Caleb’s faith and determination helped lead God’s people to the Promised Land.
A man of fire, whose words stirred men’s hearts. A man of action, whose courage saved men’s lives. A man of faith, whose passion drove him to God. Joshua succeeded Moses as the nation’s leader. But it was Caleb’s zeal that pushed the people to put their faith into action. Be challenged by this faithful man whose story we must never forget. Includes an in-depth Bible study, perfect for personal reflection or group discussion.
“A fan favorite, Rivers’s biblical fiction is quick and action-packed with appeal for both male and female readers.”
“The Warrior is a fine addition to understanding and contemplating the history of biblical men. A study guide is added at the end of the novel.”
—Historical Novels Review
“With the smooth, compelling hand of a master storyteller, Rivers retells the biblical account of Caleb, one of God’s true faithful. This novella will leave readers energized and inspired.”
—RT Book Reviews
No one heard, so Kelubai put his fingers in his mouth and gave a shrill whistle. His relatives raised their heads. He pointed at the darkening sky. They looked up and stared. “Find cover!”
Men, women, and children dropped their hoes and scattered. Kelubai followed. Farthest out in Pharaoh’s field, he had the longest distance to run. The black swirling clouds moved with frightening speed, casting a cold shadow over the land. Was it the great lion of God that let out such a rumbling roar from that blackness? Screaming, hands over their heads, people ran faster.
A shaft of jagged light flashed and struck the middle of the barley field. Flames shot up from the ground and the stalks of ripened grain caught fire. Something hard struck Kelubai in the head. Then another and another, like small pebbles hurled at him from an open hand. And the air
grew cold, so cold his breath came like puffs of smoke as he panted. His lungs burned. Could he make it to cover before one of those bolts of fire struck him down? He reached his mud-brick house, swung the door shut, and leaned against it.
Gasping for breath, he saw his wife, Azubah, crouched in the corner, their two older sons cowering beside her as she held their third son squalling at her breast. His older boys, Mesha and Mareshah, stood wide-eyed but silent. Their mother, Kelubai’s first wife, would not have been as quick to give in to hysteria. She had faced death—giving Mareshah life—with more fortitude than Azubah now showed in the face of this storm.
Tears streaked her frightened face. “What is that noise, Kelubai? What’s happening?” Her voice kept rising until she was screaming even louder than the babe. “What’s happening?”
He grasped her shoulders and gave her a hard shake. “Hush!” He let go of her and ran his hands over his sons’ heads. “Be quiet.” He kissed each of them. “Shhhh. Sit still.” He gathered them all close, shielding them with his body. His own heart was flailing, threatening to burst its bonds of bone and flesh. Never had he felt such terror, but he needed to be calm for their sake. He fixed his mind upon his family, soothing, encouraging. “Shhhh . . .”
“Abba.” His oldest son, Mesha, pressed closer, his fingers grasping Kelubai’s robe. “Abba . . .”
Hard pounding came against the house, like a thousand fists hitting at once. Azubah ducked her head, seeking the shelter of his shoulder. Mesha pressed close. Hard white stones flew in through the window. Curious, Kelubai rose. When his wife and sons protested, he set Mesha beside Azubah. “Stay calm. See to Mareshah.” Kelubai could not depend on Azubah to comfort them. They were not her sons, and she would always hold her own flesh and blood more dear.
“Where are you going?”
“I just want to see.”
He held up his hand, commanding her to silence. Edging across the room, he reached out to take up one of the stones. It was hard and cold. Turning it in his hand, he examined it. It became slippery. Frowning, perplexed, he put it to his mouth. He glanced back at his wife and sons. “Water!” He picked up several more and brought them to Azubah and his sons. “Taste it.” Only Mesha was willing. “It’s water. Water hard as a stone!”
Shivering, Azubah pressed back farther into the corner. “What manner of magic is this?” When a burst of light exploded outside the window, she screamed; the boys cried hysterically. Kelubai snatched the blankets from the straw pallets and draped them over the children. “Stay down.”
“You can’t go out there. You’ll be killed!”
He put his hand gently over her mouth. “Do not make matters worse, woman. Your fear is a contagion they can ill afford.” He looked pointedly at the boys.
She made no sound, though her eyes were wide with fear. She drew the boys closer, drawing the blankets tighter, covering her head as well.
Animals bawled and screamed, their hooves pounding as they tried to run. Kelubai was thankful he had brought his team of oxen in early or they would be lost with the others. He rose and edged near to the window, staying back while looking out. An acrid smell drifted in the cold air amid the pounding. The fields of flax that had just begun blooming were now in flames. Months of hard labor were going up in smoke.
“It’s Him, isn’t it?” Azubah said from her corner.
“Yes.” It must be the same God who had turned the Nile to blood, brought on a plague of frogs, then gnats and flies, death to the livestock, and boils to all but the Hebrews in Goshen. “Yes. It’s Him.”
“You sound pleased.”
“You have heard the stories I have. A deliverer will come.”
“Not for us.”
“Why not for us?”
“What are you saying, Kelubai?”
“Something my grandfather said to me when I was a boy.” He came back and hunkered down before her and their sons. “A story passed down from our ancestor Jephunneh. He was a friend of Judah, the fourth son of Jacob, the patriarch of the twelve tribes.” Kelubai remembered his grandfather’s face in the firelight, grim, scoffing.
“I don’t understand. We have nothing to do with the Hebrews.”
He rose, pacing. “Not now. But back then, there was a connection. Judah’s sons were half Canaanite. Two were said to have been struck down by this God. Shelah was the last one, named for Shelahphelah, the land in which he was born: Canaan. Two more sons were born to Judah by a woman named Tamar, also a Canaanite. And then he returned to his father’s tents. This was during the time of the great famine. Everyone was starving, everywhere except here in Egypt. Then unbelievably, Judah’s brother Joseph became overseer of Egypt and subject only to Pharaoh. Imagine. A slave becoming second only to Pharaoh. A great and mighty God had a hand in that!”
He looked out the window. “When the Hebrews arrived, they were welcomed and given the best land: Goshen. Jephunneh was descended from Esau, Judah’s uncle, and he was a friend of Abdullam as well. So he gained the ear of Judah and made a pact in order to provide for our family. That’s how we became slaves, theirs at first, farming land and growing crops so that the Hebrews were free to shepherd their growing flocks. It was a loathsome alliance, but necessary for survival. And then things turned around. Other rulers came. We were still slaves, but so were the Hebrews, and with each passing year, Pharaoh’s heel bore down harder upon them than us.”
He looked at her. “Who knows?”
Jealousy? Spite? More likely because they were fruitful and multiplied. One patriarch and twelve sons now numbered in the hundreds of thousands. There were as many Jews as there were stars in the heavens! Pharaoh probably feared if the Hebrews had wits and courage enough, they could rise up, join with Egypt’s enemies, and gain their freedom. They could become masters over Egypt. Instead, they wailed and moaned as they worked, crying out to their unseen God to save them, and thereby making themselves the brunt of contempt and mockery.
Kelubai looked up at the roiling dark sky in wonder. He could not see this God, but he was witnessing His power. The gods of Egypt were as nothing against Him. In the distance, the sun shone over Goshen. It would also seem this God could make a distinction between His people and the enemy. Pressing his lips together, Kelubai watched the fire sweep across the fields of barley. It had just come to head, harvest so close. Now, all lost.
There would be another famine after this night, and his family would suffer.
Unless . . .
A thin thread, a distant connection might be just enough to change everything.
