Joshua: Chapter 14
Caleb wholly followed the Lord

Bible Study @ Hurst Gospel Hall

Author: John Whitmarsh
Added: 2010-01-14

The first few verses reiterate information that we have already gathered from reading the earlier chapters (especially chapter 13) but there is further information woven into the text. Chapter 13 states that Moses gave the inheritance to the two and a half tribes on the eastern side of the river Jordan and that Joshua was to do the same for the nine and a half tribes to the west. Here we are told of the helpers in the distribution of the land. This is the first time that these have been mentioned in this book but they are there in Numbers 34.16 to the end of that chapter.

In verse 6 the subject matter changes to Caleb and, eventually, to his inheritance. It is not tribal inheritance in this chapter but the inheritance that went to one man Caleb. Caleb was 85 when this chapter was written and we know from the beginning of chapter 13 that Joshua was an old man. We are not sure how old Joshua was at this time and there are many commentators who say that Caleb was older than Joshua making him less than 85 in chapter 14. Newberry has dates of 1451BC for Joshua 1.1 and then, strangely, BC 1452 for Joshua 12.1. At the beginning of chapter 13 he has BC 1445 and then BC 1426 for Joshua 24.29 which is the verse that records Joshua's death. Thus there was a period of almost twenty years to go from the events of this chapter to the day that Joshua died according to Newberry. By his reckoning Joshua would have been older than Caleb by about five years but where he gets the dates from is not known. Joshua being 90 in Joshua 14 makes him about 85 at the start of the book for the events recorded in the first twelve chapters take place over a period of about five years (see notes on verses 7 and 10 of this chapter). This means that Joshua would have been 45 at the exodus and Exodus 33.11 describes him as a young man at that time!!

Whilst these figures are interesting they should not detract from the main message of this chapter, that of commitment, for Caleb wholly followed the Lord and right on until he was 85 years of age. Age did not deter him from wholly following the Lord.

14:1 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.

See the latter part of Numbers 34 for the detail.

14:2 By lot was their inheritance, as the LORD commanded by the hand of Moses, for the nine tribes, and for the half tribe.

14:3 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.

14:4 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.

14:5 As the LORD commanded Moses, so the children of Israel did, and they divided the land.

This is a repetition of information that has been given in chapter 13. The question that needs to be raised, and for which no answer if proffered here, is, 'Why give this information twice? Why is it so important?'

For the reasons for there being two tribes for Joseph Manasseh and Ephraim see the notes on chapter 16. It would appear that the reason that Levi did not get an inheritance was that the children of Joseph were two tribes. This meant that in effect there were thirteen tribes and that the land was going to be divided into twelve. One tribe would miss out and this tribe was going to be Levi. Note that Simeon had his land within the tribe of Judah in accordance with the prophecy given by Jacob back in Genesis 49, 'I will divide them (Levi and Simeon) in Jacob, and scatter them in Israel' see chapter 19. Levi was going to be scattered throughout Israel as well. There are other passages that explain that the Lord was Levi's portion (13.14 and 13.33 for example) though it does not appear here. What we are told is that the Levites were to get cities with their suburbs. The latter part of the book explains that there were 48 such cities.

14:6 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.

The children of Judah came to Joshua at Gilgal. Caleb was with them but he did not come alone. Joshua was still based in Gilgal. Later on in the book (chapter 18) Shiloh becomes an important place. Shiloh was about fifteen miles to the north west of Gilgal. Caleb means 'dog'!!! We ought to be faithful and give the meaning of Caleb's name. So often we read things into the meaning of names and in many cases rightly so but to be consistent we must give the meaning of all names even when we do not think that there is a spiritual lesson to be gained from the meaning. Other meanings noted elsewhere than Strong's are 'forceful' or 'all heart'. The word appears 35 times in scripture but not all references are to the man in this chapter. This Caleb was the godly son of Jephunneh and the faithful spy who reported the Promised Land favourably and urged its capture. The other Caleb was the son of Hezron and grandson of Pharez and great grandson of Judah and the father of Hur and grandfather of Caleb the spy.

