Joshua 14:1-9 (NIV) 1 Now these are the areas the Israelites received as an inheritance in the land of Canaan, which Eleazar the priest, Joshua son of Nun and the heads of the tribal clans of Israel allotted to them. 2 Their inheritances were assigned by lot to the nine-and-a-half tribes, as the LORD had commanded through Moses. 3 Moses had granted the two-and-a-half tribes their inheritance east of the Jordan but had not granted the Levites an inheritance among the rest, 4 for the sons of Joseph had become two tribes–Manasseh and Ephraim. The Levites received no share of the land but only towns to live in, with pasturelands for their flocks and herds. 5 So the Israelites divided the land, just as the LORD had commanded Moses. 6 Now the men of Judah approached Joshua at Gilgal, and Caleb son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite said to him, “You know what the LORD said to Moses the man of God at Kadesh Barnea about you and me. 7 I was forty years old when Moses the servant of the LORD sent me from Kadesh Barnea to explore the land. And I brought him back a report according to my convictions, 8 but my brothers who went up with me made the hearts of the people melt with fear. I, however, followed the LORD my God wholeheartedly. 9 So on that day Moses swore to me, ‘The land on which your feet have walked will be your inheritance and that of your children forever, because you have followed the LORD my God wholeheartedly.’
On verses 1-9: The previous chapter (Joshua 13) described the lands east of the Jordan River that would belong to two and a half tribes of Israel (Reuben, Gad and half of the tribe of Manasseh). Now here in Joshua 14, attention turns to the lands west of the Jordan River that would belong to the remaining nine and a half tribes of Israel. Before describing in detail how the lands west of the Jordan would be divided among the nine and a half tribes, Joshua 14 first notes three important facts that would affect how the land west of the Jordan would be divided:
1. First, the tribe of Levi would not receive any land. For reasons I explained when looking at chapter 13, the Levites would not own any land, though they would be allowed to live in towns and have pasturelands for their livestock throughout the promised land (v3-4).
2. Second, the tribe of Joseph had become two tribes, Ephraim and Manasseh (v4), and each of Ephraim and Manasseh would get a share of the land. Half of Manasseh would live on the east side of the Jordan and the other half of Manasseh would live on the west side of the Jordan (Joshua 13:29-31).
3. Third, Caleb son of Jephunneh approaches Joshua and reminds him of how he was one of the 12 spies Moses sent forty years before to explore the promised land, how he was one of only two spies (the other being Joshua) who brought an encouraging report back, and how because Caleb followed the Lord wholeheartedly (v9) Moses promised that Caleb would have land of his own in the promised land (v6-9). So here is Caleb now redeeming Moses’ coupon with Joshua.
What strikes me here is that Joseph’s tribe increased in a way that none of the other tribes of Israel increased. As verse 4 states, Joseph’s tribe became two tribes, named after each of Joseph’s two sons Ephraim and Manasseh, and each of Ephraim and Manasseh would get their own parcels of land. Joseph’s descendants effectively got double of what all the other tribes of Israel got. In addition, Joseph was the only son of Israel whose descendants got land on both sides of the Jordan.
What can we learn from this?
1. First, I learn from this the power of pronouncing a blessing. In Genesis 48, when the Jewish patriarch Jacob (also called Israel) blessed his son Joseph and his grandsons Ephraim and Manasseh, Jacob prophesied that Ephraim and Manasseh would be uncommonly blessed, so much so that in the future people would say, “May you be blessed just as Ephraim and Manasseh were blessed.” (Genesis 48:20). Here we see that prophesy coming true. There is something powerful and effective about a godly person speaking words of blessing over another, especially over the next generation.
2. Second, I learn that it pays off to follow the Lord wholeheartedly. Keep in mind that the reason why Jacob pronounced an uncommon blessing over Joseph and his sons Ephraim and Manasseh is because Joseph followed the Lord wholeheartedly (v9). Joseph trusted in the Lord and did what was right even during the many years when he experienced incredible disappointment, heartbreak and betrayal while faithfully going about his responsibilities. Joseph’s life goes to show that when you follow the Lord wholeheartedly, uncommon blessing will be given to you.
We see these truths at work in the life of Caleb. Because Caleb followed the Lord “wholeheartedly” (v9), Moses spoke a promise of blessing over Caleb’s life that Caleb never forgot. As a result, Caleb got land of his own, unlike any other person in all of Israel. It pays to follow God wholeheartedly and to receive by faith blessings from godly people in your life.
Like Joseph and Caleb, when with faith you receive blessing from godly people in your life and when you follow the Lord wholeheartedly, you receive uncommon blessing, not just for yourself but for your descendants after you.
Heavenly Father, thank You for every blessing that others have pronounced over my life. Thank You that when we follow You wholeheartedly, uncommon blessing will be given to us. May I follow You like Caleb and Joseph and be uncommonly blessed as a result. In Jesus’ name, AMEN!