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Today’s Reading

Devotional

This (Josh. 18–19) is a good time to reflect on the many chapters of Joshua that have been devoted to the dividing up of the land.

(1) Focusing on the division of the land, these chapters implicitly focus on the land itself. After all, the land was an irreducible component of the promise to Abraham, of the Sinai covenant, of the release of the Israelites from slavery in Egypt. It is now distributed by God’s providential supervision of the “lot.”

(2) The inevitable conclusion is that God is faithful to his promises. That point is explicitly drawn for us a bare two chapters on: “So the LORD gave Israel all the land he had sworn to give their forefathers, and they took possession of it and settled there. The LORD gave them rest on every side, just as he had sworn to their forefathers. Not one of their enemies withstood them; the LORD handed all their enemies over to them. Not one of all the LORD’s good promises to the house of Israel failed; every one was fulfilled” (Josh. 21:43-45).

(3) These chapters also explain how entrance into the Promised Land did not proceed in a wave of unbroken triumph. Earlier God had warned that he would not give the Israelites the whole thing at once. Now we are repeatedly told that this tribe or that could not dislodge certain Canaanites, and they continue there “to this day.” For instance, “Judah could not dislodge the Jebusites, who were living in Jerusalem; to this day the Jebusites live there with the people of Judah” (Josh. 15:63; cf. Judg. 1:21). In fact, Jerusalem was taken (Judg. 1:8), but not all the Jebusites were dislodged. Details of this sort help to explain how the tussle between fidelity and syncretism could occupy so much of Israel’s history.

(4) Some of the elements in these chapters bring earlier strands of the narrative to closure. For instance, Caleb surfaces again. He was Joshua’s colleague among the initial group of twelve spies; they were the only two who at Kadesh Barnea, at the first approach to the Promised Land, urged the people to enter it boldly and trust God. In consequence they are the only two of their generation who are still alive to witness the Promised Land for themselves. And now in Joshua 15, Caleb is still looking for new worlds to conquer and receives his inheritance. Similarly, chapters 20-21 detail the designation of the cities of refuge and of the towns set aside for the Levites — steps mandated by the Mosaic Code.

(5) There is trouble ahead. The ambiguities of the situation, and the memories of the final warnings of Moses, signal to the reader that these relative victories, good though they are, cannot possibly be God’s final or ultimate provision.

Joshua 18–19

Allotment of the Remaining Land

18:1 Then the whole congregation of the people of Israel assembled at Shiloh and set up the tent of meeting there. The land lay subdued before them.

There remained among the people of Israel seven tribes whose inheritance had not yet been apportioned. So Joshua said to the people of Israel, “How long will you put off going in to take possession of the land, which the LORD, the God of your fathers, has given you? Provide three men from each tribe, and I will send them out that they may set out and go up and down the land. They shall write a description of it with a view to their inheritances, and then come to me. They shall divide it into seven portions. Judah shall continue in his territory on the south, and the house of Joseph shall continue in their territory on the north. And you shall describe the land in seven divisions and bring the description here to me. And I will cast lots for you here before the LORD our God. The Levites have no portion among you, for the priesthood of the LORD is their heritage. And Gad and Reuben and half the tribe of Manasseh have received their inheritance beyond the Jordan eastward, which Moses the servant of the LORD gave them.”

So the men arose and went, and Joshua charged those who went to write the description of the land, saying, “Go up and down in the land and write a description and return to me. And I will cast lots for you here before the LORD in Shiloh.” So the men went and passed up and down in the land and wrote in a book a description of it by towns in seven divisions. Then they came to Joshua to the camp at Shiloh, 10 and Joshua cast lots for them in Shiloh before the LORD. And there Joshua apportioned the land to the people of Israel, to each his portion.

