For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.
Romans 15:4



 A Bible Study - Commentary by Jim Melough

Copyright 2000 James Melough

17:1.  “There was also a lot for the tribe of Manasseh; for he was the firstborn of Joseph; to wit, for Machir the firstborn of Manasseh, the father of Gilead: because he was a man of war, therefore he had Gilead and Bashan”

This chapter deals with the appointment of the lot for the half tribe of Manasseh on the west side of Jordan, since the other half of the tribe had already been given Gilead and Bashan on the east side.  As has been noted already, the spiritual lesson being taught in this assignment of a lot on each side of Jordan, is that there is in our inheritance that which may be enjoyed “east of Jordan,” i.e., here on earth in relation to temporal things.  For example, we are delivered from anxious care as to temporal needs, for we have the assurance of God’s provision for such needs, Mt 6:25-34.  In bereavement we “sorrow not, even as others which have no hope” 1 Thes 4:13.  We have the assurance amid every earthly circumstance that, “All things work together for good to them that love God,” Ro 8:28.   But we have a portion also “west of Jordan,” i.e., the spiritual blessings that are ours in Christ, and which may be enjoyed in spirit even here on earth. 

Since the firstborn represents the flesh, his being Joseph’s firstborn continues to emphasize that Manasseh declares not only that we are to exemplify the spirit of forgetfulness relative to the past, but that he represents us also as men and women still in natural bodies in which the new nature has to dwell side by side with the old, that old nature remaining unchanged and continuing to delight in evil.  This truth is further emphasized in its being said, not only that Manasseh was Joseph’s firstborn, but that Machir, meaning a salesman, was Manasseh’s firstborn.  For the significance of Machir please see the notes on 13:31, and for Gilead heap of witness: rolling for ever, 12:2,5.  Whether as the name of a place, a man, or a city, Gilead has the same meaning, and the same spiritual significance.  Relative to Bashan, the notes on 9:10 and 12:4 should be consulted.

It is instructive to note that just as the enjoyment of that literal portion in Canaan required them to cross Jordan, so, if we are going to enjoy the corresponding spiritual portion, “Jordan” must also be crossed. i.e., we must live as those who are dead to the world, giving practical effect to what is written in Gal 2:20, “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.”

Manasseh had Gilead and Bashan (east of Jordan, “because he was a man of war.”  The portion God would have us enjoy relative to temporal things is the same as that which relates to spiritual blessings: neither will be ours apart from an energetic warfare with the things and people Satan would use to rob us of what God has given.

17:2.  “There was also a lot for the rest of the children of Manasseh by their families; for the children of Abiezer, and for the children of Helek, and for the children of Asriel, and for the children of Shechem, and for the children of Hepher,, and for the children of Shemida: these were the male children of Manasseh the son of Joseph by their families.”

Inasmuch as six is the number of man, weakness, failure, and sin, these six sons of Manasseh would remind us that as men still in human bodies we too are marked by all that is associated with the number six, but it is in just such weakness that God can manifest His power, as Paul has written “And he (God) said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee; for my strength is made perfect in weakness” 2 Co 12:9.  Abiezer, meaning father of help, is the symbolic OT declaration of that same truth, for it reminds us that the help or power of God our Father is available to every obedient believer.

Helek means a portion, and often a portion of spoil, so that in him we see declared the truth that as God assigned each Israelite his portion in Canaan, so does He also assign each of us his portion here on earth.  Our activity in the lot assigned to us, however, has a direct bearing on the eternal portion that awaits us in heaven, and we should never forget that the inheritance of the redeemed is the spoil secured for us as a result of the Lord’s great victory over all the forces of darkness at Calvary.

Asriel, meaning I shall be prince of God, scarcely needs comment.  Transcending the grasp of human thought is the assurance that “The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: and if children, then heirs, heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.  For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us” Ro 8:16-18. “For if we be dead with him, we shall also live with him: if we suffer (endure, we shall also reign with him....” 2 Tim 2:11-12.

