Joshua 16:1-17:28 (Part 2) – Southern Women: Bless Their Hearts

Posted: July 7, 2017 in 06-Joshua
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Joshua 16:1-17:18 (Part 2 of 2)
The Land Given to Ephraim and West Manasseh

You know, yesterday, I talked about Steel Magnolias and one of the many famous lines from that movie. I briefly mentioned that Southern women were the most amazingly complex creatures on the planet. I have lived in California for three years and I have traveled to many places around our nation and our globe over my adult life, mainly because of the jobs that I have held during my career. However, there is no place that I would rather live and breathe than in the American South. This place is home. People here are just more friendly here. People still have honor here. And although race relations here can always be improved, the New South probably has better race relations now than any other part of the country. There seems to be a greater respect between the races here. But aside from all that stuff, there is one thing that makes the South a great place to live is our women.

Southern women are complex and simple at the same time. They compare themselves to the traditions of Southern women that have gone before them. They are gracious hostesses. They may try to divert the world’s attention to how modern they have become but yet the Southern traditions of life are their go-to thing. When in crisis, they bombard you with food. They scurry to clean their home when company’s coming. Even though many work outside their home, they take great pride in their home and they often measure themselves by their homes and their families. They are obsessed with their kids getting into accidents without clean underwear on. They may workout and wear the cutest fashions while doing it but they will make enough food for meals to make any man fat. Food is at the center of Southern women’s culture. There is always food be it a picnic, an after church meal with all its finery, or be it a family crisis. While Southern men can sweat and be dirty even if they are professional men, Southern women just don’t sweat. I can’t figure that out! The air conditioning may have gone out, and they have got the Southern Sunday dinner on the way in the kitchen with 15 pots going at the same time and something cooking up beautifully in the oven, and its 92 degrees outside and 75% humidity but they ain’t sweatin’! It is a mystery of Southern women I will never understand.

Southern women may act demure but they are the strength of their families. They may let their husband think he’s the head of the household and he may well be in the big decisions of life and about things that go on outside a Southern home, but inside the Southern home, the Southern woman is the director of operations. She makes our homes click. Without our Southern women our homes would fall apart. Also, I think Southern women are just more beautiful than anywhere else in the country. Southern women enjoy being women. They enjoy being the belle of the ball. They enjoy being beautiful. They are unashamed of being women. They know that Southern culture is all about them. We Southern men may fuss about all their fussiness but we know that our Southern world is so much more beautiful because of the beauty and gentility of our women. Southern men know that if it was left up to us life would be simpler without our sometimes frustrating Southern women but man our South would be so drab and ugly and comin’ apart at the seams without our women here in the South. For us, Southern men, we would be happy as long as we have some kind of roof over our head, a good source of food, a little lovin’ every now and then, and ESPN, particularly in the fall for college football, on a large screen TV. Everything else after that is gravy to a Southern man. So, we depend on our ladies to make our world beautiful. They fuss over the wreaths that will don the front door for each season. They fuss over the clothes we are going to wear as we go out into the world. They fuss over the towels and such in the bathroom….and the candles…don’t get us started about the candles.
Southern women are wonderfully complex. They are traditional and modern all that the same time. They say “bless your heart” and sometimes it’s compliment and sometimes it is put-down. They enjoy being women but they can be so strong and pull their families through when its needed of them. I think that is why we Southern men have a healthy respect for our women. We may make fun of them and how everything has to be all color coordinated and matching and how everything has to be just so-so, but we know we’d be lost without them. And, I don’t think there’s a Southern man out there that would not take you down if you mess with one of our women. We are willing to protect them to the nth degree. For it is our women who make the South worth calling home. Without them, we would be lost.

To say that women are treated poorly in the South would be dead wrong. Sure, there are extreme elements here that mistreat women just like anywhere else, but a true Southern man honors the Southern woman because they make us better men. We do not hold them back. We protect the world they live in and allow them to be all that they are. Southern women are our treasure and they get their way – make no mistake about that. To say that they are second class citizens is just not to understand the culture of the South. They are treasured, revered, protected, pursued, honored, loved, and placed in high regard by us Southern men.

