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Bible Commentaries

Lange's Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical

Joshua 16

 

 

Verses 1-18

2. The Territory of the Tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh

Joshua 16, 17

a. Its Boundaries

Joshua 16:1-4

1And the lot of [for] the children [sons] of Joseph fell [came out] from [the] Jordan by Jericho, unto [at] the water of Jericho, on the east, to the wilderness which 2 goeth up from Jericho throughout [on] Mount Beth-el, And goeth [and it went] out from Beth-el to Luz, and passeth [passed] along unto the border of Archi [the 3 Archite] to Ataroth, And goeth [went] down westward to the coast [border] of Japhleti [the Japhletite], unto the coast [border] of Beth-horon the nether, and to 4 Gezer: and the goings out thereof are [were] at the sea. So [And] the children [sons] of Joseph, Manasseh and Ephraim, took their inheritance [possession].

b. Portion of the Tribe of Ephraim.

Joshua 16:5-10

5And the border of the children [sons] of Ephraim [was] according to their families was thus [omit: was thus]: even [and] the border of their inheritance [possession] on the east side was Ataroth-addar, unto Beth-horon the upper; 6And the border went out toward the sea to Michmethah on the north side [so De Wette; Keil, and Fay: from Michmethah, northward]; and the border went about eastward unto Taanath-shiloh, and passed by it on the east [eastward] to Janohah 7 And it went down from Janohah to Ataroth, and to Naarath, and came to [struck or touched] Jericho, and went out at [the] Jordan 8 The border went out [went] from Tappuah westward unto the river [water-course of] Kanah; and the goings out thereof were at the sea. This is the inheritance [possession] of the tribe of the children [sons] of Ephraim by their families 9 And[FN1] the separate cities for the children [sons] of Ephraim were among the inheritance of the children [sons] of Prayer of Manasseh, all the cities with their villages 10 And they drave not out the Canaanites that dwelt in Gezer: but the Canaanites dwell among the Ephraimites unto this day, and serve under tribute [and they became tributary servants; LXX.: κὰι ἐγένοντο ὑπόφοροι δοῦλοι].

c. Portion of the Tribe of Manasseh.

Chapter Joshua 17:1-13

1There was also a lot [And there was the lot] for the tribe of Manasseh; for he was the first-born of Joseph; to wit, for Machir the first-born of Prayer of Manasseh, the father of Gilead: [,] because he was a man of war, [;] therefore [and] he had Gilead and Bashan 2 There was also [And there was] a lot for the rest of the children [sons] of Manasseh by their families; for the children [sons] of Abiezer, and for the children [sons] of Helek, and for the children [sons] of Asriel, and for the children [sons] of Shechem, and for the children [sons] of Hepher, and for the children [sons] of Shemida: these were the male children of Manasseh the son of Joseph by their families 3 But [And] Zelophehad, the son of Hepher, the son of Gilead, the son of Machir, the son of Prayer 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 [Jehovah] commanded Moses to give us an inheritance [a possession] among our brethren: therefore [and] according to the commandment of the Lord [Jehovah] he gave them an inheritance [a possession] among the brethren of their father 5 And there fell ten portions to Prayer of Manasseh, besides the land of Gilead and Bashan, which were on the other side [of the] Jordan; 6Because the daughters of Manasseh had an inheritance [possession] among his sons: and the rest of Manasseh’s sons had the land of Gilead.

7And the coast [border] of Manasseh was from Asher to Michmethah, that lieth before Shechem; and the border went along on the right hand [De Wette: towards the south] unto the inhabitants of En-tappuah8Now [omit: now] Manasseh had the land of Tappuah: but Tappuah on the border of Manasseh belonged to the children of Ephraim: 9And the border descended unto the river [water-course of] Kanah [reeds; hence = Reed-brook], southward of the river [water-course]. These cities[FN2] of Ephraim are among the cities of Manasseh: the coast [border] of Manasseh also was on the north side of the river [water-course], and the out-goings of it were at the sea: 10Southward it [the land] was Ephraim’s, and northward it was Manasseh’s, and the sea is [was] his border; and they met together in [touched, or struck upon] Asher on the north, and in [upon] Issachar on the east 11 And Manasseh had in Issachar and in Asher, Beth-shean and her towns [daughters], and Ibleam and her towns [daughters], and the inhabitants of Dor and her towns [daughters], and the inhabitants of En-Dor and her towns [daughters], and the inhabitants of Taanach and her towns [daughters], and the inhabitants of Megiddo and her towns [daughters], even three countries [Gesen, Fay: the three heights, i.e. the three cities situated on heights. See the exegetical explanations. LXX.: καὶ το τρίτον τῆς Νοφεθ. Vulg.: tertia pars. Luther: the third part of Napheth. De Wette: three 12 portions of country (drei Landschaften); Bunsen: die Dreilandschaft]. Yet [And] the children of Manasseh could not drive out the inhabitants of [could not conquer] 13those cities; but [and] the Canaanites would dwell in that land. Yet [And] it came to pass, when the children of Israel were waxen [became] strong, that they put the Canaanites to tribute [made the Canaanites tributary servants]; but did not utterly drive them out, [De Wette, Fay: aber vertreiben thaten sie sie nicht; nearly the same as “but drive them out they did not do;” to express: וְהוֹרֵשׁ לאֹ הוֹרִישׁוּ].

d. Complaint of the Sons of Joseph on Account of an insufficient Possession

Joshua 17:14-18

14And the children [sons] of Joseph spake unto Joshua, saying, Why hast thou given me but one lot and one portion to inherit [as a possession], seeing I am a great people, forasmuch as [in so far as, עַד־אֲשֶׁר] the Lord [Jehovah] hath blessed me hitherto? 15And Joshua answered [said to] them, If thou be a great people, then [omit: then] get thee up to the wood-country [forest], and cut down for thyself there in the land of the Perizzites and of the giants [Rephaim], if mount Ephraim be too narrow for thee 16 And the children [sons] of Joseph said, The hill [mountain] 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 [in] Beth-shean and her towns17[daughters], and they who are of [in] the valley of Jezreel. And Joshua spake unto the house of Joseph, even to Ephraim and to Prayer of Manasseh, saying, Thou art a 18 great people and hast great power, thou shalt not have one lot only: But the [a] mountain shall be thine; for it is a wood [forest], and thou shalt cut it down: and the out-goings of it [its outrunners, spurs] shall be thine: for thou shalt [wilt] drive out the Canaanites, though [for] they have iron chariots, and though they be [for they are] strong.

EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL

The two chapters, sixteen and seventeen, belong together, since they contain the statements concerning the territory of the tribes of Ephraim and Prayer of Manasseh, the sons of Joseph ( Genesis 41:50-52; Genesis 46:20; Genesis 48:5 ff.). The united inheritance of the two tribes includes a fruitful, for the most part, and pleasant country lying in the midst of western Palestine. It extends from the Jordan, and the eastern declivities of mount Ephraim (which are much less rough than the land of Judah), across to the seashore which borders the beautiful plain of Sharon. Of this entire district Ephraim received the southern portion, Manasseh (strictly speaking only the half-tribe of Prayer of Manasseh, comp. Joshua 13:29 ff.) the northern. Ephraim only, and he for a narrow space, touched the Jordan. See the often mentioned and very clear Map iii. of Menke’s Bibel Atlas, and also Kiepert’s Wall Map. On the quality of the land comp. Robinson, iii, lect. xiv.; Ritter, xvi566 ff. [Gage’s transl. 4:293–332]; von Raumer, pp42–45; Furrer, pp211–246; Robinson, Phys. Geog. pp34–42 [Stanley, Sin. and Pal ch. v.].

a. Joshua 16:1-4. Boundaries of the Entire Province. Joshua 16:1. The lot came out, namely, from the urn. Bunsen rightly observes: “From the ambiguity of the word ‘lot,’ the passage might perhaps be paraphrased thus: ‘The lot was drawn for the children of Joseph and to them fell,’ ” etc.

From the Jordan by Jericho,[FN3] at the water of Jericho on the east. The water of Jericho is the fountain of Elisha ( 2 Kings 2:19-22), now Ain Esther -Sultan, whose waters are diffused over the plain (Robinson, ii 283 ff.). It gurgles forth beautifully from under the rocks, and forms, at the foot of the hill from which it comes, a beautiful basin of water densely surrounded by oleanders and reeds (Furrer, p150. [Stanley, Sin. and Pal. p300, et ibid. Van de Velde, in a note]). Somewhat to the north of this, the still larger fountain of Dûk is met with, the waters of which, led along in canals, formerly turned several mills in the vicinity (Robinson, Furrer, [Stanley]). The border began at the lower Jordan, and went thence to the fountain of Elisha. This, accordingly, the region of the Jordan opposite Jericho, is its eastern starting point or, more correctly, place. Hence it passed into the wilderness which goes up if from Jericho on the mountain of Beth-el. The region intended here is what in Joshua 18:12 is called the wilderness of Beth-aven, which city appears from Joshua 7:2. to have lain east of Beth-el. On the mountain of Beth-el. “בהר which the Masoretes separate from בּית־אל is yet, and notwithstanding the LXX, Chald, and Arab. versions repeat this view, undoubtedly to be connected with בית־אל, according to 1 Samuel 13:2, and to be pointed בְּחַר. So the Vulg.: ad montem Bethel, and Syriac” (Keil). The mountain about Bethel is meant.

Joshua 16:2. And it went out (the border) from Beth-el to Luz. Hebr. וַיָּצָא מִבּית־אֵל לוּזָּה. The words must either be translated, as we have done, with the LXX, Luther, De Wette, [Eng. vers.] Keil, Bunsen, in which case Beth-el stands, as Bunsen also supposes, for mountain of Beth-el; or, as Knobel among others prefers: “and it went out from Bethel-luzah.” In this translation Knobel (1) follows in Joshua 16:1, the Masoretic pointing בְּחָר, (2) assumes in Joshua 16:2 a union of the old and new names, “quite contrary to the usage of our author, who, when a city had two names places one after the other connected by היא, as he does e.g. ( Joshua 18:13) in the case even of Beth-el and Luz” (Keil). Other examples are Joshua 15:14; Joshua 15:49; Joshua 15:54 ( Joshua 16:59, LXX.), 60. See more concerning Beth-el and Luz on Joshua 18:12-13. From Luz, i.e. Beth-el ( Joshua 18:13), it went, and on the south side of this city ( Joshua 18:13), unto the border of the Archite to Ataroth. Hushai was an Archite ( 2 Samuel 15:32; 2 Samuel 16:16; 1 Chronicles 27:33). Where his possession lay is to be determined from Ataroth, concerning which see on Joshua 18:13.

Joshua 16:3. Thence it went down westward to the border of the Japhletite, unto the border of Beth-horon, the nether, and to Gezer; and the goings out thereof were at (or, toward) the sea. The border followed from Bethel toward Ataroth a northerly, then a southwestern, and finally a decidedly western course (see the map). The Japhletite (הַיַּפְלֵטִי), only here as a patronymic; the prop. name יַפְלֵט (whom Hebrews, i.e. God saves, Gesen.), 1 Chronicles 7:32-33. On Beth-horon comp. partly Joshua 10:10, partly Joshua 18:13. Gezer (גֶזֶר), as the seat of a Canaanite king mentioned already Joshua 10:33; Joshua 12:12; according to Joshua 21:21; 1 Chronicles 6:52, a city of the priests; not yet discovered by modern travellers. Knobel seeks the city northwest of Beth-horon, where Menke has introduced the name. Comp. also von Raumer, p191, and his map, where he also has placed it northwest of Beth-horon.

Joshua 16:4. “North of the line indicated Ephraim and Manasseh took their possession.” It is therefore only the south line of both tribes, which is at the same time the north line of Benjamin, and as such is given in inverse order as before mentioned, in Joshua 18:12-13.

b. Joshua 16:5-10. The Province of the Tribe of Ephraim. Joshua 16:5. The south border is first given. Ataroth-addar appears as the starting-point, identical, according to Joshua 18:13, with our Ataroth, Joshua 16:2. Assuming this, “the author notices only the western half of the south border, and omits the eastern half,” for Beth-horon, whether the upper as here, to the lower as mentioned in Joshua 16:2, lies west, or more accurately still, southwest of Ataroth-addar. We might, it is true, and Knobel proposes this as an alternative, read עַטָרוֹת, and understand the Ataroth mentioned Joshua 16:7, which would then make the eastern part of the south border to be drawn. But in that case, ותָאַר or וְעָבַר would, it seems to us, be inserted between the two names. The first supposition therefore appears preferable, according to which we are to understand that the south border of Ephraim in its western half is specified from Ataroth-addar to Beth-horon. But even thus we have not, if we compare Joshua 16:3, this western half of the line at all complete; for from Joshua 16:3, the border proceeds still to Gezer, nay even to the sea. And the LXX. have here after Beth-horon καὶ Γάζαρα. Perhaps this, as well as what is mentioned besides, Joshua 16:3, has here fallen out. At all events we have, as Joshua 16:6 will show, to deal with a corrupt text, in which the first words of Joshua 16:6 to and including הַיָּמָה might easily have formed the conclusion of ver5, to which they would admirably suit. [Verse5 would thus end—Beth-horon, the upper; and the border went out to the sea]. Then the south border at least of Ephraim, from Ataroth-addar to the sea, would be completely given.

