1 There was also a lot [goral] for the tribe of [Menasheh]; for he was the firstborn of Joseph [the bechor of Yosef]; to wit, for Machir the [ bechor of Menasheh], the father of Gilead [av of Gil`ad]: because he was a man of war [ ish milchamah], therefore he had Gilead [got Gil`ad] and Bashan.
The portion allotted to Manasseh was divided among ten clans. The first to be named is that of Machir. "To Machir, Manasseh's eldest son and father of Gilead, there fell, as was right for a fighting man, the country of Gilead and Bashan. . ." (J.B.).
In view of the excellent quality of this country, this allotment proved to be an outstanding reward. Machir - who is mentioned in Gen. 50:23 - had undoubtedly been a man of excellent attributes. So much so, that his name continued to identify the descendants of his clan...
It comes as no surprise to learn that the descendants of this valiant man of God were given the magnificent country of Gilead and Bashan. Gilead was a hilly and mountainous region, east of Jordan. It extended from the northern end of the Dead Sea to the Sea of Galilee, an area about sixty miles long and twenty miles wide. Bashan was to the north. It stretched from Gilead to Hermon. Both areas were lush and fertile, with beautiful scenery and thickly afforested hills and valleys (cp. Gen. 37:25; Num. 32:1; Deut. 32:14; Ps. 22:12; Ezek. 39:18). *
The inheritance of The Five Wise Sisters
3 But Zelophehad, the son of Hepher, the son of Gilead, the son of Machir, the son of Manasseh, had no sons [But Tzelophechad ben Chepher ben Gil'ad ben Machir ben Menasheh had no banim], but daughters [banot]: and these are the names of his daughters [shmot of his banot], Mahlah [Machlah], and Noah, Hoglah [Choglah], Milcah, and Tirzah [Tirtzah].
4 And they came near before Eleazar the priest [HaKohen], and before [Yehoshua ben Nun], and before the princes [nasi'im], saying, Yahweh commanded [Moshe] to give us an inheritance among our brethren [ nachalah among acheinu]. Therefore according to the commandment of Yahweh he gave them an inheritance among the brethren of their father [nachalah among the achim of their av].
5 And there fell ten portions to Manasseh [ten tracts of land to Menasheh], beside the land of Gilead [in addition to Eretz Gil'ad] and Bashan, which were on the other side Jordan [ the Yarden];
6 Because the daughters of Manasseh [banot of Menasheh] had an inheritance among his sons [nachalah among his banim]: and the rest of Manasseh's sons had the land of Gilead [Bnei Menasheh had Eretz Gil'ad].
Zelophehad had died, leaving five daughters but no male heir (Num. 26:33). Whilst the Israelites were still camped in the plains of Moab, the five daughters of Zelophehad had made an appearance before Moses and Eleazar and the princes of the congregation. They maintained that the name of their father would be "done away from among his family",
as he left no male heir to receive Zelophehad's inheritance. They proposed that they should receive the family inheritance after Israel had taken possession of the land.
Not knowing how to answer them, Moses took the five sisters' petition to Yahweh. Yahweh decreed that the five daughters of Zelophehad had spoken rightly. He instructed Moses that these wishes should be carried out. Moreover, as a direct result of this incident, Yahweh commanded that an addition be made to the Law to cover any similar circumstances which may have arisen in the future (Num. 27:1-11).
A further addition to the Law resulted from this event. The ''chief fathers" of the tribe feared the consequences of inheritances being passed down to daughters. They saw the possibility of inheritances being transferred from tribe to tribe, due to the marriage of such daughters to the men of other tribes. This could have resulted in a serious weakening of the strength and stability of some tribes. There was considerable wisdom in their logic. As a result, an addition was made to the Law which stipulated that in the event of inheritances passing to daughters, they were restricted to marriage only within their own tribe (Num. 36).
Thus the daughters of Zelophehad made quite a mark upon Israel's history, and their circumstances resulted in the addition of prudent, practical and wise additions to the Law.
These five young women exhibited much of the strength of character and fortitude which was manifested by faithful Caleb. They wanted an inheritance in the kingdom, and were prepared to respectfully argue their case. They showed courage and earnestness; and they willingly conformed to the conditions which were required (Num.36:10-12).
Most men in those times would have hung their heads in shame at having produced daughters, but no sons. In fact, Zelophehad had been blessed with five daughters. "Five" is the Biblical number which symbolises grace and restoration. In teaching the parable of the "five wise virgins" did the Lord have in mind the five daughters of Zelophehad?
