Joshua 21 Towns for the Levites

Now the family heads of the Levites approached Eleazar the priest, Joshua son of Nun, and the heads of the other tribal families of Israel at Shiloh in Canaan and said to them, “The Lord commanded through Moses that you give us towns to live in, with pasturelands for our livestock.” So, as the Lord had commanded, the Israelites gave the Levites the following towns and pasturelands out of their own inheritance:

The first lot came out for the Kohathites, according to their clans. The Levites who were descendants of Aaron the priest were allotted thirteen towns from the tribes of Judah, Simeon and Benjamin. The rest of Kohath’s descendants were allotted ten towns from the clans of the tribes of Ephraim, Dan and half of Manasseh.

The descendants of Gershon were allotted thirteen towns from the clans of the tribes of Issachar, Asher, Naphtali and the half-tribe of Manasseh in Bashan.

The descendants of Merari, according to their clans, received twelve towns from the tribes of Reuben, Gad and Zebulun.

So the Israelites allotted to the Levites these towns and their pasturelands, as the Lord had commanded through Moses.

From the tribes of Judah and Simeon they allotted the following towns by name 10 (these towns were assigned to the descendants of Aaron who were from the Kohathite clans of the Levites, because the first lot fell to them):

11 They gave them Kiriath Arba (that is, Hebron), with its surrounding pastureland, in the hill country of Judah. (Arba was the forefather of Anak.) 12 But the fields and villages around the city they had given to Caleb son of Jephunneh as his possession.

13 So to the descendants of Aaron the priest they gave Hebron (a city of refuge for one accused of murder), Libnah, 14 Jattir, Eshtemoa, 15 Holon, Debir, 16 Ain, Juttah and Beth Shemesh, together with their pasturelands—nine towns from these two tribes.

17 And from the tribe of Benjamin they gave them Gibeon, Geba, 18 Anathoth and Almon, together with their pasturelands—four towns.

19 The total number of towns for the priests, the descendants of Aaron, came to thirteen, together with their pasturelands.

20 The rest of the Kohathite clans of the Levites were allotted towns from the tribe of Ephraim:

21 In the hill country of Ephraim they were given Shechem (a city of refuge for one accused of murder) and Gezer, 22 Kibzaim and Beth Horon, together with their pasturelands—four towns.

23 Also from the tribe of Dan they received Eltekeh, Gibbethon, 24 Aijalon and Gath Rimmon,together with their pasturelands—four towns.

25 From half the tribe of Manasseh they received Taanach and Gath Rimmon, together with their pasturelands—two towns.

26 All these ten towns and their pasturelands were given to the rest of the Kohathite clans.

27 The Levite clans of the Gershonites were given:

from the half-tribe of Manasseh,

Golan in Bashan (a city of refuge for one accused of murder) and Be Eshterah, together with their pasturelands—two towns;

28 from the tribe of Issachar,

Kishion, Daberath, 29 Jarmuth and En Gannim, together with their pasturelands—four towns;

30 from the tribe of Asher,

Mishal, Abdon, 31 Helkath and Rehob, together with their pasturelands—four towns;

32 from the tribe of Naphtali,

Kedesh in Galilee (a city of refuge for one accused of murder), Hammoth Dor and Kartan, together with their pasturelands—three towns.

33 The total number of towns of the Gershonite clans came to thirteen, together with their pasturelands.

34 The Merarite clans (the rest of the Levites) were given:

from the tribe of Zebulun,

Jokneam, Kartah, 35 Dimnah and Nahalal, together with their pasturelands—four towns;

36 from the tribe of Reuben,

Bezer, Jahaz, 37 Kedemoth and Mephaath, together with their pasturelands—four towns;

38 from the tribe of Gad,

Ramoth in Gilead (a city of refuge for one accused of murder), Mahanaim, 39 Heshbon and Jazer,together with their pasturelands—four towns in all.

40 The total number of towns allotted to the Merarite clans, who were the rest of the Levites, came to twelve.

41 The towns of the Levites in the territory held by the Israelites were forty-eight in all, together with their pasturelands. 42 Each of these towns had pasturelands surrounding it; this was true for all these towns.

