Joshua
Introduction 1-9 The Inheritance of Simeon 10-16 The Inheritance of Zebulun 17-23 The Inheritance of Issachar 24-31 The Inheritance of Asher 32-39 The Inheritance of Naphtali 40-48 The Inheritance of Dan 49-50 The Inheritance of Joshua 51 The Land Is Divided
Introduction

In this chapter the remaining tribes get their inheritance. Each of the tribes has then been assigned his own piece of land. The borders are indicated very precisely. Thus, individual applicated, “God has allotted to each a measure of faith” (Rom 12:33For through the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith.). God has given each one exactly enough for the task to be performed. Even when it comes to taking possession of the spiritual blessings, everyone has received from God what is necessary.

This chapter ends with the inheritance of Joshua. He is assigned this by the Israelites, by “the command of the LORD” (verses 49-5049When they finished apportioning the land for inheritance by its borders, the sons of Israel gave an inheritance in their midst to Joshua the son of Nun.50In accordance with the command of the LORD they gave him the city for which he asked, Timnath-serah in the hill country of Ephraim. So he built the city and settled in it.). That is wonderful. Christ, in the picture of Joshua, has divided the land among God’s people. As proof of our gratitude to Christ, we as God’s people may give Him an inheritance in our midst. In the meetings of the believers – in “the tent of meeting” (verse 5151These are the inheritances which Eleazar the priest, and Joshua the son of Nun, and the heads of the households of the tribes of the sons of Israel distributed by lot in Shiloh before the LORD at the doorway of the tent of meeting. So they finished dividing the land.) – this may become manifest.


The Inheritance of Simeon

1Then the second lot fell to Simeon, to the tribe of the sons of Simeon according to their families, and their inheritance was in the midst of the inheritance of the sons of Judah. 2So they had as their inheritance Beersheba or Sheba and Moladah, 3and Hazar-shual and Balah and Ezem, 4and Eltolad and Bethul and Hormah, 5and Ziklag and Beth-marcaboth and Hazar-susah, 6and Beth-lebaoth and Sharuhen; thirteen cities with their villages; 7Ain, Rimmon and Ether and Ashan; four cities with their villages; 8and all the villages which [were] around these cities as far as Baalath-beer, Ramah of the Negev. This [was] the inheritance of the tribe of the sons of Simeon according to their families. 9The inheritance of the sons of Simeon [was taken] from the portion of the sons of Judah, for the share of the sons of Judah was too large for them; so the sons of Simeon received [an] inheritance in the midst of Judah’s inheritance.

By lot, Simeon gets an inheritance in the midst of Judah’s inheritance. Judah has a large inheritance, more than they can maintain themselves. They have enough room for another tribe. Simeon is the smallest of all tribes. They do not need much land. Thus can the abundance of one serve in the lack of the other (cf. 2Cor 8:1414at this present time your abundance [being a supply] for their need, so that their abundance also may become [a supply] for your need, that there may be equality;).

A place in the midst of another inheritance is not an easy place. That means an exercise for both Judah and Simeon. Judah is by far the boss of Simeon. Simeon has increasingly merged into Judah, they have not been able to preserve their own character.

The place of Simeon in the territory of Judah can be applied to persons and churches that are hardly recognizable by their own characteristics. They are influenced by other people or churches. One does not have one’s own opinion, but relies entirely on others. The exceptions are believers who make a decision out of personal conviction, while others are guided by others.

We see that also when Judah asks Simeon a little later to join him to conquer land (Jdg 1:33Then Judah said to Simeon his brother, “Come up with me into the territory allotted me, that we may fight against the Canaanites; and I in turn will go with you into the territory allotted you.” So Simeon went with him.). Then it turns out that Simeon does not decide himself before the LORD independently of Judah. Judah acts according to the voice of God, Simeon acts according to the voice of Judah. It would have been better if Simeon had waited for the LORD’s voice. When it comes to understanding the voice of the Lord, it is necessary to be independent from others. This also goes for Judah by the way, for why is it necessary to ask Simeon to go along when the LORD has said that they have to go up as a tribe?

