By now, you probably know the drill. If you are new to this, this series, as you may have deciphered, is an outline of the entire Bible, book by good ol’ book. Here are the previous sections: Part 1 | Genesis, Part 2 | Exodus, Part 3 | Leviticus, Part 4.1 | Numbers 1-8, Part 4.2 | Numbers 9-19, Part 4.3 | Numbers 20-27, Part 4.4 | Numbers 28-36, Part 5.1 | Deuteronomy 1-11, Part 5.2 | Deuteronomy 12-20, Part 5.3 | Deuteronomy 21-34
Part 6.1 | Joshua 1-12 – In the first half of Joshua, we clearly see the might, faithfulness, and judgement of the Lord displayed. He, through the nation of Israel, conquers nation after nation with ease. Despite their unfaithfulness at times, the Lord continues to deliver kings into the Israelite’s hands. The Israelites have conquered many nations, and the inheritance is almost theirs. As we continue to read the book of Joshua, we will see the promise finally fulfilled and we will learn of the allotment of the long awaited land to the respective tribes of Israel after a long and arduous journey.
JOSHUA – Before Moses’ death at the end of Deuteronomy, Joshua is identified as his successor. The book of Joshua simply chronicles the appointed leadership of Joshua over the Israelites. At the beginning of this book, we see Joshua finally take on the mantle of leader and we follow his journey as he leads the Israelites in conquering the land promised to them by the Lord. The long, eventful, and sometimes radical conquest takes place through the book of Joshua. After it’s all said and done, we see the promised land allotted to the tribes of Israel. The book of Joshua celebrates the fulfillment of the Lord’s promises while also portraying the severity of His righteous judgement that comes to pass by His unquestionable power. The Israelites could not have conquered the land without the clear and unwavering strength of the Lord.
- Joshua 13 | The Lord finishes conquering the land, and the inheritance of the Reubenites, Gadites, and half tribe of Manasseh is described: As the conquest of the land west of the Jordan continues, we realize in this chapter that despite all of the conquering that has taken place, there was still much more land to conquer! We see the limits of mankind when it comes to time. Although Joshua was equipped by the Lord to do work for the Lord, he still grew old, but the Lord continued to do His work regardless. We read that He, himself, drove out the inhabitants of the rest of the land, and now that the land that had been promised was theirs, it needed to be properly divided between the tribes. If you recall from Numbers 32, the land east of the Jordan was given to the Reubenites, Gadites, and half of the tribe of Manasseh as their inheritance. The description of the land given to these tribes can be found in Joshua 13, and with the 2.5 tribes accounted for, the land to the west of the Jordan River would be allotted to the remaining 9.5 tribes.
- Joshua 14 | The beginning of the allotment, a reminder of the 13? tribes of Israel, and the promise to Caleb the spy is fulfilled: In this chapter we clearly learn that the division of this land was a serious and spiritual matter. The process was overseen by Joshua, Eleazar, and the heads of each of the tribes. We are also reminded that there are 13 tribes as we learned in Numbers 1. The 13 tribes consisted of 11 sons of Jacob (Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Gad, Judah, Issachar, Zebulun, Benjamin, Dan, Asher, and Naphtali) and the 2 sons of Joseph (Manasseh and Ephraim). However, the Levites had already received their inheritance from the Lord, which was a portion of the sacrifices and offerings from each tribe. They were given cities to dwell in but no portion of the land. The allotment to the remaining 9.5 tribes began with the fulfillment of the promise to Caleb. In Numbers 13-14 we read of the 12 spies that went into Canaan, and we learn that 10 spies returned with bad reports of the promised land while 2, Joshua and Caleb, had a good report! In those chapters, Moses promises that both Joshua and Caleb will enter the land, and that Caleb will specifically inherit the land in which he literally walked. In Joshua 14, we see the first allotment of the land west of the Jordan River, and it is to Caleb as was promised to him “because that he wholly followed the Lord God of Israel” (Joshua 14:14).
- Joshua 15 | A portion of the land is allotted to Judah, and Caleb gives his daughter, Achsah, to Othniel; The majority of this chapter describes the boundaries and allotment of the promise land to the tribe of Judah, but a portion of it describes land given to Caleb that seems to be a part of (within?) the inheritance of the tribe of Judah. Caleb begins to easily drive out what seems to be a few remaining descendants of Anak, and he promises to give his daughter as a wife to whoever captured the final city of Debir. Caleb’s nephew, Othniel, captured the city, and married Achsah. After all of this happens, there is a short account that we read in verses 17 to 19. Achsah asks Othniel to request a blessing of land, and immediately after, we read that she herself gets off of her donkey and goes to her father Caleb, which seems to mean that Othniel did not oblige her request. We see Achsah explain that she was given a low land, but she now requests springs of water, which would be nourished and fruitful land. Upon asking, Caleb blesses her abundantly with more than what was asked. Although I do not fully understand this account yet, it causes me to understand the importance of just speaking up and asking at times!
- Joshua 16 – 17 | A portion of the land is allotted to the remaining tribes of Joseph, Ephraim and Manasseh: These chapters describe in detail the boundaries of the land belonging to Ephraim and Manasseh. Their land stretched from the east of the Jordan to the west. There are two intriguing portions of these chapters. First, in chapter 17 we see that the tribes of Joseph did not completely drive out the Canaanites from their land, and second, we see that they request more land and are blessed with the hill country. When blessed with that land, the tribes claimed that the land was not enough and that the Canaanites had chariots of iron! Joshua clearly informs that they are stronger and that they could drive out the Canaanites despite their chariots. All of this seems to be important as it sets the tone for our next book, Judges, which is one of my favorite books of the Bible, but let’s finish up Joshua first!
- Joshua 18 – 19 | The tabernacle is established in Shiloh, the remaining tribes are rebuked for lallygagging Joshua provides a new, faster method, and the remaining tribes are allotted their land: At the beginning of chapter 18, the tabernacle is moved from in the midst of the congregation into Shiloh, which is in the land of Ephraim. As the chapter continues the remaining 7 tribes are rebuked for not proactively possessing the land that the Lord promised them, and as a result, Joshua described a new method of evaluating and allotting the land quickly. Three men from each tribe were selected to go and evaluate all of the land so as to fairly divide it into seven portions. These men brought the descriptions of the seven portions to Joshua, and Joshua cast lots prescribe each tribe a portion without bias. The rest of Joshua 18 and 19 describes in detail the boundaries of the land given to Benjamin, Simeon, Zebulun, Issachar, Asher, Naphtali, and Dan. Finally, chapter 19 ends with the Israelites blessing Joshua with the city of Timnath-Sjerah in the hill country of Ephraim as his inheritance.
Chapters 13 to 19 of Joshua completely document in detail the division of the promise land to all 12 tribes of Israel. This land stretched from the east of Jordan to the west, and it was intently divided. It is important to note that even during this time, although all of the land had been conquered, it was made clear that not all of the Canaanites were completely driven out! This becomes a pivotal mistake as we will see in the book of Judges, but next time we will complete our review of the last 5 chapters of Joshua.