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LECTURE 394. Of sharing our abundance with the needy. It was against Simeon and Levi that Jacob of old spake these words: “ Cursed be their anger, for it was fierce; and their wrath, for it was cruel: I will divide them in Jacob, and scatter them in Israel.” Gen. 49. 7. In the lot of the tribe of Simeon we see the words of Jacob fulfilled, as far as their dispersion was concerned; in a manner calculated to shew the displeasure of God. For this one tribe had its inheritance within the inheritance of another. And by this means the tribe of Simeon lost much of its importance, as a separate tribe, in the commonwealth of Israel. And yet there was mercy vouchsafed, even accompanying this note of dishonour, put upon the offspring of Simeon. For it must be observed, that both Judah and Simeon had Leah for their mother. And this link of affection, strong as it always is, would be stronger in a case where one father had more wives and more families than one. So that if the tribe of Simeon was to be placed within the borders of any other, a situation involving risk of jealousy and strife, it was a mercy that this other tribe should be one of those, which looked up to Leah as its mother.
The reason assigned for placing Simeon within Judah's borders is this, “ the part of the children of Judah was too much for them : therefore the children of Simeon bad their inheritance within the inheritance of them.” That is to say, when the survey of the land was made, as appointed by Joshua at Shiloh, see ch. 18. 6, it appeared that Judah, which had previously taken its inheritance, would occupy more than its share of territory. And it having been settled that one allotment should be taken out of this district, this allotment fell by lot to the tribe of Simeon. This arrangement appears to have been agreed to by the men of Judah, without any remonstrance on their part, or any endeavour to secure to themselves the whole extent of their original possessions. Yet those amongst ourselves, who have far more than they can possibly want, are often apt to murmur against God, if He takes from them a part, in the order of his providence, to bestow it on those who have not enough. Whether we think of the first establishment of the Israelites in Canaan, or whether we reflect on the first settlement of the Christian church, when the disciples had all things in common, see Acts 2. 44, we shall be inclined to think, that it would be better for the wealthy and the great to divide some of their possessions amongst the needy, than to aim, as they are often tempted, to “join house to house,” and “lay field to field, till there be no place, that they may dwell alone in the midst of the earth.” Is. 5. 8. Whatsoever then be our portion of this world's goods, let us search diligently how much we ought to spare, for relieving the necessities of our neighbours. And whereinsoever we find that we have too much for ourselves, let us cheerfully admit those who have too little to share our more ample inheritance.
The inheritances of Asher, Naphthali, Dan; and of Joshua. 24 And the fifth lot came out to Asher on the west side, and for the tribe of the children of to Judah upon Jordan toward Asher according to their families. the sunrising.
25 And their border was Hel- 35 And the fenced cities are kath, and Hali, and Beten, and Ziddim, Zer, and Hammath, Achshaph,
Rakkath, and Chinnereth, 26 And Alammelech, and A- 36 And Adamah, and Ramah, mad, and Misheal; and reach- and Hazor, eth to Carmel westward, and to 37 And Kedesh, and Edrei, Shihor-libnath;
and En-hazor, 27 And turneth toward the 38 And Iron, and Migdal-el, sunrising to Beth-dagon, and Horem, and Beth-anath, and reacheth to Zebulun, and to the Beth-shemesh; nineteen cities valley of Jiphthah-el toward the with their villages. north side of Beth-emek, and 39 This is the inheritance of the Neiel, and goeth out to Cabul tribe of the children of Naphtali on the left hand,
according to their families, the 28 And Hebron, and Rehob, cities and their villages. and Hammon, and Kanah, even 40 And the seventh lot came out unto great Zidon;
for the tribe of the children of 29 And then the coast turneth Dan according to their families. to Ramah, and to the strong 41 And the coast of their incity Tyre; and the coast turneth heritance was Zorah, and Esbto Hosah; and the outgoings taol, and Ir-shemesh, thereof are at the sea from the 42 And Shaalabbin, and Ajacoast to Achzib:
lon, and Jethlah, 30 Ummah also, and Aphek, 43 And Elon, and Thimnaand Rehob: twenty and two thah, and Ekron, cities with their villages. 44 And Eltekeh, and Gibbe
31 This is the inheritance of the thon, and Baalath, tribe of the children of Asher 45 And Jehud, and Beneaccording to their families, these berak, and Gath-rimmon, cities with their villages.
