What does it say?
Chapter 12 is a list of the 31 kings defeated by Israel under Joshua’s leadership in the order in which they were conquered. Chapter 13 looks forward and lists the territory yet to be conquered. Once you understand what these two chapters are about, you don’t have to labor through each and every name in these rather long lists.
After an introductory statement about dividing the land, the heart of this section for inspirational purposes (Jos 14) is when Caleb reminds Joshua that he had asked for a specific portion of the land when the two of them spied out the land 45 years earlier. Look for Caleb’s character strengths in this passage.
Chapter 15 describes the portion given to the tribe of Judah, the southernmost and largest portion of land goes to the largest tribe.
What does it mean?
One is tempted to skip over this and most of the rest of Joshua that has to do with dividing the land among the tribes, but we don’t want to miss anything. If it’s here in the Bible, it’s here for a purpose. Some cultures today, especially tribal cultures, examine passages like this very carefully, because land boundaries, inheritances and the like are so significant in their worldview. Even though our worldview writes off passages like this as boring, they are part of scripture and there are always lessons to learn.
Here’s what we should notice. Notice how important it is to be able to list the victories God gives us. Also observe that it is equally important to be able to list those areas that still need to come under God’s control. The life of Caleb is a template for a godly life at any point in history and in any culture. Notice his initiative, honesty, integrity, faith, strength, vision, courage and submissive spirit. Do you see things to add to this list?
How will I respond?
If you have some time, perhaps you could write a bullet point list of the ten greatest victories God has give to you in your journey so far. What are your biggest defeats and what did you learn from them? At minimum, what is the last moment in your life when you experienced God’s resurrection power in an unmistakable way?