Shechem means shoulder (literally early rising; diligence.  The shoulder is one of the biblical symbols of strength and security, and the first meaning shoulder recalls the parable of the lost sheep, which when found, was placed on the shepherd’s shoulders, Lk 15:5.  The shepherd, of course, is Christ, and every believer is portrayed by the recovered sheep.  We have been lifted up to the equivalent of His shoulder: a place of strength and security from which nothing can ever remove us.

Early rising and diligence are virtually synonymous, so that the second lesson of Shechem is that we are to be diligent in the Lord’s business, the degree of our diligence having a direct bearing on the measure of the reward that will be given us at the Bema.

For the spiritual significance of Hepher which means a pit: shame, please consult the notes on 12:17.

Shemida means name of knowledge: my name he knows, the obvious lesson being that God knows my name, as He does that of all the redeemed.  But His knowing my name implies that He knows everything about me, and a question we would do well to ask is, How much do I know about Him?  His desire is that the knowledge be reciprocal.  He wants us to know Him, not just as a distant abstraction, but as He knows us: intimately.  He wants us to know Him not only as the Mighty God, but as our Father; and the way to acquire that knowledge is to study and obey the written Word, for it is in that Word that He is revealed.  The Lord Jesus Christ was the living manifestation of the Father, as it is written, “God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory” 1 Tim 3:16, so that He could say, “Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not know me, Philip?  He that hath seen me hath seen the Father, and how sayest thou then, Shew us the Father?” Jn 14:9.  But since the written Word is the revelation or manifestation of the Lord Jesus Christ, it follows that as we know that Word we know Him, and therefore know also the Father.  

In its being said that “these were the male children of Manasseh,” - emphasizing the distinction between them and the daughters of Zelophehad, with whom they shared the territory west of Jordan - we find further instructiuon, for in Scripture the male represents activity of the will; and the female, passivity.  In the properly balanced Christian life there is need of both.  There must first be submission to learn God’s will, and to accept it, and then there must be a corresponding activity to do His will.  In this, as in all things, it is the Lord Himself Who demonstrates perfectly these two aspects of the human will.  No one was ever as subject to God’s will as He, nor was anyone ever as zealous in carrying out that will.

17:3.  “But Zelophehad, the son of Hepher, the son of Gilead, the son of Machir, the son of Manasseh, had no sons, but daughters: and these are the names of his daughters,Mahlah, and Noah, Hoglah, Milcah, and Tirzah.”

Zelophehad, means shadow of fear: first rupture, meanings which when added to the fact that he had no sons, has an ominous significance.  His having no sons speaks of lack of activity of the will in doing God’s will, while fear and rupture also do not have a good spiritual connotation.  He portrays the believer whose life is marked by submission without the necessary corresponding activity.  He represents those who refrain from doing wrong, but also from actively doing good.  Their obedience is onesided, consisting mainly of heeding God’s “thou shalt not,” while ignoring His “thou shalt.”  Activity in service is lacking from their lives.

Mahlah means sickness, and the lesson is too obvious to miss.  Lack of activity in service is a spiritual sickness, and sadly it is one from which many professing Christians suffer.  God has work for each of us to do.  We are saved to serve.  The Lord’s command, “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature” Mk 16:15, is addressed to every believer, not just to the disciples.  And we have no excuse.  Anyone can pass on a tract.

Noah, meaning rest, assures us, though, that however delinquent we may be, every believer will enter into God’s eternal rest, but where there has been no service it will be to enter into that rest without the reward that faithful service would have secured.

Hoglah means the feast has languished, and in the meaning of this name God would teach us at least two lessons.  First, obedience to the Gospel brings the onetime prodigal back to the Father’s house to enjoy a spiritual feast, but the partial obedience that refuses to serve, will rob that believer of much of the joy of his salvation.  For him the feast will “languish.”

