-In some interesting history for the formation of the national identity in Israel, Manasseh was allotted land on both sides of the Jordan. The half-tribe to the east was settled by the descendants of Machir, who was a man of war and the father of Gilead. The rest of the sons of Manasseh, which included the sons of Abiezer, Helek, Asriel, Shechem, Hepher, and Shemida, were the ones to settle to the west of the Jordan. A recount to Moses’ rational rule from God for inheritance allotment to the daughters of Zelophehad, a descendant of Manasseh through Machir and Gilead, was given thus making the ten portions to Manasseh, besides the land of Gilead and Bashan, which was to the east of the Jordan (Joshua 17:1-6).
-Precise border descriptions are once again given for this territory distributed to the sons of Joseph. Some areas of note are the city of Beth-shean, the Jezreel Valley, and the plains of Megiddo more towards the coast. These were areas of importance for travel routes historically between Europe, Asia, and Africa. Megiddo is where the consummation battle of the tribulation will take place (Revelation 16:16). We see again the inability to go completely forward in conquest as the LORD had assigned. The Canaanites persisted in living in that land of Manasseh, even though the Israelites put them to forced labor after they became strong. The sons of Joseph asked for more than one lot for their numerous people. Joshua responded with a challenge. He issued that that they “go up to the forest and clear a place for yourselves in the land of the Perizzites and of the Rephaim, since the hill country of Ephraim is too narrow for you.” The sons of Joseph rebuttal showed fear, and not faith. They were somewhat afraid of the iron chariots of the Canaanites who lived in the valley, but Joshua wanted to see them conquer. He exhorted them that they had great power because of God’s call, and they would indeed prosper in victory with more land if they would only show courage (Joshua 17:7-18). Apparently, they were never able to demonstrate this spirit as Judges 1:27 attests.
-*Application* Notice the difference between Caleb of Judah and the sons of Joseph. Caleb took what God had given him and moved ahead in His program (Joshua 14:12). His confidence in faith was rewarded and his people more fully occupied their inheritance (Joshua 15:14-15). The two tribes of Joseph’s sons, Ephraim and Manasseh, had been given choice land indeed and lots of it. However, they were too scared to actualize their inheritance fully. This would prove to start a trend in the national history of Israel. Civil strife would one day separate theses tribes. The northern kingdom, which had its power center in Ephraim, dissolved much quicker than Judah. And, as we know, the promises ended up coming through Judah for the Holy City where God’s Temple would be built and where Jesus would make His atonement for the world. The only good biblical kings were in the southern kingdom. God’s desire was for both to prosper, but only Caleb’s bunch passed the test. What about us? Are we strong in faith, confident, and courageous? Or, do we tend to complain about what we might lack, stay in fear, and never get what God wants us to really have?
Verses to Memorize: Joshua 17:12-13