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Matthew Henry's Commentary

Joshua Chapter 14

he general method that was taken in dividing the land (v. 1-5). II. The demand Caleb made of Hebron, as his by promise, and therefore not to be put into the lot with the rest (v. 6-12). And Joshua’s grant of that demand (v. 13-15). This was done at Gilgal, which was as yet their head-quarters.

Verses 1-5 The historian, having in the foregoing chapter given an account of the disposal of the countries on the other side Jordan, now comes to tell us what they did with the countries in the land of Canaan. They were not conquered to be left desert, a habitation for dragons, and a court for owls, Isa. 34:13 . No, the Israelites that had hitherto been closely encamped in a body, and the greatest part of them such as never knew any other way of living, must now disperse themselves to replenish these new conquests. It is said of the earth, God created it not in vain; he formed it to be inhabited, Isa. 45:18 . Canaan would have been subdued in vain if it had not been inhabited. Yet every man might not go and settle where he pleased, but as there seems to have been in the days of Peleg an orderly and regular division of the habitable earth among the sons of Noah (Gen. 10:25, Gen. 10:32 ), so there was now such a division of the land of Canaan among the sons of Jacob. God had given Moses directions how this distribution should be made, and those directions are here punctually observed. See Num. 26:53 , etc.I. The managers of this great affair were Joshua the chief magistrate, Eleazar the chief priest, and ten princes, one of each of the tribes that were now to have their inheritance, whom God himself had nominated (Num. 34:17 , etc.) some years before; and, it should seem, they were all now in being, and attended this service, that every tribe, having a representative of its own, might be satisfied that there was fair dealing, and might the more contentedly sit down by its lot.II. The tribes among whom this dividend was to be made were nine and a half. 1. Not the two and a half that were already seated (v. 3), though perhaps now that they saw what a good land Canaan was, and how effectually it was subdued, they might some of them repent their choice, and wish they had now been to have their lot with their brethren, upon which condition they would gladly have given up what they had on the other side Jordan; but it could not be admitted: they had made their election without power of revocation, and so must their doom be; they themselves have decided it, and they must adhere to their choice. 2. Not the tribe of Levi; this was to be otherwise provided for. God had distinguished them from, and dignified them above, the other tribes, and they must not now mingle themselves with them, nor cast in their lot among them, for this would entangle them in the affairs of this life, which would not consist with a due attendance on their sacred function. But, 3. Joseph made two tribes, Manasseh and Ephraim, pursuant to Jacob’s adoption of Joseph’s two sons, and so the number of the tribes was kept up to twelve, though Levi was taken out, which is intimated here (v. 4): The children of Joseph were two tribes, therefore they gave no part to Levi, they being twelve without them.III. The rule by which they went was the lot, v. 2. The disposal of that is of the Lord, Prov. 16:33 . It was here used in an affair of weight, and which could not otherwise be accommodated to universal satisfaction, and it was used in a solemn religious manner as an appeal to God, by consent of parties. In dividing by lot, 1. They referred themselves to God, and to his wisdom and sovereignty, believing him fitter to determine for them than they for themselves. Ps. 47:4 , He shall choose our inheritance for us. 2. They professed a willingness to abide by the determination of it; for every man must take what is his lot, and make the best of it. In allusion to this we are said to obtain an inheritance in Christ (Eph. 1:11 ), eklerothemenwe have obtained it by lot, so the word signified; for it is obtained by a divine designation. Christ, our Joshua, gives eternal life to as many as were given him, Jn. 17:2

