Joshua Chapter Sixteen: Empowering Women in the Purposes of God. In this chapter a group of women is given inheritance in the land by Joshua. This was unheard of in ancient times when women were regarded as little more than livestock. Even today women are often not accorded the same standing the God conspicuously gives them in spiritual matters. In the instance recorded in this chapter we see the foundation for equality, acknowledgement and deference to the place that women hold in the kingdom of God.
Joshua Chapter Seventeen: Empowering Women in the Purposes of God. In this chapter a group of women is given inheritance in the land by Joshua. This was unheard of in ancient times when women were regarded as little more than livestock. Even today women are often not accorded the same standing the God conspicuously gives them in spiritual matters. In the instance recorded in this chapter we see the foundation for equality, acknowledgement and deference to the place that women hold in the kingdom of God.
Today: [Joshua Chapter Seventeen]:
[Jos 17:1-18 KJV] 1 There was also a lot for the tribe of Manasseh; for he [was] the firstborn of Joseph; [to wit], for Machir the firstborn of Manasseh, the father of Gilead: because he was a man of war, therefore he had Gilead and Bashan. 2 There was also [a lot] for the rest of the children of Manasseh by their families; for the children of Abiezer, and for the children of Helek, and for the children of Asriel, and for the children of Shechem, and for the children of Hepher, and for the children of Shemida: these [were] the male children of Manasseh the son of Joseph by their families. 3 But Zelophehad, the son of Hepher, the son of Gilead, the son of Machir, the son of Manasseh, had no sons, but daughters: and these [are] the names of his daughters, Mahlah, and Noah, Hoglah, Milcah, and Tirzah. 4 And they came near before Eleazar the priest, and before Joshua the son of Nun, and before the princes, saying, The LORD commanded Moses to give us an inheritance among our brethren. Therefore according to the commandment of the LORD he gave them an inheritance among the brethren of their father. 5 And there fell ten portions to Manasseh, beside the land of Gilead and Bashan, which [were] on the other side Jordan; 6 Because the daughters of Manasseh had an inheritance among his sons: and the rest of Manasseh’s sons had the land of Gilead.
In this chapter the division of the land by cast of the Urim and Thummim continues. When the verses says “the daughters came near to the high priest…” It is implying the ritual by which the Urim and the Thummim were consulted. The supplicant would stand near the high priest and whisper their question and then the lot would be cast giving the answer. It was already established by Moses who consulted God at the time that these ladies would receive an inheritance of land because their father died without a brother. Now the decision would be on exactly what land they would inherit – which was decided by consulting the Urim and the Thummim.
There are several things to make note of. First of all this is a rare instance of gender based equality because women were not given the same legal status as men in the ancient world. In ancient times usually women were held legal rights not much higher than livestock. Yet here God has afforded these daughers of Machir a rightful inheritance. This is even more striking when you bear in mind that their father was the first man executed for violating the law by picking up sticks on the Sabbath.
Throughout the scriptures women are accorded a respect and standing that is almost unprecedented in ancient times.
[Gal 3:28 KJV] 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.
In Christian culture leadership is still greatly male dominated arising from traditions that started in the middle ages when only men could serve in the priesthood and they were required to be celibate. Along with the curse of the vow of poverty the vow of celibacy that emerged in the middle ages is a demonic curse from hell and is a direct affront to the value of women in the purposes of. During the dark ages the Pope enforced celibacy and pastor’s wives were forcibly separated from their minister husbands and branded as “whores of the devil” and their children “bastards” by the ancient church. Even before the sacraments given by married priests were considered invalid and people wouldn’t go to them. Pastor’s wives have born this stigma and curse right down to the present day. Of all the roles and positions of the present Christian culture the role of pastor’s wife is least envied and often least respected.
The acknowledgment of women in leadership is clearly testified to by the Prophet Joel:
[Joe 2:28 KJV] 28 And it shall come to pass afterward, [that] I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions:
Those who protest the role of women in leadership ignore the fact that there are many women apostles mentioned in the New Testament including among others Priscilla and Junia. Almost every house church in the first century church included women elders. Many people use 1 Tim. 2:12 to say that a woman cannot lead in the church. However while the verse does say a woman should not usurp authority over a man that is not the same thing as saying she cannot have that same authority.
Why would God mention this at all? Because a woman has an advantage over a man in all social interactions even an unfair advantage. The scripture is implying that a woman is not to impose a presumptive compliance upon a man just because she is a women. Every son and every husband intrinsically understands this power of a women in the social contract that exists between men and women. Mary herself demonstrated this with Jesus at the wedding in Cana. The verse in 1 Timothy and others like it are cautioning a women not to use her status as a woman to enforce her will in church matters particularly leadership. This position is a balance between those who completely ignore this issue like it doesn’t matter when scripture plainly addresses it and the opposite view of those who totally reject women in leadership when God obviously gives them the same status of men.
