Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary, 1859 edition.

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Josue 17

Josue xvii.

Ver. 1. Born. Machir was the only son of Manasses. But the Scripture uses the word first-born for such, as it does for our Saviour, Matthew i. (Menochius) --- If Machir was living when Moses assigned the territory to the half tribe of Manasses, he must have been 180 years old. (Calmet) --- But he probably received the inheritance only in his posterity. (Haydock) --- Galaad did not give his name to the country, as it was called so in the days of Jacob. Perhaps he took his name from the land, as many noblemen do, though he is styled Galaad before the war against Sehon commenced, Numbers xxvi. 29. By giving Ephraim the preference before his elder brother, Jacob did not deprive the latter of his birth-right. (Calmet) --- In effect, Manasses was partly (Haydock) provided for before Ephraim received any portion. (Calmet) --- This, however, was a privilege, and not a right. He had also two allotments, because his numbers required so much land. (Haydock)

Ver. 2. Children here comprises grandchildren, &c. These who are specified sprang from Galaad or from Jair, as they all dwelt on the east side of the Jordan, 1 Paralipomenon v. 23., and vii. 14. (Calmet)

Ver. 4. Father, adjoining to Ephraim. See Numbers xxvii., and xxxvi.

Ver. 5. Jordan. Some of the families, which had possessions there already, were permitted to have a share on the west side also. Here Manasses had ten portions, schœnus, or cords, which Herodotus (ii. 6,) reckons to contain each 60 stadia; so that he would have 600 stadia, (Calmet) or at least half of that quantity, chap. xv. 58. (Herodotus ii.) (Haydock) --- There were six sons and five daughters to be provided for. But the portion of Hepher, the father of Salphaad, being given to his granddaughters, he is not counted. (Masius) --- The Jews say the five daughters had only four portions, two for their grandfather, who, they say, was the eldest of the family; one for their father, and another for their uncle, who died without children. (Selden) --- But of this no proof is adduced. (Calmet) --- The five daughters would only have the one portion, which would have been enjoyed by the father. (Menochius) See 1 Paralipomenon v. 23.

Ver. 7. Aser was contiguous to Machmethath, 15 miles from Sichem, towards Scythopolis. (St. Jerome) (Calmet) --- The limits of Manasses are described from the south, where he joins Ephraim, chap. xvi. 6. (Calmet)

Ver. 8. Taphua; which city, though situated in the territory of Manasses, belonged to Ephraim, (Worthington) as the Hebrew intimates.

Ver. 10. East. These two tribes are contiguous to the tribe of Joseph, taken all together, ver. 14. (Menochius) --- Aser extended as far as Mount Carmel, which was not far from Dor, a city of Manasses, ver. 11., chap. xix. 26. The tribes of Issachar and of Zabulon seem, indeed, to come between Manasses and Aser; so that we might say, that the tribe of Joseph finding itself too much straitened, was forced to seek for more room in the cities of the other tribes, which we find it really inhabited, ver. 11. We might avoid all difficulties, by translating "they invaded (or made an irruption into) the tribe of Aser," &c., as the Hebrew will allow. Thus Dan conquered Lais, which lies at so great a distance from his own portion, and the tribes of Juda and Simeon were frequently intermixed. (Calmet) --- Aser and Manasses may, however, have been really united on the north-west, or Mediterranean point. (Menochius)

