Joshua: Cities for Levites

Joshua 21:1-45

I asked my friend to explain to me what an acorn was.
He said it’s an oak tree in a nutshell.

A detective found a pocket watch at the train station, and
asked his assistant, “what does this tell you?”

The assistant inspected it carefully and said,
“Well, based on the engraving and the fact that it’s real gold,
we can assume the original owner was someone wealthy
with the initials J.L..

But the engraving is worn down, so it has likely been passed
down through several generations. What does it tell you?”
The detective said, “We missed our train.”

Last week we talked about the cities of refuge for the manslayer
and how God instituted those to prevent the spilling of blood in
His land. We saw how those cities have similarities with Jesus
and how He is easy to access and available to all.

Today we are going to see what happens to those cities of refuge.

Joshua 21:1-3

If you remember back to chapter 13 the Levite’s weren’t given an
inheritance of land because God was their inheritance.

But God did command through Moses that the Levites be given
cities as well as the pastureland around them. That command is
found in:

Numbers 35:1-3,6,8 “The Lord spoke to Moses in the plains of
Moab by the Jordan at Jericho, saying, ‘Command the people of
Israel to give to the Levites some of the inheritance of their
possession as cities for them to dwell in. And you shall give the
Levites pasturelands around the cities. The cities shall be theirs to
dwell in, and their pasturelands shall be for their cattle and for
their livestock and for all their beasts.” 6 “The cities that you give
to the Levites shall be the six cities of refuge, where you shall
permit the manslayer to flee, and in addition to them you shall
give forty-two cities.” 8 “And as for the cities that you shall give
from the possession of the people of Israel, from the larger tribes
you shall take many, and from the smaller tribes you shall take
few; each, in proportion to the inheritance that it inherits, shall
give of its cities to the Levites.”

God gave the Levites all 6 cities of refuge we spoke of last week.
God dispersed the cities in proportion to each clan’s inheritance.
It reminds me of the tithe.

Levi had 3 sons; Kohath, Gershon, and Merari.
In the next verses we see an overview of the cities that were
chosen by lot (by God) to be given to each of the descendants of
his 3 sons.

Joshua 21:4-8

Kohathites from Aaron

God appointed priests from the tribe of Levi.
Although all priests are Levites. Not all Levites were priests.
You see, Levi’s son Kohath had 4 sons and one of his sons,
Amram, was the father of Aaron, Moses and Miriam.
God appointed Aaron as the first priest. Only descendants of
Kohath through Amram and Aaron were qualified to be priests.

The Kohathites, the descendants of Aaron received cities from
They received 13 cities
Kohathites not from Aaron

The Kohathites, not descendants of Aaron received cities from
1⁄2 tribe of Manasseh
They received 10 cities

The Gershonites, received cities from
1⁄2 tribe of Manasseh
They received 13 cities

The Merarites, received cities from
They received 12 cities

Two things stand out in these verses.
The cities were chosen by lot which means God selected them.
This was all done according to God’s command.
Did you notice v.2 and 8 bookend the overview with the phrase
the Lord commanded through Moses?

Joshua 21:9-19

Kohathites from Aaron
From tribe of Simeon and Judah they gave 9 cities
● Kiriath-arba – which is Hebron – City of Refuge
● Libnah
● Jattir
● Eshtemoa
● Holon
● Debir
● Ain
● Juttah
● Beth-shemesh

From tribe of Benjamin 4 cities
● Gibeon
● Geba
● Anathoth
● Almon

Joshua 21:20-26

Kohathites not from Aaron
From tribe of Ephraim 4 cities
● Shechem – the city of refuge
● Gezer
● Kibzaim
● Beth-horon

From tribe of Dan 4 cities
● Elteke
● Gibbethon
● Aijalon
● Gath-rimmon

From 1⁄2 tribe of Manasseh 2 cities
● Taanach
● Gath-rimmon

Joshua 21:27-33

from 1⁄2 tribe of Manasseh 2 cities
● Golan – the city of refuge
● Beeshterah

From tribe of Issachar 4 cities
● Kishion
● Daberath
● Jarmuth
● En-gannim

From tribe of Asher 4 cities
● Mishal
● Abdon
● Helkath
● Rehob

From tribe of Naphtali 3 cities
● Kadesh – city of refuge
● Hammoth-dor
● Kartan

Joshua 21:34-40

From tribe of Zebulun 4 cities
● Jokneam
● Kartah
● Dimnah
● Nahalal

From the tribe of Reuben 4 cities
● Bezer – city of refuge
● Jahaz
● Kedemoth
● Mephaath

From the tribe of Gad 4 cities
● Ramoth – city of refuge
● Mahanaim
● Heshbon
● Jazer

As you can see all 12 tribes gave up cities from the land that
they just received as their inheritance.
It shows you that they care about the men that God has chosen to
serve as priests in the temple.
They are more than willing to give up a portion of their inheritance
because God had previously commanded it through Moses.

Another thing you can’t see on the slides, but you can if you look
at a map is that the cities are sprinkled throughout the land.
God put the priest in these specific cities so they would be able to
minister to the people nearby.

Finally, we see that each of three sons of Levi are given 2
cities of refuge. Two for each son’s descendants.

Joshua 21:41-45

I want to point out a few key phrases from these last few verses of
this chapter.

The Lord gave to Israel all the land… that He swore

God had promised Abraham, Isaac and Jacob to give them the
land of Canaan.

Israel Obeys

Israel Took Possession of the Land

Israel Settled in the Land

The Lord gave them rest…just as He had sworn

They have been fighting and conquering for several years, they
must have been tired. God has finally given them rest on every
side. They have nothing to worry about. The land is theirs.

Not One of their Enemies overtook them
God had given them into the hand of Israel.
He kept His promise and fought for Israel so they could take that
land that God was giving them.

Not One Word of God’s Promises Failed
God is faithful.
We shouldn’t be surprised that God keeps His promises.
He is truth and we can take Him at His word.

Learnings from Scripture

God is Faithful

God Provides for His Children