Joshua Chapter Twenty-one
Cities for the Levites. (1-8) The cities allotted to the Levites. (9-42) God gave the land and rest to the Israelites, according to his promise. (43-45)
Commentary on Joshua 21:1-8
(Read Joshua 21:1-8)
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.
Commentary on Joshua 21:9-42
(Read Joshua 21:9-42)
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.
Commentary on Joshua 21:43-45
(Read Joshua 21:43-45)
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.
── Matthew Henry《Concise Commentary on Joshua》
 Then came near the heads of the fathers of the Levites unto Eleazar the priest, and unto Joshua the son of Nun, and unto the heads of the fathers of the tribes of the children of Israel;
Then — When the whole land was distributed to the several tribes, but not actually possessed by them; which was the proper season for them to put in their claim. Fathers of the Levites-The fathers of the Levites were Kohath, Gershom, and Merari, and the heads of these were the chief persons now alive of these several families.
 And they spake unto them at Shiloh in the land of Canaan, saying, The LORD commanded by the hand of Moses to give us cities to dwell in, with the suburbs thereof for our cattle.
The Lord commanded — Observe: the maintenance of ministers is not an arbitrary thing, left purely to the good will of the people. No: as the God of Israel commanded, that the Levites should be provided for, so hath the Lord Jesus ordained, (and a perpetual ordinance it is) that they who preach the gospel should live of the gospel.
 And the children of Israel gave unto the Levites out of their inheritance, at the commandment of the LORD, these cities and their suburbs.
The children of Israel gave — Probably they gave the Levites promiscuously such cities as God commanded, and the lot appropriated them to their several houses or families.
Out of their inheritance — That is, out of their several possessions; that the burden might be equally divided; and, that the Levites being dispersed among the several tribes, according to Jacob's prediction, Genesis 49:7, might more easily, and effectually teach the Israelites God's law and judgments, which they were engaged to do, Deuteronomy 33:10, and that the people might upon all occasions resort to them, and enquire the meaning of the law at their mouths.
And suburbs — Not only the use, but the absolute dominion of them, as is manifest both from verse Joshua 21:11,12, where a distinction is made between the city and suburbs of Hebron, and the fields and villages thereof; (the former given to the Levites, the latter to Caleb;) and from the return of these cities in the Jubilee, unto the Levites as to their proper owners, Leviticus 25:33,34.
 And the lot came out for the families of the Kohathites: and the children of Aaron the priest, which were of the Levites, had by lot out of the tribe of Judah, and out of the tribe of Simeon, and out of the tribe of Benjamin, thirteen cities.
Judah, Simeon, and Benjamin — Which three tribes were nearest the temple, where their business lay.
Thirteen cities — For though the priests were now few enough for one city, yet respect was to be had to their succeeding numbers; this division being made for all future generations. And seeing the Levites might sell their houses until the Jubilee, Leviticus 25:33, much more might they let them; and therefore it is probable their cities were not long uninhabited, many being inclined to dwell with them by virtue of relations contracted with them; or out of respect to the service of God, and the good of their souls.
 And the rest of the children of Kohath had by lot out of the families of the tribe of Ephraim, and out of the tribe of Dan, and out of the half tribe of Manasseh, ten cities.
Children of Kohath — Who were of Aaron's family. Ephraim, Dan, and Manesseh - Which tribes are nearest to the three former, and so the Kohathites are placed next to their brethren the Aaronites.
Ten cities — Fewer than they gave out of the three former tribes, because their inheritance was less than the former.
 And 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 here mentioned by name,
Judah and Simeon — These are mentioned together, because the cities of Simeon lay within Judah's portion.
 Which the children of Aaron, being of the families of the Kohathites, who were of the children of Levi, had: for theirs was the first lot.
Families — That is, of the family, the plural number for the singular, which is not unusual.
 But the fields of the city, and the villages thereof, gave they to Caleb the son of Jephunneh for his possession.
The fields and villages — That is, all beyond the two thousand cubits expressed, Numbers 35:5. This is here mentioned, not as his peculiar case, but as one eminent instance, to shew, that it was so in all the rest of the cities here named; that the fields and villages thereof still belonged to the several tribes from whom the cities and their suburbs were taken; and to make the rest of the Israelites more chearfully resign part of their possessions to the Levites, because even Caleb did so, though his possession had been long before promised, and now actually given to him by God's special command, as a mark of honour and compensation for his long and faithful service.
