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the Week of Proper 11 / Ordinary 16
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Bible Commentaries
Joshua 19

Kingcomments on the Whole BibleKingcomments

Verses 1-9


In this chapter the remaining tribes get their inheritance. Each of the tribes has then been assigned his own piece of land. The borders are indicated very precisely. Thus, individually applied, “God has allotted to each a measure of faith” (Romans 12:3). God has given each one exactly enough for the task to be performed. Even when it comes to taking possession of the spiritual blessings, everyone has received from God what is necessary.

This chapter ends with the inheritance of Joshua. He is assigned this by the Israelites, by “the command of the LORD” (Joshua 19:49-Philippians :). That is wonderful. Christ, in the picture of Joshua, has divided the land among God’s people. As proof of our gratitude to Christ, we as God’s people may give Him an inheritance in our midst. In the meetings of the believers – in “the tent of meeting” (Joshua 19:51) – this may become manifest.

The Inheritance of Simeon

By lot, Simeon gets an inheritance in the midst of Judah’s inheritance. Judah has a large inheritance, more than they can maintain themselves. They have enough room for another tribe. Simeon is the smallest of all tribes. They do not need much land. Thus can the abundance of one serve in the lack of the other (cf. 2 Corinthians 8:14).

A place in the midst of another inheritance is not an easy place. That means an exercise for both Judah and Simeon. Judah is by far the boss of Simeon. Simeon has increasingly merged into Judah, they have not been able to preserve their own character.

The place of Simeon in the territory of Judah can be applied to persons and churches that are hardly recognizable by their own characteristics. They are influenced by other people or churches. One does not have one’s own opinion, but relies entirely on others. The exceptions are believers who make a decision out of personal conviction, while others are guided by others.

We see that also when Judah asks Simeon a little later to join him to conquer land (Judges 1:3). Then it turns out that Simeon does not decide himself before the LORD independently of Judah. Judah acts according to the voice of God, Simeon acts according to the voice of Judah. It would have been better if Simeon had waited for the LORD’s voice. When it comes to understanding the voice of the Lord, it is necessary to be independent from others. This also goes for Judah by the way, for why is it necessary to ask Simeon to go along when the LORD has said that they have to go up as a tribe?

Yet later something positive about Simeon is mentioned as well, namely that they desire expansion (1 Chronicles 4:39). They got it too. If we recognize ourselves in a position like Simeon, we don’t have to be desperate. Another positive mention of Simeon is that in the time of the apostacy of the ten tribes under Jeroboam many from the Simeon tribe remain faithful to the house of David (2 Chronicles 15:9). A number of residents have moved north, to Ephraim and Manasseh (2 Chronicles 34:6). That is probably the explanation for the fact that only Judah and Benjamin are mentioned as the tribes that followed David’s house.

In the part given to Simeon, Jacob’s prophecy concerning Simeon and Levi is fulfilled: “I will disperse them in Jacob, And scatter them in Israel” (Genesis 49:7). Both the Levites and the Simeonites are scattered, but in a different way. The Simeonites merge into Judah and almost lose their identity. The Levites are spread throughout the land in cities as a blessing for the people.

Verses 10-16

The Inheritance of Zebulun

The inheritance of the Zebulun tribe is bordered on the west side by the Mediterranean Sea and on the east side by the sea of Tiberias. This is in accordance with Jacob’s prophecy: “Zebulun will dwell at the seashore” (Genesis 49:13). They would have ports for merchant ships on the Mediterranean Sea and for fisher vessels on the sea of Tiberias.

Zebulun is located, together with Naphtali, all the way to the north of Canaan, in Galilee. These are tribes that are so easily forgotten, but not by God. In the dark, northern part of Israel God brings light through the Messiah. The first performance of the Lord Jesus about which we read in the Gospels takes place there. It is the fulfillment of what Isaiah prophesied: “But there will be no [more] gloom for her who was in anguish; in earlier times He treated the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali with contempt, but later on He shall make [it] glorious, by the way of the sea, on the other side of Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles. The people who walk in darkness Will see a great light; Those who live in a dark land, The light will shine on them” (Isaiah 9:1-Exodus :).

Therefore Matthew also mentions these verses in his account of the life of the Lord Jesus (Matthew 4:12-Nehemiah :). He writes his Gospel especially for the Jews and therefore this quote is of great importance. The fulfillment, proved from their own Scriptures, must convince them that in the Lord Jesus the Messiah has come to them.

We can apply this to believers who live spiritually far away. If we no longer have spiritual contact with such believers, we can easily forget them. We can also think of local churches that we forget, because it takes too much effort to reach them. But they are not forgotten by the Lord. He visits them. We must do the same. The Lord Jesus appeared there and brought blessing. Galilee is despised by the clergy, but not by the Lord.

Verses 17-23

The Inheritance of Issachar

Issachar’s inheritance extends from the Jordan in the east to the Mediterranean Sea in the west. In the south it borders Manasseh and in the north it borders Zebulun.

