Joshua 16
Pulpit Commentary
And the lot of the children of Joseph fell from Jordan by Jericho, unto the water of Jericho on the east, to the wilderness that goeth up from Jericho throughout mount Bethel,
Verse 1. - Fell. Literally came forth, i.e., out of the urn. The water of Jericho. "This is the present fountain of es Sultan, half an hour to the west of Ribs, the only large fountain in the neighbourhood of Jericho, whose waters spread over the plain and form a small brook" (or small stream, according to Von Schubert)," which flows in the rainy season through the Wady Kelt into the Jordan" (Keil and Delitzsch). This spring, which rises amid the nebek trees and the wheat fields, "springs from the earth at the eastern base of a little knoll; the water is sweet, clear, and agreeable, neither cold nor warm" (Ritter). It flows, he adds, into a basin nine feet broad, in which many fish may be seen playing. This border coincides with the northern border of Benjamin (see Joshua 18:11-20). Ritter mentions another spring, nearer to the Kuruntul or Quarantania range, and adds that, "under the wise management of an efficient government, and with the security of the district from the depredations of predatory savages, the oasis of Jericho might unquestionably resume the paradisaical aspect it once bore." To the wilderness. Or, by or along the wilderness. The Hebrew requires some preposition to be supplied. This wilderness is the same as that spoken of as the wilderness of Bethaven in Joshua 18:12. Throughout Mount Bethel. The Vulgate has, "to Mount Bethel." The LXX. renders, "unto the hill country unto Bethel." The Hebrew may be rendered, "along the hill country unto Bethel" (see Joshua 18:12). The Syriac renders, "up to the mountain which goeth unto Bethel;" but we must understand this of a range of mountains, and then we can identify the border with the double rocky ridge which stretches from the Mons quarantania, of which we have already heard (ch. 2.), and from the pool of Ain es Sultan, just mentioned, as far as Bethel.
And goeth out from Bethel to Luz, and passeth along unto the borders of Archi to Ataroth,
Verse 2. - From Bethel to Luz. Like Jerusalem and AElia Capitolina, or old and new Carthage, the new city did not coincide precisely in its site with the old one (see Joshua 18:13; also Genesis 28:19; Genesis 35:6; Judges 1:23). Bethel was probably built, as far as could be ascertained, on the spot near the Canaanitish city where the wanderer Jacob spent the night in which the famous vision appeared to him (see Genesis 28:11). Knobel, however, renders literally, Bethel-Luzah, as though the older and later names had been here conjoined. The borders of Archi. Rather, the borders of the Archite (cf. 2 Samuel 15:32; 2 Samuel 16:16; 1 Chronicles 27:33). This is the only clue we have to the residence or tribe of Hushai.
And goeth down westward to the coast of Japhleti, unto the coast of Bethhoron the nether, and to Gezer: and the goings out thereof are at the sea.
Verse 3. - Japhleth. Rather, the Japhlethite; but it is unknown what this family was. Beth-horon the nether (see Joshua 10:10). In ver. 5 we have Upper Beth-horon, but the places were close together. For Gezer; see Joshua 10:33.
So the children of Joseph, Manasseh and Ephraim, took their inheritance.
And the border of the children of Ephraim according to their families was thus: even the border of their inheritance on the east side was Atarothaddar, unto Bethhoron the upper;
Verse 5. - The border of the children of Ephraim. The Hebrew word is translated indifferently by coast and border in our translation. The border of Joseph is very slightly traced out by the historian. It is difficult to give a reason for this fact, when we remember that Joseph, consisting as it did of the preponderating tribe of Ephraim, together with half the tribe of Manasseh, constituted by far the most important portion of Jewish territory. See, however, Introduction for the bearing of this fact on the authorship of the book. It is by no means easy to define the boundaries of the tribes; but, with the utmost deference to the authority of one so long engaged in the actual survey of the Holy Land as Mr. Conder, I feel unable to accept the maps he has given us in his 'Handbook' as an accurate account of them. Sometimes, perhaps, an eager attempt at the identification of certain places may lead astray those who are most familiar with their subject. But there are certain plain statements of the Book of Joshua which cannot be lightly set aside. Thus the extremity (תֹצְאֹת) of the border of Ephraim is distinctly stated in ver. 8 to be the sea. To translate "westward" would rob the expression תֹצאֹת of all meaning, even if ימה had not the article. Thus Dan can only have approached towards Joppa, but cannot have reached it. And it will be observed in Joshua 19:46, in accordance with this view, that the outgoings of the Danite border are not said to have been the sea. Next, it would seem that the Ataroth of ver. 2 (not of ver. 7) and Ataroth-addar are either the same place or close together, and that the present verse gives a small portion of the southeastern boundary as far as Beth-horon. Why the boundary is not traced out further ("the author only gives the western part of the southern border, and leaves out the eastern," Knobel) we cannot tell, but the natural translation of ver. 6 is, "and the western border ran to Michmethah on the north" (so Knobel). There was so small a portion of Ephraim on the sea that the line of the Wady Kanah in a northeasterly direction to Michmethah, near Shechem, might be called a western, as it certainly was a northwestern, border. Then the border deflected (נָסַב) and ran in a southwesterly direction to Jericho. Manasseh seems to have been bounded by Asher on the north and Issachar on the east, from the borders of Asher to Michmethah, and its western boundary the sea from the Wady Kanah to the neighbourhood of Dor. It seems impossible, with the distinct statement that Dor was in Asher (Joshua 17:11) - it could