JOSHUA - CHAPTER 18
Bible Study - Commentary by Jim Melough
2000 James Melough
and a half tribes, Reuben, Gad, and the half tribe of Manasseh, had received their
inheritance east of Jordan; and two and a half tribes, Judah, Ephraim, and
the other half tribe of Manasseh, had inherited west of Jordan, in
Canaan. It has been noted already that the inheritance east of Jordan
represents our blessings in the midst of earthly circumstances, e.g., the comfort of
knowing that even in the midst of literal poverty we are rich; in the midst of
sickness, we have been made spiritually whole; in bereavement, we sorrow not as
others who have no hope; in uncertainty we have the assurance of God’s provision
portion west of Jordan, on the other hand, represents our eternal spiritual
blessings, unrelated to earthly circumstances, to be enjoyed fully in heaven, but
which may be enjoyed in spirit here and now on earth.
regard to the two and a half tribes who inherited eastward, we have noted that their
fighting men crossed Jordan to assist the other tribes in the conquest of Canaan, and
then recrossed Jordan to enjoy their own inheritance. This is the symbolic revelation of the truth that to enjoy our
inheritance here in the midst of earthly circumstances, we must live as those who
have “crossed Jordan,” i.e., died with Christ, but who have also “recrossed
Jordan” i.e., have been raised up with Him to walk in newness of life here on
earth, Ro 6:4.
other two and a half tribes had also crossed Jordan, but for them there was no
recrossing. They teach the truth that
believers who would enjoy spiritual blessings, even while here on earth, must live as
those who are dead to the world, “For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ
in God,” Col 3:3.
representing praise; Ephraim, fruitfulness; and Manasseh, forgetfulness, combine to
teach us that these things will characterize the spiritual believer, i.e., the man
who, even as he walks in newness of life, walks also as one who is dead to the world.
Praise and worship will be foremost in his life.
The paucity of true worship at the Lord’s table advertises the widespread
failure to walk as those who are dead to the world.
It is not what a man says, but how he worships, that declares his spiritual
will also mark the spiritual believer. His
life will demonstrate the abundance of the fruits of the Spirit.
And forgetfulness will be also characteristic of his life: a forgetting of the
things that are behind, the lure of the world’s wealth, fame, pleasure etc., and a
forgetting also of past failure, but rather a willingness to seize each new day as
opportunity for a fresh start. That the
poet had grasped the necessity of this forgetfulness is beautifully expressed in what
on the heights are not the souls,
never erred, nor went astray
trod unswerving toward their goals,
a smooth rose-bordered way.
those who stand where first comes dawn,
they who stumbled - but went on.
five is the Scriptural number of responsibility, these five tribes, inheriting before
the other seven, teach the truth that every believer is responsible to walk
obediently if he would enjoy all that is his in Christ.
seven tribes had yet to inherit. This
division of their number into five and seven teachs that believers are not only
responsible, but that whatever their faults as men, they are seen by God in all the
perfection of which the number seven is the biblical symbol, for He sees us as we are
in Christ. The total number, twelve (the
number of Divine government on display, reminds us that both individually and
corporately we are to demonstrate that God is the One Who governs our lives.
this brief review, we will now examine the spiritual lessons taught in the assignment
of the lots for the remaining seven tribes.
“And the whole congregation of the children of Israel assembled together at
Shiloh, and set up the tabernacle of the congregation there.
And the land was subdued before them.”
meaning peace bringer: bringer of prosperity, is not only the name of a place,
but also of the Lord Jesus Christ, see Ge 49:10 “The scepter shall not depart from
Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto him shall
the gathering of the people be.” In
that gathering of Israel at Shiloh we have a foreshadowing of the Church gathered,
not to a place on earth, but around the Lord Jesus Christ, His promise being that,
“Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of
them” Mt 18:20. Nor should we miss the
significance of the meanings of Shiloh: those who gather around Him enjoy peace which
passeth understanding, and spiritual prosperity.
the land was subdued before them.” At
that time the conquest of the land was potential, not becoming a reality until the
days of David; and again we see forshadowed truth relative to the Church: today her
dominion of the earth is potential: it won’t be realized until the Lord Himself
returns to inaugurate His millennial kingdom.
