Sunday, December 10, 2017

Joshua: Chapter 16

Are we one or two
Emeshed in each other
We have no seperate space

[For full chapter, click here
This chapter continues the allotment of the Land to the tribes. From the inheritence of Judah, we move on to detail the inheritence of Joseph. The loaded word "approach" (g'sh), which introduced the interaction between he tribe of Judah and Joshua-of-Joseph in chapter 14 sets into place the allusion to the historic reapproachment of the brothers back in Genesis, which continues to resonate.Alotting the Land is returning to the issues of competition and jealousy that drove apart the brothers in Genesis. Joseph and Judah dominate that story, and it is they that lead the inheritence, in the dual figures of Joshua and Caleb, each of who leads the Land to "rest from war."
"This is the lot of the children of Joseph" opens the chapter, seemingly presenting a single inheritence. Yet Joseph was given the gift of a dual inheritence, and this tension of two-in-one drives the chapter. The chapter begins by presenting a single boundary, "going up from Jericho" (a fitting inheritence for Joseph, the only one of Jacob's sons to never "takes" what is not his).   Yet then it splits, "This is the border of the children of Ephraim." While this might seem to create a clear demarcation within the single block of "Joseph," Ephraim retains "the cities and their villages set aside for the children of Ephraim in the midst of the inheritence of the children of Menasse." The two brothers remain intertwined,  swallowed one within the other. This lack of seperation is echoed in the fact that Ephraim does not completly conquer their territory, but rather ingest the Canannites inhabitants, who "dwelt in the midst of Ephraim, unto this day, and became servants to do taskwork".
If the tribe of Menasse is split, its two sides becoming the sinews holding the two sides of the Jordan together, the tribe of Ephraim also lacks a unified contiguity. There is something in Joseph, beloved, desired, that evades the strict boundaries of self-and-other.]

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