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1 Chronicles 2:42-50a Caleb’s exploits

by Pastor Timothy Smith on Wednesday, October 4, 2023

42 The sons of Caleb, the brother of Jerahmeel: Mesha his firstborn, who was father of Ziph, and his son Mareshah father of Hebron. 43 The sons of Hebron: Korah, Tappuah, Rekem, and Shema. 44 Shema was the father of Raham who was the father of Jorkeam. Rekem was also the father of Shammai. 45 The son of Shammai was Maon; and Maon was the father of Beth-zur. 46 Also, Caleb’s concubine Ephah bore Haran, Moza, and Gazez; and Haran was the father of Gazez. 47 The sons of Jahdai: Regem, Jotham, Geshan, Pelet, Ephah, and Shaaph. 48 Caleb’s concubine Maacah bore Sheber and Tirhanah. 49 She also bore Shaaph father of Madmannah, Sheva the father of Machbenah the father of Gibea; and the daughter of Caleb was Achsah. 50 These were the descendants of Caleb.

Earlier we read about the descendants of the Caleb who was not famous. Now we read about the famous Caleb, the one who was one of the twelve spies and who survived the exodus along with Joshua and the younger Israelites. Some of his descendants have names that were given to important places within the territory of Judah, such as “Maon, Carmel, and Ziph” (Joshua 15:55). The desert region called Ziph was part of the rocky wilderness in the vicinity of the Dead Sea, as was the Desert of Maon. Both of these places were south of Bethlehem (Ziph first, and then Maon further south). They were not that far from the Valley of Elah where David killed Goliath (1 Samuel 17:49-52). It was in the wilderness of Maon that a man called Nabal grazed his sheep. His widow, Abigail, became David’s second wife (1 Samuel 25). His village was called Carmel—it is sometimes mistaken for Mount Carmel, but Nabal’s village was really south of Bethlehem and not on the coastline of Israel. These places were all certainly named for these descendants of “famous Caleb.”

Don’t think that this Korah (vs. 43) was the more famous rebel from the days of Moses. That Korah was a Levite and a cousin of Moses and Aaron (their fathers were brothers, Exodus 6:18). This Korah was from Judah and is about five generations removed from the days of Moses and Caleb.

Someone here that we should acknowledge is Caleb’s daughter Achsah. She is connected with the story of Caleb against the three giant Anakites. This story is related in Joshua 15 and partly retold in Judges 1. Here is the story retold:

Caleb’s inheritance included the city that was known as Hebron in the mountains or highlands of Judah, about twenty miles south and a little westward of Jerusalem. Hebron was just about on the same latitude (31°30’ north) as Gaza. The old name for Hebron was Kiriath Arba (City of Arba); and Arba was the name of one of the ancient giants of the land, the Anakim. In fact, Arba was the father of the Anakim (Joshua 14:15).

The spies had been especially intimidated by these giants. “Who can stand up against the Anakites?” (Deuteronomy 9:2); “The people are stronger and taller than we are!” (Deuteronomy 1:28). But Joshua and Caleb led the armies of Israel against them. “Joshua went and destroyed the Anakites from the hill country: from Hebron, Debir, and Anab, from all the hill country of Judah, and from all the hill country of Israel. Joshua totally destroyed them and their towns. No Anakites were left in the Israelite territory; only in Gaza, Gath and Ashdod did any survive” (Joshua 11:21-22).

Caleb’s part in this was to “drive out the three Anakites—Sheshai, Ahiman and Talmai—descendants of Anak” (Joshua 15:14). Those three giants were acting as champions at Hebron, and Caleb’s band of warriors defeated them. While we don’t have details of the battle like we do for David against Goliath, we know that Caleb and his men killed the three giants and drove out their warriors, and that Caleb himself survived the battle.

After this, Caleb’s daughter Achsah was named as the prize for the warrior who captured the nearby village of Kiriath Sephir. The man who won the battle and won the hand of Achsah was her young uncle, Othniel. Now Othniel is called “Son of Kenaz” (Joshua 15:17) and Caleb is of course the son of Jephunneh (Joshua 15:13), so how can we be told that Othniel was Caleb’s brother (Joshua 15:17)? We should notice that Caleb is also called “son of Jephunneh the Kennizzite” (Numbers 32:12), and therefore we must allow for some reason that Kennizzite and “son of Kenaz” would become interchangeable. Perhaps Jephunneh had died young, and their grandfather Kenaz had raised them.

After the wedding, Othniel’s new wife asked her father for a gift. Here the texts of Joshua and Judges match in every detail. She went to her husband Othniel, and “she urged him” to ask her father for a field. But then she herself went to Caleb her father to ask (there might be a duplicated textual problem there, or else Othniel refused to ask and she went on her own initiative). She asked for land in the Negev (the dry grassland to the south) and she also asked for a spring of water, which Caleb gave her (Joshua 15:18-19; Judges 1:14-15).

These ancient history lessons, which would have been known to the readers and remembered by them, teach us valuable lessons.

1, God blessed his faithful servant Caleb, who showed his faith with Joshua when they acted as the only two spies to encourage Israel to enter into the Land of Canaan.

2, God blessed Caleb’s courage by enabling him to defeat three Philistine giants who were champions defending the city allotted to him by Joshua.

3, God blessed Caleb’s daughter with a persistent faith that enabled her to ask for the necessary water (a spring) to take care of the needs of her family.

4, God blessed Israel after Joshua’s death by raising up Caleb’s son-in-law (and brother) Othniel to be the first of Israel’s judges, defeating the Arameans who were the first opponents to oppress Israel in Canaan. God gave Israel peace for forty years through Othniel’s judgeship.

5, God blesses his people when they display righteousness and similar virtues in their lives. Our Confession states: “Honorable works commanded in the [Ten Commandments] should be performed… ‘Neither the evening star nor the morning star is more beautiful than righteousness.’ God even honors [such] righteousness with material rewards. But it ought not be praised at the expense of Christ.”

For we inherit nothing from God on account of our good works, as the Apostle says again and again. We are saved on account of faith in Christ and not on account of works (Romans 4:2, 9:12, 9:32, 11:6; Galatians 2:16; Ephesians 2:9; Titus 3:5). So when God does choose to bless us on account of something we have done (Matthew 16:17), we can accept his praise and his gift, but we also remember that we are only poor servants doing our duty and acting out of faith, as Caleb did in the days of Moses.

In Christ,
Pastor Timothy Smith

Pastor Tim Smith
About Pastor Timothy Smith
Pastor Smith serves St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in New Ulm, Minnesota. To receive God’s Word for You via e-mail, please visit the St. Paul’s Lutheran Church website.


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