The part of the children of Judah was too much for them: therefore the children of Simeon had their inheritance within the inheritance of them.
A fine lesson for such who, in the amplitude of their earthly portion, have more than themselves or their families in conscience require, when numbers of their brethren, high-born as themselves and heirs to the noblest hopes, have many of them not only a scanty lot, but scarcely the common necessaries of life. If the one has too little, surely it may be said, though few are likely to allow it, the other has too much. And why this disparity in the condition of the brethren but for the trial of faith in the one and the display of charity in the other? What an admonition in so impoverished a world as this, where so many, comparatively speaking, yea, and in cases not a few, literally are houseless and helpless, without means of daily sustenance, to contract their own borders that room may be given to these destitute Simeonites. The first Christians did this to an extent not now required: so powerfully did the love of Christ operate in their hearts, and so little hold had earthly things of their affections when placed in competition with spiritual and heavenly interests, that the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul — and in this too, in practice as well as in sentiment (Acts 4:34, 35
). Without reducing to one common stock, that distribution which should be alike to all, a state of things evidently adapted only to times of persecution, and that under no other circumstances could answer the designs of Providence in a condition of trial common to this life, who is there that thinks he has too much, and is so affected with the little which others have of the same household of faith, that he is cheerfully ready to allow a part in his portion? therein discovering that amiable feature of the Christian character which the apostle has marked as strikingly beautiful, "willing to distribute."
An inheritance to Joshua
As in a shipwreck the captain is the last to leave the doomed vessel, so here the leader of the nation was the last to receive a portion. With rare self-denial he waited till every one else was provided for. Here we have a glimpse of his noble spirit. That there would be much grumbling over the division of the country he no doubt counted inevitable, and that the people would be disposed to come with their complaints to him followed as a matter of course. See how he circumvents them! Whoever might be disposed to go to him complaining of his lot knew the ready answer he would get — "You are not worse off than I am, for as yet I have got none!" Joshua was content to see the fairest inheritance disposed of to others, while as yet none had been allotted to him. He might have asked for an inheritance in the fertile and beautiful vale of Shechem, consecrated by one of the earliest promises to Abraham, near to Jacob's well and his ancestor Joseph's Comb, or under shadow of the two mountains, Ebal and Gerizim, where so solemn a transaction had taken place after his people entered the land. He asks for nothing of the kind, but for a spot on one of the highland hills of Ephraim, a place so obscure that no trace of it remains. It is described in Judges 2:9
as "Timnath-heres, in the hill country of Ephraim, on the north of the mountain of Gaash." The north side of the mountain does not indicate a spot remarkable either for amenity or fertility. In the days of his friend Paula is said to have expressed surprise that the distributer of the whole country reserved so wild and mountainous a district for himself. His choice of it was a splendid rebuke to the grumbling of his tribe, to the pride and selfishness of the "great people" who would not be content with a single lot, and wished an additional one to be assigned to them. "Up with you to the mountain," was Joshua's spirited reply; "cut down the wood, and drive out the Canaanites!" In any case, he set a splendid example of disinterested humility. How nobly contrasted with men like Napoleon, who used his influence so greedily for the enrichment and aggrandisement of every member of his family! Joshua came very near to the spirit of our blessed Lord.
The servant, though honourable above all, and worthy a double portion, was as the last and least among them, and gave rest to others before he took rest himself. In this he was a striking type of that adorable Redeemer, the captain of the host of the Lord, who, till He had obtained full conquest and possession for His people, sat not down at the right hand of God, in the presence of His triumphant Church. Though Lord of all, yet He became the servant of all, and as an example ever to be studied and copied by His followers, said in expressive condescension and abasement, "Am not I among you as one that serveth?" Oh! that this mind were more evidently in us which was in Christ Jesus, who, in all He sacrificed, suffered, and forewent, ever looked on the things of others, and in His self emptyings placed His own felicity and glory in the salvation of His people. The lot assigned Joshua was his choice, and within the portion of his own tribe. There was nothing of pre-eminence to distinguish it from the possession of others, except as himself gave note to it, and being the residence of one so exalted in character, so great in achievements. It does not appear the best of the land, yet it possessed one advantage, beyond what it could have had in fertility and extent, being near to Shiloh, the habitation of holiness and seat of mercy. Lot chose Sodom for the pleasantness and fertility of its plain, but Joshua chose Timnath-serah for the holiness of its vicinity. How few in the settlements of life, whose means afford the advantage of choice, are determined by considerations of piety and the hope of rendering service to God and His people! Generally a residence is sought which promises gratifications most congenial with their earthly wishes, or where they may receive the greatest good to themselves, and not where they may do the greatest good to others.
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