Joshua 14:12: Caleb’s Inheritance, Part 7

Verse 12:[1] Now therefore give me this mountain, whereof the LORD spake in that day; for thou heardest in that day how (Num. 13:28, 33) the Anakims were there, and that the cities were great and fenced: (Ps. 18:32, 34; 60:12; Rom. 8:31) if so be the LORD will be with me, then (Josh. 15:14; Judg. 1:20) I shall be able to drive them out, as the LORD said.

[Give to me that mountain] In which were situated the cities of Hebron, Debir, and Anab (Lapide). Hebron was on a mountain, Joshua 11:21; 20:7 (Bonfrerius). Others: the mountain, that is, the mountainous country of Judah, as often elsewhere (Malvenda out of Junius).

This mountain, that is, this mountainous country, in which was Hebron, Joshua 11:21; 20:7, and Debir, and Anab. He names the country rather than the cities, either, 1. Because the giants here following were already driven out of their cities, but yet abode in their caves or holds in the mountains, whence they much molested the Israelites. Or, 2. Because the cities were given to the Levites, Joshua 21:11, 13.

[Which He promised, אֲשֶׁר־דִּבֶּר] As He spoke (Pagnine). Others: which (namely, mountain) He mentioned (Jonathan, Syriac, Montanus); or, of which, etc. (Arabic, Munster, Tigurinus), or, with respect to which He spoke (Septuagint); that which Jehovah had declared (Junius and Tremellius).

[With thee hearing also, etc.] Hebrew: for thou thyself heardest, or, that thou heardest, that in that day the Anakim were there (Junius and Tremellius, similarly all interpreters). He agains summons the conscience of Joshua, as Judge, to appear as a witness. Question: But how does he speak so to Joshua, as if he had not been there? Responses: 1. Either to hear is here put in the place of to understand. 2. Or he spoke those words to the twelve men of the distribution about to be made, of whom none besides Joshua had seen the Anakim (Masius). 3. Some elicit hence that Joshua did not go up to Hebrown with the other spies, or at least with Caleb, nor see the giants there; wherefore Caleb, because he approached alone, asks it now for himself. See Numbers 13:22, 23 (Malvenda).

Thou heardest, that is, didst understand, both by the reports of others, and by thy own observation, as I also did. Hearing, the sense by which we get knowledge, is off put for knowing or understanding, as Genesis 11:7;[2] 42:23;[3] 2 Kings 18:26.[4]

[In which are Anakim] Objections: But they were expelled, Joshua 11:21. Response: Now, some had escaped that defeat, and had fled to the Philistines, whence they, with their strength revived, returned to Hebron, and occupied it as the seat of their forefathers; and thence Caleb expelled them again (Lapide, Bonfrerius).

[If so be, etc., אוּלַי] It is not the expression of one doubting, but he spoke for the sake of modesty, arrogating nothing to himself (Vatablus). Not that Caleb doubts of the promises of God, but that he thinks modestly of himself, and fears lest he should turn the promised help of God away from himself by his guilt and negligence (Lapide). He was able to suppose that that promise was not absolute, but was able to be revoked on account of his own or others’ sins (Bonfrerius). He spoke of the victory of the people of God universally with confidence; but he thinks modestly of himself, not unaware the each man often turns the grace of God toward him away by his own sins (Masius). Adverbs of doubting, אוּלַי/perhaps, etc., do not always directly import uncertainty (Glassius’ “Grammar” 494). אוּלַי/perhaps here only signifies the difficulty of the matter (Junius, Masius, Glassius), and supports hope in the souls of those hearing. Thus 1 Samuel 14:6.[5] See Numbers 21:23[6] (Junius). It contains hope mixed with difficulty: and the difficulty did indeed lessen the estimation of the gift (that is to say, I ask nothing except what is conjoined with dangers and toil); but hope of the thing to be given rouses desire (Masius).

[The Lord with me] Hebrew: Jehovah with me,[7] supply, will be (Junius and Tremellius, Piscator). The verb יִהְיֶה, will be, appears to have been dropped by the carelessness of the scribes (Piscator): And אוֹתִי/me[8] is here put in the place of אִתִּי, with me (Drusius).

If so be the Lord will be with me; a modest, and humble, and pious expression, signifying both the absolute necessity of God’s help, and his godly fear, lest God for his sins should deny his assistance to him, as he might justly do; for although he was well assured in general that God would crown his people with success in this war, yet he might doubt of his particular success in this or that enterprise.

[And I shall be able to destroy] He desires by public authority, but with private strength, to undertake war, like the Fabii of the Romans.[9] However, Joshua thought it fair that the public obligation be dischared with public resources. For here is ἐπάνοδος, a recapitulation, of that which is said above. As Caleb, so Joshua, had a ἐξαίρετον/select city, Joshua 19:50 (Grotius).

