Joshua Chapter 17
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Go to Bible: Joshua 17
|Jos 17:1||- (top)|
|Jos 17:2||- (top)|
“Noa.” Although some versions have “Noah,” the Hebrew is very different from the Noah of Noah’s ark fame.(top)
“Yahweh commanded Moses to give us an inheritance.” This record is in Numbers 26:33; 27:1-7.
“according to the commandment of Yahweh, he gave them.” The “he” here in Joshua 17:4 refers to Moses. Moses gave them the inheritance, and Joshua carried out the command of Yahweh by Moses. The Hebrew text reads, “according to the mouth of Yahweh,” where “mouth” is put by the figure of speech metonymy for what comes from the mouth, in this case, the commandment.
[See figure of speech “metonymy.”]
“Ten.” If you take the men in Joshua 17:2 (minus Hepher who was the father of Zelophehad), and the five daughters, there are ten children who inherited land.
“measured-areas.” The Hebrew refers to a piece of land that could be measured with a rope or cord. E. Fox (The Schocken Bible) uses “measured-areas,” which captures the meaning well.
“fell.” The exact way the lot was cast, or pulled from the breastplate of the High Priest, is not known, but the lot was Yahweh’s decision as if it “fell” from Him.
“beyond the Jordan.” That is, in this context Joshua is in the Promised Land, so “beyond the Jordan” is east of the Jordan River.(top)
|Jos 17:6||- (top)|
“Michmethath, which is near Shechem.” Michmethath is about four miles south of Shechem. Michmethath is on the northern border of the tribe of Ephraim (Josh. 16:6).
“to the south.” The Hebrew reads, “to the right hand,” but looking east, the “right hand” is to the south.
“to the inhabitants of En-tappuah.” The use of this language, “the inhabitants of,” likely indicates that the people there were not from Manasseh, but were from Ephraim (Josh. 17:8).(top)
|Jos 17:8||- (top)|
“brook of Kanah.” This is a perennial stream, even if at the end of summer the water is only a trickle. The brook of Kanah had very steep sides on both sides and the canyon was hundreds of feet deep in places. The brook runs in a deep canyon and is a clearly definable geographic feature, which is why it makes such a good border, there was no mistaking it. And the canyon runs all the way out to the Mediterranean Sea.
“belonged to Ephraim among the cities of Manasseh.” It seems that people from Manasseh leaked over into what was technically Ephraim.(top)
“They reached to Asher on the north.” “They,” the borders, reached (and touched) the border of the tribe of Asher on the north and the tribe of Issachar on the east.
“east.” Actually, Issachar is northeast of Manasseh, but it is “east” from Asher.(top)
“daughter-towns.” The Hebrew text is just “daughters,” referring to small close-by towns that are supported by a “mother” town, a large and normally well-fortified town (see commentary on Josh. 15:45).
“the third city is Napheth.” The town of Dor is also called Napheth-dor (cp. Josh. 11:2; 12:23). Another possibility is that Napheth refers to “three heights,” but that would be very obscure because there does not seem to be heights related to the last three cities in the list.(top)
“Manasseh could not drive out the inhabitants of those cities.” This is also in Judges 1:27.(top)
“completely dispossess them.” The Hebrew text uses the figure of speech polyptoton (“many inflections”) for emphasis, using the word “dispossess” twice but in different forms. E. Fox (The Schocken Bible) translates the phrase “but dispossess, they could not dispossess them,” which is quite literal but awkward in English. Often the REV would put the word twice with “yes,” and read, “dispossess, yes, dispossess them” (see commentary on Gen. 2:16), but in this case, the negative “dis” followed by “yes” causes an incongruity and so “completely dispossess them” was the chosen translation.
