Introduction 1 From Gilgal to Shiloh 2-10 The Land Not yet Divided 11 Location of the Inheritance of Benjamin 12-20 The Borders of the Inheritance of Benjamin 21-28 The Cities of the Sons of Benjamin

To really take possession of the land the LORD has given His people, there must be effort. The command is to describe the land. Are we able to describe something of the heavenly land given to us? The true Joshua, the Lord Jesus, wants to hear from us what we think of the land. We may tell Him what we have read in the Bible. The more blessings we discover in it, the more He will give us. He Himself said: “For to everyone who has, [more] shall be given” (Mt 25:29a29“For to everyone who has, [more] shall be given, and he will have an abundance; but from the one who does not have, even what he does have shall be taken away.).

The inheritance of the Levites is the priesthood of the LORD. This is a special inheritance. It is directly related to the LORD and shows us that above all blessings we may see on Him Who is the Giver of those blessings. Greater than the greatest blessing is surely He from Whom the blessing emanates, isn’t it?

From Gilgal to Shiloh

1Then the whole congregation of the sons of Israel assembled themselves at Shiloh, and set up the tent of meeting there; and the land was subdued before them.

The people move up to a new place, Shiloh, and gather there. Judah and the sons of Joseph have been assigned their share in Gilgal, where the people have so far been together as a whole. There stood also the tabernacle, in which God dwelled in their midst. Now the tent of meeting is set up at Shiloh, which means ‘peace’. Shiloh is located in the center of the land.

In the spiritual development of a believer we see the next step in the ascending from Gilgal to Shiloh. First Gilgal, then Shiloh. In Gilgal we get to know the flesh and the judgment about it. In Shiloh there is a sharing in the rest of God.

The advance to Shiloh is worked by God. He wants to dwell in that place and have His people with Him. It will be a temporary dwelling place in the land. In the time that Eli is judge, God leaves Shiloh (1Sam 4:1-111Thus the word of Samuel came to all Israel. Now Israel went out to meet the Philistines in battle and camped beside Ebenezer while the Philistines camped in Aphek.2The Philistines drew up in battle array to meet Israel. When the battle spread, Israel was defeated before the Philistines who killed about four thousand men on the battlefield.3When the people came into the camp, the elders of Israel said, “Why has the LORD defeated us today before the Philistines? Let us take to ourselves from Shiloh the ark of the covenant of the LORD, that it may come among us and deliver us from the power of our enemies.”4So the people sent to Shiloh, and from there they carried the ark of the covenant of the LORD of hosts who sits [above] the cherubim; and the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, [were] there with the ark of the covenant of God.5As the ark of the covenant of the LORD came into the camp, all Israel shouted with a great shout, so that the earth resounded.6When the Philistines heard the noise of the shout, they said, “What [does] the noise of this great shout in the camp of the Hebrews [mean]?” Then they understood that the ark of the LORD had come into the camp.7The Philistines were afraid, for they said, “God has come into the camp.” And they said, “Woe to us! For nothing like this has happened before.8Woe to us! Who shall deliver us from the hand of these mighty gods? These are the gods who smote the Egyptians with all [kinds of] plagues in the wilderness.9Take courage and be men, O Philistines, or you will become slaves to the Hebrews, as they have been slaves to you; therefore, be men and fight.”10So the Philistines fought and Israel was defeated, and every man fled to his tent; and the slaughter was very great, for there fell of Israel thirty thousand foot soldiers.11And the ark of God was taken; and the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, died.; Psa 78:6060So that He abandoned the dwelling place at Shiloh,
The tent which He had pitched among men,
). Until that time, that is for about three hundred years, the tent is in Shiloh. There God makes His name dwell, but He leaves because of the wickedness of Israel: “But go now to My place which was in Shiloh, where I made My name dwell at the first, and see what I did to it because of the wickedness of My people Israel” (Jer 7:1212“But go now to My place which was in Shiloh, where I made My name dwell at the first, and see what I did to it because of the wickedness of My people Israel.).

