Joshua 14 COMMENTARY (Pulpit)

Joshua 14
Pulpit Commentary
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.
Verse 1. - Tribes. The word here for "tribes," in connection with the word "fathers," is the one which implies genealogical descent (see note on Joshua 13:29). Eleazar the priest, and Joshua the son of Nun, and the heads of the fathers of the tribes. A picture of national unity; the head of the Church, representing the religious aspect of the community; the head of the State, representing its civil aspect; the heads of the tribes, to signify the general assent of the body politic. A work so begun was likely to be satisfactorily carried out. And accordingly the distribution of the land, recognised as carried out according to the will of God, displayed no partiality, and excited no jealousies.
By lot was their inheritance, as the LORD commanded by the hand of Moses, for the nine tribes, and for the half tribe.
Verse 2. - By lot was their inheritance. The commentators, following the Rabbis, have amused themselves by speculations how the lot was taken. The question is of no great practical importance; but no doubt the contrivance was a very primitive one, as the word גורָל a small pebble, used here, seems to imply. What is of more importance is the fact that the distribution of territory was the result of no one's caprice, or ambition, or intrigue. The whole matter was referred to God, and the leader of the Israelitish hosts and the high priest presided over the ceremony. It was a common belief among the Gentiles, as well as the Jews, that the use of the lot was to refer the matter to a Divine decision. So we read in the Proverbs, "The lot is cast into the lap, but the whole disposing thereof is of the Lord" (Proverbs 16:33; cf. 18:18). It is a strong evidence for the truth of this narrative that we read of no conflicts between the various tribes respecting the division of territory. Jealousies sprung up between the tribes, as the narratives in Judges 8, 9, 12; 2 Samuel 19:43, are sufficient to show. But in no one case was there any complaint of unfairness, any attempt to disturb the territorial arrangement made at the time of the original settlement in Palestine. There can be little doubt that Keil is right in supposing this original division to have been in outline merely. It is obvious from the onward course of the narrative (especially ch. 18.) that no very minute accuracy in detail could possibly have been arrived at. The country was roughly mapped out at first, and the complete adjustment of boundaries was a matter which would naturally be put off until the land were actually in possession.
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.
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.
Verse 4. - For the children of Joseph were two tribes (see Genesis 48:5): therefore they gave. There is no "therefore" In the original. The passage is a simple repetition of what we find in Joshua 13:14, 33, and is added here to explain how the twelve tribes who actually divided the land were composed. Suburbs. Rather, "pasture lands;" literally, places where the cattle were driven out to pasture (cf. Numbers 35:2; 1 Chronicles 13:2, where the Hebrew is "cities of driving out"). We may illustrate this phrase by the similar arrangements made by the Germanic tribes in early times. "The clearing," says Professor Stubbs, in his 'Constitutional History of England,' p. 49, "is surrounded by a thick border of wood or waste .... In the centre of the clearing the village is placed .... The fully qualified freeman has a share in the land of the community. He has a right to the enjoyment of the woods, the pastures, the meadow and the arable land of the mark.... The use of the meadow land is definitely apportioned .... When the grass beans to grow the cattle are driven out, and the meadow is fenced round and divided into as many equal shares as there are mark families in the village. For the arable land similar measures are taken although the task is somewhat more complex" (see note on Joshua 13:23). Some similar arrangement must have taken place in the primitive Jewish settlement of Palestine. For the rude huts of the Teutonic tribes we must substitute the more civilised "cities, walled up to heaven," of the Phoenician races; for the scanty supply of gram and pasture, provided by a northern climate, we must substitute the rich plenty of a land "flowing with milk and honey," and with all the produce of a southern sky. The area of land assigned to each of the Levitical cities was definitely marked out (see Numbers 35:4, 5), and subdivided, as the hints in the narrative seem to imply that all the land was, into as many sections as there were "mark families" - that is, families of freemen exclusive of the servile classes in the town.
As the LORD commanded Moses, so the children of Israel did, and they divided the land.
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.
