If you like maps and geography, you’ll love these next chapters as an aging Joshua allocates the Promised Land — the New Eden — to the 12 Tribes of Israel. This isn’t an easy task. Some complain. Others ask for special favors. Here, too, they get a rest from battles, a rest from war. Plus, the tabernacle has to be set up somewhere! Everyone gets a new home, even God. Let’s dig in….
Joshua 12 – A List of Defeated Kings
Similar to a trophy room, here, in chapter 12, is a list of all the kings, cities and lands that the Israelites defeated with the help of God. I won’t bore you with all the names and you can read it here. However, look back on your life. Where did God help you defeat battles? When did God save you?
For me, those times are included in my testimony…
Joshua 13 – The Land Yet to Be Conquered
Now, Joshua starts divvying up the land among all the tribes. I’ll read some of the geography listings, but I want to focus on the human-interest stories that pop up…
When Joshua was an old man, the Lord said to him, “You are growing old, and much land remains to be conquered. 2 This is the territory that remains: all the regions of the Philistines and the Geshurites, 3 and the larger territory of the Canaanites, extending from the stream of Shihor on the border of Egypt, northward to the boundary of Ekron. It includes the territory of the five Philistine rulers of Gaza, Ashdod, Ashkelon, Gath, and Ekron. The land of the Avvites 4 in the south also remains to be conquered. In the north, the following area has not yet been conquered: all the land of the Canaanites, including Mearah (which belongs to the Sidonians), stretching northward to Aphek on the border of the Amorites; 5 the land of the Gebalites and all of the Lebanon mountain area to the east, from Baal-gad below Mount Hermon to Lebo-hamath; 6 and all the hill country from Lebanon to Misrephoth-maim, including all the land of the Sidonians.
“I myself will drive these people out of the land ahead of the Israelites. So be sure to give this land to Israel as a special possession, just as I have commanded you. 7 Include all this territory as Israel’s possession when you divide this land among the nine tribes and the half-tribe of Manasseh.”
The Land Divided East of the Jordan
8 Half the tribe of Manasseh and the tribes of Reuben and Gad had already received their grants of land on the east side of the Jordan, for Moses, the servant of the Lord, had previously assigned this land to them.
9 Their territory extended from Aroer on the edge of the Arnon Gorge (including the town in the middle of the gorge) to the plain beyond Medeba, as far as Dibon. 10 It also included all the towns of King Sihon of the Amorites, who had reigned in Heshbon, and extended as far as the borders of Ammon. 11 It included Gilead, the territory of the kingdoms of Geshur and Maacah, all of Mount Hermon, all of Bashan as far as Salecah, 12 and all the territory of King Og of Bashan, who had reigned in Ashtaroth and Edrei. King Og was the last of the Rephaites, for Moses had attacked them and driven them out. 13 But the Israelites failed to drive out the people of Geshur and Maacah, so they continue to live among the Israelites to this day.
An Allotment for the Tribe of Levi
14 Moses did not assign any allotment of land to the tribe of Levi. Instead, as the Lord had promised them, their allotment came from the offerings burned on the altar to the Lord, the God of Israel.Joshua 13:1-14 NLT
Joshua 14 – Caleb gets his Share
Remember Caleb? He was the only one besides Joshua from the original generation of the Exodus. The two of them were the only ones who trusted that God would help them conquer the “giants” in the Promised Land. Let’s see what he gets….
The remaining tribes of Israel received land in Canaan as allotted by Eleazar the priest, Joshua son of Nun, and the tribal leaders. 2 These nine and a half tribes received their grants of land by means of sacred lots, in accordance with the Lord’s command through Moses. 3 Moses had already given a grant of land to the two and a half tribes on the east side of the Jordan River, but he had given the Levites no such allotment. 4 The descendants of Joseph had become two separate tribes—Manasseh and Ephraim. And the Levites were given no land at all, only towns to live in with surrounding pasturelands for their livestock and all their possessions. 5 So the land was distributed in strict accordance with the Lord’s commands to Moses.
