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The seven smaller tribes (18:1-19:51)
Allotments were now finished for two and a half tribes on the east of Jordan (Reuben, Gad and half of Manasseh) and two and a half tribes on the west (Judah, Ephraim and the other half of Manasseh). The next task was to settle the seven smaller tribes that remained. For this purpose the camp, including the tabernacle, was shifted from Gilgal to a more central location at Shiloh (18:1-2; cf. 5:10; 10:6,15,43; 14:6; 19:51; 22:9,12).
Many of the people had by now become lazy and were not willing to fight or work. Joshua stirred them up to finish the job. He sent off men to survey the remainder of the land and divide it into seven portions. He then drew lots to decide which area each tribe would receive (3-10).
Benjamin received a small area between the powerful tribes of Judah and Ephraim. A number of important towns of the central highlands were located in Benjamin, among them Jerusalem, which was just inside Benjamin’s southern border (11-28). Simeon was settled in part of the tribal area of Judah (since Judah’s area was too large for it), in the dry southern region known as the Negeb. As a result Simeon soon lost its separate tribal identity and was absorbed into the more powerful Judah (19:1-9; cf. Genesis 49:5-7).
The next four tribes in the list occupied Galilee and neighbouring regions in the north of Canaan. Zebulun’s territory was in the fertile hill country that rose from the coastal plain to the mountains of southern Galilee (10-16). Issachar, which bordered Zebulun, occupied the Valley of Jezreel to the south of the Sea of Galilee. The area was strategically important and agriculturally rich (17-23). Asher was allotted the coastal plain from Mt Carmel north to the Phoenician cities of Tyre and Sidon. But it never gained full control of the area, and had to be content with the region around Mt Carmel and the neighbouring hill country (24-31; Judges 1:31-32). Naphtali was given the Galilean hills and the Jordan Valley north of the Sea of Galilee (32-39).
Dan’s original position was on the Philistine coast between the tribes of Judah and Ephraim. Squeezed between Israel’s two most powerful tribes, and pushed back from the coast by the Philistines and the Amorites, the tribe of Dan later moved and settled in the far north (40-48; Judges 1:34; Judges 18:1-31). Finally, Joshua received his special inheritance, which, by God’s command, he himself chose. It was in the area of his own tribe, Ephraim (49-51).
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Flemming, Donald C. "Commentary on Joshua 18". "Fleming's Bridgeway Bible Commentary". https://studylight.org/
the Fourth Sunday after Epiphany