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Joshua 21-24 Common English Bible (CEB)

Cities for the Levites

21 The heads of the levitical families approached Eleazar the priest, Joshua, Nun’s son, and the heads of the families of the Israelite tribes. They spoke to them at Shiloh in the land of Canaan: “The Lord gave a command through Moses to give us cities to live in and their pasturelands for our cattle.” So the Israelites gave the Levites the following cities and their pasturelands out of their own legacy. This was in agreement with the Lord’s command.

The lot went out for the clans of the Kohathites. The descendants of Aaron the priest from among the Levites acquired thirteen cities by lot from the tribes of Judah, Simeon, and Benjamin. The rest of the descendants of Kohath acquired ten cities by lot from the clans of the tribes of Ephraim, Dan, and half of Manasseh. The descendants of Gershon acquired thirteen cities by lot from the clans of the tribes of Issachar, Asher, Naphtali, and the half of Manasseh located in Bashan. The descendants of Merari acquired twelve cities for their clans from the tribes of Reuben, Gad, and Zebulun. So the Israelites gave these cities and their pasturelands to the Levites by lot, exactly as the Lord had commanded through Moses.

They gave the following cities, identified here by name, from the tribe of the Judahites and the tribe of the Simeonites. 10 The cities belonged to the descendants of Aaron, one of the Kohathite clans of the Levites, because the lot had fallen to them first. 11 They gave them Kiriath-arba (that is, Hebron) in the highlands of Judah and the pastures around it. (Arba was the father of Anak.) 12 But they had already given the fields of the city and its surrounding areas to Caleb, Jephunneh’s son, as his property. 13 To the descendants of Aaron the priest they gave: Hebron, the refuge city for a killer, and its pastures; Libnah and its pastures; 14 Jattir and its pastures; Eshtemoa and its pastures; 15 Holon and its pastures; Debir and its pastures; 16 Ain and its pastures; Juttah and its pastures; and Beth-shemesh and its pastures. Total from these two tribes: nine cities. 17 From the tribe of Benjamin: Gibeon and its pastures, Geba and its pastures, 18 Anathoth and its pastures, and Almon and its pastures. In total: four cities. 19 This is the total of all the cities of the priests descended from Aaron: thirteen cities with their pastures.

20 Other clans from the levitical descendants of Kohath still remained from among the descendants of Kohath. Some of their allotted cities were from the tribe of Ephraim. 21 They gave them: Shechem, the refuge city for a killer, and its pastures in the highlands of Ephraim; Gezer and its pastures; 22 Kibzaim and its pastures; and Beth-horon and its pastures; in total: four cities. 23 From the tribe of Dan: Elteke and its pastures, Gibbethon and its pastures, 24 Aijalon and its pastures, Gath-rimmon and its pastures; in total: four cities. 25 From half the tribe of Manasseh: Taanach and its pastures, and Gath-rimmon and its pastures; in total: two cities. 26 This is the total of all cities for the clans of the remaining descendants of Kohath: ten cities with their pastures.

27 To the descendants of Gershon, one of the clans of the Levites, from half the tribe of Manasseh: Golan in Bashan, the refuge city for a killer, and its pastures; and Beeshterah and its pastures; in total: two cities. 28 From the tribe of Issachar: Kishion and its pastures, Daberath and its pastures, 29 Jarmuth and its pastures, En-gannim and its pastures; in total: four cities. 30 From the tribe of Asher: Mishal and its pastures, Abdon and its pastures, 31 Helkath and its pastures, and Rehob and its pastures; in total: four cities. 32 From the tribe of Naphtali: Kedesh in Galilee, the refuge city for the killer, and its pastures; Hammoth-dor and its pastures; and Kartan and its pastures; in total: three cities. 33 This is the total of all cities of the Gershonites for their clans: thirteen cities with their pastures.

34 To the clans of the descendants of Merari, the rest of the Levites, from the tribe of Zebulun: Jokneam and its pastures, Kartah and its pastures, 35 Dimnah and its pastures, Nahalal and its pastures; in total: four cities. 36 From the tribe of Reuben: Bezer and its pastures, Jahaz and its pastures, 37 Kedemoth and its pastures, and Mephaath and its pastures; in total: four cities.[a] 38 From the tribe of Gad: Ramoth in Gilead, the refuge city for a killer, and its pastures; Mahanaim and its pastures; 39 Heshbon and its pastures; Jazer and its pastures; in total: four cities. 40 As for the cities of the descendants of Merari for their clans, the remaining clans of the Levites, their total allotment was twelve cities.