This reminds us of Deuteronomy 12, where we read of God’s command to His people that they will seek Him where He establishes His Name to dwell (Deu 12:55But you shall seek [the LORD] at the place which the LORD your God will choose from all your tribes, to establish His name there for His dwelling, and there you shall come.). That takes effort. For us, it means investigating Scripture to get to know that place. It is not a place where you feel good, but where the Lord Jesus is in the midst (Mt 18:2020For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst.”). That place must be found in the Word.

Shiloh is a provisional fulfillment of what will be fully fulfilled in Jerusalem. Did Israel find that place? They have not been aware that it is Jebus. Only David finds it in his heart when he thinks about it in the fields of Ephrathah (Psa 132:66Behold, we heard of it in Ephrathah,
We found it in the field of Jaar.
). Jerusalem lies between Benjamin and Judah. Shiloh lies in Ephraim, rather central.

To some extent, the people have found peace in Shiloh. Peace is not just the absence of war. Peace is a benevolent atmosphere in which harmony is found. The true Shiloh for us is where the true Shiloh, the Lord Jesus, the Prince of Peace (Gen 49:1010“The scepter shall not depart from Judah,
Nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet,
Until Shiloh comes,
And to him [shall be] the obedience of the peoples.
; Isa 9:55For every boot of the booted warrior in the [battle] tumult,
And cloak rolled in blood, will be for burning, fuel for the fire.
), is present.

In Numbers “the tent of meeting” is also called “the tent of testimony”. That name is connected to the wilderness journey, where all the tribes around the tent have set up their camp. The order of the tribes is arranged in connection with the tent. It has to do with our testimony to the world. In the land the tent is called “the tent of meeting”. The people dwell in the land in connection with the center, the place where God dwells and where He would like to meet with His people.

The Land Not yet Divided

2There remained among the sons of Israel seven tribes who had not divided their inheritance. 3So Joshua said to the sons of Israel, “How long will you put off entering to take possession of the land which the LORD, the God of your fathers, has given you? 4Provide for yourselves three men from each tribe that I may send them, and that they may arise and walk through the land and write a description of it according to their inheritance; then they shall return to me. 5They shall divide it into seven portions; Judah shall stay in its territory on the south, and the house of Joseph shall stay in their territory on the north. 6You shall describe the land in seven divisions, and bring [the description] here to me. I will cast lots for you here before the LORD our God. 7For the Levites have no portion among you, because the priesthood of the LORD is their inheritance. Gad and Reuben and the half-tribe of Manasseh also have received their inheritance eastward beyond the Jordan, which Moses the servant of the LORD gave them.” 8Then the men arose and went, and Joshua commanded those who went to describe the land, saying, “Go and walk through the land and describe it, and return to me; then I will cast lots for you here before the LORD in Shiloh.” 9So the men went and passed through the land, and described it by cities in seven divisions in a book; and they came to Joshua to the camp at Shiloh. 10And Joshua cast lots for them in Shiloh before the LORD, and there Joshua divided the land to the sons of Israel according to their divisions.

There are still seven tribes that have not received any inheritance. It seems that they have remained slow. Maybe they didn’t feel like fighting as a tribe alone for the conquest of the inheritance. It may have been a good idea for them to stay together and they don’t like it to be separated. That is why Joshua is going to help the people. They must supply three men per tribe. He sends them out to describe the remaining land, to map it out, so to speak. This will give them an impression of what remains to be taken into their possession.

As an application we can think of the following. When the believers have got an eye for the heavenly blessings of the church, especially in the revival at the beginning of the nineteenth century, these believers have inherited richly. If we compare them to Judah and the Josephites, they have conquered much of the land. They have written down the riches of it. We can read about it and so enjoy it.

But is there still something for ourselves which can be divided? Those who lived before us and took possession of land by battle, have certainly inherited richly. But also for us there is a part. God wrote it in a book to show us what is left. We only find blessings in the Book, the Word of God. Paul prays – and we may do so as well – that we will learn to know our blessings (Eph 1:1818[I pray that] the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints,; 3:18-1918may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth,19and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God.). We will then say with the psalmist: “The LORD is the portion of my inheritance and my cup; You support my lot. The lines have fallen to me in pleasant places; Indeed, my heritage is beautiful to me” (Psa 16:5-65The LORD is the portion of my inheritance and my cup;
You support my lot.
6The lines have fallen to me in pleasant places;
Indeed, my heritage is beautiful to me.

