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Bible Commentaries
Joshua 14

Lange's Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal and HomileticalLange's Commentary

Verses 1-15

3. Beginning of the Distribution

Joshua 14:1-5

1And these are the countries which the children of Israel inherited in the land of Canaan,1 which Eleazar the priest, and Joshua the son of Nun, and the heads of the fathers of the tribes of the children [sons] of Israel distributed for inheritance [a 2possession] to them. [,] By lot was their inheritance [by the lot of their possession], as the Lord [Jehovah] commanded by the hand of Moses, for the nine tribes, and for the half-tribe. 3For Moses had given the inheritance [possession] of [the] two tribes and an half-tribe on the other side [of the] Jordan: but unto the Levites he gave none [no] inheritance among them. 4For the children [sons] of Joseph were two tribes, Manasseh and Ephraim: therefore [and] they gave no part unto the Levites in the land, save cities to dwell in, with [and] their suburbs [pasture-grounds] for their cattle, and for their substance. 5As the Lord [Jehovah] commanded Moses, so the children of Israel did, and they divided the land.

4. The Possession of Caleb

Joshua 14:6-15

6Then [And] the children [sons] of Judah came unto Joshua in Gilgal: and Caleb the son of Jephunneh the Kenezite, said unto him, Thou knowest the thing [word] that the Lord [Jehovah] said unto Moses the man of God concerning me and thee in Kadesh-barnea. 7Forty years old was I when Moses the servant of the Lord [Jehovah] sent me from Kadesh-barnea to espy out the land; and I brought 8him word again as it was in my heart. Nevertheless [And] my brethren that went up with me made the heart of the people melt; but I wholly followed the Lord 9[Jehovah] my God. And Moses sware on that day, saying: Surely the land whereon thy feet have [thy foot hath] trodden shall be thine inheritance [thy possession], and thy children’s for ever; because thou hast wholly followed the Lord 10[Jehovah] my God. And now, behold, the Lord [Jehovah] hath kept me alive, as he said, these forty and five years, even [omit: even] since the Lord [Jehovah] spake this word unto Moses, while the children of [omit: the children of] Israel wandered [walked] in the wilderness; and now, lo [behold], I am this day fourscore and five years old. 11As yet I am as strong this day, as I was in the day that Moses sent me; as my strength was then, even [omit: even] so is my strength now, for 12war, both [and] to go out, and to come in. Now therefore [and now] give me this mountain, whereof the Lord [Jehovah] spake in that day; for thou heardest in that day how the Anakims were there, and that the cities were great and fenced [and great and fortified cities]: if so be [perhaps] the Lord [Jehovah] will be with me, then I shall be able to drive them out, as the Lord [Jehovah] said. 13And Joshua blessed him, and gave unto Caleb the son of Jephunneh, Hebron for an inheritance [a possession]. 14Hebron therefore became the inheritance [possession] of Caleb the son of Jephunneh the Kenezite unto this day; because that he wholly followed the Lord [Jehovah] God of Israel. 15And the name of Hebron before was Kirjath-arba: which Arba was a great man among the Anakims. And the land had rest from war.


The chapter contains, partly, Joshua 14:1-5, the introduction to the division of the country west of the Jordan among the nine and a half remaining tribes, and partly an episode breaking the connection between Joshua 14:1-5; Joshua 15:1 ff., concerning the possession of Caleb. With this, Joshua 15:13-19 and Judges 1:10-15, which agree with each other, are to be compared.

a. (3) Joshua 14:1-5. Introduction to the Division of the Land West of the Jordan. Joshua 14:1. As distributors Eleazar and Joshua are named here, as in Numbers 34:17, while in Joshua 13:6-7; Joshua 18:6; Joshua 18:8; Joshua 18:10, Joshua alone casts the lot or grants the land as in vers 13; Joshua 17:15; Joshua 17:18. Eleazar, אֶלְעָזָר (whom God helps, Gotthilf), “was Aaron’s third son and successor in the high-priesthood, Exodus 6:23; Exodus 6:25; Numbers 3:2. After the death of his father he followed him in the dignity of the high-priesthood; Numbers 20:25 ff; Deuteronomy 10:6, and was associated thus for a time with Moses, then with Joshua, Joshua 14:1; Joshua 17:4 ff. His death is related Joshua 24:33” (Winer, 1. 314).

Joshua 14:2. Eleazar and Joshua distributed the land through the lot of their possession; i.e. through the lot by which the part of the land was to be determined according to Numbers 26:55, whether in the north or in the south, whether in the east or in the west, whereas the magnitude of the portion was to be fixed (Numbers 26:56) according to the population of the tribe, by Moses or his successor. “Whether also the provinces of the several families of the tribes were assigned by lot, or whether this was left to the heads of the tribes, respectively, is not to be discovered” (Knobel).

