Joshua 14-17
(Allotment West of the Jordan)
March 8th

Produced by The Listening for God Ministry
Copyright 2016

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Please refer to one or more Bible versions of your choice to read this section. We recommend that you read at least two versions for added understanding. For your convenience, we have provided six links below, each of which takes you directly to today's chapters in a specific version:

Key Verses

Now the people of Judah approached Joshua at Gilgal, and Caleb son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite said to him, “You know what the Lord said to Moses the man of God at Kadesh Barnea about you and me. I was forty years old when Moses the servant of the Lord sent me from Kadesh Barnea to explore the land. And I brought him back a report according to my convictions, but my fellow Israelites who went up with me made the hearts of the people melt in fear. I, however, followed the Lord my God wholeheartedly. So on that day Moses swore to me, ‘The land on which your feet have walked will be your inheritance and that of your children forever, because you have followed the Lord my God wholeheartedly.' "

- Joshua 14:6-9

Summary of Chapters

Chapters 14-17 continue with the account of dividing up the land that has been acquired for Israel by the LORD. This group of chapters records the beginning of the process to allocate land and towns west of the Jordan for the settlement by designated tribes. The process will continue in tomorrow’s group of chapters.

The first allotment mentioned is the land promised to Caleb, who along with Joshua, is the only other person to have left Egypt as an adult and survived long enough to reach the Promised Land. The reason these two survived is because they were the only ones who professed faith that the LORD would enable them to conquer this land – 39 years prior to the beginning of this campaign! Finally, the patient Caleb receives his reward, which was a specific portion of land known as Hebron, situated within the area allotted for his tribe, Judah.

The lands defined in this set of chapters are summarized below:

    Land Granted West of the Jordan River – Part I

    Judah: Land beginning just near the top of the Dead Sea (Salt Sea) and stretching west to the Mediterranean (the Great Sea).

    Ephraim: North of Judah. The Northernmost point is near Jericho, the southernmost point almost to Judah, but does not border Judah because there will be a tribe in between them as described in a later chapter. On the east-west axis the land extended from the Jordan to the the Mediterranean. This allotment includes the town of Shiloh

    Manasseh: This half of the Manasseh tribe was allotted the land directly north of Ephraim; its land stretched from the Jordan in the east to the Mediterranean on the west; it’s eastern boundary was directly opposite the Jordan from the other half of Manasseh

The tribes still had work to do to remove other inhabitants or clear land. For Caleb, this was not a problem, even though he was 85 years old. He trusted in God to give him the strength and strategy, “ ‘I will drive them out just as he said’ (14:12 - NIV).”

It was a different story for the tribe of Ephraim and the western tribe of Manasseh, who complained that their allotment was not big enough and that there were too many Canaanites there. Joshua gave them a short pep talk in which told them to clear the forest and assured them that they would drive out the Canaanites.

Reflection and Application

The LORD wanted all the Canaanites and other people removed because he knew that the Israelites could become influenced by their pagan ways. All of the tribes had been given a follow-up action to achieve this goal, but few accomplished it, which was the root of a problem that surfaces in the next book. The same pattern can happen to us. If we don’t completely eliminate all that is bad from our lives then it can take root and create problems later, even if we think we have put it to rest.

For some of us, the grass always looks greener where the other tribe settles. Ephraim and the western Manasseh tribe probably would have complained even if they had received the choicest land. Perhaps they would have been happier wandering in the desert for another generation. By contrast, Caleb shows us how to be happy with what we have – even if there are some obstacles - in Caleb’s case there were giants yet to be removed from his land, but he was confident in the LORD’s protection.

In chapter 15, we learned that a man named Othniel responded to Caleb’s challenge to take the town of Kiriath Sepher. As a result, Caleb gave him the hand of his daughter, Acsah in marriage. Othniel becomes the next leader of Israel after Joshua, as we shall read in the book of Judges.

In chapter 17, we can note the mention of Mallah, Noah, Hoglah, Milcah, and Tirzah, the daughters of Zelophehad. They had been promised an allotment of land ( Numbers 27) because there were no sons in their family. Joshua ensured that this commitment was fulfilled.

We will see many references to these tribal allotments in the subsequent books of the Bible. However, at some point, the southern tribes are grouped together and collectively referred to as Judah. The people living in the land of Judah will be the last holdouts before the great exile to Babylon. You can see a depiction of a map of all of the tribal allotments by clicking the following link for the Bible History website: Tribal Allotments

Many of the towns and areas mentioned in these chapters can still be found in modern-day Israel and surrounding areas. For example, the link below takes you to a current Google map that shows the location of Hebron, on the West Bank of Jordan, the land allotted to Caleb:

Map of Hebron and surrounding area of Israel

Questions and Prayers for Further Reflection

    Related Questions
    1. What is the history of the town in which you were born?
    2. How do we help ourselves to be satisfied with the allotment we have received?
    3. What are the giants in your life that you need to conquer?
    Recommended Prayer
    Father in heaven, we acknowledge your wisdom and thank you for the allotments we have received. Please help us to be satisfied with what you have given us yet pursue the giants that you send us to conquer.

    Suggested Prayer Concerns

    Looking Ahead

    Tomorrow's reading:Joshua 18-20 (Final Allotment)

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