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Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Joshua 14:2

by the lot of their inheritance, as the Lord commanded through Moses, for the nine tribes and the half-tribe.
New American Standard Version

Bible Study Resources

Thompson Chain Reference - Inheritance;   Israel;   Israel's Inheritance;   Torrey's Topical Textbook - Holy Land;   Jews, the;   Tribes of Israel, the;  
American Tract Society Bible Dictionary - Caleb;   Holman Bible Dictionary - Allotment;   Joshua, the Book of;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Joshua;   Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament - Dalmanutha;   Lots;   People's Dictionary of the Bible - Caleb;  
Condensed Biblical Cyclopedia - Conquest of Canaan;   International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Decision;   Joshua (2);   Joshua, Book of;   The Jewish Encyclopedia - Lots;   Witchcraft;  

Adam Clarke Commentary

Verse Joshua 14:2. By lot was their inheritance — Concerning the meaning and use of the lot, see the note on Numbers 26:55; and concerning the manner of casting lots in the case of the scapegoat, see the note on Leviticus 16:8-9.

On this subject Dr. Dodd has selected some good observations from Calmet and Masius, which I here borrow: "Though God had sufficiently pointed out by the predictions of Jacob when dying, and those of Moses, what portions he designed for each tribe, we readily discern an admirable proof of his wisdom in the orders he gave to decide them by lot. By this means the false interpretations which might have been given to the words of Jacob and Moses were prevented; and by striking at the root of whatever might occasion jealousies and disputes among the tribes, he evidently secured the honesty of those who were to be appointed to distribute to them the conquered countries in the land of Canaan. Besides, the success of this method gave a fresh proof of the Divinity of the Jewish religion, and the truth of its oracles. Each tribe finding itself placed by lot exactly in the spot which Jacob and Moses had foretold, it was evident that Providence had equally directed both those predictions and that lot. The event justified the truth of the promises. The more singular it was, the more clearly we discern the finger of God in it. The portion, says Masius, fell to each tribe just as Jacob had declared two hundred and fifty years before in the last moments of his life, and Moses, immediately before his death; for to the tribe of JUDAH fell a country abounding in vineyards and pastures; to ZEBULUN and ISSACHAR, seacoasts; in that of ASHER was plenty of oil, wheat, and metals; that of BENJAMIN, near to the temple, was, in a manner, between the shoulders of the Deity; EPHRAIM and MANASSEH were distinguished with a territory blessed in a peculiar manner by Heaven; the land of NAPHTALI extended from the west to the south of the tribe of Judah. Since therefore the lot so well corresponded to these predictions, would it not be insolence and stupidity in the highest degree, not to acknowledge the inspiration of God in the word of Jacob and Moses, the direction of his hand in the lot, and his providence in the event?"

How the lot was cast in this case cannot be particularly determined. It is probable,

1. That the land was geographically divided into ten portions.

2. That each portion was called by a particular name. 3. That the name of each portion was written on a separate slip of parchment, wood, c.

4. That the names of the claimants were also written on so many slips.

5. The names of the portions, and of the tribes, were put into separate vessels.

6. Joshua, for example, put his hand into the vessel containing the names of the tribes, and took out one slip while Eleazar took out one from the other vessel, in which the names of the portions were put.

7. The name drawn, and the portion drawn, being read, it was immediately discerned what the district was which God had designed for such a tribe. This appears to be the most easy way to determine such a business.

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These files are public domain.
Bibliographical Information
Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Joshua 14:2". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". 1832.

Bridgeway Bible Commentary


All the land that Israel had conquered was now divided among the twelve tribes. The list of tribal boundaries may not make very interesting reading today, but it was necessary for Israel as a permanent and lawful record to which people could refer if any disagreement arose. It also told the tribes of the enemies that had yet to be destroyed, both within their own tribal areas and in lands round about.

