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Bible Commentaries

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged
Joshua 21

 

 

Verse 1

Then came near the heads of the fathers of the Levites unto Eleazar the priest, and unto Joshua the son of Nun, and unto the heads of the fathers of the tribes of the children of Israel;

Then came near the heads of the fathers of the Levites - the most venerable and distinguished members of the three Levitical families, who, on behalf of their tribe, applied for the special provision that had been promised them to be now awarded (see the note at Numbers 35:1-5). Their inheritance lay within the territory of every tribe. It was assigned in the same place and manner, and by the same commissioners, as the other allotments; and while the people, knowing the important duties these were to perform, are described (Joshua 21:3) as readily conceding this 'peculiar' to them, it had most probably been specified and reserved for their use, while the distribution of the land was in progress.


Verse 2-3

And they spake unto them at Shiloh in the land of Canaan, saying, The LORD commanded by the hand of Moses to give us cities to dwell in, with the suburbs thereof for our cattle.

No JFB commentary on these verses.


Verse 4

And the lot came out for the families of the Kohathites: and the children of Aaron the priest, which were of the Levites, had by lot out of the tribe of Judah, and out of the tribe of Simeon, and out of the tribe of Benjamin, thirteen cities.

The lot came out for the families of the Kohathites. The Levites were divided into Kohathites, Gershonites, and Merarites. Among the former the family of Aaron were exclusively appointed to the priesthood, and all the rest were ranked in the common order of Levites. The first lot was drawn by the Kohathites; and the first of theirs, again, by the priests, to whom 13 cities were granted, and 10 to the rest of the Kohathites (Joshua 21:5); 13 to the Gershonites (Joshua 21:6), and 12 to the Merarites (Joshua 21:7).


Verses 5-8

And the rest of the children of Kohath had by lot out of the families of the tribe of Ephraim, and out of the tribe of Dan, and out of the half tribe of Manasseh, ten cities.

No JFB commentary on these verses.


Verse 9

And they gave out of the tribe of the children of Judah, and out of the tribe of the children of Simeon, these cities which are here mentioned by name,

They gave ... these cities which are here mentioned by name. Most or all of them have been previously noticed in connection with other passages.


Verses 10-15

Which the children of Aaron, being of the families of the Kohathites, who were of the children of Levi, had: for theirs was the first lot. No JFB commentary on these verses.


Verse 16

And Ain with her suburbs, and Juttah with her suburbs, and Beth-she'mesh with her suburbs; nine cities out of those two tribes.

Ain. The true reading is obviously Ashan, as in 1 Chronicles 6:59. It was overruled by the unerring providence of the Divine Law-giver that the cities of the priests lay within the territories of Judah and Benjamin; and this was a provision the admirable wisdom and propriety of which was fully manifested on the schism that took place in the reign of Rehoboam.


Verses 17-40

And out of the tribe of Benjamin, Gibeon with her suburbs, Geba with her suburbs,

No JFB commentary on these verses.


Verse 41

All the cities of the Levites within the possession of the children of Israel were forty and eight cities with their suburbs.

All the cities of the Levites ... were forty and eight cities with their suburbs. This may appear too great a proportion compared with those of the other tribes, and it forms one of the strongest objections which Colenso has urged against the historical character of this book. But it must be borne in mind that the list given here contains the names of every Levitical city (see the notes at 1 Chronicles 6:39; 1 Chronicles 6:66); whereas only those cities of the other tribes are mentioned which lay on the frontier or along the boundary line. Besides, the Levites were not the exclusive inhabitants of those 48 cities; because there must have been also a considerable number of people kept there to cultivate the glebe lands and tend the cattle (cf. 2 Samuel 5:5; Jeremiah 11:21).

Further, the Levitical cities had nothing but 'their suburbs-a limited circuit of ground-round about them; whereas the other cities in Israel possessed a group of independent villages, (see Joshua 17:1-18; Joshua 18:1-28; Joshua 19:1-51.) Still further, the number of cities allotted to the priests was to be a permanent arrangement for the accommodation of those sacred functionaries, however large their increase might be, and as it became in the reign of David.


Verse 42

These cities were every one with their suburbs round about them: thus were all these cities.

No JFB commentary on this verse.


Verse 43

And the LORD gave unto Israel all the land which he sware to give unto their fathers; and they possessed it, and dwelt therein.

The Lord gave unto Israel all the land. 'The distribution of property in the Jewish nation was founded on this principle, that the Lord having been the sole power which gave them possession of the land of Canaan, each individual was to consider himself as holding his portion of it directly by a divine grant, on such tenure and such conditions as that grant prescribed' (cf. Leviticus 25:23; Leviticus 25:42; Leviticus 25:53; Leviticus 26:34-35; Graves, 1:, p. 227). This is a general winding up of the history from Joshua 13:1-33, which narrates the occupation of the land by the Israelites. All the promises made, whether to the people or to Joshua (Joshua 1:5), had been, or were in the course of being, fulfilled; and the recorded experience of the Israelites (Joshua 21:45) is a ground of hope and confidence to the people of God in every age, that all other promises made to the Church will in due time be accomplished.

 


Copyright Statement
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Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.

Bibliography Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Joshua 21:4". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/joshua-21.html. 1871-8.

Lectionary Calendar
Sunday, July 21st, 2019
the Week of Proper 11 / Ordinary 16
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