Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Joshua 17:15

Joshua said to them, "If you are a numerous people, go up to the forest and clear a place for yourself there in the land of the Perizzites and of the Rephaim, since the hill country of Ephraim is too narrow for you."
New American Standard

Bible Study Resources

Concordances:
Nave's Topical Bible - Avarice;   Canaanites;   Cowardice;   Ephraim;   Rephaim;   Sarcasm;   Thompson Chain Reference - Ephraim, Mount;   Giants;   Mountains;   Torrey's Topical Textbook - Rephaim, or Giants, the;  
Dictionaries:
American Tract Society Bible Dictionary - Giants;   Perizzites;   Rephaim;   Bridgeway Bible Dictionary - Ephraim;   Manasseh, tribe of;   Perizzites;   Easton Bible Dictionary - Ephraim, Mount;   Forest;   Fausset Bible Dictionary - Ephraim (1);   Forest;   Perizzite;   Holman Bible Dictionary - Ephraim;   Ephraim, Forest of;   Forest;   Giants;   Joshua, the Book of;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Israel;   Joshua;   Manasseh;   Perizzites;   Rephaim;   Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament - Lots;   Morrish Bible Dictionary - Ephraim, Mount;   Giant;   Perizzites ;   People's Dictionary of the Bible - Manasseh;   Perizzites;   Rephaim;   Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary - Perizzites;  
Encyclopedias:
Condensed Biblical Cyclopedia - Conquest of Canaan;   International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Botany;   Forest;   Hill;   Joshua, Book of;   Palestine;   Perizzite;   The Jewish Encyclopedia - Ephraim;   Evil Eye;   Giants;   Manasseh;  

Adam Clarke Commentary

If thou be a great people - Joshua takes them at their own word; they said, Joshua 17:14, that they were a great people; then said he, If thou be a great people or seeing thou art a great people, go to the wood country, and clear away for thyself. Joshua would not reverse the decision of the lot; but as there was much woodland country, he gave them permission to clear away as much of it as they found necessary to extend themselves as far as they pleased.

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Bibliographical Information
Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Joshua 17:15". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/joshua-17.html. 1832.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

Joshua was himself of the tribe of Ephraim, but far from supporting the demands of his kinsmen he reproves them, and calls upon them to make good their great words by corresponding deeds of valor. He bids them clear the country of its woods and thus make room for settling their people. The “wood country” means probably the range which runs along the northern border of Manasseh, and which connects the mountains of Gilboa with Carmel. Mount Ephraim, (a name perhaps used by anticipation) called “the hill” Joshua 17:16, and “the mountain of Israel” Joshua 11:16, is the eastern portion of the territory of Ephraim and Manasseh extending toward the Jordan. This was a hilly, though by no means barren, district.

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Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Joshua 17:15". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/joshua-17.html. 1870.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

And Joshua answered them,.... By retorting their own argument upon them:

if thou be a great people; which he does not deny, as they were for numbers and power:

then get thee up to the wood country; which was near them, and within their borders, and lay on hills and mountains, perhaps the mountains of Gilboa, and therefore are bid to go up:

and cut down for thyself there; cut down the trees of the wood, clear the ground of them, and so make it habitable, and by that means enlarge the places of their habitation:

in the land of the Perizzites, and of the giants; or Rephaim; the former of these were one of the seven nations of the Canaanites, who from their name seem to have dwelt not in the cities, and walled towns, but in villages, and scattered houses, in desert places, and among the woods, where also the giants had retired and dwelt after Joshua had driven them out of the cities; and by driving these out of their present habitations, they would gain more room to dwell in, and would find their lot sufficient for them:

if Mount Ephraim be too narrow for thee; either meaning all Ephraim, and even the whole lot of the sons of Joseph, or rattler the mount particularly so called; for the words may be rendered, "for Mount Ephraim hastens for thee"F17Vid Gusset. Ebr. Comment, p. 21. ; was clear or open for thee; ready to be delivered to thee, and thou mayest possess it at once.

