Joshua 10-19  Chapter Study


The first chapters of Joshua tell some great stories of Israel’s conquest of Canaan.

They’re wonderful illustrations of how the Lord works & how we walk by faith in Him as we take possession of all the Lord has for us in the Christian life.

As Hebrews 11 demonstrates, the OT is a picture-book, giving marvelous illustrations of the principles we find in the NT.

But as we see how these stories speak to us of the spiritual life, we mustn’t forget that this is historical narrative – these things really happened.

This is the great strength of the Christian Faith – it is rooted in real events in History.

Archaeologist John Garstang excavated the site of Jericho from 1930-36.

He established that Jericho fell right around 1400 BC.

This would place the Exodus some time around 1440-45 BC, a date which fits perfectly with what we know about Egypt.

This was the period of the Amarna Age of Egypt, when the Pharaohs led Egypt on a period of intense introspection and internal religious reforms.

They neglected their empire holdings outside their borders, including their interests in Canaan.

The Amarna Letters show that during this time, the Canaanites sent requests to Egypt for help in repelling an invasion of what they called the “Habiru” (Hebrew), but Egypt ignored the pleas.

The Amarna Letters were written by the kings of the numerous Canaanite city-states to 2 of the Pharaohs of Egypt.

The picture these letters paint of the situation in Canaan parallels the account in Joshua to a tee.

The Stele of Pharaoh Merneptah dated to 1230 BC tells us his invasion into Canaan as the Egyptians sought to re-extend their borders into territory they previously dominated.

The stele mentions that the Hebrews were then settled in the land.

So the conquest of Canaan by Israel had to have occurred well before that.

Garstang found solid evidence of the destruction of Jericho by Joshua.

The city had been built on the mound formed by previous generations of occupation.

It was surrounded by a double wall.

The outer wall was 6 ft. thick, the inner was 12 ft. & there was a space of 15 ft. between them. They were 30 ft. high.

The city was so crowded they’d built homes between the walls, just as we read of Rahab’s house.

Garstang found evidence that the walls had fallen outward and tumbled down the sides of the mound the city was built on.

There was only one portion of this wall left standing, and in its side facing out was a window.

Garstang believed this was none other than the house of Rahab & that window the one she’d let the Jewish spies out through.

This layer of occupation had a burn layer which shows the city had been completely razed at that time.

But what’s remarkable is that massive food stores were found in the ruins of its destruction.

This was highly unusual because such stores would normally be the spoils of war.

Garstang saw this as further evidence of the destruction under Joshua.

The city was not re-occupied until around 900 BC when 1 Kings 16 says it was rebuilt by Hiel.[1]

After the initial chapters of Joshua, the book settles into a more detailed review of the campaigns Israel embarked on to lay claim to Canaan.

We get lists of the cities & regions they conquered & how the land was divided up among the tribes.

Tonight, we begin with the southern campaign in Ch. 10 . . .

II. Conquering the Enemy Chs. 6-12

B. The southern campaign Ch. 10

1Now it came to pass when Adoni-Zedek king of Jerusalem heard how Joshua had taken Ai and had utterly destroyed it—as he had done to Jericho and its king, so he had done to Ai and its king—and how the inhabitants of Gibeon had made peace with Israel and were among them,  2that they feared greatly, because Gibeon was a great city, like one of the royal cities, and because it was greater than Ai, and all its men were mighty.  3Therefore Adoni-Zedek king of Jerusalem sent to Hoham king of Hebron, Piram king of Jarmuth, Japhia king of Lachish, and Debir king of Eglon, saying,  4“Come up to me and help me, that we may attack Gibeon, for it has made peace with Joshua and with the children of Israel.”  5Therefore the five kings of the Amorites, the king of Jerusalem, the king of Hebron, the king of Jarmuth, the king of Lachish, and the king of Eglon, gathered together and went up, they and all their armies, and camped before Gibeon and made war against it.

These 5 city-states were all in the south & they counted Gibeon as part of their confederacy.

But as we saw last week, the Gibeonites decided fighting Israel was a losing proposition, so they pulled a ruse on Joshua, making him think they had come from a great distance away and wanted to enter into an alliance with Israel.

