21 1-2 While the Israelites were still camped at Shiloh in the land of Canaan, the family leaders of the Levi tribe went to speak to the priest Eleazar, Joshua, and the family leaders of the other Israelite tribes. The leaders of Levi said, “The Lord told Moses that you have to give us towns and provide pastures for our animals.”[a]
3 Since the Lord had said this, the leaders of the other Israelite tribes agreed to give some of the towns and pastures from their tribal lands to Levi. 4 The leaders asked the Lord to show them[b] in what order the clans of Levi would be given towns, and which towns each clan would receive.
The Kohath clans were first. The descendants of Aaron, Israel’s first priest,[c] were given thirteen towns from the tribes of Judah, Simeon, and Benjamin. 5 The other members of the Kohath clans received ten towns from the tribes of Ephraim, Dan, and West Manasseh. 6 The clans that were descendants of Gershon were given thirteen towns from the tribes of Issachar, Asher, Naphtali, and East Manasseh. 7 The clans that were descendants of Merari[d] received twelve towns from the tribes of Reuben, Gad, and Zebulun.
8 The Lord had told Moses that he would show the Israelites which towns and pastures to give to the clans of Levi, and he did.
Towns from Judah, Simeon, Benjamin
9-19 The descendants of Aaron from the Kohath clans of Levi were priests, and they were chosen to receive towns first. They were given thirteen towns and the pastureland around them. Nine of these towns were from the tribes of Judah and Simeon and four from Benjamin.
Hebron, Libnah, Jattir, Eshtemoa, Holon, Debir, Ashan,[e] Juttah, and Beth-Shemesh were from Judah and Simeon. Hebron, located in the hill country of Judah, was earlier called Arba’s Town.[f] It had been named after Arba, the ancestor of the Anakim.[g] Hebron’s pasturelands went along with the town, but its farmlands and the villages around it had been given to Caleb.[h] Hebron was also one of the Safe Towns for people who had accidentally killed someone.
Gibeon, Geba, Anathoth, and Almon were from Benjamin.
Towns from Ephraim, Dan, West Manasseh
20-26 The rest of the Kohath clans of the Levi tribe received ten towns and the pastureland around them. Four of these towns were from the tribe of Ephraim, four from Dan, and two from West Manasseh.
Shechem, Gezer, Kibzaim, and Beth-Horon were from Ephraim. Shechem was located in the hill country, and it was also one of the Safe Towns for people who had accidentally killed someone.
Elteke, Gibbethon, Aijalon, and Gath-Rimmon were from Dan.
Taanach and Jibleam[i] were from West Manasseh.
Towns from East Manasseh, Issachar, Asher, Naphtali
27-33 The clans of Levi that were descendants of Gershon received thirteen towns and the pastureland around them. Two of these towns were from the tribe of East Manasseh, four from Issachar, four from Asher, and three from Naphtali.
Golan in Bashan and Beeshterah were from East Manasseh.
Kishion, Daberath, Jarmuth, and En-Gannim were from Issachar.
Mishal, Abdon, Helkath, and Rehob were from Asher.
Kedesh in Galilee, Hammothdor, and Kartan were from Naphtali. Golan in Bashan and Kedesh in Galilee were also Safe Towns for people who had accidentally killed someone.
Towns from Zebulun, Reuben, Gad
34-40 The rest of the Levi clans were descendants of Merari, and they received twelve towns with the pastureland around them. Four towns were from the tribe of Zebulun, four from Reuben, and four from Gad.
Jokneam, Kartah, Rimmonah,[j] and Nahalal were from Zebulun.
Bezer, Jazah, Kedemoth, and Mephaath were from Reuben. Bezer was located in the desert flatlands east of the Jordan River across from Jericho.[k]
Ramoth in Gilead, Mahanaim, Heshbon, and Jazer were from Gad.
Bezer and Ramoth in Gilead were Safe Towns[l] for people who had accidentally killed someone.
41-42 The people of the Levi tribe had a total of forty-eight towns within Israel, and they had pastures around each one of their towns.
Israel Settles in the Land
43 The Lord gave the Israelites the land he had promised their ancestors, and they captured it and settled in it. 44 There still were enemies around Israel, but the Lord kept his promise to let his people live in peace. And whenever the Israelites did have to go to war, no enemy could defeat them. The Lord always helped Israel win. 45 The Lord promised to do many good things for Israel, and he kept his promise every time.
