Joshua 20:1 - 21:45

Wednesday, March 30th, 2016

THE DIVISION OF THE LAND

INTRODUCTION:

 

We have already seen the invasion of Canaan in Joshua 1:1-5:12 and the conquest of Canaan in Joshua 5:13-12:24 .

 

We are in the process of studying the division of the land to the twelve tribes. It is found in Joshua 13-21 .

 

We have already seen –

            A.  The portions for the two and one-half tribes – 13:1-33

 

            B.  The portion for Caleb – 14:1-15

 

            C.  The portions for the nine and one-half tribes – 15:1 - 19:48

 

                        1.   The allotment for the tribe of Judah – 15:1-63

 

                        2.   The allotments for Joseph’s sons, Ephraim and Manasseh – 16:1 - 17:15

 

                        3.   The allotments for Benjamin, Simeon, Zebulun, Issachar, Asher, Naphtali, and Dan – 18:1 - 19:48

 

We have begun looking at –

            D.  The portions for Joshua, the manslayers, and the Levites – 19:49 - 21:45

 

We have already seen –

                        1.   The special provision for Joshua – 19:49-51

 

We continue with –

                        2.   The assignment of cities of refuge – 20:1-9

 

Before we study this portion of Scripture, we must remind ourselves of Genesis 9:6

Genesis 9:6 Whoso sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man.

 

“A clear distinction is made in the Old Testament between premeditated murder and accidental manslaughter. . . . In the case of murder the nearest kinsman became the avenger of blood, killing the guilty party. But if a person killed another accidentally he was provided a place of asylum in one of six cities of refuge. However, he had to hurry to the nearest shelter without delay. According to Jewish tradition the roads leading to these cities were kept in excellent condition and the crossroads were well marked with sign posts reading “Refuge! Refuge!’ Runners were also stationed along the way to guide the fugitives.” (Bible Knowledge Commentary: Old Testament, p. 363)

 

“Having arrived at the gate of a refuge city, the manslayer was to present his case . . . to the elders of that city who formed an ancient court of law. . . . A provisional decision would then be made to grant him asylum till a trial could be held in the presence of the assembly. [This trial was apparently held in an assembly near where the manslaughter had taken place – Dr. Q.] If acquitted of premeditated murder he was returned to the city of refuge where he lived till the high priest died, after which the manslayer was free to return to his home. That could be many years later. Involuntary manslaughter was therefore something to be carefully avoided.” (Bible Knowledge Commentary: Old Testament, p. 363)

 

Joshua 20:1 The LORD also spake unto Joshua, saying,

 

Joshua 20:2 Speak to the children of Israel, saying, Appoint out for you cities of refuge, whereof [i.e. of which, about which, or concerning which] I spake unto you by the hand of Moses:

 

Joshua 20:3 That the slayer that killeth any person unawares [i.e. accidently] and unwittingly [i.e. unintentionally] may flee thither [i.e. may flee there]: and they shall be your refuge from the avenger of blood [i.e. from the relative of the person who was killed who was seeking revenge for the person who was killed].

 

Joshua 20:4 And when he that doth flee unto one of those cities shall stand at the entering of the gate of the city, and shall declare his cause in the ears of the elders of that city, they shall take him into the city unto them, and give him a place, that he may dwell among them.

 

Joshua 20:5 And if the avenger of blood pursue after him, then they shall not deliver the slayer up into his hand; because he smote his neighbour unwittingly [i.e. unintentionally], and hated him not beforetime.

 

Joshua 20:6 And he shall dwell in that city, until he stand before the congregation for judgment, and until the death of the high priest that shall be in those days: then shall the slayer return, and come unto his own city, and unto his own house, unto the city from whence [i.e. from where] he fled.

 

A more detailed explanation of this is found in Numbers 35:6-34 ,

 

Numbers 35:6 , 9-34 – 6 And among the cities [i.e. the 48 cities] which ye shall give unto the Levites there shall be six cities for refuge, which ye shall appoint for the manslayer, that he may flee thither [i.e. to which the manslayer may flee]: and to them ye shall add forty and two cities.