Yet later something positive about Simeon is mentioned as well, namely that they desire expansion (1Chr 4:3939They went to the entrance of Gedor, even to the east side of the valley, to seek pasture for their flocks.). They got it too. If we recognize ourselves in a position like Simeon, we don’t have to be desperate. Another positive mention of Simeon is that in the time of the apostacy of the ten tribes under Jeroboam many from the Simeon tribe remain faithful to the house of David (2Chr 15:99He gathered all Judah and Benjamin and those from Ephraim, Manasseh and Simeon who resided with them, for many defected to him from Israel when they saw that the LORD his God was with him.). A number of residents have moved north, to Ephraim and Manasseh (2Chr 34:66In the cities of Manasseh, Ephraim, Simeon, even as far as Naphtali, in their surrounding ruins,). That is probably the explanation for the fact that only Judah and Benjamin are mentioned as the tribes that followed David’s house.

In the part given to Simeon, Jacob’s prophecy concerning Simeon and Levi is fulfilled: “I will disperse them in Jacob, And scatter them in Israel” (Gen 49:7b7“Cursed be their anger, for it is fierce;
And their wrath, for it is cruel.
I will disperse them in Jacob,
And scatter them in Israel.
). Both the Levites and the Simeonites are scattered, but in a different way. The Simeonites merge into Judah and almost lose their identity. The Levites are spread throughout the land in cities as a blessing for the people.


The Inheritance of Zebulun

10Now the third lot came up for the sons of Zebulun according to their families. And the territory of their inheritance was as far as Sarid. 11Then their border went up to the west and to Maralah, it then touched Dabbesheth and reached to the brook that is before Jokneam. 12Then it turned from Sarid to the east toward the sunrise as far as the border of Chisloth-tabor, and it proceeded to Daberath and up to Japhia. 13From there it continued eastward toward the sunrise to Gath-hepher, to Eth-kazin, and it proceeded to Rimmon which stretches to Neah. 14The border circled around it on the north to Hannathon, and it ended at the valley of Iphtahel. 15[Included] also [were] Kattah and Nahalal and Shimron and Idalah and Bethlehem; twelve cities with their villages. 16This [was] the inheritance of the sons of Zebulun according to their families, these cities with their villages.

The inheritance of the Zebulun tribe is bordered on the west side by the Mediterranean Sea and on the east side by the sea of Tiberias. This is in accordance with Jacob’s prophecy: “Zebulun will dwell at the seashore” (Gen 49:1313“Zebulun will dwell at the seashore;
And he [shall be] a haven for ships,
And his flank [shall be] toward Sidon.
). They would have ports for merchant ships on the Mediterranean Sea and for fisher vessels on the sea of Tiberias.

Zebulun is located, together with Naphtali, all the way to the north of Canaan, in Galilee. These are tribes that are so easily forgotten, but not by God. In the dark, northern part of Israel God brings light through the Messiah. The first performance of the Lord Jesus about which we read in the Gospels takes place there. It is the fulfillment of what Isaiah prophesied: “But there will be no [more] gloom for her who was in anguish; in earlier times He treated the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali with contempt, but later on He shall make [it] glorious, by the way of the sea, on the other side of Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles. The people who walk in darkness Will see a great light; Those who live in a dark land, The light will shine on them” (Isa 9:1-21But there will be no [more] gloom for her who was in anguish; in earlier times He treated the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali with contempt, but later on He shall make [it] glorious, by the way of the sea, on the other side of Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles.
2The people who walk in darkness
Will see a great light;
Those who live in a dark land,
The light will shine on them.
).

Therefore Matthew also mentions these verses in his account of the life of the Lord Jesus (Mt 4:12-1612Now when Jesus heard that John had been taken into custody, He withdrew into Galilee;13and leaving Nazareth, He came and settled in Capernaum, which is by the sea, in the region of Zebulun and Naphtali.14[This was] to fulfill what was spoken through Isaiah the prophet:
15“THE LAND OF ZEBULUN AND THE LAND OF NAPHTALI,
BY THE WAY OF THE SEA, BEYOND THE JORDAN, GALILEE OF THE GENTILES—
16“THE PEOPLE WHO WERE SITTING IN DARKNESS SAW A GREAT LIGHT,
AND THOSE WHO WERE SITTING IN THE LAND AND SHADOW OF DEATH,
UPON THEM A LIGHT DAWNED.”
). He writes his Gospel especially for the Jews and therefore this quote is of great importance. The fulfillment, proved from their own Scriptures, must convince them that in the Lord Jesus the Messiah has come to them.

