Joshua 18:1: The Tabernacle Moved to Shiloh

Verse 1:[1] And the whole congregation of the children of Israel assembled together (Josh. 19:51; 21:2; 22:9; Jer. 7:12) at Shiloh, and (Judg. 18:31; 1 Sam. 1:3, 24; 4:3, 4) set up the tabernacle of the congregation there. And the land was subdued before them.

[All the children of Israel assembled together at Shiloh, etc.] Unto this council appointed by Joshua resorted all that were representing the whole people; namely, the High Priest, priests, nobles, etc. (Serarius out of Montanus). Question 1: When was this done? Responses: 1. In the fourteenth year after the entrance into the land; for seven years were consumed in waging war, and just so many in distribution (Kimchi in Masius, Munster, Rabbis in Bonfrerius). That reproof whereby Joshua severely condemns the idleness of the tribes sufficiently shows that there had been inactivity for a long time after the beginning of the division, namely, for nearly seven years, before they proceeded to cast lots at Shiloh. Evidently the people, wearied by protracted war, since they appeared safe to themselves, with the children of Judah and the children of Joseph established on both sides, like unto garrisons, gave themselves to leisure; and they considered that common life in their standing camps preferable to enduring again new vexations for the sake of their peculiar possessions, by driving their enemies from their habitations. And their inactivity was being fostered by a thousand conveniences, which all had acquired for themselves in so long-lasting a station. Therefore, Joshua prudently thought that these camps had to be moved, or rather to be broken up, and that there was to be a pushing of each unto their own possessions (Masius). 2. But to me so long a delay is not satisfying: For why would Joshua delay the casting of lots for so long? why would he hold the Tribes in inactivity for so many years, which in chapter 22 he sent home after the casting of lots was complete? Add that many maintain that Joshua died before the fourteenth year. Neither is that reproof of Joshua an obstacle, etc. He was able to chide them, even if only one year of delay had intervened (Bonfrerius). Question 2: Why was the Tabernacle removed from Gilgal? Response: Since the greatest part of Canaan was occupied, it was fitting to proceed from the first vestibule of Canaan to the interior parts of the kingdom, so that by the presence of the Divine the whole country might be sanctified and blessed, and so that there might be easier access to it from all the tribes on all sides (Serarius). Question 3: But why was the Tabernacle carried off to Shiloh? This was done by divine oracle (Masius, Serarius, Bonfrerius). For the place of the Tabernacle was to be determined by the election of God, Deuteronomy 12 (Bonfrerius, Serarius). Nevertheless, some reasons why this place might be chosen above others do appear (Serarius). 1. God willed to honor both the children of Joseph and the children of Judah (which Tribes God had honored with the privileges of the first-born[2]) with His presence, as it were, the one after the other (Masius). 2. Shiloh was distant from Jerusalem by only two leagues, or hours[3] (Lapide, similarly Serarius, Bonfrerius). Therefore, it is advantageously moved more closely to Jerusalem, in which place it was ultimately going to remain (Masius, Serarius). 3. This place was both pleasant and safe, since it was lifted up exceedingly high (Masius), and was surrounded by the most powerful tribes of Judah and Joseph (Serarius). 4. It was fitting that the Ark be in the tribe of the Leader (Lapide), to whom this, as being the foremost blessing and dignity, ought to be granted (Serarius). Question 4: Whether the camps of the Israelties were transferred with the Tabernacle to Shiloh? Response: Masius is doubtful, but in such a way that he rather affirms it; and that rightly. For this is affirmed by the Rabbis, Josephus in his Antiquities 5, Cajetan, and Tostatus. It is proven out of verse 9, they returned to Joshua to the camps at Shiloh. Add that the more lengthy stay at Gilgal had given great occasion idleness: Therefore, Joshua most prudently decided to cut off that opportunity, and to change the place (Serarius out of Masius). If the camps were advanced to Shiloh with the Ark, the Religion of the people was certainly to be commended, to which the Sanctuary of God and Divine worship are the chief concerns. For then human affairs ultimately succeed, when Divine matters have preceded (Masius). Note, moreover, that the Ark remained in Shiloh for about three hundred and fifty years (Lapide, Bonfrerius).

[The Tabernacle of testimony, אֹ֣הֶל מוֹעֵ֑ד[4]] So called, either because there the assembly of the people was held (Drusius); or, because God met with them there, according to Exodus 25:22.[5] Thus, in Job 30:23, the grave is called בֵית מוֹעֵד, the house of meeting, where all assemble; and, in Isaiah 14:13, heaven is called the mount of assembly,[6] because this is the most prominent mountain, and desired in the prayers of all (Masius, Drusius).

Set up the tabernacle of the congregation there, by God’s appointment, as is manifest from Deuteronomy 12:5, etc.; Jeremiah 7:12. Hither it was removed from Gilgal, partly for the honour and conveniency of Joshua, that he being of the tribe of Ephraim, and seating himself there, might have the opportunity of consulting with God as oft as he desired and needed; and partly for the conveniency of all the tribes, that, being in the heart and centre of them, they might more easily resort to it from all places. Here the tabernacle continued for above three hundred years, even till Samuel’s days, 1 Samuel 1:3.

[And the land was subject to them] Clearly it is the same thing that was said before, the land had rest from war.[7] For that was to be mentioned anew because of the surveyors that were soon to be sent forth into all the corners of Canaan, so that they might describe all things most accurately (Masius). Hebrew: and the land,[8] that is, after the land was subjugated by them (Vatablus). Rabbi Levi Ben Gershon thus explains it, The land was now more nearly before their eyes than when their camps were in Gilgal. Which is indeed true, since Gilgal was in the extremity, but Shiloh in the interior (Masius).