Ver. 11. In Aser. The following towns were upon the frontiers of these two tribes, (Menochius) or they properly belonged to them respectively. But the children of Manasses took possession of them, after conquering by degrees, the former inhabitants, who were suffered to live among them, as the Jebusites were for some time, at Jerusalem, chap. xv. 63. (Haydock) --- Bethsan, or Scythopolis, as it was called by the Greeks, after the Scythians had invaded those countries, (Herodotus l. 105,) in the year of the world 3391, almost 100 years from the destruction of the kingdom of Israel. Unless these Scythians may rather be the Cutheans, who were sent to people the kingdom of Samaria, most of whom embraced the Jewish religion, while those of Bethsan adhered to their ancient idolatry, and therefore retained their name. Even in the days of Josephus, most of the inhabitants were heathens: the kings of Juda were not able to subdue them entirely. Bethsan was situated to the south of the sea of Tiberias, 600 stadia from Jerusalem; (2 Machabees xii. 29,) that is, about 37 leagues, (Calmet) or 111 miles. (Haydock) --- Dor, nine miles north of Cęsarea. --- Endor, "the fountain of Dor," four miles south of Mount Thabor. (Eusebius) --- Here Saul consulted the witch, 1 Kings xxxviii. 7. --- Thenac, near Legion, and the torrent of Cisson, where Barac gained a victory, Judges v. --- Nopheth, means "a canton," and thus Manasses may have had three portions of land round the three aforesaid cities, in which sense it is translated, chap. xi. 2. (Calmet; Masius) --- But Serarius takes Nopheth to mean a city, (Menochius) agreeably to the Septuagint, "the third part of Naphetha, and its villages." (Haydock) --- The other two parts of the city might be occupied by Zabulon. (Bonfrere) --- No mention is made of Nopheth, Judges i. 27. (Haydock)

Ver. 12. Could, because they would not, Judges i. 27. The children of Manasses took these cities; but not putting the inhabitants to death, the latter got possession again, as was the case with respect to many other cities taken (Calmet) and destroyed (Haydock) by Josue. Hebrew, "the Chanaanite consented to dwell," &c. The Israelites spared their lives on their paying tribute; and this prevarication was the cause of their being afterwards reduced to submit to the yoke of these nations. (Calmet) (Judges ii. 20., Deuteronomy xx. 16.) (Menochius) --- The Chanaaite dwelt with Manasses for a time; (Worthington) perhaps they were never wholly expelled. (Haydock)

Ver. 14. Spoke. Septuagint, "contradicted Josue." In effect, they spoke with a good deal of emotion. --- Portion. Hebrew, "cord." (Calmet) --- They addressed themselves to the general, before their territory was divided. (Masius) --- Or they insinuate that the portion allotted to them both, would scarcely suffice for one tribe, and there was but little room for them to enlarge their dominions by subduing the Chanaanites, as the rest might do. Manasses was most concerned, as his numbers had increased 20,500 since he left Egypt, while his brother had diminished, Numbers xxvi. 34. (Calmet) --- But then he had an extensive country on the other side of the Jordan. (Haydock)

Ver. 16. Thee. Destroy the Pherezite, &c., (Menochius) take their cities, and destroy the inhabitants, like so many trees, or cut down the wood to build houses, and in order to cultivate the land for the production of corn and grass.

Ver. 17. Iron, armed with scythes, who will obstruct our passage to the mountains, as we dare not encounter them in the open field. (Haydock) (4 Kings xx. 23.) --- Hebrew, "the hill is not enough for us, (or it will not be found, or be attacked by us) and all the Chanaanites," &c. (Calmet) --- Septuagint, "the mountain of Ephraim will not contain us; all the Chanaanites who dwell in the land of Emek, (or of the valley) in Bethsan, and its villages, and in the vale of Jezrael, have chosen cavalry and iron." (Haydock) --- They are invincible. (Calmet) --- The slothful man saith there is a lion without, Proverbs xxii. 13. Josue over-rules the cowardly objection, and argues, from their own boasting, that they were numerous enough to overcome all their opponents. He was himself of the tribe of Ephraim. (Haydock) --- Valley, extending about 10,000 paces from Bethsan to Legion. Jezrael was in the middle of it, and is attributed to Issachar, chap. xix. 18. But it was probably on the frontiers of Manasses, who seems to have spoken as if it would belong to the first who had driven out the Chanaanites. The kings of Israel had a palace at Jezrael, and the vineyard of Naboth being contiguous to it, gave occasion to the sin of Jazabel, and to the destruction of Achab's family, 3 Kings xxi. 1. In this vale, Gedeon routed the Madianites, Judges vi. 33.

Ver. 18. Mountain, probably of Gelboe, as that of Ephraim was not sufficient, ver. 15. Gelboe extended almost as far as Bethsan, and it would afford a fine opportunity of attacking the nations below. Josue persists in his first resolution; and though of the same tribe, he is so little actuated by partiality towards his brethren, that they alone seem to have been dissatisfied with their portion. (Calmet)