Monday, December 4, 2017

Joshua: Chapter 14

Halves that connect
Who we were then
Who we are now 
Follow your heart

[For full chapter, click here
This chapter continues directly from the last, with narry a break in the Masoratic text. Whearas the last chapter decribed the allotment of the two and a half tribes on the eastern side of the Jordan, this chapter introduces the allotment of the remaining tribes by Joshua on the western bank. Again and again, the two half tribes of Menasseh are emphasized--two parts of a whole that weave together the two sides of the Jordan, a glue holding the nation together.
The new allotment begins with the tribe of Judah, as the next section of the introduceds a new doubling. Joshua's old comrade, Caleb, "comes close" (g'sh'n)--a root with deep resonances, alluding to the historic reapproachment between Joseph and Judah in Egypt--to ask for the inheritence he was promised. The scions of Judah and Joseph meet again, the first interaction we have see since both spoke in favor of the Land all those years ago in "Kadesh Barnea".
"You know the thing that God spoke to Moses...concerning me and concerning thee in Kadesh Barnea," Caleb says, creating a sense of the deep intimacy between these two men. Yet immidiatly after asserting the bond, we also begin to see a split: when Caleb speaks of the experience scouting out the land, his "bretheren" are the other spies, not Joshua. Joshua does not appear in Caleb's story at all. 
Caleb's story rather revolves around the relationship to the "heart." Caleb.  (literally "ka-lev", "like a heart" or, midrashically, "all heart") "brings back what is in his heart", while the other spies cause the "heart" of Israel to melt.   Joshua's defense seems to have been driven by something else.
The whole-hearted devotion with which Caleb is "full after God" seems to give him an everlasting youth. In contrast to Joshua, who is "old and coming into days," unable to continue the battles, Caleb is "as strog this day as I was on the day that Moses sent me, as my stregth was then, so is it now, for war, to go in and come out."
Underscoring the disparity between Caleb's vigor and Joshua's withering, the chapter closes by repeating the refrain from chapter 12: "and the land rested from war"--the war this time led by Judah's Caleb, rather than Joshua.]

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