Read Joshua 16
Allotment for Ephraim and Manasseh
1 The allotment for Joseph began at the Jordan, east of the springs of Jericho, and went up from there through the desert into the hill country of Bethel. 2 It went on from Bethel (that is, Luz), crossed over to the territory of the Arkites in Ataroth, 3 descended westward to the territory of the Japhletites as far as the region of Lower Beth Horon and on to Gezer, ending at the Mediterranean Sea.
4 So Manasseh and Ephraim, the descendants of Joseph, received their inheritance.
5 This was the territory of Ephraim, according to its clans:
The boundary of their inheritance went from Ataroth Addar in the east to Upper Beth Horon 6 and continued to the Mediterranean Sea. From Mikmethath on the north it curved eastward to Taanath Shiloh, passing by it to Janoah on the east. 7 Then it went down from Janoah to Ataroth and Naarah, touched Jericho and came out at the Jordan. 8 From Tappuah the border went west to the Kanah Ravine and ended at the Mediterranean Sea. This was the inheritance of the tribe of the Ephraimites, according to its clans. 9 It also included all the towns and their villages that were set aside for the Ephraimites within the inheritance of the Manassites.
10 They did not dislodge the Canaanites living in Gezer; to this day the Canaanites live among the people of Ephraim but are required to do forced labor.
This chapter, like the two before it, seems like yet another description of how land was to be divided up. It is that, but it’s also so much more. A key point we can learn from in this chapter is in the final sentence: “They did not dislodge the Canaanites living in Gezer; to this day the Canaanites live among the people of Ephraim but are required to do forced labor.” Ephraim’s descendents didn’t force out the Canaanites that were living in Gezer even though that was the expectation that God laid out for them. They compromised and let them live among them in exchange for manual labor. They settled.
This same mistake happened with some of the other tribes as well. But why? There are two likely reasons that they decided to not do as God commanded. First, it was the easier route. It’s easier to make a compromise than it is to force people out of the land. It’s easier to not start a battle. It’s easier to just turn a blind eye. But that wasn’t what God had instructed them to do. They took the easy way out.
The other likely reason is that it gave them more money. The Israelites got greedy. They could have paid their fellow Israelites to work for them, or they could force the Canaanites to do that same work in exchange for letting them stay in the land. Think about all the shortcuts we take that could all be traced back to the root cause of greed. Sometimes we think we are being financially savvy, but we are actually just lovers of money.
On the surface, allowing the Canaanites to stay in Gezer does not seem like that big of a deal. But it’s these small concessions here and there that led Israel into complete chaos in the book of Judges. Idolatry and immorality became rampant and led to a complete disregard of God’s instructions. This serves as a helpful reminder to us that diligence in obeying God leads to life, but small compromises here and there will ultimately lead to death. Today, let’s be vigilant about the areas of our lives where we feel tempted to compromise.
- What are other examples from Joshua of the Israelites failing to dislodge people from their land?
- Where have you found yourself making small concessions for the sake of comfort or wealth?
- Scripture is full of stories of small compromises leading to grave consequences. When have you seen this play out in your life? What can you proactively do today to prevent yourself from compromising tomorrow?
Did You Know?
Joseph (after only Judah) received the second-largest blessing from Jacob in Genesis 49. This is likely why the author addressed Joseph’s sons, Ephraim and Manessah, together.