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Bible Commentaries
Joshua 16

Kingcomments on the Whole BibleKingcomments

Verses 1-3


The tribe of Ephraim and the half-tribe of Manasseh – the sons of Joseph – are allocated their inheritance in the land. They are not satisfied with this (Joshua 17:14; Joshua 17:16). They want more. Joshua accepts their request and grants them another piece of land. They have to conquer that themselves. They are assured that they will expel the inhabitants (Joshua 17:18). But they do not drive out all Canaanites (Joshua 16:10; Joshua 17:12).

God is also a Giver to us. If we ask Him more of the heavenly land than we already have, He gives it. The blessing of the heavenly land is the glory of the Lord Jesus. How would God ever hold something back from the Lord Jesus when we ask to see more of His glory? We may behold His glory (John 1:14). To see more of His glory we have to fight, because all kinds of things want to keep us from it.

The tribe of Joseph is divided into two because the tribe of Levi does not receive any inheritance (Joshua 14:3-Numbers :). The importance of the tribe of Joseph can be seen in the fact that he gets his share immediately after Judah and also in the size of his inheritance.

Joseph’s sons become the ruling tribes in the north of the kingdom, after the division of the kingdom into ten and two tribes has taken place. The dominant position is so clear, that the whole of the ten-tribal realm is referred to by several prophets as ‘Ephraim’.

Joseph received the birthright, after Reuben had lost it: “Now the sons of Reuben the firstborn of Israel (for he was the firstborn, but because he defiled his father’s bed, his birthright was given to the sons of Joseph the son of Israel” (1 Chronicles 5:1; Genesis 49:4). The next sons of Leah, Simeon and Levi, did not get it either. They are men of violence and are therefore scattered among Israel (Genesis 49:5-Judges :). The fourth son, Judah, does not get it either, but becomes the king tribe (Genesis 49:8-2 Kings :). That is why Judah gets his inheritance so early.

The firstborn gets a double part. Jacob accepted the two sons of Joseph as his own sons: “The angel who has redeemed me from all evil, Bless the lads; And may my name live on in them, And the names of my fathers Abraham and Isaac” (Genesis 48:16). Therefore they can be counted among the tribes. For them together, one lot is cast. They complain about this together (Joshua 17:14). By the lot, they stay together, although each tribe gets a share.

The Lot for the Sons of Joseph

As always, the border is first determined and then told what is in the territory. The border is given to draw a sharp distinction between the land and the surroundings that are not part of the inheritance. The south border of Joseph is the north border of Benjamin and Dan. In width, their territory extends over the whole land, from the Jordan to the Mediterranean Sea.

Verses 4-9

The Territory of the Ephraimites

In the description of Joseph’s inheritance only a few towns and villages are mentioned. This is in contrast to Judah, of which many cities and villages are mentioned. The blessings are, so to speak, enjoyed here not so much village-wise or city-wise. They may hardly have conquered cities.

The inheritance is not only a personal matter, but also a matter for families and churches. Each local church has its own gifts and blessings. The letters to the churches in the New Testament show this. Today’s churches may be more diligent in realizing that they are ‘cities in the land’. Many churches may be content with the blessings of the earth, but know little or nothing about the enjoyment of heavenly blessings in a family or church context.

Verse 10

Not All Enemies Are Driven Out

This verse contains a warning. Earlier we read that the Judeans are not able to drive out the enemies (Joshua 15:63). Apparently they have tried. The Ephraimites don’t even seem to have tried it. Apparently they have the strength for it (Joshua 17:13), but are not in the mood. They may quickly have thought themselves rich, are satisfied with it and have become lazy. Spiritual wealth makes us lazy when we receive it without having to fight to conquer it.

Perhaps the Ephraimites have seen gains in bringing the Canaanites to slavish service. This allows them to provide themselves with extra wealth. But in the time of the judges, this action will turn against them. The same applies to the life of a Christian who does not want to break with a particular “favorite sin” because this makes life so pleasant. One day he will awaken from the dream and notice that this sin controls his life and leads him to spiritual bankruptcy. Playing with sin always avenges itself.

Bibliographical Information
de Koning, Ger. Commentaar op Joshua 16". "Kingcomments on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/kng/joshua-16.html. 'Stichting Titus' / 'Stichting Uitgeverij Daniël', Zwolle, Nederland. 2021.
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