The Tabernacle Set Up at Shiloh.
1. the whole congregation … assembled
together at Shiloh—The main body of the Israelites had been
diminished by the separation of the three tribes, Judah, Ephraim, and
Manasseh into their respective allotments; and the country having been
in a great measure subdued, the camp was removed to Shiloh (now
Seilun). It was twenty or twenty-five miles north of Jerusalem, twelve
north of Beth-el, and ten south of Shechem, and embosomed in a rugged
and romantic glen. This sequestered spot in the heart of the country
might have been recommended by the dictates of convenience. There the
allotment of the territory could be most conveniently made, north,
south, east, and west, to the different tribes. But "the tabernacle of
the congregation was also set up there," and its removal therefore must
have been made or sanctioned by divine intimation (De 12:11). It remained in Shiloh for more than
three hundred years (1Sa 4:1-11).
The Remainder of the Land Described.
2. there remained … seven tribes, which had
not yet received their inheritance—The selection of Shiloh
for the seat of worship, together with the consequent removal of the
camp thither, had necessarily interrupted the casting of lots, which
was commenced by fixing localities for the tribes of Judah and Joseph.
Various causes led to a long delay in resuming it. The satisfaction of
the people with their change to so pleasant and fertile a district,
their preference of a nomad life, a love of ease, and reluctance to
renew the war, seem to have made them indifferent to the possession of
a settled inheritance. But Joshua was too much alive to the duty laid
on him by the Lord to let matters continue in that state; and
accordingly, since a general conquest of the land had been made, he
resolved to proceed immediately with the lot, believing that when each
tribe should receive its inheritance, a new motive would arise to lead
them to exert themselves in securing the full possession.
3. How long are ye slack to go to possess the
land, which the Lord God of your fathers hath given you—This
reproof conveys an impression that the seven tribes were dilatory to a
4-9. Give out from among you three men for each
tribe—Though the lot determined the part of the country where
each tribe was to be located, it could not determine the extent of
territory which might be required; and the dissatisfaction of the
children of Joseph with the alleged smallness of their possession gave
reason to fear that complaints might arise from other quarters, unless
precautions were taken to make a proper distribution of the land. For
this purpose a commission was given to twenty-one persons—three
chosen from each of the seven tribes which had not yet received their
inheritance, to make an accurate survey of the country.
9. The men went and passed through the land, and
described it by cities into seven parts in a book—dividing
the land according to its value, and the worth of the cities which it
contained, into seven equal portions. This was no light task to
undertake. It required learning and intelligence which they or their
instructors had, in all probability, brought with them out of Egypt.
Accordingly, Josephus says that the
survey was performed by men expert in geometry. And, in fact, the
circumstantial account which is given of the boundaries of each tribe
and its situation, well proves it to have been the work of no mean or
Divided by Lot.
10. Joshua cast lots for them in Shiloh before the
Lord—before the tabernacle, where the divine presence was
manifested, and which associated with the lot the idea of divine
11. the lot of … Benjamin came
up—It has been supposed that there were two urns or vessels,
from which the lots were drawn: one containing the names of the tribes,
the other containing those of the seven portions; and that the two were
drawn out simultaneously.
the coast of their lot came forth between the
children of Judah and the children of Joseph—Thus the
prophecy of Moses respecting the inheritance of Benjamin was remarkably
accomplished. (See on De 33:12).