Joshua 18:1-19:51 – This Is My Dance Space! This Is Your Dance Space!

Posted: July 9, 2017 in Book fo Joshua
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Joshua 18:11-19:51
The Lands & Cities Given to the Remaining Tribes

Last night as we were watching the movie, Dirty Dancing for the millionth time, one of the famous lines is “this is my dance space! This is your dance space!” It reminded me of being a kid at home living with my mom, dad and my brother.

As kids, we wondered about why our dad had such specific rules for us and such specific chores for each of us. My brother and I shared a bedroom up until we moved to Elgin, SC when I was about to go into the fifth grade and my brother into the sixth. Prior to that we shared the same room and my dad, I guess, knew us too well. So, he established rules about what part of the room was my brother’s part and which part was mine. We would, of course, bitch about the fact that the other got some part of the room that the other didn’t. We were very competitive little boys. Our competitive nature covered everything. Of course, in sports, our competitiveness toward one another would often boil over into fights in the yard if one lost to the other or if one cheated and refused to admit it. We were competitive about toys, about clothing, about who did what for chores. We would always cry foul when we thought one brother was being favored over the other. Road trips in the car even required my dad to divide the back seat into halves and there was a defined boundary over which neither of us could cross. It was easy then for him to determine who was at fault on the trip. If you were over the boundary you were at fault, no questions asked.

It was the same with our room at home. If my toys were found on RT’s side of the room (my brother goes by his initials now instead of Little Ralph or Scooter as did at home), then I was at fault. If when cleaning the room on Saturday mornings before we were released for outdoor play the remainder of the day there was a piece of furniture on RT’s side of the room that was not dusted and cleaned, then RT was at fault and vice versa for me. It was brilliant on my dad’s part because you know how kids are. The “not me” syndrome is ever present. I think it was Bill Cosby that once said that “you are not a real parent until you have two kids. When you have only one child, you know who was at fault when something goes wrong!” When you have more than one kid, it is like solving a mystery sometimes as to who did what. The pointing fingers to the other child and away from ourselves was the thing. Blaming your other sibling or siblings was paramount. Not me it was him or them. By having his pre-set definitions and boundaries for us, my dad was actually making it easier on himself as to who was to blame for what. Sure, there were claims that my brother did it or that Mark did it when it came to our room, but dad had the rules down pat and we knew what they were. If my toy was on RT’s side of the room, then I was trouble regardless of how it got there.

It was funny growing up (looking back at it now) about how insane we were about the equality thing. The slightest perceived imbalance in the equality of our rights and privileges and property would bring about a need for a supreme court hearing before our dad. I bet it must have drove him insane. We could not really see that our parents loved us equally and for who we were individually. We could not see that sometimes life ebbs and flows and that sometimes my brother would get the better of things and then sometimes I would. Life is just like that.

I remember our jealousies and demands for equality would take on insane proportions. I remember when it was February 11, 1969, on my brother’s birthday, his 8th birthday (right in the middle of the school year). That morning we got up and we were in the kitchen waiting for breakfast and mom was making over my brother because it was his birthday. We had to get up early in those days because we lived in a small, rural town and we lived a long ways from the school. But even in that early morning hour, the war of equality waged on. It was my brother’s birthday for God’s sake, but I asked mom what time of day my brother was born. She said it was like 3:40pm on February 11, 1961. I pridefully blurted out that it was not yet time for his birthday because it was like 6:00am in the morning at the time. Woohoo! Not your birthday. Hah!!! Premature celebration, hah!!! My mom had to rein my celebration in by explaining that no matter what time you are born on your birth date that the whole day becomes your birthday. Bummer! A loss in the battle for equality. Most assuredly six months later, I would have been celebrating August 25th as soon as I woke up. Oh the jealousies that we had for one another that raged on for years all the way up until we were old enough to leave home. It is only now that as adults that we actually get along. Those rivalries and jealousies are mostly a thing of the past now. However, back in the day, especially when we were elementary and middle school kids the rivlaries and jealousies must have drove mom and dad to the outer reaches of annoyance and to “oh crap! Here we go again” syndrome when the détente of equality between was perceived to have been violated.

I guess that was why dad had all those specific rules and boundaries for us about what belonged to my brother and what belonged to me, about what was the boundary of his part of the room and what was mine, about what was his part of the back seat was RT’s and which part was mine. It must have been exasperating for my dad to have to be so specific about everything but I am sure that when the poop hit the fan between me and my brother he was glad he was that specific. Determining guilt and punishment was easier.