“And there remained among the children of Israel seven tribes, which had not
yet received their inheritance.”
we have the experience of the Church foreshadowed, for since seven is the number of
perfection or completeness, and five, the number of responsibility, this division of
the tribes points to the fact that spiritually the Church is in a comparable
position. Some members are here on
earth, responsible to walk in obedience before God, while others have completed their
course and as to their souls are home in heaven, but the Church will not enter into
the enjoyment of her inheritance until all are in heaven.
“And Joshua said unto the children of Israel, How long are ye slack to go to
possess the land, which the Lord God of your fathers hath given you?”
isn’t difficult to see in this a hint of the declension that quickly set in after
the initial conquest of Canaan under Joshua, that declension being itself a
foreshadowing of that which set in in connection with the Church even before the
Apostles had gone home to heaven. The
early days of the Apostolic age were pregnant with
possibility that was never realized,
and experience teaches the sad truth that it is also the pattern of what is so
frequently the personal experience of many believers: the euphoria that follows
conversion is all too often followed by declining love for Christ, and apathy
relative to the things that belong to His kingdom.
“Give out from among you three men of each tribe: and I will send them, and
they shall rise, and go through the land, and describe it according to the
inheritance of them; and they shall come again to me.”
selection of three men from each tribe to go throughout the land to describe it,
i.e., write down its features, has spiritual significance relative to the Church.
In Eph 4:11 we read of five classes of men given to the Church for her
upbuilding, “apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors (elders, and teachers.”
While the first two were for the Apostolic age only, the other three are
permanent gifts, raised up by the Holy Spirit generation after generation, to do
spiritually what the three men from each tribe were to do literally: “describe”
the inheritance that is made available to men through the finished work of the Lord
Jesus Christ. How do they do it?
By setting before others the magnificence of that inheritance: the evangelist
showing it to sinners; the elder, by his example, and the teacher, by his teaching
and example, showing it to saints - the glory of that inheritance being itself the
inducement to men to possess it.
three is the biblical number of resurrection, there being three men from each tribe
chosen to do this work, is the symbolic reminder that their present day counterparts
must be men who stand on resurrection ground, i.e., they must be believers, for in
spite of the common practice in Christendom which seems to declare the contrary, the
unconverted can render God no service.
and they shall come again to me.” As
they were to return to Joshua to render a full report, so must every believer stand
one day before the Lord at His judgment seat, as it is written, “For we must all
appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that everyone may receive the things done
in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad” 2 Co 5:10.
“And they shall divide it into seven parts: Judah shall abide in their coast in the
south, and the house of Joseph shall abide in their coasts on the north.”
division into seven parts, of the land described in their report, is the symbolic
announcement of the need of dividing the Word (which is the “description” of our
inheritance into parts appropriate to the need of each individual, or of each local
church. Each man has his own special
needs, as does also each local church. The
Lord’s evangelists need to be sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit as they
seek to lead men to the Savior, for the Gospel message that will convict one sinner
is not necessarily the same one that will convict another.
Likewise elders and teachers will minister effectively to God’s people only
as they themselves are governed by the Word, and are yielded to the leading of the
fact that Judah and the Josephite tribes, Ephraim and Manasseh, were to remain in the
territories already given them, emphasizes the fact that the allotments for the
remaining tribes were not to change those already assigned to these other three, and
for a good reason. They, as already
noted, represent praise, fruitfulness, and forgetfulness of what is past, and the
lesson God would teach us here is that nothing is to be allowed to distract us from
worship, for worship is far more important than any service we might render.
It is for this very reason that we come in on the first day of the week to
present our worship, and only then do we go out to serve.
Ephraim’s lot was not to be disturbed for he represents fruitfulness, and no
service however important it may seem, is to be permitted to interfer with the
production of fruit in our lives. John
chapter 15 should be studied carefully here.
was Manasseh’s lot to be altered, for he represents the principle of forgetfulness.
Remembering past failures will only cause sorrow and discourgement; and
dwelling on past victories, real or imagined, will beget pride.
being repeated that Judah’s lot was in the south (the biblical direction of faith,
is to teach us that true worship is impossible apart from a walk of faith.
And its being repeated that the lot of the house of Joseph was in the north
(the biblical direction of human intelligence, often opposed to God, but in the
present context Spirit directed, is to remind us of the need of spiritual
intelligence in the things of God, that intelligence, incidentally, being as
different from worldly intelligence as day is from night.
these three tribes represent is fundamental to successful Christian living.