 And Ain with her suburbs, and Juttah with her suburbs, and Bethshemesh with her suburbs; nine cities out of those two tribes.
And Ain — Ain and Gibeon, and some others here named are not named, 1 Chronicles 6:59. Either they were destroyed in some of those invasions wherewith their land was grievously wasted before that time; or they appear there under other names.
 And the families of the children of Kohath, the Levites which remained of the children of Kohath, even they had the cities of their lot out of the tribe of Ephraim.
Which remained — Over and above those who were priests.
 And out of the half tribe of Manasseh, Tanach with her suburbs, and Gathrimmon with her suburbs; two cities.
Half the tribe — Namely, that half which dwelt in Canaan.
 All the cities of the Levites within the possession of the children of Israel were forty and eight cities with their suburbs.
Forty eight cities — Why hath this tribe, which was the least of all, more cities than any of them? First, it doth not appear that they had more: for though all the cities of the Levites be expressed, it is not so with the other tribes, but divers of their cities are omitted. Secondly, the Levites were confined to their cities and suburbs; the rest had large territories belonging to their cities, which also so they were in a capacity of improving, which the Levites were not; so that one of their cities might be more considerable than divers of the Levites. Thirdly, God, was pleased to deal liberally with his ministers, to put honour on those whom he foresaw many would be prone to despise; and, that being free from outward distractions, they might more entirely and fervently devote themselves to the service of God.
 And the LORD gave unto Israel all the land which he sware to give unto their fathers; and they possessed it, and dwelt therein.
All the land — He gave them the right to all, and the actual possession of the greatest part of it, and power to possess the rest, as soon as it was needful for them, which was when their numbers were increased, and the absolute dominion of all the people remaining in it.
 And the LORD gave them rest round about, according to all that he sware unto their fathers: and there stood not a man of all their enemies before them; the LORD delivered all their enemies into their hand.
Gave them rest — Namely, all the days of Joshua; for afterwards it was otherwise with them.
 There failed not ought of any good thing which the LORD had spoken unto the house of Israel; all came to pass.
All came to pass — Such an acknowledgment as this, here subscribed by Joshua, in the name of all Israel, we afterward find made by Solomon; and all Israel did in effect say amen to it, 1 Kings 8:56. The inviolable truth of God's promise, and the performance of it to the uttermost, is what all believers in Christ have been always ready to bear their testimony to. And if in any thing it has seemed to come short, they have been as ready to take all the blame to themselves.
── John Wesley《Explanatory Notes on Joshua》
21 Chapter 21
Unto the Levites . . . these cities.
Ministers liberally treated
The liberality both of God and of His people to the ministers of God is here very marvellous, in giving forty-eight cities to this one tribe of Levi, which was the least of all the tribes, yet have they the most cities given to them (Joshua 21:4; Joshua 21:10; Joshua 21:41), because it was the Lord’s pleasure to have this tribe provided for in an honourable manner, seeing He Himself took upon Him to be their portion and made choice of them for His peculiar service; therefore did He deal thus bountifully with His ministers, partly to put honour upon those whom He foresaw many would be prone to despise, and partly that by this liberality they, being freed from worldly distractions, might more entirely devote themselves to God’s service and to the instruction of souls. (C. Ness.)
Ministers wisely located
God provided for the residence of His ministers in most ample extent and number, and in a way suited to the spiritual instruction and benefit of the nation. In temple service they were round about the habitation of His holiness; and yet, in their ministerial instructions, dispersed over the whole land. How exact a fulfilment of dying Jacob’s prediction, and that even though mercy changed the curse into a blessing: “I will divide them in Jacob and scatter them in Israel.” What an important appointment! and how adapted to the communication and diffusion of Divine truth for their lips, as the messengers of the Lord of hosts, were to keep knowledge, and at their mouth the people were to seek the law! It is no common privilege, under the more exalted and distinguished dispensation of the gospel, that the ministers of salvation are not removed into a corner, but that as servants of the most high God they have their stations assigned them, as may best promote the increase and instruction of the Church. These are the stars which He holds in His right hand, and which, great in wisdom and power, He numbers and calls by their names, What holy and heavenly light and influence are they ordained to impart in their several spheres! Without them the Christian Church would soon be involved in the most degrading and destructive ignorance, and overwhelmed with the miseries of corruption and error. Who that admits the importance of their services would not yield room to them as being equally a privilege as a duty. Their residence is to be esteemed a mercy, and no intrusion. Thus it has appeared that the Lord has ever paid special regard to His ministers, and as here enjoined upon His people, in obligation the most reasonable, to provide them habitations as well as support. (W. Seaton.)
There failed not ought of any good thing which the Lord had spoken.
I. The faithfulness of God in accomplishing his engagements toward the tribes of Israel.
II. The faithfulness of God to his church collectively in subsequent engagements.
III. The faithfulness of God in his engagements to individual believers. I believe there is no person experiencing the power of religion who has not had an increasing evidence of the faithfulness of God in verifying His promises on which He has caused him to hope. He has found--notwithstanding the dark appearances of Divine providence--he has found that sort of satisfaction which he was taught to expect from the exercise of faith and confidence in Jesus Christ and obedience to Him. He has found, in seasons of pain and difficulty, that kind of assistance on which he was taught to rely. The faithfulness of God in performing His promises at present must, however, be in a great degree obscured by the darkness of our present state; for everything is in perpetual motion. No one can understand the nature of a beautiful building in the rubbish, or, while it is actually rising, in the midst of the complicated instruments used in its erection, but we must wait till it is finished before we can form a just estimate of its beauty. And with respect to that great hope of which the possession of Canaan was but a shadow and figure--the possession of the heavenly inheritance--in a very short time every real believer will be able to put his seal to the truth of the Divine promise. Let us rejoice that we have a covenant of God, and a covenant ordered in all things and sure, which is all our salvation and all our desire. And first, by way of improvement, let us observe the propriety of remembering the way in which the Lord God hath led us. If we consider the trials and sorrows of the present life as a part of that holy dispensation, in that proportion shall we be disposed to glorify God. If we trace the hand of man in these events, this may produce disquietude; but if we could extend our view to the furthest limit, all this would frequently be matter of gratitude, and we should be enabled to give thanks to God in everything. Let us look forward to that state in which we shall have His kindness fully displayed. (R. Hall, M. A.)
The triumphant record of God’s faithfulness
Verses 43-45 are the trophy reared on the battlefield, like the lion of Marathon, which the Greeks set on its sacred soil. But the only name inscribed on this monument is Jehovah’s. Other memorials of victories have borne the pompous titles of commanders who arrogated the glory to themselves; but the Bible knows of only one conqueror, and that is God. “The help that is done on earth, He doeth it all Himself.” The military genius and heroic constancy of Joshua, the eagerness for perilous honour that flamed, undimmed by age, in Caleb, the daring and strong arms of many a humbler private in the ranks, have their due recognition and reward; but when the history that tells of these comes to sum up the whole, and to put the “philosophy” of the conquest into a sentence, it has only one name to speak as cause of Israel’s victory. That is the true point of view from which to look at the history of the world and of the Church in the world. The difference between the “miraculous” conquest of Canaan and the “ordinary” facts of history is not that God did the one and men do the other; both are equally, though in different methods, His acts. In the field of human affairs, as in the realm of nature, God is immanent, though in the former His working is complicated by the mysterious power of man’s will to set itself in antagonism to His; while yet, in manner insoluble to us, His will is supreme. The very powers which are arrayed against Him are His gift, and the issue which they finally subserve is His appointment. It does not need that we should be able to pierce to the bottom of the bottomless in order to attain and hold fast by the great conviction that there is no power but of God, and that from Him are all things and to Him are all things. (A. Maclaren, D. D.)
