Joshua
Introduction 1-5 Who Divides the Land; the Method of Dividing 6-12 Caleb Asks for What Is Promised to Him 13-15 Caleb Obtains Hebron
Introduction

Caleb reminds Joshua of what the LORD said to Moses. As a reward for his faithfulness he would receive Hebron as inheritance. The name Hebron has a wonderful meaning, namely ‘fellowship’. Fellowship means that someone shares with another something that is important to both. This name expresses the greatest blessing we can imagine.

In 1 John 1 it says: “Our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ” (1Jn 1:3b3what we have seen and heard we proclaim to you also, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ.). This means that we speak with the Father about the Son and speak with the Son about the Father. The better we get to know the Father and the Son, the more we will enjoy it. This fellowship gives “complete joy” (1Jn 1:44These things we write, so that our joy may be made complete.). If we are faithful, that will be our part.

In Joshua 14 the division of the actual land begins, a division that is communicated to us until Joshua 19. That is not a dry list. The division of the land and the description of what each gets are a picture of certain spiritual exercises that take place and that are related to the spiritual mind.

First, lot assigns the inheritance to two and a half tribe in the land Canaan: Judah (Joshua 14-15) and then the two sons of Joseph with an inheritance for Ephraim (Joshua 16) and an inheritance for the other half-tribe of Manasseh (Joshua 17). This allocation takes place in Gilgal. The other seven tribes (Benjamin, Simeon, Zebulun, Issachar, Asher, Naphtali and Dan) are assigned their inheritance in Shiloh (Joshua 18-19). The attribution to the tribes is preceded, to our teaching and encouragement, by the splendid example of Caleb.


Who Divides the Land; the Method of Dividing

1Now these are [the territories] which the sons of Israel inherited in the land of Canaan, which Eleazar the priest, and Joshua the son of Nun, and the heads of the households of the tribes of the sons of Israel apportioned to them for an inheritance, 2by the lot of their inheritance, as the LORD commanded through Moses, for the nine tribes and the half-tribe. 3For Moses had given the inheritance of the two tribes and the half-tribe beyond the Jordan; but he did not give an inheritance to the Levites among them. 4For the sons of Joseph were two tribes, Manasseh and Ephraim, and they did not give a portion to the Levites in the land, except cities to live in, with their pasture lands for their livestock and for their property. 5Thus the sons of Israel did just as the LORD had commanded Moses, and they divided the land.

Assigning the inheritance to the tribes is done by Eleazar, Joshua and the households of the tribes of the sons of Israel. It is remarkable that Eleazar is mentioned first, so before Joshua. Both are pictures of the Lord Jesus. Joshua is a picture of the guidance of the Spirit. Eleazar is the high priest in the land, as Aaron has been during the wilderness journey. Aaron is related to weaknesses and temptations. Eleazar is a picture of the Lord Jesus Who helps us to enter the land, that is, to take possession of the spiritual blessings.

The Lord Jesus knows all the obstacles to taking possession of the heavenly blessing. Therefore we need Him as our High Priest to know our blessings and therefore Eleazar is mentioned first as a picture of Him here. Our blessings are all connected with the Lord Jesus glorified in heaven. It is about Him, and the blessing is that we get to know Him better.

All truth is connected with Him: the whole truth, for example, of eternal life, the Father’s house, fellowship with the triune God, the church connected with Him in heaven, as body, as house, as bride, the childship, the sonship, that we are heirs, the new man, the new creation. All these truths lie outside the old creation. All these blessings can only be conquered by prayerful struggle on the knees, by hard and persistent struggles.

The names of the heads of the households are given in Numbers 34 (Num 34:16-2916Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying,17“These are the names of the men who shall apportion the land to you for inheritance: Eleazar the priest and Joshua the son of Nun.18You shall take one leader of every tribe to apportion the land for inheritance.19These are the names of the men: of the tribe of Judah, Caleb the son of Jephunneh.20Of the tribe of the sons of Simeon, Samuel the son of Ammihud.21Of the tribe of Benjamin, Elidad the son of Chislon.22Of the tribe of the sons of Dan a leader, Bukki the son of Jogli.23Of the sons of Joseph: of the tribe of the sons of Manasseh a leader, Hanniel the son of Ephod.24Of the tribe of the sons of Ephraim a leader, Kemuel the son of Shiphtan.25Of the tribe of the sons of Zebulun a leader, Elizaphan the son of Parnach.26Of the tribe of the sons of Issachar a leader, Paltiel the son of Azzan.27Of the tribe of the sons of Asher a leader, Ahihud the son of Shelomi.28Of the tribe of the sons of Naphtali a leader, Pedahel the son of Ammihud.”29These are those whom the LORD commanded to apportion the inheritance to the sons of Israel in the land of Canaan.). Their presence and supervision at the distribution will ensure that any suspicion of favoring any tribe will have no chance. Each tribe will be able to be satisfied with the inheritance assigned to them. The heads of the households represent responsible brethren who help the members of God’s people in a local church to take possession of their inheritances – the spiritual blessings in the heavenly places. Through their teaching from Scripture they present the truths that are connected with the Lord Jesus.


