“And these are the countries which the children of Israel inherited in the land of Canaan, which Eleazar the priest, and Joshua the son of Nun, and the heads of the fathers of the tribes of the children of Israel, distributed for inheritance to them.
By lot was their inheritance, as the LORD commanded by the hand of Moses, for the nine tribes, and for the half tribe. For Moses had given the inheritance of two tribes and an half tribe on the other side Jordan: but unto the Levites he gave none inheritance among them. For the children of Joseph were two tribes, Manasseh and Ephraim: therefore they gave no part unto the Levites in the land, save cities to dwell in, with their suburbs for their cattle and for their substance. As the LORD commanded Moses, so the children of Israel did, and they divided the land.” (Joshua 14:1-5)
The land east of Jordan, described in the previous chapter had been divided among the families of Reuben and Gad and Manasseh’s son, Machir. The land in Canaan was divided among the other nine tribes and the rest of Manasseh’s family. The tribe of Levi had no country of their own, just receiving cities in each of the other tribes lands, so they would be close by to teach each tribe about God. The land was to be divided randomly, by casting lots.
“Then the children of Judah came unto Joshua in Gilgal: and Caleb the son of Jephunneh the Kenezite said unto him, Thou knowest the thing that the LORD said unto Moses the man of God concerning me and thee in Kadeshbarnea.
Forty years old was I when Moses the servant of the LORD sent me from Kadeshbarnea to espy out the land; and I brought him word again as it was in mine heart. Nevertheless my brethren that went up with me made the heart of the people melt: but I wholly followed the LORD my God. And Moses sware on that day, saying, Surely the land whereon thy feet have trodden shall be thine inheritance, and thy children's for ever, because thou hast wholly followed the LORD my God.
And now, behold, the LORD hath kept me alive, as he said, these forty and five years, even since the LORD spake this word unto Moses, while the children of Israel wandered in the wilderness: and now, lo, I am this day fourscore and five years old. As yet I am as strong this day as I was in the day that Moses sent me: as my strength was then, even so is my strength now, for war, both to go out, and to come in.
Now therefore give me this mountain, whereof the LORD spake in that day; for thou heardest in that day how the Anakims were there, and that the cities were great and fenced: if so be the LORD will be with me, then I shall be able to drive them out, as the LORD said.” (Joshua 14:6-12)
In reading the story, it is easy to forget that we are told Joshua had long war with the peoples of the land, but Caleb brings it back into perspective. Forty five years after he and Joshua had gone as spies and some five years after Joshua took the leadership, Caleb approached Joshua about the land Moses had promised him, the land where he had gone as a spy.
Forty five years before, the entire nation of Israel had been intimidates by the giants, the sons of Anak. At eighty five years old, Caleb asked for permission to take the land of the Anakims for his own, because he believed God would give it to him, just as he had believed they could have taken it the first time.
“And Joshua blessed him, and gave unto Caleb the son of Jephunneh Hebron for an inheritance. Hebron therefore became the inheritance of Caleb the son of Jephunneh the Kenezite unto this day, because that he wholly followed the LORD God of Israel. And the name of Hebron before was Kirjatharba; which Arba was a great man among the Anakims. And the land had rest from war.” (Joshua 14:13-15)
For forty five years, Caleb had been prevented from receiving his blessings because of the lack of faith of those around him, but because he remained faithful the whole time he eventually received exactly what God had promised him.