The other lesson relates to the feast of the Lord’s supper, which throughout most of Christendom has become a travesty of the original as ordained by God.  The scriptural pattern is for believers, and only believers, to gather together around the Lord’s table on the first day of each week to present their worship, the women, with covered heads, offering their worship silently; and those men whom the Spirit may lead, offering theirs audibly, that vocalized worship being not only the expression of the personal worship of the man participating, but of the whole company.  In very many instances, however, even where the scriptural pattern is followed, the feast has “languished,” for it is often painfully apparent that much of what passes for worship is prompted by the flesh rather than the Holy Spirit.

Milcah, meaning a queen, does not have a good connotation, for the Church, the bride of Christ, is never referred to as a queen; but concerning the evil harlot organization which is Satan’s counterfeit of the Church, it is recorded that “she saith in her heart, I sit a queen, and am no widow, and shall see no sorrow” Re 18:7.  That diabolic travesty which virtually rules Christendom today has been so successful in disguising her true character that even the majority of genuine believers know nothing of the depths of her wickedness , and blinded by her outward glory, have been induced to adopt some of her ways.

Tirzah, meaning she will delight, represents the true Church, and since the spiritual significance of the woman Tirzah is the same as the city of that name, the notes on 12:24 should be consulted here.

In this mixture of good and bad associated with the meanings of the names of the daughters of Zelophehad we see the truth that while we are here in the body there will be also a mixture of good and bad in our conduct.  But though God by His foreknowledge could declare what the state of the Church would be here on earth, we are to remember that this does not imply that it has to be the condition of any individual believer.  Each one of us has been endowed with the power to keep the flesh where it belongs: in the place of death, and we are to use that power, the encouragement given us being the assurance that, “I can do all things through Christ Who strengtheneth me” Php 4:13.  Our prayer should be for grace to live so that we will fulfill the type of Tirzah rather than Milcah.

17:4.  “And they came near before Eleazar the priest, and before Joshua the son of Nun; and before the princes, saying, The Lord commanded Moses to give us an inheritance among our brethren.  Therefore according to the commandment of the Lord he gave them an inheritance among the brethren of their father.”

For the spiritual significance of Eleazar please see the notes on 14:1; and for Joshua and Nun, the notes on 1:1.  The princes are types of the elders of the local churches.  The coming of these five sisters before Eleazar, Joshua, and the princes, for the resolution of their problem, provides the pattern for the resolution of problems in the Church.  They are to be brought, in prayer, before “Eleazar,” Christ as our Great High Priest; and “Joshua,” Christ, the Captain of our salvation; and the “princes,” the elders.

The earlier command given Moses relative to the portion for these daughters of Zelophehad is recorded in Numbers 24.  Since Moses is a type of Christ leading us out of spiritual bondage; and Joshua, a type of Christ as Captain of our salvation, leading us into our spiritual inheritance, the resolution of the problem before Moses is the typological revelation of the truth that our inheritance has been secured for us through Christ’s death; but the present resolution before Joshua reminds us that we enter into the possession of our inheritance through association with Christ resurrected.

As already noted, the woman speaks of submission of the will, as the man does of its activity; while the number five speaks of responsibility.  In the present context therefore the activity of these five women in seeking an inheritance, portrays the truth that in all things we are responsible to ensure that the activity of our will is preceded by its submission to God’s will.

17:5.  “And there fell ten portions to Manasseh, beside the land of Gilead and Bashan, which were on the other side Jordan;”

17:6.  “Because the daughters of Manasseh had an inheritance among his sons: and the rest of Manasseh’s sons had the land of Gilead.”

Since we have already discussed Manasseh, Gilead, Bashan, and Jordan, it remains only to look at the significance of the ten portions given Manasseh west of Jordan.  Since ten is the number associated with God as the Governor, as twelve is with those under His government, in Manasseh’s ten portions we are being reminded that God must be obeyed if we are to be blessed.