“Ye shall therefore describe the land into seven parts, and bring the
description hither to me, that I may cast lots for you here before the Lord our
means of the lot, God assigned each his portion in the land, the figurative reminder
that it is He Who assigns each believer his portion in life. Faith to believe that perfect knowledge combines with perfect love
to make that assignment, will silence all complaint, and produce perfect contentment
with what our heavenly Father has seen fit to give us.
lots varied: some were desert, some well watered, some were mountainous, some meadow,
some were wooded, others treeless. But
whatever the character of the lot, it was assigned by the God Who knew exactly what
was best for the one to whom it was given. So is it with us. Does
another have better health than I, more money, a keener intelligence, a spiritual
gift that sets him in the public eye, while mine confines me to relative obscurity?
All complaint will be silenced by realizing that it is a loving heavenly
Father who has assigned me my lot in life, the revelation of the wisdom of His choice
being reserved for that day when we meet Him face to face in heaven.
details are given as to how Joshua cast lots, but since the word lots is
associated with the use of smooth stones, it may be that it was by use of Urim and
Thummim, the two stones kept in the high priest’s breastplate, and used in
ascertaining God’s will, the one stone possibly representing No, and the other,
Yes. Since, however, no details are
given, the method is unimportant; but what is important is to realize that the
“drawing of lots,” or any other devices involving chance, are not to be used
today to ascertain God’s will. With
the canon of Scripture now complete, His will is revealed in the written Word, either
in direct statement or in principle; and in cases not covered by these we should
simply wait for His guidance to be made clear through circumstances as He opens and
“But the Levites have no part among you; for the priesthood of the Lord is
their inheritance: and Gad, and Reuben, and half the tribe of Manasseh, have received
their inheritance beyond Jordan on the east, which Moses the servant of the Lord gave
meaning joined, sets before us typologically another characteristic of
believers. We are joined to Christ, and
therefore to God, eternally. And the
priesthood of the Levites is a picture of our own, for in 1 Pe 2:9 we have the
assurance, “Ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood....” As they were given no possession in Canaan, neither have we been
given any inheritance here on earth, our blessings being heavenly, not earthly, as it
is written, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath
blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places (things in Christ” Eph
additional comments on Levi please see the notes on 3:3; 8:33; 13:14,33 and 14:3,4.
to the fact that “Gad and Reuben, and half the tribe of Manasseh, have received
their inheritance beyond Jordan on the east, which Moses the servant of the Lord gave
them,” as has been noted already, these two and a half tribes represent believers
as those, who having been crucified with Christ, have been raised up with Him to walk
in newness of life, Ro 6:4, here amid all the circumstances that attend our way on
additional comments on Gad, Reuben, and Manasseh, please see notes on 4:12; 13:7, 15,
23, 24, 28; 14:4.
“And the men arose, and went away: and Joshua charged them that went to
describe the land, saying, Go and walk through the land, and describe it, and come
again to me, that I may here cast lots for you before the Lord in Shiloh.”
command is almost identical to that given Abraham in Ge 13:17, “Arise, walk through
the land in the length of it and in the breadth of it....”
God would have His people enjoy to the full all He has given them.
That inheritance is spread before us in the written Word, so that the
spiritual equivalent of their walking through the length and breadth of Canaan, is
for us to explore the Book, claiming by faith all that God there spreads before us,
enjoying now by faith what we will enjoy in all reality for ever in heaven.
it is repeated, “...that I may here cast lots for you before the Lord in Shiloh.”
God would emphasize that our portion is assigned by One Who knows us and our
needs better than we know ourselves. “...
in Shiloh peace bringer: bringer of prosperity emphasizes that as we are
content with His appointment of our lot in life, there will be peace and spiritual
“And the men went and passed through the land, and described it by cities
into seven parts in a book, and came again to Joshua to the host at Shiloh.”
perfection of the inheritance is indicated again in that it was divided into seven
(number of perfection parts. Since the
cities of Israel represent the local churches of this present age, and since genuine
believers constitute those churches, the words “by cities” assure us that every
believer is heir of an eternal inheritance. Its
being described “in a book” reminds us that our inheritance is also described in
a Book, and we will enjoy what God has given us only as we acquaint ourselves with
“And Joshua cast lots for them in Shiloh before the Lord: and there Joshua
divided the land unto the children of Israel according to their divisions.”
