Joshua 17


The lot of the half tribe of Manasseh, 1, 2.

Case of the daughters of Zelophehad, 3-6.

The borders of Manasseh described, 7-11.

The Canaanites dwell among them, but are laid under tribute,

12, 13.

The children of Joseph complain of the scantiness of their lot,


Joshua authorizes them to possess the mountainous wood country

of the Perizzites, and gives them encouragement to expel them,

though they were strong and had chariots of iron, 17, 18.


Verse 1. There was also a lot for the tribe of Manasseh] It was

necessary to mark this because Jacob, in his blessing,

(Ge 48:19, 20), did in a certain sense set Ephraim before

Manasseh, though the latter was the first-born; but the place here

shows that this preference did not affect the rights of


For Machir-because he was a man of war] It is not likely that

Machir himself was now alive; if he were, he must have been nearly

200 years old: It is therefore probable that what is spoken here

is spoken of his children, who now possessed the lot that was

originally designed for their father, who it appears had

signalized himself as a man of skill and valour in some of the

former wars, though the circumstances are not marked. His

descendants, being of a warlike, intrepid spirit, were well

qualified to defend a frontier country, which would be naturally

exposed to invasion.

Verse 2. The rest of the children of Manasseh] That is, his

grandchildren; for it is contended that Manasseh had no other

son than Machir; and these were very probably the children of

Gilead, the son of Machir.

Verse 3. Zelophehad-had no sons, but daughters] See this case

considered at large in the notes on Nu 27:1-7; 36:1, &c.

Verse 5. There fell ten portions to Manasseh] The Hebrew word

chabley, which we translate portions, signifies literally

cords or cables, and intimates that by means of a cord, cable,

or what we call a chain, the land was divided. We have but little

account of the arts and sciences of the Hebrews, yet from the

sketches which we find in different parts of the Old Testament it

appears that their minds were in many respects well cultivated;

nor could the division, which is mentioned in this book, have been

made without such a measure of geographical knowledge, as we find

it difficult to grant them. Suppose even in this case, the land

was not measured with a chain, which in some cases would have been

impracticable, because the ancient inhabitants still occupied the

places which were allotted to certain tribes or families; yet the

allusion to this mode of measurement shows that it was well known

among them.

As there were six sons and five daughters, among whom this

division was to be made, there should be eleven portions; but

Zelophehad, son of Hepher, having left five daughters in his

place, neither he nor Hepher is reckoned. The lot of Manasseh

therefore was divided into ten parts; five for the five sons of

Gilead, who were Abiezer, Helek, Asriel, Shechem, and Shemida;

and five for the five daughters of Zelophehad, viz., Mahlah, Noah,

Hoglah, Milcah, and Tirzah.-CALMET.

Verse 9. Unto the river Kanah] Literally, the river or valley of

the reeds, translated by the Vulgate, vallis arundintei. The tribe

of Manasseh appears to have been bounded on the north by this

torrent or valley, and on the south by the Mediterranean Sea.

Verse 10. They met together in Asher on the north] The tribe of

Asher extended from the Mediterranean Sea to Mount Carmel,

Jos 19:26, and the tribe of Manasseh extended to

Dor and her towns, (see the following verse,) which were in the

vicinity of Carmel; and thus it appears that these two tribes

formed a junction at the Mediterranean Sea. This may serve to

remove the difficulties in this verse; but still it does appear

that in several cases the tribes were intermingled; for Manasseh

had several towns, both in Issachar and in Asher, see Jos 17:11.

In like manner, Judah had towns in Dan and Simeon; and Simeon

had towns in Judah; and what is spoken of the boundaries of the

tribes, may be sometimes understood of those towns which certain

tribes had within the limits of others. For, in several cases,

towns seem to be interchanged, or purchased, by mutual consent, so

that in some instances the possessions were intermingled, without

any confusion of the tribes or families.

Verse 11. Beth-shean] Called afterwards Scythopolis; the city of

the Scythians or Cuthites, those who were sent into the different

Samaritan cities by the kings of Assyria.

Dor] On the Mediterranean Sea, about eight miles from Caesarea,

on the road to Tyre.

En-dor] The well or fountain of Dor, the place where Saul went

to consult the witch; 1Sa 28:7, &c.

Verse 12. Could not drive out, &c.] They had neither grace nor

courage to go against their enemies, and chose rather to share

their territories with those whom the justice of God had

proscribed, than exert themselves to expel them. But some

commentators give a different turn to this expression, and

translate the passage thus: But the children of Manasseh could not

(resolve) to destroy those cities, but the Canaanites consented to

dwell in the land. And as they were willing to pay tribute, and

the others chose to tolerate them on those terms, they agreed to

dwell together: but this paying of tribute seems not to have taken

place till some time after, when the children of Israel were waxen

strong, &c.

Verse 15. If thou be a great people] Joshua takes them at their

own word; they said, Jos 17:14, that they were a great people;

then said he, If thou be a great people or seeing thou art a great

people, go to the wood country, and clear away for thyself. Joshua

would not reverse the decision of the lot; but as there was much

woodland country, he gave them permission to clear away as much of

it as they found necessary to extend themselves as far as they


Verse 16. The hill is not enough for us] The mountain of Gilboa

being that which had fallen to them by lot.

Chariots of iron] We cannot possess the plain country, because

that is occupied by the Canaanites; and we cannot conquer them,

because they have chariots of iron, that is, very strong chariots,

and armed with scythes, as is generally supposed.

Verse 18. The outgoings of it shall be thine] Clear away the

wood, occupy the mountain, and you shall soon be able to command

all the valleys; and, possessing all the defiles of the country,

you shall drive out the Canaanites, though they have chariots of

iron: your situation will be advantageous, your numbers very

respectable, and the hand of God will be upon you for good.

1. FROM the whole history of the Israelites we find that it was

difficult to please them; they had a dissatisfied mind, and hence

were rarely contented. From the above account we learn that the

children of Joseph were much inclined to quarrel with Joshua,

because they had not such a lot as they wished; though they could

not be ignorant that their lot, as that of the others, had been

determined by the especial providence of God.

2. Joshua treats them with great firmness; he would not attempt

to alter the appointment of God, and he saw no reason to reverse

or change the grant already made. They were both numerous and

strong, and if they put forth their strength under the direction

of even the ordinary providence of God, they had every reason to

expect success.

3. Slothfulness is natural to man; it requires much training to

induce him to labour for his daily bread; if God should

miraculously send it he will wonder and eat it, and that is the

whole. Strive to enter in at the strait gate is an ungracious word

to many; they profess to trust in God's mercy, but labour not to

enter into that rest: God will not reverse his purpose to meet

their slothfulness; they alone who overcome shall sit with Jesus

upon his throne. Reader, take unto thee the whole armour of God,

that thou mayest be able to stand in the evil day, and having done

all-to STAND. And remember, that he only who endures to the end

shall be saved.

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