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.

1 thought on “Joshua 17:14: Joseph’s Complain about His Inheritance

  1. Matthew Henry: ‘Here…The children of Joseph quarrel with their lot; if they had had any just cause to quarrel with it, we have reason to think Joshua would have relieved them, by adding to it, or altering it, which it does not appear he did. It is probable, because Joshua was himself of the tribe of Ephraim, they promised themselves that they should have some particular favour shown them, and should not be confined to the decision of the lot so closely as the other tribes; but Joshua makes them know that in the discharge of his office, as a public person, he had no more regard to his own tribe than to any other, but would administer impartially, without favour or affection, wherein he has left an excellent example to all in public trusts. It was a very competent provision that was made for them, as much, for aught that appears, as they were able to manage, and yet they call it in disdain but one lot, as if that which was assigned to them both was scarcely sufficient for one. The word for complainers (Jude 16) is mempsimoiroi, blamers of their lot… That they were very numerous, through the blessing of God upon them (Joshua 17:14): I am a great people, for the Lord has blessed me; and we have reason to hope that he that hath sent mouths will send meat. “I am a great people, and in so small a lot shall not have room to thrive.” Yet observe, when they speak thankfully of their present increase, they do not speak confidently of the continuance of it. “The Lord has blessed me hitherto, however he may see fit to deal with me for the future.” The uncertainty of what may be must not make us unthankful for what has been and is done in kindness to us.’

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