Joshua 18 (NRSV)
The Territories of the Remaining Tribes
Then the whole congregation of the Israelites assembled at Shiloh, and set up the tent of meeting there. The land lay subdued before them.
2There remained among the Israelites seven tribes whose inheritance had not yet been apportioned. 3So Joshua said to the Israelites, “How long will you be slack about going in and taking possession of the land that the Lord, the God of your ancestors, has given you?
Joshua has had five other tribes step up to the plate, so to speak, and get going with the work that needed to be done to possess their portion of the land. But these guys are just sitting on the bench! What do they think will happen while they just wait around?!
Was the task too large? Were they tired? Was their vision clouded? Was their enthusiasm dimmed?
And I cannot evade the next question: What of God’s gifts to me am I reluctant, for any reason, to pursue? Oh, Lord, let me not be slack in these things, but rather confident in Your grace, for “he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:6).
4Provide three men from each tribe, and I will send them out that they may begin to go throughout the land, writing a description of it with a view to their inheritances. Then come back to me. 5They shall divide it into seven portions, Judah continuing in its territory on the south, and the house of Joseph in their territory on the north. 6You shall describe the land in seven divisions and bring the description here to me; and I will cast lots for you here before the Lord our God. 7The Levites have no portion among you, for the priesthood of the Lord is their heritage; and Gad and Reuben and the half-tribe of Manasseh have received their inheritance beyond the Jordan eastward, which Moses the servant of the Lord gave them.”
8So the men started on their way; and Joshua charged those who went to write the description of the land, saying, “Go throughout the land and write a description of it, and come back to me; and I will cast lots for you here before the Lord in Shiloh.” 9So the men went and traversed the land and set down in a book a description of it by towns in seven divisions; then they came back to Joshua in the camp at Shiloh, 10and Joshua cast lots for them in Shiloh before the Lord; and there Joshua apportioned the land to the Israelites, to each a portion.
The Territory of Benjamin
11The lot of the tribe of Benjamin according to its families came up, and the territory allotted to it fell between the tribe of Judah and the tribe of Joseph.
12On the north side their boundary began at the Jordan; then the boundary goes up to the slope of Jericho on the north, then up through the hill country westward; and it ends at the wilderness of Beth-aven. 13From there the boundary passes along southward in the direction of Luz, to the slope of Luz (that is, Bethel), then the boundary goes down to Ataroth-addar, on the mountain that lies south of Lower Beth-horon.
14Then the boundary goes in another direction, turning on the western side southward from the mountain that lies to the south, opposite Beth-horon, and it ends at Kiriath-baal (that is, Kiriath-jearim), a town belonging to the tribe of Judah. This forms the western side.
15The southern side begins at the outskirts of Kiriath-jearim; and the boundary goes from there to Ephron, to the spring of the Waters of Nephtoah; 16then the boundary goes down to the border of the mountain that overlooks the valley of the son of Hinnom, which is at the north end of the valley of Rephaim; and it then goes down the valley of Hinnom, south of the slope of the Jebusites, and downward to En-rogel; 17then it bends in a northerly direction going on to En-shemesh, and from there goes to Geliloth, which is opposite the ascent of Adummim; then it goes down to the Stone of Bohan, Reuben’s son; 18and passing on to the north of the slope of Beth-arabah it goes down to the Arabah; 19then the boundary passes on to the north of the slope of Beth-hoglah; and the boundary ends at the northern bay of the Dead Sea, at the south end of the Jordan: this is the southern border.
20The Jordan forms its boundary on the eastern side. This is the inheritance of the tribe of Benjamin, according to its families, boundary by boundary all around.
21Now the towns of the tribe of Benjamin according to their families were Jericho, Beth-hoglah, Emek-keziz, 22Beth-arabah, Zemaraim, Bethel, 23Avvim, Parah, Ophrah, 24Chephar-ammoni, Ophni, and Geba—twelve towns with their villages: 25Gibeon, Ramah, Beeroth, 26Mizpeh, Chephirah, Mozah, 27Rekem, Irpeel, Taralah, 28Zela, Haeleph, Jebus (that is, Jerusalem), Gibeah and Kiriath-jearim—fourteen towns with their villages.
This is the inheritance of the tribe of Benjamin according to its families.
HERE is a hymn to Jerusalem. Little did the tribe of Benjamin understand, as they were taking the territory, how important it would be — that one city in their tribal allotment would become known for centuries as the center of the earth, that it would see the Lord of the universe give his life for the world, that it would become a synonym for Heaven.
1 Jerusalem the golden,
descending from above,
the city of God’s presence,
the vision of God’s love –
I know not, oh, I know not
What joys await us there,
What radiancy of glory,
What bliss beyond compare!
2 They stand, those halls of Zion,
all jubilant with song,
so bright with many an angel,
And all the martyr throng.
The Prince is ever in them,
the daylight is serene;
the tree of life and healing
has leaves of richest green.
3 There is the throne of David,
And there, from pain released,
the shout of those who triumph,
The song of those who feast.
And all who with their leader
Have conquered in the fight,
Forever and forever
Are robed in purest white.
4 How lovely is that city,
the home of God’s elect!
How beautiful the country
that eager hearts expect!
O Christ, in mercy bring us
to that eternal shore
where Father, Son, and Spirit
are worshiped evermore.
The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.