The leaders of Israel were fooled & so made the pact – only to discover that Gibeon was located just a short distance from them, right in the heart of Canaan.

Gibeon’s defection & treaty with Israel was seen as incredibly dangerous to the rest of the Canaanites.

First of all, it took an important ally out of their confederacy.

Second, Israel would now be on their guard against further deception so the ruse wouldn’t work for these 5.

Gibeon had left them high & dry – and so from the Canaanite perspective, they needed to be punished.

Attacking Gibeon would send a warning to anyone else who was thinking about bailing out of the alliance.

6And the men of Gibeon sent to Joshua at the camp at Gilgal, saying, “Do not forsake your servants; come up to us quickly, save us and help us, for all the kings of the Amorites who dwell in the mountains have gathered together against us.” 7So Joshua ascended from Gilgal, he and all the people of war with him, and all the mighty men of valor. 

“Ascended” is right – about 3,300 ft. up over a distance of 20 miles from Gilgal to Gibeon.

For armed men, this journey would take 8 to 9 hours.

8And the Lord said to Joshua, “Do not fear them, for I have delivered them into your hand; not a man of them shall stand before you.”  9Joshua therefore came upon them suddenly, having marched all night from Gilgal.  10So the Lord routed them before Israel, killed them with a great slaughter at Gibeon, chased them along the road that goes to Beth Horon, and struck them down as far as Azekah and Makkedah. 

[Show map]

11And it happened, as they fled before Israel and were on the descent of Beth Horon, that the Lord cast down large hailstones from heaven on them as far as Azekah, and they died. There were more who died from the hailstones than the children of Israel killed with the sword.

God brought nature as an ally to Israel, dropping massive hailstones that wiped out the Amorite force.

Since the Canaanites worshipped nature deities, having hailstones tossed at them from the sky would have seemed like their own gods were aiding their enemies.

Killing hail is not all that unusual a phenomenon.

On Feb 21, 2002, over 50 died in a Bolivian hailstorm.

In 1978 a hailstorm spewing baseball sized hail killed more than 200 sheep in Montana.

In 1953 a hailstorm in Alberta, Canada killed over 36,000 ducks. Another storm a few days later killed another 30,000.

12Then Joshua spoke to the Lord in the day when the Lord delivered up the Amorites before the children of Israel, and he said in the sight of Israel: “Sun, stand still over Gibeon; And Moon, in the Valley of Aijalon.” 13So the sun stood still, And the moon stopped, Till the people had revenge Upon their enemies. Is this not written in the Book of Jasher? So the sun stood still in the midst of heaven, and did not hasten to go down for about a whole day.  14And there has been no day like that, before it or after it, that the Lord heeded the voice of a man; for the Lord fought for Israel.

V. 9 says the battle began in the morning at Gibeon, but as the Amorites retreated along the Road to Beth Horon, the day moved on & Joshua knew the only way to keep the Amorites from fleeing back to the safety of their cities to the south was to have more daylight.

So he asked God to lengthen the day. Sure enough – the sun halted in its passage through the sky.

What phenomenon accounted for this we have no idea.

There was a story some years ago about how NASA was doing computations in preparation for the moon shots, to make sure they knew where all the important celestial bodies would be.

In doing their computations supposedly they ran them backwards only to discover the heavenly bodies were out of their expected positions by a bit longer than a day.

Then, as the story goes, one of the Christians working for NASA told about this story in Joshua and how King Hezekiah asked that the sun go back 10 degrees.

So the missing time in NASA’s calculations was accounted for, thus verifying the Biblical record!

The guy who told that story created quite a stir and sold a lot of books.

Then it was discovered he’d made the whole thing up.

No such computations had ever been done at NASA – no missing day discovered.

Listen, we don’t know how the sun stood still, but it did.

There may have been some kind of change to the earth’s rotational rate due to any one of a number of cosmic events.

There might have been a polar shift as there’s plenty evidence from Geology.

The lengthened period of light may have been due to some strange refractive quality to the atmosphere that day.

The hailstones suggests something highly unusual with the environment was going on.