The meanings of their names reveal a great deal. It becomes evident, in fact, that these five women typify the Bride of Christ. Mahlah means "diseased" or "sick". Noah means "rest" or "comfort". Hoglah means "a partridge". (The Hebrew for partridge is goreh, 'a caller' - from its cry). Milcah signifies "a queen". Tirzah means "she is willing, delightful"...
...Thus it was that, at the appropriate time, when Manasseh's portion was to be divided amongst the various clans, the five daughters of Zelophehad "came near" before Eleazar and Joshua, and the princes, and besought them for the inheritance which had been promised.
Eleazar and Joshua were to pass judgment upon the matter. Once again, the reader should note the meticulous detail of the record: As the allocation of territory was primarily a spiritual exercise, Eleazar is always mentioned first.
In these matters Eleazar's office took precedence over that of Joshua's (cp. 14:1). The Law itself had been expressly definitive in this regard: "These are the names of the men which shall divide the land unto you: Eleazar the priest, and Joshua the son of Nun. . ." (Num. 34:17).
With an attitude of confidence and faith, the five sisters came forward to press their claim. They believed that Yahweh would honour the commitment He had made, and that these two faithful men, Eleazar and Joshua, would endorse the declared will of Yahweh. They
typify the spirit of those who will continue to reach forward - towards Yahweh and the Kingdom. "Let us therefore come boldly (lit., 'with confidence' - Diag.) unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need. . ." (Heb. 4:16).
The spiritual goals which ultimately may be attained through the Truth are open equally to both men and women. This wonderful incident beautifully illustrates this fact. Apart from the reality that there will be gradings of rewards bestowed at the Judgment Seat (Lk.19:12-27), during the Kingdom Age no immortalised saint will be bound by such limitations as are experienced in these present times.
The full impact of Paul's words will become evident in that day: There is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. . ." (Gal. 3:28). *
*Bro John Ullman - Joshua His Life and Times
12 Yet the children of Manasseh could not drive out the inhabitants of those cities; but the Canaanites would dwell in that land.
This is the same wording as occurs in 15:63 and elsewhere. These words are expressive of the attitude of the men of Manasseh over a period of time. The Law required that the men of Israel should be consistently devoted to gradually taking control of the entire land, at the same time ridding the country of the Canaanites - Ex. 23: 29-33). The Israelites were expressly warned against making any covenants whatsoever with the Canaanites, who were enemies of Yahweh and of Israel, and should be treated as such.
Tragically, these and other Israelites had lost their will to continue the warfare of faith, and to render faithful obedience to the demands which their God had made upon them. One reason for this failure on the part of Manasseh is clearly
stressed in the next phrase:
"but the Canaanites were determined to remain in this land" (Roth.),
indicating that the Canaanites were more determined to stay in the land than the Israelites were to remove them!
Loss of faith or dedication on the part of God's people will soon permit the flesh to gain the ascendancy. The words ' Ό , ye of little faith!" may be given as a warning; or, they may become a final pronouncement of rejection at the Judgment Seat of Christ.
Having shown that the Canaanites possessed greater resolution and courage than the men of Manasseh, Joshua then recounts how the Israelites put the Canaanites to tribute
"when the children of Israel were waxen strong. . .".
This presents an ironical paradox. The men of Israel knew how to become "waxen strong" in the materialistic things of life, but failed abysmally to understand that real strength is
only to be found in a rich and robust faith in Yahweh and His word. Such an attitude as manifested by these Israelites reveals not only lack of faith, it indicates a hopeless inability to get the priorities of life in the correct order. ...Those who would seek eternal salvation must
"stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel; and in nothing terrified by your adversaries. . ." (Phil. 1:27-28).
Had the men of Manasseh been like Caleb, rich in faith and motivated by a robust spirit they would have stormed the Canaanite towns and cities, sweeping all before them, just as Caleb had done. That they failed to do so resulted in eventual disaster for the entire nation.
So the men of Manasseh were content to "put the Canaanites to tribute''. The word rendered "tribute" occurs only twice in the Book of Joshua: here and in 16:10. The word literally means "a burden"; hence: "they put the Canaanites to forced labour. . ." (J.B.).
Sometimes the "tribute" was levied in gold, silver, or other commodities. On other occasions, doubtless depending upon the circumstances,the levy may have been exacted in the form of forced labour. Thus the men of Manasseh, basking in their growing strength and
taking pleasure in their growing materialistic advantages, decided that they would relax and luxuriate in their new-found benefits. They would make the Canaanites work, whilst the men of Manasseh would enjoy their leisure and the comforts of life.
