Learning From Others’ Failures (Joshua 15-16)

Scripture reading – Joshua 15-16

Caleb had stated his claim to the land the LORD had promised him for an inheritance (14:6-13), and Judah, the most prominent of the tribes, received its land (15:1).

Joshua 15 – The Inheritance of the Tribe of Judah

The boundaries of Judah’s territories are given, beginning with the southernmost point of the Dead Sea (15:2-4), and extending northward along the eastern shore of the Dead Sea to the point where the Jordan River flows into the sea (15:5a). Judah’s territory extended north, northwest (15:5b-11) and included Jerusalem (15:8). The Mediterranean Sea was Judah’s western border (15:12).

A brief description of Caleb’s challenge to claim his inheritance is chronicled (15:13-19). True to his vow (14:6-15), he, along with other warriors of Judah (Judges 1:10), drove the sons of Anak out of his land (15:14-15). Caleb then enlisted men to assist him in claiming Kirjath-sepher as part of his inheritance, and promised to give his daughter Achsah to be the wife of the man who aided him. Caleb’s own brother, Othniel (15:16-17; Judges 1:13; 3:9), conquered Kirjath-sepher, and Achsah became his wife (Othniel became Israel’s first judge after Joshua’s death, Judges 3:9).

Listed by district are the names of the towns and cities of Judah: The cities in the south (15:21-32), in the lowlands (15:33-47), in the mountains (15:48-60), and in the desert (15:61-62).

Though stated only in a verse, and perhaps something that might seem inconsequential, we find a failure, in the midst of Judah’s successes: “63As for the Jebusites the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the children of Judah could not drive them out: but the Jebusites dwell with the children of Judah at Jerusalem unto this day” (15:63).

The LORD had commanded Israel to drive all the nations out of the land, and Judah’s failure would one day have grave consequences for the nation.

Joshua 16 – The Inheritance of the Tribe of Ephraim

Joseph, the eleventh of twelve sons born to Jacob, the father of Israel’s twelve tribes, had two sons born in Egypt. God had honored Joseph for his faithfulness, and Jacob blessed him with a double portion, by adopting his sons, Ephraim and Manasseh, and giving them an inheritance in the Promised Land (16:1-4). The inheritance of the tribe of Ephraim, is delineated (16:5-10). The population of Ephraim was large enough, that additional cities in Manasseh’s territory were bequeathed to the tribe for its people (16:9). In our next devotional we will consider the lands assigned to the tribe of Manasseh, Joseph’s firstborn son (17:1-13).

We have already considered Judah’s failure to drive the Jebusites out of Jerusalem (15:63). Unfortunately, Ephraim also failed to claim all the land that God had promised them for an inheritance, and “they drave not out the Canaanites that dwelt in Gezer: but the Canaanites dwell among the Ephraimites unto this day, and serve under tribute” (16:10).

The cause for Ephraim’s failure is not identified; however, regardless their reason, it was inexcusable and the effects of the failure would prove tragic for their children. The Canaanites were idol worshippers, and their influence would lead the children of Ephraim down a path of sin, and wickedness.

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith