on Joshua 14 :2
By lot was their inheritance - Concerning the meaning and use of the lot, see the note on Numbers 26:55; and concerning the manner of casting lots in the case of the scapegoat, see the note on Leviticus 16:8, Leviticus 16:9. On this subject Dr. Dodd has selected some good observations from Calmet and Masius, which I here borrow: "Though God had sufficiently pointed out by the predictions of Jacob when dying, and those of Moses, what portions he designed for each tribe, we readily discern an admirable proof of his wisdom in the orders he gave to decide them by lot. By this means the false interpretations which might have been given to the words of Jacob and Moses were prevented; and by striking at the root of whatever might occasion jealousies and disputes among the tribes, he evidently secured the honesty of those who were to be appointed to distribute to them the conquered countries in the land of Canaan. Besides, the success of this method gave a fresh proof of the Divinity of the Jewish religion, and the truth of its oracles. Each tribe finding itself placed by lot exactly in the spot which Jacob and Moses had foretold, it was evident that Providence had equally directed both those predictions and that lot. The event justified the truth of the promises. The more singular it was, the more clearly we discern the finger of God in it. The portion, says Masius, fell to each tribe just as Jacob had declared two hundred and fifty years before in the last moments of his life, and Moses, immediately before his death; for to the tribe of Judah fell a country abounding in vineyards and pastures; to Zebulun and Issachar, seacoasts; in that of Asher was plenty of oil, wheat, and metals; that of Benjamin, near to the temple, was, in a manner, between the shoulders of the Deity; Ephraim and Manasseh were distinguished with a territory blessed in a peculiar manner by Heaven; the land of Naphtali extended from the west to the south of the tribe of Judah. Since therefore the lot so well corresponded to these predictions, would it not be insolence and stupidity in the highest degree, not to acknowledge the inspiration of God in the word of Jacob and Moses, the direction of his hand in the lot, and his providence in the event?" How the lot was cast in this case cannot be particularly determined. It is probable,
1. That the land was geographically divided into ten portions.
2. That each portion was called by a particular name.
3. That the name of each portion was written on a separate slip of parchment, wood, etc.
4. That the names of the claimants were also written on so many slips.
5. The names of the portions, and of the tribes, were put into separate vessels.
6. Joshua, for example, put his hand into the vessel containing the names of the tribes, and took out one slip; while Eleazar took out one from the other vessel, in which the names of the portions were put.
7. The name drawn, and the portion drawn, being read, it was immediately discerned what the district was which God had designed for such a tribe. This appears to be the most easy way to determine such a business.
on Joshua 14 :2
By lot - We are not told in what manner the lot was cast. Perhaps two urns were employed, one containing a description of the several districts to be allotted, the other the names of the tribes; and the portion of each tribe would then be determined by a simultaneous drawing from the two urns. Or a drawing might be made by some appointed person, or by a delegate of each tribe from one urn containing the description of the ten inheritances. The lot only determined in a general way the position in the country of the particular tribe concerned, whether north or south, etc.; the dimensions of each territory being left to be adjusted subsequently, according to the numbers and wants of the tribe to be provided for. Since the predilections and habits of two tribes and a half were consulted in the apportionment to them of the trans-Jordanic territory Numbers 32:1 there is no objection to the supposition that something of the same kind may have taken place, subject to the divine approval, in the distribution of the lands to the nine and a half other tribes; and the lot would thus be appealed to as finally deciding the matter and foreclosing jealousies and disputes.
It is apparent that the casting of the ten lots did not take place simultaneously. The tribe of Judah had precedence, whether by express appointment or because its lot "came up" first, does not appear. It was, as it seems, only after this tribe had settled upon its domains, that further lots were drawn for Ephraim and the half tribe of Manasseh. After this a pause, perhaps of some duration, appears to have occurred; the camp was moved from Gilgal to Shiloh; and the further casting of lots for the other seven tribes was proceeded with at the instigation of Joshua (see Joshua 18:10).
on Joshua 14 :2
14:2 By lot - This course God ordained, partly to prevent discontents, enmities and quarrels among the tribes, and partly to demonstrate the truth and wisdom of his providence, by which alone those parts fell to each of them, which Jacob long since, and Moses lately, foretold; so that as a learned man saith, he must be more stupid than stupidity, that doth not acknowledge a Divine hand in this matter. The lot did only determine the several parts to the several tribes, but did not precisely fix all the bounds of it; these might be either enlarged or diminished according to the greater or smaller number of the tribes.