Joshua 14&15: Dividing the Land (Judah)

The allotment for the tribe of Judah is given, as well as, a special request for Caleb. All the names and places listed in the Bible seem useless until you start locating them on a map!

Introduction

The tribe of Judah was the largest of the tribes according to the census in Numbers 26; they were also given the first lot of land to the west of the Jordan. Before all is said and done, however, part of their inheritance is given to the tribe of Simeon as it is too much for them to maintain (see Joshua 19:1,9). Also outlined in Judah's inheritance is the inheritance of Caleb.
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Caleb's Inheritance

Caleb was one of the 12 spies Moses sent into the Promised Land just after the Israelites fled Egypt. When all the other spies turned against God and convinced the Israelites not to enter the Promised Land, Caleb and Joshua were the only spies to believe God would deliver them as promised. This action gained both men favor in the eyes of God. Caleb and Joshua were the only people form the original generation to enter the promised land; they are also the only two men to receive an inheritance by name. (Aaron's children also receive a special portion, but they receive individual cities as the Levites do not receive an inheritance).

For his inheritance, Caleb requests the mountain on which God spoke and receives the land of Hebron for his inheritance, which is also known as Kirjatharba.[1][2][3] This city is designated as a city of refuge and the suburbs are given to Aaron (see Joshua 21:11-13).
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Conquering the Land

Caleb asks for land that apparently hasn't been conquered, yet. Once again we see his faith in God. At 85 years old, Caleb is still ready and able to go to battle in the name of God. Joshua 15:13-19 continues that fate of Caleb in taking the land of Hebron. He comes against the sons of Anak: Sheshai, and Ahiman, and Talmai. Archeologists have proven these names to be unique to the time period of Joshua's conquest of Canaan.[4] With God leading him, Caleb is able to drive them out of the land and take possession of his inheritance.
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Caleb Gives His Daughter In Marriage

Caleb also seeks to conquer the city of Debir, also known as Kirjathsepher. He tells the men that whomever conquers the city can have his daughter, Achsah, as a wife. It is Caleb's nephew Othniel who succeeds at this task and claims Achsah as his wife. Othniel goes on to become the first judge of Israel. Achsah persuades Othniel to ask Caleb for more land as her inheritance/dowry plus water resources. Caleb obliges and grants the couple the field Achsah has asked for, as well as, the springs of water.

Marriage has changed a lot since Caleb's day. Achsah didn't have a choice in whom she would marry; it is clear that her dad made that decision for her. However, the man had to prove his worth to gain her hand. In today's society where looks, sparks, and other fleshly desires play such heavy roles in selecting a partner, it seems a quite foreign and almost cruel the way marriage was handled in the olden days. The father chose Achsah's husband not because her opinion was worthless, but because he had an obligation to ensure his daughter's wellbeing. Men selected husbands for their daughters based on the man's qualifications to provide and protect. This is highlighted in Caleb's actions. Othniel couldn't just show up with some flowers, look handsome, and woo Achsah with a sonnet to get her hand. Othniel had to prove to Caleb he was the best man to care for Achsah but conquering a whole city. It may seem odd given the culture of the society we live in, but remember one of the leading causes of divorce in the US is money related (i.e. rooted in providing for the family).[7][8][9] Knowing that everything is taken care of in terms of basic needs (roof over your head, food, etc.) leaves a couple one less thing to stress about, and the feeling of security allows for a stronger bond between the two.
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The Tribe of Judah's Inheritance

Photocredit: Holman KJV Study Bible pg. 391
As the largest tribe, Judah receives a large portion of land. Joshua 15 provides both a general outline and a list of cities to describe their inheritance. Roughly speaking, the border extended from the southernmost border of Israel upward, to the northernmost point of the Dead Sea and from the Dead Sea west to the Mediterranean Sea. Within this territory was the city of Jesus' birth (Bethlehem) and death (Jerusalem). The city of Jerusalem is listed as a territory for both the tribes of Judah and Benjamin, likely it is a border for one and belonged to the other. However, the city was occupied by the Jebusites until the time of King David.

A total of 84 cities are listed for Judah. However, it is interesting counting the cities as they are listed. For each passage delineating a tribe's inheritance, cities the tribes are meant to occupy as well as cities that served as borders (not meant for occupation) are given. In the case of Judah, we are also given the names of cities that will eventually be given to Simeon. This leads to confusion at Joshua 15:32, which tells us 29 cities have been listed when we can count 38 in the list. If you compare the list given for the tribe of Simeon in Joshua 19, you will see that exactly 9 cities match. Likely this is why the actual total is less than the list given.

An interesting fact about the inheritance of Judah can be viewed on today's map. Just west of Jerusalem is a city called Nahshon. Nahson was a prince of Judah, and the son of Amminadab. He would have been part of the generation that did not make it to the Promised Land[5][6].
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References

  1. "Kirjatharba". Bible Hub. 2016
  2. "Kirjath-arba". Bible Study Tools. 2016
  3. Joshua 14:15
  4. Holman Bible Publisher. Holman KJV Study Bible. pg. 392. 2014
  5. Numbers 1:7
  6. Numbers 2:3
  7. "Survey: Certified Divorce Financial Analyst® (CDFA®) professionals Reveal the Leading Causes of Divorce ". Institute for Financial Divorce Analysts. 2016
  8. Hawkins, Alan J., Ph.D. and Fackrell, Tamara A., J.D. "How common is divorce and what are the reasons?". Should I Keep trying to work it out: A guidebook for individuals and couples at the crossroads of divorce (and before). Utah State University Divorce Orientation. 2016
  9. Payne, L.L., Olver, K., and Roth, D. "The 10 Most Common Reasons People Get Divorced". Huffington Post. September 2015

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Author Image Author Image I love reading the Word of God. With prayer God's Word reveals so much: from comfort to temperance, from perspective to affirmation. Digging into the depths of the Word, cross-referencing history, language and time differences, is a passion of mine. In March of 2015 I decided to go back through the Bible doing an in depth study on each section I read. Eventually I decided to share my journal of notes as I partake in this journey. I hope you are blessed by God and inspired to pursue a deeper relationship with Him. I love reading and learning about God, nature, and science. I am interested in how it all connects. The Creator's fingerprints are all over his creation. We can learn so much about Him and how we came to be by exploring the world around us. Join me as I explore the world and draw closer to the One who created it all.
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