Alright, so we’ve seen the allotment to Caleb, a man in the tribe of Judah. Now for the entirety of chapter 15 we deal with the allotment of land to that whole tribe. And they get a lot of land, really. In fact they get so much land that another tribe, Simeon, later just needs to take their possession smack dab in the middle of Judah. The reason? Judah had too much land. Verses 2 through 4 deal with… look at verse two. It deals with their south border. And that border basically goes as south as possible – as south as Israel can go. That’s how far south Judah goes. Verse 5 states that their east border is the Salt Sea or the Dead Sea as we call it. Then the rest of verse 5 through verse 11 talks about Judah’s north border. There are a number of cities mentioned there, but the big point is that the north border basically goes from east to west from the Dead Sea to the Mediterranean Sea with some twists and turns. Verse 12 gives Judah’s west border, which is pretty simple – the Mediterranean Sea. So, those are the borders of Judah.
Then, in verses 13 through 19, we have another story involving Caleb. It seems that any time Caleb is mentioned in this book there’s an interesting story involved. So let’s read it and make a few comments.
[Joshua 15:13 ¶ And unto Caleb the son of Jephunneh he gave a part among the children of Judah, according to the commandment of the LORD to Joshua, even the city of Arba the father of Anak, which city is Hebron. 14 And Caleb drove thence the three sons of Anak, Sheshai, and Ahiman, and Talmai, the children of Anak. 15 And he went up thence to the inhabitants of Debir: and the name of Debir before was Kirjathsepher. 16 And Caleb said, He that smiteth Kirjathsepher, and taketh it, to him will I give Achsah my daughter to wife. 17 And Othniel the son of Kenaz, the brother of Caleb, took it: and he gave him Achsah his daughter to wife. 18 And it came to pass, as she came unto him, that she moved him to ask of her father a field: and she lighted off her [donkey]; and Caleb said unto her, What wouldest thou? 19 Who answered, Give me a blessing; for thou hast given me a south land; give me also springs of water. And he gave her the upper springs, and the nether springs.]
What’s the point of this story? First, note a few facts. When the book of Joshua earlier said that Joshua destroyed the Anakim, it now seems that actually Caleb played quite a large role in that process. That’s what we see him doing here. And actually, Caleb ends up hiring someone to do the job in the city of Kiriath-Sepher. The payment for the job? Caleb’s daughter as a wife. And we see a man step up to the task. His name? Othniel. Does his name sound familiar? It should. He will eventually become one of the judges mentioned in the book of Judges. Othniel takes the city and marries Caleb’s daughter, Achsah. Achsah is apparently just like her father – ambitious and wanting all that God would let her have. She was apparently given land in the south. This land would have no doubt been hot and arid. So her request for a land with springs makes sense. She has dry, hot land. Why not balance that out with land full of cool, refreshing water? It all makes sense to Caleb and so he liberally gives more land to his daughter. So what’s the point of the story? Beyond the purpose of recording Hebrew history, I think this story shows that land was available to any who wanted it. And it was available in abundance. Some labor was required to get the land. But it was there for the taking from a very generous God who wanted Israel to have that land. Caleb got it. His daughter got it. We’ll see as we move on whether the rest of the tribes were as interested in the land as Caleb, Achsah, and ultimately God were.
Moving on, verses 21 through 62 tell us about not the borders of Judah, but their cities. We have a list of cities in the south in verses 21 through 32. Verses 33 through 47 give us the names of cities in the lowland of Judah. Cities in the hill country are in verses 48 through 60. Last, verses 61 and 62 give us the names of cities in the wilderness. And then we arrive at verse 63 to end the chapter. And it’s a disappointing end to it.
[Joshua 15:63 ¶ As for the Jebusites the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the children of Judah could not drive them out: but the Jebusites dwell with the children of Judah at Jerusalem unto this day.]
Alright, what do we say with this kind of verse? What did I say I would utter during my studies this past week? “Uh-oh.” Even Judah, this robust valiant tribe can’t kick the Canaanites out! But I thought God promised that he would drive them out before the children of Israel. Why doesn’t he do this for Judah? Well, the narrator doesn’t stop to dwell on the answer to that question yet. He just moves on, so we’ll follow him for now. Though I do intend to discuss the reasons for the pattern we see developing at this point. The 2 ½ tribes to the east of the Jordan left Canaanites in their land. Now Judah on the west of Jordan has Canaanites. We’ll try to explain it in a bit.