 

9 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, 10 Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, When ye be come over Jordan into the land of Canaan; 11 Then ye shall appoint you cities to be cities of refuge for you; that the slayer may flee thither [i.e. there], which killeth any person at unawares [i.e. unintentionally, accidentally]. 12 And they shall be unto you cities for refuge from the avenger [i.e. the dead person’s relative who wants to avenge his death]; that the manslayer die not, until he stand before the congregation in judgment. 13 And of these cities which ye shall give [i.e. these 48 cities which you shall give to the Levites] six cities shall ye have for refuge. 14 Ye shall give three cities on this side Jordan, and three cities shall ye give in the land of Canaan, which shall be cities of refuge. 15 These six cities shall be a refuge, both for the children of Israel, and for the stranger, and for the sojourner among them: that every one that killeth any person unawares may flee thither [i.e. may flee there]. 16 And if he [i.e. the murderer] smite him with an instrument of iron, so that he die, he is a murderer: the murderer shall surely be put to death. 17 And if he [i.e. the murderer] smite him with throwing a stone, wherewith he may die, and he die, he is a murderer: the murderer shall surely be put to death. 18 Or if he [i.e. the murderer] smite him with an hand weapon of wood, wherewith he may die, and he die, he is a murderer: the murderer shall surely be put to death. 19 The revenger of blood himself shall slay the murderer: when he meeteth him, he shall slay him. 20 But if he [i.e. the murderer] thrust him of hatred, or hurl [i.e. throws something] at him by laying of wait, that he die; 21 Or in enmity smite him with his hand, that he die: he that smote him shall surely be put to death; for he is a murderer: the revenger of blood shall slay the murderer, when he meeteth him. 22 But if he [i.e. the murderer] thrust him suddenly without enmity, or have cast upon him any thing without laying of wait, 23 Or with any stone, wherewith a man may die, seeing him not, and cast it upon him, that he die, and was not his enemy, neither sought his harm: 24 Then the congregation shall judge between the slayer and the revenger of blood according to these judgments: 25 And the congregation shall deliver the slayer out of the hand of the revenger of blood, and the congregation shall restore him to the city of his refuge, whither he was fled: and he shall abide in it unto the death of the high priest, which was anointed with the holy oil. 26 But if the slayer shall at any time come without the border [i.e. outside the wall] of the city of his refuge [i.e. if at any time the slayer leaves the city of refuge], whither he was fled [i.e. where he fled]; 27 And the revenger of blood find him without the borders [i.e. outside the walls] of the city of his refuge, and the revenger of blood kill the slayer; he shall not be guilty of blood: 28 Because he should have remained in the city of his refuge until the death of the high priest: but after the death of the high priest the slayer shall return into the land of his possession. 29 So these things shall be for a statute of judgment unto you throughout your generations in all your dwellings. 30 Whoso killeth any person, the murderer shall be put to death by the mouth of witnesses: but one witness shall not testify against any person to cause him to die. [i.e. A minimum of two witnesses was required to cause the murderer to be put to death.] 31 Moreover ye shall take no satisfaction [i.e. you shall not accept a ransom] for the life of a murderer, which is guilty of death: but he shall be surely put to death. 32 And ye shall take no satisfaction [i.e. you shall not accept a ransom] for him that is fled to the city of his refuge, that he should come again to dwell in the land, until the death of the priest. 33 So ye shall not pollute the land wherein ye are: for blood it defileth the land: and the land cannot be cleansed of the blood that is shed therein [i.e. in it], but by the blood of him that shed it. 34 Defile not therefore the land which ye shall inhabit, wherein I dwell: for I the LORD dwell among the children of Israel.

 

Back to Joshua 20:7

Joshua 20:7 And they appointed Kedesh in Galilee in mount Naphtali [located on the map in Naphtali just to the right of the A and L in Naphtali], and Shechem in mount Ephraim [located on the map in Western Manasseh straight below the S and S in Manasseh], and Kirjatharba, which is Hebron [located on the map in Judah just below the A in Judah], in the mountain of Judah.

 

One of the crimes that Joab committed when he murdered Abner out of revenge for Abner’s killing Asahel, Joab’s brother, in battle, was that Joab murdered Abner in Hebron, one of the cities of refuge.

 

II Samuel 3:27 And when Abner was returned to Hebron, Joab took him aside in the gate to speak with him quietly, and smote him there under the fifth rib [i.e. in the stomach], that he died, for the blood of Asahel his brother.

