MSG - 12 Then Joshua addressed the Reubenites, the Gadites, and the half-tribe of Manasseh. He said, "Remember what Moses the servant of God commanded you: God, your God, gives you rest and he gives you this land. Your wives, your children, and your livestock can stay here east of the Jordan, the country Moses gave you; but you, tough soldiers all, must cross the River in battle formation, leading your brothers, helping them until God, your God, gives your brothers a place of rest just as he has done for you. They also will take possession of the land that God, your God, is giving them. Then you will be free to return to your possession, given to you by Moses the servant of God, across the Jordan to the east.
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Manasseh (elder) and Ephraim (younger) were the sons of Joseph. (Gen. 41:45,50-51; 48:8-22). Two tribes, Ephraim and Manasseh, came from Joseph to make up the twelve tribes after the tribe of Levi was taken from the original twelve to be the ministers (Num. 3:12-13). That is why Manasseh was called as half-tribe. Ephraim took over the full - Joseph's tribe. Manasseh Meaning to forget. Jacob claimed both Ephraim and Manasseh as part of the great nation that God had promised him. They became the heads of two of the twelve tribes of Israel. One took the place of Joseph and the other the place of Levi whose tribe became the priestly line and was not reckoned as one the twelve tribes during the organization of the nation. See Num. 1:1-15,20-43; Num. 2,7; Num. 10:14-28; 13:1-15; Num. 26; 34:1-20; Josh. 13:7-33; Judg. 5:14-18. In eight of these lists of tribes Levi is not mentioned because of having no inheritance in Israel with the twelve tribes (Josh. 13:33; Num. 18:20). In seven other lists of the tribes Levi is mentioned (Dt. 27:12-14; Dt. 33; 1Chr. 2:1-8; 12:8-40; 27:1-22; Ezek. 48; Rev. 7:1-8). In Gen. 29 and 35 Levi is mentioned. In 46 and 49; Ex. 1; Num. 34; Dt. 33; Judg. 5; 1Chr. 2; Rev. 7 and other places some of the other tribes are not mentioned. Ephraim took Joseph's place and Manasseh took Levi's in the twelve-tribe arrangement of Israel. Ephraim became the most powerful and influential of the ten tribes known as northern kingdom after the division of the kingdom and the death of Solomon.
Manasseh is called a half-tribe because he was one half of the tribe of Joseph. Because of the sin of Reuben (Gen 49:4), the firstborn, the birthright of the firstborn was transferred to Joseph. This meant that Joseph inherited twice what any of his brothers inherited. The double inheritance was passed on to the two sons of Joseph, Manasseh and Ephraim. In effect, these sons each had the same inheritance as the other 11 tribes and the same status (as if there were 13 tribes rather than the actual 12).
When the Israelites were planning to cross the Jordan river, the tribe of Reuben, Gad and half the tribe of Manasseh decided to stay back and settle in Gilead because they believed it was better for them. Numbers 32 speak of this and Numbers 32:33 specifically mentions this.
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