Bible Book List

Joshua 13-21New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)

II. Division of the Land

Chapter 13

Division of Land Commanded. When Joshua was old and advanced in years, the Lord said to him: Though now you are old and advanced in years, a very large part of the land still remains to be possessed. This is the remaining land: all Geshur[a] and all the districts of the Philistines (from the stream adjoining Egypt to the boundary of Ekron in the north is reckoned Canaanite territory, though held by the five lords of the Philistines in Gaza, Ashdod, Ashkelon, Gath, and Ekron); also where the Avvim are in the south; all the land of the Canaanites from Mearah of the Sidonians to Aphek, and the boundaries of the Amorites; and the Gebalite territory; and all the Lebanon on the east, from Baal-gad at the foot of Mount Hermon to Lebo-hamath. All the inhabitants of the mountain regions between Lebanon and Misrephoth-maim, all Sidonians, I will drive out before the Israelites; at least include these areas in the division of the Israelite heritage, just as I have commanded you. Now, therefore, apportion among the nine tribes and the half-tribe of Manasseh the land which is to be their heritage.

The Eastern Tribes. Now the other half of the tribe of Manasseh, as well as the Reubenites and Gadites, had taken as their heritage what Moses, the servant of the Lord, had given them east of the Jordan: from Aroer on the bank of the Wadi Arnon and the city in the wadi itself, through the tableland of Medeba and Dibon, 10 with the rest of the cities of Sihon, king of the Amorites, who reigned in Heshbon, to the boundary of the Ammonites; 11 also Gilead and the territory of the Geshurites and Maacathites, all Mount Hermon, and all Bashan as far as Salecah, 12 the entire kingdom in Bashan of Og, who was king at Ashtaroth and Edrei (he was a holdover from the remnant of the Rephaim). These Moses defeated and dispossessed. 13 But the Israelites did not dispossess the Geshurites and Maacathites, so that Geshur and Maacath dwell in the midst of Israel to this day. 14 However, Moses assigned no heritage to the tribe of Levi; the Lord, the God of Israel, is their heritage, as the Lord had promised them.

Reuben. 15 This is what Moses gave to the tribe of the Reubenites by their clans: 16 Their territory reached from Aroer, on the bank of the Wadi Arnon, and the city in the wadi itself, through the tableland about Medeba, 17 to include Heshbon and all its towns on the tableland, Dibon, Bamoth-baal, Beth-baal-meon, 18 Jahaz, Kedemoth, Mephaath, 19 Kiriathaim, Sibmah, Zereth-shahar on the knoll within the valley, 20 Beth-peor, the slopes of Pisgah, Beth-jeshimoth, 21 and the other cities of the tableland and of the whole kingdom of Sihon. This Amorite king, who reigned in Heshbon, Moses had defeated, with the princes of Midian, vassals of Sihon who were settled in the land: Evi, Rekem, Zur, Hur, and Reba; 22 Balaam, son of Beor, the diviner, the Israelites killed with the sword, together with those they struck down. 23 The boundary of the Reubenites was the Jordan. These cities and their villages were the heritage of the Reubenites by their clans.

Gad. 24 This is what Moses gave to the tribe of the Gadites by their clans: 25 Their territory included Jazer, all the cities of Gilead, and half the land of the Ammonites as far as Aroer, toward Rabbah 26 (that is, from Heshbon to Ramath-mizpeh and Betonim, and from Mahanaim to the boundary of Lo-debar); 27 and in the Jordan valley: Beth-haram, Beth-nimrah, Succoth, Zaphon, the other part of the kingdom of Sihon, king of Heshbon, with the bank of the Jordan to the southeastern tip of the Sea of Chinnereth. 28 These cities and their villages were the heritage of the clans of the Gadites.

Manasseh. 29 This is what Moses gave to the half-tribe of Manasseh; the half-tribe of the Manassites, by their clans, had 30 territory including Mahanaim, all of Bashan, the entire kingdom of Og, king of Bashan, and all the villages of Jair, which are sixty cities in Bashan. 31 Half of Gilead, with Ashtaroth and Edrei, royal cities of Og in Bashan, fell to the descendants of Machir, son of Manasseh, to half the Machirites, by their clans.

32 These are the heritages which Moses gave when he was in the plains of Moab, beyond the Jordan east of Jericho. 33 But Moses gave no heritage to the tribe of Levi: the Lord, the God of Israel, is their heritage, as he had promised them.