Overall plan for the division (13:1-14:5)

The area west of Jordan, which still contained many areas occupied by Canaanites, was to be divided between nine and a half tribes (13:1-7; for details of the separate tribal areas see 14:6-19:51). The area east of Jordan was to be occupied by two and a half tribes, in accordance with the arrangements that Moses made earlier (8-13; for details see 13:15-33). Cities for the Levites were to be allotted in all the tribes, since Levi had no tribal area of its own (14; Numbers 18:24; for details see 21:1-42).

Reuben was the most southern of the three eastern tribes, and occupied territory that Israel took from the Amorite king Sihon (15-23). Gad settled in the central section east of Jordan, and occupied much of the region commonly known as Gilead (24-28). The half tribe of Manasseh occupied the northern section east of Jordan, which included part of Gilead along with part of the rich pasture land of Bashan (29-31). The settlement of two and a half tribes east of Jordan instead of in Canaan itself had been approved by Moses (32-33).

Localities for the nine and a half western tribes were decided by drawing lots, but the area of land that each tribe received was in proportion to the population of the tribe (14:1-2; cf. Numbers 26:54-56; Numbers 33:54). In spite of the omission of Levi, the number of tribes among whom Israel’s territory was divided (i.e. land on both sides of Jordan) was still twelve. This was because the son who received the birthright received twice the inheritance of the other sons, which in this case meant he received an additional tribe. As a consequence Joseph, who received the firstborn’s inheritance instead of Reuben, received two tribes in Israel. The tribes were descended from his two sons, Manasseh and Ephraim (3-5; cf. Genesis 48:5-6; 1 Chronicles 5:1-2; 1 Chronicles 5:1-2).

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Bibliographical Information
Flemming, Donald C. "Commentary on Joshua 14:2". "Brideway Bible Commentary". 2005.

Coffman Commentaries on the Bible

"By the lot of their inheritance, as Jehovah commanded by Moses, for the nine tribes, and the half-tribe. For Moses had given the inheritance of the two tribes and the half-tribe beyond the Jordan: but unto the Levites he gave no inheritance among them. For the children of Joseph were two tribes, Manasseh and Ephraim: and they gave no portion unto the Levites in the land, save cities to dwell in, with the suburbs thereof for their cattle and for their substance. As Jehovah commanded Moses, so the children of Israel did; and they divided the land."

The preliminary fact of their being only nine and one-half tribes to inherit west of the Jordan is here explained in Joshua 14:2, due to Moses' having already awarded two and one-half tribes their inheritance on the east of Jordan. Also, we have the explanation of how it came about that after one of the twelve sons of Jacob, namely, Levi and his tribe were not to receive a landed inheritance at all (Jehovah was their portion), there still remained twelve tribes. The explanation is in Joshua 14:4, where it is stated that Joseph had two tribes, Manasseh and Ephraim. The account of how that came about is in Genesis 48. Through the device of adopting Manasseh and Ephraim, two of the sons of Joseph, Jacob made them in every way equal to all of his other sons. That action by Jacob was also accompanied by the disinheritance of Reuben his firstborn, because of his incest with Bilhah (Genesis 35:22). That meant that the double portion which was the usual right of the firstborn went to Joseph instead of Reuben, and that the right of primogeniture descended upon Judah instead of Reuben. The "rulership" of Israel thus rested upon Judah (Genesis 49:10).

Many of the old commentators (Masius, Calnet, Dodd, Clarke, etc.) have stressed the wisdom of God as attested by the casting of lots for the inheritance of each tribe. "The portion fell to each tribe exactly as Jacob had prophesied centuries earlier in Genesis 49. Providence equally directed both Jacob's predictions and the casting of lots."[10] Again, to paraphrase Clarke's words: seeing that the lot and the prophesies so well corresponded, would it not be insolence and stupidity not to acknowledge the inspiration of God in the words of Jacob and of Moses, and also in the guidance of the casting lots for the tribal inheritances?

