Thursday, March 28, 2019

"Don't Be a Little Piggy"

Joshua 19:8b-9 “The Message”

“This is the inheritance of the tribe of Simeon according to its clans. 

The inheritance of Simeon came out of the share of Judah, because Judah’s portion turned out to be more than they needed. 

That’s how the people of Simeon came to get their lot from within Judah’s portion.”

I lived at Haggett Hall dormitory on the University of Washington campus in 1970 where most students were never late for ‘Steak Night’ at the dormitory cafeteria. When the catering staff ran low on steaks, they substituted hamburger patties. If you came early and ate fast and were just a little lucky, you might get seconds on steak before ‘gristle patties’ were served to latecomers. ‘First come first serve’ ruled in the dining room. I ate more than my fair share of seconds on steak. I never felt quite right about it, but the lure of sirloin was too strong. I was a little steak piggy.

Look at a map of the twelve tribes of Israel in the back of your study Bible. Notice Simeon landlocked by Judah in southern Palestine? Judah was the first tribe to receive its property allotment on the west side of the Jordan River (Joshua 15.1ff). The order of land distribution was determined by the casting of lots. Being first, Judah was accidentally given more land than necessary or equitable. By Simeon’s turn, land was becoming scarce without enough to go around. Joshua and the leaders of Israel, with the consent of all parties, decided that Judah would share its inheritance with Simeon who received their property inheritance “within Judah’s portion.”

Judah was first in line and got the biggest and best portion of land, but that did not entitle Judah to keep it. Once the inequity was realized, Judah became willing to share. [1]

At God’s banquet table everyone is entitled to a full and equal portion, as Paul explained to the Corinthian church:
“Our desire is not that others might be relieved while you are hard pressed, but that there might be equality. At the present time your plenty will supply what they need, so that in turn their plenty will supply what you need. Then there will be equality, as it is written: ‘He who gathered much did not have too much, and he who gathered little did not have too little.’” 
2nd Corinthians 8.13-15 NIV (quoting Exodus 16.18)

Judah was first in line for property allotments. Many of us also have more than our fair share...
  • just plain lucky
  • of royal lineage
  • unexpected sale
  • surprise windfall
  • gifted and talented
  • healthy and strong
  • blessed with good looks
  • born of wealthy parents
  • unexpected tax refund
  • uncommonly privileged
  • citizen of the USA by birth
  • recipient of large inheritance
  • job promotion
  • friends who care
  • warm bed, roof over head, and enough to eat
  • the incredible and free gift of membership in the community of Jesus followers as a redeemed child of the living God
A privileged station in life or larger accidental portion does not automatically entitle one to the biggest and best of everything. Lucky and blessed people, organizations, churches, communities, and countries have no excuse for behaving like little piggies.

[1] Reformer John Calvin observed of this passage from Joshua: “…as it is decided by the common consent of all the tribes that more has been given to them [Judah] than they can possess without loss and injury to the others, they [Judah] immediately desist from all pretext for disputing the matter…. acknowledging that it would have been wrong to give them [Judah] what would occasion loss to others, they willingly resign it, and give a welcome reception to their brethren [Simeon], who must otherwise have remained without inheritance…” (from Calvin’s Commentaries, John Calvin, “Commentary on Joshua”, 1561.)

The image of the piglet at the top of this post is entitled "Little Piggy" by photographer Jill Greenberg & Studio Holdings, LLC (

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