Joshua 15-17

Sunday Evening Bible Study

May 30, 1999


The book of Joshua is a book about taking the Promised Land.

The Promised Land of learning to receive all that God has for us in our personal lives - victory over sin, experiencing God's peace, joy, love, power.

The principles that governed the nation taking the Promised Land are the same principles that help us live in God's promises.

We've seen recently:

The first half of the book was about the battles involved in conquering the Promised Land.

The second half, which we're in now, is all about the division of the land among the tribes of Israel.

Joshua 15 - Judah's Inheritance

:1-12 The Borders of Judah (read vs. 1-2)

:1 This then was the lot of the tribe of the children of Judah

We're going to get now the portion of land that would be given to the tribe of Judah.

This is kind of the court document that describes the plot of land deeded over to the tribe of Judah. This becomes the legal record of what the tribe will own.

Note: We don't know where all these landmarks are.

:2 from the shore of the salt sea

You'd start their southern border at the south part of the Dead Sea.

See map.

:4-7 (donít read Ö skip to v. 8)

:8 valley of the son of Hinnom

or, valley of ben-Hinnom, also known as "ge-hinnom" or "ge-henna".

This was a deep, narrow glen to the south of Jerusalem, where the idolatrous Jews offered their children in sacrifice to Molech (2Ch 28:3; 33:6; Jer 7:31; 19:2-6). This valley afterwards became the common receptacle for all the refuse of the city. Here the dead bodies of animals and of criminals, and all kinds of filth, were cast and consumed by fire kept always burning. It thus in process of time became the image of the place of everlasting destruction.

:8 the valley of the giants

or, valley of Rephaim.

Situated apparently west of Jerusalem and mount Moriah

:9-12 (skip to vs. 13)

:13-20 Caleb's Conquering

:14 Caleb drove thence the three sons of Anak

Remember, these "sons of Anak" are giants. Big, big guys.

And remember Caleb is 85 years old.

Because of the language and the context of the passage, I think we have to assume that Caleb did this himself. I don't think he just asked his servants to do this.

Later, he asks for volunteers to take the next town.

If this were someone other than Caleb, I think we would have been told that.


Giants are only scary if you have a small God.

You can be an old, old man like Caleb, or you can be a young punk kid like David.

All it takes to be a giant killer is to have a God that's bigger than the giants.

:16 He that smiteth Kirjathsepher ... will I give Achsah ...


This city is about 12 miles south and a little west of Hebron.

Achsah's name means "anklet" or "ankle chain"

Why doesn't Caleb take this city himself?

Is it because he's now gotten too old, after getting rid of the giants?

I don't think so.

Is it because somehow this city is harder than Hebron, and he needs some help?

I don't think so.

Could it be that he figures that this is how he'll tell if somebody is good enough for his little girl?

Maybe all the boys that Achsah has been bringing around the house just don't measure up.

And this is his way of weeding out the men from the boys.


Recent archaeological discoveries have uncovered this fascinating find (this is a joke Ö), perhaps it was even written by Caleb -


Dating Rules

When I was in high school I used to be terrified of my girlfriend's father. He would open the door and immediately affect a good-naturedly murderous expression, holding out a handshake that, when gripped, felt like it could squeeze carbon into diamonds.

Now, years later, it is my turn to be the dad. Remembering how unfairly persecuted I felt when I would pick up my dates, I do my best to make my daughter's suitors feel even worse. My motto: Wilt them in the living room and they'll stay wilted all night. "So," I'll call out jovially. "I see you have your nose pierced. Is that because you're stupid, or did you merely want to APPEAR stupid?" As a dad, I have some basic rules, which I have carved into two stone tablets that I have on display in my living room.

Rule One: If you pull into my driveway and honk you'd better be delivering a package, because you're sure as heck not picking anything up.

Rule Two: You do not touch my daughter in front of me. You may glance at her, so long as you do not peer at anything below her neck. If you cannot keep your eyes or hands off of my daughter's body, I will remove them.

Rule Three: I am aware that it is considered fashionable for boys of your age to wear their trousers so loosely that they appear to be falling off their hips. Please don't take this as an insult, but you and all of your friends are complete idiots. Still, I want to be fair and open minded about this issue, so I propose this compromise: You may come to the door with your underwear showing and your pants ten sizes too big, and I will not object. However, In order to assure that your clothes do not, in fact, come off during the course of your date with my daughter, I will take my electric staple gun and fasten your trousers securely in place around your waist.

