Devotionals Archive

Daybreak: Joshua 16:1 through 17:18

Feb 13, 2021

“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.” (Joshua 17:18)

Perhaps you have heard your children wail, “It’s too hard!” Maybe it was your preschooler trying to tie his shoes, or a third-grader working on a math problem. It could be that you yourself have moaned, “It’s too hard,” regarding a project or a problem. Most of us have looked at the activities or feats of others and said they were too hard for us to do. I would never try to scale a sheer rock cliff or give a piano concert. It would be much too hard!

In today’s text, Manasseh and Ephraim, the children of Joseph, complained to Joshua that it was too hard to take the wooded country where the giants lived. In addition to their size, the Canaanites had chariots of iron! However, Joshua encouraged the children of Joseph that they could overcome them. Did he respond in that way because he thought Manasseh and Ephraim were strong enough to outfight or smart enough to outwit the Canaanites? No, Joshua’s response was driven by his focus. Rather than looking at the situation from a human perspective, Joshua was looking at God’s promises to Israel, at the past victories that God had helped them win, and the fact that it was God’s expressed will for the people to take the land.

Are you facing a situation, a consecration, or a trial that looks too hard? If so, ask God to show you His will in the matter. Once you know God’s attitude on the issue, inventory where your focus is. Are you looking at the situation and allowing it to overwhelm you? Remember, God will never give you something too hard to do. He will give grace and strength for whatever faces you. He wants you to review His promises, rehearse the past victories He has given you, and ask for His grace.

With God in the lead, you can have the victory even though the circumstances you face may seem impossible!


No tribe was named after Joseph — Jacob’s first son by Rachel — because Joseph actually received a double portion. A tribe was named after each of his sons, Manasseh and Ephraim. Though Manasseh was the older son, Jacob named Ephraim first when he counted them among his sons. These two tribes brought Israel’s inheriting tribes to twelve, because the tribe of Levi did not receive a territory. Together these tribes were a large number of people and were given a large territory as their inheritance. This area eventually became the northern portion of Israel’s heartland.

God had commanded Israel to possess the land of Canaan, and He intended that they destroy the people of the land. However, this text shows that both Ephraim and Manasseh made the choice not to drive out the inhabitants, but rather to have them “serve under tribute.” At that time, this course might have seemed easier, but later the Children of Israel reaped the results of these choices. The people and the pagan practices of Canaan caused the Israelites much grief by enticing them away from God.

What a contrast there was between Caleb, who, at 85 years of age, asked for his promised possession even though it had giants in it, and these children of Joseph, who complained because they did not have enough land and yet had not possessed what they had been given! They wanted an inheritance that they did not have to work or fight for.

Years earlier, God had given Moses instructions regarding an inheritance for Zelophehad’s daughters. Because they had no brothers, these women determined to preserve their father’s name and inheritance for future generations. When they came to remind Joshua of the command given at least ten years before, he — in the faithfulness that was his pattern — did exactly what God had directed through Moses.

Amplified Outline

(Hannah’s Bible Outlines – Used by permission per WORDsearch)

II.   The land divided
     C.   The apportionment of Canaan
           4.   The assignment to the sons of Joseph (16:1 — 17:18)
                 a.   The dimensions of the apportionment (16:1-3)
                 b.   The assignment to Ephraim (16:4-10)
                 c.   The assignment to Manasseh (17:1-13)
                       (1)   The portion (17:1-6)
                       (2)   The borders (17:7-13)
                 d.   The complaint of the sons of Joseph (17:14-18)

A Closer Look

  1. When did the Children of Israel put the Canaanites “to tribute”?
  2. How might the children of Joseph have expected Joshua to respond when they talked to him about their inheritance?
  3. Give some examples of problems or situations that might seem overwhelming to you today. How can you encourage yourself to handle those problems or situations as God wants you to?


If you are looking at something today that seems “too hard,” why not challenge yourself to look to God instead. He can give you the “wooded land” in spite of the “giants” and the “iron chariots.”

Reference Materials