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Jos 18:1 The whole congregation of the children of Israel assembled themselves together at Shiloh and set up the Tent of Meeting there. The land was subdued before them-
The later context here is the setting up of the tabernacle at Shiloh, and "the land" in view could be the area around Shiloh.

The command to subject the animals in Eden [the land promised to Abraham?] corresponds to later commands to subject the tribes living in the land (Gen. 1:28 = Num. 32:22,29; Josh. 18:1). The “fear and dread” of humans which fell on the animals after the flood is clearly linkable with the “fear and dread” which was to come upon the inhabitants of Canaan due to the Israelites (Gen. 9:2 = Dt. 1:21; 3:8; 11:25). This all suggests that Eden is to be understood as the land promised to Abraham; for that is the focus of the Biblical record, right from early Genesis.

But the Hebrew for "subdued" specifically means to be put under tribute. One reason why Israel failed to drive out the tribes, and thereby lost the Kingdom, was simply because they wanted to take tribute from them (Josh. 17:13). Ez. 7:19 defines “silver and gold” as Israel’s stumblingblock- moreso than idols. They just so loved wealth. The men of Bethshemesh looked into the ark to see if there were any more jewels left in it (1 Sam. 6:19 cp. 6,15); they trampled upon the supreme holiness of God in their crazed fascination with wealth.

Jos 18:2 Seven tribes remained among the children of Israel, which had not yet been assigned their inheritance-
Those tribes had settled down where they found good land and were lazy to go any further in possessing the Kingdom. Perhaps the reference here is not to be read as meaning that their actual territory wasn't defined, but rather that the individual families within their tribes hadn't been assigned their inheritances- because the tribes just hadn't taken or even moved into their territory. 

Jos 18:3 Joshua said to the children of Israel, How long will you delay possession of the land, which Yahweh the God of your fathers has given you?-
Ecc. 9:20 teaches the sober fact that in the grave there is nothing, nothing at all, no work, no thought; and so now is the day in which to labour with all our heart in the thing we put our hands to. We may apprehend all this intellectually, and yet there is an inherent, clinging laziness which lurks within our nature. One simple reason why Israel failed to inherit the Kingdom in the time of Joshua / Judges was that they were simply "slack" (AV), lazy, to drive out the tribes (Josh. 18:3; the same word is used in Ex. 5:8 regarding how the Egyptians perceived them to be lazy; and also s.w. Prov. 18:9). See on :25. They were happy to receive tribute from them (see on :1), and to enjoy what blessings they received. They were satisficers, not men of principle or mission; not real bond slaves. And for this, God rejected them and they never really inherited the Kingdom prepared for them.

"Drive out" is s.w. "possess". We must note the difference between the  Canaanite peoples and their kings being "struck" and their land "taken" by Joshua-Jesus; and the people of Israel permanently taking possession. This is the difference between the Lord's victory on the cross, and our taking possession of the Kingdom. Even though that possession has been "given" to us. The word used for "possession" is literally 'an inheritance'. The allusion is to the people, like us, being the seed of Abraham. The Kingdom was and is our possession, our inheritance- if we walk in the steps of Abraham. But it is one thing to be the seed of Abraham, another to take possession of the inheritance; and Israel generally did not take possession of all the land (Josh. 11:23 13:1; 16:10; 18:3; 23:4). The language of inheritance / possession is applied to us in the New Testament (Eph. 1:11,14; Col. 3:24; Acts 20:32; 26:18; 1 Pet. 1:4 etc.). Israel were promised: "You shall possess it" (Dt. 30:5; 33:23). This was more of a command than a prophecy, for sadly they were "given" the land but did not "possess" it. They were constantly encouraged in the wilderness that they were on the path to possessing the land (Dt. 30:16,18; 31:3,13; 32:47), but when they got there they didn't possess it fully.

Jos 18:4 Appoint for yourselves three men from each tribe. I will send them, and they shall go through the land, and describe it according to their inheritance; and they shall come to me-
This could be read as a lack of faith in the promise that the Angel had brought Israel "forth out of the land of Egypt into a land that I had espied for them" (Ez. 20:6). Or perhaps this sending out of spies was another concession to human weakness, in God's eagerness that they should by all means come to possess the Kingdom.