Ö Rule Six: I have no doubt you are a popular fellow, with many opportunities to date other girls. This is fine with me as long as it is okay with my daughter. Otherwise, once you have gone out with my little girl, you will continue to date no one but her until she is finished with you. If you make her cry, I will make YOU cry.

Rule Seven: As you stand in my front hallway, waiting for my daughter to appear, and more than an hour goes by, do not sigh and fidget. If you want to be on time for the movie, you should not be dating. My daughter is putting on her makeup, a process which can take longer than painting the Golden Gate Bridge. Instead of just standing there, why don't you do something useful, like changing the oil in my car?

One time, when my wife caught me having one of my daughter's would-be suitors practice pulling into the driveway, get out of the car, and go up to knock on the front door (he had violated rule number one, so I figured he needed to run through the drill a few dozen times) she asked me why I was being so hard on the boy. "Don't you remember being that age?" she challenged. Of course I remember. Why do you think I came up with the eight simple rules?

:17-20 Othniel

He was the son of Caleb's younger brother, Kenaz (Judg. 1:13).

He would have been Caleb's nephew.

If we jumped to the future, weíd see that one day Othniel would be one of the judges who would rule over Israel, delivering them from a king of Mesopotamia. (Judg. 3:7-11)

Where did Othniel get this kind of training? From his father-in-law. From his uncle Caleb.

So, back to the question ...

What's Caleb doing at Debir?

He's busy raising up the next generation of leaders. He's being a discipler.

Lessons in Discipleship.

1. Share in the Challenges

Caleb could have taken Debir himself, but he let someone else have the opportunity.

If you keep taking all the hard assignments or jobs, how is anyone else going to learn how to do it?

2. Share in the rewards

Caleb gave his own beloved daughter as a reward.

I think she must have been a treasure, otherwise Caleb wouldn't have had any takers to his offer.

And Caleb certainly loved her, he gave her the things she asked of him.

We might like doing our thing by ourselves because we like the kinds of reward that come with it.

Maybe the reward is just the sense of feeling like having done a good job.

Maybe it's the reward of getting some recognition or attention.

But we need to share that kind of stuff to help others grow and mature.

:21-62 Cities of Judah

(skip reading these verses)

What do I do with lists like these?

I usually read them!

Test yourself to see how many names you know.

Look for connections.

Example: Ziklag (:31) - When David fled from King Saul and tried to hide out with the Philistines, he became buddies with one of the Philistine lords, Achish. Achish gave David the city of Ziklag (1Sam.27:6), which later was raided and David rescued all the inhabitants, including his own family. But it's interesting to note that Ziklag was supposed to belong to Judah anyway, not the Philistines!

Don't just think that lists like these are a waste of time. Who knows what treasures we'll find buried in God's Word!

:63 Jebusites ... Jerusalem

Itís a little confusing to know just who Jerusalem belonged to.

In Josh.15:8, it looks like it might be a part of Judah, though it's possible that the border went to the south of Jerusalem.

Yet here in 16:63, it looks as if the tribe of Judah is somehow at fault for not taking care of the Jebusites dwelling in Jerusalem.

In Josh 18:28, it is listed with the cities that are given to the tribe of Benjamin.


Take it or lose it.

Both tribes will get a crack at Jerusalem. At first nobody will take it. The tribe of Judah will even set the city on fire, but nobody was able to drive out the inhabitants.

Judges 1:21 And the children of Benjamin did not drive out the Jebusites that inhabited Jerusalem; but the Jebusites dwell with the children of Benjamin in Jerusalem unto this day.

It would take a giant killer to take it.

(2 Sam 5:6-9 NLT) David then led his troops to Jerusalem to fight against the Jebusites. "You'll never get in here," the Jebusites taunted. "Even the blind and lame could keep you out!" For the Jebusites thought they were safe. {7} But David captured the fortress of Zion, now called the City of David. {8} When the insulting message from the defenders of the city reached David, he told his own troops, "Go up through the water tunnel into the city and destroy those 'lame' and 'blind' Jebusites. How I hate them." That is the origin of the saying, "The blind and the lame may not enter the house." {9} So David made the fortress his home, and he called it the City of David. He built additional fortifications around the city, starting at the Millo and working inward.

