Biblical Commentary on the Old Testament, by Carl Friedrich Keil and Franz Delitzsh, [1857-78], at sacred-texts.com
Jos 14:1-5 form the heading and introduction to the account of the division of the land among the nine tribes and a half, which reaches to Josh 19, and is brought to a close by the concluding formula in Jos 19:51. The division of the land of Canaan according to the boundaries laid down in Num 34:2-12 was carried out, in accordance with the instructions in Num 34:16-29, by the high priest Eleazar, Joshua, and ten heads of fathers' houses of the nine tribes and a half, whose names are given in Num 34:18-28. "By the lot of their inheritance," i.e., by casting lots for it: this is dependent upon the previous clause, "which they distributed for inheritance to them." "As the Lord commanded through Moses" (Num 26:52-56; Num 33:54, and Num 34:13), "to the nine tribes and a half" (this is also dependent upon the clause "which they distributed for inheritance").
So many tribes were to receive their inheritance, for the two tribes and a half had already received theirs from Moses on the other side of the Jordan, and the tribe of Levi was not to receive any land for an inheritance. According to this, there seem to be only eight tribes and a half to be provided for (2 1/2 + 1 + 8 1/2 = 12); but there were really nine and a half, for the sons of Joseph formed two tribes in consequence of the adoption of Ephraim and Manasseh by the patriarch Jacob (Gen 48:5). But although the Levites were to have no share in the land, they were to receive towns to dwell in, with pasture adjoining for their cattle; these the other tribes were to give up to them out of their inheritance, according to the instructions in Num 35:1-8 (see the notes upon this passage).
So far as the division of the land itself was concerned, it was to be distributed by lot, according to Num 26:52.; but, at the same time, the distribution was carried out with such special regard to the relative sizes of the different tribes, that the more numerous tribe received a larger share of the land than one that was not so numerous. This could only be accomplished, however, by their restricting the lot to the discrimination of the relative situation of the different tribes, and then deciding the extent and boundaries of their respective possessions according to the number of families of which they were composed.
(Note: "This was the force of the lot: there were ten lots cast in such a manner as to decide that some were to be next to the Egyptians, some to have the sea-coasts, some to occupy the higher ground, and some to settle in the valleys. When this was done, it remained for the heads of the nation to determine the boundaries of their different territories according to some equitable standard. It was their place, therefore, to ascertain how many thousand heads there were in each tribe, and then to adjudicate a larger or smaller space according to the size of the tribe" (Calvin). Or, as Clericus observes (Num 26:52), "the lot seems to have had respect to the situation alone, and not to the extent of territory at all.")
The casting of the lots was probably effected, as the Rabbins assumed, by means of two urns, one filled with slips having the names of the tribes upon them; the other, with an equal number, representing separate divisions of the land: so that when one slip, with a name upon it, was taken out of one urn, another slip, with a division of the land upon it, was taken from the other. The result of the lot was accepted as the direct decree of God; "for the lot was not controlled in any way by the opinion, or decision, or authority of men" (Calvin). See the fuller remarks at Num 26:56.
In the account of the casting of the lots, the first fact which strikes us is, that after the tribes of Judah and Joseph had received their inheritance, an interruption took place, and the camp was moved from Gilgal to Shiloh, and the tabernacle erected there (Jos 18:1-9); after which the other tribes manifested so little desire to receive their inheritance, that Joshua reproved them for their indolence (Jos 18:3), and directed them to nominate a committee of twenty-one from their own number, whom he sent out to survey the land and divide it into seven parts; and it was not till after this had been done that the casting of the lots was proceeded with, and each of these seven tribes received its inheritance. The reason for this interruption is not given; and the commentators have differed in their opinions as to the cause (see Keil's former Comm. on Joshua, pp. 347ff.). The following appears to be the most probable supposition. When Joshua received the command from the Lord to divide the land among the tribes, they made an approximative division of the land into nine or ten parts, according to the general idea of its extent and principal features, which they had obtained in connection with the conquest of the country, and then commenced distributing it without any more minute survey or more accurate measurement, simply fixing the boundaries of those districts which came out first according to the size of the tribes upon whom the lots fell. As soon as that was done, these tribes began to move off into the territory allotted to them, and to take possession of it. The exact delineation of the boundaries, however, could not be effected at once, but required a longer time, and was probably not finally settled till the tribe had taken possession of its land. In this manner the tribes of Judah, Ephraim, and half Manasseh had received their inheritance one after another. And whilst they were engaged in taking possession, Shiloh was chosen, no doubt in accordance with divine instructions, as the place where the tabernacle was to be permanently erected; and there the sanctuary was set up, the whole camp, of course, removing thither at the same time. But when the casting of the lots was about to be continued for the remainder of the tribes, they showed no great desire for fixed abodes, as they had become so accustomed to a nomad life, through having been brought up in the desert, that they were much more disposed to continue it, than to take possession of a