Tribal allotments of Israel

Tribal allotments of Israel

According to the Book of Joshua, Joshua divided the newly conquered land of Canaan into parcels, and assigned them to the Tribes of Israel by lot. The Book of Joshua describes the parcels by giving landmarks along the borders, or in some cases by listing the included cities. If the landmarks listed in Joshua can be identified with modern sites, the borders can be placed on a map.

A general principle, articulated by the archaeologist Yohanan Aharoni, is that each town had a surrounding territory of villages and land that were dependent on it, and the tribal borders ran along the borders of these territories, rather than through the towns themselves. It may be possible to determine the borders of town territories by looking at archaeological field surveys.

The division of Canaan into tribal territories is supposedly set at the time of Joshua's conquest. But by the Bible's account, and archaeologically as well, the Israelites did not conquer the plains at that time; thus, those borders that run through the plains are nominal; they partition land that Israel did not possess.

Galilee Tribes

*Tribe of Naphtali : Josh 19:32-39.
*Tribe of Issachar : Josh 19:17-23.
*Tribe of Zebulun : Josh 19:10-16.
*Tribe of Asher : Josh 19:24-31.

Eastern Tribes

*Tribe of Reuben : Josh 13:15-23
*Tribe of Gad : Josh 13:24-28
*Tribe of Manasseh eastern half, the children of Machir : Josh 13:29-31

West, north, and east borders Manasseh

Josh 17:1-10.

The Manasseh-Ephraim border

Josh 16:1-10 17:7-10
*Kanah river: Wadi Qanah
*Tappuah: Tell Sheikh Abu Zarad
*Michmethath over against Shechem
*Taanath-shiloh: Khirbet Ta'na el-Foqa
*Janoah: Khirbet Yanun

The Ephraim-Dan border

*Beth-horon, upper and lower (Ephraim list only): Beit-`Ue, el-Foqa and el-Tahta
*Aijalon: Yalo
*Shaalbim: Selbit
*Gezer(Ephraim list only)
*Jehud: Yahudiyyeh, 8 km N of Lod
*Bene-berak: Ibn Beraq, 3 km NE of Azor
*Gath-rimmon: Tell el-Jerisheh
*The border that faces JoppaThese towns are all along the Aijalon river.

The Dan-Benjamin border

North to south
*Beth-horon, upper and lower: Beit-`Ue, el-Foqa and el-Tahta
*Aijalon (Dan list only): Yalo
*Shaalbim (Dan list only): Selbit
*Eshtaol (Dan list only): Eshwa`
*Zorah (Dan list only): Sar`ah
*Kiriath-Jearim: Tell Qiryat Ye'arim or Deir el-'AzarThese towns define a line which runs along the edge of the highlands, which forms a natural border.

The Ephraim-Benjamin border

Josh 18:12-14: east to west
*Jericho: Tell es-Sultan
*Wilderness of Bethaven, Bethaven may be another name for Bethel
*Bethel: Beitin
*Ataroth: Tell Mazar
*the Archi, this is an Israeli clan, not a place; where they lived is unknown
*the Japhleti, also a people rather than a place, who they were and where they lived unknown
*Beth-horon, upper and lower: Beit-`Ur, el-Foqa and el-Tahta

Benjamin town list

Josh 18:21-28:
*Jericho, and Bethhoglah ('Ain Hajlah), and the valley of Keziz;
*and Betharabah, and Zemaraim (es-Samra?), and Bethel (Beitin);
*And Avim, and Parah (Farah, c. 3 miles NE of `Anata.), and Ophrah (eT-Taiyebeh?);
*And Chepharhaammonai, and Ophni, and Gaba; twelve cities with their villages:
*Gibeon, and Ramah, and Beeroth;
*And Mizpeh, and Chephirah, and Mozah;
*And Rekem, and Irpeel, and Taralah;
*And Zelah, Eleph, and Jebusi (Jerusalem), Gibeath, Kirjath; fourteen cities with their villages.

The Dan-Judah border

(Josh 15:10-11 & 19:40-47). Listed east to west:
*Mount Jearim: related in some way to Kiriath-Jearim: Tell Qiryat Ye'arim or Deir el-'Azar
*which [is] Chesalon: Kesla
*Eshtaol (Dan list only): Eshwa`
*Zorah (Dan list only): Sar`ah
*Bethshemesh (Irshemesh in Dan list): Tell er-Rumeileh
*Timnah: Tell el-Batashi
*Ekron: Khirbet el-Muqanna`
*Shicron/Shikkeron (Judah list only): Tel el-Ful
*Mount Baalah/Baalath: Mughar
*Jabneel (Judah list only): Yebnah
*Eltekah (Dan list only): Tell esh-Shallaf?
*the goings out of the border were at the sea.