The point is – Joshua had been told before the battle began that God would give him victory.

When he saw the hailstones falling, he was emboldened to make a huge request of God – and God did it.

The lesson for us is this – When God has already given us the outcome, and we can see Him at work, the only rational response is to move out & join Him.

And you know what, God has told us the outcome – Heaven is our destiny.

No one can stand against us because God is with us, in us, before & behind us.

And He’s at work all around us.  The evidence of His presence & power is unending.

V. 13 mentions the Book of Jashar.

This was a collection of poetic songs written to honor Israel’s leaders.[2]

15Then Joshua returned, and all Israel with him, to the camp at Gilgal.

V. 15 tells of the end of the whole campaign.  In chronology, it comes after vs. 16-42.

In fact, v. 43 is identical to v. 15.

16But these five kings had fled and hidden themselves in a cave at Makkedah. 

Their fighting force in utter disarray, these 5 kings abandoned the whole campaign & tried to hide.

17And it was told Joshua, saying, “The five kings have been found hidden in the cave at Makkedah.” 18So Joshua said, “Roll large stones against the mouth of the cave, and set men by it to guard them.  19And do not stay there yourselves, but pursue your enemies, and attack their rear guard. Do not allow them to enter their cities, for the Lord your God has delivered them into your hand.” 

Joshua gave orders to trap the 5 kings in the cave, but not to give up the larger fight.

Men were to be set to guard the cave, but the rest needed to pursue the remaining combatants.

If what was left of the Canaanites were allowed to retreat to their cities, it would only drag things out.

So Israel kept after them & wiped most of them out. 

Only a few managed to make it back to their cities.

20Then it happened, while Joshua and the children of Israel made an end of slaying them with a very great slaughter, till they had finished, that those who escaped entered fortified cities.  21And all the people returned to the camp, to Joshua at Makkedah, in peace. No one moved his tongue against any of the children of Israel.

The hailstones & then the stopping of the sun & moon, which were 2 of the chief deities worshipped by the Canaanites, caused the people of the land to be in total awe of Israel.

22Then Joshua said, “Open the mouth of the cave, and bring out those five kings to me from the cave.”  23And they did so, and brought out those five kings to him from the cave: the king of Jerusalem, the king of Hebron, the king of Jarmuth, the king of Lachishand the king of Eglon. 24So it was, when they brought out those kings to Joshua, that Joshua called for all the men of Israel, and said to the captains of the men of war who went with him, “Come near, put your feet on the necks of these kings.” And they drew near and put their feet on their necks. 

This was a picture of total domination.

What could be more vulnerable that to lie on the ground and have someone place their foot on your neck?

All they have to do is step down hard and your life is over.

That’s exactly what Joshua wanted to get across to the men of Israel.

These 5 guys were the mightiest men of all Southern Canaan.

And where are they now? Utterly defeated and lying under Israel’s foot.

Now, flash back with me to 40 years before when Joshua & Caleb had told the entire nation at Kadesh Barnea that these kings would prove no match for Israel.

But the nation had refused to listen to them and had rebelled against God in refusing to go up and take the land.

40 years of aimless wandering were wasted.

This was a huge, “I told you so” moment for both Joshua & Caleb.

I wonder if they looked at each other here and signed a heavy one of regret over all the wasted years.

Whenever I read this story, I’m moved to stop & consider if I’m wasting precious time through unbelief.

Have I come to a stand still in my walk because there’s some new territory God wants me to conquer, but I’ve wimped out.

I don’t want to get to 60, or 70, or 80, and look back to realize I just wasted the last 10 years.

God, make me like Joshua. Put my enemies under my foot and don’t let my timidity hinder the work of Your Spirit.

25Then Joshua said to them, “Do not be afraid, nor be dismayed; be strong and of good courage, for thus the Lord will do to all your enemies against whom you fight.”  26And afterward Joshua struck them and killed them, and hanged them on five trees; and they were hanging on the trees until evening.  27So it was at the time of the going down of the sun that Joshua commanded, and they took them down from the trees, cast them into the cave where they had been hidden, and laid large stones against the cave’s mouth, which remain until this very day.

