Scripture: So now give me this hill country of which the LORD spoke on that day, for you heard on that day how the Anakim were there, with great fortified cities. It may be that the LORD will be with me, and I shall drive them out just as the LORD said.” Then Joshua blessed him, and he gave Hebron to Caleb the son of Jephunneh for an inheritance. Therefore Hebron became the inheritance of Caleb the son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite to this day, because he wholly followed the LORD, the God of Israel. Now the name of Hebron formerly was Kiriath-arba. (Arba was the greatest man among the Anakim.) And the land had rest from war. Joshua 14:12-15 ESV
Observation: The author of the book of Joshua, having summarized the conquest of Canaan, reviews the kings defeated under Moses’ and Joshua’s leadership (chapter 12). Chapter 13 then records the Lord commissioning Joshua to allocate the land of Canaan east of the Jordan (vv.8-33) while reminding him of the regions still not conquered (vv.1-7). Of note, this list includes Philistia. Having migrated from Crete in the thirteenth century BC, the Philistines would harass Israel for two more centuries until King David’s reign.
Chapter 14 introduces the allotment process, which would entail casting lots to ensure a divine directive rather than risk accusations of human bias (vv.1-5). Before presenting the allotments west of the Jordan River, the author cites an anomaly. Caleb approaches Joshua and reminds Joshua of Moses’ oath to Caleb regarding inheriting the land on which his foot had trodden forty-five years earlier when he scouted Canaan with the other eleven tribal representatives. Caleb “wholly followed the Lord” (vv.9 and 14) and was prepared to take possession of the land (along with Joshua). So at age 85 and still full of the vigor of his youth, Caleb promises, with God’s help, to drive out the fortified cities of the Anakites (v.12 above), now known as Hebron.
Indeed, by faith, Joshua and Caleb would lead Caleb’s Judean kinsmen (see Judges 1:9-10) to claim the land the ten other tribal leaders disparaged as unconquerable forty-five years earlier. Finally, as this interlude concludes, the author again tells us that the land had rest from war (v.15 above).
Takeaway: Building on yesterday’s Daily Focus, three phrases stand out from the text. First, Caleb “wholly followed the Lord (stated twice). Second, Caleb promised to step out in faith, counting on the Lord’s presence to empower him to eradicate the people who intimidated Israel forty-five years earlier. Third, the passage ends with a familiar statement recorded after previous successful conquests: “the land had rest from war.” If we tie these three statements together, we see a logical flow of action and outcome: Caleb wholeheartedly followed Yahweh and trusted that his presence would bring victory, resulting in a shalom rest on the land.
Several years ago, I read a journalist’s interview with General and President Dwight D. Eisenhower in his late life. When asked which generals he respected the most when he served in WWI, he said the ones who fought for peace. Conversely, he noted, the troops least trusted those generals who charged into battle for the prize of victory.
Like Eisenhower, Caleb would wholeheartedly trust his Commander-in-Chief to take possession of the land and bring rest from war. The same applies to us. When faced with unfinished business, whether relational matters or needs of the community, if we have developed the habit of following the Lord, we will find the faith to trust that he is with us and will bring about resolution and his shalom peace in due time.
Prayer: Father God, we thank you for your Son who took care of unfinished business by following your will to the Cross, where he momentarily experienced separation from you so that we might not ever have to. And we give thanks for the victory won in Christ that restores shalom peace to our minds and hearts. So would you please help us to wholly follow you in resolving our matters of unfinished business? Amen.
Rev. Gordon Green, M.Div., M.A. Counseling