These two chapters are a single unit, discussing the inheritance allotted to the tribe of Joseph. We must remember that Jacob in Genesis 48 blessed Joseph as his favourite son to receive a double portion of his father’s blessings through each of his sons. Joseph’s sons, therefore, replaced Joseph and Levi in the order of inheritance.
- Equality in the Kingdom of God 17:3-6
- The order of inheritance in Israel was that daughters did not inherit land together with their brothers. The five daughters of Zelophehad asked to claim their father’s estate. This is the second time they were asking. In Numbers 27:1-11 the matter had been brought before the Lord and He had given a favourable answer to them. The truth given here will guide the story of Naomi in the book of Ruth. I am told the same rules are used to pass on the throne of England.
- This teaches us that women must push for their space in the Kingdom of God in line with the blessings God has given them.
- The confidence and courage of the daughters of Zelophehad is a great example for us not to keep quiet in the face of discrimination.
2. Half Full or Half Empty 17:14
- The whole tribe came together and complained to Joshua that he had given them a small portion of land. Despite having received land from the river to the coast. They were claiming the blessing of Genesis 48 so that they would receive even more than they had received.
- Their claim was not legitimate. They were instigated by others among them who were greedy. In 16:10 and 17:13 we are told that they had not even occupied all the land they had been given.
- This is the case of the cup filled halfway. A greedy person sees it as half empty and complains while a grateful person sees it as half full and is full of gratitude. Ephraim and Manasseh should have remembered the favour they were given one tribe inheriting two portions.
2. Complainers must be Answered
- Joshua does not keep quiet about his complaints about Joseph.
- He does not add more land than allotted.
- He reminds them that they have to clear the forest in the hills and drive out the Canaanites. There is no free land for them to be given.
- Complainers and lazy people should learn this lesson well enough.