Jos 18:5 They shall divide it into seven portions. Judah shall live in his borders on the south, and the house of Joseph shall live in their borders on the north-
The points of the compass were relative to where they then were at Shiloh. 

Jos 18:6 You shall survey the land into seven parts, and bring the description here to me; and I will cast lots for you here before Yahweh our God-
Here again we see God recalculating the inheritance He had originally planned for them, because they lacked the faith or interest to take what had been made potentially possible for them. But God makes concessions to human weakness, and allowed them to inherit in other areas. He is similarly flexible with His people today.

"Before Yahweh" may refer to the tabernacle which had been set up at Shiloh.

Jos 18:7 For the Levites have no portion among you; for the priesthood of Yahweh is their inheritance. Gad, Reuben, and the half-tribe of Manasseh have received their inheritance beyond the Jordan eastward, which Moses the servant of Yahweh gave them-
The Levites had no material inheritance because "the sacrifices of Yahweh the God of Israel... are his inheritance... Yahweh God of Israel was their inheritance" (Josh. 13:14,33; Num. 18:20; Dt. 10:9; 18:2). Notice how "Yahweh" is put for what is sacrificed to Him. His very existence is an imperative to sacrifice to Him, despising all material advantage in doing so. Job comments that to make gold our hope and wealth our confidence is to deny “the God that is above” (Job 31:24,28). To trust in material wealth is effectively to proclaim ourselves atheists. We are described as the new priesthood (1 Pet. 2:5), so all that was true for the Levites becomes true for us. We are not to seek material inheritance. God will provide for us in ways other than our possessing land and leaving an inheritance to our children. The wonder of serving Him is to more than compensate for this.

Jos 18:8 The men arose and went. Joshua commanded those who went to survey the land saying, Go walk through the land, survey it, and come again to me. I will cast lots for you here before Yahweh in Shiloh-
When Joshua told the spies “Go and walk through the land…” (Josh. 18:8), they ought to have perceived that he was asking them to walk in the faith of Abraham- to believe that this land truly had been promised to them, as his seed.

Jos 18:9 The men passed through the land, and recorded it by cities into seven portions in a book. They came to Joshua to the camp at Shiloh-
See on Ex. 32:32. To be blotted out of the book God had written may have been understood by Moses as asking for him to be excluded from an inheritance in the promised land; for later, a ‘book’ was written describing the various portions (Josh. 18:9). The connection is made explicit in Ez. 13:9: “…neither shall they be written in the writing of the house of Israel, neither shall they enter into the land of Israel”. To be blotted out of the book meant to not enter the land (surely Ezekiel is alluding to Moses’ experience). If Israel were to be blotted out there and then in the wilderness, then Moses wanted to share this experience.

Jos 18:10 Joshua cast lots for them in Shiloh before Yahweh. There Joshua divided the land to the children of Israel according to their divisions-
We wonder however whether this idea actually worked. For he was seeking to encourage them to possess the Kingdom on the basis of encouraging descriptions of the land. But detailed knowledge will not of itself motivate. A love of God and desire to manifest Him is what will motivate us to enter the Kingdom, and not merely detailed knowledge about it.

"Shiloh" means "rest", and we therefore see here how Joshua attempted to give Israel "rest". But Hebrews is clear that he didn't succeed in giving them "rest" as intended, and the potentials were all transferred and reapplied to the Lord Jesus (Heb. 4:8). 

Jos 18:11 The lot of the tribe of the children of Benjamin came up according to their families. The border of their lot went out between the children of Judah and the children of Joseph-
The law of Moses reasons as if each family of Israel had a specific inheritance which was not to be sold or moved outside the family. Hence the sin of Ahab in obtaining Naboth's vineyard. It would seem that there was some unrecorded list made of each family and which land they were to be given. This looks forward to our very personal and unique inheritance in God's Kingdom, possibly based around spiritual family units.