43 So the Lord gave Israel all the land he had sworn to give their ancestors, and they took possession of it and settled there. 44 The Lord gave them rest on every side, just as he had sworn to their ancestors. Not one of their enemies withstood them; the Lord gave all their enemies into their hands. 45 Not one of all the Lord’s good promises to Israel failed; every one was fulfilled.


The last allotment of land is given to the Levites.  The sons of Israel (aka Jacob) were: Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Zebulun, Issachar, Dan, Gad, Asher, Naphtali, Joseph, and Benjamin.  In Genesis 34 Levi and Simeon kill an entire village of people for the wrong doing of one man towards their sister, Dinah.  When Israel is dying he gives his blessings to his sons, noting that Levi and Simeon are full of anger:

“Simeon and Levi are brothers—
    their swords are weapons of violence.
Let me not enter their council,
    let me not join their assembly,
for they have killed men in their anger
    and hamstrung oxen as they pleased.
Cursed be their anger, so fierce,
    and their fury, so cruel!
I will scatter them in Jacob
    and disperse them in Israel. – Genesis 49

In Israel’s final address to his sons he gives a prophecy of the two men being scattered in Jacob (meaning Israel).  Interestingly, Simeon is swallowed up by Judah, and now the Levites will be scattered throughout Israels towns to serve as priests.  This is just another example of how God uses all things for His purposes.  In Deuteronomy 18:1, prior to these allotments, He tells Aaron, a descendant of Levi: “The Levitical priests—indeed, the whole tribe of Levi—are to have no allotment or inheritance with Israel. They shall live on the food offerings presented to the Lord, for that is their inheritance.”

Because they are priests to the Lord, and their inheritance is the Lord, they receive no set land.  Instead they are scattered amongst the other tribes, and receive towns as places for the rest of Israel to come and offer sacrifices of atonement.  After the assigning of towns, the allotment is finished.  Israel has now been awarded all that was first promised to Abraham back in Genesis 12.

  • Is there a promise or principle to remember?

God delivers on His promises.  It had been several hundred years since the first prophecy was given to Abraham that he would become a great nation.  We now see the entire fulfillment of that promise realized.

  • Is there an example to follow or a command to obey?

The Levites, in this passage, boldly go before Joshua and the priest and ask for their portion of the allotments.  They were ready to settle down into their inheritance.  What motivates you when it comes to Christianity?  Are you ready to settle into what God has planned for you?  How will you know what He wants?

When looking for God’s will remember: it will never conflict with the Word of God.  If you are trying to figure out what God wants you to do with your life, and you haven’t received an answer, consider what your options look like against what God says He wants for you, and of what He approves.  “11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.12 Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you,” declares the Lord” – Jeremiah 29

  • Are there attitudes that needed changing, or an error to avoid?

It is no mistake that the Levites were scattered throughout Israel.  Their past sins were finally coming to light, and the consequences were being realized.  We need to be aware that if we sin, though we are forgiven in Christ if we belong to Him, we will still suffer the consequences of those sins.  Though we are saved from eternal wrath, we are not saved from living with what our sins have caused.  We must turn from our sins, ever looking to Christ to help us be rid of them once and for all.

  • Is there a sin being revealed?

If you have been renewed in Christ, but you turn a blind eye to something you know is wrong, you are sinning.  It is time to repent, turn from that sin, believe that Christ can bear that burden, and move forward.

  • Does this make you want to pray for someone or yourself?

Lord, I pray that you would continue to reveal the sins in my life so that I might hand them over to you.  I want to be free from the burdens of this world, and give myself fully to you.  Thank you for all that you do for me, and all you have done.  Thank you for the promise of your salvation, and that this life is but a moment compared to the riches I have in eternity with you.

7 thoughts on “Joshua 21 Towns for the Levites

  1. Pingback: Joshua 13. The land still to be taken | Bummyla

  2. Pingback: Joshua 15. The cities of Judah | Bummyla

  3. Pingback: Joshua 17. The territory of Manasseh | Bummyla

  4. Pingback: Joshua 19. The territory assigned to Simeon | Bummyla

  5. Pingback: Joshua 20. Six cities of safety. The cities of refuge | Bummyla

  6. Pingback: Joshua 21. The cities of the Levites | Bummyla

  7. Pingback: 1 Chronicles 6. The family of Levi. The family line of the High Priest | Bummyla

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