Caleb Asks for What Is Promised to Him

6Then the sons of Judah drew near to Joshua in Gilgal, and Caleb the son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite said to him, “You know the word which the LORD spoke to Moses the man of God concerning you and me in Kadesh-barnea. 7I was forty years old when Moses the servant of the LORD sent me from Kadesh-barnea to spy out the land, and I brought word back to him as [it was] in my heart. 8Nevertheless my brethren who went up with me made the heart of the people melt with fear; but I followed the LORD my God fully. 9So Moses swore on that day, saying, ‘Surely the land on which your foot has trodden will be an inheritance to you and to your children forever, because you have followed the LORD my God fully.’ 10Now behold, the LORD has let me live, just as He spoke, these forty-five years, from the time that the LORD spoke this word to Moses, when Israel walked in the wilderness; and now behold, I am eighty-five years old today. 11I am still as strong today as I was in the day Moses sent me; as my strength was then, so my strength is now, for war and for going out and coming in. 12Now then, give me this hill country about which the LORD spoke on that day, for you heard on that day that Anakim [were] there, with great fortified cities; perhaps the LORD will be with me, and I will drive them out as the LORD has spoken.”

The first to report to take possession of their part of the land are the Judeans. Yet we do not hear of the desire of the whole tribe, but of only one man. Often it is only one in a family or a few in the local church. But this can also make others enthusiastic. As one of the heads of the households (verse 11Now these are [the territories] which the sons of Israel inherited in the land of Canaan, which Eleazar the priest, and Joshua the son of Nun, and the heads of the households of the tribes of the sons of Israel apportioned to them for an inheritance,) Caleb not only supervises a fair distribution, but also asks for an inheritance for himself.

It is understandable that Caleb comes first. He has been looking forward to this moment for forty-five years. He is now eighty-five. His enthusiasm has remained unabated. The hope of the fulfilment of what has been promised to him has given him strength to experience the wilderness journey without complaining. He is an example that expecting the Lord, and of what He has promised, gives strength for the walk (Isa 40:3131Yet those who wait for the LORD
Will gain new strength;
They will mount up [with] wings like eagles,
They will run and not get tired,
They will walk and not become weary.
).

His strength does not lie in past victories. He doesn’t lean on passed glory, by telling impressive stories from a grey past. No, Caleb is still full of energy to achieve new victories of faith. He is still as strong as he was then. When one grows old it is not necessary that the spiritual strength diminishes. On the contrary. The testimony that Caleb gives to Joshua is not only about the past, but also and especially about now.

He is a Kenizzite. In Genesis 15 the Kenizzite are mentioned as a tribe living in Canaan (Gen 15:1919the Kenite and the Kenizzite and the Kadmonite). But it is also possible that it is the indication of a family in Judah. His ancestors have presumably entered in the people of God. And precisely this man is such a great example. Many who did not grow up in the midst of God’s people often show a greater desire for spiritual blessing than those who grew up in it. That can embarrass us. Caleb is still called the Kenizzite.

Caleb first reminds Joshua of the word the LORD has spoken to Moses about him (verse 77I was forty years old when Moses the servant of the LORD sent me from Kadesh-barnea to spy out the land, and I brought word back to him as [it was] in my heart.). Then he recalls that Moses, in accordance with what the LORD has said, has promised him an inheritance as a reward for his faithfulness (verse 99So Moses swore on that day, saying, ‘Surely the land on which your foot has trodden will be an inheritance to you and to your children forever, because you have followed the LORD my God fully.’; Deu 1:3636except Caleb the son of Jephunneh; he shall see it, and to him and to his sons I will give the land on which he has set foot, because he has followed the LORD fully.’). For Caleb, all these are not empty words. He is now going to claim what has been promised to him. This is language to the heart of the LORD.

Caleb means ‘wholeheartedly’. That’s how he did everything and that’s how he still does it. Nor should we be lukewarm Christians. He recounts how he did it, forty-five years ago, when he was sent out to spy out the land and his co-spies has let melted the hearts of the people. He has remained devoted to his mission with all his heart (verse 88Nevertheless my brethren who went up with me made the heart of the people melt with fear; but I followed the LORD my God fully.). Moses has confirmed that he has followed the LORD completely (verse 99So Moses swore on that day, saying, ‘Surely the land on which your foot has trodden will be an inheritance to you and to your children forever, because you have followed the LORD my God fully.’). That dedication is still there when he stands here before Joshua. Because of this dedication he receives Hebron (verse 1414Therefore, Hebron became the inheritance of Caleb the son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite until this day, because he followed the LORD God of Israel fully.).