The fact that the children of Israel did not completely conquer and dispossess the Canaanites shows a failure on their part to trust God and care enough about His agenda and what He wanted for them to carry out His commands completely. Typically human, the Israelites took enough land to comfortably (or mostly comfortably) settle in it and have flocks and farms, and think that was “good enough.” Many believers today act the same way, and ask God to help them until they get comfortable and then that is good enough for them. It does take a lot of effort to fully carry out God’s desires on earth, but for those who will go all the way with God and not stop when they are comfortable, there is great reward.(top)
“Why have you given me just one lot.” Joseph got only one lot (Josh. 16:1), but it was huge and included territory on both sides of the Jordan River. Furthermore, it was divided into two parts, one for Ephraim (Josh. 16:5-10), and one for Manasseh (Josh. 17:1-13). It was called one lot only to emphasize that “Joseph” was the original child of Jacob, while Ephraim and Manasseh, Joseph’s sons, were Jacob’s grandchildren. The huge area given by Yahweh to Ephraim and Manasseh was bigger than many of the other tribal inheritances put together. In fact, if the inheritances of Dan, Benjamin, Asher, Zebulun, Issachar, and Reuben were put together, they would not be quite as big as what “Joseph” got. This puts what the people of Ephraim and Manasseh said to Joshua in perspective. They did not need more land., they needed to trust God and conquer the inheritance God had given them. The complaint of Ephraim and Manasseh is even more grievous when we pay attention to the land areas that they inherited. Almost all of Ephraim was only a day’s travel to Jerusalem, making it easy for the Ephraimites to get to the feasts that were held close to their territory at the time of Joshua and would still be close when David conquered Jerusalem. For its part, Manasseh inherited land both on the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea, and the very fertile Jezreel Valley as well. Neither Ephraim nor Manasseh had a reason to complain, and the fact they did highlights the fact that people who are complainers complain, even when there is really nothing to complain about. Negative people are negative, and negative people are not changed by others giving in to them and giving them what they seem to want. They will just continue to complain, but about other things. The believer’s responsibility is to “do all things without grumbling or arguing” (Phil. 2:14) and “be thankful” (Col. 3:15).
It is a valuable lesson to see how Joshua handled the complaining descendants of Joseph. He did not give in to them or acknowledge that they needed more land (another lot). Instead, he told them to clear the mountainous land they had and also to drive the Canaanites out of the good land, the valleys and fertile areas that they lived in. In other words, quit complaining and take what God has given you. Don’t ask for more land when you refuse to obey God and take advantage of what He has given you (Josh. 17:17-18).(top)
“go up to the forest.” The Promised Land was not a desert, but a well-watered piece of land. However, even by the Roman period, the clearing of the land was quite extensive. It was during the Roman control of Israel that the lions disappeared from Israel because so many of them were used in gladiator games.
“clear land.” The word “land” is not in the text, the Hebrew is simply “create” or “make” (#01254 bara), so the translation could well be, “make room,” or “make space,” as well as “clear land.” The idea is that the people wanted more room, so Joshua said go and make some in the land you have not taken possession of yet.
“Perizzite.” A tribe of unknown origin in that by the time of Joshua lived in the hill country of Judah and Ephraim. See commentary on Joshua 9:1.
“if the hill country of Ephraim is too narrow.” The allotment came from God, and Joshua is not going to say it is not good enough, so he uses “if” the hill country.(top)
“the land of the valley.” In this context, the word “valley” refers to a very flat valley bottom.
“daughter-towns.” The Hebrew text is just “daughters,” referring to small close-by towns that are supported by a “mother” town, a large and normally well-fortified town (see commentary on Josh. 15:45).(top)
“You will not have only one lot.” Joshua is not saying that the tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh will have more land, another lot; but rather that if they take the land that they have been given it will be enough for two lots, as indeed the division of the land into the tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh showed. Basically what Joshua is saying is, “If you take the land you have and fully possess it, you will not have just one lot.”(top)
“for the hill country can be yours.” The hill country could give Ephraim and Manasseh more land if they would take it; God had given that land to them as part of their inheritance already. Joshua is not giving the tribe of Ephraim and Manasseh any more land than they had been allotted, but if they clear what they inherited they can possess it to the furthest border. The land, when cleared, “will be yours,” that is, you will be able to live there. The text would have been easier to understand if Joshua 17:17 and 18 had been divided up differently and the last part of 17 was in verse 18.
“For you can also drive out the Canaanites.” Another way that the tribes could have more land would be to drive out the Canaanites, which they were supposed to do anyway.(top)