The Divine fidelity acknowledged
We may note, too, in these verses, the threefold repetition of the one thought, of God’s punctual and perfect fulfilment of His word. He “gave unto Israel all the land which He sware to give”; “He gave them rest . . . according to all that He sware”; “there failed not ought of any good thing which the Lord had spoken.” It is the joy of thankful hearts to compare the promise with the reality, to lay the one upon the other, as it were, and to declare how precisely their, outlines correspond. The finished building is exactly according to the plans drawn long before. God gives us the power of checking His work, and we are unworthy to receive His gifts if we do not take delight in marking and proclaiming how completely He has fulfilled His contract. It is no small part of Christian duty, and a still greater part of Christian blessedness, to do this. Many a fulfilment passes unnoticed, and many a joy, which might be sacred and sweet as a token of love from His own hand, remains common and unhallowed, because we fail to see that it is a fulfilled promise. The eye that is trained to watch for God’s being as good as His word will never have long to wait for proofs that He is. “Whoso is wise, and will observe these things, even he shall understand the lovingkindness of the Lord.” And to such an one faith will become easier, being sustained by experience; and a present thus manifestly studded with indications of God’s faithfulness will merge into a future still fuller of these. For it does not need that we should wait for the end of the war to have many a token that His every word is true. The struggling soldier can say, “No good thing has failed of all that the Lord has spoken.” We look, indeed, for completer fulfilment when the fighting is done; but there are brooks by the way for the warriors in the thick of the fight, of which they drink, and, refreshed, lift up the head. We need not postpone this glad acknowledgment till we can look back and down from the land of peace on the completed campaign, but may rear this trophy on many a field, whilst still we look for another conflict to-morrow. (A. Maclaren, D. D.)
The Supreme Worker
We read that on a pyramid in Egypt the name and sounding titles of the king in whose reign it was erected were blazoned on the plaster facing, but beneath that transitory inscription the name of the architect was hewn, imperishable, in the granite, and stood out when the plaster dropped away. So, when all the short-lived records which ascribe the events of the Church’s progress to her great men have perished, the one name of the true Builder will shine out, and to the name of Jesus every knee shall bow. Let us not rely on our own skill, courage, talents, orthodoxy, or methods, nor try to build tabernacles for the witnessing servants beside the central one for the supreme Lord, but ever seek to deepen our conviction that Christ, and Christ only, gives all their powers to all, and that to Him, and Him only, is all victory to be ascribed. It is an elementary and simple truth; but if we really lived in its power we should go into the battle with more confidence, and come out of it with less self-gratulation. (A. Maclaren, D. D.)
──《The Biblical Illustrator》
21 Chapter 21
INTRODUCTION TO JOSHUA 21
This chapter contains the address of the Levites to the court, to have the cities and suburbs given them according to the command of God by Moses, Joshua 21:1; the grant of them by lot out of the several tribes, Joshua 21:3; the particular cities out of the tribes of Judah and Simeon are mentioned by name, Joshua 21:9; then those out of the tribe of Benjamin, Joshua 21:17; next those out of the tribe of Ephraim, Joshua 21:20; afterwards those out of the tribe of Dan, Joshua 21:23; then those out of the half tribe of Manasseh, Joshua 21:27; and out of the tribe of Issachar, Joshua 21:28; and out of the tribe of Asher, Joshua 21:30; and of Naphtali, Joshua 21:32; and of Zebulun, Joshua 21:34; and of Reuben, Joshua 21:36; and of Gad, Joshua 21:38; which in all made forty eight, Joshua 21:41; and the chapter is concluded with observing, that God gave Israel all the land of Canaan, and rest in it, according to his promise, very faithfully and punctually, Joshua 21:43.
Then came near the heads of the fathers of the Levites,.... When the land was divided to the several tribes, and everyone knew the cities that belonged to them, and what they could and should part with to the Levites, and when the six cities of refuge were fixed; the Levites came to put in their claim for cities of habitation, they having no share in the division of the land; and yet it was necessary they should have habitations; the persons that undertook to put in a claim for them were the principal men among them; the fathers of them were Kohath, Gershon, and Merari; the heads of those were the chief men that were then living: these came
unto Eleazar the priest, and unto Joshua the son of Nun; the high priest and chief magistrate:
and unto the heads of the fathers of the tribes of the children of Israel; the princes appointed to divide the land with the two great personages before mentioned, Numbers 34:17.
And they spake unto them at Shiloh in the land of Canaan,.... Where the tabernacle was fixed, at or near which the above persons met to cast lots for the division of the land to the seven tribes that had not received their inheritance:
saying, the Lord commanded by the hand of Moses to give us cities to dwell in, with the suburbs thereof for our cattle; this command is extant in Numbers 35:2.
And the children of Israel gave unto the Levites out of their inheritance,.... Knowing full well there was such a command, made no objection to their motion, but freely gave them cities out of the portion of inheritance allotted to them; this they did
at the commandment of the Lord, and in obedience to it, even gave these cities and suburbs; after mentioned: this was done by the tribes themselves; as there were a certain number fixed by the commandment of God, they agreed among themselves how many and what cities should be given out of each tribe; and then lots were cast for them by Joshua, what and which cities should be appropriated to their several divisions, as the Kohathites that sprang from Aaron, and the rest of them that did not, and the Gershonites and Merarites, as follows.
