Joshua 16 commentary

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    Allotment for Ephraim and Manasseh

    1 The allotment for Joseph began at the Jordan, east of the springs of Jericho, and went up from there through the desert into the hill country of Bethel.

    BARES, "To the wilderness - Strike out to, for the word is in apposition to lot. The wilderness is Jos_18:12 the wilderness of Bethaven.

    CLARKE,"The children of Joseph - Ephraim and Manasseh, and their descendants. The limits of the tribe of Ephraim extended along the borders of Benjamin and Dan, from Jordan on the east to the Mediterranean on the west.

    GILL, "And the lot of the children of Joseph fell,.... Or, "went out" (a); of the pot or urn, this being the next lot that was drawn to that of Judah, the government being Judah's, and the birthright Joseph's, 1Ch_5:2; and by his children are here meant the tribe of Ephraim, and the tribe of Manasseh: or the line and border according to the lot went forth

    from Jordan by Jericho unto the water of Jericho on the east; by which it appears, that this was the southern border of the lot; for the tribe of Benjamin, in which Jericho was, lay between Judah and Ephraim, and the border began at Jordan, where it flowed near Jericho, and proceeded to a water which belonged to that city, and is generally thought to be the waters Elisha healed, 2Ki_2:19,

    to the wilderness that goeth up throughout Mount Bethel; this was the wilderness of Bethaven, Jos_18:12; Jarchi interprets it of the border that went up through Mount Bethel; which is true, and so might the wilderness also, for which the Targum is express; mention is made of a mountain on the east of Bethel, Gen_12:8.

  • HERY 1-4, "Though Joseph was one of the younger sons of Jacob, yet he was his eldest by his most just and best beloved wife Rachel, was himself his best beloved son,and had been the greatest ornament and support of his family, kept it from perishing in a time of famine, and had been the shepherd and stone of Israel, and therefore his posterity were very much favoured by the lot. Their portion lay in the very heart of the land of Canaan. It extended from Jordan in the east (Jos_16:1) to the sea, the Mediterranean Sea, in the west, so that it took up the whole breadth of Canaan from side to side; and no question the fruitfulness of the soil answered the blessings both of Jacob and Moses, Gen_49:25, Gen_49:26, and Deu_33:13, etc. The portions allotted to Ephraim and Manasseh are not so particularly described as those of the other tribes; we have only the limits and boundaries of them, not the particular cities in them, as before we had the cities of Judah and afterwards those of the other tribes. For this no reason can be assigned, unless we may suppose that Joshua being himself of the children of Joseph they referred it to him alone to distribute among them the several cities that lay within their lot, and therefore did not bring in the names of their cities to the great council of their princes who sat upon this affair, by which means it came to pass that they were not inserted with the rest in the books.

    JAMISO,"Jos_16:1-4. The general borders of the sons of Joseph.

    the lot of the children of Joseph fellHebrew, went forth, referring either to the lot as drawn out of the urn, or to the tract of land thereby assigned. The first four verses describe the territory allotted to the family of Joseph in the rich domains of central Palestine. It was drawn in one lot, that the brethren might be contiguously situated; but it was afterwards divided. The southern boundary only is described here; that on the north being irregular and less defined (Jos_17:10, Jos_17:11), is not mentioned.

    water of Jericho (2Ki_2:19), at the joint of its junction with the Jordan.

    mount Beth-el the ridge south of Beth-el. Having described the position of Josephs family generally the historian proceeds to define the territory; first, that of Ephraim.

    K&D 1-4, "Territory of the tribe of Joseph. - Jos_16:1. And there came out the lot of the children of Joseph from Jordan by Jericho. The lot came out, viz., from the turn (cf. Jos_19:1, Jos_19:17, Jos_19:24). The expression came up is used in the same sense in Jos_18:11. The connection of these two words with the rest of the sentence, from Jordan by Jericho, may be explained on the supposition that the lot which came out of the urn determined the inheritance that fell to the tribe, so that we might paraphrase the verse in this manner: There came out the lot to the children of Joseph, namely, the inheritance, which goes out from, or whose boundary commences at, the Jordan by Jericho, i.e., from that part of the Jordan which is opposite to Jericho, and which is still more precisely defined by the additional clause, by the water of Jericho eastward. The water of Jericho is the present fountain of es Sultan, half an hour to the north-west of Riha, the only large fountain in the neighbourhood of Jericho, whose waters spread over the plain, and form a small brook, which no doubt flows in the rainy season through the Wady Kelt into the Jordan (see Rob. ii. pp. 283-4; Tobler, Topogr. v. Jerus. ii. pp. 558-9). The wilderness is in opposition to the lot, so that the sense is, namely, the desert going up from Jericho to the mountains to Bethel. According to Jos_18:12, the

