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Monthly Archives: May 2013

Given to Hospitality…or Not

Carry neither money bag, knapsack, nor sandals; and greet no one along the road. But whatever house you enter, first say, “Peace to this house.” And if a son of peace is there, your peace will rest on it; if not, it will return to you. And remain in the same house, eating and drinking such things as they give, for the laborer is worthy of his wages. 

 Do not go from house to house. Whatever city you enter, and they receive you, eat such things as are set before you. And heal the sick there, and say to them, “The kingdom of God has come near to you (Luke 10:4-9).

English: Engraving of a woman with a water jug...

English: Engraving of a woman with a water jug, seen from the back. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When Jesus sent the disciples on this particular evangelistic trip, He told them to travel light and to stay with hospitable folks along the way. For the disciples to stay with others was not considered an imposition. Showing kindness to strangers was a custom since the time of Moses.[1] Travelers depended on the hospitality of others because there weren’t many commercial places to stay or to buy food and water. Cities were built near water sources, and that’s where travelers looked for a place to refresh. God established laws to help strangers and aliens that hearkened back to the time when Israel was a stranger in Egypt. “Love the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt” (Deut. 10:19). Showing hospitality filled a need in ancient Israel because everyone made a journey at some time—a kind of you help me and I’ll help you.

The fate of a “dusted” city

But whatever city you enter, and they do not receive you, go out into its streets and say, “The very dust of your city which clings to us we wipe off against you. Nevertheless know this, that the kingdom of God has come near you.” But I say to you that it will be more tolerable in that Day for Sodom than for that city (Luke 10:10-12).

Not every city was hospitable to strangers, especially not to those bringing a new religious message. Jesus knew that elders in some towns would not allow the disciples to enter. A city that refused to admit a disciple of Jesus had in essence refused to hear a message from God. A rejection of the good news brought consequences. As a near-term consequence, that city was “dusted.” As a long-term consequence—at the resurrection of the dead—that city earned for itself a less tolerable judgment.

For a disciple to wipe off the dust of a city from his clothing was a denunciation of that place. If a city of Israel refused the disciples, that city descended to the level of the heathen, so miserable that its dust defiled those to whom it clung.[2]  Shaking off the dust also symbolized that the disciples hadn’t come to take anything for themselves—not even dust. It was infected with evil. It would some day rise and testify that the city had rejected the Gospel.[3]

Faith to Follow

For the men and women in Jesus’ company, traveling was an exercise in faith. “He and his disciples lived upon the charity of well-disposed people, that ministered to him of their substance.”[4] What must it have been like to live one day at a time in the presence of the Man who really didn’t worry about tomorrow?

 During His three-year ministry, Jesus was “a stranger in his own world; a wanderer.”[5] As He and the disciples went from place to place, they depended on God to provide for them, either miraculously or through the generosity of others.

Do not worry, saying, “What shall we eat?” or “What shall we drink?” or “What shall we wear?” For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.”

 Women Who Served

 A number of women regularly traveled with the twelve disciples and Jesus. The women’s helpful actions “greatly aided Jesus in His missionary activities.”[6] He had cast evil spirits out of three of the women who were often among the traveling group. They subsequently supported His work “from their substance” (Luke 8:2-3). Mary, Joanna and Susanna had money or other material possessions they put toward the needs of the group. Another disciple named Mary, who was the mother of James and Joses, traveled with Jesus and contributed materially to His work.[7] Salome, who was the mother of James and John, accompanied Jesus in Galilee. Later she and other women came with Jesus to Jerusalem.[8]

Two women are mentioned as having hosted Jesus in their homes. Martha of Bethany owned a home and made it a welcome place for Jesus and others with Him. Martha, her sister Mary and her brother Lazarus were close friends of Jesus, and He probably spent many restful hours with them. The mother of John Mark, also named Mary, had a large home in Jerusalem. The upper room where Jesus and the disciples ate the Passover may have been in her home. Mary’s home was a regular gathering place for the disciples (Acts 12:12).