And the lot came out for the family of the Kohathites,.... The first lot that was drawn out of the pot or urn was for the descendants of Kohath, a son of Levi:
and the children of Aaron the priest, which were of the Levites; who descended from Amram, the eldest son of Kohath, and these were not only Levites, but priests: these
had by lot out of the tribe of Judah, and out of the tribe of Simeon,
and out of the tribe of Benjamin, thirteen cities; which are after mentioned by name; and as these were priests, whose business was to serve in the temple, and at the altar, the cities assigned them by the lot, were, by the wise disposal of divine Providence, ordered them out of those tribes which lay nearest to Jerusalem; the place God had chosen to put his name in, where the temple would be built, and the altars erected for sacrifices and incense.
And the rest of the children of Kohath,.... Which did not descend from him in the line of Amram and Aaron, but of Izhar, Hebron, and Uzziel, who were not priests, but Levites:
had by lot out of the families of the tribe of Ephraim, and out of the tribe of Dan, and out of the half tribe of Manasseh, ten cities; these other sort of Kohathites had their cities in tribes next to the other three where the Kohathites that were priests had theirs.
And the children of Gershon had by lot out of the families of the tribe of Issachar,.... These were Levites who descended from Gershon, the eldest son of Levi, and had their cities by lot assigned them in tribes at a greater distance, not only out of Issachar, but
out of the tribe of Asher, and out of the tribe of Naphtali, and out of the half tribe of Manasseh in Bashan; which was the other half of the tribe beyond Jordan:
thirteen cities; as many as were given out of the tribes of Judah, Simeon, and Benjamin.
The children of Merari by their families,.... The descendants of Merari, the third son of Levi:
had out of the tribe of Reuben, and out of the tribe of Gad; which were both on the other side Jordan:
and out of the tribe of Zebulun, twelve cities; in all forty eight, as the Lord commanded, Numbers 35:7.
And the children of Israel gave by lot unto the Levites these cities with their suburbs,.... Reaching two thousand cubits from the cities all around: these cities did not lie all together, and so could not be described by their coasts; but in the several tribes, and intermixed with their cities; which fulfilled Jacob's prophecy, that they should be divided and scattered in Israel, Genesis 49:7; as well as it was so ordered for the benefit of the several tribes, that they might have the assistance of the priests and Levites, to instruct them in the knowledge of the laws and commandments of God, and all divine things:
as the Lord commanded by the hand of Moses; Numbers 35:2.
And they gave out of the tribe of the children of Judah,.... Here follows a particular account of the several cities which were given out of each tribe, and first out of this:
and out of the tribe of the children of Simeon; which is joined with that of Judah, because the cities of it lay within it, Joshua 19:1,
these cities which are here mentioned by name; Joshua 21:13.
Which the children of Aaron, being of the families of the Kohathites,.... Who descending from Kohath, in the line of Aaron, were priests:
who were of the children of Levi, had; they were Levites, as descending from Levi, but were priests also, as being of the stock of Aaron, and the cities hereafter mentioned in the said tribe fell to their portion:
for theirs was the first lot; for being of the line of Aaron, and priests, they had the honour and privilege to have the first lot drawn for them, and out of the tribe for which the first lot was also drawn, the tribe of Judah; here they had their cities allotted them, for a reason before given.
And they gave them the city of Arba, the father of Anak,.... Which from him was called Kirjatharba, Joshua 14:15; and Anak, according to Kimchi, is not the name of a man, but a general name, comprehending the Anakims, a race of giants, among whom Arba was the chief and principal man, a prince and ruler over them, as Ben Melech:
with the suburbs thereof round about it; as far as two thousand cubits, which were to put their cattle in, and provision for them.
But the fields of the city, and the villages thereof,.... Which lay beyond the two thousand cubits:
gave they to Caleb the son of Jephunneh, for his possession; as Moses had promised, and Joshua had confirmed to him; and now the children of Israel gave them to him, and put him in the possession of, Joshua 14:6; and the same is to be observed of all the other cities given to the Levites, that they and their suburbs, extending to such a distance only, were given to them; but the fields and villages, which belonged to them, continued the inheritance of the tribes in which they were.