In other words, they had opted out of the warfare of faith. This was the very opposite attitude to that which Paul endeavoured to inculcate in the hearts of his brethren:
"Take your share of hardships with me, as a true soldier of Christ Jesus. A soldier on active service, in his desire to please his superior officer, always avoids entangling himself in the affairs of ordinary life. . ." (2 Tim. 2:3-4,T.C.N.T.).
And what of the fine example of their previous Leader, Moses, who had led them to the very border of their inheritance: he had chosen "rather to suffer affliction with the people of God" than to
"enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season. . ." (Heb. 11:25).
Such examples of faithfulness to the things of Yahweh had become lost on many of the men of Israel. Circumstances had changed. Things were different. And their way of life and mode of thinking had changed accordingly. Disastrously so.
Bro John Ullman - Joshua, his life and times
18 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, though they have iron chariots, and though they be strong.
The First Discordant Note—
Joseph's Tribes Dissatisfied (Vv.14-18)
From the commencement of Joshua's ministry no disagreeable atmosphere had been manifested between Joshua and the various tribes. Now, for the first time, that sense of unity and common coalescence
became blemished. A deputation from the two tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh presented themselves before Joshua to express their discontent.
"Why have you given me for inheritance only one share, only one portion, when my people are many because Yahweh has so blessed me?" (J.B.).
No doubt Joshua was deeply shocked at this approach. Such haughty dissatisfaction stemmed from the united numerical strength of these two tribes, but their petulant display of selfishness could not be excused. They were, in fact, the only two tribes to complain in this way.
Their objection could not be sustained. They had been allotted a very large area on the west of Jordan, and Manasseh had also been granted substantial territory on the east. Their boast of numerical strength was far removed from the spirit of humility which a knowledge of the Truth should instil in men. They claimed to be a "numerous people" (Roth.) — an assertion that was not without foundation.
In the census taken at Sinai (Num. 1) the children of Joseph outnumbered all other tribes, With the sole exception of Judah. But by the time the later census was taken in the plains of Moab (Num. 26),Joseph's descendants were greater in number than any other tribe. Manasseh was numerically stronger than Ephraim.
Although their numbers were certainly great, these two tribes showed considerable arrogance in pressing Joshua for further territory. Without doubt they had been generously provided for, and therefore
should have humbly accepted the goodness of Yahweh and the wise leadership of Joshua. In displaying such an overbearing attitude they were also showing a degree of cunning. Joshua himself was of the tribe of Ephraim (Num.13:8), and they may have felt that Joshua would show bias towards the interests of his own tribe. Forlorn hope.
By now they should have become aware that Joshua was totally dedicated to serving Yahweh and the best interests of all Israel. He was a selfless man; and they would have done well to have followed the fine example he set in this regard.
Failing to win his sympathy, perhaps they then felt they could "lean" on him a little. As a man of their own tribe, surely he could be made to see that he had an obligation to give preferential treatment to his tribe? No, he couldn't see that either. Their final boast:
"Yahweh hath blessed me. . ."
was a rather rash assumption. Their pious words made no impression upon Joshua, because he was fully aware that they were not motivated by the spirit of the Truth. In their selfishness they ignored the terms of Yahweh's covenant with the younger generation (Deut. 29) which indicated that Yahweh's blessing upon the tribes was contingent upon their obedience.
These two tribes had made numerous foolish mistakes in their approach to Joshua. One of the greatest of their blunders was their imperious assumption that, because the father of their tribes (Joseph) had received the birthright, these two tribes should be exalted above their brethren.
...Joshua's caustic reply shows that he had no intention of becoming intimidated.
"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, if mount Ephraim be too narrow for thee. . .".
Joshua spoke of an area not far from mount Ephraim (cp. Judg.17:15-18). It has been termed "the woodland region" (J.B.), and formed part of the central mountain range in Samaria. In effect, Joshua had given these tribes a stern exhortation: "If you say you are a great or numerous people, then let us see you all get to work in the Truth! Instead of complaining, it is time you showed some faith and works!"
Needless to say, this was the best advice he could have given them. Fault-finders and complainers, those who show bitter resentment, those who are constantly expressing grievances (real or imagined) add nothing to the strengthening and stabilising of an Ecclesia. On the contrary, they are a major liability within the Ecclesial environment.
An Ecclesia is weakened and debilitated by brethren and sisters who habitually grumble and voice their displeasure at the way in which the affairs of the Ecclesia are conducted. Joshua was well aware of these dangers. He wanted no voice of dissension raised which would divide the nation at this crucial time.
Bro John Ullman