These towns are all near the river Sorek (Wadi es-Soreq), some north and some south, and Aharoni has proposed that the Sorek was the border. The list of towns given for Dan is called a border, and it does seem to be a border list (which means that some towns listed may be in adjoining tribes). There are some towns in the Dan list that are not clearly identified:
*Gibbethon is commonly identified with Tell el-Melat, but this is criticized by Na`aman, on the grounds that Gibbethon was near a stream; he proposes Tell Ras Abu Hamid, which others think is Gittaim.

The Benjamin-Judah border

(Josh 15 & 18) : Listed east to west:
*Bethhoglah ('Ain Hajlah)
*the Arabah/Betharabah
*the stone of Bohan ben-Reuben
*Debir (Thoghret ed-Debr)
*the valley of Achor (Wadi Qilt?)
*Adummim (Tal`at ed-Damm)
*Geliloth; Geliloth means district, and may or may not be a place name.
*Enshemesh (`Ain el-Chod)
*Enrogel (Bir Ayyub)
*the Jebusi
*the valley of Hinnom, or ben-Hinnom
*a mountain before the valley of Hinnom
*the well of waters of Nephtoah: Lifta
*the towns of mount Ephron
*Kiriath-Jearim: Tell Qiryat Ye'arim or Deir el-'Azar

Simeon's borders

*Tribe of Simeon : Josh 19:1-9.

The southern border of Judah

Numbers 34:2-5, Joshua 15:1-4, Ezekiel 47:19, 48:28. East to west:
*wilderness of Zin: SW of the S end of the Dead Sea
*Tamar: `Ain Husb
*the Salt Sea: the Dead Sea
*Akrabbim ascent: Naqb es-Safa
*Kadesh-barnea/Meribath-kadesh: `Ain Qedeis or Khirbet el-Qudeirat
*Hazar-addar: perhaps Khirbet el-Qudeirat
*Hezron: probably the same place as Hazar-addar
*Azmon: Qesiimeh
*The Brook of Egypt: Wadi el-`Arish
*the Great Sea: the Mediterranean

ee also

*Biblical archaeology
*Archaeology of Israel
*Tribes of Israel
*List of Biblical names

External links

* [ International Standard Bible Encyclopedia] - (
* [ Jewish Encyclopedia]
* [ Bible Atlas Online] by [ Access Foundation]

Books and Maps

*cite book | author=Abu-Sitta, Salman H. | title=Atlas of Palestine, 1948 | publisher= [ Palestine Land Society] | year=2004
*cite book | author=Aharoni, Yohanan | title=The Land of the Bible; A Historical Geography | publisher=The Westminster Press | year=1979 | id=ISBN 0-664-24266-9
*cite book | author=Campbell, E., Jr. | title=Shechem II | publisher=ASOR | year=1991 | id=ISBN 0-89757-062-6
*cite book | author=Dever, William G. | title=Who Were the Early Israelites and Where Did They Come From? | publisher=Wm. B. Eerdmans | year=2003 | id=ISBN 0-8028-0975-8
*cite book | author=Dorsey, David A. | title=The Roads and Highways of Ancient Israel | publisher=Johns Hopkins University Press | year=1991 | id=ISBN 0-8018-3898-3
*cite book | author=Finkelstein, I. and Z. Lederman (eds.)| title=Highlands of Many Cultures: The Southern Samaria Survey | publisher=Tel Aviv University Institute of Archaeology | year=1997 | id=ISBN 965-440-007-3
*cite book | author=May, Herbert G. | title=Oxford Bible Atlas | publisher=Oxford University Press | year=1974 | id=ISBN 0-19-211556-1
*cite book | author=Kallai, Zecharia | title=Historical Geography of the Bible; The Tribal Territories of Israel | publisher=The Magnes Press, The Hebrew University | year=1986 | id=ISBN 965-223-631-4
*cite book | author=Miller, Robert D., II, | title=Chieftains Of The Highland Clans: A History Of Israel In The Twelfth And Eleventh Centuries B.C. | publisher=Wm. B. Eerdmans | year=2005 | id=ISBN 0-8028-0988-X
*cite book | author=Na'aman, Nadav | title=Borders and Districts in Biblical Historiography | publisher=Simor, Ltd. | year=1986 | id=ISBN 965-242-005-0

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