One of the most supportive ways that women served Jesus was by staying with Him during His crucifixion. Among those who attended His last hours were Mary Magdalene, Mary His mother, Salome, and Mary the mother of James and Joses. In grief they stood through His final suffering so He wouldn’t die alone.

The women who traveled with Christ, who opened their homes to Him, who supported His work financially and who stayed with Him until the end, gave what was needed, when it was needed. They were aware, gracious, nurturing, selfless, fearless women who had the privilege of knowing and serving Jesus Christ in the flesh. Theirs is an enduring example of the importance and essence of hospitality.—Mary Hendren


[1] Exodus 23:9, Leviticus 19:33-34, Deuteronomy 10:19

[2] Adam Clarke’s Online Commentary, notes on Matthew 10:14

[3] Gill’s Online Commentary, notes on Matthew 10:14

[4] Matthew Henry Online Commentary, note of Matthew 8:18-20

[5] Barnes Online Commentary, note on Matthew 8:20

[6] All the Women of the Bible, Herbert Lockyer, p.101

[7] Same source, p.106

[8] Mark 15:40-41

Land of Milk and Honey

Manna was the perfect food for wilderness travel. It didn’t need cultivation, refrigeration or preservation. It was free. It could be eaten as porridge or bread. Manna was healthful. Every morning it blanketed the ground like a dewy nutritional snow. It had a mild taste that hinted of coriander and honey. It was Israel’s desert food for forty years. It was the last food the older generation would ever eat.

English: A Land Flowing with Milk and Honey, i...

English: A Land Flowing with Milk and Honey, illustration from Henry Davenport Northrop’s 1894 “Treasures of the Bible” (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When the younger generation entered the Promised Land, “the manna in the wilderness”[1] ceased. The miracle food was no longer needed because the people ate from fields, trees, vines and gardens in the land.  God called Canaan a land flowing with milk and honey.[2] It was a “ribbon of fertile land between Desert and Sea.”[3] Canaan had adequate water, excellent pastures, plentiful fruit trees and vineyards…great affluence of all sorts of good things…for the necessity and delight of human life.”[4]

Shepherd and author Phillip Keller wrote, “In the Scriptures the picture portrayed of the Promised Land, to which God tried so hard to lead Israel from Egypt, was that of a land flowing with milk and honey. Not only is this figurative language but also essentially scientific terminology. In agricultural terms we speak of a milk flow and a honey flow. By this we mean the peak season of spring and summer when pastures are at their most productive stages. The livestock that feed on the forage and the bees that visit the blossoms are said to be producing a corresponding flow of milk or honey. So a land flowing with milk and honey is a land of rich, green, luxuriant pastures.”[5]

Milk

Others who saw the land firsthand support Phillip Keller’s description. “And Lot lifted his eyes and saw all the plain of Jordan, that it was well watered everywhere…like the garden of the LORD” (Genesis 13:10). Also Dathan and Abiram said it was an “inheritance of fields and vineyards” (Numbers 16:13-14). The ancient Israelites must have taken possession of the land with joy because they recognized its suitability for farming and herding. Herds were important in that economy. Animals provided meat, milk, leather, and fabric.

Goats were the hardiest of the herd animals and gave  considerably more milk than sheep. Milk “was regarded as a substantial food for all ages,” and “as a food it ranked next in importance to bread.”[6] Preparing milk, butter and cheese became an important part of women’s work in Canaan. They made a popular soured milk called leben, similar to yogurt or kefir. They “churned” butter by shaking and swinging leather bags of milk until the butter solidified. Women made cheese curds, similar to cottage cheese, by squeezing moisture out of salted leben. In making hard cheese, they shaped curds into cakes and dried them in the sun. The sun-dried cheese is likely what David carried to his brothers’ encampment (1 Samuel 17:18). Sarah and Abraham prepared a meal for the LORD that included roast beef, unleavened bread, milk and butter (Genesis 18:8). The LORD and His companions probably dipped bread into the soft butter, and drank leben with the beef.

