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Joshua 16-18    Listen Podcast


Joseph's people are assigned real estate (Joshua 16:1-4)

1 The lot fell to the children of Joseph from the Jordan, by Jericho, to the waters of Jericho on the east, to the wilderness that goes up from Jericho through the mountains to Bethel,
2 then went out from Bethel to Luz, passed along to the border of the Archites at Ataroth,
3 and went down westward to the boundary of the Japhletites, as far as the boundary of Lower Beth Horon to Gezer; and it ended at the sea.
4 ¶ So the children of Joseph, Manasseh and Ephraim, took their inheritance.

We're talkin' Joseph's descendants here. The Tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh receive their property inheritance together as descendants of Joseph. Since the Levites get no property inheritance, Joseph's two sons (Manasseh and Ephraim) round out an even 12 tribes receiving an inheritance in Canaan.

Property assignments in Canaan are distributed by the lottery; that's what drawing lots means. For a more complete look at the practice of casting lots, click here. It just so happens that Joseph gets a very early drawing and ends up with a huge allotment for Ephraim and Manasseh - not to mention the other half of Manasseh owning real estate on the east side of Jordan (Numbers 32, see notes).

The twelve sons of Jacob and their land assignments in Canaan
Click here to see the map.
12 sons of Jacob
Listed by age
Land assignment in Canaan
Scripture references indicate where assignments were declared
Reuben Reuben - Numbers 32 (see notes) & restated in Joshua 13:15-23 (see notes)
Simeon Simeon - Joshua 19:1-9 (see notes)
Levi Levi - No inheritance according to Joshua 14:3-4 (see notes) & Joshua 18:7 (see below)
Judah Judah - Joshua 15:1-12 (see notes)
Dan Dan - Joshua 19:40-48 (see notes)
Naphtali Naphtali - Joshua 19:32-39 (see notes)
Gad Gad - Numbers 32 (see notes) & restated in Joshua 13:24-28 (see notes)
Asher Asher - Joshua 19:24-31 (see notes)
Issachar Issachar - Joshua 19:17-23 (see notes)
Zebulun Zebulun - Joshua 19:10-16 (see notes)
Joseph Manasseh - Half in Numbers 32 (see notes) & restated in Joshua 13:29-31 (see notes) east of the Jordan River. The other half in Joshua 17:1-18 (see below) west of the Jordan River.
Ephraim - Joshua 16:5-10 (see below)
Benjamin Benjamin - Joshua 18:11-28 (see below)

Ephraim's inheritance (Joshua 16:5-10)

5 ¶ The border of the children of Ephraim, according to their families, was thus: The border of their inheritance on the east side was Ataroth Addar as far as Upper Beth Horon.
6 ¶ And the border went out toward the sea on the north side of Michmethath; then the border went around eastward to Taanath Shiloh, and passed by it on the east of Janohah.
7 Then it went down from Janohah to Ataroth and Naarah, reached to Jericho, and came out at the Jordan.
8 ¶ The border went out from Tappuah westward to the Brook Kanah, and it ended at the sea. This was the inheritance of the tribe of the children of Ephraim according to their families.
9 The separate cities for the children of Ephraim were among the inheritance of the children of Manasseh, all the cities with their villages.
10 ¶ And they did not drive out the Canaanites who dwelt in Gezer; but the Canaanites dwell among the Ephraimites to this day and have become forced laborers.

There was a problem though; those Gezerites in Canaan just wouldn't go. Or...was it really that the Tribe of Israel didn't try that hard to get them to go, preferring instead to have the presence of a little slave labor? So, they served Israel - mentioned again in Judges 1:28-30,33,35 (see notes). However, in Judges 2:1-3 (see notes); Judges 3:5-6 (see notes); Judges 10:6 (see notes) we see that the idolatrous practice of these people was, indeed, a problem for Israel. David failed in his attempt to rid the land of them again centuries later (II Samuel 5:25; I Chronicles 14:16, see notes). Finally, Pharaoh comes up out of Egypt during Solomon's reign and takes Gezer as a wedding present for Solomon, who was married to Pharaoh's daughter (I Kings 9:10-28; II Chronicles 8:1-18 - see notes).