Kelubai took a pellet from the sill. He rolled it between his fingers and popped it in his mouth. The stone was hard and cold against his tongue, but it melted warm and sweet, refreshing. His heart swelled at the sound and fury around him. He rejoiced in it. The God of the Hebrews could turn water to blood and call forth frogs, gnats, flies, and disease. Wind, water, fire, and air obeyed Him. Here was a God he could worship. Here was a God not carved by human hands!
Cupping his hands, he held them outstretched. His palms stung as the hard pellets struck, but he held his hands steady until a small pile had gathered. Then he tossed them back into his mouth and chewed the ice.
Kelubai gathered his relatives. “If we are to survive, we must go to Goshen and live among the Jews.”
“Live among the people Pharaoh despises? You’re out of your mind, Kelubai!”
“The wheat and spelt are still growing. The gods of Egypt protected them. We still have those fields left.”
Kelubai shook his head. “For how long?”
“The gods are at war, Kelubai. And we had best stay out of their way.”
“What say you, Father?”
Hezron had been silent since the discussion began. Troubled, he raised his head. “It has been generations since our ancestor Jephunneh followed Judah from Canaan. The Hebrews will have long since forgotten how and why we came here.”
“We will remind them we were once close friends of Judah.”
“Close?” Kelubai’s oldest brother, Jerahmeel, snorted. “A friend of a friend?”
“Father, did you not once say your father said his father’s father took a Hebrew woman to wife?”
Ram was quick to follow their older brother’s lead. “And how many years ago was that? Do you think the Hebrews will care that we have one of their women in our line? Ha! What use is a woman? What was the name of her father?”
Kelubai scowled. “Have you forgotten? The Hebrews came to us for straw when Pharaoh would not provide it.”
“Straw we needed for our oxen.”
Kelubai looked at Jerahmeel. “I gave all I had.”
“Is that why you came to me for fodder for your animals?”
“Yes, it is. And now, if you but look around, you’ll
see there’s nothing left for the animals to eat. Except in Goshen! There is pasturage there.” Kelubai looked at his father. “And we have traded grain for goats. These are alliances we can build on.”
“Alliances could bring the wrath of Pharaoh down upon us!” Jerahmeel stood, red-faced with impatient anger. “What protection will we have against his soldiers? No alliances. We must stay out of this war.”
“Are you blind? Look around you, my brothers.” Kelubai thrust his hand toward the barley and flax fields, flattened by hail, blackened by fire. “We’re in the middle of the battlefield!”
“Pharaoh will prevail.”
Kelubai gave a mirthless laugh. “Pharaoh and all his gods put together have not been able to protect Egypt from the God of the Hebrews. A river of blood, frogs, gnats, flies, boils! What will the God of the Hebrews send next?” He leaned forward. “We have heard the Hebrews wail for their deliverer. And their deliverer has come. Let us make Him ours as well.”
“You mean Moses?”
“Moses is a man. He is but God’s spokesman, telling Pharaoh what the God of the Hebrews has told him to say. It is an almighty God who destroyed our fields yesterday, and it is this God who will deliver His people.”
“No.” Jerahmeel glowered. “No, I say. No!”
Kelubai clung to self-control. Exploding in anger at his brother’s stupidity would not convince their father to leave this place of desolation. He spread his hands and spoke more quietly. “What if we are left behind? What happens when Pharaoh and his officials are hungry and need grain? Will he say, ‘My foolishness has brought destruction upon our land’? No, he won’t. He’ll send his soldiers to take whatever is left. The sacks of grain we have winnowed from our labors will be stolen from us. But we can take these stores with us to Goshen as gifts. All of the wheat and spelt.”
“Yes, Ram. Gifts. We must align ourselves with the Jews. And we must do it now.”
Kelubai felt his father’s eyes upon him. He met that troubled stare with a look of fierce determination. “If we are to survive, Father, we must act now!”
His father looked at his other sons. “Perhaps Kelubai is right.”
Flushed and angry, they protested, everyone talking at once. But no one had another solution to protect them from impending disaster.
“If Pharaoh hated the Hebrews before, he hates them all the more now.”
“He’ll be sending soldiers to Goshen again.”
“Would you have the king of Egypt turn his hatred upon us as well?”
“Father, we had best stay out of this.”
Kelubai had talked all morning and been unable to convince them. He would not waste any more time. He stood. “Do as you will, my brothers. Stay in your huts. Hope that whatever plague comes next will leave your barley untouched. As for me and my house, we’ll be in Goshen before the sun sets, before another plague is upon us, a worse one than the last!”
His brothers all protested. “Better to wait and see what happens than be a headstrong fool.”
Kelubai glared at his older brothers. “Wait long enough and you’ll all be dead.”
By the time Kelubai returned to the land over which he had charge, Azubah had loaded the oxen with the plowshares, the pruning hooks, and the remaining sacks of grain from last year’s harvest. Stacked on top were all the family possessions. Mesha would see to the small flock of goats that provided milk and meat.
Kelubai noticed a small wooden cabinet lashed to the side of the cart. “What’s this?” he asked his wife, although he knew all too well.
“We can’t leave our household gods behind.”
He untied the box. “Have you learned nothing these past weeks?” Ignoring her shriek, he heaved the container against the wall of his empty hut. The cabinet burst open, spilling clay idols that smashed on the ground. He caught her by the arm before she could go after them. “They’re useless, woman! Worse than useless.” He took the rod from Mesha and prodded the oxen. “Now, let’s go. We’ll be fortunate if we reach Goshen before nightfall.”
Others were heading for Goshen; even Egyptians were among those with their possessions on their backs or loaded in small carts. Squalid camps had sprung up like thistles around the outer edges of the humble Hebrew villages. Kelubai avoided them and went into the villages themselves, seeking information about the placement of the tribe of Judah. They camped away from everyone.
On the third day, he approached a gathering of old men in the middle of a village, knowing they would be the elders and leaders. Several noticed his approach and studied him nervously. “I am a friend come to join you.”
“Friend? I don’t know you.” The elder glanced around the circle. “Do any of you know this man?” There was a rumble of voices as the others agreed that Kelubai was a stranger to all of them.
Kelubai came closer. “We are connected through my ancestor Jephunneh, friend of Judah, son of Jacob. Our people followed your family from Canaan during the great famine. We were your servants for a time.”
“What is your name?”
“Caleb, he says.” Dog. Some laughed, not pleasantly. Kelubai felt the heat pour into his face.
“Kelubai.” He spoke slowly; his gaze went to each man in the circle in an unhurried clarification.
“Caleb,” someone said again, snide and unseen.
And then another, “No doubt a friend of Egyptians.” Kelubai would not let insults or his temper rule his judgment. “I am your brother.”
They seemed determine to insult him, these men who had been slaves all their lives.
Kelubai stepped inside the circle. “When the heel of Pharaoh came down upon you, our family continued to barter grain for goats. When Pharaoh denied you straw to make bricks, I gave all I had. Do you so quickly forget those who help you?”
“A little straw does not make you a brother.”
These Hebrews were as hard to reason with as his own family. Kelubai smiled mirthlessly. That alone should be a sign that they were blood related. “I am a son of Abraham, just as you are.”
“A claim not yet established.”
He faced the elder who spoke and inclined his head. “I am descended from Abraham’s grandson Esau, and Esau’s eldest son, Eliphaz.”
Another snorted. “We have no commerce with Esau’s spawn.”
“See how red his face is.” Edom.
