Numbers 14:24 MEANING

Numbers 14:24
(24) And his seed shall possess it.--It appears from Joshua 14:6-14 that Moses had specially promised Hebron to Caleb, and that the mountainous country which the Anakim inhabited, and which only he and Joshua of the twelve spies believed that the Israelites were able to take possession of, was afterwards allotted to him by Joshua "for an inheritance."

Verse 24. - My servant Caleb. Caleb alone is mentioned here, as if he were the only exception to the sentence just passed upon the generation which came out of Egypt. Taken in connection with Numbers 13:30, and in contrast with Numbers 14:6, 30, 38, it has been supposed to point to the interweaving here of two narratives, from the one of which the name of Joshua was intentionally omitted (see the Introduction). The fact, however, is that Joshua is not the only, nor the most remarkable, exception to the general sentence which is not specified here. Moses and Aaron themselves were undoubtedly not included in that sentence at this time, although they afterwards came under the severity of it (see on Deuteronomy 1:37). Eleazar, the priest, was one of those who entered with Joshua (Joshua 14:1), and it is vain to argue that he might have been under twenty at the time of the numbering (cf. Numbers 4:16). There is, indeed, every reason to believe that the whole tribe of Levi were excepted from the punishment, because they were not compromised in the guilt. They had no representative among the spies, nor were they called upon to go up and fight; moreover, they had been steadily loyal to Moses since the matter of the golden calf. But if the exception of the Levites was taken for granted, and passed without mention, much more might the exception of Joshua. He did not stand by any means in the same position as Caleb and the other spies; he was the "minister" and lieutenant of Moses, whose fortunes were obviously bound up, not with those of his tribe, but with those of his master. If Moses had accepted the Divine offer to make him the head of a new chosen race, no doubt Joshua would have been given to him. His subsequent separation as leader, not of Ephraim, but of Israel, was already anticipated in the singularity, at least, of his position. Caleb, on the other hand, was merely a chieftain of the tribe of Judah, with nothing to distinguish him from the mass of the people but his own good conduct. There is, therefore, nothing perplexing in the fact that Caleb alone is mentioned in this place, and nothing to warrant the assumption of a double narrative. Another spirit. The spirit which possessed and prompted Caleb was no doubt the Holy Spirit, just as the spirit which moved the rebellion was an evil spirit (Ephesians 2:2); but how far any such personality is here attributed to the "spirit" is hard to determine. Hath followed me fully. Literally, "fulfilled to walk behind me." Caleb treasured up this testimony with natural pride (cf. Joshua 14:8). And his seed shall possess it, i.e., a portion of it and in it. No mention is made here of any special heritage, nor is it clear from Joshua 14:6-13 that Caleb received any definite promise of Hebron. He spoke indeed of a promise made him, probably at this time, by Moses; but that promise was a very general one. He asked for "this mountain, whereof the Lord spake in that day;" but he may only have referred to the Divine command first to explore and then to occupy "the mountain," as the nearest portion of the promised land.

14:20-35 The Lord granted the prayer of Moses so far as not at once to destroy the congregation. But disbelief of the promise forbids the benefit. Those who despise the pleasant land shall be shut out of it. The promise of God should be fulfilled to their children. They wished to die in the wilderness; God made their sin their ruin, took them at their word, and their carcases fell in the wilderness. They were made to groan under the burden of their own sin, which was too heavy for them to bear. Ye shall know my breach of promise, both the causes of it, that it is procured by your sin, for God never leaves any till they first leave him; and the consequences of it, that will produce your ruin. But your little ones, now under twenty years old, which ye, in your unbelief, said should be a prey, them will I bring in. God will let them know that he can put a difference between the guilty and the innocent, and cut them off without touching their children. Thus God would not utterly take away his loving kindness.But my servant Caleb,.... Who was one of the spies, and brought a good and true report of the land; and so in that, as well as in other things, approved himself to be a faithful servant of the Lord, and who had stilled the people at the beginning of their murmur, and with Joshua had attempted to quiet them afterwards; and though Joshua is not here mentioned, because, as some say, he had no children, and therefore it could not be said of him that his seed should possess the land, as is said of Caleb; or rather, because he was to be the general and commander of the people, who was to introduce them into the land of Canaan, and therefore there was no necessity of expressing him by name, yet he is afterwards mentioned, Numbers 14:30,

because he had another spirit with him; different from that of the rest of the spies, excepting Joshua; a spirit of faith, and of the fear of the Lord, of might and courage, of truth and faithfulness; believing in the promise of God, which the spies distrusted, being persuaded the land might easily be conquered, which they feared; and bringing a true report of the land, the reverse of the ill and false one they brought. For this is to be understood not of the Holy Spirit of God, nor of his work upon the hearts of good men, which is different from the spirit of the world, though Caleb was possessed of that also:

and hath followed me fully; with full purpose of heart whithersoever he led him, or directed him, in every path of duty, and in the exercise of every grace; or "hath fulfilled after me" (y); obeyed his word of command, fulfilled his mind and will, by going after him, and acting according to the rules and directions he gave him:

him will I bring into the land whereinto he went; the land of Canaan he went into to spy and search:

and his seed shall possess it; not the whole land, but Hebron, and the parts about it, where he particularly went, and which he and his posterity afterwards enjoyed, see Numbers 13:22. The Targum of Onkelos is, "shall expel it"; the inhabitants of it; for the word signifies both to inherit and disinherit; and so Jarchi interprets it, shall disinherit the Anakim, and the people that are in it, that is, drive them out of it, as Caleb did, Joshua 15:13.

(y) "et implevit post me", Montanus, Tigurine version, Fagius, Drusius.

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