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Bible Commentaries
Joshua 17

Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New TestamentsSutcliffe's Commentary

Verses 1-18

Joshua 17:14 . Why hast thou given me but one lot? Joshua added mount Ephraim: though it was a military country, and though the Canaanites had chariots of iron; yet with the help of Ephraim, they must be driven out. Whereas the Ephraimites made a covenant with them, and took their tribute. Joshua seems to have his greatest difficulties in adjusting the lots of the two half tribes.


We here find Machir rewarded for his valour, as Caleb had been for his faith. A choice lot in Gilead and Bashan fell to his enjoyment: and if God is not wanting to reward the faith and virtues of men, it is wise in the civil government to reward heroic and virtuous actions. Rewards so conferred elevate the national character, and very much contribute to the safety of the state, by exciting confidence in the government, and emulation among equals.

The complaints which Manasseh here brings, are not founded on the want of land, for God’s lot could not be unfair, but on the mountains being covered with woods, and the plains inhabited by the Canaanites, whom they could not drive out. And why could they not drive them out? Because alas, they had giants, and because they had chariots armed with scythes. Terrors which had affrighted their fathers at Kadesh-barnea. And why, it is farther asked, could they not drive them out? Was it for the want of men? Nay, for this tribe had eighty five thousand able to go forth to war. They had the fine example of Caleb to encourage them, who had expelled the enemy, and destroyed the giants in his lot; they had all the promises in common with Israel. But in vain does God work miracles, in vain does he load a people with privileges, if they do not help themselves by improving his grace.

Did Joshua, the hero of his people, admit the propriety of pleas founded on fear? Quite the contrary: he commanded them to relieve themselves by industry and valour, to clear the woods with the axe, and the plains with the sword. He would allow of no pleas drawn from the giants, and from the chariots of iron. Let us hence learn to supply our temporal wants by the blessing of God crowning our industry, and all our spiritual wants by pleading the promises, and by so fighting against our spiritual foes as not to be afraid of any adversary. Complaints originating in cowardice and sloth will find no redress with God.

Bibliographical Information
Sutcliffe, Joseph. "Commentary on Joshua 17". Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jsc/joshua-17.html. 1835.
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