JOSHUA 16
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[Yehoshua 16 Orthodox Jewish Bible (OJB)]

The Inheritance of Ephayim and Menasheh

1 And the lot [goral] of the children of Joseph [Bnei Yosef] fell from Jordan by Jericho [ ran from the Yarden by Yericho], unto the water of Jericho on the east [ east of the spring at Yericho], to the wilderness [midbar] that goeth up from Jericho [Yericho] throughout mount Bethel, [ hill country of Beit-El]

No tribe bore the name of Joseph. As Joseph received the birthright, together with the traditional "double-portion", his two sons became heads of tribes (Gen. 48:5). Contrary to Joseph's wishes, Jacob had blessed Ephraim first; thus, the area of inheritance allotted to that tribe has been detailed first. Ephraim's territory included Shiloh, which was to become the

spiritual capital of Israel for approximately four hundred years - a remarkably long period of time, by human standards. *


4 [So the Bnei Yosef, Menasheh and Ephrayim, inherited their nachalah].

The first four verses describe Ephraim's southern border. On the western side, Ephraim's southern border joined that of Judah from the Mediterranean, eastward, for about ten miles approximately to Ekron. Dan and Benjamin were subsequently allotted the remaining

area, between Ephraim and Judah.

...Having recorded the boundaries of Ephraim, Joshua then noted that certain cities within the province of Manasseh were set aside for the Ephraimites (cp. 17:9). This appears a most unusual decision and may well have been arrived at through mutual agreement between the

two tribes. The two tribes descended from Joseph were closely allied at this time, and also appear to have established a link with Issachar and Zebulun.

Geographically and numerically these four tribes entertained a certain fear of the prominence and strength of Judah. In some respects, the seeds of hostility which ultimately separated Judah from the northern tribes in the days of Rehoboam were sown very early in the history of the nation (Judg. 8-12; 2 Sam. 19:43). Of the tribes on the west of Jordan, it is probable that only Judah and Manasseh occupied larger areas than Ephraim. *



Compromise With the World Spells Disaster

10 And they drave not out the Canaanites [Kena'ani] that dwelt in Gezer: but the [Kena'ani] dwell among the [Ephrayim] unto this day [yom hazeh], and serve under tribute [forced labour].

Having been presented with a wonderful blessing which could have ensured the well-being of the tribe for a long time to come, the Ephraimites did not realise the enormity of their blessing, and failed to take advantage of it. They became guilty of a monumental blunder:...

It has already been stated that Caleb - a man of no compromise, so far as the Truth was concerned - "drove thence" the Anakim. He would let nothing stand in his way in taking up the inheritance which Yahweh had graciously given him. The same word rendered "drove"

or "drive" occurs in 15:63, where it is stated that the men of Judah "could not drive them out. . .". Here, then, were three separate incidents.

Firstly, Caleb, totally dedicated to gaining the kingdom, fearlessly faced and defeated all opposition.

Secondly, the men of Judah made an attempt to dislodge the Canaanites, but "could not. . .". Why should they have failed when Caleb succeeded? There can be only one answer: The men of Judah lacked the faith, courage and determination which was necessary to give them the victory.

Thirdly, the Ephraimites had become so slack in fulfilling divine commandments that they simply "drave not out" the Canaanites. They did not even make the effort. They totally ignored Yahweh's instruction:

"Thou shalt smite them, and utterly destroy them; thou shalt make no covenant with them, nor show mercy unto them. . ."

(Deut. 7:2).

The men of Ephraim decided that they had had enough of fighting the enemy. They also decided that life would be much easier if they put the Canaanites to work and profited from their services. Thus the Ephraimites were more interested in the materialistic returns which

could accrue from an advantageous business arrangement than in fulfilling the demands which Yahweh had made upon them. After all, it was easier to make money out of the gentiles than fight them!

But what of the divine commandments? They were disregarded - with inevitably catastrophic results for the people of Israel. This attitude represented nothing more nor less than compromise with the world.

The foundation for the disastrous period of the Judges - and beyond - was now being laid. 'They did not destroy the nations, concerning whom Yahweh commanded them: but were mingled among the heathen, and learned their works. And they served their idols: which were a snare unto them. . ." (Ps. 106:34-36). The Psalmist appears to allude to a direct commandment, given before the children of Israel entered the land:

"And thou shalt consume all the people which Yahweh thy God shall deliver thee; thine eye shall have no pity upon them: neither shalt thou serve their gods; for that will be a snare unto thee. . ." (Deut. 7:16).

Compromise with the world must inevitably lead Yahweh's people to ruin. Under such circumstances, they cannot avoid being influenced by the world. Their loyalties thus become divided; they become double-minded and therefore spiritually unstable (cp. Jas. 1:8). One

thing leads to another. The downward spiral towards spiritual oblivion commences, and ends in catastrophe unless wisdom prevails.

If only the men of Ephraim had been fired by the spirit which motivated the apostle Paul. "Forgetting what lies behind me", he wrote, "and straining to what lies before me, to press on to the goal for the prize of God's high call in Christ Jesus. . ." (Phil. 3:13-14,Moff.).

These words portray a very special type of disposition: to serve God; to be moved by the hope which the gospel holds out to all who would remain faithful; to pursue a way of life which is unreservedly dedicated to the Hope of Israel, knowing that the ultimate prize cannot be measured in terms of fleshly values. This is the type of person who will inherit the wonder and glory of divine nature, and will live and reign with Christ upon the earth.

The men of Ephraim were no longer of this disposition. Together with their fellow-Israelites, for many years they had "fought a good fight" in subduing the land. But instead of relentlessly

pursuing their goal until final victory had been attained, they lost the zeal and fervour which had motivated them at the time they had crossed Jordan.

Sadly, the men of Ephraim typify the disciple who begins his race for the kingdom in a mood of fervent dedication. Initially zestful for the things of the Truth, he ultimately tires of the warfare of faith. Or other things capture his interest. His faith weakens. His zeal dissipates.

He becomes a very casual worshipper of Yahweh. He begins to value the Truth less and less. The line of demarcation in spiritual values becomes indistinct.

The Ephraimites had reached such a state.Their failure to fulfil Yahweh's commandments and to manifest the faith and dedication He required of them should act as a salutory

lesson to all who would serve their Heavenly Father and aspire to be granted an inheritance in the Messianic Kingdom to be established by the Lord Jesus Christ.

"If ye love me, keep my commandments. . . To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne. . .

He that endureth to the end shall be saved. . ." (John 14:15; Rev. 3:21; Matt.10:22). *