Jerusalem was a place important to the Lord. It would be the place where the temple would be built, the place known as the "footstool" of the Lord.

There are going to be special ministry opportunities that God will present before you from time to time. These are things that are special to God. If you want to, you may be the one who reaps the blessing by doing it. But if you donít, God will perhaps give someone else a crack at it, and they will reap the blessing instead of you.

Joshua 16 - Ephraim's Inheritance

:1-4 Joseph's inheritance

See map.

:1 the lot of the children of Joseph

Remember, Joseph was one of the twelve sons of Jacob.

Yet because of his faithfulness, he ended up receiving the portion that belonged to the firstborn, getting a double portion, and thus his two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh both got an equal portion of the land, as if they were full tribes.

:5-10 Ephraim's Borders

just read verse 9-10.

:9 the separate cities for ... Ephraim were among ... Manasseh

As we've already noticed, the idea of borders with the Israelite tribes weren't quite the same as our concept of borders.

We often think that you just draw a straight line for 50 miles, and everything on one side belongs to one guy, etc.

But in reality, borders are kind of jagged.

And we see here that some of the cities that belonged to Ephraim were actually within the territory of Manasseh, the brother-tribe.

This could kind of promote unity among the tribes.

We see it today with this Palestinian agreement, where the Palestinians have been given a strip of land in Gaza, and then a little island in the city of Jericho.

:10 they drave not out the Canaanites

This is kind of interesting, didn't we just read that the tribe of Judah didn't drive out the Jebusites from Jerusalem?

Is there a pattern developing?

If there is, maybe we'll have to deal with this...

Overall Lessons

First in line.

Judah & Ephraim got their land first

Is there significance to this? Why these two tribes?

They were the tribes of the two faithful spies, Joshua and Caleb.

The time has come to give out the land, and in the two guys in the front of the line are Caleb and Joshua. They know whatís there. They want it.

How hungry are you for a place in the line for Godís promises?


Family priorities.

Joshuaís name isnít given here, but heís from the tribe of Ephraim. Joshua is making sure that his relatives get their portion.

Donít sacrifice your family for your ministry. Donít get so caught up in leading others to the Promised Land that your family doesnít have a place in it.


Importance of Borders.

Borders solved disputes.

Borders help you know your boundaries, where you belong and where you don't

We even have personal boundaries, depending upon our culture.

Have you ever talked with someone who demanded on standing too close to you? Or sitting too close to you? And you feel uncomfortable?

It's because your boundaries haven't been clarified.

Remember riding in the car as a kid with your brother or sister? Remember drawing a line down the middle of the back seat?

There's a sense of safety knowing you're within your borders, within your boundaries.

There used to be an old Taco Bell commercial that said, "Head for the border!". In real life, itís best to stay far from the borders. Stay where itís safe.

Joshua 17 - Manasseh's inheritance

:1 Manasseh ... the firstborn of Joseph

(donít read chapter, just vs. 11-18)

See map.

Part of the tribe of Manasseh (Num.32) had already gotten their portion by settling on the eastern side of the Jordan. They were content to live outside of the Promised Land. They settled for something less.

But there was a portion of Manasseh that was not willing to settle outside of Godís Promised Land.

At the head of this portion of Manasseh were the daughters of Zelophehad.

:6 the daughters of Manasseh had an inheritance

Numbers 27:2-7

This group of women came up to Moses, very concerned about their family's inheritance in the Promised Land.

Their father had died in the wilderness, not for rebellion, but just natural causes, and he didn't leave any male heirs.

They were concerned that their family wouldn't receive any portion of the Promised Land. After all, women didn't have the right to inherit anything. Never had, never would.

And they wanted a part in the Promised Land.

They asked. They received.

Is this a girl thing? How come men are afraid of asking?


Just go ahead and ask

To many people, they would look at the situation and say to themselves, "Well, it's never been done before, why should it be any different now?"

The results of that kind of thinking is that it WON'T be any different now.

James 4:2b-AV have not, because ye ask not.

How many times is it that the only thing that keeps us from doing or receiving something is because we never bothered to ask?