Kelubai’s hackles rose. How did they come to be so proud of Israel, the trickster, who cheated his brother, Esau, out of his birthright! But he held his tongue, knowing it would not serve his purpose to argue that cause before this council of men. Besides, Israel might have been a deceiver, but Esau had been less than wise.
Someone laughed. “He has no answer to that!”
Kelubai turned his head slowly and stared into the man’s eyes. The laughter stopped.
“We are sons of Israel.” The elder spoke quietly this time, his words fact, not insult.
Did they think he would back down? “I am a son of Abraham, who was called by God to leave his land and go wherever God would take him.”
“Is he speaking of Abraham or himself?”
“The dog thinks he is a lion.”
Kelubai clenched his teeth. “As Abraham was called out of Ur, so too have we been called out of Egypt. Or do you think Moses speaks his own words and not the words of God?”
Kelubai might not be as pure in blood as they, but his desire to be counted among God’s people went far beyond blood. It came from the very heart and soul of him. Could these men say the same, when they bowed down in worship one day and rose up in rebellion the next?
The old man assessed him. Kelubai felt a prickling of apprehension. Finally the elder held out his hand. “Sit. Tell us more.”
Kelubai accepted the invitation. The others in the circle watched him closely, mouths tight, making it clear a hearing was not a vote of trust. He must choose his words carefully so he would not offend anyone. “You have good reason to be suspicious of strangers. Every time the Lord your God sends His prophet Moses to Pharaoh and another plague strikes Egypt, Pharaoh hates you all the more.”
“We have had more trouble since Moses came out of the desert than we had before!”
Surprised, Kelubai glanced at the man who spoke. “What Moses says comes to pass. This is proof he is what he says he is—a messenger from God.”
“He brings more trouble upon us!” the Israelite insisted.
Kelubai might as well be talking to his father and brothers. “Your animals survived the pestilence. Did any of you suffer boils? The hail and fire did not touch your lands. The God of Abraham is protecting you.”
“And you want that protection for yourself. Isn’t that the real reason you have come here and tried to worm your way into our tribe?”
“It is not your protection I seek.” Clearly, some sitting in their council did not believe in the God who was fighting for their salvation. “You have as little power in yourself as I have.” Kelubai drew a slow breath, and focused his attention on the elder who had invited him to sit. Here, at least, was a reasonable man. “I am a slave of Egypt. All my life I have worked for taskmasters, and all my life I have dreamed of freedom. And then I heard that the Nile had been turned to blood. I went to see for myself, and saw frogs as well—by the thousands—come up from the river into Thebes. Then gnats and flies by the millions! I saw oxen drop dead in harness because my neighbors did not heed the warning and bring the animals inside. Members of my family suffered from boils just as the Egyptians did. And a few days ago from the window of my hut, I watched the wheat fields in which I’ve toiled for months beaten down by stones of water and set aflame by spears of fire from heaven!”
At least they were silent now, all eyes on him, though some most unfriendly. “I believe Moses. Every plague that has come upon the land of Egypt weakens Pharaoh’s power and brings us closer to freedom. The God who promised to deliver you has come, and He has shown He has the power to fulfill His Word!” He looked around the circle of elders. “I want—” he shook his head—“no. I intend to be counted among His people.”
Some grumbled. “Intend? Such arrogance!” “Honesty, not arrogance.”
“Why bother to speak to the council at all?”
“I want to be shoulder to shoulder with you in whatever lies ahead, not nose to nose.”
Others said what did it matter if this Edomite and his family camped nearby? Hundreds of other people, Egyptians included, had put up tents around the village. What did one more man and his family matter as long as they brought their own provisions with them? Besides, wouldn’t having such numbers around them afford a hedge of protection if Pharaoh sent his soldiers? They talked among themselves, argued, worried, fretted.
Kelubai sat and listened, measuring these men with whom he would be aligned. He had expected the Hebrews to be different. Instead, they reminded him of Jerahmeel and his younger brothers squabbling and carping, assuming and fearing the worst would happen. One would think they wished Moses had never been sent to Pharaoh to demand the slaves be released. One would think it would be better to go on making bricks for Pharaoh than risk even the hope of freedom!
Was it not a mighty God directing events that would open the way to salvation?
The old man, Zimri, watched Kelubai, his gaze enigmatic. Kelubai looked into his eyes and held his gaze, wanting the elder to know his thoughts. I am here, Zimri. These men can ignore me, but neither they nor you will drive me away.
It was hours later and nothing decided when the men began to disperse. God was ever on their lips, but clearly they did not trust the signs, nor the deliverer. When Kelubai rose, he saw Mesha waiting for him in the shadows between two huts. Smiling, he headed toward him.
Hackles rising, Kelubai turned and faced three men he knew to be his enemies. He remembered their names: Tobias, Jakim, and Nepheg. It was always wise to identify your enemies. Jakim raised his hand, pointing at him. “You don’t belong among our people, let alone among the elders.”
“I came to make a petition.”
“Your petition has been rejected.”
They spoke boldly now that the others were gone. “I will wait to hear what the entire council has to say.” Not that it would make any difference. He was here to stay whether they liked it or not.
“We say, Caleb, stay outside the boundaries of our village if you know what’s good for you. We don’t want outsiders among us.” They walked away.
“They called you a dog, Father!”
Yes, they had cast him among those wretched animals that lived on the outskirts of settlements, living off the scraps from the garbage heaps. He saw the shame in his son’s eyes, anger flaring in his youthful confusion. More stinging was the unspoken question Kelubai saw in his son’s eyes: Why did you allow it?
“They don’t know me yet, my son.”
“They insult you.” Mesha’s voice trembled with youthful fury.
“A man who gives in to anger might as well burn his house down over his head.” He could swallow his pride when his family’s survival was at stake.
Mesha hung his head, but not before Kelubai had seen the tears building. Did his son think him a coward? Time would have to teach the truth. “A wise man picks his battles carefully, my son.” Kelubai put his arm around Mesha and turned him toward their camp on the outer edges of the village. “If they call me Caleb, so be it. I will make it a name of honor and courage.”
The family remained on the periphery of the villages of Judah, but Kelubai stayed close whenever the council met and therefore heard whatever news came at the same time the Judeans did. And news did come by way of Levite messengers from Moses and his brother, Aaron. Pharaoh had hardened his heart again; another plague was coming. It would not touch Goshen, but would lay waste to Egypt.
“We must go back and warn your father and brothers!”
Kelubai knew what his wife really wanted was to go back, to be away from these Hebrews who would not speak to her. “I warned them already. We will wait here and make a place for them.”
“What makes you so sure they’ll come?”
“They aren’t fools, Azubah. Stubborn, yes. Frightened? As am I. No, we remain here. I left my words like seeds. When they have been plowed under and more plagues rain down upon them, what I said will take root and grow.”
The next morning, he went to the edge of Goshen and watched the cloud of locusts come. They darkened the sun. The noise was like a rumbling of chariots, like the roar of a fire sweeping across the land, like a mighty army moving into battle. The locusts marched like warriors, never breaking ranks, never jostling each other. Each moved according to the orders of the Commander, swarming over walls, entering houses through the windows. The earth quaked as they advanced and the heavens trembled. The ground undulated black. Every stalk of wheat and spelt, every tree was consumed by the advancing horde God had called into battle.
It won’t be long now, Kelubai thought, watching the road for his father and brothers.
Kenaz came alone. “Jerahmeel rages against the god of the Hebrews for destroying the last of his crops.”