In vs. 28-39 we read about Israel’s conquest of the southern region.

He took the cities of . . .

·        Makkedah

·        Libnah

·        Lachish

·        Eglon

·        Hebron

·        Debir

40So Joshua conquered all the land: the mountain country and the South and the lowland and the wilderness slopes, and all their kings; he left none remaining, but utterly destroyed all that breathed, as the Lord God of Israel had commanded.  41And Joshua conquered them from Kadesh Barnea as far as Gaza, and all the country of Goshen, even as far as Gibeon42All these kings and their land Joshua took at one time, because the Lord God of Israel fought for Israel43Then Joshua returned, and all Israel with him, to the camp at Gilgal.

The Southern region of Israel from the Negev to the center of Israel has now been conquered and rid of it’s domination by the Canaanites.

But we can’t really say it lies under Israelite control yet.

That’s because they haven’t been settled in the land yet.

They’re still staying at the camp of Gilgal.

It will be some time yet before the tribes are dispersed to their tribal borders.

Some of the cities they conquered will be inhabited by others and will need to be recaptured.

You’ll notice that the region of Gaza along the coast was not part of the southern campaign.

It remained under the control of the Philistines.

C. The northern campaign Ch. 11

1 And it came to pass, when Jabin king of Hazor heard these things,

That Israel had lain claim to the southern city-states -

that he sent to Jobab king of Madon, to the king of Shimron, to the king of Achshaph, 2 and to the kings who were from the north, in the mountains, in the plain south of Chinneroth, [Galilee] in the lowland, and in the heights of Dor on the west, 3 to the Canaanites in the east and in the west, the Amorite, the Hittite, the Perizzite, the Jebusite in the mountains, and the Hivite below Hermon in the land of Mizpah.

This is the entire northern region of Canaan.

The city of Hazor was much like Jericho, a large fortress that dominated its region.

Jericho had been the lead city-state of the south; Hazor was the lead of the north.

When Jabin heard that the south had fallen to Israel, he knew he needed to activate the northern alliance.

4 So they went out, they and all their armies with them, as many people as the sand that is on the seashore in multitude, with very many horses and chariots. 5 And when all these kings had met together, they came and camped together at the waters of Merom to fight against Israel.

Merom is a few miles NW of Galilee which means Israel had already marched into the northern territory.

6 But the Lord said to Joshua, “Do not be afraid because of them, for tomorrow about this time I will deliver all of them slain before Israel. You shall hamstring their horses and burn their chariots with fire.” 7 So Joshua and all the people of war with him came against them suddenly by the waters of Merom, and they attacked them. 8 And the Lord delivered them into the hand of Israel, who defeated them and chased them to Greater Sidon, to the Brook Misrephoth, and to the Valley of Mizpah eastward; they attacked them until they left none of them remaining.

This is way up into modern day Lebanon.

9 So Joshua did to them as the Lord had told him: he hamstrung their horses and burned their chariots with fire.

Question: Why not keep these prize spoils of war?

A horse was like a jet fighter and a chariot was like a tank.

Why not hang on to these and use them to bolster the military might of Israel?

God had already told them they were not to amass horses – & the reason was precisely because He didn’t want them to start counting their strength by force of arms.

Their trust was not to be in their military technology, but in God Himself.

He would give them a victory that far surpassed anything conventional warfare could accomplish.

David understood this and wrote in Psalm 20:7

Some trust in chariots, and some in horses; But we will remember the name of the Lord our God.

10 Joshua turned back at that time and took Hazor, and struck its king with the sword; for Hazor was formerly the head of all those kingdoms. 11 And they struck all the people who were in it with the edge of the sword, utterly destroying them. There was none left breathing. Then he burned Hazor with fire. 12 So all the cities of those kings, and all their kings, Joshua took and struck with the edge of the sword. He utterly destroyed them, as Moses the servant of the Lord had commanded. 13 But as for the cities that stood on their mounds, Israel burned none of them, except Hazor only, which Joshua burned.

Besides Jericho, John Garstang also excavated Hazor and found that about 1400 BC , it too had been destroyed by fire.

The only cities Joshua burned were Jericho, Ai, & Hazor.

