Joshua 16:1: The Lot of Joseph, Part 1

Verse 1:[1] And the lot of the children of Joseph fell (Heb. went forth[2]) from Jordan by Jericho, unto the water of Jericho on the east, to the wilderness that goeth up from Jericho throughout mount Beth-el…

[And also the lot of the children of Joseph fell, etc.] That is, of Ephraim and the half Tribe of Manasseh (Lapide). For one was the lot of the two brothers, Manasseh and Ephraim, in that casting of lots, as was explained above by us (Malvenda). Therefore, these Tribes had conjoined possessions. For which reason it happens that the Southern border of these conjoined together is here described; although actually it is only the border of Ephraim, which toward the south had the tribe of Benjamin, toward the North Manasseh. Now, since Jericho was in Benjamin, it is evident that the Southern borders are described; for it is sufficiently apparent that the tribe of Benjamin was shut up between Ephraim and Judah (Bonfrerius). That וַיֵּצֵא they translate, it[3] went forth (Junius and Tremellius), or, went out, namely, extracted from the urn (Piscator); or, it went forth, or extended (certain interpreters in Vatablus).

Of Joseph, that is, of Ephraim, and the half tribe of Manasseh, which are here put together in one; not because they had but one lot, for Ephraim had one here, Joshua 16:5, and Manasseh another, Joshua 17:1; but because in these first verses he speaks of them in common, and of the south border, which seems to be the same, either wholly or in a great part; and then he comes to the particular description of their several portions. It is here further remarkable, that God so disposed of these lots, that they came forth in decent and due order; Judah’s first, to whom the sovereignty was promised; and then Joseph’s, who succeeded Reuben in the other privilege of the birth-right, the double portion, 1 Chronicles 5:1, 2.

[From Jordan over against Jericho] Hebrew: from Jordan Jericho[4] (Malvenda); from Jordan opposite to Jericho (Junius and Tremellius); in which part it flowed near Jericho (Vatablus).

[And the waters thereof on the east: the wilderness that ascends from Jericho to mount Beth-el, לְמֵ֥י יְרִיח֖וֹ מִזְרָ֑חָה הַמִּדְבָּ֗ר עֹלֶ֧ה מִירִיח֛וֹ בָּהָ֖ר בֵּֽית־אֵֽל׃] [They render it variously:] To the waters of Jericho eastward, and the desert that ascends from Jericho through mount Beth-el (Munster, Tigurinus). To the waters of Jericho eastward: the desert ascending from Jericho into mount Beth-el (Montanus, Pagnine, similarly Junius and Tremellius, Dutch, Osiander, Syriac). Unto mount Beth-el, not of Beth-el; for הָר/mountain is marked with a Qametz (ָ)[5] (Drusius, similarly Masius). Hence it is evident that that mountain was called Beth-el after the city (Malvenda, Masius). Or, through the mountain unto Beth-el (Dutch); or, through mountainous Beth-el (Junius and Tremellius, Vatablus). And also to that tribe pertains the wilderness that ascends from Jericho unto the mountain that was near the city of Beth-el (Osiander). [To all these the desert is said to ascend (so also the Chaldean in Masius, Syriac), that is, to extend upwards.] Now, this is the desert of Beth-aven, which he relates in Joshua 18 was west of Jericho (Masius). Others in the place of and the desert, etc., read to the desert that ascends, etc. (thus Pagnine, English). To others it is not the desert, but the lot, that is said to ascend, and they connect עֹלֶה, going up, with הַגּוֹרָל, the lot (thus Masius out of Rabbi Salomon, Bonfrerius, Malvenda). The lot went forth…by ascending, etc. (Arabic). For these things are explained in this way in Joshua 18:12 (Masius). Moreover, the waters of it, that is, of Jericho (Bonfrerius, Masius), are distinguished from the waters of Jordan of Jericho, and are those waters that flow from the spring of Elisha, from which the dry ground of Jericho is irrigated by trenches and pools. What is here said, to the waters of Jericho, that is plainly what in Joshua 18 is written, to the side of Jericho on the north: for that Spring was toward the North and West (Masius). Or, מֵי יְרִיחוֹ, the waters of Jericho, Me-Jericho, is the name of a place (Vatablus). I translate מִזְרָחָה, from the east: the letter ה in this place is a note of movement from a place, not toward a place, as it is wont. For by this word this only is signified, that this designation of boundaries is begun from the East, that is, from Jordan (Masius). This is to be observed by us elsewhere, נֶגְבָּה, from the south, יָמָּה, from the sea/west (Drusius). Moreover, it is rightly said to ascend from Jericho into the mountain; for that city, or, more accurately, that plain (which I would prefer to be signified here) was surrounded on all sides by mountains as by a theater (Masius).

The water of Jericho; of which see 2 Kings 2:19-22. The wilderness that goeth up from Jericho; the wilderness of Beth-aven, as appears by comparing Joshua 18:12, which speaks of the very same border which was on the south of Ephraim, and on the north of Benjamin.

[1] Hebrew: וַיֵּצֵ֙א הַגּוֹרָ֜ל לִבְנֵ֤י יוֹסֵף֙ מִיַּרְדֵּ֣ן יְרִיח֔וֹ לְמֵ֥י יְרִיח֖וֹ מִזְרָ֑חָה הַמִּדְבָּ֗ר עֹלֶ֧ה מִירִיח֛וֹ בָּהָ֖ר בֵּֽית־אֵֽל׃

[2] Hebrew: וַיֵּצֵא.

[3] That is, the lot.

[4] A woodenly literalistic rendering.  Hebrew: מִיַּרְדֵּ֣ן יְרִיח֔וֹ.

[5] Rather than with a Patah (ַ), indicating that it is in the absolute, not construct, state.

1 thought on “Joshua 16:1: The Lot of Joseph, Part 1

  1. John Calvin: ‘The sacred writer first states what the lot was which fell to the two children of Joseph, and then describes the lot of Ephraim. It is strange, however, that when the half of the tribe of Manasseh had already been settled beyond the Jordan, more words are employed in describing the remaining half than in describing the whole of the inheritance of the tribe of Ephraim, though the latter was the more populous, and justly claimed for itself a larger territory. But the longer detail given concerning the posterity of Manasseh is owing to particular circumstances. First, the writer repeats how a settlement had been given them without lot in the country of Basan. Secondly, he mentions the ratification by Joshua of the command which Moses had given by divine authority in regard to the daughters of Selophead. Seeing, then, there was no doubt in regard to the boundaries of Ephraim, and there was no danger of dispute, their allocation is only briefly glanced at.

    But here a new question arises. When the right of primogeniture had passed from Manasseh to Ephraim, how did the posterity of that tribe which had precedence in rank obtain their cities among the children of Manasseh? For theirs seems in this way to have been the inferior condition. My explanation is this, When the portion of Manasseh was too extensive in proportion to the amount of population, a calculation was made, and certain cities were deducted to complete the just share of the tribe of Ephraim; not that they were mixed up with the children of Manasseh, to hold their dwellings among them by a precarious tenure, but their boundaries were merely extended in the direction of the Manassites whom a narrower possession might suffice.’

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