We are not in a position comparable to that of Judah and the sons of Joseph, but to that of the other tribes. When we ask God to show us the spiritual blessings, He also gives us blessings to enjoy. We did get them, but we may also make them our own. The letters of the New Testament to believers who live in an end-time, show the part that is also there for them. That part we see par excellence in the letters of John. This is about the eternal life, which is for us the blessing of the land. God has put everything in order for us, so that we too, in our time, can take possession of land.

The land is described “according to their inheritance” (verse 44Provide for yourselves three men from each tribe that I may send them, and that they may arise and walk through the land and write a description of it according to their inheritance; then they shall return to me.). Everyone gets the appropriate part of the land. For us, “to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift” (Eph 4:77But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift.). The land is also described “by cities” (verse 99So the men went and passed through the land, and described it by cities in seven divisions in a book; and they came to Joshua to the camp at Shiloh.). If we can see a picture of local churches in the cities, then we see in this description that the blessing of the remaining land is also given in a church context.

Joshua casts the lot, in dependence on God, before Him, and assigns the seven parts of the land to the seven tribes. Joshua has no successor, but the priest Eleazar does. Priests have always been there. That’s how it is with us. We no longer have apostles, but we do have the priestly family. As long as there are believers who want to practically experience their priesthood by gathering as a priestly people at the tent of meeting, their inheritances will also be made known.

Location of the Inheritance of Benjamin

11Now the lot of the tribe of the sons of Benjamin came up according to their families, and the territory of their lot lay between the sons of Judah and the sons of Joseph.

By the lot, which is God’s providence, the rest of the land is divided. The division of the land is not a coincidence or an own choice, but it happens according to God’s plan. After Joseph has received his inheritance, it is Benjamin’s, Jacob’s second son of his favorite wife, Rachel, turn to receive his inheritance.

In Joshua 19-20 follow the sons of Lea who have not yet received an inheritance. Judah has already been assigned his part, Reuben has his inheritance in the wilderness side of the Jordan, Levi has no inheritance. Then come Simeon, Zebulun and Issachar. Then the sons of the slaves receive their inheritance. Of Zilpah this is only Asher, because Gad also chose the wilderness side of the Jordan language. Finally, the two sons of Bilhah, Naphtali and Dan, receive their inheritance.

Each tribe has its own history. We can apply this to each individual local church. Each local church has its own spiritual history. That may be one of which one should be ashamed, or one of which one can rejoice. That history can also consist of periods of rejoicing, for example when there is growth in number or an increase in interest for the truths of God’s Word. In other periods there is little joy, because believers leave or even have to be removed from among the believers because of sin. Our behavior, our mind in those different periods, determines our history.

The Borders of the Inheritance of Benjamin

12Their border on the north side was from the Jordan, then the border went up to the side of Jericho on the north, and went up through the hill country westward, and it ended at the wilderness of Beth-aven. 13From there the border continued to Luz, to the side of Luz (that is, Bethel) southward; and the border went down to Ataroth-addar, near the hill which [lies] on the south of lower Beth-horon. 14The border extended [from there] and turned round on the west side southward, from the hill which [lies] before Beth-horon southward; and it ended at Kiriath-baal (that is, Kiriath-jearim), a city of the sons of Judah. This [was] the west side. 15Then the south side [was] from the edge of Kiriath-jearim, and the border went westward and went to the fountain of the waters of Nephtoah. 16The border went down to the edge of the hill which is in the valley of Ben-hinnom, which is in the valley of Rephaim northward; and it went down to the valley of Hinnom, to the slope of the Jebusite southward, and went down to En-rogel. 17It extended northward and went to En-shemesh and went to Geliloth, which is opposite the ascent of Adummim, and it went down to the stone of Bohan the son of Reuben. 18It continued to the side in front of the Arabah northward and went down to the Arabah. 19The border continued to the side of Beth-hoglah northward; and the border ended at the north bay of the Salt Sea, at the south end of the Jordan. This [was] the south border. 20Moreover, the Jordan was its border on the east side. This [was] the inheritance of the sons of Benjamin, according to their families [and] according to its borders all around.