Honey

The Israelites ate bread often topped with curds and honey. It was as basic as a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Isaiah wrote that as a child Immanuel would eat curds and honey (Isaiah 7:15), and in a time of trouble Israel would revert to a simple diet of curds and honey (verses 21-22). A diet of milk and honey was appropriate for weaning a child, for treating illness, and for a time of dearth. Honey had medicinal and grooming uses. It disinfected wounds, killed bacterial infections, and eased sore throats. Women made lotions and cosmetics with honey because of its astringent and softening qualities.

Honey was the primary sweetener for baking and for making fermented drinks. Women made honey cakes for religious purposes (Jeremiah 44:19; 7:18) and for celebrations. “Tradition says that when King David made his triumphant entry into Jerusalem with the Ark, the treats he brought with him were honey cakes. And he distributed to all the multitude of Israel, both men and women, to everyone a ring-shaped cake of bread and a date cake and a raisin cake.”[7]

Initially the Israelites depended on wild honey from hives in trees and caves…and other interesting places. Samson found a cache of honey in the carcass of a lion, prompting his riddle for wedding guests (Judges 14:8). In time honey production became a business.

In the Jordan Valley, archeologists uncovered a 3000-year-old city, Tel Rehov, the “oldest known commercial bee-keeping city in the world.”[8] It is believed to have housed two million bees in cylindrical hives made of straw and clay. Bits of preserved bee DNA indicate the bees were imported from Turkey. It is thought that the Turkish bees were less aggressive and produced more honey than the wild bees of Canaan.

Land of Milk and Honey Today

Looking at Israel today, we might wonder how much has changed since Israel first walked into the land. More than half the nation today is desert. Israel’s success in providing food for its citizens and exporting agricultural products depends on extensive irrigation. Judged by its efforts and exports—avocados, mangoes, persimmons, dates, grapes, plums, melons, citrus, olives, herbs, cotton, sunflower seed—Israel retains a reputation for agricultural productivity.

In checking out a website about Israel today, I found a farm restaurant called Eretz Zavat Chalav u’Dvash (Land of Milk and Honey). Although it’s not far from the Ben-Gurion Airport, it is portrayed as a garden with birds, fish pond and grazing sheep.

The owner, Aharon Markovich, believes that “rare is better.” He raises sheep rather than goats, even though sheep produce only half the amount of milk that goats produce. So sheep’s milk is better for making cheese. The Land of Milk and Honey dairy produces forty different kinds of original cheeses, using such ingredients as wine, fig leaves, rosemary, and bay leaves. The morning buffet serves food the ancients would have enjoyed: flavored cheese balls, breads, salad, roasted peppers, marinated eggplant and spicy carrots.

 Sounds delicious.—Mary Hendren 


[1] John 6:48

[2] Numbers 13:27, 14:8; Deuteronomy 6:3, 11:9 (and many more examples!)

[3] Halley’s Bible Handbook, p. 36

[4] Gill’s Online Bible Commentary,  note on Exodus 3:8

[5] A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23,  Phillip Keller, p. 54

[6] Bible History Online, Manners and Customs: Dairy Products

[8] Los Angeles Times, June 8, 2010, “Ancient Bees Found in Israel Hailed from Turkey”

Rebekah: A Marriage in Ancient Israel

Now Abraham was old, well advanced in age; and the LORD had blessed Abraham in all things. So Abraham said to the oldest servant of his house, who ruled over all that he had, “Please, put your hand under my thigh, and I will make you swear by the LORD, the God of heaven and the God of the earth, that you will not take a wife for my son from the daughters of the Canaanites, among whom I dwell; but you shall go to my country and to my family, and take a wife for my son Isaac” (Genesis 24:1-4).

The Search Begins:  the Bride Price

The old man had two gold bracelets and a ring, gifts for a woman he didn’t know. Camels accompanied him with food and gear for the journey and with many gifts. These were intended for people living somewhere in Haran where Terah had settled.  Abraham insisted that his son marry someone from his own people and not a Canaanite woman. That’s why he sent his trusted servant to find a wife from Terah’s family (Gen. 22:20-24). Abraham believed the servant would find a bride in Haran because God “will send His angel with you and prosper your way” (Gen. 24:40). So, the old gentleman was on a mission of faith—Abraham’s faith.