Joshua is a type of Christ as Captain of our salvation; and Shiloh, a type of Him in
the midst of His people bringing them peace and prosperity, the mention of them here
again confirms what we have already considered: it is Christ Who assigns the portion
of each believer, and that portion is for his blessing when accepted as God’s
“good, and acceptable, and perfect will” Ro 12:2.
means sections or courses, and is related to the idea of smooth stones,
so that here it appears to mean the divisions of the land as determined by Joshua’s
use of the lot.
“And the lot of the tribe of the children of Benjamin came up according to
their families: and the coast of their lot came forth between the children of Judah
and the children of Joseph."
was the first lot assigned after the survey of the land, and it is appropriate that
since one is the number of God Himself, the first lot should be assigned to the one
who speaks so clearly of Christ, for Benjamin means son of the right hand.
has been noted already, each one of the tribal names represents a characteristic
belonging to us as God’s redeemed people: Judah praise declaring that we are
to be a praising people; Ephraim fruitful reminding us that we are to be
fruitful for God, both in begetting spiritual children (winning converts, and in
producing in our lives the fruits of the Spirit, Ga 5:22-23; Manasseh forgetting
reminding us that, like Paul, we are to forget “those things which are behind, and
reaching forth unto those things which are before (are to press toward the mark for
the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus,” Php 3:13-14.
whose lot we are now to consider, means son of the right hand, and in
him is declared the truth that we too are sons of God’s right hand, the hand of
power; and as the Lord Jesus Christ, the true Son of His right hand, has been endowed
with all power, “All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth,” Mt 28:18, so
have we also been endowed with power, for the Holy Spirit who indwells every
believer, is God, so that we can say, “I can do all things through Christ who
strengthenth me,” Php 4:13.
his brother Joseph who portrays Christ ascending the throne by way of humiliation and
anguish, there is no suffering recorded of Benjamin. He represents the Lord as He will be when He returns to reign as
King of kings, and Lord of lords. Benjamin
reminds us that, “If we suffer (endure, we shall also reign with Him,” 2 Tim
follows therefore that the geographical details of Benjamin’s lot should point
symbolically to what relates to us as spiritual Benjamites here on earth; and while
limited knowledge may hinder our understanding the spiritual significance of every
detail, enough can be understood to confirm that this is so.
map of the tribal territories reveals that Benjamin’s lot was bounded on the east
by the Jordan; on the north, by the lot of Ephraim and Manasseh, referred to here as
Joseph; on the west, by Dan, though Dan isn’t mentioned here; and on the south, by
Judah. Its being said that the lot lay between Judah and Joseph, the truth being
declared symbolically is that as spiritual Benjamites we are to be characterized by
the praise which Judah represents; and the fruitfulness and wise forgetfulness of
which Ephraim and Manasseh speak.
“And their border on the north side was from Jordan; and the border went up
to the side of Jericho on the north side, and went up through the mountains westward;
and the goings out thereof were at the wilderness of Bethaven.”
the Jordan was also the east border of Judah, Ephraim, and Manasseh, and since its
spiritual significance is the same as there, the notes on those three tribes should
be reviewed here. Jericho likewise
teaches the same lesson here as where previously discussed, so that the reader should
review the notes on 2:1; all of chapter 6; 12:9 and 16:1.
as the lot began at Jordan, the truth being taught is that for us too our spiritual
inheritance began at “Jordan,” for we had no inheritance until we saw ourselves
first as having died in Christ, and then as living eternally in that same Christ
raised again for our justification.
the north is the Biblical direction that speaks of intelligence, as the south does of
faith, Ephraim’s being Benjamin’s northern border, reminds us that the
fruitfulness which Ephraim represents, goes hand in hand with Spirit-directed
intelligence. But since the Spirit’s
direction is not apart from obedience, the necessity of obedience is self-evident.
border is traced running westward, and for good reason.
As the east represents departure from God, the west speaks of approach to Him.
Every believer is spiritually travelling westward, and the end of the journey
will find us standing in the very presence of God.
