Instructing through God’s word
Then the leaders of the tribe of Levi came to consult with Eleazar the priest, Joshua son of Nun, and the leaders of the other tribes of Israel. They came to them at Shiloh in the land of Canaan and said, “The Lord commanded Moses to give us towns to live in and pasturelands for our livestock.” So by the command of the Lord the people of Israel gave the Levites the following towns and pasturelands out of their own grants of land. The descendants of Aaron, who were members of the Kohathite clan within the tribe of Levi, were allotted thirteen towns that were originally assigned to the tribes of Judah, Simeon, and Benjamin. The other families of the Kohathite clan were allotted ten towns from the tribes of Ephraim, Dan, and the half-tribe of Manasseh. The clan of Gershon was allotted thirteen towns from the tribes of Issachar, Asher, Naphtali, and the half-tribe of Manasseh in Bashan. The clan of Merari was allotted twelve towns from the tribes of Reuben, Gad, and Zebulun. So the Israelites obeyed the Lord’s command to Moses and assigned these towns and pasturelands to the Levites by casting sacred lots. Joshua 21:1-8
From the text, the Levites requested that they will be provided lands where they can graze their livestock. The request was based upon Moses’ decree which stated that the cities apportioned to the Levites will be coming from the territories of every tribe (see Numbers 35:1-8). Though the Levites are not expected to own lands but they need something where they can raise their cattle. So, Joshua’s apportioning of the land for the Levites showed that this tribe will live among the Israelites and will not settle in a specific location. They will be dispersed in forty-eight cities that were designated at Shiloh, the Israelites place of worship where the Ark of the Covenant was temporarily housed. The Levites were tasked to teach the Israelites the law. “The Levites obeyed your word and guarded your covenant. They were more loyal to you than to their own parents. They ignored their relatives and did not acknowledge their own children. They teach your regulations to Jacob; they give your instructions to Israel” (Deuteronomy 33:9-10). The Israelites were expected to learn about God’s laws and since they do not have a copy of the law and the Levites have, they must teach the Israelites. They could easily do this because they were scattered throughout the land living among the Israelites. The actions taken by the Israelites providing from their allotment the Levites their land proved of their willingness to obey God’s command. The Israelites saw the importance of the Levites engaging the people in their spiritual observances. God’s faithfulness to the Israelites was continually demonstrated through the lives of the Levites who will serve God’s people by teaching them to follow and obey God’s commands.