Monday, October 18, 2004

Joshua 21

So at last the Levites obtain their inheritance, distributed as towns within the land controlled by other tribes. This takes place in Shiloh, supervised by the high priest Eleazar, Joshua, and the tribal elders. At the end of the chapter, we are told that there is peace, although as will become evident in Judges, this does not last long.

The distribution of land is peculiar. The descendants of Aaron alone receive 13 towns, while all of the other descendants of Kohath, the second of Jacob's grandsons through Levi receive 10. This would include progeny of Moses' son Gershon. Descendants of Gershon (or Gershom), the first of Jacob's grandsons through Levi received 13 towns toward the north. Descendants of Merari, one of Jacob's grandsons through Levi received 12 towns. These were not territorially integral (

Aaron's descendants, who became the official priesthood, are situated in the lands of Judah, Simeon, and Benjamin, leaving much of Israel without these official priests ( This division laid the groundwork for the later heresy of the northern kingdom.

Hebron the town is taken back from Caleb (Joshua 14:13-14) to be given to the descendants of Aaron, while Caleb retains the environs.

Five cities of refuge are again named: Hebron, Schechem, Golan, Kedesh in Galilee, and Ramoth in Gilead. Bezer is named, but not noted as a city of refuge, raising the question of whether it ceased to serve as such.


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