This Week’s Reading Schedule
Today’s (Thursday’s) Bible reading is Joshua 16-20.
Friday, April 13: Joshua 21-24.
Next week we will read Judges.
The overall year’s plan is here.
A lot of today’s reading is just a description of the land allotted to each of the tribes. It’s best read with a map handy.
Here is a simple colored map of the tribal areas.
Here is an interactive map with city names.
17:3-4 has the story of a family with no sons whose daughters were assigned land.
The descendants of Joseph got a double portion because his sons Manasseh and Ephraim each ended up with a tribe. Not satisfied with this double portion, they ask for more. Joshua gives it to them, but only if they go conquer the land themselves.
It’s surprising to me that they are willing to complain that this extra allotment might be too difficult to conquer because the inhabitants had chariots with iron wheels. After the entire congregation had wandered in the wilderness for over 38 extra years because of the fearful report of the spies, you would think that these sons of Joseph would be more frightened of God’s reaction than of the iron-wheeled chariots! Especially when they’re addressing Joshua, one of the two believing spies!
The Tent of Meeting is set up at Shiloh, and Shiloh is an important city for a while. Keep in mind that there was no temple. That would have to wait four hundred years for Solomon. God still met Israel at the tabernacle the Israelites had made in the wilderness.
Thus, in a sense, Shiloh was the first capitol of Israel. Jerusalem would not be the capitol until King David, some 350 years later.
Chapter 19 describes the land given to six of the tribes and Joshua. It may not be exciting to read all the city names when you don’t know where those cities are, but you should at least skim the chapter. There are always little tidbits hidden among the more "boring" stuff.
By the way, for advanced Bible students, there are sometimes amazing messages hidden in the names of the cities. If you get a computer Bible—I use the Online Bible, which is not online, but downloaded free to my computer—you can just click on the city name and see its translation. It’s very fast!
One of the tidbits in this chapter is that Judah’s land was too big for them. Thus, Simeon’s land was taken from Judah’s.
What’s interesting is that despite the fact that Simeon’s land was taken from the south of Judah, when the kingdom split under Rehoboam, ten tribes went with Israel, including Simeon. It was Judah and Benjamin that remained under the rule of Rehoboam, Solomon’s son.
Another interesting tidbit is that Dan was unable to capture their assigned lot. They were given the northern area of the Philistines, but when they failed, they moved completely across Israel to the north, winding up with a tiny portion of northernmost Israel. It’s only major city was Dan itself. (Look at the simple, colored map to see where those were.)
Six cities were set aside as cities of refuge. A look at the map will show that they are well-spaced, one in the north, one central, and one in the south. Where you can’t find the specific city on the map, you can see where the tribal area was.