Geography Pages

Israel at the time of Joshua, Judges, and Ruth

All boundaries, and borders of countries, are approximate. The territory controlled by a people varied from time to time, and was often disputed by other peoples


map of the Tribes of Israel The Tribes of Israel
Other Nations
Manasseh Half of the tribe of Manasseh wanted to stay on the east of the Jordan, because the country was good for grazing and they had herds of animals. The other half of the tribe decided to cross over the Jordan and settle in Canaan
Naphtali The tribe of Naphtali was allotted the region to the west of Lake Galilee. Although Joshua had captured and burned the Canaanite fortified city of Hazor (Joshua 11:1-13) it evidently came back into power and was a problem to the Israelites until the time of the prophetess Deborah (Judges, chapters 4 & 5)
Asher The tribe of Asher had access to the sea coast and one of the few regions where there were bays and harbors for ships, so they became sailors. They did not help in the fight against Sisera of Hazor
Dan The Danites were originally allotted territory by the sea coast, but they were unable to drive out the Philistines. They sent out a scouting party to find another suitable place to live, and eventually found a town called Laish, belonging to Sidon, but too far from Sidon for help. So the Danites burned the town and built another one which they called "Dan" (Judges, chapter 18). Dan was one of the northernmost cities of Israel. "From Dan to Beersheba" meant the whole of Israel. Dan is now an archaeological site, where the walls and city gate have been excavated, and where an inscription mentioning "the house (family) of David" has been found
Zebulun The tribe of Zebulun was allotted the hill country between the Galilee and the Mediterranean coast. Some of the important ancient highways passed through their territory
Issachar The tribe of Issachar was allotted territory which included the Valley of Jezreel, controlled by the fortified city of Megiddo. Many battles took place in the Valley of Jezreel. The Mountain of Megiddo, "Har-Megiddo" in Hebrew, has come into English as "Armageddon"
Ephraim The tribe of Ephraim was allotted territory in the mountainous central region of Canaan. Joshua was an Ephraimite, so he lived in this region. Shiloh was chosen as the first center for worship and administration (Joshua 18:1)
Benjamin Thr tribe of Benjamin was nearly wiped out by the other tribes (Judges, chapters 19, 20. & 21). However, they survived, and the first king of Israel, Saul, was a Benjamite from Gibeah. When the land was divided into two kingdoms after the death of Solomon, most of the Benjamites remained with the Judahites and formed the Southern Kingdom of Judah
Judah The tribe of Judah was allotted the territory which included Bethlehem, the home of Naomi's family, where Ruth married Boaz, and where David was born. Although Joshua won a battle against the king of Jerusalem, the Jebusites apparently recaptured the city and held it until King David captured it again and made it his capital (II Samuel, 6-10)
Simeon The tribe of Simeon was allotted territory within or alongside the territory of Judah, including the town of Beersheba. It seems that most of the Simeonites were either assimilated into Judah, or joined with the Northern Kingdom of Israel at the time of the Divided Kingdom, and were taken into exile from which they did not return
Reuben The tribe of Reuben asked to be allowed to remain east of the Jordan, where there was good pasture for their flocks. They dispossessed the Moabites of some of their territory, but were often raided by surviving Moabites, Edomites, Ammonites, and Amalekites
Gad The tribe of Gad also asked to be allowed to remain east of the Jordan. They too were often raided and invaded by surrounding nations, and were eventually carried away to captivity in Assyria

Phoenicians The Phoenicians lived mainly to the north of Canaan. They lost their towns of Laish (Dan) and Dor, south of Carmel, but retained control of Tyre and Sidon. Hiram King of Tyre helped Solomon build the Temple in Jerusalem
Philistines The Philistines had invaded Canaan by sea shortly before the Israelites entered by crossing the Jordan. They held the coastal strip, and were able to fight everyone else off because they learned how to make weapons of iron
Moabites The Moabites were descendents of Moab, son of Lot and his eldest daughter (Genesis 19:30-38)
Edomites The Edomites were descendents of Esau (also called Edom), twin brother of Jacob (also called Israel) (Genesis 25:19-27 & 36:1-43)

Go here for the History of the period

Copyright © 1999 Shirley J. Rollinson, all Rights Reserved

Dr. Rollinson

Station 19
Portales, NM 88130

Last Updated: June 17, 2017

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