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The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rights Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
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Bibliographical Information
Gill, John. "Commentary on Joshua 17:15". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/joshua-17.html. 1999.

Geneva Study Bible

And Joshua answered them, If thou [be] a great people, [then] get thee up to the wood [country], and cut down for thyself there in the land of the Perizzites and of the giants, i if mount Ephraim be too narrow for thee.

(i) If this mount is not large enough, why do you not get more by destroying God's enemies, as he has commanded.
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Beza, Theodore. "Commentary on Joshua 17:15". "The 1599 Geneva Study Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/gsb/joshua-17.html. 1599-1645.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

mount Ephraim — called so here by anticipation. The Gilboa range between Beth-shean and the plain of Jezreel is meant, anciently covered with an extensive forest.

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These files are a derivative of an electronic edition prepared from text scanned by Woodside Bible Fellowship.
This expanded edition of the Jameison-Faussett-Brown Commentary is in the public domain and may be freely used and distributed.
Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Joshua 17:15". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfb/joshua-17.html. 1871-8.

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

And Joshua answered them, If thou be a great people, then get thee up to the wood country, and cut down for thyself there in the land of the Perizzites and of the giants, if mount Ephraim be too narrow for thee.

A great people — He 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, to which thou mayest confidently expect God's assistance.

The wood-country — To the mountain, as it is called, verse18, 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.

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These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website.
Bibliographical Information
Wesley, John. "Commentary on Joshua 17:15". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/wen/joshua-17.html. 1765.

Scofield's Reference Notes

giants

Or, Rephaims.

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Bibliographical Information
Scofield, C. I. "Scofield Reference Notes on Joshua 17:15". "Scofield Reference Notes (1917 Edition)". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/srn/joshua-17.html. 1917.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

Joshua 17:15 And Joshua answered them, If thou [be] a great people, [then] get thee up to the wood [country], and cut down for thyself there in the land of the Perizzites and of the giants, if mount Ephraim be too narrow for thee.

Ver. 15. If thou be a great people.] Thus he retorteth their arguments upon themselves, that if they were so numerous, they were the better able to enlarge their borders by their own endeavours, though it might be to their pains and peril.

Get thee up to the wood.] Where many hands may make light work, and soon lay all level, fit for thy use.

If mount Ephraim be too narrow for thee.] And so thou want room, as bees do, that for like cause, do hang out of the hive’s mouth on heaps.

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Bibliographical Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on Joshua 17:15". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/joshua-17.html. 1865-1868.

Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible

Ver. 15. And Joshua answered them, If thou be a great people, &c.— Joshua was not a man calculated to sacrifice his duty to the caprice of the people of his own tribe, and to abuse the authority deposited with him, in order to gratify their inclinations. He answers them, that the will of God, as specified by lot, was to be the rule of his conduct, and ought to be of their desires; and that indeed the very thing they urged, namely, their being so many in number, gave them the means of settling themselves at large, by felling down the thick forests of the country, and driving the Perizzites and the Rephaims from their residence there; and thus by their valour enlarging the portion which had fallen to them, if they were not content with mount Ephraim, and the fine country about it.

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Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Joshua 17:15". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tcc/joshua-17.html. 1801-1803.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

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 20:7 21:21 Jude 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.

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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Joshua 17:15". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/joshua-17.html. 1685.

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

15.If thou be a great people — Here is notable irony, but no “mockery,” as Ewald assumes. The great captain could wield cutting sarcasm as well as deadly weapons. It is the best medicine for conceit and self-adulation. Joshua, in his management of this matter, shows great breadth of view and freedom from partisan bias. His own tribe shall receive no more than even-handed justice had allotted. The wood is either the region of Mount Gilboa, west of Beth-shean, or that between Shechem and Carmel. [The ancient forests, which thickly covered these mountains and hills, are referred to in 1 Samuel 14:25; 2 Samuel 18:6. Ewald understands the wood metaphorically of the multitude of tall Perizzites and giants, whom these brave Josephites are counselled to cut down.]

