Manasseh

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The Tribe of Manasseh.

Census. The tribe of Manasseh descended through Manasseh's son, Machir; Machir's son, Gilead; and Gilead's six sons (Num. 26:28-34). At the beginning of the desert march the number of Manasseh's men of war is given at 32,200 (Num 1:34). At the 2nd census they had increased to 52,700 (Num 26:34). At the census in the plains of Moab, Manasseh is named before Ephraim, and appears as much the stronger tribe (Num 26:28).

Position. Their position in the encampment was with the tribe of Benjamin, by the standard of the tribe of Ephraim, on the west side of the tabernacle.

Standard. According to rabbinical authority the standard of Ephraim was a golden flag on which the head of a calf was depicted. According to Targum Pseudojon, the standard of Manasseh was the figure of a boy, with the inscription "The cloud of Yahweh rested on them until they went forth out of the camp."

Journeying. "All who were numbered according to their armies of the forces with Ephraim (Benjamin and Manasseh), one hundred and eight thousand one hundred-- they shall be the third to break camp." (Num 2:24).

Representatives. At Sinai the prince of the tribe was Gamaliel, son of Pedahzur (Num 2:20). The tribe was represented among the spies by Gaddi, son of Susi (Num13:11, where the name "tribe of Joseph" seems to be used as an alternative).

Interesting Notes. The tribe of Manasseh was known for its valor, and two famous judges: Gideon (Judg. 6:11-8:35)> and Jephthah (Judg. 11:1-12:7). During Saul's reign men from Manasseh joined David at Ziklag (1 Chr. 12:19-20). Later many people from both western and eastern Manasseh rallied to make David king at Hebron (1 Chr. 12:31,37). Because of the Canaanite fortresses and strong cities in the land (for example, Megiddo, En Dor, Taanach, Dor, Ibleam, and Beth Shean), western Manasseh had difficulty settling its territory. When it became strong, however, it did not expel the Canaanites but subjected them to tribute (Josh. 17:13). The tribe of Manasseh was known for its valor, and it claimed two famous judges: Gideon (Judg. 6:11-8:35) and Jephthah (Judg. 11:1-2:7). During Saul's reign men from Manasseh joined David at Ziklag (1 Chr. 12:19-20). Later many people from both western and eastern Manasseh rallied to make David king at Hebron (1 Chr. 12:31,37).

The Land Division. In the settlement of Canaan, land was provided for Manasseh on both sides of the Jordan River. Eastern Manasseh was able to occupy its land only after it had aided the other tribes in conquering their territories (Num. 32:1-33). Because of the Canaanite fortresses and strong cities in the land (for example, Megiddo, En Dor, Taanach, Dor, Ibleam, and Beth Shean), western Manasseh had difficulty settling its territory.

The Man Manasseh

Heb. Manasheh ("causing to forget")

Manasseh was the first-born of Joseph's two sons by Asenath, the daughter of Poti-phera, priest of On:

Gen 41:50-51 And to Joseph were born two sons before the years of famine came, whom Asenath, the daughter of Poti-Pherah priest of On, bore to him. Joseph called the name of the firstborn Manasseh: "For God has made me forget all my toil and all my father's house."

The birth of a son was really the climax of Joseph's happiness after the long bitterness of his experience. When Jacob was near his end, Joseph brought his two sons to his father who blessed them. Jacob preferred Ephraim, the second son of Joseph, to Manasseh his elder brother, thus indicating the relative positions of their descendants (Gen 48). Before Joseph died he saw the children of Machir the son of Manasseh (50:23). Machir was born to Manasseh by his concubine, an Aramitess (1 Chr 7:14). Whether he married Maacah before leaving for Egypt is not said. She was the sister of Huppim and Shuppim.

As to Manasseh's personal life no details are recorded in Scripture.

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Jewish Tradition

Acccording to Jewish tradition Manasseh became steward of his father's house, and acted as interpreter between Joseph and his brethren.

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