Joshua 21

Joshua 21,
Wednesday, April 25, 2018

It’s a logical continuation for the whole Levite tribe to claim towns, since presumably they will run the asylum towns offering some neutrality to that judicial institution.  The chapter today enumerates towns given 3 clans: Kohathites, Gershonites, and Merarites.  For millennia, the names of Cohen and Gershon at least continue, and are still respected in a local synagogue’s morning minyan. 
 
Just as yesterday, you recognized the pattern in the proper nouns as an asylum was named in Galilee, Ephraim, and Judah (north, central and south), then east of the Jordan, south, central and north towns – so this summary offers a summary of the prior allotments of tribal territories.  By now, you remember some of the back-stories.
 
Archaeologists in the last century demonstrated that most of these towns were not occupied in the 10th century BCE, when the claims of David and Solomon were asserts.  It was the 8th century BCE, the 700’s, in which they can find evidence of all these towns.  It would, then, be Josiah’s edit of Joshua that layers in this chapter.
 
So what?  Imagine tribes flowing into the region, particularly its highlands.  Some come from nomadic traditions and lifestyle, and stay east of the Jordan and down in the Negeb, or high in the hills.  Down in the valleys are pastoralists, farmers with vineyards.  Now add a layer of urbanization, particularly on trade routes.
 
Imagine that people telling a story, first of metropolis and hinterland in a small scale of petty kings and tyrants, like local mob bosses, culminating in empires: Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, Persia, Greece, Rome.  Meanwhile, the peoples, the goyim live beside each other, and negotiate economics and social orders.  Remember the musical Oklahoma?  Can the farmers and ranchers ever be friends?
 
The heritage of an urban class, a Levitical and Aaronic priesthood not limited to the temple priesthood, connects to this century and this chapter.  Songs of David and songs of Korah are going to be collected in the ‘greatest hits’ editions of the psalms in the Second Temple – but the cultural class is deeper, reworking early roots. 
 
 Then the heads of the families of the Levites
came to the priest Eleazar
and to Joshua son of Nun
 and to the heads of the families
of the tribes of the Israelites;
 
 2they said to them
at Shiloh in the land of Canaan, 
‘The Lord commanded through Moses
that we be given towns to live in, 
along with their pasture lands for our livestock.’
 
 3So by command of the Lord
 the Israelites gave to the Levites
the following towns and pasture lands
out of their inheritance.
 
4 The lot came out
for the families of the Kohathites. 
So those Levites
who were descendants of Aaron the priest
 received by lot thirteen towns
from the tribes of Judah, Simeon, and Benjamin.
 
5 The rest of the Kohathites
received by lot ten towns
from the families of the tribe of Ephraim, 
from the tribe of Dan, 
and the half-tribe of Manasseh.
 
 
 
6 The Gershonites received by lot
 thirteen towns
from the families of the tribe of Issachar,
 from the tribe of Asher, 
from the tribe of Naphtali, 
and from the half-tribe of Manasseh in Bashan.
 
7 The Merarites
 according to their families
received twelve towns
from the tribe of Reuben, 
the tribe of Gad, 
and the tribe of Zebulun.
 
8 These towns and their pasture lands
the Israelites gave by lot to the Levites,
 as the Lord had commanded through Moses.
 
9 Out of the tribe of Judah
and the tribe of Simeon
 they gave the following towns
 mentioned by name, 
 
10which went to the descendants of Aaron,
 one of the families of the Kohathites
who belonged to the Levites,
 since the lot fell to them first. 
 
11They gave them Kiriath-arba
 (Arba being the father of Anak),
 that is Hebron,
 in the hill country of Judah,
 along with the pasture lands around it.
 
 12But the fields of the town and its villages
 had been given to Caleb son of Jephunneh
 as his holding.
 
