Joshua 14:2
By lot was their inheritance, as the LORD commanded by the hand of Moses, for the nine tribes, and for the half tribe.
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(2) By lot . . . as the Lord commanded . . . Moses.—See Numbers 26:52-56; Numbers 34:17-29.

The nine tribes, and for the half tribe; and (3) For Moses had given; and (4) For the children of Joseph were two tribes.—The argument of these verses can only mean that the tribal inheritances were to be twelve in number, and therefore the Levites were excluded from any distinct territorial position, for the children of Joseph were to be two tribes. Of Ephraim and Manasseh, Jacob had said to Joseph, “as Reuben and Simeon, they shall be mine:” i.e., though grandsons, they shall count as sons of Jacob, and each one shall be the head of a tribe. Thus there are two ways of counting Jacob’s sons, each making twelve; and these two seem to be recognised as distinct in Exodus 28. There we are told that the high priest should bear the names of the children of Israel on his shoulders according to their birth (i.e., Joseph being counted as well as Levi, but not Ephraim and Manasseh). On his breastplate he must have them according to the twelve tribes (i.e., Ephraim and Manasseh being specified, but Joseph and Levi left out). Both ways of reckoning were necessary in order that the complete Israel might be represented by the high priest. And in each way the number twelve was preserved and emphasised, as it is evidently intended to be in this place,

Joshua 14:2. By lot was their inheritance, as the Lord commanded — “Though God had sufficiently pointed out,” says Dr. Dodd, “by the predictions of Jacob, when dying, and those of Moses, what portions he designed for each tribe; we readily discern an admirable proof of his wisdom, in the orders he gave to decide them by lot. By this means were prevented the false interpretations which might have been given to the words of Jacob and Moses; and by striking at the root of whatever might occasion jealousies and disputes among the tribes, he evidently secured the honesty of those who were to be appointed to distribute to them the conquered countries in the land of Canaan. Besides, the success of this method became a fresh proof of the divinity of the Israelites’ religion, and the truth of its oracles. Each tribe, finding itself placed by lot exactly in the spot which Jacob and Moses had foretold, it was evident that providence had equally directed both those predictions and that lot. The event justified the truth of the promises. The more singular it was, the more clearly do we discern the finger of God in it. No one has set these reflections in a fairer light than Masius. ‘The portion,’ says he, ‘fell to each tribe just as Jacob had declared two hundred and fifty years before, in the last moments of his life, and Moses, immediately before his death; for to the tribe of Judah fell a country abounding in vineyards and pastures; to Zebulun and Issachar, seaports; in that of Asher was plenty of oil, wheat, and metals; that of Benjamin, near the temple, was in a manner between the shoulders of the Deity; Ephraim and Manasseh were distinguished with a territory blessed in a peculiar manner by Heaven. The land of Simeon extended from the west to the south of the tribe of Judah. Since, therefore, the lot corresponded so well to these predictions, would it not be insolence and stupidity in the highest degree, not to acknowledge the inspiration of God in the words of Jacob and Moses, the direction of his hand in the lot, and his providence in the went?’”14:1-5 The Israelites must occupy the new conquests. Canaan would have been subdued in vain, if it had not been inhabited. Yet every man might not go and settle where he pleased. God shall choose our inheritance for us. Let us survey our heritage of present mercy, our prospect for the land of promise, eternal in the heavens. Is God any respecter of persons? Is it not better that our place, as to earthly good or sorrow, should be determined by the infinite wisdom of our heavenly Father, than by our own ignorance? Should not those for whom the great mystery of godliness was exhibited, those whose redemption was purchased by Jesus Christ, thankfully refer their earthly concerns to his appointment?By lot - We are not told in what manner the lot was cast. Perhaps two urns were employed, one containing a description of the several districts to be allotted, the other the names of the tribes; and the portion of each tribe would then be determined by a simultaneous drawing from the two urns. Or a drawing might be made by some appointed person, or by a delegate of each tribe from one urn containing the description of the ten inheritances. The lot only determined in a general way the position in the country of the particular tribe concerned, whether north or south, etc.; the dimensions of each territory being left to be adjusted subsequently, according to the numbers and wants of the tribe to be provided for. Since the predilections and habits of two tribes and a half were consulted in the apportionment to them of the trans-Jordanic territory Numbers 32:1 there is no objection to the supposition that something of the same kind may have taken place, subject to the divine approval, in the distribution of the lands to the nine and a half other tribes; and the lot would thus be appealed to as finally deciding the matter and foreclosing jealousies and disputes.

It is apparent that the casting of the ten lots did not take place simultaneously. The tribe of Judah had precedence, whether by express appointment or because its lot "came up" first, does not appear. It was, as it seems, only after this tribe had settled upon its domains, that further lots were drawn for Ephraim and the half tribe of Manasseh. After this a pause, perhaps of some duration, appears to have occurred; the camp was moved from Gilgal to Shiloh; and the further casting of lots for the other seven tribes was proceeded with at the instigation of Joshua (see Joshua 18:10).


Jos 14:1-5. The Nine Tribes and a Half to Have Their Inheritance by Lot.