 

Joshua 20:8 And on the other side Jordan by Jericho eastward, they assigned Bezer [not on the map in Reuben in northern Reuben] in the wilderness upon the plain out of the tribe of Reuben, and Ramoth in Gilead out of the tribe of Gad [located on the map in Gad in northeastern Gad just south of eastern Manasseh], and Golan in Bashan out of the tribe of Manasseh [located in eastern Manasseh straight south of the A and N in Manasseh and straight east of the Sea of Galilee].

 

Joshua 20:9 These were the cities appointed for all the children of Israel, and for the stranger that sojourneth among them, that whosoever killeth any person at unawares [i.e. whoever kills any person accidently or unintentionally] might flee thither [i.e. might flee there], and not die by the hand of the avenger of blood, until he stood before the congregation.

 

                        3.   The appointment of Levitical cities – 21:1-42

 

Joshua 21:1 Then came near the heads of the fathers of the Levites unto Eleazar the priest, and unto Joshua the son of Nun, and unto the heads of the fathers of the tribes of the children of Israel;

 

Joshua 21:2 And they spake unto them at Shiloh in the land of Canaan, saying, The LORD commanded by the hand of Moses to give us cities to dwell in, with the suburbs [i.e. pasture lands] thereof for our cattle.

 

21:2 – The Levites were given 48 cities with their suburbs [i.e. pasture lands]. This distribution provided a spiritual influence over all the people, since no one lived more than 10 mi from a city in which Levites lived. Because all the Levites were not occupied at the Tabernacle, they were given 48 cities in which to live and pasturelands (suburbs) around them (Ryrie Study Bible).

 

Remember that the pasture lands would extend out approximately nine tenths of a mile in each direction from the city wall.

 

Verses 3-40 list the 48 cities given to the Levites. You may study them on your own. I’ll not read them in this message.

 

Skip down to verse 41.

 

Joshua 21:3 And the children of Israel gave unto the Levites out of their inheritance, at the commandment of the LORD, these cities and their suburbs.

Joshua 21:4 And the lot came out for the families of the Kohathites: and the children of Aaron the priest, which were of the Levites, had by lot out of the tribe of Judah, and out of the tribe of Simeon, and out of the tribe of Benjamin, thirteen cities.

Joshua 21:5 And the rest of the children of Kohath had by lot out of the families of the tribe of Ephraim, and out of the tribe of Dan, and out of the half tribe of Manasseh, ten cities.

Joshua 21:6 And the children of Gershon had by lot out of the families of the tribe of Issachar, and out of the tribe of Asher, and out of the tribe of Naphtali, and out of the half tribe of Manasseh in Bashan, thirteen cities.

Joshua 21:7 The children of Merari by their families had out of the tribe of Reuben, and out of the tribe of Gad, and out of the tribe of Zebulun, twelve cities.

Joshua 21:8 And the children of Israel gave by lot unto the Levites these cities with their suburbs, as the LORD commanded by the hand of Moses.

Joshua 21:9 And they gave out of the tribe of the children of Judah, and out of the tribe of the children of Simeon, these cities which are here mentioned by name,

Joshua 21:10 Which the children of Aaron, being of the families of the Kohathites, who were of the children of Levi, had: for theirs was the first lot.

Joshua 21:11 And they gave them the city of Arba the father of Anak, which city is Hebron, in the hill country of Judah, with the suburbs thereof round about it.

Joshua 21:12 But the fields of the city, and the villages thereof, gave they to Caleb the son of Jephunneh for his possession.

Joshua 21:13 Thus they gave to the children of Aaron the priest Hebron with her suburbs, to be a city of refuge for the slayer; and Libnah with her suburbs,

Joshua 21:14 And Jattir with her suburbs, and Eshtemoa with her suburbs,

Joshua 21:15 And Holon with her suburbs, and Debir with her suburbs,

Joshua 21:16 And Ain with her suburbs, and Juttah with her suburbs, and Bethshemesh with her suburbs; nine cities out of those two tribes.

Joshua 21:17 And out of the tribe of Benjamin, Gibeon with her suburbs, Geba with her suburbs,

Joshua 21:18 Anathoth with her suburbs, and Almon with her suburbs; four cities.

