Thoughts on the Book of Joshua: Joshua and Caleb Part 2

Joshua  •  9 min. read  •  grade level: 10
In Josh. 14 we are introduced to Caleb again; and in this chapter he comes before us in the double character of an heir of Judah, when that tribe was settled in its inheritance, and also as the claimant of that Hebron which had so won his eye and heart in the living associations which it recalled. Distinguished in the early days of faith and promise when Abraham walked with God, and still more so in the light of prophecy when David the king of Jehovah's appointment should take his crown and kingdom from Hebron, it became the spot of all others which was dear to faith.
Joshua's calling and work as leader of Israel was well-nigh finished, and he had become old and stricken in years and was going the way of all the earth, as he said, when Caleb's path as an heir of promise was only opening itself out. He steps forth from the children of Judah at Gilgal, and makes good his claim by reminding Joshua of what the Lord said to Moses the man of God concerning them at Kadesh barnea. He comes out as young and as fresh at fourscore and five years of age, as he was at forty, when sent with Joshua to spy out the land; and he becomes in his place an example and pattern to every individual in every tribe of the whole-heartedness before God which was the source of his unfailing strength and courage. How different would have been the history of Israel, had each heir of promise been as Caleb and driven out the enemies from their inheritance, as he did from Hebron.
The language of faith has always the same character of confidence and calmness, whether it be in Caleb's assurance to Joshua that he would drive out the Anakim, or in David's account of himself to Saul, -touching the lion and the bear, and his bold avowal that so it should be with Goliath and the army of the Philistines. "I wholly followed the LORD my God," reveals the secret of faith's strength, either in first viewing the land and gleaning the grapes of Eshcol, or in wandering with the rebellious people in the wilderness for forty years, or as here in claiming the promise of Hebron from Joshua.
"Now therefore give me this mountain, whereof the LORD spake in that day; for thou heardest in that day how the Anakim 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. And Joshua blessed him." Here we get a man of the right sort, with a faith in God that does not give way before either giants or mountains, but declares, "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." It is a faith indeed that cannot be measured by days or weeks, or months or years; and even as to Caleb's history it is to be remarked that we get no notice of his death. The Spirit's mind takes a different turn and is marking out to us that he neither got old nor waxed feeble, nor became stricken in years, but wholly followed the Lord God of Israel, and was always young and strong. Such was Caleb the claimant. So Joshua gave to him Kirjatharba, according to the commandment of the Lord, which city is Hebron; and Caleb drove thence the three sons of Anak, Sheshai, Ahiman, and Talmai; and he went up thence to the inhabitants of Debir.
The faith of the wholehearted Caleb, which followed the Lord fully and knew neither ups nor downs, stamps its character also upon his house and family; and this is very beautiful. He would only give his daughter Achsah to the man of like faith, who could distinguish himself at Kirjath-sepher, as Caleb had done at Kirjath-arba; and Othniel the son of Kenaz, the brother of Caleb, took it, and he gave him Achsah his daughter to wife. Nor is this all; for the faith that wholly follows the Lord God of Israel (who is, in these days, the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ) is not only consciously blessed in itself, but delights and can make another as happy as itself, as Caleb did Othniel. Even further, it rejoiced to bestow a blessing upon Achsah when she lighted off her ass and, in the character of a claimant, asked her father for the upper and the nether springs.
There is a point of further interest to be noticed respecting Caleb and Hebron which comes out in the book of Judges and travels on to its completion in the records of Samuel and the Chronicles; for the faith which has to do with God must connect itself with His interests and all that He does. The personal faith which made Caleb illustrious as an heir and a claimant likewise gave its character to his relations and his family. He gathered those round himself, like Othniel, upon the one and the same principle of confidence in the God of Israel, which had been the secret of Caleb's unfailing strength and wholeheartedness. It was upon this pathway that he introduced Othniel at Kirjath-sepher, and as was the father, so was the son-in-law; for after the like term of forty years in the school of God, and in the midst of the declension of the tribes, this Othniel became the first of their deliverers, and of their judges. He was (as his name implies) "the hour of God" to them in their distress; for the Lord had sold them into the hand of the king of Mesopotamia for eight years, because they had forgotten Him, and served Baalim and the groves. But when the children of Israel cried to Him, the Lord raised up a savior for them, even Othniel the son of Kenaz, Caleb's younger brother; and the Spirit of the Lord came on him, and he judged Israel and went out to war. Moreover, his hand prevailed against Chushan-rishathaim. So the land had rest forty years, and this rest might have been perpetual, which. Othniel had recovered, but for the subsequent idolatry of the tribes. And Othniel died. Deeper corruptions set in, and other deliverers were raised up till, after the times of the judges, came the reign of the kings.
