Notes & Commentary:
Ver. 1. Born. Machir was the only son of Manasses. But the Scripture uses the word first-born for such, as it does for our Saviour, Matthew i. (Menochius) — If Machir was living when Moses assigned the territory to the half tribe of Manasses, he must have been 180 years old. (Calmet) — But he probably received the inheritance only in his posterity. (Haydock) — Galaad did not give his name to the country, as it was called so in the days of Jacob. Perhaps he took his name from the land, as many noblemen do, though he is styled Galaad before the war against Sehon commenced, Numbers xxvi. 29. By giving Ephraim the preference before his elder brother, Jacob did not deprive the latter of his birth-right. (Calmet) — In effect, Manasses was partly (Haydock) provided for before Ephraim received any portion. (Calmet) — This, however, was a privilege, and not a right. He had also two allotments, because his numbers required so much land. (Haydock)
Ver. 2. Children here comprises grandchildren, &c. These who are specified sprang from Galaad or from Jair, as they all dwelt on the east side of the Jordan, 1 Paralipomenon v. 23., and vii. 14. (Calmet)
Ver. 4. Father, adjoining to Ephraim. See Numbers xxvii., and xxxvi.
Ver. 5. Jordan. Some of the families, which had possessions there already, were permitted to have a share on the west side also. Here Manasses had ten portions, schœnus, or cords, which Herodotus (ii. 6,) reckons to contain each 60 stadia; so that he would have 600 stadia, (Calmet) or at least half of that quantity, chap. xv. 58. (Herodotus ii.) (Haydock) — There were six sons and five daughters to be provided for. But the portion of Hepher, the father of Salphaad, being given to his granddaughters, he is not counted. (Masius) — The Jews say the five daughters had only four portions, two for their grandfather, who, they say, was the eldest of the family; one for their father, and another for their uncle, who died without children. (Selden) — But of this no proof is adduced. (Calmet) — The five daughters would only have the one portion, which would have been enjoyed by the father. (Menochius) See 1 Paralipomenon v. 23.
Ver. 7. Aser was contiguous to Machmethath, 15 miles from Sichem, towards Scythopolis. (St. Jerome) (Calmet) — The limits of Manasses are described from the south, where he joins Ephraim, chap. xvi. 6. (Calmet)
Ver. 8. Taphua; which city, though situated in the territory of Manasses, belonged to Ephraim, (Worthington) as the Hebrew intimates.
Ver. 10. East. These two tribes are contiguous to the tribe of Joseph, taken all together, ver. 14. (Menochius) — Aser extended as far as Mount Carmel, which was not far from Dor, a city of Manasses, ver. 11., chap. xix. 26. The tribes of Issachar and of Zabulon seem, indeed, to come between Manasses and Aser; so that we might say, that the tribe of Joseph finding itself too much straitened, was forced to seek for more room in the cities of the other tribes, which we find it really inhabited, ver. 11. We might avoid all difficulties, by translating “they invaded (or made an irruption into) the tribe of Aser,” &c., as the Hebrew will allow. Thus Dan conquered Lais, which lies at so great a distance from his own portion, and the tribes of Juda and Simeon were frequently intermixed. (Calmet) — Aser and Manasses may, however, have been really united on the north-west, or Mediterranean point. (Menochius)
Ver. 11. In Aser. The following towns were upon the frontiers of these two tribes, (Menochius) or they properly belonged to them respectively. But the children of Manasses took possession of them, after conquering by degrees, the former inhabitants, who were suffered to live among them, as the Jebusites were for some time, at Jerusalem, chap. xv. 63. (Haydock) — Bethsan, or Scythopolis, as it was called by the Greeks, after the Scythians had invaded those countries, (Herodotus l. 105,) in the year of the world 3391, almost 100 years from the destruction of the kingdom of Israel. Unless these Scythians may rather be the Cutheans, who were sent to