“When they had crucified Jesus,
They divided his garments
By casting lots.
Then they sat down there.
They kept watch
σταυρώσαντες δὲ αὐτὸν διεμερίσαντο τὰ ἱμάτια αὐτοῦ βάλλοντες κλῆρον,
καὶ καθήμενοι ἐτήρουν αὐτὸν ἐκεῖ.
The first verse is almost word for word in Mark, chapter 15:24, but there is nothing about keeping watch. Luke, chapter 12:34, mentioned the dividing of Jesus’ garments by chance. John, chapter 19:23-25, has a longer detailed description about the division of the garments of Jesus. The first cinemascope movie in 1953 was called the “The Robe,” based on a 1942 novel with the same name that got its inspiration from this biblical passage. When the Roman soldiers had put Jesus on the cross for his crucifixion (σταυρώσαντες δὲ), they divided his garments among themselves (αὐτὸν διεμερίσαντο τὰ ἱμάτια αὐτοῦ), by casting lots for them (βάλλοντες κλῆρον), which was a common practice. A number of old manuscripts have an additional phrase about the fulfillment of a prophecy was in John’s account. Thus, what might have been spoken through the prophet might be fulfilled (ἵνα πληρωθῇ τὸ ῥηθὲν ὑπὸ τοῦ προφήτου). They divided my garments among themselves (Διεμερίσαντο τὰ ἱμάτιά μου ἑαυτοῖς). For my clothing, they cast lots (καὶ ἐπὶ τὸν ἱματισμόν μου ἔβαλον κλῆρον). This was from Psalm 22:18, when David was in distress. Then these Roman guards sat down (καὶ καθήμενοι) to keep watch over, guard, or observe Jesus there (ἐτήρουν αὐτὸν ἐκεῖ).
With the violence
Done to your brother Jacob
Means that shame
Shall cover you!
You shall be cut off forever!
On the day
That you stood aside,
On the day
Carried off his wealth,
On the day
Entered his gates,
On the day
That they cast lots
You too were
Like one of them.”
For all the violence and slaughter that was done to Edom’s brother Jacob, shame would come upon the Edomites. They would be cut off forever. In other words, these Edomites were as guilty as the strangers who attacked Jerusalem. On that day of attack on the holy city, when the foreigners and strangers entered the gates of Jerusalem and took their wealth, the Edomites were like the attackers who were casting lots for Jerusalem. They were just like these invaders in their complicity. They did nothing to help the people of Jerusalem and Judah.
“Casting the lot puts an end to disputes.
Casting lots decides between powerful contenders.
An ally offended is stronger than a city.
Such quarreling is like the bars of a castle.
From the fruit of the mouth,
One’s stomach is satisfied.
The yield of the lips
Death and life
Are in the power of the tongue.
Those who love it
Will eat its fruits.”
Casting lots was a way of finding out God’s will. This is how you put an end to disputes and arguments between powerful people. If you offend your ally he will become stronger than a city. This kind of quarreling is like the bars on a castle that cannot be torn down or bring about reconciliation. You satisfy your stomach through your mouth. So too the words of your lips will bring satisfaction. Life and death are in power of the tongue. When you love something, you will eat its fruits or enjoy the results.
“Grey hair is a crown of glory.
It is gained in a righteous life.
Whoever is slow to anger
Is better than the mighty.
The one whose temper is controlled
Is better than one who captures a city.
The lot is cast into the lap.
But the decision is Yahweh’s alone.”
Grey was a crown of glory because you had to be righteous to live a long life. If you were slow to anger, you were stronger than the mighty ones. You were better than someone who captured a city. Finally, the lot that was chosen from the priestly ephod was really the decision of Yahweh alone. Thus casting lots was a way of putting the decision in God’s hands, not human hands.
“Then the whole congregation of the Israelites assembled at Shiloh, and set up the tent of meeting there. The land lay subdued before them.”
This meeting of Joshua takes place at Shiloh, which is in the territory of Ephraim, northwest of Jericho, about 10 miles south of Shechem and 24 miles north of Jerusalem. This is an important first great tent meeting place of the Israelites with the whole assembly gathered together just like the meeting tent in the wilderness. This assumes that they had conquered all the Canaanites, which they had not.
“There remained among the Israelites seven tribes whose inheritance had not yet been apportioned. So Joshua said to the Israelites. ‘How long will you be slack about going in to take possession of the land that Yahweh, the God of your ancestors, has given you? Provide three men from each tribe. I will send them out that they may begin to go throughout the land, writing a description of it with a view to their inheritances. Then come to me. They shall divide it into seven portions, Judah continuing in its territory on the south, and the house of Joseph in their territory on the north. You shall describe the land in seven divisions. Then bring the description here to me. I will cast lots for you here before Yahweh our God. The Levites have no portion among you, for the priesthood of Yahweh is their heritage. Gad and Reuben and the half-tribe of Manasseh have received their inheritance beyond the Jordan eastward, which Moses the servant of Yahweh gave them.”
Clearly the tribe of Judah had the south and the tribes of Joseph had the northern area. Now they must describe and split up the remaining land into seven portions since the Levites do not get any land. 3 people from each of the remaining 7 tribes will describe the land. Then they will cast lots for the land. Of course, the Levites do not get any land.
“So the men started on their way. Joshua charged those who went to write the description of the land. ‘Go throughout the land and write a description of it. Then come back to me. I will cast lots for you here before Yahweh in Shiloh.’ So the men went and traversed the land. They set down in a book a description of it by towns in seven divisions. Then they came back to Joshua in the camp at Shiloh. Joshua cast lots for them in Shiloh before Yahweh. There Joshua apportioned the land to the Israelites, to each his portion.”
Strangely enough this must have taken some time, but there is no indication of how long this process was. There was a group of 21 Israelites traveling all over Canaan. They were to divide the land into 7 portions. The granting of the land to the three tribes of Judah, Ephraim, and Manasseh seemed to go very smooth, while this seems to be more complicated. There appears to be no divine intervention in this process, but merely casting lots. This casting of lots seems to be a common way of doing things. Perhaps God intervenes by letting the lots fall where they may. It would seem that they are going to carve out small land masses from the territories of Judah or Joseph, either in the north or south.