Jephunneh means 'He will be facing'. He was a Kenezite and father to Caleb. There is another Jephunneh in scripture. He was the son of Jether and descendant of Asher. Kenezites are only mentioned 4 times in scripture. They were the descendants of Kenaz the grandson of Esau. It should be pointed out that Caleb's younger brother was also given the name Kenaz (see Joshua 15.17 and, more importantly, Judges 1.13 where the fact that he was the younger brother of Caleb is given). I Chronicles 4.15 indicates that Caleb also had a grandson called Kenaz.

As we have done on a number of occasions, we referred back to a book from earlier in the scripture. Numbers 13.6 says, 'Of the tribe of Judah, Caleb the son of Jephunneh.' Caleb was one of the twelve spies (one per tribe) sent into the land from Kadesh-Barnea. They spied the land for forty days (Numbers 13.25) and came back with the report that the land was full of 'men of a great stature' (Numbers 13.32). There were only two of the spies that had good things to say about the land and for their trouble they were about to be stoned by the people. Their names were Joshua and Caleb. Later on in Numbers 14 we read these words, 'Because all those men which have seen my glory, and my miracles, which I did in Egypt and in the wilderness, and have tempted me now these ten times, and have not hearkened unto my voice; surely they shall not see the land which I sware unto their fathers, neither shall any of them that provoked me see it: but my servant Caleb, because he had another spirit with him, and hath followed me fully, him will I bring into the and whereinto he went; and his seed shall possess it.' This is what the Lord said to Moses concerning Caleb. Later in the same chapter God said to Moses, 'How long shall I bear with this evil congregation, which murmur against me? I have heard the murmurings of the children of Israel, which they murmur against me. Say unto them, As truly as I live, saith the Lord, as ye have spoken in mine ears, so will I do to you: your carcasses shall fall in this wilderness; and all that were numbered of you, according to your whole number, from twenty years old and upwards which have murmured against me. Doubtless ye shall not come into the land, concerning which I sware to make you dwell therein, save Caleb the son of Jephunneh, and Joshua the son of Nun.'

Caleb reminded Joshua of those events (as if he needed reminding!!). They were momentous days.

14:7 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.

Caleb was 40 when he was sent to spy out the land. He told Moses (along with others) what he saw when he was in the land. Numbers 1.1 starts with the second year after the children of Israel were come out of Egypt. Numbers 9.1 is the first month of the second year after coming out of Egypt. Numbers 10.11 is the second month of the same year. They were into the second year of the time that they had spent outside of Egypt when the spies were sent from Kadeshbarnea. It is interesting to note that Deuteronomy 1.3 speaks of the fortieth year and the eleventh month.

14:8 Nevertheless my brethren that went up with me made the heart of the people melt: but I wholly followed the LORD my God.

The others who were with him (Joshua apart) had a different story to tell though they had seen the same things as Caleb had seen. How important it is for us to remember that the same thing seen can be seen in different ways. One may view the situation positively while the other sees it negatively. One may see a situation fraught with danger while another sees it as an opportunity. It is the same thing seen but the reactions to the sight can be diametrically opposed. We can concentrate on the giants and miss the grapes or we can concentrate on the grapes and see the giants as no obstacle. Caleb stood alongside people who only saw the giants and came back with an evil report. They had a responsibility before the people but they made their hearts to melt. Caleb did just as God had asked him to do. Numbers 13.30 says, 'And Caleb stilled the people before Moses, and said, Let us go up at once, and possess it; for we are able to overcome it.' Though shouted down by the ten, Caleb was all for going into the land straightaway after coming home from his spying mission.'

Caleb wholly followed the Lord. The phrase 'wholly followed the Lord' is connected with Caleb three times over in this chapter (see verses 9 and 14 as well) and three times elsewhere in the scripture. He was neither faint hearted nor half hearted but whole hearted and single hearted. Totally committed to the Lord. We need to keep this phrase in our minds for when we come to verse 10. Wouldn't it be great to be like Caleb? It takes courage and commitment to be a Caleb.