We can apply this to believers who live spiritually far away. If we no longer have spiritual contact with such believers, we can easily forget them. We can also think of local churches that we forget, because it takes too much effort to reach them. But they are not forgotten by the Lord. He visits them. We must do the same. The Lord Jesus appeared there and brought blessing. Galilee is despised by the clergy, but not by the Lord.


The Inheritance of Issachar

17The fourth lot fell to Issachar, to the sons of Issachar according to their families. 18Their territory was to Jezreel and [included] Chesulloth and Shunem, 19and Hapharaim and Shion and Anaharath, 20and Rabbith and Kishion and Ebez, 21and Remeth and En-gannim and En-haddah and Beth-pazzez. 22The border reached to Tabor and Shahazumah and Beth-shemesh, and their border ended at the Jordan; sixteen cities with their villages. 23This [was] the inheritance of the tribe of the sons of Issachar according to their families, the cities with their villages.

Issachar’s inheritance extends from the Jordan in the east to the Mediterranean Sea in the west. In the south it borders Manasseh and in the north it borders Zebulun.

Tola, one of the judges, is of that tribe (Jdg 10:11Now after Abimelech died, Tola the son of Puah, the son of Dodo, a man of Issachar, arose to save Israel; and he lived in Shamir in the hill country of Ephraim.), as is Baasha, one of the kings of Israel (1Kgs 15:2727Then Baasha the son of Ahijah of the house of Issachar conspired against him, and Baasha struck him down at Gibbethon, which belonged to the Philistines, while Nadab and all Israel were laying siege to Gibbethon.). A well-known place in that tribe is Sunem, where the God-fearing woman lives who gives hospitality to Elisha (2Kgs 4:88Now there came a day when Elisha passed over to Shunem, where there was a prominent woman, and she persuaded him to eat food. And so it was, as often as he passed by, he turned in there to eat food.).

Another well-known place is Jezreel. Naboth lives there (1Kgs 21:11Now it came about after these things that Naboth the Jezreelite had a vineyard which [was] in Jezreel beside the palace of Ahab king of Samaria.). His neighbor is the mighty, wicked king Ahab, who has set his sights on Naboth’s inheritance. By the attempt of Ahab to get the inheritance of Naboth in his possession, the great appreciation Naboth has for the inheritance comes to the fore: “Now it came about after these things that Naboth the Jezreelite had a vineyard which [was] in Jezreel beside the palace of Ahab king of Samaria. 2Ahab spoke to Naboth, saying, “Give me your vineyard, that I may have it for a vegetable garden because it is close beside my house, and I will give you a better vineyard than it in its place; if you like, I will give you the price of it in money.” 3But Naboth said to Ahab, “The LORD forbid me that I should give you the inheritance of my fathers”” (1Kgs 21:1-31Now it came about after these things that Naboth the Jezreelite had a vineyard which [was] in Jezreel beside the palace of Ahab king of Samaria.2Ahab spoke to Naboth, saying, “Give me your vineyard, that I may have it for a vegetable garden because it is close beside my house, and I will give you a better vineyard than it in its place; if you like, I will give you the price of it in money.”3But Naboth said to Ahab, “The LORD forbid me that I should give you the inheritance of my fathers.”).

Naboth had to pay for this with death, as we read later in 1 Kings 21 (1Kgs 21:7-137Jezebel his wife said to him, “Do you now reign over Israel? Arise, eat bread, and let your heart be joyful; I will give you the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite.”8So she wrote letters in Ahab’s name and sealed them with his seal, and sent letters to the elders and to the nobles who were living with Naboth in his city.9Now she wrote in the letters, saying, “Proclaim a fast and seat Naboth at the head of the people;10and seat two worthless men before him, and let them testify against him, saying, ‘You cursed God and the king.’ Then take him out and stone him to death.”11So the men of his city, the elders and the nobles who lived in his city, did as Jezebel had sent [word] to them, just as it was written in the letters which she had sent them.12They proclaimed a fast and seated Naboth at the head of the people.13Then the two worthless men came in and sat before him; and the worthless men testified against him, even against Naboth, before the people, saying, “Naboth cursed God and the king.” So they took him outside the city and stoned him to death with stones.). When it comes to the valuation of the inheritance, there's hardly a greater contrast imaginable than between Naboth and Ahab. Naboth is spiritually related to Caleb.


