Joshua 17:1-2 (NIV) 1 This was the allotment for the tribe of Manasseh as Joseph’s firstborn, that is, for Makir, Manasseh’s firstborn. Makir was the ancestor of the Gileadites, who had received Gilead and Bashan because the Makirites were great soldiers. 2 So this allotment was for the rest of the people of Manasseh–the clans of Abiezer, Helek, Asriel, Shechem, Hepher and Shemida. These are the other male descendants of Manasseh son of Joseph by their clans.
On verses 1-2: As we discussed in previous chapters of Joshua, Manasseh had the distinction of being the only tribe in Israel that was given land on both sides of the Jordan River. The descendants of Manasseh’s firstborn son Makir received land on the east side of the Jordan River, namely Gilead and Bashan (v1; see also Joshua 13:29-31). The rest of the tribe of Manasseh would receive land on the west side of the Jordan. Before we read of what land they would get on the west side of the Jordan, verses 3-6 tell us an interesting story.
Joshua 17:3-6 (NIV) 3 Now Zelophehad son of Hepher, the son of Gilead, the son of Makir, the son of Manasseh, had no sons but only daughters, whose names were Mahlah, Noah, Hoglah, Milcah and Tirzah. 4 They went to Eleazar the priest, Joshua son of Nun, and the leaders and said, “The LORD commanded Moses to give us an inheritance among our brothers.” So Joshua gave them an inheritance along with the brothers of their father, according to the LORD’s command. 5 Manasseh’s share consisted of ten tracts of land besides Gilead and Bashan east of the Jordan, 6 because the daughters of the tribe of Manasseh received an inheritance among the sons. The land of Gilead belonged to the rest of the descendants of Manasseh.
On verses 3-6: To understand what is going in these verses, you need to know that before the Israelites entered the promised land of Canaan, the Israelites had a law which provided that land could only pass from generation to generation through the sons. Because Zelophehad only had daughters and no sons, it meant that Zelophehad’s descendents were not entitled to receive any land. So what did Zelophehad’s five daughters do? In Numbers 27, years before the Israelites even stepped foot into the promised land, Zelophehad’s five daughters could already see this problem coming. They tell Moses about their problem. Moses prays about it, and God tells him, “These daughters are right. Make sure these daughters get land so that Zelophehad’s name will not be wiped out. Also, change the law so that if a man has daughters and no sons, those daughters can get the inheritance instead.” Because the daughters took initiative and talked to Moses, and because Moses prays, hears from God and obeys, the law gets changed.
Years later, the Israelites enter the promised land and when it is time to distribute the land, what do the daughters of Zelophehad do? Verse 4 says:
4 They went to Eleazar the priest, Joshua son of Nun, and the leaders and said, “The LORD commanded Moses to give us an inheritance among our brothers.” So Joshua gave them an inheritance along with the brothers of their father, according to the LORD’s command.
What can we learn from this? Over and over in the book of Joshua you will find that it is those who take initiative, who are willing to ask, who stick their neck out and who fight for what they want who are the ones who get the best land. Meanwhile, those who don’t fight for their land, those who sit and wait for things to be handed to them, those are the ones who end up getting the less desirable parts of the land, casted to them by lot.
God had promised these daughters the land, but it was up to the daughters to take the initiative and claim the land.
In the same way, God has given us thousands of promises in His Word. But it’s up to us to take the initiative to claim each one and use them for our destiny.
Are you someone who takes initiative? When you see a problem do you take the initiative to do something about it, or do you think, “Let someone else deal with it”? May you be proactive in dealing with problems. Let’s be people who fight for the land that God has given us.
Joshua 17:7-10 (NIV) 7 The territory of Manasseh extended from Asher to Micmethath east of Shechem. The boundary ran southward from there to include the people living at En Tappuah. 8 (Manasseh had the land of Tappuah, but Tappuah itself, on the boundary of Manasseh, belonged to the Ephraimites.) 9 Then the boundary continued south to the Kanah Ravine. There were towns belonging to Ephraim lying among the towns of Manasseh, but the boundary of Manasseh was the northern side of the ravine and ended at the sea. 10 On the south the land belonged to Ephraim, on the north to Manasseh. The territory of Manasseh reached the sea and bordered Asher on the north and Issachar on the east.
On verses 7-10: These verses describe the land west of the Jordan River that Joshua allots to the tribe of Manasseh.
Heavenly Father, like the daughters of Zelophehad, I pray that I would be proactive in dealing with problems and in standing on the promises You have given to me. In doing so may I take possession of the land You have allotted to me. In Jesus’ name, AMEN!