It’s interesting that both Jericho & Hazor show evidence of being destroyed and burned at this time, but not the other cities he find listed here as part of the conquest.

There was a significant occupation change shown in the other citi4es that took place at this time, but they were not destroyed or burned.

The archaeological evidence strongly supports the Biblical record.

Now, let me say this – there have been later excavations by people like Kathleen Kenyon & Yigal Yadin who propose other interpretations of these sites.

There’s a large amount of funding to be had by the enterprising archaeologist who can come up with a new theory.

So it’s been the fashion in archaeology for the last half century to reinterpret earlier conclusions – not based so much on the evidence as on a theory about history.

These new theories make headlines for a while, and amateurs pick them up and spout them.

But as time passes, the new theories are usually retired and the older conclusions based on the original excavations are agreed as being the correct view.

This was the case with both Yadin’s work at Hazor & Kenyon’s work at Jericho.

They both disagreed with Garstang’s conclusions and their views held the day for about 30 years.

But many, if not most archaeologists now understand Garstang’s conclusions to be correct.

It was Garstang himself who posed Kenyon questions about Jericho she simply had no answer for because there was no evidence to support her view.

On the contrary, the evidence militated against her position and supported his.

So, pulling all this together the point is this – The evidence from archaeology stands solidly behind the fact that Jericho & Hazor, the 2 main cities of Canaan, fell to Israelite conquest right around 1400 BC, just as the scripture describe.

14 And all the spoil of these cities and the livestock, the children of Israel took as booty for themselves; but they struck every man with the edge of the sword until they had destroyed them, and they left none breathing. 15 As the Lord had commanded Moses his servant, so Moses commanded Joshua, and so Joshua did. He left nothing undone of all that the Lord had commanded Moses. 16 Thus Joshua took all this land:

And here it is -

the mountain country,

This was the central highlands.

all the South,

The Negev, that region to the south of Israel that is a large open wilderness.

all the land of Goshen,

This was a pastoral region rising from the south up to the central highlands.

the lowland, and the Jordan plain—the mountains of Israel and its lowlands,

This speaks of the land from west to east; from the coastal plain to the Jordan River.

17 from Mount Halak and the ascent to Seir, even as far as Baal Gad in the Valley of Lebanon below Mount Hermon.

Mt. Halak is way to the south and the Valley of Lebanon is far to the north.

He captured all their kings, and struck them down and killed them. 18 Joshua made war a long time with all those kings.

While the initial 3 campaigns; central, southern, then northern, we concluded quickly, keep in mind these were just the conquests of the major city-states that dominated Canaan.

There were dozens of smaller cities and towns that had to be taken in order to make a full conquest of the land.

When it says that Joshua waged war a long time with the kings, it means that though the main city states had been defeated, carrying the war to it’s end took a lot longer – much like the War in Iraq.

The main war was over quickly, with a resounding victory on the part of the US.

But the after effects of the war go on & on as the defeated enemy refuses to give up.

19 There was not a city that made peace with the children of Israel, except the Hivites, the inhabitants of Gibeon. All the others they took in battle. 20 For it was of the Lord to harden their hearts, that they should come against Israel in battle, that He might utterly destroy them, and that they might receive no mercy, but that He might destroy them, as the Lord had commanded Moses.

God’s hardening of the hearts of the Canaanites needs to be understood the same way as the hardening of the heart of Pharaoh.

We read again & again in the plagues of Egypt that Pharaoh hardened his heart toward the Lord.

Only after he repeatedly hardened his heart, do we read that God hardened it.

All God did was stop striving by His Spirit with Pharaoh.

There came a point at which God accepted Pharaoh’s choice to resist Him.

And that is when Pharaoh became permanently hardened.

But really, all God did is give Pharaoh what he wanted.

Listen – left to ourselves, no one wants God!  No one seeks Him.

If there is any kind of spiritual interest, any sensitivity or tenderness toward God, it’s because His Spirit is at work to woo us.

But God forces NO ONE!  He has given man the power to chose.  What would be the point of making man a volitional being if God then forced his choices??

That’s not choice at all – it reduces human beings to robots.