That idea that Southern women are revered by us as men here and how we make sure that they can be all that they want to be is what came to mind when I read about how women were given an inheritance of land in verses 3-4 of Chapter 17 of the book of Joshua. It is the misunderstanding of Southern culture and the women here that came to mind because often detractors of the Bible say that it espouses treating women poorly, but that’s just not true. It is no truer than saying that Southern women need to liberated from how they are treated here. Let’s look at these two chapters now:

16 The allotment for Joseph began at the Jordan, east of the springs of Jericho, and went up from there through the desert into the hill country of Bethel. 2 It went on from Bethel (that is, Luz),[a] crossed over to the territory of the Arkites in Ataroth, 3 descended westward to the territory of the Japhletites as far as the region of Lower Beth Horon and on to Gezer, ending at the Mediterranean Sea.

4 So Manasseh and Ephraim, the descendants of Joseph, received their inheritance.

5 This was the territory of Ephraim, according to its clans:

The boundary of their inheritance went from Ataroth Addar in the east to Upper Beth Horon 6 and continued to the Mediterranean Sea. From Mikmethath on the north it curved eastward to Taanath Shiloh, passing by it to Janoah on the east. 7 Then it went down from Janoah to Ataroth and Naarah, touched Jericho and came out at the Jordan. 8 From Tappuah the border went west to the Kanah Ravine and ended at the Mediterranean Sea. This was the inheritance of the tribe of the Ephraimites, according to its clans. 9 It also included all the towns and their villages that were set aside for the Ephraimites within the inheritance of the Manassites.

10 They did not dislodge the Canaanites living in Gezer; to this day the Canaanites live among the people of Ephraim but are required to do forced labor.

17 This was the allotment for the tribe of Manasseh as Joseph’s firstborn, that is, for Makir, Manasseh’s firstborn. Makir was the ancestor of the Gileadites, who had received Gilead and Bashan because the Makirites were great soldiers. 2 So this allotment was for the rest of the people of Manasseh—the clans of Abiezer, Helek, Asriel, Shechem, Hepher and Shemida. These are the other male descendants of Manasseh son of Joseph by their clans.

3 Now Zelophehad son of Hepher, the son of Gilead, the son of Makir, the son of Manasseh, had no sons but only daughters, whose names were Mahlah, Noah, Hoglah, Milkah and Tirzah. 4 They went to Eleazar the priest, Joshua son of Nun, and the leaders and said, “The Lord commanded Moses to give us an inheritance among our relatives.” So Joshua gave them an inheritance along with the brothers of their father, according to the Lord’s command. 5 Manasseh’s share consisted of ten tracts of land besides Gilead and Bashan east of the Jordan, 6 because the daughters of the tribe of Manasseh received an inheritance among the sons. The land of Gilead belonged to the rest of the descendants of Manasseh.

7 The territory of Manasseh extended from Asher to Mikmethath east of Shechem. The boundary ran southward from there to include the people living at En Tappuah. 8 (Manasseh had the land of Tappuah, but Tappuah itself, on the boundary of Manasseh, belonged to the Ephraimites.) 9 Then the boundary continued south to the Kanah Ravine. There were towns belonging to Ephraim lying among the towns of Manasseh, but the boundary of Manasseh was the northern side of the ravine and ended at the Mediterranean Sea. 10 On the south the land belonged to Ephraim, on the north to Manasseh. The territory of Manasseh reached the Mediterranean Sea and bordered Asher on the north and Issachar on the east.

11 Within Issachar and Asher, Manasseh also had Beth Shan, Ibleam and the people of Dor, Endor, Taanach and Megiddo, together with their surrounding settlements (the third in the list is Naphoth[b]).

12 Yet the Manassites were not able to occupy these towns, for the Canaanites were determined to live in that region. 13 However, when the Israelites grew stronger, they subjected the Canaanites to forced labor but did not drive them out completely.