“You know Father cannot leave without his eldest son.” “And Jerahmeel will not come because it was I who suggested it. He is the fool!”
“You did not suggest, Kelubai. You commanded. Your manner did not sit well with our brothers.” Kenaz smiled. “Since I am the youngest, it matters not what I think or whom I follow.”
“You’re wrong about that, my brother. You’ve shown courage by coming of your own free will, rather than bending to the will of those older and fiercer, but far less wise, than you.” He looked toward the west. “If Pharaoh does not let the Hebrews go, there will be another plague, and another. Jerahmeel will change his mind.”
Trading and bartering for goatskins, Kelubai enlarged his tent enough to shelter his brothers and their families when they came.
Another plague did come, one of darkness upon the land of Egypt. But when Moses and Aaron returned to Goshen, they brought ill tidings of Pharaoh’s fury. He would not allow the people to go with their flocks and herds, and he had threatened Moses that if Pharaoh ever saw him again, he’d kill him.
When Kelubai stood on the outer edge of the Jewish congregation and heard the instructions given by Moses’ messenger, he knew the end was coming. He returned to his camp and told Azubah he must go back and bring their father to Goshen. “You must stay here with her, Kenaz, and keep this camp secure. Now that the darkness has lifted from Egypt, others will come seeking refuge among the Hebrews. Hold our ground against them!”
Hastening to his father’s house, he found his older brothers had gathered their families. “Another plague is coming!” Kelubai was thankful the locusts and darkness had made them willing to listen. “I heard with my own ears that all the firstborn sons will die in every family in Egypt, from the oldest son of Pharaoh, who sits on the throne, to the oldest son of his lowliest slave. Even the firstborn of the animals will die.”
Everyone looked at Jerahmeel, and he paled. Jerahmeel looked at Kelubai with new respect. “You came back to save my life?”
“We are brothers, are we not? But it is not only your life I want spared, Jerahmeel, but those of your firstborn son and the firstborn of all my brothers. Remember! Every firstborn son.”
Hezron stood. “We will return to Goshen with Kelubai. Our animals are all dead. What little grain we had hidden away for sustenance was eaten by locusts. There is nothing to hold us here.”
They journeyed to Goshen willingly, setting up tents close by Kelubai’s camp. He called them together as soon as they were settled. “Listen to what the Lord instructed Moses. Each family is to sacrifice a year-old lamb or goat without defect.” The blood would be smeared over the entrance to their tent, and they must remain inside until death passed over them. The lamb or goat was to be roasted with bitter herbs and eaten with bread made without yeast. “We are to wear sandals, traveling clothes, and have walking sticks in our hands as we eat this meal.”
When the night of the forewarned plague came, Kelubai, his wife and children, Kenaz, his father Hezron, and fourteen others stood around the fire pit as a goat roasted over the hot coals. Trembling in fear, they obeyed Moses’ instructions exactly, hoping everyone inside the thin canopy would survive the night.
Kelubai heard a sound moving overhead, a whispering wind that made his blood run cold. He felt a dark presence press down upon them, press in from the thin leather flap that served as their door. All within the circle held their breath and pressed closer to one another. Kelubai shoved Mesha and Jerahmeel into the center of the family circle. “You die; we all die.” Jerahmeel looked around, confused, shaken. When screams rent the cold night air, Azubah grasped Kelubai’s robe and hid her face in its folds while their sons hugged close around him. A man screamed,
and everyone in Kelubai’s shelter jumped.
“We’re all going to die!” Some began to weep.
“We won’t die.” Kelubai spoke with a confidence he was far from feeling. “Not if we put our faith in the unseen God.”
Jerahmeel held his oldest son by the shoulders, keeping him close. “We’ve only goatskin to cover us, Kelubai, while the Hebrews have mud-brick huts and doors.”
“Something is out there. . . .”
Fear grew in the room, fanned by more screams from outside. The children whimpered; the circle tightened. “We must follow the instructions.” Kelubai cut meat from the goat. He strove to keep his voice calm. “See to the bread, Azubah.” She rose to obey.
“How can you expect us to eat at a time like this?”
“Because the God of Abraham demands it.” Kelubai held out a slice of goat meat to his father. Hezron took it. “Give thanks to the God of Abraham for His protection from this plague of death.”
Kelubai swallowed his fear and forced himself to eat the Passover meal. Tomorrow will bring our freedom!
Egyptians came running toward Goshen, crying out, “Leave! Go quickly!”
“Pharaoh has relented!”
“Go as quickly as you can or all of us will die!” “Hurry!”
“Here! Take this grain as a gift. Plead with your god for my life.”
“Take my silver.”
“Here is my gold!”
“Pray for us!”
“Away with you! Hurry!”
Others clutched at the Hebrews’ robes, pleading, “Please, let us walk with you, for we’ve heard God is with you!”
Kelubai accepted the proffered gifts as his sons stripped down the goatskin coverings and yanked up the tent poles. He laughed. “Didn’t I tell you all that our freedom was at hand?” Who would have imagined that God would make the Egyptians pour offerings upon them as they begged them to leave? Kelubai raised his hands in the air and shouted, “What a mighty God You are!” Laughing joyously, Kelubai heaved the last gift onto his cart. “Our taskmasters shower us with gifts and plead with us to leave!”
Azubah scrambled about, gathering their possessions and tying bundles while calling out to the children to keep the goats close. “Frogs, locusts, pestilence, and death! How do we worship such a God? No one gives without expecting to receive, Kelubai. What will this God ask of us?”
“So far He has asked nothing but that we believe what He says.”
“And once we are in the wilderness, what will He ask of us then?”
“If He asked for everything, I would give it to Him.” “Our sons, Kelubai? Would you sacrifice our sons?” Her fear gave him pause. The great overseers of Canaan
were gods who thirsted for human blood. Was the God of Abraham such as these? If so, why had He asked for the blood of a lamb or goat rather than the blood of Israel’s sons?
Kelubai prodded the ox, and caught up to his father and brothers who had set off before him. Having no animals or possessions to carry, they could travel faster than he.
Hezron shared his excitement, but Jerahmeel feared the future as much as Azubah. “And how many more will be out there in the desert waiting for us?”
“They will have heard what God has done for us.”
“The nations may fear this God, but what reason have they to fear a band of slaves?”
Kelubai waved. “We are more than a band, brother. Look around you! We are thousands upon thousands.”
“Scattered in a dozen tribes, with stragglers who cling like ticks. We are not a nation. We have no army.”
“What need have we for an army when the God of heaven and earth fights for us? When people hear what has happened to Egypt, they will flee before us.”
“Where do you come by this faith in a God whose people call you dog?”
Kelubai grinned coldly. “I’ve been called worse.”
The ragged mass traveled by day and night, moving south, away from the trade route. Deeper into the wilderness they moved before turning east, pressing between the high walls of a great wadi that spilled into the Red Sea. And there the masses huddled in family groups, crying out to Moses to save them when news came that Pharaoh and his army were not far behind them.
“Now see what you’ve done to us, Kelubai!” Jerahmeel ranted. “Had we stayed in Egypt our lives and the lives of our children would be safe.”
Thousands screamed and wailed in terror when they realized they were blocked from all possible escape.
Kelubai lowered his head against the wind and pushed. “Stay in close with the Judeans.” Wind whipped at his robe, stinging his face with sand and drops of salt water. “Stay together!” He hauled his wife and sons closer as
a cloud caught flame. Raging overhead, it swirled into a pillar of fire that closed the wadi and stopped Pharaoh’s chariots from racing out onto the spillway.
