Reflections on Scripture

by Wayne Bandy

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Scripture Passage

      Joshua - Chapter 21 (Contemporary English Version)
    1. While the Israelites were still camped at Shiloh in the land of Canaan, the family leaders of the Levi tribe went to speak to the priest Eleazar, Joshua, and the family leaders of the other Israelite tribes. The leaders of Levi said, "The LORD told Moses that you have to give us towns and provide pastures for our animals."
    2. (SEE 21:1)
    3. Since the LORD had said this, the leaders of the other Israelite tribes agreed to give some of the towns and pastures from their tribal lands to Levi.
    4. The leaders asked the LORD to show them in what order the clans of Levi would be given towns, and which towns each clan would receive. The Kohath clans were first. The descendants of Aaron, Israel's first priest, were given thirteen towns from the tribes of Judah, Simeon, and Benjamin.
    5. The other members of the Kohath clans received ten towns from the tribes of Ephraim, Dan, and West Manasseh.
    6. The clans that were descendants of Gershon were given thirteen towns from the tribes of Issachar, Asher, Naphtali, and East Manasseh.
    7. The clans that were descendants of Merari received twelve towns from the tribes of Reuben, Gad, and Zebulun.
    8. The LORD had told Moses that he would show the Israelites which towns and pastures to give to the clans of Levi, and he did.
    9. The descendants of Aaron from the Kohath clans of Levi were priests, and they were chosen to receive towns first. They were given thirteen towns and the pastureland around them. Nine of these towns were from the tribes of Judah and Simeon and four from Benjamin. Hebron, Libnah, Jattir, Eshtemoa, Holon, Debir, Ashan, Juttah, and Beth-Shemesh were from Judah and Simeon. Hebron, located in the hill country of Judah, was earlier called Arba's Town. It had been named after Arba, the ancestor of the Anakim. Hebron's pasturelands went along with the town, but its farmlands and the villages around it had been given to Caleb. Hebron was also one of the Safe Towns for people who had accidentally killed someone. Gibeon, Geba, Anathoth, and Almon were from Benjamin.
    10. (SEE 21:9)
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    20. The rest of the Kohath clans of the Levi tribe received ten towns and the pastureland around them. Four of these towns were from the tribe of Ephraim, four from Dan, and two from West Manasseh. Shechem, Gezer, Kibzaim, and Beth-Horon were from Ephraim. Shechem was located in the hill country, and it was also one of the Safe Towns for people who had accidentally killed someone. Elteke, Gibbethon, Aijalon, and Gath-Rimmon were from Dan. Taanach and Jibleam were from West Manasseh.
    21. (SEE 21:20)
    22. (SEE 21:20)
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    27. The clans of Levi that were descendants of Gershon received thirteen towns and the pastureland around them. Two of these towns were from the tribe of East Manasseh, four from Issachar, four from Asher, and three from Naphtali. Golan in Bashan and Beeshterah were from East Manasseh. Kishion, Daberath, Jarmuth, and En-Gannim were from Issachar. Mishal, Abdon, Helkath, and Rehob were from Asher. Kedesh in Galilee, Hammothdor, and Kartan were from Naphtali. Golan in Bashan and Kedesh in Galilee were also Safe Towns for people who had accidentally killed someone.
    28. (SEE 21:27)
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    34. The rest of the Levi clans were descendants of Merari, and they received twelve towns with the pastureland around them. Four towns were from the tribe of Zebulun, four from Reuben, and four from Gad. Jokneam, Kartah, Rimmonah, and Nahalal were from Zebulun. Bezer, Jazah, Kedemoth, and Mephaath were from Reuben. Bezer was located in the desert flatlands east of the Jordan River across from Jericho. Ramoth in Gilead, Mahanaim, Heshbon, and Jazer were from Gad. Bezer and Ramoth in Gilead were Safe Towns for people who had accidentally killed someone.
    35. (SEE 21:34)
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    41. The people of the Levi tribe had a total of forty-eight towns within Israel, and they had pastures around each one of their towns.
    42. (SEE 21:41)
    43. The LORD gave the Israelites the land he had promised their ancestors, and they captured it and settled in it.
    44. There still were enemies around Israel, but the LORD kept his promise to let his people live in peace. And whenever the Israelites did have to go to war, no enemy could defeat them. The LORD always helped Israel win.
    45. The LORD promised to do many good things for Israel, and he kept his promise every time.

Joshua - Chapter 21

Entered: April 02, 2007
In this chapter the Levites are given their apportionment of cities from among the inheritances of the various tribes. Forty-eight cities were given the Levites, some of which were designated as cities of refuge. Each tribe, with the exception of three, contributed four cities for this purpose. The exceptions were Judah and Simeon, which gaave nine cities between them, and Naphtali, which gave three cities. The chapter concludes by reviewing that the Lord had given Israel all the land He promised and Israel finally had rest. None of their enemies could stand against them. The last verse states that no promise the Lord had made to Israel failed. Everything was fulfilled. God was faithful, but sadly, Israel was not, for she did not appropriate every promise.

Entered: February 20, 2013

Distribution of the land of Canaan among the Israelite tribes concludes with chapter 21 and the allocation of cities to the Levites. God had told them that the Levites' inheritance was Himself rather than land. However, He did provide them cities in which to live dispersed among the various tribes, along with the pastureland surrounding the cities for their livestock.

After all of the tribes had received their allocation of land, the heads of the Levite families approached Joshua and the leaders to request their inheritance of cities. Lots were drawn to determine which cities they would receive. The outcome was that each tribe gave four cities to the Levite families with the exception of Judah and Simeon who gave nine cities between them and Naphtali which gave three cities. All of the cities of refuge doubled as Levite cities. It has been estimated that no one in Israel lived more than 10 miles from a Levite city. This dispersion was designed to provide teaching of the law to all of Israel. Unfortunately it did not keep them from turning to idols.

Having received their inheritance, the Levites were faced with the same task of the other tribes to clear their cities of remaining Canaanites. Though their cities were within the territory of other tribes they apparently did not offer to help the Levites with this task. Thus they were not completely successful in eradicating their cities of Canaanites.