Chapter 14

The Western Tribes. These are the portions which the Israelites received as heritage in the land of Canaan. Eleazar the priest, Joshua, son of Nun, and the heads of families in the tribes of the Israelites determined their heritage by lot, as the Lord had commanded through Moses concerning the remaining nine and a half tribes. To two and a half tribes Moses had already given a heritage beyond the Jordan; to the Levites he had given no heritage among them: the descendants of Joseph formed two tribes, Manasseh and Ephraim. But the Levites were given no share of the land except cities to live in, with their pasture lands for the herds and flocks.

As the Lord had commanded Moses, so the Israelites did: they apportioned the land.

Caleb’s Portion. When the Judahites approached Joshua in Gilgal, the Kenizzite Caleb, son of Jephunneh, said to him: “You know the word the Lord spoke to Moses, the man of God, concerning you and concerning me in Kadesh-barnea. I was forty years old when Moses, the servant of the Lord, sent me from Kadesh-barnea to reconnoiter the land; and I brought back to him a frank report. My fellow scouts who went up with me made the people’s confidence melt away, but I was completely loyal to the Lord, my God. On that occasion Moses swore this oath, ‘The land where you have set foot shall become your heritage and that of your descendants forever, because you have been completely loyal to the Lord, my God.’ 10 Now, as he promised, the Lord has preserved me these forty-five years since the Lord spoke thus to Moses while Israel journeyed in the wilderness; and now I am eighty-five years old, 11 but I am still as strong today as I was the day Moses sent me forth, with no less vigor whether it be for war or for any other tasks.[b] 12 Now give me this mountain region which the Lord promised me that day, as you yourself heard. True, the Anakim are there, with large fortified cities, but if the Lord is with me I shall be able to dispossess them, as the Lord promised.” 13 Joshua blessed Caleb, son of Jephunneh, and gave him Hebron as his heritage. 14 Therefore Hebron remains the heritage of the Kenizzite Caleb, son of Jephunneh, to the present day, because he was completely loyal to the Lord, the God of Israel. 15 Hebron was formerly called Kiriath-arba, for Arba, the greatest among the Anakim. And the land had rest from war.

Chapter 15

Boundaries of Judah. The lot for the tribe of Judah by their clans fell toward the boundary of Edom, the wilderness of Zin in the Negeb, in the extreme south. Their southern boundary ran from the end of the Salt Sea,[c] from the tongue of land that faces the Negeb, and went southward below the pass of Akrabbim, across through Zin, up to a point south of Kadesh-barnea, across to Hezron, and up to Addar; from there, looping around Karka, it crossed to Azmon and then joined the Wadi of Egypt[d] before coming out at the sea. (This is your southern boundary.) The eastern boundary was the Salt Sea as far as the mouth of the Jordan.

The northern boundary climbed northward from the tongue of the sea, toward the mouth of the Jordan, up to Beth-hoglah, and ran north of Beth-arabah, up to Eben-Bohan-ben-Reuben. Thence the boundary climbed to Debir, north of the Valley of Achor, in the direction of the Gilgal that faces the pass of Adummim, on the south side of the wadi; from there it crossed to the waters of En-shemesh and emerged at En-rogel. Climbing again to the Valley of Ben-hinnom[e] on the southern flank of the Jebusites (that is, Jerusalem), the boundary rose to the top of the mountain at the northern end of the Valley of Rephaim, which bounds the Valley of Hinnom on the west. From the top of the mountain it ran to the fountain of waters of Nephtoah, extended to the cities of Mount Ephron, and continued to Baalah, or Kiriath-jearim. 10 From Baalah the boundary curved westward to Mount Seir and passed north of the ridge of Mount Jearim (that is, Chesalon); it descended to Beth-shemesh, and ran across to Timnah. 11 It then extended along the northern flank of Ekron, continued through Shikkeron, and across to Mount Baalah, from there to include Jabneel, before it came out at the sea. 12 The western boundary was the Great Sea[f] and its coast. This was the complete boundary of the Judahites by their clans.

Conquest by Caleb. 13 As the Lord had commanded, Joshua gave Caleb, son of Jephunneh, a portion among the Judahites, namely, Kiriath-arba (Arba was the father of Anak), that is, Hebron. 14 And Caleb dispossessed from there the three Anakim, the descendants of Anak: Sheshai, Ahiman, and Talmai. 15 From there he marched up against the inhabitants of Debir, which was formerly called Kiriath-sepher. 16 Caleb said, “To the man who attacks Kiriath-sepher and captures it, I will give my daughter Achsah in marriage.” 17 [g]Othniel captured it, the son of Caleb’s brother Kenaz; so Caleb gave him his daughter Achsah in marriage. 18 When she came to him, she induced him to ask her father for some land. Then, as she alighted from the donkey, Caleb asked her, “What do you want?” 19 She answered, “Give me a present! Since you have assigned to me land in the Negeb, give me also pools of water.” So he gave her the upper and the lower pools.