“They’re moving!” Azubah cried out.
And so the multitude pressed forward as the sea opened before them clear to the other side, revealing the path of salvation. Some people ran down the slope. Others, burdened with possessions, moved slower. Kelubai shouted for Azubah to run ahead and take their sons with her while he followed with the oxen and cart. His father and brothers stayed with him, grabbing sacks to lighten the load and make the way swifter. Thousands came behind, pressing tight, moving down the road through the sea. When he reached high ground, Kelubai found his family waiting among the Judeans.
The pillar of fire had lifted, and Pharaoh’s army raced out onto the sand and down into the pathway God had opened. Kelubai spotted Zimri among the stragglers. The old man, pale with exhaustion and sagging beneath the weight of a sack lumpy with possessions, struggled up the slope, his son, Carmi, helping him. Kelubai ran to them, grasped the pack, and supported the old man as they made their way up the hill.
“The chariots are coming,” Kenaz shouted, reaching them and taking the pack. “They’re coming! Hurry!”
A rushing sound and screams came from behind, and Kelubai felt a cold wet blast at his back. He fell forward onto his face and then felt hands upon him, dragging him up, shouting. Kelubai dug his heels into the wet ground and pushed, dragging Carmi up the slope. Lungs heaving, Kenaz flung the sack onto dry ground. Zimri was helped up, frightened but uninjured.
“They’re gone.” Kenaz stared out over the sea, searching. “All of them, gone.”
The multitude was silent, staring out at the rippling sea as bodies of the Egyptian soldiers washed up along the shore.
Kelubai stood beside Zimri and Carmi. “Praise be to the God who saved us.”
The old man was still pale, but he had regained his breath. He gripped Kelubai’s arms for support. “My thanks, Caleb.” For the first time, the term was spoken without derision. Caleb. A new name for a new alliance. So be it.
The old man’s hands tightened. “Make your camp next to mine.” His son, Carmi, grinned and slapped Caleb on the back.
Before three days had passed, jubilation became complaining when the desert water was found to be bitter and undrinkable. Moses prayed and cast tree bark into the pond, enabling people to quench their thirst before traveling on to the date palms of Elim. Some would have been content to stay, but God had told Moses to lead His people into the wilderness. Why? was the common cry. Why didn’t God lead them to green pastures and still waters instead of heading them out into an arid wasteland of sand and rock? Thirst and hunger soon set in, and the people complained for meat, as though God were a heavenly servant meant to give them whatever they craved. Moses prayed and God sent quail into the camp, so many that
no one could walk without stepping on them. But in the morning, a greater miracle came when God gave them the bread of heaven to sustain them. Instructions were given to collect only enough for one day and no more.
Caleb knelt, picked up a few white flakes, and let them melt on his tongue. They were sweeter than anything he had ever tasted and held the slightest moisture of dew. When he had filled his clay jar, he rose and looked up at the cloud overshadowing the huge camp. It did not move with the air currents as other clouds did, nor disappear over the course of a hot day. It remained with the people, thick in portions, with fingers of gray-white, as though the mighty hand of God Himself shaded the Israelites and fellow travelers from the killing heat of the desert sun. Freedom, water, food, shelter. Was there anything the Lord had not given them?
Overwhelmed with emotions he could neither understand nor define, Caleb raised his omer high, tears streaming down his face. “How do I worship You, Lord? How do I give thanks for my life? How am I to live from now on? Nothing is the way I imagined it would be, oh, Lord!”
Life had become confusing. Freedom was not the simple matter he had dreamed. As a slave, he knew what the day would hold and how to get through it. Now, he didn’t know what the next morning would bring. Every day was different. He didn’t know where he would camp or for how long or why a particular place was chosen. He pitched his tent near Zimri’s each evening, but there were always others around them, strangers vying for a better position. How was he any different from all these others, ambitious for themselves and their families, craving something better than what they had always known, demanding more now that freedom had come and brought with it the reality of daily decisions that had always been made for them. Caleb had liked to think of himself as more shrewd, more able to find his own way, but realized now that he was the same as all the others. He had been born and reared in a mud hut and lived all his life on one small plot of land he worked for Pharaoh’s benefit. Now, he was in constant turmoil, out of his element. Instead of dwelling in one place, he traveled great distances and lived in a tent like a desert nomad. This was not the life he had imagined.
Tense, irritable, fighting against the confusion of his new life, fighting to keep his relatives together and in some semblance of order, he felt more shame than joy. At times, they behaved like a pack of wolves, growling at one another, fighting over scraps.
“Where are we going, brother? I thought we were supposed to be heading for Canaan, and we’re in the middle of the wilderness!”
Every day had its squabbles and challenges. How did Moses hear the voice of God through the cacophony of voices raised in constant question and complaint?
Caleb struggled within himself, too.
In his heart, he cried out to God. I don’t want to question Your ways, Lord. I want to go with thanksgiving and without hesitation where You tell us to go. I want to set off into the unknown the way Moses does—head up, staff in hand. I don’t want to look back with longing on the life I’ve known. Oh, God, help me to remember how unbearable it was and how I longed to be free. Is it possible for You to change a man? If so, change me!
At the sound of Jerahmeel’s annoyed voice, Caleb lowered the omer and held it against his chest, eyes closed, teeth clenched.
“We’re on the move again! Though who but Moses can guess where we’re going this time. As if there’s a better place than this to rest . . .” Jerahmeel’s complaining faded as he stalked away.
The cloud was moving now. In its changing shape, Caleb imagined its folds like an eagle with outspread wings, floating, head down watching them, not as prey but as sheltered offspring.
“Caleb! Are you going to just stand there? They’re moving!”
And will You please change a few others as well?
The people rose up in anger when they reached Rephidim, for there was no water. Caleb and his wife had given their water to their sons, and were as thirsty as everyone else. His relatives gave him no rest.
“It was your idea to follow this God. . . .” “Where’s the better life you promised?” “I’m thirsty, Abba.”
“How long before we get there?”
“Ask your abba where there is.”
Caleb left them and sat among the rocks at the base of the high mountain. If he was going to die, he wanted to do it in peace and not surrounded by grumbling Israelites or relatives blaming him for every discomfort. Still, he heard the multitude crying out in the distance. Pressing his hands over his ears, he tried to shut out the angry shouting. His own wrath mounted, his heart pounding fast, his blood rushing hot and heavy.
How soon they all forget what You can do! You made the Nile run with blood. You brought forth plagues; You killed Egypt’s livestock with pestilence. You covered the people with boils, destroyed the land with hail and fire, and killed the firstborn from Pharaoh on down, all the while sparing the animals and lives of those who belong to You. And still that madman Pharaoh changed his mind and came after us!
But You opened the sea, made a dry pathway across, then closed it again over Pharaoh’s army, washing them away like dust before a windstorm. The sea. The Nile. The river of life . . . no. No! Who but a fool would long for that place of slavery and death?
Water, Lord. Please. Water is a small thing, but we will die without it. Oh, hear us, God who commands the heavens and the earth. Help us!
Tongue parched, throat closing, his skin so dry he felt his body shrinking, he closed his eyes. If not for the cloud overhead, Caleb knew he would have perished already, baked in the heat, dried out like a Nile fish on a rack.
Why am I still alive? What is the purpose in all this suffering? I don’t understand You. Did You set us free only to allow us to die of thirst? It makes no sense. Water, Lord. Oh, God of might and mercy, please, give us water. I don’t believe You brought us out here to die. I don’t believe it. I won’t believe it!