1. these are the countries which the children of Israel inherited in the land of Canaan—This chapter forms the introduction to an account of the allocation of the land west of Jordan, or Canaan proper, to the nine tribes and a half. It was also made by lot in presence of a select number of superintendents, appointed according to divine directions given to Moses (see on [192]Nu 34:16). In everything pertaining to civil government, and even the division of the land, Joshua was the acknowledged chief. But in a matter to be determined by lot, a solemn appeal was made to God, and hence Eleazar, as high priest, is named before Joshua.

This course God ordained, partly to prevent discontents, enmities, animosities, and quarrels among the tribes about the quality of their several portions; and partly to demonstrate the truth and wisdom of his providence, by which alone those parts fell to each of them, which Jacob long since, and Moses lately, foretold; so that, as a learned man saith, He must be more stupid than stupidity, and more impudent than impudence itself, that doth not acknowledge and confess a Divine hand and providence in this matter. The lot did only determine the several parts or provinces to the several tribes, but did not precisely fix all the bounds of it, but these might be either enlarged or diminished according to the greater or smaller number of the tribes, Numbers 26:53,56 33:54, and that by the direction of those persons mentioned Joshua 14:1 17:14-18. By lot was their inheritance,.... Every tribe had its part and portion assigned to it, by the casting of lots; which was done to prevent any future quarrels, animosities and strifes among the tribes, the disposition being of the Lord; and to show the exact agreement between the lot and the divine predictions by Jacob and Moses; and to make it appear that the division of the land was not owing to the private combination of the above men, and their private settlement of it; but to the providence of God, the directors of the lot; their chief business was to see that the lot was executed in a faithful manner, and that every tribe had its allotment according to it. In this Canaan was a type of the heavenly inheritance, which the saints obtain by lot, in and through Christ, the antitypical Joshua, Ephesians 1:11,

as the Lord commanded by the hand of Moses, Numbers 26:55,

for the nine tribes, and for the half tribe; see Joshua 13:7; the reason why this number of them is particularly mentioned follows.

By lot was their inheritance, as the LORD commanded by the hand of Moses, for the nine tribes, and for the half tribe.
2. By lot was their inheritance] See Numbers 26:55; Numbers 33:54, and note above on the use of “lots” ch. Joshua 7:18.

(a)  The use of lots was specially characteristic of the ancient world. Thus it was a standing custom of the Athenians to divide the land of conquered enemies to colonists by lot (Diod. xv. 23, 29), and we find it resorted to by them (a) in Eubœa (Herod. v. 77; vi. 100), (b) in Lesbos (Thuc. III. 50). The Romans also assigned territory to the victorious legions by lot (Cic. Ep. ad Div. xi. 20).

(b)  How the lot was taken on this occasion we are not told. The Rabbins conjecture that there were two urns; in one had been placed little tablets with the names of the tribes, and in the other similar tablets with the names of the districts, and that one of each was drawn at the same time.

(c)  The decision was made by lot, not merely to prevent all disputes with reference to their respective possessions, and to remove every ground of discontent and complaint, but also in order that each tribe might cheerfully and thankfully accept the share awarded to it, as the inheritance intended for it by God. “For the casting of lots is not regulated either by the opinion, or caprice, or authority of men.” (Calvin.) “It is true that it seems as though this might have been as easily accomplished, if Joshua or the High Priest had been divinely inspired to give to every tribe its inheritance. But men are never so ready to submit cheerfully to the decisions of another man, even though they may be the result of Divine Inspiration, as they are to a decision arrived at by a lot over which the Lord presides, and thus entirely raised above human caprice.” (See Proverbs 18:18; Proverbs 16:33.)Verse 2. - By lot was their inheritance. The commentators, following the Rabbis, have amused themselves by speculations how the lot was taken. The question is of no great practical importance; but no doubt the contrivance was a very primitive one, as the word גורָל a small pebble, used here, seems to imply. What is of more importance is the fact that the distribution of territory was the result of no one's caprice, or ambition, or intrigue. The whole matter was referred to God, and the leader of the Israelitish hosts and the high priest presided over the ceremony. It was a common belief among the Gentiles, as well as the Jews, that the use of the lot was to refer the matter to a Divine decision. So we read in the Proverbs, "The lot is cast into the lap, but the whole disposing thereof is of the Lord" (Proverbs 16:33; cf. 18:18). It is a strong evidence for the truth of this narrative that we read of no conflicts between the various tribes respecting the division of territory. Jealousies sprung up between the tribes, as the narratives in Judges 8, 9, 12; 2 Samuel 19:43, are sufficient to show. But in no one case was there any complaint of unfairness, any attempt to disturb the territorial arrangement made at the time of the original settlement in Palestine. There can be little doubt that Keil is right in supposing this original division to have been in outline merely. It is obvious from the onward course of the narrative (especially ch. 18.) that no very minute accuracy in detail could possibly have been arrived at. The country was roughly mapped out at first, and the complete adjustment of boundaries was a matter which would naturally be put off until the land were actually in possession. The territory of the half tribe of Manasseh extended from Mahanaim onwards, and embraced all Bashan, with the sixty Jair towns and the (northern) half of Gilead (see the comm. on Deuteronomy 3:13-15).
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