Read Joshua 17
1 This was the allotment for the tribe of Manasseh as Joseph’s firstborn, that is, for Makir, Manasseh’s firstborn. Makir was the ancestor of the Gileadites, who had received Gilead and Bashan because the Makirites were great soldiers. 2 So this allotment was for the rest of the people of Manasseh—the clans of Abiezer, Helek, Asriel, Shechem, Hepher and Shemida. These are the other male descendants of Manasseh son of Joseph by their clans.
3 Now Zelophehad son of Hepher, the son of Gilead, the son of Makir, the son of Manasseh, had no sons but only daughters, whose names were Mahlah, Noah, Hoglah, Milkah and Tirzah. 4 They went to Eleazar the priest, Joshua son of Nun, and the leaders and said, “The Lord commanded Moses to give us an inheritance among our relatives.” So Joshua gave them an inheritance along with the brothers of their father, according to the Lord’s command. 5 Manasseh’s share consisted of ten tracts of land besides Gilead and Bashan east of the Jordan,6 because the daughters of the tribe of Manasseh received an inheritance among the sons. The land of Gilead belonged to the rest of the descendants of Manasseh.
7 The territory of Manasseh extended from Asher to Mikmethath east of Shechem. The boundary ran southward from there to include the people living at En Tappuah. 8 (Manasseh had the land of Tappuah, but Tappuah itself, on the boundary of Manasseh, belonged to the Ephraimites.) 9 Then the boundary continued south to the Kanah Ravine. There were towns belonging to Ephraim lying among the towns of Manasseh, but the boundary of Manasseh was the northern side of the ravine and ended at the Mediterranean Sea. 10 On the south the land belonged to Ephraim, on the north to Manasseh. The territory of Manasseh reached the Mediterranean Sea and bordered Asher on the north and Issachar on the east.
11 Within Issachar and Asher, Manasseh also had Beth Shan, Ibleam and the people of Dor, Endor, Taanach and Megiddo, together with their surrounding settlements (the third in the list is Naphoth).
12 Yet the Manassites were not able to occupy these towns, for the Canaanites were determined to live in that region. 13 However, when the Israelites grew stronger, they subjected the Canaanites to forced labor but did not drive them out completely.
14 The people of Joseph said to Joshua, “Why have you given us only one allotment and one portion for an inheritance? We are a numerous people, and the Lord has blessed us abundantly.”
15 “If you are so numerous,” Joshua answered, “and if the hill country of Ephraim is too small for you, go up into the forest and clear land for yourselves there in the land of the Perizzites and Rephaites.”
16 The people of Joseph replied, “The hill country is not enough for us, and all the Canaanites who live in the plain have chariots fitted with iron, both those in Beth Shan and its settlements and those in the Valley of Jezreel.”
17 But Joshua said to the tribes of Joseph—to Ephraim and Manasseh—“You are numerous and very powerful. You will have not only one allotment 18 but the forested hill country as well. Clear it, and its farthest limits will be yours; though the Canaanites have chariots fitted with iron and though they are strong, you can drive them out.”
In the last few verses of this chapter, Joshua is hearing the complaints of the children of Joseph about the lack of land given to their people. The tribes of Manasseh and Ephraim were large tribes and were occupying land where Canaanites still lived. As we read yesterday, God had promised this land to them, but instead of driving out the Canaanites as God commanded, they allowed them to stay and were satisfied to put them to forced labor instead. So when they bring their complaints to Joshua, he replies by telling them to do the hard work and take their land as God had asked and equipped them to do.
Putting ourselves in the shoes of Manasseh and Ephraim, we can see they believe that God is keeping something from them, but in reality He had already given it to them, and was simply asking them to go and get it. They wanted a shortcut. God was asking for faithfulness. How often are we prone to look for shortcuts in our lives and miss out on the opportunities to be faithful? As believers we are not guaranteed the easy way out or a passive guarantee of blessings. We are called instead to follow the example of Jesus who was obedient to the point of death on a cross.
God will ask us to do the hard thing. God will ask us to be faithful and obedient. And in the midst of it all, God will be right there with us. The beauty of our God is that He will place a high call on your life and then be alongside you the whole time to help you accomplish it. Manasseh and Ephraim felt they had an impossible task in front of them, but the mere fact that God commanded them to take this land means that He would be with them and that it was not only possible, but already finished.
- Where are you prone to take shortcuts in your faith?
- What lies are you believing that keep you from being obedient?
- How can you combat doubt and trust in the Lord’s power?
Did You Know?
This land belonging to Manasseh and Ephraim spans the Jordan River where Jesus would later be baptized.