17:7.  “And the coast of Manasseh was from Asher to Michmethah, that lieth before Shechem; and the border went along on the right hand unto the inhabitants of Entappuah.”

A glance at a map reveals that the places mentioned don’t really mark Manasseh’s border, for they run from the promontory of Mount Carmel on the north west coast, on Asher’s border, down to Entappuah in the northern part of Ephraim’s lot, confirming what we have already noted: in most cases the geographic location is incidental to the spiritual lesson embodied in the meanings of the names. 

This is the only scriptural reference to Entappuah, and it is generally taken to be simply another form of Tappuah, both names having almost identical meanings, Tappuah meaning thou wilt cause to breathe; and Entappuah meaning fount of the apple or the breather.

Manasseh has already been discussed in our study of 1:12; 4:12; 12:6; 13:7,29,31; 14:4; 16:4,9; Michmethah, in 16:6; Shechem, in 17:2; and Entappuah (Tappuah, in 12:17; 15:34; 16:8, so it is necessary here to look only at Asher meaning happy. As a tribe of Israel he represents a characteristic that should mark us as believers: of all the people on earth we have most cause to be happy.

17:8.  “Now Manasseh had the land of Tappuah: but Tappuah on the border of Manasseh belonged to the children of Ephraim:”

We have already noted that Manasseh represents us not only as those who should not permit the failures of the past to discourage us; but that he also serves to remind us that the flesh, the old nature is still with us.  Ephraim, on the other hand, speaks exclusively of us as spiritual men who are therefore to be bearing spiritual fruit.  Tappuah’s being as it were common to both, continues to emphasize the truth that though we are new creatures in Christ, we are also still in the same natural bodies as when unconverted.  Its being said, however, that “Tappuah on the border of Manasseh belonged to the children of Ephraim” declares the truth that the flesh is to be kept under the control of the Spirit.

17:9.  “And the coast descended unto the river Kanah, southward of the river: these cities of Ephraim are among the cities of Manasseh: the coast of Manasseh also was on the north side of the river, and the outgoings of it were at the sea:”

For the significance of Kanah please consult the notes on 16:8. 

Since the south is the direction that speaks of faith, Ephraim’s lot being south of the river is the symbolic reminder that as spiritual men portrayed by Ephraim, we too are to dwell in the south land, i.e., we are to walk by faith, and not by sight, 2 Co 5:7.  Manasseh, on the other hand, who speaks more of what we are as men still in earthly bodies, had his lot north of the river, and the north speaks scripturally of human intelligence, working very often in opposition to faith.  We are to guard against the temptation to walk according to the dictates of our own minds, rather than by the written Word.

The fact that the cities of Ephraim were among the cities of Manasseh, continues to emphasize the same lesson as is taught in verse 8.

For the significance of the sea, please consult the notes on 15:12.

17:10.  “Southward it was Ephraim’s, and northward it was Manasseh’s, and the sea is his border; and they met together in Asher on the north, and in Issachar on the east.”

The first part of this verse continues to emphasize the same lessons we have already considered relative to what is of the body, and what pertains to the spirit; and the spiritual significance of the sea has already been examined in our study of 15:12 where we noted that it represents the great sea of unconverted humanity in which we are to be God’s fishermen seeking to catch men in the net of the Gospel. 

Since Asher means happy, a useful lesson is taught in its being said that the borders of Ephraim and Manasseh were the sea, and that they met in Asher (a town, not the tribe, but having the same meaning.  The believer who devotes himself with a whole heart to the great work of fishing for souls, will be a happy man.

“... and in Issachar in the east.”  Issachar means he will be hired: there is reward: he will bring reward, and only a very small section of his western border constituted Manasseh’s eastern border; but the linking together here of these two tribes may be designed to teach the truth that even with all the failure resulting from the activity of the flesh in our lives, God still has a work for every believer to do, and that work done to the best of our ability will be rewarded at the Bema.

