Dividing Up The Promised Land – Ephraim

We are continuing in the book of Joshua in a series of chapters in which Joshua documents how the promised land was divided up between the tribes. It is clearly written as an historical account, and not a moral book or book of wisdom. We may be tempted to quickly overlook this passage and the following chapters as not relevant or “boring”. However, reflect on the fact that this was written as an historical document. It is a true record of what has transpired between YHWH and his people. This should be very encouraging as it gives credibility to the rest of the Bible as more than just a book of moral stories. The Bible is in fact true and an accurate historical document.

Joshua 16

Territory of Ephraim

     1Then the lot for the sons of Joseph went from the Jordan at Jericho to the waters of Jericho on the east into the wilderness, going up from Jericho through the hill country to Bethel. 2It went from Bethel to Luz, and continued to the border of the Archites at Ataroth. 3It went down westward to the territory of the Japhletites, as far as the territory of lower Beth-horon even to Gezer, and it ended at the sea.

      4The sons of Joseph, Manasseh and Ephraim, received their inheritance. 5Now this was the territory of the sons of Ephraim according to their families: the border of their inheritance eastward was Ataroth-addar, as far as upper Beth-horon. 6Then the border went westward at Michmethath on the north, and the border turned about eastward to Taanath-shiloh and continued beyond it to the east of Janoah. 7It went down from Janoah to Ataroth and to Naarah, then reached Jericho and came out at the Jordan. 8From Tappuah the border continued westward to the brook of Kanah, and it ended at the sea. This is the inheritance of the tribe of the sons of Ephraim according to their families, 9together with the cities which were set apart for the sons of Ephraim in the midst of the inheritance of the sons of Manasseh, all the cities with their villages. 10But they did not drive out the Canaanites who lived in Gezer, so the Canaanites live in the midst of Ephraim to this day, and they became forced laborers.

It seems subtle, but we also see in this record that the Israelites failed to drive out the Canaanites. Here we see they became forced laborers. It would be interesting to study what other roles those Canaanites played in history since they were not driven out as they should have been. Most obvious would seem that they remained a corrupting influence on the Israelites due to their pagan religion and lifestyle. A careful study of the Bible and history documented elsewhere likely would bear an interesting story for what role they played.

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