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Bible Commentaries
Joshua 17

Kretzmann's Popular Commentary of the BibleKretzmann's Commentary

Verses 1-13

The Boundaries and Cities

v. 1. There was also a lot for the tribe of Manasseh, namely, that east of Jordan, which has already been described several times; for he was the first-born of Joseph; to wit, for Machir, the first-born of Manasseh, the father of Gilead; because he was a man of war, therefore he had Gilead and Bashan. Deuteronomy 3:15. Since Manasseh was the first-born of Joseph, therefore his descendants, in whom the rights of Joseph were vested, received not only a portion in the conquered territory of Og, but also a lot in Canaan proper.

v. 2. There was also a lot for the rest of the children of Manasseh by their families, not only for the descendants of Machir: for the children. of Abiezer, and for the children of Heiek, and for the children of Asriel, and for the children of Shechem, and for the children of Hepher, and for the children of Shemida, Numbers 26:30-32; these were the male children of Manasseh, the son of Joseph, by their families, the distinction being expressly made in this instance on account of the next statement.

v. 3. But Zeiophehad, the son of Hepher, the son of Gilead, the son of Machir, the son of Manasseh, had no sons, but daughters, Numbers 26:33; Numbers 27:1; Numbers 36:2; and these are the names of his daughters, Mahlah, and Noah, Hoglah, Milcah, and Tirzah. According to the precept which was formulated at the request of the daughters of Zeiophehad at that time, women in a similar position were known as heir-daughters.

v. 4. And they came near before Eleazar, the priest, and before Joshua, the son of Nun, and before the princes, the official representatives of the people, saying, The Lord commanded Moses to give us an inheritance among our brethren, Numbers 27:2-11. Since the land was now being divided, they claimed their right. Therefore, according to the commandment of the Lord, he, Joshua, gave them an inheritance among the brethren of their father.

v. 5. And there fell ten portions to Manasseh, in the country west of Jordan, beside the land of Gilead and Bashan, which were on the other side Jordan,

v. 6. because the daughters of Manasseh had an inheritance among his sons; and the rest of Manasseh's sons, those of the line of Machir, had the land of Gilead. The statement concerning the ten portions allotted to the Manassites is to be understood as follows: "According to this the inheritance coming to the Manassites had to be divided into ten parts, since the male posterity fell into five families, and so received five parts, while the sixth family, that of Hepher, was divided again into five families, through his granddaughters, the five daughters of Zelophehad, who married men of the other families of their paternal tribe and received each her special share of the land. " (Keil. )

v. 7. And the coast of Manasseh was from Asher, a city some sixteen miles northeast of Shechem, to Michmethah, that lieth before Shechem, Joshua 16:5; and the border went along on the right hand, probably on the south side, unto the inhabitants, that is, the territory, of En-tappuah, the whole region being mentioned in this case on account of the following statement.

v. 8. Now, Manasseh had the land of Tappuah, the entire country which had formerly been a Canaanitish city-state; but Tappuah, on the border of Manasseh, belonged to the children of Ephraim, for it is the south boundary of Manasseh which is here described;

v. 9. and the coast descended unto the river Kanah (reed-brook), southward of the river, the brook being the boundary, Joshua 16:8. These cities of Ephraim. are among the cities of Manasseh, that is, the territory on the south side of the brook really belonged to Manasseh, but the cities on the south side of the brook were Ephraim's. The coast of Manasseh also was on the north side of the river, and the outgoings of it were at the sea.

v. 10. Southward it was Ephraim's, and northward it was Manasseh's, and the sea, the Mediterranean Sea, is his (western) border; and they met together in Asher on the north and in Issachar on the east. Their territory bounded that of the tribe of Asher north of them, and that of the tribe of Issachar east of them, or to the northeast. The description makes it doubtful whether the portions of Ephraim and Manasseh were intended to be effectually separated. Cf Joshua 16:1-4.

v. 11. And Manasseh, in addition to the territory as now described, had in Issachar and in Asher, in the territories of these two tribes, Bethshean and her towns, on the edge of the Jordan Valley, east of Mount Gilboa, and Ibleam and her towns, and the inhabitants of Dor and her towns, and the inhabitants of Endor and her towns, 1 Samuel 28:9; Psalms 83:11, and the inhabitants of Taanach and her towns, and the inhabitants of Megiddo and her towns, even three countries, three heights; for three of the cities, Endor, Taanach, and Megiddo, were situated on hills, and the last-named cities were in the territory of Asher, on the southwest border of the Plain of Esdraelon.

v. 12. Yet the children of Manasseh could not drive out the inhabitants of those cities, they made no real effort to exterminate the heathen; but the Canaanites would dwell in that land, in the cities allotted to Manasseh.

v. 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. They were content with making the heathen tributary servants, lacking the spirit which was needed to exterminate them according to the word of the Lord. To become indifferent in the Lord's battle is often equivalent to a surrender to the enemy's forces.

Verses 14-18

Joshua's Advice to the Children of Joseph

v. 14. And the children of Joseph, the tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh, spake unto Joshua, saying, Why hast thou given me but one lot and one portion to inherit, for the two tribes had been treated as one in the division of the land west of Jordan, seeing I am a great people, forasmuch as the Lord hath blessed me hitherto? So great had been Jehovah's blessing, that is their contention, up to this time, that they had become a numerous people and needed more room. But their objection was not well taken, for not only were the two tribes together less numerous than either Judah or Dan, but the territory assigned to them was also immensely fertile, the plateaus and valleys of this section of Canaan being unsurpassed in this respect.

v. 15. And Joshua answered them, in a well-deserved reproof, If thou be a great people, then get thee up to the wood country, the wooded range of hills, either to the northeast toward Mount Gilboa, or to the northwest toward Mount Carmel, and cut down for thyself there, clear the forest, in the land of the Perizzites and of the giants, of the Rephaim, who were still in possession of that country, if Mount Ephraim be too narrow for thee. If they would but drive out the heathen who still occupied parts of the territory allotted to them, especially the Plain of Jezreel, or Esdraelon, in the north, they would have room enough.

v. 16. And the children of Joseph said, The hill, Mount Ephraim with its tributary ranges, is not enough for us; and all the Canaanites that dwell in the land of the valley have chariots of iron, built of wood, but covered with iron, and with heavy iron tires, both they who are of Beth-shean and her towns, and they who are of the Valley of Jezreel. Here the real reason for the request appears, namely, the unwillingness to undertake the conflict, although Jehovah had promised His assistance.

v. 17. And Joshua spake unto the house of Joseph, denying their request, even to Ephraim and to Manasseh, saying, Thou art a great people and hast great power; thou shall not have one lot only;

v. 18. but the mountain shall be thine, by clearing the forested highlands throughout the territory allotted to them they would, as it were, obtain a second lot or portion; for it is a wood, and thou shall cut it down; and the outgoings of it shall be thine, the fields and plains adjoining the forests; for thou shall drive out the Canaanites, though they have iron chariots, and though they be strong. He wanted to direct their thoughts to the promise of God's assistance and encourage them in the task assigned to them. He who desired the blessings of the Promised Land did not dare to give up the battle. He who refuses to fight on the Lord's side virtually surrenders to the enemy and loses the eternal blessings.

Bibliographical Information
Kretzmann, Paul E. Ph. D., D. D. "Commentary on Joshua 17". "Kretzmann's Popular Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/kpc/joshua-17.html. 1921-23.
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