Joshua 13:14
Only to the tribes of Levi he gave none inheritance; the sacrifices of the LORD God of Israel made by fire are their inheritance, as he said to them.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
Joshua 13:14. To the tribe of Levi he — Namely, Moses; gave none inheritance — That is, none in the land beyond Jordan, where yet a considerable part of the Levites were to have their settled abode. This is mentioned as the reason both why Moses gave all that land to the Reubenites, and Gadites, and Manassites, and why Joshua should divide the land only into nine parts and a half, as was said, Joshua 13:7; because Levi was otherwise provided for. Made by fire — Which are here put for all the sacrifices and oblations, including first-fruits and tithes, that were assigned to the Levites, and this passage is repeated to prevent those calumnies and injuries which God foresaw the Levites were likely to meet with, from the malice, envy, and covetousness of their brethren.13:7-33 The land must be divided among the tribes. It is the will of God that every man should know his own, and not take that which is another's. The world must be governed, not by force, but right. Wherever our habitation is placed, and in whatever honest way our portion is assigned, we should consider them as allotted of God; we should be thankful for, and use them as such, while every prudent method should be used to prevent disputes about property, both at present and in future. Joshua must be herein a type of Christ, who has not only conquered the gates of hell for us, but has opened to us the gates of heaven, and having purchased the eternal inheritance for all believers, will put them in possession of it. Here is a general description of the country given to the two tribes and a half, by Moses. Israel must know their own, and keep to it; and may not, under pretence of their being God's peculiar people, encroach on their neighbours. Twice in this chapter it is noticed, that to the tribe of Levi Moses gave no inheritance: see Nu 18:20. Their maintenance must be brought out of all the tribes. The ministers of the Lord should show themselves indifferent about worldly interests, and the people should take care they want nothing suitable. And happy are those who have the Lord God of Israel for their inheritance, though little of this world falls to their lot. His providences will supply their wants, his consolations will support their souls, till they gain heavenly joy and everlasting pleasures.See Deuteronomy 18:1-5 and notes.8. With whom—Hebrew, "him." The antecedent is evidently to Manasseh, not, however, the half-tribe just mentioned, but the other half; for the historian, led, as it were, by the sound of the word, breaks off to describe the possessions beyond Jordan already assigned to Reuben, Gad, and the half of Manasseh (see on [190]Nu 32:1; [191]Nu 32:33; also see De 3:8-17). It may be proper to remark that it was wise to put these boundaries on record. In case of any misunderstanding or dispute arising about the exact limits of each district or property, an appeal could always be made to this authoritative document, and a full knowledge as well as grateful sense obtained of what they had received from God (Ps 16:5, 6). He, i.e. Moses, as is expressed Joshua 13:33, gave none inheritance, to wit, in the land beyond Jordan, where yet a considerable part of the Levites were to have their settled abode. This is mentioned as the reason both why Moses gave all that land to the Reubenites, and Gadites, and Manassites; and why Joshua should divide the land only into nine parts and a half, as was said, Joshua 13:7, because Levi was otherwise provided for

Sacrifices of the Lord made by fire; which by a synecdoche are here put for all those sacrifices and oblations, including first-fruits and tithes, which were assigned to the Levites; and this passage is so oft repeated and urged, to prevent those calumnies and injuries which God foresaw the Levites were likely to meet with from the malice, envy, and covetousness of their brethren; and to oblige all the other tribes to a cheerful and conscionable giving to the Levites their dues, to which they had as good a right and title as they had to their several possessions. Only unto the tribe of Levi he gave none inheritance,.... Neither the Lord, nor Moses by his order, nor did he appoint any inheritance for them, either beyond Jordan, or on this side it, for the Lord was to be their inheritance, Numbers 18:20;

the sacrifices of the Lord God of Israel made by fire are their inheritance, as he said unto them; Deuteronomy 18:1; and which are put for the whole of what was granted to them for their subsistence, as tithes, firstfruits, &c.

Only unto the tribe of Levi he gave none inheritance; the sacrifices of the LORD God of Israel made by fire are {e} their inheritance, as he said unto them.

(e) Levi will live by the sacrifices, Nu 18:21.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
14. Only unto the tribe of Levi] The Levites not being destined for agriculture, but being intended to become the regular teachers of the people, received no inheritance. See Joshua 13:33, and ch. Joshua 14:3-4.