circumscribed inheritance, - a task which would require more courage and exertion, on account of the remaining Canaanites, than a life in tents, in which they might wander up and down in the land by the side of the Canaanites, and supply their wants from its productions, as Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob had formerly done, since the Canaanites who were left were so weakened by the war that the Israelites had no occasion for a moment's anxiety about them, provided they did not attempt to expel or to exterminate them. But Joshua could not rest contented with this, if he would remain faithful to the charge which he had received from the Lord. He therefore reproved these tribes for their tardiness, and commanded them to take steps for continuing the casting of lots for the land. But as the tribe of Joseph had expressed its dissatisfaction with the smallness of the inheritance allotted to it, and by so doing had manifested its cowardice, which prevented it from attacking the Canaanites who were still left in the territory that had fallen to their lot, Joshua may possibly have had his eyes opened in consequence to the fact that, if the casting of lots was continued in the manner begun, and with nothing more than an approximative definition of the different portions of the land, there was a possibility of still greater dissatisfaction arising among the other tribes, since some of them at any rate would be sure to receive portions of the land in which the Canaanites were more numerous and still stronger than in the possessions of Ephraim. He therefore gave orders, that before the casting of lots was proceeded with any further, the rest of the land should be carefully surveyed and divided into seven districts, and that a statement of the result should be laid before him, that these seven districts might be divided by lot among the seven tribes. This survey of the land no doubt very clearly showed that what remained, after deducting the possessions of Judah and Joseph, was too small for the remaining seven tribes, in proportion to what had been already divided. Moreover, it had also been discovered that Judah's share was larger than this tribe required (Jos 19:9). Consequently it was necessary that certain partial alterations should be made in the arrangements connected with the first division. The lot itself could not be pronounced invalid when it had once been cast, as its falling was regarded as the decision of God himself, and therefore it was impossible to make a fresh division of the whole land among all the tribes. The only thing that could be done was to leave the two tribes in those districts which had fallen to them by lot (Jos 18:5), but to take certain parts of their territory for the other tribes, which would leave the lot in all its integrity, as the lot itself had not determined either the size of the boundaries. This will serve to explain both the interruption to the casting of the lots, which had been commenced at Gilgal, and also the peculiar manner in which it was continued at Shiloh.
Caleb's Inheritance. - Jos 14:6. Before the casting of the lots commenced, Caleb came to Joshua along with the sons of Judah, and asked for the mountains of Hebron for his possession, appealing at the same time to the fact, that forty-five years before Moses had promised it to him on oath, because he had not discouraged the people and stirred them up to rebellion, as the other spies that were sent from Kadesh to Canaan had done, but had faithfully followed the Lord.
(Note: The grounds upon which Knobel follows Maurer and others in affirming that this account does not belong to the so-called Elohist, but is merely a fragment taken from the first document of the Jehovist, are formed partly from misinterpretations of particular verses and partly from baseless assumptions. To the former belongs the assertion, that, according to Jos 14:8, Jos 14:12, Joshua was not one of the spies (see the remarks on Jos 14:8); to the latter the assertion, that the Elohist does not represent Joshua as dividing the land, or Caleb as receiving so large a territory (see on the contrary, however, the exposition of Jos 14:13), as well as the enumeration of all kinds of words which are said to be foreign to the Elohistic document.)
This occurred at Gilgal, where the casting of the lots as to take place. Caleb was not "the head of the Judahites," as Knobel maintains, but simply the head of a father's house of Judah, and, as we may infer from his surname, "the Kenizzite" or descendant of Kenaz ("the Kenizzite" here and Num 32:12 is equivalent to "son of Kenaz," Jos 15:17, and Jdg 1:13), head of the father's house which sprang from Kenaz, i.e., of a subdivision of the Judahite family of Hezron; for Caleb, the brother of Jerahmeel and father of Achzah, according to Ch1 2:42 (cf. Ch1 2:49), was the same person as Caleb the descendant of Hezron mentioned in Ch1 2:18. From the surname "the Kenizzite" we are of course not to understand that Caleb or his father Jephunneh is described as a descendant of the Canaanitish tribe of Kenizzites (Gen 15:19); but Kenaz was a descendant of Hezron, the son of Perez and grandson of Judah (Ch1 2:5, Ch1 2:18, Ch1 2:25), of whom nothing further is known. Consequently it was not the name of a tribe, but of a person, and, as we may see from Ch1 4:15, where one of the sons of Caleb is called Kenaz, the name was repeated in the family. The sons of Judah who came to Joshua along with Caleb were not the Judahites generally, therefore, or representatives of all the families of Judah, but simply members or representatives of the father's house of Judah which took its name from Kenaz, and of which Caleb was the head at that time. Caleb reminded Joshua of the word which the Lord had spoken concerning them in Kadesh-barnea, i.e., the promise of God that they should both of them enter the land of Canaan (Num 14:24, Num 14:30), and then proceeded to observe (Jos 14:7): "When I was forty years old, and was sent by Moses as a spy to Canaan, I brought back an answer as it was in my mind," i.e., according to the best of my convictions, without fear of man or regard to the favour of the people.
