Dave Burnette's Commentary

Joshua Chapter 13

Written By: God through Inspiration
Penned By: Joshua 
Date Penned: (1406-1370 BC)
Overview: A Record of Israel in the Promised Land (c 1-24)
Theme: Dividing the Promised Land (c 13-24)
Message: The Tribes Receive their Land  (v 1-24)

Joshua 13 Commentary

(13:1-19) 12 Sons are now 12 Tribes -  These chapters describe how the Promised Land was to be divided among the 12 tribes. First, the tribe of Levi was not to have any land because they were to spend all their energy serving God and the people, not their own interests (13:14-33; 18:7). Second, the tribes of Reuben and Gad and the half-tribe of Manasseh had already received land east of the Jordan River, which had been given to them by Moses Numbers 32). Third, the tribes of Judah and Joseph (Ephraim and the other half-tribe of Manasseh) had received land that their ancestor Jacob had promised them 450 years earlier (Genesis 48:22; Joshua 15-17). The rest of the tribes divided up the remaining land by casting sacred lots (Joshua 18-19). Through Jacob's original blessing of his sons (Genesis 49) and Moses' blessing of the 12 tribes (Deuteronomy 33), the type of land each tribe would receive was already known. The two blessings were prophetic, for although Joshua cast lots to determine the land to be given to each of the remaining tribes, the allotments came out just as Jacob and Moses had predicted.

(13:2) God Continues to Use Joshua - Joshua was getting old--he was between 85 and 100 years of age at this time. God, however, still had work for him to do. Our culture often glorifies the young and strong and sets aside those who are older. Yet older people are filled with the wisdom that comes with experience. They are very capable of serving if given the chance and should be encouraged to do so. Believers never retire from God's service. Those past retirement age should not assume that age disqualifies or excuses them from serving God.

(13:7) God Continues to Give the Land to the Israelites - Much of the land was unconquered at this point, but God's plan was to go ahead and include that land in the divisions among the tribes. God's desire was that it would eventually be conquered by the Israelites. God knows the future, and as he leads you, he already knows about the victories that lie ahead. But just as the Israelites still had to go to fight their battles, we also must face the trials and fight the battles of our unconquered lands. What are our unconquered lands? They may be foreign countries in need of missionaries, new languages in which to translate the Bible, new neighbors who need to hear about Jesus, interest groups or institutions that should be doing redemptive work, unchallenged societal problems or ethical issues, unconfessed sin in our lives, or underdeveloped talents and resources. What territory has God given you to conquer? Conquering this territory will be your opportunity to remain faithful to God and do his will.

(13:13) Sin Always Complicates Life - One reason the Israelites encountered so many problems as they settled the land was that they failed to fully conquer the land and drive out all its inhabitants. The idolatrous influence of the remaining Canaanites caused unending difficulties for the Israelites, as the book of Judges records. Just as they struggled to completely remove the sinful people from the land, believers today struggle to appropriately deal with the sin in their lives--and it can lead to disastrous results. Jesus is the only one who can ultimately fix our sin problem, but as believers, we can take steps to turn away from our sinful desires. One way to reshape our desires is to fill our hearts and minds with God's Word. Reread the Ten Commandments in Exodus 20:1-17. Ask yourself, Have I allowed sin to rule my actions or thoughts? Have I settled for mediocre attempts at repentance? Do I condemn the faults of others but condone my own?

(13:15-23) Godly Character is Rewarded -  Because of Joseph's godly character (Genesis 49:22-26), the tribes descended from him- Ephraim and Manasseh--were given the richest, most fertile land in all of Canaan (Joshua 16-17). Judah, who offered himself in exchange for his brother Benjamin's safety (Genesis 44:18-34), received the largest portion of land, which eventually became the southern kingdom and the seat of David's dynasty (Joshua15). Reuben, who slept with one of his father's wives (Genesis 49:4), was given desert land, the region described here. The blessings Jacob gave to his sons according to their character seem to be reflected in the characteristics of the land each tribe received.

(13:29) Manasseh Settles in 2 Places - The tribe of Manasseh was divided into two half-tribes. This occurred when many people from the tribe wanted to settle east of the Jordan River in an area that was especially suited for their flocks (Numbers 32:33). The rest of the tribe preferred to settle west of the Jordan River in the land of Canaan.

(13:33) The Levites Needs are Met - The tribe of Levi was dedicated to serving God. The Levites needed more time and mobility than landowners could possibly have. Giving them land would mean saddling them with responsibilities and loyalties that would hinder their service to God. Instead, God arranged for the other tribes to meet the Levites' needs through donations. (See Numbers 35:2-4 for how the Levites were to receive cities within each tribal territory.)