Caleb is mentioned many times together with Joshua. All those who are so dedicated are also always united with the true Joshua, the Lord Jesus, and mentioned in one breath with Him. Joshua is also a picture of the leader. The connection between Joshua and Caleb also shows the combination of dedicated leadership in the church. Leader of the people is he who has taken possession of the blessings through battle and lives in heavenly things. It is not a question of a strong personality, of reasoning talent or organizational ability, but of dedication to and connectedness with the Lord Jesus.

Caleb has perseverance. He has seen many people fall in the wilderness. All of his age have died. He is an exception, together with Joshua. He is now an old man, but not tired of days. It will not always have been easy for him to wait, but he has lived by the word the LORD has spoken. God’s Word has worked in him perseverance and the confidence that God is working for him (Isa 64:44For from days of old they have not heard or perceived by ear,
Nor has the eye seen a God besides You,
Who acts in behalf of the one who waits for Him.
). Now he still has to persevere, because he doesn’t have it yet. He has yet to conquer it. But he confidently declares that he will succeed.

He wants the territory with giants and fortified cities. He sees the reality, it is not proudness. But he counts on the faithfulness of the LORD. In modesty, he speaks of “perhaps” (verse 1212Now then, give me this hill country about which the LORD spoke on that day, for you heard on that day that Anakim [were] there, with great fortified cities; perhaps the LORD will be with me, and I will drive them out as the LORD has spoken.”). He does not count on his own strength, however strong he feels, but on the LORD. But if therefore the LORD is with him, there is no doubt whatsoever about the outcome with him.

Caleb is not haughty. Pride is a danger that increases as the years go by. The warning “For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world” (1Jn 2:1616For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world.) is addressed to young people in faith. But although these three dangers are especially true for the young men, a broader application is certainly permitted.

It is dangerous to say that others have nothing to do with what is special for a particular stage of growth. Fathers and children in faith should also take to heart the warning to the young men. In connection with the phases of spiritual growth which John speaks about in his first letter – little children, young men and fathers (1Jn 2:12-1812I am writing to you, little children, because your sins have been forgiven you for His name’s sake.13I am writing to you, fathers, because you know Him who has been from the beginning. I am writing to you, young men, because you have overcome the evil one. I have written to you, children, because you know the Father.14I have written to you, fathers, because you know Him who has been from the beginning. I have written to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the evil one.15Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.16For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world.17The world is passing away, and [also] its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever.18Children, it is the last hour; and just as you heard that antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have appeared; from this we know that it is the last hour.) – we can say the following: for the little children of faith, “the desire of the flesh” is particularly dangerous; for the young men, it is “the desire of the eyes”; and for the fathers in Christ, the adult believers, it is the “pride of life”.


Caleb Obtains Hebron

13So Joshua blessed him and gave Hebron to Caleb the son of Jephunneh for an inheritance. 14Therefore, Hebron became the inheritance of Caleb the son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite until this day, because he followed the LORD God of Israel fully. 15Now the name of Hebron was formerly Kiriath-arba; [for Arba] was the greatest man among the Anakim. Then the land had rest from war.

As always we see the complete unity between what Moses has said and what Joshua does. Joshua acts entirely according to what the LORD and Moses have said, and gives Hebron to Caleb as an inheritance. The origin of Hebron is strongly linked to death. There Sarah dies and there Abraham buries her (Gen 23:2,192Sarah died in Kiriath-arba (that is, Hebron) in the land of Canaan; and Abraham went in to mourn for Sarah and to weep for her.19After this, Abraham buried Sarah his wife in the cave of the field at Machpelah facing Mamre (that is, Hebron) in the land of Canaan.). It is the place that reminds us of the end of man. It is the city of death, the grave is there. Caleb is constantly reminded of this. Whatever giant there is (Arba = giant), it finds its end there.

But there is also the memory of a new man who lives in fellowship with the Lord Jesus – as said, Hebron means ‘fellowship’. Joseph was sent by his father from Hebron to seek his brothers (Gen 37:1414Then he said to him, “Go now and see about the welfare of your brothers and the welfare of the flock, and bring word back to me.” So he sent him from the valley of Hebron, and he came to Shechem.). Thus the Lord Jesus was sent from the fellowship with the Father to the world. In Hebron David was crowned king by all the tribes of Israel (2Sam 5:33So all the elders of Israel came to the king at Hebron, and King David made a covenant with them before the LORD at Hebron; then they anointed David king over Israel.). There is also fellowship between the people of God and the Lord Jesus. Joseph and David are both a picture of the Lord Jesus.

In connection to Caleb’s request and the language of faith it shows, the chapter ends with the statement that the land of rests from war. Here the peace in the land is connected with the works of Caleb’s faith. This indicates that trusting the Lord, that He enables us to take possession of our blessings, gives rest.


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