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Commentary On Joshua by Jean Calvin

Joshua 17:1-10

1. There was also a lot for the tribe of Manasseh; for he was the firstborn of Joseph; to wit, for Machir the firstborn of Manasseh, the father of Gilead: because he was a man of war, therefore he had Gilead and Bashan.

1. Fuit quoque sors tribui Manasse (ipse enim fuit primogenitus Joseph) ipsi Machir primogenito Manasse patri Gilead (ipse enim fuit vir bellicosus), fuit inquam, ei Gilead et Basan.

2. There was also a lot for the rest of the children of Manasseh by their families; for the children of Abiezer, and for the children of Helek, and for the children of Asriel, and for the children of Shechem, and for the children of Hepher, and for the children of Shemida: these were the male children of Manasseh the son of Joseph by their families.

2. Fuit item filiis Manasse reliquis per familias suas, filiis Abiezer, et filiis Abiezer, et filiis Helec, et filiis Hepher, et filiis Semida. Isti sunt filii Manasse, filii Joseph mares per familias suas.

3. But Zelophehad, the son of Hepher, the son of Gilead, the son of Machir, the son of Manasseh, had no sons, but daughters: and these are the names of his daughters, Mahlah, and Noah, Hoglah, Milcah, and Tirzah.

3. Porro Selphead filio Hephner, filii Gilead, filii Machir, filii Manasse non fuerunt filii sed filiae: quarum ista sunt nomina, Mahala, et Noa, Hogla, Melcha, et Thirza.

4. And they came near before Eleazar the priest, and before Joshua the son of Nun, and before the princes, saying, The LORD commanded Moses to give us an inheritance among our brethren. Therefore according to the commandment of the LORD he gave them an inheritance among the brethren of their father.

4. Hae accesserunt in conspectum Eleazar sacerdotis, et in conspectum Josue filii Nun, atque in conspectum principum, dicendo, Jehova praecepit Mosi ut daret nobis haereditatem in medio fratrum nostrorum. Itaque dedit eis juxta sermonem Jehovae, haereditatem in medio fratrum patris earum.

5. And there fell ten portions to Manasseh, beside the land of Gilead and Bashan, which were on the other side Jordan;

5. Et ceciderunt haereditates Manasse decem, praeter terram Gilead et Basan, quae erant trans Jordanem.

6. Because the daughters of Manasseh had an inheritance among his sons: and the rest of Manasseh's sons had the land of Gilead.

6. Filiae enim Manasse sortitae sunt hereditatem in medio filiorum ejus: terra autem Gilead fuit filiis Manasse reliquis.

7. And the coast of Manasseh was from Asher to Michmethah, that lieth before Shechem; and the border went along on the right hand unto the inhabitants of Entappuah.

7. Fuit autem terminus Manasse ab Aser ad Michmethah, quae est coram Sechem, et pergit terminus ad dextram ad habitatores Enthappua.

8. Now Manasseh had the land of Tappuah: but Tappuah on the border of Manasseh belonged to the children of Ephraim;

8. Ipsius Manasse fuit terra Thappua: ab Thappua quae erat ad terminum Manasse, est filiorum Ephraim.

9. And the coast descended unto the river Kanah, southward of the river: these cities of Ephraim are among the cities of Manasseh: the coast of Manasseh also was on the north side of the river, and the outgoings of it were at the sea:

9. Descenditque terminus ad torrentem arundinis ad meridiem ipsius torrentis: civitates istae tribus Ephraim sunt in medio civitatum Manasse: at terminus Manasse est ab aquilone ipsius torrentis, suntque exitus ejus ad mare.

10. Southward it was Ephraim's, and northward it was Manasseh's, and the sea is his border; and they met together in Asher on the north, and in Issachar on the east.

10. Ad meridiem est ipsius Ephraim, et ad aquilonem ipsius Manasse, estque terminus ejus, et in Aser occurrunt inter se ab aquillone, et in Issachar ab oriente.

The historian returns to the tribe of Manasseh with the view of confirming what we formerly saw with regard to the daughters of Selophead. For though it was a novelty for females to succeed indiscriminately with males, yet as five of them had survived their father, they proved it to be equitable that they should be admitted to a portion, lest while he was innocent he should lie under the reproach of having died childless. God had replied to Moses by his oracle, that in regard to succession they should be counted as one head. They now demand that the decision thus given by the mouth of the Lord shall be carried into effect. As to the name of first-born, still given to Manasseh, it must be understood so as not to be at variance with the prophecy of Jacob; or rather his primogeniture is here in a manner buried, and his dignity restricted to the past. Here, however, it is to be observed, that men are so tenacious and so much devoted to their own interests, that it seldom occurs to them to give others their due. The daughters of Selophead had obtained a portion by a heavenly decree; nor had any one dared to utter a word against it; and yet if they had remained silent no regard would have been paid to them. Therefore, lest the delay should prove injurious to them, they apply to Joshua and Eleazar, and insist that they shall not be deprived of their legitimate succession. No delay is interposed by Joshua to prevent their immediately obtaining what is just, nor is there any murmuring on the part of the people. Hence we infer, that all were disposed to act equitably; but every one is occupied with his own interest, and too apt carelessly to overlook that of others.

5. And there fell ten portions to Manasseh, etc The children of Manasseh are in this passage classed under seven stems. Machir, the first-born, is placed apart; the other six follow. Here the question arises, How was the inheritance divided into ten parts? Some expositors cunningly disguise the difficulty; others, because they are unable to solve it, indulge in the merest trifling. It is certainly very absurd that four portions should be given to five daughters; and it is not a whit more congruous that their share should be doubled because their father was the first-born. It is beyond all controversy, that Gilead, son of Machir, and great-grandfather of the females of whom we are now speaking, chose his settlement in mount Gilead and Bashan. Therefore, seeing he had already obtained an inheritance by privilege without lot, he ought not to have obtained one by lot in the land of Canaan, unless perhaps he settled only a part of his family beyond the Jordan. For Hepher was one of his sons, but not the only one; and likewise the offspring of five other brothers might be distinguished into several heads according to the number of which the allocation by lot might be made. For it is not known in what degree families whose portion fell in the land of Canaan were taken. And all we read here is, that ten lots were east among the sons of Manasseh in addition to the country which they had formerly acquired for themselves beyond the Jordan. It is thus vain to dispute concerning the number, which cannot be ascertained with certainty from the present narrative, because the first thing necessary to be known is the exact number of families to whom the division was common. Nay, it is not impossible that the daughters of Selophead obtained their patrimony there. They are said, indeed, to have dwelt among the brethren of their father; but the place is not given. Be this as it may, I have no doubt that mutual equity was observed, and that after provision was made for others, the land which had been submitted to lot was distributed among ten families whose names are here omitted.

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