Verses 6-15 Before the lot was cast into the lap for the determining of the portions of the respective tribes, the particular portion of Caleb was assigned to him. He was now, except Joshua, not only the oldest man in all Israel, but was twenty years older than any of them, for all that were above twenty years old when he was forty were dead in the wilderness; it was fit therefore that this phoenix of his age should have some particular marks of honour put upon him in the dividing of the land. Now,I. Caleb here presents his petition, or rather makes his demand, to have Hebron given him for a possession (this mountain he calls it, v. 12), and not to have that put into the lot with the other parts of the country. To justify his demand, he shows that God had long since, by Moses, promised him that very mountain; so that God’s mind being already made known in this matter it would be a vain and needless thing to consult it any further by casting lots, by which we are to appeal to God in those cases only which cannot otherwise be decided, not in those which, like this, are already determined. Caleb is here called the Kenezite, some think from some remarkable victory obtained by him over the Kenezites, as the Romans gave their great generals titles from the countries they conquered, as Africanus, Germanicus, etc. Observe,1. To enforce his petition, (1.) He brings the children of Judah, that is, the heads and great men of that tribe, along with him, to present it, who were willing thus to pay their respects to that ornament of their tribe, and to testify their consent that he should be provided for by himself, and that they would not take it as any reflection upon the rest of this tribe. Caleb was the person whom God had chosen out of that tribe to be employed in dividing the land (Num. 34:19 ), and therefore, lest he should seem to improve his authority as a commissioner for his own private advantage and satisfaction, he brings his brethren along with him, and waiving his own power, seems rather to rely upon their interest. (2.) He appeals to Joshua himself concerning the truth of the allegations upon which he grounded his petition: Thou knowest the thing, v. 6. (3.) He makes a very honourable mention of Moses, which he knew would not be at all unpleasing to Joshua: Moses the man of God (v. 6), and the servant of the Lord, v. 7. What Moses said he took as from God himself, because Moses was his mouth and his agent, and therefore he had reason both to desire and expect that it should be made good. What can be more earnestly desired than the tokens of God’s favour? And what more confidently expected than the grants of his promise?2. In his petition he sets forth,(1.) The testimony of his conscience concerning his integrity in the management of that great affair on which it proved the fare of Israel turned, the spying out of the land. Caleb was one of the twelve that were sent out on that errand (v. 7), and he now reflected upon it with comfort, and mentioned it, not in pride, but as that which, being the consideration of the grant, was necessary to be inserted in the plea, [1.] That he made his report as it was in his heart, that is, he spoke as he thought when he spoke so honourably of the land of Canaan, so confidently of the power of God to put them in possession of it, and so contemptibly of the opposition that the Canaanites, even the Anakim themselves, could make against them, as we find he did, Num. 13:30 Num. 14:7-9 . He did not do it merely to please Moses, or to keep the people quiet, much less from a spirit of contradiction to his fellows, but from a full conviction of the truth of what he said and a firm belief of the divine promise. [2.] That herein he wholly followed the Lord his God, that is, he kept close to his duty, and sincerely aimed at the glory of God in it. He conformed himself to the divine will with an eye to the divine favour. He had obtained this testimony from God himself (Num. 14:24 ), and therefore it was not vain-glory in him to speak of it, any more than it is for those who have God’s Spirit witnessing with their spirits that they are the children of God humbly and thankfully to tell others for their encouragement what God has done for their souls. Note, Those that follow God fully when they are young shall have both the credit and comfort of it when they are old, and the reward of it for ever in the heavenly Canaan. [3.] That he did this when all his brethren and companions in that service, except Joshua, did otherwise. They made the heart of the people melt (v. 8), and how pernicious the consequences of it were was very well known. It adds much to the praise of following God if we adhere to him when others desert and decline from him. Caleb needed not to mention particularly Joshua’s conduct in this matter; it was sufficiently known, and he would not seem to flatter him; it was enough to say (v. 6), Thou knowest what the Lord spoke concerning me and thee


Joshua 14

Joshua 14

 1And these are the countries which the children of Israel inherited in the land of Canaan, which Eleazar the priest, and Joshua the son of Nun, and the heads of the fathers of the tribes of the children of Israel, distributed for inheritance to them.

 2By lot was their inheritance, as the LORD commanded by the hand of Moses, for the nine tribes, and for the half tribe.

 3For Moses had given the inheritance of two tribes and an half tribe on the other side Jordan: but unto the Levites he gave none inheritance among them.

 4For the children of Joseph were two tribes, Manasseh and Ephraim: therefore they gave no part unto the Levites in the land, save cities to dwell in, with their suburbs for their cattle and for their substance.

 5As the LORD commanded Moses, so the children of Israel did, and they divided the land.

 6Then the children of Judah came unto Joshua in Gilgal: and Caleb the son of Jephunneh the Kenezite said unto him, Thou knowest the thing that the LORD said unto Moses the man of God concerning me and thee in Kadeshbarnea.

 7Forty years old was I when Moses the servant of the LORD sent me from Kadeshbarnea to espy out the land; and I brought him word again as it was in mine heart.

 8Nevertheless my brethren that went up with me made the heart of the people melt: but I wholly followed the LORD my God.

 9And Moses sware on that day, saying, Surely the land whereon thy feet have trodden shall be thine inheritance, and thy children's for ever, because thou hast wholly followed the LORD my God.

 10And now, behold, the LORD hath kept me alive, as he said, these forty and five years, even since the LORD spake this word unto Moses, while the children of Israel wandered in the wilderness: and now, lo, 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 so is my strength now, for war, both to go out, and to come in.

 12Now therefore give me this mountain, whereof the LORD spake in that day; for thou heardest in that day how the Anakims were there, and that the cities were great and fenced: if so be the LORD will be with me, then I shall be able to drive them out, as the LORD said.

 13And Joshua blessed him, and gave unto Caleb the son of Jephunneh Hebron for an inheritance.

 14Hebron therefore became the inheritance of Caleb the son of Jephunneh the Kenezite unto this day, because that he wholly followed the LORD God of Israel.

 15And the name of Hebron before was Kirjatharba; which Arba was a great man among the Anakims. And the land had rest from war.