To drive them out; out of their fastnesses, where they yet remain. Caleb desires this difficult work as a testimony of his own faith, and as a motive to quicken and encourage his brethren to thee like attempts.

[1] Hebrew: וְעַתָּ֗ה תְּנָה־לִּי֙ אֶת־הָהָ֣ר הַזֶּ֔ה אֲשֶׁר־דִּבֶּ֥ר יְהוָ֖ה בַּיּ֣וֹם הַה֑וּא כִּ֣י אַתָּֽה־שָׁמַעְתָּ֩ בַיּ֙וֹם הַה֜וּא כִּֽי־עֲנָקִ֣ים שָׁ֗ם וְעָרִים֙ גְּדֹל֣וֹת בְּצֻר֔וֹת אוּלַ֙י יְהוָ֤ה אוֹתִי֙ וְה֣וֹרַשְׁתִּ֔ים כַּאֲשֶׁ֖ר דִּבֶּ֥ר יְהוָֽה׃

[2] Genesis 11:7:  “Go to, let us go down, and there confound their language, that they may not understand (לֹ֣א יִשְׁמְע֔וּ, they may not hear) one another’s speech.”

[3] Genesis 42:23:  “And they knew not that Joseph understood (שֹׁמֵעַ/heard) them; for he spake unto them by an interpreter.”

[4] 2 Kings 18:26b:  “…Speak, I pray thee, to thy servants in the Syrian language; for we understand (שֹׁמְעִים/hear) it:  and talk not with us in the Jews’ language in the ears of the people that are on the wall.”

[5] 1 Samuel 14:6:  “And Jonathan said to the young man that bare his armour, Come, and let us go over unto the garrison of these uncircumcised:  it may be (אוּלַי) that the Lord will work for us:  for there is no restraint to the Lord to save by many or by few.”

[6] Numbers 23:3 may be intended.

[7] Hebrew: יְהוָ֤ה אוֹתִי֙.

[8] In the form of a Direct Object Pronoun.

[9] In the early fifth century BC, hostilities erupted between the Roman Republic and the Etruscans.  The Roman patrician family of the Fabii took the responsibility of the war upon themselves.  At the Battle of Cremara (477 BC), almost the entire family of the Fabii was killed.

1 thought on “Joshua 14:12: Caleb’s Inheritance, Part 7

  1. Matthew Henry: ‘The hopes [Caleb] had of being master of it, though the sons of Anak were in possession of it (Joshua 14:12): If the Lord will be with me, then I shall be able to drive them out. The city of Hebron Joshua had already reduced (Joshua 10:37), but the mountain which belonged to it, and which was inhabited by the sons of Anak, was yet unconquered; for though the cutting off of the Anakims from Hebron was mentioned Joshua 11:21, because the historian would relate all the military actions together, yet it seems it was not conquered till after they had begun to divide the land. Observe, He builds his hopes of driving out the sons of Anak upon the presence of God with him. He does not say, “Because I am now as strong for war as I was at forty, therefore I shall drive them out,” depending upon his personal valour; nor does he depend upon his interest in the warlike tribe of Judah, who attended him now in making this address, and no doubt would assist him; nor does he court Joshua’s aid, or put it upon that, “If thou wilt be with me I shall gain my point.” But, If the Lord will be with me. Here, [1.] He seems to speak doubtfully of God’s being with him, not from any distrust of his goodness or faithfulness. He had spoken without the least hesitation of God’s presence with Israel in general (Numbers 14:9); the Lord is with us. But for himself, from a humble sense of his own unworthiness of such a favour, he chooses to express himself thus, If the Lord will be with me. The Chaldee paraphrase reads it, If the Word of the Lord be my helper, that Word which is God, and in the fulness of time was made flesh, and is the captain of our salvation. [2.] But he expresses without the least doubt his assurance that if God were with him he should be able to dispossess the sons of Anak. “If God be with us, If God be for us, who can be against us, so as to prevail?” It is also intimated that if God were not with him, though all the forces of Israel should come in to his assistance, he should not be able to gain his point. Whatever we undertake, God’s favourable presence with us is all in all to our success; this therefore we must earnestly pray for, and carefully make sure of, by keeping ourselves in the love of God; and on this we must depend, and from this take our encouragement against the greatest difficulties.

    Upon the whole matter, Caleb’s request is (Joshua 14:12), Give me this mountain, (1.) Because it was formerly in God’s promise, and he would let Israel know how much he valued the promise, insisting upon this mountain, whereof the Lord spake in that day, as most desirable, though perhaps as good a portion might have fallen to him by lot in common with the rest. Those that live by faith value that which is given by promise far above that which is given by providence only. (2.) Because it was now in the Anakims’ possession, and he would let Israel know how little he feared the enemy, and would by his example animate them to push on their conquests. Herein Caleb answered his name, which signifies all heart.’

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