The distribution by lot of conquered countries appears also in other histories. Thus it was “a standing custom with the Athenians, to divide the land of conquered enemies to colonists by lot, (Diod. xv. 23, 29). They proceeded in this manner in Eubœa (Herod, v. 77; 6, 100), and in Lesbos Thuc. iii. 50). Among the Romans, also we read of sorte agros legionibus assignare (Cic. Epp. add. Divv., xi. 20, comp. Appian, Bell. Civ., v. 74)” (Knobel).

How the lot was taken we are not informed. Most probably, as the Rabbins have conjectured. there were two urns. In one had been placed little tablets (Keil: tickets) with the names of the tribe, and in the other similar tablets with the names of the districts; and one of each was drawn at the same time. If we reject the supposition of two urns, we may think of one containing the tablets designating the portions of country, which the heads of the several tribes may have drawn, As Jehovah had commanded by Moses,Numbers 26:52 ff.

Joshua 14:4. The appointment concerning the Levitical cities is found Numbers 35:1 ff. where it is stated also how large their pasture-grounds should be. מִגְרָשׁ from גָרַשׁto drive, drive forth signifies a place whither cattle are driven (Germ. Trieb, Trift, [comp. Eng.: drove, “a road for driving cattle,” Webster]), and denotes here the space around the city which should serve for the driving of herds” (Knobel on Numbers 35:2). A diagram by which the dimensions in Numbers 35:5 may be clearly apprehended is given in Keil on this passage.2 These pasture-grounds (Bunsen: Commons); in Switzerland called All-menden), are repeatedly mentioned Joshua 20:0. Luther [the Eng. version also] translates, incorrectly: suburbs, led evidently by the Vulg., which renders מ׳suburbana.

b. (4) Joshua 14:6-15. Caleb’s Possession. Caleb, the patriarch of the sons of Judah (Numbers 34:19), accompanied by the men of his tribe (Joshua 14:6), approaches Joshua, and desires, with an appeal to the promise of Moses (Joshua 14:9), and with a declaration of his still unbroken capacity for war (Joshua 14:11), that the mountain of Hebron may be given to him, out of which he purposes to extirpate the Anakites (Joshua 14:12). Joshua promptly and gladly grants the request of the respected, proved, and brave old man, who had once with himself spied out the land from Kadesh-barnea (Numbers 13:29; Numbers 14:6). The place of the transaction is Gilgal, and that, as has before been shown, in the Jordan-valley. Later, Joshua 18:1, we find the camp moved to Shiloh.

Joshua 14:6. Caleb, the son of Jephunneh, the Kenezite. Caleb, כָּלֵב (perhaps, seizing vehemently, from כָּלַב, Gesen.3), son of one Jephunneh, of the tribe of Judah (Numbers 13:6), one of the spies (Numbers 13:7), had in vain encouraged the Israelites to venture an attack and take possession of the promised land (Numbers 13:31). Pained at the cowardice of the people, he and Joshua rent their garments and still urged the people to a bold and resolute deed, which so enraged the latter that they were ready to stone them both (Numbers 14:10). On account of their fidelity, Caleb and Joshua alone were deemed worthy to enter into the land of Canaan (Numbers 14:24; Numbers 14:30; Numbers 14:38; Numbers 26:65; 1Ma 2:56; Sir 46:11-12). He is here, as in Joshua 14:14 and also in Numbers 32:12, called קְנִזִּי, i.e. a descendant of Kenaz, which name occurs yet again, as Judges 1:12, in the family of Caleb. We agree with Winer (i. 654) in thinking it quite unlikely that there is here any connection with the Kenizzites mentioned Genesis 15:19, as Bertheau and Ewald suppose. [But see Smith’s Dict. of the Bible, articles “Caleb” and “Kenezites”].

We next have the speech of Caleb, whose main thought has been already given above. He first calls to mind the word which Jehovah in Kadesh-barnea spoke to Moses, the man of God, concerning him and Joshua. It is found in Numbers 14:24; Numbers 14:30, but purports only, as Keil aptly remarks, that the Lord will bring Caleb into the land whither he had gone, and give it to his seed for a possession. Kadesh-barnea we have already found mentioned in Joshua 10:41, and shall find it again Joshua 15:3; Joshua 15:23. The name sounds either as here, or merely קָדֵשׁ (Genesis 14:7; Genesis 16:14; Numbers 20:16), or קֶדֶשׁ (Joshua 15:23). It lay at the foot of the mountain of the Amorites (Deuteronomy 1:19-21), was reached by the Israelites in eleven days from Horeb, and was the principal scene of their stubbornness and insubordination (Numbers 14:0; Numbers 20:1-13), and where they decided their fate for the long period of forty years. Robinson, whom Hitzig (Gesch. d. v. Israels, 1:89) unhesitatingly follows, regards as Kadesh, Ain el-Weibeh, which lies northwest of Petra, and almost south of the Dead Sea. Von Raumer fixes upon the more northerly Ain Hasb (p. 209, as with special particularity, p. 483 ff.), lying, as well as the former place, in the Arabah. Menke has followed on his map the opinion of Rowland, controverted by both Robinson and Raumer, according to which Kadesh must be sought far west of the Arabah. Thither Menke transfers Mount Seir, also, and the wilderness of Zin. But how then should Numbers 21:4 be understood in comparison with Deuteronomy 2:12?4