And the land, or, for the land, because these words contain a reason of the former action: the particle ו/ and is oft used for for, as hath been showed.

[1] Hebrew: וַיִּקָּ֙הֲל֜וּ כָּל־עֲדַ֤ת בְּנֵֽי־יִשְׂרָאֵל֙ שִׁלֹ֔ה וַיַּשְׁכִּ֥ינוּ שָׁ֖ם אֶת־אֹ֣הֶל מוֹעֵ֑ד וְהָאָ֥רֶץ נִכְבְּשָׁ֖ה לִפְנֵיהֶֽם׃

[2] 1 Chronicles 5:1, 2.

[3] A league was roughly three-miles, about the distance one could walk in an hour.

[4] יָעַד signifies to appoint; מוֹעֵד, an appointed time/season, an appointed place, or a meeting.

[5] Exodus 25:22:  “And there I will meet (וְנוֹעַדְתִּי) with thee, and I will commune with thee from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubims which are upon the ark of the testimony, of all things which I will give thee in commandment unto the children of Israel.”

[6] Hebrew: בְּהַר־מוֹעֵד.

[7] Joshua 11:23; 14:15.

[8] Hebrew: וְהָאָרֶץ.

Joshua 18 Outline

The tabernacle is set up in Shiloh, 1. The remainder of the land described, and divided into seven parts, for the seven tribes which as yet had no inheritance, 2-9. Joshua casts the lot at Shiloh, 10: the first comes out for Benjamin, whose borders and cities are described, 11-28.

Joshua 17:17, 18: Joshua Reiterates God’s Requirement and Promise

Verse 17:[1] 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

Not…one lot only: Thou needest and deservest more than that lot, of which thou art actually possessed, and thou hast power to get more; which if thou endeavourest to do, God will bless thee, and give thee more.


Verse 18:[2] 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, (Deut. 20:1) though they have iron chariots, and though they be strong.

[But thou shalt pass over to the mountain, כִּ֣י הַ֤ר יִֽהְיֶה־לָּךְ֙ וגו״] [In this verse the particle כִּי occurs five times; in the rendering of which interpreters vary.] The first כִּי they translate, but (because [Montanus], for [Pagnine, Vatablus], for which reason [Munster]) the mountain shall be to thee, or, thine (Jonathan, Arabic, Tigurinus, Junius and Tremellius, Vatablus).

[And thou shalt cut down, etc., כִּֽי־יַ֣עַר ה֔וּא וּבֵ֣רֵאת֔וֹ] Because (for [Jonathan]) that is a wood (Montanus, Pagnine, Vatablus). For it is a wood: that is to say, It is useless to thy brother, for it is full of trees: therefore, cut it down; that is, clear it of trees (Vatablus). On which is a wood (Tigurinus). And thou shalt cut down the wood on it (Munster). If it is a wood, yet thou shalt cut it down, so that its outgoings may be thine (Junius and Tremellius). Which [namely, the mountain], although it is a wood, nevertheless thou shalt clear it (Arabic).

[And thou shalt be able to advance further, וְהָיָ֥ה לְךָ֖ תֹּֽצְאֹתָ֑יו] And its outgoing shall be (outgoings shall be [Pagnine, Vatablus]) to thee (Jonathan, Montanus, Malvenda), that is, any of its outlets. Outgoings here are, either, valleys and plains into which one descends and departs from the mountains (Masius, certain interpreters in Malvenda); or, all the approaches to invade the enemy, and to receive thine own; or, the fruit and produce from the cultivation of the mountain; or, its borders (Malvenda). And its borders also shall be thine (Munster, similarly Tigurinus). In this manner thou shalt be able to proceed further (Vatablus).

The outgoings of it; either, 1. The productions or of that land, when it is cleared from the wood, and purged; or rather, 2. The valleys and fields belonging or adjoining to it, for there the Canaanites were, verse 16.

[When thou hast turned out the Canaanite, כִּֽי־תוֹרִ֣ישׁ אֶת־הַֽכְּנַעֲנִ֗י וגו״] Because (for [Junius and Tremellius]) thou shalt drive out (Pagnine, Montanus); if, or supposing, thou cast out (Tigurinus, similarly Munster). When thou drivest out (Vatablus, similarly Jonathan), understanding, seeing that otherwise they will be able to harm thee (Vatablus). Then it follows, because they have iron chariots, and because they are strong, that is, because they have chariots armed with scythes; who thou sayest have chariots armed with scythes, and they are strong (Vatablus).

[Who thou wilt say have iron chariots, כִּ֣י רֶ֤כֶב בַּרְזֶל֙ ל֔וֹ] Because, or seeing that, he has iron chariots (Jonathan, Arabic, Montanus). The reason is signified why those places are allotted to Manasseh, namely, because they are difficult; but the Manassites are powerful in might and number. Thus Rabbi Salomon and Nahmanides (Masius). Others: although they have chariots of iron (Masius, certain interpreters in Malvenda, similarly Pagnine, Tigurinus). Who have chariots of iron (Munster).

[And that he is exceedingly powerful, כִּ֥י חָזָ֖ק הֽוּא׃] Because (for [Jonathan], and [Arabic, Munster, Tigurinus]) he is strong (Montanus, similarly Jonathan, Arabic, Munster, Tigurinus).

