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Bible Commentaries

Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible
Joshua 17

 

 

Verses 1-10

Joshua 17:1-10, from a Priestly writer, describes the inheritance of Manasseh. In Joshua 17:7-10 the boundaries are given, but as in the case of Ephraim, no definite boundary line can be drawn from the names given in the text. The only point of interest is the assignment of inheritance to the daughters of Zelophehad in accordance with Numbers 27:1 ff. There Moses ordains that the daughters of a man who has no sons shall take their father's inheritance. This is in opposition to ancient law, which recognised the sons only as heirs. Later feeling was against this, and the writer of Numbers 27:1 ff. gave effect to it by the imaginary instance of Zelophehad and his daughters. For a discussion of this kind of "legal fiction," see W. R. Smith, OTJC2, p. 386. The remainder of the chapter (Joshua 17:11-18) consists of two passages from an older source, the first of which states that Manasseh could not drive out the Canaanites from Bethshean and some other cities. This resembles Joshua 15:63, and should be compared with Judges 1:27. The second passage (Joshua 17:14-18) gives the demand of "Joseph" for an extension of territory. The request is granted, but in somewhat obscure terms. The statement ascribed to the Joseph tribe, "Thou hast given me but one lot," shows that the oldest tradition knew nothing of any territory E. of the Jordan being assigned to Manasseh by Moses, and this view is supported by the fact that in the song of Deborah, Machir, which is only another name for Manasseh, is regarded as a W. Jordan tribe. It has therefore been argued with great probability that the settlements of the Manassite clans E. of the Jordan were subsequent to the settlements on the W. But the passage in the text does not put this definitely; accordingly Budde emends Joshua's answer as follows: "But the hill country of Gilead shall be thine." Whether this emendation is accepted or not, a large number of scholars are agreed that the first settlements of Manasseh were in W. Palestine and that those in the E. were acquired later; the present passage, with its distinct statement about the "one lot," certainly supports that view.

The first verse of ch. 18 belongs to P, and its original position was before Joshua 14:1. It was placed here by the editor before what is probably a Deuteronomic passage (Joshua 17:2-10) with which it does not connect very well. So far, only Judah and Joseph (Ephraim and Manasseh) have had their inheritance assigned to them by lot. The old tradition was that Judah and Joseph were the first to obtain their territory by conquest; the way in which P conformed to this was by saying that their inheritance was assigned to them first by lot when the whole of the W. Jordan territory was divided. The writer of Joshua 17:2-10 (D?) apparently follows the older narrative, that Judah and Joseph obtained their lands by conquest, but thinks that the remaining seven tribes obtained theirs by lot. This the editor retained. But the passage has suffered from subsequent revision, for the LXX shows that it did not originally contain the references to Shiloh in Joshua 17:8-10. These references were inserted to make the passage agree with Joshua 17:1. After this passage, P is resumed and the lots of the seven tribes given in the remainder of Joshua 18 and in Joshua 19. In Joshua 19:47, we have a fragment of the older history, or rather the fragment of a fragment. The meaningless words "went out beyond them" should be "were too narrow for them." This restores sense to the passage as it stands. But the original passage, as we see it from the LXX, corresponded to Judges 1:34, from which it appears that the Amorites effectually prevented the Danites from settling in the SW. of Palestine. The last editor of Joshua desired that this should not remain on record, and accordingly cut down the original passage to its present form.

 


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Bibliography Information
Peake, Arthur. "Commentary on Joshua 17:4". "Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible ". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/pfc/joshua-17.html. 1919.

Lectionary Calendar
Monday, October 21st, 2019
the Week of Proper 24 / Ordinary 29
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