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Joshua 21:1-42 . The Levitical Cities.— The cities promised by Moses to the Levites are here assigned to them. The sons of Aaron have 13 in Judah, the Levites 10 in Ephraim and Manasseh, 13 in Galilee, and 12 in the E. Jordan territory. Both promises and performance are unhistorical. The simple fact that the descendants of Aaron could at this time have numbered only a few families shows the assignment of 13 cities to them to be purely imaginary. For the true history of the priesthood, reference must be made to the Introduction to the Pentateuch.
Joshua 21:11 is an interesting piece of “ harmonising.” The conquest and possession of the city of Hebron by Caleb was so prominent in the old tradition that the assignment of it to the Priests had to be explained. The fields and villages are therefore said to have been assigned to Caleb, while the city and the suburbs go to the Priests.
Joshua 21:43 to Joshua 22:8 . Yahweh’ s Promise of Conquest Completely Fulfilled, so that the E. Jordan Tribes are Set Free to Return Home.— We have here the introduction to the last section of our book. The land has now, according to the Deuteronomist, been conquered and divided amongst the 9½ tribes; consequently the 2½ tribes, having fulfilled their duty, are dismissed with thanks to their own possessions on the other side of the Jordan.
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Peake, Arthur. "Commentary on Joshua 21". "Peake's Commentary on the Bible ". https://studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 21 / Ordinary 26