(Note to readers: Many commentaries, like Nelson’s cited in the footnote, believe the servant’s name is Eliezer “because of his high position over all that Abraham had.” [1] I will occasionally use the name Eliezer in referring to the servant.)

English: Rebekah and Eliezer, as in Genesis 24...

English: Rebekah and Eliezer, as in Genesis 24, illustration published 1908 by the Providence Lithograph Company (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When Eliezer arrived in Mesopotamia, he stopped at the well of Nahor where Terah’s people lived. The old man prayed for immediate success in finding the right woman for Isaac. He asked that she be identified by three signs: she would come to the well for water; when he asked her for a drink she would give it to him; and she would offer to water the camels. Immediately, beautiful Rebekah appeared at the well, filled her pitcher, gave him a drink and drew water for the camels. If that were not enough reason for joy, Rebekah said she was related to Abraham’s brother Nahor. Out came the bracelets and the nose ring.

Gifts

Eliezer knew she was the answer to prayer. God had divinely singled out Rebekah as the young woman intended for Isaac. So he “put the nose ring on her nose and the bracelets on her wrists…and worshipped the LORD” (Gen. 24:47-48). In bestowing the jewelry, Eliezer claimed Rebekah for Isaac. In accepting the jewelry, she allowed Eliezer to touch her wrists and face—she was willing to proceed. She “ran and told her mother’s household these things” (Gen. 24:28). Rebekah’s appearing before them wearing bracelets and nose ring opened the way for Eliezer to meet her family and propose marriage. After hearing the servant’s remarkable story, Rebekah’s father and brother agreed that this “comes from the LORD…let her be your master’s son’s wife, as the LORD has spoken” (Gen. 24:50-51). Was she committed at this point? Not yet, although everyone began eating, drinking, and acting as if she were.

More gifts

Because the talks had been favorable, Eliezer presented mohar, a gift from the family of the groom to the parents of the bride. It was traditionally given to the bride’s father when the parents gave their consent to the marriage. Mohar could be in the form of money, land, jewelry, clothing or something “precious” (Gen. 24:53). Mohar had somewhat a feeling of being compulsory and expressed the legal aspects of an arranged marriage.[2] It was thought to compensate the bride’s family for her loss. Some fathers kept their daughter’s mohar as insurance in case she was widowed or divorced.[3] In Rebekah’s case, Eliezer gave precious things to her brother Laban and to her mother. The Bible does not mention why Bethuel, the father, did not receive mohar, although he did give permission for the marriage (Gen.24:50).

Even more

Arrangements had come together quickly. Eliezer gave Rebekah special gifts from the groom to the bride called mattan. Mattan[4] could be cash or property or something of a personal nature, “jewelry of silver, jewelry of gold, and clothing” (Gen. 24:53). Mattan was a voluntary assurance of the groom’s personal interest in his bride. Isaac was a wealthy man (Gen. 24:34-36) and his mattan must have been sumptuous—purple linens, exquisite jewelry, embroidered fabrics, gold and silver ornaments, fragrances—everything to delight Rebekah’s heart. Was she committed to marriage now that mattan had been given?

A Purchased Bride?

Not quite. The parental arrangements for marriage and the exchange of gifts may give the impression that men in Abraham’s time could buy their wives. If a man proposed and gave gifts to a girl’s father, did she have any say in the matter? Daughters and sons were very much under the authority of their fathers. Jewish practices, however, made it clear that a wife had to consent to be married.[5] “The opinion that Israelites were required to buy their wives from the parents or relatives seems unfounded.”[6] Rebekah was finally asked for her consent when Eliezer packed up for the return trip.

Eliezer:  Since the LORD has prospered my way; send me away so that I may go to my master.

 Family: We will call the young woman and ask her personally…will you go with this man?

 Rebekah: I will go.

A final round of gift-giving occurred when Rebekah departed. The family allowed Rebekah’s nurse and maids to leave Haran and serve her in Isaac’s household. Her nurse and maids became a parting gift, shilichin,[7] (something given by the family to a beloved daughter leaving home).