Joshua 16:6. Keil says, in reference to this verse: “With Joshua 16:6 I know as little as my predecessors how to begin. It would appear that Joshua 16:6-8 should give the northern boundary of the land of Ephraim, and that from a central point, in Joshua 16:6-7 toward the east, then in Joshua 16:8 toward the west,” as analogous to which, Knobel, who shares this view, adduces the south boundary of Zebulun, Joshua 19:10-12, and the division of the places of Benjamin, Joshua 18:21-28, as also the west border of Naphtali, Joshua 19:33 ff. “In this view, however,” as Keil further remarks, “the first clause of Joshua 16:6 is perfectly inexplicable, and must be corrupt.” Perhaps there originally stood “on the north the border went out from Michmethah, for according to Joshua 17:7, the border of Manasseh went ‘from Asher to Michmethah.’ ” It seems to us still better to assume that it originally stood:

וַיָצָא הַגְּבוּל הַיָּמָה

מִמִּכְמְתָה מִצָפוֹן.

If that were so it is obvious that the twice recurring וַיָּצָא הַגּבוּל הַיָּמָה (namely, at the end of Joshua 16:5, and at the beginning of Joshua 16:6), must have fallen away once. Let us now by this extension of Keil’s very appropriate correction restore the text, and we gain a reading at least in some degree acceptable, by which (1) Joshua 16:5 receives a good ending, and (2) Joshua 16:6 an intelligible beginning, and the whole would mean thus: And the border went out seaward, i.e. toward the west, from Michmethah on the north side, i.e. north of Michmethah. Michmethah (LXX.: Μαχθώθ) lay according to Joshua 17:7, east from Shechem. See further on Joshua 17:7. Thus we should have given the starting-point of the eastern half of the northern boundary of Ephraim, as lying north of Michmethah in the west of the land. But then, it proceeds, the border went about eastward unto Taanath-shiloh, and passed by it on the east to Janohah.Taanath-shiloh, now Tana, Ain Tana, a place of ruins, southeast of Nablus (Robinson, Later Bibl. Res. p295[FN4]). Janoah, “according to the Onom. s. v. Ἰανώ, Janon, twelve miles, i.e. near three hours east of Neapolis, now a ruin, Janun, somewhat over two hours southeast of Nablus, Robinson, Later Bibl. Res. p297” (Knobel). The border, accordingly, went from Michmethah to Janohah in a southeast direction, as Menke has indicated.

Joshua 16:7. From Janohah it went down to Ataroth, and to Naarath, and came to (struck) Jericho, and went out at the Jordan. Keil holds this Ataroth to be the same as Ataroth, Joshua 16:2, Ataroth-addar ( Joshua 16:5; Joshua 18:13), thus making it the Atara discovered by Robinson (iii80, not that mentioned ii315), one and a half hours southwest of Jiljilieh, as Robinson himself also believes. Knobel explains that our Ataroth here in Joshua 16:7 cannot be identified, but must certainly, from יָרַד have lain nearer the Jordan, possibly one of the two Ataroths which the Onom., s. h. v, refers to in the district of Jerusalem. We shall come upon the question again, Joshua 18:13. Naarath = Naaran, 1 Chronicles 7:28, in the east of Ephraim. Onom.:Naorath villa, in quinto milliario Jerichus,i.e. two hours from Jericho (Keil, Knobel, von Raumer, p215). Struck Jericho, i.e. the territory of Jericho which city, according to Joshua 18:21, belonged to the tribe of Benjamin. The border of Ephraim thus touched the northern side of this territory, comp. Joshua 18:12.

Joshua 16:8. Now follows the western half of the north border of Ephraim, described as follows: From Tappuah the border goes (יֵלֵךְ) westward to the water-course of Kanah, and the goings out thereof were at [to] the sea. Tappuah, distinct from the Tappuah ( Joshua 15:34) and Beth-tap-puah ( Joshua 15:53), in Judah, concerning the etymology of which we have already spoken; the residence of a Canaanite king ( Joshua 12:24). Its site is doubtful. Knobel: “Probably Kefr Kud with its important well, by which the great road from Beisan and Zerin passes toward Ramleh (Robinson, Later Bibl. Res. p 121 ff.) as in the Roman times a military road passed from Cesaræa to Scythopolis past Capercota (Tab. Peuting. ix. f, in Menke, Map vi. where an extract from the Tab. Peuting. is found”). The fact that the place is called ( Joshua 17:7) עֵין ת׳, while Kefr Kud has a valuable well, would seem to favor the identity of the two places; but it may be maintained on the other hand, (1) that Kefr Kud lies too far north on the border of Manasseh toward Issachar, while it should lie on the border of Manasseh toward Ephraim (see Menke’s Map viii. compared with Map iii); (2) that the old name does not at all appear in the present name Kefr Kud. This is true rather of the present Belad (land) Tafua northeast of Shechem, toward which von Raumer, though not without hesitation, inclines. We hear of a land of Tappuah in Joshua 17:8 as the district belonging to En-tappuah. Van de Velde (Mem. p357) holds it to be Atuf, four hours E. N. E. of Shechem. Very improbable. Hence we decide for Belad Tafua, against which Keil brings the objection, that this opinion does not agree with the אֶל־הַיָּמִין (ch Joshua 17:7), and therefore he concludes that here also the text is corrupt. See further on Joshua 17:7, where we must at all events return again to this passage. Water-course of Kana (Reed-brook), see Joshua 17:9.

Joshua 16:9. To this province belong also the cities separated in the land of Manasseh for the children of Ephraim, of which, however, only Tappuah is mentioned Joshua 17:8. Instead of the elsewhere “unheard of” מִבְדָּלוֹת, Knobel proposes to read נִבְדָּלוֹת: Gesen. מֻבְדָּלוֹת. Maurer and Keil regard it as a substantive formed after the analogy of מִספָּתוֹת,מִדְרָךְ, and other words. Maurer translates loca selecta. To me the change of Chireq into Kibbuts, as proposed by Gesen, appears the most simple, and thus we have a part. Hophal.

Joshua 16:10. An addition similar to Joshua 15:63. They became tributary servants (עֹבֵד וַיְהִי־לְמַם). In Genesis 49:15 the same expression is used concerning Issachar. According to 1 Kings 9:16, Pharaoh, in the beginning of the reign of Song of Solomon, took Gezer, burned the city and drove out of it the Canaanites. Hence the LXX. add to our verse: ́Ἓως ἀνέβη φαραὼ βασιλεὺς Ἀιγύπτου καὶ ἔλαβεν ἀυτὴν (ΑΕΧ. τὴν πόλιν) καὶ ἐνέπρησεν αὐτὴν ἐν πυρί και τοὺς φερεζαίους, καὶ τοὺς κατοικοῦντας εν Γάζερ ἐξεκέντησαν (ΑΕΧ. εξεκέςτησεν) καὶ ἔδωκεν ἐν φερνῇ τῇ θυγατρὶ αὐτοῦ. Manifestly transferred ad libitum from 1 Kings 9:16. Knobel, Genesis 49:15, translates מַס־עֹבֵד, er ward zu Frohn des Arbeiters, i.e. he fell under tributary labor, as he himself further on explains. Lange, more poetically and more clearly: “He is become subject to tributary service.” We render the phrase here in prose, with De Wette “subject to tributary service.” The common rendering: “subject to tribute” which Bunsen still retains, gives the erroneous idea that the Canaanites had to pay a tribute in money, like the tributary states in the Turkish empire. The expression is used elsewhere, with the exception of Genesis 49:15, “of the Canaanites who became subject to the Hebrews (as Joshua 17:13; 1 Kings 9:21; Judges 1:28; Judges 1:33), and of prisoners taken in war whom the Hebrews made slaves ( Deuteronomy 20:11; Isaiah 31:8)” (Knobel). Comp. also Keil on Kings, pp44,67 [Germ.].

c. Joshua 17:1-13. Portion of the Tribe of Manasseh. The description of this province by its boundaries, beginning Joshua 17:7, is preceded by some genealogical notices concerning the families of the tribe. Of these that of Machir had already received its territory beyond the Jordan.

