Joshua 17:14
And the children of Joseph spoke to Joshua, saying, Why have you given me but one lot and one portion to inherit, seeing I am a great people, for as much as the LORD has blessed me till now?
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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.17:14-18 Joshua, as a public person, had no more regard to his own tribe than to any other, but would govern without favour or affection; wherein he has left a good example to all in public trusts. Joshua tells them, that what was fallen to their share would be a sufficient lot for them, if they would but work and fight. Men excuse themselves from labour by any pretence; and nothing serves the purpose better than having rich and powerful relations, able to provide for them; and they are apt to desire a partial and unfaithful disposal of what is intrusted to those they think able to give such help. But there is more real kindness in pointing out the advantages within reach, and in encouraging men to make the best of them, than in granting indulgences to sloth and extravagance. True religion gives no countenance to these evils. The rule is, They shall not eat who will not work; and many of our cannots are only the language of idleness, which magnifies every difficulty and danger. This is especially the case in our spiritual work and warfare. Without Christ we can do nothing, but we are apt to sit still and attempt nothing. if we belong to Him, he will stir us up to our best endeavours, and to cry to him for help. Then our coast will be enlarged, 1Ch 4:9,10, and complainings silenced, or rather, turned into joyful thanksgivings.Seeing I am a great people - The assertion can hardly have been warranted by facts, for at the census Numbers 26 the two tribes of Manasseh and Ephraim together were not greatly more numerous than the single tribe of Judah; and now that half the Manassites were provided for on the eastern side of Jordan, the remaining children of Joseph could hardly be stronger than the Danites or the Issacharites. The children of Joseph seem therefore to exhibit here that arrogant and jealous spirit which elsewhere characterises their conduct (Judges 8:1; Judges 12:1; 2 Samuel 19:41; 2 Chronicles 28:7 etc.). A glance at the map shows that their complaint was in itself unreasonable. Their territory, which measured about 55 miles by 70 miles, was at least as large in proportion to their numbers as that of any other tribe, and moreover comprehended some of the most fertile of the whole promised land. Jos 17:14-18. The Children of Joseph Ask for Another Lot.

14-18. the children of Joseph spake unto Joshua—The two tribes join in laying a complaint before the leader, as to the narrow boundaries of their allotment and its insufficiency to be the residence of tribes so vastly increased. But Joshua's answer was full of wisdom as well as patriotism. Knowing their character, he treated them accordingly, and sarcastically turned all their arguments against themselves. Thus he rebuked their unbelief and cowardice.

The children of Joseph, i.e. of Ephraim and Manasseh, as is manifest, partly from Joshua 17:17, where it is so explained; and partly because they mention it as an unreasonable thing, that they, being two, should have out one lot.

Spake unto Joshua, i.e. expostulated with him, when they went and saw that portion which was allotted to them, and found it much short of their expectation.

One lot, and one portion; either,

1. Because they really had but one lot, which was afterwards divided by the arbitrators between them. Or,

2. Because the land severally allotted to them was no more than was little enough for one of them.

A great people, or numerous; for so the Hebrew word oft signifies. And the children of Joseph spake unto Joshua,.... Which some understand of the children of Manasseh only; and, indeed, the complaint and arguments used, as well as some circumstances in the account, best agree with them; yet certain it is, that the children of Ephraim accompanied the children of Manasseh, and were present at this interview, as appears from Joshua 17:17; and if they did not join with them in the request and complaint expressly, they countenanced and encouraged the same by their presence:

saying, why hast thou given me but one lot and one portion to inherit: this seems to suit better with one than both; for there was a lot for the tribe of Manasseh also, as well as for Ephraim, Joshua 17:1; by which it should seem that there were two, and if both made this expostulation, it was not fact; but it may be, that the inheritance which came to them by lot was not as yet divided, and so they called it one lot and one portion, and then it might with propriety be said by them both; and their sense be, that the lot or portion assigned them was only sufficient for one of them, and not for both:

seeing I am a great people; as especially both tribes put together were:

forasmuch as the Lord hath blessed me hitherto? this best agrees with the tribe of Manasseh, which, since their coming out of Egypt, was increased twenty thousand five hundred, whereas the tribe of Ephraim was decreased; compare Numbers 1:33 with Numbers 26:34. Now it might have been expected by them, that as Joshua was of the tribe of Ephraim, that he would have favoured their cause on that account, and that they should have obtained the grant of an addition by that means; but Joshua was impartial in his administration, and showed no favour and affection on that score, as appears by what follows.

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 {h} blessed me hitherto?

(h) According to my father Jacob's prophecy, Ge 48:19.