13 To the descendants of Aaron the priest
they gave Hebron, 
the city of refuge for the slayer, 
with its pasture lands, 
Libnah with its pasture lands,
 
14Jattir with its pasture lands,
 Eshtemoa with its pasture lands,
 15Holon with its pasture lands,
 Debir with its pasture lands,
 
 16Ain with its pasture lands,
 Juttah with its pasture lands, 
and Beth-shemesh with its pasture lands
—nine towns out of these two tribes.
 
 17Out of the tribe of Benjamin: 
Gibeon with its pasture lands, 
Geba with its pasture lands,
 
 18Anathoth with its pasture lands, 
and Almon with its pasture lands
—four towns.
 
19The towns of the descendants of Aaron
—the priests—
were thirteen in all,
 with their pasture lands.
 
20 As to the rest of the Kohathites
belonging to the Kohathite families of the Levites, 
the towns allotted to them
were out of the tribe of Ephraim.
 
21To them were given Shechem, 
the city of refuge for the slayer, 
with its pasture lands in the hill country of Ephraim, 
Gezer with its pasture lands,
 
22Kibzaim with its pasture lands, 
and Beth-horon with its pasture lands
—four towns. 
 
23Out of the tribe of Dan: 
Elteke with its pasture lands, 
Gibbethon with its pasture lands,
 24Aijalon with its pasture lands,
 Gath-rimmon with its pasture lands
—four towns. 
 
25Out of the half-tribe of Manasseh: 
Taanach with its pasture lands, 
and Gath-rimmon with its pasture lands
—two towns. 
 
26The towns
of the families
 of the rest of the Kohathites
 were ten in all, 
with their pasture lands.
 
27 To the Gershonites, 
one of the families of the Levites, 
were given out of the half-tribe of Manasseh, 
Golan in Bashan with its pasture lands, 
the city of refuge for the slayer, 
and Beeshterah with its pasture lands
—two towns. 
 
28Out of the tribe of Issachar:
 Kishion with its pasture lands,
 Daberath with its pasture lands,
 29Jarmuth with its pasture lands,
 En-gannim with its pasture lands
—four towns. 
 
30Out of the tribe of Asher:
 Mishal with its pasture lands, 
Abdon with its pasture lands, 
 
31Helkath with its pasture lands, 
and Rehob with its pasture lands
—four towns.
 
 32Out of the tribe of Naphtali: 
Kedesh in Galilee with its pasture lands,
 the city of refuge for the slayer,
 Hammoth-dor with its pasture lands,
 and Kartan with its pasture lands
—three towns. 
 
33The towns of the several families of the Gershonites
were in all thirteen, 
with their pasture lands.
 
34 To the rest of the Levites
—the Merarite families—
were given out of the tribe of Zebulun:
 Jokneam with its pasture lands,
 Kartah with its pasture lands,
 
 35Dimnah with its pasture lands,
 Nahalal with its pasture lands
—four towns.
 
 36Out of the tribe of Reuben:
 Bezer with its pasture lands, 
Jahzah with its pasture lands,
 
 37Kedemoth with its pasture lands, 
and Mephaath with its pasture lands
—four towns. 
 
38Out of the tribe of Gad: 
Ramoth in Gilead with its pasture lands, 
the city of refuge for the slayer,
 Mahanaim with its pasture lands,
 
 39Heshbon with its pasture lands,
 Jazer with its pasture lands
—four towns in all.
 
 40As for the towns of the several Merarite families,
 that is, the remainder of the families of the Levites, 
those allotted to them were twelve in all.
 
41 The towns of the Levites
within the holdings of the Israelites
were in all forty-eight towns with their pasture lands.
 
 42Each of these towns had its pasture lands around it; 
so it was with all these towns.
 
43 Thus the Lord gave to Israel
all the land that he swore to their ancestors
that he would give them; 
and having taken possession of it,
 they settled there. 
44And the Lord gave them rest
on every side
 just as he had sworn to their ancestors; 
not one of all their enemies had withstood them, 
for the Lord had given all their enemies into their hands.
 
45Not one
 of all the good promises
 that the Lord had made
 to the house of Israel
had failed; 
all came to pass.