Joshua
Introduction 1-3 The Lot for the Sons of Joseph 4-9 The Territory of the Ephraimites 10 Not All Enemies Are Driven Out
Introduction

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.


The Lot for the Sons of Joseph

1Then the lot for the sons of Joseph went from the Jordan at Jericho to the waters of Jericho on the east into the wilderness, going up from Jericho through the hill country to Bethel. 2It went from Bethel to Luz, and continued to the border of the Archites at Ataroth. 3It went down westward to the territory of the Japhletites, as far as the territory of lower Beth-horon even to Gezer, and it ended at the sea.

As always, the border is first determined and then told what is in the territory. The border is given to draw a sharp distinction between the land and the surroundings that are not part of the inheritance. The south border of Joseph is the north border of Benjamin and Dan. In width, their territory extends over the whole land, from the Jordan to the Mediterranean Sea.


The Territory of the Ephraimites

4The sons of Joseph, Manasseh and Ephraim, received their inheritance. 5Now [this] was the territory of the sons of Ephraim according to their families: the border of their inheritance eastward was Ataroth-addar, as far as upper Beth-horon. 6Then the border went westward at Michmethath on the north, and the border turned about eastward to Taanath-shiloh and continued [beyond] it to the east of Janoah. 7It went down from Janoah to Ataroth and to Naarah, then reached Jericho and came out at the Jordan. 8From Tappuah the border continued westward to the brook of Kanah, and it ended at the sea. This is the inheritance of the tribe of the sons of Ephraim according to their families, 9[together] with the cities which were set apart for the sons of Ephraim in the midst of the inheritance of the sons of Manasseh, all the cities with their villages.

In the description of Joseph’s inheritance only a few towns and villages are mentioned. This is in contrast to Judah, of which many cities and villages are mentioned. The blessings are, so to speak, enjoyed here not so much villagewise or citywise. They may hardly have conquered cities.

The inheritance is not only a personal matter, it is also a matter for families and churches. Each local church has its own gifts and blessings. The letters to the churches in the New Testament show this. Today’s churches may be more diligent in realizing that they are ‘cities in the land. Many churches may be content with the blessings of the earth, but know little or nothing about the enjoyment of heavenly blessings in a family or church context.


Not All Enemies Are Driven Out

10But 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.

This verse contains a warning. Earlier we read that the Judeans are not able to drive out the enemies (Jos 15:6363Now as for the Jebusites, the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the sons of Judah could not drive them out; so the Jebusites live with the sons of Judah at Jerusalem until this day.). Apparently they have tried. The Ephraimites don’t even seem to have tried it. Apparently they have the strength for it (Jos 17:1313It came about when the sons of Israel became strong, they put the Canaanites to forced labor, but they did not drive them out completely.), but are not in the mood. They may quickly have thought themselves rich, are satisfied with it and have become lazy. Spiritual wealth makes us lazy when we receive it without having to fight to conquer it.

Perhaps the Ephraimites have seen gains in bringing the Canaanites to slavish service. This allows them to provide themselves with extra wealth. But in the time of the judges, this action will turn against them. The same applies to the life of a Christian who does not want to break with a particular “favorite sin” because this makes life so pleasant. One day he will awaken from the dream and notice that this sin controls his life and leads him to spiritual bankruptcy. Playing with sin always avenges itself.


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