Joshua 17:11
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.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
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.17:7-13 There was great communication between Manasseh and Ephraim. Though each tribe had its inheritance, yet they should intermix one with another, to do good offices one to another, as became those, who, though of different tribes, were all one Israel, and were bound to love as brethren. But they suffered the Canaanites to live among them, against the command of God, to serve their own ends.Perhaps Beth-shean (in Issachar) and the other five towns (in Asher) were given to the Manassites in compensation for towns in the Manassite territory allotted to the Ephraimites. (See Joshua 17:9. Compare Joshua 21:9.) To the wall of Beth-shean, or Bethshah ("Beisan," about 5 miles west of the Jordan), the bodies of Saul and his sons were fastened by the Philistines after the battle on Mount Gilboa. After the exile it received the Greek name of Scythopolis, perhaps because it was principally tenanted by a rude and pagan population, styled in contempt Scythians. It was a border city of Galilee, and the chief town of the Decapolis. In Christian times it was the see of a bishop, who is enumerated as present at Nicaea and other Councils of the Church.

Ibleam (Bileam, 1 Chronicles 6:70), perhaps "Jelameh," was a Levitical town (Joshua 21:25 note). Near this place Ahaziah was mortally wounded by Jehu (2 Kings 9:27), and fled to Megiddo, which was no doubt not far distant.

Three countries - Rather "the three hills." The district belonging to the last-mentioned three towns had a common name, derived no doubt from its natural features, and was called "the three hills." Compare Decapolis, Tripolis, etc.

11. Beth-shean and her towns—Greek, "Scythopolis" (now Beisan), in the valley of the Jordan, towards the east end of the plain of Jezreel. "Beth-shean" means "house of rest," so called from its being the halting place for caravans travelling between Syria or Midian, and Egypt, and the great station for the commerce between these countries for many centuries.

Ibleam and her towns—in the neighborhood of Megiddo (2Ki 9:27).

the inhabitants of Dor and her towns—(now Tantoura), anciently a strong fortress; a wall of wild precipitous rock defended the shore fortifications against attack from the land side.

En-dor and her towns—situated on a rocky eminence, four Roman miles south of Tabor.

Taanach and … Megiddo—These were near to each other, and they are generally mentioned in Scripture together. They were both royal and strongly fortified places (see on [198]Jud 1:27).

three countries—districts or provinces. It is computed that Manasseh possessed in Asher and Issachar portions of ground to the extent of more than two hundred square miles.

In Issachar and in Asher; either,

1. Bordering upon them, as in Asher is taken, Joshua 17:10, and as Aaron’s rod is said to be in the ark, i.e. close by it, Hebrews 9:4; or,

2. Properly in them, as Ephraim had some cities in the tribe of Manasseh, Joshua 16:9, and as it was not unusual, when the places 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; nay, sometimes one whole tribe was taken into another, as Simeon was into Judah’s portion, when it was found too large for Judah, Joshua 19:9.

The inhabitants of Dor; not the places only, but the people; whom, contrary to God’s command, they spared and used for servants, whom therefore they are said to have or possess.

Three countries: this may be referred either to some, to wit, the three last places, or to all the places named in this verse, which are here said either to have three countries or tracts of land belonging to them, or to be in three several countries or portions, as they seem to have been, some in Issachar, and some in Asher, and yet both belonging to Manasseh. Or, the words may be rendered the third part of that country; for the Hebrew word is of the singular number, and the article seems emphatical; and so the meaning may be, that the cities and towns here mentioned are a third part of that country, i.e. of that part of Issachar’s and Asher’s portion, in which those places lay. And Manasseh had in Issachar, and in Asher, Bethshean, and her towns,.... As Ephraim had cities in Manasseh, so had Manasseh cities in these two tribes, which in some parts bordered on it, before described, even the cities following, and the first that is named is Bethshean: this lay in the tribe of Issachar, and was the uttermost border of Manasseh that way; it was, as Josephus (m) says, called Scythopolis; but not from the Scythians, as Pliny (n) suggests, but from Succoth, a place where Jacob resided, and which was not far from it, Genesis 33:17; it lay before the great plain of Jezreel, and was at the entrance into it,"After this went they over Jordan into the great plain before Bethsan.'' (1 Maccabees 5:52)and was six hundred furlongs, or seventy five miles, from Jerusalem, according to:"From thence they departed to Scythopolis, which lieth six hundred furlongs from Jerusalem,'' (2 Maccabees 12:29)and was one of the cities of Decapolis, from whence our Lord had hearers, Matthew 4:25. It was such a pleasant place, that it is said in the Talmud (o), that if the garden of Eden was in the land of Israel, Bethshean was the gate of it; on which the gloss says, that its fruits were the sweetest in the land of Israel:

