupants in the land of the other tribes.  Their special part was their relationship to God.  They illustrate the relationship Christians today are to have with the world, living among them and governed by their laws, but not really a part of them.

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