A smaller tribe, but no less capable of honoring the Lord in its cities.

Joshua 18-21 (2)

Read Joshua 18.11-28.

1.  Why do you suppose Benjamin’s allotment was squeezed in between Judah and Ephraim?

2.  Benjamin was a smaller tribe, but were God’s expectations of them any smaller than what He expected of the larger tribes? 

Think about it.
The allotment for Benjamin was squeezed in between those of Ephraim and Judah. One of the smaller tribes, Benjamin would become a source of great pain and distress for the nation toward the end of the period of the judges.

This is a smaller allotment because the tribe of Benjamin was one of the smaller of the twelve tribes. Perhaps this is why they were cushioned between the two powerful tribes of Judah and Ephraim – both for their protection and to keep some distance between competing tribes.

Only twenty-six cities were needed to house the people of Benjamin. But, though a small tribe, with smaller territory and fewer cities, the people of Benjamin had just as much opportunity to serve and honor God in their cities and lands. Size is not important. What matters is being faithful to the Lord and honoring Him in all we do.

Curious in the list of these cities is Jebus (Jerusalem). This was previously assigned to Judah; at least, it was Judah’s responsibility to drive the Jebusites out (Josh. 15.63). Now those strong and stubborn pagans would continue smack in the middle of one of the smallest tribes, in a strategic place in the nation. 

That can’t be a good thing.

Meditate and discuss.
1.  In Christianity today, we tend to think that size matters. The bigger our church, the more varied our programs, the better. Is this a good way to think about church health? Why or why not?

2.  Can small churches honor and serve God as effectively as larger churches? Explain. 

3.  The city of Jebus (Jerusalem) is mentioned here as assigned to Benjamin (v. 28). It must have been transferred from the allotment to Judah, just as part of Judah’s inheritance would be tapped for the tribe of Simeon. Why do you suppose the writer chose not to mention that this city was still in Canaanite hands? Does not facing up to such a fact make it simply go away?

“In the lot of Benjamin nothing occurs particularly deserving of notice, unless that a small tribe takes precedence of the others. I admit, indeed, that its limits were narrowed in proportion to the fewness of its numbers, because it obtained only twenty-six cities; but still an honor was bestowed upon it in the mere circumstance of its receiving its inheritance before more distinguished tribes…It is strange, however, that having obtained such a quiet locality, they did not live on peaceful and friendly terms with their neighbors.” John Calvin, Commentary on Joshua (1509-1564 AD)

Lord, my calling may be a “small” one, but it matters to You and to the people to whom You send me each day. Help me today to…

Pray Psalm 139.23, 24.

Listen as the Lord searches your soul and life. Confess any sins and repent as the Lord leads.

Psalm 139.23, 24 (Ripley: Hallelujah, Praise Jehovah, O My Soul)
Search my heart, O Lord, and know me, 
as You only, Lord, can do. 
Test my thoughts and contemplations, 
whether they be vain or true. 
Let there be no sin in me, Lord, 
nothing that Your Spirit grieves. 
Lead me in the righteous way, Lord, 
unto everlasting peace!

T. M. Moore

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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