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 witnessed it all. The ten errant spies met a swift end—death by plague. Over the next forty years, the rest of the offenders, those twenty years old and older, also died, their graves scattered across the wilderness.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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—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.
“. . . 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…