As I read through the book of Joshua, chapter 13 is one that is tough to read because of the strange names and most of us have little interest in how the land was divided. But, often hidden in chapters like this is a jewel if we take time to look.
You probably know Israel was divided into 12 tribes. Each tribe was named after one of Jacob’s 12 sons. Jacob’s name was changed to Israel and that is why they are called the “Children of Israel”. But did you know there were actually 13 tribes? No, this isn’t some weird new teaching.
One of Jacob’s 12 sons was Joseph but there is no tribe of Joseph. Instead, two tribes were named for Joseph’s sons; Ephraim and Manasseh (Genesis 41:51,52). But that makes 13 tribes so why the miscount and only 12 tribes? We see the answer in Joshua 13.
Joshua 13:33 says the tribe of Levi was not given any land because “the God of Israel, is their inheritance.” In addition to getting no land the Lord also told Moses not to count Levi as one of the tribes because they belonged to Him – 13 tribes but only 12 counted (Numbers 1:49).
Unlucky 13 – they got no land and, like outcasts, don’t get counted – from an earthly perspective seems like a raw deal. But what was their true status? They belonged to God and God belonged to them. They didn’t have symbols of earthly power – land and recognition – but they had a possession that thieves cannot steal, that moths and rust can’t destroy.
Those who merely inherited the earth had to fight, even to this day, to hold on to it. Enemies may steal from you, scheme behind your back and dispossess you but no plan formed against you can succeed when you belong to God and He is your portion.
“Lord, may I rejoice in You as my inheritance and may I always be counted, not among the masses of the world, but as one of Yours.”
Would you agree with that?
1 Peter 1:3-4
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth … into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade—kept in heaven for you.
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