Joshua assigns Judah their portion. Caleb, the leader of Judah asked for Hebron and now Joshua deals with the rest of that tribe.
Let’s start off by saying I am NOT good with geography. I cannot tell you which map is right in its representation of what Joshua allotted to Judah. I can say that if it stops before reaching the Mediterranean Sea it isn’t accurate. Beyond that it’s beyond my abilities.
When assigning the territories the boundaries given are very specific. They probably go along natural land formations, like many boundaries do even now. There are a couple of landmarks that I recognize. The first is part of the south-east corner. “Their south boundary ran from the end of the Salt Sea, from the bay that faces southward” (verse 2a). The south-west corner is the sea, the Mediterranean sea. Their eastern boundary IS the Salt Sea from the southward facing bay to the mouth of the Jordan. That’s a pretty easy one to recognize. The northern side gives us the north-east starting point again of the mouth of the Jordan. On its trek, the northern border encompasses Jerusalem but I have no idea how to locate the rest of its wanderings, and wander it does! The north-western boundary is the sea again. “And the west boundary was the Great Sea wit this coastline” (verse 12). Those are all the points I can pin on a map.
There was still plenty of work to do in the territory they received. They didn’t ask the other tribes to help them. This was their home and they would take care of clearing it themselves. The one city reported that they couldn’t clear was Jerusalem. David would be the one to finally conquer that city. I wonder what Caleb thought of having one city he couldn’t conquer. Did he ask God why this was? Did he attribute it to some sin in his camp? If he asked God, did he get an answer? Was he told to wait? How many times did he try taking this city? We see that he was not above offering incentives for battle success.
I wonder what it was about this section of land that made the tribe of Judah choose it. As far as I can tell, it wasn’t assigned by lot. Caleb asked for his piece then Joshua assigned the rest. Did Caleb mark out these boundaries? Did Joshua ask the Lord for them? Was there something that separated this section from the rest? Why so much land to begin with? Judah was the largest tribe but even they weren’t able to care for all the land, which we will learn more about when we get to Simeon’s portion. Did Caleb bite off more than he could chew or was it by design?
Are the tribes still divided by landmarks today? I’m sure Israel still longs for the original territories mapped out by Joshua but the people living there just prior are NOT willing to surrender to an “old” map. This is the root of most of the fighting in that area. That and who is really “God’s chosen people.” I’m going to leave that battle to the Lord.
Father God, I would love to see a map and KNOW that it was accurate. I’ve never been good at the “guess work” sort of representations. I take them for what they are and trust You to fill in the blanks that I NEED. Sometimes I think I ask for more than my NEEDED information. But then again, that is where our stories come into play. I LOVE getting a glimpse into those stories! I truly appreciate You allowing me that liberty.
Father God, what can I do to help with Your will today in that region? I can’t go there and fight for them. I would be kicked out as an interloper. I guess the only option open to me is prayer. I have a feeling that this isn’t going to be settled until after Jesus returns. My heart breaks for both sides of this conflict. I don’t know where You stand on this today. The Jewish people as a whole still reject Jesus as Your Son. As long as that remains the truth You can’t bless them like You did in the Old Testament. I pray their eyes finally open. I KNOW that You preserve a remnant of them even today. Those who are close to Your heart. Watch over them Lord and bring peace to their lands.