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Bible: What Does Joshua 11-17 Teach Us About Israel's Inheritance?

Updated on May 3, 2016

Joshua 11

News of Israel's victories spreads quickly throughout the Land to the north; consequently, many pagan kings conspire and assemble to fight against their enemy (vv. 1-5).

Again, Yahweh informs Joshua what He would do and also what Joshua should do (v. 6).

Israel obeys the LORD, and chases the allied armies eastward into the Valley of Mizpah (vv. 7-8).

There they defeat them and execute the LORD's instructions (v. 9).

[Unger, Bible Dictionary, 752: Mizpah is a district in Gilead inhabited by Hivites].

Joshua, now turning against Hazor and the conspiring cities, annihilates their people and burns their buildings (vv. 10-12).

Israel keeps their livestock and other spoil, but destroys the inhabitants; by so doing, Joshua accomplishes every command God did not allow Moses to carry out because of his particular sin (vv. 13-15).

The account continues to record General Joshua's victories. Every king he meets in battle the LORD enables him to defeat (vv. 16-18); only Gibeon escaped total destruction (v. 19).

What readers must understand about God's hardening of the kings' hearts is that the latter had already hardened their hearts against the LORD as Sovereign Ruler; He merely confirmed them in their obstinacy (v. 20).

A special note appears about Israel's conquest of the Anakim; these giants would now live only in Gaza, in Gath, and in Ashdod (vv. 21-22).

In fulfillment of Yahweh's word to Moses, Joshua conquers the whole Land of inheritance; afterwards, peace reigns (v. 23).

[God is faithful to carry out His promises to His people. What seems impossible with man is a certainty with the LORD!]

Joshua 12

This chapter first delineates the kings whom Moses conquered on "the other side of the Jordan" (vv. 1-6), and then records those whom Joshua discomfited on "this side of the Jordan" (vv. 7-24).

Those whom Moses defeated were Sihon (vv. 2-3)—the author provides detailed geographical data about the extent of his territory—and Og (vv. 4-5).

[Again, Joshua gives the dimensions of this latter king's land.

Knowing the geography of Palestine would greatly help one’s appreciation of this information].

In Joshua's time, the two and one-half tribes control these lands (v. 6).

Joshua and Israel defeat thirty-one kings to claim their inheritance from the LORD (v. 24).

Again, the author provides exact locations of the lands, the kinds of people that the general conquered, and even the geographical features of the Land which now belonged to the nine and one-half tribes of the children of Israel (vv. 7-8).

James Montgomery Boice's Joshua

Joshua 13

As Joshua approaches feeble old age, Yahweh informs him of the land yet to be possessed (v. 1), naming the territories of the five lords of the Philistines, the Geshurites (vv. 2-3), the Canaanites and Sidonians (v. 4), the Gebalites, and all eastern and mountainous Lebanon (vv. 5-6a).

The LORD promises to drive them out, but Joshua must first divide the land among the nine and one-half tribes (vv. 6b-7).

The land "beyond the Jordan eastward"—the cities of Sihon king of the Amorites (v. 10) and the kingdom of Og in Bashan (v. 12)—Moses had already given to the two and one-half tribes (v. 8).

[Joshua further delineates the extent of their land in verses nine and eleven].

Two pagan peoples—the Geshurites and the Maachathites—Israel failed to drive out (v. 13).

[Before and after designating which lands belong to what tribe, Joshua points out that Levi received no land inheritance, except the sacrificial offerings which Israel makes to God (vv. 14,33)].

For the rest of chapter thirteen Joshua designates certain portions of this land to Reuben (vv. 15-23), to Gad (vv. 24-28) and to the half-tribe of Manasseh (vv. 29-31).

[Here again a detailed map of Palestine would greatly increase the student's understanding of the exact portion of each tribe's territory].

Moses, Joshua, and Caleb


Joshua 14

Following the distribution of the land east of the Jordan to the two and one-half tribes, Joshua and other important leaders choose by lot the inheritances of the other nine and one-half tribes (vv. 1-2).

Again, the writer mentions the landlessness of the Levites, though they may live on the cities' common lands (vv. 3-4).

Joshua especially emphasizes the fact that Israel has obeyed the commands Yahweh had given to Moses (vv. 2, 5).

Then Caleb, Joshua's old compatriot, approaches his friend and explains his lifelong desire to conquer the land which Moses swore would belong to him because of his wholehearted loyalty to the LORD (vv. 6-9).

Now eighty-five years young, Caleb, claiming to be as vigorous as he was when he and Joshua faithfully spied out the Land together forty-five years earlier (vv. 10-11), boldly asks permission to take Hebron, the land of the Anakim giants.