(praise, in the south (direction of faith, was the southern border, a fact which
declares typologically that the power which Benjamin represents is as close a
companion of praise and worship as it is also of spiritual intelligence.
western border was Dan meaning judging: a judge, reminding us that power and
judgment, particulalrly self judgment, go together.
Only as we judge the things of the world by the standards of heaven; and live
our lives in view of the judgment seat of Christ, will there be power to live our
lives for God’s glory, and our own eternal profit.
the territories of these four tribes were contiguous, so are the spiritual things
they represent. Power, praise, spiritual
intelligence, and wise judgment constitute a cluster of inseparable spiritual
meaning house of vanity, is believed to have been the original name of Ai
which means the heap of ruins, and its being named here as one of Benjamin’s
boundary points sounds the warning that pursuit of the things of this world will
bring ruin, for they are all vanity (emptiness, worthlessness.
“And the border went over from thence towards Luz, to the side of Luz, which
is Bethel, southward; and the border descended to Ataroth-adar, near the hill that
lieth on the south side of the nether Beth-horon.”
meaning perverse, was the Canaanite name of the city of Bethel, and it is
meant to remind us that those who aren’t of God’s house, i.e., unbelievers, are
perverse in His sight, being characterized by stubborn rebellion against Him.
the spiritual significance of Ataroth-adar, please see comments on 16:5; and for
“And the border was drawn thence, and compassed the corner of the sea
southward, from the hill that lieth before Beth-horon southward; and the goings out
thereof were at Kirjath-baal, which is Kirjath-jearim, a city of the children of
Judah: this was the west quarter.”
review the notes on 15:9 for the spiritual significance of Kirjath-jearim.
is instructive to note also that “this was the west quarter,” the direction that
speaks of approach to God. He who dwells
spiritually in the west, i.e., near to God, is he who has most to offer in
praise and worship, and who has also the greatest concern for the souls of men.
“And the south quarter was from the end of Kirjath-jearim, and the border
went out on the west, and went out to the well of waters of Nephtoah:”
in this verse has a good connotation, for the south quarter speaks of faith; and the
west, of approach to God. A vibrant
faith cannot survive apart from “the well of waters of Nephtoah,” the living
water of the written Word which is the presentation of Him Who is the living Word.
See also comments on 15:9.
“And the border came down to the end of the mountain that lieth before the
valley of the son of Hinnom, and which is in the valley of the giants on the north,
and descended to the valley of Hinnom, to the side of Jebusi (Jerusalem on the south,
and descended to Enrogel.”
the places mentioned in this verse have been discussed in our study of 15:7-8, and it
is suggested that the reader review those notes, since the spiritual significance is
the same here as there.
“And was drawn from the north, and went forth to Enshemish, and went forth
toward Geliloth, which is over against the going up of Adummim, and descended to the
stone of Bohan the son of Reuben.”
Enshemish, Adummim, Bohan have already been discussed in our study of 15:6-7; Reuben,
in 4:12; 13:23, it leaves only Geliloth to be examined here.
means circles: borders, and is to remind us, that as believers, we dwell
within a sphere whose borders have been appointed by God; and inasmuch as a circle is
the biblical symbol of what is eternal, there is the further assurance that we dwell
within the circle of His love which is eternal, as it is written concerning Israel,
and therefore of every believer, “I have loved thee with an everlasting love” Jer
“And passed along toward the side over against Arabah northward, and went
down unto Arabah:”
meaning desert plain, reminds us that this world through which we pass on our
way to heaven is a spiritual desert, and the reference to the north, which speaks of
human intelligence, sounds the warning that that intelligence is a dangerous thing
when used in independence of God. See
also additional comments on 15:6.
