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Bible Commentaries
Joshua 19

Garner-Howes Baptist CommentaryGarner-Howes

Verses 1-9

Joshua - Chapter 19

Simeon’s Lot, vs. 1-9

In the assignment of Simeon’s allotment began to be fulfilled the prediction of Jacob which he made at the end of his life (Genesis 49:5-7), particularly the statement he made of Simeon and Levi, "I will divide them in Jacob, and scatter them in Israel." In his prediction Jacob had alluded to the crime of these two sons in their deceit and murder of the Shechemites over the defilement of Dinah, their sister. (Genesis 34:25 ff).

The fulfillment of Jacob’s prophecy concerning Levi was being carried out in their scattering about the land in specified cities, without any tribal land assignment. In this can be seen God’s grace in granting Levi the opportunity to serve Him as spiritual leaders of the other tribes. In the case of Simeon he too is being given cities within the lot of Judah, though generally they are in the southern area of the too-large portion first assigned to the tribe of Judah. In time to come this tribe would be submerged in the tribe of Judah, or as some commentators think, would remove themselves to more productive areas of other tribes. The grace of God can be seen with them also, in that they became a part of the greatest of the Israelitish people, the Judahites, or Jews, as they came to be called.

These cities of Judah given the Simeonites numbered eighteen or so, the most prominent of which was Beer-sheba, the tribal center. Hormah was in the border of the desert, where the Israelites had twice fought the Amalekites and Canaanites while in the wilderness (Numbers 14:40; Numbers 21:1-3).

Ziklag, taken over by the Philistines, was later given by them to David, when he sought refuge among them in fleeing from Saul, (1 Samuel 27:6).

Verses 10-16

Zebulun’s Lot, vs. 10-16

Zebulun was the first of the tribes to be allotted territory out of that conquered in the northern campaign against Jabin.

The starting point of Zebulun’s border was Sarid southwest of Chinnereth (Sea of Galilee), from whence it turned to the west toward the Mediterranean Sea.

It passed through Maralah (not identifiable today) to Dabbasheth, reaching the Kishon River opposite Jokneam. Eastward the border ran through several places now not well known till it reached the Jordan river just south of the sea of Chinnereth.

Zebulun’s north border started from Hammath on Chinnereth and went westward past Gath-hepher (Jonah’s town), Rimmon, Hannothon, encompassing territory taken from the confederate kings in the northern campaign. It included Shimron, one of the chief cities, and the Bethlehem of the north (not to be confused with Bethlehem -judah). Bethlehem seems to have become the central city of Zebulun, since one of the judges later came from there (Ibzan, Judges 12:8 ff).

Verses 17-23

Issachar’s Lot, vs 17-23

The tribe of Issachar was assigned some of the finest cropland of all Canaan. It was then, and still is today, the breadbasket of Israel. Issachar’s allotment lay in a triangle formed by the southern border of Zebulun on the north, the northwest to southeast border of Manasseh west and south, and the Jordan river on the east.

Comments on these common borders will be found at Joshua 17:7­-13, and the foregoing topic on Zebulun’s possession.

Jezreel was the chief city of the tribe. Here Ahab had his summer palace and murdered Naboth to get his vineyard for a herb garden (1Kings chapter 21).

Shunem, where the good woman provided a room for the prophet Elisha (2 Kings 4:8 ff), was also in the number of Issachar’s cities.

Verses 24-31

Asher’s Lot, vs. 24-31

Asher was the most northwesterly of the tribes. Its territory skirted coastland occupied by the strong Phoenician people and containing their great cities of Tyre and Zidon.

Actually these lands and cities were to have been Israel’s, but the Asherites never attempted to take them and were content to live among them. Probably Asher was the most mingled with Gentiles of all the twelve tribes.

The land of Cabul, with its cities, was mainly peopled with Gentiles. These were the cities whose tribute Solomon gave to Hiram, king of Tyre, in payment for temple materials (1 Kings 9:10-14).

Asher’s border started on the south at Helkath, next to Zebulun on the east and Manasseh on the south and followed the border with Manasseh to Mount Carmel on the Mediterranean Sea.

Asher’s east boundary ran along the ridge of the mountains northward to Cabul and stretching on then past Tyre to the area of Zidon. The border was marked by several little-known cities.

Other than Tyre and Zidon, the Phoenician cities, Aphek is best known. Near, Aphek Ahab met the Syrians and defeated them (1 Kings 20:30), and here the Philistines gathered to attack Saul and defeat him (1 Samuel 29:1).

Verses 32-39

Naphtali’s Lot, vs. 32-39

The last lot out of the territory of the northern conquest was given to the tribe of Naphtali. The starting point of his possession was Heleph on the northern border of Zebulun. From there the boundary traced northeastward to Zaanannim, skirting the northwestern shore of Chinnereth, after which it followed the Jordan River northward to the vicinity of mount Hermon. The south border followed the north boundary of Zebulun to its juncture with the eastern boundary of Asher. From here the boundary of Naphtali was common with the eastern boundary of Asher northward. Two of the old Canaanite cities remained prominent throughout Naphtali’s possession, Kedesh and Hazor, but Kedesh seems to have been the chief city of the tribe.

Verses 40-48

Dan’s Lot, vs.. 40-48

Dan was the last of the tribes to get his inheritance. All the land of the northern conquest had been assigned, so Dan was given an unassigned area west of Benjamin, between Ephraim and Judah.

His allotment seems to have been a kind of afterthought, crowded in, with a large part of it lying among the cities and area claimed by the Philistines. It was not an afterthought, of course, and was sufficient for them had they exercised the faith needed to drive out the Philistines, cf. Matthew 21:21.

Zorah and Eshtaol are prominent as the homeland of Samson, one of the later judges of Israel. Timnath is where Samson got his wife, while Ekron was one of the Philistine cities.

Read about his adventures in Judges, chapters 13-16. Ajalon was in the valley over which the moon hung when Joshua commanded it to standstill (Joshua 10:12).

The reason Dan’s coast (borders) "went out too little for them," is because they were unwilling to fight the Philistines to possess all that was assigned to them.

The account of how six hundred of the Danites emigrated to Leshem (or Laish) far to the north, near mount Hermon, between the upper borders of Naphtali and eastern Manasseh, is recorded in Judges, chapter 18. Here they fell on a small, unsuspecting, undefended city of the Phoenicians, put it to the sword and established their own city of Dan.

Verses 49-51

Allotment completed, vs. 49-51

When everyone else had received his inheritance it was time for Joshua to get the special consideration decreed for him by the Lord as one of the faithful spies, like Caleb.

He was permitted to choose the place he wanted. He chose Tmnath-serah, in the mountains in the center of his own tribe of Ephraim. Joshua possessed it and re-built it. It is a few miles southwest of Shechem.

The completion of the inheritances and their assignment has now been effected. Verse 51 shows that the lots had been cast under the supervision of Eleazar, Joshua, and the heads of the tribes before the door of the tabernacle.

This latter also implies that it was accomplished under the supervision of the Lord. Thus the tribes who complained that their allotments were too small, or that they contained inhabitants whom they could not dislodge, amounted to an accusation against the Lord, implying that He had made a mistake in their allotment. So men are always prone to complain of what the Lord does, (Galatians 6:7).

Bibliographical Information
Garner, Albert & Howes, J.C. "Commentary on Joshua 19". Garner-Howes Baptist Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ghb/joshua-19.html. 1985.
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