[1] Hebrew: וַיֹּ֤אמֶר יְהוֹשֻׁ֙עַ֙ אֶל־בֵּ֣ית יוֹסֵ֔ף לְאֶפְרַ֥יִם וְלִמְנַשֶּׁ֖ה לֵאמֹ֑ר עַם־רַ֣ב אַתָּ֗ה וְכֹ֤חַ גָּדוֹל֙ לָ֔ךְ לֹֽא־יִהְיֶ֥ה לְךָ֖ גּוֹרָ֥ל אֶחָֽד׃

[2] Hebrew: כִּ֣י הַ֤ר יִֽהְיֶה־לָּךְ֙ כִּֽי־יַ֣עַר ה֔וּא וּבֵ֣רֵאת֔וֹ וְהָיָ֥ה לְךָ֖ תֹּֽצְאֹתָ֑יו כִּֽי־תוֹרִ֣ישׁ אֶת־הַֽכְּנַעֲנִ֗י כִּ֣י רֶ֤כֶב בַּרְזֶל֙ ל֔וֹ כִּ֥י חָזָ֖ק הֽוּא׃

Joshua 17:16: The Sons of Joseph Fail to Meet Joshua’s Challenge

Verse 16:[1] 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 (Judg. 1:19; 4:3) chariots of iron, both they who are of Beth-shean and her towns, and they who are (Josh. 19:18; 1 Kings 4:12) of the valley of Jezreel.

[We shall not be able to go up to the mountain, לֹֽא־יִמָּ֥צֵא לָ֖נוּ הָהָ֑ר] That mountain does not, or will not, suffice for us (Jonathan, Syriac, Arabic, Munster, Pagnine, Vatablus, similarly the Septuagint, Junius and Tremellius), understanding, to inhabit (Vatablus): that is to say, There is by no means enough space for us on mount Ephraim. To no purpose are we sent back to the Perizzites and Rephaims, equipped with chariots, etc. But I prefer to translate it, That hill will not be obtained by us: that is to say, Thou commandest us to cultivate the wooded places: But those places, if they be mountainous, will be defended more easily by our enemies; but if they be plain, those that inhabit them are equipped with chariots armed with scythes. For the verb מָצָא, to find, while it is used in expressions permission, or, as the Grammarians say, while without qualification it generally signifies to be in readiness, or, to be in the nature of things, and altogether περιγίνεσθαι, to prevail over: it both signifies the action, and to be that which exhibits, presents, etc. (Masius). Others: it will not be found (Montanus, Piscator). Thus Numbers 11:22;[2] Judges 21:14;[3] Hosea 12:8[4] (Piscator).

The hill is not enough for us; if we should invade and conquer it, and cut down both wood and men, yet it would not be sufficient for us. Hebrew: The hill will not be found, that is, obtained, by us; those fierce and strong people the Perizzites and the giants will easily defend themselves, and frustrate our attempts, having the advantage of the woods and mountains. The Canaanites that dwell in the land of the valley, that is, And if thou sayest, as we know thou wilt reply, that if the hill either cannot be conquered, or be not sufficient for us, we may go down and take more land out of the pleasant and fruitful valleys, we shall meet with no less difficulty there than in the mountains. Or thus, In going to the hills to which thou directest us, we must pass through valleys, where we shall be waylaid by powerful and armed enemies.

[Iron chariots] These were chariots armed with scythes, which, armed with scythes and swords, cut through men and whatever was in the way, and mowed them down, as it were (Lapide). [See the description of these in Bonfrerius, who in addition relates what great slaughters they were causing, and what remedies were contrived against them.]

Chariots of iron; not all made of iron but armed with iron, not only for defence, but for offence also, having as it were scythes and swords fastened to them, to cut down all that stood in their way.

[And Jezreel] But this valley is situated in the tribe of Issachar, Joshua 19:18. Therefore, either it was in the tribe of Issachar, or on the extreme Northern borders of Manasseh near Issachar (Bonfrerius).

The valley of Jezreel; which was either in the tribe of Issachar, or upon the borders of it, Joshua 19:18.

[1] Hebrew: וַיֹּֽאמְרוּ֙ בְּנֵ֣י יוֹסֵ֔ף לֹֽא־יִמָּ֥צֵא לָ֖נוּ הָהָ֑ר וְרֶ֣כֶב בַּרְזֶ֗ל בְּכָל־הַֽכְּנַעֲנִי֙ הַיֹּשֵׁ֣ב בְּאֶֽרֶץ־הָעֵ֔מֶק לַֽאֲשֶׁ֤ר בְּבֵית־שְׁאָן֙ וּבְנוֹתֶ֔יהָ וְלַֽאֲשֶׁ֖ר בְּעֵ֥מֶק יִזְרְעֶֽאל׃

[2] Numbers 11:22:  “Shall the flocks and the herds be slain for them, to suffice them (וּמָצָ֣א לָהֶ֑ם)? or shall all the fish of the sea be gathered together for them, to suffice them (וּמָצָ֥א לָהֶֽם)?”

[3] Judges 21:14:  “And Benjamin came again at that time; and they gave them wives which they had saved alive of the women of Jabesh-gilead:  and yet so they sufficed them not (וְלֹֽא־מָצְא֥וּ לָהֶ֖ם כֵּֽן׃).”

[4] Hosea 12:8:  “And Ephraim said, Yet I am become rich, I have found me out substance (מָצָ֥אתִי א֖וֹן לִ֑י): in all my labours they shall find none iniquity in meלֹ֥א) יִמְצְאוּ־לִ֖י עָוֹ֥ן) that were sin.”