This was not arrogance on Caleb's part. He only repeated the words that God had said of him in Numbers 32.11-12, 'Surely none of the men that came up out of Egypt, from twenty years old and upward, shall see the land which I sware unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob; because they have not wholly followed me: save Caleb the son of Jephunneh the Kenezite, and Joshua the son of Nun: for they have wholly followed the Lord.' What an epithet. Deuteronomy 1.36 repeats the same truth (Caleb and Joshua are given separate blessings and praise in this passage).

14:9 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.

Moses made a promise that is recorded for us back in Numbers 14. Verse 24 gives God's words already quoted in connection with verse 6, 'But my servant Caleb, because he had another spirit with him, and hath followed me fully, him will I bring into the land whereinto he went; and his seed shall possess it.' It wasn't just that he was brave when others were cowards, heroic when the others were weak, strong when the others were faint but he had another spirit with him. He was of a different spirit but on top of that he had another spirit with him. When he was in that land on that mission the Spirit of the Lord was with him to calm his heart and allay his fears.

Moses told all these things to the children of Israel (Numbers 14.30 and 39). The land that the twelve spies covered on their mission went from the wilderness of Zin, through to Rehob that is on the road to Hamath in the north, then Hebron coming to it from the south, then to the brook of Eshcol (where they cut down the grapes). It was Hebron that was eventually given to Caleb as his inheritance (see verses 13-14). It should also be pointed out that this is the same Hebron that is named as a city of Judah in 15.54 and as a city of refuge in 20.7. Hebron and Rehob are also mentioned in connection with Asher in 19.28. Asher's land was way up in the north and we can well understand why Rehob is mentioned but why Hebron? It may well be that there are two Hebrons, one in the south and one in the north. There appear to be two Rehobs, both towns being in Asher. Caleb certainly had the freedom of the city of Hebron but how much of it he owned is not clear from this chapter. The implication is that he owned it all from this chapter but there are these other verses to consider notably that found in Joshua 21.9-13, 'And they gave out of the tribe of the children of Judah, and out of the tribe of the children of Simeon, these cities which are here mentioned by name. Which the children of Aaron, being of the families of the Kohathites, who were of the children of Levi, had: for theirs was the first lot. And they gave them the city of Arba the father of Anak, which city is Hebron, in the hill country of Judah, with the suburbs thereof round about it. But the fields of the city, and the villages thereof, gave they to Caleb the son of Jephunneh for his possession. Thus they gave to the children of Aaron the priest Hebron with her suburbs, to be a city of refuge for the slayer; and Libnah with her suburbs.'

14:10 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.

God had promised that the land on which he had trodden (not all of it for he had gone away up north) would be his inheritance and He had kept him alive to this point in time when he, as an 85 year old, would receive the inheritance. It was to be his inheritance and his children's forever. Before it was his children's it was his. God had promised that this would be the case. Caleb's strength was of the Lord's doing 'He hath kept me alive'. Joshua 14 proves that God kept His word. Israel wandered but Caleb followed. There were many who perished in the wilderness. There were very few men who came into the land from Caleb's generation. As far as we read there were only two Caleb and Joshua. He was at least twenty years older than any other man in the camp apart from Joshua as God had said (see the quotation from Numbers 14 in the notes on verse 6).

14:11 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.

Caleb was as strong physically at 85 as he was at 40 years of age. He was able to be a warrior. He was able to go out and come in unaided. We feel sure that this will not be true of people of our time. There is an ageing process that takes place in the physical realm. Surely we are being taught from the physical characteristics of Caleb some spiritual lesson. He wholly followed the Lord when he was 40 and he was still doing so when he was 85 years old. Those of us who have passed 40 (and especially those who have done so a long time ago!!) may not be able to do what we were able to do when we were 40. But we can still wholly follow the Lord when our strength fails. For Caleb neither his strength nor his following faded. He was still doing the things that God wanted him to do at 85. He was still going to the places to which the Lord led when he was 85. He was not running ahead of the Lord. He was following the Lord.

