Bible Commentary: Joshua 19

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Joshua 19

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Territory Given to the Rest of the Tribes 

Unlike those of Joseph, who protested at not having enough land, the people of Judah had too much (verse 9). So the southern part of their territory was given to Simeon via the second lot. This included Beersheba, an area associated with Abraham and Isaac.

Next came Zebulun, who received a parcel bordering Manasseh to the north. The Bethlehem listed (verse 15) is not Bethlehem-Judah, which was south of Jerusalem in Judah's territory (compare 1 Samuel 17:12). Gath-hepher, the city Jonah came from, was in Zebulun (2 Kings 14:25). And by the time of the New Testament, the city of Nazareth had been established in this area. As was the case with Ephraim and Manasseh, mentioned earlier, this was not all Zebulun had been promised either. Genesis 49:13 had stated, "Zebulun shall dwell by the haven of the sea; he shall become a haven for ships." Yet Zebulun's inheritance in the Promised Land did not border any sea—neither the Mediterranean nor even the inland Sea of Galilee. The fulfillment of this promise, then, would also come in later centuries with the migrations to Northwest Europe.

The fourth lot went to Issachar, who got land north of Manasseh and east of Zebulun, bordering the Jordan. Asher received a coastal strip north of Manasseh and west of Zebulun. It extended all the way to Tyre in southern Lebanon. East of Asher, and north of Zebulun and Issachar, was Naphtali. It stretched from the entire western shore of the Sea of Galilee north to Lebanon. Along with Zebulun, it was known as Galilee (compare 20:7; Matthew 4:15).

Finally, Dan received a portion of land along the coast west of Benjamin and just north of the Philistine territory. This is where the Danite Samson carried out his exploits. But the tribe of Dan wanted more land, so some of its people conquered an additional area north of Naphtali (verse 47; compare Judges 18).

When all the tribes received their inheritances, Joshua himself, an Ephraimite, chose a location within the land assigned to Ephraim to live out his last days.