Joshua 17:1. And there was the lot for the tribe of Manasseh. After it had fallen to Ephraim, Manasseh’s turn came. These introductory words refer only to the country allotted to this tribe west of the Jordan ( Joshua 17:7-13). This lay north of the possession of Ephraim in a fertile and beautiful region.

For he was the first-born of Joseph, Genesis 41:51; Genesis 48:14. Keil: “the כִּי is not to be pressed, and the whole remark is made only with reference to the following genealogical statements.” Better Knobel: “Wherefore (because he was Joseph’s first-born) he received yet a possession in Canaan also, the land of the fathers, God’s land.” למָכִיר is placed first and is afterwards taken up by לוֹ after וַיְהִי, thus: “To Machir. … (and) to him fell Gilead and Bashan.” Why is stated in the parenthetical clause, “because he was a man of war,” Numbers 32:29 ff. This portion of the tribe, the author would have us understand, had nothing to receive west of the Jordan. They had their part already on the east side.

Joshua 17:2. The other sons of Manasseh follow, to whom the lot fell in west Palestine. They are mentioned in Numbers 26:30-32, where instead of אֲבִיעֵזֶר stands אִיעֵזֶר. By an error of transcription, as Keil conjectures, the ב appears to have fallen out. Instead of זְכָרִים to read נוֹתָרִים, as Knobel proposes, is not justifiable; rather, since in genealogies בְּנֵי may indicate all (male and female) posterity, while here, in what follows, female descendants also are mentioned, the זְכָרִים is added for perspicuity” (Keil).

Joshua 17:3. It had been stated also in Numbers 26:33 that Zelophehad,[FN5] the son of Hepher, had no sons but only daughters. Zelophehad himself, according to Numbers 27:3, had died in the wilderness, but the daughters declare it an injustice ( Numbers 27:4) that their father’s name should perish, and that too when he had not been of those that rose up against the Lord in the company of Korah. Moses agrees with them, and at their request grants their wish, an inheritance among their brothers. By this the name of Zelophehad was preserved, which could not have been the case without the possession of an estate to which the name of the original proprietor attached. The law which governed the case is found in Numbers 27:8-11 (compared with Numbers 36:6-10), occasioned by this occurrence. They were accordingly heir daughters, comp. Knobel on Numbers 27:1 ff.

Joshua 17:4. Now, since the land was divided, they claim their right, appealing to the command of God through Moses. Eleazar and Joshua without objection immediately promise what they desire.

Joshua 17:5-6. “According to this the inheritance coming to the Manassites had to be divided into ten parts, since the male posterity fell into five families, and so received five parts, while the sixth family, that of Hepher, was divided again into five families, through his grand-daughters, the five daughters of Zelophehad, who married men of the other families of their paternal tribe ( Numbers 36:1-10), and received each her special share of the land” (Keil). Because, therefore, the daughters, as heirs, obtained their possession among the male descendants of Prayer of Manasseh, the inheritance in western Palestine must need be divided into ten parts, while the land of Gilead went to the remaining Manassites. The genealogy is for the rest by no means clear. Comp. Knobel on Numbers 26:29-34; Keil on Joshua 17:1 of this chapter.

Joshua 17:7-13. Portion of the Western Branch of the Tribe of Manasseh. The author gives the boundary again from east to west, as in the case of Judah ( Joshua 15:2 ff.), the sons of Joseph ( Joshua 16:1 ff.) and Benjamin ( Joshua 18:12 ff.). So the author of the Apocalypse also names the gates of the New Jerusalem, beginning from the east ( Revelation 21:13), and Ezekiel designates the several tribe divisions in like manner from east to west ( Ezekiel 48:1 ff.).

And the border of Manasseh was from Asher to Michmethah, that lieth before Shechem; and the border went along on [toward] the right hand unto the inhabitants of En-tappuah. What border is meant, the north or south? Knobel thinks the former, Keil and Bunsen the south border. The starting-point lies unquestionably in the east. Asher (אָשֵׁר), fifteen Roman miles from Shechem toward Bethshean (Scythopolis), perhaps Teyasir (Robinson, Later Bibl. Res. p306 f.), or Jafir (Van de Velde, ii295, apud. von Raumer, p148). This however is not certain, but only so far sure that Asher is to be sought, according to the statement of the Onom., on the road from Shechem to Bethshean, hence in the eastern part of the territory of Manasseh.

Thence the border goes to Michmethah which we have already met with at Joshua 16:5. This Michmethah (מִכְמְתָה, perhaps “hiding-place,” from כָּמַת, Gesen.) lay, as our passage would indicate, before, i.e. according to the customary use of עַל־פְּנֵי, east or northeast of Shechem, unless, as Knobel assumes, עַל־פְּנֵי is to be taken here in reference to a more remote distance = מוּל, Deuteronomy 11:30. In this case, Kubatijeh (on Menke’s Map viii. written Kabatijeh) or Kabaat (Buckingham, Syria, i. p453), Kabate in Seetzen (ii. p166), lying exactly north of Shechem, on the road from Shechem to Jenin would in his view offer itself for comparison. The etymological relationship of the two words is thus established by Knobel: “מ doubtless is to be regarded, with the LXX. as the plural of a sing. מִכְמְתָה, for which they may probably have used also כְּמָתָה (see on Joshua 12:18). Then, since m and b are frequently interchanged (see on Joshua 3:16), the present name of the place agrees, etc.” Against this we would oppose the following considerations: (1) It appears to us that the operation by which the relationship between the names Michmethah and Kubatijeh, or Kabaat, or Kabate, is attempted to be proved, is an exceedingly violent one. (2) In Deuteronomy 11:30מוּל does indeed stand for a northwest direction, but it is precisely מוּל that stands there, meaning, in a quite general way, over against, and not the more definite עַל־פְּנֵי concerning which Knobel himself admits that in geographical statements it is “certainly for the most part to the east,”—precisely in the same way, Knobel might have added, as is the case with לִפְנֵי ( Genesis 23:17; Genesis 25:18; Deuteronomy 32:49). (3) If Michmethah is to be sought so far north, then Joshua 16:6, where it is brought in to determine the north border of Ephraim which lies south of Prayer of Manasseh, is inexplicable. Rather may it be said, that (a) the statement of this passage: אשר על־פני שכם and (b) the proximity indicated, Joshua 16:6, of Taanath-shiloh, which is now recognized in Ain Tana [?], go to show that Michmethah is to be looked for east or northeast of Shechem, perhaps, also, on the road to Bethshean, where Kiepert, indeed (on the large map, 3d and most recent edition, 1866), although with a mark of interrogation, and Menke (Map iii.) have inserted the name. But if this is correct we have here not the north border of Prayer of Manasseh, hut the south, the same which is given, Joshua 16:5 ff, as the north boundary of Ephraim; and there lies before us precisely the same case of the double registry of the same line as between our two tribes and Benjamin ( Joshua 16:1-4 compared with Joshua 18:12-13) on one side, and between Judah and Benjamin ( Joshua 15:5 ff; Joshua 18:15 ff.) on the other. But as regards the north border of Prayer of Manasseh, it as well as the east border is given in common for both tribes in the second half of Joshua 17:10.

