Joshua 21:41
All the cities of the Levites within the possession of the children of Israel were forty and eight cities with their suburbs.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
Joshua 21:41. Forty and eight cities — So God ordered by Moses, Numbers 35:7; and it is a demonstration that Moses was divinely inspired to make such an appointment, before it could be known whether, without straitening the other tribes, they could part with so many cities to the Levites. For when Joshua and Caleb went up to search the land, they could have no opportunity to take any accurate dimensions of the country, whereby Moses might know there would be room enough to allow the Levites so large a portion as this; but he was directed to it by a divine foreknowledge. But why had this tribe, which was the least of all, more cities than any of them? First, it doth not appear that they had more; for though all the cities of the Levites be expressed, it is not so with the other tribes, but divers of their cities are omitted. Secondly, the Levites were confined to their cities and suburbs; the rest had large territories belonging to their cities, which also they were in a capacity of improving, which the Levites were not; so that one of their cities might be more considerable than divers of those of the Levites.21:9-42 By mixing the Levites with the other tribes, they were made to see that the eyes of all Israel were upon them, and therefore it was their concern to walk so that their ministry might not be blamed. Every tribe had its share of Levites' cities. Thus did God graciously provide for keeping up religion among them, and that they might have the word in all parts of the land. Yet, blessed be God, we have the gospel more diffused amongst us.Merarite cities. Some of these places are not found in the list of Zebulonite cities in Joshua 19:10-16. The text is considered corrupt. 41. All the cities of the Levites within the possession of the children of Israel were forty and eight cities with their suburbs—This may appear too great a proportion compared with those of the other tribes. But it must be borne in mind that the list given here contains the names of every Levitical city (see on [204]1Ch 6:39-66); whereas only those cities of the other tribes are mentioned which lay on the frontier or along the boundary line. Besides, the Levites were not the exclusive inhabitants of those forty-eight cities; for there must have been also a considerable number of people kept there to cultivate the glebe lands and tend the cattle. Still further, the Levitical cities had nothing but "their suburbs round about them" [Jos 21:42]; whereas the other cities in Israel possessed a group of independent villages (see Jos 17:1-19:51). Quest. Why hath this tribe, which was the least of all, more cities than any of them?

Answ. First, It doth not appear that they had more; for though all the cities of the Levites be expressed, it is not so with the other tribes, but divers of their cities are omitted, as is evident. Secondly, The Levites were confined to their cities and suburbs; the rest had large territories belonging to their cities, which also they were in a capacity of improving, which the Levites were not; so that one of their cities might be more considerable than divers of the Levites. Thirdly, God was pleased to deal liberally with his ministers, partly to put honour upon those whom he foresaw many would be prone to despise; and partly, that being free from all outward distractions, they might more entirely and fervently devote themselves to the service of God, and the instruction of souls. All the cities of the Levites, within the possession of the children of Israel,.... As comprised in one sum total:

were forty and eight cities with their suburbs; which is just the number that Moses from the mouth of God ordered to be given unto them, before they entered into the land, and before they were in possession of one city in it, Numbers 35:7; which, as it is a proof of the omniscience, prescience, and predetermination of God; so of the sure and true prediction of Moses, who could not be otherwise certain than from the Lord of the Israelites being able to give so many cities to them, out of each of their tribes: and it is to be observed, that this tribe of Levi, though it had no share in the division of the land, yet had more cities by lot given to it than any other, excepting the tribe of Judah; though indeed, in the account of some of the tribes, all the cities in them are not mentioned; and besides, they had only the cities they had with their suburbs round about them, but not the lands belonging to them, nor the villages; however this shows that a large and liberal maintenance of the ministers of the Lord, that serve in his sanctuary should be allowed and made for them, as in the legal, so under the Gospel dispensation.

All the cities of the Levites {n} within the possession of the children of Israel were forty and eight cities with their suburbs.

(n) Thus according to Jacob's prophecy they were scattered throughout the country, which God used so that his people might be instructed in the true religion by them.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
41. All the cities of the Levites … were forty and eight cities] As will be clear from the following table:—

  

  

  

  tribes.

  cities.

i. Kohathites

  {

  (a) Priests

  {

  Judah and Simeon

  = 9

        Benjamin

  = 4

    (b) Not priests

  {

  Ephraim

  = 4

        Dan

  = 4

        Half Manasseh (West)

  = 2

ii. Gershonites

  

  

  {

  Half Manasseh (East)

  = 2

        Issachar

  = 4

        Asher

  = 4

        Naphtali

  = 3

iii. Merarites

  

  

  {

  Zebulun

  = 4

        Reuben

  = 4

        Gad

  = 4

  

  

  

  

  48The Merarites received twelve towns. From the tribe of Zebulun they received four: Jokneam (Joshua 19:11 : see at Joshua 12:22), Kartah and Dimnah,

(Note: Many commentators identify Dimnah with Rimmono in 1 Chronicles 6:77, but without sufficient reason; for the next of the Chronicles is no doubt corrupt in this passage, as it has only two names, Rimmono and Tabor, instead of four.)

which are not mentioned among the towns of Zebulun in Joshua 19:11., and are unknown, and Nahalal (Joshua 19:15).

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