The cries of the mob suddenly changed to screams of excitement and exultation. Trembling from weakness, Caleb stood and took a few steps so he could see what was happening. Water gushed from a rock in the side of the mountain, forming a stream that raced down and pooled. Thousands sank to their knees and fell forward onto their hands to thrust their faces into the water and drink like animals. Another miracle! Another, just when they needed it most.
Stumbling, Caleb made his way down the rocky slope. Pressing his way through the celebrants, his gaze never leaving the rock that flowed water, he squatted, cupped his hands, and drank. The Rock itself was the well of lifegiving water. The stream flowed straight from the stone, fresh and clear and cool. As Caleb drank deeply, he felt his body renewed, strengthened, revitalized. Closing his eyes, he held the precious water and washed his face, longing to immerse himself in it.
As the people were quenching their thirst, Caleb heard shouting.
“The Amalekites are attacking! They are killing the stragglers!”
Moses called for Joshua. People cried out again, frightened this time.
“They’ll soon be upon us!”
“We have no army to fight against the Amalekites!” Caleb rose, dripping, and ran to his camp. He rummaged through the possessions he had brought from Egypt until he found his scythe. “Come on.” He raised his farm implement and called to his brothers. “Fight for our brothers!”
“We’re not soldiers.” Jerahmeel stood back. “We’re farmers.”
Caleb faced him, angry. “Should not a farmer fight for his neighbors?”
“Who is my neighbor?”
There was no time to stand and argue. People were dying! Turning his back on his father and brothers, Caleb ran after Joshua. Others had gathered with Moses’ young servant. Moses had already given instructions and now climbed the mountain, his brother, Aaron, on one side and his friend Hur on the other.
Caleb peered through the crowd to the man in its center. Joshua looked so young and nervous. The men around him were tense, shifting, uncertain. Caleb felt uneasy. What did he know about fighting against a trained enemy?
He remembered what God had done for them already. The Lord, He would protect them. The Lord, He would give them victory. I will believe that. I will set my mind upon Him. I will proclaim my faith before these men loud enough that they will all hear and know I am for the Lord!
“Let me through!” Lowering his head, Caleb shoved his way through the crowd until he stood before Joshua. “We are God’s to command, Joshua. And the Lord has designated you to lead.” Caleb looked around and raised his voice. “God will fight for us! He did not bring us out into this desert to be picked off by cowardly marauders who kill the weak and helpless, nor by any who bow down to false gods!” Baring his teeth in a grin, Caleb stared Joshua in the eye. “Command us as God commands you. The battle is the Lord’s!”
Joshua’s eyes shone with sudden fierceness. He let out a shout and the others joined with him.
And so they went out into battle armed with farm implements and threshing tools, while three old men stood on the mountain praying.
And God gave them victory.
After the triumph came the lingering stillness. Caleb waited along with thousands of others camped at the base of the mountain while Moses went up to meet with the Lord. Days passed, and long nights of quiet and question.
Waiting proved a greater test than taking up arms against the enemy.
The Warrior: Caleb
A SCOUT’S REPORT
SEEK GOD’S WORD FOR TRUTH
Read the following passage:
The Lord now said to Moses, “Send men to explore the land of Canaan, the land I am giving to Israel. Send one leader from each of the twelve ancestral tribes.” So Moses did as the Lord commanded him. He sent out twelve men, all tribal leaders of Israel, from their camp in the wilderness of Paran. These were the tribes and the names of the leaders:
Manasseh son of Joseph
Shammua son of Zaccur
Shaphat son of Hori
Caleb son of Jephunneh
Igal son of Joseph
Hoshea son of Nun
Palti son of Raphu
Gaddiel son of Sodi
Gaddi son of Susi
Ammiel son of Gemalli
Sethur son of Michael
Nahbi son of Vophsi
Geuel son of Maki
These are the names of the men Moses sent to explore the land. By this time Moses had changed Hoshea’s name to Joshua.
- The very first mention of Caleb in Scripture is found in this passage. Who was Caleb? What position did he hold?
- What would it take to acquire and maintain this position?
Read the following passage:
Moses gave the men these instructions as he sent them out to explore the land: “Go northward through the Negev into the hill country. See what the land is like and find out whether the people living there are strong or weak, few or many. What kind of land do they live in? Is it good or bad? Do their towns have walls or are they unprotected? How is the soil? Is it fertile or poor? Are there many trees? Enter the land boldly, and bring back samples of the crops you see.” (It happened to be the season for harvesting the first ripe grapes.)
So they went up and explored the land from the wilderness of Zin as far as Rehob, near Lebo-hamath. Going northward, they passed first through the Negev and arrived at Hebron, where Ahiman, Sheshai, and Talmai—all descendants of Anak—lived. (The ancient town of Hebron was founded seven years before the Egyptian city of Zoan.) When they came to what is now known as the valley of Eshcol, they cut down a cluster of grapes so large that it took two of them to carry it on a pole between them! They also took samples of the pomegranates and figs.At that time the Israelites renamed the valley Eshcol—“cluster”—because of the cluster of grapes they had cut there.
After exploring the land for forty days, the men returned to Moses, Aaron, and the people of Israel at Kadesh in the wilderness of Paran. They reported to the whole community what they had seen and showed them the fruit they had taken from the land. This was their report to Moses: “We arrived in the land you sent us to see, and it is indeed a magnificent country-a land flowing with milk and honey. Here is some of its fruit as proof. But the people living there are powerful, and their cities and towns are fortified and very large. We also saw the descendants of Anak who are living there! The Amalekites live in the Negev, and the Hittites, Jebusites, and Amorites live in the hill country. The Canaanites live along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea and along the Jordan Valley.”
But Caleb tried to encourage the people as they stood before Moses. “Let’s go at once to take the land,” he said. “We can certainly conquer it!”
But the other men who had explored the land with him answered, “We can’t go up against them! They are stronger than we are!” So they spread discouraging reports about the land among the Israelites: “The land we explored will swallow up any who go to live there. All the people we saw were huge. We even saw giants there, the descendants of Anak. We felt like grasshoppers next to them, and that’s what we looked like to them!”
- What instructions were given to the twelve men? How much time did they have to complete their mission?
- What did the men find? What evidence did they bring back with them?
- What was the nature of the scouts’ report? What was their attitude like?
- What was Caleb’s report? How was his attitude different?
FIND GOD’S WAYS FOR YOU
- Describe a time you followed the crowd. What was the result? What did you learn?
- Describe a time you stood alone. What was the outcome? How did you feel?
O Lord, you are my refuge; never let me be disgraced. Rescue me! Save me from my enemies, for you are just. Turn your ear to listen and set me free. Be to me a protecting rock of safety, where I am always welcome.
- What are some reasons why we need not fear standing alone?
STOP AND PONDER
For I can do everything with the help of Christ who gives me the strength I need.
SEEK GOD’S WORD FOR TRUTH
Read the following passage:
Then all the people began weeping aloud, and they cried all night. Their voices rose in a great chorus of complaint against Moses and Aaron. “We wish we had died in Egypt, or even here in the wilderness!” they wailed. “Why is the Lord taking us to this country only to have us die in battle? Our wives and little ones will be carried off as slaves! Let’s get out of here and return to Egypt!” Then they plotted among themselves, “Let’s choose a leader and go back to Egypt!”
