Towns for the Levites – Joshua 21
Levites were given 48 cities and their common lands from other tribes as inheritance. God gave Israel all the things He promised; no enemies could stand before Israel. In Joshua 21, more special allotments of land were made, this time for the sake of economic justice. While the Levites were not given their own inheritance in the land because the Lord himself was their inheritance, they were given the basic necessities of towns in which to live and fields to pasture their flocks.
The Levites were divided into Kohathites, Gershonites, and Merarites. Among the former the family of Aaron were exclusively appointed to the priesthood, and all the rest were ranked in the common order of Levites. The first lot was drawn by the Kohathites; and the first of theirs again by the priests, to whom thirteen cities were granted, and ten to the rest of the Kohathites; thirteen to the Gershonites), and twelve to the Merarites.
21 Now the family heads of the Levites approached Eleazar the priest, Joshua son of Nun, and the heads of the other tribal families of Israel 2 at Shiloh in Canaan and said to them, “The Lord commanded through Moses that you give us towns to live in, with pasturelands for our livestock.” 3 So, as the Lord had commanded, the Israelites gave the Levites the following towns and pasturelands out of their own inheritance.4 The first lot came out for the Kohathites, according to their clans. The Levites who were descendants of Aaron the priest were allotted thirteen towns from the tribes of Judah, Simeon and Benjamin. 5 The rest of Kohath’s descendants were allotted ten towns from the clans of the tribes of Ephraim, Dan and half of Manasseh.
6 The descendants of Gershon were allotted thirteen towns from the clans of the tribes of Issachar, Asher, Naphtali and the half-tribe of Manasseh in Bashan.7 The descendants of Merari, according to their clans, received twelve towns from the tribes of Reuben, Gad and Zebulun.8 So the Israelites allotted to the Levites these towns and their pasturelands, as the Lord had commanded through Moses.
It was overruled by the unerring providence of the Divine Lawgiver that the cities of the priests lay within the territories of Judah and Benjamin. This was a provision, the admirable wisdom and propriety of which were fully manifested on the schism that took place in the reign of Rehoboam.
All the cities of the Levites within the possession of the children of Israel were forty-eight cities with their suburbs — This may appear too great a proportion compared with those of the other tribes. The Levites were not the exclusive inhabitants of those forty-eight cities; for there must have been also a considerable number of people kept there to cultivate the lands and tend the cattle. Still further, the Levitical cities had nothing but “their suburbs round about them”; whereas the other cities in Israel possessed a group of independent villages.
God promised to give to the seed of Abraham the land of Canaan for a possession, and now they possessed it. The promise of the heavenly Canaan is as sure to all God’s spiritual Israel; for it is the promise of Him that cannot lie. The after-prevalence of the Canaanites was the effect of Israel’s slothfulness, and the punishment of their sinful inclination to the idolatries and abominations of the heathen whom they harboured and indulged. All his promises will be accomplished; then will his people acknowledge that the Lord has exceeded their largest expectations, and made them more than conquerors, and brought them to their desired rest.
41 The towns of the Levites in the territory held by the Israelites were forty-eight in all, together with their pasturelands. 42 Each of these towns had pasturelands surrounding it; this was true for all these towns.43 So the Lord gave Israel all the land he had sworn to give their ancestors, and they took possession of it and settled there. 44 The Lord gave them rest on every side, just as he had sworn to their ancestors. Not one of their enemies withstood them; the Lord gave all their enemies into their hands. 45 Not one of all the Lord’s good promises to Israel failed; every one was fulfilled.
This chapter was once again a reminder that no matter how many obstacles are in your way, God keeps His promises and as long as you remain faithful you will be rewarded.