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The Levitical towns - the basic texts

Contents

  1. The listings in Joshua 21
  2. The listings in 1 Chronicles 6
  3. Other relevant information

This page explores the primary textual information available in Joshua, 1 Chronicles, and a few other scattered places. Comments on the lists are left to other pages in this collection.

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The listings in Joshua 21

Joshua 21:4-42 has the following information:

The Kohathites who were descendants of Aaron were allocated:
9 towns from the tribes of Judah and Simeon, namely:
 - Hebron (a city of refuge), Libnah, Jattir, Eshtemoa, Holon, Debir, Ain, Juttah, and Beth Shemesh.
4 towns from the tribe of Benjamin, namely:
 - Gibeon, Geba, Anathoth, and Almon.
The remaining Kohathites were allocated:
4 towns from the tribe of Ephraim, namely:
 - Shechem (a city of refuge), Gezer, Kibzaim and Beth Horon
4 towns from the tribe of Dan, namely:
 - Eltekeh, Gibbethon, Aijalon and Gath-Rimmon
2 towns from the half-tribe of Manasseh west of the Jordan, namely:
 - Taanach and Gath-Rimmon
The Gershonites were allocated:
2 towns from the half-tribe of Manasseh in transJordan, namely:
 - Golan in Bashan (a city of refuge) and Be Eshtarah
4 towns from the tribe of Issachar, namely:
 - Kishion, Daberah, Jarmuth and En Gammin
4 towns from the tribe of Asher, namely:
 - Mishal, Abdon, Helkath and Rehob
3 towns from the tribe of Naphtali, namely:
 - Kedesh in Galilee (a city of refuge), Hammoth Dor and Kartan
The Merarites were allocated:
4 towns from the tribe of Zebulun, namely:
 - Jokneam, Kartah, Dimnah and Nahalal
4 towns from the tribe of Reuben, namely:
 - Bezer (a city of refuge but not identified as such in this passage), Jahaz, Kedemoth and Mephaath
4 towns from the tribe of Gad, namely:
 - Ramoth in Gilead (a city of refuge), Mahanaim, Heshbon and Jazer

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The listings in 1 Chronicles 6

1 Chronicles 6:54-80 has the following information:

The Kohathites who were descendants of Aaron were allocated:
9 towns from the tribes of Judah and Simeon, namely:
 - Hebron (a city of refuge), Libnah, Jattir, Eshtemoa, Hilen, Debir, Ashan, Juttah, and Beth Shemesh.
4 towns from the tribe of Benjamin, namely:
 - Gibeon, Geba, Alemeth, and Anathoth.
(Note that the Hebrew suggests that both Hebron and Libnah were cities of refuge, and omits Juttah and Gibeon. The above is based on the Septuagint and other manuscripts).

The remaining Kohathites were allocated:
6 towns from the tribe of Ephraim, namely:
 - Shechem (a city of refuge), Gezer, Jokmeam, Beth Horon, Aijalon and Gath-Rimmon
2 towns from the half-tribe of Manasseh west of the Jordan, namely:
 - Aner and Bileam
(Note that the preamble asserts that these Kohathites were allotted ten towns, whereas there are only eight names listed. The Hebrew suggests that both Shechem and Gezer were cities of refuge, with the above based on the Septuagint and others).

The Gershonites were allocated:
2 towns from the half-tribe of Manasseh in transJordan, namely:
 - Golan in Bashan and Ashtaroth
4 towns from the tribe of Issachar, namely:
 - Kedesh, Daberath, Ramoth and Anem
4 towns from the tribe of Asher, namely:
 - Mashal, Abdon, Hukok and Rehob
3 towns from the tribe of Naphtali, namely:
 - Kedesh in Galilee, Hammon and Kiriathaim
(Note that Golan in Bashan and Kedesh in Galilee are not identified as cities of refuge here).

The Merarites were allocated:
4 towns from the tribe of Zebulun, namely:
 - Jokneam, Kartah, Rimmono and Tabor
4 towns from the tribe of Reuben, namely:
 - Bezer, Jahzah, Kedemoth and Mephaath
4 towns from the tribe of Gad, namely:
 - Ramoth in Gilead, Mahanaim, Heshbon and Jazer
(Note that the Hebrew omits Jokneam and Kartah. The above is based on the Septuagint and other manuscripts).

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Other relevant information

The following other verses are of substantial use for understanding this issue:

Original tribal allocations:
The half-tribe of Manasseh in transJordan, Reuben and Gad - Joshua 13
Judah - Joshua 15
Ephraim and Manasseh west of the Jordan - Joshua 16 and 17
Benjamin - Joshua 18
Simeon, Zebulun, Issachar, Asher, Naphtali, and Dan - Joshua 19
Unsuccessful tribal attempts to take over territory:
Joshua 15-19
12:XX. Areas failed to secure spoken to Joshua...
12:XX. Manasseh (in transJordan) failed to drive out the inhabitants of Geshur and Maacah. This would probably include the town of Ashtaroth.
15:63. Judah failed to drive out the Jebusites from Jerusalem.
16:10. Ephraim failed to take Gezer.
17:11, 12. Manasseh failed to take Beth Shan, Ibleam, Dor, Endor, Taanach and Megiddo.
19:47. Dan failed to take the coastal plain and at some stage moved north to capture Leshem (Laish).
Judges 1
1:19. Judah failed to take Gaza, Ashkelon and Ekron (Hebrew has "took", Septuagint has "failed to take", and is supported by v.19).
1:21. Benjamin failed to take Jerusalem.
1:27. Manasseh failed to take Beth Shan, Taanach, Dor, Ibleam, and Megiddo.
1:29. Ephraim failed to take Gezer.
1:30. Zebulun failed to take Kitron and Nahalol.
1:31. Asher failed to take Acco, Sidon, Ahlab, Helbah, Aphek, and Rehob.
1:33. Naphtali failed to take Beth Shemesh and Beth Anath.
1:34. Dan failed to take the coastal plain, Mount Heres, Aijalon, and Shaalbim.
Most of these places were eventually taken by the tribes concerned, and the Canaanite inhabitants subjected to slavery. However, the Danites abandonned their attempt to seize the coastal plain, and Ephraim eventually took control of Aijalon and the surrounding area.

Other relevant texts are discussed individually as required.

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