The Inheritance of Asher

24Now the fifth lot fell to the tribe of the sons of Asher according to their families. 25Their territory was Helkath and Hali and Beten and Achshaph, 26and Allammelech and Amad and Mishal; and it reached to Carmel on the west and to Shihor-libnath. 27It turned toward the east to Beth-dagon and reached to Zebulun, and to the valley of Iphtahel northward to Beth-emek and Neiel; then it proceeded on north to Cabul, 28and Ebron and Rehob and Hammon and Kanah, as far as Great Sidon. 29The border turned to Ramah and to the fortified city of Tyre; then the border turned to Hosah, and it ended at the sea by the region of Achzib. 30[Included] also [were] Ummah, and Aphek and Rehob; twenty-two cities with their villages. 31This [was] the inheritance of the tribe of the sons of Asher according to their families, these cities with their villages.

The inheritance of Asher lies along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea. A well-known member of that tribe is the prophetess Anna (Lk 2:36-3836And there was a prophetess, Anna the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was advanced in years and had lived with [her] husband seven years after her marriage,37and then as a widow to the age of eighty-four. She never left the temple, serving night and day with fastings and prayers.38At that very moment she came up and [began] giving thanks to God, and continued to speak of Him to all those who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem.). As a true daughter of Asher she has yielded “royal dainties” (Gen 49:2020“As for Asher, his food shall be rich,
And he will yield royal dainties.
). These “royal dainties” she distributes after the birth of the Lord Jesus by speaking “of Him to all those who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem” (Lk 2:38b38At that very moment she came up and [began] giving thanks to God, and continued to speak of Him to all those who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem.).


The Inheritance of Naphtali

32The sixth lot fell to the sons of Naphtali; to the sons of Naphtali according to their families. 33Their border was from Heleph, from the oak in Zaanannim and Adami-nekeb and Jabneel, as far as Lakkum, and it ended at the Jordan. 34Then the border turned westward to Aznoth-tabor and proceeded from there to Hukkok; and it reached to Zebulun on the south and touched Asher on the west, and to Judah at the Jordan toward the east. 35The fortified cities [were] Ziddim, Zer and Hammath, Rakkath and Chinnereth, 36and Adamah and Ramah and Hazor, 37and Kedesh and Edrei and En-hazor, 38and Yiron and Migdal-el, Horem and Beth-anath and Beth-shemesh; nineteen cities with their villages. 39This [was] the inheritance of the tribe of the sons of Naphtali according to their families, the cities with their villages.

In the inheritance of Naphtali we find later Capernaum and Bethsaida, at the northern end of the sea of Tiberias, where the Lord Jesus did so many great works. It is also assumed that this is where the mountain lies, on which Christ has pronounced the so-called ‘sermon on the Mount’, which we have in Matthew 5-7 (Mt 5:1-21When Jesus saw the crowds, He went up on the mountain; and after He sat down, His disciples came to Him.2He opened His mouth and [began] to teach them, saying,). Together with Zebulun, this tribe had the privilege of seeing the great light that came to them in Christ (verses 10-1610Now the third lot came up for the sons of Zebulun according to their families. And the territory of their inheritance was as far as Sarid.11Then their border went up to the west and to Maralah, it then touched Dabbesheth and reached to the brook that is before Jokneam.12Then it turned from Sarid to the east toward the sunrise as far as the border of Chisloth-tabor, and it proceeded to Daberath and up to Japhia.13From there it continued eastward toward the sunrise to Gath-hepher, to Eth-kazin, and it proceeded to Rimmon which stretches to Neah.14The border circled around it on the north to Hannathon, and it ended at the valley of Iphtahel.15[Included] also [were] Kattah and Nahalal and Shimron and Idalah and Bethlehem; twelve cities with their villages.16This [was] the inheritance of the sons of Zebulun according to their families, these cities with their villages.).


The Inheritance of Dan

40The seventh lot fell to the tribe of the sons of Dan according to their families. 41The territory of their inheritance was Zorah and Eshtaol and Ir-shemesh, 42and Shaalabbin and Aijalon and Ithlah, 43and Elon and Timnah and Ekron, 44and Eltekeh and Gibbethon and Baalath, 45and Jehud and Bene-berak and Gath-rimmon, 46and Me-jarkon and Rakkon, with the territory over against Joppa. 47The territory of the sons of Dan proceeded beyond them; for the sons of Dan went up and fought with Leshem and captured it. Then they struck it with the edge of the sword and possessed it and settled in it; and they called Leshem Dan after the name of Dan their father. 48This [was] the inheritance of the tribe of the sons of Dan according to their families, these cities with their villages.