It has been suggested that "there were probably two urns, one of which contained the names of the seven tribes, and the other that of the seven portions".

Jos 18:12 Their border on the north quarter was from the Jordan. The border went up to the side of Jericho on the north, and went up through the hill country westward and ended at the wilderness of Beth Aven-
Beth Aven, house of iniquity, is the same as Bethel, which became Beth Aven in prophetic thought after Jeroboam had set up the calf there. The use of this name therefore suggests the book of Joshua was edited, under Divine inspiration, at some far later point- probably during the captivity (see on Josh. 1:1).

Jos 18:13 The border passed along from there to Luz, to the side of Luz (the same is Bethel) southward. The border went down to Ataroth Addar, by the mountain that lies on the south of Beth Horon the lower-
Although Luz was called Bethel (Gen. 35:6; Jud. 1:23), Josh. 16:2 implies a difference between them. Perhaps Luz was the city, and "Bethel" refers specifically to the altar of Jacob there. But Keil suggests Bethel refers to the "southern range of mountains belonging to Bethel, from which the boundary ran out to the town of Luz, so that this town, which stood upon the border, was allotted to the tribe of Benjamin (Josh. 18:22)". 

Jos 18:14 The border extended, and turned around on the west quarter southward, from the mountain that lies before Beth Horon southward; and ended at Kiriath Baal (the same is Kiriath Jearim), a city of the children of Judah. This was the west quarter-
There is no record at all of Israel's obedience to the commands to destroy the local idols of the land, although the change of name of Kiriath Baal (Josh. 15:60; 18:14) is evidence enough that there was some local attempt to stamp out the name of Baal in that case. Instead the historical record is full of evidence that they worshipped these gods. Although the name of Baal Meon had been changed in Num. 32:38, by the time of Josh. 13:17 the old name was still being used. Clearly Israel did not detest idolatry as they ought to have done. Just as the names of idols should not have passed the lips of Israel, so for us, the things of sexual impurity are not to be named amongst us (Eph. 5:3). The allusion shows how Paul understood such things to be the equivalent of idolatry in his day, and that remains a fair interpretation even in our age.   

Jos 18:15 The southern side began at the outskirts of Kiriath Jearim. The border went out westward, and went out to the spring of the waters of Nephtoah-
The description here matches that of the northern border of Judah (Josh. 15:5-9). The boundaries of the seven tribal cantons now being discussed may have been slightly recalculated, but the basic definitions were as God had originally intended.

Jos 18:16 The border went down to the farthest part of the mountain that lies before the valley of the son of Hinnom, which is in the valley of the Rephaim northward. It went down to the valley of Hinnom, to the side of the Jebusite southward, and went down to En Rogel-
‘Gehenna’ is the Aramaic equivalent of the Hebrew ‘Ge-ben-Hinnon’. This was located near Jerusalem (Josh. 15:8), and at the time of Christ it was the city rubbish dump. Dead bodies of criminals were thrown onto the fires which were always burning there, so that Gehenna became symbolic of total destruction and rejection.

We note that the Rephaim or "giants" had children like other human beings (2 Sam. 21:16,18; Dt. 3:11), inhabiting an area known as the valley of Rephaim (Josh. 15:8). The "giants" of Gen. 6:2-4 were therefore humans and not celestial beings.

Jos 18:17 It extended northward, went out at En Shemesh, and went out to Geliloth, which is over against the ascent of Adummim. It went down to the stone of Bohan the son of Reuben-
We note that the stone of a Reubenite was the boundary marker between Judah and Benjamin (Josh. 15:6). We have here a typical example of how despite the division of the tribes, with the intention that the people remained within their given family inheritances, people were dissatisfied with what God gave them; or for whatever reason moved away from them, perhaps in search of something better. And yet the gift of the inheritances was clearly meant to be by God. 

Jos 18:18 It passed along to the side over against the Arabah northward and went down to the Arabah-
The boundary of Benjamin is that of the northern border of Judah described in Josh. 15:5-9. But the description there moves from east to west, but here from west to east.

