|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
21:9-42 By mixing the Levites with the other tribes, they were made to see that the eyes of all Israel were upon them, and therefore it was their concern to walk so that their ministry might not be blamed. Every tribe had its share of Levites' cities. Thus did God graciously provide for keeping up religion among them, and that they might have the word in all parts of the land. Yet, blessed be God, we have the gospel more diffused amongst us.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
All the cities of the Levites, within the possession of the children of Israel,.... As comprised in one sum total:
were forty and eight cities with their suburbs; which is just the number that Moses from the mouth of God ordered to be given unto them, before they entered into the land, and before they were in possession of one city in it, Numbers 35:7; which, as it is a proof of the omniscience, prescience, and predetermination of God; so of the sure and true prediction of Moses, who could not be otherwise certain than from the Lord of the Israelites being able to give so many cities to them, out of each of their tribes: and it is to be observed, that this tribe of Levi, though it had no share in the division of the land, yet had more cities by lot given to it than any other, excepting the tribe of Judah; though indeed, in the account of some of the tribes, all the cities in them are not mentioned; and besides, they had only the cities they had with their suburbs round about them, but not the lands belonging to them, nor the villages; however this shows that a large and liberal maintenance of the ministers of the Lord, that serve in his sanctuary should be allowed and made for them, as in the legal, so under the Gospel dispensation.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
41. All the cities of the Levites within the possession of the children of Israel were forty and eight cities with their suburbs—This may appear too great a proportion compared with those of the other tribes. But it must be borne in mind that the list given here contains the names of every Levitical city (see on 1Ch 6:39-66); whereas only those cities of the other tribes are mentioned which lay on the frontier or along the boundary line. Besides, the Levites were not the exclusive inhabitants of those forty-eight cities; for there must have been also a considerable number of people kept there to cultivate the glebe lands and tend the cattle. Still further, the Levitical cities had nothing but "their suburbs round about them" [Jos 21:42]; whereas the other cities in Israel possessed a group of independent villages (see Jos 17:1-19:51).
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