“And the border passed along to the side of Beth-hoglah northward: and the
outgoings of the border were at the north bay of the salt sea at the south end of
Jordan: this was the south coast.”
meaning house of the languished feast, has been discussed in 15:6, so that it
is necessary here to note only the repeated mention of the north, and to heed the
warning relative to mere human intelligence working in independence of God.
linking together here of the north bay of the salt or Dead sea (symbol of hell and
the lake of fire; and the south end of Jordan (symbol of death, emphasizes the
warning relative to human intelligence. Where
there is ignorance concerning the scriptural order governing the observance of the
Lord’s Supper, there may be also ignorance relative to what constitutes genuine
conversion. Multitudes, professing to
have been born again, can give no convincing testimony as to how, where, and when
their conversion occurred. It is to be
feared that many of them have been deluded into thinking that mere belief in the
historicity of Christ is saving faith. It
isn’t. One may believe everything
about Christ, but if he doesn’t also believe that it was his sins that required
Christ to die, he is not saved. It is
unimaginable tragedy to go through life mistaking an intellectual knowledge of Christ
for conversion, only to discover with horror, and too late for remedy, that
“Jordan” has ended in the “Dead Sea” instead of heaven.
“And Jordan was the border of it on the east side.
This was the inheritance of the children of Benjamin, by the coasts thereof
round about, according to their families.”
the east speaks of sin and departure from God; and since the Jordan represents death,
the spiritual significance of this eastern border isn’t hard to read.
It is his vicarious death with Christ that has brought the believer from the
east, the place of condemnation and separation from God, which he once occupied
spiritually, into the place of acceptance, light and life.
It is Jordan, his death with Christ, that is “the border” between
every believer and his former state of condemnation and death.
A Benjamite’s going eastward across Jordan therefore is the figure or type
of a believer’s returning to his former state, i.e., living in disobedience.
Since it was the obedience of faith that brought us “across Jordan,” from
death to life, it follows that disobedience is a re-crossing that returns us to the
place of death. (A believer can never
lose his salvation, but disobedience returns him to a state in which he might as well
be dead, for disobedience is the fruit of a state of death, not life - it is
worthless for eternity.
is a denial of our Benjamite character, for as has been noted already, each tribe
represents a characteristic of faith, and Benjamin son of the right hand is
meant to remind us that as all power has been given unto the One Who is our Head (Mt
28:18, so is that same power ours, making us “more than conquerors through Him that
loved us” (Ro 9:37, enabling us to provide practical evidence in our daily lives
that “I (we can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me (us” Php
“Now the cities of the tribe of the children of Benjamin according to their
families were Jericho, and Beth-hoglah, and the valley of Keziz"
been given Benjamin’s border points we are now presented with the list of his
is one whose spiritual significance is easily read.
As noted already, it represents the splendor of the world as perceived by man.
Its passing from Canaanite to Benjamite possession therefore reminds us that
since Christ our Head has overcome the world, Jn.16:33, we should not permit the
world to overcome us. See also 2:1;
chapter 6; 12:9 and 16:1 for additional comments on Jericho; and for the spiritual
significance of Beth-hoglah, see the notes on 15:6.
means cutting off, and its being listed with Jericho and Beth-hoglah, both of
which have a bad connotation, indicates that it too is smybolic of bad rather than
good. Since the valley is symbolic of
the sphere of fruitfulness and service, Its being called “the valley” of Keziz
points to the fact that the lesson has to do with the cutting off of fruit bearing
and service. There is constant need to
guard against anything that would hinder spiritual fruitfulness and Spirit directed
“And Beth-arabah, and Zemaraim, and Bethel,”
the desert house may be intended to remind us that it is only for a few brief
years that we who comprise God’s house, must abide here in the spiritual desert of
a rebel world; while Bethel house of God would focus attention on the heavenly
character of that house, and remind us that our brief sojourn in the desert will be
followed by a glorious eternity in our Father’s house in heaven.
to Beth-arabah, please see also the notes on 15:6; and for Bethel, the notes on 12:16
means double woolens, and since wool invariably has a good association in
Scripture, we are justified in looking for a good significance here.
In Isa 1:18 we read, “... though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as
white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool,” and in Da
7:9 and Re 1:14 Christ’s hair is described as being like wool.
Zemaraim therefore teaches at least one lesson relative to the holiness of
those who belong to Christ: we are responsible to display in our lives the holiness
which is ours by Divine imputation, as it is written, “But as he which hath called
you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation (living; because it is
written, Be ye holy; for I am holy” 1 Pe 1:15-16. See also Le 11:44-45.
woolens reminds us that the holiness is not just to be an outward show as it was with
the Pharisees of Christ’s day. God,
Who looks on the heart, must see the same holiness as meets the eye of man.