Now it's Manasseh's turn (Joshua 17)

1 There was also a lot for the tribe of Manasseh, for he was the firstborn of Joseph: namely for Machir the firstborn of Manasseh, the father of Gilead, because he was a man of war; therefore he was given Gilead and Bashan.
2 And there was a lot for the rest of the children of Manasseh according to their families: for the children of Abiezer, the children of Helek, the children of Asriel, the children of Shechem, the children of Hepher, and the children of Shemida; these were the male children of Manasseh the son of Joseph according to their families.
3 ¶ But Zelophehad the son of Hepher, the son of Gilead, the son of Machir, the son of Manasseh, had no sons, but only daughters. And these are the names of his daughters: Mahlah, Noah, Hoglah, Milcah, and Tirzah.
4 And they came near before Eleazar the priest, before Joshua the son of Nun, and before the rulers, saying, “The LORD commanded Moses to give us an inheritance among our brothers.” Therefore, according to the commandment of the LORD, he gave them an inheritance among their father’s brothers.
5 Ten shares fell to Manasseh, besides the land of Gilead and Bashan, which were on the other side of the Jordan,
6 because the daughters of Manasseh received an inheritance among his sons; and the rest of Manasseh’s sons had the land of Gilead.
7 ¶ And the territory of Manasseh was from Asher to Michmethath, that lies east of Shechem; and the border went along south to the inhabitants of En Tappuah.
8 Manasseh had the land of Tappuah, but Tappuah on the border of Manasseh belonged to the children of Ephraim.
9 And the border descended to the Brook Kanah, southward to the brook. These cities of Ephraim are among the cities of Manasseh. The border of Manasseh was on the north side of the brook; and it ended at the sea.
10 ¶ Southward it was Ephraim’s, northward it was Manasseh’s, and the sea was its border. Manasseh’s territory was adjoining Asher on the north and Issachar on the east.
11 And in Issachar and in Asher, Manasseh had Beth Shean and its towns, Ibleam and its towns, the inhabitants of Dor and its towns, the inhabitants of En Dor and its towns, the inhabitants of Taanach and its towns, and the inhabitants of Megiddo and its towns—three hilly regions.
12 Yet the children of Manasseh could not drive out the inhabitants of those cities, but the Canaanites were determined to dwell in that land.
13 And it happened, when the children of Israel grew strong, that they put the Canaanites to forced labor, but did not utterly drive them out.
14 ¶ Then the children of Joseph spoke to Joshua, saying, “Why have you given us only one lot and one share to inherit, since we are a great people, inasmuch as the LORD has blessed us until now?”
15 ¶ So Joshua answered them, “If you are a great people, then go up to the forest country and clear a place for yourself there in the land of the Perizzites and the giants, since the mountains of Ephraim are too confined for you.”
16 ¶ But the children of Joseph said, “The mountain country is not enough for us; and all the Canaanites who dwell in the land of the valley have chariots of iron, both those who are of Beth Shean and its towns and those who are of the Valley of Jezreel.”
17 ¶ And Joshua spoke to the house of Joseph—to Ephraim and Manasseh—saying, “You are a great people and have great power; you shall not have only one lot,
18 but the mountain country shall be yours. Although it is wooded, you shall cut it down, and its farthest extent shall be yours; for you shall drive out the Canaanites, though they have iron chariots and are strong.”

Now for the other descendants of Joseph, the Tribe of Manasseh gets their allocations. The daughters of Zelophehad are at it again - want their fair share since their family had no male heirs. This issue first came up back with Moses in Numbers 26:33; 27:1-11 (see notes) and again in Numbers 36:1-13 (see notes). The issue was already settled back in Numbers on both occasions. It appears that they just wanted to be persistent in their know...just to make sure that Joshua does right by them. Now look at verses 12-13; more problem Canaanites - they just won't leave! This is mentioned again in Judges 1:27 (see notes). Joshua had defeated the kings of Taanach, Megiddo, and Dor (Joshua 12:21-23, see notes), but a permanent Hebrew occupation did not follow. Verse 13 tells us that later on they did make slaves of them.

But Joseph's people (Tribes of Manasseh and Ephraim) still aren't satisfied (verses 14-18). They want even more land. Joshua suggests his own solution (and God's) to the matter. Head for the hills; conquer it, and it's yours. Note Joshua's sarcastic reply (verse 15) to their assertion in verse 14 that they are a "great people" and thus, need more land. He said, "If you are a great people, then go up to the forest country and clear a place for yourself there in the land of the Perizzites and the giants, since the mountains of Ephraim are too confined for you." Oh well, I guess they thought it was worth a try to see if Joshua would give them more prime real estate.

Another spy assignment (Joshua 18:1-10)

1 Now the whole congregation of the children of Israel assembled together at Shiloh, and set up the tabernacle of meeting there. And the land was subdued before them.
2 But there remained among the children of Israel seven tribes which had not yet received their inheritance.
3 ¶ Then Joshua said to the children of Israel: “How long will you neglect to go and possess the land which the LORD God of your fathers has given you?
4 Pick out from among you three men for each tribe, and I will send them; they shall rise and go through the land, survey it according to their inheritance, and come back to me.
5 And they shall divide it into seven parts. Judah shall remain in their territory on the south, and the house of Joseph shall remain in their territory on the north.
6 You shall therefore survey the land in seven parts and bring the survey here to me, that I may cast lots for you here before the LORD our God.
7 But the Levites have no part among you, for the priesthood of the LORD is their inheritance. And Gad, Reuben, and half the tribe of Manasseh have received their inheritance beyond the Jordan on the east, which Moses the servant of the LORD gave them.”
8 ¶ Then the men arose to go away; and Joshua charged those who went to survey the land, saying, “Go, walk through the land, survey it, and come back to me, that I may cast lots for you here before the LORD in Shiloh.”
9 So the men went, passed through the land, and wrote the survey in a book in seven parts by cities; and they came to Joshua at the camp in Shiloh.
10 Then Joshua cast lots for them in Shiloh before the LORD, and there Joshua divided the land to the children of Israel according to their divisions.