Verse 6. - In Gilgal (see Joshua 9:6). Caleb the son of Jephunneh the Kenezite. Or, descendant of Kenaz, as was his kinsman Othniel. As far as we can make out from the genealogy in 1 Chronicles 2, Caleb and Kenaz were family names, for the Caleb or Calubi (1 Chronicles 2:9) the son of Hezron (1 Chronicles 2:18), the Caleb the son of Hur (1 Chronicles 2:50), and Caleb the son of Jephunneh (1 Chronicles 4:15), could not have been the same persons. And Caleb was a Kenezite, or descendant of Kenaz; he had a grandson, apparently, of that name (so the LXX. and Vulgate translate, 1 Chronicles 4:15), and a brother, according to the most probable rendering of the Hebrew of both Joshua 15:17 and Judges 1:9. See also 1 Chronicles 4:13. For Caleb was the son of Jephunneh, not of Kenaz. Hitzig, 'Geschichte des Volkes Israel,' 1:105, thinks that Caleb was a descendant of the Kenaz mentioned in Genesis 36:11; or, see 15. Some think he was a Kenizzite (see Genesis 15:19). The Bishop of Bath and Wells, in his article in Smiths 'Dictionary of the Bible,' thinks that the view that he was not of Jewish origin agrees best with the Scripture narrative, and removes many difficulties regarding the number of the children of Israel at the Exodus. It certainly serves to explain why the tribe of Judah came with Caleb, when he preferred his request, and the statement in ch. 15:13, which seems to imply that Caleb was not one of the tribe of Judah by birth, but one of the "mixed multitude" that went up with the Israelites (Exodus 12:38), and acquired afterwards by circumcision the rights of Israelites. If this be the case, it is an illustration of the truth declared in Romans 2:28, 29; Romans 4:12; Galatians 3:7. By his faithfulness to God he had well earned the reward which he now sought. Concerning me and thee. And yet Knobel asserts that, according to vers. 8 and 12, Joshua was not one of the spies! He accordingly sees the hand of the "Jehovist" here. So accurate is the criticism which pretends to be able to disintegrate the narratives in the Hebrew Scriptures, and to assign each part to its separate author (see Numbers 14:24). As well might we conclude that this verse in Numbers 14. is by a different hand to vers. 30 and 38 in the same chapter, in spite of the obvious coherence of the whole narrative.
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.
Verse 7. - Forty years old. The Hebrew expression is "the son of forty years." Compare the expressions "son of man," "sons of Belial," "son of the perverse re. bellious woman." As it was in my heart. Literally, according as with my heart, i.e., in agreement with what I saw and felt. The LXX. reads "according to his mind," i.e., that of Moses. Houbigant and Le Clerc approve of this reading, but it seems quite out of keeping with the character of Caleb. He did not endeavour to accommodate his report to the wishes of any man, but gave what he himself believed to be a true and faithful account of what he had seen and heard (see Numbers 13:30; Numbers 14:7-9; Deuteronomy 1:36).
Nevertheless my brethren that went up with me made the heart of the people melt: but I wholly followed the LORD my God.
Verse 8. - But I wholly followed. Literally, "I fulfilled after." That is to say, he rendered a full obedience to the precepts of the Most High. So also in the next verse.
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.
Verse 9. - And Moses sware on that day (cf. Numbers 14:21-24; Deuteronomy 1:35, 36). Keil raises the difficulty that in the above passage not Moses, but God is said to have sworn, and that no special inheritance is promised to Caleb, but only that he shall enter the promised land. But this is not the fact, as a comparison of this passage with Deuteronomy 1:36 will show. That either passage gives the ipsissima verba of Moses is unlikely. The main sense of the promise is given in each. And there is no impropriety in speaking of the proclamation by Moses of God's decree as an oath pronounced by Moses himself.
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.
Verse 10. - Forty and five years. This marks the date of the present conversation as occurring seven years after the invasion. Caleb was forty years of age when be went to spy the land of Canaan. For thirty-eight years the Israelites wandered in the wilderness. And Caleb was now eighty-five years old. This remark has been made as far back as the time of Theedoret. Doubtless the apportionment of the land, and its occupation by the Israelites, was a long and tedious business (see also Joshua 13:1). Even since. Literally, from the time when.
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.