“And Avim, Parah, and Ophrah,”
perverters alerts us to the fact that right in our midst are those of whom
Paul warned in Ac 20:30, “Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking
perverse things (distorted things, perversions of truth, wrong teaching, false
doctrines, to draw away disciples after them.”
Only the spiritually blind will fail to perceive the activity of the Avites
in the midst of God’s people today. The
placing of this city under Benjamite control is the symbolic warning that we are not
to permit the activity of the men represented by the inhabitants of Avim.
means he increased: heifer. Since
a heifer is used frequently in Scripture as a type of Christ putting away our sins
through His death, see Nu 19:2-17; Dt 21:1-9, the linking together here of the heifer
and increase may be to remind us that spiritual increase or blessing comes to each
man who is linked by faith to Christ.
meaning dustiness: fawn-like, reminds us that disobedience brings death, as our disobedience brought Christ
“into the dust of death” Ps 22:15. Ophrah
represents this world: the place of death (dustiness.
Even in the midst of Israel’s idolatry, for which they should have died, God
having Calvary in view, could draw near to give deliverance and blessing, if the
people would but repent and return to Him. Nor
has the principle changed. Those, who
because of sin, lie in the dust of death, can be delivered and blessed if they will
but repent and trust in Him, Who on Calvary’s tree, was brought into the dust of
death as our Substitute, dying there the death we should have died, and by that
vicarious death making full atonement for all our sins.
second meaning fawn-like points to Christ as the innocent One Who willingly
assumed responsibility for our sins.
the fawn is the female of the species, and the female speaks of submission of the
will, we are reminded also of Christ’s perfect submission to His Father’s will.
It was even unto death on the cross.
“And Chephar-haammonai, and Ophni, and Gaba; twelve cities with their
means the covert of the Ammonites: the village of the Ammonites.
While covert can have a good or a bad connotation, depending on the context,
its association here with the Ammonites makes it clear that it is to be understood in
a bad sense, for they were descended from the second son of Lot, incestuously
begotten by his younger daughter. They
represent the flesh disguised under the mask of false profession in close association
with rationalism and the intellect. This
city therefore speaks of the secret hiding place of an enemy, for throughout
Scripture the Ammonites are portrayed as the enemies of God and His people.
The warning could scarcely be clearer. The
enemy portrayed by the Ammonite is almost invariably found skulking amongst true
believers, covertly seeking to displace faith with rationalism.
We must exercise constant vigilance against this foe, for his evil activity
has wrought havoc in the churches.
means my flying, with my darkness as a possible second meaning, but I
regret being unable to see what lesson attaches to either.
Grant, however, in the Numerical Bible, suggests that the meaning may be to
become mouldy, and he writes, “Certain it is that it is where decay has come
in, we find a soul ready to take part with the Ammonite.
Decay shows already that the freshness of first love is gone.
Christ is not what He was to it; and here is the enemy’s opportunity to
tamper with His image, and bring in something which seems, perhaps, at first, to be
only a new point of knowledge. But it is
leaven in the meal, and it works as leaven: by degrees the whole is leavened; there
is another Christ, and not the old one.”
means elevation or hill, and reminds us of the high ground to which
faith in Christ has lifted us; but it reminds us also of the need to spend much time
alone with God in study and prayer, far above the distractions of earth.
Only as we reserve time each day to go up to the “hill” will we prosper
spiritually and be able to demonstrate the Benjamite character in our lives.
twelve cities with their villages.” As
noted already, twelve is the number of Divine government on display, e.g., the twelve
tribes of Israel were the revelaion to the nations that obedience brought blessing;
and disobedience, chastisement. We, the
Church, “built upon the foundation of the (twelve apostles....” Eph 2:20, are the
revelation of the same truth to the nations today.
“Gibeon, and Ramah, and Beeroth,”
meaning little hill: hilly, simply emphasizes the principle of Gaba, the
repetition of the lesson stressing its importance.
For additional details concerning Gibeon, please review the notes on 9:3-7;
10:2-6, and 11:19.
means the height, and its obvious correlation with Gaba and Gibeon continues
to emphasize the importance of the spiritual lesson.
meaning wells, is the symbolic assurance that we have what the wells
represent: the Scriptures, the wells of living water for our refreshment and
“And Mizpeh, and Chephirah, and Mozah,”
meaning a watchtower, portrays the truth that heaven is the watchtower from
which God observes the conduct of saint and sinner alike, the saint’s obedience
being rewarded with a treasure to be enjoyed eternally in heaven, while the
disobedience of the sinner will be recompensed with torment to be endured eternally
in the lake of fire.
