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Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Joshua 14:4

For the sons of Joseph were two tribes, Manasseh and Ephraim, and they did not give a portion to the Levites in the land, except cities to live in, with their pasture lands for their livestock and for their property.
New American Standard Version

Bible Study Resources

Concordances:
Nave's Topical Bible - Cities;   Israel;   Suburbs;   Thompson Chain Reference - Animals;   Cattle;   Torrey's Topical Textbook - Holy Land;   Jews, the;   Tribes of Israel, the;  
Dictionaries:
Holman Bible Dictionary - Joshua, the Book of;   Pasture;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Joshua;   People's Dictionary of the Bible - Caleb;  
Encyclopedias:
Condensed Biblical Cyclopedia - Conquest of Canaan;   International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Joshua (2);   Joshua, Book of;  

Adam Clarke Commentary

Verse Joshua 14:4. The children of Joseph were two tribes — This was ascertained by the prophetic declaration of their grandfather Jacob, Genesis 48:5-6; and as Levi was taken out of the tribes for the service of the sanctuary, one of these sons of Joseph came in his place, and Joseph was treated as the first-born of Jacob, in the place of Reuben, who forfeited his right of primogeniture.

With their suburbs for their cattle — For the meaning of this passage the reader is referred to Clarke's note on "Numbers 35:6".

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These files are public domain.
Bibliographical Information
Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Joshua 14:4". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/joshua-14.html. 1832.

Bridgeway Bible Commentary


13:1-22:34 DIVISION OF THE LAND

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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These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Flemming, Donald C. "Commentary on Joshua 14:4". "Brideway Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bbc/joshua-14.html. 2005.

Calvin's Commentary on the Bible

4. They gave no part unto the Levites, etc It is here repeated for the third time with regard to the Levites, that they were not included in the number, so as to have the portion of a tribe assigned to them; but it is mentioned for a different purpose, for it is immediately after added, that the sons of Joseph were divided into two tribes, and were thus privileged to obtain a double portion. Thus had Jacob prophesied, (Genesis 49:0) or rather, like an arbiter appointed by God, he had in this matter preferred the sons of Joseph to the others. God therefore assumed the Levites to himself as a peculiar inheritance, and in their stead substituted one of the two families of Joseph.

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These files are public domain.
Bibliographical Information
Calvin, John. "Commentary on Joshua 14:4". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/cal/joshua-14.html. 1840-57.

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 14:4". "Chuck Smith Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/csc/joshua-14.html. 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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These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Joshua 14:4". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/dcc/joshua-14.html. 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.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Joshua 14:4". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/dcc/joshua-14.html. 2012.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

For the children of Joseph were two tribes, Manasseh and Ephraim,.... For the birthright being forfeited by Reuben, was given to Joseph, who had the double portion, the privilege of the firstborn; by which means the number of the twelve tribes was kept up in the division of the land, though that of Levi had no share in it; and which is also a reason why they had none, that Joseph's two sons might be reckoned two tribes:

therefore they gave no part unto the Levites in the land; to make way for the sons of Joseph to have the double portion:

save cities to dwell [in]; and that only, for they might not sell them, as other Israelites could theirs:

with their suburbs, for their cattle, and for their substance; the Targum is,

"for all their beasts, and for their cattle;''

that is, for convenient places to put them into, and for pasturage for, them; which Kimchi and Ben Melech interpret of their larger and lesser cattle, their herds and their flocks, their oxen and sheep.

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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 14:4". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/joshua-14.html. 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 14:4". "Matthew Henry Complete Commentary on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mhm/joshua-14.html. 1706.