  • reference is to the desert of Beth-aven, which was on the east of Bethel, between the Wady Suwar (Tuwar) and Mutyah (see at Jos_7:2). Towards the east this desert terminates with the Jebel Kuruntul (Quarantana) on the north-west of Jericho, where it descends precipitously into the valley of the Jordan, or v. v., where it rises out of the Jordan valley. According to Jos_18:12, the same boundary went up by the shoulder of Jericho towards the north, i.e., along the northern range of mountains by Jericho, which cannot be any other than the conspicuous double height, or rather group of heights, in front of the mountain of Quarantana, at the eastern foot of which lies the fountain of Ain es Sultan (Rob. ii. p. 284). In all probability, therefore, the boundary ran up towards the north-west, from the Sultan fountain to Ain Duk, and thence in a westerly direction across to Abu Seba (along which road Robinson had a frightful desert on his right hand: Pal. ii. p. 310), and then again towards the north-west to Beitin (Bethel), according to Jos_18:13, along the southern shoulder (or side) of Luz, i.e., Bethel.

    CALVI, "1.And the lot of the children of Joseph fell, etc The sacred writer first

    states what the lot was which fell to the two children of Joseph, and then describes

    the lot of Ephraim. It is strange, however, that when the half of the tribe of

    Manasseh had already been settled beyond the Jordan, more words are employed in

    describing the remaining half than in describing the whole of the inheritance of the

    tribe of Ephraim, though the latter was the more populous, and justly claimed for

    itself a larger territory. But the longer detail given concerning the posterity of

    Manasseh is owing to particular circumstances. First, the writer repeats how a

    settlement had been given them without lot in the country of Basan. Secondly, he

    mentions the ratification by Joshua of the command which Moses had given by

    divine authority in regard to the daughters of Selophead. Seeing, then, there was no

    doubt in regard to the boundaries of Ephraim, and there was no danger of dispute,

    their allocation is only briefly glanced at.

    But here a new question arises. When the right of primogeniture had passed from

    Manasseh to Ephraim, how did the posterity of that tribe which had precedence in

    rank obtain their cities among the children of Manasseh? For theirs seems in this

    way to have been the inferior condition. My explanation is this, When the portion of

    Manasseh was too extensive in proportion to the amount of population, a calculation

    was made, and certain cities were deducted to complete the just share of the tribe of

    Ephraim; not that they were mixed up with the children of Manasseh, to hold their

    dwellings among them by a precarious tenure, (153) but their boundaries were

    merely extended in the direction of the Manassites whom a narrower possession

    might suffice.

    In the end of the chapter, Ephraim is severely censured for his effeminacy in not

    having expelled the Canaanites from Gezer. For had they proceeded in a manly and

    hearty manner to make good their right to the land which had fallen to them by lot,

    the victory was in their hands. There would have been no temerity in the attempt,

    since the decision of the lot was as valid as if the Lord himself had stretched forth

    his hand from heaven. But their disgraceful sloth is more clearly expressed and their

    culpability greatly heightened by the fact, that they made tributaries of those with

    whom it was not lawful to enter into any kind of arrangement. Seeing, then, God

    had distinctly forbidden his people to transact business of any kind with those

  • nations, and least of all to enter into pactions with them, stipulating for their pardon

    and safety, the Ephraimites sinned much more grievously in exacting tribute than if

    they had tolerated them without paction. (154)

    BESO,"oshua 16:1. The lot of the children of Joseph That is, of Ephraim, and

    that half of the tribe of Manasseh which was not yet provided for, Joshua 16:4. One

    cannot but observe the providence of God in bringing up their lot next to Judahs.

    For as he had the prerogative of being made the chief of all Jacobs children,

    (Genesis 49:10,) so Joseph had that privilege of the firstborn, a double portion,

    transferred to his family