Verse 11. - As yet am I as strong this day. A vigorous and respected old age is ordinarily, by Nature's own law, the decreed reward for a virtuous youth and a temperate manhood. Caleb's devotion to God's service had preserved him from the sins as well as from the faithlessness and murmuring of the Israelites. And thus, with a body not enfeebled by indulgence, he presents himself before Joshua with undiminished strength, at a time when most men are sinking under the weight of their infirmities, and is ready still for battle with the most formidable foes.
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.
Verse 12. - This mountain. The neighbourhood of Hebron is described by Bartlett 'Egypt to Palestine,' p. 401, as "a region of hills and valleys." In one of the hollows in this "hill country of Judaea" Hebron still nestles, but at a height which (see Stanley, 'Sinai and Palestine,' p. 102) is "only 400 feet lower than Helvellyn," the highest point but one in England. The Dean remarks on the fact that Palestine was a mountainous country, and that therefore in its history we may expect the characteristics of a mountain people. Whereof the Lord spake in that day. There must therefore have been a promise made to Caleb, regarding which the Pentateuch, having to deal with matters of more general interest, is silent, that he should lead the forlorn hope, as it were, of the children of Israel, and that the task of subduing the mountain fastnesses of the most powerful tribes in Palestine should be assigned to him. That the original inhabitants reoccupied the districts round Hebron, while the Israelites were otherwise engaged, we have already seen (see note on Joshua 11:21). The final work was to be carried out by Caleb. Houbigant, it is true, thinks that here the same incident is referred to as in Joshua 11:21, 22, and that Joshua is there credited with what was clone by Caleb at his command. But we read that that expedition followed close upon the battle of Merom, whereas seven years elapsed before the final expulsion of the Anakim by Caleb. It is important to notice that the author of the Book of Joshua has access to sources of information beside the Pentateuch. This, though not sufficient to disprove, does at least seem inconsistent with the "Elohist" and "Jehovist" theory. For thou heartiest in that day. The LXX. and Vulgate avoid the difficulty here by referring these words to what goes before - i.e., the promise made to Caleb. In that case we must render the second כִּי "for," instead of "that," or "how." Joshua can hardly have heard for the first time that the Anakim were in Hebron if, as Numbers 13:22 appears to assert, he, in common with the other spies, had visited the place. But it is possible, though the narrative as it stands seems to suggest that they went together, that the spies went different ways, either separately or in pairs, and that Caleb visited Hebron, and that Joshua heard the account of it for the first time from Caleb's lips, as they brought their report to Moses, and that Caleb then asked and received the grant of Hebron. We may observe the minute agreement here in matters of detail between the Pentateuch and the Book of Joshua. The Pentateuch states that the spies visited Hebron. The Book of Joshua, without mentioning this, makes Caleb appeal to Joshua as a witness that a premise had been made to him, long before the entrance of Israel into the promised land, that this particular place should be allotted to him. The description of Hebron also in Numbers 13. agrees in every respect with what is stated here. Fenced. Literally, inaccessible, as surrounded by walls. If so be. Rather, perhaps.
And Joshua blessed him, and gave unto Caleb the son of Jephunneh Hebron for an inheritance.
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.
Verse 14. - He wholly followed (see above, ver. 8).
And the name of Hebron before was Kirjatharba; which Arba was a great man among the Anakims. And the land had rest from war.
Verse 15. - And the name of Hebron before was Kirjath-arba. Hengstenberg, according to Keil, has conclusively shown that Hebron was the original name of the city. At the time of Joshua's invasion, however, it was known as Kirjath (or "the city of ") Arba, from a giant named Arba who had conquered the city. Hebron is known as Kirjath-arba in Genesis 23:2, but the way in which it is mentioned by Moses seems to bear out Hengstenberg's theory. The Rabbis translated "the city of four," and assert that the four patriarchs, Adam, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, were buried there. The word translated "man" here is Adam. The Vulgate follows this tradition, trans. lating "Adam maximus ibi inter Enacim situs est." And our own Wiclif literally translates the Vulgate "Adam moost greet there in the loond of Enachym was set." Rosenmuller renders the words translated "a great man" by "the greatest man." And certainly the words have the article; and this is also the way in which the superlative is expressed in Hebrew. It also adds to the force of Caleb's request. He desired the most important city of a warlike race. And the land had rest from war (see Joshua 11:23).

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