So when a man or woman repeatedly resists the gracious wooing of God, there comes a point at which God finally says, “Okay – I accept your decision.” And He withdraws His Spirit.

That’s what the Bible means when it says God hardened someone’s heart.

The Canaanites had many opportunities to respond in an appropriate way to God but they chose to resist.

Rahab and the Gibeonites show us that a proper fear of God was at work in Canaan.

But the bulk of the Canaanites resisted God past the point of no return.

There is a point we know not when, a line we know not where.

That marks the destiny of men twist godly sorrow and despair.

There is a line, and once it’s crossed,

God has sworn in all His love, that all is lost.

21 And at that time Joshua came and cut off the Anakim from the mountains: from Hebron, from Debir, from Anab, from all the mountains of Judah, and from all the mountains of Israel; Joshua utterly destroyed them with their cities. 22 None of the Anakim were left in the land of the children of Israel; they remained only in Gaza, in Gath, and in Ashdod.

The Anakim were the giants of whom Goliath was a descendant.

As we read here, while Joshua removed them from the Land of Israel, they continued on in the region of the Philistines in Gaza along the coast.

These verses are an overview of the conquest.

We’re not to think that Joshua personally went out & took on the Anakim single-handedly.

The use of his name here means he oversaw the conquest of these regions and these peoples.

As we’ll see, it was others who actually did the fighting.

23 So Joshua took the whole land, according to all that the Lord had said to Moses; and Joshua gave it as an inheritance to Israel according to their divisions by their tribes. Then the land rested from war.

D. The defeated kings Ch. 12

In this chapter, we get a listing of the 31 kings and their city-states Israel conquered.

III. Claiming the Inheritance Chs. 13-24

Now we get into the division of the land up among the tribes.

A. The tribal territory assigned Chs. 13-19

1. Eastern Canaan Chs. 13-14

1 Now Joshua was old, advanced in years. And the Lord said to him: “You are old, advanced in years, and there remains very much land yet to be possessed. 2 This is the land that yet remains:

In the rest of vs. 2 thru 6 we’re told what land was yet to be laid claim to by Israel.

It was the coastal area from Egypt all the way north into Lebanon.

This was the region held by the Philistines and Phoenicians – the ancient Sea Peoples who had settled on the eastern coast of the Mediterranean.

God promised that He would drive them out of this remaining territory – but only after Joshua had assigned the tribes to these regions.

In other words, whereas the previous conquest had been the entire nation going to battle against the Canaanites, from now on, the conquest of the land and the remaining enclaves of enemies would be dealt with by each tribe as it laid possession to its own territory.

There’s a picture there for us.

Just as all Israel went to war against the Canaanites to dispossess them of their land and lay claim to what God had given them, so every Christian faces the same basic battles when we seek to walk in the Spirit.

There’s the universal battle with the flesh we all strive with.

There’s the struggle with greed & lust that are pretty much a part of the general human condition.

Being in regular fellowship with one another allows us to encourage one another & to pray together, battling these things side by side.

But there are some things each of us will battle that are our own unique struggle.

As we grow & mature in the Lord we realize there are some ways sin has marked use, wounded us, that have become a deep, deep scar.

And while we still need others to help us find victory, we realize they probably can’t really relate because this is something personal, a part of our past God wants to deliver us from -

Like an evil troll that’s camped out on a piece of spiritual ground God is calling us to go & take for His glory.

While others can pray for & encourage us - we know this is a battle we need to face ourselves – no one but God can help us in it.

7 Now therefore, divide this land as an inheritance to the nine tribes and half the tribe of Manasseh.” 8 With the other half-tribe the Reubenites and the Gadites received their inheritance, which Moses had given them, beyond the Jordan eastward, as Moses the servant of the Lord had given them:

In vs. 9-12 we get a list of the regions given to the eastern tribes.

13 Nevertheless the children of Israel did not drive out the Geshurites or the Maachathites, but the Geshurites and the Maachathites dwell among the Israelites until this day.

While Israel had defeated the eastern Amorite kings, Sihon & Og, the land the eastern tribes were to possess included regions dominated by these two groups – the Geshurites and the Maachathites.

