Joshua – Chapter 14

Playing the Lottery

By Rabbi Jack Abramowitz

The remaining nine and a half Tribes were assigned their portion by lottery. But wait! If two and a half Tribes got their inheritance on the eastern shore of the Jordan (2.5), and the Tribe of Levi has no portion of land (+1), and nine and a half Tribes got land by lottery (+9.5), that’s 13 Tribes, not 12 (=13!)! Yes, the Navi reminds us, Jacob’s son Joseph became two Tribes: Ephraim and Menashe. Sometimes we consider Ephraim and Menashe the sons of Joseph as one and then Levi is Tribe #12. In the context of dividing the land, however, Ephraim and Menashe are two Tribes and Levi is not included.

Caleb (Kalev) ben Yefuneh, like Joshua, was one of the twelve spies dispatched by Moses in parshas Shelach. Because they were the only two spies to bring back a favorable report, Caleb and Joshua were the only members of their generation who merited entering the Land of Israel. Furthermore, Moses promised Caleb the land that only he was brave enough to scout out: Hebron. Joshua fulfilled the promise of Moses and gave Caleb Hebron as his inheritance.

Download Audio File