Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Joseph’s land

Joshua 16:1-4

“And the lot of the children of Joseph fell from Jordan by Jericho, unto the water of Jericho on the east, to the wilderness that goeth up from Jericho throughout mount Bethel.  And goeth out from Bethel to Luz, and passeth along unto the borders of Archi to Ataroth, And goeth down westward to the coast of Japhleti, unto the coast of Bethhoron the nether, and to Gezer: and the goings out thereof are at the sea. 

So the children of Joseph, Manasseh and Ephraim, took their inheritance.” (Joshua 16:1-4)

Joseph’s descendants received the land just north of Judah stretching across from the Jordan to the Mediterranean.  Joseph’s descendants were Ephraim and Manasseh.  Jacob had promised Joseph would get a double portion in Genesis 48:22.  “Moreover I have given to thee one portion above thy brethren, which I took out of the hand of the Amorite with my sword and with my bow.”  Jacob effectively claimed Joseph’s sons as his own.

Joshua 16:5-10

“And the border of the children of Ephraim according to their families was thus: even the border of their inheritance on the east side was Atarothaddar, unto Bethhoron the upper; And the border went out toward the sea to Michmethah on the north side; and the border went about eastward unto Taanathshiloh, and passed by it on the east to Janohah; And it went down from Janohah to Ataroth, and to Naarath, and came to Jericho, and went out at Jordan.  The border went out from Tappuah westward unto the river Kanah; and the goings out thereof were at the sea. This is the inheritance of the tribe of the children of Ephraim by their families.” (Joshua 16:5-8) 

Ephraim was given the eastward part of Joseph’s land, from the Jordan north to Naaroth and west to the south side of the brook or river Kanah which runs to the sea.  Their southern boundary ran from Jericho across to Bethel and Mizpeh.

“And the separate cities for the children of Ephraim were among the inheritance of the children of Manasseh, all the cities with their villages.” (Joshua 16:9)

 The border with Manasseh on the west was not strictly observed with Ephraim controlling several of the cities in Manasseh.

“And they drave not out the Canaanites that dwelt in Gezer: but the Canaanites dwell among the Ephraimites unto this day, and serve under tribute.” (Joshua 16:10)

Though Joshua had conquered the land, Ephraim never finished driving out the Canaanites, forming an agreement to let them stay as long as they paid tribute., contrary to God’s command in Deuteronomy 20:16-17.  “But of the cities of these people, which the LORD thy God doth give thee for an inheritance, thou shalt save alive nothing that breatheth: But thou shalt utterly destroy them; namely, the Hittites, and the Amorites, the Canaanites, and the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites; as the LORD thy God hath commanded thee:”  It wasn’t that they were unable, nor were they tricked like Gibeon had done, they just wanted the money.

Joshua 17:1-13

"There was also a lot for the tribe of Manasseh; for he was the firstborn of Joseph; to wit, for Machir the firstborn of Manasseh, the father of Gilead: because he was a man of war, therefore he had Gilead and Bashan.

There was also a lot for the rest of the children of Manasseh by their families; for the children of Abiezer, and for the children of Helek, and for the children of Asriel, and for the children of Shechem, and for the children of Hepher, and for the children of Shemida: these were the male children of Manasseh the son of Joseph by their families.” (Joshua 17:1-2)

One of Manasseh’s sons, Machir, had been given the lands of Gilead and Bashan, on the east side of the Jordan.  As ranchers and frontiersmen, they would willingly take the risk involved with being exposed to enemy attack in exchange for the freedom and space they received.  The descendants of his other six sons were more interested in the sheltered peaceable life to be found surrounded by others.

“But Zelophehad, the son of Hepher, the son of Gilead, the son of Machir, the son of Manasseh, had no sons, but daughters: and these are the names of his daughters, Mahlah, and Noah, Hoglah, Milcah, and Tirzah.

 And they came near before Eleazar the priest, and before Joshua the son of Nun, and before the princes, saying, The LORD commanded Moses to give us an inheritance among our brethren. Therefore according to the commandment of the LORD he gave them an inheritance among the brethren of their father. 

And there fell ten portions to Manasseh, beside the land of Gilead and Bashan, which were on the other side Jordan; Because the daughters of Manasseh had an inheritance among his sons: and the rest of Manasseh's sons had the land of Gilead.” (Joshua 17:3-6)

God had specified that if a man had no sons, his daughters were to inherit and carry on the family name.  In Numbers 27, Moses had given specific orders that Zelophehad’s daughters were to be given land, and at this time they approached Eleazar the priest to remind him of Moses’ instruction.  Each of the girls was given a piece of land along side their uncles, making ten portions on the west side of Jordan.

“And the coast of Manasseh was from Asher to Michmethah, that lieth before Shechem; and the border went along on the right hand unto the inhabitants of Entappuah. Now Manasseh had the land of Tappuah: but Tappuah on the border of Manasseh belonged to the children of Ephraim; And the coast descended unto the river Kanah, southward of the river: these cities of Ephraim are among the cities of Manasseh: the coast of Manasseh also was on the north side of the river, and the outgoings of it were at the sea: Southward it was Ephraim's, and northward it was Manasseh's, and the sea is his border; and they met together in Asher on the north, and in Issachar on the east.” (Joshua 17:7-10)

 This part of Mannaseh’s land lay to the west of Ephraim, north of the Kanah river. The area around Tappuah was technically Manasseh’s but Ephraim claimed some of the cities.  They were bounded on the north by Asher and by Issachar to the northeast.

“And Manasseh had in Issachar and in Asher Bethshean and her towns, and Ibleam and her towns, and the inhabitants of Dor and her towns, and the inhabitants of Endor and her towns, and the inhabitants of Taanach and her towns, and the inhabitants of Megiddo and her towns, even three countries.” (Joshua 17:11)

Though they were technically in Asher and Issachar, geographical features made it easier for these town to trade with and relate to Mannaseh than to their own tribes, in a manner similar to what is observed between towns in neighboring counties in the United States.

“Yet the children of Manasseh could not drive out the inhabitants of those cities; but the Canaanites would dwell in that land.  Yet it came to pass, when the children of Israel were waxen strong, that they put the Canaanites to tribute; but did not utterly drive them out.” (Joshua 17:12-13) 

Initially, Manasseh was not initially strong enough to drive out all the Canaanites.  Later, when they became strong enough, they elected to collect tribute from them instead, breaking God’s commandment.


  1. Thanks as always for the thorough Scripture exposition. I wish those that argue about Palestine's "rights" to Israel's land would read and trust in the Bible.
    Blessings to you,

    1. You are completely correct. The land claimed by the Palestinians is just a small part of the eastern edge of both Ephraim and Manasseh and most of Issachar. It was completely surrounded By the rest of Israel. If, as they claim, they are descendants of the Philistines, their land was to the southwest, along the Mediterranean Sea instead of where they presently are, and they have not been able to prove their relationship to the Philistines. They appear to be descendants of the mixed group the Assyrians relocated when they deported Israel, known in Christ's day as the Samaritans.