Reuben, Gad, & the half tribe of Manasseh had not been successful in laying claim to their full territory.

14 Only to the tribe of Levi he had given no inheritance; the sacrifices of the Lord God of Israel made by fire are their inheritance, as He said to them.

Of the 12 tribes, Levi alone was not given land because as the priestly tribe, they were to be scattered throughout all the tribal regions – serving as the religious leaders of the nation.

In vs. 15-23 we get a description of the territory of the tribe of Reuben.

There’s an interesting comment in this section – v. 22

22 The children of Israel also killed with the sword Balaam the son of Beor, the soothsayer, among those who were killed by them.

In Numbers we read that Balaam was from farther north, but after his time with King Balak in Moab, he’d settled in the region of Sihon that was conquered by Israel.

When Israel conquered the are, he was killed.

In vs. 24-28 we get a description of the region given to the tribe of Gad.

Vs. 29-32 are the territory assigned to the half tribe of Manasseh.

33 But to the tribe of Levi Moses had given no inheritance; the Lord God of Israel was their inheritance, as He had said to them.

Chapter 14

1 These are the areas which the children of Israel inherited in the land of Canaan, which Eleazar the priest, Joshua the son of Nun, and the heads of the fathers of the tribes of the children of Israel distributed as an inheritance to them. 2 Their inheritance was by lot, as the Lord had commanded by the hand of Moses, for the nine tribes and the half-tribe. 3 For Moses had given the inheritance of the two tribes and the half-tribe on the other side of the Jordan; but to the Levites he had given no inheritance among them. 4 For the children of Joseph were two tribes: Manasseh and Ephraim. And they gave no part to the Levites in the land, except cities to dwell in, with their common-lands for their livestock and their property. 5 As the Lord had commanded Moses, so the children of Israel did; and they divided the land.

If you take Levi out of the division of the land, that leaves 11, not 12 tribes.

Yet the land was divided 12 ways; 2½ to the east of the Jordan, and 9½ on the west.

Where does the extra tribe come from?

Joseph was counted as 2 tribes – through his sons, Ephraim & Manasseh.

The assignment of the land was by lots.

A region would be charted out by its boundaries, then assigned by the fall of the lot.  How the lot fell was the sovereign direction of God.

Vs. 6-15 are my text for Sunday so I’ll leave till then.

2. Western Canaan Chs. 15-19

Vs. 1-62 – Judah’s Territory

63 As for the Jebusites, the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the children of Judah could not drive them out; but the Jebusites dwell with the children of Judah at Jerusalem to this day.

This little note informs us this record had to have been written well before the time of David because David conquered the city of Jerusalem from the Jebusites.

Chapter 16

This chapter tells us about the Ephraim’s territory.

Chapter 17

Now we come to the territory of Manasseh in vs. 1-11.

12 Yet the children of Manasseh could not drive out the inhabitants of those cities, but the Canaanites were determined to dwell in that land. 13 And it happened, when the children of Israel grew strong, that they put the Canaanites to forced labor, but did not utterly drive them out.

Instead of following through on the command to expel or eradicate the Canaanites, Ephraim & Manasseh just made servants out of them.

The problem with this was the Canaanites continued to follow their evil practices.

It wasn’t long before the Jews were joining them and the very thing God had said was the danger to them was realized.

14 Then the children of Joseph spoke to Joshua, saying, “Why have you given us only one lot and one share to inherit, since we are a great people, inasmuch as the Lord has blessed us until now?”

The tribe of Ephraim, coupled with half of Manasseh were the largest group among the tribes.

But their territory was more than adequate to their numbers.

What they didn’t like was that the center of their region was still held by the Canaanites and clearing it would take some real work.

They didn’t want it – they wanted something easier.

15 So Joshua answered them, “If you are a great people, then go up to the forest country and clear a place for yourself there in the land of the Perizzites and the giants, since the mountains of Ephraim are too confined for you.”

Joshua’s answer is wise – if you’re large enough to need more lan, then you have plenty resources to take what’s already been given you.

Why should you get more when you’ve not taken possession of what you already have?