Shechem, שְׁכֶם, now Nablus or Nabulus, having, like Jerusalem, Gibeon, and Jericho, had several names between the times of the patriarchs and of Christ ( Genesis 12:6; John 4:5), lies on the watershed (שְׁכֶם = back) between the Mediterranean and the Jordan Valley (Furrer, pp237, 238), in a lovely, richly favored valley between Ebal and Gerizim, surrounded by gardens in which nature has prodigally scattered her richness (Furrer, p234). See the fresh and beautiful description in Furrer, p230 ff.; comp. further, von Raumer, p 161 ff.; Rob. iii. p95 ff. [Tristram, 141ff.; Stanley, S. & P., 229 ff.]. Shechem has at present about eight thousand inhabitants. From Michmethah the border went to the right (אֶל־הַיָּמין) unto the inhabitants of en-Tappuah. According to this, en-Tappuah or Tappuah ( Joshua 16:8) lay south of Michmethah, and hence also south or southwest of Shechem. But Balad Tafuah (comp. on Joshua 16:8) lies rather northeast of Shechem. How then should the border go thence toward the right, i.e., southwardly? May not, perhaps, an escape be found from the obscurity (undeniably very great[FN6]) of this passage in the fact that it reads, not unto en-Tappuah, but only unto the inhabitants of Tappuah? Although then Tappuah itself had lain northeast of Shechem, we might still imagine that the territory of this royal city of the Canaanites ( Joshua 12:17) had stretched toward the south or southwest. With Knobel, who everywhere here supposes that he has the north boundary line before him, it all goes beautifully. For him the line runs from Asher to Kubatijeh, from Kubatijeh to Jamun (יָמִין, in spite of the article, is taken as a proper name = Yamon, Rob. iii. pp161, 167), and from Jamun to Kefr Kud. But we repeat, that we are not now concerned with the north limit of Prayer of Manasseh, but its southern, toward Ephraim. [So Mr. Grove, also, Dict. of the Bible, art. “ Prayer of Manasseh,” p1770 c, although he thinks it doubtful whether the portions of Ephraim and Manasseh were intended to be effectually separated, and that, if they were, no clear line of division can now be made out.—Tr.]

Joshua 17:8. Another notice of Tappuah, purporting that the land of Tappuah went to Prayer of Manasseh, the city to Ephraim. The latter possessed, according to Joshua 16:9, still other places in Manasseh. Kiepert has inserted Tappuah on the map northwest of Shechem and Michmethah, but with a mark of interrogation. Menke assigns it the same position, perhaps with reference to the brook of reeds mentioned ( Joshua 16:8), which we here find again in Joshua 17:9.

Joshua 17:9. And the border descended unto the watercourse Kanah, southward of the watercourse. In Joshua 16:8, it reads: From Tappuah the border goes westward toward the Reed-brook, and its out-goings were at the sea. Keil supposes this brook to be the Abu Zabura, which Knobel also mentions at first, although he immediately afterward refers to the Nahr el-Kassab. Von Raumer decides for the latter (p51) with greater positiveness, because the old name Reed-brook has been preserved in Nahr el-Kassab. But Nahr el-Kassab is the same stream which on Kiepert’s wall-map appears as Nahr el-Falik (Van de Velde: Falaik), which Kiepert with von Raumer holds to be the Reed-brook (brook of Cana). The border extended south of the brook to the sea, i.e., the Mediterranean sea (הַיָּמָה Joshua 16:8), which Jerome strangely regards as being the mare salsissimum!

These cities belonged to Ephraim among the cities of Manasseh. Thus Joshua 16:9 is more exactly defined, “These cities.” Which cities? It is indeed said further: “and the border of Manasseh was north of the brook,” but the definition is made no clearer thereby. The sense can hardly be other than what Masius long ago expressed: “Funiculus, qui discernabat fratrum istorum possessiones, ambiebat ille quidem torrentem Cannosum (נחל קנה) a meridie atque eum attribuebat Manassensibus; verumtamen urbes, quœ illi torrenti ab austro adjacebant, etsi essent reipsa intra Manassensium positœ terminos, nihilominus jure fuerunt Ephraimitarum; quœ vero a septentrione torrentis exstabant, eas obtinebant Manassenses.” For in Joshua 17:10 we read still more plainly: “Southward (from the brook it, the land, was) Ephraim’s, and northward (of the same) it was Manasseh’s; and the sea was his border (toward the west). Knobel would, according to Joshua 16:9, read בְּנֵי for עָרֵי; but this is not strictly necessary.

Joshua 17:10. South of the Reed-brook the land is here said to have belonged to Ephraim, north of it to Prayer of Manasseh, a boundary line as simple as could be. Knobel here comes into perplexity, out of which he would escape by supposing that the north border of Manasseh cuts through the Reed-brook, while the north border of Ephraim comes to it, so that the territory of Manasseh there formed a point!—And the sea was his border. Both divisions had the sea on the west, one (Ephraim) south of the Reed-brook, the other (Manasseh) north of it. The account of the north boundary for both in common follows (comp. Joshua 16:1 ff.). They struck upon (יִפְגְּעוּן) Asher on the north, i.e., on the north side ( Joshua 19:26). The description of the province concludes with the eastern limit; on Issachar on the east ( Joshua 19:17). The two tribes were bounded, therefore, (1) on the east by Issachar; (2) on the north by Asher; (3) on the west by the sea; (4) on the south by Benjamin and Dan. Between them they had a division line which is twice referred to, (a) Joshua 16:6 ff, (b) in our chapter, Joshua 17:7-10; but unfortunately in neither place with such clearness as marks the description e.g. of the boundary between Judah and Benjamin ( Joshua 15:8 ff.). A separate border of Manasseh on the north, such as Knobel assumes, we cannot find given in the text.

Joshua 17:11-13. Six cities are enumerated which Manasseh received beyond his own country, in Issachar and Asher, without, however, being able to expel the Canaanites from them. At a later period having become stronger, they were content to make them tributary servants ( Joshua 17:13). The same report is found again ( Judges 1:27 ff.), where, however, Endor is omitted.

