Cities of Judah

Claiming God's promises is hard work.

Joshua 14-17 (4)

Read Joshua 15.20-63

1.  These are a lot of cities! What must have been involved in dividing them among the people of Judah? How do you suppose they decided who would live where?

2.  What might have been involved in settling one of these cities? That is, what would the people of Judah have to do to make these erstwhile pagan cities places of God’s shalom?

Think about it.
The names of these cities are dizzying. We note the mention of “cities” and “towns” with their outlying “villages.” This suggests a structure of larger communities surrounded by what today we would call suburbs. So many cities and towns and villages! Which was a good thing, since the tribe of Judah consisted of somewhere around 80,000 people at this time (Num. 26.22).

Many of these places were still occupied by pagan peoples. They would have to be removed. We can assume that, as Caleb had set the pace, so the rest of the people of Judah followed suit in driving out the Canaanites. The mention that the people of Judah could not extract the Canaanites from Jerusalem is presented as an exception. It’s also an ominous bit of foreshadowing. In all the rest of these cities, towns, and villages, they must have done as Caleb did at Hebron.

But as dizzying as this list is, even more dizzying is thinking about how the leaders of Judah determined who would live where, and how the people would “set up shop” as they moved into these places. How did they decide who would receive which homes or fields? What did it take to make these places livable according to the Law of God (Deut. 6.9)?

Claiming the promises of God takes a lot of work.

Meditate and discuss.
1.  It does take a lot of work to claim the promises of God. Such as?

2.  God is a God of order, not chaos. What are the implications of this for our daily lives as His people?

3.  Should we be content, as the people of Judah were (v. 63), to have remnants of our old life continuing in our soul? Explain.

But now, even though we make great progress and improve ourselves with the utmost zeal, nevertheless I do not think anyone turns out to be so pure of heart that he is never defiled by the contamination of a contrary thought. Therefore, it is still certain that Jebusites dwell with the sons of Judah in Jerusalem. Yet we do not say these things so that we may neglect to cast them out as far as it may be done. On the contrary, we must be amply concerned and must attempt daily to cast them from Jerusalem; but, just as it is written, we cannot cast all out at the same time.” Origen of Alexandria (185-254 AD)

Lord, grant me grace to do the hard work of claiming Your promises each day, beginning with…

Pray Psalm 126.

What kind of “crop” should we be seeking in our lives? What sort of “sowing” does that require? Commit your daily sowing to the Lord, and seek Him for a clearer vision of the harvest He has promised.

Psalm 126 (Truro: Shout, for the Blessed Jesus Reigns)
When God restored our fortunes all, 
We were like those who sweetly dream.
Our mouths with joy and laughter filled, 
Made Him our constant song and theme.

Then the astonished nations said, 
“The Lord has done great things for them!”
Indeed, great things our God has done, 
Whose Name we praise, Amen, Amen!

Restore our fortunes, Lord our King!
Let grace like flowing streams prevail.
All they with tears of joy shall sing
Who sow while yet they weep and wail.

They who in tears of sorrow sow
And cast their seed on every hand, 
With joy shall reach their heav’nly home, 
And bring the harvest of their land.

T. M. Moore

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Where does the book of Joshua fit in the ongoing story of God’s covenant? Our workbook, God’s Covenant, can help you discover the place in God’s work of redemption not only of Joshua but of all the books of the Bible. God’s Covenant is a valuable resource to guide you in all your studies in God’s Word. To order your copy, click hereAnd when you order, we’ll send you a free copy of Bricks and Rungs: Poems on Calling.

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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. All psalms for singing adapted from The Ailbe Psalter. All quotations from Church Fathers from Ancient Christian Commentary Series, General Editor Thomas C. Oden (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2006).

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in Essex Junction, VT. 

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