Now that was a longer reading than normal. If you’re like me, you got a bit lost in all of the directions and names of the towns. When you’re not familiar with an area, it’s hard to visualize what it looks like. While this whole chapter speaks to Judah’s clan and their inheritance, I did find a MAP showing the 12 tribes. Hopefully that will help you, too (just click).
Judah does get a big portion of land. And, of course, our last reading introduced Caleb as one of the “heros” who came back with a favorable report to Moses years ago. I thought it only fitting that he gets a nod here. We hear a little more of his story, too, amidst all the assignments. Is there a message for us in this nugget of history?
The twelve tribes of Israel are all the descendants of Jacob’s twelve sons. I thought it might be helpful, too, to recall the birth order of Jacob’s sons. I wondered if the land assignment would correlate to that. As it turns out, it does not.
However, you may recall Jacob’s sons were born to him from four different women, his two wives, Leah and Rachel, and the two concubines, Bilhah and Zilpah. Here’s their birth order: Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Dan, Naphtali, Gad, Asher, Issachar, Zebulun, Joseph, and Benjamin. For purposes of the land distribution, we’ll see that Joseph’s inheritance was split between his two sons (Manasseh and Ephraim), and Levi’s clan did not have their own share but were provided for as the priests. That’s how the number 12 remains in tact.
Today’s reading was a bit more historical. Some of these towns will be mentioned again in other passages of the Bible, others will not. It’s striking to me that there were so many towns in such a seeming small geographical area. I suppose that speaks to the time period. What we picture as a town has at least a post office and maybe a gas station, and perhaps a couple hundred people. Could it be that these towns were simply settlements of families, all grouped together to be “towns?”
I’m not a Bible scholar, but these words were memorialized for a reason, and I never want to just ignore God’s word. The beauty here is in the promise being fulfilled. This area had been “belonged” to others for generations, and then God’s people arrived to take back what God had given to them as the rightful owners.
What is God want to give to you? What promise for the future are you waiting for God to provide? Ask him to reveal his will for your life, and then do what he asks of you to achieve it.
Let’s pray … Lord, thank you for loving me no matter what. Forgive me for times when I am so focused on my own needs and desires that I fail to be watching for you moving in my life. Show me what it is that you have for me this day. How can I make a difference in my own little territory? Equip me and move me. In Jesus’ name. Amen.