The tribe of Dan has the most unclear borders. As a large tribe they are only assigned a small territory. Would God be wrong to give Judah too much and Dan too little? God is never mistaken. He is looking ahead. He gives the people the opportunity to exercise, whereby the exercise is different for each tribe.

Later Dan went looking for more territory (Jdg 18:11In those days there was no king of Israel; and in those days the tribe of the Danites was seeking an inheritance for themselves to live in, for until that day an inheritance had not been allotted to them as a possession among the tribes of Israel.), after they first lost some of their territory (Jdg 1:3434Then the Amorites forced the sons of Dan into the hill country, for they did not allow them to come down to the valley;) to brothers and enemies. The territory has become too small by their own fault. Instead of humbling themselves about this, they set off self-willed to more territory.

That they do not involve God in their plans is evident from the history in Judges 18. When they have met an idolater, they take him for themselves. Thus Dan becomes the first tribe to introduce idolatry (Jdg 18:3030The sons of Dan set up for themselves the graven image; and Jonathan, the son of Gershom, the son of Manasseh, he and his sons were priests to the tribe of the Danites until the day of the captivity of the land.). If God exercises us and we lose land, what is our reaction? Do we bow down before God or do we act arbitrarily like Dan?

The first two places mentioned, Zorah and Eshtaol, are known from the history of Samson. There he begins, through the Spirit, to perform his first deeds (Jdg 13:2525And the Spirit of the LORD began to stir him in Mahaneh-dan, between Zorah and Eshtaol.).


The Inheritance of Joshua

49When they finished apportioning the land for inheritance by its borders, the sons of Israel gave an inheritance in their midst to Joshua the son of Nun. 50In accordance with the command of the LORD they gave him the city for which he asked, Timnath-serah in the hill country of Ephraim. So he built the city and settled in it.

Caleb was the first to receive his inheritance even before the tribes are allocated their inheritance. Now, when all tribes have received their inheritance, Joshua is the last to receive his inheritance. Out of modesty he waited until all had it. This is a big difference with some leaders today who use their position and influence to benefit themselves and their own families as much as possible.

He receives his inheritance as a gift from the Israelites. It is the part that no one has claimed yet. It is the part he wishes. He does not let himself to be crowned king. He dwells among His people as one of them. This is how he owns his inheritance. Joshua is herein a picture of the Lord Jesus. The Lord Jesus also waits with the questioning of His property or inheritance (Psa 2:88‘Ask of Me, and I will surely give the nations as Your inheritance,
And the [very] ends of the earth as Your possession.
) until all who now belong to His people have received their inheritances.

Joshua asks for Timnath-serah, which means ‘abundant part’. It lies in the mountain range, the territory where his contemporaries do not want to dwell (Jos 17:15-1615Joshua said to them, “If you are a numerous people, go up to the forest and clear a place for yourself there in the land of the Perizzites and of the Rephaim, since the hill country of Ephraim is too narrow for you.”16The sons of Joseph said, “The hill country is not enough for us, and all the Canaanites who live in the valley land have chariots of iron, both those who are in Beth-shean and its towns and those who are in the valley of Jezreel.”). With his choice he sets a good example to them.


The Land Is Divided

51These are the inheritances which Eleazar the priest, and Joshua the son of Nun, and the heads of the households of the tribes of the sons of Israel distributed by lot in Shiloh before the LORD at the doorway of the tent of meeting. So they finished dividing the land.

This conclusion is very similar to the verse with which the division begins (Jos 14:11Now these are [the territories] which the sons of Israel inherited in the land of Canaan, which Eleazar the priest, and Joshua the son of Nun, and the heads of the households of the tribes of the sons of Israel apportioned to them for an inheritance,). Also here, when Joshua and Eleazar are mentioned together again, Eleazar comes first. Each leadership is good leadership only when practiced in a priestly mind. That is why the priest comes first. A priest is someone who is used to being in the presence of God.

It says of the Lord Jesus: “He will be a priest on His throne” (Zec 6:13b13Yes, it is He who will build the temple of the LORD, and He who will bear the honor and sit and rule on His throne. Thus, He will be a priest on His throne, and the counsel of peace will be between the two offices.”‘). Here we also see that His reign is done from a priestly mind, that is, from the presence of God and therefore fully in accordance with God’s thoughts. This is how leadership should be practiced in the church.


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