Joshua 14:7. At the time when he was sent forth from Kadesh-barnea Caleb was forty years old. He brought back a report, and as he expresses it, so as it was in [lit. with] my heart. Hebr.עִם־לְבָבִי בַּאֲֹשֶׁר. Luther translates לבב here as in Job 27:6, by “conscience.” We are not to think of conscience, however, but rather of the bold confident spirit of Caleb, which he spoke out just as he felt it. He was a spirited man and not discouraged like the rest. On the variant reading of the LXX. (αὐτοῦ) which presupposes לְבָבוֹ, as one codex of Kennicott has it, see Keil, in loc.

Joshua 14:8. Not so were his brethren who went up with him; they rather discouraged (הִמְסִיד for הִמְכוּ, Ewald, Lehrg. § 142, a; Gesen. § 75. Rem. 17) the heart of the people; prop. they made the heart of the people to melt, as in Eng. vers. Comp. Joshua 2:11; Joshua 5:1, but especially Joshua 7:5. By that Caleb was not troubled, but wholly followed (comp. Numbers 14:24) Jehovah, i.e. completely fulfilled (מִלֵּאתִי) what Jehovah required,—rendered him unconditional, cheerful obedience.

Joshua 14:9. In consequence of this Moses swore to give him the land on which his foot had trod. We find no difficulty in meeting with this oath in Deuteronomy 1:34 ff. where 14:36 agrees, in part literally, with the verse before us. And although it is there said that God swore, here that Moses did, we see, ceteris paribus, no irreconcilable discrepancy. Moses, the man of God (Joshua 14:6), swears in the name and at the command of God. Knobel’s observation: “moreover we read, in what the Jehovist has given of the report of the author, of an oath of Jehovah, Numbers 14:21; Numbers 14:24,” needs correction, since the oath in question, which is identical with that in Deuteronomy 1:34, is the one mentioned Numbers 14:21; Numbers 14:24.

[Jehovah my God. It is less easy to reconcile this expression with any form of the oath as taken by Jehovah. May we not assume that Caleb quotes some expression of Moses not elsewhere preserved to us, but familiar then to Joshua?—Tr.]

Joshua 14:10. God has fulfilled his promise and kept him alive, as he spoke, and that for these forty and five years. … while Israel walked in the wilderness.אְשֶׁר has here the signification “in which” (time), “while,” Ewald, Lehrg. § 321, c. Concerning the forty-five years see the Introd. § 4.

Joshua 14:11. The might of the hero is still unbroken although he is now eighty-five years old. A similar statement is made of Moses, Deuteronomy 34:7.

Joshua 14:12. On the ground of all these facts Caleb now asks for mount Hebron, although he had, according to Numbers 13:21, gone much further into the country, even into the north of Palestine, while certainly, according to Numbers 13:22-23, he had spied out the land only into the region of Hebron. As there Numbers 14:22-23 are inserted into the context so is it here with this whole passage, Joshua 14:6-15, which probably comes from the same hand. It is remarkable also, that Caleb here says to Joshua: thou heardest in that day, how the Anakim were there, since Joshua (Numbers 13:8) also was one of the spies; cf. besides Knobel on this passage, also Bleek, Introduction, i. p. 316. As Anakim are mentioned, Numbers 13:22; Judges 1:10, and in this book, Joshua 15:14, Sheshai, Ahiman, and Talmai.

Perhaps Jehovah will be with me that I may drive them out, as Jehovah said. According to Joshua 11:21, Joshua had already driven them out, (וַיּכְרֵת).— אֹתִי for אִתִּי Gesen. § 103, 1, Rem. Ewald, Lehrg. § 264, a.

Joshua 14:13. Joshua cheerfully granted the request of Caleb. He blessed him, i.e. “joined with his gratitude for the courageous declaration, an expression of his good wishes and prayer for the success of his undertaking; comp. Genesis 14:19; Genesis 27:23; Exodus 39:43; 2 Samuel 14:22” (Knobel). Joshua himself, as in Joshua 17:14 ff., bestows on him the land.

