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The Joseph tribes (16:1-17:18)

Ephraim and the western half of Manasseh together occupied most of the central portion of Canaan between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea (16:1-4). The southern part of this territory belonged to Ephraim (5-10), the northern part to Manasseh (17:1). (The other half of Manasseh had already received its allotment east of Jordan.)

Western Manasseh was divided between six major family groups. No details are given concerning portions received by five of these groups, but the remaining portion was subdivided into five smaller portions, which were given to the five daughters of Zelophehad. This was in accordance with the special law which directed that where a man had no son, his inheritance could pass to his daughters (2-6; see Numbers 27:1-11). Manasseh also took towns from the smaller tribes to its north, apparently claiming it could drive out the Canaanites from these towns. It failed to remove the Canaanites, but still kept the territory for itself (7-13).

Although the Joseph tribes received the best part of Canaan, they were still not satisfied. They wanted more land, but they did not want to work for it or fight for it. Joshua told them that if they cleared the forests and drove out the Canaanites, they would find that they had plenty of land within the territory already allotted to them (14-18).

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