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Bible Commentaries

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

Joshua 17

Verse 1

There was also a lot for the tribe of Manasseh; for he was the firstborn of Joseph; to wit, for Machir the firstborn of Manasseh, the father of Gilead: because he was a man of war, therefore he had Gilead and Bashan.

There was also a lot for the tribe of Manasseh. Ephraim had been mentioned first, as the more numerous and powerful branch of the family of Joseph (Genesis 48:19-20); but Manasseh still retained the right of primogeniture, and had a separate inheritance assigned.

Machir - his descendants.

The father of Gilead. Though he had a son of that name (Numbers 26:29; Numbers 27:1), yet, as is evident from the use of the Hebrew article [ 'ªbiy (H1) ha-Gil`aad (H1568)], reference is made, not to the person, but the province of Gilead. "Father" here means lord or possessor of Gilead; and this view is confirmed by the fact that it was not Machir, but his descendants, who subdued Gilead and Bashan (Numbers 32:41; Deuteronomy 3:13-15). These Machirites had their portion on the east side of Jordan. The western portion of land allotted to the tribe of Manasseh was divided into 10 portions, because the male descendants who had sons consisted of 5 families, to which, consequently, five shares were given; and the 6th family-namely, the posterity of Hepher-being all females, the 5 daughters of Zelophehad were, on application to the valuators, endowed each with an inheritance in land (see the note at Numbers 27:1), so that daughters in their circumstances inherited the rights of sons. The fifth and sixth verses are calculated to convey the impression that Gilead and Bashan were different names or portions of the same region. The former, however, was south of the latter, and the two countries were separate and distinct (cf. Deuteronomy 3:12).

Verses 2-6

There was also a lot for the rest of the children of Manasseh by their families; for the children of Abiezer, and for the children of Helek, and for the children of Asriel, and for the children of Shechem, and for the children of Hepher, and for the children of Shemida: these were the male children of Manasseh the son of Joseph by their families.

No JFB commentary on these verses.

Verse 7

And the coast of Manasseh was from Asher to Michmethah, that lieth before Shechem; and the border went along on the right hand unto the inhabitants of Entappuah.

The coast of Manasseh was from Asher to Michmethath ... the border went along on the right hand -

i.e., the south. The southern boundary is here traced from the east. Asher (now Yasir), the starting-point, was a town fifteen Roman miles east of Shechem, and anciently a place of importance.

Verse 8

Now Manasseh had the land of Tappuah: but Tappuah on the border of Manasseh belonged to the children of Ephraim;

No JFB commentary on this verse.

Verse 9

And the coast descended unto the river Kanah, southward of the river: these cities of Ephraim are among the cities of Manasseh: the coast of Manasseh also was on the north side of the river, and the outgoings of it were at the sea:

The coast descended unto the river Kanah, southward of the river. The line which separated the possessions of the two brothers from each other ran to the south of the stream, and thus the river was in the territory of Manasseh; but the cities which were upon the river, though all were within the limits of Manasseh's possessions, were assigned partly to Ephraim and portly to Manasseh-those on the south side being given to the former; these upon the north to the latter (Keil). It appears (Joshua 17:10) that Manasseh was still further interlaced with other neighbouring tribes.

Verse 10

Southward it was Ephraim's, and northward it was Manasseh's, and the sea is his border; and they met together in Asher on the north, and in Issachar on the east.

No JFB commentary on this verse.

Verse 11

And Manasseh had in Issachar and in Asher Bethshean and her towns, and Ibleam and her towns, and the inhabitants of Dor and her towns, and the inhabitants of Endor and her towns, and the inhabitants of Taanach and her towns, and the inhabitants of Megiddo and her towns, even three countries.

Beth-shean and her towns - Greek, Scythopolis (now Beisan), in the valley of the Jordan, toward the east end of the plain of Jezreel. "Beth-shean" means 'house of rest;' so called from its being the halting-place for caravans traveling between Syria or Midian and Egypt, and the great station for the commerce between these countries for many centuries. Beth-san, the Hamitic name = the house of the sun [Septuagint, Baithsan].

Ibleam and her towns - in the neighbourhood of Megiddo (2 Kings 9:27).

The inhabitants of Dor and her towns - now Tantoura; anciently a strong fortress. A wall of wild precipitous rock defended the shore fortifications against attack from the land side.

En-dor and her towns - situated on a rocky eminence, 4 Roman miles south of Tabor.

Taanach ... and Megiddo. These were near to each other, and they are generally mentioned in Scripture together. They were both royal and strongly fortified places (see the note at Judges 1:27).

Three countries - districts or provinces. It is computed that Manasseh possessed in Asher and Issachar portions of ground to the extent of more than 200 square miles.

Verse 12

Yet the children of Manasseh could not drive out the inhabitants of those cities; but the Canaanites would dwell in that land.

Manasseh could not drive out the inhabitants of those cities. Indolence, a love of ease, perhaps a mistaken humanity, arising from a disregard or forgetfulness of the divine command, a decreasing principle of faith and zeal in the service of God, were the causes of their failure.

Verse 13

Yet it came to pass, when the children of Israel were waxen strong, that they put the Canaanites to tribute; but did not utterly drive them out.

No JFB commentary on this verse.

Verse 14

And the children of Joseph spake unto Joshua, saying, Why hast thou given me but one lot and one portion to inherit, seeing I am a great people, forasmuch as the LORD hath blessed me hitherto?

The children of Joseph spake unto Joshua. The two tribes join in laying a complaint before the leader as to the narrow boundaries of their allotment, and its insufficiency to be the residence of tribes so vastly increased. But Joshua's answer was full of wisdom as well as patriotism. Knowing their character, he treated them accordingly, and sarcastically turned all their arguments against themselves. Thus he rebuked their unbelief and cowardice.

Verse 15

And Joshua answered them, If thou be a great people, then get thee up to the wood country, and cut down for thyself there in the land of the Perizzites and of the giants, if mount Ephraim be too narrow for thee.

Cut down for thyself there, [ uwbeeree'taa (H1254) lªkaa (H3807a) shaam (H8033)] - and hew out;

i.e., make for thyself a place there (Keil). (The verb is used in the same sense-cut; i:e., make for thyself - Joshua 17:18).

The land of the Perizzites, [ ha-Pªriziy (H6522)] - the peasants, inhabitants of open, unwalled villages (cf. 1 Samuel 6:18).

And of the giants, [ wªhaa-Rªpaa'iym (H7497)] - and of the Rephaim.

Mount Ephraim - called so here by anticipation. The Gilboa range between Beth-shean and the plain of Jezreel is meant, anciently covered with an extensive forest.

Verse 16

And the children of Joseph said, The hill is not enough for us: and all the Canaanites that dwell in the land of the valley have chariots of iron, both they who are of Bethshean and her towns, and they who are of the valley of Jezreel.

Chariots of iron - unusually strengthened with that metal, and perhaps armed with projecting scythes.

Valley of Jezreel, [ bª`eemeq (H6010) Yizªrª`e'l (H3157)] - in the plain of Jezreel. 'Emek' denotes a long, broad level between parallel ranges of hills; and the valley of Jezreel lies between Gilboa and little Hermon. Jezreel, called also Esdraelon, which is only the Greek form of the Hebrew word.

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Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Joshua 17". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jfu/joshua-17.html. 1871-8.