Not every man could afford the investment Isaac made in procuring a wife. “It would undoubtedly be expected that the mohar should be proportioned to the position of the bride and that a poor man could not on that account afford to marry a rich wife (I Sam. 18:23).[8] Isaac and Rebekah’s son Jacob, for example, paid his Uncle Laban in work for the privilege of marrying Rachel. The relationship between the two men got off to a bad start because of Laban’s deceit, and it didn’t improve over the years. When Jacob separated his family from Laban’s family, there was no shilichin, no happy parting gifts.

Where is love?

Marriage in ancient Israel was about family, property and alliances. Love was usually not the reason for an arranged marriage. The negotiations, exchange of gifts, consent of the bride, wedding celebration, and blessings for the departing bride preserved the identity of the family. Love was not a factor that Eliezer and Laban discussed in the marriage proposal. However, with Divine chemistry at work, Isaac and Rebekah began to love one another the day they met (Gen. 24:63-67).—Mary Hendren


[1] NKJV Study Bible, note on Gen. 24:2

[2] The Ultimate Wedding, “Ancient Jewish Marriage Traditions and Their Fulfillment in   Jesus the Messiah”

[3] 1bread.org/Teachings/Ancient Israel, “Marriage”

[4] The Ultimate Wedding, same article

[5] 1bread.org, same article

[6] New Unger’s Bible Dictionary, “Dowry,” p. 317

[7] The Ultimate Wedding

[8] Unger’s, p. 818

Achsah: The Daughter Who Asked for More, Part 3

Caleb approached his friend, Joshua, with something on his mind. They had experienced many things together since that disastrous spying expedition. At age forty and in his prime, he had been ready to complete the mission entrusted to a covey of spies. Only he and Joshua returned with an encouraging report, and garnered God’s blessing. The rest met an inglorious end, and a quarrelsome Israel found itself consigned to forty years of wandering.

With the passage of time

In spite of the difficulties during those years in the wilderness, the life cycle continued as it always had—births, marriages, families, death—and a new generation emerged to carry out the next objective of entering the promised land. Achsah, Caleb’s little Anklet,[1] had been born during a troublesome time.[2] She’d grown up amid the contentions between the LORD and Israel, watching Caleb and Joshua stand firm in their faithfulness. Her father was a man of integrity.

It took several years, but finally Canaan was subdued. One by one the tribes received their territories by lot, including Caleb’s own, the tribe of Judah.[3] But the faithful spy had been promised more, and he now prepared to present his petition.

A promise to be claimed    

English: Joshua and Caleb; as in Joshua 14:6-1...

English: Joshua and Caleb; as in Joshua 14:6-15; illustration from a Bible card published by the Providence Lithograph Company (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Joshua listened as his trusty companion began to speak.[4] “You remember how we were sent by Moses to spy out the land. And how the ten angered the LORD with their evil report. Because I followed God with my whole heart, Moses made a promise that wherever my feet had gone would be my inheritance. That was forty-five years ago. I’ve come to claim his promise.”

Caleb proceeded to request the very land that had so terrified the anxious spies—the city of Hebron and its surrounds—home to the Anakim.  Reports indicated the displaced giants were attempting to reestablish themselves after Joshua’s initial rout,[5] and the eighty-five-year- old was itching to dispatch them and claim their stronghold as his own. Joshua honored his friend’s petition, affirming it with his blessing.

A prize for the taking

Caleb and his troops wasted no time taking Hebron and driving out Sheshai, Ahiman, Talmai, the sons of Anak.[6]  Satisfied with his conquest, he turned his attention to Debir, some fifteen or so miles to the south. He had plans for this town.

English: Othniel Ben Kenaz is the first of the...

English: Othniel Ben Kenaz is the first of the Biblical Judges. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Word spread quickly about an extraordinary offer: To the man who conquered the formidable Debir, another city of Anak, Caleb promised the hand of his daughter, Achsah, in marriage. Only one man proved worthy—Othniel, his own brother.[7] Cut from the same cloth as his courageous sibling, Othniel won the city, and returned to present his victory as a sort of bride-price[8] for his lovely niece.