Caleb Requests His Land
6 A delegation from the tribe of Judah, led by Caleb son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite, came to Joshua at Gilgal. Caleb said to Joshua, “Remember what the Lord said to Moses, the man of God, about you and me when we were at Kadesh-barnea. 7 I was forty years old when Moses, the servant of the Lord, sent me from Kadesh-barnea to explore the land of Canaan. I returned and gave an honest report, 8 but my brothers who went with me frightened the people from entering the Promised Land. For my part, I wholeheartedly followed the Lord my God. 9 So that day Moses solemnly promised me, ‘The land of Canaan on which you were just walking will be your grant of land and that of your descendants forever, because you wholeheartedly followed the Lord my God.’
10 “Now, as you can see, the Lord has kept me alive and well as he promised for all these forty-five years since Moses made this promise—even while Israel wandered in the wilderness. Today I am eighty-five years old. 11 I am as strong now as I was when Moses sent me on that journey, and I can still travel and fight as well as I could then. 12 So give me the hill country that the Lord promised me. You will remember that as scouts we found the descendants of Anak living there in great, walled towns. But if the Lord is with me, I will drive them out of the land, just as the Lord said.”
13 So Joshua blessed Caleb son of Jephunneh and gave Hebron to him as his portion of land. 14 Hebron still belongs to the descendants of Caleb son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite because he wholeheartedly followed the Lord, the God of Israel. 15 (Previously Hebron had been called Kiriath-arba. It had been named after Arba, a great hero of the descendants of Anak.)
And the land had rest from war.Joshua 14 NLT
Joshua 15 – Land Given to Judah and Caleb
Judah is the most important tribe as it’s the ancestors of Jesus. You can read the details of their allotment here. Embedded here is the story of Caleb’s daughter. Seems she was a shrewd businesswoman!
13 The Lord commanded Joshua to assign some of Judah’s territory to Caleb son of Jephunneh. So Caleb was given the town of Kiriath-arba (that is, Hebron), which had been named after Anak’s ancestor. 14 Caleb drove out the three groups of Anakites—the descendants of Sheshai, Ahiman, and Talmai, the sons of Anak.
15 From there he went to fight against the people living in the town of Debir (formerly called Kiriath-sepher). 16 Caleb said, “I will give my daughter Acsah in marriage to the one who attacks and captures Kiriath-sepher.” 17 Othniel, the son of Caleb’s brother Kenaz, was the one who conquered it, so Acsah became Othniel’s wife.
18 When Acsah married Othniel, she urged him to ask her father for a field. As she got down off her donkey, Caleb asked her, “What’s the matter?”
19 She said, “Give me another gift. You have already given me land in the Negev; now please give me springs of water, too.” So Caleb gave her the upper and lower springs.Joshua 15:13-19 NLT
This last verse is important as it will come to haunt them later…
63 But the tribe of Judah could not drive out the Jebusites, who lived in the city of Jerusalem, so the Jebusites live there among the people of Judah to this day.Joshua 15:63 NLT
It’s not until King David conquers Jerusalem in 2 Samuel that the all-important city is finally under Israeli rule. There still is a battle for Jerusalem today! See how important it is to understand history?
Joshua 16 – Ephraim and the other half of Manasseh
I’ll let you read the balance for yourself, but here’s another bit of history that’s crucial to know….
9 In addition, some towns with their surrounding villages in the territory allocated to the half-tribe of Manasseh were set aside for the tribe of Ephraim. 10 They did not drive the Canaanites out of Gezer, however, so the people of Gezer live as slaves among the people of Ephraim to this day.Joshua 16:9-10 NLT
“To this day” — that’s not today, folks. The allotment of tribes happened circa 1399 BC. The Book of Joshua was probably written about 300 years later circa 1065 BC.
Joshua 17 – 5 Sisters get their Land
The Sisters’ story starts way back with Moses in Numbers 26. Their father had died and that left them with a dilemma because women didn’t usually inherit land. But they had no brothers. Here’s how they get their share….