Joshua 21:19 All the cities of the children of Aaron, the priests, were thirteen cities with their suburbs.

Joshua 21:20 And the families of the children of Kohath, the Levites which remained of the children of Kohath, even they had the cities of their lot out of the tribe of Ephraim.

Joshua 21:21 For they gave them Shechem with her suburbs in mount Ephraim, to be a city of refuge for the slayer; and Gezer with her suburbs,

Joshua 21:22 And Kibzaim with her suburbs, and Bethhoron with her suburbs; four cities.

Joshua 21:23 And out of the tribe of Dan, Eltekeh with her suburbs, Gibbethon with her suburbs,

Joshua 21:24 Aijalon with her suburbs, Gathrimmon with her suburbs; four cities.

Joshua 21:25 And out of the half tribe of Manasseh, Tanach with her suburbs, and Gathrimmon with her suburbs; two cities.

Joshua 21:26 All the cities were ten with their suburbs for the families of the children of Kohath that remained.

Joshua 21:27 And unto the children of Gershon, of the families of the Levites, out of the other half tribe of Manasseh they gave Golan in Bashan with her suburbs, to be a city of refuge for the slayer; and Beeshterah with her suburbs; two cities.

Joshua 21:28 And out of the tribe of Issachar, Kishon with her suburbs, Dabareh with her suburbs,

Joshua 21:29 Jarmuth with her suburbs, Engannim with her suburbs; four cities.

Joshua 21:30 And out of the tribe of Asher, Mishal with her suburbs, Abdon with her suburbs,

Joshua 21:31 Helkath with her suburbs, and Rehob with her suburbs; four cities.

Joshua 21:32 And out of the tribe of Naphtali, Kedesh in Galilee with her suburbs, to be a city of refuge for the slayer; and Hammothdor with her suburbs, and Kartan with her suburbs; three cities.

Joshua 21:33 All the cities of the Gershonites according to their families were thirteen cities with their suburbs.

Joshua 21:34 And unto the families of the children of Merari, the rest of the Levites, out of the tribe of Zebulun, Jokneam with her suburbs, and Kartah with her suburbs,

Joshua 21:35 Dimnah with her suburbs, Nahalal with her suburbs; four cities.

Joshua 21:36 And out of the tribe of Reuben, Bezer with her suburbs, and Jahazah with her suburbs,

Joshua 21:37 Kedemoth with her suburbs, and Mephaath with her suburbs; four cities.

Joshua 21:38 And out of the tribe of Gad, Ramoth in Gilead with her suburbs, to be a city of refuge for the slayer; and Mahanaim with her suburbs,

Joshua 21:39 Heshbon with her suburbs, Jazer with her suburbs; four cities in all.

Joshua 21:40 So all the cities for the children of Merari by their families, which were remaining of the families of the Levites, were by their lot twelve cities.

 

Joshua 21:41 All the cities of the Levites within the possession of the children of Israel were forty and eight cities with their suburbs [i.e. pasture lands].

 

Joshua 21:42 These cities were every one with their suburbs [i.e. pasture lands] round about them: thus [i.e. so] were all these cities.

 

                        4.   Summary of the conquest and distribution – 21:43-45

 

21:43-45 – God had kept His promise to give Israel the land of Canaan as recorded in Gen. 17:8. It is true that the Israelites had not yet fully conquered it, but God had told them they would do so gradually (Ryrie Study Bible).

 

The conquest of Canaan would be progressive so that there would not be an excessive accumulation of corpses and desolate land to attract dangerous animals (Note on Deut. 7:22 in Ryrie Study Bible). The promise of Gen. 15:18-20 involving a larger territory will be fulfilled in the Millennium.

 

Joshua 21:43 And the LORD gave unto Israel all the land which he sware to give unto their fathers; and they possessed it, and dwelt therein.

 

Joshua 21:44 And the LORD gave them rest round about, according to all that he sware unto their fathers: and there stood not a man of all their enemies before them; the LORD delivered all their enemies into their hand.

 

Joshua 21:45 There failed not ought [i.e. not a word] of any good thing which the LORD had spoken unto the house of Israel; all came to pass.