The Inheritance for Benjamin

11 The lot of the tribe of the people of Benjamin according to its clans came up, and the territory allotted to it fell between the people of Judah and the people of Joseph. 12 On the north side their boundary began at the Jordan. Then the boundary goes up to the shoulder north of Jericho, then up through the hill country westward, and it ends at the wilderness of Beth-aven. 13 From there the boundary passes along southward in the direction of Luz, to the shoulder of Luz (that is, Bethel), then the boundary goes down to Ataroth-addar, on the mountain that lies south of Lower Beth-horon. 14 Then the boundary goes in another direction, turning on the western side southward from the mountain that lies to the south, opposite Beth-horon, and it ends at Kiriath-baal (that is, Kiriath-jearim), a city belonging to the people of Judah. This forms the western side. 15 And the southern side begins at the outskirts of Kiriath-jearim. And the boundary goes from there to Ephron,1 to the spring of the waters of Nephtoah. 16 Then the boundary goes down to the border of the mountain that overlooks the Valley of the Son of Hinnom, which is at the north end of the Valley of Rephaim. And it then goes down the Valley of Hinnom, south of the shoulder of the Jebusites, and downward to En-rogel. 17 Then it bends in a northerly direction going on to En-shemesh, and from there goes to Geliloth, which is opposite the ascent of Adummim. Then it goes down to the stone of Bohan the son of Reuben, 18 and passing on to the north of the shoulder of Beth-arabah2 it goes down to the Arabah. 19 Then the boundary passes on to the north of the shoulder of Beth-hoglah. And the boundary ends at the northern bay of the Salt Sea, at the south end of the Jordan: this is the southern border. 20 The Jordan forms its boundary on the eastern side. This is the inheritance of the people of Benjamin, according to their clans, boundary by boundary all around.

21 Now the cities of the tribe of the people of Benjamin according to their clans were Jericho, Beth-hoglah, Emek-keziz, 22 Beth-arabah, Zemaraim, Bethel, 23 Avvim, Parah, Ophrah, 24 Chephar-ammoni, Ophni, Geba—twelve cities with their villages: 25 Gibeon, Ramah, Beeroth, 26 Mizpeh, Chephirah, Mozah, 27 Rekem, Irpeel, Taralah, 28 Zela, Haeleph, Jebus3 (that is, Jerusalem), Gibeah4 and Kiriath-jearim5—fourteen cities with their villages. This is the inheritance of the people of Benjamin according to its clans.

The Inheritance for Simeon

19:1 The second lot came out for Simeon, for the tribe of the people of Simeon, according to their clans, and their inheritance was in the midst of the inheritance of the people of Judah. And they had for their inheritance Beersheba, Sheba, Moladah, Hazar-shual, Balah, Ezem, Eltolad, Bethul, Hormah, Ziklag, Beth-marcaboth, Hazar-susah, Beth-lebaoth, and Sharuhen—thirteen cities with their villages; Ain, Rimmon, Ether, and Ashan—four cities with their villages, together with all the villages around these cities as far as Baalath-beer, Ramah of the Negeb. This was the inheritance of the tribe of the people of Simeon according to their clans. The inheritance of the people of Simeon formed part of the territory of the people of Judah. Because the portion of the people of Judah was too large for them, the people of Simeon obtained an inheritance in the midst of their inheritance.

The Inheritance for Zebulun

10 The third lot came up for the people of Zebulun, according to their clans. And the territory of their inheritance reached as far as Sarid. 11 Then their boundary goes up westward and on to Mareal and touches Dabbesheth, then the brook that is east of Jokneam. 12 From Sarid it goes in the other direction eastward toward the sunrise to the boundary of Chisloth-tabor. From there it goes to Daberath, then up to Japhia. 13 From there it passes along on the east toward the sunrise to Gath-hepher, to Eth-kazin, and going on to Rimmon it bends toward Neah, 14 then on the north the boundary turns about to Hannathon, and it ends at the Valley of Iphtahel; 15 and Kattath, Nahalal, Shimron, Idalah, and Bethlehem—twelve cities with their villages. 16 This is the inheritance of the people of Zebulun, according to their clans—these cities with their villages.

