Lectionary Calendar
Friday, December 1st, 2023
the Week of Christ the King / Proper 29 / Ordinary 34
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Bible Commentaries
Joshua 17

Poole's English Annotations on the Holy BiblePoole's Annotations



The inheritance of Manasseh, and its borders, Joshua 17:1-11.

They could not drive out the Canaanites, but made them tributary, Joshua 17:12,Joshua 17:13.

The children of Joseph complain that their borders are too narrow: Joshua promises them the subduing of the Canaanites, Joshua 17:14-18.

Verse 1

He was the first-born of Joseph: the sense is, though Ephraim was to be more potent and numerous, yet Manasseh was the first-born, and had the privilege of the first-born, which was translated to Joseph, to wit, a double portion; and therefore though this were but half the tribe of Manasseh, yet they are not made inmates to Ephraim, but have a distinct lot of their own, as their brethren or other half tribe had beyond Jordan. Machir; the only son of Manasseh, who therefore is here, and Judges 5:14, put for the whole tribe. The first-born; so even only sons are sometimes called, as Matthew 1:25; see Poole "Exodus 4:22".

The father of Gilead; or, and the father, or who was also the father of Gilead; not of the land of Gilead, but of the man Gilead, who was Machir’s son, Numbers 26:29.

He was a man of war; he, i.e. Machir, had given great proof of his valour in his generation, (though the particular history be not mentioned,) and his posterity were no degenerate sons, but had his valiant blood still running in their veins. Gilead and Bashan, i.e. part of those countries; for part of them was also given to the Reubenites, and part to the Gadites, as appears from Joshua 13:30,Joshua 13:31. This may be added as a reason, either,

1. Why he got those places from the Amorites; or,

2. Why they were allotted to him or his posterity, because this was a frontier country, and the outworks to the land of Canaan, and therefore required such valiant persons to defend it.

Verse 2

A lot, or, a portion, or distinct inheritance.

The rest of the children of Manasseh, to wit, those of them which had not received their possessions beyond Jordan, Numbers 26:29, &c.

These were the male children: this expression is used to bring in what follows, concerning his female children.

Verse 3

No sons, but daughters; of whom see Poole "Numbers 26:33"; see Poole "Numbers 27:1".

Verse 4

He gave them, i.e. Eleazar, or Joshua, with the consent of the princes appointed for that work.

Verse 5

Ten portions; either,

1. Six portions for the six sons, whereof one was Hepher; and because he had no sons, his part was subdivided into five equal parts, for each of the daughters. Or,

2. Ten portions, five for the sons, and five for the daughters; for as for Hepher, both he and his son Zelophehad were dead, and that without sons, and therefore he had no portion; but his daughters had several portions allotted to them.

Verse 6

Among his sons, i.e. no less than the sons; so their sex was no bar to their inheritance.

Verse 9

These cities of Ephrain; Tappuah, and the cities upon the coast descending to the river, &c., last mentioned. Are among the cities of Manasseh, i.e. are intermixed with their cities, which was not strange nor unfit, these two being linked together by a nearer alliance than the rest.

Verse 10

His border; either,

1. Manasseh’s, whose portion is here described, and whose name was last mentioned. Or,

2. Ephraim’s and Manasseh’s, both expressed in the foregoing words, and implied in the following,


In Asher, i.e. upon the tribe of Asher; for though Zebulun came between Asher and them for the greatest part of their land, yet it seems there were some necks or parcels of land, both of Ephraim’s and of Manasseh’s, which jutted out farther than the rest, and touched the borders of Asher. And it is certain there were many such incursions of the land of one tribe upon some parcels of another, although they were otherwise considerably distant one from the other. See Joshua 19:34. And you must not judge of these things by the present maps, which are drawn according to the opinions of late authors, which many times are false; and they are to be judged by the Scripture, and not the Scripture by them: but that part of Manasseh did reach to Asher, appears from hence, that Dor, a city of Manasseh, Joshua 17:11, was, as Josephus witnesseth, near Carmel, which belonged to Asher, Joshua 19:26.

Verse 11

In Issachar and in Asher; either,

1. Bordering upon them, as in Asher is taken, Joshua 17:10, and as Aaron’s rod is said to be in the ark, i.e. close by it, Hebrews 9:4; or,

2. Properly in them, as Ephraim had some cities in the tribe of Manasseh, Joshua 16:9, and as it was not unusual, when the places allotted to any tribe was too narrow for it, and the next too large, to give away part from the larger to the less portion; nay, sometimes one whole tribe was taken into another, as Simeon was into Judah’s portion, when it was found too large for Judah, Joshua 19:9.

