“And Joshua blessed him, and gave Hebron to Caleb the son of Jephunneh as an inheritance. Hebron therefore became the inheritance of Caleb … to this day, because he wholly followed the Lord God of Israel” (Josh. 14:13–14).- Joshua 14:6-15
In today’s passage, Caleb, who was the only faithful spy other than Joshua among the 12 who made Israel’s first reconnaissance of Canaan (Num. 13), asks for and receives a tract of land as a reward for his trust in God. It appears that he makes his request as the tribal leaders are gathering for the partitioning of Canaan, but it may be earlier. Caleb is given a mountain near Hebron where the Anakim live and proceeds to drive them out (15:14), but we were told earlier that Israel attacked and “utterly destroyed” these giants (11:21). Some scholars, noting that the accounts of Caleb’s inheritance and of Joshua’s (19:49–50) are “bookends” for the entire partitioning story, speculate that the author of Joshua recorded these events in this order to display the faith of these men and God’s rewarding of it.
Caleb’s words to Joshua certainly show forth his faith. He begins by reminding Joshua of the terrible day when God condemned the Israelites to 40 years in the wilderness for refusing, based on the spies’ negative report, to enter Canaan. But God promised to bring Caleb into the land and to give it to his descendants (Num. 14:24). Why was Caleb treated differently? Because he ‘ “brought back word to [Moses] as it was in my heart.… I wholly followed the Lord my God.’ ” He trusted God to deal with the mighty cities and the giants the spies saw. In response, Moses, in a vow not recorded elsewhere in Scripture, promised to give Caleb and his descendants the lands he had scouted. Now, 45 years later, Caleb can attest that God has kept His promise to preserve him through wilderness and war. So gracious has God been to Caleb that he is as strong at 85 as at 40. That being the case, he asks not for a safe parcel but for the mountain of the Anakim, the giants who so terrified the other spies, leading to the people’s refusal to enter the land. “We may suppose that Caleb, observing what stress [the spies] laid upon the difficulty of conquering Hebron, a city garrisoned by the giants … bravely desired to have that city which they called invincible assigned to himself,” Matthew Henry writes. With God’s help, Caleb says, he will prove their assessment wrong.
Joshua is quick to bless his friend and to grant his request, giving him Hebron and the surrounding area. We will see the result of Caleb’s faith in God to help him against the Anakim in the next chapter.
Caleb was willing to dare great things for God. As such, he was an invaluable example of faith for the people of Israel. Studying the lives of great men and women of faith can and does strengthen our trust in God. Who are some examples of faith to whom you look, either Biblical or extra-Biblical? Pray today that God will help you emulate them.
Passages for Further Study
1 Corinthians 10:11; 11:1
1 Peter 2:21