Joshua 19:1-9 (NIV) 1 The second lot came out for the tribe of Simeon, clan by clan. Their inheritance lay within the territory of Judah. 2 It included: Beersheba (or Sheba), Moladah, 3 Hazar Shual, Balah, Ezem, 4 Eltolad, Bethul, Hormah, 5 Ziklag, Beth Marcaboth, Hazar Susah, 6 Beth Lebaoth and Sharuhen–thirteen towns and their villages; 7 Ain, Rimmon, Ether and Ashan–four towns and their villages– 8 and all the villages around these towns as far as Baalath Beer (Ramah in the Negev). This was the inheritance of the tribe of the Simeonites, clan by clan. 9 The inheritance of the Simeonites was taken from the share of Judah, because Judah’s portion was more than they needed. So the Simeonites received their inheritance within the territory of Judah.
On verses 1-9: These verses describe the land allotment given to the tribe of Simeon. Notice that Simeon’s land allotment was taken from Judah’s portion (v9, also v1b). Why is that? Verse 9 gives one reason: “because Judah’s portion was more than they needed”. What can we learn from this? Whenever you have excess (more than you need), be wise and generous with that excess. Don’t hoard it all for yourself but use it to serve others’ needs.
There is also likely another reason why the tribe of Simeon did not receive a large chunk of land but only specific towns and cities scattered across the territory of Judah. The reason goes back to Genesis 34 and an incident that happened in Jacob’s family. One of Jacob’s daughters called Dinah is raped by a guy called Shechem. Dinah’s brothers are furious. In retaliation for what Shechem did to their sister, two of Dinah’s brothers, Simeon and Levi, take swords and kill every male in the city where Shechem’s family lived, including Shechem himself as well as Shechem’s family Hamor. They also take all the women, children and wealth from Shechem’s city. Jacob is furious with his sons Simeon and Levi (Genesis 34:30). When Jacob is nearing death, Jacob speaks these prophetic words over Simeon and Levi, saying the following in Genesis 49:5-7:
5 “Simeon and Levi are brothers– their swords are weapons of violence. 6 Let me not enter their council, let me not join their assembly, for they have killed men in their anger and hamstrung oxen as they pleased. 7 Cursed be their anger, so fierce, and their fury, so cruel! I will scatter them in Jacob and disperse them in Israel.
So here in Joshua 19, when the tribe of Simeon is not given a chunk of land but only select towns and villages scattered across Judah’s territory, some scholars see this as the fulfillment of Jacob’s prophetic words spoken over Simeon in Genesis 49:7, namely that Simeon would be “scattered” and “dispersed”. For the same reason, the tribe of Levi would not receive any land of their own but rather would only live in towns that were scattered across the promised land. The fact that the tribe of Levi would later on be given the role of priests in Israel was God showing great mercy and grace to the tribe of Levi.
What can we learn from this?
1. We are not responsible for what other people do to us and the hurts that they inflict. But we are responsible for how we respond to those hurts. When we take revenge on those who have hurt us, we can end up doing far more damage than the damage that was done to us. In so doing, we can even end up losing our God-given inheritance. Instead of taking revenge, bring your hurts to God. Let God heal you and trust Him to help you forgive and to be your avenger. As Romans 12:19 says, “Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay,’ says the Lord.”
2. Like the Levites, because of our sin we did not deserve to receive anything from God. Yet in God’s grace and mercy, He sets us apart and calls us priests in His kingdom (1 Peter 2:9-10).
Heavenly Father, thank You for all Your mercy and grace on my life, which is the only reason I can be called a priest in Your kingdom. Whenever others hurt me badly, please help me not to take revenge but to trust You to avenge me, lest I do even more damage to me and family. With the excess that You have given me, please help me to be a wise and generous steward. In Jesus’ name, AMEN!