The Two and a Half Tribes Return Home
22 Joshua had the men of the tribes of Reuben, Gad, and East Manasseh come for a meeting, and he told them:
2-3 You have obeyed every command of the Lord your God and of his servant Moses. And you have done everything I’ve told you to do. It’s taken a long time, but you have stayed and helped your relatives. 4 The Lord promised to give peace to your relatives, and that’s what he has done. Now it’s time for you to go back to your own homes in the land that Moses gave you east of the Jordan River.
5 Moses taught you to love the Lord your God, to be faithful to him, and to worship and obey him with your whole heart and with all your strength. So be very careful to do everything Moses commanded.
6-9 You’ve become rich from what you’ve taken from your enemies. You have big herds of cattle, lots of silver, gold, bronze, and iron, and plenty of clothes. Take everything home with you and share with the people of your tribe.
I pray that God will be kind to you. You are now free to go home.
The tribes of Reuben and Gad started back to Gilead, their own land. Moses had given the land of Bashan to the East Manasseh tribe, so they started back along with Reuben and Gad. God had told Moses that these two and a half tribes should conquer Gilead and Bashan, and they had done so.
Joshua had given land west of the Jordan River to the other half of the Manasseh tribe, so they stayed at Shiloh in the land of Canaan with the rest of the Israelites.
10-11 The tribes of Reuben, Gad, and East Manasseh reached the western side of the Jordan River valley[m] and built a huge altar there beside the river.
When the rest of the Israelites heard what these tribes had done,[n] 12 the Israelite men met at Shiloh to get ready to attack the two and a half tribes. 13 But first they sent a priest, Phinehas the son of Eleazar, to talk with the two and a half tribes. 14 Each of the tribes at Shiloh sent the leader of one of its families along with Phinehas.
15 Phinehas and these leaders went to Gilead and met with the tribes of Reuben, Gad, and East Manasseh. They said:
16 All of the Lord’s people have gathered together and have sent us to find out why you are unfaithful to our God. You have turned your backs on the Lord by building that altar. Why are you rebelling against him? 17 Wasn’t our people’s sin at Peor[o] terrible enough for you? The Lord punished us by sending a horrible sickness that killed many of us, and we still suffer because of that sin.[p] 18 Now you are turning your backs on the Lord again.
If you don’t stop rebelling against the Lord right now, he will be angry at the whole nation. 19 If you don’t think your land is a fit place to serve God, then move across the Jordan and live with us in the Lord’s own land, where his sacred tent is located. But don’t rebel against the Lord our God or against us by building another altar besides the Lord’s own altar.[q] 20 Don’t you remember what happened when Achan was unfaithful[r] and took some of the things that belonged to God? This made God angry with the entire nation. Achan died because he sinned, but he also caused the death of many others.
- 21.1,2 The Lord told Moses. . . animals: See Numbers 35.1-8.
- 21.4 asked the Lord to show them: Hebrew “cast lots to find out.” See the note at 14.1-5.
- 21.4 The descendants. . . priest: Hebrew text; three ancient translations “The priests, the descendants of Aaron.” The male descendants of Aaron would also be priests.
- 21.4-7 Kohath. . . Gershon. . . Merari: Sons of Levi, the ancestor of the tribe of Levi.
- 21.9-19 Ashan: One ancient translation and the parallel in 1 Chronicles 6.59; Hebrew “Ain.”
- 21.9-19 Arba’s Town: See the note at 14.15.
- 21.9-19 Anakim: See the note at 11.21.
- 21.9-19 Caleb: See 14.6-14.
- 21.20-26 Jibleam: One ancient translation and the parallel in 1 Chronicles 6.70; Hebrew “”Gath-Rimmon.”“
- 21.34-40 Rimmonah: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
- 21.34-40 Bezer. . . Jericho: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
- 21.34-40 Bezer and Ramoth in Gilead were Safe Towns: One ancient translation; Hebrew “Ramoth in Gilead was a Safe Town.”
- 22.10,11 western. . . valley: Or “the town of Geliloth, which is in the land of Canaan near the Jordan River.”
- 22.10,11 built a huge altar. . . tribes had done: According to Deuteronomy 12.5-14, the Lord wanted the Israelites to have only one altar for offering sacrifices. To build another altar would be to disobey the Lord.