17:11.  “And Manasseh had in Issachar and in Asher Bethshean and her towns, and Ibleam and her towns, and the inhabitants of Dor and her towns, and the inhabitants of Endor and her towns, and the inhabitants of Taanach and her towns, and the inhabitants of Megiddo and her towns, even three countries.”

Bethshean, meaning house of quiet, and being given to Manasseh, seems to be the symbolic announcement of the truth that

even though the old nature is still with us, obedience makes available to us the peace or quiet of God which passeth all understanding, Php 4:7.

Ibleam, meaning he will swallow them: he will swallow the people, on the other hand, has an ominous significance, and sounds the warning that Satan, working through the flesh, can bring us to ruin, not in the sense of taking away our salvation, but by leading us into disobedience which will rob us of the reward that obedience would have secured for us.

Dor, meaning generation: dwelling, has already been discussed in our study of 11:2, which notes the reader may now review.

Endor means fountain of the dwelling, and inasmuch as a fountain is one of the biblical symbols of the written Word, the lesson is that we are to take possession of “Endor,” that is, we are to devote ourselves wholeheartedly to the study of Scripture, so that we may “grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” 2 Pe 3:18, as it is written, “Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” 2 Tim 2:15.

Taanach, meaning she will afflict thee, has been discussed in 12:21, and it is suggested that the reader review those notes.

Megiddo, meaning invading: gathering for cutting (self: his cutting place, has also been discussed in 12:21, and has the same significance here.

“... even three countries” is generally considered to refer to the lots of Manasseh and Ephraim, plus the towns which had been given them within the territories of Asher and Issachar.

17:12.  “Yet the children of Manasseh could not drive out the inhabitants of those cities; but the Canaanites would dwell in that land.”  

17:13.  “Yet it came to pass, when the children of Israel were waxen strong, that they put the canaanites to tribute; but did not utterly drive them out.”

With Manasseh, as with Judah, it appears to have been a case of “would not” rather than “could not,” and it is no different in the churches today.  The “traffickers” whom the Canaanites represent, “dwell in the land,” i.e., constitute part (and often the larger part of many a congregation.  And true believers make no attempt to remove them.  They are, in fact, “put to tribute.”  They are encouraged to remain because of what they can contribute financially.  Relative to the Canaanites dwelling in the midst of Israel see also the comments on 15:63 and 16:10.

17:14.  “And the children of Joseph spake unto Joshua, saying, Why hast thou given me but one lot and one portion to inherit, seeing I am a great people, forasmuch as the Lord hath blessed me hitherto?"

17:15.  “And Joshua answered them, If thou be a great people, then get thee up to the wood country, and cut down for thyself there in the land of the Perizzites and of the giants, if mount Ephraim be too narrow for thee.”

It is clear that while Ephraim and Manasseh had each his own territory in Canaan, the boundaries were ill defined, the towns of one being often located within the borders of the other; and we have already noted that the reason lies in the fact that while Ephraim portrays us as spiritual men, Manasseh portrays us more as men still in natural bodies, and therefore subject to infirmity, and to the activity of the old nature.  Here on earth the two natures dwell in the same body, and so here these two tribes are spoken of as one:Josheph; but while there may be two of us, the natural and the spiritual, in God’s referring to Ephraim and Manasseh as Joseph, He would remind us that in spite of the old nature still within us, He views us as “Joseph’s” - He sees us as we are in Christ.

Their failure to see that in what they had been given they had everything they needed, is the symbolic picture of the attitude of many a believer, and many a church.  It is the biblical demonstration of the fact that many of us, like them, want more territory (spiritual enrichment), but without the toil that produces it.

They emphasized that they were “a great people,” i.e., a numerous people, but it is instructive to note that God attaches little importance to numbers, note for example, His reduction of Gideon’s army from thirty-two thousand to three hundred.  Almost invariably He uses individuals.

They also had to confess that God had already blessed them, and so must we.  At incalculable cost He has secured for us eternal life, and though priceless, has bestowed it upon us as a gift.

