Spoils of War

IMGP5094In accordance with the Lord ’s command to him, Joshua gave to Caleb son of Jephunneh a portion in Judah—Kiriath Arba, that is, Hebron. (Arba was the forefather of Anak.) From Hebron Caleb drove out the three Anakites—Sheshai, Ahiman and Talmai, the sons of Anak. From there he marched against the people living in Debir (formerly called Kiriath Sepher). And Caleb said, “I will give my daughter Aksah in marriage to the man who attacks and captures Kiriath Sepher.” Othniel son of Kenaz, Caleb’s brother, took it; so Caleb gave his daughter Aksah to him in marriage.   One day when she came to Othniel, she urged him to ask her father for a field. When she got off her donkey, Caleb asked her, “What can I do for you?”   She replied, “Do me a special favor. Since you have given me land in the Negev, give me also springs of water.” So Caleb gave her the upper and lower springs. – Joshua 15:13-19

In the preceding chapters the wars to take possession of the promised land have ended and extensive details about who was conquered, killed, or crushed are provided.  I still have not figured out why God chose to convey his promise in this way, but after the war comes dividing up the spoils of war.

The responsibility falls to Joshua to allocate land and resources to the various tribes of Israel.  In this passage Joshua is allocating a portion of Judah which apparently is still occupied by the people of Kiriath Sepher.  Caleb gives his daughter’s hand in marriage to Othniel, the one who conquered the land for him.  As a wedding present his daughter Aksah asks for and receives springs of water for the land.

What a long way the Israelites have come from the day to day dependence on God when provided Hidden wells for Hagar and manna from heaven. God is not even mentioned in this “transaction” between Joshua, Caleb, and Aksah. It seems earthly spoils have replaced heavenly toils, and God has been lost in the transactions over the promised land. The Israelites are failing to remember God and all the things he has done for them. This same secularism seems to be affecting some Jewish people even today when they choose earthly possessions and property over their heavenly heritage. Certainly Christians are not immune from this same struggle between the secular and the sacred.

How often does the good news of the gospel become merely a path to prosperity? The beautiful and ornate churches of the Vatican or Europe come to my mind. Was the building of these expensive and ornate structures the equivalent of the Israelites dividing the spoils of war? Was more effort expended building with bricks than shoring up souls? The dramatic decrease in people following Christ in Europe would suggest that the efforts may have been misguided. It will be interesting to see the rest of the unfolding of this “hand off” of the promised land, but I can cannot shake the feeling that at least so far the Israelites have become distracted from faithful following of God…again.

Prayer: God help us to maintain our focus on knowing You rather than the things You provide for us.

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