41 This is the total of all the cities of the Levites within the property of the Israelites: forty-eight cities with their pastures. 42 Each of these cities had its pastures around it. This was the case for all these cities.

Summary of the conquest

43 The Lord gave to Israel all the land he had pledged to give to their ancestors. They took it over and settled there. 44 The Lord gave them rest from surrounding danger, exactly as he had pledged to their ancestors. Not one of all their enemies held out against them. The Lord gave all their enemies into their power. 45 Not one of all the good things that the Lord had promised to the house of Israel failed. Every promise was fulfilled.

Eastern tribes go home

22 Then Joshua summoned the Reubenites, the Gadites, and half the tribe of Manasseh. He said to them, “You obeyed everything that Moses the Lord’s servant commanded you. You have also obeyed me in everything that I have commanded you. During these many years, you never once deserted your fellow Israelites. You faithfully obeyed the command of the Lord your God. The Lord your God has now given rest to your fellow Israelites, exactly as he promised them. So turn around and go back home. Go to the land where you hold property, which Moses the Lord’s servant gave you on the other side of the Jordan. Just be very careful to carry out the commandment and Instruction that Moses the Lord’s servant commanded you. Love the Lord your God. Walk in all his ways and obey his commandments. Hold on to him and serve him with all your heart and being.” Then Joshua blessed them. He sent them away, and they went home.

Moses had provided for half of the tribe of Manasseh in Bashan. But Joshua provided for the other half on the west side of the Jordan along with their fellow Israelites. When he sent them back home, Joshua also blessed them. He said to them, “Return home with great wealth and many cattle, with silver, gold, bronze, and iron, and with much clothing. Divide the spoil taken from your enemies among your own people.”

Disagreement about an altar

So the people of Reuben, the people of Gad, and half the tribe of Manasseh went back. They left the Israelites at Shiloh, which is in the land of Canaan. They went to the land of Gilead, to the land that they owned. They had settled there at the Lord’s command given by Moses. 10 They came to the districts[b] of the Jordan that are in the land of Canaan. The people of Reuben, the people of Gad, and half the tribe of Manasseh built an altar there by the Jordan, an altar that appeared to be immense. 11 Then the Israelites heard a report: “Look. The people of Reuben, the people of Gad, and half the tribe of Manasseh have built an altar at the far edge of the land of Canaan. It lies in the districts of the Jordan on the Israelite side!” 12 When the Israelites heard this, the entire Israelite community assembled at Shiloh to go up to war against them.

13 Then the Israelites sent Phinehas son of Eleazar the priest to the people of Reuben, the people of Gad, and half the tribe of Manasseh in the land of Gilead. 14 They sent with him ten leaders, one leader from each important family among the tribes of Israel. Each was the head of an important family among the military units of Israel. 15 They came to the people of Reuben, the people of Gad, and half the tribe of Manasseh in the land of Gilead and spoke with them. 16 They said, “Here is what the Lord’s entire community says: ‘What’s this disrespectful thing that you’ve done to the God of Israel? Today you’ve turned away from following the Lord by building yourselves an altar as an act of rebellion against the Lord. 17 Wasn’t the offense of Peor enough for us? Even today we still haven’t cleansed ourselves from that sin, when there was a plague on the Lord’s community! 18 Today you are turning away from following the Lord. If you rebel against the Lord today, he will be angry with the entire community of Israel tomorrow. 19 If your own property is unclean land, then cross over into the land of the Lord’s property and settle among us. That’s where the dwelling of the Lord stands. But don’t rebel against the Lord. And don’t involve us in rebellion[c] by building an altar for yourselves other than the altar of the Lord our God. 20 Didn’t Achan, Zerah’s son, do such a disrespectful thing with the items reserved for God? Wrath came on the entire community of Israel. And he wasn’t the only one to die for his crime.’”

