Forty-eight Cities of the Levites
21 Then the heads of the [a]households of the Levites came to Eleazar the priest, and Joshua the son of Nun, and the heads of the households of the tribes of the sons of Israel. 2 They spoke to them at Shiloh in the land of Canaan, saying, “The Lord commanded Moses to give us cities to live in, with their pasture lands for our cattle.” 3 So the sons of Israel gave the Levites from their inheritance these [forty-eight] cities and their pasture lands, in accordance with the command of the Lord. 4 The [first] lot (allotment) came out for the families of the Kohathites. So those [b]Levites who were sons (descendants) of Aaron the priest received thirteen cities by lot from the tribe of Judah and from the tribe of Simeon and from the tribe of Benjamin.
5 The rest of the sons of Kohath received ten cities by lot from the families of the tribe of Ephraim and from the tribe of Dan and from the half-tribe of Manasseh.
6 The sons of Gershon received thirteen cities by lot from the families of the tribe of Issachar and from the tribe of Asher and from the tribe of Naphtali and from the half-tribe of Manasseh in Bashan.
7 The sons of Merari according to their families received twelve cities from the tribe of Reuben and from the tribe of Gad and from the tribe of Zebulun.
8 The sons of Israel gave by lot to the Levites these cities with their pasture lands, as the Lord had commanded through Moses.
9 They gave these cities which are mentioned here by name from the tribe of the sons of Judah and from the tribe of the sons of Simeon; 10 and they were for the sons of Aaron, one of the families of the Kohathites, of the sons of Levi, because the lot fell to them first. 11 They gave them [the city of] Kiriath-arba, Arba being the father of Anak (that is, Hebron) in the hill country of Judah, with its surrounding pasture lands. 12 But the fields of the city and its villages they had given to Caleb the son of Jephunneh as his property.
13 So to the sons of Aaron the priest they gave Hebron, the city of refuge for anyone who committed manslaughter, with its pasture lands, and Libnah with its pasture lands, 14 and Jattir with its pasture lands and Eshtemoa with its pasture lands, 15 and Holon with its pasture lands and Debir with its pasture lands, 16 and Ain with its pasture lands and Juttah with its pasture lands and Beth-shemesh with its pasture lands; nine cities from these two tribes (Judah and Simeon). 17 From the tribe of Benjamin, Gibeon with its pasture lands, and Geba with its pasture lands, 18 Anathoth with its pasture lands and Almon with its pasture lands; four cities. 19 All the cities of the sons of Aaron, the priests, were thirteen cities with their pasture lands.
20 Then the cities from the tribe of Ephraim were allotted to the families of the sons of Kohath, the Levites, even to the rest of the sons of Kohath. 21 They gave them Shechem, the city of refuge for anyone who committed manslaughter, with its pasture lands, in the hill country of Ephraim, and Gezer with its pasture lands, 22 and Kibzaim with its pasture lands and Beth-horon with its pasture lands; four cities. 23 From the tribe of Dan, Eltekeh with its pasture lands, Gibbethon with its pasture lands, 24 Aijalon with its pasture lands, Gath-rimmon with its pasture lands; four cities. 25 From the half-tribe of Manasseh, they allotted Taanach with its pasture lands and Gath-rimmon with its pasture lands; two cities. 26 All the cities with their pasture lands for the families of the rest of the sons of Kohath totaled ten.
27 To the sons of Gershon, one of the families of the Levites, they gave from the other half-tribe of Manasseh, [the city of] Golan in Bashan, the city of refuge for anyone who committed manslaughter, with its pasture lands, and Be-eshterah with its pasture lands; two cities. 28 From the tribe of Issachar, they gave Kishion with its pasture lands, Daberath with its pasture lands, 29 Jarmuth with its pasture lands, and En-gannim with its pasture lands; four cities. 30 From the tribe of Asher, they gave Mishal with its pasture lands, Abdon with its pasture lands, 31 Helkath with its pasture lands and Rehob with its pasture lands; four cities. 32 From the tribe of Naphtali, they gave Kedesh in Galilee, the city of refuge for anyone who committed manslaughter, with its pasture lands and Hammoth-dor with its pasture lands and Kartan with its pasture lands; three cities. 33 All the cities of the Gershonites according to their families were thirteen cities with their pasture lands.
34 To the families of the sons of Merari, the rest of the Levites, they gave from the tribe of Zebulun, Jokneam with its pasture lands and Kartah with its pasture lands, 35 Dimnah with its pasture lands and Nahalal with its pasture lands; four cities. 36 From the tribe of Reuben, they gave Bezer with its pasture lands and Jahaz with its pasture lands, 37 Kedemoth with its pasture lands and Mephaath with its pasture lands; four cities. 38 From the tribe of Gad, they gave Ramoth in Gilead, the city of refuge for anyone who committed manslaughter, with its pasture lands and Mahanaim with its pasture lands, 39 Heshbon with its pasture lands and Jazer with its pasture lands; four cities in all. 40 All [these were] the cities of the sons of Merari according to their families, the rest of the families of the Levites; and their lot was twelve cities.