people the kingdom of Samaria, most of whom embraced the Jewish religion, while those of Bethsan adhered to their ancient idolatry, and therefore retained their name. Even in the days of Josephus, most of the inhabitants were heathens: the kings of Juda were not able to subdue them entirely. Bethsan was situated to the south of the sea of Tiberias, 600 stadia from Jerusalem; (2 Machabees xii. 29,) that is, about 37 leagues, (Calmet) or 111 miles. (Haydock) — Dor, nine miles north of Cęsarea. — Endor, “the fountain of Dor,” four miles south of Mount Thabor. (Eusebius) — Here Saul consulted the witch, 1 Kings xxxviii. 7. — Thenac, near Legion, and the torrent of Cisson, where Barac gained a victory, Judges v. — Nopheth, means “a canton,” and thus Manasses may have had three portions of land round the three aforesaid cities, in which sense it is translated, chap. xi. 2. (Calmet; Masius) — But Serarius takes Nopheth to mean a city, (Menochius) agreeably to the Septuagint, “the third part of Naphetha, and its villages.” (Haydock) — The other two parts of the city might be occupied by Zabulon. (Bonfrere) — No mention is made of Nopheth, Judges i. 27. (Haydock)
Ver. 12. Could, because they would not, Judges i. 27. The children of Manasses took these cities; but not putting the inhabitants to death, the latter got possession again, as was the case with respect to many other cities taken (Calmet) and destroyed (Haydock) by Josue. Hebrew, “the Chanaanite consented to dwell,” &c. The Israelites spared their lives on their paying tribute; and this prevarication was the cause of their being afterwards reduced to submit to the yoke of these nations. (Calmet) (Judges ii. 20., Deuteronomy xx. 16.) (Menochius) — The Chanaaite dwelt with Manasses for a time; (Worthington) perhaps they were never wholly expelled. (Haydock)
Ver. 14. Spoke. Septuagint, “contradicted Josue.” In effect, they spoke with a good deal of emotion. — Portion. Hebrew, “cord.” (Calmet) — They addressed themselves to the general, before their territory was divided. (Masius) — Or they insinuate that the portion allotted to them both, would scarcely suffice for one tribe, and there was but little room for them to enlarge their dominions by subduing the Chanaanites, as the rest might do. Manasses was most concerned, as his numbers had increased 20,500 since he left Egypt, while his brother had diminished, Numbers xxvi. 34. (Calmet) — But then he had an extensive country on the other side of the Jordan. (Haydock)
Ver. 16. Thee. Destroy the Pherezite, &c., (Menochius) take their cities, and destroy the inhabitants, like so many trees, or cut down the wood to build houses, and in order to cultivate the land for the production of corn and grass.
Ver. 17. Iron, armed with scythes, who will obstruct our passage to the mountains, as we dare not encounter them in the open field. (Haydock) (4 Kings xx. 23.) — Hebrew, “the hill is not enough for us, (or it will not be found, or be attacked by us) and all the Chanaanites,” &c. (Calmet) — Septuagint, “the mountain of Ephraim will not contain us; all the Chanaanites who dwell in the land of Emek, (or of the valley) in Bethsan, and its villages, and in the vale of Jezrael, have chosen cavalry and iron.” (Haydock) — They are invincible. (Calmet) — The slothful man saith there is a lion without, Proverbs xxii. 13. Josue over-rules the cowardly objection, and argues, from their own boasting, that they were numerous enough to overcome all their opponents. He was himself of the tribe of Ephraim. (Haydock) — Valley, extending about 10,000 paces from Bethsan to Legion. Jezrael was in the middle of it, and is attributed to Issachar, chap. xix. 18. But it was probably on the frontiers of Manasses, who seems to have spoken as if it would belong to the first who had driven out the Chanaanites. The kings of Israel had a palace at Jezrael, and the vineyard of Naboth being contiguous to it, gave occasion to the sin of Jazabel, and to the destruction of Achab’s family, 3 Kings xxi. 1. In this vale, Gedeon routed the Madianites, Judges vi. 33.