The flat declaration in Joshua 14:5 that, "So the children of Israel did" does not mean that they did so on that very day. "A considerable time was requisite for survey and measurement."[11] The lots were first cast at Gilgal, and later at Shiloh. The larger tribes received their portion first.

Woudstra pointed out that, "Since the account of this division does not actually begin until Joshua 15, it is clear that what follows in this chapter (Joshua 14:6-15) is meant to be a further introduction to Joshua 15-19."[12]

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Coffman Commentaries reproduced by permission of Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. All other rights reserved.
Bibliographical Information
Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on Joshua 14:2". "Coffman Commentaries on the Bible". Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

By lot - We are not told in what manner the lot was cast. Perhaps two urns were employed, one containing a description of the several districts to be allotted, the other the names of the tribes; and the portion of each tribe would then be determined by a simultaneous drawing from the two urns. Or a drawing might be made by some appointed person, or by a delegate of each tribe from one urn containing the description of the ten inheritances. The lot only determined in a general way the position in the country of the particular tribe concerned, whether north or south, etc.; the dimensions of each territory being left to be adjusted subsequently, according to the numbers and wants of the tribe to be provided for. Since the predilections and habits of two tribes and a half were consulted in the apportionment to them of the trans-Jordanic territory Numbers 32:1 there is no objection to the supposition that something of the same kind may have taken place, subject to the divine approval, in the distribution of the lands to the nine and a half other tribes; and the lot would thus be appealed to as finally deciding the matter and foreclosing jealousies and disputes.

It is apparent that the casting of the ten lots did not take place simultaneously. The tribe of Judah had precedence, whether by express appointment or because its lot “came up” first, does not appear. It was, as it seems, only after this tribe had settled upon its domains, that further lots were drawn for Ephraim and the half tribe of Manasseh. After this a pause, perhaps of some duration, appears to have occurred; the camp was moved from Gilgal to Shiloh; and the further casting of lots for the other seven tribes was proceeded with at the instigation of Joshua (see Joshua 18:10).

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Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Joshua 14:2". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". 1870.

Chuck Smith Bible Commentary

Chapter 14

Now in chapter fourteen we have the interesting account of this fellow Caleb. When Moses had sent out the twelve spies to go into the land, Caleb was a companion to Joshua. They spied out the south country of Israel. From near Jerusalem to the Dead Sea, the valley of Eshcol, on over to the valley of Elah, and southwards towards Hebron, and Beersheba on down to the southern border of Kadesh-Barnea.

Now when they came back and gave the good report, said, "Hey that land is great." They had a big bunch of grapes that they carried on a stake between them. They got this pole and they tied this huge bunch of grapes. I'll tell you there in the Valley of Eshcol they have some beautiful, beautiful grapes. Some of the most, ah-can't talk about it. They are good, they are eating grapes. The Jews only really grow table grapes, and they are, they're just delicious. That the Moslems only grow the table grapes; the Jews grow the wine grapes. But the Moslems grow the eating grapes, because the Moslems don't believe in drinking wine. So they only grow table grapes. The area, of course, there in the valley of Eshcol, Hebron and so forth, is Moslem territory, the Arabs. But they have some of the most delicious grapes. Even to the present day, and huge bunches.

So these guys picked one of these great bunches of grapes. They were some of the first tourists to go into the land of Israel. The word "spies" actually is the word for "tourist" in Hebrew. They brought back souvenirs, this big bunch of grapes. They said, "Wow that land is all right. You know; it's flowing with milk and honey. Look at this bunch of grapes that we've picked. Oh, it's a good land."

But the ten other spies said, "Oh man, it's a land that eats up its inhabitants. They have huge cities, big walls, and there are giants there. We were like grasshoppers." And these ten spies put fear in the heart of Israel and they turned away.

