The tribes of Reuben and Gad, and the half of Manasseh who are to live to the east of the river Jordan, leave for their lands. But they first create an altar by the Jordan. This infuriates “the Israelites” (whom the people east of Jordan are apparently no longer counted among), since there should only be one altar in Israel (at the moment, the one outside the Tabernacle), and they prepare for war. But Reuben, Gad and Manasseh explain that they only built the altar as a witness to future generations that they do, indeed, worship God, and not the other gods of the land.
“The Lord, God of gods! The Lord, God of gods! He knows; and let Israel itself know! If it was in rebellion or in breach of faith toward the Lord, do not spare us today…”
The only tribe not to receive any land yet is the Levites, and they now receive 48 cities and their surrounding pastures from all the other twelve tribes, including the refuge cities of the previous chapter.
It’s a little frustrating to have spent all this time making my maps as accurate as possible, and then discovering that the author(s) of the book can’t even keep their attention span within a few chapters: Shechem has been moved from Manasseh to Ephraim, Heshbon from Reuben to Gad, and Gezer is suddenly no longer full of Canaanites (it’s like every other chapter Israel is still teeming with Canaanites, and the next God has completely annihilated them all).
And the Lord gave them rest on every side just as he had sworn to their ancestors; not one of all their enemies had withstood them, for the Lord had given all their enemies into their hands.
God orders Joshua to build the six refuge cities, three west and three east of the Jordan. Of note are Hebron and Shechem.
… so that anyone who kills a person without intent or by mistake may flee there; (…).
The remaining six tribes get their lands: Simeon, Zebulun, Issachar, Asher, Naphtali, and Dan. Below is one map of the twelve tribes by me, and one from the Oxford Bible. As I noted in chapter 13, the two maps are different; mine is based on my own interpretation of the text, while Oxfords’ is probably more technically accurate.
The seventh lot came out from the tribe of Dan, according to its families.
Although most of the lands have already been distributed due to deft lobbying from the tribes of Judah and Joseph, Joshua finally gets around to distributing the rest of the lands in a lottery to the remaining tribes, as he promised in chapter 14. He starts with Benjamin.
The 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.
Manasseh already received about half the lands east of the Jordan river, but now the same women who convinced God to give them an inheritance in Numbers, also convinces him that this inheritance should be west of the Jordan. It is not explained how this makes sense at all, but anyway Manasseh ends up with huge territories both east and west of the Jordan.
The land to the south is Ephraim’s and that to the north is Manasseh’s, with the sea forming its boundary; on the north Asher is reached, and on the east Issachar.
The Josephites (in other words, the Ephraimites and the Manassites) receive a large territory west of the Jordan, and Ephraim’s part of that territory is described.
They did not, however, drive out the Canaanites who lived in Gezer: so the Canaanites have lived within Ephraim to this day but have been made to do forced labor.