Ver. 18. Mountain, probably of Gelboe, as that of Ephraim was not sufficient, ver. 15. Gelboe extended almost as far as Bethsan, and it would afford a fine opportunity of attacking the nations below. Josue persists in his first resolution; and though of the same tribe, he is so little actuated by partiality towards his brethren, that they alone seem to have been dissatisfied with their portion. (Calmet)
Bible Text & Cross-references:
The lot of the half tribe of Manasses.
1 And *this lot fell to the tribe of Manasses, (for he is the first-born of Joseph) to Machir, the first-born of Manasses, the father of Galaad, who was a warlike man, and had for possession Galaad and Basan:
2 *And to the rest of the children of Manasses, according to their families: to the children of Abiezer, and to the children of Helec, and to the children of Esriel, and to the children of Sechem, and to the children of Hepher, and to the children of Semida; these are the male children of Manasses, the son of Joseph, by their kindreds.
3 *But Salphaad, the son of Hepher, the son of Galaad, the son of Machir, the son of Manasses, had no sons, but only daughters: whose names are these, Maala, and Noa, and Hegla, and Melcha, and Thersa.
4 And they came in the presence of Eleazar, the priest, and of Josue, the son of Nun, and of the princes, saying: The Lord commanded by the hand of Moses, that a possession should be given us in the midst of our brethren. And he gave them, according to the commandment of the Lord, a possession amongst the brethren of their father.
5 And there fell ten portions to Manasses, beside the land of Galaad and Basan, beyond the Jordan.
6 For the daughters of Manasses possessed inheritance in the midst of his sons. And the land of Galaad fell to the lot of the rest of the children of Manasses.
7 And the border of Manasses was from Aser, Machmethath, which looketh towards Sichem: and it goeth out on the right hand by the inhabitants of the fountain of Taphua.
8 For the lot of Manasses took in the land of Taphua, which is on the borders of Manasses, and belongs to the children of Ephraim.
9 And the border goeth down to the valley of the reeds, to the south of the torrent of the cities of Ephraim, which are in the midst of the cities of Manasses: the border of Manasses is on the north side of the torrent, and the outgoings of it are at the sea:
10 So that the possession of Ephraim is on the south, and on the north that of Manasses, and the sea is the border of both; and they are joined together in the tribe of Aser, on the north, and in the tribe of Issachar, on the east.
11 And the inheritance of Manasses, in Issachar and in Aser, was Bethsan and its villages, and Jeblaam with its villages, and the inhabitants of Dor, with the towns thereof: the inhabitants also of Endor, with the villages thereof: and in like manner the inhabitants of Thenac, with the villages thereof: and the inhabitants of Mageddo, with their villages: and the third part of the city of Nopheth.
12 Neither could the children of Manasses overthrow these cities, but the Chanaanite began to dwell in his land.
13 But after that the children of Israel were grown strong, they subdued the Chanaanites, and made them their tributaries, and they did not kill them.
14 And the children of Joseph spoke to Josue, and said: Why hast thou given me but one lot and one portion to possess, whereas I am of so great a multitude, and the Lord hath blessed me?
15 And Josue said to them: If thou be a great people, go up into the woodland, and cut down room for thyself, in the land of the Pherezite and the Raphaims: because the possession of Mount Ephraim is too narrow for thee.
16 And the children of Joseph answered him: We cannot go up to the mountains, for the Chanaanites that dwell in the low lands, (wherein are situate Bethsan, with its towns, and Jezrael, in the midst of the valley) have chariots of iron.
17 And Josue said to the house of Joseph, to Ephraim and Manasses: Thou art a great people, and of great strength, thou shalt not have one lot only:
18 But thou shalt pass to the mountain, and shalt cut down the wood, and make thyself room to dwell in: and mayst proceed farther, when thou hast destroyed the Chanaanite, who, as thou sayst, hath iron chariots, and is very strong.
1: Year of the World 2560.
2: Numbers xxvi. 30.
3: Numbers xxvii. 1. and xi. 36