Joshua’s reply is the symbolic announcement of another truth.  Experience confirms what Scripture everywhere declares: a genuine concern for men’s souls, a zeal in going out with the Gospel, go hand in hand not only with numerical growth, but with prosperity of soul.  Who will fail to trace the hand of the Holy Spirit in what is written here?  We have noted already that the two tribes involved speak of a forgetting that results in fruitfulness; and lest we should fail to see that fruitfulness is the subject here, God, instead of using the tribal names, refers to them as Joseph, meaning let him add.

It is significant also that the language used here is virtually the same as that used by Haggai to the disobedient remnant regarding the building of God’s house.  Here it is, “Get thee up to the wood (country is not in the original, and cut down for thyself,” and in Haggai it is, “Go up to the mountain, and bring wood, and build the house,” Hag 1:8.  The symbols are the same in both cases.  Since a mountain represents a king or a kingdom, the command to us is to “go up” from occupation with earthly things, to the high ground of His kingdom.  How?  Set apart a time each day to be alone with God.  The first step to an obedient, and therefore happy and fruitful Christian life is to have a place where I can go and shut the door on earth’s distractions, where I can open my Bible and listen while God talks to me from its pages, and where I can kneel and talk with Him in prayer.

The wood too is symbolic: it represents humanity.  As the returned remnant spoken of in Haggai was to cut down literal wood, and then fashion it into boards for God’s house, so are we to go out with the Gospel, the instrument of the Holy Spirit to first cut men down by showing them their need of a Savior, and then following their conversion, to shape them into “boards” for God’s house; first cut down by the convicting power of the Word; but then, as obedient believers, shaped according to that same Word, each is set by Divine appointment in his proper place in God’s house, the Church.

That wooded country was, “... in the land of the Perizzites and of the giants (Rephaim.”  Perizzite means rustic: squatter. He represents the unsaved.  They are spiritual “rustics,” i.e., untaught in spiritual things; “squatting” upon, occupying without right, the world that God has given to believers; and the Rephaim, meaning the dead: giants, portray another of the characteristics of those to whom we are to preach the Gospel: they may be “giants” in commerce, education, art, etc., but they are spiritually dead.

A personal, individual faithful zealous Gospel outreach is the biblical way to true enlargement and blessing.  (For further details concerning the Perizzites, see also the notes on 12:8.

17:16.  “And the children of Joseph said, The hill is not enough for us: and all the Canaanites that dwell in the land of the valley have chariots of iron, both they who are of Bethshean and her towns, and they who are of the valley of Jezreel.”

While the hill speaks of that place to which we go to have our strength renewed by the study of Scripture and by prayer, the valley represents the sphere of service where we are to be about our Father’s business.  Their objection that the hill wasn’t enough for them, translates into the almost universal belief of Christendom that study and prayer are inadequate preparation for Christian service.  The general misconception is that special training in a seminary or Bible school is also essential.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  In those early days when the Church flourished there were neither seminaries nor Bible schools.  We read that “They (the believers continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine (the study of God’s Word and fellowship (a loving care for one another, and in breaking of bread (the weekly commemoration of the Lord’s death and resurrection, by means of the Lord’s supper, and in prayers” Ac 2:42.  The result was that they “ate their food with gladness and singleness of heart, praising God, and having favor with all the people.  And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved” Ac 2:46-47.

But that early love and zeal and simple obedience soon faded away as the things of the world began to usurp the place of the things of God; and the sad result is that today all that can be heard in the professing church is what one has aptly called “the clanking of eccleastical machinery.”  The theologically educated hireling has replaced those with spiritual gift, and the result is that an outward form is all that remains of the former glory.  It is as it was in the days of Rehoboam: the shields of gold (symbols of God’s protection and glory carried away by Egypt (the world, have been replaced with brass replicas (symbols of God’s judgment, see 2 Ch 12:9-10.