From Joshua 13 onwards, two elements relating to inheritance have emerged: division and taking possession. The division, that is the plan, the council of God, is fixed. Taking possession is the practice, the responsibility of each tribe.

Now there is something else to add and that is how the tribes relate to each other. The borders between the strains shall be established. Some borders are described twice. If it is a border between two tribes, this border is mentioned for both the one and the other tribe.

These borders are different from what they will be in the realm of peace. In the realm of peace the tribes are divided from north to south in straight strips. As a result, they are separated from each other by a straight line. Then each tribe will have a large part in the land and also a small part in the wilderness side of the Jordan.

In Joshua the borders are much more complicated. There are cities in another area. In the realm of peace, our relations will have nothing complicated. Everything is clear. But as the borders are set here, it is confusing.

Thus, the borders between individual believers and also between local churches are sometimes erratic. We can learn something about those interfaces between believers and churches by comparing them to a body. Then we speak about ‘each individual part’ that has a certain task or contribution compared to other parts (Eph 4:1616from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love.).

In a body, the bones are connected by joints. A joint does not represent our special service – we see that more in the member – but our functioning between the other members. We have a connection with each of the other members of the body. It depends on our performance how the other members deal with each other. It depends on the functioning of the local church how other local churches interact with each other. In everything, the personal connection with the Head is of decisive importance.

Benjamin borders in the south on Judah’s northern border and in the north on Ephraim. Benjamin, which itself is small, lies between two large territories. Yet Benjamin did not focus on the great Judah or the great Ephraim, but has a history of his own. It has its dark sides, but also its light ones.

In Judges 20 Benjamin played a bad role. There Benjamin protects the evil, creating a civil war. Later Benjamin chose Judah when the kingdom was split and not Ephraim. There he plays a good role (1Kgs 12:2121Now when Rehoboam had come to Jerusalem, he assembled all the house of Judah and the tribe of Benjamin, 180,000 chosen men who were warriors, to fight against the house of Israel to restore the kingdom to Rehoboam the son of Solomon.). From him comes the first king, Saul (1Sam 9:11Now there was a man of Benjamin whose name was Kish the son of Abiel, the son of Zeror, the son of Becorath, the son of Aphiah, the son of a Benjamite, a mighty man of valor.). Another Saul also comes from it, Saulus of Tarsus, that is Paul (Phil 3:4-54although I myself might have confidence even in the flesh. If anyone else has a mind to put confidence in the flesh, I far more:5circumcised the eighth day, of the nation of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the Law, a Pharisee;).

The Cities of the Sons of Benjamin

21Now the cities of the tribe of the sons of Benjamin according to their families were Jericho and Beth-hoglah and Emek-keziz, 22and Beth-arabah and Zemaraim and Bethel, 23and Avvim and Parah and Ophrah, 24and Chephar-ammoni and Ophni and Geba; twelve cities with their villages. 25Gibeon and Ramah and Beeroth, 26and Mizpeh and Chephirah and Mozah, 27and Rekem and Irpeel and Taralah, 28and Zelah, Haeleph and the Jebusite (that is, Jerusalem), Gibeah, Kiriath; fourteen cities with their villages. This is the inheritance of the sons of Benjamin according to their families.

Among the cities of the sons of Benjamin are cities with famous names from the history of Israel, such as Jericho, Beth-El, Gibeon, Rama, Mizpa, and Jebus, which is Jerusalem. The city where the temple will be built is in Benjamin. This is a fulfillment of the prophecy of Moses: “Of Benjamin he said, “May the beloved of the LORD dwell in security by Him, Who shields him all the day, And he dwells between His shoulders”” (Deu 33:1212Of Benjamin he said,
“May the beloved of the LORD dwell in security by Him,
Who shields him all the day,
And he dwells between His shoulders.”

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