Joshua 17:15: Joshua’s Challenge to the Sons of Joseph

Verse 15:[1] 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 (or, Rephaims,[2] Gen. 14:5; 15:20), if mount Ephraim be too narrow for thee.

[If thou be a great people, etc.] He retorts the argument (Bonfrerius): that is to say, Ye have abounded in the number of men, and so also in power (Masius). Question: How is it that for them he places the hope of victory in the great abundance of them, but does not direct them to fix all confidence in the help of God? Response: Joshua wanted to refute them in their own words, and to show at the same time that with the hand to the plow, as it is said, fortune, that is, the benignity of God, ought to be prayed for (Masius on verse 18).

If thou be a great people, etc.: He retorts their own argument: Seeing thou art a great and numerous people, turn thy complaints into actions and valiant exploits, and enlarge thy borders by thy own hand, to which thou mayst confidently expect God’s assistance.

[Go up into the forest, and cut down] Some take this properly, of clearing wooded places (Bonfrerius, thus Lyra). That is to say, Ascend into mount Ephraim, and cut down the woods there, and establish for thyself cities and farms (Kimchi in Masius). Go up into the wood country, that is, unto the mountain, which is full of forests: and cut down for thyself there, understanding, trees, so that thou mightest build there (Junius).

[וּבֵרֵאתָ֤ לְךָ֙[3]] And thou shalt choose (Montanus, similarly Syriac); cleanse for thyself a place (Arabic); cut down, or cut back (Septuagint, Vatablus, Junius and Tremellius); that is, make for thyself a habitable place with the forest cut down (Junius). And prepare for thyself (Munster, Tigurinus, Vatablus, Jonathan), understanding, a place of habitation (Vatablus, Osiander, Jonathan). Others maintain that this is to be explained allegorically; that is to say, make the places occupied by barbarians, with the same cut down/off, suitable for habitation; as they are wont to render wilderness places easier to cultivate with the woods cut down (thus Bonfrerius).

To the wood country; to the mountain, as it, is called, verse 18, where among some towns there is much wood land, which thou mayst without much difficulty possess, and so get the more room. Cut down, that is, the wood, verse 18, for thy own advantage and use; partly in building more cities and towns; and partly for preparing the land for the use of pasture and tillage.

[In the land of the Perizzites] These were a rustic sort of men, dwelling far from cities (for the Jews also call places not enclosed by walls פְּרָזוֹת/ perazoth), and robbers, who were living on plunder; for the Greeks render פרז by ἐνισχύειν, to be strong (Malvenda).

The Perizzites; supposed to be a savage and brutish kind of people, that lived in woods and mountains.

[And the Rephaim] These were of the race of giants, who dwelt in caves, as mentioned in Joshua 11:21; 12:4 (Masius). Those that complain of the straitness of their borders, ought to expel not their own people but enemies, or to occupy and cultivate vacant places (Grotius).

Of the giants, who lived in caves and mountains, now especially when they were driven out of their cities.

[Because it is narrow, כִּֽי־אָ֥ץ לְךָ֖ וגו״] Because (or, if [Munster, Pagnine, Tigurinus]) it is narrow (Montanus, similarly the Septuagint, Jonathan, Syriac, Arabic); if the mountain appear narrow to thee (Vatablus). Because it is narrower, that is, if it presseth and confineth thee (certain interpreters in Malvenda). If it is quite distant, if thou think that mountain to be removed farther from thee, then cast out the Perizzites, etc., and occupy their places (Kimchi in Masius). Moreover, it is called Mount Ephraim κατὰ πρόληψιν, proleptically; for it did not yet belong to Ephraim any more than to Manasseh (Masius). [But Bonfrerius denies this:] For Ephraim and Manasseh had already taken their possessions. Moreover, mount Ephraim here signifies the entire land of Ephriam, which was mountainous. See Joshua 19:50; 20:7; 21:21; 24:30; Judges 4:5 (Bonfrerius).

If Mount Ephraim be too narrow for thee, or, seeing Mount Ephraim is too narrow for thee, as thou complainest, take to thyself the rest of that hilly and wood country. Mount Ephraim was a particular and eminent portion of the land, belonging to the tribe of Ephraim, as appears from Joshua 19:50; 20:7; 21:21; Judges 4:5. And this seems to be here mentioned synecdochically, for all the portion allotted to Ephraim and Manasseh, as appears from their complaint, which was not that this part, but that their whole portion, was too strait for them.

[1] Hebrew: וַיֹּ֙אמֶר אֲלֵיהֶ֜ם יְהוֹשֻׁ֗עַ אִם־עַם־רַ֤ב אַתָּה֙ עֲלֵ֣ה לְךָ֣ הַיַּ֔עְרָה וּבֵרֵאתָ֤ לְךָ֙ שָׁ֔ם בְּאֶ֥רֶץ הַפְּרִזִּ֖י וְהָֽרְפָאִ֑ים כִּֽי־אָ֥ץ לְךָ֖ הַר־אֶפְרָֽיִם׃

[2] Hebrew: וְהָרְפָאִים.

[3] בָּרָא in the Qal signifies to create; in the Piel, to cut down.

Joshua 17:14: Joseph’s Complain about His Inheritance

Verse 14:[1] (Josh. 16:4) And the children of Joseph spake unto Joshua, saying, Why hast thou given me but (Gen. 48:22) one lot and one portion to inherit, seeing I am (Gen. 48:19; Num. 26:34, 37) a great people, forasmuch as the LORD hath blessed me hitherto?

