Joshua 16:9: The Lot of Ephraim, Part 2

Verse 9:[1] And (Josh. 17:9) the separate cities for the children of Ephraim were among the inheritance of the children of Manasseh, all the cities with their villages.

[And cities were separated to the children of Ephraim in the midst of the possession of the children of Manasseh] Some thus take it: The line that was dividing these two Tribes sometimes sometimes invaded the borders of Manasseh, sometimes withdrew: and hence it happened that there were certain towns of Ephraim that with the line drawn straight were in the tribe of Manasseh (Lyra, Salazar[2] in Menochius). Others thus: To the Ephraimites were given certain cities (with their villages [Estius, Osiander]), situated within the borders of the Manassites (Masius, thus Lapide, Bonfrerius). For to them less populous cities had fallen by lot (Lapide, Bonfrerius). Because the lots were fixed as equal, but Ephraim was much greater than Manasseh, it was fitting that some part of the lot of Manasseh be separated for Ephraim, so that that inequality might be eliminated (Estius, Menochius, similarly Masius).

[And cities were separated, וְהֶעָרִ֗ים הַמִּבְדָּלוֹת֙[3]] They translate it, separating, or distinguishing (certain interpreters in Malvenda), bordering (Junius and Tremellius), separated (Munster, Tigurinus, Vatablus, similarly Pagnine). And the cities were designated separately to the children of Ephraim (certain interpreters in Malvenda). But this will be said more plainly in the next chapter (Malvenda). The sense: In addition to the described inheritance this Tribe also has other cities within the limits of the Tribe of Manasseh: not that the Tribes were mixed together, but that sometimes in the limits there were recesses, entering into the other tribe outside of a straight line. In הַמִּבְדָּלוֹת Hireq (ִ) is written in the place of Sureq (וּ)[4] (Munster).

The separate cities, that is, besides those cities which were within Ephraim’s bounds, he had some other cities, to which all their territories were annexed out of Manasseh’s portion, because his tribe was all here, and was larger than Manasseh’s.

[1] Hebrew: וְהֶעָרִ֗ים הַמִּבְדָּלוֹת֙ לִבְנֵ֣י אֶפְרַ֔יִם בְּת֖וֹךְ נַחֲלַ֣ת בְּנֵֽי־מְנַשֶּׁ֑ה כָּֽל־הֶעָרִ֖ים וְחַצְרֵיהֶֽן׃

[2] Ferdinand Chirinos de Salazar (1576-1646) was a Jesuit exegete. He wrote commentaries on Proverbs and the Song of Solomon.

[3] מִבְדָּלָה signifies a separate place.

[4] A Sureq (וּ) in the place of a Hireq (ִ) would change the noun הַמִּבְדָּלוֹת, separate places, into a Hophal participle, הַמֻּבְדָּלוֹת/separated.

1 thought on “Joshua 16:9: The Lot of Ephraim, Part 2

  1. Matthew Henry: ‘Some separate cities are spoken of, that lay not within these borders, at least not if the line was drawn direct, but lay within the lot of Manasseh (Joshua 16:9), which might better be read, and there were separate cities for the children of Ephraim among the inheritance of the children of Manasseh, because it proved that Manasseh could spare them, and Ephraim had need of them, and it might be hoped that no inconvenience would arise from this mixture of these two tribes together, who were both the sons of Joseph, and should love as brethren. And by this it appears that though, when the tribes were numbered in the plains of Moab, Manasseh had got the start of Ephraim in number, for Manasseh was then 52,000, and Ephraim but 32,000 (Numbers 26:34, 37), yet by the time they were well settled in Canaan the hands were crossed again, and the blessing of Moses was verified, Deuteronomy 33:17, They are the ten thousands of Ephraim and they are the thousands of Manasseh. Families and kingdoms are diminished and increased, increased and diminished again, as God pleases.’

    A timely lesson for our proud nation…

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