What's the worst that can happen? You can get a "no". But that wouldn't be any worse that if you didn't ask at all.

Don't let your dreams or your inheritance go by the wayside simply because you didn't bother asking about it!

:7-13 The Borders of Manasseh

just look at a few notables Ö

:11 the inhabitants of Endor

Weren't they those furry little creatures in the Star Wars movie, the Ewoks?

Actually, this is the city where Saul went to inquire of a witch rather than seek the counsel of the Lord. (1Sa.28:7)

:11 Megiddo

Megiddo or Megiddon = "place of crowds"

Originally one of the royal cities of the Canaanites.

This is very likely the site of a future battle ...

Revelation 16:16-AV And he gathered them together into a place called in the Hebrew tongue Armageddon.

Armageddon = "the hill or city of Megiddo"

:12 could not drive out the inhabitants of those cities

At one point they weren't strong enough to fight these inhabitants.

It kind of sounds like they might have tried, or at least considered it. But it was too difficult.

:13 when the children of Israel were waxen strong ...

They finally became strong enough to fight these Canaanites, but instead of wiping them out, they just made them tributaries.

After all, why wipe out these people when they can be made to pay you money instead?

Isn't that good business sense?

God warned them that they were not to make any agreements with the people of the land, but they were to totally separate themselves from them.

Judges 2:1-3 AV. And an angel of the LORD came up from Gilgal to Bochim, and said, I made you to go up out of Egypt, and have brought you unto the land which I sware unto your fathers; and I said, I will never break my covenant with you. 2 And ye shall make no league with the inhabitants of this land; ye shall throw down their altars: but ye have not obeyed my voice: why have ye done this? 3 Wherefore I also said, I will not drive them out from before you; but they shall be [as thorns] in your sides, and their gods shall be a snare unto you.


No Compromise

Don't be messing with the world.

We're like those moths that fly closer and closer to the flame, attracted by it's light, but when we get too close, we get burned.

It started with excuses like, "It's just too big for me", or, "I'm just one person, what can I do?"

Perceived strength wasn't the real problem, because when they were strong, they still didn't deal with the issue.

Where's the Calebs who don't flinch an eyelid, but go toe to toe with the giants.

:14-18 Joseph wants more

:14 the children of Joseph spake unto Joshua

Keep in mind that this tribe has a special relationship with the head dude, he's from their tribe.

:14 Why hast thou given me but one lot ...

They have decided that they needed more land than they had been given.

At the outset, this looks kind of admirable.

After all, they want more of the "Promised Land".

Don't we often say that we want "all God has to give us"?

In fact, isn't this kind of a "Caleb-attitude"?

Well, not quite...

In fact, it kind of smells like ugly pride

:15 if thou be a great people, then get thee up to the wood country ...

Joshua's reply isn't exactly what they want to hear.

What Joshua is saying is that they actually have plenty of land in their inheritance, but that some of it is going to require some work and fighting to take.

:16 not enough for us ... chariots of iron

The people are saying that it's just too hard to take that land.

The hill land requires too much work cutting down all those trees.

The valleys are filled with people too well equipped for war.

They want an easy way out.

They think they can try and use their influence with their relative who just happens to be in the White House, Joshua.

:18 the mountain shall be thine

Joshua's not going to make it easy for them.

They're going to get more room, but it's what he's already mentioned, the stuff that's going to take hard work.

Joshua says they need to make due with what they've been given.

They're going to have to play "Paul Bunyan" and clear out the forests in the hills.

They're going to have to go to battle with the Canaanites and drive them out.


Donít be afraid of the hard work.

God has some big things for us (like mountains!).

But sometimes the big things require diligent, hard work, like chopping down trees and fighting enemies.

Sometimes we get the idea that if God is going to take care of all my needs, then I can just kick back, watch "Gilliganís Island", and see God stick a paycheck in my mailbox each week. In reality, I need to get a job.

We see the same thing in ministry as well.

Excellence in ministry requires that we be diligent in what weíre doing. Diligent in prayer, study, hard work.

(Prov 22:29 KJV) Seest thou a man diligent in his business? he shall stand before kings; he shall not stand before mean men.

(Luke 16:10-12 KJV) He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much: and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much. {11} If therefore ye have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches? {12} And if ye have not been faithful in that which is another man's, who shall give you that which is your own?