Cities of Judah.[h] 20 This is the heritage of the tribe of Judahites by their clans: 21 The cities of the tribe of the Judahites in the extreme southern district toward Edom were: Kabzeel, Eder, Jagur, 22 Kinah, Dimonah, Adadah, 23 Kedesh, Hazor, and Ithnan; 24 Ziph, Telem, Bealoth, 25 Hazor-hadattah, and Kerioth-hezron (that is, Hazor); 26 Amam, Shema, Moladah, 27 Hazar-gaddah, Heshmon, Beth-pelet, 28 Hazar-shual, Beer-sheba, and Biziothiah; 29 Baalah, Iim, Ezem, 30 Eltolad, Chesil, Hormah, 31 Ziklag, Madmannah, Sansannah, 32 Lebaoth, Shilhim, and Ain and Rimmon; a total of twenty-nine cities with their villages.

33 In the Shephelah: Eshtaol, Zorah, Ashnah, 34 Zanoah, Engannim, Tappuah, Enam, 35 Jarmuth, Adullam, Socoh, Azekah, 36 Shaaraim, Adithaim, Gederah, and Gederothaim; fourteen cities and their villages. 37 Zenan, Hadashah, Migdal-gad, 38 Dilean, Mizpeh, Joktheel, 39 Lachish, Bozkath, Eglon, 40 Cabbon, Lahmas, Chitlish, 41 Gederoth, Beth-dagon, Naamah, and Makkedah; sixteen cities and their villages. 42 Libnah, Ether, Ashan, 43 Iphtah, Ashnah, Nezib, 44 Keilah, Achzib, and Mareshah; nine cities and their villages. 45 Ekron and its towns and villages; 46 from Ekron to the sea, all the towns that lie alongside Ashdod, and their villages; 47 Ashdod and its towns and villages; Gaza and its towns and villages, as far as the Wadi of Egypt and the coast of the Great Sea.

48 In the mountain regions: Shamir, Jattir, Socoh, 49 Dannah, Kiriath-sannah (that is, Debir), 50 Anab, Eshtemoh, Anim, 51 Goshen, Holon, and Giloh; eleven cities and their villages. 52 Arab, Dumah, Eshan, 53 Janim, Beth-tappuah, Aphekah, 54 Humtah, Kiriath-arba (that is, Hebron), and Zior; nine cities and their villages. 55 Maon, Carmel, Ziph, Juttah, 56 Jezreel, Jokdeam, Zanoah, 57 Kain, Gibbeah, and Timnah; ten cities and their villages. 58 Halhul, Beth-zur, Gedor, 59 Maarath, Beth-anoth, and Eltekon; six cities and their villages. Tekoa, Ephrathah (that is, Bethlehem), Peor, Etam, Kulom, Tatam, Zores, Karim, Gallim, Bether, and Manoko; eleven cities and their villages. 60 Kiriath-baal (that is, Kiriath-jearim) and Rabbah; two cities and their villages.

61 In the wilderness:[i] Beth-arabah, Middin, Secacah, 62 Nibshan, Ir-hamelah, and En-gedi; six cities and their villages. 63 But the Jebusites who lived in Jerusalem the Judahites could not dispossess; so the Jebusites dwell in Jerusalem beside the Judahites to the present day.

Chapter 16

The Joseph Tribes.[j] The lot that fell to the Josephites extended from the Jordan at Jericho to the waters of Jericho east of the wilderness; then the boundary went up from Jericho to the heights at Bethel.[k] Leaving Bethel for Luz, it crossed the ridge to the border of the Archites at Ataroth, and descended westward to the border of the Japhletites, to that of the Lower Beth-horon, and to Gezer, and from there to the sea.

Ephraim. Within the heritage of Manasseh and Ephraim, sons of Joseph, the dividing line[l] for the heritage of the Ephraimites by their clans ran from east of Ataroth-addar to Upper Beth-horon and thence to the sea. From Michmethath on the north, their boundary curved eastward around Taanath-shiloh, and continued east of it to Janoah; from there it descended to Ataroth and Naarah, and reaching Jericho, it ended at the Jordan. From Tappuah the boundary ran westward to the Wadi Kanah and ended at the sea. This was the heritage of the Ephraimites by their clans, including the villages that belonged to each city set aside for the Ephraimites within the heritage of the Manassites. 10 But they did not dispossess the Canaanites living in Gezer; they live within Ephraim to the present day, though they have been put to forced labor.