Whereas the other spies discouraged the people by exaggerated reports concerning the inhabitants of Canaan, he had followed the Lord with perfect fidelity (Num 13:31-33). He had not been made to waver in his faithfulness to the Lord and His promises either by the evil reports which the other spies had brought of the land, or by the murmuring and threats of the excited crowd (see Num 14:6-10). "My brethren" (Jos 14:8) are the rest of the spies, of course with the exception of Joshua, to whom Caleb was speaking.
(Note: That Joshua was not included was evident from this circumstance alone, and consequently it is a complete perversion on the part of Knobel to argue, that because the expression is a general one, i.e., because Joshua is not expressly excepted by name, therefore he cannot have been one of the spies, not to mention the fact that the words "concerning me and thee," in v. 6, are sufficient to show to any one acquainted with the account in Num 13-14, that Joshua was really one of them.)
המסין for המסוּ (see Ges. 75, anm. 17, and Ewald, 142, a.), from מסה = מסס (see Jos 2:11).
Jehovah swore at that time, that the land upon which his (Caleb's) foot had trodden should be an inheritance for him and his sons for ever. This oath is not mentioned in Num 14:20., nor yet in Deu 1:35-36, where Moses repeats the account of the whole occurrence to the people. For the oath of Jehovah mentioned in Num 14:21, Num 14:24, viz., that none of the murmuring people should see the land of Canaan, but that Caleb alone should come thither and his seed should possess it, cannot be the one referred to, as the promise given to Caleb in this oath does not relate to the possession of Hebron in particular, but to the land of Canaan generally, "the land which Jehovah had sworn to their fathers." We must assume, therefore, that in addition to what is mentioned in Num 14:24, God gave a special promise to Caleb, which is passed over there, with reference to the possession of Hebron itself, and that Joshua, who heard it at the time, is here reminded of that promise by Caleb. This particular promise from God was closely related to the words with which Caleb endeavoured to calm the minds of the people when they rose up against Moses (Num 13:30), viz., by saying to them, "We are well able to overcome it," notwithstanding the Anakites who dwelt in Hebron and had filled the other spies with such great alarm on account of their gigantic size. With reference to this the Lord had promised that very land to Caleb for his inheritance. Upon this promise Caleb founded his request (Jos 14:10-12) that Joshua would give him these mountains, of which Joshua had heard at that time that there were Anakites and large fortified cities there, inasmuch as, although forty-five years had elapsed since God had spoken these words, and he was now eighty-five years old, he was quite as strong as he had been then. From the words, "The Lord hath kept me alive these forty-five years," Theodoret justly infers, that the conquest of Canaan by Joshua was completed in seven years, since God spake these words towards the end of the second year after the exodus from Egypt, and therefore thirty-eight years before the entrance into Canaan. The clause וגו הלך אשׁר (Jos 14:10) is also dependent upon וגו ארבּעים יד: viz., "these forty-five years that Israel has wandered in the desert" (on this use of אשׁר, see Ewald, 331, c.). The expression is a general one, and the years occupied in the conquest of Canaan, during which Israel had not yet entered into peaceful possession of the promised land, are reckoned as forming part of the years of wandering in the desert. As another reason for his request, Caleb adds in Jos 14:11 : "I am still as strong to-day as at that time; as my strength was then, so is it now for war, and to go out and in" (see Num 27:17).
"The mountain," according to the context, is the mountainous region of Hebron, where the spies had seen the Anakites (Num 13:22, Num 13:28). The two clauses, in Jos 14:12, beginning with כּי are not to be construed as subordinate to one another, but are co-ordinate clauses, and contain two distinct motives in support of his petition: viz., "for thou heardest in that day," sc., what Jehovah said to me then, and also "for (because) the Anakites are there;" ... "perhaps Jehovah is with me (אתי for אתּי, see Ges. 103, 1, anm. 1, and Ewald, 264, b.), and I root them out" (vid., Jos 15:14). The word "perhaps" does not express a doubt, but a hope or desire, or else, as Masius says, "hope mixed with difficulty; and whilst the difficulty detracts from the value, the hope stimulates the desire for the gift."
Then Joshua blessed Caleb, i.e., implored the blessing of God upon his undertaking, and gave him Hebron for an inheritance. Hebron is mentioned as the chief city, to which the surrounding country belonged; for Caleb had asked for the mountains (Jos 14:9), i.e., the mountainous country with and around Hebron, which included, for example, the fortified town of Debir also (Jos 15:15).
This inheritance, the historian adds, was awarded to Caleb because he had followed the God of Israel with such fidelity. - In Jos 14:15 there follows another notice of the earlier name of Hebron (see at Gen 23:2). The expression לפנים (before), like the words "to this day," applies to the time when the book was composed, at which time the name Kirjath-arba had long since fallen into disuse; so that it by no means follows that the name Hebron was not so old as the name Kirjath-arba, which was given to Hebron for the first time when it was taken by Arba, "the great man among the Anakites," i.e., the strongest and most renowned of the Anakites (vid., Jos 15:13). The remark, "and the land had rest from war," is repeated again at the close of this account from Jos 11:23, to show that although there were Anakites still dwelling in Hebron whom Caleb hoped to exterminate, the work of distributing the land by lot was not delayed in consequence, but was carried out in perfect peace.