Naturally, of course, the Israelites were to occupy their newly acquired lands that they had won in conquest from the Canaanites; for the Promised Land would have been subdued in vain if it had not been inhabited. However, the people were not permitted to merely go and settle where every person pleased, for it is God Who chooses our inheritance for us (Ps. 47:4). Each portion of the land was assigned to one of the tribes by the Lord’s directing of the casting of lots (Prov. 16:33). The casting of these lots did not determine the sizes of each portion of inheritance, for that was established according to the population of each tribe; but rather, the lot-casting decided the geographical position which each tribe was to occupy in the land of Canaan. “The lot causeth contentions to cease, and decideth between the mighty” (Prov. 18:18) – for it is not regulated either by the opinions, whims, or authority of men; but by the Lord Himself. The casting of lots, then, was a wise method to adopt in the dividing of the Promised Land. Each tribe would cheerfully submit to the decision that was made, and they would view the inheritance that had been assigned to them as being the immediate gift of God.
Let us survey our heritage of present mercy, and our prospect for the land of promise which is eternal in the heavens. Is God any respecter of persons? Is it not better that our earthly place and condition (whether it is happy or sorrowful) should be determined by the infinite wisdom of our heavenly Father, rather than by our own ignorance? And since our redemption has been purchased by Jesus Christ, should we not thankfully refer our earthly concerns to His appointment? In allusion to this, we are said to obtain an inheritance in Christ (Eph. 1:11). The Greek word in that verse signifies that “we have obtained it by lot,” for it is given to us by Divine designation. Christ, our heavenly Joshua, gives eternal life to all those whom the Father has given Him (John 17:1-2).
It seems that before the first lot was drawn in the camp at Gilgal, Caleb came forward with a special claim. We remember that out of the 12 spies who had been sent from Kadesh-barnea, only he and Joshua had brought “a good report of the land” – in the spiritual sense of the expression, as encouraging the people to go forward, trusting the Lord that He would enable them to possess it. When the Divine sentence doomed that rebellious generation to death in the wilderness, Caleb and Joshua alone were excepted. It seems that Moses, by direction of the Lord, had given these two men a right of special and personal choice of their inheritance – perhaps as a particular blessing for their exceptional faithfulness. And now Caleb presented his petition to have Hebron – the favorite haunt of the dreaded giants called the Anakim – given him for a possession, without having it put into the lot with the other parts of the country. He reminded Joshua that God had promised him that very mountain; therefore, since God’s mind had already been made known in this matter, it would be a vain and needless thing to consult it any further by casting lots for this particular allotment. The courage and faith of the old warrior only shone more brightly as – recalling the terror that was formerly inspired by the Anakim and the strength of their cities – he claimed that very portion of land for his own! Even now, Hebron was in the possession of the Anakim; and Caleb was determined to let Israel know how little he feared the enemy, for this would encourage them to push onward in their conquests. Caleb certainly lived up to his name, which means “all heart.” Yet his courage contained no trace of self-sufficiency – only of believing dependence upon the Lord. “If so be the Lord will be with me, then I shall be able to drive them out, as the Lord said” (verse 12).
The claim being thus made, it was immediately acknowledged; and Joshua added his blessing upon Caleb’s proposed undertaking. Hebron was bestowed upon Caleb and his heirs, because he wholly followed the Lord God of Israel. Happy will we be if we also follow Him! Caleb himself – despite his great age of 85 – personally drove out of Hebron (formerly known as Kirjath-arba) the three sons of the giant named Anak. However, it was some time later that the expedition against these giants was actually completed, when Caleb offered the hand of his daughter Achsah in marriage to the man who exercised the same kind of faith and courage in the Lord by taking control of the great stronghold of Debir – formerly known as Kirjath-sepher. This was done by one of Caleb’s close relatives, named Othniel – who (after the death of Joshua) became the first judge of Israel (Jud. 3:9). The history of this campaign and its accompanying incidents is inserted in chapter 15 because – both geographically and historically – it fits into that part of the description of the inheritance of Judah.
The name Hebron stands for friendship, fellowship, and love. It spoke to him of that communion with his unseen Friend that he had enjoyed through the wanderings and changes of his long life. We must follow the Lord as a mountain-climber follows his guide, or we will never be able to live in the Hebron where God lovingly gives Himself to our souls. The world needs love! It is full of tired faces, aching limbs, and breaking hearts. And it is only through human beings that the love of God comes to people. This is the reason why Jesus took human flesh upon Himself, so that God might be able to pour out the full exuberance of His love to us. And now, being redeemed, we are the channels by which that blessed love may flow from our Savior to other people!
Lord, we pray that You would remind our souls that You choose our heritage for us, and that You are our hiding-place forever. We beseech You to fill us with Your love, so that we may share it with all those whom we come in contact with! Amen.
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