The Inheritance for Issachar

17 The fourth lot came out for Issachar, for the people of Issachar, according to their clans. 18 Their territory included Jezreel, Chesulloth, Shunem, 19 Hapharaim, Shion, Anaharath, 20 Rabbith, Kishion, Ebez, 21 Remeth, En-gannim, En-haddah, Beth-pazzez. 22 The boundary also touches Tabor, Shahazumah, and Beth-shemesh, and its boundary ends at the Jordan—sixteen cities with their villages. 23 This is the inheritance of the tribe of the people of Issachar, according to their clans—the cities with their villages.

The Inheritance for Asher

24 The fifth lot came out for the tribe of the people of Asher according to their clans. 25 Their territory included Helkath, Hali, Beten, Achshaph, 26 Allammelech, Amad, and Mishal. On the west it touches Carmel and Shihor-libnath, 27 then it turns eastward, it goes to Beth-dagon, and touches Zebulun and the Valley of Iphtahel northward to Beth-emek and Neiel. Then it continues in the north to Cabul, 28 Ebron, Rehob, Hammon, Kanah, as far as Sidon the Great. 29 Then the boundary turns to Ramah, reaching to the fortified city of Tyre. Then the boundary turns to Hosah, and it ends at the sea; Mahalab,6 Achzib, 30 Ummah, Aphek and Rehob—twenty-two cities with their villages. 31 This is the inheritance of the tribe of the people of Asher according to their clans—these cities with their villages.

The Inheritance for Naphtali

32 The sixth lot came out for the people of Naphtali, for the people of Naphtali, according to their clans. 33 And their boundary ran from Heleph, from the oak in Zaanannim, and Adami-nekeb, and Jabneel, as far as Lakkum, and it ended at the Jordan. 34 Then the boundary turns westward to Aznoth-tabor and goes from there to Hukkok, touching Zebulun at the south and Asher on the west and Judah on the east at the Jordan. 35 The fortified cities are Ziddim, Zer, Hammath, Rakkath, Chinnereth, 36 Adamah, Ramah, Hazor, 37 Kedesh, Edrei, En-hazor, 38 Yiron, Migdal-el, Horem, Beth-anath, and Beth-shemesh—nineteen cities with their villages. 39 This is the inheritance of the tribe of the people of Naphtali according to their clans—the cities with their villages.

The Inheritance for Dan

40 The seventh lot came out for the tribe of the people of Dan, according to their clans. 41 And the territory of its inheritance included Zorah, Eshtaol, Ir-shemesh, 42 Shaalabbin, Aijalon, Ithlah, 43 Elon, Timnah, Ekron, 44 Eltekeh, Gibbethon, Baalath, 45 Jehud, Bene-berak, Gath-rimmon, 46 and Me-jarkon and Rakkon with the territory over against Joppa. 47 When the territory of the people of Dan was lost to them, the people of Dan went up and fought against Leshem, and after capturing it and striking it with the sword they took possession of it and settled in it, calling Leshem, Dan, after the name of Dan their ancestor. 48 This is the inheritance of the tribe of the people of Dan, according to their clans—these cities with their villages.

The Inheritance for Joshua

49 When they had finished distributing the several territories of the land as inheritances, the people of Israel gave an inheritance among them to Joshua the son of Nun. 50 By command of the LORD they gave him the city that he asked, Timnath-serah in the hill country of Ephraim. And he rebuilt the city and settled in it.

51 These are the inheritances that Eleazar the priest and Joshua the son of Nun and the heads of the fathers' houses of the tribes of the people of Israel distributed by lot at Shiloh before the LORD, at the entrance of the tent of meeting. So they finished dividing the land.

Footnotes

[1] 18:15 See 15:9; Hebrew westward
[2] 18:18 Septuagint; Hebrew to the shoulder over against the Arabah
[3] 18:28 Septuagint, Syriac, Vulgate; Hebrew the Jebusite
[4] 18:28 Hebrew Gibeath
[5] 18:28 Septuagint; Hebrew Kiriath
[6] 19:29 Compare Septuagint; Hebrew Mehebel

(ESV)

Psalms 149–150

Sing to the Lord a New Song

149:1   Praise the LORD!
  Sing to the LORD a new song,
    his praise in the assembly of the godly!
  Let Israel be glad in his Maker;
    let the children of Zion rejoice in their King!
  Let them praise his name with dancing,
    making melody to him with tambourine and lyre!
  For the LORD takes pleasure in his people;
    he adorns the humble with salvation.
  Let the godly exult in glory;
    let them sing for joy on their beds.
  Let the high praises of God be in their throats
    and two-edged swords in their hands,
  to execute vengeance on the nations
    and punishments on the peoples,
  to bind their kings with chains
    and their nobles with fetters of iron,
  to execute on them the judgment written!
    This is honor for all his godly ones.
  Praise the LORD!