That was the thing I thought about this morning as I read through these two very specific chapters about the boundaries of the lands for the remaining tribes of Israel. I saw how detailed it was about these boundaries between what is basically family, brothers – the twelve tribes of Israel descend from the brothers, the sons of Jacob. Wow, how specific these boundaries are. That then reminded me of how dad had to be so specific with my brother and me. Think back to your own childhood. It was probably similar in how your parents had to be sooooo specific about everrrrrything. With that in mind, let’s run through these two chapters now:

Allotment for Benjamin

11 The first lot came up for the tribe of Benjamin according to its clans. Their allotted territory lay between the tribes of Judah and Joseph:

12 On the north side their boundary began at the Jordan, passed the northern slope of Jericho and headed west into the hill country, coming out at the wilderness of Beth Aven. 13 From there it crossed to the south slope of Luz (that is, Bethel) and went down to Ataroth Addar on the hill south of Lower Beth Horon.

14 From the hill facing Beth Horon on the south the boundary turned south along the western side and came out at Kiriath Baal (that is, Kiriath Jearim), a town of the people of Judah. This was the western side.

15 The southern side began at the outskirts of Kiriath Jearim on the west, and the boundary came out at the spring of the waters of Nephtoah. 16 The boundary went down to the foot of the hill facing the Valley of Ben Hinnom, north of the Valley of Rephaim. It continued down the Hinnom Valley along the southern slope of the Jebusite city and so to En Rogel. 17 It then curved north, went to En Shemesh, continued to Geliloth, which faces the Pass of Adummim, and ran down to the Stone of Bohan son of Reuben. 18 It continued to the northern slope of Beth Arabah[a] and on down into the Arabah. 19 It then went to the northern slope of Beth Hoglah and came out at the northern bay of the Dead Sea, at the mouth of the Jordan in the south. This was the southern boundary.

20 The Jordan formed the boundary on the eastern side.

These were the boundaries that marked out the inheritance of the clans of Benjamin on all sides.

21 The tribe of Benjamin, according to its clans, had the following towns:

Jericho, Beth Hoglah, Emek Keziz, 22 Beth Arabah, Zemaraim, Bethel, 23 Avvim, Parah, Ophrah, 24 Kephar Ammoni, Ophni and Geba—twelve towns and their villages.

25 Gibeon, Ramah, Beeroth, 26 Mizpah, Kephirah, Mozah, 27 Rekem, Irpeel, Taralah, 28 Zelah, Haeleph, the Jebusite city (that is, Jerusalem), Gibeah and Kiriath—fourteen towns and their villages.

This was the inheritance of Benjamin for its clans.
Allotment for Simeon

19 The second lot came out for the tribe of Simeon according to its clans. Their inheritance lay within the territory of Judah. 2 It included:

Beersheba (or Sheba),[b] Moladah, 3 Hazar Shual, Balah, Ezem, 4 Eltolad, Bethul, Hormah, 5 Ziklag, Beth Markaboth, Hazar Susah, 6 Beth Lebaoth and Sharuhen—thirteen towns and their villages;

7 Ain, Rimmon, Ether and Ashan—four towns and their villages— 8 and all the villages around these towns as far as Baalath Beer (Ramah in the Negev).

This was the inheritance of the tribe of the Simeonites, according to its clans. 9 The inheritance of the Simeonites was taken from the share of Judah, because Judah’s portion was more than they needed. So the Simeonites received their inheritance within the territory of Judah.
Allotment for Zebulun

10 The third lot came up for Zebulun according to its clans:

The boundary of their inheritance went as far as Sarid. 11 Going west it ran to Maralah, touched Dabbesheth, and extended to the ravine near Jokneam. 12 It turned east from Sarid toward the sunrise to the territory of Kisloth Tabor and went on to Daberath and up to Japhia. 13 Then it continued eastward to Gath Hepher and Eth Kazin; it came out at Rimmon and turned toward Neah. 14 There the boundary went around on the north to Hannathon and ended at the Valley of Iphtah El. 15 Included were Kattath, Nahalal, Shimron, Idalah and Bethlehem. There were twelve towns and their villages.

16 These towns and their villages were the inheritance of Zebulun, according to its clans.
Allotment for Issachar

17 The fourth lot came out for Issachar according to its clans. 18 Their territory included:

Jezreel, Kesulloth, Shunem, 19 Hapharaim, Shion, Anaharath, 20 Rabbith, Kishion, Ebez, 21 Remeth, En Gannim, En Haddah and Beth Pazzez. 22 The boundary touched Tabor, Shahazumah and Beth Shemesh, and ended at the Jordan. There were sixteen towns and their villages.

