Joshua Chapter 16  PDF  MSWord

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Go to Bible: Joshua 16
Jos 16:1

“The lot came out for the children of Joseph.” Joshua 16 and 17 describe the inheritance of Joseph, the son of Jacob and Rachel (Gen. 30:22-24) as it is represented by his two sons Ephraim (Josh. 16) and then Manasseh (Josh. 17). Joseph is the firstborn of Jacob through Rachel, his first and beloved wife (although he was tricked out of being with her at first) which may be one reason Joseph received a double portion via Ephraim and Manasseh (cp. Deut. 21:15-17).

When Moses sent spies to search out the Promised Land (Num. 13:1-25), Joshua was the spy from the tribe of Ephraim, and he and Caleb (from Judah) were the two spies who believed that with God’s help Israel could conquer the Promised Land (Num. 14:6-9). As with Judah (Josh. 15:1), there was a “lot” involved in giving the inheritance. So the territory was Yahweh’s decision.

Joshua 1:1-4 describes the southern border of Ephraim. Joshua 1:5-10 describes the other borders, but in general, the descriptions for Ephraim seem more haphazard and are less detailed than the description of the border of Judah. In describing the border of Ephraim, large territories or distances are covered in a short phrase (cp. the northern border of Benjamin; Josh.18:12-14).

“the waters of Jericho on the east.” This is almost certainly referring to the spring at Jericho, now called Ein es-Sultan, that was later healed by Elisha (2 Kings 2:19-22).

“going up from Jericho into the hill country of Bethel.” This is a fairly nondescript border, covering some 15 miles between points. This border is probably following a wadi, most likely the Wadi Auja.

Jos 16:2

“from Bethel to Luz.” This description is somewhat strange because in every other place where Luz is mentioned in the Bible it says that Bethel was formerly called Luz (cp. Bethel is/was Luz; Gen 28:19; 35:6; 48:3; Judg. 1:23; and even the apocryphal book of Jubilees 27:19, 26). “Luz” means nuts, like walnuts. Another way to understand this might be “Bethel-luz.”

“the border of the Archites.” Hushai, David’s trusted counselor was an Archite (2 Sam 15:32; 16:16; 17:5, 14; 1 Chron. 27:33)

Jos 16:3

“went down westward.” This is correct. The border is now described as going down in elevation from the top of the watershed to the Mediterranean Sea.

“Japhletites.” This is another smaller tribe or clan on the southern border of Ephraim, which is the northern border of Benjamin.

“and on to Gezer.” Again, this description, “from Gezer to the Sea” is fairly vague. Perhaps it more or less followed the Aijalon Valley/Nahal.

That the tribe of Ephraim was given the city of Gezer is geopolitically significant since Gezer controlled the main highway route to Jerusalem and thus access to that important city which would later become the capital of the monarchy under David and Solomon.

“the sea.” That is, the Mediterranean Sea.

Jos 16:4

“inheritance.” Perhaps more literally, their “hereditary-property” (E. Fox), the property they received by lot as their inheritance.

Jos 16:5

“the border of their inheritance.” The author now goes back and very briefly describes the southern border of Ephraim, which borders Benjamin and has already been described in more detail in Joshua 16:1-3 (in the next verse, Josh. 16:6, the northern border is being described; the border with the tribe of Manasseh). Why the author goes back and redescribes the southern border is not known.

Jos 16:6

“Michmethath.” Joshua 16:6 can be confusing because the author starts in the middle of the northern border of Ephraim, on the watershed at Michmethath, and goes west then east from Michmethath. He first briefly mentions that the border goes west toward the Mediterranean Sea but does not actually describe that border until Joshua 16:8. He first describes the northern border going east from Michmethath.

Jos 16:7

“It went down.” This is the northern border of Ephraim going toward the east, toward the Arabah and Jordan River.

“to Ataroth.” This has to be a different Ataroth than on the south of Ephriam (Josh. 16:2, 5; 18:13), which is Ataroth-addar. The word “Ataroth” means “crown,” and there are at least three of them in the Old Testament.

Jos 16:8

“From Tappuah the border went along westward.” The author has now gone back up to the north-central border of Ephraim very close to Michmethath and is describing the northern border as it goes to the west. Tappuah (or En-tappuah; the spring of Tappuah) is mentioned as being on the southern border of Manasseh in Joshua 17:7-8. The northern border is easy to follow at some places because it followed the valley of the “brook of Kanah,” which flows toward the Mediterranean Sea.

“the sea.” This is the Mediterranean Sea.

Jos 16:9

“in the midst of the inheritance of the children of Manasseh.” Some of the border cities seem to be in territories that technically belonged to other tribes (cp. Josh. 17:11 where Manasseh had towns in Issachar and Asher).

Jos 16:10

“did not drive out the Canaanites who lived in Gezer.” This happened in other cities in Israel as well (cp. Josh. 15:63; Judg. 1:21, 27-36).


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