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Bible Commentaries
Joshua 21

Dummelow's Commentary on the BibleDummelow on the Bible

Verses 1-45

The Settlement

The summaries of Joshua 12 mark the end of one section of the book, and the opening words of Joshua 13 as clearly introduce the beginning of another.

This central portion, embracing Joshua 13-21, has been called ’The Domesday Book of the Old Testament,’ and is invaluable as a groundwork for modern scientific explorers. ’The Book of Joshua’ (writes Col. Conder) ’is the great geographical book of the Old Testament, and the study of its geography is important, as showing that it was written in Palestine by an author who was familiar with the whole land... A proportion of about three-quarters of the towns mentioned in this book are more or less certainly known, having either never been lost, or. having recently been recovered by exploration, through the survival of the ancient name to our own time, or by other indications—as, for instance, in the case of Lachish, where other indications are confirmed by the discovery of a tablet referring to Zimrida (who is known to have been the ruler of Lachish about 1480 b.c.) which has been dug up in the ruins of the city.’ It may be noted that in Joshua 13-22 the Priestly narrative is predominant; just as the Primitive is in Joshua 1-12, although some of the most interesting incidents, e.g. Caleb’s inheritance (Joshua 14:6-15; Joshua 15:14-19), are from the earlier source.

The section may be thus analysed:—(a) Joshua 13:1-33; Territories of the Eastern Tribes, (b) Joshua 14:1 to Joshua 19:51; Territories of the Western Tribes.

Verses 1-45

The Assignment of Forty-eight Cities to the Levites

2. The injunction to Moses was given in the plains of Moab, and is recorded in Numbers 35:2-5.

3-8. Number and localities of the cities distributed to each of the families of Levi.

9-42. Detailed specification of the cities:—Cities of the Aaronites (Priests) in Judah and Benjamin (9-19); of the Kohathites in Ephraim, Dan, and W. Manasseh (20-26); of the Gershonites in E. Manasseh, Issachar, Asher, and Naphtali (27-33); of the Merarites in Zebulun, Reuben and Gad (34-42).

43-45. Conclusion of the ’Domesday Book’; fulfilment of God’s promises of possession and rest. This section is somewhat difficult to reconcile with the situation revealed at the beginning of the book of Judges; but it must be remembered that this passage is from the later Priestly source, while the previous section is from an earlier document.

Bibliographical Information
Dummelow, John. "Commentary on Joshua 21". "Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/dcb/joshua-21.html. 1909.
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