The word בָּנוֹת reminds us of Joshua 15:47. Knobel[FN7] finds here the second document of the Jehovist.

Joshua 17:11. Beth-shean (בֵּית־שְׁאָן, i.e., house of rest, now Beisan,—”in an expansion of the Jordan Valley, which is bounded on the west by the low ridge of Mount Gilboa. At the present day ruins of an ancient Roman theatre are found here, but only about seventy or eighty miserable buts for the two hundred actual inhabitants. It stands about four hours from Tiberias, on the road from Jerusalem to Damascus” (von Raumer, p150; Rob. iii 174 ff.). The Philistines hung on its walls the dead body of Saul ( 1 Samuel 31:10). It was afterward called Scythopolis (see Herod, i104–106, in regard to the origin of the name). From the summit of Gilboa, two thousand two hundred feet high, Furrer (p260) saw a green plain lying at his feet on the east, out of which rose the black tents of the Bedouin camps, like dark patches, on the green. The plain extends downward to the Jordan, and he was able to follow its picturesque windings to a considerable distance. “There, not far from the river,” Furrer proceeds, “Beisan must lie, although I could not discern it—the ancient Bethshean on whose walls the Philistines once hung the dead body of Saul.” [Comp. Tristram’s account of Beisan, p 504 ff.]

Ibleam, where Ahaziah was mortally wounded ( 2 Kings 9:27), a Levitical city ( Joshua 21:25), perhaps, as Knobel supposes, Jelameh, Jelamah between Zerin and Jenin (Rob. iii161). The accusative (וְאֶת־ישְׁבֵי דאֹר) which follows is remarkable, since the sentence had begun with וַיְהִי לְ. It is most simply explained by a change of construction, perhaps occasioned by the fact that לְהוֹרִישׁ, which governs the accusative, is used in verse12; to which may be added that in Judges 1:27, the whole statement begins with וְלאֹ־הוֹרִישׁ. Nor should it be overlooked, that instead of the cities the inhabitants whom Manasseh could not drive out are mentioned.

Dor, Jos 11:2; Jos 12:23.

En-dor (עֵין דּוֹר), four Roman miles south of Tabor, according to the Onom. (von Raumer, p125), near the northern slope of the Jebel Dachi (Duhy, little Hermon), which rises in “yellow nakedness” over against Tabor (Furrer, p308; Rob. p171 f.). Endor was the abode of the “woman with a familiar spirit,” whom Saul consulted ( 1 Samuel 28:9), but is also celebrated ( Psalm 83:11) as the scene of the victory in which the Midianites were destroyed. In the parallel passage ( Judges 1:27 ff.) Endor is not mentioned. Taanach, Joshua 12:21. Megiddo, Joshua 12:21.

The three heights (שְׁלשֶׁת הַנָּפֶת; LXX, τὸ τρίτον τῆς Νόφεθ; Vulg, tertia pars urbis Naphet). What is intended is the three cities lying on hills: Endor, Taanach, and Megiddo, a Tripolis of mountain cities in distinction from the places on the plain: Bethshean, Ibleam, and Dor. The author might have called the latter also a שְׁלשֶׁת, a שְׁלשֶׁת הַשׁפֵלָה, using שְׁפֵלָה in the general sense of “plain,” and not in the definite geographical signification which in this book it everywhere bears, as e.g, in Joshua 15:33.

Joshua 17:12. “The Manassites, however, were not in a condition to expel the population from the cities named, so that the Canaanites, according to their will and pleasure, dwelt in this district” (Knobel). The will and pleasure is right vividly expressed by the plastic וַיּוֹאֶל ( Joshua 7:7; Exodus 2:21).

Joshua 17:13. But when the Israelites became strong (חְָזקוּ) they made the Canaanites tributary servants (comp. Joshua 10:10), but drive them out they did not. We allow ourselves this translation, after the example of De Wette, to indicate in English something of the effect of the emphatic והוֹרֵשׁ לאֹ הוֹרִישׁוֹ.

d. Joshua 17:14-18. Complaint of the Children of Joseph that their Possession is insufficient. “An old, original fragment, and a beautiful, historical trait in the character of Joshua. The unselfish Joshua was himself of Ephraim, Numbers 13:8; Numbers 13:16” (Bunsen). As the history of Achsah ( Joshua 15:13-19), occurring in the midst of the boundary descriptions of Judah, and catalogues of its cities, makes a very refreshing impression on the laborious explorer of these records, so this narrative awakens similar emotions. The children of Joseph, i.e., probably the patriarchs of the tribe, came complaining before their fellow-tribesman Joshua, to whom they had trusted for a better guardianship of their interests. “Why,” they ask, “hast thou given me but one lot and one portion, as a possession, when I am a great people, in so far as Jehovah hath blessed me hitherto.” Joshua, by no means disposed to grant special favors to his own tribe, demands of them to use their strength, to go up into the forest, to clear it out, and establish for themselves new abodes there among the Perizzites and the Rephaim. When they ( Joshua 17:16) show little inclination to this course, and at the same time intimate that they cannot spread themselves further in the plain because of the formidableness of the Canaanites who dwell there, Joshua ( Joshua 17:17) still remains firm. In both his replies ( Joshua 17:15; Joshua 17:17) he betrays a touch of irony, as if he would say: Yes, it is true, thou art a numerous people, and hast great strength, and oughtest therefore to have more than one share. But seek to procure this second portion thyself! Rely on thy own power! Cut down the forest! Behold thou wilt drive out the Canaanites; it is precisely thy task to conquer those that have iron chariots and are mighty; no other tribe can do it.” Of the manner in which Ewald (ii315–317, 2d [Germ.] ed.) treats this narrative, we shall have occasion to speak further on.

Joshua 17:14. As here, so also Joshua 16:1 ff; Joshua 17:10, the children of Joseph are taken together. They are regarded as one tribe, so to speak, the tribe of Joseph, as Revelation 7:8. Comp. also passages like Amos 6:6; Psalm 77:16; Psalm 78:67; Psalm 80:2; Psalm 81:6; Ezekiel 37:16; Ezekiel 37:19.

One lot and one portion. “גּוֹרָל and חֶבֶל are synonymous and combined for greater emphasis. גּוֹרָל is the lot which is cast; חֶבֶל the measuring line, then the measured inheritance” (Keil). Comp. also Joshua 17:5.

So far as (עַד־אֲשֶׁר; not as Gesenius would have it, עַל־אֲשֶׁר; de gradu, Maurer) Jehovah hath blessed me hitherto (עַד־כֹה, de tempore, Maurer). A quite peculiar blessing had been promised to Joseph ( Genesis 49:25-26; Deuteronomy 33:13-17.