[And the children of Joseph spoke] Question 1: Who then are these? Response 1: the Manassites (Munster, Vatablus, Hebrews in Masius). For these were greatly increased after the exodus out of Egypt (Munster). Compare Numbers 2:21, etc., with Numbers 26:34, etc. (Bonfrerius). And, that the movers of this inquiry were the Manassites, I do not deny: for no Tribe was encumbered with more difficulties, and none had more cities in the power of the Canaanites, than Manasseh: And that, as the Lord hath blessed me, appears to have regard to the Manassites, who were greatly increased in numbers, while the Ephraimites were diminished[2] (Masius). Response 2: the Manassites and Ephraimites (Junius, Masius, Lapide, Bonfrerius); as it is apparent from verses 15-17 (Junius). Question 2: When did they say this? Response: After the rest of Canaan was divided into seven parts by those measuring, and by that event their inheritance was defined in the North. For they were not able to know previously that their dominion was confined (Masius).

The children of Joseph, that is, of Ephraim and Manasseh, as is manifest, partly from verse 17, where it is so explained; and partly because they mention it as an unreasonable thing, that they, being two, should have out one lot. Spake unto Joshua, that is, expostulated with him, when they went and saw that portion which was allotted to them, and found it much short of their expectation.

[Why hast thou given to me possession of one lot and line?] Question: How is it that they say that one lot was given to them? Responses: 1. They call that one portion, for the possessiong of which one Tribe would be sufficient (Junius, Malvenda, Masius, Lapide, Bonfrerius). 2. Among the children of Joseph the inheritance was not yet divided, which they had received in the drawing of one lot; and so they were pleading that cause together, since they were yet in the like case (Masius). Now, understand this complaint in this way, not that they had actually received a possession smaller than what was due, since we do not read that afterwards their spaces were expanded; but that had received a region in which the Canaanites yet occupied many places (Bonfrerius out of Lapide). These were hoping that they were going to obtain from Joshua, their fellow tribesman, that some peaceful region out of the other tribes might be assigned to them. But Joshua yielded nothing to flesh and blood, but all to righteousness; and he was unwilling to take from other tribes what he might allot to his own (Lapide).

One lot, and one portion; either, 1. Because they really had but one lot, which was afterwards divided by the arbitrators between them. Or, 2. Because the land severally allotted to them was no more than was little enough for one of them. A great people, or numerous; for so the Hebrew word oft signifies.

[And the Lord has blessed me, עַ֥ד אֲשֶׁר־עַד־כֹּ֖ה בֵּֽרְכַ֥נִי יְהוָֽה׃] To such an extent (and thus far [Munster], in such a way thus far [Tigurinus Notes], to such an extent that thus far [Junius and Tremellius], to such an extent hitherto [Vatablus]) He has blessed me (Osiander), that is, to such a number He has been pleased to increase me (Malvenda out of Junius).

[1] Hebrew: וַֽיְדַבְּרוּ֙ בְּנֵ֣י יוֹסֵ֔ף אֶת־יְהוֹשֻׁ֖עַ לֵאמֹ֑ר מַדּוּעַ֩ נָתַ֙תָּה לִּ֜י נַחֲלָ֗ה גּוֹרָ֤ל אֶחָד֙ וְחֶ֣בֶל אֶחָ֔ד וַֽאֲנִ֣י עַם־רָ֔ב עַ֥ד אֲשֶׁר־עַד־כֹּ֖ה בֵּֽרְכַ֥נִי יְהוָֽה׃

[2] Compare Numbers 2:19 with Numbers 26:37.

Joshua 17:12, 13: Manasseh’s Disobedience with Regard to the Canaanites

Verse 12:[1] Yet (Judg. 1:27, 28) the children of Manasseh could not drive out the inhabitants of those cities; but the Canaanites would dwell in that land.

[They were not able] Understanding, in the beginning, or, at that time (Vatablus). Either, they were not able at all, or, except with great difficulty (Bonfrerius).

Could not drive out: See on Joshua 15:63.

[The inhabitants/citizens[2]] The name of cities by Hypallage[3] was used in the place of the citizens themselves (Masius, similarly Piscator, Bonfrerius).

[But the Canaanite began to dwell in his land (thus the Septuagint, Pagnine)] Not as if they were not previously inhabiting, but that at that time they began to dwell in the midst of the Israelites (Bonfrerius).

[וַיּ֙וֹאֶל֙ הַֽכְּנַעֲנִ֔י לָשֶׁ֖בֶת[4]] And (or but [Munster, Vatablus, Pagnine], for [Junius and Tremellius], hence [Vatablus]) he willed (chose [Vatablus], presumed [Munster, similarly Castalio]) to dwell (Montanus, Junius and Tremellius, Vatablus), even with the Israelites being unwilling (Osiander). Because they had consented to dwell (Syriac). [Others otherwise:] While the Canaanite had despaired of inhabiting this land (Tigurinus).

Would dwell; were resolved to fight, rather than be turned out of their ancient habitations.


Verse 13:[5] Yet it came to pass, when the children of Israel were waxen strong, that they put the Canaanites to (Josh. 16:10) tribute; but did not utterly drive them out.

