The lot of Simeon. (1-9) The lot of Zebulun. (10-16) The lot of Issachar, Asher, Naphtali, and Dan. (17-51)
Verses 1-9 The men of Judah did not oppose taking away the cities within their border, when convinced that they had more than was right. If a true believer has obtained an unintended and improper advantage in any thing, he will give it up without murmuring. Love seeketh not her own, and doth not behave unseemly; it will induce those in whom it richly dwells, to part with their own to supply what is lacking to their brethren.
Verses 10-16 In the division to each tribe of Israel, the prophetic blessings of Jacob were fulfilled. They chose for themselves, or it was divided to them by lot, in the manner and places that he foresaw. So sure a rule to go by is the word of prophecy: we see by it what to believe, and it proves beyond all dispute the things that are of God.
Verses 17-51 Joshua waited till all the tribes were settled, before he asked any provision for himself. He was content to be unfixed, till he saw them all placed, and herein is an example to all in public places, to prefer the common welfare before private advantage. Those who labour most to do good to others, seek an inheritance in the Canaan above: but it will be soon enough to enter thereon, when they have done all the service to their brethren of which they are capable. Nor can any thing more effectually assure them of their title to it, than endeavouring to bring others to desire, to seek, and to obtain it. Our Lord Jesus came and dwelt on earth, not in pomp but poverty, providing rest for man, yet himself not having where to lay his head; for Christ pleased not himself. Nor would he enter upon his inheritance, till by his obedience to death he secured the eternal inheritance for all his people; nor will he account his own glory completed, till every ransomed sinner is put in possession of his heavenly rest.
Joshua 19:1-9 . THE LOT OF SIMEON.
1. the second lot came forth to Simeon--The next lot that was drawn at Shiloh, gave the tribe of Simeon his inheritance within the territory, which had been assigned to that of Judah. The knowledge of Canaan possessed by the Israelites, when the division of the land commenced, was but very general, being derived from the rapid sweep they had made over it during the course of conquest; and it was on the ground of that rough survey alone that the distribution proceeded, by which Judah received an inheritance. Time showed that this territory was too large ( Joshua 19:9 ), either for their numbers, however great, to occupy and their arms to defend, or too large in proportion to the allotments of the other tribes. Justice therefore required (what kind and brotherly feeling readily dictated) a modification of their possession; and a part of it was appropriated to Simeon. By thus establishing it within the original domain of another tribe, the prophecy of Jacob in regard to Simeon was fulfilled ( Genesis 49:7 ); for from its boundaries being not traced, there is reason to conclude that its people were divided and dispersed among those of Judah; and though one group of its cities named ( Joshua 19:2-6 ), gives the idea of a compact district, as it is usually represented by map makers, the other group ( Joshua 19:7 Joshua 19:8 ) were situated, two in the south, and two elsewhere, with tracts of the country around them.
Joshua 19:10-16 . OF ZEBULUN.
10-14. the third lot came up for the children of Zebulun--The boundaries of the possession assigned to them extended from the Lake of Chinnereth (Sea of Galilee) on the east, to the Mediterranean on the west. Although they do not seem at first to have touched on the western shore--a part of Manasseh running north into Asher ( Joshua 17:10 )--they afterwards did, according to the prediction of Moses ( Deuteronomy 33:19 ). The extent from north to south cannot be very exactly traced; the sites of many of the places through which the boundary line is drawn being unknown. Some of the cities were of note.
Joshua 19:17-23 . OF ISSACHAR.
17-20. the fourth lot came out to Issachar--Instead of describing the boundaries of this tribe, the inspired historian gives a list of its principal cities. These cities are all in the eastern part of the plain of Esdraelon.
Joshua 19:24-31 . OF ASHER.
24-31. the fifth lot came out for the tribe of the children of Asher--The western boundary is traced from north to south through the cities mentioned; the site of them, however, is unknown.
26. to Carmel . . . and to Shihor-libnath--that is, the "black" or "muddy river"; probably the Nahr Belka, below Dor (Tantoura); for that town belonged to Asher ( Joshua 17:10 ). Thence the boundary line turned eastward to Beth-dagon, a town at the junction of Zebulun and Naphtali, and ran northwards as far as Cabul, with other towns, among which is mentioned ( Joshua 19:28 ) "great Zidon," so called on account of its being even then the flourishing metropolis of the Phoenicians. Though included in the inheritance of Asher, this town was never possessed by them ( Judges 1:31 ).
29. and then the coast turneth to Ramah--now El-Hamra, which stood where the Leontes (Litany) ends its southern course and flows westward.
and to the strong city Tyre--The original city appears to have stood on the mainland, and was well-fortified. From Tyre the boundary ran to Hosah, an inland town; and then, passing the unconquered district of Achzib ( Judges 1:31 ), terminated at the seacoast.
Joshua 19:32-39 . OF NAPHTALI.
32-39. the sixth lot came out to the children of Naphtali--Although the cities mentioned have not been discovered, it is evident, from Zaanannim, which is by Kedesh, that is, on the northwest of Lake Merom ( Judges 4:11 ), that the boundary described ( Joshua 19:34 ) ran from the southwest towards the northeast, up to the sources of the Jordan.
34. Aznoth-tabor--on the east of Tabor towards the Jordan, for the border ran thence to Hukkok, touching upon that of Zebulun; and as the territory of Zebulun did not extend as far as the Jordan, Aznoth-tabor and Hukkok must have been border towns on the line which separated Naphtali from Issachar.
to Judah upon Jordan toward the sunrising--The sixty cities, Havoth-jair, which were on the eastern side of the Jordan, opposite Naphtali, were reckoned as belonging to Judah, because Jair, their possessor, was a descendant of Judah ( 1 Chronicles 2:4-22 ) [KEIL].
Joshua 19:40-48 . OF DAN.
40-46. the seventh lot came out for the tribe . . . Dan--It lay on the west of Benjamin and consisted of portions surrendered by Judah and Ephraim. Its boundaries are not stated, as they were easily distinguishable from the relative position of Dan to the three adjoining tribes.
47. the children of Dan went up to fight against Leshem--The Danites, finding their inheritance too small, decided to enlarge its boundaries by the sword; and, having conquered Leshem (Laish), they planted a colony there, calling the new settlement by the name of Dan
Joshua 19:49-51 . THE CHILDREN OF ISRAEL GIVE AN INHERITANCE TO JOSHUA.
50. According to the word of the Lord they gave him the city which he asked--It was most proper that the great leader should receive an inheritance suited to his dignity, and as a reward for his public services. But the gift was not left to the spontaneous feelings of a grateful people. It was conferred "according to the word of the Lord"--probably an unrecorded promise, similar to what had been made to Caleb ( Joshua 14:9 ).
Timnath-serah--or Heres, on Mount Gaash ( Judges 2:9 ). Joshua founded it, and was afterwards buried there ( Joshua 24:30 ).
51. These are the inheritances--This verse is the formal close of the section which narrates the history of the land distribution; and to stamp it with due importance, the names of the commissioners are repeated, as well as the spot where so memorable a transaction took place.