Joshua 17:15. Joshua’s answer. Get thee up intothe forest. The forest of the mountain of Ephraim and of its out-goings ( Joshua 17:18) is meant. That Mount Ephraim (mountain of Israel, Joshua 11:16-21) was then covered with woods, is clear from 1 Samuel 14:25; 2 Samuel 18:6. Even the forest at Bethel, 2 Kings 2:23-24, probably belonged (Winer, ii675) to the forest of Ephraim. And even at the present day, according to the uniform testimony of travellers, the heights of Mount Ephraim, forming the northern portion of the mountainous country between the plain of Jezreel and the wilderness of the south (von Raumer, p42), are more rich in vegetation than that part of the same mountain which belonged to Judah Especially is this the case with its spurs toward the northwest and northeast. On the northwest a forest-covered hill joins itself to Mount Ephraim connecting the latter with Carmel, that most beautiful, and greenest of all the mountains of Canaan. On the northeast Mount Gilboa, where Saul and Jonathan fell in the contest with the Philistines ( 1 Samuel 28:4; 1 Samuel 31:1-8; 2 Samuel 1:6-20), constitutes its off-shoot toward the Jordan. On the road from the hamlet of Jelbon, in which word the old name is preserved, Eurrer (p260) ascended the mountain by a lofty slope which was in places clothed with a dense oak thicket. A small forest of low oak trees is mentioned by the same traveller as standing on the right of the road from Nazareth to Carmel (p280). Without doubt it is the same woods which Schultz describes (Reise in das gelobte Land, pp249, 250), since he also notices the “crisp eastern oaks.” Robinson (iii. p189 f.) speaks of “a wide strip of low woody heights” by which Carmel is joined on the southwest with the mountains of Samaria. We find woods therefore partly on Mount Ephraim itself, partly on its off-shoots.

At the very foot of this forest, however, on the northwest spur of Mount Ephraim, the children of Joseph had had cities in the plain assigned to them, namely, Taanach, and Megiddo (Dor lay further west on the sea) in the plain of Jezreel ( Joshua 17:11). Ibleam and Bethshean also ( Joshua 17:11) lay west and east of Mount Gilboa, being spoken of again in Joshua 17:16. Knobel (p450) says: “Whether the author thinks also of the Little Hermon lying further north, and so refers to Endor, is doubtful,” and we not only share his doubt but go a step further and consider it quite improbable, since Robinson (iii. p171) speaks of that mountain as “a desert, shapeless mass,” and Furrer (p308) notices the “yellow nakedness” of the Jebel Duhy, or Dachi.

Cut down for thyself there in the land of the Perizzites and of the Rephaim, if Mount Ephraim is too narrow (אָץ here in a different sense from Joshua 10:13). Cornel. a Lapide (in Keil, p411 f.) long ago hit upon the thought that here and in Joshua 17:18, by the forest the Perizzites and the Rephaim were to be understood, thus assuming that there was a metaphor. He says: “Est metaphora, terram enim a Chananœis occupatam vocat sylvam, eo quod sicut sylva exscindi debet, ut locus arari possit; sic exscindendi erant Pherizœi, ut eorum terram occuparent Josephitœ.”

Him Ewald follows, as Keil has pointed out, when he represents the import of Joshua 17:15 in the following manner: “not at a loss for the answer, he (Joshua) replied: ‘if they were so numerous (and Mount Ephraim as hitherto occupied by them too small) then they need only move into the forest (i.e. into the thickly settled and cultivated plain) and laboriously cut down for themselves there the tall, profitable trees.’ In other words they should enter the plain surrounding the mountain on which they dwelt, where, however, the ‘Perizzites and Rephaim’ (that Isaiah, the enemy) still lay in dense masses, whom the tribe (instead of envying other tribes their inheritance), ought themselves long ago to have destroyed and so to have doubled their possession.” A purely arbitrary explanation, which may be pardoned to old Cornelius a Lapide, but so much the less readily to Ewald, as he arrogates too much to himself, when, with well-known dogmatism, he says (p315, note2): “Already the LXX. failed to understand this ancient passage, hard to be comprehended by reason of its ‘biting scorn’ (sic!), and still less have the moderns understood it.” Wherein the fault of the LXX. consists in this respect, we are unable, after repeated comparison of the original with their version, to discover, unless in the fact that the LXX. venture to render עֲלֵה (quite properly in our humble opinion) by ἀνάβηθι, while Ewald prefers to make of it march into the plain. Of the “biting scorn” of Joshua we will presently speak again.

Joshua 17:16. The sons of Joseph answer, that the mountain really will not suffice for them, while the Canaanites in the valley-land (בְּאֶרֶץ־הָעֵמֶק) have iron chariots. They appear as if they had not heard a syllable of going up into the forest.

Is not enough. Here נִמִצָא is used as in Zechariah 10:10; Numbers 11:22 (Knobel and Keil). LXX.: οὐχ ἀρκέσει, according to the correct text, instead of ἀρέσκει. Comp. also LXX, Numbers 11:22. The iron chariots of the Canaanites were greatly feared by the Israelites, and were “the main reason why the Hebrews could not establish themselves in the plains ( Joshua 11:4; Judges 1:19; Judges 4:3; 1 Samuel 13:5). Israel adopted this species of weapons not until the time of David and Solomon ( 2 Samuel 8:4; 1 Kings 5:6; 1 Kings 9:19; 1 Kings 10:26)” (Knobel). That the Canaanites had these iron chariots did not hinder the children of Joseph from “occupying the forest region” (Keil), but the plain, as Knobel rightly perceived, since the “chariot-cavalry” (Winer, ii671), very dangerous in the plains, could not well get on in the mountain, as the passage of Vegetius (Mil. iii24), cited by Winer, shows: “Quadrigœ falcatœ ut primo magnum intulere terrorem, ita postmodum fuere derisui. Nam difficile currus falcatus planum semper invenit campum et levi impedimento detinetur, unoque afflicto aut vulnerato equo decipitur.”

Joshua 17:17. Joshua does not allow them to slip out, but holds fast to his declaration already made, the sense of which has been exhibited above.

Joshua 17:18. Continuation.A mountain shall be thine, for it is a forest. The mountain of Ephraim is meant. This mountain should fall to the lot of the strong and able house of Joseph, because it was adapted to them as being woodland to be cleared up by them. As the result of this clearing the one lot should become two, as it were, to which Joshua plainly points, Joshua 17:17.