It was not as though he was a total stranger. After all, he and Achsah were from the same clan, and relatives; they had experienced the years of wilderness wandering together. Perhaps that fact alone spurred the young man’s ardor for her more than the promise of land. Had her wise father sensed—or perhaps even manipulated—the outcome in advance? Othniel was indeed a fine man.

A dowry of land

True to his word, Caleb gave Achsah to Othniel, and looked on as the young bridegroom and his entourage took her from the family compound to begin a new home. Her dowry[9] consisted not of the customary money or jewelry, but rather, of a piece of land. How many fathers of the day would give such a treasure to a daughter?

There was just one problem—one of considerable magnitude. The parcel he had given to her had no water source—a vital necessity for the productivity of the arid terrain. Achsah expected to grow gardens there, and even maintain some livestock.  She would need more water than cisterns could supply. So she and Othniel devised a plan.

A new wife with a mission 

English: Achsah - "anklet", was Cale...

English: Achsah – “anklet”, was Caleb ben Yefune’s only daughter (1 Chr. 2:49). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Caleb watched the distant figures grow larger until he could clearly see the comely features of his daughter. As her entourage drew close she caught sight of him and quickly dismounted from her donkey, a sign of her enduring respect. After the proper greetings, he listened as Achsah began to speak. This daughter of his was not only beautiful, she had a good head on her shoulders as well. Her husband must have recognized as much, since here she stood before her father, not Othniel, laying out the reason for her visit and presenting their request.

“Father, you gave me a parcel of land, and for that we are grateful,” she began respectfully. “But there is no water. Please give me one blessing more—springs of water.” She was asking for an additional gift, and she carefully avoided any perception of making improper demands on the family land allotment.

The terrain of the Negeb where Debir lay situated ranged from fertile and hilly, to dry and arid. Without proper water, no vegetation could survive, nor could an agricultural endeavor thrive. Instead of challenging her request, and viewing it as a violation of the laws of inheritance, Caleb gave her an adjoining field which contained both upper springs and lower springs,[10] virtually insuring the productivity of her land.

As Achsah returned to her new home, she was secure in the knowledge that her household would be fed, her potential for commerce improved, and her husband’s worth would increase—all because she dared to ask for more.

Afterwards

Some years later Othniel proved himself once again a valiant warrior, moving against the Mesopotamians who had been oppressing Israel. He became the first judge of Israel (Judges 3:7-11).

Scripture records, “So the land had rest for forty years. Then Othniel the son of Kenaz died.” There is no other mention of Achsah.


[1] The Hebrew word for Achsah translates as ankle or anklet. Both men and women of the time wore bracelets. Women often wore ankle bracelets; those who were wealthy adorned themselves with ones made of gold and which often made a tinkling sound as they walked. Perhaps Achsah was a name of endearment chosen by Caleb and his wife at the birth of one who seems to have been his only daughter. According to one rabbinic tradition, Achsah was so beautiful that any man who looked upon her would be angry with his own wife for being less beautiful. For more information, see Illustrated Manners and Customs of the Bible (1980), Packer & Tenny, Eds., p 484.

[2] I feel it likely that Caleb also had sons, but in referencing the genealogies in I Chronicles 2 there are two Calebs who lived several hundred years apart. It proves challenging to distinguish between them with regard to their wives and offspring. So I will err on the side of caution and stick with what the Bible clearly records: Caleb the spy had a daughter named Achsah.

[3] Commentators discuss whether Caleb was fully of the tribe of Judah by ancestry, or included by adoption. See Fausset’s Bible Dictionary, International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, and McClintock and Strong Encyclopedia, topic “Caleb.”

[4] What follows is my paraphrase of Joshua 14:6-13.

[5] Some sources comment that possibly the Anakim had reestablished themselves in the environs of Hebron, and thus had to be re-conquered. See Joshua: His Life and Times (circa 1889), William J. Deane, p 142, and Keil and Delitzsch Commentary on the Old Testament, electronic version (1996), comment on Joshua 14. I have adopted that scenario for this post; however there is not full agreement that this indeed was the case.