- 22.17 our people’s sin at Peor: See Numbers 25.
- 22.17 we still. . . sin: Or “There are still people in Israel who want to worship other gods.”
- 22.19 or against. . . altar: Or “by building another altar besides the Lord’s own altar. That would even make us into rebels along with you.”
- 22.20 Achan was unfaithful: See 7.1,26.
A Question about Jesus' Authority
20 One day, Jesus was teaching in the temple and telling the good news. So the chief priests, the teachers, and the nation’s leaders 2 asked him, “What right do you have to do these things? Who gave you this authority?”
3 Jesus replied, “I want to ask you a question. 4 Who gave John the right to baptize? Was it God in heaven or merely some human being?”
5 They talked this over and said to each other, “We can’t say that God gave John this right. Jesus will ask us why we didn’t believe John. 6 And we can’t say that it was merely some human who gave John the right to baptize. The crowd will stone us to death, because they think John was a prophet.”
7 So they told Jesus, “We don’t know who gave John the right to baptize.”
8 Jesus replied, “Then I won’t tell you who gave me the right to do what I do.”
Renters of a Vineyard
9 Jesus told the people this story:
A man once planted a vineyard and rented it out. Then he left the country for a long time. 10 When it was time to harvest the crop, he sent a servant to ask the renters for his share of the grapes. But they beat up the servant and sent him away without anything. 11 So the owner sent another servant. The renters also beat him up. They insulted him terribly and sent him away without a thing. 12 The owner sent a third servant. He was also beaten terribly and thrown out of the vineyard.
13 The owner then said to himself, “What am I going to do? I know what. I’ll send my son, the one I love so much. They will surely respect him!”
14 When the renters saw the owner’s son, they said to one another, “Someday he will own the vineyard. Let’s kill him! Then we can have it all for ourselves.” 15 So they threw him out of the vineyard and killed him.
Jesus asked, “What do you think the owner of the vineyard will do? 16 I’ll tell you what. He will come and kill those renters and let someone else have his vineyard.”
When the people heard this, they said, “This must never happen!”
17 But Jesus looked straight at them and said, “Then what do the Scriptures mean when they say, ‘The stone that the builders tossed aside is now the most important stone of all’? 18 Anyone who stumbles over this stone will get hurt, and anyone it falls on will be smashed to pieces.”
19 The chief priests and the teachers of the Law of Moses knew that Jesus was talking about them when he was telling this story. They wanted to arrest him right then, but they were afraid of the people.
20 Jesus' enemies kept watching him closely, because they wanted to hand him over to the Roman governor. So they sent some men who pretended to be good. But they were really spies trying to catch Jesus saying something wrong. 21 The spies said to him, “Teacher, we know that you teach the truth about what God wants people to do. And you treat everyone with the same respect, no matter who they are. 22 Tell us, should we pay taxes to the Emperor or not?”
23 Jesus knew that they were trying to trick him. So he told them, 24 “Show me a coin.” Then he asked, “Whose picture and name are on it?”
“The Emperor’s,” they answered.
25 Then he told them, “Give the Emperor what belongs to him and give God what belongs to God.” 26 Jesus' enemies could not catch him saying anything wrong there in front of the people. They were amazed at his answer and kept quiet.
(A song and a psalm by the people of Korah for the music leader. To the tune “Mahalath Leannoth.”[a] A special psalm by Heman the Ezrahite.)
A Prayer When You Can’t Find the Way
88 You keep me safe, Lord God.
So when I pray at night,
2 please listen carefully
to each of my concerns.
3 I am deeply troubled
and close to death;
4 I am as good as dead
and completely helpless.
5 I am no better off
than those in the grave,
those you have forgotten
and no longer help.
6 You have put me in the deepest
and darkest grave;
7 your anger rolls over me
like ocean waves.
8 You have made my friends turn
in horror from me.
I am a prisoner
who cannot escape,
9 and I am almost blind
because of my sorrow.
Each day I lift my hands
in prayer to you, Lord.
10 Do you work miracles
for the dead?
Do they stand up
and praise you?
11 Are your love and loyalty
in the world
of the dead?
12 Do they know of your miracles
or your saving power
in the dark world below
where all is forgotten?
13 Each morning I pray
to you, Lord.
- Psalm 88 To. . . Leannoth: Or “For the flutes,” one possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.