|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
16:20-63 Here is a list of the cities of Judah. But we do not here find Bethlehem, afterwards the city of David, and ennobled by the birth of our Lord Jesus in it. That city, which, at the best, was but little among the thousands of Judah, Mic 5:2, except that it was thus honoured, was now so little as not to be accounted one of the cities.
Verse 5. - The border of the children of Ephraim. The Hebrew word is translated indifferently by coast and border in our translation. The border of Joseph is very slightly traced out by the historian. It is difficult to give a reason for this fact, when we remember that Joseph, consisting as it did of the preponderating tribe of Ephraim, together with half the tribe of Manasseh, constituted by far the most important portion of Jewish territory. See, however, Introduction for the bearing of this fact on the authorship of the book. It is by no means easy to define the boundaries of the tribes; but, with the utmost deference to the authority of one so long engaged in the actual survey of the Holy Land as Mr. Conder, I feel unable to accept the maps he has given us in his 'Handbook' as an accurate account of them. Sometimes, perhaps, an eager attempt at the identification of certain places may lead astray those who are most familiar with their subject. But there are certain plain statements of the Book of Joshua which cannot be lightly set aside. Thus the extremity (תֹצְאֹת) of the border of Ephraim is distinctly stated in ver. 8 to be the sea. To translate "westward" would rob the expression תֹצאֹת of all meaning, even if ימה had not the article. Thus Dan can only have approached towards Joppa, but cannot have reached it. And it will be observed in Joshua 19:46, in accordance with this view, that the outgoings of the Danite border are not said to have been the sea. Next, it would seem that the Ataroth of ver. 2 (not of ver. 7) and Ataroth-addar are either the same place or close together, and that the present verse gives a small portion of the southeastern boundary as far as Beth-horon. Why the boundary is not traced out further ("the author only gives the western part of the southern border, and leaves out the eastern," Knobel) we cannot tell, but the natural translation of ver. 6 is, "and the western border ran to Michmethah on the north" (so Knobel). There was so small a portion of Ephraim on the sea that the line of the Wady Kanah in a northeasterly direction to Michmethah, near Shechem, might be called a western, as it certainly was a northwestern, border. Then the border deflected (נָסַב) and ran in a southwesterly direction to Jericho. Manasseh seems to have been bounded by Asher on the north and Issachar on the east, from the borders of Asher to Michmethah, and its western boundary the sea from the Wady Kanah to the neighbourhood of Dor. It seems impossible, with the distinct statement that Dor was in Asher (Joshua 17:11) - it could hardly have been in Issachar - and that Carmel was part of its western border (Joshua 19:26), to thrust a wedge of Zehulun between Manasseh and Asher, as Mr. Conder has done. The invention of an Asherham-Michmethah must not be allowed to set aside the plain statement (Joshua 17:10) that Manasseh impinged (פגע) upon Asher in a northerly direction - that is, was bounded on the north by that tribe. Then, as Asher was the northern, so it would seem from the passage just cited that Issachar was, as has been suggested, the eastern boundary, and that Issachar was bounded by the Jordan eastward, Manasseh westward, and by Ephraim to the southwest, and some distance further south than is usually supposed. Yet Joshua 17:11 must not he forgotten in fixing the boundary of Issachar (see note on Joshua 19:17-23). Its northern border, comprehending Jezreel, and bounded by Tabor, was thrust in between Zebulun and Naphtali. Tabor was evidently the border of these three tribes. It is with much diffidence that I venture to offer these suggestions, but they appear to have the sanction of the plain statements of the sacred writer. It would seem as though the comparative smallness of the territory assigned to Joseph led to the cession of some of the towns northward of the Wady Kanah by Manasseh to Ephraim, Manasseh receiving compensation by receiving Beth-shean, Ibleam, Dor, Endor, Taanach, and Megiddo from Issachar and Asher. The possession of Beth-shean by Manasseh may be due to the fact that the boundary of Manasseh ran along the chain of mountains bordering the great plain of Esdraelon, until it almost reached the Jordan. Additional reasons for entertaining these opinions will be given in the following notes. On the east side was Ataroth-addar. It is hardly possible to avoid the conclusion that a passage has been omitted here by the transcriber. If so, it must have been at a very early period, since the LXX. shows no sign of it, save that some copies add "and Gezer." But this is probably added from ver. 3, and is in no sense an eastern border.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
And the border of the children of Ephraim, according to their families, was thus,.... Or what follows is the description of it:
even the border of their inheritance on the east side was Atarothaddar, unto Bethhoron the upper; the first was on the south of the inheritance, and the latter on the north, as Masius has placed them: who has given us a type of this description, by which it appears that this lot is here described in its breadth from south to north.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
Jos 16:5-9. The Borders of the Inheritance of Ephraim.
5-9. the border of their inheritance … was Ataroth-addar—Ataroth-addar (now Atara), four miles south of Jetta [Robinson], is fixed on as a center, through which a line is drawn from Upper Beth-horon to Michmethah, showing the western limit of their actual possessions. The tract beyond that to the sea was still unconquered.
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