Dave Burnette's Life Application

Faith in God's Word

Each day we walk through the Bible chapter by chapter making an application of our text to help us grow in the Lord. Many applications can be made from each day's text. Today we Continue in the book of Joshua with Chapter 13 and we see a review of the nations Israel defeated over a 7 year period. It is an awesome display of power of God as a nation of little military strength defeats these of greater size, strength. and might. What catches my attention is the faith of this generation of Israel verses the former. The same victory that was given here was available to the former but their lack of faith at what was promised caused them to missout. In making application I wonder what we are missing today because of our lack of faith at what the Lord has promised us in His Word. How many victories are we missing because of lack of faith? In our text we see Israel doing the impossible and that same power is available to you and me. How about you? Do you see the power available to us through our faith in His Word? Let us learn from our text today and have Faith in God's Word. 


Joshua 13

Joshua 13

 1Now Joshua was old and stricken in years; and the LORD said unto him, Thou art old and stricken in years, and there remaineth yet very much land to be possessed.

 2This is the land that yet remaineth: all the borders of the Philistines, and all Geshuri,

 3From Sihor, which is before Egypt, even unto the borders of Ekron northward, which is counted to the Canaanite: five lords of the Philistines; the Gazathites, and the Ashdothites, the Eshkalonites, the Gittites, and the Ekronites; also the Avites:

 4From the south, all the land of the Canaanites, and Mearah that is beside the Sidonians unto Aphek, to the borders of the Amorites:

 5And the land of the Giblites, and all Lebanon, toward the sunrising, from Baalgad under mount Hermon unto the entering into Hamath.

 6All the inhabitants of the hill country from Lebanon unto Misrephothmaim, and all the Sidonians, them will I drive out from before the children of Israel: only divide thou it by lot unto the Israelites for an inheritance, as I have commanded thee.

 7Now therefore divide this land for an inheritance unto the nine tribes, and the half tribe of Manasseh,

 8With whom the Reubenites and the Gadites have received their inheritance, which Moses gave them, beyond Jordan eastward, even as Moses the servant of the LORD gave them;

 9From Aroer, that is upon the bank of the river Arnon, and the city that is in the midst of the river, and all the plain of Medeba unto Dibon;

 10And all the cities of Sihon king of the Amorites, which reigned in Heshbon, unto the border of the children of Ammon;

 11And Gilead, and the border of the Geshurites and Maachathites, and all mount Hermon, and all Bashan unto Salcah;

 12All the kingdom of Og in Bashan, which reigned in Ashtaroth and in Edrei, who remained of the remnant of the giants: for these did Moses smite, and cast them out.

 13Nevertheless the children of Israel expelled not the Geshurites, nor the Maachathites: but the Geshurites and the Maachathites dwell among the Israelites until this day.

 14Only unto the tribes of Levi he gave none inheritance; the sacrifices of the LORD God of Israel made by fire are their inheritance, as he said unto them.

 15And Moses gave unto the tribe of the children of Reuben inheritance according to their families.

 16And their coast was from Aroer, that is on the bank of the river Arnon, and the city that is in the midst of the river, and all the plain by Medeba;

 17Heshbon, and all her cities that are in the plain; Dibon, and Bamothbaal, and Bethbaalmeon,

 18And Jahaza, and Kedemoth, and Mephaath,

 19And Kirjathaim, and Sibmah, and Zarethshahar in the mount of the valley,

 20And Bethpeor, and Ashdothpisgah, and Bethjeshimoth,

 21And all the cities of the plain, and all the kingdom of Sihon king of the Amorites, which reigned in Heshbon, whom Moses smote with the princes of Midian, Evi, and Rekem, and Zur, and Hur, and Reba, which were dukes of Sihon, dwelling in the country.

 22Balaam also the son of Beor, the soothsayer, did the children of Israel slay with the sword among them that were slain by them.

 23And the border of the children of Reuben was Jordan, and the border thereof. This was the inheritance of the children of Reuben after their families, the cities and the villages thereof.

 24And Moses gave inheritance unto the tribe of Gad, even unto the children of Gad according to their families.

 25And their coast was Jazer, and all the cities of Gilead, and half the land of the children of Ammon, unto Aroer that is before Rabbah;

 26And from Heshbon unto Ramathmizpeh, and Betonim; and from Mahanaim unto the border of Debir;

 27And in the valley, Betharam, and Bethnimrah, and Succoth, and Zaphon, the rest of the kingdom of Sihon king of Heshbon, Jordan and his border, even unto the edge of the sea of Chinnereth on the other side Jordan eastward.

 28This is the inheritance of the children of Gad after their families, the cities, and their villages.

 29And Moses gave inheritance unto the half tribe of Manasseh: and this was the possession of the half tribe of the children of Manasseh by their families.

 30And their coast was from Mahanaim, all Bashan, all the kingdom of Og king of Bashan, and all the towns of Jair, which are in Bashan, threescore cities:

 31And half Gilead, and Ashtaroth, and Edrei, cities of the kingdom of Og in Bashan, were pertaining unto the children of Machir the son of Manasseh, even to the one half of the children of Machir by their families.

 32These are the countries which Moses did distribute for inheritance in the plains of Moab, on the other side Jordan, by Jericho, eastward.

 33But unto the tribe of Levi Moses gave not any inheritance: the LORD God of Israel was their inheritance, as he said unto them.