Joshua quickly summarizes the history of the Israelites: Abraham travelling from north of the Euphrates to Canaan, Jacob travelling to Egypt, Moses and Aaron destroying Egypt and fleeing through the desert, the Israelites conquering Transjordan, and the more recent conquest of Canaan.
He makes very well sure that everyone will worship only God and not other gods, before he sends everyone away to their new lands. Joshua then dies, quickly followed by his high priest Eleazar (Aaron’s son). And with the death of Joshua, ends the book of Joshua.
After these things Joshua son of Nun, the servant of the Lord, died, being one hundred ten years old.
Joshua is about to die, so he gathers the elders and assures them that God will drive out all the Canaanites from Canaan, as long as they worship only him.
The descriptions of how many Canaanites are still left, vary wildly in the book of Joshua. In chapters that are recaps of the holy war, God successfully vanquishes all resistance and kills every single Canaanite. But in chapters that deal with the Israelites’ relationship with God (receiving lands, acknowledging future worship), there are suddenly scores of Canaanites all over the land that they need God’s help in removing in the future.
Be very careful, therefore, to love the Lord your God.
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.