The tribe of Judah (Josh 15:1-15:12)

“The lot for the tribe of the people of Judah according to their families reached southward to the boundary of Edom, to the wilderness of Zin at the farthest south. Their south boundary ran from the end of the Dead Sea, from the bay that faces southward. It goes out southward of the ascent of Akrabbim, passes along to Zin, and goes up south of Kadesh-barnea, along by Hezron. Then it goes up to Addar, makes a turn to Karka, passes along to Azmon, goes out by the Wadi of Egypt, and comes to its end at the sea. This shall be your south boundary.”

This southern border goes very far south into the wilderness of Zin.

“The east boundary is the Dead Sea, to the mouth of the Jordan. The boundary on the north side runs from the bay of the sea at the mouth of the Jordan. The boundary goes up to Beth-hoglah, and passes along north of Beth-arabah. Then the boundary goes up to the stone of Bohan, Reuben’s son. Then the boundary goes up to Debir from the Valley of Achor, and so northward, turning toward Gilgal, which is opposite the ascent of Adummim, which is on the south side of the valley. Then the boundary passes along to the waters of En-shemesh, and ends at En-rogel. Then the boundary goes up by the valley of the son of Hinnom at the southern slope of the Jebusites, that is, Jerusalem. Then the boundary goes up to the top of the mountain that lies over against the valley of Hinnom, on the west, at the northern end of the valley of Rephaim. Then the boundary extends from the top of the mountain to the spring of the Waters of Nephtoah, and from there to the towns of Mount Ephron. Then the boundary bends around to Baalah, that is, Kiriath-jearim. The boundary circles west of Baalah to Mount Seir, passes along to the northern slope of Mount Jearim, that is Chesalon, and goes down to Beth-shemesh, and passes along by Timnah. The boundary goes out to the slope of the hill north of Ekron. Then the boundary bends round to Shikkeron, and crosses along to Mount Baalah, and goes out to Jabneel. Then the boundary comes to an end at the sea. The west boundary was the Great Mediterranean Sea with its coast-line. This is the boundary surrounding the people of Judah according to their families.”

There is no question that this is the largest piece of land, almost as big as the three tribes together on the east side of the Jordan. The boundaries are very clearly described. There can be no ambiguity. From west to east, the border is the Mediterranean Sea to the Dead Sea and from Edom and the wilderness in the south to the meeting with Dan and Benjamin in the north with very specific details. Jerusalem is right on the border of Judah and Benjamin.

Introduction (Josh 14:1-14:5)

“These are the inheritances that the Israelites received in the land of Canaan, which the priest Eleazar and Joshua son of Nun, with the heads of the families of the tribes of the Israelites distributed to them. Their inheritance was by lot, as Yahweh had commanded Moses for the nine and one-half tribes. Moses had given an inheritance to the two and one-half tribes beyond the Jordan. But to the Levites he gave no inheritance among them. The people of Joseph were two tribes, Manasseh and Ephraim. No portion was given to the Levites in the land, but only towns to live in, with their pasture lands for their flocks and herds. The Israelites did as Yahweh commanded Moses. They allotted the land.”

Now we are on the west side of the Jordan. How will the land be distributed here? Although it seems a little odd, they will do it by lot, which was commanded by Yahweh via Moses. Joshua and Eleazar will conduct this lottery, with the heads of the various tribes to set up things in Canaan, the Promised Land. Three tribes seem to dominate on the west bank of the Jordan, Judah and the two sons of Joseph, Manasseh and Ephraim.