Thus they gave to the children of Aaron the priest,.... The families of the Kohathites, that part of them which descended from him, and were priests:
Hebron with her suburbs, to be a city of refuge for the slayer; that had slain a person unawares, and without design; see on Joshua 20:3,
and Libnah with her suburbs; a royal city, of which see Joshua 10:29.
And Jattir with her suburbs,.... See Gill on Joshua 15:48,
and Eshtemoa with her suburbs; See Gill on Joshua 15:50.
And Holon with her suburbs,.... See Gill on Joshua 15:51,
and Debir with her suburbs; See Gill on Joshua 15:49.
And Ain with her suburbs,.... See Gill on Joshua 15:32,
and Juttah with her suburbs; See Gill on Joshua 15:55,
and Bethshemesh with her suburbs; which is not mentioned among the cities of Judah, Joshua 15:21; only as in the borders of it, Joshua 21:10; and perhaps is the same Bethshemesh to which the ark was directed by the Philistines from Ashdod, 1 Samuel 6:9; in it formerly was a temple dedicated to the sun, from whence it had its name:
nine cities out of those two tribes; and they seem all but one, which is Ain, to be of the tribe of Judah, and that originally belonged to it; and as that tribe had the largest number of cities in its lot, the more were given out of it to the Levites, according to a rule prescribed, Numbers 35:8.
And out of the tribe of Benjamin, Gibeon with her suburbs,.... See Gill on Joshua 18:25; from which came the Gibeonites.
Geba with her suburbs. Of which See Gill on Joshua 18:24.
Anathoth with her suburbs,.... This is not mentioned among the cities of Benjamin, Joshua 18:11; it was the native place of the Prophet Jeremiah; see Gill on Jeremiah 1:1; it lay about two or three miles north of Jerusalem; three, says, JeromF11De loc. Heb. fol. 88. H. . RauwolffF12Travels, par. 3. c. 2. p. 216. speaks of it as a small village, when he travelled into those parts, and as lying on a height or eminence, and which was within twenty furlongs of Jerusalem, as Josephus writesF13Antiqu. l. 10. c. 7. sect. 3. :
and Almon with her suburbs; this also is not mentioned among the cities of Benjamin, Joshua 18:11; it is called Alemeth, 1 Chronicles 6:60. Jarchi and Kimchi say it is the same with Bahurim, 2 Samuel 3:16; where the Targum renders it by Almeth, and both words signify the same thing, "youth":
four cities; which were a large number for so small a tribe as little Benjamin to give.
All the cities of the children of Aaron, the priests,.... Those of the Kohathites that came from him:
were thirteen cities with their suburbs; and just so many are mentioned by name in Joshua 21:11.
And the families of the children of Kohath, the Levites,.... Who were not priests:
which remained of the children of Kohath; these are the children of Moses, as Jarchi says, and those that descended from Kohath in the lines of Izhar, Hebron, and Uzziel:
even they had the cities of their lot out of the tribe of Ephraim; and were as follow.
For they gave them Shechem, with her suburbs, in Mount Ephraim,.... Of which see Joshua 20:7,
to be a city of refuge for the slayer; which being on a mountain, was the more conspicuous, and the fitter for this purpose, as was Hebron in the hill country of Judea, Joshua 21:11; this is the second; city of refuge mentioned:
and Gezer with her suburbs: a place from whence the Canaanites were not expelled; See Gill on Joshua 16:10.
And Kibzaim with her suburbs,.... Which seems to, be the same with Jokneam, 1 Chronicles 6:68; of it we read nowhere else:
and Bethhoron with her suburbs; upper Bethhoron, for there were two, an upper and a nether: see Joshua 16:3,
four cities; as mentioned by name.
And out of the tribe of Dan, Eltekeh with her suburbs,.... See Gill on Joshua 19:44,
Gibbethon with her suburbs; see Gill on Joshua 19:44.
Aijalon with her suburbs,.... See Gill on Joshua 19:42,
Gathrimmon with her suburbs, four cities; See Gill on Joshua 19:45.
And out of the half tribe of Manasseh, Taanach with her suburbs,.... Of which see Joshua 17:10,
and Gathrimmon with her suburbs, there was a city of this name in Dan, as in Joshua 21:24; nor was it unusual for cities to be called by the same name in different tribes:
two cities; these are called Aner and Bilean in 1 Chronicles 6:70; in process of time cities changed their names; two cities were a proper proportion for this half tribe; two more were given out of the other half tribe on the other side Jordan, as appears by what follows.
