Joshua 21

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Cities and Pasturelands Allotted to Levi

1 Then the heads of the fathers' houses of the Levites came 1to Eleazar the priest and to Joshua the son of Nun and to the heads of the fathers' houses of the tribes of the people of Israel.
2 And they said to them 2at Shiloh in the land of Canaan, 3"The LORD commanded through Moses that we be given cities to dwell in, along with their pasturelands for our livestock."
3 So by command of the LORD the people of Israel gave to the Levites the following cities and pasturelands out of their inheritance.
4 The lot came out for the clans of the Kohathites. So those Levites who were descendants of Aaron the priest 4received by lot from the tribes of Judah, Simeon, and Benjamin, thirteen cities.
5 And the rest of the Kohathites received by lot 5from the clans of the tribe of Ephraim, from the tribe of Dan and the half-tribe of Manasseh, ten cities.
6 The 6Gershonites received by lot from the clans of the tribe of Issachar, from the tribe of Asher, from the tribe of Naphtali, and from the half-tribe of Manasseh in Bashan, thirteen cities.
7 The 7Merarites according to their clans received from the tribe of Reuben, the tribe of Gad, and the tribe of Zebulun, twelve cities.
8 These cities and their pasturelands the people of Israel 8gave by lot to the Levites, 9as the LORD had commanded through Moses.
9 Out of the tribe of the people of Judah and the tribe of the people of Simeon they gave the following cities mentioned by name,
10 which went to 10the descendants of Aaron, one of the clans of the Kohathites who belonged to the people of Levi; since the lot fell to them first.
11 11They gave them 12Kiriath-arba (Arba being the father of Anak), that is Hebron, 13in the hill country of Judah, along with the pasturelands around it.
12 But the fields of the city and its villages had been given to Caleb the son of Jephunneh as his possession.
13 And to the descendants of Aaron the priest they gave Hebron, 14the city of refuge for the manslayer, with its pasturelands, 15Libnah with its pasturelands,
14 Jattir with its pasturelands, Eshtemoa with its pasturelands,
15 Holon with its pasturelands, Debir with its pasturelands,
16 Ain with its pasturelands, Juttah with its pasturelands, Beth-shemesh with its pasturelands--nine cities out of these two tribes;
17 then out of the tribe of Benjamin, 16Gibeon with its pasturelands, Geba with its pasturelands,
18 Anathoth with its pasturelands, and Almon with its pasturelands--four cities.
19 The cities of the descendants of Aaron, the priests, were in all thirteen cities with their pasturelands.
20 17As to the rest of the Kohathites belonging to the Kohathite clans of the Levites, the cities allotted to them were out of the tribe of Ephraim.
21 To them were given Shechem, 18the city of refuge for the manslayer, with its pasturelands in the hill country of Ephraim, Gezer with its pasturelands,
22 Kibzaim with its pasturelands, Beth-horon with its pasturelands--four cities;
23 and out of the tribe of Dan, Elteke with its pasturelands, Gibbethon with its pasturelands,
24 Aijalon with its pasturelands, Gath-rimmon with its pasturelands--four cities;
25 and out of the half-tribe of Manasseh, Taanach with its pasturelands, and Gath-rimmon with its pasturelands--two cities.
26 The cities of the clans of the rest of the Kohathites were ten in all with their pasturelands.
27 19And to the Gershonites, one of the clans of the Levites, were given out of the half-tribe of Manasseh, Golan in Bashan with its pasturelands, 20the city of refuge for the manslayer, and Beeshterah with its pasturelands--two cities;
28 and out of the tribe of Issachar, Kishion with its pasturelands, Daberath with its pasturelands,
29 Jarmuth with its pasturelands, En-gannim with its pasturelands--four cities;
30 and out of the tribe of Asher, Mishal with its pasturelands, Abdon with its pasturelands,
31 Helkath with its pasturelands, and Rehob with its pasturelands--four cities;
32 and out of the tribe of Naphtali, Kedesh in Galilee with its pasturelands, 21the city of refuge for the manslayer, Hammoth-dor with its pasturelands, and Kartan with its pasturelands--three cities.
33 The cities of the several clans of the Gershonites were in all thirteen cities with their pasturelands.
34 22And to the rest of the Levites, the Merarite clans, were given out of the tribe of Zebulun, Jokneam with its pasturelands, Kartah with its pasturelands,
35 Dimnah with its pasturelands, Nahalal with its pasturelands--four cities;
36 and out of the tribe of Reuben, 23Bezer with its pasturelands, Jahaz with its pasturelands,
37 Kedemoth with its pasturelands, and Mephaath with its pasturelands--four cities;
38 and out of the tribe of Gad, 24Ramoth in Gilead with its pasturelands, the city of refuge for the manslayer, 25Mahanaim with its pasturelands,
39 26Heshbon with its pasturelands, Jazer with its pasturelands--four cities in all.
40 As for the cities of the several Merarite clans, that is, the remainder of the clans of the Levites, those allotted to them were in all twelve cities.
41 27The cities of the Levites in the midst of the possession of the people of Israel were in all forty-eight cities with their pasturelands.
42 These cities each had its pasturelands around it. So it was with all these cities.
43 28Thus the LORD gave to Israel all the land that he swore to give to their fathers. And they took possession of it, and they settled there.
44 29And the LORD gave them rest on every side just as he had sworn to their fathers. 30Not one of all their enemies had withstood them, for 31the LORD had given all their enemies into their hands.
45 32Not one word of all the good promises that the LORD had made to the house of Israel had failed; all came to pass.

