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The Territories of the Remaining Tribes


Then the whole congregation of the Israelites assembled at Shiloh, and set up the tent of meeting there. The land lay subdued before them.

2 There remained among the Israelites seven tribes whose inheritance had not yet been apportioned. 3So Joshua said to the Israelites, “How long will you be slack about going in and taking possession of the land that the L ord, the God of your ancestors, has given you? 4Provide three men from each tribe, and I will send them out that they may begin to go throughout the land, writing a description of it with a view to their inheritances. Then come back to me. 5They shall divide it into seven portions, Judah continuing in its territory on the south, and the house of Joseph in their territory on the north. 6You shall describe the land in seven divisions and bring the description here to me; and I will cast lots for you here before the L ord our God. 7The Levites have no portion among you, for the priesthood of the L ord is their heritage; and Gad and Reuben and the half-tribe of Manasseh have received their inheritance beyond the Jordan eastward, which Moses the servant of the L ord gave them.”

8 So the men started on their way; and Joshua charged those who went to write the description of the land, saying, “Go throughout the land and write a description of it, and come back to me; and I will cast lots for you here before the L ord in Shiloh.” 9So the men went and traversed the land and set down in a book a description of it by towns in seven divisions; then they came back to Joshua in the camp at Shiloh, 10and Joshua cast lots for them in Shiloh before the L ord; and there Joshua apportioned the land to the Israelites, to each a portion.

The Territory of Benjamin

11 The lot of the tribe of Benjamin according to its families came up, and the territory allotted to it fell between the tribe of Judah and the tribe of Joseph. 12On the north side their boundary began at the Jordan; then the boundary goes up to the slope of Jericho on the north, then up through the hill country westward; and it ends at the wilderness of Beth-aven. 13From there the boundary passes along southward in the direction of Luz, to the slope of Luz (that is, Bethel), then the boundary goes down to Ataroth-addar, on the mountain that lies south of Lower Beth-horon. 14Then the boundary goes in another direction, turning on the western side southward from the mountain that lies to the south, opposite Beth-horon, and it ends at Kiriath-baal (that is, Kiriath-jearim), a town belonging to the tribe of Judah. This forms the western side. 15The southern side begins at the outskirts of Kiriath-jearim; and the boundary goes from there to Ephron, to the spring of the Waters of Nephtoah; 16then the boundary goes down to the border of the mountain that overlooks the valley of the son of Hinnom, which is at the north end of the valley of Rephaim; and it then goes down the valley of Hinnom, south of the slope of the Jebusites, and downward to En-rogel; 17then it bends in a northerly direction going on to En-shemesh, and from there goes to Geliloth, which is opposite the ascent of Adummim; then it goes down to the Stone of Bohan, Reuben’s son; 18and passing on to the north of the slope of Beth-arabah it goes down to the Arabah; 19then the boundary passes on to the north of the slope of Beth-hoglah; and the boundary ends at the northern bay of the Dead Sea, at the south end of the Jordan: this is the southern border. 20The Jordan forms its boundary on the eastern side. This is the inheritance of the tribe of Benjamin, according to its families, boundary by boundary all around.

21 Now the towns of the tribe of Benjamin according to their families were Jericho, Beth-hoglah, Emek-keziz, 22Beth-arabah, Zemaraim, Bethel, 23Avvim, Parah, Ophrah, 24Chephar-ammoni, Ophni, and Geba—twelve towns with their villages: 25Gibeon, Ramah, Beeroth, 26Mizpeh, Chephirah, Mozah, 27Rekem, Irpeel, Taralah, 28Zela, Haeleph, Jebus (that is, Jerusalem), Gibeah and Kiriath-jearim—fourteen towns with their villages. This is the inheritance of the tribe of Benjamin according to its families.

In the lot of Benjamin nothing occurs particularly deserving of notice, unless that a small tribe takes precedence of the others. I admit, indeed, that its limits were narrowed in proportion to the fewness of its numbers, because it obtained only twenty-six cities; but still an honor was bestowed upon it in the mere circumstance of its receiving its inheritance before more distinguished tribes. We may add, that in this way they were conjoined and made neighbors to the other 165165     Latin, “Reliquis filiis.” French, “Des autres enfans;” “The other children,” — an apparent oversight, as if Benjamin had been a son and not a brother of Joseph. — Ed. children of Joseph, with whom their relationship was more immediate. For they were placed in the middle between the children of Ephraim and Manasseh on the one side, and those of Judah on the other. They had also the distinguished honor of including Jerusalem in their inheritance, though they afterwards granted it by a kind of precarious tenure to the children of Judah for a royal residence. 166166     Latin, “Postea filiis Juda quasi precario sedem regiam concederent.” French, “Depuis ils la baillerent aux enfans de Juda comme par emprunt, pour en faire le siege royal;” “Afterwards they let it to the children of Judah as by loan, to make it the royal residence.” These words seem to imply that at some time or other a regular agreement to this effect had been made, but we nowhere find any mention of such an agreement. It would rather seem from Joshua 15:63, and Judges 1:8, 21, that the inhabitants of Judah possessed Jerusalem in consequence of their having wrested it from the Jebusites. — Ed.

It is strange, however, that having obtained such a quiet locality, they did not live on peaceful and friendly terms with their neighbors. But we possess the prophecy of Jacob,

“Benjamin shall ravin as a wolf; in the morning he shall devour the prey, and at night he shall divide the spoil.” (Genesis 49:27)

They must, therefore, have been by nature of a covetous and turbulent disposition, or from some necessity not now known to us, they must have been impelled to live upon plunder. In regard to the city of Luz, the other name is added, (“the same is Bethel,”) because then only did the name given by Jacob come into common use. (Genesis 28:19) It was at no great distance from Beth-Aven, whose name, as it was opprobrious and infamous, was transferred to Bethel itself, after it was corrupted and polluted by impious superstitions. 167167     This refers to the setting up of the golden calves by Jeroboam, and the idolatrous worship which thus impiously originated by him was long practiced by his successors. See 1 Kings 12:28-33; 1 Kings 13; 2 Kings 10:29-31; 2 Kings 23:15; Amos 4:4; Amos 5:4-6; Hosea 4:15; Hosea 10:5,8. Bethel or “the house of God,” so called by Jacob the morning after he had risen from his wonderful vision, having forfeited its name in consequence of the abominations practiced at it, became afterwards known by that of Bethaven, “the house of idols,” or of vanity and iniquity. — Ed. It is probable that Ciriath-Baal was called Ciriath-Jeharim, to take away the name of the idol, which would have been a stain on its true piety. For it certainly would have been base and shameful that the lips of the people should have been polluted by the name of a protector who was an enemy to the true God.

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