Joshua 21:1-12 (NIV) 1 Now the family heads of the Levites approached Eleazar the priest, Joshua son of Nun, and the heads of the other tribal families of Israel 2 at Shiloh in Canaan and said to them, “The LORD commanded through Moses that you give us towns to live in, with pasturelands for our livestock.” 3 So, as the LORD had commanded, the Israelites gave the Levites the following towns and pasturelands out of their own inheritance: 4 The first lot came out for the Kohathites, clan by clan. The Levites who were descendants of Aaron the priest were allotted thirteen towns from the tribes of Judah, Simeon and Benjamin. 5 The rest of Kohath’s descendants were allotted ten towns from the clans of the tribes of Ephraim, Dan and half of Manasseh. 6 The descendants of Gershon were allotted thirteen towns from the clans of the tribes of Issachar, Asher, Naphtali and the half-tribe of Manasseh in Bashan. 7 The descendants of Merari, clan by clan, received twelve towns from the tribes of Reuben, Gad and Zebulun. 8 So the Israelites allotted to the Levites these towns and their pasturelands, as the LORD had commanded through Moses. 9 From the tribes of Judah and Simeon they allotted the following towns by name 10 (these towns were assigned to the descendants of Aaron who were from the Kohathite clans of the Levites, because the first lot fell to them): 11 They gave them Kiriath Arba (that is, Hebron), with its surrounding pastureland, in the hill country of Judah. (Arba was the forefather of Anak.) 12 But the fields and villages around the city they had given to Caleb son of Jephunneh as his possession.
On verses 1-12: When Moses was still alive and leading the Israelites, God had commanded that upon taking possession of the promised land, the Israelites were to give the tribe of Levi towns to live in and to possess. God even commanded that these towns and pasturelands for the Levites be taken from the Israelites’ own inheritance (see Numbers 35:1-5). This was quite an act of grace and mercy toward Levi and his descendants. That’s because when Levi was alive, he was notorious for a vengeful series of killings that he and his brother Simeon committed in Genesis 34. Levi and Simeon’s sins had the effect of disqualifying their descendants from owning large areas of land for themselves (see Genesis 49:5-7). By commanding the rest of the Israelite tribes to give towns and pasturelands to the Levites, God was showing great grace and mercy to Levi and his descendants.
So here in Joshua 21 we see the family heads of the tribe of Levi approaching Joshua, Eleazar the priest and the tribal chiefs and reminding them of the Lord’s command to give them towns and pasturelands to live in and possess (v1-3).
Because Levi had three sons called Merari, Gershon and Kohath, the tribe of Levi was divided into 3 general groups: the Merarites, the Gershonites and the Kohathites. After casting lots:
– 13 towns are given to the Kohathites who were descendants of Aaron the high priest and who would also serve as priests for the Israelites;
– Another 10 towns were given to the Kohathites who were not descendants of Aaron;
– Another 13 towns were given to the Gershonites;
– Another 12 towns were given to the Merarites.
What can we learn from this? Because of their sin, the Levites lost their right to receive an inheritance. Yet in His mercy God gave the Levites towns to live in that were taken from the inheritance of the other Israelite tribes. Like the Levites, because of our sin, we lost our right to receive any inheritance from your Heavenly Father. Yet in His mercy your Heavenly Father took the inheritance that belonged to His Son Jesus Christ – His righteousness, His standing as the Son of God, His access to God’s presence – and the Father let us share in His perfect Son’s inheritance. That is why 1 Peter 1:3-4 says:
1 Peter 1:3-4 (NIV) 3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade–kept in heaven for you…
Thank You Heavenly Father that when I was disqualified from receiving any inheritance because of my sin, in Your mercy You gave me a part of Your Son’s inheritance. Thank You Jesus for graciously sharing Your inheritance with me. In Jesus’ name, AMEN!