Joshua 16

Joshua 16 is a very short chapter that deals with the allotment of land to three tribes – Joseph, Manasseh and Ephraim.  You will recall that half the tribe of Manasseh had received their inheritance before crossing the Jordan, so this chapter really is dealing with 2.5 tribes and the land they were given.  Scripture is very detailed in how Joshua splits up the cities and creates the boundaries for the tribes.

These three have land that all border the sea.  The half tribe of Manasseh is the northern area of the three, with Ephraim next and then Joseph’s tribe.  The sizes of the land masses are not the same.  Boundaries run from city to city or to the water that defines the area – the sea on one side and the Jordan river on the other.  Most all the enemies that needed to be removed lived along the sea or the river because that is what gave life to their crops and livestock.

The one notable thing in this chapter is that the people of Ephraim “did not drive out the Canaanites who lived in Gezer….but have been made to do forced labor”.  These folks were pesky and refused to be driven out.  And much like we saw in the story in the last chapter with Judah and their land, for some reason the Ephraimites just did not finish the job.  These folks living in Gezer somehow just stayed and would not leave.  So they lived in the midst of the people of Ephraim as slaves.  Commentaries tell us that was likely the case until the time of Solomon who then completed the task.  But once again we see that the willpower of those who had already claimed a spot as their own was stronger than those to whom God has given this Promised Land.

Was God the limiting factor in removing these people?  I think not.  It was the lack of willingness to do what God had commanded.  The people from Ephraim were not willing to be completely obedient and complete the task that had been assigned.  They just did it part way. God never gives us too little resource to do what He asks.  He did not fail – their resolve did.  God never says it will be easy but He never leaves us short equipped either.  We need to learn to rely on God’s power and His might rather than our own.  We will run short – He never does!

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