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Scripture reading – Joshua 19

The narrative concerning the division of the land the LORD promised Israel for an inheritance continues in Joshua 19. Here we read the record of the lands assigned to the remaining six tribes that received their territory by lot: Simeon (19:1-9), Zebulun (19:10-16), Issachar (19:17-23), Asher (19:24-31), Naphtali (19:32-39), and Dan (19:40-48).

The names of the borders and cities in this chapter are too numerous to list, so we will only consider a few details found in Joshua 19 that we should note. First, unlike the other tribes, the tribe of Simeon did not receive a distinct territory but instead discovered its lands “within the inheritance of the children of Judah” (19:1b).

Why was the tribe of Simeon not blessed with a territory of their own in Canaan?

The immediate explanation as “the part of the children of Judah was too much for them: therefore, the children of Simeon had their inheritance within the inheritance of them” (19:9). However, there was a prophetic significance to the assignment of Simeon’s land, within Judah, and it was found in Jacob’s dying words. On his deathbed, Jacob remembered that Simeon and Levi had sinned and disgraced Israel.

Generational Consequences of Sin (Genesis 34)

Do you remember that Simeon and Levi had avenged the honor of their sister Dinah after she was raped by Shechem, the son of Hamor, the Hivite (Genesis 34:1-2)? When Simeon and Levi heard their sister was violated (Genesis 34:5-7), they set their hearts for revenge. They determined to deceive Shechem, his father, and their people into accepting circumcision under the guise of an accord between their families (Genesis 34:13-24).

On the third day of the circumcision, Simeon and Levi attacked and slew Shechem, Hamor, and the men of the city (Genesis 34:25-30). At that time, Jacob rebuked Simeon and Levi and said, “Ye have troubled me” (Genesis 34:30). Many years later, as he was dying, Jacob remembered the cruelty of Simeon and Levi (Genesis 49:5-6) and cursed them, saying, “Cursed be their [Simeon and Levi’s] anger, for it was fierce; And their wrath, for it was cruel: I will divide them in Jacob, And scatter them in Israel” (Genesis 49:7).

“Divide and scatter” was Jacob’s prophetic curse, and it was fulfilled when the tribe of Levi did not receive land as an inheritance in Canaan. So also, the tribe of Simeon would be amid Judah and without a distinct tribal territory.

Joshua 19 concluded with the LORD commanding Israel to give Joshua an inheritance (19:49).

Like the servant leader he was, Joshua had served the needs of all the others and ensured each tribe had its inheritance. Now, “according to the word of the Lord, they gave [Joshua] the city which he asked, even Timnath-serah in mount Ephraim: and he built the city, and dwelt therein” (19:50).

Why did Joshua choose to build a city on Mount Ephraim?

First, Joshua was a son of the tribe of Ephraim. However, the principal reason for his choice was, in my opinion, that the Tabernacle was located at Shiloh, a city of Ephraim. I believe Joshua was content to live out his days near the LORD’s sanctuary, the symbol of God’s presence amid Israel.

Closing thoughts:

What about you? Are you content in the LORD? Is worshipping and serving Him a priority for your life and family? It was for Joshua!

Questions to ponder:

1) Within what tribe’s territory was the tribe of Simeon assimilated? (19:1)

2) What did the tribe of Dan do when it realized its land was “too little for them?” (19:47)

3) With the lands divided among the tribes, how did Israel honor Joshua? (19:49)

Copyright © 2023 – Travis D. Smith

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