All the cities were ten, with their suburbs,.... Four out of Ephraim, four out of Dan, and two out of the half tribe of Manasseh: which were
for the families of the children of Kohath that remained: who were of the other branch of the Kohathites, and who did not descend from Aaron, and were only Levites, and not priests; See Gill on Joshua 21:20.
And unto the children of Gershon, of the families of the Levites,.... The descendants of the second son of Levi:
out of the other half tribe of Manasseh; that which was settled beyond Jordan:
they gave Golan in Bashan, with her suburbs, to be a city of refuge for the slayer; see Joshua 20:8; this is the third city of refuge mentioned:
and Beeshterah with her suburbs; called Ashtaroth, 1 Chronicles 6:71; which had been the royal city of Og, king of Bashan, where he had his palace, Deuteronomy 1:4. Here seems to have been formerly a temple dedicated to the goddess Astarte; for Beeshterah is a compound of "Beth" and "Ashterah", or Astarte; that is, the house or temple of Astarte, but now become a city of the Levites:
two cities; two more having been before given out of the other half tribe.
And out of the tribe of Issachar, Kishon with her suburbs,.... From whence the river Kishon probably had its name, or the city from that; it is the same with Kishion, Joshua 19:20; and called Kedesh, 1 Chronicles 6:72.
Dabareh with her suburbs; the same with Daberath on the border of Zebulun; see Gill on Joshua 19:12.
Engannim with her suburbs; called Anem, 1 Chronicles 6:73,
four cities; so many are mentioned by name.
Abdon with her suburbs; not mentioned among the cities of Asher, unless the same with Hebron, Joshua 19:28.
and Rehob with her suburbs, four cities; See Gill on Joshua 19:28.
And out of the tribe of Naphtali, Kedesh in Galilee with her suburbs,.... Of which see Joshua 20:7,
to be a city of refuge for the slayer; this is the fourth city of refuge mentioned:
three cities; this being a lesser tribe than some others gave fewer cities, according to the rule in Numbers 35:8.
All the cities of the Gershonites, according to their families,.... Which were divided among them, according to the number of their families:
were thirteen cities with their suburbs; two out of the half tribe of Manasseh beyond Jordan, four out of Issachar, four out of Asher, and three out of Naphtali.
And unto the families of the children of Merari, the rest of the Levites,.... The descendants of the youngest son of Levi, who were all that remained of the Levites unprovided of cities:
out of the tribe of Zebulun, Jokneam with her suburbs; which lay near Carmel, and was a royal city; See Gill on Joshua 12:22,
and Kartah with her suburbs; perhaps the same with Kattath, Joshua 19:15.
Dimnah with her suburbs,.... Nowhere mentioned, unless the same with Rimmon, 1 Chronicles 6:77,
Nahalal with her suburbs; see Joshua 19:15,
And out of the tribe of Reuben, Bezer with her suburbs,.... Which was a city of refuge, and the fifth of them in this account, though not observed as such here, but is in the Greek version; see Joshua 20:8,
and Jahazah with her suburbs; called Jahaz; see Gill on Numbers 21:23.
Kedemoth with her suburbs,.... Near to which was a wilderness of that name; see Deuteronomy 2:26,
and Mephaath with her suburbs; of which See Gill on Joshua 13:18; where the two preceding cities are mentioned along with it:
four cities, Joshua 21:35, are not in some ancient copies of the Hebrew Bible, as is noted by the Masorites; but are in some others, as Kimchi owns, and stand in the Targum, in the Septuagint, Syriac, and Arabic versions, and in a manuscript referred to by HottingerF5Thesaur. Philolog. l. 1. c. 2. p. 181, &c. ; and the same words are to be, found in 1 Chronicles 6:78, and are absolutely necessary to be retained, since without them there would be but eight cities for the Merarites, whereas they are expressly said to be twelve, Joshua 21:40.
And out of the tribe of Gad,.... Which also, as that of Reuben, lay on the other side Jordan:
Ramoth in Gilead with her suburbs; of which see Joshua 20:8,
to be a city of refuge for the slayer; and is the sixth and last city of refuge in this account:
and Mahanaim with her suburbs; here it was the angels met Jacob, which gave rise to the name of the place, Genesis 32:1; afterwards a city was built here, and was on the borders of the tribe of Gad, and belonged to it, Joshua 13:26; mention is made of it in other places, 2 Samuel 2:8 1 Kings 2:8.