Chapter 17

Manasseh. Now as for the lot that fell to the tribe of Manasseh as the firstborn of Joseph: since Manasseh’s eldest son, Machir, the father of Gilead, was a warrior, who had already obtained Gilead and Bashan, the allotment was now made to the rest of the Manassites by their clans: the descendants of Abiezer, Helek, Asriel, Shechem, Hepher, and Shemida; these are the other male children of Manasseh, son of Joseph, by their clans.

Furthermore, Zelophehad, son of Hepher, son of Gilead, son of Machir, son of Manasseh, had no sons, but only daughters, whose names were Mahlah, Noah, Hoglah, Milcah, and Tirzah. These presented themselves to Eleazar the priest, to Joshua, son of Nun, and to the leaders, saying, “The Lord commanded Moses to give us a heritage among our relatives.” So in accordance with the command of the Lord a heritage was given them among their father’s relatives. Thus ten shares fell to Manasseh apart from the land of Gilead and Bashan beyond the Jordan, since these female descendants of Manasseh received each a portion among his sons. The land of Gilead fell to the rest of the Manassites.

Manasseh bordered on Asher.[m] From Michmethath, near Shechem, another boundary ran southward to include the inhabitants of En-Tappuah, because the district of Tappuah belonged to Manasseh, although Tappuah itself was an Ephraimite city on the border of Manasseh. This same boundary continued down to the Wadi Kanah. The cities that belonged to Ephraim from among the cities in Manasseh were those to the south of that wadi; thus the territory of Manasseh ran north of the wadi and ended at the sea. 10 The land on the south belonged to Ephraim and that on the north to Manasseh; with the sea as their common boundary, they reached Asher on the north and Issachar on the east.

11 Moreover, in Issachar and in Asher Manasseh was awarded Beth-shean and its towns, Ibleam and its towns, the inhabitants of Dor and its towns, the inhabitants of Endor and its towns, the inhabitants of Taanach and its towns, the inhabitants of Megiddo and its towns (the third is Naphath-dor). 12 Since the Manassites were not able to dispossess these cities, the Canaanites continued to inhabit this region. 13 When the Israelites grew stronger they put the Canaanites to forced labor, but they did not dispossess them.

Protest of Joseph Tribes. 14 The descendants of Joseph said to Joshua, “Why have you given us only one lot and one share as our heritage? Our people are too many, because of the extent to which the Lord has blessed us.” 15 Joshua answered them, “If you are too many, go up to the forest and clear out a place for yourselves there in the land of the Perizzites and Rephaim, since the mountain regions of Ephraim are so narrow.” 16 For the Josephites said, “Our mountain regions are not enough for us; on the other hand, the Canaanites living in the valley region all have iron chariots, in particular those in Beth-shean and its towns, and those in the valley of Jezreel.” 17 Joshua therefore said to Ephraim and Manasseh, the house of Joseph, “You are a numerous people and very strong. You shall not have merely one share, 18 for the mountain region which is now forest shall be yours when you clear it. Its adjacent land shall also be yours if, despite their strength and iron chariots, you dispossess the Canaanites.”

Chapter 18

The whole community of the Israelites assembled at Shiloh, where they set up the tent of meeting; and the land was subdued before them.

The Seven Remaining Portions. There remained seven tribes among the Israelites that had not yet received their heritage. Joshua therefore said to the Israelites, “How much longer will you put off taking steps to possess the land which the Lord, the God of your ancestors, has given you? Choose three representatives from each of your tribes; I will send them to go throughout the land and describe it for purposes of acquiring their heritage. When they return to me you shall divide it into seven parts. Judah is to retain its territory in the south, and the house of Joseph its territory in the north. You shall bring to me here the description of the land in seven sections. I will then cast lots for you here before the Lord, our God. For the Levites have no share among you, because the priesthood of the Lord is their heritage; while Gad, Reuben, and the half-tribe of Manasseh have already received the heritage east of the Jordan which Moses, the servant of the Lord, gave them.”

When those who were to describe the land were ready for their journey, Joshua commanded them, “Go throughout the land and describe it; return to me and I will cast lots for you here before the Lord in Shiloh.” So they went through the land, described its cities in writing in seven sections, and returned to Joshua in the camp at Shiloh. 10 Joshua then cast lots for them before the Lord in Shiloh, and divided up the land for the Israelites into their separate shares.

