Joshua is growing old, yet the conquest is still not complete—Philistia and Lebanon are not yet under Israelite rule. Joshua prepares to divide the land along tribal lines. The Israelites will have to continue his lifework and invade the few areas left unconquered after he dies. The tribes of Reuben, Gad, and half of Manasseh are alloted the lands east of the Jordan river. The others will receive an inheritance in Canaan—other than the Levites, who have been designated to serve God on behalf of their brethren and are therefore not given a specific territory. Joshua is disheartened by the reluctance of the Israelites to fulfill their responsibilities. The tribes’ failure to completely conquer Canaan is a mishap and infraction that they will need to fix. They must hold up their end of the divine covenant in order to earn God’s providence.
“Now Joshua was old and stricken in years… and there remaineth yet very much land to be possessed” (Joshua 13:1)
Spiritual progress requires hard work; thoroughness means leaving no stone unturned