Joshua 14

CHAPTER XIV

Eleazar, Joshua, and the heads of the fathers, distribute the

land by lot to the people, 1-3.

The Levites receive no land, but cities to dwell in, and suburbs

for their cattle, 4, 5.

Caleb requests to have Mount Hebron for an inheritance, because

of his former services, 6-12.

Joshua grants his request, 13-15.

NOTES ON CHAP. XIV

Verse 1. Eleazar the priest, &c.] ELEAZAR, as being the minister

of GOD in sacred things is mentioned first. JOSHUA, as having the

supreme command in all things civil, is mentioned next. And the

HEADS or PRINCES of the twelve tribes, who in all things acted

under Joshua, are mentioned last. These heads or princes

were twelve, Joshua and Eleazar included; and the reader may find

their names in Nu 34:19-28. It is worthy of remark that no prince

was taken from the tribes of Reuben and Gad, because these had

already received their inheritance on the other side of Jordan,

and therefore could not be interested in this division.

Verse 2. By lot was their inheritance] Concerning the meaning

and use of the lot, see the note on Nu 26:55; and concerning the

manner of casting lots in the case of the scapegoat, see the note

on Le 16:8, 9.

On this subject Dr. Dodd has selected some good observations

from Calmet and Masius, which I here borrow: "Though God had

sufficiently pointed out by the predictions of Jacob when dying,

and those of Moses, what portions he designed for each tribe, we

readily discern an admirable proof of his wisdom in the orders he

gave to decide them by lot. By this means the false

interpretations which might have been given to the words of Jacob

and Moses were prevented; and by striking at the root of whatever

might occasion jealousies and disputes among the tribes, he

evidently secured the honesty of those who were to be appointed to

distribute to them the conquered countries in the land of Canaan.

Besides, the success of this method gave a fresh proof of the

Divinity of the Jewish religion, and the truth of its oracles.

Each tribe finding itself placed by lot exactly in the spot which

Jacob and Moses had foretold, it was evident that Providence had

equally directed both those predictions and that lot. The event

justified the truth of the promises. The more singular it was, the

more clearly we discern the finger of God in it. The portion, says

Masius, fell to each tribe just as Jacob had declared two hundred

and fifty years before in the last moments of his life, and Moses,

immediately before his death; for to the tribe of JUDAH fell a

country abounding in vineyards and pastures; to ZEBULUN and

ISSACHAR, seacoasts; in that of ASHER was plenty of oil, wheat,

and metals; that of BENJAMIN, near to the temple, was, in a

manner, between the shoulders of the Deity; EPHRAIM and MANASSEH

were distinguished with a territory blessed in a peculiar manner

by Heaven; the land of NAPHTALI extended from the west to the

south of the tribe of Judah. Since therefore the lot so well

corresponded to these predictions, would it not be insolence and

stupidity in the highest degree, not to acknowledge the

inspiration of God in the word of Jacob and Moses, the direction

of his hand in the lot, and his providence in the event?"

How the lot was cast in this case cannot be particularly

determined. It is probable, 1. That the land was geographically

divided into ten portions. 2. That each portion was called by a

particular name. 3. That the name of each portion was written on a

separate slip of parchment, wood, &c. 4. That the names of the

claimants were also written on so many slips. 5. The names of the

portions, and of the tribes, were put into separate vessels. 6.

Joshua, for example, put his hand into the vessel containing the

names of the tribes, and took out one slip; while Eleazar took out

one from the other vessel, in which the names of the portions were

put. 7. The name drawn, and the portion drawn, being read, it was

immediately discerned what the district was which God had designed

for such a tribe. This appears to be the most easy way to

determine such a business.

Verse 4. The children of Joseph were two tribes] This was

ascertained by the prophetic declaration of their grandfather

Jacob, Ge 48:5, 6; and as

Levi was taken out of the tribes for the service of the

sanctuary, one of these sons of Joseph came in his place, and

Joseph was treated as the first-born of Jacob, in the place of

Reuben, who forfeited his right of primogeniture.

With their suburbs for their cattle] For the meaning of this

passage the reader is referred to Clarke's note on "Nu 35:6".

Verse 5. They divided the land.] This work was begun some time

before at Gilgal, and was finished some time after at Shiloh. It

must have required a very considerable time to make all the

geographical arrangements that were necessary for this purpose.

Verse 6. Caleb the son of Jephunneh the Kenezite] In the note on

the parallel place, Nu 32:12, it is said Kenaz was probably the

father of Jephunneh, and that Jephunneh not Caleb, was the

Kenezite; but still, allowing this to be perfectly correct, Caleb

might also be called the Kenezite, as it appears to have been a

family name, for Othniel, his nephew and son-in-law, is called

the son of Kenaz, Jos 15:17; Jud 1:13, and 1Ch 4:13; and

a grandson of Caleb is also called the son of Kenaz, 1Ch 4:15. In

1Ch 2:18, Caleb is called the son of

Hezron, but this is only to be understood of his having Hezron

for one of his ancestors; and son here may be considered the same

as descendant; for Hezron, of the tribe of Judah, having come into

Egypt one hundred and seventy-six years before the birth of Caleb,

it is not at all likely that he could be called his father in the

proper sense of the term. Besides, the supposition above makes a

very good sense, and is consistent with the use of the terms

father, son, and brother, in different parts of the sacred

writings.

