The towns of the Merarites (1 Chr 6:77-6:81)

“To the rest of the Merarites out of the tribe of Zebulun were given Rimmono with its pasture lands and Tabor with its pasture lands. Across the Jordan from Jericho, on the east side of the Jordan, out of the tribe of Reuben were given Bezer in the steppe with its pasture lands, Jahzah with its pasture lands, Kedemoth with its pasture lands, and Mephaath with its pasture lands. Out of the tribe of Gad were given Ramoth in Gilead with its pasture lands, Mahanaim with its pasture lands, Heshbon with its pasture lands, and Jazer with its pasture lands.”

The distribution of land to 3rd group of Levites, the Merarites, has a reference point is Joshua, chapter 21, also. Somehow Zebulun was included with this group of east Jordan tribes, but they were clearly on the west side of the Jordan River. There were only 2 of the 4 towns from Zebulun mentioned here, Rimmono and Tabor, while in Joshua there were the names of 4 different towns, Jokneam, Kartah, Dimnah, Nahalal in Zebulun. This adds to the oddity of Zebulun who was put into this group of the Transjordan tribes. The 4 towns from Reuben were Bezer, Jahzah or Jahaz, Kedemoth, and Mephaath which is exactly the same as Joshua, with the tiny exception of Jahzah and Jahaz that are close enough. The 4 towns from Gad, Ramoth in Gilead, Mahanaim, Heshbon, and Jazer were exactly the same here as in Joshua. Here the Merarites only get 10 towns instead of 12.

The treaty between Jacob and Laban (Gen 31:43-32:2)

“Then Laban answered and said to Jacob, ‘The daughters are my daughters, the children are my children, the flocks are my flocks, and all that you see is mine.  But what can I do today about these daughters of mine, or about their children whom they have borne?  Come now let us make a covenant, you and I.  Let it be a witness between you and me.’  So Jacob took a stone, and set it up as a pillar.  Jacob said to his kinsfolk, ‘Gather stones.’ They took stones, and made a heap.  They ate there by the heap.  Laban called it Jegar-sahadutha, the heap of witness.  But Jacob called it Galeed.  Laban said, ‘This heap is a witness between you and me today.’ Therefore he called it Galeed, and the pillar Mizpah, for he said, ‘Yahweh watch between you and me, when we are absent one from the other.  If you ill-treat my daughters, or if you take wives in addition to my daughters, though no one else is with us, remember that God is witness between you and me.’”

Laban responded that these were his daughters, sons, and flocks.  However, he also said ‘let us make a covenant, you and I.’ Jacob took a stone and set up a pillar and asked everyone to gather stones.  He called this place Galeed.  Laban said that this pile would be a witness of their parting, saying that God would watch over all, but he warned Jacob not to take other wives or mistreat his daughters.

 “Then Laban said to Jacob, ‘See this heap and see the pillar, which I have set between you and me.  This heap is a witness, and the pillar is a witness that I will not pass beyond this heap to you, and you will not pass beyond this heap and this pillar to me, to harm each other.  May the God of Abraham and the God of Nahor, the God of their father, judge between us.’ So Jacob swore by the Fear of his father Isaac.  Jacob offered a sacrifice on the mountain height and called his kinsfolk to eat bread.  They ate bread and tarried all night in the hill country.  Early in the morning Laban rose up, and kissed his grandchildren and his daughters and blessed them. Then he departed and returned home.  Jacob went on his way and the angels of God met him.  When Jacob saw them he said, ‘This is God’s camp!’  So he called the place Mahanaim.”

This heap set up some sort of territorial line.  However, neither Galeed nor Jegar-sahadutha ever appears in biblical literature again.  Mizpah does many times.  Laban said good-bye to his daughters and grandchildren, blessing them.  The angels of God met Jacob and told him to call this place ‘God’s camp, Mahanaim, an east Jordan town that will appear again in biblical literature.  This story is a combination of the Yahweh and Elohim traditions.