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.Joshua 17:1. There was also a lot for the tribe of Manasseh — That half of it which had no portion on the other side Jordan. For he was the firstborn of Joseph — The sense of this, as it here stands, is very obscure. But if the particle כי, ki, here rendered for, be translated though, as it often is, and as Bishop Patrick thinks it ought to be here, the meaning is plain, that the second lot was for Manasseh, because, though he was the firstborn of Joseph, yet Jacob had preferred Ephraim before him, Genesis 48:19-20. Or the sense may be, though Ephraim was to be more potent and numerous than Manasseh, according to the prophecy of Jacob, yet this should be no prejudice to Manasseh, nor deprive him of any privilege to which he might lay claim as the elder. “Both being sons of Joseph, drew but one lot; and their estates and cities were in some degree mixed together; but after having described the portion of the lot which fell to Ephraim, it was proper in like manner to describe the portion of his brother, as being the first born.” — Dodd. For Machir — The only son of Manasseh, who, therefore, is here put for the whole tribe. The firstborn — So even only sons are sometimes called, as Matthew 1:25. Because he was a man of war — That is, had given great proof of his valour, (though the particular history be not mentioned,) and his posterity were no degenerate sons, but had his valiant blood still running in their veins. Gilead and Bashan — Part of those countries; for part of them was given to the Reubenites, and part to the Gadites. This may be added as a reason, either, 1st, Why he got those places from the Amorites. Or, 2d, Why they were allotted to him or his posterity, because this was a frontier country, and the outworks to the land of Canaan, and therefore required valiant persons to defend it.
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 17:2. A lot — A distinct inheritance. The rest — Namely, those of them which had not received their possessions beyond Jordan. Male children —
This expression is used to bring in what follows, concerning his female children.
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.Joshua 17:4-6. He gave them — That is, Eleazar or Joshua, with the consent of the princes appointed for that work. For after the lot had determined what land every tribe should have, these commissioners considered how many families were in the tribe, and how large they were, and accordingly divided it among them. This is implied, Numbers 26:54-56. Ten portions — Five for the sons and five for the daughters; for as for Hepher, both he and his son Zelophehad were dead, and that without sons, and therefore had no portion; but his daughters had several portions allotted to them. The daughters — Not less than the sons, so the sex was no bar to their inheritance.
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.
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:Joshua 17:9. The coast of Manasseh was on the north side — By the coast of Manasseh is meant the cities inhabited by the Manassites; which were all on the north side of this river; as all those on the south side of it, though in the territory allotted to the Manassites: were inhabited by the children of Ephraim.
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 17:10. The sea is his border — Manasseh’s, whose portion is here described, and whose name was last mentioned. In Asher — That is, upon the tribe of Asher; for though Zebulun came between Asher and them for the greatest part of their land; yet it seems there were some necks of land, both of Ephraim’s and of Manasseh’s, which jutted out farther than the rest, and touched the borders of Asher.
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. Manasseh had in Issachar and in Asher, &c. — In like manner as Ephraim had some cities in the tribe of Manasseh; and, as it was not unusual, when the place allotted to any tribe was too narrow for it, and the next too large, to give away part from the larger to the less portion. Inhabitants of Dor — Not the places only, but the people; whom they spared and used for servants. Three countries — The words may be rendered, the third part of that country; and so the meaning may be, that the cities and towns here mentioned were a third part of that country; that is, of that part of Issachar’s and Asher’s portion, in which those places lay.
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.
And the children of Joseph spake unto Joshua, saying, Why hast thou given me but one lot and one portion to inherit, seeing I am a great people, forasmuch as the LORD hath blessed me hitherto?Joshua 17:14. Children of Joseph — That is, of Ephraim and Manasseh. Spake unto Joshua — That is, expostulated with him, when they went and saw that portion which was allotted them, and found it much short of their expectation. One portion — Either, 1st, Because they had but one lot, which was afterward divided by the arbitrators between them; or, 2d, Because the land severally allotted to them was but little enough for one of them.
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.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.
And the children of Joseph said, The hill is not enough for us: and all the Canaanites that dwell in the land of the valley have chariots of iron, both they who are of Bethshean and her towns, and they who are of the valley of Jezreel.Joshua 17:16. The hill is not enough for us — That is, if we could get possession of the woody mountain, cut down all its trees, and destroy all its inhabitants, it would not be sufficient for us. But the Hebrew is, The hill will not be found; that is, obtained by us. Those fierce and strong people the Perizzites and the giants will easily defend themselves, and frustrate our attempts, having the advantage of the woods and mountains. The Canaanites that dwell, &c. — They seem to mean that there was another impediment in their way, that before they could come at the mountain to attack it, they would have to encounter those who lived in the valley below it, who were too strong for them. Or that, if Joshua should command them, in case the hill either could not be conquered, or would not be sufficient for them, to go down and take more land out of the pleasant and fruitful valleys, that they would meet with no less difficulty there than in the mountains. Have chariots of iron. — Not all made of iron, but armed with iron, and that not only for defence, but for offence also; having a kind of scythes, of two cubits long, fastened to long axle-trees on both wheels, which being driven swiftly through a body of men, made great slaughter, mowing them down like grass or corn.
And Joshua spake unto the house of Joseph, even to Ephraim and to Manasseh, saying, Thou art a great people, and hast great power: thou shalt not have one lot only:Joshua 17:17. Thou art a great people, and hast great power — Joshua was not moved from his resolution by their objections, but told them, that by their own confession they were very numerous, and consequently of great power, and therefore need not be straitened in their habitations. Thou shalt not have one lot only — Thou needest and deservest more than one lot, of which thou art actually possessed, and thou hast power to get more; which, if thou endeavourest to do, God will bless and give thee more. The mountain shall be thine — Added to the present portion. This was probably mount Gilboa, which stood north of Manasseh, and reached from the country about Kishon, as far as Beth-shean. See Calmet. The outgoings shall be thine — The valleys or fields belonging to it. For thou shalt drive out the Canaanites — That is, with the divine aid, which God had taught them confidently to expect, commanding them to trust in him, and not be afraid of their enemies, though they had chariots of iron, and though they were strong, Deuteronomy 20:1. “Blessed is the man who trusteth in the Lord, and whose hope the Lord is.”
But the mountain shall be thine; for it is a wood, and thou shalt cut it down: and the outgoings of it shall be thine: for thou shalt drive out the Canaanites, though they have iron chariots, and though they be strong.
Benson Commentary on the Old and New Testaments
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