Thou knowest the thing that the Lord said] In the place to which

Caleb seems to refer, viz., Nu 14:24, there is not a word

concerning a promise of Hebron to him and his posterity; nor in

the place (De 1:36) where Moses repeats what had been done at

Kadesh-barnea: but it may be included in what is there spoken.

God promises, because he had another spirit within him, and had

followed God fully, therefore he should enter into the land

whereinto he came, and his seed should possess it. Probably this

relates to Hebron, and was so understood by all parties at that

time. This seems tolerably evident from the pointed reference made

by Caleb to this transaction.

Verse 7. As it was in mine heart.] Neither fear nor favour

influenced him on the occasion; he told what he believed to be the

truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.

Verse 9. The land whereon thy feet have trodden] This probably

refers to Hebron, which was no doubt mentioned on this occasion.

Verse 10. These forty and five years]

See Clarke on Jos 13:1.

Verse 11. Even so is my strength now] I do not ask this place

because I wish to sit down now, and take my ease; on the contrary,

I know I must fight, to drive out the Anakim, and I am as able and

willing to do it as I was forty-five years ago, when Moses sent me

to spy out the land.

Verse 12. I shall be able to drive them out] He cannot mean

Hebron merely, for that had been taken before by Joshua; but in

the request of Caleb doubtless all the circumjacent country was

comprised, in many parts of which the Anakim were still in

considerable force. It has been conjectured that Hebron itself had

again fallen under the power of its former possessors, who, taking

the advantage of the absence of the Israelitish army, who were

employed in other parts of the country, re-entered the city, and

restored their ancient domination. But the first opinion seems

best founded.

Verse 13. Joshua blessed him] As the word bless often signifies

to speak good or well of or to any person,

(See Clarke on Ge 2:3,) here it may mean the

praise bestowed on Caleb's intrepidity and faithfulness by

Joshua, as well as a prayer to God that he might have prosperity

in all things; and especially that the Lord might be with him, as

himself had expressed in the preceding verse.

Verse 14. Hebron therefore became the inheritance of Caleb]

Joshua admitted his claim, recognized his right, and made a full

conveyance of Hebron and its dependencies to Caleb and his

posterity; and this being done in the sight of all the elders of

Israel, the right was publicly acknowledged, and consequently this

portion was excepted from the general determination by lot; God

having long before made the cession of this place to him and to

his descendants.

Verse 15. And the name of Hebron before was Kirjath-arba] That

is, the city of Arba, or rather, the city of the four, for thus

kiryath arba may be literally translated. It is very

likely that this city had its name from four Anakim, gigantic or

powerful men, probably brothers, who built or conquered it. This

conjecture receives considerable strength from Jos 15:14, where

it is said that Caleb drove from Hebron the three sons of Anak,

Sheshai, Ahiman, and Talmai: now it is quite possible that Hebron

had its former name, Kirjath-arba, the city of the four, from

these three sons and their father, who, being men of uncommon

stature or abilities, had rendered themselves famous by acts

proportioned to their strength and influence in the country. It

appears however from Jos 15:13 that

Arba was a proper name, as there he is called the father of

Anak. The Septuagint call Hebron the metropolis of the Enakim,

μητροπολιςτωνενακιμ. It was probably the seat of government,

being the residence of the above chiefs, from whose conjoint

authority and power it might have been called chebron; as the

word chabar literally signifies to associate, to join in

fellowship, and appears to be used, Job 41:6, for

"associated merchants, or merchants' companions, who travelled

in the same caravan." Both these names are expressive, and serve

to confirm the above conjecture. No notice need be taken of the

tradition that this city was called the city of the four because

it was the burial-place of Adam, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Such

traditions confute themselves.

The land had rest from war.] There were no more general wars;

the inhabitants of Canaan collectively could make no longer any

head, and when their confederacy was broken by the conquests of

Joshua, he thought proper to divide the land, and let each tribe

expel the ancient inhabitants that might still remain in its own

territories. Hence the wars after this time were particular wars;

there were no more general campaigns, as it was no longer

necessary for the whole Israelitish body to act against an enemy

now disjointed and broken. This appears to be the most rational

meaning of the words, The land had rest from war.

THE Jewish economy furnishes, not only a history of God's

revelations to man, but also a history of his providence, and an

ample, most luminous, and glorious comment on that providence. Is

it possible that any man can seriously and considerately sit down

to the reading even of this book, without rising up a wiser and a

better man? This is the true history which everywhere exhibits God

as the first mover and prime agent, and men only as subordinate

actors. What a miracle of God's power, wisdom, grace, justice, and

providence are the people of Israel in every period of their

history, and in every land of their dispersions! If their fall

occasioned the salvation of the Gentile world, what shall their

restoration produce! Their future inheritance is not left to

what men would call the fortuitous decision of a lot; like Caleb's

possession it is confirmed by the oath of the Lord; and when the

end shall be, this people shall stand in their lot at the end of

the days, and shall again be great to the ends of the earth.

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