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Joshua 17-19

Supplemental notes for the Daily Bible Study Bible Reading Plan

by Wayne Blank

Joshua Chapter 17

Of all of the tribes of Israel, only Manasseh held land on both sides of The Jordan River (see map below). Coincidentally or not, the Israelite patriarch Manasseh had a native-born connection to that eastern territory. Keeping in mind that nearly all (only Benjamin was born in what became the land of Israel) of the Israelite patriarchs were born in what is today Syria, when Jacob was living with Laban (see Jacob and Laban), the land east of the Jordan was hardly "foreign" to them. Also, long before, Manasseh had a son through a Syrian / Aramean i.e. "The sons of Manasseh: Asriel, whom his Aramean concubine bore; she bore Machir the father of Gilead" (1 Chronicles 7:14 RSV) and through him a grandson named Gilead, with the same name as that area east of the Jordan, long before the half-tribe of Manasseh claimed it (although Gilead extended through the areas held by the other two eastern tribes as well, with the north and south boundaries equivalent to the latitudes of the Sea of Galilee and the Dead Sea). Zelophehad's Daughters, who were of Manasseh, also had their inheritance east of the Jordan.


"Then allotment was made to the tribe of Manasseh, for he was the first-born of Joseph. To Machir the first-born of Manasseh, the father of Gilead, were allotted Gilead and Bashan, because he was a man of war. And allotments were made to the rest of the tribe of Manasseh, by their families, Abiezer, Helek, Asriel, Shechem, Hepher, and Shemida; these were the male descendants of Manasseh the son of Joseph, by their families.

Now Zelophehad the son of Hepher, son of Gilead, son of Machir, son of Manasseh, had no sons, but only daughters; and these are the names of his daughters: Mahlah, Noah, Hoglah, Milcah, and Tirzah. They came before Eleazar the priest and Joshua the son of Nun and the leaders, and said, "The Lord commanded Moses to give us an inheritance along with our brethren." So according to the commandment of The Lord he gave them an inheritance among the brethren of their father. Thus there fell to Manasseh ten portions, besides the land of Gilead and Bashan, which is on the other side of the Jordan; because the daughters of Manasseh received an inheritance along with his sons. The land of Gilead was allotted to the rest of the Manassites." (Joshua 17:1-6 RSV)

The western territory of Manasseh was along the border of Ephraim, although in some places (as with some of the other tribes) the tribal lands intertwined.

"The territory of Manasseh reached from Asher to Michmethath, which is east of Shechem; then the boundary goes along southward to the inhabitants of Entappuah. The land of Tappuah belonged to Manasseh, but the town of Tappuah on the boundary of Manasseh belonged to the sons of Ephraim. Then the boundary went down to the brook Kanah. The cities here, to the south of the brook, among the cities of Manasseh, belong to Ephraim. Then the boundary of Manasseh goes on the north side of the brook and ends at the sea; the land to the south being Ephraim's and that to the north being Manasseh's, with the sea forming its boundary; on the north Asher is reached, and on the east Issachar." (Joshua 17:7-10 RSV)

Joshua Chapter 18

The tribal allotment for Benjamin was in the south, in what would become known as Judea. The Benjamites later became known as "Jews" because of their political choice to be in the southern kingdom of Judah (see Israelite Monarchy - The Division Of Israel and Israelite Monarchy - The Southern Kingdom; also Was Paul A Jew or a Benjamite? and Who Was The First Jew?). The northern border of Benjamin was roughly the latitude of Bethel; the southern boundary of Benjamin was "the Jebusite city" that later became more well-known as Jerusalem.


The lot of the tribe of Benjamin according to its families came up, and the territory allotted to it fell between the tribe of Judah and the tribe of Joseph.

On the north side their boundary began at the Jordan; then the boundary goes up to the shoulder north of Jericho, then up through the hill country westward; and it ends at the wilderness of Bethaven. From there the boundary passes along southward in the direction of Luz, to the shoulder of Luz, the same is Bethel, then the boundary goes down to Atarothaddar, upon the mountain that lies south of Lower Bethhoron.

Then the boundary goes in another direction, turning on the western side southward from the mountain that lies to the south, opposite Bethhoron, and it ends at Kiriath-baal, that is, Kiriath-jearim, a city belonging to the tribe of Judah. This forms the western side.

And the southern side begins at the outskirts of Kiriath-jearim; and the boundary goes from there to Ephron, to the spring of the Waters of Nephtoah; then the boundary goes down to the border of the mountain that overlooks the valley of the son of Hinnom, which is at the north end of the valley of Rephaim; and it then goes down the valley of Hinnom, south of the shoulder of the Jebusites, and downward to En-rogel; then it bends in a northerly direction going on to Enshemesh, and thence goes to Geliloth, which is opposite the ascent of Adummim; then it goes down to the Stone of Bohan the son of Reuben; and passing on to the north of the shoulder of Beth-arabah it goes down to the Arabah; then the boundary passes on to the north of the shoulder of Beth-hoglah; and the boundary ends at the northern bay of The Salt Sea, at the south end of the Jordan: this is the southern border.

The Jordan forms its boundary on the eastern side. This is the inheritance of the tribe of Benjamin, according to its families, boundary by boundary round about." (Joshua 18:11-20 RSV)

Joshua Chapter 19

The remaining tribes (see Children of Jacob) then had well-defined legal boundaries (see also Landmark) established for themselves as well.

The Tribes of Israel

"The second lot came out for Simeon, for the tribe of Simeon, according to its families; and its inheritance was in the midst of the inheritance of the tribe of Judah." (Joshua 19:1 RSV)

"The third lot came up for the tribe of Zebulun, according to its families" (Joshua 19:10 RSV)

The fourth lot came out for Issachar, for the tribe of Issachar, according to its families." (Joshua 19:17 RSV)

"The fifth lot came out for the tribe of Asher according to its families." (Joshua 19:24 RSV)

"The sixth lot came out for the tribe of Naphtali, for the tribe of Naphtali, according to its families." (Joshua 19:32 RSV)

The seventh lot came out for the tribe of Dan, according to its families." (Joshua 19:40 RSV)

And finally, an allotment for Joshua himself, within his tribal family of Ephraim.

"When they had finished distributing the several territories of the land as inheritances, the people of Israel gave an inheritance among them to Joshua the son of Nun. By command of The Lord they gave him the city which he asked, Timnath-serah in the hill country of Ephraim; and he rebuilt the city, and settled in it.

These are the inheritances which Eleazar the priest [see also The Lines Of Eleazar and Ithamar] and Joshua the son of Nun and the heads of the fathers' houses of the tribes of the people of Israel distributed by lot at Shiloh before The Lord, at the door of the tent of meeting. So they finished dividing the land." (Joshua 19:49-51 RSV)

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