Tola, one of the judges, is of that tribe (Judges 10:1), as is Baasha, one of the kings of Israel (1 Kings 15:27). A well-known place in that tribe is Sunem, where the God-fearing woman lives who gives hospitality to Elisha (2 Kings 4:8).

Another well-known place is Jezreel. Naboth lives there (1 Kings 21:1). His neighbor is the mighty, wicked king Ahab, who has set his sights on Naboth’s inheritance. By the attempt of Ahab to get the inheritance of Naboth in his possession, the great appreciation Naboth has for the inheritance comes to the fore: “Now it came about after these things that Naboth the Jezreelite had a vineyard which [was] in Jezreel beside the palace of Ahab king of Samaria. 2Ahab spoke to Naboth, saying, “Give me your vineyard, that I may have it for a vegetable garden because it is close beside my house, and I will give you a better vineyard than it in its place; if you like, I will give you the price of it in money.” 3But Naboth said to Ahab, “The LORD forbid me that I should give you the inheritance of my fathers”” (1 Kings 21:1-Leviticus :).

Naboth had to pay for this with death, as we read later in 1 Kings 21 (1 Kings 21:7-1 Chronicles :). When it comes to the valuation of the inheritance, there's hardly a greater contrast imaginable than between Naboth and Ahab. Naboth is spiritually related to Caleb.

Verses 24-31

The Inheritance of Asher

The inheritance of Asher lies along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea. A well-known member of that tribe is the prophetess Anna (Luke 2:36-Zechariah :). As a true daughter of Asher she has yielded “royal dainties” (Genesis 49:20). These “royal dainties” she distributes after the birth of the Lord Jesus by speaking “of Him to all those who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem” (Luke 2:38).

Verses 32-39

The Inheritance of Naphtali

In the inheritance of Naphtali we find later Capernaum and Bethsaida, at the northern end of the sea of Tiberias, where the Lord Jesus did so many great works. It is also assumed that this is where the mountain lies, on which Christ has pronounced the so-called ‘sermon on the Mount’, which we have in Matthew 5-7 (Matthew 5:1-Exodus :). Together with Zebulun, this tribe had the privilege of seeing the great light that came to them in Christ (Joshua 19:10-Nehemiah :).

Verses 40-48

The Inheritance of Dan

The tribe of Dan has the most unclear borders. As a large tribe they are only assigned a small territory. Would God be wrong to give Judah too much and Dan too little? God is never mistaken. He is looking ahead. He gives the people the opportunity to exercise, whereby the exercise is different for each tribe.

Later Dan went looking for more territory (Judges 18:1), after they first lost some of their territory (Judges 1:34) to brothers and enemies. The territory has become too small by their own fault. Instead of humbling themselves about this, they set off self-willed to seek more territory.

That they do not involve God in their plans is evident from the history in Judges 18. When they have met an idolater, they take him for themselves. Thus Dan becomes the first tribe to introduce idolatry (Judges 18:30). If God exercises us and we lose land, what is our reaction? Do we bow down before God or do we act arbitrarily like Dan?

The first two places mentioned, Zorah and Eshtaol, are known from the history of Samson. There he begins, through the Spirit, to perform his first deeds (Judges 13:25).

Verses 49-50

The Inheritance of Joshua

Caleb was the first to receive his inheritance even before the tribes are allocated their inheritance. Now, when all tribes have received their inheritance, Joshua is the last to receive his inheritance. Out of modesty he waited until all had it. This is a big difference with some leaders today who use their position and influence to benefit themselves and their own families as much as possible.

He receives his inheritance as a gift from the Israelites. It is the part that no one has claimed yet. It is the part he wishes. He does not let himself to be crowned king. He dwells among His people as one of them. This is how he owns his inheritance. Joshua is herein a picture of the Lord Jesus. The Lord Jesus also waits with the questioning of His property or inheritance (Psalms 2:8) until all who now belong to His people have received their inheritances.

Joshua asks for Timnath-serah, which means ‘abundant part’. It lies in the mountain range, the territory where his contemporaries do not want to dwell (Joshua 17:15-Nehemiah :). With his choice he sets a good example to them.

Verse 51

The Land Is Divided

This conclusion is very similar to the verse with which the division begins (Joshua 14:1). Also here, when Joshua and Eleazar are mentioned together again, Eleazar comes first. Each leadership is good leadership only when practiced in a priestly mind. That is why the priest comes first. A priest is someone who is used to being in the presence of God.

It says of the Lord Jesus: “He will be a priest on His throne” (Zechariah 6:13). Here we also see that His reign is done from a priestly mind, that is, from the presence of God and therefore fully in accordance with God’s thoughts. This is how leadership should be practiced in the church.

Bibliographical Information
de Koning, Ger. Commentaar op Joshua 19". "Kingcomments on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/kng/joshua-19.html. 'Stichting Titus' / 'Stichting Uitgeverij Daniël', Zwolle, Nederland. 2021.
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