Now Moses when God said, "All right you know you're gonna have to wander". Moses promised Caleb, he said, "Look Caleb, when we take the land, you can have that territory that you spied out. That's yours." So they had covered, they had conquered pretty much the northern part, the upper Galilee region, the area of Samaria.

Now Caleb came to Joshua, and he said, "Joshua, when you and I spied out the land, when we came back and gave our report to Moses, you'll remember that Moses promised me that I could have for my family, the territory that we spied out." He said, "Now look I'm eighty-five years old, but I'm just as strong as the day that we spied out the land." He said, "I want your permission now to go down and take that land that was promised to me."

I love the grit of this old fellow. Eighty-five years old, he says, "Man, I'm ready to go to battle. I'm ready to take that land that God had promised to me, that Moses promised that I could have. I want your permission now to go down and take it." So Joshua gave unto Caleb the permission to go down the area of Hebron, and those areas around Hebron, the areas that were promised to Caleb. So Caleb went down and conquered that area around Hebron. He was from the tribe of Judah, and Judah actually had that entire area south from Jerusalem, east to the Dead Sea, Jordan River, Dead Sea, and west all the way on over towards the Elah Valley where from there to the coast was the tribe of Dan.

So Joshua blessed him, [verse thirteen of chapter fourteen] and he gave him Hebron, [and the environs about it] for his inheritance. [The reason given the end of verse fourteen] because he wholly followed the Lord God of Israel ( Joshua 14:13-14 ). "

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Copyright © 2014, Calvary Chapel of Costa Mesa, Ca.
Bibliographical Information
Smith, Charles Ward. "Commentary on Joshua 14:2". "Chuck Smith Bible Commentary". 2014.

Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable

1. The rationale for the allotments 14:1-5

Eleazar the high priest, Joshua, and the heads of the tribes took the leadership in dividing this portion of the land (Joshua 14:1). These men determined the division of the land by casting lots (Joshua 14:2; Joshua 18:6). Apparently the casting of lots established the general location of each tribe within Canaan, but the population of that tribe affected the size of each tribe’s inheritance (cf. Numbers 26:52-56). [Note: See L. Wood, map 6, p. 186.]

"The people of God are not called to act on their own initiative and desire, nor to set their own goals. God has set the goals and issues the commands which lead to their achievement." [Note: Butler, p. 172.]

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Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Joshua 14:2". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". 2012.

Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable

C. The land west of the Jordan chs. 14-19

The account of the Israelites’ settlement west of the Jordan received more attention by the writer since it was the primary area where Israel settled.

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Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Joshua 14:2". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". 2012.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

By lot [was] their inheritance,.... Every tribe had its part and portion assigned to it, by the casting of lots; which was done to prevent any future quarrels, animosities and strifes among the tribes, the disposition being of the Lord; and to show the exact agreement between the lot and the divine predictions by Jacob and Moses; and to make it appear that the division of the land was not owing to the private combination of the above men, and their private settlement of it; but to the providence of God, the directors of the lot; their chief business was to see that the lot was executed in a faithful manner, and that every tribe had its allotment according to it. In this Canaan was a type of the heavenly inheritance, which the saints obtain by lot, in and through Christ, the antitypical Joshua, Ephesians 1:11;

as the Lord commanded by the hand of Moses, Numbers 26:55;

for the nine tribes, and [for] the half tribe; see Joshua 13:7; the reason why this number of them is particularly mentioned follows.

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The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rights Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
A printed copy of this work can be ordered from: The Baptist Standard Bearer, 1 Iron Oaks Dr, Paris, AR, 72855
Bibliographical Information
Gill, John. "Commentary on Joshua 14:2". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". 1999.

Matthew Henry's Complete Commentary on the Bible

The Distribution of Canaan. B. C. 1444.

