Bible Commentary: Joshua 16-17

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Joshua 16-17

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Ephraim North of Jerusalem, Manasseh North of Ephraim

Ephraim was given the next allotment of land, north of Jerusalem in the southern part of what will later be the Kingdom of Israel. Cities in their territory included Bethel in the south, Shiloh in the middle, and Shechem in the north.

Manasseh received the land just north of Ephraim, which together formed the lot for Joseph. It was actually adjacent to the other half of their territory east of the Jordan, which effectively put the river in the midst of their land instead of on the border. Cities included Tirzah (used as a capital city of the northern kingdom, see 1 Kings 15:33 1 Kings 15:33In the third year of Asa king of Judah began Baasha the son of Ahijah to reign over all Israel in Tirzah, twenty and four years.
American King James Version×
), Megiddo (see 2 Kings 23:29 2 Kings 23:29In his days Pharaohnechoh king of Egypt went up against the king of Assyria to the river Euphrates: and king Josiah went against him; and he slew him at Megiddo, when he had seen him.
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; Revelation 16:16 Revelation 16:16And he gathered them together into a place called in the Hebrew tongue Armageddon.
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), Endor (1 Samuel 28:7 1 Samuel 28:7Then said Saul to his servants, Seek me a woman that has a familiar spirit, that I may go to her, and inquire of her. And his servants said to him, Behold, there is a woman that has a familiar spirit at Endor.
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), and Shunem (2 Kings 4:8 2 Kings 4:8And it fell on a day, that Elisha passed to Shunem, where was a great woman; and she constrained him to eat bread. And so it was, that as oft as he passed by, he turned in thither to eat bread.
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).

When the tribe of Joseph complained that they thought they should have more land, Joshua had a simple solution—conquer the northern parts still occupied by the Canaanites. They fell back into their more fearful attitudes, but Joshua reminded them that since they were such a great people in need of more land, they should have no trouble (Joshua 17:14-18 Joshua 17:14-18 [14] And the children of Joseph spoke to Joshua, saying, Why have you given me but one lot and one portion to inherit, seeing I am a great people, for as much as the LORD has blessed me till now? [15] And Joshua answered them, If you be a great people, then get you up to the wood country, and cut down for yourself there in the land of the Perizzites and of the giants, if mount Ephraim be too narrow for you. [16] And the children of Joseph said, The hill is not enough for us: and all the Canaanites that dwell in the land of the valley have chariots of iron, both they who are of Bethshean and her towns, and they who are of the valley of Jezreel. [17] And Joshua spoke to the house of Joseph, even to Ephraim and to Manasseh, saying, You are a great people, and have great power: you shall not have one lot only: [18] But the mountain shall be yours; for it is a wood, and you shall cut it down: and the outgoings of it shall be yours: for you shall drive out the Canaanites, though they have iron chariots, and though they be strong.
American King James Version×
).

It is interesting to note the amount of land occupied by Ephraim and Manasseh in the Promised Land. Manasseh had much more than Ephraim, particularly when we consider the area east of the Jordan. Yet the greater national blessings had been prophesied to fall upon Ephraim (see Genesis 48). How do we reconcile this? Simple. The prophecies regarding Ephraim and Manasseh were not fulfilled in the land of Canaan. They would be fulfilled much later, following Israelite migrations to future settlements in Northwest Europe and beyond (see our free booklet The United States and Britain in Bible Prophecy). In later world history, while Manasseh, as the United States of America, will occupy a much larger country, Ephraim, as the British Empire, will rule more territory than any other people ever has.

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