And cut down — Either the forests, or the gigantic foemen who have possession of them, or both. Enlarge your territories for yourselves by your bravery, and thus show that ye are really a great people.

Giants Rephaim. See on Joshua 12:4.

Mount Ephraim — This complaint of the Josephites was probably not made immediately after the allotment, but some time later, when the mountainous tract of Ephraim had become commonly designated by the name of this tribe.

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Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Joshua 17:15". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/joshua-17.html. 1874-1909.

Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible

And Joshua said to them, “If you are a great people, get yourselves up to the forest and clear land for yourselves there in the land of the Perizzites and of the Rephaim, since the hill country of Ephraim is too narrow for you.” ’

If Joshua had emphasised the size of their territory and their extra portion in Transjordan he would have engendered perpetual jealousy among the other tribes. But wisely he desisted. Instead he took up their own claim to be a great people. As they were a great people let them clear land in ‘the forest’ where they only had to deal with village dwellers (Perizzites) and the Rephaim, thus making more land for themselves, land which had possibly not been included in the divisions.

The Perizzites were village dwellers. The Rephaim were a very tall people who engendered awe, but were in fact not on the whole very good fighters (Genesis 14:5; Deuteronomy 2:11; Deuteronomy 2:19-21). They had been driven out by the Moabites and Ammonites and possibly haunted the forests, flitting with their long thin forms between the trees. Indeed it may be that the later use of the word of spirits and ghosts (Psalms 88:10-11; Proverbs 2:18; Proverbs 9:18; Proverbs 21:16; Job 26:5; Isaiah 14:9; Isaiah 26:14; Isaiah 26:19) was in Joshua’s mind, a contemptuous ‘village dwellers and ghosts’. In Phoenician tomb inscriptions rp’m was used in the sense of ghosts.

“The forest” was possibly a word that covered large swathes of forests just as ‘the mountain’ meant the whole of the hill country. What he was pointing out was that there was much forest land on mountains that could be cleared. It might also refer to the wooded highlands on the east of Jordan next to Manasseh’s territory there. That would certainly be something they had to climb to (from the Jordan valley). This would then be a discreet reminder of what they had been given in Gilead and Bashan. Verse 18 refers the forest to ‘hill country’. Both sides of the Jordan may in fact be in mind.

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Pett, Peter. "Commentary on Joshua 17:15". "Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible ". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/pet/joshua-17.html. 2013.

Joseph Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments

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.

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Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Joshua 17:15". Joseph Benson's Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/rbc/joshua-17.html. 1857.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

And Joshua answered them, If thou be a great people, then get thee up to the wood country, and cut down for thyself there in the land of the Perizzites and of the giants, if mount Ephraim be too narrow for thee.

Cut down for thyself there, [ uwbeeree'taa (Hebrew #1254) l

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Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Joshua 17:15". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/joshua-17.html. 1871-8.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

And Joshua answered them, If thou be a great people, then get thee up to the wood country, and cut down for thyself there in the land of the Perizzites and of the giants, if mount Ephraim be too narrow for thee.
If thou be
Luke 12:48
the Perizzites
Genesis 13:7; Exodus 33:2; Ezra 9:1
giants
or, Rephaims.
Genesis 14:5; 15:20; 2 Samuel 5:18,22
Reciprocal: Joshua 17:18 - the mountain;  Judges 3:27 - mountain;  Judges 18:2 - mount;  2 Samuel 18:6 - wood of Ephraim;  2 Chronicles 19:4 - mount;  Jeremiah 4:15 - mount Ephraim;  Jeremiah 50:19 - mount

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Bibliographical Information
Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Joshua 17:15". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/joshua-17.html.