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Bible Commentaries

John Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible
Joshua 17

 

 

Verses 1-18


The Lot of Joseph (continued)

Inheritance of Western Manasseh. The Complaint of the children of Joseph, and Joshua's Reply.

1-6. The inheritance of Manasseh especially (Joshua 17:2) of the Western half-tribe.

1. The father of Gilead] The expression is rather geographical than strictly genealogical, according to Oriental usage. Cp. the table of the generations of the sons of Noah in Genesis 10.

3f The daughters of Zelophehad] Their case comes up for judgment before Moses in Numbers 27:1-7 and again in Numbers 36:1-12. Their contention was recognised as just (Numbers 36:4).

7-13. The frontiers of Western Manasseh. See on Joshua 16.

8, 9. Belonged to the children of Ephraim] cp. Joshua 16:8, Joshua 16:9.

11-13. The Canaanites still held a chain of fortified cities in the N. from Beth-shean on the E. to Accho on the coast.

13. Put the Canaanites to tribute] RV 'to task-work': cp. Joshua 16:10. The remark indicates that the conquest proved exceedingly difficult in some parts of the country, and that the Canaanites long held their own.

14-18. This passage, which is from the Primitive source, supports the testimony of Judges (see on Joshua 18:13) that much of the final settlement was left to individual tribal effort. It also throws light on the character of the children of Joseph. The spirit of self-aggrandisement and self-importance here displayed made Ephraim the great rival of Judah throughout history. It shows itself still more vehemently in the period of the Judges, both in their 'chiding' of their kinsman Gideon the Manassite (Judges 8), and their quarrel with Jephthah (Judges 12). Joseph and Judah are alike prominent in the patriarchal blessing (Genesis 49:8, Genesis 49:22), and are alike in their growth during the period of wanderings. Joseph increased from 72,000 to 85,200, and Judah from 74,600 to 76,500 while the total for all Israel was lower at the second census by nearly 2,000 (cp. Numbers 1 and Numbers 26). After Othniel's time until the rise of David, Judah sinks into unimportance; while Ephraim, as the tribe of Joshua, and the home of the national sanctuary (Gilgal, Shechem and Shiloh), takes a foremost place. And it was no doubt the jealous memories of past glories in which Joseph had been supplanted by David's tribe, that made Ephraim take so prominent a part in the revolt of the northern tribes under Jeroboam.

15. If thou be a great people] Joshua shows tact and firmness in dealing with his own tribesmen as with all the rest. There is a mixture of encouragement with salutary rebuke in his reply, and also practical common-sense. 'Persevere and have confidence in yourselves: ultimately you will prevail over the Canaanites, better equipped though they are for warfare in the plains. Meanwhile you can at least make yourselves clearings in the forest highlands formerly occupied by the pre-Canaanite Rephaim.' Mount Ephraim] covers all the later Samaria (cp. Jeremiah 31:5-6) including Ramah and Beth-el (Judges 4:5) and Shechem (Joshua 20:7). The name seems to have spread from the hill-country immediately N. of Benjamin.

18. The outgoings of Mt. Ephraim are valleys, broad, fertile, and of easy gradients.

 


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Bibliography Information
Dummelow, John. "Commentary on Joshua 17:4". "John Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/dcb/joshua-17.html. 1909.

Lectionary Calendar
Sunday, October 20th, 2019
the Week of Proper 24 / Ordinary 29
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