Then they give Joshua the real reason for their request . . .

16 But the children of Joseph said, “The mountain country is not enough for us; and all the Canaanites who dwell in the land of the valley have chariots of iron, both those who are of Beth Shean and its towns and those who are of the Valley of Jezreel.”

See, they’re making excuses for why they haven’t pressed into all of the promise – “It’s too hard!”

17 And Joshua spoke to the house of Joseph—to Ephraim and Manasseh—saying, “You are a great people and have great power; you shall not have only one lot, 18 but the mountain country shall be yours. Although it is wooded, you shall cut it down, and its farthest extent shall be yours; for you shall drive out the Canaanites, though they have iron chariots and are strong.”

Joshua encourages them at the same time he refuses their request.

They will not be given more when they haven’t even taken advatange of what’s already been given them.

That’s a lesson we should all learn – that before God gives us more, we need to be faithful with what we already have.

Chapter 18

1 Now the whole congregation of the children of Israel assembled together at Shiloh, and set up the tabernacle of meeting there. And the land was subdued before them. 2 But there remained among the children of Israel seven tribes which had not yet received their inheritance. 3 Then Joshua said to the children of Israel: “How long will you neglect to go and possess the land which the Lord God of your fathers has given you? 4 Pick out from among you three men for each tribe, and I will send them; they shall rise and go through the land, survey it according to their inheritance, and come back to me. 5 And they shall divide it into seven parts. Judah shall remain in their territory on the south, and the house of Joseph shall remain in their territory on the north. 6 You shall therefore survey the land in seven parts and bring the survey here to me, that I may cast lots for you here before the Lord our God. 7 But the Levites have no part among you, for the priesthood of the Lord is their inheritance. And Gad, Reuben, and half the tribe of Manasseh have received their inheritance beyond the Jordan on the east, which Moses the servant of the Lord gave them.”

The tabernacle was now settled in Shiloh, which became for all intents & purposes, the center of the nation.

Joshua then sent out a survey team to decide appropriate boundaries fro the remaining tribes.

8 Then the men arose to go away; and Joshua charged those who went to survey the land, saying, “Go, walk through the land, survey it, and come back to me, that I may cast lots for you here before the Lord in Shiloh.” 9 So the men went, passed through the land, and wrote the survey in a book in seven parts by cities; and they came to Joshua at the camp in Shiloh. 10 Then Joshua cast lots for them in Shiloh before the Lord, and there Joshua divided the land to the children of Israel according to their divisions.

In vs. 11-27 we get the territory assigned to Benjamin.

Chapter 19

Vs. 1-9 are Simeon’s territory.

Vs. 10-16 are Zebulun’s region.

Issachar is marked out in vs. 17-23; Asher in 24-31, Naphtali in 32-39, and last is Dan in vs. 40-48.

49 When they had made an end of dividing the land as an inheritance according to their borders, the children of Israel gave an inheritance among them to Joshua the son of Nun. 50 According to the word of the Lord they gave him the city which he asked for, Timnath Serah in the mountains of Ephraim; and he built the city and dwelt in it.

Joshua was from the tribe of Ephraim and that may help explain why they pressed him to give them more land in ch. 17.

51 These were the inheritances which Eleazar the priest, Joshua the son of Nun, and the heads of the fathers of the tribes of the children of Israel divided as an inheritance by lot in Shiloh before the Lord, at the door of the tabernacle of meeting. So they made an end of dividing the country.

As the tribes went to their respective places, they still had to complete the task of ousting the last remnants of Canaanite presence.

As we read on we discover this is something they didn’t ever really succeed at doing.

Though they had such a promising start, their initial successes didn’t carry through to completion.

In this, Israel teaches us an important lesson – it’s not how you begin, but how you finish that matters.

We’ll be taking a closer look at that this Sunday.

[1] Vos, Howard Beginnings in Bible Archaeology, pg. 56-7 / Vos, Howard, Archaeology and Bible History pg. 111-2

[2]Walvoord, J. F., Zuck, R. B., & Dallas Theological Seminary. (1983-c1985). The Bible knowledge commentary : An exposition of the scriptures. Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.