46 And Me-jarkon, and Rakkon, 32 The sixth lot came out to with the border before Japho. the children of Naphtali, even 47 And the coast of the childfor the children of Naphtali ac- ren of Dan went out too little cording to their families. for them: therefore the children
33 And their coast was from of Dan went up to fight against Heleph, from Allon to Zaanan- Leshem, and took it, and smote nim, and Adami, Nekeb, and it with the edge of the sword, Jabneel, unto Lakum; and the and possessed it, and dwelt thereoutgoings thereof were atJordan: in, and called Leshem, Dan, after
34 And then the coast turneth the name of Dan eir father. westward to Aznoth-tabor, and 48 This is the inheritance of goeth out from thence to Huk- the tribe of the children of Dan kok, and reacheth to Zebulun according to their families, these on the south side, and reacheth cities with their villages.
49 When they had made an end 51 These are the inheritances, of dividing the land for inherit- which Eleazar the priest, and ance by their coasts, the children Joshua the son of Nun, and of Israel gave an inheritance to Jo- the heads of the fathers of the shua the son of Nunamong them: tribes of the children of Israel, 50 According to the word of the divided for an inheritance by LORD they gave him the city lot in Shiloh before the LORD, which he asked, even Timnath- at the door of the tabernacle of serah in mount Ephraim: and he the congregation. So they made built the city, and dwelt therein. an end of dividing the country.
LECTURE 395. We may depend upon God's giving us the recompence of reward.
The taking of Leshem by the Danites did not happen till some time after Joshua's death; as we learn from the Book of Judges. Ch. 18. This verse therefore, like some others in the earlier books of Scripture, must have been added, in the way of annotation, by one of the later sacred writers, in order to complete the register of the territory, which formed the portion of the tribe of Dan. Such additions prove what constant pains were taken, under the divine controul, for rendering these antient books perfect for their purpose, as records of God's dealings with his people; to shew to them, and us, what great things He had done for them, what great gifts He had given them, how abundantly He had fulfilled his promises, how bountifully He had distributed his rewards.
We see in the case of Joshua, as well as in that of Caleb, see Ch. 14. 13, that whilst each family had its share of land, there was a special portion allotted to those, whose services were entitled to a distinguished recompence. And it was “according to the word of the Lord” that the children of Israel gave to Joshua “ the city which he asked, even Timnath-serah in mount Ephraim.” Let us aim to do God the utmost service that we can. He, as we are assured in the Epistle to the Hebrews, He is not unrighteous, to forget our work and labour of love which we shew towards his name. See Heb. 6. 10. Let us therefore, as we are exhorted in the same passage, “be not slothful, but followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises.” Heb. 6. 12. And let us all remember for our comfort, that in order to our being reckoned to serve God much, it is not necessary that we should be eminent in rank, station, wealth, or ability. They that are least on earth may become first in the kingdom of heaven; where our services are estimated and our place allotted, according to our faith and love, according to our humility, piety, resignation in suffering, patience in well doing, and contentedness and thankfulness in every thing: May God give us grace to "press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus!" Phil. 3. 14. May God enable us to feel, as the time of our departure draws nigh, that henceforth there is laid up for us a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, shall give us at that day! See 2 Tim. 4. 8. The six cities of refuge. 1 The Lord also spake unto gation for judgment, and until the Joshua, saying,
death of the high priest that shall 2 Speak to the children of Is- be in those days: then shall the rael, saying, Appoint out for you slayer return, and come unto his cities of refuge, whereof I spake own city, and unto his own house, unto you by the hand of Moses: unto the city from whence he fled.