and Ibleam and her towns; it seems to be the same with Bileam, by a transposition of the two first letters, 1 Chronicles 6:70; and was a place not far from Megiddo, after mentioned, as appears from 2 Kings 9:27,

and the inhabitants of Dor and her towns; this had been a royal city; see Gill on Joshua 11:2 and See Gill on Joshua 12:23,

and the inhabitants of Endor and her towns; this place became famous for a witch there in the times of Saul, 1 Samuel 28:7; in the times of Jerom (p) it was a large village near Mount Tabor, four miles to the south, which he calls Aeudor, of or in Jezreel; and elsewhere (q) he speaks of Endor, as near the town of Nain, where our Lord raised the widow's son the dead, and is about: Scythopolis:

and the inhabitants of Taanach and her towns; this had been a royal city; see Gill on Joshua 12:22,

and the inhabitants of Megiddo and her towns: this was another royal city mentioned with the former; See Gill on Joshua 12:21; there

even three countries; the three last cities, with their towns, that are mentioned, Endor, Taanach, and Megiddo; all which perhaps belonged to Dor, and may be the Naphothdor spoken of Joshua 11:2; where the same word is used as here; so Jarchi interprets it.

(m) Antiqu l. 12. c. 8. sect. 5. (n) Nat. Hist. l. 5. c. 18. (o) T. Bab. Eruvin, fol. 19. 1.((p) De loc. Heb. fol. 88. L. (q) lbid. fol. 91. E.

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.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
11. And Manasseh had] Six cities are now enumerated, which Manasseh received beyond the borders of his own country in Issachar and Asher, but from which he failed to expel the Canaanites.

Beth-shean] or Beth-shan (1 Samuel 31:10) lies in the ghôr, or Jordan valley, about 12 miles south of the Sea of Galilee, and four miles west of the Jordan. See a picture of it in Thomson’s Land and the Book, p. 454. “It is naturally,” he says, “one of the strongest places even in this country of strongholds.… The ancient city consisted of several distinct quarters, or wards, separated by deep ravines, with noisy cascades leaping over ledges of black basalt.… The tell is very strong, and it rises about 200 feet high, with the sides nearly perpendicular. A strong wall was carried round the summit … and on this wall the bodies of Saul and his sons were fastened by the Philistines after the battle of Gilboa, and this supposition enables us to understand how the men of Jabesh-Gilead could execute their daring project of carrying them away. Jabesh-Gilead was on the mountain east of the Jordan, in full view of Beth-shean, and these brave men could creep up to the tell, along Wady Jalûd, without being seen, while the deafening roar of the brook would render it impossible for them to be heard.” In Solomon’s time it appears to have given its name to a district, and “all Beth-shan” was placed under one of his commissariat officers. It is mentioned in the Book of Maccabees (1Ma 5:52; 1Ma 12:40-41). In later times it was called Scythopolis, in consequence of its capture by the Scythians, who after their occupation of Media passed through Palestine on their way to Egypt (Herod. i. 104–106), about b.c. 600. It afterwards became the seat of a Christian bishop, and the name of Scythopolis is found as late as the Council of Constantinople, a.d. 536. It has now regained its ancient name, and is known as Beisan only.

and her towns = and her “daughter towns.”

and Ibleam] Afterwards a Levitical city (Joshua 21:25). Here Ahaziah was mortally wounded by Jehu “at the going up to Gur, which is by Ibleam” (2 Kings 9:27).

Dor] See above, Joshua 11:2, Joshua 12:23.

Endor] is described by Eusebius as a large village four miles south of Tabor, at the N. E. corner of Jebel ed Dûhy, facing Tabor, and overlooking the valley between them. The declivity of the mountain is everywhere perforated with caves, and most of the habitations are merely walls built round the entrances to them. It was one of these caves, which “the witch of Endor” inhabited, whither came King Saul, crossing in his agony of despair the shoulder of the very hill, on which the Philistines were entrenched, to consult her before the disastrous battle of Gilboa (1 Samuel 28:7). It was long held in memory by the Jews in connection with the famous victory over Sisera and Jabin (Psalm 83:10). See Thomson’s Land and the Book, p. 446. Van de Velde, ii. 383.

Taanach] See above, Joshua 12:21.

