An Inheritance for Joshua

And the first shall be last.

Joshua 18-21 (4)

Read Joshua 19.49-51.

1.  Why do you suppose they waited until last to provide an allotment for Joshua?

2.  Joshua seems to have been content to receive his inheritance, improve and develop it, and dwell peacefully in it. As leader of the people of Israel, is he forgetting something (cf. Jdgs. 2.7-10)?

Think about it.
I doubt that Joshua’s being given his inheritance last was an oversight. His tribe, Ephraim, had already received their allotment. Now he was being granted the request which the Lord had laid on his heart, that he might have the city of Timnath Serah in Ephraim. By acclamation, “the children of Israel” – not just the tribal heads of Ephraim – granted Joshua’s request, a gesture of unanimity expressing both appreciation and honor.

It is a measure of Joshua’s humility that, as leader of the victorious tribes, he did not insist on having his choice of all the properties in Israel, and having it first, before everyone else started carving up the land. He waited until all the tribal allotments had been made, then requested his allotment within the territory of his tribe.

We receive here a little more information about how these allotments were made. The land was surveyed by representatives of all the tribes. Then, in the presence of the Lord and before His tabernacle, tribal leaders cast lots for the territories west of the Jordan River, as the Lord led them. Beginning with Judah and the sons of Joseph, they appointed lands to the tribes according to their size and other characteristics. The casting of lots related to the order of the appointments. The actual assignment of lands was then made, following the detailed survey, according to the size and other needs of the individual tribes, in the order determined by the lots. Each tribal head probably had a stone or wooden piece with the name of their tribe incised, which they cast into a pile to determine, by some means, which tribal allotment should be honored next.

Joshua retired to his appointed city and concentrated on developing and dwelling in it. Although Moses had taken great care to prepare Joshua for leadership after he died, we see no such concern on Joshua’s part. Nor did God call him to appoint someone after him to carry on his leadership. Was this an oversight on Joshua’s part? Or was he merely assuming the various tribal heads would do their duty? We don’t know. What we do know is that, in the generation following these leaders, Israel was not prepared for the work that remained or the challenges they would face with pagan peoples still living in their midst.

Meditate and discuss.
1.  What do you think: Did Joshua fail by not training a leader to succeed him? Or at least making sure the various tribal heads were leading as they should?

2.  This process seems to have been accomplished in an orderly, spiritual, albeit random manner. Explain. What can we learn about discerning the Lord’s will from the process of allotting these inheritances?

3.  Our text notes that “they made an end of dividing the country.” But was that the end of their work? Is there ever an end to the work of claiming God’s promises?

Let us see, therefore, what is this place in which Jesus is bound to dwell. ‘In Mount Ephraim,’ it says, that is, in the fruit-bearing mountain. Who do you think among us are fruit-bearing mountains, in whom Jesus may dwell? Surely those in whom exist ‘the fruit of the Spirit: joy, peace, patience, love,’ and the rest. Those, therefore, are the fruit-bearing mountains who produce the fruit of the Spirit and who are always lofty in mind and expectation.” Origen of Alexandria (185-254 AD)

Thank You, for the “allotment” You have assigned to me in my Personal Mission Field. Today, help me to…

Pray Psalm 126.

Daily we must work out our salvation in fear and trembling (Phil. 2.12), sowing to the Spirit rather than to the flesh (Gal. 6.7-10). As you pray this psalm, weep with repentance for any sins, and seek the Lord for the “sowing” of the coming day.

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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