Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges
And 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.Ch. Joshua 14:1-5. Distribution of the Land West of the Jordan
1. And these are the countries] In this section, from Joshua 14:1-5, we have an introduction to the division of the country west of the Jordan among the nine and a half remaining tribes.
Eleazar the priest] He was the third son of Aaron, and his successor in the highpriesthood (Numbers 20:25; Deuteronomy 10:6). See below, ch. Joshua 24:33. Both here and in Numbers 34:17 he is mentioned before Joshua, “for the division by lot was presided over by the high priest as the representative of the government of the Lord in Israel.” Keil.
By lot was their inheritance, as the LORD commanded by the hand of Moses, for the nine tribes, and for the half tribe.2. By lot was their inheritance] See Numbers 26:55; Numbers 33:54, and note above on the use of “lots” ch. Joshua 7:18.
(a) The use of lots was specially characteristic of the ancient world. Thus it was a standing custom of the Athenians to divide the land of conquered enemies to colonists by lot (Diod. xv. 23, 29), and we find it resorted to by them (a) in Eubœa (Herod. v. 77; vi. 100), (b) in Lesbos (Thuc. III. 50). The Romans also assigned territory to the victorious legions by lot (Cic. Ep. ad Div. xi. 20).
(b) How the lot was taken on this occasion we are not told. The Rabbins conjecture that there were two urns; in one had been placed little tablets with the names of the tribes, and in the other similar tablets with the names of the districts, and that one of each was drawn at the same time.
(c) The decision was made by lot, not merely to prevent all disputes with reference to their respective possessions, and to remove every ground of discontent and complaint, but also in order that each tribe might cheerfully and thankfully accept the share awarded to it, as the inheritance intended for it by God. “For the casting of lots is not regulated either by the opinion, or caprice, or authority of men.” (Calvin.) “It is true that it seems as though this might have been as easily accomplished, if Joshua or the High Priest had been divinely inspired to give to every tribe its inheritance. But men are never so ready to submit cheerfully to the decisions of another man, even though they may be the result of Divine Inspiration, as they are to a decision arrived at by a lot over which the Lord presides, and thus entirely raised above human caprice.” (See Proverbs 18:18; Proverbs 16:33.)
For 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.3. For Moses] In this verse the reason is stated why there were only nine tribes and a half, to whom the land was distributed by lot; viz. because two tribes and a half had already received their inheritance on the east of the Jordan, and no land was given to the Levites as an inheritance.
For 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.4. For the children of Joseph] There would have been only eight tribes and a half left, but the two sons of Joseph, Manasseh and Ephraim, had been adopted by Jacob as his sons (Genesis 48:5), and were reckoned as tribes, and therefore there were still nine tribes and a half to receive their inheritance.
therefore they gave] Rather, and they gave. The repetition of these statements respecting the Levites is not due “to the redundancy of the Semitic style,” but is intended to shew the reader that the instructions left by Moses (Numbers 18:20; Numbers 35:2) had been literally and exactly fulfilled.
with their suburbs] i. e. pasture-ground within the precincts of the cities, or certain districts round them in which their cattle might graze. These “pasture-grounds,” rendered by Bunsen “commons,” and in Switzerland called All-menden, are incorrectly translated in our version “suburbs,” from the Vulgate suburbana; “suburbis of hem to hous beestis and his feeld beestis to be fed,” Wyclif.
As the LORD commanded Moses, so the children of Israel did, and they divided the land.5. they divided the land] The division was not finished at once. See below, ch. Joshua 18:1. But that is not the point here. The section contains the general introduction to the distribution of the land.
Then 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.6–15. The Possession of Caleb
6. in Gilgal] Where the casting of the lots commenced.
and Caleb the son of Jephunneh] Caleb was a prince of the tribe of Judah, a descendant of Hezron, the son of Pharez, and grandson of Judah (1 Chronicles 2:5; 1 Chronicles 2:18; 1 Chronicles 2:25). He is first mentioned in the list of the princes who were sent to search the land of Canaan in the second year of the Exodus (Numbers 13:6), and he and Joshua were the only two who on their return encouraged the Israelites to go up and take possession of the land. In the plague that ensued, these two alone were spared, and deemed worthy to enter the Promised Land (Numbers 14:24; Numbers 14:30; Numbers 26:65).
the Kenezite] His younger brother Othniel, afterwards the first Judge, is also called “the son of Kenaz” (Joshua 15:17; Jdg 1:13; Jdg 3:9; Jdg 3:11). Hence (a) some have thought he was a foreigner by birth, descended from the Edomite tribe spoken of in Genesis 15:19, a proselyte who had been incorporated into the tribe of Judah (comp. Genesis 36:15; Genesis 36:42); (b) others hold that even if Jephunneh was on the father’s side descended from this people, on the mother’s he came from Judah, and that this Kenaz probably belonged to the posterity of Judah of whom nothing further is known. From 1 Chronicles 4:15 it appears that one of Caleb’s sons was called Kenaz, and it is clear that the name was held in great affection by the family, and it was customary both with Hebrews and Arabs to perpetuate certain family names. See Keil’s Commentary.
