KEY VERSE FOR MEMORIZATION
“There failed not ought of any good thing which the Lord had spoken unto the house of Israel; all came to pass.” (Joshua 21:45)
Joshua, who was about one hundred years old, now had the task of distributing the land to each of the tribes of Israel. The allotments were given both as border descriptions and a listing of cities. His completion of this job left a lasting legacy to Israel: a place for each tribe and family to settle and call home. They were then able to enjoy what God had given them.
The Israelites inherited their land. They did not win it as spoils of battle nor did they purchase it. “Inheritance,” the theme of the Book of Joshua, is a very important word. In these nine chapters, the word inheritance is found more than fifty times. Other important words are possession and promised.
Before Joshua proceeded with dividing the land on the west side of Jordan, the land on the east side was divided amongst the tribes of Reuben, Gad, and the half-tribe of Manasseh. This was completed per the instruction given by Moses. Focus was then placed on the land of Canaan.
Caleb made his request, “give me this mountain” (Joshua 14:12). This must have signaled to the tribes God’s ability to fulfill His promises. Not only was Caleb alive to receive his promised inheritance, but he was willing and able to do a younger man’s work to get it. Caleb also provided for his descendents. He engaged his nephew Othniel, who later became his son-in-law, to take the city of Debir. Caleb’s daring faith influenced Othniel, who went on to become the first judge of Israel.
The territory of Judah was divided by border descriptions and a detailed list of cities. The tribes of Manasseh and Ephraim, the sons of Joseph, inherited the central hill country of Canaan.
Though slow to respond to the challenge, the remaining seven tribes also had their inheritance marked out for them. Unlike Caleb and the daughters of Zelophehad, these tribes did not demonstrate faith and spiritual zeal. A settlement process was put in place for them. The land remaining to be apportioned was divided into seven equal parts. Joshua then cast lots to determine the specific inheritance of each tribe.
The final two land designations were made. First, Joshua established six cities of refuge. They were needed because society in that day had no police force to investigate crimes. Joshua set apart three cities of refuge on each side of the Jordan River. Finally, forty-eight cities were designated for the Levites to live in — as the tribe of Levi had been set aside by God to be priests for Israel, they did not receive their own territory like the other tribes.
The Lord fulfilled His promise. Israel’s ownership of the land was purely the gracious act of God. Their possession and enjoyment of the land depended on their submission and obedience to Him. Not one word of God will ever fail those who wholly follow Him.