14–18. Complaint of the Children of Joseph

14. And the children of Joseph] The descendants of Joseph, i.e. the patriarchs of the tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh, were not satisfied with the portion which Joshua had assigned them. The preponderating tribe from the earliest times, and since the Egyptian period the dominant one, they did not deem it sufficient that they had been divided into two, and so obtained a double voice in the national assembly, they claimed more than “one lot and one portion to inherit.”

seeing I am a great people] At the census in the wilderness of Sinai (Numbers 1:32-33; Numbers 2:19) the numbers of Ephraim were 40,500, which placed it at the head of the children of Rachel. The number of Manasseh was 32,200. But forty years later, on the eve of the conquest, while Ephraim had decreased to 32,500, Manasseh had advanced to 52,700. How much they subsequently increased, we can form some estimate by comparing the number of warriors they sent to the coronation of David at Hebron.

forasmuch as the Lord hath blessed me hitherto] Comp. the words of the dying Jacob, “And he blessed them that day, saying, In thee shall Israel bless, saying, God make thee as Ephraim and as Manasseh; and he set Ephraim before Manasseh” (Genesis 48:20); and again (Genesis 49:25-26; with which comp. Deuteronomy 33:13-17),

“The Almighty, who shall bless thee

With blessings of heaven above,

Blessings of the deep that lieth under,

Blessings of the breasts, and of the womb;

The blessings of thy father have prevailed above the blessings of my progenitors

Unto the utmost bound of the everlasting hills:

They shall be on the head of Joseph,

And on the crown of the head of him that was separate from his brethren.”Verse 14. - And the children of Joseph. The attitude of the children of Joseph throughout the history of the twelve tribes is in precise accordance with the hint given here. They were proud of their numerical preponderance over the remaining tribes. Thus they, and they only, ventured to remonstrate with Joshua about the inadequacy of the portion allotted to them. Such a sensitiveness was likely to degenerate into insolence when the authority of the great leader was removed. And the history of Gideon (Judges 8:1-3) and of Jephthah (Judges 12:6) shows that this was actually the case. Here, again, we have a sign of that deep undercurrent of consistency which underlies our history, and is a guarantee of its authenticity. Seeing I am a great people. The tribe of Joseph, at the census described in Numbers 1, outnumbered every tribe but that of Judah. At the census in the plains of Moab (Numbers 26.) the tribe of Joseph outnumbered them all, though the relative proportions of Ephraim and Manasseh were altered, the latter being now considerably the larger of the two tribes. The whole number of the fighting men of Israel underwent a slight diminution during the passage through the wilderness. But the demand of the tribe of Joseph seems to have been a little unbecoming, since Joseph had obtained two lots and two portions, since half the tribe of Manasseh had settled on the east of Jordan. Hence no doubt the covert sarcasm of Joshua's reply, for, as Delitzsch shows, Judah, and even Dan, considerably outnumbered Ephraim and the half tribe of Manasseh. Part, however, of their complaint was no doubt caused by the idea that Joshua, as one of themselves, ought to have taken more care of the interests of his own tribe. Joshua, however, as a true servant of God ought to be, was above such petty considerations, though many who live under a higher dispensation find it impossible to emancipate themselves from such bondage. Forasmuch as the Lord hath blessed me hitherto. Or, hath blessed me to this extent (but see Exodus 7:16). There is doubtless here an allusion to Jacob's blessing (Genesis 48:20; Genesis 44:22-26), the fulfilment of which would naturally make a deep impression on the minds of the children of Joseph. Blessing was the word reiterated over and over again by the dying patriarch as he gazed upon the children of his best-beloved son. Here, again, we have one of those delicate touches, impossible to a writer of fiction, which show that we have here an authentic record of facts. No doubt the consciousness of the enthusiastic language of Jacob, reiterated upon an almost equally solemn occasion by Moses (Deuteronomy 33:13-17), coupled with the obvious fulfilment of these predictions, led the tribe of Joseph to demand as a right the leadership in Israel, and no doubt predisposed the other tribes to concede it. The rivalry of Judah, to which reference has already been made, and which culminated in the sovereignty of David, was calculated to produce a beach which it required the utmost tact to heal. Pity it was that the Ephraimites and Manassites forgot the fact that the blessing was conditional, and neglected to lay to heart the terrible warnings in Deuteronomy 28. But it is too often so with men. They expect the fulfilment of prophecies which predict their aggrandisement, and too often strive themselves to hasten the hand of God, while the warnings of God's Word, since they are less pleasant to the natural man, are permitted to pass by unheeded (see vers. 12, 13, which was the first step on the downward road). Boundaries and extent of the inheritance of the ten families of Manasseh. - 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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