Joshua 17 – “The Portion of Manasseh”

women farmers working landHebrew-English Text

I. Summary

The sons and daughters of Manasseh are given their portion but cannot dispossess the Canaanites. When they ask for more land, Joshua tells them to clear the forests and to conquer the Canaanites in the valleys.

II. Photo

The daughters of Zelophehad inherit alongside the men: “In accordance with the Lord’s instructions, they were granted a portion among their father’s kinsmen.” (v. 4)

III. Select Verses

1: And this is the portion that fell by lot to the tribe of Manasseh — for he was Joseph’s first-born. Since Machir, the first-born of Manasseh and the father of Gilead, was a valiant warrior, Gilead and Bashan were assigned to him.

3-4: Now Zelophehad son of Hepher son of Gilead son of Machir son of Manasseh had no sons, but only daughters. The names of his daughters were Mahlah, Noah, Hoglah, Milcah, and Tirzah. They appeared before the priest Eleazer, Joshua son of Nun, and the chieftains, saying: “The LORD commanded Moses to grant us a portion among our male kinsmen.” So, in accordance with the LORD’s instructions, they were granted a portion among their father’s kinsmen.

5: Ten districts fell to Manasseh, apart from the lands of Gilead and Bashan, which are across the Jordan.

12-13: The Manassites could not dispossess [the inhabitants of] these towns, and the Canaanites stubbornly remained in this region.  When the Israelites became stronger, they imposed tribute on the Canaanites; but they did not dispossess them.

14-18: The Josephites complained to Joshua, saying, “Why have you assigned as our portion a single allotment and a single district, seeing that we are a numerous people whom the LORD has blessed so greatly?”  “If you are a numerous people,” Joshua answered them, “go up to the forest country and clear an area for yourselves there, in the territory of the Perizzites and the Rephaim, seeing that you are cramped in the hill country of Ephraim.”  “The hill country is not enough for us,” the Josephites replied, “and all the Canaanites who live in the valley area have iron chariots, both those in Beth-shean and its dependencies and those in the Valley of Jezreel.” But Joshua declared to the House of Joseph, to Ephraim and Manasseh, “You are indeed a numerous people, possessed of great strength; you shall not have one allotment only. The hill country shall be yours as well; true, it is forest land, but you will clear it and possess it to its farthest limits. And you shall also dispossess the Canaanites, even though they have iron chariots and even though they are strong.”

Manasseh West of the JordanIV. Outline

1a. Introduction

1b. Machir receives Gilead and Bashan

2. Manasseh’s other male descendants

3-4. The daughters of Zelophehad in Machir

5. Manasseh has 12 regions, 2 in Transjordan and 10 in Cisjordan

6. The daughters of Manasseh inherited in Bashan

7-11. The boundaries of Manasseh; Isolated towns within and without

12-13. The Canaanites remained, but were subject to forced labor

14-18. The house of Joseph requests more land (in Manasseh) and Joshua tells them to clear the forest and conquer the valleys

V. Comment

For help with the geography, see the map on page 182 of A. F. Rainey and R S. Notley. The Sacred Bridge: Carta’s Atlas of the Biblical World. Jerusalem: Carta, 2006.

VI. Works Used

(see “Commentaries” page)

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