Jos 18:19 The border passed along to the side of Beth Hoglah northward; and the border ended at the north bay of the Salt Sea, at the south end of the Jordan. This was the south border-
"Bay" is 'tongue', and the Dead Sea is described as having such a tongue at each end of it, thus forming bays. It has been pointed out that there is no such surviving detailed geographical description of any contemporary nation. This reflects the extreme importance of the land of Israel to God. For it was and is to be His Kingdom, and has a special significance to Him.

Jos 18:20 The Jordan was its border on the east quarter. This was the inheritance of the children of Benjamin, boundary by boundary all around, according to their families-
The law of Moses reasons as if each family of Israel had a specific inheritance which was not to be sold or moved outside the family. Hence the sin of Ahab in obtaining Naboth's vineyard. It would seem that there was some unrecorded list made of each family and which land they were to be given. This looks forward to our very personal and unique inheritance in God's Kingdom, possibly based around spiritual family units.

Jos 18:21 Now the cities of the tribe of the children of Benjamin according to their families were Jericho, Beth Hoglah, Emek Keziz-
The cities are described in two groups; 12 to the east, 14 to the west.

Jos 18:22 Beth Arabah, Zemaraim, Bethel-
Beth Arabah was a small settlement right out in the desert (Josh. 15:61; 18:22), therefore also called Arabah (Josh. 18:18). From such a poor and obscure place there arose a man who was attracted to David's cause (2 Sam. 23:31), just as the Lord calls all manner of unusual people to Himself today. Zemaraim was in the territory assigned to Benjamin (Josh. 18:22), but is located "in the hill country of Ephraim" in 2 Chron. 13:4.

Jos 18:23 Avvim, Parah, Ophrah-
Avvim may be Ai, called Aiath (Is. 10:28) and Aija (Neh. 11:31). Ophrah is not that associated with Gideon, This was not the Ophrah of Gideon, but the Ophrah which fell into Philistine hands of 1 Sam. 13:17. The history of so many of these places reflects how the huge potential possession was not realized by Israel, and wasted spiritual potential is one of the most tragic features of the entire Divine-human encounter.

Jos 18:24 Chephar Ammoni, Ophni, and Geba; twelve cities with their villages-
Geba is not the Gibeah of Saul as some suggest because this one is one the east (:21). Meaning "height", Geba was a common name.

Jos 18:25 Gibeon, Ramah, Beeroth-
Beeroth was one of the Gibeonite towns which made peace with Israel, but here Benjamin is encouraged to possess it. The Gibeonites had agreed to be servants to the Israelites, and by all accounts they kept that agreement. But they remained living in their towns, such was the laziness of Israel to possess what had been given to them. See on :3.

Jos 18:26 Mizpeh, Chephirah, Mozah-
Mizpeh was to become a significant holy place and point of gathering for Israel (Jud. 20:1-3; 1 Sam. 7:5,6; 10:17; Jer. 40:6).

Jos 18:27 Rekem, Irpeel, Taralah-
These places are at best obscure or unknown to us today. We wonder why we have these records. None of these places has been very confidently identified. We have here an example of where the Biblical record is preserved, even though it had far more meaning for the immediate audience that it has ever had for the millennia of believers who have subsequently read these words. This in turn opens up the wider debate as to which parts of Biblical writings are preserved as historical record, for our general learning; and which are specifically commandments to us. As examples, I would argue that baptism was not just a command for the first century but for us too- because of the context and reasoning behind the command. Whereas the commandments about head covering in Corinth would appear from the context to be a historical account of a specific situation in that church at that time.

Jos 18:28 Zelah, Eleph, the Jebusite (the same is Jerusalem), Gibeath, and Kiriath; fourteen cities with their villages. This is the inheritance of the children of Benjamin according to their families-
Benjamin's inheritance was roughly 26 miles in length by 12 in breadth. But the small size was because of the huge fertility of the land and its strong topographical nature. And likewise there is in all God's gifts, in this life and eternally, a kind of compensation and equality.