Growing up, I always thought my brother was the favorite child. It seemed I always got in trouble, and he didn’t. Years later, he shared with me how he always learned from my mistakes and was better at not getting caught! You might remember the story of Jacob’s favorite son, Joseph. His brothers were extremely jealous of how their father favored Joseph.
As that story played out, we know that Joseph went on to be great in the land of Egypt. Eventually, it was Joseph who saved his family from a severe famine that was killing many. I suppose we could speculate that is why his descendants are now getting a double portion of land. God wanted to reward Joseph in this way.
When you look at the map of the tribes provided in our last reading, you can see that the size of the portions being described in this passage aren’t the biggest. But Joseph’s portion was divided between his sons, Ephraim and Manasseh. Their offspring would have their own region, kind of like having their own bedrooms as kids. They didn’t have to share like all the other offspring of the original twelve brothers.
Manasseh is the only tribe to have its share split on the east and west side of the Jordan River. Being near water like that, I’m sure the land was rich and fertile. We’ll dive more into Manasseh’s inheritance in our next reading.
When I imagine the tribes all dispersing to their own lands, I see empty, deserted towns remaining from what they conquered a few chapters back. In some cases, it appears that some of the people remained and were still alive. “They did not drive the Canaanites out of Gezer, however, so the people of Gezer live as slaves among the people of Ephraim to this day.” The tribe of Ephraim would presumably learn to live with people that believed differently from them.
What happens when you encounter someone that believes differently than you do? I suppose we could run the other way and avoid them altogether, find it an opportunity to witness, try to co-exist while ignoring each other, or give in to our curiosity and become like them instead.
Or we could simply cry out to God. Thank him for allowing a non-believer to be in your midst. Ask him to show you how you should respond. Always lead with love. That’s what Jesus would do, isn’t it? But we do need to be careful. We know that we can often be weak. I’ve found myself to be a bit uneducated when it comes to different “new age,” spirituality and such “progressive” type theologies. I am beyond blessed to live with a scholar who can share with me the truth based on Scripture.
Take some time today to ask God to bless the portion he has given you. That portion of his creation he has entrusted to you.
Let’s pray … Lord, thank you for all of the blessings I see around me. The beauty of Mexico never ceases to astound me, and this is just a sliver of your amazing world. You are my everything. May I be mindful of your presence. Equip me to be the best steward for the portion you have given me. In Jesus’ name. Amen.