Joshua 21

1 Then the heads of fathers’ houses of the Levites came near to Eleazar the priest, and to Joshua the son of Nun, and to the heads of fathers’ houses of the tribes of the children of Israel. 2 They spoke to them at Shiloh in the land of Canaan, saying, “The LORD commanded through Moses to give us cities to dwell in, with their suburbs for our livestock.” 3 The children of Israel gave to the Levites out of their inheritance, according to the commandment of the LORD, these cities with their suburbs. 4 The lot came out for the families of the Kohathites. The children of Aaron the priest, who were of the Levites, had thirteen cities by lot out of the tribe of Judah, out of the tribe of the Simeonites, and out of the tribe of Benjamin. 5 The rest of the children of Kohath had ten cities by lot out of the families of the tribe of Ephraim, out of the tribe of Dan, and out of the half-tribe of Manasseh. 6 The children of Gershon had thirteen cities by lot out of the families of the tribe of Issachar, out of the tribe of Asher, out of the tribe of Naphtali, and out of the half-tribe of Manasseh in Bashan. 7 The children of Merari according to their families had twelve cities out of the tribe of Reuben, out of the tribe of Gad, and out of the tribe of Zebulun. 8 The children of Israel gave these cities with their suburbs by lot to the Levites, as the LORD commanded by Moses. 9 They gave out of the tribe of the children of Judah, and out of the tribe of the children of Simeon, these cities which are mentioned by name: 10 and they were for the children of Aaron, of the families of the Kohathites, who were of the children of Levi; for theirs was the first lot. 11 They gave them Kiriath Arba, named after the father of Anak (also called Hebron), in the hill country of Judah, with its suburbs around it. 12 But they gave the fields of the city and its villages to Caleb the son of Jephunneh for his possession. 13 To the children of Aaron the priest they gave Hebron with its suburbs, the city of refuge for the man slayer, Libnah with its suburbs, 14 Jattir with its suburbs, Eshtemoa with its suburbs, 15 Holon with its suburbs, Debir with its suburbs, 16 Ain with its suburbs, Juttah with its suburbs, and Beth Shemesh with its suburbs: nine cities out of those two tribes. 17 Out of the tribe of Benjamin, Gibeon with its suburbs, Geba with its suburbs, 18 Anathoth with its suburbs, and Almon with its suburbs: four cities. 19 All the cities of the children of Aaron, the priests, were thirteen cities with their suburbs. 20 The families of the children of Kohath, the Levites, even the rest of the children of Kohath, had the cities of their lot out of the tribe of Ephraim. 21 They gave them Shechem with its suburbs in the hill country of Ephraim, the city of refuge for the man slayer, and Gezer with its suburbs, 22 Kibzaim with its suburbs, and Beth Horon with its suburbs: four cities. 23 Out of the tribe of Dan, Elteke with its suburbs, Gibbethon with its suburbs, 24 Aijalon with its suburbs, Gath Rimmon with its suburbs: four cities. 25 Out of the half-tribe of Manasseh, Taanach with its suburbs, and Gath Rimmon with its suburbs: two cities. 26 All the cities of the families of the rest of the children of Kohath were ten with their suburbs. 27 They gave to the children of Gershon, of the families of the Levites, out of the half-tribe of Manasseh Golan in Bashan with its suburbs, the city of refuge for the man slayer, and Be Eshterah with its suburbs: two cities. 28 Out of the tribe of Issachar, Kishion with its suburbs, Daberath with its suburbs, 29 Jarmuth with its suburbs, En Gannim with its suburbs: four cities. 30 Out of the tribe of Asher, Mishal with its suburbs, Abdon with its suburbs, 31 Helkath with its suburbs, and Rehob with its suburbs: four cities. 32 Out of the tribe of Naphtali, Kedesh in Galilee with its suburbs, the city of refuge for the man slayer, Hammothdor with its suburbs, and Kartan with its suburbs: three cities. 33 All the cities of the Gershonites according to their families were thirteen cities with their suburbs. 34 To the families of the children of Merari, the rest of the Levites, out of the tribe of Zebulun, Jokneam with its suburbs, Kartah with its suburbs, 35 Dimnah with its suburbs, and Nahalal with its suburbs: four cities. 36 Out of the tribe of Reuben, Bezer with its suburbs, Jahaz with its suburbs, 37 Kedemoth with its suburbs, and Mephaath with its suburbs: four cities. 38 Out of the tribe of Gad, Ramoth in Gilead with its suburbs, the city of refuge for the man slayer, and Mahanaim with its suburbs, 39 Heshbon with its suburbs, Jazer with its suburbs: four cities in all. 40 All these were the cities of the children of Merari according to their families, even the rest of the families of the Levites. Their lot was twelve cities. 41 All the cities of the Levites amongst the possessions of the children of Israel were forty-eight cities with their suburbs. 42 Each of these cities included their suburbs around them. It was this way with all these cities. 43 So the LORD gave to Israel all the land which he swore to give to their fathers. They possessed it, and lived in it. 44 The LORD gave them rest all around, according to all that he swore to their fathers. Not a man of all their enemies stood before them. The LORD delivered all their enemies into their hand. 45 Nothing failed of any good thing which the LORD had spoken to the house of Israel. All came to pass.

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Questions about today’s reading? See if Matthew Henry can help.
Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary, 1706

Verses 1–8

The Levites waited till the other tribes were provided for, before they preferred their claim to Joshua. They build their claim upon a very good foundation; not their own merits or services, but the Divine precept. The maintenance of ministers is not a thing left merely to the will of the people, that they may let them starve if they please; they which preach the gospel should live by the gospel, and should live comfortably. (Jos 21:9-42)

Verses 9–42

By mixing the Levites with the other tribes, they were made to see that the eyes of all Israel were upon them, and therefore it was their concern to walk so that their ministry might not be blamed. Every tribe had its share of Levites’ cities. Thus did God graciously provide for keeping up religion among them, and that they might have the word in all parts of the land. Yet, blessed be God, we have the gospel more diffused amongst us. (Jos 21:43-45)

Verses 43–45

God promised to give to the seed of Abraham the land of Canaan for a possession, and now they possessed it, and dwelt therein. And 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. There stood not a man before them. 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. There failed not aught of any good thing, which the Lord had spoken to the house of Israel. In due season 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.

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