Megiddo] See above, Joshua 12:21. “Whenever the Israelites in aggressive movements could choose their arena, they selected their own element, the mountains and the mountain-passes. The battles of Esdraelon, on the other hand, were almost all forced upon them by adverse or invading armies: and though some of their chief victories were won here, yet this plain is associated in the mind of an Israelite with mournful at least as much as with joyful recollections; two kings perished on its soil; and the two saddest dirges of the Jewish nation were evoked by the defeats of Gilboa and Megiddo.”—Stanley’s S. and P., p. 338.

even three countries] Rather, the three heights, or the triple hill. The LXX. and Vulgate translate the word as a proper name. The term brings the three cities lying on hills, Endor, Taanach, and Megiddo, into close connection with each other.Verse 11. - And Manasseh had in Issachar and in Asher (see Joshua 16:9). Beth-shean. Afterwards called Scythopolis, now Beisan. It was a "noble city" in the days of Eusebius and Jerome. Many travellers have remarked on its splendid situation, "in this vast area of plain and mountains, in the midst of abundant waters and exuberant fertility" (Robinson, 'Later Bibl. Res.' sec. 7). "Just beyond, and separated by a narrow ridge, is another stream, also perennial, and on the peninsular formed by these two, with a bold, steep brow overlooking the Ghor, stood the citadel of ancient Beth-shean - a sort of Gibraltar on a small scale - of remarkable natural strength, and inaccessible to horsemen. No wonder that it was long ere Israel could wrest it from the Canaanites. The eastern face rises like a steep cone, most incorrectly stated by Robinson to be 'black, and apparently volcanic;' and by Porter, 'probably a crater.' Certainly there are many blocks of basalt lying about, but the hill is simply a limestone bluff." (Tristram, 'Land of Israel,' p. 501). He goes on, "How clearly the details of the sad end of Saul were recalled as we stood on this spot" (the summit of the cone). "There was the slope of Gilboa, on which his army was encamped before the battle. Round that hill he slunk by night, conscience stricken, to visit the witch of Endor. Hither, as being a Canaanitish fortress, the Philistines most naturally brought the trophies of the royal slain, and hung them up just by this wall. By the Yasir, and across that plain below us, the gallant men of Jabesh-Gilead hurried on their long night's march to stop the indignity offered to Israel, and to take down the bodies of their king and his sons." Jabesh-Gilead was not far off, and though in full view of the mountain, yet the men of Jabesh could creep along the Ghor by night and climb the steep face of the rock unsuspected by the warriors above; while the roar of the brook would drown all the sounds they might make (see Thomson, 'Land and the Book,' p. 454). And her towns. Literally, daughters, κῶμαι LXX.; viculi, Vulgate. Canon Tristram remarks how each hill in some parts of Palestine is crowned by a village, a number of which still cluster, as of old, round the chief city of the district. So in Italy we may see how times of unsettlement led to a similar policy. The fear of the northern pirates led to the planting the mediaeval towns on hills, and the disturbed state of the country kept them there till a comparatively late period. But many of them are deserted in this more peaceful age. Ibleam. Only known as near the place where Jehu gave Ahaziah his death blow. It was near Megiddo (see 2 Kings 9:27). Dor (see above Joshua 11:2). Keil thinks that Dor and all the cities after it are in the accusative to "could not drive out" in the next verse. But it is more probable that את was an anacolouthon. Vandevelde ('Travels,' 1:333) says that he did not wonder that the fainthearted Manassites shrank from attacking Dor when he saw its formidable position, ruder. This, the abode of the famous witch, still bears the old name. It is four miles south of Mount Tabor, in a country honeycombed with caves, and it stands on the shoulder of Little Hermon. The word signifies the "fount of Dor," or "the dwelling." Taanach. For this and Megiddo see Joshua 12:21. Three countries. Rather, three hills, or elevated spots (Napheth, see note, ch. 11:2). Gesenius compares the name Temont. The reference is to Endor, Taanach, and Megiddo. Keil suggests province, but he does not explain how a derivative of נוּפ can have this latter signification (cf. Psalm 48:3. Beautiful for its height (נופ) is Mount Zion). The LXX. and Vulgate regard it as a proper name, and translate, "the third part of Nopheth." They are puzzled by the expression here, as in Joshua 11:2. Among the six families of Manasseh (Joshua 17:2), Zelophehad, a descendant of Hepher, left no son; but he had five daughters, whose names are given in Joshua 17:3 (as in Numbers 26:33; Numbers 27:1; Numbers 36:10). These daughters had petitioned Moses for a separate portion in the promised land, and their request had been granted (Numbers 27:2., compared with Joshua 36). They therefore came before the committee appointed for dividing the land and repeated this promised, which as at once fulfilled. Consequently there were ten families of Manasseh who had received portions by the side of Ephraim, five male and five female. "And (Joshua 17:5) there fell the measurements of Manasseh (as) ten," i.e., ten portions were assigned to the Manassites (on the west of the Jordan), beside the land of Gilead, because (as is again observed in Joshua 17:6) the daughters of Manasseh, i.e., of Zelophehad the Manassite, received an inheritance among his sons (i.e., the rest of the Manassites).
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