[6] Joshua 15: 14

[7] There is much discussion as to Othniel’s relationship to Caleb. Some feel that he was Caleb’s brother or half-brother by a different mother (Deane, p 142; The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Joshua 15:17) while others identify him as a nephew (The Woman’s Study Bible, Joshua 15, profile “Achsah”).

[8] For more on bride-price and marriage customs, please see Mary Hendren’s upcoming post on Rebekah.

[9] According to one source, the dowry remained the woman’s even if she were widowed or divorced. Achsah’s interest in water supply could have future ramifications.

[10] Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown Commentary has some interesting comments concerning the possible location of these springs, and their relevance to Arab shepherds. See notes on Joshua 15:19. William Deane (Joshua: His Life and Times) records a citation from Pal. Survey Reports (1874), written by Scottish geologist, JamesGeikie, that “in a secluded valley near Debir there is quite a phenomenal supply of water, fourteen springs in all, some in the upper part of the valley, some in the lower, which never fail in the driest summer; the land thus fertilized became Achsah’s portion” (p 143).

Achsah: The Daughter Who Asked for More, Part 2

The actions of ten spies sealed the fate of the tribes of Israel in ways they never expected. Their evil report fueled rebellion within the ranks, and no one—not Moses or Aaron, not Joshua or Caleb—could quell its pernicious spirit.

And it came to pass…

The LORD was true to His word, and Caleb[1] witnessed it all. The ten errant spies met a swift end—death by plague.[2] Over the next forty years, the rest of  the offenders, those twenty years old and older, also died, their graves scattered across the wilderness.

English: The Death of Korah, Dathan and Abiram...

English: The Death of Korah, Dathan and Abiram, by Gustave Doré (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The malevolent spirit of rebellion persisted. Ringleaders like Korah, Dathan, and Abiram challenged the leadership of Moses and Aaron. The earth opened and swallowed them and all their families. When the congregation protested, the LORD responded quickly, and 14,700 more died from His plague.[3]

When the way became arduous, and a wearied discouragement set in, the people railed against God, and Moses and Aaron. God answered with an attack of fiery serpents which inflicted venomous bites and sent many to their deaths.[4]

Shamelessly the tribes of Israel defiled themselves, marrying Moabite women, embracing Baal worship, and rejecting the very One Who had delivered them.

Moses knew such brazen wantonness could not go unpunished.  “Take all the leaders of the people and hang the offenders before the LORD, out in the sun, that the fierce anger of the LORD may turn away from Israel,” he ordered. Twenty-four thousand more died for their effrontery.[5]

In spite of all the insults the LORD endured, year after year Caleb watched His gracious hand at work. While the Israelites experienced His wrath for their  ongoing waywardness, they also experienced His generous care along the way. Manna. Water. Clothes and sandals that did not wear out.

Still they complained.

The Children of Israel Crossing the Jordan (il...

The Children of Israel Crossing the Jordan (illustration by Gustave Doré) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Time to move

When the last insurrectionist died, it was time for the tribes of Israel to move forward across the Jordan River and conquer the land they had been promised. The wilderness wandering was finally over.

Joshua now bore the mantle of leadership, and for the next seven years he successfully coordinated three major military campaigns[6]—including a vigorous routing of the dreaded Anakim. The courageous conqueror and his armies chased those sons of giants from Hebron, from Debir, from Anab, and from all the mountains of Judah and Israel, utterly destroying their cities. Their wretched remnant fled, seeking refuge in Gaza, Gath, and Ashdod, cities of the Philistines. Perhaps that would be the last time Israel would have to deal with them.

At last…

“. . .  Joshua took the whole land, according to all that the LORD had said to Moses; and Joshua gave it as an inheritance to Israel according to their divisions by their tribes . . . ” (Joshua 11:25).

Now Caleb would make his request.

To be continued…


[1] Caleb was 40 years old when he was sent out as a spy (Joshua 14:7).

[2] Numbers 14:36-38

[3] Numbers 16

[4] Numbers 21:4-6

[5] Numbers 25

[6] See Nelson’s Complete Book of Bible Maps and Charts, 1996, pp 68-73.

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