Thou knowest] Caleb begins by reminding his friend and leader of the word which Jehovah had spoken to Moses at Kadesh-barnea concerning them both (Numbers 14:24).
in Kadesh-barnea] Next to Sinai, the most important of all the resting-places of the children of Israel (see Deuteronomy 33:2).
Forty 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.7. to espy out the land] “for to behold the loond,” Wyclif. “Espy” (comp. Genesis 42:27, “And as one of them opened his sack … he espied his money”) comes from Fr. espier, Sp. espiar, which are modifications of the Latin aspicere. The old form was aspy or aspie. See below the quotation from Wyclif, Joshua 14:11, and comp.
“Securely I espy
Virtue with valour couched in thine eye.”
Shakespeare, Richard II. I. 3. 97.
as it was in mine heart] i.e. “according to my thorough conviction,” in the bold confident spirit, which spoke out exactly what it felt. “He had neither courted the favour of any man by his words, nor feared their anger.” He had spoken out what he believed.
Nevertheless my brethren that went up with me made the heart of the people melt: but I wholly followed the LORD my God.8. made the heart of the people melt] (Comp. Numbers 14:1; Numbers 14:4; Deuteronomy 1:28), so that they murmured against Moses and Aaron, and wanted to return again to Egypt. “Discomfortiden the herte of the puple,” Wyclif.
And 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.9. And Moses sware on that day] The oath of the great Lawgiver is not mentioned either in Numbers 14:23, or Deuteronomy 1:35. Caleb probably quotes an express declaration of Moses, not recorded in the Pentateuch, but familiar to Joshua, in whose hearing it may have been first related by Moses.
Surely the land] Comp. Numbers 13:22; Numbers 14:24; Deuteronomy 1:36.
And 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.10. And now behold] God had fulfilled His promise, and not only prolonged his life forty-five years, but had preserved his strength in such full vigour, that, though now in his eighty-fifth year, he felt as strong, and as well able to engage in war, as when he was forty years old.
As 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.11. As yet I am] “To day Y am of fẏue and eiзti зeer, so myзti as that tyme Y was myghti, whanne Y was sent to aspie,” Wyclif.
Now 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.12. this mountain] i.e. the mountain of Hebron. “The great elevation of this country above the level of the sea is most forcibly brought out by the journey we have made. From the moment of leaving the ’Arabah has been almost a continual ascent. We mounted the great Pass of Sâfeh, and, having mounted, hardly descended at all—crossed the great tableland of Beersheba—and then mounted the barrier of the hills of Judah—and thence have been mounting ever since. Hebron is, in fact, only four hundred feet lower than Helvellyn.”—Stanley’s Sinai and Palestine, p. 102.
whereof the Lord spake] These words are a proof that it was not merely a general promise, but a special one in reference to Hebron which Caleb had received.
how the Anakims were there] The names of some are specially mentioned, Numbers 13:22; Jdg 1:10 : Sheshai, Ahiman, and Talmai.
if so be the Lord] More literally, perhaps Jehovah will be with me, and I may drive them out, as Jehovah said. The word “perhaps” does not indicate any doubt, but expresses a hope and desire. “If in hap the Lord is with me, and Y may do hem awai, as he bihiзte to me,” Wyclif.
And Joshua blessed him, and gave unto Caleb the son of Jephunneh Hebron for an inheritance.13. And Joshua blessed him] The Hebrew leader cheerfully granted the request of his old companion in the work of espial, and emphatically prayed for a successful issue to all his efforts against his gigantic foes.
Hebron 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.14. Hebron therefore became] Thus the city of Hebron passed into the possession of Caleb, to be by him ceded to the Levites (Joshua 21:11), while he retained the land for himself.
And the name of Hebron before was Kirjatharba; which Arba was a great man among the Anakims. And the land had rest from war.15. And the name of Hebron] “Hebron would appear to have been the original name of the city, and it was not till after Abraham’s stay there that it received the name Kirjath-Arba, who was not the founder but the conqueror of the city, having led thither the tribe of the Anakim to which he belonged. It retained this name till it came into the possession of Caleb, when the Israelites restored the original name Hebron.” Keil in loc. “Caleb must have seen the spot, afterwards his own, when with the spies he passed through this very valley.” S. & P. p. 165. The translation of Wyclif here is very curious, “The name of Ebron was clepid bifore Cariatharbe. Adam, moost greet there in the loond of Enachym was set.”
And the land had rest from war] This formula is repeated here to furnish a point of transition to the history of the peaceful distribution of the country.