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Bible Commentaries
Joshua 14

Dr. Constable's Expository NotesConstable's Expository Notes

Verses 1-5

1. The rationale for the allotments 14:1-5

Eleazar the high priest, Joshua, and the heads of the tribes took the leadership in dividing this portion of the land (Joshua 14:1). These men determined the division of the land by casting lots (Joshua 14:2; Joshua 18:6). Apparently the casting of lots established the general location of each tribe within Canaan, but the population of that tribe affected the size of each tribe’s inheritance (cf. Numbers 26:52-56). [Note: See L. Wood, map 6, p. 186.]

"The people of God are not called to act on their own initiative and desire, nor to set their own goals. God has set the goals and issues the commands which lead to their achievement." [Note: Butler, p. 172.]

Verses 1-15

C. The land west of the Jordan chs. 14-19

The account of the Israelites’ settlement west of the Jordan received more attention by the writer since it was the primary area where Israel settled.

Verses 6-15

2. Caleb’s inheritance 14:6-15

Before the casting of lots began, Caleb came to Joshua with his fellow tribesmen from Judah to request the inheritance that Moses had promised him (Joshua 14:9; Deuteronomy 1:36; cf. Numbers 14:26-38). Moses had promised Caleb land in Canaan but had not specified its location. The reason for this special blessing was Caleb’s faithfulness to God when he served as one of the 12 spies. Joshua also received a personal allotment later (Joshua 19:49-50).

"Caleb represents all of Israel as one who receives an allotment and takes the land for himself." [Note: Hess, p. 239.]

Caleb was a member of the clan in Judah called the Kenizzites (Joshua 14:6; Joshua 14:14). He was probably not a descendant of the Kenizzites who were early inhabitants of Canaan (Genesis 15:19). Another view is that the early Canaanite Kenizzites joined the tribe of Judah before the Exodus. [Note: Campbell, "Joshua," p. 357.]

The references to Caleb’s age enable us to determine the length of the conquest of Canaan. Caleb had received the promise of a portion in the land at Kadesh Barnea 38 years before the Israelites crossed the Jordan and entered Canaan (Numbers 14:24). Caleb was 40 years old then (Joshua 14:7). He was now 85 (Joshua 14:10). Forty-five years had elapsed, and Caleb had spent 38 of them in the wilderness. Therefore the conquest must have taken the remaining seven years.

The portion Caleb requested was within the tribal allotment of Judah, his tribe. He asked for part of the hill country that the giants who had discouraged his fellow spies still inhabited. In making his request (Joshua 14:12), Caleb referred to the very things that the unbelieving spies had pointed out to discourage the Israelites from entering the land: hill country, Anakim, and large fortified cities (cf. Numbers 13:28-29). Joshua gave him the town of Hebron that was, and still is, an important city. The notation that the ancient name of Hebron was Kiriath-arba, the city of Arba, the greatest man among the Anakim (giants), is significant (Joshua 14:15). It recalls God’s faithfulness in giving this giant’s city to Caleb, who had believed God could do so 45 years earlier.

Caleb was still strong in faith as well as in body, even though he was old. He continued to trust in God to fulfill His promise concerning the land rather than in his personal physical ability to take it from the enemy. His name means "according to the heart."

"It would have been natural for Caleb to ask for a ’soft spot’-a portion of land already conquered where he could settle down and spend the rest of his life raising a few vegetables or flowers. Instead, at 85, he asked for the very section that had struck terror into the hearts of the ten spies. . . .

"This courageous old warrior, who did not expect to receive his inheritance without exerting himself, is a splendid example for an age which increasingly looks for cradle-to-casket protection." [Note: Jacobsen, p. 100.]

John Cawood identified Caleb’s outstanding features as uncompromising convictions, unreserved commitment, unalterable courage, and unwavering confidence. [Note: John Cawood, "The Godly Features of Caleb," Confident Living 44:10 (November 1986):53-55.]

"Joshua 14 thus sets forth two major points, which continue to have value for the people of God. Life in all its dimensions is to be lived according to the plans set forth by God, not by the greedy, selfish plans designed by man. Blessing comes ultimately to the man who totally follows God." [Note: Butler, p. 175.]

Bibliographical Information
Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Joshua 14". "Dr. Constable's Expository Notes". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/dcc/joshua-14.html. 2012.
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