Benjamin. 11 One lot fell to the tribe of Benjaminites by their clans. The territory allotted them lay between the descendants of Judah and those of Joseph. 12 Their northern boundary[n] began at the Jordan and went over the northern flank of Jericho, up westward into the mountains, until it reached the wilderness of Beth-aven. 13 From there it crossed over to the southern flank of Luz (that is, Bethel). Then it ran down to Ataroth-addar, on the mountaintop south of Lower Beth-horon. 14 For the western border, the boundary line swung south from the mountaintop opposite Beth-horon until it reached Kiriath-baal (that is, Kiriath-jearim; this city belonged to the Judahites). This was the western boundary. 15 The southern boundary began at the limits of Kiriath-jearim and projected to the spring at Nephtoah. 16 It went down to the edge of the mountain on the north of the Valley of Rephaim, where it faces the Valley of Ben-hinnom; and continuing down the Valley of Hinnom along the southern flank of the Jebusites, reached En-rogel. 17 Inclining to the north, it extended to En-shemesh, and thence to Geliloth, opposite the pass of Adummim. Then it dropped to Eben-Bohan-ben-Reuben, 18 across the northern flank of the Arabah overlook, down into the Arabah. 19 From there the boundary continued across the northern flank of Beth-hoglah and extended northward to the tongue of the Salt Sea, toward the southern end of the Jordan. This was the southern boundary. 20 The Jordan bounded it on the east. This was how the heritage of the Benjaminites by their clans was bounded on all sides.

21 Now the cities belonging to the tribe of the Benjaminites by their clans were: Jericho, Beth-hoglah, Emek-keziz, 22 Beth-arabah, Zemaraim, Bethel, 23 Avvim, Parah, Ophra, 24 Chephar-ammoni, Ophni, and Geba; twelve cities and their villages. 25 Also Gibeon, Ramah, Beeroth, 26 Mizpeh, Chephirah, Mozah, 27 Rekem, Irpeel, Taralah, 28 Zela, Haeleph, the Jebusite city (that is, Jerusalem), Gibeah, and Kiriath; fourteen cities and their villages. This was the heritage of the clans of Benjaminites.

Chapter 19

Simeon. The second lot fell to Simeon. The heritage of the tribe of Simeonites by their clans lay within that of the Judahites. For their heritage they received Beer-sheba, Shema, Moladah, Hazar-shual, Balah, Ezem, Eltolad, Bethul, Hormah, Ziklag, Bethmar-caboth, Hazar-susah, Beth-lebaoth, and Sharuhen; thirteen cities and their villages. Also Ain, Rimmon, Ether, and Ashan; four cities and their villages, besides all the villages around these cities as far as Baalath-beer (that is, Ramoth-negeb). This was the heritage of the tribe of the Simeonites by their clans. This heritage of the Simeonites was within the confines of the Judahites; for since the portion of the latter was too large for them, the Simeonites obtained their heritage within it.

Zebulun. 10 [o]The third lot fell to the Zebulunites by their clans. The boundary of their heritage was at Sarid. 11 Their boundary went up west and through Mareal, reaching Dabbesheth and the wadi that is near Jokneam. 12 From Sarid eastward it ran to the district of Chisloth-tabor, on to Daberath, and up to Japhia. 13 From there it continued eastward to Gath-hepher and to Eth-kazin, extended to Rimmon, and turned to Neah. 14 Skirting north of Hannathon, the boundary ended at the valley of Iphtahel. 15 Thus, with Kattath, Nahalal, Shimron, Idalah, and Bethlehem, there were twelve cities and their villages. 16 This was the heritage of the Zebulunites by their clans, these cities and their villages.

Issachar. 17 [p]The fourth lot fell to Issachar. The territory of the Issacharites by their clans 18 included Jezreel, Chesulloth, Shunem, 19 Hapharaim, Shion, Anaharath, 20 Rabbith, Kishion, Ebez, 21 Remeth, En-gannim, En-haddah, and Beth-pazzez. 22 The boundary reached Tabor, Shahazumah, and Beth-shemesh, ending at the Jordan: sixteen cities and their villages. 23 This was the heritage of the Issacharites by their clans, these cities and their villages.

Asher. 24 [q]The fifth lot fell to the Asherites by their clans. 25 Their territory included Helkath, Hali, Beten, Achshaph, 26 Allammelech, Amad, and Mishal, and reached Carmel on the west, and Shihor-libnath. 27 In the other direction, it ran eastward of Beth-dagon, reached Zebulun and the valley of Iphtahel; then north of Beth-emek and Neiel, it extended northward to Cabul, 28 Ebron, Rehob, Hammon, and Kanah, near Greater Sidon. 29 Then the boundary turned back to Ramah and to the fortress city of Tyre; thence it cut back to Hosah and ended at the sea. Thus, with Mahalab, Achzib, 30 Ummah, Acco, Aphek, and Rehob, there were twenty-two cities and their villages. 31 This was the heritage of the tribe of the Asherites by their clans, these cities and their villages.