In the end of 1 Samuel 30, the introduction of David and his men, and their faith in God, lights up again the darkened page of Israel's royal history; and Hebron is mentioned as among the places where David and his men were wont to haunt, when by Saul's jealousy and persecution he was hunted like a partridge upon the mountains. After the death of Saul and Jonathan by the hands of the Philistines, and David's lamentation over them upon Gilboa, he inquired of the Lord whether he should go up to any of the cities of Judah; and the Lord said to him, Go up; and David said, Whither shall I go up? and He said, Unto Hebron. Caleb, the heir in Judah, and the claimant of Hebron years before, had given place to Othniel as their judge and deliverer of Israel from the oppression of the king of Mesopotamia. As we know, the prophet Samuel took the precedence when the Aaronic priesthood had been corrupted by the profligacy of Eli's sons.
David, the man after God's own heart, had been anointed as king from out of the midst of Jesse's sons; so David and his wives and the men that were with him went up with their households, and dwelt in the cities of Hebron. The men of Judah thus take up the purposes of God and the blessing pronounced on this tribe by Jacob, and in their turn carry them out by anointing David king over the house of Judah. The scepter and the law-giver are thus united, and kingship is now established upon Hebron-the bright answer to the faith of those who, in expectation of the day, gave commandment concerning their bones, and lay buried there in the caves of Machpelah. So David waxed stronger and stronger, and the house of Saul became weaker and weaker, and unto David were born sons in Hebron; and the time that he reigned over the house of Judah was seven years and six months. The man to whom God gave testimony, this son of Jesse who should fulfill all His will, schooled as he had been in the sheepfolds of the wilderness, was now to be invested with the entire majesty and royalty of the throne, and as the shepherd of Israel.
"Then came all the tribes of Israel to David unto Hebron, and spake, saying, Behold, we are thy bone and thy flesh.... And the LORD said to thee, Thou shalt feed My people Israel, and thou shalt be a captain over Israel. So all the elders of Israel came to the king to Hebron; and king David made a league with them in Hebron before the LORD: and they anointed David king over Israel.... And David went on, and grew great, and the LORD God of hosts was with him." 2 Sam. 5:1-101Then came all the tribes of Israel to David unto Hebron, and spake, saying, Behold, we are thy bone and thy flesh. 2Also in time past, when Saul was king over us, thou wast he that leddest out and broughtest in Israel: and the Lord said to thee, Thou shalt feed my people Israel, and thou shalt be a captain over Israel. 3So all the elders of Israel came to the king to Hebron; and king David made a league with them in Hebron before the Lord: and they anointed David king over Israel. 4David was thirty years old when he began to reign, and he reigned forty years. 5In Hebron he reigned over Judah seven years and six months: and in Jerusalem he reigned thirty and three years over all Israel and Judah. 6And the king and his men went to Jerusalem unto the Jebusites, the inhabitants of the land: which spake unto David, saying, Except thou take away the blind and the lame, thou shalt not come in hither: thinking, David cannot come in hither. 7Nevertheless David took the strong hold of Zion: the same is the city of David. 8And David said on that day, Whosoever getteth up to the gutter, and smiteth the Jebusites, and the lame and the blind, that are hated of David's soul, he shall be chief and captain. Wherefore they said, The blind and the lame shall not come into the house. 9So David dwelt in the fort, and called it the city of David. And David built round about from Millo and inward. 10And David went on, and grew great, and the Lord God of hosts was with him. (2 Samuel 5:1‑10). One object of the Lord in raising up David is stated in chapter 3:18: "By the hand of My servant David I will save My people Israel out of the hand of the Philistines, and out of the hand of all their enemies." As the anointed king, his first exploit was to gain Jerusalem out of the hand of the Jebusites, for it was to be the city of the great king, and the appointed earthly center for the manifestation of his kingdom and the glory of the throne of Israel. The inhabitants of Jebus said to him, "Thou shalt not come up hither. Nevertheless David took the castle of Zion, which is the city of David. And David said, Whosoever smiteth the Jebusites first shall be chief and captain. So Joab the son of Zeruiah went up first, and was chief. And David dwelt in the castle." 1 Chron. 11:5-75And the inhabitants of Jebus said to David, Thou shalt not come hither. Nevertheless David took the castle of Zion, which is the city of David. 6And David said, Whosoever smiteth the Jebusites first shall be chief and captain. So Joab the son of Zeruiah went first up, and was chief. 7And David dwelt in the castle; therefore they called it the city of David. (1 Chronicles 11:5‑7). Traveling days and the journeyings of the children of Israel are well-nigh accomplished. God had brought them into Immanuel's land, and to the city of Jerusalem, and to Mount Zion; moreover, David was there and in their midst as the anointed king.