Then Moses and Aaron fell face down on the ground before the people of Israel. Two of the men who had explored the land, Joshua son of Nun and Caleb son of Jephunneh, tore their clothing. They said to the community of Israel, “The land we explored is a wonderful land! And if the Lord is pleased with us, he will bring us safely into that land and give it to us. It is a rich land flowing with milk and honey, and he will give it to us! Do not rebel against the Lord, and don’t be afraid of the people of the land. They are only helpless prey to us! They have no protection, but the Lord is with us! Don’t be afraid of them!”
But the whole community began to talk about stoning Joshua and Caleb. Then the glorious presence of the Lord appeared to all the Israelites from above the Tabernacle. And the Lord said to Moses, “How long will these people reject me? Will they never believe me, even after all the miraculous signs I have done among them? I will disown them and destroy them with a plague. Then I will make you into a nation far greater and mightier than they are!”
“But what will the Egyptians think when they hear about it?” Moses pleaded with the Lord. “They know full well the power you displayed in rescuing these people from Egypt. They will tell this to the inhabitants of this land, who are well aware that you are with this people. They know, Lord, that you have appeared in full view of your people in the pillar of cloud that hovers over them. They know that you go before them in the pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night. Now if you slaughter all these people, the nations that have heard of your fame will say, ‘The Lord was not able to bring them into the land he swore to give them, so he killed them in the wilderness.’”
- Describe the camp atmosphere after the scouting reports. What plans did the people propose?
- When Moses and Aaron fell facedown on the ground, what words of comfort did Caleb and Joshua offer? What warning did they give?
- What specifically demonstrated the faith of Caleb and Joshua?
- How did the people respond to the warnings?
- Describe God’s response to the people’s behavior.
FIND GOD’S WAYS FOR YOU
- Discuss a time when you were a mediator. Why is this event memorable?
- What advice did you offer? What was the outcome?
People who despise advice will find themselves in trouble; those who respect it will succeed. The advice of the wise is like a life-giving fountain; those who accept it avoid the snares of death.
- Apply these verses to Caleb and the Israelites. Apply them to yourself.
STOP AND PONDER
Whoever walks with the wise will become wise; whoever walks with fools will suffer harm.
SEEK GOD’S WORD FOR TRUTH
Read the following passage:
[Moses said,] “Please, Lord, prove that your power is as great as you have claimed it to be. For you said, ‘The Lord is slow to anger and rich in unfailing love, forgiving every kind of sin and rebellion. Even so he does not leave sin unpunished, but he punishes the children for the sins of their parents to the third and fourth generations.’ Please pardon the sins of this people because of your magnificent, unfailing love, just as you have forgiven them ever since they left Egypt.”
Then the Lord said, “I will pardon them as you have requested. But as surely as I live, and as surely as the earth is filled with the Lord’s glory, not one of these people will ever enter that land. They have seen my glorious presence and the miraculous signs I performed both in Egypt and in the wilderness, but again and again they tested me by refusing to listen. They will never even see the land I swore to give their ancestors. None of those who have treated me with contempt will enter it. But my servant Caleb is different from the others. He has remained loyal to me, and I will bring him into the land he explored. His descendants will receive their full share of that land. Now turn around and don’t go on toward the land where the Amalekites and Canaanites live. Tomorrow you must set out for the wilderness in the direction of the Red Sea. ”
- List all you learn about God’s character from Moses’ prayer.
- What does this prayer tell you about Moses?
- What is God’s plan for the people now? Why?
- What new instruction was given to the people?
- How does God describe Caleb?
- What is God’s plan for Caleb and his family?
SEEK GOD’S WAYS FOR YOU
- To whom do you turn in crises? Why?
- What does this reveal about you?
- How do you think God would describe you?
STOP AND PONDER
Dear brothers and sisters, whenever trouble comes your way, let it be an opportunity for joy. For when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be strong in character and ready for anything.
SEEK GOD’S WORD FOR TRUTH
Read the following passage:
Then the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, “How long will this wicked nation complain about me? I have heard everything the Israelites have been saying. Now tell them this: ‘As surely as I live, I will do to you the very things I heard you say. I, the Lord, have spoken! You will all die here in this wilderness! Because you complained against me, none of you who are twenty years old or older and were counted in the census will enter the land I swore to give you. The only exceptions will be Caleb son of Jephunneh and Joshua son of Nun.
“ ‘You said your children would be taken captive. Well, I will bring them safely into the land, and they will enjoy what you have despised. But as for you, your dead bodies will fall in this wilderness. And your children will be like shepherds, wandering in the wilderness forty years. In this way, they will pay for your faithlessness, until the last of you lies dead in the wilderness.
“ ‘Because the men who explored the land were there for forty days, you must wander in the wilderness for forty years—a year for each day, suffering the consequences of your sins. You will discover what it is like to have me for an enemy.’ I, the Lord, have spoken! I will do these things to every member of the community who has conspired against me. They will all die here in this wilderness!”
Then the ten scouts who had incited the rebellion against the Lord by spreading discouraging reports about the land were struck dead with a plague before the Lord. Of the twelve who had explored the land, only Joshua and Caleb remained alive.
When Moses reported the Lord’s words to the Israelites, there was much sorrow among the people. So they got up early the next morning and set out for the hill country of Canaan. “Let’s go,” they said. “We realize that we have sinned, but now we are ready to enter the land the Lord has promised us.”
But Moses said, “Why are you now disobeying the Lord’s orders to return to the wilderness? It won’t work. Do not go into the land now. You will only be crushed by your enemies because the Lord is not with you. When you face the Amalekites and Canaanites in battle, you will be slaughtered. The Lord will abandon you because you have abandoned the Lord.”
But the people pushed ahead toward the hill country of Canaan, despite the fact that neither Moses nor the Ark of the Lord’s covenant left the camp.
- Discuss the camp from God’s perspective.
- What do you learn about the people at this point?
- What consequences befell the twelve scouts? What exceptions were made?
- What consequences were exacted on the entire camp without exceptions?
- What warnings did Moses give to the people? How did they react?
- What did this reveal about the Israelites’ relationship with Moses and with God?
FIND GOD’S WAYS FOR YOU
- Discuss a time you had to live with the consequences of what someone else did. How did you feel?
- Share a time when you were spared consequences you deserved. How did that feel?
No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening—it is painful! But afterward there will be a quiet harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way.
- What do we learn about discipline from this verse? What are the conditions for “harvest”?
STOP AND PONDER
Dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will accept. When you think of what he has done for you, is this too much to ask? Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will know what God wants you to do, and you will know how good and pleasing and perfect his will really is.
THE PROMISE KEPT
SEEK GOD’S WORD FOR TRUTH
Read the following passage:
After the death of Moses the Lord’s servant, the Lord spoke to Joshua son of Nun, Moses’ assistant. He said, “Now that my servant Moses is dead, you must lead my people across the Jordan River into the land I am giving them. I promise you what I promised Moses: ‘Everywhere you go, you will be on land I have given you—from the Negev Desert in the south to the Lebanon mountains in the north, from the Euphrates River on the east to the Mediterranean Sea on the west, and all the land of the Hittites.’ No one will be able to stand their ground against you as long as you live. For I will be with you as I was with Moses. I will not fail you or abandon you.
- Who succeeded Moses as camp leader? What is significant of this?
Read the following passage:
When Joshua was an old man, the Lord said to him, “You are growing old, and much land remains to be conquered. The people still need to occupy the land of the Philistines and the Geshurites—territory that belongs to the Canaanites.
