Joshua – Chapter 13

Seven Years Later...

By Rabbi Jack Abramowitz

While the majority of it is discussed passingly over the course of two chapters, the conquest of the land actually took seven long years. After seven years of battles to acquire the land, Joshua spent seven years dividing the land and settling it among the Tribes.

Joshua divides the land on the west of the Jordan, the Navi details how Moses gave two and a half Tribes their portion on the eastern side. You may recall how in parshas Matos, the Tribes of Reuben, Gad and half the Tribe of Menashe asked for their inheritance on the east of the Jordan. They said that they would fight the Canaanite nations along with the other Tribes and not settle their land until the other Tribes received their portions. That time was now.

In discussing the conquest of the land of Reuben, the Navi mentions Balaam and refers to him as a sorcerer rather than a prophet. The Radak explains that Balaam really was only a sorcerer and that the gift of prophecy only came to him temporarily. He suggests that it was perhaps out of respect for Israel that G-d sent him a message through a malach (angel) rather than through his normal sorcerous means.

After describing the portions of Reuben, Gad and Menashe, but before moving on to the other Tribes, the Navi reminds us that the portion of the Tribe of Levi is not real estate, but the service of G-d in the Mishkan (Tabernacle) and, later, the Beis HaMikdash (Temple).

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