Let Everything Praise the Lord

150:1   Praise the LORD!
  Praise God in his sanctuary;
    praise him in his mighty heavens!1
  Praise him for his mighty deeds;
    praise him according to his excellent greatness!
  Praise him with trumpet sound;
    praise him with lute and harp!
  Praise him with tambourine and dance;
    praise him with strings and pipe!
  Praise him with sounding cymbals;
    praise him with loud clashing cymbals!
  Let everything that has breath praise the LORD!
  Praise the LORD!

Footnotes

[1] 150:1 Hebrew expanse (compare Genesis 1:6–8)

(ESV)

Jeremiah 9

9:1   1 Oh that my head were waters,
    and my eyes a fountain of tears,
  that I might weep day and night
    for the slain of the daughter of my people!
  2 Oh that I had in the desert
    a travelers' lodging place,
  that I might leave my people
    and go away from them!
  For they are all adulterers,
    a company of treacherous men.
  They bend their tongue like a bow;
    falsehood and not truth has grown strong3 in the land;
  for they proceed from evil to evil,
    and they do not know me, declares the LORD.
  Let everyone beware of his neighbor,
    and put no trust in any brother,
  for every brother is a deceiver,
    and every neighbor goes about as a slanderer.
  Everyone deceives his neighbor,
    and no one speaks the truth;
  they have taught their tongue to speak lies;
    they weary themselves committing iniquity.
  Heaping oppression upon oppression, and deceit upon deceit,
    they refuse to know me, declares the LORD.
  Therefore thus says the LORD of hosts:
  “Behold, I will refine them and test them,
    for what else can I do, because of my people?
  Their tongue is a deadly arrow;
    it speaks deceitfully;
  with his mouth each speaks peace to his neighbor,
    but in his heart he plans an ambush for him.
  Shall I not punish them for these things? declares the LORD,
    and shall I not avenge myself
    on a nation such as this?
10   “I will take up weeping and wailing for the mountains,
    and a lamentation for the pastures of the wilderness,
  because they are laid waste so that no one passes through,
    and the lowing of cattle is not heard;
  both the birds of the air and the beasts
    have fled and are gone.
11   I will make Jerusalem a heap of ruins,
    a lair of jackals,
  and I will make the cities of Judah a desolation,
    without inhabitant.”

12 Who is the man so wise that he can understand this? To whom has the mouth of the LORD spoken, that he may declare it? Why is the land ruined and laid waste like a wilderness, so that no one passes through? 13 And the LORD says: “Because they have forsaken my law that I set before them, and have not obeyed my voice or walked in accord with it, 14 but have stubbornly followed their own hearts and have gone after the Baals, as their fathers taught them. 15 Therefore thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: Behold, I will feed this people with bitter food, and give them poisonous water to drink. 16 I will scatter them among the nations whom neither they nor their fathers have known, and I will send the sword after them, until I have consumed them.”

17   Thus says the LORD of hosts:
  “Consider, and call for the mourning women to come;
    send for the skillful women to come;
18   let them make haste and raise a wailing over us,
    that our eyes may run down with tears
    and our eyelids flow with water.
19   For a sound of wailing is heard from Zion:
    ‘How we are ruined!
    We are utterly shamed,
  because we have left the land,
    because they have cast down our dwellings.’”
20   Hear, O women, the word of the LORD,
    and let your ear receive the word of his mouth;
  teach to your daughters a lament,
    and each to her neighbor a dirge.
21   For death has come up into our windows;
    it has entered our palaces,
  cutting off the children from the streets
    and the young men from the squares.
22   Speak: “Thus declares the LORD,
  ‘The dead bodies of men shall fall
    like dung upon the open field,
  like sheaves after the reaper,
    and none shall gather them.’”