3 That the slayer that killeth 7 And they appointed Kedesh any person unawares and un- in Galilee in mount Naphtali, wittingly may flee thither : and and Shechem in mount Ephraim, they shall be your refuge from and Kirjath-arba, which is Hethe avenger of blood. .
bron, in the mountain of Judah. 4 And when he that doth flee And on the other side Jordan unto one of those cities shall by Jericho eastward, they asstand at the entering of the gate signed Bezer in the wilderness of the city, and shall declare upon the plain out of the tribe his cause in the ears of the el- of Reuben, and Ramoth in Giders of that city, they shall take lead out of the tribe of Gad, and him into the city unto them, and Golan in Bashan out of the tribe give him a place, that he may of Manasseh. dwell among them.
9 These were the cities appoint5 And if the avenger of blood ed for all the children of Israel, pursue after him, then they and for the stranger that sojournshall not deliver the slayer up eth among them, that whosoever into his hand; because he smote killeth any person at unawares his neighbour unwittingly, and might flee thither, and not die by hated him not beforetime. the hand of the avenger of blood,
6 And he shall dwell in that city, until he stood before the congreuntil he stand before the congre- gation.
The peril of the ignorant. The appointment of these cities was a merciful provision for the safety of such persons, as might happen to cause the death of a fellow creature unintentionally, who would otherwise have been constantly in danger of being slain by the next of kin to the deceased. It was not designed to screen the guilty from just punishment, but to secure to the accused a fair trial, that he should stand before the congregation for judgment," instead of being hastily put to death, without enquiry as to how far his act was unintentional. When we consider that it was an ordinance of God, that it proceeded from that Being who will hereafter judge the world in righteousness, we may seem here to have good reason for concluding, both that God will in that day make a wide distinction between evil done wilfully and evil done in ignorance; and also that evil done in ignorance is still evil, still offensive towards God, still apt to bring no small amount of trouble, no small risk of suffering and
loss, upon those who inadvertently commit it. He that had slain any person unawares had to leave his house, to remove to another city, to undergo a public trial, and though found guiltless of any ill intention, yet might not return to his own city, and his own house, until the death of the high priest. He who sins in ignorance, he who for want of knowing better dishonours the God who made him, and the Saviour who redeemed him, is by no means in so bad a case, as the man that knows of all God's goodness, and of all his holy will and pleasure, and yet persists in disobedience. But though his case be not so bad as this, yet we have no ground for thinking, that he will stand on the same footing with those, who know God's will, and do it. We have no ground for hesitating to say, that ignorance of the truth, even where we can in no wise trace it to the fault of the individual, is greatly to his loss, and harm. We know it to be thus in the dispensation of God's providence on earth. We see that for want of knowing what would preserve health, or life, many suffer by sickness, and by death. The healing herb may be close at hand; and yet, because it is not known, disease prevails. The friendly harbour may be easily within reach; and yet, because it is not observed, the vessel founders. What a precious charge then is committed to our hands, who know of redemption for all mankind from sin and everlasting death! How much have we to answer for, if we suffer more than half the world to remain in ignorance of that truth, whereby they might be saved !
Undoubtedly it is in some sense unawares that they dishonour the God who made them, by bowing down to stocks and stones. And undoubtedly they are not in a situation to know the full amount of their offences against God, in their cruel wars, and fightings, in their practices of fraud, and oppression, in their sensuality, in their undisguised selfishness. But can we think that the greater part of the whole family of man, the greater part of whole world of God's creatures, can continue thus to live for ages, altogether with impunity? Can we suppose it consistent with his abhorrence of iniquity, that all the laws which He has from time to time revealed, for the guidance and instruction of mankind, can be thus outraged in the face of heaven, by so large a portion of our race, and no man fare the worse for it; and that, when the realms of light and darkness are so little way apart, that a few days' journey shall transport us from the centre of Christendom, to the strong holds of pagan idolatry? Let us feel shocked to think that God is thus dishonoured. Let us feel grieved in our hearts to reflect that so many millions of our brethren are in this imminent peril. Let us do all that in us lies towards apprizing them of the hope that is set before them, that they may fee for refuge, and lay hold on it. See Heb. 6. 18. And for ourselves let us rejoice in the gracious tidings, which we endeavour to communicate to others, that there is now “ no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” Rom. 8. 1.