hardly have been in Issachar - and that Carmel was part of its western border (Joshua 19:26), to thrust a wedge of Zehulun between Manasseh and Asher, as Mr. Conder has done. The invention of an Asherham-Michmethah must not be allowed to set aside the plain statement (Joshua 17:10) that Manasseh impinged (פגע) upon Asher in a northerly direction - that is, was bounded on the north by that tribe. Then, as Asher was the northern, so it would seem from the passage just cited that Issachar was, as has been suggested, the eastern boundary, and that Issachar was bounded by the Jordan eastward, Manasseh westward, and by Ephraim to the southwest, and some distance further south than is usually supposed. Yet Joshua 17:11 must not he forgotten in fixing the boundary of Issachar (see note on Joshua 19:17-23). Its northern border, comprehending Jezreel, and bounded by Tabor, was thrust in between Zebulun and Naphtali. Tabor was evidently the border of these three tribes. It is with much diffidence that I venture to offer these suggestions, but they appear to have the sanction of the plain statements of the sacred writer. It would seem as though the comparative smallness of the territory assigned to Joseph led to the cession of some of the towns northward of the Wady Kanah by Manasseh to Ephraim, Manasseh receiving compensation by receiving Beth-shean, Ibleam, Dor, Endor, Taanach, and Megiddo from Issachar and Asher. The possession of Beth-shean by Manasseh may be due to the fact that the boundary of Manasseh ran along the chain of mountains bordering the great plain of Esdraelon, until it almost reached the Jordan. Additional reasons for entertaining these opinions will be given in the following notes. On the east side was Ataroth-addar. It is hardly possible to avoid the conclusion that a passage has been omitted here by the transcriber. If so, it must have been at a very early period, since the LXX. shows no sign of it, save that some copies add "and Gezer." But this is probably added from ver. 3, and is in no sense an eastern border.
And the border went out toward the sea to Michmethah on the north side; and the border went about eastward unto Taanathshiloh, and passed by it on the east to Janohah;
Verse 6. - And the border went out towards the sea. Or, "and the western border." On the north side. Or, "northward." Apparently a line is drawn from the sea, which (ver. 3) is given as the termination of the southern boundary to Michmethah, near Shechem (Joshua 17:7). Knobel thinks that Michmethah (the signification of which is perhaps hiding place) was upon the watershed, and thus served as a dividing point. Went about. Rather, deflected. The border ran m a northeasterly direction to Michmethah. It then bent back and ran in a southeasterly direction to Jericho.
And it went down from Janohah to Ataroth, and to Naarath, and came to Jericho, and went out at Jordan.
Verse 7. - Ataroth. Another Ataroth, on the northern border of Ephraim. The name, which signifies crowns is a common one (see Numbers 32:3, 34, 35; 1 Chronicles 2:54). Came to Jericho. Or perhaps skirted Jericho. The word used (see note on ver. 5) is akin to the Latin pango and our impinge.
The border went out from Tappuah westward unto the river Kanah; and the goings out thereof were at the sea. This is the inheritance of the tribe of the children of Ephraim by their families.
Verse 8. - The border went out from Tappuah westward. This would seem to be a more minute description of the border line drawn from the sea to Michmethah above. Tappuah seems to have been near Mich-methah, and on the border (Joshua 17:8) of Manasseh. According to Knobel, Tappuah signifies plain, which is a little inconsistent with his idea that Michmethah, close by, was the watershed. Tappuah elsewhere signifies apple. Unto the river Trench. The winter-bound torrent Kanah, so named from its reeds and canes, formed the border between Ephraim and Manasseh. And the goings out (literally, extremities) thereof were at the sea This is the only possible interpretation of the passage, in spite of the obscurity caused by the same word being used for "sea" and "west."
And the separate cities for the children of Ephraim were among the inheritance of the children of Manasseh, all the cities with their villages.
Verse 9. - And the separate cities. Literally, and the cities divided off. The word "were," in our version, is misplaced. It should be read thus: "And there were cities divided off and assigned to the tribe of Ephraim in the midst of the inheritance of the sons of Manasseh" (see note on ver. 5). This fact, together with the compensation given to Manasseh, may serve to explain the cohesion of the ten tribes in opposition to Judah. The boundaries of the latter tribe were more strictly defined, her attitude more exclusive. We may almost discern this in the prominence given to Judah in the present book. Ephraim, already enraged at the passing away of the pre-eminence from itself, which had not merely been predicted, but, as Judges 8:1-3 and Judges 12:1 show, had been actually enjoyed, was closely allied to Manasseh, and Manasseh to Issachar and Zebulun, by the arrangement we are considering. It would naturally be able, by its position and these circumstances, to combine together the rest of the tribe against the somewhat overbearing attitude of the tribe of Judah (see 2 Samuel 19:43).
And they drave not out the Canaanites that dwelt in Gezer: but the Canaanites dwell among the Ephraimites unto this day, and serve under tribute.
Verse 10. And they drave not out. The Ephraimites soon grew slack in the fulfilment of the Divine command. There is a distinction, apparently, between this passage and ch. 15:63. There the tribe of Judah was unable to drive out the Jebusites from their stronghold, and no mention is made of tribute. Here the Ephraimites seem deliberately to have preferred the easier task of reducing the Canaanites to tribute to the sterner and more difficult task of destroying them utterly.

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