[And they made them tributaries] In which they sinned against the precept in Deuteronomy 20:16 (Menochius). The Israelites sinned, not because delayed the driving out of the Canaanites until they so increased that they might be able to occupy the whole land; but because, when they were increased with strength, and were able to wipe them out, they preserved them alive under condition of tribute (Bonfrerius on verses 12 and 13). Note that these things in verses 12 and 13 are said proleptically, for their expulsion was not attempted while Joshua was alive, still less that subjection, or servitude of tribue, imposed (Bonfrerius out of Masius). From which you may again gather that, if the writer of this book is Joshua, this was here inserted afterwards by another (Bonfrerius).

Did not utterly drive them out: Which they were obliged to, now they were strong and numerous enough to possess those places.

[1] Hebrew: וְלֹ֤א יָכְלוּ֙ בְּנֵ֣י מְנַשֶּׁ֔ה לְהוֹרִ֖ישׁ אֶת־הֶֽעָרִ֣ים הָאֵ֑לֶּה וַיּ֙וֹאֶל֙ הַֽכְּנַעֲנִ֔י לָשֶׁ֖בֶת בָּאָ֥רֶץ הַזֹּֽאת׃

[2] Joshua 17:12a:  “Yet the children of Manasseh could not drive out those cities (לְהוֹרִ֖ישׁ אֶת־הֶֽעָרִ֣ים הָאֵ֑לֶּה; has civitates subvertere, to overthrow these citizens, in the Vulgate)…”

[3] That is, a reversal of an expected syntactical relationship between two words.

[4] יָאַל in the Hiphil signifies to show willingness, or to determine.

[5] Hebrew: וַֽיְהִ֗י כִּ֤י חָֽזְקוּ֙ בְּנֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵ֔ל וַיִּתְּנ֥וּ אֶת־הַֽכְּנַעֲנִ֖י לָמַ֑ס וְהוֹרֵ֖שׁ לֹ֥א הוֹרִישֽׁוֹ׃

Joshua 17:11: The Lot of Manasseh, Part 3

Verse 11:[1] (1 Chron. 7:29) And Manasseh had in Issachar and in Asher (1 Sam. 31:10; 1 Kings 4:12) Beth-shean and her towns, and Ibleam and her towns, and the inhabitants of Dor and her towns, and the inhabitants of En-dor and her towns, and the inhabitants of Taanach and her towns, and the inhabitants of Megiddo and her towns, even three countries.

[And Manasseh had inheritance in Issachar and Asher] Hebrew: And there was to Manasseh in Issachar and in Asher Beth-shean,[2] etc. (Pagnine, similarly Munster, Tigurinus, Junius and Tremellius, Malvenda). He had in the two bordering tribes mentioned the following cities and villages (Menochius). Or, in Issachar, etc., is in the place of, near Issachar, etc.; or, on the border of the tribes of Issachar and Asher (Lapide, Bonfrerius). Just as the golden pot and the rod of Aaron are said to be in the ark, that is, by the Ark. See what things are on Hebrews 9:4 (Lapide).

In Issachar and in Asher; either, 1. Bordering upon them, as in Asher is taken, verse 10, and as Aaron’s rod is said to be in the ark, that is, close by it, Hebrews 9:4; or, 2. Properly in them, as Ephraim had some cities in the tribe of Manasseh, Joshua 16:9, and as it was not unusual, when the places allotted to any tribe was too narrow for it, and the next too large, to give away part from the larger to the less portion; nay, sometimes one whole tribe was taken into another, as Simeon was into Judah’s portion, when it was found too large for Judah, Joshua 19:9.

[Beth-shean] A celebrated city, afterwards called Scythopolis[3] (Bonfrerius, Lapide, Junius), not far from Gennesaret[4] (Masius, Bonfrerius).

[And the inhabitants of Dor] And the citizens, that is, and the city (Vatablus).

The inhabitants of Dor; not the places only, but the people; whom, contrary to God’s command, they spared and used for servants, whom therefore they are said to have or possess.

[En-dor, עֵין־דֹּר] That is, the Spring of Dor (Masius). It could seem near to Dor; but the matter is far otherwise, since Dor was maritime, but En-dor near mount Tabor[5] (Malvenda).

[And a third part of the city of Nopheth[6] (thus the Septuagint in Bonfrerius)] Elsewhere נֶפֶת signifies a region; here it is name of a city. Moreover, while a third part of the city is said to be in this tribe, he indicates that this city was on the border of two tribes, and that two other thirds of the city pertained to another tribe; just as part of Jerusalem was in the tribe of Benjamin, and part in the tribe of Judah. I add that it is likely that this Nopheth pertains to Napheth Dor, or the province of Dor, which was toward the sea[7] (Bonfrerius).

[שְׁלֹ֖שֶׁת הַנָּֽפֶת׃] They translate it, three regions (Jonathan, Munster, Pagnine, Tigurinus); that is, three corners (Syriac); those three tracts (Junius and Tremellius); three plots (Montanus, Vatablus), that is, of Dor (Vatablus). I think that those three cities are thus mentioned, En-dor, Taanach, and Megiddo, because they are as three regions in that tract of Dor pertaining to the Manassites. For, even if נֶפֶת signifies any tract of land, it is sometimes used peculiarly of that region alone in which the municipalities of Dor stand; but sometimes it is also used a little more broadly concerning the entire tract of Dor. Symmachus translates it, and three coasts of the sea. I myself translate it, a third part of the region (Masius). [Most correctly, as it appears; and it is strange that the rest of the interpreters do not consider that נֶפֶת here is singular.]

