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GILEAD AND BASHAN; OR, THE PRE-MOSAIC MANASSITE CONQUEST.
BY THE REV. HENRY HAYMAN, D.D.
Ir is a curious question, Why should the cause célèbre of the Zelophehad heiresses crop up in the tribe of Manasseh and in its eastern branch just where we find it? And one wider and no less curious, Why should Manasseh have. had an eastern branch, any more than Ephraim or Judah? We find that heiress-question emerging in Numbers. xxvii., just after the numbering of the Tribes. They demand "a possession," a "possession of inheritance" (ver. 4, 7); and the direction given (ver. 7) is, "Thou shalt cause the inheritance of their father to pass unto them." And this at once becomes (ver. 11) the basis of "a statute of judgment," "If a man die," etc. (ver. 8), precisely similar in form to laws found in Lev. xv. 2, 19; xxiv. 15, et al.1
This aptly illustrates the genesis of laws out of cases decided, and justifies the process exemplified in the BIBLIOTHECA SACRA for October, 1896, "The Great Pentateuchal Difficulty Met"; and since in the Churchman, March, 1897,-that, viz., of translating a judgment back into its. facts of origin, and taking these as indicating a social system then existing. It was shown in that October number that a "judgment" in the original sense of the term does
The A. V. renders the conditional clause in such statutes sometimes by "if," sometimes by "when"; but the same Hebrew particle is represented in either case.
not presuppose a law existing, but emanates from the judge as a decision pro re nata, which a divine afflatus is believed to communicate to him at the moment. Now I take it that the phrase "a statute of judgment" means a statute founded on a judgment, and recognized as having either a general character, or at least a governing power over other similar cases. Such was the character of this famous decision. It becomes a "statute unto the b'ne Israel"; and I may add, retrospectively to the argument traced in the October number, that the "judgments" therein dealt with presumably either, in like manner, became "statutes," or were committed to writing with a view to their becoming such.
With the fact of the question emerging at this particular time, viz., after the latter of the two "numberings," and of its arising in the tribe of Manasseh, is to be connected the fact of the unparalleled increase in the total of that tribe, as compared with the same at the earlier census (Num. i. 35; xxvi. 34). The grand total of all the tribes shows a slight decrease, and amongst those particular tribes, other than Manasseh, which had increased, the greatest proportionate increase is found in Benjamin; which, however, does not reach twenty-nine per cent. In Manasseh, on the contrary, we find an increase of over sixty-three per cent. I do not mean that this vast increment gave direct occasion to a disputed heritage, but that they both result from the same antecedents. Those antecedents form the then most recent event in the Mosaic history-the conquest and annexation of the kingdoms of Sihon and Og. In that conquest I shall try to show that the tribe of Manasseh had-what has hitherto been unsuspected by critics-a præ-Mosaic share. Out of this springs the curious and hitherto unexplained fact that, whereas Moses is, at once after that conquest, beset by a request from the two preeminently pastoral tribes, Dan and Reuben only, to obtain
an immediate settlement there (and that request is under conditions at once conceded, expressly on the grounds of their having "much cattle," Num. xxxii. 4, 16, 24; Deut. iii. 19); in that concession is included the half-tribe of Manasseh without any such reason urged, without even any petition from its leaders, and seemingly without any explicit explanation afterwards. The request comes from two tribes, the concession is awarded to two and a half, and parallel to this we trace the enormous increase in the tribal total of Manasseh; and then, on the top of all this, comes the question of the Zelophehad heiresses. More curiously yet, we find among the items of the Joshuan settlement one which (Josh. xix. 34) indicates a detached portion of the tribe of Judah as settled "on or by Jordan toward the sunrising." All these hang from the same thread, and that thread it is my present object to trace.
Into the details of the Manassite allotment (Josh. xvii. 2-9), which would lead us into purely local minutiæ, we need not now enter. But the two questions above stated are closely connected, and the first important point is to notice that the "inheritance of their fathers" is spoken of as though it were actually in existence,-not future nor contingent, but a present vacancy waiting to be filled. The formal delimitation of their landed estate may possibly be reserved until the general allotment in Joshua xvii., but in the Gilead-Hepher line that estate stood undoubtedly vested. That there was some clearly established title, so familiar, at the time of Moses' action of assigning “Gilead to Machir" (Deut. iii. 15), that to record it was superfluous, seems certain from the matter-of-course way in which half Manasseh is thrown in with Reuben and Gad in Num. xxxii. 33. Only the condition of armed service in the western wars under Joshua is imposed on all alike. What then could the Manassite title to eastern territory 1 See the tables following on pp. 33, 37.
be founded on? Possibly on præ-Mosaic conquests; and then the closing section of Numbers xxxii. (ver. 39-42) contains not a record of any special share of the persons mentioned in the then recent (Sihon-Og) campaigns, but one of earlier Manassite achievements in the same region. In showing the probability of this being so, I am constrained to appeal to the early genealogies, including those of First Chronicles. But I use them chiefly to show the affinity of the two houses of Judah and Joseph, on which turns an important question of detail, affecting this larger' one of the period to which these Manassite conquests belong. It is here proper to remark, that we cannot rely on these genealogies as giving all the actual links, nor, therefore, as covering by the links given the whole interval of time between the head of the line and the last descendant named in the register. Lord A. C. Hervey1 notices that "Just as, in the very first division into tribes, Manasseh and Ephraim were numbered with their uncles, as if they had been sons instead of grandsons, so afterwards, the names of persons belonging to different generations would often stand side by side, as heads of families or houses, and be called the sons of their common ancestor." It follows, that "the sequence of generations may represent the succession to such or such an inheritance of headship of tribe or family, rather than the relationship of father and son;" and further, "that great caution is necessary in using them as measures of time, though they are invaluable for this purpose whenever we can be sure that they are complete." Accordingly it is not uncommon for descendants in any degree to be called, especially where tribal interest only is concerned, "sons" of the first head of their tribe. Thus the "sons of Gilead" in Num. xxvi. 30 appear as "male children of Manasseh" (the original tribal head and Gilead's father) in Josh. xvii. 2, being, in fact, grandsons, or 1 Dict. of Bible (2d ed.), i. p. 1144а. 2 Ibid.