King James Bible
with Catholic Commentary by George Leo Haydock

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Joshua 17

The lot of Manasseh. (1-6) The boundaries of Manasseh, The Canaanites not driven out. (7-13) Joseph desires a larger portion. (14-18)

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The lot of Manasseh

1 There was also a lot for the tribe of Manasseh; for he was the firstborn of Joseph; to wit, for Machir the firstborn of Manasseh, the father of Gilead: because he was a man of war, therefore he had Gilead and Bashan.

2 There was also a lot for the rest of the children of Manasseh by their families; for the children of Abiezer, and for the children of Helek, and for the children of Asriel, and for the children of Shechem, and for the children of Hepher, and for the children of Shemida: these were the male children of Manasseh the son of Joseph by their families.

3 But Zelophehad, the son of Hepher, the son of Gilead, the son of Machir, the son of Manasseh, had no sons, but daughters: and these are the names of his daughters, Mahlah, and Noah, Hoglah, Milcah, and Tirzah.

4 And they came near before Eleazar the priest, and before Joshua the son of Nun, and before the princes, saying, The LORD commanded Moses to give us an inheritance among our brethren. Therefore according to the commandment of the LORD he gave them an inheritance among the brethren of their father.

5 And there fell ten portions to Manasseh, beside the land of Gilead and Bashan, which were on the other side Jordan;

6 Because the daughters of Manasseh had an inheritance among his sons: and the rest of Manasseh’s sons had the land of Gilead.

The boundaries of Manasseh, The Canaanites not driven out

7 And the coast of Manasseh was from Asher to Michmethah, that lieth before Shechem; and the border went along on the right hand unto the inhabitants of Entappuah.

8 Now Manasseh had the land of Tappuah: but Tappuah on the border of Manasseh belonged to the children of Ephraim;

9 And the coast descended unto the river Kanah, southward of the river: these cities of Ephraim are among the cities of Manasseh: the coast of Manasseh also was on the north side of the river, and the outgoings of it were at the sea:

10 Southward it was Ephraim’s, and northward it was Manasseh’s, and the sea is his border; and they met together in Asher on the north, and in Issachar on the east.

11 And Manasseh had in Issachar and in Asher Bethshean and her towns, and Ibleam and her towns, and the inhabitants of Dor and her towns, and the inhabitants of Endor and her towns, and the inhabitants of Taanach and her towns, and the inhabitants of Megiddo and her towns, even three countries.

12 Yet the children of Manasseh could not drive out the inhabitants of those cities; but the Canaanites would dwell in that land.

13 Yet it came to pass, when the children of Israel were waxen strong, that they put the Canaanites to tribute, but did not utterly drive them out.

Joseph desires a larger portion

14 And the children of Joseph spake unto Joshua, saying, Why hast thou given me but one lot and one portion to inherit, seeing I am a great people, forasmuch as the LORD hath blessed me hitherto?

15 And Joshua answered them, If thou be a great people, then get thee up to the wood country, and cut down for thyself there in the land of the Perizzites and of the giants, if mount Ephraim be too narrow for thee.

16 And the children of Joseph said, The hill is not enough for us: and all the Canaanites that dwell in the land of the valley have chariots of iron, both they who are of Bethshean and her towns, and they who are of the valley of Jezreel.

17 And Joshua spake unto the house of Joseph, even to Ephraim and to Manasseh, saying, Thou art a great people, and hast great power: thou shalt not have one lot only:

18 But the mountain shall be thine; for it is a wood, and thou shalt cut it down: and the outgoings of it shall be thine: for thou shalt drive out the Canaanites, though they have iron chariots, and though they be strong.

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G Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Ver. 1. Born. Machir was the only son of Manasses. But the Scripture uses the word first-born for such, as it does for our Saviour. Mat. i. M. — If Machir was living when Moses assigned the territory to the half tribe of Manasses, he must have been 180 years old. C. — But he probably received the inheritance only in his posterity. H. — Galaad did not give his name to the country, as it was called so in the days of Jacob. Perhaps he took his name from the land, as many noblemen do, though he is styled Galaad before the war against Sehon commenced. Num. xxvi. 29. By giving Ephraim the preference before his elder brother, Jacob did not deprive the latter of his birth-right. C. — In effect, Manasses was partly (H.) provided for before Ephraim received any portion. C. — This, however, was a privilege, and not a right. He had also two allotments, because his numbers required so much land. H.

Ver. 2. Children here comprises grandchildren, &c. These who are specified sprang from Galaad or from Jair, as they all dwelt on the east side of the Jordan, 1 Par. v. 23. and vii. 14. C.

Ver. 4. Father, adjoining to Ephraim. See Num. xxvii. and xxxvi.

Ver. 5. Jordan. Some of the families, which had possessions there already, were permitted to have a share on the west side also. Here Manasses had ten portions, schœnus, or cords, which Herodotus (ii. 6,) reckons to contain each 60 stadia; so that he would have 600 stadia, (C.) or at least half of that quantity. C. xv. 58. (Herodotus ii.) H. — There were six sons and five daughters to be provided for. But the portion of Hepher, the father of Salphaad, being given to his granddaughters, his is not counted. Masius. — The Jews say the five daughters had only four portions, two for their grandfather, who, they say, was the eldest of the family; one for their father, and another for their uncle, who died without children. Selden. — But of this no proof is adduced. C. — The five daughters would only have the one portion, which would have been enjoyed by the father. M. See 1 Par. v. 23.

Ver. 7. Aser was contiguous to Machmethath, 15 miles from Sichem, towards Scythopolis. S. Jerom. C. — The limits of Manasses are described from the south, where he joins Ephraim. C. xvi. 6. C.

