3072.) Joshua 17

 Josh17 large map
Joshua 17   (NRSV)

The Other Half-Tribe of Manasseh (West)

Then allotment was made to the tribe of Manasseh, for he was the firstborn of Joseph. To Machir the firstborn of Manasseh, the father of Gilead, were allotted Gilead and Bashan, because he was a warrior. 2And allotments were made to the rest of the tribe of Manasseh, by their families, Abiezer, Helek, Asriel, Shechem, Hepher, and Shemida; these were the male descendants of Manasseh son of Joseph, by their families.

“Five Sisters”  by Paula DiLeo

3Now Zelophehad son of Hepher son of Gilead son of Machir son of Manasseh had no sons, but only daughters; and these are the names of his daughters: Mahlah, Noah, Hoglah, Milcah, and Tirzah. 4They came before the priest Eleazar and Joshua son of Nun and the leaders, and said, “The Lord commanded Moses to give us an inheritance along with our male kin.” So according to the commandment of the Lord he gave them an inheritance among the kinsmen of their father. 5Thus there fell to Manasseh ten portions, besides the land of Gilead and Bashan, which is on the other side of the Jordan, 6because the daughters of Manasseh received an inheritance along with his sons.

This is noted in the text because it was unusual for women to receive an inheritance.  But it was more important that the land remain in the ancestral families than it was to follow this custom. Therefore the daughters of Zelophehad could inherit their father’s land. Actually, this is the implementation of a decision arrived at by Moses in Numbers 27:1-11.

–David Guzik

The land of Gilead was allotted to the rest of the Manassites.

7The territory of Manasseh reached from Asher to Michmethath, which is east of Shechem;

Modern Shechem and Mount Gerizim, with the ruins of ancient Shechem in the foreground.

then the boundary goes along southward to the inhabitants of En-tappuah. 8The land of Tappuah belonged to Manasseh, but the town of Tappuah on the boundary of Manasseh belonged to the Ephraimites. 9Then the boundary went down to the Wadi Kanah. The towns here, to the south of the wadi, among the towns of Manasseh, belong to Ephraim. Then the boundary of Manasseh goes along the north side of the wadi and ends at the sea. 10The land to the south is Ephraim’s and that to the north is Manasseh’s, with the sea forming its boundary; on the north Asher is reached, and on the east Issachar.

11Within Issachar and Asher, Manasseh had Beth-shean and its villages, Ibleam and its villages, the inhabitants of Dor and its villages, the inhabitants of En-dor and its villages, the inhabitants of Taanach and its villages, and the inhabitants of Megiddo and its villages (the third is Naphath). 12Yet the Manassites could not take possession of those towns; but the Canaanites continued to live in that land. 13But when the Israelites grew strong, they put the Canaanites to forced labor, but did not utterly drive them out.

Their failure here is after the same pattern as the failure of the tribe of Ephraim in the previous chapter.

The Tribe of Joseph Protests

14The tribe of Joseph spoke to Joshua, saying, “Why have you given me but one lot and one portion as an inheritance, since we are a numerous people, whom all along the Lord has blessed?”

15And Joshua said to them, “If you are a numerous people, go up to the forest, and clear ground there for yourselves in the land of the Perizzites and the Rephaim, since the hill country of Ephraim is too narrow for you.”

16The tribe of Joseph said, “The hill country is not enough for us; yet all the Canaanites who live in the plain have chariots of iron, both those in Beth-shean and its villages and those in the Valley of Jezreel.”

17Then Joshua said to the house of Joseph, to Ephraim and Manasseh, “You are indeed a numerous people, and have great power; you shall not have one lot only, 18but the hill country shall be yours, for though it is a forest, you shall clear it and possess it to its farthest borders; for you shall drive out the Canaanites, though they have chariots of iron, and though they are strong.”

What a difference between Caleb’s attitude in the Promised Land — and these guys! Caleb asked for a mountain, he asked to fight giants, he was confident God was able to make His promises come true. The two tribes of Joseph’s sons, however, after being given rich land and a large amount of it, were not satisfied with their lot. (See the map at the top of the chapter.) They whined about the work it would entail to take full possession of it. Joshua praises them as a large tribe with plenty of power, when in reality they are more like slackers. Now, Self, be honest — which attitude is more often mine?

God of grace and God of glory,
On thy people pour thy power.
Crown thy ancient Church’s story,
Bring her bud to glorious power.
Grant us wisdom, grant us courage
For the living of this hour,
For the living of this hour.



HERE  is a vivacious Paul Manz organ arrangement of “God of Grace and God of Glory.” Manz (1919-2009) was a composer, recitalist, teacher, and worship leader par excellence. From Wikipedia:

“As a performer, Manz was most famous for his celebrated hymn festivals. Instead of playing traditional organ recitals, Manz would generally lead a “festival” of hymns from the organ, in which he introduced each hymn with one of his famously creative organ improvisations based on the hymn tune in question. The congregation would then sing the hymn with his accompaniment.”


The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
map.   https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2015/11/ad503-mapjos1617.jpg
DiLeo.  https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2010/05/18-dileo.gif
Shechem.    http://www.bibleplaces.com/images/Mt_Gerizim_from_Shechem,_tbn011300l.jpg
Whine and cheese.     http://images.cafepress.com/image/32833087_400x400.jpg
Take courage.    https://suyun2710.files.wordpress.com/2010/05/take-courage1.jpg

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