Numbers 34 – The Boundaries of the Land, Men Chosen to Portion the Land
A. The boundaries of the Promised Land.
1. (1-2) Introduction.
Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “Command the children of Israel, and say to them: ‘When you come into the land of Canaan, this is the land that shall fall to you as an inheritance; the land of Canaan to its boundaries.’”
a. This is the land that shall fall to you: God was about to describe the borders of the Promised Land to Moses and the children of Israel. Though the lands on the eastern side of the Jordan River belonged to Israel (and two and one-half tribes settled on the eastern lands), those lands were not considered to be the “Promised Land” – that is, Canaan.
b. As an inheritance: Israel was going to have to take control of the Promised Land by conquest; they would have to drive out the Canaanites to take possession. Yet, they should never consider that the land was given to them because they earned it. It was given to them by God as an inheritance. Inheritances are freely given, not earned.
2. (3-5) The southern border of the Promised Land.
Your southern border shall be from the Wilderness of Zin along the border of Edom; then your southern border shall extend eastward to the end of the Salt Sea; your border shall turn from the southern side of the Ascent of Akrabbim, continue to Zin, and be on the south of Kadesh Barnea; then it shall go on to Hazar Addar, and continue to Azmon; the border shall turn from Azmon to the Brook of Egypt, and it shall end at the Sea.
a. To the Brook of Egypt: There is some debate about the identity of the Brook of Egypt; is it the Nile river, or a smaller stream towards the south? This would determine whether or not God gave the greater Sinai region to Israel as part of the Promised Land.
3. (6) The western border of the Promised Land: The Mediterranean Sea.
As for the western border, you shall have the Great Sea for a border; this shall be your western border.
4. (7-9) The northern border of the Promised Land.
And this shall be your northern border: From the Great Sea you shall mark out your border line to Mount Hor; from Mount Hor you shall mark out your border to the entrance of Hamath; then the direction of the border shall be toward Zedad; the border shall proceed to Ziphron, and it shall end at Hazar Enan. This shall be your northern border.
5. (10-12) The eastern border of the Promised Land.
You shall mark out your eastern border from Hazar Enan to Shepham; the border shall go down from Shepham to Riblah on the east side of Ain; the border shall go down and reach to the eastern side of the Sea of Chinnereth; the border shall go down along the Jordan, and it shall end at the Salt Sea. This shall be your land with its surrounding boundaries.
6. (13-15) This is the land the nine and one-half tribes settling on the western side of the Jordan River would divide.
Then Moses commanded the children of Israel, saying: “This is the land which you shall inherit by lot, which the Lord has commanded to give to the nine tribes and to the half-tribe. For the tribe of the children of Reuben according to the house of their fathers, and the tribe of the children of Gad according to the house of their fathers, have received their inheritance; and the half-tribe of Manasseh has received its inheritance. The two tribes and the half-tribe have received their inheritance on this side of the Jordan, across from Jericho eastward, toward the sunrise.”
B. Leaders appointed to divide the land.
1. (16-17) Joshua and Eleazar appointed to divide the land.
And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “These are the names of the men who shall divide the land among you as an inheritance: Eleazar the priest and Joshua the son of Nun.”
a. Eleazar the priest and Joshua the son of Nun: The division of the land was, in fact, a potentially divisive – even explosive – issue among the people of Israel. It was right to take the two most godly and prominent leaders of the nation to direct this essential and controversial duty.
2. (18-29) Leaders from each of the twelve tribes are appointed to help Joshua and Eleazar divide the land.
“And you shall take one leader of every tribe to divide the land for the inheritance. These are the names of the men: from the tribe of Judah, Caleb the son of Jephunneh; from the tribe of the children of Simeon, Shemuel the son of Ammihud; from the tribe of Benjamin, Elidad the son of Chislon; a leader from the tribe of the children of Dan, Bukki the son of Jogli; from the sons of Joseph: a leader from the tribe of the children of Manasseh, Hanniel the son of Ephod, and a leader from the tribe of the children of Ephraim, Kemuel the son of Shiphtan; a leader from the tribe of the children of Zebulun, Elizaphan the son of Parnach; a leader from the tribe of the children of Issachar, Paltiel the son of Azzan; a leader from the tribe of the children of Asher, Ahihud the son of Shelomi; and a leader from the tribe of the children of Naphtali, Pedahel the son of Ammihud.” These are the ones the Lord commanded to divide the inheritance among the children of Israel in the land of Canaan.