Ver. 8. Taphua; which city, though situated in the territory of Manasses, belonged to Ephraim, (W.) as the Heb. intimates.

Ver. 10. East. These two tribes are contiguous to the tribe of Joseph, taken all together, v. 14. M. — Aser extended as far as Mount Carmel, which was not far from Dor, a city of Manasses, v. 11. C. xix. 26. The tribes of Issachar and of Zabulon seem, indeed, to come between Manasses and Aser; so that we might say, that the tribe of Joseph finding itself too much straitened, was forced to seek for more room in the cities of the other tribes, which we find it really inhabited, v. 11. We might avoid all difficulties, by translating “they invaded (or made an irruption into) the tribe of Aser,” &c. as the Heb. will allow. Thus Dan conquered Lais, which lies at so great a distance from his own portion, and the tribes of Juda and Simeon were frequently intermixed. C. — Aser and Manasses may, however, have been really united on the north-west, or Mediterranean point. M.

Ver. 11. In Aser. The following towns were upon the frontiers of these two tribes, (M.) or they properly belonged to them respectively. But the children of Manasses took possession of them, after conquering by degrees, the former inhabitants, who were suffered to live among them, as the Jebusites were for some time, at Jerusalem. C. xv. 63. H. — Bethsan, or Scythopolis, as it was called by the Greeks, after the Scythians had invaded those countries, (Herod. l. 105,) A.M. 3391, almost 100 years from the destruction of the kingdom of Israel. Unless these Scythians may rather be the Cutheans, who were sent to people the kingdom of Samaria, most of whom embraced the Jewish religion, while those of Bethsan adhered to their ancient idolatry, and therefore retained their name. Even in the days of Josephus, most of the inhabitants were heathens: the kings of Juda were not able to subdue them entirely. Bethsan was situated to the south of the sea of Tiberias, 600 stadia from Jerusalem; (2 Mac. xii. 29,) that is, about 37 leagues, (C.) or 111 miles. H. — Dor, nine miles north of Cæsarea. — Endor, “the fountain of Dor,” four miles south of Mount Thabor. Euseb. — Here Saul consulted the witch, 1 K. xxxviii. 7. — Thenac, near Legion, and the torrent of Cisson, where Barac gained a victory. Judg. v. — Nopheth, means “a canton,” and thus Manasses may have had three portions of land round the three aforesaid cities, in which sense it is translated. C. xi. 2. C. Masius. — But Serarius takes Nopheth to mean a city, (M.) agreeably to the Sept. “the third part of Naphetha, and its villages.” H. — The other two parts of the city might be occupied by Zabulon. Bonfrere. — No mention is made of Nopheth. Judg. i. 27. H.

Ver. 12. Could, because they would not. Judg. i. 27. The children of Manasses took these cities; but not putting the inhabitants to death, the latter got possession again, as was the case with respect to many other cities taken (C.) and destroyed (H.) by Josue. Heb. “the Chanaanites consented to dwell,” &c. The Israelites spared their lives on their paying tribute; and this prevarication was the cause of their being afterwards reduced to submit to the yoke of these nations. C. Judg. ii. 20. Deut. xx. 16. M. — The Chanaaites dwelt with Manasses for a time; (W.) perhaps they were never wholly expelled. H.

Ver. 14. Spoke. Sept. “contradicted Josue.” In effect, they spoke with a good deal of emotion. — Portion. Heb. “cord.” C. — They addressed themselves to the general, before their territory was divided. Masius. — Or they insinuate that the portion allotted to them both, would scarcely suffice for one tribe, and there was but little room for them to enlarge their dominion by subduing the Chanaanites, as the rest might do. Manasses was most concerned, as his numbers had increased 20,500 since he left Egypt, while his brother had diminished. Num. xxvi. 34. C. — But then he had an extensive country on the other side of the Jordan. H.

Ver. 16. Thee. Destroy the Pherezite, &c. (M.) take their cities, and destroy the inhabitants, like so many trees, or cut down the wood to build houses, and in order to cultivate the land for the production of corn and grass.

Ver. 17. Iron, armed with scythes, who will obstruct our passage to the mountains, as we dare not encounter them in the open field. H. 4 K. xx. 23. — Heb. “the hill is not enough for us, (or it will not be found, or be attacked by us) and all the Chanaanites,” &c. C. — Sept. “the mountain of Ephraim will not contain us; all the Chanaanites who dwell in the land of Emek, (of of the valley) in Bethsan, and its villages, and in the vale of Jezrael, have chosen cavalry and iron.” H. — They are invincible. C. — The slothful man saith there is a lion without. Prov. xxii. 13. Josue over-rules the cowardly objection, and argues, from their own boasting, that they were numerous enough to overcome all their opponents. He was himself of the tribe of Ephraim. H. — Valley, extending about 10,000 paces from Bethsan to Legion. Jezrael ws in the middle of it, and is attributed to Issachar. C. xix. 18. But it was probably on the frontiers of Manasses, who seems to have spoken as if it would belong to the first who had driven out the Chanaanites. The kings of Israel had a palace at Jezrael, and the vineyard of Naboth being contiguous to it, gave occasion to the sin of Jazabel, and to the destruction of Achab’s family, 3 K. xxi. 1. In this vale, Gedeon routed the Madianites. Judg. vi. 33.

Ver. 18. Mountain, probably of Gelboe, as that of Ephraim was not sufficient, v. 15. Gelboe extended almost as far as Bethsan, and it would afford a fine opportunity of attacking the nations below. Josue persists in his first resolution; and though of the same tribe, he is so little actuated by partiality towards his brethren, that they alone seem to have been dissatisfied with their portion. C.