Naphtali. 32 [r]The sixth lot fell to the Naphtalites. 33 Their boundary extended from Heleph, from the oak at Zaanannim, including Adami-nekeb and Jabneel, to Lakkum, and ended at the Jordan. 34 In the opposite direction, westerly, it ran through Aznoth-tabor and from there extended to Hukkok; it reached Zebulun on the south, Asher on the west, and the Jordan on the east. 35 The fortified cities were Ziddim, Zer, Hammath, Rakkath, Chinnereth, 36 Adamah, Ramah, Hazor, 37 Kedesh, Edrei, En-hazor, 38 Yiron, Migdal-el, Horem, Beth-anath, and Beth-shemesh; nineteen cities and their villages. 39 This was the heritage of the tribe of the Naphtalites by their clans, these cities and their villages.

Dan. 40 [s]The seventh lot fell to the tribe of Danites by their clans. 41 Their heritage was the territory of Zorah, Eshtaol, Ir-shemesh, 42 Shaalabbin, Aijalon, Ithlah, 43 Elon, Timnah, Ekron, 44 Eltekoh, Gibbethon, Baalath, 45 Jehud, Bene-berak, Gath-rimmon, 46 Me-jarkon, and Rakkon, with the coast at Joppa. 47 But the territory of the Danites was too small for them; so the Danites marched up and attacked Leshem,[t] which they captured and put to the sword. Once they had taken possession of Leshem, they dwelt there and named it after their ancestor Dan. 48 This was the heritage of the tribe of the Danites by their clans, these cities and their villages.

Joshua’s City. 49 When the last of them had received the portions of the land they were to inherit, the Israelites assigned a heritage in their midst to Joshua, son of Nun. 50 According to the command of the Lord, they gave him the city he requested, Timnah-serah in the mountain region of Ephraim. He rebuilt the city and made it his home.

51 These are the heritages which Eleazar the priest, Joshua, son of Nun, and the heads of families in the tribes of the Israelites apportioned by lot in the presence of the Lord, at the door of the tent of meeting in Shiloh. Thus they finished dividing the land.

Chapter 20

Cities of Refuge. The Lord said to Joshua:[u] Tell the Israelites: Designate for yourselves the cities of refuge of which I spoke to you through Moses, to which anyone guilty of inadvertent and unintentional homicide may flee for asylum from the avenger of blood. To one of these cities the killer shall flee, and standing at the entrance of the city gate, shall plead his case in the hearing of the elders of the city, who must receive him and assign him a place in which to live among them. Though the avenger of blood pursues him, they shall not deliver up to him the one who killed a neighbor unintentionally, when there had been no hatred previously. Once he has stood judgment before the community, he shall live on in that city until the death of the high priest who is in office at the time. Then the killer may return home to the city from where he originally fled.

List of Cities. So they set apart Kedesh in Galilee in the mountain region of Naphtali, Shechem in the mountain region of Ephraim, and Kiriath-arba (that is, Hebron) in the mountain region of Judah. And beyond the Jordan east of Jericho they designated Bezer in the wilderness on the tableland in the tribe of Reuben, Ramoth in Gilead in the tribe of Gad, and Golan in Bashan in the tribe of Manasseh. These are the designated cities to which any Israelite or alien residing among them who had killed a person unintentionally might flee to escape death at the hand of the avenger of blood, until the killer could appear before the community.

Chapter 21

Levitical Cities. The heads of the Levite families[v] approached Eleazar the priest, Joshua, son of Nun, and the heads of families of the other tribes of the Israelites at Shiloh in the land of Canaan, and said to them, “The Lord commanded, through Moses, that cities be given us to dwell in, with pasture lands for our livestock.” Out of their own heritage, according to the command of the Lord, the Israelites gave the Levites the following cities with their pasture lands.

When the first lot among the Levites fell to the clans of the Kohathites, the descendants of Aaron the priest obtained by lot from the tribes of Judah, Simeon, and Benjamin, thirteen cities. From the clans of the tribe of Ephraim, from the tribe of Dan, and from the half-tribe of Manasseh, the rest of the Kohathites obtained by lot ten cities. From the clans of the tribe of Issachar, from the tribe of Asher, from the tribe of Naphtali, and from the half-tribe of Manasseh, the Gershonites obtained by lot thirteen cities. From the tribes of Reuben, Gad, and Zebulun, the clans of the Merarites obtained twelve cities. These cities with their pasture lands the Israelites gave by lot to the Levites, as the Lord had commanded through Moses.