Gladly, General Joshua blesses him (vv. 12-13).

Yahweh enables this faithful warrior to realize his dream, for he drives out the sons of Anak and inherits Kiriath Arba (the city of Arba, the great Anakim prince, Anak's father) [vv. 14-15; cf. 15:13,14].

[What an outstanding model of a victorious believer!

Even at the end of his life, Caleb, strong and ambitious for the LORD, wanted to climb mountains and reach goals]!

Modern-day Hebron


Joshua 15

Most of the next five chapters (15:1-19:51) delineate in detail the borders of the territories of the nine and one-half tribes.

Joshua lists Judah first (15:1-12), then includes a brief account of Caleb's conquest of the sons of Anak (15:13-14), the old man's challenge to anyone –it turns out that his brother takes him up on it—to take the city of Sepher (Debir) and win his daughter as wife (15:15-17), and finally, his granting springs of water to his daughter to accompany the newly possessed land (15:18-19).

The rest of the record cites the names and the number of cities in different sections of Judah's territory: twenty-nine toward the border of Edom (15:20-32), thirty-nine in the lowland (15:33-47), thirty-eight in the mountain country (15:48-60), and six in the wilderness (15:61-62). Joshua especially notes that Judah could not drive the Jebusites out of Jerusalem (v. 63).

Joshua 16

Second, the lot falls to the children of Joseph: Ephraim and the western half of Manasseh (vv. 1-4).

Their inheritance includes sites near Jericho and the wilderness toward Bethel (v. 1).

Joshua first mentions the location of the land apportioned to Ephraim, and then notes the fact that the Ephraimites do not dispossess the Canaanites, but make them into "forced laborers" (slavery?) (vv. 5-10).

[How should we judge Israel's perspective toward slavery? Why does God allow it?]


Do you believe the giants in the land were an amalgam of fallen angels and mankind?

See results

Daughters Awarded Inheritance

Joshua 17

The warrior Machir, Manasseh's first-born, receives Gilead and Bashan as his inheritance (v. 1); other lands go to Manasseh's remaining sons (v. 2).

But a minor controversy forces Joshua, Eleazar, and the rulers to debate about Zelophehad's situation, for he had five daughters only.

[Zelophehad was the son of Machir].

After due consideration, they give the women territory among their uncles (vv. 3-4), making the total number ten which Joshua distributes to Manasseh (vv. 5-6).

The author then describes Manasseh's borders with Ephraim (vv. 8-10), Asher (v. 10) and Issachar (v. 10). Manasseh maintains "three hilly regions" among these latter two tribes (v. 11).

Another pagan people—the Canaanites—survive Manasseh's incomplete conquest in these cities (vv. 12-13).

Joshua inserts in the text another incident involving the children of Joseph.

They approach him, complaining that he did not give them enough land (v. 14).

The general knows about the rugged forest territory where certain colonies of giants dwelt with their iron chariots (vv. 15-16)—a factor that undoubtedly prompted Joseph to ask for "more" land.

[They probably did not want to labor for their land, either with the plow or with the sword].

Seeking to encourage them, Joshua points out that they will succeed in acquiring more land only through hard work and military conquest (vv. 17-18).

[A valuable, but difficult principle to learn: godly progress in life comes only through working hard and sometimes (literally) fighting for what is right].

© 2013 glynch1


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    • glynch1 profile image

      glynch1 16 months ago

      The LORD separated a people to Himself, and commanded them, "Be holy, for I am holy." In the OT, it was imperative for ancient Israel to obey Yahweh's directive to annihilate the wicked nations that inhabited Canaan, or face discipline. Because Israel did not fully obey Him in this matter, the pagans who remained in the Land became a stumblingblock to the nation and caused them to fall into idolatry, resulting in their exile and destruction.

    • glynch1 profile image

      glynch1 16 months ago

      God has given human government the authority to put criminals to death (Romans 13).

      It is not always wrong to kill. Sometimes people kill others out of self defense.

    • Jay C OBrien profile image

      Jay C OBrien 16 months ago from Houston, TX USA

      God is good. It is wrong to kill your fellow man/woman. Agreed?

    • glynch1 profile image

      glynch1 16 months ago

      The "killing" Moses refers to actually means "Do not commit premeditated murder."

      No human being is innocent; we all deserve eternal punishment because of sin.

      We would have to clip out of the Bible all references to divine judgment if we were accept your view. God is not only a God of love, but He is also a holy God of justice and wrath who punishes sin.