14:12 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.

Caleb was standing in Gilgal when he said these words so that the AV 'this mountain' sounds strange. Gilgal is seven miles away from Hebron to its south east!! Gilgal is in the plain of Jordan and not on the hillside!! What Caleb asked for was the very hills where he had seen the Anakim, the giants. He had the Spirit of God with him when he met them the first time and that same Spirit would help him in the next encounter. He was not afraid. If the Lord was with him then he would drive the giants out and possess the territory.

14:13 And Joshua blessed him, and gave unto Caleb the son of Jephunneh Hebron for an inheritance.

Joshua blessed Caleb and gave him the inheritance that was promised to him and for which he now sought. It was Joshua who gave Caleb his inheritance. As mentioned already he was given the city of Hebron. The question that may be raised here is, 'Did Joshua ever get an inheritance? Was an inheritance ever promised to him?' The answer is an emphatic 'yes' as we read these words in Joshua 19.49-50, 'When they had made an end of dividing the inheritance by their coasts, the children of Israel gave an inheritance to Joshua the son of Nun among them: according to the word of the Lord they gave him the city which he asked, even Timnath-serah in mount Ephraim: and he built the city and dwelt therein.' This was the last act in the division of the land according to verse 51 of chapter nineteen. It is interesting to note that Joshua saw to the all the rest of the people before his own inheritance was given to him according to the order of the text in the book of Joshua. Caleb received his inheritance ahead of Joshua (chapter 14 compared to the end of chapter nineteen). We can also say that this was the place where Joshua was buried according to chapter 24 and verse 30.

14:14 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.

Again this is repetition of information that has been read already in this chapter. Why keep mentioning that Hebron was the inheritance of Caleb? Perhaps it is because of the other things with which Hebron was associated. The reminder given here (verse 13 says the inheritance was given to Caleb and verse 14 says that Hebron became Caleb's inheritance) makes it clear that Caleb actually took up the inheritance. We have to wait until chapter 21 to find out exactly what his inheritance was.

14:15 And the name of Hebron before was Kirjatharba; which Arba was a great man among the Anakims. And the land had rest from war.

More information is given about Hebron. Its former name is given which means 'the city of Arba.' The Anakim (there is no need for the 's' at the end of the word) were the giants that were encountered on the spying mission of Numbers 13 (we have read about these people already in verse 12).

The last statement in the chapter makes interesting reading. There has been no mention of any battle in the whole of the chapter and yet it concludes with a statement pronouncing the land having rest from war. Joshua 11.23 says, 'So Joshua took the whole land, according to all that the Lord said unto Moses; and Joshua gave it for an inheritance unto Israel according to their divisions by their tribes. And the land rested from war.'


The conclusions in such a chapter are manifold as there is much that is narrative in the text:

1. Caleb followed the Lord. If God gave him an instruction he obeyed. If he was asked to do something he complied. We never read of an act of defiance. He never ran before the Lord. He did not try to lead in any way. He was just prepared to follow the Lord. This is true discipleship.

2. Not only was he a follower but he was a faithful follower. He wholly followed the Lord. He was all heart. He was whole hearted and neither half hearted nor faint hearted. Israel wandered but Caleb followed. When there was wholesale departure from the Lord resulting in years of wasted time in the wilderness Caleb was altogether different. He followed him all the days of his life and he wholly followed the Lord all that time.

3. Caleb was an old man in this chapter. He was a strong and as faithful as he was the day that he went on his spying mission. Caleb's physical strength illustrates the possibility of being strong spiritually right on to the end of our days.

4. God honoured Caleb's faithfulness. He kept him alive so that he could see and claim his inheritance. He was even able to get his family settled into the inheritance as chapter 15 reveals.