Joshua 18:7-10: New Survey for the Seven Tribes, Part 5

Verse 7:[1] (Josh. 13:33) But the Levites have no part among you; for the priesthood of the LORD is their inheritance: (Josh. 13:8) and Gad, and Reuben, and half the tribe of Manasseh, have received their inheritance beyond Jordan on the east, which Moses the servant of the LORD gave them.

[Because not among you is the part of the Levites] These things contain the reason why He commanded only seven parts to be made (Masius, Bonfrerius, Menochius).

[But the priesthood] Here priesthood is taken by metonymy for the sacerdotal proceeds (Bonfrerius out of Masius). In the place of an inheritance they shall have what things the priests ought to receive according to the precept of the Lord (Vatablus); sacrificial victims, tithes, etc. (Masius). What things are owed to the priesthood of God (Arabic, similarly Jonathan).


Verse 8:[2] And the men arose, and went away: and Joshua charged them that went to describe the land, saying, Go and walk through the land, and describe it, and come again to me, that I may here cast lots for you before the LORD in Shiloh.

[And when the men had arisen, etc.] They eagerly undertake this most difficult and dangerous duty; indeed, God was rendering them secure, since the disposition of a multitude of souls was depending upon their enthusiasm. Nevertheless, God sometimes also allowed others to waver and to crash, like Moses in Exodus 4, Jonah in Jonah 1, so that, the more infirm the instruments are, through which He performed marvelous things, the more illustrious the mercy of God toward men most wretched might be (Masius).

The Levites have no part among you; therefore it shall be divided only into seven parts, as I have said.


Verse 9:[3] And the men went and passed through the land, and described it by cities into seven parts in a book, and came again to Joshua to the host at Shiloh.

[Into seven parts they divided it] In Hebrew it is added, by cities;[4] that is to say, with the cities also inserted and inscribed, which is altogether necessary for a complete geography (Bonfrerius). It appears from this that the goodness of the land, not size, was assessed. For in a more fertile region the societies of men are more numerous (Masius).

By cities, or, according to the cities, to which the several parts or territories belonged.

[Writing in a scroll, עַל־סֵפֶר] In a book (Pagnine); in tables (Vatablus). The surveyors were occupied for seven months in the description of the land, says Josephus, Antiquities 5:3 (Masius).


Verse 10:[5] And Joshua cast lots for them in Shiloh before the LORD: and there Joshua divided the land unto the children of Israel according to their divisions.

[1] Hebrew: כִּ֠י אֵֽין־חֵ֤לֶק לַלְוִיִּם֙ בְּקִרְבְּכֶ֔ם כִּֽי־כְהֻנַּ֥ת יְהוָ֖ה נַחֲלָת֑וֹ וְגָ֡ד וּרְאוּבֵ֡ן וַחֲצִי֩ שֵׁ֙בֶט הַֽמְנַשֶּׁ֜ה לָקְח֣וּ נַחֲלָתָ֗ם מֵעֵ֤בֶר לַיַּרְדֵּן֙ מִזְרָ֔חָה אֲשֶׁר֙ נָתַ֣ן לָהֶ֔ם מֹשֶׁ֖ה עֶ֥בֶד יְהוָֽה׃

[2] Hebrew: וַיָּקֻ֥מוּ הָאֲנָשִׁ֖ים וַיֵּלֵ֑כוּ וַיְצַ֣ו יְהוֹשֻׁ֡עַ אֶת־הַהֹלְכִים֩ לִכְתֹּ֙ב אֶת־הָאָ֜רֶץ לֵאמֹ֗ר לְ֠כוּ וְהִתְהַלְּכ֙וּ בָאָ֜רֶץ וְכִתְב֤וּ אוֹתָהּ֙ וְשׁ֣וּבוּ אֵלַ֔י וּ֠פֹה אַשְׁלִ֙יךְ לָכֶ֥ם גּוֹרָ֛ל לִפְנֵ֥י יְהוָ֖ה בְּשִׁלֹֽה׃

[3] Hebrew: וַיֵּלְכ֤וּ הָֽאֲנָשִׁים֙ וַיַּעַבְר֣וּ בָאָ֔רֶץ וַיִּכְתְּב֧וּהָ לֶֽעָרִ֛ים לְשִׁבְעָ֥ה חֲלָקִ֖ים עַל־סֵ֑פֶר וַיָּבֹ֧אוּ אֶל־יְהוֹשֻׁ֛עַ אֶל־הַֽמַּחֲנֶ֖ה שִׁלֹֽה׃

[4] Hebrew: לֶעָרִים.

