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Bible Commentaries

Kingcomments on the Whole Bible

Joshua 14

Caleb reminds Joshua of what the LORD said to Moses. As a reward for his faithfulness he would receive Hebron as inheritance. The name Hebron has a wonderful meaning, namely ‘fellowship’. Fellowship means that someone shares with another something that is important to both. This name expresses the greatest blessing we can imagine.

In 1 John 1 it says: “Our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ” (1Jn 1:3b). This means that we speak with the Father about the Son and speak with the Son about the Father. The better we get to know the Father and the Son, the more we will enjoy it. This fellowship gives “complete joy” (1Jn 1:4). If we are faithful, that will be our part.

In Joshua 14 the division of the actual land begins, a division that is communicated to us until Joshua 19. That is not a dry list. The division of the land and the description of what each gets are a picture of certain spiritual exercises that take place and that are related to the spiritual mind.

First, lot assigns the inheritance to two and a half tribe in the land Canaan: Judah (Joshua 14-15) and then the two sons of Joseph with an inheritance for Ephraim (Joshua 16) and an inheritance for the other half-tribe of Manasseh (Joshua 17). This allocation takes place in Gilgal. The other seven tribes (Benjamin, Simeon, Zebulun, Issachar, Asher, Naphtali and Dan) are assigned their inheritance in Shiloh (Joshua 18-19). The attribution to the tribes is preceded, to our teaching and encouragement, by the splendid example of Caleb.

Verses 1-5

Who Divides the Land; the Method of Dividing


Assigning the inheritance to the tribes is done by Eleazar, Joshua and the households of the tribes of the sons of Israel. It is remarkable that Eleazar is mentioned first, that is before Joshua. Both are pictures of the Lord Jesus. Joshua is a picture of the guidance of the Spirit. Eleazar is the high priest in the land, as Aaron had been during the wilderness journey. Aaron is related to weaknesses and temptations. Eleazar is a picture of the Lord Jesus Who helps us to enter the land, that is, to take possession of the spiritual blessings.

The Lord Jesus knows all the obstacles to taking possession of the heavenly blessing. Therefore we need Him as our High Priest to know our blessings and therefore Eleazar is mentioned first as a picture of Him here. Our blessings are all connected with the Lord Jesus glorified in heaven. It is about Him, and the blessing is that we get to know Him better.

All truth is connected with Him: the whole truth, for example, of eternal life, the Father’s house, fellowship with the triune God, the church connected with Him in heaven, as body, as house, as bride, as children and sons of God, that we are heirs, the new man, the new creation. All these truths lie outside the old creation. All these blessings can only be conquered by prayerful struggle on the knees, by hard and persistent struggles.

The names of the heads of the households are given in Numbers 34 (Num 34:16-29). Their presence and supervision at the distribution will ensure that any suspicion of favoring any tribe will have no chance. Each tribe will be able to be satisfied with the inheritance assigned to them. The heads of the households represent responsible brethren who help the members of God’s people in a local church to take possession of their inheritances – the spiritual blessings in the heavenly places. Through their teaching from Scripture they present the truths that are connected with the Lord Jesus.

Verses 6-12

Caleb Asks for What Is Promised to Him


The first to report to take possession of their part of the land are the Judeans. Yet we do not hear of the desire of the whole tribe, but of only one man. Often it is only one in a family or a few in the local church. But this can also make others enthusiastic. As one of the heads of the households (Jos 14:1) Caleb not only supervises a fair distribution, but also asks for an inheritance for himself.

It is understandable that Caleb comes first. He has been looking forward to this moment for forty-five years. He is now eighty-five. His enthusiasm has remained unabated. The hope of the fulfilment of what has been promised to him has given him strength to experience the wilderness journey without complaining. He is an example that expecting the Lord, and of what He has promised, gives strength for the walk (Isa 40:31).

His strength does not lie in past victories. He doesn’t lean on passed glory, by telling impressive stories from a grey past. No, Caleb is still full of energy to achieve new victories of faith. He is still as strong as he was then. When one grows old it is not necessary that the spiritual strength diminishes. On the contrary. The testimony that Caleb gives to Joshua is not only about the past, but also and especially about now.

He is a Kenizzite. In Genesis 15 the Kenizzite are mentioned as a tribe living in Canaan (Gen 15:19). But it is also possible that it is the indication of a family in Judah. His ancestors have presumably entered in among the people of God. And precisely this man is such a great example. Many who did not grow up in the midst of God’s people often show a greater desire for spiritual blessing than those who grew up in it. That can embarrass us. Caleb is still called the Kenizzite.