Cities of the Priests. From the tribes of the Judahites and Simeonites they gave the following cities 10 and assigned them to the descendants of Aaron in the Kohathite clan of the Levites, since the first lot fell to them: 11 first, Kiriath-arba (Arba was the father of Anak), that is, Hebron, in the mountain region of Judah, with the adjacent pasture lands, 12 although the open country and villages belonging to the city had been given to Caleb, son of Jephunneh, as his holding. 13 Thus to the descendants of Aaron the priest were given the city of refuge for homicides at Hebron, with its pasture lands; also, Libnah with its pasture lands, 14 Jattir with its pasture lands, Eshtemoa with its pasture lands, 15 Holon with its pasture lands, Debir with its pasture lands, 16 Ain with its pasture lands, Juttah with its pasture lands, and Beth-shemesh with its pasture lands: nine cities from these two tribes. 17 From the tribe of Benjamin they obtained Gibeon with its pasture lands, Geba with its pasture lands, 18 Anathoth with its pasture lands, and Almon with its pasture lands: four cities. 19 These cities which with their pasture lands belonged to the priestly descendants of Aaron, were thirteen in all.

Cities of the Other Kohathites. 20 The rest of the Kohathite clans among the Levites obtained by lot, from the tribe of Ephraim, four cities. 21 They were assigned, with its pasture lands, the city of refuge for homicides at Shechem in the mountain region of Ephraim; also Gezer with its pasture lands, 22 Kibzaim with its pasture lands, and Beth-horon with its pasture lands. 23 From the tribe of Dan they obtained Elteke with its pasture lands, Gibbethon with its pasture lands, 24 Aijalon with its pasture lands, and Gath-rimmon with its pasture lands: four cities. 25 From the half-tribe of Manasseh, Taanach with its pasture lands, and Gath-rimmon with its pasture lands: two cities. 26 These cities which with their pasture lands belonged to the rest of the Kohathite clans were ten in all.

Cities of the Gershonites. 27 The Gershonite clan of the Levites received from the half-tribe of Manasseh the city of refuge for homicides at Golan in Bashan, with its pasture lands; and also Beth-Astharoth with its pasture lands: two cities. 28 From the tribe of Issachar they obtained 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, 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, the city of refuge for homicides at Kedesh in Galilee, with its pasture lands; also Hammath with its pasture lands, and Kartan with its pasture lands: three cities. 33 The cities which belonged to the Gershonite clans, with their pasture lands, were thirteen in all.

Cities of the Merarites. 34 The Merarite clans, the last of the Levites, received, from the tribe of Zebulun, Jokneam with its pasture lands, Kartah with its pasture lands, 35 Dimnah with its pasture lands, and Nahalal with its pasture lands: four cities. 36 Also, across the Jordan, from the tribe of Reuben, the city of refuge for homicides at Bezer with its pasture lands, 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, the city of refuge for homicides at Ramoth in Gilead with its pasture lands, Mahanaim with its pasture lands, 39 Heshbon with its pasture lands, and Jazer with its pasture lands: four cities in all. 40 The cities allotted to the Merarite clans, the last of the Levites, were therefore twelve in all.

41 Thus the total number of cities within the territory of the Israelites which, with their pasture lands, belonged to the Levites, was forty-eight. 42 With each and every one of these cities went the pasture lands round about it.

43 And so the Lord gave Israel the entire land he had sworn to their ancestors he would give them. Once they had taken possession of it, and dwelt in it, 44 the Lord gave them peace on every side, just as he had promised their ancestors. Not one of their enemies could withstand them; the Lord gave all their enemies into their power. 45 Not a single word of the blessing that the Lord had promised to the house of Israel failed; it all came true.