[5] Hebrew: וַיַּשְׁלֵךְ֩ לָהֶ֙ם יְהוֹשֻׁ֧עַ גּוֹרָ֛ל בְּשִׁלֹ֖ה לִפְנֵ֣י יְהוָ֑ה וַיְחַלֶּק־שָׁ֙ם יְהוֹשֻׁ֧עַ אֶת־הָאָ֛רֶץ לִבְנֵ֥י יִשְׂרָאֵ֖ל כְּמַחְלְקֹתָֽם׃

2 thoughts on “Joshua 18:7-10: New Survey for the Seven Tribes, Part 5

  1. Matthew Henry: ‘The land that remained must be surveyed, an account taken of the cities, and the territories belonging to them, Joshua 18:4. These must be divided into seven equal parts, as near as they could guess at their true value, which they must have an eye to, and not merely to the number of the cities and extent of the country. Judah is fixed on the south and Joseph on the north of Shiloh, to protect the tabernacle (Joshua 18:5), and therefore they need not describe their country, but those countries only that were yet undisposed of. He gives a reason (Joshua 18:7) why they must divide it into seven parts only, because the Levites were to have no temporal estate (as we say), but their benefices only, which were entailed upon their families: The priesthood of the Lord is their inheritance, and a very honourable, comfortable, plentiful inheritance it was. Gad and Reuben, with half of the tribe of Manasseh, were already fixed, and needed not to have any further care taken of them. Now, (1.) The surveyors were three men out of each of the seven tribes that were to be provided for (Joshua 18:4), one-and-twenty in all, who perhaps for greater expedition, because they had already lost time, divided themselves into three companies, one of each tribe in each company, and took each their district to survey. The matter was thus referred equally, that there might be neither any partiality used in making up the seven lots, nor any shadow of suspicion given, but all might be satisfied that they had right done them. (2.) The survey was accordingly made, and brought in to Joshua, Joshua 18:8, 9. Josephus says it was seven months in the doing. And we must in it observe, [1.] The faith and courage of the persons employed: abundance of Canaanites remained in the land, and all raging against Israel, as a bear robbed of her whelps; the business of these surveyors would soon be known, and what could they expect but to be waylaid, and have their brains knocked out by the fierce observers? But in obedience to Joshua’s command, and in dependence upon God’s power, they thus put their lives in their hands to serve their country. [2.] The good providence of God in protecting them from the many deaths they were exposed to, and bringing them all safely again to the host at Shiloh. When we are in the way of our duty we are under the special protection of the Almighty.’

  2. John Calvin: ‘Here not only is praise bestowed on the ready obedience by which their virtue shone forth conspicuous, but the Lord gives a signal manifestation of his favor by deigning to bestow remarkable success on pious Joshua and the zeal of the people. Had they crept along by subterranean burrows, they could scarcely have escaped innumerable dangers, but now, when they are taking notes of the cities and their sites, of the fields, the varying features of the districts, and all the coasts, and without meeting with any adverse occurrence, return in safety to their countrymen, who can doubt that their life had been kept safe among a thousand deaths by a wonderful exertion of divine power? It is accordingly said emphatically, that they returned to celebrate the grace of God, which is just equivalent to saying that they were brought back by the hand of God. This made the people proceed more willingly to the casting of lots. For their minds would not yet have been well purged of fastidiousness had they not perceived in that journey a signal display of divine favor, promising them that the final issue would be according to their wish. Joshua is hence said to have divided according to the inheritance of each, as if he were sending them to enter on a quiet possession, though the effect depended on the divine presence, because it ought to have been enough for them that the whole business was carried on by the authority of God, who never deceives his people, even when he seems to sport with them.’

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