The next allotment of land was given to the half-tribe of Manasseh, the descendants of Joseph’s older son. Makir, the firstborn son of Manasseh, was the father of Gilead. Because his descendants were experienced soldiers, the regions of Gilead and Bashan on the east side of the Jordan had already been given to them. 2 So the allotment on the west side of the Jordan was for the remaining families within the clans of the tribe of Manasseh: Abiezer, Helek, Asriel, Shechem, Hepher, and Shemida. These clans represent the male descendants of Manasseh son of Joseph.
3 However, Zelophehad, a descendant of Hepher son of Gilead, son of Makir, son of Manasseh, had no sons. He had only daughters, whose names were Mahlah, Noah, Hoglah, Milcah, and Tirzah. 4 These women came to Eleazar the priest, Joshua son of Nun, and the Israelite leaders and said, “The Lord commanded Moses to give us a grant of land along with the men of our tribe.”
So Joshua gave them a grant of land along with their uncles, as the Lord had commanded. 5 As a result, Manasseh’s total allocation came to ten parcels of land, in addition to the land of Gilead and Bashan across the Jordan River, 6 because the female descendants of Manasseh received a grant of land along with the male descendants. (The land of Gilead was given to the rest of the male descendants of Manasseh.)Joshua 17:1-6 NLT
The other half of Manasseh gets their allotment. Unfortunately, they were too afraid of the Canaanites who were strong and had iron chariots….
12 But the descendants of Manasseh were unable to occupy these towns because the Canaanites were determined to stay in that region. 13 Later, however, when the Israelites became strong enough, they forced the Canaanites to work as slaves. But they did not drive them out of the land.
14 The descendants of Joseph came to Joshua and asked, “Why have you given us only one portion of land as our homeland when the Lord has blessed us with so many people?”
15 Joshua replied, “If there are so many of you, and if the hill country of Ephraim is not large enough for you, clear out land for yourselves in the forest where the Perizzites and Rephaites live.”
16 The descendants of Joseph responded, “It’s true that the hill country is not large enough for us. But all the Canaanites in the lowlands have iron chariots, both those in Beth-shan and its surrounding settlements and those in the valley of Jezreel. They are too strong for us.”
17 Then Joshua said to the tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh, the descendants of Joseph, “Since you are so large and strong, you will be given more than one portion. 18 The forests of the hill country will be yours as well. Clear as much of the land as you wish, and take possession of its farthest corners. And you will drive out the Canaanites from the valleys, too, even though they are strong and have iron chariots.”Joshua 17:12-18 NLT
Joshua 18 – 7 Tribes Left
These are the smaller tribes…
Now that the land was under Israelite control, the entire community of Israel gathered at Shiloh and set up the Tabernacle. 2 But there remained seven tribes who had not yet been allotted their grants of land.
3 Then Joshua asked them, “How long are you going to wait before taking possession of the remaining land the Lord, the God of your ancestors, has given to you? 4 Select three men from each tribe, and I will send them out to explore the land and map it out. They will then return to me with a written report of their proposed divisions of their new homeland. 5 Let them divide the land into seven sections, excluding Judah’s territory in the south and Joseph’s territory in the north. 6 And when you record the seven divisions of the land and bring them to me, I will cast sacred lots in the presence of the Lord our God to assign land to each tribe.
7 “The Levites, however, will not receive any allotment of land. Their role as priests of the Lord is their allotment. And the tribes of Gad, Reuben, and the half-tribe of Manasseh won’t receive any more land, for they have already received their grant of land, which Moses, the servant of the Lord, gave them on the east side of the Jordan River.”
8 As the men started on their way to map out the land, Joshua commanded them, “Go and explore the land and write a description of it. Then return to me, and I will assign the land to the tribes by casting sacred lots here in the presence of the Lord at Shiloh.” 9 The men did as they were told and mapped the entire territory into seven sections, listing the towns in each section. They made a written record and then returned to Joshua in the camp at Shiloh. 10 And there at Shiloh, Joshua cast sacred lots in the presence of the Lord to determine which tribe should have each section.Joshua 18:1-10 NLT
Joshua 19 – Dan has issues and Joshua gets His Share
The Tribe of Dan got really nice waterfront property! Too bad they are going to lose it in Judges 18.
