It is time to begin dividing the territory on the western side of the Jordan. We don’t get into the boundaries today but are given a little background on the process.
The last verse in our reading, to me, is the most important. “The people of Israel did as the Lord commanded Moses; they allotted the land” (verse 5). They didn’t try and figure out their own system. They did as God commanded Moses. In our next two sessions we will get to read about two ‘special cases’ and how they were handled.
We are told in several places that the Levites were given on inheritance among the people because of the special relationship they held with God. He was their inheritance. They would receive 60 cities with their pasture lands around them. These cities would belong to the Levites forever. They were not allowed to sell the pasture lands but could sell their own houses. However, those houses could be redeemed at any time and had to be released in the year of Jubilee.
With the Levites excluded there are eleven of Jacob’s original sons to divide the land between. Joseph received a double portion by giving him an inheritance for his two sons; Ephraim and Manasseh. This brings the tribe count back up to twelve for dividing the land.
Half of the tribe of Manasseh, the tribe of Reuben and the tribe of Gad had already received their portion on the eastern side of the Jordan. This leaves nine and a half tribes to divide what remains. This was to be done according to lots and overseen by Eleazar the high priest and Joshua. Their word would be final. That final word would be passed to them by God Himself.
I feel like this section is getting us to straighten up and get ready. I see everyone smoothing out their tunics, wiping their hands and faces and, straightening their hats, and becoming “all ears” for what is about to happen. Something momentous is about to happen.
I wish I always had a warning when something momentous was about to happen. Often I find myself in the middle of it before I realize how important the next decision I am about to make will be. I wonder what led up to this day for Joshua. We will learn from Caleb, next time we meet, that this has been five years since Israel entered the Promised Land. That makes it three years since the fighting ceased. So what made this day THE day for this task? How did Joshua find himself standing at this crossroads? It would be interesting to hear the backstory.
Father God, thank You for sharing Your stories with me. I’m looking forward to hearing the backstories when I finally home. Thank You for being with me during my crossroad decisions. I know I haven’t always made the right ones but You have always brought me back when my decisions took me astray. Thank You for guiding my heart in the decisions You bring me to. I pray I let You lead ALL my decisions. Thank You for the lessons I’ve learned with each of them. I look forward to seeing where You take me next.