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.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)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.
12, 13. Yet the children of Manasseh could not drive out those cities—probably due to indolence, a love of ease. Perhaps a mistaken humanity, arising from a disregard or forgetfulness of the divine command, and a decreasing principle of faith and zeal in the service of God, were the causes of their failure.
that they put the Canaanites to tribute; they did not take away their lives, as they were commanded to do, but made them tributaries to them, which seems to arise from a covetous disposition, and done for the sake of gain:
but did not utterly drive them out; which they were ordered to do, and could now have done; for if they were able to make them pay tribute to them, they had power sufficient to drive them out, or destroy them, and therefore broke the commandment of God, Deuteronomy 7:1.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.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)13. put the Canaanites to tribute] Comp. above, Joshua 16:10. They made them tributary servants, but could not drive them out.Joshua 17:7-10, the southern boundary, which coincides with the northern boundary of Ephraim described in Joshua 16:6-8, and is merely given here with greater precision in certain points. It went "from Asher to Michmethah, before Shechem." Asher is not the territory of the tribe of Asher, but a distinct locality; according to the Onom. (s. v. Asher) a place on the high road from Neapolis to Scythopolis, fifteen Roman miles from the former. It is not to be found, however, in the ruins of Tell Um el Aschera (V. de Velde) or Tell Um Ajra (Rob. Bibl. Res. pp. 310, 327), an hour to the south of Beisan, as Knobel supposes, but in the village of Yasir, where there are magnificent ruins, about five hours and ten minutes from Nabulus on the road to Beisan (V. de Velde, Mem. pp. 237, 289; R. ii. p. 295). Michmethah, before Shechem, is still unknown (see Joshua 16:6). Shechem was founded by the Hivite prince Shechem (Genesis 33:18), and is frequently mentioned in the book of Genesis. It stood between Ebal and Gerizim, was given up by Ephraim to the Levites, and declared a free city (city of refuge: Joshua 21:21; Joshua 20:7). It was there that the ten tribes effected their separation from Judah 1 Kings 12:1.), and Jeroboam resided there (1 Kings 12:25). In later times it was the chief city of the country of Samaria, and the capital of the Samaritans (John 4:5); and the name of Neapolis, or Flavia Neapolis, from which the present Nabulus or Nablus has come, was given to it in honour of Vespasian (see v. Raumer, Pal. pp. 161ff.). From this point the boundary went אל־היּמין (i.e., either "to the right side," the south side, or to Yamin), "To the inhabitants of En-tappuah." Whether Yamin is an appellative or a proper name is doubtful. But even if it be the name of a place, it is quite certain that it cannot be the village of Yamn, an hour to the south-east of Taanuk (Rob. iii. pp. 161, 167, etc.), as this is much too far north, and, judging from Joshua 17:11, belonged to the territory of Asher. In the case of En-tappuah, the inhabitants are mentioned instead of the district, because the district belonged to Manasseh, whilst the town on the border of Manasseh was given to the Ephraimites. The situation of the town has not yet been discovered: see at Joshua 16:8. From this point the boundary ran down to the Cane-brook (see Joshua 16:8), namely to the south side of the brook.
"These towns were assigned to Ephraim in the midst of the towns of Manasseh, and (but) the territory of Manasseh was on the north of the brook." The only possible meaning of these words is the following: From Tappuah, the boundary went down to the Cane-brook and crossed it, so that the south side of the brook really belonged to the territory of Manasseh; nevertheless the towns on this south side were allotted to Ephraim, whilst only the territory to the north of the brook fell to the lot of the Manassites. This is expressed more plainly in Joshua 17:10: "To the south (of the brook the land came) to Ephraim, and to the north to Manasseh." In Joshua 17:10 the northern and eastern boundaries are only briefly indicated: "And they (the Manassites) touched Asher towards the north, and Issachar towards the east." The reason why this boundary was not described more minutely, was probably because it had not yet been fixed. For (Joshua 17:11) Manasseh also received towns and districts in (within the territory of) Issachar and Asher, viz., Beth-shean, etc. Beth-shean, to the wall of which Saul's body was fastened (1 Samuel 31:10.; 2 Samuel 21:12), was afterwards called Scythopolis. It was in the valley of the Jordan, where the plain of Jezreel slopes off into the valley; its present name is Beisan, a place where there are considerable ruins of great antiquity, about two hours from the Jordan (vid., Seetzen, ii. pp. 162ff.; Rob. iii. p. 174; Bibl. Res. p. 325; v. Raumer, Pal. pp. 150-1). This city, with its daughter towns, was in the territory of Issachar, which was on the east of Manasseh, and may have extended a considerable distance towards the south along the valley of the Jordan, as the territory of Manasseh and Ephraim did not run into the valley of the Jordan; but Asher (Yasir) is mentioned in Joshua 17:7 as the most easterly place in Manasseh, and, according to Joshua 16:6-7, the eastern boundary of Ephraim ran down along the eastern edge of the mountains as far as Jericho, without including the Jordan valley. At the same time, the Ghor on the western side of the Jordan below Beisan, as far as the plain of Jericho, was of no great value to any tribe, as this district, according to Josephus (de Bell. Jud. iv. 8, 2, and iii. 10, 7), was uninhabited because of its barrenness. The other towns, Ibleam, etc., with the exception of Endor perhaps, were in the territory of Asher, and almost all on the south-west border of the plain of Esdraelon. Ibleam, called Bileam in 1 Chronicles 6:55 (70), a Levitical town (see at Joshua 21:25), was not very far from Megiddo (2 Kings 9:27), and has probably been preserved in the ruins of Khirbet-Belameh, half an hour to the south of Jenin; according to Schultz, it is the same place as Belamon, Belmen, or Belthem (Judith 4:4; 7:3; 8:3). With דאר ואת־ישׁבי the construction changes, so that there is an anacolouthon, which can be explained, however, on the ground that ל היה may not only mean to be assigned to, but also to receive or to have. In this last sense ואת is attached. The inhabitants are mentioned instead of the towns, because the historian had already the thought present in his mind, that the Manassites were unable to exterminate the Canaanites from the towns allotted to them. Dor is the present Tortura (see at Joshua 11:2). Endor, the home of the witch (1 Samuel 28:7), four Roman miles to the south of Tabor (Onom.), at present a village called Endr, on the northern shoulder of the Duhy or Little Hermon (see Rob. iii. p. 225; Bibl. Res. p. 340). Taanach and Megiddo, the present Taanuk and Lejun (see at Joshua 12:21). The three last towns, with the places dependent upon them, are connected more closely together by הנּפת שׁלשׁת, the three-hill-country, probably because they formed a common league.
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