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Read Joshua 13

Land Still to Be Taken

1 When Joshua had grown old, the Lord said to him, “You are now very old, and there are still very large areas of land to be taken over.

“This is the land that remains: all the regions of the Philistines and Geshurites, from the Shihor River on the east of Egypt to the territory of Ekron on the north, all of it counted as Canaanite though held by the five Philistine rulers in Gaza, Ashdod, Ashkelon, Gath and Ekron; the territory of the Avvites on the south; all the land of the Canaanites, from Arah of the Sidonians as far as Aphek and the border of the Amorites; the area of Byblos; and all Lebanon to the east, from Baal Gad below Mount Hermon to Lebo Hamath.

“As for all the inhabitants of the mountain regions from Lebanon to Misrephoth Maim, that is, all the Sidonians, I myself will drive them out before the Israelites. Be sure to allocate this land to Israel for an inheritance, as I have instructed you, and divide it as an inheritance among the nine tribes and half of the tribe of Manasseh.”

Division of the Land East of the Jordan

The other half of Manasseh,  the Reubenites and the Gadites had received the inheritance that Moses had given them east of the Jordan, as he, the servant of the Lord, had assigned it to them.

It extended from Aroer on the rim of the Arnon Gorge, and from the town in the middle of the gorge, and included the whole plateau of Medeba as far as Dibon,10 and all the towns of Sihon king of the Amorites, who ruled in Heshbon, out to the border of the Ammonites.11 It also included Gilead, the territory of the people of Geshur and Maakah, all of Mount Hermon and all Bashan as far as Salekah— 12 that is, the whole kingdom of Og in Bashan, who had reigned in Ashtaroth and Edrei. (He was the last of the Rephaites.) Moses had defeated them and taken over their land. 13 But the Israelites did not drive out the people of Geshur and Maakah, so they continue to live among the Israelites to this day.

14 But to the tribe of Levi he gave no inheritance, since the food offerings presented to the Lord, the God of Israel, are their inheritance, as he promised them.

15 This is what Moses had given to the tribe of Reuben, according to its clans:

16 The territory from Aroer on the rim of the Arnon Gorge, and from the town in the middle of the gorge, and the whole plateau past Medeba 17 to Heshbon and all its towns on the plateau, including Dibon, Bamoth Baal, Beth Baal Meon, 18 Jahaz, Kedemoth, Mephaath,19 Kiriathaim, Sibmah, Zereth Shahar on the hill in the valley, 20 Beth Peor, the slopes of Pisgah, and Beth Jeshimoth— 21 all the towns on the plateau and the entire realm of Sihon king of the Amorites, who ruled at Heshbon. Moses had defeated him and the Midianite chiefs, Evi, Rekem, Zur, Hur and Reba—princes allied with Sihon—who lived in that country. 22 In addition to those slain in battle, the Israelites had put to the sword Balaam son of Beor, who practiced divination. 23 The boundary of the Reubenites was the bank of the Jordan. These towns and their villages were the inheritance of the Reubenites, according to their clans.

24 This is what Moses had given to the tribe of Gad, according to its clans:

25 The territory of Jazer, all the towns of Gilead and half the Ammonite country as far as Aroer, near Rabbah; 26 and from Heshbon to Ramath Mizpah and Betonim, and from Mahanaim to the territory of Debir; 27 and in the valley, Beth Haram, Beth Nimrah, Sukkoth and Zaphon with the rest of the realm of Sihon king of Heshbon (the east side of the Jordan, the territory up to the end of the Sea of Galilee). 28 These towns and their villages were the inheritance of the Gadites, according to their clans.

29 This is what Moses had given to the half-tribe of Manasseh, that is, to half the family of the descendants of Manasseh, according to its clans:

30 The territory extending from Mahanaim and including all of Bashan, the entire realm of Og king of Bashan—all the settlements of Jair in Bashan, sixty towns, 31 half of Gilead, and Ashtaroth and Edrei (the royal cities of Og in Bashan). This was for the descendants of Makir son of Manasseh—for half of the sons of Makir, according to their clans.

32 This is the inheritance Moses had given when he was in the plains of Moab across the Jordan east of Jericho.33 But to the tribe of Levi, Moses had given no inheritance; the Lord, the God of Israel, is their inheritance, as he promised them.

Go Deeper

Joshua 13:1 says, “When Joshua had grown old, the Lord said to him, “You are now very old, and there are still very large areas of land to be taken over.”” The Lord was kind enough to remind Joshua he wasn’t just old, but “very old.” In his younger years, he and Caleb were spies (as described in Numbers 13), he served as Moses’ right hand man, and he led God’s people into the Promised Land. He had quite the resume and was probably near the age of “retirement.” Joshua earned the right to kick back and celebrate a life of faithfulness. He had lived the American Israelite Dream.

Many of us desire to live out the American Dream: be successful in your work, make a lot of money, retire early, and then collect seashells on your many vacations around the world. It sounds very appealing and for many is the end result of decades of hard work. But in Joshua 13, the Lord reminds Joshua there’s still work to be done. Even after a lifelong legacy of faithful work in leading God’s people, Joshua can’t just prop his feet up outside his tent. God has more work for Joshua to do in leading His people and finishing his assignment of splitting up the land among the 12 tribes of Israel (see Numbers 34-35).

What would it look like for you to have a mentality like Joshua’s? What do you think the Lord would have you do to finish well? For many of us that may be 50-60 years down the road. For others, it’s right around the corner. Regardless, what if we finished strong like the Lord called Joshua to finish? In 2 Timothy 4:7, Paul writes, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” Whether you have 1 or 100 years left, let’s finish the race strong and remember the Lord has work for us to do.

Questions

  1. What is the significance of the word “inheritance” that is used many times in this chapter?
  2. Why do you think we’re given so many details about the allotment of land? Why does this matter to us today?
  3. Who do you know who’s tired or weary? Encourage them today to continue and finish the work the Lord has given them to do.

Did You Know?

Between Joshua 13-18, we’re told four times that the Levites would not receive an inheritance since the Lord was their inheritance. Part of the reason for this is because the Lord may not have wanted them to be distracted by land ownership and so that they could be mingled among the other tribes to help teach them the law.

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1 thought on “Joshua 13”

  1. The significance of the word inheritance is powerful as it means being admitted as an heir. The Israelites would now possess their inheritance in the Promised Land, but it was to be stewarded well according to the law given them by God. Israel knew itself to be chosen by God to be his people. They were to be the people through whom God would reveal himself to the rest of the world. We are chosen, too. As believers we are called priests as
    1 Peter 1:3-4 states “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. According to His great mercy, He has given us a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and an inheritance that is imperishable, uncorrupted, and in fading, kept in heaven for you.” I needed this reminder today, that no matter how weary or old, we have purpose in seeing his kingdom come, his will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.

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