God sets the boundaries for the land Israel will inhabit. He marks off all four directions with specific landmarks they could easily identify.
God didn’t give Israel free rein to take over as much territory as they wanted wherever they wanted. He set down boundaries for them. But they would have to do the work to make it theirs. They would have to completely remove the current inhabitants and cut down and burn ALL their gods. God would be with them as they did this. He promised them victory when they trusted in Him and followed His laws.
It wasn’t yet time to tell each of the tribes where their portions would be. The only ones who knew were the two and a half tribes that requested to settle on the western side of the Jordan. The rest would wait until their lot was assigned.
God used lots a lot in His dealings with the people. This meant that the outcome was not random chance but directed by God. And the people were not to argue with the answer they received this way.
I was curious as to see the borders that God set out on a map. I decided to look up maps of Israel during various stages. This proved to be very difficult and confusing to me. I should have expected this because I wasn’t able to find a SINGLE CONCLUSIVE map of the Exodus route either. There are so many changes in names and locations over the years that it really leaves one to make educated guesses. I’m going to give you a link where I found a lot of maps and even this link doesn’t agree with itself.
I looked up maps of the division of the territory for the 12 tribes and came up with at LEAST three different maps. One of the maps puts the tribe of Manasseh on both sides of the Jordan. I think they did this because it is referred to as a “half tribe.” I believe this reference is to the fact that Manasseh and Ephraim each represent half of Joseph’s tribe. Another school of thought is that the Levites didn’t get a portion of the land and are often not counted in the tribal listing and Manasseh and Ephraim are counted individually to equal 12 tribes again.
Next I looked up the Kingdom of Israel in David’s time. He was the one who increased the size of conquered territory more than any other time since they entered the Promised Land. When the first entered the land Joshua divided up the land bequeathed to them by God but they didn’t occupy it and possess it all. There were still battles to be waged and people to be removed. They seemed to weary of fighting and let some of the people remain.
I looked next to what Israel looked like when broken into the northern and southern kingdoms. Again, no consistency but a little better. This was the beginning of Israel being removed from the land the first time since God brought them to it.
The next maps I found interesting were maps of Israel in Jesus’ time. I wish I knew which ones to trust. I have seen everything from Samaria being so huge that it would take days to get through to ones where it was a simple walk around.
The last map I looked at was Israel today. At least I know this one is fairly accurate. I have a feeling that if you compared maps from the different people disputing the territory today they wouldn’t match up either. It all comes down to perspective and belief.
I wonder what God’s atlas looks like. I wonder if any of the maps we have drawn over the years comes close to what He designed and designated.
Why did God have this particular spot in mind for His people? He brought Abraham here. He didn’t tell Abraham, “Pick any land anywhere and it’s yours.” Even when Abraham separated from Lot, God promised him that his descendants would receive both areas as their own. Was this area His original Garden area?
So why did God put boundaries around Israel’s Promised Land? I wonder if it was to ensure that they stayed together. When the tower of Babel incident happened people were split apart. Here God keeps a whole race of people together by tying them all back to their ancestors. He kept these family ties strong even in the midst hundreds of years of slavery. I wonder if the people living in Israel today can trace their lineage back to their specific tribe or if that separation has been lost. The ties that unite us are greater than the lines that divide us.
It is interesting the diametrically opposed philosophies between Israel connectedness and American connectedness. Israel is a “family” where America is a “melting pot.” With Israel family ties unite the people no matter where they live. There are Jews in nearly every corner of the globe. No matter where they are they identify as Jewish. That is their core. And at that core is one religion and belief system. Not all practice it but all respect it.
In the United States of America people come from everywhere to join geographically as one group. Geography supposedly unites us. Our culture is altered, mixed, adapted, and molded to incorporate differing backgrounds of those joining in. We don’t have one system or even one language. We are a mix of people consenting to live together in one place.
God wants His people today to be a family. No matter where we live, no matter what language we speak, no matter how different we are, HIS blood unites us. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). That is the requirement for joining His family. Belief in Jesus Christ as God’s Son and acceptance of His redemptive work on the cross on our behalf. That’s our “blood line.” That’s our uniting factor. That’s our family ties. Those are our boundaries.
Father God, thank You for including me in Your family. Thank You that You set boundaries for Your family. You gather Your children together as a mother hen gathers her chicks. I am safe under Your wings. Family is SO important! I may not always like what members of my family do but I love them anyway. Thank You for that model because it helps me understand my spiritual family too. We don’t always understand each other or even like what the others are doing but if we share Jesus’ blood we have to love one another. Thank You for both my families. Help me to treasure them as You do.