Joshua 18:5
And they shall divide it into seven parts: Judah shall abide in their coast on the south, and the house of Joseph shall abide in their coasts on the north.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(5-10) They shall divide it into seven parts.—The several tribes were not permitted to choose their own portions. In Numbers 26:54-55, we read: “To many thou shalt give the more inheritance, and to few thou shalt give the less inheritance. . . . notwithstanding the land shall be divided by lot.” These words imply that there must be unequal portions of territory for larger and smaller tribes, but that the particular position of each tribe must be settled by the lot, whereof “the whole disposing is of the Lord.” We are not told how this rule was carried out in the case of Judah, Ephraim, and Manasseh, who received their inheritance first. Possibly a sufficient extent of territory was surveyed at first to provide three large allotments. The three tribes might then cast lots, first between Judah and Joseph for the northern or southern portions, and then between Ephraim and Manasseh for the two sections of the northern territory. This would carry out the instructions of Numbers 26. But see above (Joshua 15:1).

Joshua 18:5. Into seven parts — Their business was to divide the country into seven portions of equal extent or worth, and leave God to appoint which portion should fall to each tribe; who could have no reason to complain when the division was made by themselves. Indeed, no tribe was so great but one of these parts in its full extent would abundantly suffice them; and there was no reason why the portions should be greater or less according as the tribes at present were more or fewer in number, because of the various changes which happened therein successively; it being usual for one tribe to be more numerous than another in one age, which was fewer in the next. And if the several tribes had increased more, and not diminished their numbers by their sins, they might have sent forth colonies and taken any part of the land, even as far as Euphrates, all which the Lord of the whole earth had given them a right to, and when they pleased they might take possession of it. Judah shall abide on the south — They shall not be disturbed in their possession, but shall keep it, except some part of it shall be adjudged to another tribe. Joseph on the north — In respect of Judah, not of the whole land; for divers other tribes were more northern than they.18:2-10 After a year or more, Joshua blamed their slackness, and told them how to proceed. God, by his grace, has given us a title to a good land, the heavenly Canaan, but we are slack to take possession of it; we enter not into that rest, as we might by faith, and hope, and holy joy. How long shall it be thus with us? How long shall we thus stand in our own light, and forsake our own mercies for lying vanities? Joshua stirs the Israelites up to take possession of their lots. He is ready to do his part, if they will do theirs.Three men for each tribe - i. e. 21 in all. Their duty would be to describe the land, especially with reference to the cities it contained Joshua 18:9, that Joshua might have the means of making a first apportionment among the tribes according to their varying numbers. 4-9. Give out from among you three men for each tribe—Though the lot determined the part of the country where each tribe was to be located, it could not determine the extent of territory which might be required; and the dissatisfaction of the children of Joseph with the alleged smallness of their possession gave reason to fear that complaints might arise from other quarters, unless precautions were taken to make a proper distribution of the land. For this purpose a commission was given to twenty-one persons—three chosen from each of the seven tribes which had not yet received their inheritance, to make an accurate survey of the country. Seven parts; which were of equal extent or worth; for no tribe was so great but one of these parts in its full extent would abundantly suffice them; and there was no reason why the portions should be greater or less according as the tribes at present were more or fewer in number, because of the various changes which happened therein successively; it being usual for one tribe to be more numerous than another in one age, which was fewer in the next. And if the several tribes had increased more, and not diminished their numbers by their sins, they might have sent forth colonies, and taken any part of the land, even as far as Euphrates, all which the Lord of the whole earth had given them a right to, which when they pleased they might take possession of.

Shall abide in their coast on the south: they shall not be disturbed in their possession, but shall keep it, except some part of it shall be adjudged to another tribe.

On the north; in respect of Judah, not of the whole land; for divers other tribes were more northern than they. And they shall divide it into seven parts,.... According to the number of the seven tribes not yet settled; and this they were to describe and divide was all the land subdued, or not subdued, only the following excepted:

Judah shall abide in their coast on the south; on the south of the land of Canaan, where their lot fell, so that needed not to be measured and described; and this tribe was to retain what they were possessed of, unless it should appear they had too much, and others wanted, and they willing to part with some of it to their brethren, as they afterwards did to the tribes of Simeon and Dan:

and the house of Joseph shall abide in their coast on the north; on the north of the tribe of Judah; not of the land of Canaan, for some other tribes lay more northerly.

And they shall divide it into seven parts: Judah shall abide in their coast on the south, and the house of Joseph shall {d} abide in their coasts on the north.

(d) For these had their inheritance already appointed.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
5. Judah shall abide] The division, which had secured by lot their territory to the tribes of Judah and Joseph, was still to be respected.As the answer of the children of Joseph indicated cowardice and want of confidence in the help of God, Joshua contented himself with repeating his first reply, though more fully and with the reasons assigned. "Thou art a strong people, and hast great power; there will not be one lot to thee:" i.e., because thou art a numerous people and endowed with strength, there shall not remain one lot to thee, thou canst and wilt extend thine inheritance. "For the mountain will be thine, for it is forest, and thou wilt hew it out, and its goings out will become thine." By the mountain we are not to understand the mountains of Ephraim which were assigned to the Ephraimites by the lot, but the wooded mountains mentioned in Joshua 17:15, which the children of Joseph were to hew out, so as to make outlets for themselves. "The outgoings of it" are the fields and plains bordering upon the forest. For the Canaanites who dwelt there (Joshua 17:15) would be driven out by the house of Joseph, just because they had iron chariots and were strong, and therefore only a strong tribe like Joseph was equal to the task. "Not one of the tribes of Israel is able to fight against them (the Canaanites) because they are strong, but you have strength enough to be able to expel them" (Rashi).
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