Since Joshua 4:19 (see notes), the camp of Israel had been at Gilgal. Now Israel sets up the Tabernacle at Shiloh, a secluded spot where it stays for over 200 years, until the ark was captured by the Philistines in the time of Eli the priest (I Samuel 4:1-11, see notes). Joshua demonstrates a little frustration with his people in verse 3, "How long will you neglect to go and possess the land which the LORD God of your fathers has given you?" So here's an interim solution: Seven tribes have not been given an allotment. Let's let each tribe pick 3 reps (spies) to go into the land, look around and bring back a report. Once done, the lottery continues. Oh, and there's that Levite reference again in verse 7, "...Levites have no part among you." I wonder if they ever got tired of hearing that?

Now it's Benjamin's turn (Joshua 18:11-28)

11 ¶ Now the lot of the tribe of the children of Benjamin came up according to their families, and the territory of their lot came out between the children of Judah and the children of Joseph.
12 Their border on the north side began at the Jordan, and the border went up to the side of Jericho on the north, and went up through the mountains westward; it ended at the Wilderness of Beth Aven.
13 The border went over from there toward Luz, to the side of Luz (which is Bethel) southward; and the border descended to Ataroth Addar, near the hill that lies on the south side of Lower Beth Horon.
14 ¶ Then the border extended around the west side to the south, from the hill that lies before Beth Horon southward; and it ended at Kirjath Baal (which is Kirjath Jearim), a city of the children of Judah. This was the west side.
15 ¶ The south side began at the end of Kirjath Jearim, and the border extended on the west and went out to the spring of the waters of Nephtoah.
16 Then the border came down to the end of the mountain that lies before the Valley of the Son of Hinnom, which is in the Valley of the Rephaim on the north, descended to the Valley of Hinnom, to the side of the Jebusite city on the south, and descended to En Rogel.
17 And it went around from the north, went out to En Shemesh, and extended toward Geliloth, which is before the Ascent of Adummim, and descended to the stone of Bohan the son of Reuben.
18 Then it passed along toward the north side of Arabah, and went down to Arabah.
19 And the border passed along to the north side of Beth Hoglah; then the border ended at the north bay at the Salt Sea, at the south end of the Jordan. This was the southern boundary.
20 ¶ The Jordan was its border on the east side. This was the inheritance of the children of Benjamin, according to its boundaries all around, according to their families.
21 ¶ Now the cities of the tribe of the children of Benjamin, according to their families, were Jericho, Beth Hoglah, Emek Keziz,
22 Beth Arabah, Zemaraim, Bethel,
23 Avim, Parah, Ophrah,
24 Chephar Haammoni, Ophni, and Gaba: twelve cities with their villages;
25 Gibeon, Ramah, Beeroth,
26 Mizpah, Chephirah, Mozah,
27 Rekem, Irpeel, Taralah,
28 Zelah, Eleph, Jebus (which is Jerusalem), Gibeath, and Kirjath: fourteen cities with their villages. This was the inheritance of the children of Benjamin according to their families.

It's time to record your deed. Oh...and Benjamin gets Jerusalem (verse 28), which was inhabited by the Jebusites. It may not have seemed like that big of a deal then, but later on King David would make it the capital city of Israel (II Samuel 5:6-10; I Chronicles 11:4-9, see notes). These verses include great detail concerning Benjamin's borders.

It should be noted, however, that Jerusalem seemed to be shared by the Tribes of Benjamin and Judah. Note the following scriptures:

Joshua 18:28 Zelah, Eleph, Jebus (which is Jerusalem), Gibeath, and Kirjath: fourteen cities with their villages. This was the inheritance of the children of Benjamin according to their families.

Joshua 15:63 As for the Jebusites, the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the children of Judah could not drive them out; but the Jebusites dwell with the children of Judah at Jerusalem to this day

Judges 1:8 Now the children of Judah fought against Jerusalem and took it; they struck it with the edge of the sword and set the city on fire.

Judges 1:21 But the children of Benjamin did not drive out the Jebusites who inhabited Jerusalem; so the Jebusites dwell with the children of Benjamin in Jerusalem to this day.

Based upon these verses, obviously Jerusalem was a shared city between the two tribes. Although, technically, Jerusalem was within the borders of the Tribe of Benjamin.