Caleb first reminds Joshua of the word the LORD has spoken to Moses about him (Jos 14:7). Then he recalls that Moses, in accordance with what the LORD has said, has promised him an inheritance as a reward for his faithfulness (Jos 14:9; Deu 1:36). For Caleb, all these are not empty words. He is now going to claim what has been promised to him. This is language to the heart of the LORD.

Caleb means ‘wholeheartedly’. That’s how he did everything and that’s how he still does it. Nor should we be lukewarm Christians. He recounts how he did it, forty-five years ago, when he was sent out to spy out the land and his co-spies had melted the hearts of the people. He has remained devoted to his mission with all his heart (Jos 14:8). Moses has confirmed that he has followed the LORD completely (Jos 14:9). That dedication is still there when he stands here before Joshua. Because of this dedication he receives Hebron (Jos 14:14).

Caleb is mentioned many times together with Joshua. All those who are so dedicated are also always united with the true Joshua, the Lord Jesus, and mentioned in one breath with Him. Joshua is also a picture of the leader. The connection between Joshua and Caleb also shows the combination of dedicated leadership in the church. Leader of the people is he who has taken possession of the blessings through battle and lives in heavenly things. It is not a question of a strong personality, of reasoning talent or organizational ability, but of dedication to and connectedness with the Lord Jesus.

Caleb has perseverance. He has seen many people fall in the wilderness. All of his age have died. He is an exception, together with Joshua. He is now an old man, but not tired of days. It will not always have been easy for him to wait, but he has lived by the word the LORD has spoken. God’s Word has worked in him perseverance and the confidence that God is working for him (Isa 64:4). Now he still has to persevere because he doesn’t have it yet. He has yet to conquer it. But he confidently declares that he will succeed.

He wants the territory with giants and fortified cities. He sees the reality, it is not proudness. But he counts on the faithfulness of the LORD. In modesty, he speaks of “perhaps” (Jos 14:12). He does not count on his own strength, however strong he feels, but on the LORD. But if therefore the LORD is with him, there is no doubt whatsoever about the outcome with him.

Caleb is not haughty. Pride is a danger that increases as the years go by. The warning “For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world” (1Jn 2:16) is addressed to young people in faith. But although these three dangers are especially true for the young men, a broader application is certainly permitted.

It is dangerous to say that others have nothing to do with what is special for a particular stage of growth. Fathers and children in faith should also take to heart the warning to the young men. In connection with the phases of spiritual growth which John speaks about in his first letter – little children, young men and fathers (1Jn 2:12-18) – we can say the following: for the little children of faith, “the desire of the flesh” is particularly dangerous; for the young men, it is “the desire of the eyes”; and for the fathers in Christ, the adult believers, it is the “pride of life”.

Verses 13-15

Caleb Obtains Hebron


As always we see the complete unity between what Moses has said and what Joshua does. Joshua acts entirely according to what the LORD and Moses have said, and gives Hebron to Caleb as an inheritance. The origin of Hebron is strongly linked to death. There Sarah dies and there Abraham buries her (Gen 23:2; 19). It is the place that reminds us of the end of man. It is the city of death, the grave is there. Caleb is constantly reminded of this. Whatever giant there is (Arba = giant), it finds its end there.

But there is also the memory of a new man who lives in fellowship with the Lord Jesus – as said, Hebron means ‘fellowship’. Joseph was sent by his father from Hebron to seek his brothers (Gen 37:14). Thus the Lord Jesus was sent from the fellowship with the Father to the world. In Hebron David was crowned king by all the tribes of Israel (2Sam 5:3). There is also fellowship between the people of God and the Lord Jesus. Joseph and David are both a picture of the Lord Jesus.

In connection to Caleb’s request and the language of faith it shows, the chapter ends with the statement that the land had rest from war. Here the peace in the land is connected with the works of Caleb’s faith. This indicates that trusting the Lord, that He enables us to take possession of our blessings, gives rest.

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Kingcomments on the Whole Bible © 2021 Author: G. de Koning. All rights reserved. Used with the permission of the author
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Bibliographical Information
de Koning, Ger. Commentaar op Joshua 14". "Kingcomments on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/kng/joshua-14.html. 'Stichting Titus' / 'Stichting Uitgeverij Daniël', Zwolle, Nederland. 2021.