Joshua 14 – The Western Land to be Divided
A. Preparation for the division of the land.
1. (1-2) The distribution of the land on the western side of the Jordan River.
These are the areas which the children of Israel inherited in the land of Canaan, which Eleazar the priest, Joshua the son of Nun, and the heads of the fathers of the tribes of the children of Israel distributed as an inheritance to them. Their inheritance was by lot, as the LORD had commanded by the hand of Moses, for the nine tribes and the half-tribe.
a. Eleazar the priest, Joshua the son of Nun, and the heads of the fathers of the tribes of the children of Israel distributed as an inheritance to them: In this process, Joshua, Eleazar and representatives from each tribe came together to supervise the casting of lots, which was directed by the LORD.
2. (3-5) An explanation of the nine and one-half tribes which received their inheritance on the west side of the Jordan.
For Moses had given the inheritance of the two tribes and the half-tribe on the other side of the Jordan; but to the Levites he had given no inheritance among them. For the children of Joseph were two tribes: Manasseh and Ephraim. And they gave no part to the Levites in the land, except cities to dwell in, with their common-lands for their livestock and their property. As the LORD had commanded Moses, so the children of Israel did; and they divided the land.
a. For the children of Joseph were two tribes: We commonly think and speak of the “twelve tribes of Israel” but actually there were thirteen, because although there were twelve sons of Jacob (Israel), the descendants of one of his sons, Joseph, divided into two tribes (Manasseh and Ephraim).
b. They divided the land: This explains why you can have two and one-half tribes on the east side of the Jordan River, nine and one-half tribes on the west side of the Jordan River, and one tribe with no province as their inheritance.
B. Caleb’s inheritance.
1. (6-9) Caleb remembers Moses’ promise.
Then the children of Judah came to Joshua in Gilgal. And Caleb the son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite said to him: “You know the word which the LORD said to Moses the man of God concerning you and me in Kadesh Barnea. I was forty years old when Moses the servant of the LORD sent me from Kadesh Barnea to spy out the land, and I brought back word to him as it was in my heart. Nevertheless my brethren who went up with me made the heart of the people melt, but I wholly followed the LORD my God. So Moses swore on that day, saying, ‘Surely the land where your foot has trodden shall be your inheritance and your children’s forever, because you have wholly followed the LORD my God.’”
a. Caleb the son of Jephunneh: Caleb, from the tribe of Judah, was one of the twelve spies who scouted out the land of Canaan some forty-five years before when Israel first was on the threshold of the Promised Land (Numbers 13:1-25).
b. But I wholly followed the LORD my God: Caleb was one of only two spies to come back with a good report, a report of faith; believing that God had given Israel the land and would enable them to conquer it (Numbers 13:26-14:9). The other ten spies believed that Israel would be destroyed in the attempt to take Canaan, and Israel believed the ten doubting spies.
i. The other faithful spy was none other than Joshua. The ten faithless spies measured the giants against their own strength, but Joshua and Caleb measured the giants against God’s strength.
ii. This was the cause of Israel’s forty years of wandering in the wilderness; God would not allow that generation of unbelief to enter in, so He waited for them to die in the desert (Numbers 14:26-38). The only ones of age at the time of the rejection who actually entered the Promised Land were Joshua and Caleb, the two faithful spies.
iii. So, it is fitting as Judah is the first tribe to receive its allotment on the west side of the Jordan, that Caleb be the first among the people of Judah to receive his inheritance.
c. So Moses swore on that day, saying, ‘Surely the land where your foot has trodden shall be your inheritance and your children’s forever: Caleb calls Joshua back to the promise Moses made in Deuteronomy 1:35-36. When Caleb says I wholly followed the LORD my God, he isn’t being proud – he is just quoting what Moses had said about him.
i. We should imitate Caleb’s boldness in asking for what God promised him. We may find it hard to believe, but God appreciates this kind of boldness.
d. Because you have wholly followed the LORD my God: Because Caleb repeats this phrase twice, we can assume it made a significant impression on him – and fittingly so, because it is a great and important thing to wholly follow the LORD.
i. We recognize that most successful people are those who have wholly given themselves over to something. Will we wholly give ourselves over to following the LORD?
2. (10-15) Caleb seizes God’s promise.
“And now, behold, the LORD has kept me alive, as He said, these forty-five years, ever since the LORD spoke this word to Moses while Israel wandered in the wilderness; and now, here I am this day, eighty-five years old. As yet I am as strong this day as on the day that Moses sent me; just as my strength was then, so now is my strength for war, both for going out and for coming in. Now therefore, give me this mountain of which the LORD spoke in that day; for you heard in that day how the Anakim were there, and that the cities were great and fortified. It may be that the LORDwill be with me, and I shall be able to drive them out as the LORD said.” And Joshua blessed him, and gave Hebron to Caleb the son of Jephunneh as an inheritance. Hebron therefore became the inheritance of Caleb the son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite to this day, because he wholly followed the LORD God of Israel. And the name of Hebron formerly was Kirjath Arba (Arba was the greatest man among the Anakim). Then the land had rest from war.
a. Here I am this day, eighty-five years old. As yet I am as strong this day as on the day that Moses sent me: Though he is advanced in age, his strength is undiminished. At eighty-five he was out leading the fight, and not against just any foe, but against the Anakim.
i. This is how God wants us to be in our spiritual life as we advance in years: growing older, but never weaker in Jesus.
b. Now therefore, give me this mountain of which the LORD spoke in that day; for you heard in that day how the Anakim were there: In fact, Caleb wants the fight. He could have asked for an easy place, but he knows that these foes must be faced and figures that he may as well be the one to do it. He doesn’t leave the work to someone else, though he could have, especially at his age.
c. Because he wholly followed the LORD God of Israel: What if all of Israel had the heart of Caleb? What if no one in Israel had the heart of Caleb? Again, Caleb’s secret is clear: he wholly followed the LORD God of Israel. There was a total commitment in Caleb’s life.