23 Thus says the LORD: “Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, 24 but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the LORD who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the LORD.”

25 “Behold, the days are coming, declares the LORD, when I will punish all those who are circumcised merely in the flesh—26 Egypt, Judah, Edom, the sons of Ammon, Moab, and all who dwell in the desert who cut the corners of their hair, for all these nations are uncircumcised, and all the house of Israel are uncircumcised in heart.”

Footnotes

[1] 9:1 Ch 8:23 in Hebrew
[2] 9:2 Ch 9:1 in Hebrew
[3] 9:3 Septuagint; Hebrew and not for truth they have grown strong

(ESV)

Matthew 23

Seven Woes to the Scribes and Pharisees

23:1 Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples, “The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses' seat, so do and observe whatever they tell you, but not the works they do. For they preach, but do not practice. They tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear,1 and lay them on people's shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to move them with their finger. They do all their deeds to be seen by others. For they make their phylacteries broad and their fringes long, and they love the place of honor at feasts and the best seats in the synagogues and greetings in the marketplaces and being called rabbi2 by others. But you are not to be called rabbi, for you have one teacher, and you are all brothers.3 And call no man your father on earth, for you have one Father, who is in heaven. 10 Neither be called instructors, for you have one instructor, the Christ. 11 The greatest among you shall be your servant. 12 Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.

13 “But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut the kingdom of heaven in people's faces. For you neither enter yourselves nor allow those who would enter to go in.4 15 Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you travel across sea and land to make a single proselyte, and when he becomes a proselyte, you make him twice as much a child of hell5 as yourselves.

16 “Woe to you, blind guides, who say, ‘If anyone swears by the temple, it is nothing, but if anyone swears by the gold of the temple, he is bound by his oath.’ 17 You blind fools! For which is greater, the gold or the temple that has made the gold sacred? 18 And you say, ‘If anyone swears by the altar, it is nothing, but if anyone swears by the gift that is on the altar, he is bound by his oath.’ 19 You blind men! For which is greater, the gift or the altar that makes the gift sacred? 20 So whoever swears by the altar swears by it and by everything on it. 21 And whoever swears by the temple swears by it and by him who dwells in it. 22 And whoever swears by heaven swears by the throne of God and by him who sits upon it.

23 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others. 24 You blind guides, straining out a gnat and swallowing a camel!

25 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and the plate, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. 26 You blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and the plate, that the outside also may be clean.

27 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people's bones and all uncleanness. 28 So you also outwardly appear righteous to others, but within you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.

29 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you build the tombs of the prophets and decorate the monuments of the righteous, 30 saying, ‘If we had lived in the days of our fathers, we would not have taken part with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.’ 31 Thus you witness against yourselves that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets. 32 Fill up, then, the measure of your fathers. 33 You serpents, you brood of vipers, how are you to escape being sentenced to hell? 34 Therefore I send you prophets and wise men and scribes, some of whom you will kill and crucify, and some you will flog in your synagogues and persecute from town to town, 35 so that on you may come all the righteous blood shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah the son of Barachiah,6 whom you murdered between the sanctuary and the altar. 36 Truly, I say to you, all these things will come upon this generation.

Lament over Jerusalem

37 “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing! 38 See, your house is left to you desolate. 39 For I tell you, you will not see me again, until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.’”

Footnotes

[1] 23:4 Some manuscripts omit hard to bear
[2] 23:7 Rabbi means my teacher, or my master; also verse 8
[3] 23:8 Or brothers and sisters
[4] 23:13 Some manuscripts add here (or after verse 12) verse 14: Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you devour widows' houses and for a pretense you make long prayers; therefore you will receive the greater condemnation
[5] 23:15 Greek Gehenna; also verse 33
[6] 23:35 Some manuscripts omit the son of Barachiah

(ESV)