Joshua 14:14. Thus Hebron passes over into the hands of Caleb. According to Joshua 21:11, he must have yielded the city to the Levites, while he held the land for himself.

Joshua 14:15. A notice that in earlier times (לְפָנִים) Hebron had been called “city of Arba,” who was a great man among the Anakim. The same remark is repeated Joshua 15:13; Joshua 21:11, and had already occurred Genesis 23:2. Another piece of information see Numbers 13:22.

And the land had rest from war; repeated here from Joshua 11:23.


1. The manner of employing the lot here is different from its use in Joshua 7:14, inasmuch as we here have to deal, not with a criminal process, but only with the fairest possible performance of an administrative transaction, namely, with the division of the land. In this case also God himself should give the decision, and therefore resort is had to the lot. So again after the return from the exile the resettlement of the capital was effected by casting lots (Nehemiah 11:1), comp. Winer, ii. 31.

2. That the Levites received no province as a tribe, but rather cities for their habitation, and pastures for their herds, just so much, therefore, as, joined to the portion of the offerings mentioned Numbers 18:0, was necessary for their subsistence, this was altogether suited to keep them in lively remembrance that Jehovah was their inheritance. Christ expresses the same principle in regard to his disciples, Matthew 10:9-10; Mark 6:8-9; Luke 9:3; Luke 10:4; Luke 10:7. Paul appeals directly to the O. T. arrangement, 1 Corinthians 9:13, although for himself he makes no claim to this right, 1 Corinthians 9:18. Now also these principles ought to give the standard to congregations and church authorites in fixing the salaries of spiritual offices. Fat benefices with large landed possessions or extravagant revenues of money are wrong; but equally wrong is it when care for subsistence daily oppresses the preacher and robs him of the joy of his calling. In this matter there is still much room for improvement. Rightly, therefore, does Starke say “The Levites were by this wise arrangement so much the more assured of their earthly support, and could so much the more diligently and without embarrassment perform their duty. They are a pattern for all Christians, who ought to regard all which they have as a gift of God.”

3. The youthful freshness with which Caleb comes forward, has in it something uncommonly cheering, and shows how a pious walk joined with an efficient accomplishment of the business of life, keeps a man even physically sound and vigorous up to advanced age. It was so also with Moses, and even in our time there were and are men who have shared the same beautiful lot. Of one at least let us here make mention, the recently departed Nitzsch. Compare also in Schleiermacher’s Monologen the discourse concerning “Youth and Age.”


Caleb’s demand. (1) On his part well grounded, therefore: (2) gladly granted by Joshua.—What is right and just one may well demand.—How God sustains those who are his even to old age, and until they are gray (Isaiah 46:4), shown in the case of Caleb.—The blessing of a faithful fulfillment of the commands of God.—The land had ceased from war (Peace Sermon).

Starke: Only he who is a child of God and belongs to the peculiar people of God, can partake of the heavenly inheritance, Galatians 4:7; Galatians 3:29; Romans 8:17.—In the reception of earthly good we must refer everything to the divine blessing.—O, how profitable is godliness! It is profitable unto all things and has the promise of the life which now is and of that which is to come, 1 Timothy 4:8; Matthew 6:33. Although God does good to his children and blesses them, yet with the sweet He always shows them the rod also, Malachi 3:16-18.—In the world is war and strife, but in heavey, peace, rest, and blessedness, Job 7:1.

Cramer: Dividing an inheritance and all business transactions and dealings are matters of con science, 1 Thessalonians 4:6.—No one can of himself take for himself anything of the kingdom of heaven, and of eternal life, except it be given to him from above, John 3:27.—That to which a man has a right he may even demand of the magistrate, for to this end are judges appointed, Deuteronomy 17:18.—Our glory and boast should be the testimony of a good conscience, 2 Corinthians 1:12, Acts 24:16.—Godliness is rewarded also with long life and health, Psalms 91:16; Proverbs 3:2.

Osiander: Although we certainly cannot attain blessedness through our own works and merits, still God of his great goodness is wont to reward what we do from the spirit of submissive obedience with temporal and spiritual benefits.


[1][Joshua 14:1.—And these are what the sons of Israel received as a possession in the land of Canaan, what Eleazar the priest, etc.—Tr.]

[2][This is Keil’s figure:—Tr.]

[3][Gesenius: “perhaps, dog, for כֶּלֶב” from כָּלַב “to bark, to yelp.” But Fürst and Dietrich (in his edition of Gesenius) give the above explanation. See Smith’s Dict. art. “Caleb,” Am. Edition.—Tr.]

[4][The site of Kadesh is fully discussed in the Dict. of the Bible, s. v.]

Bibliographical Information
Lange, Johann Peter. "Commentary on Joshua 14". "Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/lcc/joshua-14.html. 1857-84.
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