41 All the cities of the Levites in the midst of the property of the sons of Israel were forty-eight cities with their pasture lands. 42 These cities each had its surrounding pasture lands; so it was with all these cities.
43 So the Lord gave Israel all the land which He had sworn to give to their fathers (ancestors), and they took possession of it and lived in it. 44 The Lord gave them rest [from conflict] on every side, in accordance with everything that He had sworn to their fathers, and not one of all their enemies stood before them [in battle]; the Lord handed over all their enemies to them. 45 Not one of the good promises which the Lord had spoken to the house of Israel failed; all had come to pass.
Tribes beyond Jordan Return
22 Then Joshua called the Reubenites and the Gadites and the half-tribe of Manasseh, 2 and said to them, “You have kept all that Moses the servant of the Lord commanded you, and have listened to and obeyed my voice in everything that I commanded you. 3 You have not deserted your brothers these many days to this day, but have [carefully] kept the obligation of the commandment of the Lord your God. 4 And now the Lord your God has given rest to your brothers, as He has promised them; so turn now and go to your tents, to the land of your possession, which Moses the servant of the Lord gave you beyond the [east side of the] Jordan. 5 Only be very careful and diligently observe the commandment and the law which Moses the servant of the Lord has commanded you to love the Lord your God and walk in all His ways and keep His commandments and hold fast to Him and serve Him with all your heart and with all your soul [your very life].” 6 So Joshua blessed them and sent them away, and they went to their tents.
7 Now to the one-half of the tribe of Manasseh Moses had given a possession in Bashan, but to the other half Joshua gave a possession on the west side of the Jordan among their brothers. So when Joshua sent them away to their tents, he blessed them, 8 and he said to them, “Return to your tents with great riches and with very much livestock, with silver, gold, bronze, iron, and with very many clothes; divide the spoil of your enemies with your brothers (fellow tribesmen).” 9 So the sons (descendants) of Reuben and the sons of Gad and the half-tribe of Manasseh returned home and departed from the [other] sons (western tribes) of Israel at Shiloh which is in the land of Canaan, to go to the land of Gilead, to the land of their own which they had possessed, in accordance with the command of the Lord through Moses.
The Offensive Altar
10 When they came to the region of the Jordan which is in the land of Canaan, the sons of Reuben and the sons of Gad and the half-tribe of Manasseh built an altar there by the Jordan, an altar that was great to behold. 11 And the [other] sons of Israel heard it said, “Look, the sons of Reuben and the sons of Gad and the half-tribe of Manasseh have built an [c]altar at the edge of the land of Canaan, in the region [west] of the Jordan, on the side belonging to the sons of Israel.” 12 When the sons of Israel heard of it, the whole congregation of the Israelites gathered at Shiloh to make war against them.
13 Then the sons of Israel sent Phinehas the son of Eleazar the priest to the sons of Reuben and the sons of Gad and the half-tribe of Manasseh, in the land of Gilead, 14 and with him ten leaders, one leader from each father’s household from each of the tribes of Israel; and each one was the head of his father’s household among the thousands of Israel. 15 They came to the sons of Reuben and the sons of Gad and the half-tribe of Manasseh, in the land of Gilead, and they said to them, 16 “This is what the entire congregation of the Lord says, ‘What is this disloyal and unfaithful act which you have committed against the God of Israel, so as to turn away from following the Lord this day, by building yourselves an altar, to rebel against the Lord this day? 17 Is the wrongdoing (idolatry) of Peor not enough for us, from which we have not cleansed ourselves to this day, even though the affliction [in which twenty-four thousand died] came on the congregation of the Lord,(A) 18 that you would turn away this day from following the Lord? If you rebel against the Lord today, He will be angry with the entire congregation of Israel tomorrow. 19 If, however, the land of your possession is unclean, then cross into the land of the possession of the Lord, where the Lord’s tabernacle is situated, and settle down among us. But do not rebel against the Lord, or rebel against us by building an altar for yourselves, besides the altar of the Lord our God [at Shiloh]. 20 Did not Achan the son of Zerah act unfaithfully in the things under the ban, and [as a result God’s] wrath came on the entire congregation of Israel? And that man did not perish alone in his wrongdoing.’”(B)
- Joshua 21:1 Lit fathers.
- Joshua 21:4 The Levites were divided into three groups, the descendants of Levi’s three sons, Gershon, Kohath, and Merari. But only those Israelites who were descendants of Levi through Kohath’s grandson Aaron could be priests. The priesthood was made hereditary in the family of Aaron and restricted to it; however, even some of these were rendered ineligible by physical disabilities (Lev 21:16ff). The other families of Levi’s descendants, the Gershonites and Merarites, and those Kohathites who were not descended from Aaron, were entrusted with the care of the sanctuary. The priests ministered at the altar.
