So, Joseph’s children each get a portion of the land, which is then further subdivided by their children. Of course, back in the day, children was inherently understood to mean male children, with it being expected that women would be taken care of via their husbands. “But Zelophehad, the son of Hepher, the son of Gilead, the son of Machir, the son of Menashe, had no sons, but daughters, and these are the names of his daughters: Mahlah and Noah, Hoglah, Milcah, and Tirzah (Joshua 17:3).” Zelophehad’s daughters had previously petitioned Moses, asking for their father’s inheritance to come to them. Now, they came to Eleazar the high priest and Joshua, asking for the fulfillment of this promise. This was granted, and the women became inheritors along with the men in the name of their father. Baby steps to be sure, but an important moment when women stood up for themselves.
Menashe and Ephraim divide up their portion of the land. They feel confined because they have so many Canaanites living among them that they’re unable to drive out, but Joshua refuses to give them more. Instead, he encourages them to conquer the rest of their land, driving out the previous inhabitants. “But the mountain shall be yours, for it is a forest, and you shall cut it down; and its outgoings shall be yours, for you shall drive out the Canaanite, though he has iron chariots and though he is strong (Joshua 17:18).” Again, this is hard to hear. No talk of modern values of coexistence and multiculturalism exists at this point. Instead, things are simple and often harsh. It’s not how we approach things today, and it’s easy to look at this as primitive and wrong. But nevertheless, it was the way of the world, and is part of our collective human history.