Chapter 13


Joshua Distributes the Land (13:1-21:45)

        • ESV Archaeology Study Bible notes, “The second half of the book of Joshua begins much like the first- stating the status of Israel’s key leader. In 1:1 it was announced that Moses was dead, and now Joshua is described as old and advanced in years…Contrast this statement with Judges 2, where Joshua is still alive and giving commands to take the land.”

Land Still to be Conquered (13:1-7)

        • When Joshua had become an old man, the Lord said to him, “You are now an old man, and yet there still remains a lot of the land left to be conquered. The following is the territory that remains:

        • All the regions of the Philistines and the Geshurites: from the stream of Shihor on the eastern boundary of Egypt, northward to the border of Ekron (considered to be Canaanite territory). There are five Philistine rulers of Gaza, Ashdod, Gath, and Ekron.

        • The land of the Avvites in the south.

        • In the north: the land of the Canaanites, including Mearah (which belongs to the Sidonians), stretching north to Aphek to the border of the Amorites.

        • The land of the Gebalites and all of Lebanon eastward from Baal-gad below Mount Hermon to Lebo-hamath.

          • All of the inhabitants of the hill country from Lebanon to Misrephoth-maim, all the Sidonians.

      • I will drive these people out of the land before the Israelites Myself. Distribute the land as Israel’s inheritance, dividing it up among the nine tribes and the half tribe of Manasseh, just as I have commanded you.”

        • HCSB writes, “Three major geographical areas remained to be conquered: (1) Philistia, including the five major cities of the Philistines: Gaza, Ashkelon, Ashdod, Gath, and Ekron; (2) the Phoenician coast; and (3) the Lebanon mountain range…”

        • NLT Illustrated Study Bible adds, “The Philistines displaced the Avvites (Deuteronomy 2:23)…The Sidonians (that is, Phoenicians; see Isaiah 23:11, Obadiah 1:20; Acts 11:19) lived in the north along the coast, from north of Mount Carmel to above Gebal (Byblos)…The land just listed had not yet been conquered, but God directed Joshua to show his faith by allotting them to the tribes against the future, when they would be taken.”

The Land East of the Jordan (13:8-33)

        • ESV Archaeology Study Bible writes, “This section contains an introduction/overview (vv. 8-13) and then a more detailed description of each tribal allotment (Reuben vv 15-23; Gad vv. 24-28; half- tribe of Manasseh vv. 29-31).”

The Land Divided East of the Jordan (13:8-14)

      • The other half of the tribe of Manasseh, and the tribes of Reuben and Gad had received their inheritance that the Lord’s servant, Moses, gave to them on the east side of the Jordan River:

          • NLT Illustrated Study Bible notes, “Half the tribe of Manasseh and the tribes of Reuben and Gad had asked Moses for their inheritance on the east side of the Jordan in the land that had been the kingdoms of Sihon and Og (Numbers 21:21-35; 32:1-42). In return, they had helped the rest of Israel take possession of their inheritance west of the Jordan (Joshua 1:12-18; 4:12-13). Here, the author confirmed their possession of the land.”

      • Their territory extended from Areor on the edge of the Arnon Gorge (including the city in the middle of the gorge); all of the Medeba plateau as far as Dibon; all the cities of the Amorite king, Sihon, who had reigned in Heshbon; extending to the border of the Ammonites; Gilead and the territory of the Geshurites and Maacathites; all of Mount Hermon; all of Bashan as far as Salecah; and the territory of King Og in Bashan who had reigned in Ashtaroth and Edrei. King Og was the last of the Rephaim which Moses had attacked and driven out. However, the Israelites didn’t drive out the Geshurites and the Maacathites, so they still live among Israel to this day.

          • see map above

          • Guzik adds, “David later married a princess from Geshur, and his son Absalom was born of her (2 Samuel 3:3). Absalom returned to Geshur and used it as a place to plot against his father David (2 Samuel 13:37-38, 14:23, and 14:32)…The Maachathites may have come from the Maachah mentioned in Genesis 22:24, who was a nephew of Abraham. Later, when Sheba rebelled against David, he fled and may have taken refuge in one of the cities of the Maachathites (2 Samuel 20:14-15).”

      • Moses did not give an inheritance to the tribe of Levi. As the Lord had told them, their inheritance was the offerings made by fire to the Lord, the God of Israel.

        • NLT Illustrated Study Bible adds, “The tribe of Levi inherited no land of its own (see Deuteronomy 18:1-8). Levitical cities were located in the territories of the other tribes (Joshua 21).”

        • Guzik adds, “Instead, the Levites had as their inheritance the offerings that Israel would bring to the LORD. These were their “financial security” in Israel.”

Reuben’s Inheritance

        • Moses gave the following territory to the tribe of Reuben according to their clans:

          • From Aroer on the edge of the Arnon Gorge (including the city in the middle of the gorge) to the whole plateau as far as Medeba. It included Heshbon and all its cities on the plateau- Dibon, Bamoth-baal, Beth-baal meon, Jahaz, Kedemoth, Mephaath, Kiriathaim, Sibmah, Zereth-shahar on the hill above the valley), Beth-peor, the slopes of Pisgah, and Beth-jeshimoth. This also included all the cities of the plain and the entire territory of King Sihon- the Amorite king who had reigned in Heshbon.

          • see map below

        • Moses killed King Sihon and the leaders of Midan- Evi, Rekem, Zur, Hur, and Reba- the princes of Sihon that lived in the land. Along with these, the Israelites also killed Beor’s son, Balaam- the one who practiced divination.

        • The Jordan River marked the western border for the tribe of Reuben. This territory with its cities and villages was the inheritance of the tribe of Reuben according to their clains.

Gad’s Inheritance

        • Moses gave the following territory to the tribe of Gad according to their clans:

          • Jazer and all the cities of Gilead; half of the land of Ammon as far as Aroer, which is near Rabbah; from Heshbon to Ramath-mizpeh and Betonim; and from Mahanaim to the border of Debir, In the valley were Beth-haram, Beth-nimrah, Succoth, and Zaphon, and the rest of the territory of King Sihon of Heshbon. The western boundary ran along the Jordan River, extending as far north as the edge of the Sea of Galilee.

          • see map below

          • Also note, the “Sea of Galilee” is also referred to variously as “Sea of Kinnereth” or “Sea of Chinnereth”

        • This territory with its cities and villages was the inheritance of the tribe of Gad according to their clans.

Half-tribe of Manasseh’s Inheritance

        • Moses gave the following territory to the half-tribe of Manasseh according to their clans:

          • NLT Illustrated Study Bible adds, “Manasseh was Joseph’s elder son. Jacob gave Joseph’s sons each a full inheritance, thus giving Joseph a double portion of the birthright (see Joshua 14:4)”

        • From Mahanaim, including all of Bashan, the entire territory of King Og of Bashan, and including all the 60 cities of Jair in Bashan. It also included half of Gilead and King Og’s royal cities of Ashtaroth and Edrei.

          • see map below

          • NLT Illustrated Study Bible says, “Jair was a great-grandson of Manasseh (1 Chronicles 2:21-22).”

        • All of this territory was given to the descendants of Manasseh’s son Makir according to their clans.

      • These are the allotments that Moses had given to them when they were on the plains of Moab, across the Jordan River, east of Jericho. Moses did not give an inheritance to the tribe of Levi because the Lord, the God of Israel, was their inheritance- just as He had promised.


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