“I will drive these people out of the land for the Israelites. So be sure to give this land to Israel as a special possession, just as I have commanded you. Include all this territory as Israel’s inheritance when you divide the land among the nine tribes and the half-tribe of Manasseh.”
A delegation from the tribe of Judah, led by Caleb son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite, came to Joshua at Gilgal. Caleb said to Joshua, “Remember what the Lord said to Moses, the man of God, about you and me when we were at Kadesh-barnea. I was forty years old when Moses, the servant of the Lord, sent me from Kadesh-barnea to explore the land of Canaan. I returned and gave from my heart a good report, but my brothers who went with me frightened the people and discouraged them from entering the Promised Land. For my part, I followed the Lord my God completely. So that day Moses promised me, ‘The land of Canaan on which you were just walking will be your special possession and that of your descendants forever, because you wholeheartedly followed the Lord my God.’
“Now, as you can see, the Lord has kept me alive and well as he promised for all these forty-five years since Moses made this promise—even while Israel wandered in the wilderness. Today I am eighty-five years old. I am as strong now as I was when Moses sent me on that journey, and I can still travel and fight as well as I could then. So I’m asking you to give me the hill country that the Lord promised me. You will remember that as scouts we found the Anakites living there in great, walled cities. But if the Lord is with me, I will drive them out of the land, just as the Lord said.”
So Joshua blessed Caleb son of Jephunneh and gave Hebron to him as an inheritance. Hebron still belongs to the descendants of Caleb son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite because he wholeheartedly followed the Lord, the God of Israel. (Previously Hebron had been called Kiriath-arba. It had been named after Arba, a great hero of the Anakites.)
And the land had rest from war.
JOSHUA 13:1-3, 6-7; 14:6-15
- How did Caleb approach Joshua about Moses’ promise?
- As Caleb laid out his case, what did he offer as past, present, and future evidence?
- How did Joshua respond to Caleb’s request?
- What proclamation about God does Caleb make that is like Moses?
- What reason is given for Caleb’s inheritance? What does this tell you about his relationship with God?
FIND GOD’S WAYS FOR YOU
- How do you approach people when reminding them of a promise? How has it worked out?
- How have you responded when someone has approached you about a promise you made?
If you need wisdom—if you want to know what God wants you to do—ask him, and he will gladly tell you. He will not resent your asking.
- What advice does this verse offer?
STOP AND PONDER
God blesses the people who patiently endure testing. Afterward they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.
SEEK GOD’S WORD FOR TRUTH
Read the following passage:
After Joshua died, the Israelites asked the Lord, “Which tribe should attack the Canaanites first?”
The Lord answered, “Judah, for I have given them victory over the land.”
Judah marched against the Canaanites in Hebron (formerly called Kiriath-arba), defeating the forces of Sheshai, Ahiman, and Talmai. From there they marched against the people living in the town of Debir (formerly called Kiriath-sepher).
Then Caleb said, “I will give my daughter Acsah in marriage to the one who attacks and captures Kiriath-sepher.” Othniel, the son of Caleb’s younger brother Kenaz, was the one who conquered it, so Acsah became Othniel’s wife.
When Acsah married Othniel, she urged him to ask her father for an additional field. As she got down off her donkey, Caleb asked her, “What is it? What can I do for you?”
She said, “Give me a further blessing. You have been kind enough to give me land in the Negev; please give me springs as well.” So Caleb gave her the upper and lower springs.
JUDGES 1:1-2, 10-15
- After Joshua died, the tribe of Judah was selected to lead the taking of the Caananite land. Who was the tribal leader? What significance do you find in this?
- What incentive does Caleb offer the man who will secure the area of Kiriath-sepher?
- Who accomplishes this feat? How does Caleb keep his word?
- How would you describe Caleb’s relationship with his daughter? What similarities do you see between the two of them?
Read the following passage:
After that generation died, another generation grew up who did not acknowledge the Lord or remember the mighty things he had done for Israel. Then the Israelites did what was evil in the Lord’s sight and worshiped the images of Baal. They abandoned the Lord, the God of their ancestors, who had brought them out of Egypt. They chased after other gods, worshiping the gods of the people around them. And they angered the Lord. They abandoned the Lord to serve Baal and the images of Ashtoreth.
Then the Lord raised up judges to rescue the Israelites from their enemies.
The Israelites did what was evil in the Lord’s sight. They forgot about the Lord their God, and they worshiped the images of Baal and the Asherah poles. Then the Lord burned with anger against Israel, and he handed them over to King Cushan-rishathaim of Aram-naharaim. And the Israelites were subject to Cushan-rishathaim for eight years.
But when Israel cried out to the Lord for help, the Lord raised up a man to rescue them. His name was Othniel, the son of Caleb’s younger brother, Kenaz. The Spirit of the Lord came upon him, and he became Israel’s judge. He went to war against King Cushan-rishathaim of Aram, and the Lord gave Othniel victory over him. So there was peace in the land for forty years. Then Othniel son of Kenaz died.
JUDGES 2:10-13, 16; 3:7-11
- What happened after Joshua and Caleb’s generation died? What did God do to help the people?
- Who was Israel’s first judge and how did he become a judge? What, if any, similarities to Caleb do you find in him?
FIND GOD’S WAYS FOR YOU
- What is Caleb’s most outstanding trait? Why do you think so?
- In what ways do you identify with Caleb? What have you learned about yourself from this study?
- What have you learned about God from Caleb’s experiences?
STOP AND PONDER
Dear brothers and sisters, let me say one more thing as I close this letter. Fix your thoughts on what is true and honorable and right. Think about things that are pure and lovely and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Keep putting into practice all you learned from me and heard from me and saw me doing, and the God of peace will be with you.
CALEB THE WARRIOR
Caleb often despaired because of his inability to follow the law that God had given to His people. Hundreds of years later, the apostle Paul would speak of this same struggle:
“I love God’s law with all my heart. But there is another law at work within me that is at war with my mind. This law wins the fight and makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me. Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin? Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord”
Interestingly, there are parallels between the lives of Caleb and Jesus:
- Questionable birthright
- Of the tribe of Judah
- Endured unfair consequences as a result of others’ actions
- War hero of Judah
- Committed to completing his mission—clearing the land of enemiesso God’s people might live in it
- Commander of Israel’s army, fighting for God and for his family
- Believed and relied on the Word of God
- A prayer warrior armed for battle
- Questionable birthright
- Of the tribe of Judah (Rev. 5:5)
- Endured unfair execution as a result of our actions (2 Cor. 5:21)
- Lion of Judah (Rev. 5:5)
- Committed to completing His mission—clearing our lives of sin so God Himself might live in us (John 6:56)
- Commander of the armies of heaven, fighting our spiritual battles (Rev. 19:11-16)
- Is the Word of God (John 1:1)
- Is our armor and intercedes for us (Eph. 6:10-18; Heb. 7:24-25)
The same armor that covered Caleb spiritually is available to us today. In his letter to the Christians at Ephesus, the apostle Paul wrote:
A final word: Be strong with the Lord’s mighty power. Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies and tricks of the Devil. For we are not fighting against people made of flesh and blood, but against the evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against those mighty powers of darkness who rule this world, and against wicked spirits in the heavenly realms. Use every piece of God’s armor to resist the enemy in the time of evil, so that after the battle you will still be standing firm. Stand your ground, putting on the sturdy belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness. For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News, so that you will be fully prepared. In every battle you will need faith as your shield to stop the fiery arrows aimed at you by Satan. Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Pray at all times and on every occasion in the power of the Holy Spirit. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all Christians everywhere.