Grad school is wicked time consuming! This blog is currently on hold as the semester grinds on!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Joshua 13-19: Dividing Canaan

Joshua 13: The Parts of Canaan Still Unconquered / The Territory East of the Jordan / The Territory of Reuben / The Territory of Gad / The Territory of the Half-Tribe of Manasseh (East)
Joshua 14: The Distribution of Territory West of the Jordan / Hebron Allotted to Caleb
Joshua 15: The Territory of Judah / The Towns of Judh
Joshua 16: The Territory of Ephraim
Joshua 17: The Other Half-tribe of Manasseh (West) / The Tribe of Joseph Protests
Joshua 18:The Territories of the Remaining Tribes / The Territory of Benjamin
Joshua 19:The Territory of Simeon / The Territory of Zebulun / The Territory of Issachar / The Territory of Asher / The Territory of Naphtali / The Territory of Dan / Joshua's Inheritance

Hoo boy. Joshua has to assign the Israelites their land. This could take a while.

The Parts of Canaan Still Unconquered: Joshua 13.1-7
Joshua is an old man when the Lord comes to him and commands him to distribute the land to the Israelites. A lot of the territory is still unconquered, but God commands Joshua at this time only to divide the land among the remaining nine tribes and the half-tribe of Manasseh*. The Lord will take care of driving out Israel's enemies.

*[Reuben and Gad will occupy the land East of the Jordan. Note that Manasseh is not to reside East of the Jordan in this version.]

This passage allows the biblical author to give a preview of the land still to be conquered. It is not done through narration, but using God as a mouthpiece. Let's call this characterization of God "God as Guide. In the characterization, God leads the people to do whatever they need to do by speaking it. After it is spoken, the people do it. It is a blunt sort of foreshadowing (by today's standards, at least) that allows the author to give an outline of the story to come before the story is fleshed out. God as guide has appeared many times before thus far, especially in the story of the escape from Egypt, in which the Lord commanded Moses to complete certain tasks which Moses then completed.

The Territory East of the Jordan: Joshua 13.8-14
The territory Moses gave to the Reubenites, Gadites, and half-tribe of Manasseh is described in detail.* The Israelites have driven out many peoples - and the bible at points says that the entire land has been conquered. However, the author here informs us that the Israelites failed to conquer the Geshurites and Maacathites. This serves an etiological purpose. An editorial note tells us that "Geshur and Maacath live within Israel to this day."

*[In this version, Manasseh will join Reuben and Gad East of the Jordan. The difference between the two versions of the story can be accounted for under the theory of multiple authorship (Documentary Hypothesis).]

A brief editorial note reminds us that the Levites receive no inheritance to the Lord: "The offerings by fire to the Lord God of Israel are their inheritance" (Josh. 13.14).

What follows are three sections detailing the specific land each of the three tribes east of the Jordan was assigned by Moses.

The Territory of Reuben: Joshua 13.15-23
The territory Moses gave to the Reubenites is described in detail.

The Territory of Gad: Joshua 13.24-28
The territory Moses gave to the Gadites is described in detail.

The Territory of the Half-Tribe of Manasseh (East): Joshua 13.29-33
The territory Moses gave to the Manassites is described in detail. Again a brief editorial note reminds us that the Levites receive no inheritance to the Lord.

The Distribution of Territory West of the Jordan: Joshua 14.1-5
The distribution of territory in Canaan, the promised land, is described. This land is distributed by lot by Joshua and the head priest Eleazar. Again the Levite situation is described.

Hebron Allotted to Caleb: Joshua 14.6-15
The people of Judah come before Joshua and Caleb recounts for him his tale of spying out the land and the reward of land that Moses swore to him for being an exceptionally hones man and following the Lord. Forty-five years after that incident, Caleb is now 85, his strength not diminished one bit.

Joshua blesses Caleb and gives him Hebron in fulfillment of Moses' promise.

This section is an exception to the envelope structure [or sandwich structure] rule. It ends with the phrase, "And the land had rest from war," which was the declaration that closed chapter 11. These two parallel phrases would normally indicate an enveloped story, but the text that is enveloped - a hodgepodge of archival material - is not cohesive. In this instance the intent of the author seems to be to set aside the narrative, but there is intervening material in the way. In addition, similar material follows, so the purpose of the envelope structure, if this was the author's intention at all, becomes even more confusing. I'm going to call this an exception to the envelope structure rule.

