Joshua 16

Joshua 16,
Thursday, April 19, 2018

This is a short chapter, eh?  Chapter splits date to maybe 4th century of the Common Era, when Jerome used them to facilitate dialogue and discussion with Jewish scholars in Alexandria and elsewhere.  
 
This is a subject matter split, a chapter about ‘Josephites’, or tribe of Joseph, elsewhere in Joshua consistently treated as two half-tribes of Manasseh and the tribe of Ephraim.  Earlier, I noted the ‘back-story’ from Genesis about Joseph’s Egyptian wife.
 
Sure, there is some heartland in this geography, starting in contiguity to the earlier land grants by Moses on the east side of the Jordan, and by Joshua to Judah.  I think of this as north-east of Judah, on the west side of the Jordan.  Probably the key inclusion for past and future stories, etiological or legendary or historic, is Bethel.  The shrine at Bethel will be a key competing regional shrine related to the short-lived kingdom of Israel, concurrently with Jerusalem once the ark had been settled in Solomon’s temple in that city.
 
The vague and confusing summary of how some Ephraimite towns were within Manassite territory, and the admission that they never really controlled Gezer, brings me back to one of my themes in this year’s reading: the repeated admission that conquest, let alone genocide, was never total, despite the way one can select bloodthirsty scraps from the first half of Joshua.
 
Since I’ve got a few words left in my daily quota, I’d note that yesterday also, there was a lot of irony assumed in the recital of Judah’s turf.  It blithely included Goshen, where Joseph billeted his brothers from late Genesis till early Exodus, in the east Nile delta. 
 
Judah’s lot recited without comment the whole seacoast plain, one of the great north/south land routes from Africa to Asia and Europe, including what we call Gaza, and lots of places acknowledged in chapter 13 as not conquered by Joshua. A land claim is not a land title – ask any First Nation person!
 
Put another way, in terms of residential real estate dear to us lately, it’s one thing for a buyer to tell the agent what she wants – another to say what she’s willing to accept!  On the seller’s side of the haggling, as my father-in-law says: ‘Sure, that’s what they’re asking these days – but what are they getting these days?’
 
 
 
The allotment of the Josephites
went from the Jordan by Jericho,
 east of the waters of Jericho,
 into the wilderness, 
going up from Jericho
 into the hill country
 to Bethel;
 
 2then going from Bethel to Luz,
 it passes along to Ataroth,
 the territory of the Archites;
 
 3then it goes down westwards
to the territory of the Japhletites, 
as far as the territory of Lower Beth-horon,
 then to Gezer, 
and it ends at the sea.
 
4 The Josephites
—Manasseh and Ephraim—
received their inheritance.
 
5 The territory of the Ephraimites
 by their families
was as follows:
 the boundary of their inheritance on the east
was Ataroth-addar as far as Upper Beth-horon,
 
 6and the boundary goes from there to the sea; 
on the north is Michmethath; 
then on the east
 the boundary makes a turn towards Taanath-shiloh,
 and passes along beyond it on the east to Janoah,
 7then it goes down from Janoah to Ataroth and to Naarah,
 and touches Jericho, 
ending at the Jordan.
 
 8From Tappuah
 the boundary goes westwards
 to the Wadi Kanah, 
and ends at the sea.
 
 Such is the inheritance
 of the tribe of the Ephraimites
by their families, 
9together with the towns
that were set apart for the Ephraimites
within the inheritance of the Manassites, 
all those towns with their villages.
 
 10They did not, however, 
drive out the Canaanites
who lived in Gezer: 
so the Canaanites
have lived within Ephraim
 to this day
but have been made
to do forced labour.