the sacrifices of the Lord God] “the sacryfices, and the slayn offryngis of the Lord God of Yrael,” Wyclif. The offerings of Jehovah were to be their portion (Numbers 18:20; Deuteronomy 10:9; Deuteronomy 18:2).Verse 14. - Only unto the tribe of Levi. See Numbers 18:20-24, where the original command is recorded. Like the clergy under the Christian dispensation, it was seen that they could not at once perform the duties of the priesthood, and act as instructors of the people, if they were burdened, like the rest, with the duty of carrying on war. Their place was supplied by the division of the tribe of Joseph into two, so that the inheritance of Israel was still divided among twelve tribes. Bahr, in his 'Symbolik des Alten Testaments,' 2:48, 49, gives other reasons for the dispersion of the Levites throughout the land. If the Levites were to keep the Law and Word of God, to take measures for its being properly kept by the nation in general, to spread abroad a knowledge of the precepts of the religion of Israel, to stir up the tribes to a devout and religious life, it was not merely desirable, but absolutely necessary, that they should be scattered among the tribes. On the other hand, to secure a proper esprit de corps, a mutual sustaining influence, and a common action, too complete a dispersion would have been a mistake. Hence their collection into the Levitical cities, which, however (see note on Joshua 21:11), were not given up wholly to them. The Divine wisdom which dictated the provisions of the Mosaic law is clearly visible here. The instinct of the Christian Church in early times devised a similar provision for the evangelisation of the people in the organisation of the ancient and mediaeval cathedrals. As he said unto them. This quotation of Numbers 18:20, 24 by a later writer would, under all ordinary circumstances, be regarded as a proof that the Book of Joshua was quoting one of the books of Moses. But the "Elohistic" and "Jehovistic" theory escapes this conclusion in the cumbrous fashion to which reference has been already made. Origen regards this passage as symbolical of the more spiritually earnest among the laity, who" so excel others invirtue of mind and grace of merits, as that the Lord should be called their inheritance." "How very rare," he says, "are those who devote themselves to wisdom and knowledge and preserve their mind clear and pure, and exercise their minds in all excellent virtues, who illuminate the way wherein they walk for simpler souls by the grace of learning, and thus attain to salvation. They are the true priests and Levites, whose inheritance is the Lord, who is wisdom" (Hom. 17 on Joshua). The Sacrifices. The word is derived from אֵשׁ fire. It does not itself, as Keil asserts, signify fire in any place in Holy Writ, but it is used of the shewbread in Leviticus 24:7, 9. It thus came to mean any sacrifice, whether offered by fire or not. And thus the tenth which (Numbers 18:21, 23, 24) was given to the Levites, as being offered for God's service, might be reckoned as in some sense a sacrifice. With this passage we may compare various passages in the New Testament, where, in this respect at least, the Christian ministry stands on the same footing (1 Corinthians 9:11, 13; Galatians 6:6, 7). Thus the maintenance of the Christian ministry is a kind of sacrifice - as we find such deeds called, in fact, in Hebrews 13:16. And an order of men who are set apart to the ministry of souls has a right to claim a sufficient maintenance at the hands of those to whom they minister - a point which in these days of affluence and clerical destitution combined ought to be more largely recognised than it is (see Numbers 18:20-24). "For the law is entrusted to the priests and Levites, and they devote their energies to this alone, and without any anxiety are able to give their time to the Word of God. But that they may be able to do this, they ought to depend upon the support of the laity. For if the laity do not allow the priests and Levites all the necessaries of life, they would be obliged, to engage themselves in temporal occupations, and would thus have less time for the law of God. And when they had no time to spare for the study of God's law, it is thou who wouldst be in danger. For the light of knowledge that is in them would grow dim, because thou hast given no oil for the lamp, and through thy fault it would come to pass, what the Lord said, 'If the blind lead the blind, shall they not both fall into the ditch?'" (Orig., Hom. 17 on Joshua). These words are well worthy of attention now, when a multiplicity of worldly business and a weight of worldly cares are devolved upon God's ministers by a laity which has to too great an extent washed its hands of all cooperation in the work of God's Church. To the command of God to divide the land on this side the Jordan among the nine tribes and a half (Joshua 13:7), the historian appends the remark, that the other two tribes and a half had already received their inheritance from Moses on the other side (Joshua 13:8). This he proceeds to describe in its full extent (Joshua 13:9-13), and then observes that the tribe of Levi alone received no landed inheritance, according to the word of the Lord (Joshua 13:14). After this he gives a description in vv. 15-33 of the land assigned by Moses to each of the two tribes and a half.

(Note: Knobel's remark, that Joshua 13:8-14 anticipate the following section (vv. 15-33) in an unsuitable manner, rests upon a thorough misunderstanding of the whole; for the account of the division of the land to the east of the Jordan among the two tribes and a half (vv. 15-33) could not be introduced in a more appropriate manner than by a description of the circumference of the land and of its principal parts (Joshua 13:9-13).)

The remark in Joshua 13:8 is so closely connected with what precedes by the expression "with whom" (lit., with it), that this expression must be taken as somewhat indefinite: "with whom," viz., with half Manasseh, really signifying with the other half of Manasseh, with which the Reubenites and Gadites had received their inheritance (see Numbers 32 and Deuteronomy 3:8-17). The last words of Joshua 13:8, "as Moses the servant of Jehovah gave them," are not a tautological repetition of the clause "which Moses gave them," but simply affirm that these tribes received the land given them by Moses, in the manner commanded by Moses, without any alteration in his arrangements. The boundaries of the land given in Joshua 13:9-13 really agree with those given in Joshua 12:2-5 and Deuteronomy 3:8, although the expression varies in some respects. The words of Joshua 13:9, "the city that is in the midst of the river," i.e., the city in the valley, viz., Ar, are more distinct than those of Joshua 12:2, "and from the middle of the river." "All the plain" is the Amoritish table-land, a tract of land for the most part destitute of trees, stretching from the Arnon to Heshbon, and towards the north-east to Rabbath-Ammn (see at Deuteronomy 3:10), which is called in Numbers 21:20 the field of Moab Medeba, now called Medaba (see at Numbers 21:30). Dibon, now a ruin called Dibn, to the north of Arnon (see at Numbers 21:20). - Joshua 13:10, as in Joshua 12:2.

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