The lot of Manasseh. (1-6) The boundaries of Manasseh, The Canaanites not driven out. (7-13) Joseph desires a larger portion. (14-18)
Verses 1-6 Manasseh was but half of the tribe of Joseph, yet it was divided into two parts. The daughters of Zelophehad now reaped the benefit of their pious zeal and prudent forecast. Those who take care in the wilderness of this world, to make sure to themselves a place in the inheritance of the saints in light, will have the comfort of it in the other world; while those who neglect it now, will lose it for ever. Lord, teach us here to believe and obey, and give us an inheritance among thy saints, in glory everlasting.
Verses 7-13 There was great communication between Manasseh and Ephraim. Though each tribe had its inheritance, yet they should intermix one with another, to do good offices one to another, as became those, who, though of different tribes, were all one Israel, and were bound to love as brethren. But they suffered the Canaanites to live among them, against the command of God, to serve their own ends.
Verses 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 ( 1 Chronicles. 4:9 1 Chronicles. 4:10 ) rather, turned into joyful thanksgivings.
Joshua 17:1-6 . LOT OF MANASSEH.
1-6. There was also a lot for the tribe of Manasseh--Ephraim was mentioned, as the more numerous and powerful branch of the family of Joseph ( Genesis 48:19 Genesis 48:20 ); but Manasseh still retained the right of primogeniture and had a separate inheritance assigned.
the father of Gilead--Though he had a son of that name ( Numbers 26:29 , 27:1 ), yet, as is evident from the use of the Hebrew article, reference is made, not to the person, but the province of Gilead. "Father" here means lord or possessor of Gilead. This view is confirmed by the fact that it was not Machir, but his descendants, who subdued Gilead and Bashan ( Numbers 32:41 , Deuteronomy 3:13-15 ). These Machirites had their portion on the east side of Jordan. The western portion of land, allotted to the tribe of Manasseh, was divided into ten portions because the male descendants who had sons consisted of five families, to which, consequently, five shares were given; and the sixth family, namely, the posterity of Hepher, being all women, the five daughters of Zelophehad were, on application to the valuators, endowed each with an inheritance in land
Joshua 17:7-11 . THIS COAST.
7-11. the coast of Manasseh was from Asher to Michmethah--The southern boundary is here traced from the east. Asher (now Yasir), the starting point, was a town fifteen Roman miles east of Shechem, and anciently a place of importance.
9. the coast descended unto the river Kanah, southward of the river--The line which separated the possessions of the two brothers from each other ran to the south of the stream. Thus the river was in the territory of Manasseh; but the cities which were upon the river, though all were within the limits of Manasseh's possessions, were assigned partly to Ephraim, and partly to Manasseh; those on the south side being given to the former; those upon the north to the latter [KEIL]. It appears ( Joshua 17:10 ) that Manasseh was still further interlaced with other neighboring tribes.
11. Beth-shean and her towns--Greek, "Scythopolis" (now Beisan), in the valley of the Jordan, towards the east end of the plain of Jezreel. "Beth-shean" means "house of rest," so called from its being the halting place for caravans travelling between Syria or Midian, and Egypt, and the great station for the commerce between these countries for many centuries.
Ibleam and her towns--in the neighborhood of Megiddo ( 2 Kings 9:27 ).
the inhabitants of Dor and her towns--(now Tantoura), anciently a strong fortress; a wall of wild precipitous rock defended the shore fortifications against attack from the land side.
En-dor and her towns--situated on a rocky eminence, four Roman miles south of Tabor.
Taanach and . . . Megiddo--These were near to each other, and they are generally mentioned in Scripture together. They were both royal and strongly fortified places
three countries--districts or provinces. It is computed that Manasseh possessed in Asher and Issachar portions of ground to the extent of more than two hundred square miles.
Joshua 17:12 Joshua 17:13 . CANAANITES NOT DRIVEN OUT.
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.
Joshua 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.
15. mount Ephraim--called so here by anticipation. The Gilboa range between Beth-shean and the plain of Jezreel is meant, anciently covered with an extensive forest.
16. chariots of iron--unusually strengthened with that metal, and perhaps armed with projecting scythes.