Tribal allotments of Israel

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1759 map of the tribal allotments of Israel
12 Tribes of Israel Map.svg

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 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[edit]

Eastern tribes[edit]

Main article: Transjordan (Bible)

West, north, and east borders Manasseh[edit]

Joshua 17:1-10.

Manasseh-Ephraim border[edit]

Joshua 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
  • Ataroth
  • Naarath

Ephraim-Dan border[edit]

These towns are all along the Aijalon river.

Dan-Benjamin border[edit]

North to south

These towns define a line which runs along the edge of the highlands, which forms a natural border.

Ephraim-Benjamin border[edit]

Joshua 18:12-14: east to west

Benjamin town list[edit]

Joshua 18:21-28:

Dan-Judah border[edit]

(Joshua 15:10-11 & 19:40-47). Listed east to west:

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:

Benjamin-Judah border[edit]

(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[edit]

Southern border of Judah[edit]

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
  • Edom
  • Tamar: `Ain Husb
  • the Salt Sea: the Dead Sea
  • Akrabbim ascent: Naqb es-Safa
  • Zin
  • 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

See also[edit]

External links[edit]

Books and Maps[edit]

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