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Commentary On Joshua by Jean Calvin

Joshua 21:1-19

1. Then came near the heads of the fathers of the Levites unto Eleazar the priest, and unto Joshua the son of Nun, and unto the heads of the fathers of the tribes of the children of Israel;

1. Accesserunt autem principes patrum Levitarum ad Eleazar sacerdotem, et ad Josue filium Nun, et ad principes patrum tribuum filiorum Israel.

2. And they spoke unto them at Shiloh in the land of Canaan, saying, The LORD commanded by the hand of Moses to give us cities to dwell in, with the suburbs thereof for our cattle.

2. Loquutique sunt ad eos in Silo in terra Chanaan, dicendo, Jehova praecepit per manum Mosis ut daretis nobis urbes ad habitandum, et suburbana earum pro animalibus nostris.

3. And the children of Israel gave unto the Levites out of their inheritance, at the commandment of the LORD, these cities and their suburbs.

3. Dederunt ergo filii Israel Levitis de haereditate sua, secundum sermonem Jehovae, urbes istas et suburbana earum.

4. And the lot came out for the families of the Kohathites: and the children of Aaron the priest, which were of the Levites, had by lot out of the tribe of Judah, and out of the tribe of Simeon, and out of the tribe of Benjamin, thirteen cities.

4. Egressa est autem sors per familias Caethitarum: fueruntque filiis Aaron sacerdotis de Levitis, de tribu Juda, et de tribu Simeon, et de tribu Benjamin per sortem, urbes tredecim.

5. And the rest of the children of Kohath had by lot out of the families of the tribe of Ephraim, and out of the tribe of Dan, and out of the half tribe of Manasseh, ten cities.

5. Filiis autem Ceath reliquis, de familiis tribus Ephraim, et de tribu Dan, et de dimidia tribu Manasse, per sortem, urbes decem.

6. And the children of Gershon had by lot out of the families of the tribe of Issachar, and out of the tribe of Asher, and out of the tribe of Naphtali, and out of the half tribe of Manasseh in Bashan, thirteen cities.

6. Filiis vero Gerson de familiis tribus Issachar, et de tribu Aser, et de tribu Nephthali, et de dimidia tribu Manasse in Basan per sortem, urbes tredecim.

7. The children of Merari by their families had out of the tribe of Reuben, and out of the tribe of Gad, and out of the tribe of Zebulun, twelve cities.

7. Filiis Merari per familias suas, de tribu Ruben, et de tribu Gad, et de tribu Zabulon, urbes duodecim.

8. And the children of Israel gave by lot unto the Levites these cities with their suburbs, as the LORD commanded by the hand of Moses.

8. Dederunt, inquam, filii Israel Levitis urbes has, et suburbana earum, sicut praeceperat Jehova per manum Mosis, per sortem.

9. And they gave out of the tribe of the children of Judah, and out of the tribe of the children of Simeon, these cities which are here mentioned by name,

9. Dederunt ergo de tribu filiorum Juda, et de tribu filiorum Simeon, urbes istas quas vocavit nomine.

10. Which the children of Aaron, being of the families of the Kohathites, who were of the children of Levi, had: for theirs was the first lot.

10. Fueruntque filiis Aaron de familiis Ceath, de filiis Levi: illis enim fuit sors prima.

11. And they gave them the city of Arba the father of Anak, which city is Hebron, in the hill country of Judah, with the suburbs thereof round about it.

11. Dederuntque eis Ciriath-arba patris Anac (ipsa est Hebron) in monte Juda, et suburbana ejus per circuitum ejus.

12. But the fields of the city, and the villages thereof, gave they to Caleb the son of Jephunneh for his possession.

12. Agrum vero ejus urbis et villas ejus dederunt Caleb filio Jephune in possessionem ejus.

13. Thus they gave to the children of Aaron the priest Hebron with her suburbs, to be a city of refuge for the slayer; and Libnah with her suburbs,

13. Filiis, inquam, Aaron sacerdotis dederunt urbem refugii homicidae, Hebron, et suburbana ejus, et Libna et suburbana ejus.

14. And Jattir with her suburbs, and Eshtemoa with her suburbs,

14. Et Jathir et suburbana ejus, et Esthemoa et suburbana ejus.

15. And Holon with her suburbs, and Debir with her suburbs,

15. Holon et suburbana ejus, et Debir et suburbana ejus.

16. And Ain with her suburbs, and Juttah with her suburbs, and Bethshemesh with her suburbs; nine cities out of those two tribes.

16. Et Ain et suburbana ejus, et Jutta et suburbana ejus: et Bethsemes et suburbana ejus: urbes novem de duabus tribubus istis.

17. And out of the tribe of Benjamin, Gibeon with her suburbs, Geba with her suburbs,

17. De tribu vero Benjamin, Gibeon et suburbana ejus, et Geba et suburbana ejus.

18. Anathoth with her suburbs, and Almon with her suburbs; four cities.

18. Anathoth et suburbana ejus, Almon et suburbana ejus: urbes quatuor.

19. All the cities of the children of Aaron, the priests, were thirteen cities with their suburbs.

19. Omnes urbes filiorum Aaron sacerdotum, tredecim urbes et suburbana earum.

1. Then came near the heads, etc Here we have at a later period a narrative of what ought to have preceded. For no cities of refuge were appointed before they had been assigned to the Levites. To this may be added what was formerly said, that Joshua and Eleazar had made an end of dividing the land. Now, the land was not truly divided till the habitation of the Levites was fixed. We must understand, therefore, that when the lot was cast in the name of the ten tribes, a reservation was made of cities in the land of Canaan for the habitation of the Levites. Beyond the Jordan their portion had already been assigned to them. But as the Levites come forward and request a ratification of the divine grant, it is probable that they were neglected till they pleaded their own cause. For so it is apt to happen, every one being so attentive in looking after his own affairs that even brethren are forgotten. It was certainly disgraceful to the people that they required to be pulled by the ear, and put in mind of what the Lord had clearly ordered respecting the Levites. But had they not demanded a domicile for themselves, there was a risk of their being left to lie in the open air; although, at the same time, we are permitted to infer that the people erred more from carelessness and forgetfulness than from any intention to deceive, as they make no delay as soon as they are admonished; nay, they are praised for their obedience in that they did what was just and right according to the word of the Lord.

4. And the lot came out for the families, etc Here is first described the number of cities of which we shall have to speak by and bye. Secondly, it is distinctly said that the lot fell out to the children of Aaron in the tribe of Judah. This did not happen fortuitously, because God in his admirable counsel placed them in that locality where he had determined to choose a temple for himself. Thirdly, the narrative proceeds to give the exact names of the cities, of which the first mentioned is Hebron, of which Caleb, with great equanimity, allowed himself to be deprived. Should any one object that the first city of all that ought to have been given them was Jerusalem, where they were to have their future station, it is easy to answer, that moderate sized cities were delivered to them as their condition required. Moreover, Jerusalem was not then subjugated, as it continued under the power of the Jebusites. In short, it would have been absurd to assign a royal seat to priests. And their religion and faith was the better proved by this, that they migrated of their own accord from their native soil to devote their attention to sacred things. For no priest performed the office without becoming a stranger. Their weakness, however, was so far indulged by giving them a grant of neighboring cities, that they might not have the fatigue of a long journey in going to perform their function. Moreover, the giving of thirteen cities for a habitation to one family, and that not very numerous, confirms what I have elsewhere said, that the other tribes possessed very many cities, of which no mention is made; in a short time this will be more certainly confirmed.

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