Since the valley represents the sphere of service, the Canaanites (traffickers dwelling there furnish a dramatically accurate symbolic picture of the state in Christendom today.  The “valley,” the sphere of Chrisitan service, swarms with spiritual “Canaanites” who have so entrenched themselves that there is virtually no opportunity for the exercise of genuine spiritual spiritual gift in the churches.  Nor are the “chariots of iron” any less accurate pictures of the present state in Christendom.  The “Canaanites” have become so powerful that they rule unchallenged over the sphere that God has assigned to faith.

Two special spheres of Canaanite might are mentioned, and significantly both are valleys: the valley of Bethshean, and the valley of Jezreel.  As discussed already, the valley represents the sphere of Christian service; and Bethshean speaks not only of the peace of God, but also of the quietness with which He works through His Holy Spirit.  The fanfare so common in so-called Christian work today, is conspicuously absent in connection with the work of the Holy Spirit.

The other valley is that of Jezreel, meaning it will be sown of God, and in the present context it speaks symbolically of the fact that in spite of all opposition God will continue to sow the good seed of the Gospel.  For further discussion of the significance of Jezreel please see the notes on 15:56.

The chariots of iron indicate not only the power of the Canaanites, but also the power of their present day counterparts.

Relative to those iron chariots, however, it is instructive to note what is written, “When thou goest out to battle against thine enemies, and seest horses, and chariots, and a people more than thou, be not afraid of them: for the Lord thy God is with thee, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt” De 20:1.  That same assurance is ours also.  But they obviously had either forgotten it, or they refused to believe it in spite of having the witness of God’s power put forth to deliver them from Egypt’s bondage.  We too either forget or refuse to believe His promises in spite of having proof of His power, displayed at Calvary, which has delivered us from a far more terrible bondage than that of Egypt.

17:17.  “And Joshua spake unto the house of Joseph, even to Ephraim and to Manasseh, saying, Thou art a great people, and hast great power: thou shalt not have one lot only:”

Their being described first as Joseph, and then as Ephraim and Manasseh continues to emphasize that God views us as He does Christ rather than as what we are in these human bodies.

“Thou art a great people, and hast great power” is also true of us, though there may be little outwardly to indicate that we are either great or powerful, but we are to remember what is written concerning us, “Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is He that is in you, than he that is in the world,” 1 Jn 4:4; “I can do all things through Christ Who strengtheneth me,” Php 4:13; “We are more than conquerors through Him that loved us,” Ro 8:37; and twice in the Epistle of John we are assured that we have already overcome Satan, the most powerful foe of all, 1 Jn 2:13-14; and in Jn 16:33 we read, “In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer, I (Christ have overcome the world.”

The assurance “... thou shalt not have one lot only” is also given to us, for during our earthly lives we have the better part in this world, and in the Millennium we will reign over it from the heavenly Jerusalem with Christ, 2 Tim 2:12.

17:18.  “But the mountain shall be thine; for it is a wood, and thou shalt cut it down: and the outgoings of it shall be thine: for thou shalt drive out the Canaanites, though they have iron chariots, and though they be strong.”

Beyond the promise that they would literally possess the mountain, and cut down the trees so as to be able to cultivate it, is a prophetic promise of far greater significance yet to be fulfilled.  As noted already a mountain is the biblical symbol of a king and/or a kingdom, while trees are symbols of men, and almost invariably of unconverted men.  When Christ returns to end the Tribulation and inaugurate His millennial kingdom, the dominion of the earth will be given to Israel, and “the wood will be cut down,” for the unconverted will be banished bodily into hell, and those remaining, the converted, will gladly accept His appointment of Israel as head of the nations.  In that coming glorious age the “Canaanites” who rule today seemingly all powerful, will be gone, having been swept with all other unbelievers into hell by Christ at His return in power and glory.

[Joshua 18]



     Scripture portions taken from the Holy Bible, King James Version
© 2000-2005 James Melough