Heshbon with her suburbs,.... Which was formerly the royal city of Sihon king of the Amorites, and was first given to and rebuilt by the Reubenites, but was upon the border of the tribe of Gad; and appears from hence to have been one of their cities, Numbers 21:26,
Jazer with her suburbs; sometimes called Jaazer, another city in the same country, and near Heshbon; see Numbers 21:32,
four cities in all: which were Ramothgilead, Mahanaim, Heshbon, and Jazer.
So all the cities for the children of Merari by their families,.... Which were distributed by lot to them, according to the number of their families, and were sufficient for them:
which were remaining of the families of the Levites; the last division of them, besides those of the Kohathites, Levites, and the Gershonites:
were by their lot twelve cities; four out of the tribe of Zebulun, four out of the tribe of Reuben, and four out of the tribe of Gad, whose names are before given,
All the cities of the Levites, within the possession of the children of Israel,.... As comprised in one sum total:
were forty and eight cities with their suburbs; which is just the number that Moses from the mouth of God ordered to be given unto them, before they entered into the land, and before they were in possession of one city in it, Numbers 35:7; which, as it is a proof of the omniscience, prescience, and predetermination of God; so of the sure and true prediction of Moses, who could not be otherwise certain than from the Lord of the Israelites being able to give so many cities to them, out of each of their tribes: and it is to be observed, that this tribe of Levi, though it had no share in the division of the land, yet had more cities by lot given to it than any other, excepting the tribe of Judah; though indeed, in the account of some of the tribes, all the cities in them are not mentioned; and besides, they had only the cities they had with their suburbs round about them, but not the lands belonging to them, nor the villages; however this shows that a large and liberal maintenance of the ministers of the Lord, that serve in his sanctuary should be allowed and made for them, as in the legal, so under the Gospel dispensation.
These cities were everyone with their suburbs round about them,.... Which reached to the space of two thousand cubits on every side; and such a space was assigned to everyone of the above cities for their cattle, to keep them in and lay up provision for them:
thus were all their cities; six of them cities of refuge, and forty two for the priests and Levites to dwell in, and for the commodious use of their herds and flocks.
And the Lord gave unto Israel all the land which he sware to give unto their fathers,.... It was all given them by lot, whether subdued or not subdued, and the far greater part was actually put into their hands, and they had as much as they could for the present occupy and cultivate; and such as were in the hands of the Canaanites, were subject to pay tribute to them; and it was owing to their own slothfulness and sluggishness that they did not possess more hereafter; though it was the will of God that their enemies should be driven out by little and little, until the Israelites were so increased as to occupy the whole, lest any part of the land should lie waste and become barren, and lest the wild beasts of the field should multiply upon them:
and they possessed it, and dwelt therein; each according to their lot in the several places assigned them, as many cities as they could at present people, and as much land as they could now manage.
And the Lord gave them rest round about,.... Not only from their travels, with which they had been fatigued forty years in the wilderness, but from wars with the Canaanites they had been engaged in for some years past:
according to all that he sware unto their fathers; not only to give them the land, but peace, rest, and safety in it:
and there stood not a man of all their enemies before them; for whenever any rose up to oppose them, they were immediately cut off: this is to be understood while Joshua was living; for afterwards, sinning against God, they were again and again delivered up into the hands of their enemies:
the Lord delivered all their enemies into their hands; that is, that made war with them.
There failed not ought of any good thing,.... Not only every good thing in general, but every part and particular of that good thing; that, with all that was included in it, or were appendages to it, or circumstances of it:
which the Lord had spoken to the house of Israel; as of their deliverance out of Egypt, and passage through the Red sea and wilderness, with all conveniences for them therein; so of their passage through Jordan, success of their arms, the conquest of their enemies, possession of their land, a land flowing with milk and honey:
all came to pass; exactly, precisely, and punctually, even everything relative to their temporal and spiritual good: so all that God promises to his spiritual Israel, with respect to their present comfort or everlasting happiness, all is exactly fulfilled, all his promises in Christ are yea and amen.
──《John Gill’s Exposition of the Bible》