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"HOW LONG ARE YOU SLACK TO GO TO POSSESS THE LAND" ( JOS. XVIII 3): IDEAL AND REALITY IN THE DISTRIBUTION DESCRIPTIONS IN JOSHUA XIII-XIX

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The chapters of the land distribution in the Book of Joshua have received a great deal of attention both from historical and geographical aspects. This article examines their ideological and theological significance. Jos. xiii-xix contains two different divisions of the land. The first division is followed by the portions of Judah, Ephraim, and Manasseh, while the second distribution relates to the territories of the remaining seven tribes. What is the rationale of the two distribution accounts? The thesis in this paper is that in the first division, the entire land, including the remaining unconquered land, was apportioned to the nine and one half tribes, in accordance with the divine precept. The settlement entailed the continuation of the conquest, each tribe acting independently. Judah, Manasseh and Ephraim, fulfilled this task, while, the other seven tribes did not do so. Joshua complained against this. However, he immediately conducted a second division of the land, that encompasses a much more limited area, that was already held by the Israelites, leaving out the remaining land in the north. The inclusion of the two apportionings is meant to show the partial failure of the Israelites during the period of the settlement. This study demonstrates that even in purely geographical texts of the Bible, we cannot ignore the authors' predominant theology interests.

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