23 These towns and their villages were the inheritance of the tribe of Issachar, according to its clans.
Allotment for Asher

24 The fifth lot came out for the tribe of Asher according to its clans. 25 Their territory included:

Helkath, Hali, Beten, Akshaph, 26 Allammelek, Amad and Mishal. On the west the boundary touched Carmel and Shihor Libnath. 27 It then turned east toward Beth Dagon, touched Zebulun and the Valley of Iphtah El, and went north to Beth Emek and Neiel, passing Kabul on the left. 28 It went to Abdon,[c] Rehob, Hammon and Kanah, as far as Greater Sidon. 29 The boundary then turned back toward Ramah and went to the fortified city of Tyre, turned toward Hosah and came out at the Mediterranean Sea in the region of Akzib, 30 Ummah, Aphek and Rehob. There were twenty-two towns and their villages.

31 These towns and their villages were the inheritance of the tribe of Asher, according to its clans.
Allotment for Naphtali

32 The sixth lot came out for Naphtali according to its clans:

33 Their boundary went from Heleph and the large tree in Zaanannim, passing Adami Nekeb and Jabneel to Lakkum and ending at the Jordan. 34 The boundary ran west through Aznoth Tabor and came out at Hukkok. It touched Zebulun on the south, Asher on the west and the Jordan[d] on the east. 35 The fortified towns were Ziddim, Zer, Hammath, Rakkath, Kinnereth, 36 Adamah, Ramah, Hazor, 37 Kedesh, Edrei, En Hazor, 38 Iron, Migdal El, Horem, Beth Anath and Beth Shemesh. There were nineteen towns and their villages.

39 These towns and their villages were the inheritance of the tribe of Naphtali, according to its clans.
Allotment for Dan

40 The seventh lot came out for the tribe of Dan according to its clans. 41 The territory of their inheritance included:

Zorah, Eshtaol, Ir Shemesh, 42 Shaalabbin, Aijalon, Ithlah, 43 Elon, Timnah, Ekron, 44 Eltekeh, Gibbethon, Baalath, 45 Jehud, Bene Berak, Gath Rimmon, 46 Me Jarkon and Rakkon, with the area facing Joppa.

47 (When the territory of the Danites was lost to them, they went up and attacked Leshem, took it, put it to the sword and occupied it. They settled in Leshem and named it Dan after their ancestor.)

48 These towns and their villages were the inheritance of the tribe of Dan, according to its clans.
Allotment for Joshua

49 When they had finished dividing the land into its allotted portions, the Israelites gave Joshua son of Nun an inheritance among them, 50 as the Lord had commanded. They gave him the town he asked for—Timnath Serah[e] in the hill country of Ephraim. And he built up the town and settled there.

51 These are the territories that Eleazar the priest, Joshua son of Nun and the heads of the tribal clans of Israel assigned by lot at Shiloh in the presence of the Lord at the entrance to the tent of meeting. And so they finished dividing the land.

When we read through this mundane passage with names and places that are in no way a frame of reference for the average reader like you and me (because we are unfamiliar with maps of the ancient Middle East and because some of these towns no longer exist or exist today under different names), we fail to see the benefit of why all of this division of land and cities was beneficial to the new nation of Israel. First, the boundaries gave each tribe ownership of an area, promoting loyalty and unity that would strengthen each tribe. Second, boundaries delineated areas of responsibility and privilege, which would help each tribe mature and develop. Third, the boundaries reduced conflicts that might have broken out if everyone had wanted to live in the choicest areas. Fourth, the boundaries fulfilled the promised inheritances for each tribe, which were promised as early as the days of Jacob (Genesis 48:21-22).

Because of the fact that we have sin natures, each one of us. God has to be very specific with us. He wants us to be holy like Him but because of our sin nature, we are blinded to holiness. We want. We covet. We are jealous. We are prideful. We are vengeful. We are murderous. We are … you name the evil … we have it. Because of sin nature passed down through the generations since almost from the very beginning of man’s time on earth, we no longer know how to act in relation to one another and to God Himself. We have to have instruction. We have to have a pre-established playbook about what is right and what is wrong. Because we are not like God, we have to have his guidebook, the Bible, on how to be holy toward one another and toward God. Because we are utter failures at it, the Bible tells us of our need for a Savior named Jesus Christ. This has been the plan and the playbook of God from the beginning of man. Redemption through Jesus Christ.

Like my dad knew that he had to be very specific with my brother and me about our boundaries, God has His Word as the specific way in which we are to relate to Him. He knew that we would need specifics. That was why the Bible was written by men inspired by Him to do so. We need the specifics of the Bible. We need to know our boundaries and we need to know about God and we need to know our need for Jesus Christ.

Amen and Amen.

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