But the tribe of Dan had trouble taking possession of their land, so they attacked the town of Laish. They captured it, slaughtered its people, and settled there. They renamed the town Dan after their ancestor.Joshua 19:47 NLT
The Land Given to Joshua
49 After all the land was divided among the tribes, the Israelites gave a piece of land to Joshua as his allocation. 50 For the Lord had said he could have any town he wanted. He chose Timnath-serah in the hill country of Ephraim. He rebuilt the town and lived there.
51 These are the territories that Eleazar the priest, Joshua son of Nun, and the tribal leaders allocated as grants of land to the tribes of Israel by casting sacred lots in the presence of the Lord at the entrance of the Tabernacle at Shiloh. So the division of the land was completed.Joshua 19:49-51 NLT
Joshua 20 – Cities of Refuge
Joshua 21 – the Levites get their Cities
41 The total number of towns and pasturelands within Israelite territory given to the Levites came to forty-eight. 42 Every one of these towns had pasturelands surrounding it.
43 So the Lord gave to Israel all the land he had sworn to give their ancestors, and they took possession of it and settled there. 44 And the Lord gave them rest on every side, just as he had solemnly promised their ancestors. None of their enemies could stand against them, for the Lord helped them conquer all their enemies. 45 Not a single one of all the good promises the Lord had given to the family of Israel was left unfulfilled; everything he had spoken came true.Joshua 21: 41-45 NLT
Where is Jesus?
I defer again to the words of Spoken Gospel….
In a book all about fighting for a place, getting land, and settling in a home, what does it mean to not get any of that? For people who will never have a home, what does it mean to have a home in the Lord?
For the Levites it meant that instead of living in their own tribal land, they dispersed to every tribe’s land. And instead of farming and growing their own food, it was sacrificially given to them by others. Instead of looking after their own property, the Levites looked after God’s people. The Levites didn’t guard borders, but as they taught Israel to obey God’s commands and enacted justice in the land, they guarded the soul of their nation. That’s what it meant to have the Lord as an inheritance.
Jesus is a priest like these Levites (1 Timothy 2:5). His Kingdom isn’t bound to a certain patch of land; Jesus is the priest for the whole earth. He’s not interested in marking boundaries because his Kingdom isn’t of this world (John 18:36). Jesus is more concerned with guarding the souls of his people. So instead of promising land, Jesus promises us a place in God (John 14:3). And even more immediately, he makes a place for God in us (John 16:13). We are now God’s homeland as we wait for our home in Him. Jesus makes our inheritance in God an eternal reality.
Instead of being fed by sacrifices, Jesus becomes a sacrifice for us (1 Peter 3:18). Jesus provides forever what the homeless Levites tasted in part—peace with God and peace with one another. For those who don’t feel like they have a home, God is your home through Jesus. He is always with you.
And like God sent the Levites as his representatives throughout all of Israel, Jesus now sends you [us believers] to be his representatives throughout all the earth (Matthew 28:19). We are now a nation of Levites enacting justice, protecting the innocent, and teaching the good news of our eternal homeland in God (Revelation 1:6).“Jesus in all of Joshua” by Spoken Gospel
“Our eternal homeland in God”! That’s our New Eden! What a wonderful, peaceful and joyful image that is! The Good News is that it’s available to everyone and anyone who…
Believe. Repent. Be Baptized. Receive the Holy Spirit.
- Believe — have Faith — that Jesus is the Christ and He died taking your sins away forever and that He rose from the dead 3 days later.
- Repent of your sins — stop sinning! Do a complete 180 in your life and surrender your life to Him.
- Be Baptized — show the world and yourself that you have died to your old life and are born again in Christ.
- Receive the Holy Spirit in your heart.