Three countries: this may be referred either to some, to wit, the three last places, or to all the places named in this verse, which are here said either to have three countries or tracts of land belonging to them, or to be in three several countries or portions, as they seem to have been, some in Issachar, and some in Asher, and yet both belonging to Manasseh. Or, the words may be rendered the third part of that country; for the Hebrew word is of the singular number, and the article seems emphatical; and so the meaning may be, that the cities and towns here mentioned are a third part of that country, that is, of that part of Issachar’s and Asher’s portion, in which those places lay.

[1] Hebrew: וַיְהִ֙י לִמְנַשֶּׁ֜ה בְּיִשָּׂשכָ֣ר וּבְאָשֵׁ֗ר בֵּית־שְׁאָ֣ן וּ֠בְנוֹתֶיהָ וְיִבְלְעָ֙ם וּבְנוֹתֶ֜יהָ וְֽאֶת־יֹשְׁבֵ֧י דֹ֣אר וּבְנוֹתֶ֗יהָ וְיֹשְׁבֵ֤י עֵֽין־דֹּר֙ וּבְנֹתֶ֔יהָ וְיֹשְׁבֵ֤י תַעְנַךְ֙ וּבְנֹתֶ֔יהָ וְיֹשְׁבֵ֥י מְגִדּ֖וֹ וּבְנוֹתֶ֑יהָ שְׁלֹ֖שֶׁת הַנָּֽפֶת׃

[2] Hebrew: וַיְהִ֙י לִמְנַשֶּׁ֜ה בְּיִשָּׂשכָ֣ר וּבְאָשֵׁ֗ר בֵּית־שְׁאָ֣ן.

[3] It is said that during the Hellenistic period the city was settled by Scythian veterans, and hence the name.

[4] Beth-shean was about fifteen miles south of the Sea of Galilee, in the Jordan River valley.

[5] Mount Tabor was just south-west of the Sea of Galilee.

[6] Hebrew: שְׁלֹ֖שֶׁת הַנָּֽפֶת׃.

[7] Joshua 12:23:  “The king of Dor in the coast of Dor (לְנָפַ֥ת דּ֖וֹר, in Napheth Dor), one; the king of the nations of Gilgal, one…”

Joshua 17:10: The Lot of Manasseh, Part 2

Verse 10:[1] 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.

His border; either, 1. Manasseh’s, whose portion is here described, and whose name was last mentioned. Or, 2. Ephraim’s and Manasseh’s, both expressed in the foregoing words, and implied in the following, they.

[And they met together in the tribe of Asher,[2] וּבְאָשֵׁר֙ יִפְגְּע֣וּן מִצָּפ֔וֹן] And in Asher they meet (touch [Jonathan, Tigurinus], run together [Munster], extend into [Vatablus]) on the north. Question: How are these two Tribes able to be said to be connected to the Tribe of Asher, since both are shut up by the western sea? Responses: 1. Into Asher they extend, that is, the children of Manasseh (Vatablus). 2. The verb, they meet, has regard to all those Josephites (Masius). Either of these Tribes, or that entire possession taken as one (inasmuch as both are of the children of Joseph), touches the tribe of Asher. Now, that sibi, to each other, in our version appears to be superfluous, and, in the tribe is put for to the tribe (Bonfrerius). Moreover, in what manner the Manassites are bordering on the Asherites on the North, and the Issacharites on the East, Wolfgang Wissenburg portrayed on his table;[3] from whom, nevertheless, all other dissent, and with Josephus interpose Issachar and Zebulon between Manasseh and Asher. Issachar and Zebulon will be treated at length later. In the meantime, it is certain that the Manassites meet with the Asherites near Dor, since there they border on mount Carmel, to which the Asherites also extend, Joshua 19:26. Thus the Nephthalim border on the Judahites on the East, Joshua 19:34, because Jordan is common to both Tribes; although otherwise they were separated by the great distance of the places (Masius). Moreover, that the Manassites bordered upon the Asherites in no small part of his inheritance, is evident from verse 11, the inheritance of Manasseh was…in Asher; and from this, that the city of Dor of the Manassites stood near Carmel, as Josephus testifies in his Antiquities 5:1. Therefore, Adrichomius errs here, in whose work Manasseh in no way touches upon Asher (Bonfrerius). [But concerning these things see Bonfrerius himself.] Furthermore, the borders of Asher and of Issachar are here named κατὰ πρόληψιν, proleptically: for borders were not yet assigned to those tribes (Masius, Bonfrerius).

In Asher, that is, upon the tribe of Asher; for though Zebulun came between Asher and them for the greatest part of their land, yet it seems there were some necks or parcels of land, both of Ephraim’s and of Manasseh’s, which jutted out farther than the rest, and touched the borders of Asher. And it is certain there were many such incursions of the land of one tribe upon some parcels of another, although they were otherwise considerably distant one from the other. See Joshua 19:34. And you must not judge of these things by the present maps, which are drawn according to the opinions of late authors, which many times are false; and they are to be judged by the Scripture, and not the Scripture by them: but that part of Manasseh did reach to Asher, appears from hence, that Dor, a city of Manasseh, Joshua 17:11, was, as Josephus witnesseth, near Carmel, which belonged to Asher, Joshua 19:26.

[1] Hebrew: נֶ֣גְבָּה לְאֶפְרַ֗יִם וְצָפוֹ֙נָה֙ לִמְנַשֶּׁ֔ה וַיְהִ֥י הַיָּ֖ם גְּבוּל֑וֹ וּבְאָשֵׁר֙ יִפְגְּע֣וּן מִצָּפ֔וֹן וּבְיִשָּׂשכָ֖ר מִמִּזְרָֽח׃

[2] Thus the Vulgate: et conjungantur sibi in tribu Aser ab aquilone.

