Joshua 15-17

Good morning! Today’s passage (Joshua 15-17) continues the listing of territories associated with various tribes. Those who are fans of ancient cartography could have fun mapping out the boundaries of these settlements, but I suggest just doing an image search online if you want a quick visual reference. The boundaries of Judah set forth in Joshua 15 are perhaps most meaningful because they are the basis for the later nation of Judah (when civil war splits it from Israel). The boundaries of Ephraim (chapter 16) and Manasseh (17) are also set forth, along with ongoing confusion about whether those communities (Ephraim and Manasseh) constitute one “tribe of Joseph”, or whether they are treated as functionally independent. Chapter 17 gives evidence of this ongoing ambiguity—separate allotments are given to Ephraim and Manasseh, but then the tribe of Joseph objects that it’s only received one portion. I’m not sure there’s any importance to tracking this difference, but it’s further evidence for the combination of multiple narratives or “truths” in this account. The only other feature of note (besides the brief reappearance of Mahlah, Noah, Hoglah, Milcah, and Tirzah—the five bold daughters of Zelophehad) is the mention in each chapter of predecessor cultures living alongside the Hebrews who have supplanted them. Jebusites still live with the Judahites in Jerusalem, and the Canaanites still live with Ephraim and Manasseh (though as a subjugated people). Evidently the full extermination of the Canaanites was more myth than reality. What else do you find interesting in these chapters? Happy reading!

Read Joshua 15-17.

Please join discussion of this passage at the Daily Bible Facebook group, or comment below. The passage for tomorrow is Joshua 18-20. Thanks for reading!

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