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…
A grumbling reference seems to be made here by Ephraim to his brother Manasseh, who had received two lots, one on each side of the Jordan. Alas, how apt is the spirit of discontent still to crop up when we compare our lot with that of others! Were we quite alone, or were there no case for comparison, we might be content enough; it is when we think how much more our brother has than we that we are most liable to murmur. And, bad though murmuring and grieving at the good of our brother may be, it is by no means certain that the evil spirit will stop there. At the very dawn of history we find Cain the murderer of his brother because the one had the favour of God and not the other. What an evil feeling it is that grudges to our brother a larger share of God's blessing; if at the beginning it be not kept under it may carry us on to deeds that may well make us shudder. Joshua dealt very wisely and fearlessly with the complaint of Ephraim, though it was his own tribe. "You say you are a great people — be it so; but if you are a great people, you must be capable of great deeds. Two great undertakings are before you now. There are great woodlands in your lot that have not been cleared — direct your energies to them, and they will afford you more room for settlements. Moreover, the Canaanites are still in possession of s large portion of your lot; up and attack them and drive them out, and you will be furnished with another area for possession." Joshua accepted their estimate of their importance, but gave it a very different practical turn. We have all heard of the dying father who informed his sons that there was a valuable treasure in certain field, and counselled them to set to work to find it. With great care they turned up every morsel of the soil, but no treasure appeared, till, observing in autumn, what a rich crop covered the field, they came to understand that the fruit of persevering labour was the treasure which their father meant, We have heard, too, of a physician who was consulted by a rich man suffering cruelly from gout, and asked if he had any cure for it. "Yes," said the doctor, "live on sixpence a day, and work for it." The same principle underlay the counsel of Joshua. Of course it gratifies a certain part of our nature to get a mass of wealth without working for it. But this is not the best part of our nature. Probably in no class has the great object of life been so much lost and the habit of indolence and self-indulgence become so predominant as in that of young men born to the possession of a great fortune and never requiring to turn a hand for anything they desired. After all, the necessity of work is a great blessing. It guards from numberless temptations; it promotes a healthy body and a healthy mind; it increases the zest of life; it promotes cheerfulness and flowing spirits; it makes rest and healthy recreation far sweeter when they come, and it gives us affinity to the great Heavenly Worker, by whom, and through whom, and for whom are all things. This great principle of ordinary life has its place, too, in the spiritual economy. It is not the spiritual invalid, who is for ever feeling his pulse and whom every whiff of wind throws into a fever of alarm, that grows up to the full stature of the Christian; but the man who, like Paul, has his hands and his heart for ever full, and whose every spiritual fibre gains strength and vitality from his desires and labours for the good of others. And it is with Churches as with individuals. An idle Church is a stagnant Church, prone to strife, and to all morbid experiences. A Church that throws itself into the work of faith and labour of love is far more in the way to be spiritually healthy and strong.
(W. G. Blaikie, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: 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.
WEB: This was the lot for the tribe of Manasseh, for he was the firstborn of Joseph. As for Machir the firstborn of Manasseh, the father of Gilead, because he was a man of war, therefore he had Gilead and Bashan.