Joshua 14:1 Now these are the areas the Israelites received as an inheritance in the land of Canaan, which Eleazar the priest, Joshua son of Nun and the heads of the tribal clans of Israel allotted to them. 2 Their inheritances were assigned by lot to the nine and a half tribes, as the Lord had commanded through Moses. 3 Moses had granted the two and a half tribes their inheritance east of the Jordan but had not granted the Levites an inheritance among the rest, 4 for Joseph’s descendants had become two tribes—Manasseh and Ephraim. The Levites received no share of the land but only towns to live in, with pasturelands for their flocks and herds. 5 So the Israelites divided the land, just as the Lord had commanded Moses.

Well, looks like this is about to get as boring as Deuteronomy was. It seems to be where all the legal mumbojumbo. They didn't have courthouses where they could record and hold title or deed information.

This might be a good place to clear up a couple of things. In verse 4 the Bible talks about two tribes as half tribes. When drawing up the distribution map, they decided that there were twelve tribes.

  • One tribe [the Levites] wouldn't have time to take care of a full time ranch. The Levites were assigned to the care of the Tabernacle. They had to work at the alter on the sacrifices with the enslaved woodcutters and water carriers. They would received food, shelter, and other needs from the other eleven tribes.
  • So that leaves us Eleven spots not Twelve and to make things a little more interesting,.... well Joseph's two sons would take that spot. So that spot was divided in half for them. Wait... it wasn't that easy.... one of the sons wanted to live on the east side of the River Jordan... the grassing was better for the flock... while there was also a need to be on the west side of the River Jordan.... where commerce, fishing, and farming were better.
  • Both sons received a portion of land, but one was actually on both sides of the River Jordan. Manasseh had land on both sides while Ephraim had his plot of land on the west side only.
  • So.... each of Joseph's sons had a "half" share. There was plenty of room... it was, after all, the Promised Land, where a cluster of grapes required two men and a long pole to harvest one cluster.... God was in control.

This is from the blueletterbible.org site.

For the children of Joseph were two tribes: We commonly think and speak of the "twelve tribes of Israel" but actually there were thirteen, because although there were twelve sons of Jacob (Israel), the descendents of one of his sons, Joseph, divided into two tribes (Manasseh and Ephraim).

This explains why you can have two and one-half tribes on the east side of the Jordan river, nine and one-half tribes on the west side of the Jordan river, and one tribe with no province as their inheritance.

Here's that map again.

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