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Calvin's Commentaries, Vol. 7: Joshua, tr. by John King, [1847-50], at


Joshua 16:1-10

1. And the lot of the children of Joseph fell from Jordan by Jericho, unto the water of Jericho on the east, to the wilderness that goeth up from Jericho throughout mount Bethel,

1. Egressa est autem sors filiis Joseph a Jordane Jericho, ad aquas Jericho ad orientem, ad desertum quod ascendit a Jericho in montem Beth-el.

2. And goeth out from Bethel to Luz, and passes along unto the borders of Archi to Ataroth,

2. Egrediturque a Beth-el in Luz, et hinc pertransit ad terminum Archi-Atoroth.

3. And goeth down westward to the coast of Japhleti, unto the coast of Bethhoron the nether, and to Gezer: and the goings out thereof are at the sea.

3. Postea ascendit ad mare, ad terminum Japhleti usque ad terminum Beth-horon inferiorem et usque ad Gazer, suntque exitus ejus ad mare.

4. So the children of Joseph, Manasseh and Ephraim, took their inheritance.

4. Itaque haereditatem acceperunt ilii Joseph, Manasses et Ephraim.

5. And the border of the children of Ephraim according to their families was thus: even the border of their inheritance on the east side was Atarothaddar, unto Bethhoron the upper;

5. Fuit autem terminus filiorum Ephraim per familias suas: fuitinquam, terminus haereditatis eorum ad orientem ab Atroh-Addar, usque ad Beth-horon superiorem.

6. And the border went out toward the sea to Michmethah on the north side; and the border went about eastward unto Taanathshiloh, and passed by it on the east to Janohah;

6. Et exit terminus ille ad mare, ad Michmethah ab aquilone: et circumit terminus ad orientem, ad Thaanath-siloh, et transit illam ab oriente ad Janoah.

7. And it went down from Janohah to Ataroth, and to Naarath, and came to Jericho, and went out at Jordan.

7. Et descendit a Janoah in Ataroth, et Naarath, et pervenit in Jericho, egrediturque ad Jordanem.

8. The border went out from Tappuah westward unto the river Kanah; and the goings out thereof were at the sea. This is the inheritance of the tribe of the children of Ephraim by their families.

8. A Thappuah pergit terminus ad mare ad torrentem arundinis, suntque exitus ejus ad mare, haec est hereditas tribus filiorum Ephraim per familias suas.

9. And the separate cities for the children of Ephraim were among the inheritance of the children of Manasseh, all the cities with their villages.

9. Et urbes separatae filiis Ephraim in medio haereditatis filiorum Manasse, omnes urbes, et villae earum.

10. And they drave not out the Canaanites that dwelt in Gezer: but the Canaanites dwell among the Ephraimites unto this day, and serve under tribute.

10. Neque expulerunt Chananaeum habitantem in Gazer. Itaque habitavit Chananaeus in medio Ephraim usque ad diem hanc, et fuit tributo serviens.


1. And the lot of the children of Joseph fell, etc The sacred writer first states what the lot was which fell to the two children of Joseph, and then describes the lot of Ephraim. It is strange, however, that when the half of the tribe of Manasseh had already been settled beyond the Jordan, more words are employed in describing the remaining half than in describing the whole of the inheritance of the tribe of Ephraim, though the latter was the more populous, and justly claimed for itself a larger territory. But the longer detail given concerning the posterity of Manasseh is owing to particular circumstances. First, the writer repeats how a settlement had been given them without lot in the country of Basan. Secondly, he mentions the ratification by Joshua of the command which Moses had given by divine authority in regard to the daughters of Selophead. Seeing, then, there was no doubt in regard to the boundaries of Ephraim, and there was no danger of dispute, their allocation is only briefly glanced at.

But here a new question arises. When the right of primogeniture had passed from Manasseh to Ephraim, how did the posterity of that tribe which had precedence in rank obtain their cities among the children of Manasseh? For theirs seems in this way to have been the inferior condition. My explanation is this, When the portion of Manasseh was too extensive in proportion to the amount of population, a calculation was made, and certain cities were deducted to complete the just share of the tribe of Ephraim; not that they were mixed up with the children of Manasseh, to hold their dwellings among them by a precarious tenure,  153 but their boundaries were merely extended in the direction of the Manassites whom a narrower possession might suffice.

In the end of the chapter, Ephraim is severely censured for his effeminacy in not having expelled the Canaanites from Gezer. For had they proceeded in a manly and hearty manner to make good their right to the land which had fallen to them by lot, the victory was in their hands. There would have been no temerity in the attempt, since the decision of the lot was as valid as if the Lord himself had stretched forth his hand from heaven. But their disgraceful sloth is more clearly expressed and their culpability greatly heightened by the fact, that they made tributaries of those with whom it was not lawful to enter into any kind of arrangement. Seeing, then, God had distinctly forbidden his people to transact business of any kind with those nations, and least of all to enter into pactions with them, stipulating for their pardon and safety, the Ephraimites sinned much more grievously in exacting tribute than if they had tolerated them without paction.  154



Latin, “Quasi precario.” French, “Comme par emprunt ou par prieres;” “As by loan or by entreaty.” — Ed.


A long clause is here added by the Septuagint, to the effect that the Canaanite continued to dwell in Ephraim till Pharaoh, king of Egypt, came up and took it, drove out the Canaanites, Perizzites, and dwellers in Gezer, and gave it as a dowry to his daughter, (who had married Solomon.) — Ed.

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