The inhabitants of Dor; not the places only, but the people; whom, contrary to God’s command, they spared and used for servants, whom therefore they are said to have or possess.

Three countries: this may be referred either to some, to wit, the three last places, or to all the places named in this verse, which are here said either to have three countries or tracts of land belonging to them, or to be in three several countries or portions, as they seem to have been, some in Issachar, and some in Asher, and yet both belonging to Manasseh. Or, the words may be rendered the third part of that country; for the Hebrew word is of the singular number, and the article seems emphatical; and so the meaning may be, that the cities and towns here mentioned are a third part of that country, i.e. of that part of Issachar’s and Asher’s portion, in which those places lay.

Verse 12

See Poole "Joshua 15:63".

Would dwell; were resolved to fight, rather than be turned out of their ancient habitations.

Verse 13

Which they were obliged to, now they were strong and numerous enough to possess those places.

Verse 14

The children of Joseph, i.e. of Ephraim and Manasseh, as is manifest, partly from Joshua 17:17, where it is so explained; and partly because they mention it as an unreasonable thing, that they, being two, should have out one lot.

Spake unto Joshua, i.e. expostulated with him, when they went and saw that portion which was allotted to them, and found it much short of their expectation.

One lot, and one portion; either,

1. Because they really had but one lot, which was afterwards divided by the arbitrators between them. Or,

2. Because the land severally allotted to them was no more than was little enough for one of them.

A great people, or numerous; for so the Hebrew word oft signifies.

Verse 15

He retorts their own argument: Seeing thou art a great and numerous people, turn thy complaints into actions and valiant exploits, and enlarge thy borders by thy own hand, to which thou mayst confidently expect God’s assistance.

To the wood country; to the mountain, as it, is called, Joshua 17:18, where among some towns there is much wood land, which thou mayst without much difficulty possess, and so get the more room.

Cut down, i.e. the wood, Joshua 17:18, for thy own advantage and use; partly in building more cities and towns; and partly for preparing the land for the use of pasture and tillage.

The Perizzites; supposed to be a savage and brutish kind of people, that lived in woods and mountains.

Of the giants, who lived in caves and mountains, now especially when they were driven out of their cities.

If Mount Ephraim be too narrow for thee, or, seeing Mount Ephraim is too narrow for thee, as thou complainest, take to thyself the rest of that hilly and wood country. Mount Ephraim was a particular and eminent portion of the land, belonging to the tribe of Ephraim, as appears from Joshua 19:50; Joshua 20:7; Joshua 21:21; Judges 4:5. And this seems to be here mentioned synecdochically, for all the portion allotted to Ephraim and Manasseh, as appears from their complaint, which was not that this part, but that their whole portion, was too strait for them.

Verse 16

The hill is not enough for us; if we should invade and conquer it, and cut down both wood and men, yet it would not be sufficient for us. Heb. The hill will not be found, i.e. obtained, by us; those fierce and strong people the Perizzites and the giants will easily defend themselves, and frustrate our attempts, having the advantage of the woods and mountains.

The Canaanites that dwell in the land of the valley, i.e. And if thou sayest, as we know thou wilt reply, that if the hill either cannot be conquered, or be not sufficient for us, we may go down and take more land out of the pleasant and fruitful valleys, we shall meet with no less difficulty there than in the mountains. Or thus, In going to the hills to which thou directest us, we must pass through valleys, where we shall be waylaid by powerful and armed enemies.

Chariots of iron; not all made of iron but armed with iron, not only for defence, but for offence also, having as it were scythes and swords fastened to them, to cut down all that stood in their way.

The valley of Jezreel; which was either in the tribe of Issachar, or upon the borders of it, Joshua 19:18.

Verse 17

Thou needest and deservest more than that lot, of which thou art actually possessed, and thou hast power to get more; which if thou endeavourest to do, God will bless thee, and give thee more.

Verse 18

The outgoings of it; either,

1. The productions or of that land, when it is cleared from the wood, and purged; or rather,

2. The valleys and fields belonging or adjoining to it, for there the Canaanites were, Joshua 17:16.

Bibliographical Information
Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Joshua 17". Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/mpc/joshua-17.html. 1685.
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