Joshua 19:40-48 (NIV) 40 The seventh lot came out for the tribe of Dan, clan by clan. 41 The territory of their inheritance included: Zorah, Eshtaol, Ir Shemesh, 42 Shaalabbin, Aijalon, Ithlah, 43 Elon, Timnah, Ekron, 44 Eltekeh, Gibbethon, Baalath, 45 Jehud, Bene Berak, Gath Rimmon, 46 Me Jarkon and Rakkon, with the area facing Joppa. 47 (But the Danites had difficulty taking possession of their territory, so they went up and attacked Leshem, took it, put it to the sword and occupied it. They settled in Leshem and named it Dan after their forefather.) 48 These towns and their villages were the inheritance of the tribe of Dan, clan by clan.
On verses 40-48: The final tribe to receive its land allotment was the tribe of Dan. Originally the Danites were assigned a fairly sizable area, located right by the Mediterranean Sea to the west, next to the tribe of Judah (v41-46). However, the Danites had difficulty taking possession of their assigned land. So they gave up and instead travel to the northernmost part of the promised land where they attack a city called Leshem and settle there, renaming the city Dan. The land that was originally supposed to be for the Danites would be occupied by the Philistines, long time enemies of the Israelites.
The size of the city that the Danites ended up taking over was a small fraction of the land that was originally allotted to them. Their city became the northernmost part of Israel, and thus when Scripture uses the phrase “from Dan to Beersheba”, it is a reference to the entire land of Israel, since Dan is the northernmost city and Beersheba is the southernmost city.
What can we learn from this? When we give up trying to take possession of the land that God destined for us to have, we will end up running away and settling for something far less, allowing the enemy to take over what was meant to be ours.
Joshua 19:49-51 (NIV) 49 When they had finished dividing the land into its allotted portions, the Israelites gave Joshua son of Nun an inheritance among them, 50 as the LORD had commanded. They gave him the town he asked for–Timnath Serah in the hill country of Ephraim. And he built up the town and settled there. 51 These are the territories that Eleazar the priest, Joshua son of Nun and the heads of the tribal clans of Israel assigned by lot at Shiloh in the presence of the LORD at the entrance to the Tent of Meeting. And so they finished dividing the land.
On verses 49-51: Joshua, Eleazar the priest and the tribal heads finish dividing the land among the tribes of Israel (v51), and now the Israelites give Joshua land for himself. Joshua requests and receives the town of Timnath Serah located in the hill country of his own tribe Ephraim (v50), right in the middle of the promised land. Joshua would be the only individual in all of Israel to receive and personally own a town all by himself. (What about Caleb, you may ask? According to Joshua 15:13 and Joshua 15:54 Caleb’s city of Hebron was seen as ultimately part of the tribe of Judah.)
What can we learn from this?
1. Just as the Israelites made sure Joshua was rewarded with the town that he requested, make sure your leaders who work hard among you are rewarded and well taken of.
2. Notice that verse 51 emphasizes that Joshua, Eleazar the priest and the tribal chiefs of Israel went about the land assignments “at Shiloh in the presence of the LORD at the entrance to the Tent of Meeting”. This reminds me that when making big decisions, make those decisions while being conscious of God’s presence, seeking God’s face and looking to Him for wisdom and direction. Is there an important decision you need to make? Don’t make it in your own strength, but do so prayerfully, being conscious of God’s presence, depending on His guidance.
Heavenly Father, may I never give up taking possession of all that You made me for. Also, whenever I make big decisions, may I do so in Your presence, depending on Your wisdom and guidance to lead me. In Jesus’ name, AMEN!