Joseph's Sons (1)

The focus turns to Ephraim and Manasseh.

Joshua 14-17 (5)

Read Joshua 16.1-10.

1.  The focus turns now to the sons of Joseph, Ephraim and Manasseh. These tribes were large and powerful (17.17). Joshua was from the tribe of Ephraim. Why do you suppose his tribe wasn’t mentioned first?

2.  Did the Ephraimites follow the example of Caleb?

Think about it.
We recall the “wilderness that goes up from Jericho through the mountains to Bethel” from the earlier account of Israel’s destruction of Ai and Bethel. The tribe of Ephraim had led the way in that battle; now they will settle that land, a belt stretching across the land of promise just north of Judah’s possession, and just below that of the half-tribe of Manasseh, west of the Jordan.

We wince a bit at verse 10. We’ve already noted that driving out the Canaanites would be a lengthy process. But God commanded it, and He would give His people success. Apart from the Gibeonites, God did not approve making treaties with any of the Canaanite peoples, but this is just what we see the people of Ephraim doing here. The people of Judah continued to struggle with the Jebusites (15.63), and would until the days of David. But they made no treaty with them. The Ephraimites must have reckoned that if the Gibeonites could be put to forced labor, so could the Canaanites of Gezer. 

But an exception is just that. What was done with the Gibeonites was not intended to become a norm for other circumstances.

This attitude of compromising on God’s Word would haunt the people of Ephraim and Manasseh, and would ultimately be their undoing.

Meditate and discuss.
1.  How can you guard against compromising on what God has spoken in His Word?

2.  What are some areas where Christians are most inclined to compromise on the Word of God? How can believers help one another to stand firm on Scripture in these areas?

3.  How would you counsel a new believer about the dangers of compromising the Word of God and how to keep from falling into that snare?

“Seeing, then, God had distinctly forbidden his people to transact business of any kind with those nations, and least of all to enter into pactions with them, stipulating for their pardon and safety, the Ephraimites sinned much more grievously in exacting tribute than if they had tolerated them without paction.” John Calvin, Commentary on Joshua (1509-1564AD)

Keep me from any compromises with Your Word, O Lord, and help me always to…

Pray Psalm 79.

This psalm of Asaph was written during Solomon’s reign, a time of great prosperity and peace. Did Asaph see something in Solomon and the soul of Israel against which he felt the need to warn them? Does this psalm speak to anything like this in you?

Psalm 79 (Passion Chorale: O Sacred Head, Now Wounded)
O God the nations all Your inheritance have spoiled!
Your City have they ruined, Your temple they have soiled!
Your servants’ bodies all to the birds of heav’n are thrown;
The flesh of all Your faithful the jaws of beasts now own.

The blood of faithful servants like water flows around;
And none are there Your saints to commit into the ground.
Our neighbors mock and scorn us: How long, O Lord, how long?
How long will You be angry and scorn our mournful song?

Pour out, O Lord, Your wrath on all who deny Your Name;
Who trust You not nor seek You, bring down to deepest shame!
For they have with great rancor Your precious saints devoured;
Lay waste their habitation at this late dreadful hour.

Why should the nations mock and say, “Where now is their God?”
Let there be known among them harsh vengeance for our blood!
Hear, Lord, our groans and sighing; preserve us by Your pow’r.
For we are fairly dying each day and hour by hour.

Reproach those who reproach us with judgment sevenfold!
Let thanks and praise to You by Your precious flock be told.
We are Your sheep, O Savior, we thank You all our days.
Look on us with Your favor as we declare Your praise.

T. M. Moore

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Where does the book of Joshua fit in the ongoing story of God’s covenant? Our workbook, God’s Covenant, can help you discover the place in God’s work of redemption not only of Joshua but of all the books of the Bible. God’s Covenant is a valuable resource to guide you in all your studies in God’s Word. To order your copy, click hereAnd when you order, we’ll send you a free copy of Bricks and Rungs: Poems on Calling.

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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. All psalms for singing adapted from The Ailbe Psalter. All quotations from Church Fathers from Ancient Christian Commentary Series, General Editor Thomas C. Oden (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2006).

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in Essex Junction, VT. 

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