Sunday, August 18, 2013

Bible Commentary - Joshua 16

In this chapter, the author of Joshua lists the borders of Ephraim.

This is a really short chapter with little significance to the larger story of the bible, so my commentary will also be brief.

This chapter begins by listing the territory given to "Joseph", i.e. to both Ephraim and Manasseh (v. 1-3), but then continues to demarcate the territory of Ephraim within this larger region.  As with Judah, I don't know where nearly any of these cities or brooks are, and in large part it doesn't really matter.  Ephraim controls a small block of territory north of Judah and west of the Jordan, apparently also getting some cities from inside the territory of Manasseh.  This city trading (where Manasseh controls the territory but Ephraim gets the cities) is another peculiarity that is never explained and first referenced here.  It parallels the Levitical cities that are scattered across the nation, but I think the reasoning is different.  We already know that Manasseh is a tribe with a lot of livestock, so it is very plausible that they are given the countryside because they have so many more animals grazing, while the cities are given to the people of Ephraim.  Cities are of little use to Manasseh's wandering shepherds, so it has a certain logic that they should be given to Ephraim instead.

Just as with Judah, Ephraim did not drive out all the Canaanites from their territory, and the inhabitants of Jezer lived in their land at least until Joshua was authored.  This is becoming a pattern.

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