These are the tribes: "Dan: one portion, along the northern boundary, following the Hethlon road that turns off to the entrance of Hamath as far as Hazor-enon so that the territory of Damascus lies to the north alongside Hamath, the northern border stretching from east to west.
"Asher: one portion, bordering Dan from east to west.
"Naphtali: one portion, bordering Asher from east to west.
"Manasseh: one portion, bordering Naphtali from east to west.
"Ephraim: one portion, bordering Manasseh from east to west.
"Reuben: one portion, bordering Ephraim from east to west.
"Judah: one portion, bordering Reuben from east to west.
"Bordering Judah from east to west is the consecrated area that you will set aside as holy: a square approximately seven by seven miles, with the Sanctuary set at the center.
The consecrated area reserved for God is to be seven miles long and a little less than three miles wide.
"This is how it will be parceled out. The priest will get the area measuring seven miles on the north and south boundaries, with a width of a little more than three miles at the east and west boundaries. The Sanctuary of God will be at the center.
This is for the consecrated priests, the Zadokites who stayed true in their service to me and didn't get off track as the Levites did when Israel wandered off the main road.
This is their special gift, a gift from the land itself, most holy ground, bordering the section of the Levites.
"The Levites get a section equal in size to that of the priests, roughly seven by three miles.
They are not permitted to sell or trade any of it. It's the choice part of the land, to say nothing of being holy to God.
"What's left of the 'sacred square' - each side measures out at seven miles by a mile and a half - is for ordinary use: the city and its buildings with open country around it, but the city at the center.
The north, south, east, and west sides of the city are each about a mile and a half in length.
A strip of pasture, one hundred twenty-five yards wide, will border the city on all sides.
The remainder of this portion, three miles of countryside to the east and to the west of the sacred precinct, is for farming. It will supply food for the city.
Workers from all the tribes of Israel will serve as field hands to farm the land.
"This dedicated area, set apart for holy purposes, will be a square, seven miles by seven miles, a 'holy square,' which includes the part set aside for the city.
"The rest of this land, the country stretching east to the Jordan and west to the Mediterranean from the seven-mile sides of the 'holy square,' belongs to the prince. His land is sandwiched between the tribal portions north and south, and goes out both east and west from the 'sacred square' with its Temple at the center.
The land set aside for the Levites on one side and the city on the other is in the middle of the territory assigned to the prince. The 'sacred square' is flanked east and west by the prince's land and bordered on the north and south by the territories of Judah and Benjamin respectively.
"And then the rest of the tribes: "Benjamin: one portion, stretching from the eastern to the western boundary.
"Simeon: one portion, bordering Benjamin from east to west.
"Issachar: one portion, bordering Simeon from east to west.
"Zebulun: one portion, bordering Issachar from east to west.
"Gad: one portion, bordering Zebulun from east to west.
"The southern boundary of Gad will run south from Tamar to the waters of Meribah-kadesh, along the Brook of Egypt and then out to the Great Mediterranean Sea.
"This is the land that you are to divide up among the tribes of Israel as their inheritance. These are their portions." Decree of God, the Master.
Published by permission. Originally published by NavPress in English as THE MESSAGE: The Bible in Contemporary Language copyright 2002 by Eugene Peterson. All rights reserved. (The Message Bible Online)