« AnteriorContinuar »
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 Israelgave an inheritance toJo- the heads of the fathers of the shua the son of Nun among 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 bad 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. i 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 8 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 una ares 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 gross sensuality, in their undisguised selfishness. But can we think that the greater part of the whole family of man, the greater part of a 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 flee 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.
Cities are allotted to the Levites. 1 Then came near the heads hand of Moses. of the fathers of the Levites 9 And they gave out of the unto Eleazar the priest, and unto tribe of the children of Judah, Joshua the son of Nun, and unto and out of the tribe of the childthe heads of the fathers of the ren of Simeon, these cities tribes of the children of Israel; which are here mentioned by
2 And they spake unto them name, at Shiloh in the land of Canaan, 10 Which the children of Aasaying, The LORD commanded ron, being of the families of the by the hand of Moses to give us Kohathites, who were of the cities to dwell in, with the sub- children of Levi, had: for their's urbs thereof for our cattle. was the first lot.
3 And the children of Israel 11 And they gave them the gave unto the Levites out of city of Arba the father of Anak, their inheritance, at the com- which city is Hebron, in the hill mandment of the LORD, these country of Judah, with the subcities and their suburbs.
urbs thereof round about it. 4 And the lot came out for the 12 But the fields of the city, families of the Kohathites : and and the villages thereof, gave the children of Aaron the priest, they to Caleb the son of Jewhich were of the Levites, had phunneh for his possession. by lot out of the tribe of Judah, 13 Thus they gave to the and out of the tribe of Simeon, children of Aaron the priest and out of the tribe of Benja- Hebron with her suburbs, to be min, thirteen cities.
a city of refuge for the slayer; 5 And the rest of the children and Libnah with her suburbs, of Kohath had by lot out of the 14 And Jattir with her subfamilies of the tribe of Ephraim, urbs, and Eshtemoa with her and out of the tribe of Dan, and suburbs, out of the half tribe of Manas- 15 And Holon with her subseh, ten cities.
urbs, and Debir with her sub6 And the children of Gershon urbs, had by lot out of the families of 16 And Ain with her suburbs, the tribe of Issachar, and out of and Juttah with her suburbs, the tribe of Asher, and out of and Beth-shemesh with her subthe tribe of Naphtali, and out of urbs; nine cities out of those the half tribe of Manasseh in two tribes. Bashan, thirteen cities.
17 And out of the tribe of Ben7 The children of Merari by jamin, Gibeon with her suburbs, their families had out of the Geba with her suburbs, tribe of Reuben, and out of the 18 Anathoth with her suburbs, tribe of Gad, and out of the tribe and Almon with her suburbs; of Zebulun, twelve cities. four cities.
8 And the children of Israel 19 All the cities of the chilgave by lot unto the Levites dren of Aaron, the priests, were these cities with their suburbs, thirteen cities with their subas the LORD commanded by the urbs.
The excellency of all that God doeth. The cities given to the families of the tribe of Levi were so arranged, as to distribute this tribe throughout all parts of the land; it being designed that they should not only minister in their turn at the religious ceremonies of the tabernacle, but also should be helpful to their brethren, in keeping charge of the Law, and in explaining it as interpreters, see Lev. 10. 11, and also in enforcing it as magistrates. See Deut. 17.9. Their cities were to be centres from which the light of knowledge, and the kind offices of humanity, and the sound principles of due subordination, might be spread abroad in the surrounding neighbourhood. This is indeed no uncommon case with the dwellings of the clergy in our highly favoured land. And happy is it both for the minister and the people, when he who has to preach the tidings of another life, is found also to be a friend and benefactor in the things of this present world. We know that our Lord Himself went about doing good, not only to the souls, but also to the bodies, of those whom He visited when on earth. And on the strength of his example, as well as out of regard to those duties which the Levites discharged amongst the rest of the tribes, we may assuredly be thankful, when those who preach the glad tidings of salvation, are at the same time able to promote the temporal comforts and advantages of the people committed to their charge.
It is remarkable that in the allotment of these cities to the tribe of Levi, those which fell to the children of Aaron were all within the borders of Judah, Simeon, and Benjamin; and were therefore nigh at hand to Jerusalem, the place which God would finally choose, to put his name there. The residence of the priests in these cities might appear to be inconvenient, whilst the tabernacle was pitched at Shiloh, in the tribe of Ephraim. But when it was moved to the hill of Sion, and there the temple built immoveably, then it would be evident, that God foresees the end from the beginning; then it would be proved, that whatsoever He ordains is always for the best. How many of his dispensations seem now open to objections, merely for want of our knowing what is known to Him? 'How foolish is it in man, to object, or doubt, or pretend to judge at all of the dealings of One, so great, so wise, so good, as God! We must wait to see the end, before we can understand the purpose and advantage of many things, which we know to be his doing. But we need not wait for the end, in any instance, to feel assured, that the purpose is wise, and the advantage great, and that the good compassed is the utmost that the case admits of. Happy they who are accustomed thus to think of all the dealings of God in his providence, and of all his revelations in his word ! Happy they who are accustomed thus to find it, by their own experience, that all things, as ordered by the Lord of all, are working together for their good !
PART III. 0. T.