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Bible Commentaries

Joseph Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments
Joshua 17

 

 

Verse 1

Joshua 17:1. There was also a lot for the tribe of Manasseh — That half of it which had no portion on the other side Jordan. For he was the firstborn of Joseph — The sense of this, as it here stands, is very obscure. But if the particle כי, ki, here rendered for, be translated though, as it often is, and as Bishop Patrick thinks it ought to be here, the meaning is plain, that the second lot was for Manasseh, because, though he was the firstborn of Joseph, yet Jacob had preferred Ephraim before him, Genesis 48:19-20. Or the sense may be, though Ephraim was to be more potent and numerous than Manasseh, according to the prophecy of Jacob, yet this should be no prejudice to Manasseh, nor deprive him of any privilege to which he might lay claim as the elder. “Both being sons of Joseph, drew but one lot; and their estates and cities were in some degree mixed together; but after having described the portion of the lot which fell to Ephraim, it was proper in like manner to describe the portion of his brother, as being the first born.” — Dodd. For Machir — The only son of Manasseh, who, therefore, is here put for the whole tribe. The firstborn — So even only sons are sometimes called, as Matthew 1:25. Because he was a man of war — That is, had given great proof of his valour, (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 — Part of those countries; for part of them was given to the Reubenites, and part to the Gadites. This may be added as a reason, either, 1st, Why he got those places from the Amorites. Or, 2d, 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 valiant persons to defend it.


Verse 2

Joshua 17:2. A lot — A distinct inheritance. The rest — Namely, those of them which had not received their possessions beyond Jordan. Male children —

This expression is used to bring in what follows, concerning his female children.


Verses 4-6

Joshua 17:4-6. He gave them — That is, Eleazar or Joshua, with the consent of the princes appointed for that work. For after the lot had determined what land every tribe should have, these commissioners considered how many families were in the tribe, and how large they were, and accordingly divided it among them. This is implied, Numbers 26:54-56. 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 had no portion; but his daughters had several portions allotted to them. The daughters — Not less than the sons, so the sex was no bar to their inheritance.


Verse 9

Joshua 17:9. The coast of Manasseh was on the north side — By the coast of Manasseh is meant the cities inhabited by the Manassites; which were all on the north side of this river; as all those on the south side of it, though in the territory allotted to the Manassites: were inhabited by the children of Ephraim.


Verse 10

Joshua 17:10. The sea is his border — Manasseh’s, whose portion is here described, and whose name was last mentioned. In Asher — That is, 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 of land, both of Ephraim’s and of Manasseh’s, which jutted out farther than the rest, and touched the borders of Asher.


Verse 11

Joshua 17:11. Manasseh had in Issachar and in Asher, &c. — In like manner as Ephraim had some cities in the tribe of Manasseh; and, as it was not unusual, when the place 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. Inhabitants of Dor — Not the places only, but the people; whom they spared and used for servants. Three countries — The words may be rendered, the third part of that country; and so the meaning may be, that the cities and towns here mentioned were a third part of that country; that is, of that part of Issachar’s and Asher’s portion, in which those places lay.


Verse 14

Joshua 17:14. Children of Joseph — That is, of Ephraim and Manasseh. Spake unto Joshua — That is, expostulated with him, when they went and saw that portion which was allotted them, and found it much short of their expectation. One portion — Either, 1st, Because they had but one lot, which was afterward divided by the arbitrators between them; or, 2d, Because the land severally allotted to them was but little enough for one of them.


Verse 15

Joshua 17:15. If thou be a great people — Though Joshua was of their tribe he would not humour them, or abuse his authority to gratify their inclinations; but retorts their own argument: seeing thou art a great and numerous people, turn thy complaints into action, and enlarge thy borders by thy own hand, for which thou mayest confidently expect God’s assistance. The wood country — To the mountain, as it is called, (Joshua 17:17,) where among some towns there is much wood-land, which thou mayest without much difficulty possess, and so get the more room. And cut down — The wood, for thy own advantage, in building more cities and towns, and preparing the land for pasture and tillage. The Perizzites — Supposed to be a savage and brutish kind of people, that lived in woods and mountains. Giants — Who lived in caves and mountains, now especially when they were driven out of their cities. If mount Ephraim — 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 portion of the land, belonging to the tribe of Ephraim. And this seems to be here mentioned, 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

Joshua 17:16. The hill is not enough for us — That is, if we could get possession of the woody mountain, cut down all its trees, and destroy all its inhabitants, it would not be sufficient for us. But the Hebrew is, The hill will not be found; that is, 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, &c. — They seem to mean that there was another impediment in their way, that before they could come at the mountain to attack it, they would have to encounter those who lived in the valley below it, who were too strong for them. Or that, if Joshua should command them, in case the hill either could not be conquered, or would not be sufficient for them, to go down and take more land out of the pleasant and fruitful valleys, that they would meet with no less difficulty there than in the mountains. Have chariots of iron. — Not all made of iron, but armed with iron, and that not only for defence, but for offence also; having a kind of scythes, of two cubits long, fastened to long axle-trees on both wheels, which being driven swiftly through a body of men, made great slaughter, mowing them down like grass or corn.


Verse 17

Joshua 17:17. Thou art a great people, and hast great power — Joshua was not moved from his resolution by their objections, but told them, that by their own confession they were very numerous, and consequently of great power, and therefore need not be straitened in their habitations. Thou shalt not have one lot only — Thou needest and deservest more than one lot, of which thou art actually possessed, and thou hast power to get more; which, if thou endeavourest to do, God will bless and give thee more. The mountain shall be thine — Added to the present portion. This was probably mount Gilboa, which stood north of Manasseh, and reached from the country about Kishon, as far as Beth-shean. See Calmet. The outgoings shall be thine — The valleys or fields belonging to it. For thou shalt drive out the Canaanites — That is, with the divine aid, which God had taught them confidently to expect, commanding them to trust in him, and not be afraid of their enemies, though they had chariots of iron, and though they were strong, Deuteronomy 20:1. “Blessed is the man who trusteth in the Lord, and whose hope the Lord is.”

 


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Bibliography Information
Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Joshua 17:4". Joseph Benson's Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/rbc/joshua-17.html. 1857.

Lectionary Calendar
Saturday, October 19th, 2019
the Week of Proper 23 / Ordinary 28
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