After the incident of the Gibeonites deceiving the Israelites, several chapters before in the book of Joshua, not all inhabitants were conquered and, in fact, could live among the Israelites. Therefore, we have the Gibeonites among the Israelites and other groups followed. The significance of this detail is that the Israelites failed to follow God’s command to conquer the land. They eventually suffered the consequence from those others in the land. This is an item for everyone that the simple and best way to live is to obey God.
As a footnote, it is interesting that Joshua 17 verse 18 mentions that the Canaanites had iron chariots. Even this early in history, warfare was being refined. In this case it was the enemy of the Israelites that displayed such an advancement. In chapter 18, there is another mention of giants in the land.
In two separate incidents women requested of Joshua that they be granted an inheritance and that request was granted. For those who would say that females were treated unfairly in the Bible must deal with this evidence that that statement is not true.
Families and tribes are listed for where they would be living in the promise land. It was at this time that the Levites who were the priests of the Israelites gained no special inheritance because God was there inheritance. They were strictly to serve the Lord in behalf of the people.
God anticipated the need for mercy to be demonstrated to a suspected criminal. In chapter 20 he established cities of refuge. This person that would take advantage of the city was one that killed unawares and unwittingly. The purpose of the refuge was that the avenger of the accidental killing could not take revenge. This is not an arbitrary retreat by the killer. He had to pass examination by the elders of the city to verify that it was legitimate for him to dwell among the people of the refuge city. After the death of the high priest the slayer was permitted to return to his home safely.
The tribe of Levi was not homeless, nor did they dwell strictly in the locale of the tabernacle. They did have cities granted unto them, and that it was specifically indicated that these were of the tribe of the priests.
In chapter 22 Joshua addressed the Reubenites, the Gadites, and the half tribe of Manasseh. He recognized their faithfulness to their brethren while gaining possession of the land. These 2 ½ tribes were permitted to take riches and cattle and precious metals and iron with them that they gained from their part of conquering enemies.
Joshua addressed them in such a way that his words would be wise for us to hear. He said, “take diligent heed to do the commandments and the law, which Moses the servant of the Lord charged you, to love the Lord your God, and to walk in all his ways, and to keep his commandments, and to cleave unto him, and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul.”