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Bible Commentaries
Joshua 16

Utley's You Can Understand the BibleUtley Commentary


Joshua 16:0


Territory of EphraimEphraim and West ManassehThe Territory of the Joseph TribesTerritory Assigned to Ephraim and West ManassehThe Tribe of Ephraim
(Joshua 16:1-18)
Joshua 16:1-3Joshua 16:1-4Joshua 16:1-3Joshua 16:1-3Joshua 16:1-3
Joshua 16:4-10Joshua 16:4Joshua 16:4Joshua 16:4
The Land of EphraimEphraim
Joshua 16:5-10Joshua 16:5-10Joshua 16:5-10Joshua 16:5-8a
Joshua 16:5-10

READING CYCLE THREE (from “A Guide to Good Bible Reading”)


This is a study guide commentary, which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

Read the chapter in one sitting. Identify the subjects. Compare your subject divisions with the five translations above. Paragraphing is not inspired but it is the key to following the original author's intent which is the heart of interpretation. Every paragraph has one and only one subject.

1. First paragraph

2. Second paragraph

3. Third paragraph

4. Etc.

Verses 1-3

NASB (UPDATED TEXT): Joshua 16:1-3 1Then the lot for the sons of Joseph went from the Jordan at Jericho to the waters of Jericho on the east into the wilderness, going up from Jericho through the hill country to Bethel. 2It went from Bethel to Luz, and continued to the border of the Archites at Ataroth. 3It went down westward to the territory of the Japhletites, as far as the territory of lower Beth-horon even to Gezer, and it ended at the sea.

Joshua 16:1 “the lot” See note at Joshua 14:2.

Joshua 16:2 “Bethel to Luz” This text implies that Bethel and Luz are two different cities, but other texts state they are different names for the same city (cf. Joshua 18:13; Genesis 28:19; Genesis 35:6; Judges 1:23).

“the Archites” One of David's counselors was from this family group (cf. 2 Samuel 15:32; 2 Samuel 16:16), but this is all moderns know of this non-Israelite clan (BDB 74). The same is true for the Japhletites (BDB 812).

Verses 4-10

NASB (UPDATED TEXT): Joshua 16:4-10 4The sons of Joseph, Manasseh and Ephraim, received their inheritance. 5Now this was the territory of the sons of Ephraim according to their families: the border of their inheritance eastward was Ataroth-addar, as far as upper Beth-horon. 6Then the border went westward at Michmethath on the north, and the border turned about eastward to Taanath-shiloh and continued beyond it to the east of Janoah. 7It went down from Janoah to Ataroth and to Naarah, then reached Jericho and came out at the Jordan. 8From Tappuah the border continued westward to the brook of Kanah, and it ended at the sea. This is the inheritance of the tribe of the sons of Ephraim according to their families, 9together with the cities which were set apart for the sons of Ephraim in the midst of the inheritance of the sons of Manasseh, all the cities with their villages. 10But they did not drive out the Canaanites who lived in Gezer, so the Canaanites live in the midst of Ephraim to this day, and they became forced laborers.

Joshua 16:4 “the sons of Joseph” Joseph had two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh, by his Egyptian wife. Jacob adopted these boys as his own and gave Joseph the double inheritance of the firstborn son.

Joshua 16:6 “Taanath-shiloh” This (BDB 1061) is not the site of the tabernacle in Samuel's day, but another city (so say Eusebius and Jerome).

Joshua 16:10 This verse is meant to express the disobedience of these large tribes (cf. Num. 35:55; Judges 1:27, Judges 1:29, Judges 1:30, Judges 1:31, Judges 1:33, Judges 1:34). This was the common experience of all the tribes (cf. Joshua 17:13).

R. K. Harrison, Introduction to the Old Testament, makes a good point about this verse.

“If scholars had differentiated a little more closely in the past between occupation and subjugation, the picture of conquest as represented in Joshua would have emerged in far clearer focus than it did, and as a result there would have been no need to regard the initial narratives of Judges as historical at the expense of their counterparts in Joshua” (p. 677).

This quote is footnoted to another source, G. F. Moore, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on Judges, pp. 7-8.

“to this day” This shows a later editor.

Bibliographical Information
Utley. Dr. Robert. "Commentary on Joshua 16". "Utley's You Can Understand the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ubc/joshua-16.html. 2021.
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