Tribe of Manasseh

From Academic Kids

This entry incorporates text from Easton's Bible Dictionary, 1897, with some modernisation.

The Tribe of Manasseh (Hebrew alphabet מְנַשֶּׁה, Samaritan Hebrew Manatch, Standard Hebrew Mənašše, Tiberian Hebrew Mənaššeh: from נשני naššānÓ "who makes to forget") is one of the Hebrew tribes, which the Bible claims was founded by Manasseh, the son of Joseph. They were associated with the tribes of Ephraim and Benjamin during the wanderings in the wilderness, and encamped on the west side of the tabernacle. According to the census taken at Mount Sinai, this tribe then numbered 32,200 (Numbers 1:10, 35; 2:20, 21). Forty years afterwards its numbers had increased to 52,700 (26:34, 37), and it was at this time the most distinguished of all the tribes.

The half of this tribe, along with Reuben and Gad, had their territory assigned them by Moses on the east of the Jordan (Joshua 13:7-14); but it was left for Joshua to define the limits of each tribe. This territory on the east of the River Jordan was more valuable and of larger extent than all that was allotted to the nine and a half tribes in the land of Palestine. It is sometimes called "the land of Gilead," and is also spoken of as "on the other side of Jordan." The portion given to the half tribe of Manasseh was the largest on the east of Jordan. It embraced the whole of Bashan. It was bounded on the south by Mahanaim, and extended north to the foot of Lebanon. Argob, with its sixty cities, that "ocean of basaltic rocks and boulders tossed about in the wildest confusion," lay in the midst of this territory.

The whole "land of Gilead" having been conquered, the two and a half tribes left their wives and families in the fortified cities there, and accompanied the other tribes across the Jordan, and took part with them in the wars of conquest. The allotment of the land having been completed, Joshua dismissed the two and a half tribes, commending them for their heroic service (Josh. 22:1-34). Thus dismissed, they returned over Jordan to their own inheritance.

On the west of Jordan the other half of the tribe of Manasseh was associated with Ephraim, and they had their portion in the very center of Palestine, an area of about 1,300 square miles (3400 km²), the most valuable part of the whole country, abounding in springs of water. Manasseh's portion was immediately to the north of that of Ephraim (Josh. 16). Thus the western Manasseh defended the passes of Esdraelon as the eastern kept the passes of the Hauran.

The Samaritan sect claims most of its adherents as descended from this tribe.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints claims many of its adherents as descended from this tribe.

No denomination of Judaism affirms the Samaritan or LDS beliefs, nor similar beliefs adhered to by anyone else.

See also House of Joseph.

Sea peoples

The tribe may be the same as the Shekelesh mentioned in egyptian accounts (Shekelesh is taken to mean men of Sheker). The Shekelesh were part of a tribal confederation known as the Sea Peoples, which also included Peleset (the Philistines), Danua (possibly Dan), Tjekker (thought to mean of Acco, and thus may refer to Manessah), Weshesh (technically Uashesh, and thus may refer to Asher).

Records only state that the Sea People attacked Egypt, and other nations, but not where they came from or where they went to. As such there has been much speculation, with some thinking they either invaded, or returned home to, coastal Canaan, and subsequently their federation for some unknown reason split, with some tribes joining the Israelite federation.

It must be stressed, however, that a majority of modern scholars think that the Sea Peoples (apart from the Peleset, whom they agree are the Philistines) were predominantly of Greek island origin, though this fails to explain why the Egyptians depict them as being circumcised or having semitic names. Contrasting with the majority opinion is the current fact that no supporters of the standard view have identified which location(s) the sea people actually originate from sucessfully, and as such the issue is one of the major outstanding problems of this period of de Manassť


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