Joshua Chapter 17

This part of the book of Joshua, reviews the inheritances of the tribes of Israel.

Division of the Tribes of Israel

The tribes of Joseph, which are Manasseh and Ephraim, are the line which were to receive a double-portion of the inheritance. This was because Reuben, who was the firstborn, had lost the right to the double-portion through transgression against his father. This chapter begins as follows:

1 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.
2 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.

The posterity of Manasseh included Machir, Abiezer, Helek, Asriel, Shechem, Hepher and Shemida. The inheritance would go to the male children of their family.

3 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.
4 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.
5 And there fell ten portions to Manasseh, beside the land of Gilead and Bashan, which were on the other side Jordan;
6 Because the daughters of Manasseh had an inheritance among his sons: and the rest of Manasseh’s sons had the land of Gilead.

The daughters of Zelophehad, had no brothers for the inheritance to pass on to. According to the commandment given to Moses (see Numbers 27), the inheritance would go to the daughters because their was no son and no one to provide for them. An additional ten portions of the inheritance went to the tribe of Manasseh, aside from the inheritance that had already been claimed on the eastern side of the Jordan.

7 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 En-tappuah.
8 Now Manasseh had the land of Tappuah: but Tappuah on the border of Manasseh belonged to the children of Ephraim;
9 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:
10 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.
11 And Manasseh had in Issachar and in Asher Beth-shean and her towns, and Ibleam and her towns, and the inhabitants of Dor and her towns, and the inhabitants of En-dor and her towns, and the inhabitants of Taanach and her towns, and the inhabitants of Megiddo and her towns, even three countries.
12 Yet the children of Manasseh could not drive out the inhabitants of those cities; but the Canaanites would dwell in that land.
13 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.
14 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?
15 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.
16 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 Beth-shean and her towns, and they who are of the valley of Jezreel.
17 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:
18 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.

The lands of Manasseh and Ephraim were described here. Some of the Canaanites continued to live in the land where the tribe of Manasseh lived. They caused the Canaanites to pay them tribute, or serve them. Because the tribes of Joseph were great, they also received the portion of land in the mountain, or hill country. Joshua told them to cut down the forest for their land, and promised them that they could drive the Canaanites out of the mountain in spite of their enemy’s strength and chariots. The tribe of Joseph had been promised strength in the blessings of their father, Jacob. The wisdom of men, brought fear into their hearts when facing the giants of those days, with their chariots and strength. But the Lord would be with his faithful people. He continues to be with the faithful today, and will strengthen each of us in our own trials, if we trust in him and not in the arm of the flesh.

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