Thou shalt cut it down, and the out-goings (תֹּצאֹתָיו) of it shall be thine. We cannot with Knobel understand the sense of these words so that according to Joshua 17:15, the one of these out-goings or spurs, the northwestern one, toward Carmel, and according to this verse the other, northeastern, Gilboa, were to be granted in addition to what they had received; for in this case Joshua would have made a concession to his fellow tribesmen, and so broken the point of the whole transaction. Rather, the sons of Joseph have indeed Mount Ephraim proper, as they themselves say ( Joshua 17:16), already in possession, and, in the vicinity of those two spurs to the northwest and northeast, the cities mentioned in Joshua 17:11 had been allotted. If now they have not room enough, they should, partly on Mount Ephraim, and partly on the heights which rose above those cities, in the territory of the Perizzites and Rephaim, cut down the woods and so make themselves new abodes, as, modest in his claims, Joshua himself did ( Joshua 19:50). To convince and encourage them Joshua adds:—

For thou wilt drive out the Canaanites, for they have iron chariots, for they are strong.Male Dathius, alii, quamvis currus ferreos habeunt et potentes sint.כִּיsignificat nam. Sensus: hanc ipsam ob causam, quod currus ferreos habent et potentes sunt, vos, Ephraimitœ et Manassitœ, eos aggrediamini, quippe qui estis populus numerosus et potens” ( Joshua 17:17). So Maurer, and De Wette, Keil, Knobel likewise. When the LXX. render the last words: כִּי חָזָק הוּא by σὺ γὰρ ὑπερισχύεις αὐτοῦ, they either read: כִּי חָזָק אַתָּחִ, or, which is to me more likely, allow themselves a variation. The Vulg. translates very freely: “Et poteris ultra procedere, cum subverteris Chananœum, quern dicis ferreos habere currus et esse fortissimum.

At this place we may appropriately return to Ewald’s account of the transaction. He comments on Joshua 17:16-18, thus: “but when to this sharp answer” (he means the decision of Joshua given in Joshua 17:15), “they go on to reply that, ‘that did not suit, that the mountain was enough for them, since the Canaanites living in the plain had the dangerous iron chariots.’ Joshua carries still further the figure of forest and mountain, even to the uttermost, and, in order to finish the matter with one blow, turns off the importunate petitioners who desire much and yet, out of vain fear, will not exert themselves to obtain their wish, by the still more pointed insult (sic!) that ‘they should by all means, since they were a very numerous and strong tribe, have not merely one lot! Rather should they, besides the mountain which they already possessed, and yet did not truly possess, have also another, namely, that forest, which they would have first with bitter toil to clear off and make useful, i.e. the Canaanites, whom to subdue in spite of, and indeed precisely on account of, their mighty armor, and to render serviceable was their second portion yet to be acquired; and in this, fear and trembling would be of no avail!’ A biting sarcasm, worthy of a Samson! And so the most ancient legend, as it appears in this narrative, conceived of Joshua also as the hero who contended by his humiliating wit against the presumption of the men of his tribe,—a true man of the people, in the best sense of the word.”

Against this, aside from what we have already said in opposition to the figurative interpretation of the forest and mountain, two remarks are appropriate: (1) Joshua 17:16 is treated quite arbitrarily when Ewald, in his note, p316, writes: “In Joshua 17:16, לא, Isaiah, against the Masora, to be separated as ‘no!’ and יִמְצָא to be written.” Thus he would bring out exactly the opposite sense, namely, that the mountain was enough for them, although the sons of Joseph, in Joshua 17:14, complain of that very thing, that their district was too small for so numerous a people; (2) the more “pointed insult,” which Ewald, resting on Joshua 17:17-18 puts into the mouth of Joshua, presupposes that his answer in Joshua 17:15 also was pointed, and moreover a pointed insult, as indeed he finds in the whole passage nothing but biting mockery (p315, note2). Fine irony, a noble humor, we also recognize in the replies of Joshua as well in Joshua 17:15 as in Joshua 17:17-18, but between this and “biting mockery” there is a great difference. Irony is morally allowable, mockery and insult not. He who employs the latter is a bad Prayer of Manasseh, and will never be regarded as “a true man of the people in the best sense of the word,” which the most ancient myth is here said to have made Joshua. Joshua was certainly a true people’s man; certainly our author will, in this old, precious narrative, so represent him, but as a people’s man who has gained his popularity not through sharp and sharper sarcasms, but through his unselfishness and noble preëminence. For, that any one should have become a favorite by insulting mockery, would no more occur in Joshua’s time than in ours. We must, therefore, deny the biting scorn which Ewald here scents out. Malicious teazing lay far enough remote from so noble a hero as Joshua. He knew nothing of it.

HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL

The narrative, Joshua 17:14-18, can, on the one hand, be employed to show Joshua as a pattern of an unselfish, noble, and prudent popular leader and statesman; and, on the other, to set home his decision toward the house of Joseph, as an impressive lesson to all at the present day who desire everything from the state, but would themselves put forth the least possible exertion. So in reference to the age in general; but the passage admits of an individual application also to all idle men who will not labor, for instance, in new founded colonies, where a sermon on this text would, under certain circumstances, be very much in place.

Starke: That is the way with the covetous Prayer of Manasseh, that the more he has the more he desires to have, and cannot but grudge his neighbor what belongs to him. One should be content with that which God gives. Those who are appointed to the duty of distributing goods and lands, however faithfully they may perform the service, yet commonly get no great thanks therefor.

An original remark occurs in the Bibl. Tub. on Joshua 17:15 : It is a duty of the magistrate, among others, this, namely, for the benefit of the inhabitants when there are many of them, to prepare the yet uncultivated land for cultivation, that the people may derive from it so much the more revenue and support.

Lange: So it goes also with many an insincere combatant in the kingdom of God, that they would fain have many spiritual gifts but without a strife.

Kramer: Prayer, labor, and trust in God must go together, Psalm 127:2.

[Matt. Henry: Many wish for larger possessions, who do not cultivate and make the best of what they have, think they should have more talents given them, who do not trade with those with which they are intrusted. Most people’s poverty is the effect of their idleness; would they dig they need not beg.—Tr.]

Footnotes:

FN#1 - Perhaps the connection of this verse, and its own meaning may best be represented thus: Joshua 16:8. This is the possion. . … Joshua 16:9. And [also] the cities which were separated for the sons of Ephraim in the midst of the possession the sons of Prayer of Manasseh, etc.—Tr.]

FN#2 - Joshua 16:9. These cities had Ephraim in the midst of the cities of Manasseh. And the border of Manasseh was on the north side of the water-course.—Tr.]

FN#3 - Mr. Grove, in the Dict, of the Bible (e g. 1:752 b, note) repeatedly says that יַרְדֵּן יְרִיחוֹ should be rendered simply “Jordan-Jericho,” and that “by” or near, has no business there. This is strange, since the natural sense of the words in such connection is much rather “Jericho-Jordan,” the “Jordan of Jericho,” i.e. that part of the Jordan which touches upon the territory of Jericho” (Knobel on Numbers 22:1). Comp. Stanley (Sin. and Pal. p292, n6). This is most conveniently expressed as in the English Version.—Tr.]

FN#4 - Robinson expressly denies the probability that Ain Tana is the ancient Taanath-shiloh]

FN#5 - צְלָפְחַד, hence properly to be written in Eng. Zelophchad, not Zelophehad.

FN#6 - Cf. Grove in Dict. of Bible, art. “Michmethah.”]

FN#7 - Knobel’s supposition is better, namely, that הָיַה לְ is there felt to be equivalent to receive, possess, have.—Tr.]

 


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Bibliography Information
Lange, Johann Peter. "Commentary on Joshua 16:4". "Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/lcc/joshua-16.html. 1857-84.

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