      1 And these are the countries which the children of Israel inherited in the land of Canaan, which Eleazar the priest, and Joshua the son of Nun, and the heads of the fathers of the tribes of the children of Israel, distributed for inheritance to them.   2 By lot was their inheritance, as the LORD commanded by the hand of Moses, for the nine tribes, and for the half tribe.   3 For Moses had given the inheritance of two tribes and a half tribe on the other side Jordan: but unto the Levites he gave none inheritance among them.   4 For the children of Joseph were two tribes, Manasseh and Ephraim: therefore they gave no part unto the Levites in the land, save cities to dwell in, with their suburbs for their cattle and for their substance.   5 As the LORD commanded Moses, so the children of Israel did, and they divided the land.

      The historian, having in the foregoing chapter given an account of the disposal of the countries on the other side Jordan, now comes to tell us what they did with the countries in the land of Canaan. They were not conquered to be left desert, a habitation for dragons, and a court for owls,Isaiah 34:13. No, the Israelites that had hitherto been closely encamped in a body, and the greatest part of them such as never knew any other way of living, must now disperse themselves to replenish these new conquests. It is said of the earth, God created it not in vain; he formed it to be inhabited,Isaiah 45:18. Canaan would have been subdued in vain if it had not been inhabited. Yet every man might not go and settle where he pleased, but as there seems to have been in the days of Peleg an orderly and regular division of the habitable earth among the sons of Noah (Genesis 10:25; Genesis 10:32), so there was now such a division of the land of Canaan among the sons of Jacob. God had given Moses directions how this distribution should be made, and those directions are here punctually observed. See Numbers 26:53-56, c.

      I. The managers of this great affair were Joshua the chief magistrate, Eleazar the chief priest, and ten princes, one of each of the tribes that were now to have their inheritance, whom God himself had nominated (Numbers 34:17-29, &c.) some years before and, it should seem, they were all now in being, and attended this service, that every tribe, having a representative of its own, might be satisfied that there was fair dealing, and might the more contentedly sit down by its lot.

      II. The tribes among whom this dividend was to be made were nine and a half. 1. Not the two and a half that were already seated (Joshua 13:3; Joshua 13:3), though perhaps now that they saw what a good land Canaan was, and how effectually it was subdued, they might some of them repent their choice, and wish they had now been to have their lot with their brethren, upon which condition they would gladly have given up what they had on the other side Jordan; but it could not be admitted: they had made their election without power of revocation, and so must their doom be; they themselves have decided it, and they must adhere to their choice. 2. Not the tribe of Levi; this was to be otherwise provided for. God had distinguished them from, and dignified them above, the other tribes, and they must not now mingle themselves with them, nor cast in their lot among them, for this would entangle them in the affairs of this life, which would not consist with a due attendance on their sacred function. But, 3. Joseph made two tribes, Manasseh and Ephraim, pursuant to Jacob's adoption of Joseph's two sons, and so the number of the tribes was kept up to twelve, though Levi was taken out, which is intimated here (Joshua 13:4; Joshua 13:4): The children of Joseph were two tribes, therefore they gave no part to Levi, they being twelve without them.

      III. The rule by which they went was the lot, Joshua 13:2; Joshua 13:2. The disposal of that is of the Lord,Proverbs 16:33. It was here used in an affair of weight, and which could not otherwise be accommodated to universal satisfaction, and it was used in a solemn religious manner as an appeal to God, by consent of parties. In dividing by lot, 1. They referred themselves to God, and to his wisdom and sovereignty, believing him fitter to determine for them than they for themselves. Psalms 47:4, He shall choose our inheritance for us. 2. They professed a willingness to abide by the determination of it; for every man must take what is his lot, and make the best of it. In allusion to this we are said to obtain an inheritance in Christ (Ephesians 1:11), eklerothemen--we have obtained it by lot, so the word signified; for it is obtained by a divine designation. Christ, our Joshua, gives eternal life to as many as were given him,John 17:2.

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These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website.
Bibliographical Information
Henry, Matthew. "Complete Commentary on Joshua 14:2". "Matthew Henry Complete Commentary on the Whole Bible". 1706.