- Joshua 22:11 The immediate assumption of the Israelites was that this altar was an act of rebellion and was built to compete with the true altar of God in Shiloh.
Jesus’ Authority Questioned
20 On one of the days, as Jesus was instructing the people in the temple [area] and preaching the good news (gospel), [a]the chief priests and the scribes along with the elders confronted Him,(A) 2 and said to Him, “Tell us by what kind of authority You are doing these things? Or who is the one who gave You this authority?” 3 Jesus replied, “I will also ask you a question. You tell Me: 4 The baptism of John [the Baptist]—was it from heaven [that is, ordained by God] or from men?” 5 They discussed and debated it among themselves, saying, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ He will say, ‘Why did you not believe him?’ 6 But if we say, ‘From men,’ all the people will stone us to death, for they are firmly convinced that John was a prophet.” 7 So they replied that they did not know from where it came. 8 Then Jesus said to them, “Nor am I telling you by what [kind of] authority I do these things.”
Parable of the Vineyard Owner
9 Then He began to tell the people this parable: “A man planted a vineyard and leased it to tenant farmers, and went on a journey for a long time [to another country].(B) 10 At harvest time he sent a servant [as his representative] to the tenants, so that they would give him his share of the fruit of the vineyard; but the tenants beat the servant and sent him away empty-handed. 11 So he again sent another servant; they also beat him and dishonored and treated him disgracefully and sent him away empty-handed. 12 And he sent yet a third; and this one too they wounded and threw out [of the vineyard]. 13 Then the owner of the vineyard said, ‘What shall I do? I will send my beloved son; perhaps they will have respect for him.’ 14 But when the tenants saw him, they discussed it among themselves, saying, ‘This [man] is the heir; let us kill him so that the inheritance will be ours.’ 15 So they threw the son out of the vineyard and killed him. What, then, will the owner of the vineyard do to them? 16 He will come and put these tenants to death and will give the vineyard to others.” When the chief priests, the scribes, and the elders heard this, they said, “May it never be!” 17 But Jesus looked at them and said, “What then is [the meaning of] this that is written:
‘The [very] Stone which the builders rejected,
this became the chief Cornerstone’?(C)
18 Everyone who falls on that stone will be broken and shattered in pieces; and on whomever it falls, it will crush him.”(D)
Tribute to Caesar
19 The scribes and the chief priests tried to [find a way to] arrest Him at that very hour, but they were afraid of the people; because they understood that He spoke this parable against them. 20 So they watched [for a chance to trap] Him. They sent spies who pretended to be upright and sincere, in order that they might catch Him in some statement [that they could distort and use against Him], so that they could turn Him over to the control and authority of [Pilate] the governor.(E) 21 They asked Him, “Teacher, we know that You speak and teach correctly, and that You show no partiality to anyone, but teach the way of God truthfully. 22 Is it lawful [according to Jewish law and tradition] for us to pay taxes (tribute money) to [b]Caesar or not?” 23 But He saw through their trickery and said to them, 24 “Show Me a [Roman] denarius. Whose image and inscription does the coin have?” They answered, “[the Emperor Tiberius] Caesar’s.” 25 He said to them, “Then pay to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” 26 They were not able to seize on anything He said in the presence of the people; and being unnerved at His reply, they were silent.
The Lord’s Covenant with David, and Israel’s Afflictions.
A skillful song, or a didactic or reflective poem, of Ethan the Ezrahite.
89 I will sing of the goodness and lovingkindness of the Lord forever;
With my mouth I will make known Your faithfulness from generation to generation.
For I have said, “Goodness and lovingkindness will be built up forever;
In the heavens [unchangeable and majestic] You will establish Your faithfulness.”
[God has said] “I have made a covenant with My chosen one;
I have sworn to David My servant,
I will establish your seed forever
And I will build up your throne for all generations.”(A) Selah.
The heavens (angels) praise Your wonders, O Lord,
Your faithfulness also in the assembly of the holy ones.
For who in the heavens can be compared to the Lord?
Who among the divine beings is like the Lord,
A God greatly feared and reverently worshiped in the council of the holy [angelic] ones,
And awesome above all those who are around Him?
O Lord God of hosts, who is like You, O mighty Lord?
Your faithfulness surrounds You [as an intrinsic, unchangeable part of Your very being].
You rule the swelling of the sea;
When its waves rise, You still them.(B)
You have crushed Rahab (Egypt) like one who is slain;
You have scattered Your enemies with Your mighty arm.
The heavens are Yours, the earth also is Yours;
The world and all that is in it, You have founded and established them.(C)
The north and the south, You have created them;
Mount Tabor and Mount Hermon shout for joy at Your name.
You have a strong arm;
Mighty is Your hand, Your right hand is exalted.
Good understanding wins favor [from others],
But the way of the unfaithful is hard [like barren, dry soil].
Every prudent and self-disciplined man acts with knowledge,
But a [closed-minded] fool [who refuses to learn] displays his foolishness [for all to see].