The tribe of Ephraim and the half-tribe of Manasseh – the sons of Joseph – are allocated their inheritance in the land. They are not satisfied with this (Jos 17:14,1614Then the sons of Joseph spoke to Joshua, saying, “Why have you given me only one lot and one portion for an inheritance, since I am a numerous people whom the LORD has thus far blessed?”16The sons of Joseph said, “The hill country is not enough for us, and all the Canaanites who live in the valley land have chariots of iron, both those who are in Beth-shean and its towns and those who are in the valley of Jezreel.”). They want more. Joshua accepts their request and grants them another piece of land. They have to conquer that themselves. They are assured that they will expel the inhabitants (Jos 17:1818but the hill country shall be yours. For though it is a forest, you shall clear it, and to its farthest borders it shall be yours; for you shall drive out the Canaanites, even though they have chariots of iron [and] though they are strong.”). But they do not drive out all Canaanites (Jos 16:1010But they did not drive out the Canaanites who lived in Gezer, so the Canaanites live in the midst of Ephraim to this day, and they became forced laborers.; 17:1212But the sons of Manasseh could not take possession of these cities, because the Canaanites persisted in living in that land.).
God is also a Giver to us. If we ask Him more of the heavenly land than we already have, He gives it. The blessing of the heavenly land is the glory of the Lord Jesus. How would God ever hold something back from the Lord Jesus when we ask to see more of His glory? We may behold His glory (Jn 1:1414And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.). To see more of His glory we have to fight, because all kinds of things want to keep us from it.
The tribe of Joseph is divided into two because the tribe of Levi does not receive any inheritance (Jos 14:3-43For Moses had given the inheritance of the two tribes and the half-tribe beyond the Jordan; but he did not give an inheritance to the Levites among them.4For the sons of Joseph were two tribes, Manasseh and Ephraim, and they did not give a portion to the Levites in the land, except cities to live in, with their pasture lands for their livestock and for their property.). The importance of the tribe of Joseph can be seen in the fact that he gets his share immediately after Judah and also in the size of his inheritance.
Joseph’s sons become the ruling tribes in the north of the kingdom, after the division of the kingdom into ten and two tribes has taken place. The dominant position is so clear, that the whole of the ten-tribal realm is referred to by several prophets as ‘Ephraim’.
Joseph received the birthright, after Reuben had lost it: “Now the sons of Reuben the firstborn of Israel (for he was the firstborn, but because he defiled his father’s bed, his birthright was given to the sons of Joseph the son of Israel” (1Chr 5:11Now the sons of Reuben the firstborn of Israel (for he was the firstborn, but because he defiled his father’s bed, his birthright was given to the sons of Joseph the son of Israel; so that he is not enrolled in the genealogy according to the birthright.; Gen 49:44“Uncontrolled as water, you shall not have preeminence,
Because you went up to your father’s bed;
Then you defiled [it]—he went up to my couch.). The next sons of Lea, Simeon and Levi, did not get it either. They are men of violence and are therefore scattered among Israel (Gen 49:5-75“Simeon and Levi are brothers;
Their swords are implements of violence.
6“Let my soul not enter into their council;
Let not my glory be united with their assembly;
Because in their anger they slew men,
And in their self-will they lamed oxen.
7“Cursed be their anger, for it is fierce;
And their wrath, for it is cruel.
I will disperse them in Jacob,
And scatter them in Israel.). The fourth son, Judah, does not get it either, but becomes the king tribe (Gen 49:8-128“Judah, your brothers shall praise you;
Your hand shall be on the neck of your enemies;
Your father’s sons shall bow down to you.
9“Judah is a lion’s whelp;
From the prey, my son, you have gone up.
He couches, he lies down as a lion,
And as a lion, who dares rouse him up?
10“The scepter shall not depart from Judah,
Nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet,
Until Shiloh comes,
And to him [shall be] the obedience of the peoples.
11“He ties [his] foal to the vine,
And his donkey’s colt to the choice vine;
He washes his garments in wine,
And his robes in the blood of grapes.
12“His eyes are dull from wine,
And his teeth white from milk.). That is why Judah gets his inheritance so early.
The firstborn gets a double part. Jacob accepted the two sons of Joseph as his own sons: “The angel who has redeemed me from all evil, Bless the lads; And may my name live on in them, And the names of my fathers Abraham and Isaac” (Gen 48:16a16The angel who has redeemed me from all evil,
Bless the lads;
And may my name live on in them,
And the names of my fathers Abraham and Isaac;
And may they grow into a multitude in the midst of the earth.”). Therefore they can be counted among the tribes. For them together, one lot is cast. They complain about this together (Jos 17:1414Then the sons of Joseph spoke to Joshua, saying, “Why have you given me only one lot and one portion for an inheritance, since I am a numerous people whom the LORD has thus far blessed?”). By the lot, they stay together, although each tribe gets a share.