Joshua 14:1-5 – Introduction
Joshua 14:6-15 – The Town Given to Caleb
Joshua 15-17 – The Lands Given to Judah and “Joseph” at Gilgal
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One Reply to “Dividing of the Land of Canaan, Part 1”
Reading through these chapters, looking for gems, for those verses that provide insight for today. I’m reminded of the tribes of Israel and how “Joseph’s descendants had become two tribes — Manasseh and Ephraim” (Joshua 14:4). The daily devotional from Our Daily Bread focused on Joseph’s interaction with his family as he gave God the credit for his fate, not his jealous brothers. Here in Joshua, we’re nearly 500 years separated from that episode, yet God is faithful and the inheritance is proclaimed. I don’t know about you, but I have a hard time waiting 5 days or weeks or months, let alone 500 years! This was a big deal and writers of Joshua took time to document the details.
Caleb gets a special allotment because of his devotion, his true report as a spy, “but my fellow Israelites who went up with me made the hearts of the people melt in fear. I, however, followed the Lord my God wholeheartedly” (14:8). Easy to appreciate in hindsight, but Caleb, now 85 years old, waited 45 years for his inheritance. Absolutely amazing!
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An interesting footnote at the end of chapter 15: “Judah could not dislodge the Jebusites, who were living in Jerusalem; to this day the Jebusites live there with the people of Judah” (15:63). Another interesting factoid is the Dead Sea Scrolls came from “the wilderness” as described in 15:61-62, “the City of Salt” where things, apparently, are preserved for many years.
Ephraim’s land curves from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean sea, but “they did not dislodge the Canaanites living in Gezer; to this day the Canaanites live among the people of Ephraim but are required to do forced labor” (16:10). Gezer was eventually taken over by the Egyptians and given to King Solomon as a wedding gift (1 Kings 9:16).
Chapter 17 recants the story of Zelophehad’s daughters (again). As part of the huge territory for Manasseh (east and west of the Jordan), the daughters received their fair share…an important point in a male-dominated culture.
The second half of chapter 17 makes me chuckle, though I’m sure that’s inappropriate (17:12-18). The people of Joseph (i.e., not the women), complained that they didn’t have enough land for the size of their clans. Joshua dismissed them and gave them explicit instructions: “You will have not only one allotment but the forested hill country as well. Clear it, and its farthest limits will be yours; though the Canaanites have chariots fitted with iron and though they are strong, you can drive them out” (17:17-18).
Not everyone was vanquished as the Israelites occupied the territory, not all were driven out and put to death as it seems they were supposed to. Interesting.
The rest of the story is for a few other posts, but it is interesting to read the details and look at the incredible size of the land they were to occupy.