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Matthew Henry's Commentary – Verses 13–22
Verses 13–22

We are now to pass from the affairs of the sanctuary to those of the state, from the city to the country. 1. The Land of Canaan is here secured to them for an inheritance (Ezek. 47:14): I lifted up my hand to give it unto your fathers, that is, promised it upon oath to them and their posterity. Though the possession had been a great while discontinued, yet God had not forgotten his oath which he swore to their fathers. Though God’s providences may for a time seem to contradict his promises, yet the promise will certainly take place at last, for God will be ever mindful of his covenant. I lifted up my hand to give it, and therefore it shall without fail fall to you for an inheritance. Thus the heavenly Canaan is sure to all the seed, because it is what God, who cannot lie, has promised. 2. It is here circumscribed, and the bounds and limits of it are fixed, which they must not pass over to encroach upon their neighbours and which their neighbours shall not break through to encroach upon them. We had such a draught of the borders of Canaan when Joshua was to put the people in possession of it, Num. 34:1 That begins with the salt sea in the south, goes round and ends there. This begins with Hamath about Damascus in the north, and so goes round and ends there, Ezek. 47:20. Note, It is God that appoints the bounds of our habitation; and his Israel shall always have cause to say that the lines have fallen to them in pleasant places. The lake of Sodom is here called the east sea, for it, being healed by the waters of the sanctuary, it is no more to be called a salt sea, as it was in Numbers. 3. It is here ordered to be divided among the tribes of Israel, reckoning Joseph for two tribes, to make up the number of twelve, when Levi was taken out to attend the sanctuary, and had his lot adjoining to that (Ezek. 47:13, 21): You shall inherit it, one as well as another, Ezek. 47:14. The tribes shall have an equal share, one as much as another. As the tribes returned out of Babylon, this seems unequal, because some tribes were much more numerous than the other, and indeed the most were of Judah and Benjamin and very few of the other ten tribes; but as the twelve tribes stand, in type and vision, for the gospel-church, the Israel of God, it was very equal, because we find in another vision an equal number of each of the twelve tribes sealed for the living God, just 12,000 of each, Rev. 7:5 And to those sealed ones these allotments did belong. It intimates likewise that all the subjects of Christ’s kingdom have obtained like precious faith. Male and female, Jew and Gentile, bond and free, are all alike welcome to Christ and made partakers of him. 4. The strangers who sojourn among them, who shall beget children and be built up into families, and so help to people their country, shall have inheritance among the tribes, as if they had been native Israelites (Ezek. 47:22, 23), which was by no means allowed in Joshua’s division of the land. This is an act for a general naturalization, which would teach the Jews who was their neighbour, not those only of their own nation and religion, but those, whoever they were, that they had an opportunity of showing kindness to, because from them they would be willing to receive kindness. It would likewise invite strangers to come and settle among them, and put themselves under the wings of the divine Majesty. But it certainly looks at gospel-times, when the partition-wall between Jew and Gentile was taken down, and both one in Christ, in whom there is no difference, Rom. 10:12. This land was a type of the heavenly Canaan, that better country (Heb. 11:16), in which believing Gentiles shall have a blessed lot, as well as 507 believing Jews, Isa. 56:3.