  1. 13:2 Geshur: not to be confused with the large Aramean district of the same name in Bashan (vv. 11–13; Dt 3:14); here it is a region to the south of the Philistine country, since vv. 2–5 list the unconquered lands along the coast from south to north; cf. also 1 Sm 27:8.
  2. 14:11 War…other tasks: lit., “to go forth and to come in,” i.e., to conduct military expeditions and to return after victory; cf. 1 Sm 18:16; 2 Sm 5:2.
  3. 15:2 Salt Sea: the Dead Sea. The “tongue,” a prominent feature of the landscape, is a spit of land thrusting into the Dead Sea from its eastern shore; it is now called by its Arabic name, ’el lisân, “tongue.”
  4. 15:4 Wadi of Egypt: the natural boundary between Gaza and the Sinai Peninsula.
  5. 15:8 The Valley of Ben-hinnom: the southern limit of Jerusalem. Ben-hinnom means “son of Hinnom.” The place was also called Valley of Hinnom, in Hebrew ge-hinnom, whence the word “Gehenna” is derived.
  6. 15:12 Great Sea: the Mediterranean.
  7. 15:17–19 The story of Othniel is told again in Jgs 1:13–15; cf. also Jgs 3:9–11.
  8. 15:20–62 This elaborate list of the cities of Judah was probably taken from a document made originally for administrative purposes; the cities are divided into four provincial districts, some of which have further subdivisions. For similar lists of the cities of Judah, cf. 19:2–7; 1 Chr 4:28–32; Neh 11:25–30. This list has suffered in transmission, so that the totals given in vv. 32 and 36 are not exact; many of the cities cannot be identified.
  9. 15:61 In the wilderness: in the Jordan rift near the Dead Sea.
  10. 16:1–17:18 After the boundaries and cities of Judah, the most important tribe, are given, the land of the next most important group, the two Joseph tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh, is described, though it was separated from Judah by the territories of Benjamin (18:11–20) and Dan (19:40–48).
  11. 16:1–3 This line formed the southern boundary of Ephraim and the northern boundaries of Benjamin and of Dan.
  12. 16:5 The dividing line: separating Ephraim from Manasseh. Ephraim’s northern border (v. 5) is given in an east-to-west direction; its eastern border (vv. 6–7) in a north-to-south direction.
  13. 17:7 Manasseh bordered on Asher: only at the extreme northwestern section of Manasseh’s territory. The boundary given in the following sentences (vv. 7–10) is a more detailed description of the one already mentioned in 16:5–7, as separating Manasseh from Ephraim.
  14. 18:12–20 Benjamin’s northern boundary (vv. 12–13) corresponded to part of the southern boundary of Ephraim (16:1–2). Their western border (v. 14) was the eastern border of Dan (cf. 19:40–47). Their southern boundary (vv. 15–19) corresponded to part of the northern boundary of Judah (15:5–9).
  15. 19:10–16 Zebulun’s territory was in the central section of the Jezreel Valley and of southern Galilee; it was bounded on the south by Manasseh, on the southeast by Issachar, on the northeast and north by Naphtali, and on the west by Asher. The site of the later city of Nazareth was within its borders. Bethlehem of Zebulun was, of course, distinct from the city of the same name in Judah. Twelve cities: apparently seven of the names are missing from v. 15, unless some of the places mentioned in vv. 12–14 are to be included in the number.
  16. 19:17–23 Issachar’s land was on the eastern watershed of the Jezreel Valley, but also included the southeastern end of the Galilean mountains. It was surrounded by Manasseh on the south and east, by Naphtali on the north, and by Zebulun on the west. Jezreel (v. 18) dominated the valley to which it gave its name, the later form of which was Esdraelon.
  17. 19:24–31 Asher inherited the western slope of the Galilean hills as far as the Mediterranean, with Manasseh to the south, Zebulun and Naphtali to the east, and Phoenicia to the north.
  18. 19:32–39 Naphtali received eastern Galilee; Asher was to the west and Zebulun and Issachar were to the south, while the upper Jordan and Mount Hermon formed the eastern border. Part of the tribe of Dan later on occupied the northern extremity of Naphtali’s lands, at the sources of the Jordan (v. 47).
  19. 19:40–46 The original territory of Dan was a small enclave between Judah, Benjamin, Ephraim, and the Philistines.
  20. 19:47 Leshem: called Laish in Jgs 18, where the story of the migration of the Danites is told at greater length.
  21. 20:1–9 The laws concerning the cities of refuge are given in Nm 35:9–28; Dt 19:1–13; see notes on Nm 35:16–25; Dt 19:2.
  22. 21:1 The order to establish special cities for the Levites is given in Nm 35:1–8. The forty-eight cities listed here were hardly the exclusive possession of the Levites; at least the more important of them, such as Hebron, Shechem, and Ramoth in Gilead, were certainly peopled for the most part by the tribe in whose territory they were situated. But in all these cities the Levites had special property rights which they did not possess in other cities; cf. Lv 25:32–34.
New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)

Scripture texts, prefaces, introductions, footnotes and cross references used in this work are taken from the New American Bible, revised edition © 2010, 1991, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Inc., Washington, DC All Rights Reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the copyright owner.


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