The Territory of Judah: Joshua 15.1-12
The boundaries of the land given to the descendants of Judah are given. In contrast to previous descriptions of territory, it is the boundaries of the land that are stressed, indicating this is probably from a different source.

Caleb Occupies His Portion: Joshua 15.13-19
In accordance with the Lord's command to Joshua, caleb is awarded Hebron, part of the land of Judah. Ever the warrior in this story, Caleb drives out the inhabitants of that land himself. He then offers his daughter Achsah to whoever attacks and takes Kiriath-sepher. Othniel, Caleb's nephew, takes it and receives his prize.

Achsah is a strong woman character - something of a rarity in biblical literature. Her importance is immediately recognizable by the fact that she is named. She is a victim to the sex-marriage economy in the sense that she is married off in exchange for a service. However, Achsah then attempts to undermine the sex-marriage economy by telling her husband to ask for a field as the dowry. Then the narrator shows her as she dismounts from her donkey and takes the Sex-marriage economy into her own hands as she asks her father instead for a present of springs as a well. In an area dry as the Negeb, this is a shrewd business move. She receives her present, thereby usurping her husband's right to a dowry and undermining the sex-marriage economy as a whole.

The Towns of Judah: Joshua 15.20-63
The tremendous inheritance of Judah is laid out in 43 verses: eleven districts in the south of the land. But for all the glory of their land, the people of Judah are unable to drive out the Jebusites, the inhabitants of Jerusalem. The etiological passage reads, "So the Jebusites live with the people of Judah in Jerusalem to this day.

The Territory Ephraim: Joshua 16.1-10
The territory of the Ephraimites is described, with an emphasis on the boundaries.

The Other Half-Tribe of Manasseh (West): Joshua 17.1-13
Well this is strange. While the land is being distributed, Zelophehad son of Hepher son of Gilead son of Machir son of Manasseh comes to Joshua and Eleazar to tell then that he has no sons - could they please receive his portion so that the land would stay in his name? His daughter's names are Mahlah, Noah, Hoglah, Milcah, and Tirzah. Does that sound familiar - because it is. This happens to be a duplicate story of Numbers 27.1-11, complete with all the same names. However, the situation has now changed somewhat. In the Joshua story, Zelophehad asks Joshua directly. In the Numbers story, Zelophehad's daughters ask on their father's behalf. The difference is all (again) in the strength of the female characters. It is remarkable that these characters are named, but in the Numbers story they are even stronger than they appear here because they speak on behalf of their father. The result is the same, however. The daughters still receive the land.

The Tribe of Joseph Protests: Joshua 17.14-18
The tribe of Joseph protests that it only received one lot, though they have many people. Joshua tells them to clear an area in the forest in the land of the Perizzites and Rephaim, if the hill country is not enough. The tribe then complains about the Canaanites and their chariots of iron. Joshua reassures them that they will conquer the Canaanites.

The Territories of the Remaining Tribes: Joshua 18.1-10
The congregation takes a break at Shiloh. Seven tribes have yet to receive their inheritance, so much land is yet to be settled. Joshua therefore sends out three men from every tribe to chart the remaining land and divide it into seven pieces. Joshua then casts lots for the pieces.

The Territory of Benjamin: Joshua 18.11-28
The tribe of Benjamin is granted its territory.

The Territory of Simeon: Joshua 19.1-9
The tribe of Simeon is granted its territory - some of it is in the land of Judah, as that tribe could not fill its inherited land on its own.

The Territory of Zebulun: Joshua 19.10-16
The tribe of Zebulun is granted its territory.

The Territory of Issachar: Joshua 19.17-23
The tribe of Issachar is granted its territory.

The Territory of Asher: Joshua 19.24-31
The tribe of Asher is granted its territory.

The Territory of Naphtali: Joshua 19.32-39
The tribe of Naphtali is granted its territory.

The Territory of Dan: Joshua 19.40-48
The tribe of Dan is granted its territory.

Joshua's Inheritance: Joshua 19.49-51
The land completely divided,m the Israelites give Joshua an inheritance: Timnath-serath in the hill country of Ephraim. He rebuilds the town and settles it.

The dividing of the land is complete.

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