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6. The Promised Land; Conquered and Divided

October 2, 2009

Text:    Joshua 12:1-19:51

Outline:            I. The Promised Land is Conquered      Joshua 12:1-13:7

II. 2 1/2 Tribes Have Their Land      Joshua 13:8-33

III. Judah Receives Their Land      Joshua 14:1-15:63

IV. Manasseh and Ephraim Receive Their Land      Joshua 16:1-17:18

V. The Remaining 7 Tribes Receive Their Land      Joshua 18:1-19:51


This is a long section of scripture but its’ theme is unified by the dividing of the land among the tribes. Joshua was commanded to conquer and divide the land so this completes his formal duties except for appointing the refuge cities and defining places for the Levites to live. That work is concluded in the Lesson 7.

Israel has conquered the Promised Land. Two kings were defeated east of the Jordan River and 31 kings were defeated west of the Jordan River. With their defeat, the kings and their people were killed.

Joshua 13:1-7 should probably be placed between Chapters 22 and 23 to be chronological. The record is saying that much of the land has been conquered but there is more to be done. This was to be the responsibility of the tribes as they relocated in the land and continued to prosper and grow in number. The western seaboard north to Lebanon remained as did the northern mountain regions. The Macmillan Bible Atlas has good maps defining what Joshua and Moses conquered and what remained to be conquered. Remember, God said He was going to give the land to Israel gradually [see Deut 7:22-24]. They would conquer it and grow into it.

Manasseh, Gad, and Reuben inherited the land east of the Jordan. Again, note one of the Bible maps defining the territory given these 2 1/2 tribes by Moses.

Joshua, Eleazar the Priest, and Israel’s elders are responsible for assigning land to the remaining 9 1/2 tribes. The Levites do not inherit land but only towns with pastureland for their flocks and herds.

The elders of Judah visit Joshua and Caleb asks for a special piece of land which he had surveyed 45 years before when he was one of the 12 spies sent out by Moses. Caleb and Joshua were the only 2 spies recommending they seize the Promised Land then. As a reward for his faith, Moses had promised Caleb the land he had walked. This land was the hill country surrounding Hebron. Joshua honored Moses’ promise to Caleb and blessed him.

Since Caleb was of the tribe of Judah and was given Hebron, Judah then received all of the territory from the Dead Sea to the Mediterranean Sea as their inheritance.

Upon receiving his inheritance, Caleb took immediate action against the Anakites and Debir, driving them out of the land. Othniel, Caleb’s nephew, won Caleb’s daughter in marriage when he captured Kiriath Sepher [see Judges 3:7-11] some years later. Note that apostasy and idolatry had already crept into the Israelite culture.

Judah’s inheritance included a total of 107 kings plus Jerusalem. But Judah was never able to drive the Jebusites out of Jerusalem and they live there even today.

Manasseh’s inheritance was east of the Jordan but the other 1/2 tribe of Joseph, Ephraim, received their inheritance on the west side of the Jordan River. See a map for their territory. They were unable to drive out the Canaanites livening in Gezar but made them slaves instead.

Manasseh’s tribe was strong and numerous. They settled east of the Jordan and were even given land west of the Jordan River within that allotted to Issachar and Asher. They were not strong enough to drive out the Canaanites either but took them as slaves. They complained to Joshua wanting more land but Joshua told them to use their strength and take more land to the north. One gets the feeling they didn’t want to fight for it. They were strong, numerous, and lazy.

Moses had promised the daughters of Zelopphidath that they would receive an inheritance so Joshua grants them land in Manasseh among their brethren [Num. 27:1-11].

It appears there is a break in granting/deciding the land for the remaining 7 tribes. The land given to Judah and Ephraim was done at Gilgal, the Israelite camp. Now the people are gathered at Shiloh, where God’s tabernacle has been set up in a more central location, for determining the inheritance of the remaining seven tribes. These 7 tribes were to go out and resurvey the land and participate in dividing it among themselves with Joshua and Eleazar. Perhaps the tribes were sent out from Gilgal but returned with their survey information to Shiloh for the assignment of remaining land. Benjamin was given the land between Judah and Joseph [Ephraim]. These two, Judah and Ephraim, were the most influential tribes and their names were used by the Prophets to define the two divided kingdoms after Solomon’s reign ended. Lots were cast for Simeon, Zebulon, Issachar, Asher, Naphtali, and Dan in that order. Dan was the furthest away and they had difficulty securing their inheritance.

Joshua was given a special inheritance [just like Caleb], the city of Timnath-Serah in south-central Ephraim.  Thus dividing the land by tribe is finished.


1. Be careful. When success comes easy we tend to let our guard down and apostasy creeps into our lives. The battle may be won but it never ends until Christ returns to rule.

2. As His Church, or as a church, we value togetherness. But sometimes God’s Will is that we separate in order to divide up the work. Therefore, it is not wrong for us to have many denominations as long as we remain unified in our worship of the Lord and fulfill our calling to make disciples [grow]. Therefore, it is right for large churches to plant smaller churches. Smaller churches can grow proportionately faster than larger churches.

3. God prefers we work to build His Kingdom. We are laborers, not spectators.


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