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13:1-22:34 DIVISION OF THE LAND
All the land that Israel had conquered was now divided among the twelve tribes. The list of tribal boundaries may not make very interesting reading today, but it was necessary for Israel as a permanent and lawful record to which people could refer if any disagreement arose. It also told the tribes of the enemies that had yet to be destroyed, both within their own tribal areas and in lands round about.
Overall plan for the division (13:1-14:5)
The area west of Jordan, which still contained many areas occupied by Canaanites, was to be divided between nine and a half tribes (13:1-7; for details of the separate tribal areas see 14:6-19:51). The area east of Jordan was to be occupied by two and a half tribes, in accordance with the arrangements that Moses made earlier (8-13; for details see 13:15-33). Cities for the Levites were to be allotted in all the tribes, since Levi had no tribal area of its own (14; Numbers 18:24; for details see 21:1-42).
Reuben was the most southern of the three eastern tribes, and occupied territory that Israel took from the Amorite king Sihon (15-23). Gad settled in the central section east of Jordan, and occupied much of the region commonly known as Gilead (24-28). The half tribe of Manasseh occupied the northern section east of Jordan, which included part of Gilead along with part of the rich pasture land of Bashan (29-31). The settlement of two and a half tribes east of Jordan instead of in Canaan itself had been approved by Moses (32-33).
Localities for the nine and a half western tribes were decided by drawing lots, but the area of land that each tribe received was in proportion to the population of the tribe (14:1-2; cf. Numbers 26:54-56; Numbers 33:54). In spite of the omission of Levi, the number of tribes among whom Israel’s territory was divided (i.e. land on both sides of Jordan) was still twelve. This was because the son who received the birthright received twice the inheritance of the other sons, which in this case meant he received an additional tribe. As a consequence Joseph, who received the firstborn’s inheritance instead of Reuben, received two tribes in Israel. The tribes were descended from his two sons, Manasseh and Ephraim (3-5; cf. Genesis 48:5-6; 1 Chronicles 5:1-2; 1 Chronicles 5:1-2).
The tribe of Judah (14:6-15:63)
By far the largest portions of Canaan went to the chief tribes, those of Judah and Joseph (cf. Genesis 49:8-12,Genesis 49:22-26). Judah received almost the whole of southern Canaan, and Joseph received almost the whole of central Canaan.
Caleb received his special inheritance within the area given to his tribe, Judah. Here he proved that his expression of faith made forty-five years earlier was not mere words. At that time he and Joshua alone in Israel believed that the Israelites could destroy the fearsome people of Anak whom they saw in Canaan. Now Caleb was prepared to do it (6-12; cf. Numbers 13:25-33; Numbers 14:24). Joshua gladly gave him permission to go ahead (13-15).
Judah was allotted southern Palestine between the Dead Sea and the Mediterranean Sea, as far south as the Wilderness of Zin and the Brook of Egypt (15:1-12). Within this territory Caleb then conquered the people of Anak. His courage and faith helped to develop the boldness of others, especially Othniel, who received Caleb’s daughter as a reward for his bravery. Caleb also gave the young couple a piece of land as a wedding gift, but because the region was very dry he gave them an additional piece of land containing two springs of water (13-19; Judges 1:11-15; Judges 3:9).
The cities of Judah were grouped in various regions: the dry southern region known as the Negeb (20-32); the low foothills region known as the Shephelah (33-44); the coastal plain territory of the Philistines (45-47); the central highland country (48-60); and the semi-desert region near the Dead Sea (61-62). The prize city of Jerusalem, however, remained unconquered (63).
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Flemming, Donald C. "Commentary on Joshua 14". "Fleming's Bridgeway Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
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