21 Then the people of Reuben, the people of Gad, and half the tribe of Manasseh answered the heads of the military units of Israel: 22 “The Lord is God of gods! The Lord is God of gods! He already knows, and now let Israel also know it! If we acted in rebellion or in disrespect against the Lord, don’t spare us today. 23 If we’ve built ourselves an altar to turn away from following the Lord or to offer on it an entirely burned offering or gift offering, or to perform well-being sacrifices on it, let the Lord himself seek punishment. 24 No! The truth is we did this out of concern for what might happen. In the future your children might say to our children, ‘What have you got to do with the Lord, the God of Israel? 25 The Lord has set the Jordan as a border between us and you people of Reuben and Gad. You have no portion in the Lord!’ So your children might make our children stop worshipping the Lord. 26 As a result we said, ‘Let’s protect ourselves by building an altar. It isn’t to be for an entirely burned offering or for sacrifice.’ 27 But it is to be a witness between us and you and between our descendants after us. It witnesses that we too perform the service of the Lord in his presence through our entirely burned offerings, sacrifices, and well-being offerings. So in the future your children could never say to our children, ‘You have no portion in the Lord.’ 28 We thought, If in the future they ever say this to us or to our descendants, we could say, ‘Look at this replica of the altar of the Lord that our ancestors made. It isn’t for entirely burned offerings or for sacrifice but to be a witness between us and you.’ 29 God forbid that we should rebel against the Lord and turn away today from following the Lord by building an altar for an entirely burned offering, gift offering, or sacrifice, other than the altar of the Lord our God that stands before his dwelling!”

30 Phinehas the priest, the leaders of the community, and the heads of the military units of Israel who were with him heard the words that the people of Reuben, Gad, and Manasseh spoke and approved them. 31 So Phinehas the son of Eleazar the priest said to the people of Reuben, Gad, and Manasseh, “Today we know that the Lord is among us, because you haven’t done a disrespectful thing against the Lord. Now you’ve delivered the Israelites from the power of the Lord.” 32 Then Phinehas the son of Eleazar the priest and the leaders left the people of Reuben and Gad in the land of Gilead and came back to the Israelites in the land of Canaan. They brought word back to them. 33 The Israelites agreed and blessed God. They no longer spoke of going to war against them to destroy the land where the people of Reuben and Gad were living. 34 The people of Reuben and Gad referred to the altar in this way: “It is a witness between us that the Lord is God.”

Joshua’s word of warning

23 A long time passed. The Lord had given rest to Israel from all their surrounding enemies, and Joshua had grown very old. Joshua summoned all Israel, their elders, their heads, their judges, and their officers. He said to them, “I’ve grown very old. You’ve seen all that the Lord your God has done to all these nations because of you. It is the Lord your God who fights for you. Look. I’ve allotted to you these remaining nations as a legacy for your tribes, along with all the nations I have destroyed. They stretch from the Jordan to the Mediterranean Sea. The Lord your God will force them out before you and remove them from you. Then you will take over their land, exactly as the Lord your God has promised you. Be very strong. Carefully obey everything written in the Instruction scroll from Moses. Don’t deviate a bit from it either to the right or to the left. Don’t have anything to do with these nations that remain with you. Don’t invoke the names of their gods or take oaths by them. Don’t serve them or worship them. Hold on to the Lord your God instead, exactly as you’ve done right up to today.

“The Lord has removed great and powerful nations before you. To this day, no one has stood up to you. 10 A single one of you puts a thousand to flight. This is because the Lord your God fights for you, exactly as he promised you. 11 For your own sake, be very careful to love the Lord your God. 12 But if you should turn away and join the rest of these nations that remain with you, intermarry with them, and associate with each other, 13 then know for certain that the Lord your God won’t keep on removing these nations before you. Instead, they will be a snare and a trap for you. They will be a whip on your sides and thorns in your eyes, until you vanish from this fertile land that the Lord your God has given you.

14 “Look. I’m now walking on the road to death that all the earth must take. You know with all your heart and being that not a single one of all the good things that the Lord your God promised about you has failed. They were all fulfilled for you. Not a single one of them has failed. 15 But in the same way that every good thing that the Lord your God promised about you has been fulfilled, so the Lord could bring against you every bad thing as well. He could wipe you out from this fertile land that the Lord your God has given you. 16 If you violate the covenant of the Lord your God, which he commanded you to keep, and go on to serve other gods and worship them, then the Lord will be furious with you. You will quickly vanish from the fertile land that he has given you.”