14 The people of Joseph said to Joshua, “Why have you given us only one allotment and one portion for an inheritance? We are a numerous people, and the Lord has blessed us abundantly.”

15 “If you are so numerous,” Joshua answered, “and if the hill country of Ephraim is too small for you, go up into the forest and clear land for yourselves there in the land of the Perizzites and Rephaites.”

16 The people of Joseph replied, “The hill country is not enough for us, and all the Canaanites who live in the plain have chariots fitted with iron, both those in Beth Shan and its settlements and those in the Valley of Jezreel.”

17 But Joshua said to the tribes of Joseph—to Ephraim and Manasseh—“You are numerous and very powerful. You will have not only one allotment 18 but the forested hill country as well. Clear it, and its farthest limits will be yours; though the Canaanites have chariots fitted with iron and though they are strong, you can drive them out.”

Here in this passage, you will see because of the unique circumstance of the descendants of one of tribes of Manasseh. He only had daughters. So, under traditions of ancient Middle Eastern cultures, they should have not gotten any land in the allocation of the promised land. However, Moses declared it and Joshua executed it that these women would inherit some of the Promised Land. Laws were included by God in the regulations of Israelite society to protect women from the strict letter of the laws about inheritance in ancient Middle Eastern cultures.

To say that Judaism and Christianity, based on what is said in the Bible, mistreats women is just wrong. Sure, the Bible is clear throughout that a man is supposed to be the head of his family. But with that honor comes great responsibility according to what I read in the Bible. Here, the women are taken care of and not just pushed aside to fend for themselves. They are given land and a way to sustain themselves. In the New Testament, Paul straight up tells that, yes, husbands should be the head of the household as a God-ordained thing. However, he follows that up by saying that we should love our wives as Christ loved the church. Christ loved his church, the collective body of believers, so much that He gave His life up willingly for the good of His believers. Jesus did this for us even though we do not notice it until we accept Him as our Savior. That’s love. Doing for others even when they are not looking for it. Giving up our rights for the rights of others. Loving people even when they are not looking. Loving people to the point of willingly giving up His life for us. That is complete, total and humble love. We are supposed to love our wives that way. We see throughout the gospels, particularly in Luke’s gospel, about how Jesus valued women and made them important parts of His ministry on earth. It was women who were there at the cross when all but one of the disciples had scattered. It was women who were the first witnesses to the resurrection. It was women (see Luke 8) who often financed the day to day operations of Jesus’ ministry. To say that the Bible encourages poor treatment of women is just wrong. Even here in the Old Testament, where the treatment of women gets the most flack from those who truly do not know the Bible, this passage shows God’s great concern for women and how He ensured through Moses and Joshua that women were taken care of. Later on, we see Boaz go out of his way to take care of Ruth. And then later we see Hosea go out of his way to honor Homer, even when she did not deserve it. To say that the Bible encourages poor treatment of women is just wrong.

It is often us men that bastardize the Bible and treat women poorly. If we read the Bible correctly, we are commanded to take care of the women in our lives. We are to treat them fairly. We are to treat them with honor and dignity. We are to make them feel loved, secure, and safe. We are to protect them with our lives. They are the life givers and nurturers and they are more delicate than us. We are to fiercely protect them, honor them, adore them, and create an environment where they can flower into the women that God intended them to be. That’s our job as men.

Just as I see Southern women as the most wonderful creatures on the planet. I call on all Southern men to rededicate themselves to honoring these wonderful creatures that God has granted us, Southern women. They are everything that is great about the region in which we live. We should make sure that we create environments where the Southern women in our lives can continue to make our world worth living in, make it more beautiful, more than just Southern football in the fall (just as an aside, Southern women make football tailgating a social event of the highest proportions – with lots of food of course). We have been granted a Southern girl by the grace of God. We should make sure that she can be all that she can be…bless her heart (complimentary version of that saying).

Amen and Amen.

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