As the allotments are being made, some are honored for their place as warriors as Caleb and Makir were. Even in his old age, in Joshua 15:14–15 “Caleb drove out from there three of Anak’s sons” to clear the land and fulfill the promise the Lord had made to, in Joshua 13:6 “drive them out from before the Israelites”. But other groups are not successful and we find phrases like this ” (they) … live among Israel to this day”. While some are falling short, others are seizing their inheritance as these daughters did in Joshua 17:4 They came … saying, “Yahweh commanded Moses to give an inheritance to us among our kinsmen.” and they received their allotment. And there is the daughter of Caleb who married the conqueror of Dabir and was given land beside, but she asked for more, water for her land and it was given to her. What is in front of you that you could ask for? What is in front of you that you could seize?
The Allotment For the Tribe of Judah
Caleb Among the Descendants of Judah
As the land was being given by lot, the lot of Judah falls in Southern Israel, a large section from the Dead Sea on the East to the Mediterranean on the west. South as far as Israel would go and North, almost to Jerusalem. But this was not empty land and the descendants of Judah came to Joshua, and Caleb who was one of them, was given Hebron. In fact, Caleb asks for it and says “give me this hill country … I will drive them out” in Joshua 14:12. The “them” Caleb is talking about are in
Joshua 15:14–15 Caleb drove out from there three of Anak’s sons, Sheshai, Ahiman, and Talmai, the descendants of Anak. 15 And from there he went up against the inhabitants of Debir (the former name of Debir was Kiriath Sepher).
But Caleb was not a young man so he makes an offer of his daughter as wife of whoever takes this city in
Joshua 15:16 And Caleb said, “Whoever attacks Kiriath Sepher and captures it, I will give to him my daughter Acsah as a wife.”
Othniel, Caleb’s nephew, takes the city which is some ten miles from Hebron. As his prize, he takes a wife who has been given land by her father, the “Negev”. We may not immediately recognize this landscape but “On a general level, the Negeb is an extension of the Arabian-Saharan subtropic desert zone and shows geographic continuity with Sinai.”1 It was hot, dry, and Othniel and Acsah would need water to flourish there. So Acsah asks for more from her father in
Joshua 15:19 And she said to him, “Give to me a gift; you have given me the land of the Negev, and you must give to me a spring of water.” And he gave to her the upper and lower spring.
Just as Caleb was happy to give to his daughter and new son-in-law, so our Father is happy to give to us and it is good for us to ask for what we want and need to flourish.
The Inheritance of the Tribe of Judah
Descendants of Joseph, Manasseh and Ephraim, Received Their Inheritance
The Allotment Was Made for the Tribe of Manasseh
There are some that are called out for their service and given a special allotment, as Caleb was, so was Makir “because he was a warrior” in
Joshua 17:1 Then the allotment was made for the tribe of Manasseh, because he was the firstborn of Joseph. To Makir, the firstborn of Manasseh, the father of Gilead, were allotted Gilead and Bashan, because he was a warrior.
Allotments were given to all the people of each tribe, well, all the male descendants in
Joshua 17:2 An allotment was made for the remaining descendants of Manasseh, according to their families: For the children of Abiezer, Helek, Asriel, Shechem, Hepher, and Shemida—these were the male descendants of Manasseh son of Joseph according to their families.
There was though, one family that had no sons, only daughters. God does not extinguish this heritage, this is a family line of the righteous and there is no curse that prevented the birth of sons so these women spoke up for their inheritance in
Joshua 17:3–4 But Zelophehad son of Hepher, son of Gilead, son of Makir, son of Manasseh, had no sons, only daughters. These are the names of his daughters: Mahlah, Noah, Hoglah, Milcah, and Tirzah. 4 They came before Eleazar the priest, Joshua son of Nun, and the leaders, saying, “Yahweh commanded Moses to give an inheritance to us among our kinsmen.” Therefore, according to the command of Yahweh he gave them an inheritance among the kinsmen of their father.
And we learn something more about this process here, the land was given in parcels based on families and their size. “ten shares fell to Manasseh” in Joshua 17:5 and one of them was to the daughters of Zelophehad.
The Descendants of Manasseh Were Not Able to Take Possession
Manasseh has received their allotment as Judah has and as other tribes have. And in the description of their land are the names of the cities, but also the surrounding villages and “the inhabitants” are noted because in
Joshua 17:12 But the descendants of Manasseh were not able to take possession of these towns; the Canaanites were determined to live in this land.
And we might understand after forty years in the wilderness and five years of hard warfare from the North to the South, they wanted homes and families and their promised possession so they settled where they could and in
Joshua 17:13 And it happened, when the Israelites grew strong, they put the Canaanites to forced labor but never drove them out completely.
but this was not just a problem for Manasseh, it also happened with the Reubenites and the Gadites in
Joshua 13:13 But the Israelites did not drive out the Geshurites or the Maacathites; Geshur and Maacah live among Israel to this day.
and even though Caleb conquered in Hebron and Debir, his tribesmen were not so successful and in
Joshua 15:63 But the descendants of Judah were unable to drive out the Jebusites, the inhabitants of Jerusalem, so the Jebusites live with the descendants of Judah in Jerusalem to this day.
And those of Ephraim also failed to clear the land of the Canaanites in
Joshua 16:10 But they did not drive out the Canananites who were dwelling in Gezer, and so the Canaanites live in the midst of Ephraim to this day, but they became forced laborers.
and this, even though God had promised to “drive them out from before the Israelites” in Joshua 13:6.
- Joshua 15:11–19 Caleb Among the Descendants of Judah
- Joshua 17:1–6 The Allotment Was Made for the Tribe of Manasseh
- Joshua 17:7–13 The Descendants of Manasseh Were Not Able to Take Possession
- Joshua 15:1-63
- Joshua 16:1-10
- Joshua 17:1-13
- 1. Rosen, S. A. (1992). Bronze Age. In D. N. Freedman (Ed.), The Anchor Yale Bible Dictionary (Vol. 4, p. 1061). New York: Doubleday.