7 And the coast of Manasseh was from Asher to Michmethah, that [lieth] before Shechem; and the border went along on the right hand unto the inhabitants of Entappuah. 8 [Now] Manasseh had the land of Tappuah: but Tappuah on the border of Manasseh [belonged] to the children of Ephraim; 9 And the coast descended unto the river Kanah, southward of the river: these cities of Ephraim [are] among the cities of Manasseh: the coast of Manasseh also [was] on the north side of the river, and the outgoings of it were at the sea: 10 Southward [it was] Ephraim’s, and northward [it was] Manasseh’s, and the sea is his border; and they met together in Asher on the north, and in Issachar on the east. 11 And Manasseh had in Issachar and in Asher Bethshean and her towns, and Ibleam and her towns, and the inhabitants of Dor and her towns, and the inhabitants of Endor and her towns, and the inhabitants of Taanach and her towns, and the inhabitants of Megiddo and her towns, [even] three countries. 12 Yet the children of Manasseh could not drive out [the inhabitants of] those cities; but the Canaanites would dwell in that land. 13 Yet it came to pass, when the children of Israel were waxen strong, that they put the Canaanites to tribute; but did not utterly drive them out.
Mannaseh and Ephraim were the half tribes of Joseph. We saw in the previous chapter that Ephraim being the largest and strongest tribe in Israel refused to obey Moses’ command and drive out the Canaanites. Now their sister-tribe Mannaseh follows suit in putting the Canaanites to the tribute instead which left the door open for centuries of revolt and war between the Canaanites and the people of God. The tribe of Mannaseh was unable to drive out the Canaanites but where was the tribe of Israel which was commanded to assist the other eleven tribes in their battles till the enemies were completely vanquished?
14 And the children of Joseph spake unto Joshua, saying, Why hast thou given me [but] one lot and one portion to inherit, seeing I [am] a great people, forasmuch as the LORD hath blessed me hitherto? 15 And Joshua answered them, If thou [be] a great people, [then] get thee up to the wood [country], and cut down for thyself there in the land of the Perizzites and of the giants, if mount Ephraim be too narrow for thee.
Now notice the attitude of the two half tribes (Ephraim and Mannaseh). They refused to cooperate in the plan to drive out the Canaanites. They also demanded to be able to settle outside the land of Canaan on the other side of Jordan. They continually demanded special treatment and special consideration but never followed through on the things God required of them. This was a great disadvantage to the rest of the people which they never took responsibility for or even acknowledged that it was their fault that the Canaanites remained unconquered in their lands and brought ruin and revolt and warfare for generations to the nation of Israel. The lukewarmness and selfishness of these two tribes set the precedent that God’s people could be defeated and forced to negotiate. By doing this the tribe of Ephraim and Mannaseh squandered and brought disrepute upon the memory of their ancestor Joseph.
If you look at Joseph as a type of Jesus we can also see two great tribes that arose from Jesus called Protestantism and Catholicism. These are the two great divisions in the Christian culture. They are Ephraim and Manasseh. We can find in our religious histories of these two groups the same failures that marred the campaigns of conquest to take the promise land.
16 And the children of Joseph said, The hill is not enough for us: and all the Canaanites that dwell in the land of the valley have chariots of iron, [both they] who [are] of Bethshean and her towns, and [they] who [are] of the valley of Jezreel. 17 And Joshua spake unto the house of Joseph, [even] to Ephraim and to Manasseh, saying, Thou [art] a great people, and hast great power: thou shalt not have one lot [only]: 18 But the mountain shall be thine; for it [is] a wood, and thou shalt cut it down: and the outgoings of it shall be thine: for thou shalt drive out the Canaanites, though they have iron chariots, [and] though they [be] strong.
Don’t Christians today complain with the same words that the children of Joseph did? They say “our church is not big enough and the people in the world are judging us (chariots of iron represent judgment). They are looking at their limitations and complaining about what God has given to others. This is so common in the church today and fosters great enmity between denominations and groups. Joshua as a type of Jesus say “go up to the mountain and hew down the wood …” Wood is a type of the flesh. In other words deal with you own fleshly worldly and selfish nature. Is there any shortage of lost people? It is amazing in light of a world of unconverted people that churches and groups and denominations have the stupefying audacity to compete with each other and tear each other down demanding for themselves the fruits of other men’s labors in the gospel. Is there not a cause? Is there not open territory in the world ready to be conquered if we would only see each other as Joshua said “you are a great people and a great power! Go out and take your territory!”
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