Day 87 (March 28): More allotments of land to the tribes of Benjamin, Simeon, Zebulun, Issachar, Asher, Naphtali, Dan

Allotting remaining land. Map of tribes of Israel with Tabernacle set in the city of Shiloh in Ephraim.
Sweet Publishing /

Welcome to Livin’ Light’s Bible-In-A-Year challenge of discovering God’s love for us and His purpose for our lives. Here is the format for this great adventure: The daily reading assignment is posted at 5 a.m. After each day’s reading, Leigh An Coplin, the blog host, shares observations and poses questions about difficult passages to Rob Fields, who studied Christian Education at Asbury Seminary and currently teaches Biology in the Orlando area. To start from the beginning, click on 365 Bible Readings and scroll down to Day 1. The reading schedule is taken from The One Year Chronological Bible NLT. 

Today’s Reading
Joshua 18-19:48
(1399 BC) Click here for a timeline of the entire Bible.

Questions & Observations

Q. (Joshua 18:8): So, in the verses previous to this one, Joshua asks them why they haven’t taken possession of their land and then he instructs them to survey it and divide the land.  But, then when they start to do that, he calls them back.  Why was the land divided up this way?  What does casting sacred lots mean?  Haven’t we had previous stories take place at Shiloh?

A. After the tribes were set up on the east side of the Jordan, there were 9 tribes who still needed their land.  The two most prominent sons under Jacob, Judah and Joseph, went first, and since Joseph got two plots for his two sons, there were three different allotments, but only left seven sons.  The other seven sons had the remainder of the land divided up by lot.

The sacred lot was an act of divination, which was something the nation was forbidden to do on their own, but was part of the responsibility of the High Priest according to Exodus 28:30.  This verse describes two stones, the Urim and the Thummim, which were part of the decoration of the priestly garment.  According to what I read, it appears that these two stones represented the words “yes” (Thummim), and “no” (Urim).

The priest or Joshua in this case would have the tribe names — or whatever they were trying to determine — on script or ancient paper, and would basically choose one tribe in this case for a particular plot of land.  So it was one tribe on one side, and the other six on the other.  He would then “cast” or throw the stones or “lots,” and see which one landed closer to the isolated tribe.  If the one tribe got the “yes” stone, then that was their land.  But if the “no” stone turned up, then the priest would set aside a new single tribe and cast again.  It went something like that as far as I can tell.

As for Shiloh, as far as I can tell, this is the first time the place has been mentioned, but it will be a very important location for the Tabernacle until King David, and therefore we won’t see it mentioned again until 2 Samuel, with sporadic references after that.

Q. Do we need to pay any particular attention to what tribe gets what land?  Any idea if some tribes had different needs and thus were partnered with the area most suited to them?

A. That may have factored into the way that, according to this, God chose to divide up the land via the lots, as we talked about in the previous question, but we don’t have any way to know for sure.  That certainly seems likely to me.  As we discussed yesterday, don’t worry too much about what tribes get which land at this point, but we will make reference to the divisions throughout the remaining story.

Video: Is casting lots like throwing the dice — gambling?

Blog: Christian shirts get noticed.  Watch conversations get started with these:

Why not? If you grew up in the Midwest or maybe anywhere in the U.S. in the 70s and 80s, you likely are familiar with the song, “The Gambler” by Kenny Rogers.  My parents were big fans of his, so I got an earful of it, and loved it.  For a refresher, click here.  The song was ruminating with me one day and I pictured Jesus as the gambler.  He put everything on the table for us.  Check out this blog,  I love how God inserts himself into our lives in the most unusual ways.  In “Heaven Calling,” a yearlong devotional, the Jan. 30 entry’s prayer stated “Make me sensitive to your presence, Lord, in both the mundane and the incredible.”  It also said, “Always, always be on the lookout for me.  I will be courting you in a multitude of ways and a multitude of places.”

Tomorrow’s reading
— Joshua 19:49-21:45
— 1 Chronicles 6:54-81

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