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JOSHUA CHAPTER 18
The tabernacle is set up in Shiloh, Joshua 18:1.
The remainder of the land described, and divided into seven parts, for the seven tribes which as yet had no inheritance, Joshua 18:2-9.
Joshua casts the lot at Shiloh, Joshua 18:10; the first comes out for Benjamin, whose borders and cities are described, Joshua 18:11-28.
Set up the tabernacle of the congregation there, by God’s appointment, as is manifest from Deuteronomy 12:5, &c.; Jeremiah 7:12. Hither it was removed from Gilgal, partly for the honour and conveniency of Joshua, that he being of the tribe of Ephraim, and seating himself there, might have the opportunity of consulting with God as oft as he desired and needed; and partly for the conveniency of all the tribes, that, being in the heart and centre of them, they might more easily resort to it from all places. Here the tabernacle continued for above three hundred years, even till Samuel’s days, 1 Samuel 1:3.
And the land, or, for the land, because these words contain a reason of the former action: the particle and is oft used for for, as hath been showed.
This slackness is supposed to arise, partly, from their dissatisfaction in the portions already allotted, Judah’s being too large, as it appeared, and Joseph’s too narrow as they complained; partly, from an opinion of the impossibility of making any regular and equal distribution of the parts, till the whole were better known, and more exactly surveyed, which accordingly is here done; and partly, because being weary of war, and having sufficient plenty of all things in their present condition, they grew slothful and secure, and were unwilling to run into new hazards and wars, as they perceived, by Joshua’s answer to the tribe of Joseph, Joshua 17:15, &c., they were likely to do when they entered upon their several possessions.
Three men; three, not one, for more exact observation both of the measure and quality of the several portions, and for greater assurance and evidence of their care and faithfulness in giving in their account.
Of each tribe; either one of each of these tribes, who were yet unprovided for; or rather, two of all the tribes, even of them who had already received their portions; which was highly expedient, that in case it should appear that there was not a sufficiency for each of these tribes who wanted their portions, their brethren might be more ready either to assist them in procuring more land, or to part with some of their own portion to them.
Go through the land; which they might now safely do, because the terror of the late war was yet upon the Canaanites, who were loth to rouse so near and potent an enemy.
Seven parts; which were of equal extent or worth; for no tribe was so great but one of these parts in its full extent would abundantly suffice them; and there was no reason why the portions should be greater or less according as the tribes at present were more or fewer in number, because of the various changes which happened therein successively; it being usual for one tribe to be more numerous than another in one age, which was fewer in the next. And if the several tribes had increased more, and not diminished their numbers by their sins, they might have sent forth colonies, and taken any part of the land, even as far as Euphrates, all which the Lord of the whole earth had given them a right to, which when they pleased they might take possession of.
Shall abide in their coast on the south: they shall not be disturbed in their possession, but shall keep it, except some part of it shall be adjudged to another tribe.
On the north; in respect of Judah, not of the whole land; for divers other tribes were more northern than they.
i.e. Before the ark or tabernacle, that God may be witness, and judge, and author of the division, that each may be contented with his lot, and that your several possessions may be secured to you as things sacred, and not to be alienated.
The Levites have no part among you; therefore it shall be divided only into seven parts, as I have said.
By cities, or, according to the cities, to which the several parts or territories belonged.
Wherein we see the wisdom of Divine Providence, this being the only place in which that prophecy, Deuteronomy 33:12, could have been accomplished.
A place distinct from, but near unto Beth-el, as may be gathered from Joshua 16:1.
Kirjath-jearim; the Israelites changed the name, to blot out the remembrance of Baal. Compare Joshua 15:9; Numbers 32:38.
The south quarter; the same with the north quarter of Judah. See Joshua 15:5,Joshua 15:6,Joshua 15:11.
To the end of the mountain, i.e. the place where the mountain ends, and the valley begins.
Before the valley of the son of Hinnom, i.e. in the prospect of that valley; or, that reacheth to that valley on the south.
In the valley of the giants on the north; which extends to this other valley on the north side of it.
To the side of Jebusi; to that part where the Jebusites lived, which was in and near Jerusalem.
Geliloth, called also Gilgal, as appears from Joshua 15:7; Judges 3:19; but differing from that Gilgal by Jordan.
Arabah, called Beth-arabah, Joshua 15:6.
At the north bay of the Salt Sea, where an arm of that sea runs into the land, which is opposed to the south bay that was in the south border of the tribe of Judah, Joshua 15:2. At the south end of Jordan, where it enters into the Salt Sea, which is here opposed to the north end of it, or the spring-head, which was in the north.
Jericho; for though the city was destroyed, the territory remained, and some houses probably were built and inhabited there, though it was not made a city with walls and gates, which was the only thing forbidden, Joshua 6:26.
Keziz, or, Emec-keziz, the proper name of a city or great town.
Zemaraim; which either gave name to, or took name from, that mountain, 2 Chronicles 13:4.
Mizpeh, near Ramah, in the same mountain where Silo was. There were divers other cities of that name.
Which is Jerusalem: so it seems this city did properly and primarily belong to Benjamin, although the tribe of Judah had also an interest in it, either because some part of it was allotted to them, or because the Benjamites gave them a share in it, for the assistance which either they had received or did expect from that potent tribe, for the getting or defending of that very important place. See Poole "Joshua 15:63". It is more than probable that all the cities belonging to this tribe are not here named, because Anathoth and Almon are omitted here, but expressed Joshua 21:18.
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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Joshua 18". Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/
the Third Week after Epiphany