[3] Wolfgang Wissenburg (1496-1575) was a Pastor and Theologian, and one of the pioneers of the Reformation at Basel.  He wrote Terræ Sanctæ Descriptio.

Joshua 17:7-9: The Lot of Manasseh, Part 1

Verse 7:[1] And the coast of Manasseh was from Asher to (Josh. 16:6) Michmethah, that lieth before Shechem; and the border went along on the right hand unto the inhabitants of En-tappuah.

[From Asher, Michmethah] From Asher, toward Michmethah (Masius). Ziegler reads, Asher-Michmethah; and the Septuagint, ἀπὸ Ἀσὴρ τῆς Μαχθὼθ, from Asher of Machthoth, that is, from Asher, which looks toward Machthoth. But certainly those two names are disjoined by a great pause, since the Zaqeph accent is above Asher.[2] Therefore, Kimchi here explains אָשֵׁר as Asher, or the inheritance of Asher, which was bordering on the Manassites on the North. But I prefer to take it of the city of Asher, which Eusebius places between Shechem and Beth-shan, and hence to begin the description of the Souther borders of Manasseh (Masius). There is a description (here) of the situation of the inheritance of the Tribe of Manasseh on its Southern side. Now, the border, that is, the boundary line, was, that is, extends, or stretches, from that part where it has the tribe of Asher adjoining it: And the border proceeds, or departs, to the Southern side (Vatablus). From Asher to Michmethah is from the North to the South (Masius).

[Tappuah] The Northern limits of the Ephraimites[3] were evidently the same as the Southern limits of the Manassites [in this place].


Verse 8:[4] Now Manasseh had the land of Tappuah: but (Josh. 16:8) Tappuah on the border of Manasseh belonged to the children of Ephraim…

[In the lot of Manasseh had fallen the land of Tappuah, etc.] From the Hebrew you would thus translate it clearly; to Manasseh belonged the land of Tappuah, but Tappuah on the border (or, near the border [Montanus, Pagnine], but I translate אֶל as on, as it is sometimes taken[5] [Bonfrerius]) of Manasseh belonged to the sons of Ephraim (Lapide, Junius and Tremellius, Malvenda, Bonfrerius). The field of Tappuah, evidently with its municipalities and villages, was in the domain of the Manassites: but the city of Tappuah itself, although it was situated within the confines of Manasseh was nevertheless in the inheritance of Ephraim (Masius, Bonfrerius). See what things are on Joshua 16:9 (Bonfrerius). I translate אֶל־גְּבוּל, near the borders of Manasseh, that is, conterminous with the Tribe of Manasseh (Vatablus).


Verse 9:[6] And the coast descended (Josh. 16:8) unto the river Kanah (or, brook of reeds[7]), southward of the river: (Josh. 16:9) 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…

[And the border descended] Namely, from Tappuah; that is, it descended by reversing, that is, by returning when it had come (Vatablus).

[Unto the south of the torrent of the cities,[8] etc.] But the Rebia (֗) on נַחַל/ river distinguishes this word from the following עָרִים/cities (Masius). עָרִ֤ים הָאֵ֙לֶּה֙, those cities, that is, which are from Tappuah unto the torrent of reeds (Vatablus).

These cities of Ephrain; Tappuah, and the cities upon the coast descending to the river, etc., last mentioned. Are among the cities of Manasseh, that is, are intermixed with their cities, which was not strange nor unfit, these two being linked together by a nearer alliance than the rest.

[1] Hebrew: וַיְהִ֤י גְבוּל־מְנַשֶּׁה֙ מֵֽאָשֵׁ֔ר הַֽמִּכְמְתָ֔ת אֲשֶׁ֖ר עַל־פְּנֵ֣י שְׁכֶ֑ם וְהָלַ֤ךְ הַגְּבוּל֙ אֶל־הַיָּמִ֔ין אֶל־יֹשְׁבֵ֖י עֵ֥ין תַּפּֽוּחַ׃

[2] Note the Zaqeph parvum ֔ in מֵֽאָשֵׁ֔ר הַֽמִּכְמְתָ֔ת, which is a relatively strong disjunctive accent.

[3] See Joshua 16:6, 8.

[4] Hebrew: לִמְנַשֶּׁ֕ה הָיְתָ֖ה אֶ֣רֶץ תַּפּ֑וּחַ וְתַפּ֛וּחַ אֶל־גְּב֥וּל מְנַשֶּׁ֖ה לִבְנֵ֥י אֶפְרָֽיִם׃

[5] אֶל commonly expresses motion toward a spot, but sometimes presence at a spot.

[6] Hebrew: וְיָרַ֣ד הַגְּבוּל֩ נַ֙חַל קָנָ֜ה נֶ֣גְבָּה לַנַּ֗חַל עָרִ֤ים הָאֵ֙לֶּה֙ לְאֶפְרַ֔יִם בְּת֖וֹךְ עָרֵ֣י מְנַשֶּׁ֑ה וּגְב֤וּל מְנַשֶּׁה֙ מִצְּפ֣וֹן לַנַּ֔חַל וַיְהִ֥י תֹצְאֹתָ֖יו הַיָּֽמָּה׃

[7] Hebrew: נַ֙חַל קָנָ֜ה.

[8] Hebrew: נֶ֣גְבָּה לַנַּ֗חַל עָרִ֤ים הָאֵ֙לֶּה֙.