What God has done

24 Joshua gathered all the tribes of Israel at Shechem. He summoned the elders of Israel, its leaders, judges, and officers. They presented themselves before God. Then Joshua said to the entire people, “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: Long ago your ancestors lived on the other side of the Euphrates. They served other gods. Among them was Terah the father of Abraham and Nahor. I took Abraham your ancestor from the other side of the Euphrates. I led him around through the whole land of Canaan. I added to his descendants and gave him Isaac. To Isaac I gave Jacob and Esau. I gave Mount Seir to Esau to take over. But Jacob and his sons went down to Egypt. Then I sent Moses and Aaron. I plagued Egypt with what I did to them. After that I brought you out. I brought your ancestors out of Egypt, and you came to the sea. The Egyptians chased your ancestors with chariots and horses to the Reed Sea.[d] Then they cried for help to the Lord. So he set darkness between you and the Egyptians. He brought the sea down on them, and it covered them. With your own eyes you saw what I did to the Egyptians. You lived in the desert for a long time.

“Then I brought you into the land of the Amorites who lived on the other side of the Jordan. They attacked you, but I gave them into your power, and you took over their land. I wiped them out before you. Then Moab’s King Balak, Zippor’s son, set out to attack Israel. He summoned Balaam, Beor’s son, to curse you. 10 But I wasn’t willing to listen to Balaam, so he actually blessed you. I rescued you from his power. 11 Then you crossed over the Jordan. You came to Jericho, and the citizens of Jericho attacked you. They were Amorites, Perizzites, Canaanites, Hittites, Girgashites, Hivites, and Jebusites. But I gave them into your power. 12 I sent the hornet[e] before you. It drove them out before you and did the same to the two kings of the Amorites. It wasn’t your sword or bow that did this. 13 I gave you land on which you hadn’t toiled and cities that you hadn’t built. You settled in them and are enjoying produce from vineyards and olive groves that you didn’t plant.

Challenge to be faithful

14 “So now, revere the Lord. Serve him honestly and faithfully. Put aside the gods that your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates and in Egypt and serve the Lord. 15 But if it seems wrong in your opinion to serve the Lord, then choose today whom you will serve. Choose the gods whom your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you live. But my family and I will serve the Lord.”

16 Then the people answered, “God forbid that we ever leave the Lord to serve other gods! 17 The Lord is our God. He is the one who brought us and our ancestors up from the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage. He has done these mighty signs in our sight. He has protected us the whole way we’ve gone and in all the nations through which we’ve passed. 18 The Lord has driven out all the nations before us, including the Amorites who lived in the land. We too will serve the Lord, because he is our God.”

19 Then Joshua said to the people, “You can’t serve the Lord, because he is a holy God. He is a jealous God. He won’t forgive your rebellion and your sins. 20 If you leave the Lord and serve foreign gods, then he will turn around and do you harm and finish you off, in spite of having done you good in the past.”

21 Then the people said to Joshua, “No! The Lord is the one we will serve.”

22 So Joshua said to the people, “You are witnesses against yourselves that you have chosen to serve the Lord.”

They said, “We are witnesses!”

23 “So now put aside the foreign gods that are among you. Focus your hearts on the Lord, the God of Israel.”

24 The people said to Joshua, “We will serve the Lord our God and will obey him.”

Joshua makes a covenant

25 On that day Joshua made a covenant for the people and established just rule for them at Shechem. 26 Joshua wrote these words in God’s Instruction scroll. Then he took a large stone and put it up there under the oak in the sanctuary of the Lord. 27 Joshua said to all the people, “This stone will serve here as a witness against us, because it has heard all the Lord’s words that he spoke to us. It will serve as a witness against you in case you aren’t true to your God.” 28 Then Joshua sent the people away to each one’s legacy.

Three important graves

29 After these events, Joshua, Nun’s son, the Lord’s servant, died. He was 110. 30 They buried him within the border of his own legacy, in Timnath-serah in the highlands of Ephraim north of Mount Gaash. 31 Israel served the Lord all the days of Joshua and all the days of the elders who outlived Joshua. They had known every act the Lord had done for Israel.

32 The Israelites had brought up the bones of Joseph from Egypt. They buried them at Shechem in the portion of field that Jacob had purchased for one hundred qesitahs from the descendants of Hamor the father of Shechem. They became a legacy of the descendants of Joseph.

33 Eleazar son of Aaron died. They buried him at Gibeah, which belonged to his son Phinehas. It had been given to him in the highlands of Ephraim.

Footnotes:

  1. Joshua 21:37 LXX and 1 Chron 6:78-79 (Heb 6:63-64); some Heb manuscripts lack 21:36-37.
  2. Joshua 22:10 Heb Geliloth
  3. Joshua 22:19 Or rebel against us
  4. Joshua 24:6 Or Red Sea
  5. Joshua 24:12 Heb uncertain
Common English Bible (CEB)

Copyright © 2011 by Common English Bible

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