Josh 14.1-15 tells us about the division of the land on the western side of the Jordan and Caleb’s request. These borders will have names and places that will represent the things that mark the “borders” between a believer and an unbeliever as we pass through the world. For that reason, it would be a good idea to look up the meanings of all these names and places here. Joshua will be a type of the Yeshua as the captain of the armies of the Lord, and Eleazar the priest typifies him as our high priest. Believers in Yeshua are heirs of the blessings of God and these verses allude to that. The land on the western side of the Jordan does not typify “heaven” but the spiritual realm that believers can enter in this world. The heads of the households of the tribes are a type of the elders who lead and teach from God’s word into God’s inheritance today.
Moses had given the inheritance of the two tribes and the half tribe beyond the Jordan. By half tribe we mean half of the tribe lived on the east side of the Jordan. The east side of the Jordan alludes to believers still on earth who have not entered the spiritual realm. The sons of Joseph (God will add) were two tribes, Manasseh (forget) and Ephraim (fruitful). They did not give an inheritance of the land to the tribe of Levi (to join). What this alludes to is God will add (Joseph) fruitfulness (Manasseh) by causing believers to forget (Ephraim) the past and be joined (Levi) to God. We make ourselves heirs to a richer inheritance in Yeshua (14.3-4).
Now we come to Caleb (dog), the son of Yephunneh (he will be prepared) the Kenizzite (the nest sprinkled) and he comes to Joshua in Gilgal (roll away) and remembers the promise of Moses (Deut 1.35-36), and makes a case to have the hill country given to him. Joshua knows that what Caleb is saying is true and gives him Hebron as an inheritance. Caleb is eighty-five years old by this time and yet he is as strong as before, and he wants to stay in the fight and drive out the Anakim there. This alludes to the fact that as we grow older we should never grow weaker in the Lord. A believer comes to Yeshua (Joshua) who has been sprinkled by the blood and their sin has been rolled away (Gilgal) to receive the promises.
It is believed by some scholars that Caleb may have been a non-Jew. He was adopted into the tribe of Judah by marriage or conversion. His father Yephunneh may have been a descendant of Kenaz (Gen 36.10-11) and Kenaz was a descendant of Esau. Because Caleb was faithful he received an inheritance (Josh 15.13, 21.12). If he is a non-Jew there is an underlying message here. He is a picture of the non-Jews who will receive an inheritance as member of the commonwealth of Israel (Eph 2.11-22; Gal 3.7, 3.29).
In Josh 15.1-63 tells us about the boundaries of the tribe of Judah. It also deals with the assignment of Hebron to Caleb. Othniel, the son of Kenaz and brother of Caleb, captured Kiriath-Sepher (city of engraving/writing). It was renamed “Debir” (word). We must capture the writing of the Torah and get to a proper understanding. The Holy of Holies was also called the Debir (1 Kings 6.19) because Yehovah spoke from there (Exo 25.22). The source of true knowledge is the Word of God.
In Josh 15.8 we have a very interesting verse. It talks about the border of Judah and how it went up the valley of Hinnom to the slope of the Jebusite on the south (the direction of faith). Then the border went to the top of the mountain which is before the valley of Hinnom to the west, which is at the end of the valley of Rephaim toward the north (direction of worldly wisdom and intellect). This verse is telling us something very interesting. In order to understand its meaning we are going to need some information first.
We are going to quote from a book called “The Aryeh Kaplan Anthology II”, pages 65-71. This will give us some information on the conquest of the land and the significance of the boundaries listed here. This was used later to search for the proper site of the Temple and the altar, and Josh 15.8 figured into that search. Rather than comment on these passages (v 1-8), let’s get into the book and quote from it exclusively in order to properly get what the author was saying which will give us the needed insight. Then we will pick up with the rest of the chapter (v 9-63).
Kaplan says, “Moses did not live to enter the Promised Land; his disciple Joshua led the Israelites in the occupation. Even though Joshua knew that Jerusalem would be the chosen city, he did not reveal this to any of the tribes. This would have to wait until the permanent royal line was chosen, which did not occur until the time of David. The first city in the Promised Land that the Israelites conquered was Jericho. Almost as soon as they entered the land, Joshua put aside the choicest fields near Jericho, later to be traded to the tribes in whose territory the chosen city would fall. This choice field was selected before the land was divided among the tribes; as territory common to them all, it was given over to the children of Moses’ father-in-law Jethro for safe keeping.”
“The Torah itself prescribes this as a method through which Jerusalem should be chosen. In one place it states that the chosen place will be from “all your tribes” (Deut 12.5). Elsewhere, however, the Torah states that it will be “in one of your tribes” (Deut 12.14). The Torah is speaking of the place of sacrifice (the altar) and initially, when the land was first divided, it would be in the portion of just one of the tribes, Benjamin. Then, however, it would be exchanged for the fields of Jericho, so that ultimately it would belong to all the tribes. Thus, when Jerusalem was eventually chosen and consecrated, it became the common property of all the tribes of Israel. As one place common to all, it had a strong effect in uniting the tribes.”
“It is in the book of Joshua that the first mention of Jerusalem occurs in the Bible. Here we see that Adoni-tzedek, king of Jerusalem, was involved in a battle with Joshua’s forces and is defeated. It is significant to note the remembrance of the name Adoni-tzedek to Melchi-tzedek, the title given to Shem when he became king of Jerusalem. This is because Jerusalem itself was called ‘Tzedek’ (righteousness) as discussed earlier, and Adoni-tzedek means ‘the lord of Tzedek.’ It was during the battle with Adoni-tzedek and his confederates that the Bible tells us the sun stood still for Joshua, aiding him in winning this battle.”
“The book of Joshua describes Adoni-tzedek as an Amorite king, so it appears that it was under the Amorites that the two parts of Jerusalem were united (Josh 10.5). As discussed earlier, the western part of Jerusalem was Jeru (Yeru), while the eastern part was known as Salem (Shalem). When the Amorite kings consolidated the two parts of the city, they also combined the names, calling the place Yeru-Shalem.”
“From certain traditions, it appears that the Jebusites, who had made Jerusalem their capital, had left some fifteen years before Joshua’s conquest, and were replaced by the Philistine descendants of Abimelech. The Philistines lived in Salem, the eastern district of Jerusalem, while the Hittite descendants of Ephron lived in the western half. By the time of Joshua’s conquest, Jerusalem had already been united by the Amorite kings, and had been fortified and surrounded by a single wall. After Joshua defeated the Amorites, it appears that Jerusalem again became divided into two districts.”
“Although Joshua defeated the king of Jerusalem, he did not make any attempt to conquer the city itself. This was because it was still protected by two covenants made by Abraham, one to Abimelech and the Philistines, and the other to Ephron and the Hittites. These ancient tribes were to have an important effect in giving Jerusalem special status.”
“Joshua then divided the land among the twelve tribes, according to a lottery and by the Urim and Thummim. Looking at the border of Judah’s portion, we see that it runs right through Jerusalem: ‘The border went up by the valley of Ben-Hinnom, to the shoulder of the Jebusite from the south, this is Jerusalem, and the boundary went up to the top of the mountain which overlooks the valley of Hinnom to the west’ (Josh 15.8). The mountain mentioned here is the Temple Mount, so we see that the boundary cuts right through the Temple area in Jerusalem. In describing the boundary of Benjamin, where the border runs from west to east, the scriptures states, ‘The boundary descended to the edge of the mountain that overlooks the valley of Ben-Hinnom, to the shoulder of the Jebusite to the south.'”
In Part 7 we will pick up here with more commentary from the book by Aryeh Kaplan on Josh 15.8.