Notes on Joshua chapter 14
by Jonathan Spurlock
(Holts Summit, MO)
Joshua chapter 14
1 And these (are the countries) which the children of Israel inherited in the land of Canaan, which Eleazar the priest, and Joshua the son of Nun, and the heads of the fathers of the tribes of the children of Israel, distributed for inheritance to them.
Eleazar, the priest, and Joshua worked together to distribute the land. This was a way to ensure honesty and integrity in this matter.
2 By lot (was) their inheritance, as the LORD commanded by the hand of Moses, for the nine tribes, and (for) the half tribe. 3 For Moses had given the inheritance of two tribes and an half tribe on the other side Jordan: but unto the Levites he gave none inheritance among them.
Another mention that the Levites did not receive any actual land or real estate in the distribution. That the Lord Himself was their inheritance was stated earlier (Deut. 18:1, e.g.)
The actual “who gets what” was by “lot”. This action is described in greater detail in chapters 15-19.
4 For the children of Joseph were two tribes, Manasseh and Ephraim: therefore they gave no part unto the Levites in the land, save cities to dwell (in), with their suburbs for their cattle and for their substance.
This was true of all the tribes, not just Manasseh and Ephraim. Even though the Levites had no inheritance to speak of, they were given cities and “suburbs” to live in (Numbers 35:2-5).
5 As the LORD commanded Moses, so the children of Israel did, and they divided the land.
Summarizing these first four verses. The actual division is documented in the following several chapters.
6 Then the children of Judah came unto Joshua in Gilgal: and Caleb the son of Jephunneh the Kenezite said unto him, Thou knowest the thing that the LORD said unto Moses the man of God concerning me and thee in Kadeshbarnea.
Gilgal was still apparently the base or prime settlement for Israel at this time.
Caleb and Joshua were two of the twelve men, one from each tribe (except Levi), selected to “. . . search the land of Canaan (Num. 13:1-15)”. Israel had stopped or camped at Kadesh-barnea at the time.
[7 Forty years old (was) I when Moses the servant of the LORD sent me from Kadeshbarnea to espy out the land; and I brought him word again as it was in mine heart.]
Caleb and Joshua tried to encourage the people that the LORD would give them the land (Num. 14:6-9). Even before this, Caleb stated that “we can overcome it (Num. 13:30)”. These two were among the few who completely trusted God to fulfill His promises.
8 Nevertheless my brethren that went up with me made the heart of the people melt: but I wholly followed the LORD my God. 9 And Moses sware on that day, saying, Surely the land whereon thy feet have trodden shall be thine inheritance, and thy children's for ever, because thou hast wholly followed the LORD my God.
Caleb remembered the day when the mass of Israel wanted to stone him, Joshua, as well as Moses and Aaron (Num. 14:10) and then return to Egypt!
Caleb’s statement that he followed the LORD (his) God was verified in Num. 32:12-13. God Himself spoke to Moses that only Joshua and Caleb, of those who left Egypt and were age
20 and older would enter the land of Canaan.
May we always remember that our sins do not always affect ourselves alone. Here, Joshua and Caleb were forced to endure the results of the nation’s sin, disbelief, by wandering in the wilderness for forty years. Deut. 1:2 states that only 11 days were needed to get from Horeb (Mt. Sinai area) to Kadesh-Barnea! Israel might have reached Canaan in less than a month but sin caused the long delay.10 And now, behold, the LORD hath kept me alive, as he said, these forty and five years, even since the LORD spake this word unto Moses, while (the children of) Israel wandered in the wilderness: and now, lo, I (am) this day fourscore and five years old.
This was Caleb’s birthday, apparently, and he was quick to give thanks to God for keeping him alive for all of his 85 years.11 As yet I (am as) strong this day as (I was) in the day that Moses sent me: as my strength (was) then, even so (is) my strength now, for war, both to go out, and to come in.
Compare his statement with that of Moses (Deut 31:2, 34:7). God had apparently kept Caleb in good physical health during his lifetime.12 Now therefore give me this mountain, whereof the LORD spake in that day; for thou heardest in that day how the Anakims (were) there, and (that) the cities (were) great (and) fenced: if so be the LORD (will be) with me, then I shall be able to drive them out, as the LORD said.
Caleb didn’t want an apparently easy victory: he had faith that God would drive out his enemies from a mountain. This mirrors the victories God gave to Israel, as there seemed to be as many victories in the mountains and hill country as anyplace else.
He also spoke of the Anakims, who were not Israelites. In Joshua 11:21, the writer speaks of how Joshua and Israel “destroyed” the Anakims, except for some who remained (fled to?) Gaza, Gath, and Ashdod. These three cities were in the land of the Philistines. Caleb did indeed drive out the Anakims, with God’s help (Joshua 15:13-14). 13 And Joshua blessed him, and gave unto Caleb the son of Jephunneh Hebron for an inheritance. 14 Hebron therefore became the inheritance of Caleb the son of Jephunneh the Kenezite unto this day, because that he wholly followed the LORD God of Israel.
It is important to remember that this was only for Caleb and his descendants. 15 And the name of Hebron before (was) Kirjatharba; (which Arba was) a great man among the Anakims. And the land had rest from war.
This is the second time in Joshua where it is mentioned that the land either rested from war (11:22) or had rest from war. The duration for all the campaign was probably five years: Caleb’s life served as a time line, so to speak, of the journey of Israel from Egypt to Canaan. Caleb was 40 years old when Israel arrived at Kadesh-Barnea, and now he is 85. Allowing 40 years for the wanderings in the wilderness, his lifetime indeed totals 85 years.
May we never forget any of God’s promises! Caleb surely didn’t and he was rewarded for his faithfulness.
Scripture quotations taken from the King James Version of the Bible (KJV)