After the land of Canaan of captured; Joshua, the successor of Moses, led the Israelites into Canaan. The Israelites would go on to divide up the land as an inheritance for the twelve tribes. A significant segment of the narrative in the book of Joshua provides us with a detailed description regarding the territorial boundaries of the twelve tribes.
What is particularly noteworthy regarding the description of the territorial divisions is that Canaanites continued to live in the land alongside the Israelites. Even when Israelites did take over most of the land of Canaan, they never succeeded in pushing out the Canaanites who had lived on the land prior to their arrival. It can thus be derived that they had to find a way to coexist with each other.
In addition to relations with ‘foreigners’ or the pre-existing local population, the Book of Joshua identifies Israel’s boundaries and focuses on the particular portions that were assigned to specific tribes. These allotments became problematic as some tribes received larger and better inheritances than others. This in turn caused and led to disparities, abuse, further division and even war.
In order to deal with the troubles that ensued with time to come, everyone was called and reminded to respect the specific allotments that God had established in the days of Joshua. For instance, since Israel’s most prominent tribe was Judah, Judah received a very large inheritance as they were destined to be the royal tribe of Israel.
Time and again and through the centuries, the tribes of Israel divided and turned against each other. At the same time, however, Israel could not move forward unless the tribes stood together as one people. While on the surface, there seemed to be a division, the truth was that they were still one people.