Chephirah, meaning the village: covert, with lion or lioness a
possible third meaning, has been discussed in 9:17, the reader should review those
means wringing out: sucking out, and the lesson being taught in the sucking
out is of the need for new believers, spiritual babes, to obey the command given by
Peter, “As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow
thereby” 1 Pe 2:2. Wringing out, on
the other hand, has to do with more mature believers. Their study of the Word should be more intensive, involving
careful searching for the spiritual message being conveyed by the literal language.
As water is wrung out of a cloth by twisting and squeezing, so is the meaning
of Scripture to be “wrung out,” not just by casual reading, but by diligent
study, which obviously involves time and effort.
present abysmal ignorance of Scripture so apparent amongst professing Christians
today, announces all to clearly that “Mozah,” instead of being possessed and
enjoyed, has been left undisputed in the hand of the Canaanite.
“And Rekem, and Irpeel, and Taralah,”
meaning embroidery: variegation, has been discussed in our study of 13:21, the
notes on which should be reviewed here, since the spiritual application is the same
meaning God will heal, scarcely needs comment.
Just as He will heal (save the sinner who repents and trusts in Christ, so
will He heal (restore the saint who repents and confesses his sin, as it is written,
“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to
cleanse us from all unrighteousness” 1 Jn 1:9.
day is not far off when all creation will be blessed by that healing power.
At the rapture, these mortal bodies will experience that transforming touch;
and in the Millennium, a creation which now “groaneth and travaileth in pain” Ro
8:23, “shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty
of the children of God” Ro 8:21. As
Irpeel lay in the territory of Benjamin, so does the hope which Irpeel represents,
lie within the province of faith for the encouragement of every spiritual Benjamite.
meaning release the curse, emphasizes the same truth.
It points to a day when there will be no more curse, Re 22:3.
But there is additional instruction to be found in connection with this city.
It is the Gospel that releases men from the curse incurred by Adam’s
disobedience, and every spiritual Benjamite has been given the commission, “Go ye
into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature,” Mk 16:15.
“And Zelah, Eleph, and Jebusi, which is Jerusalem, Gibeath, and Kirjath;
fourteen cities with their villages. This
is the inheritance of the children of Benjamin according to their families.”
meaning limping: one-sided, may point to the character of our manner of life.
Like Mephibosheth who was lame on both his feet, we too exhibit “lameness”
and lack of balance in our lives spiritually. There
is almost invariably continual fluctation between zeal and apathy, between love and
coldness of heart. We tend to be on one
side of the road or the other. We lack
balance. How different was the life of
means a thousand: a disciple. As
the first letter of the alphabet it is spelled Aleph or Alpha, a fact
which links it with a disciple, i.e., a learner, for obviously the alphabet
can’t be separated from learning. The
letter is also used to signify a thousand or a very large number.
The lesson therefore is that there will be spiritual increase as we devote
outselves to studying and obeying the written Word.
the Canaanite name of Jerusalem, and meaning he will be trodden down, has been
discussed in our study of 15:8, the notes on which should be reviewed here.
means hilliness, and since it has the same meaning and spiritual significance
as Gibeon which has been discussed in our study of 9:3,5-7; 10:2-6 and 11:19, it is
suggested that the reader review those notes.
means a city, and it is generally assumed to refer here to Kirjath-jearim
which has been discussed in our study of 15:9 the notes on which should be reviewed
since the spiritual application is the same as here.18:21.
concludes the description of Benjamin’s inheritance, and since the factors of
fourteen are two and seven, its being said to embrace fourteen cities
has also a lesson to teach. Since two is
the number of witness or testimony; and seven, of perfection or completeness, these
fourteen cities are the reminder that we as spiritual Benjamites, are responsible to
be witnesses for the Lord Jesus Christ. Perfection
is God’s ideal in this as in eveything else, and our failure to achieve that
perfection should not be allowed to discourage us to the point where we cease to be
His witnesses. Whatever the failures of
today, tomorrow affords opportunity for a fresh start.