Joshua 21 Commentary

Chapter 21

Cities for the Levites. (1-8) The cities allotted to the Levites. (9-42) God gave the land and rest to the Israelites, according to his promise. (43-45)

Verses 1-8 The Levites waited till the other tribes were provided for, before they preferred their claim to Joshua. They build their claim upon a very good foundation; not their own merits or services, but the Divine precept. The maintenance of ministers is not a thing left merely to the will of the people, that they may let them starve if they please; they which preach the gospel should live by the gospel, and should live comfortably.

Verses 9-42 By mixing the Levites with the other tribes, they were made to see that the eyes of all Israel were upon them, and therefore it was their concern to walk so that their ministry might not be blamed. Every tribe had its share of Levites' cities. Thus did God graciously provide for keeping up religion among them, and that they might have the word in all parts of the land. Yet, blessed be God, we have the gospel more diffused amongst us.

Verses 43-45 God promised to give to the seed of Abraham the land of Canaan for a possession, and now they possessed it, and dwelt therein. And the promise of the heavenly Canaan is as sure to all God's spiritual Israel; for it is the promise of Him that cannot lie. There stood not a man before them. The after-prevalence of the Canaanites was the effect of Israel's slothfulness, and the punishment of their sinful inclination to the idolatries and abominations of the heathen whom they harboured and indulged. There failed not aught of any good thing, which the Lord had spoken to the house of Israel. In due season all his promises will be accomplished; then will his people acknowledge that the Lord has exceeded their largest expectations, and made them more than conquerors, and brought them to their desired rest.

Cross References 32

  • 1. Joshua 14:1; Joshua 17:4; Joshua 19:51; Numbers 34:17, 18
  • 2. See Joshua 18:1
  • 3. Numbers 35:2
  • 4. See ver. 9-19; Exodus 6:16-19; Numbers 3:17-20
  • 5. See ver. 20-26
  • 6. See ver. 27-33
  • 7. See ver. 34-40
  • 8. ver. 3
  • 9. Numbers 35:2; See Joshua 14:3-5
  • 10. ver. 4
  • 11. For ver. 11-19, see 1 Chronicles 6:54-60
  • 12. See Joshua 14:13-15
  • 13. Joshua 20:7; Luke 1:39
  • 14. Joshua 20:7
  • 15. Joshua 10:29
  • 16. Joshua 9:3
  • 17. For ver. 20-26, see 1 Chronicles 6:66-70
  • 18. Joshua 20:7, 8
  • 19. For ver. 27-33, see 1 Chronicles 6:71-76
  • 20. [See ver. 21 above]
  • 21. [See ver. 21 above]
  • 22. For ver. 34-40, see 1 Chronicles 6:77-81
  • 23. Joshua 20:8
  • 24. [See ver. 36 above]
  • 25. See Joshua 13:26
  • 26. [See ver. 38 above]
  • 27. Numbers 35:7
  • 28. Genesis 13:15; Genesis 15:18; Genesis 26:3; Genesis 28:4, 13
  • 29. See Joshua 11:23
  • 30. Joshua 10:8; Joshua 23:9
  • 31. Joshua 2:24; Deuteronomy 7:24
  • 32. Joshua 23:14, 15

Chapter Summary


This chapter contains the address of the Levites to the court, to have the cities and suburbs given them according to the command of God by Moses, Jos 21:1,2; the grant of them by lot out of the several tribes, Jos 21:3-8; the particular cities out of the tribes of Judah and Simeon are mentioned by name, Jos 21:9-16; then those out of the tribe of Benjamin, Jos 21:17-19; next those out of the tribe of Ephraim, Jos 21:20-22; afterwards those out of the tribe of Dan, Jos 21:23-26; then those out of the half tribe of Manasseh, Jos 21:27; and out of the tribe of Issachar, Jos 21:28,29; and out of the tribe of Asher, Jos 21:30,31; and of Naphtali, Jos 21:32,33; and of Zebulun, Jos 21:34,35; and of Reuben, Jos 21:36,37; and of Gad, Jos 21:38-40; which in all made forty eight, Jos 21:41,42; and the chapter is concluded with observing, that God gave Israel all the land of Canaan, and rest in it, according to his promise, very faithfully and punctually, Jos 21:43-45.

Joshua 21 Commentaries

The English Standard Version is published with the permission of Good News Publishers.