Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible, by John Wesley, [1754-65], at sacred-texts.com
jos 17:1The first born of Joseph - The sense is, though Ephraim was to be more potent and numerous, yet Manasseh was the first - born, and had the privilege of the first - born, which was translated to Joseph, namely, a double portion; and therefore though this was but half the tribe of Manasseh, yet they are not made intimates to Ephraim, but have a distinct lot of their own, as their brethren, or other half tribe had beyond Jordan. For Machir - The only son of Manasseh, who therefore is here, put for the whole tribe. The first - born - So even only sons are sometimes called, as Mat 1:25. He - That is, Machir, had given great proof of his valour (though the particular history be not mentioned) and his posterity were no degenerate sons, but had his valiant blood still running in their veins. Gilead and Bashan - Part of these countries; for part of them was also given to the Reubenites, and part to the Gadites. This may be added as a reason, either, why he got those places from the Amorites: or why they were allotted to him or his posterity, because this was a frontier country, and the out - works to the land of Canaan, and therefore required valiant persons to defend it.
jos 17:2A Lot - A distinct inheritance. The rest - Namely, those of them which had not received their possessions beyond Jordan. Male - children - This expression is used to bring in what follows, concerning his female children.
jos 17:4He - That is, Eleazar, or Joshua, with the consent of the princes appointed for that work.
jos 17:5Ten portions - Five for the sons, and five for the daughters; for as for Hepher, both he and his son Zelophehad was dead, and that without sons, and therefore had no portion; but his daughters had several portions allotted to them.
jos 17:6The daughters - Not less than the son, so the sex was no bar to their inheritance.
jos 17:9Three cities - Tappuah, and the cities upon the coast descending to the river, &c. last mentioned. Among the cities of Manasseh - That is, are intermixed with their cities, which was not strange nor unfit, these two being linked together by a nearer alliance than the rest.
jos 17:10His border - Manasseh's, whose portion is here described, and whose name was last mentioned. In Asher - That is, upon the tribe of Asher; for though Zebulon came between Asher and them for the greatest part of their land; yet it seems there was some necks of land, both of Ephraim's and of Manasseh's, which jutted out farther than the rest, and touched the borders of Asher. And it is certain there were many such incursions of the land of one tribe upon some parcels of another, although they were otherwise considerably distant one from the other.
jos 17:11Manasseh had in Issachar and in Asher - As Ephraim had some cities in the tribe of Manasseh, and as it was not unusual, when the place allotted to any tribe was too narrow for it, and the next too large, to give away part from the larger to the less portion; nay, sometimes one whole tribe was taken into another; as Simeon's was into Judah's portion, when it was found too large for Judah. Inhabitants of Dor - Not the places only, but the people; whom they spared and used for servants. Three countries - The words may be rendered, the third part of that country; and so the meaning may be, that the cities and towns here mentioned are a third part of that country, that is, of that part of Issachar's and Asher's portion, in which those places lay.
jos 17:14Children of Joseph - That is, of Ephraim and Manasseh. Spake unto Joshua - That is, expostulated with him, when they went and saw that portion which was allotted them, and found it much short of their expectation. One portion - Either, because they really had but one lot, which was afterwards divided by the arbitrators between them. Or, because the land severally allotted to them, was but little enough for one of them.
jos 17:15A great people - He retorts their own argument; seeing thou art a great and numerous people, turn thy complaints into action, and enlarge thy borders by thy own hand, to which thou mayest confidently expect God's assistance. The wood - country - To the mountain, as it is called, Jos 17:18, where among some towns there is much wood - land, which thou mayest without much difficulty possess, and so get the more room. And cut down - The wood, for thy own advantage; in building more cities and towns; and preparing the land for pasture and tillage. The Perizzites - Supposed to be a savage and brutish kind of people, that lived in woods and mountains. Giants - Who lived in caves and mountains, now especially when they were driven out of their cities. If mount Ephraim - Or, seeing mount Ephraim is too narrow for thee, as thou complainest; take to thyself the rest of that hilly and wood country. Mount Ephraim was a particular portion of the land, belonging to the tribe of Ephraim. And this seems to be here mentioned, for all the portion allotted to Ephraim and Manasseh, as appears from their complaint, which was not, that this part, but that their whole portion was too strait for them.
jos 17:16Is not enough - Heb. the hill will not be found, that is, obtained by us; those fierce and strong people the Perizzites and the giants will easily defend themselves, and frustrate our attempts, having the advantage of the woods and mountains. The Canaanites that dwell - That is, and if thou sayest, that if the hill either cannot be conquered, or is not sufficient for us, we may go down and take more land out of the pleasant and fruitful valleys, we shall meet with no less difficulty there than in the mountains. Chariots of iron - Not all made of iron, but armed with iron, not only for defence, but for offence also, having as it were scythes and swords fastened to them, to cut down all that stood in their way.
jos 17:17One lot only - Thou needest and deservedst more than that lot, of which thou art actually possessed, and thou hast power to get more; which if thou endeavourest to do, God will bless thee, and give thee more.
jos 17:18The out - goings of it - The valleys and fields belonging or adjoining to it, for there the Canaanites were, Jos 17:16.