The Old Man Who Fought Against the Giants
Twelve Tribes of Israel
Joshua xiv: 1, to
great war for the conquest of Canaan was now ended,
though in the land some cities were still held by
the Canaanite people. Yet the Israelites were now
the rulers over most of the country, and Joshua
prepared to divide the land among the tribes of
One day the rulers of the tribe of Judah came to
Joshua's tent at Gilgal, and with them came an old
man, Caleb, whom you remember as one of the twelve
spies sent by Moses from Kadesh-barnea to go through
the land of Canaan. This had been many years before,
and Caleb was now, like Joshua, an old man, past
eighty years of age. He said to Joshua:
"You remember what the Lord said to Moses, the man
of God, when we were in the desert at Kadesh-barnea,
and you and I with the other spies brought back our
report. I spoke to Moses the word that was in my
heart, and I followed the Lord wholly, when the
other spies spoke out of their own fear, and made
the people afraid. On that day, you remember that
Moses said to me, 'The land where your feet have
trodden and over which you have walked shall be
yours, because you trusted in the Lord.'
"That was forty-five years ago," Caleb went on to
say, "and God has kept me alive all those years.
To-day, at eighty-five years of age, I am as strong
as I was in that day. And now I ask that the promise
made by Moses be kept, and that I have my choice of
the places in the land."
"Well," said Joshua, "you can take your choice in
the land. What part of it will you choose?"
And Caleb answered:
"The place that I will choose is the very mountain
on which we saw the city with the high walls, where
the giants were living then, and where other giants,
their sons, are living now, the city of Hebron. I
know that the walls are high, and the giants live
there. But the Lord will help to take the cities,
and to drive out the people who live in them. Let me
have the city of Hebron."
This was very bold in so old a man as Caleb, to
choose the city which was not yet taken from the
enemies, and one of the hardest cities to take, when
he might have chosen some rich place already won.
But Caleb at eighty-five showed the same spirit of
courage, and willingness to war, and faith in God,
that he had shown in his prime at forty years of
age. Then Joshua said to Caleb, "You shall have the
city of Hebron, with all its giants, if you will
gather together your men, and take it." And the old
soldier brought together his men, and led them
against the strong city of Hebron, where was the
tomb of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. (See Stories 10,
11, and 19.) By the help of the Lord, Caleb was able
to drive out the giants, tall and mighty as they
were. They fled from Caleb's men and went down to
the shore on the west of the land, and lived among
the people of that region, who were called the
Philistines; while Caleb, and his children, and his
descendants long after him, held the city of Hebron
in the south of the land.
After this, by the command of the Lord, Joshua
divided the land among the tribes. Two tribes and
half of another tribe had already received their
land on the east of Jordan; so there were nine
tribes and a half tribe to receive their shares.
Judah, one of the largest, had the mountain country
west of the Dead Sea, from Hebron to Jerusalem;
Simeon was on the south toward the desert; Benjamin
was north of Judah on the east, toward the Jordan,
and Dan north of Judah on the west, toward the Great
In the middle of the country, around the city of
Shechem, and the two mountains, Ebal and Gerizim,
where Joshua had read the law to the people, was the
land of the tribe of Ephraim. This was one of the
best parts of all the country, for the soil was rich
and there were many springs and streams of water.
And here, near Mount Ebal, they buried the body of
their tribe-father Joseph, which they had kept in
its coffin of stone, unburied, ever since they left
Egypt, more than forty years before. As Joshua
himself belonged to the tribe of Ephraim, his home
was also in this land.
North of Ephraim, and reaching from the river Jordan
to the Great Sea, was the land of the other half of
the tribe of Manasseh. Both tribes of Ephraim and
Manasseh had sprung from Joseph. So Joseph's
descendants had two tribes, as had been promised by
Jacob when he was about to die.
The northern part of the land was divided among four
tribes. Issacher was in the south, Asher on the west
beside the Great Sea, Zebulun was in the middle
among the mountains, and Naphtali was in the north,
and by the lake afterward called the Sea of Galilee.
At that time this lake was called the Sea of
Kinnoreth, because the word "kinnor" means "a harp;"
and as they thought that this lake was shaped
somewhat like a harp, they named it "the Harp-shaped
But although all the land had been divided, it had
not all been completely conquered. Nearly all the
Canaanite people were there, still living upon the
land, though in the mountain region they were under
the rule of the Israelites. But on the plain beside
the Great Sea, on the west of the land were the
Philistines, a very strong people whom the
Israelites had not yet met in war, though the time
was coming when they would meet them, and suffer
And even among the mountains were many cities where
the Canaanite people still lived, and in some of
these cities they were strong. Years afterward, when
Joshua the great warrior was no longer living, many
of these people rose up to trouble the Israelites.
The time came when the tribes of Israel wished often
that their fathers had driven out or entirely
destroyed the Canaanites, before they ceased the war
and divided the land.
But when Joshua divided the land, and sent the
tribes to their new homes, peace seemed to reign
over all the country. Up to this time we have spoken
of all this land as the land of Canaan, but now and
henceforth it was to be called "The Land of Israel,"
or "The Land of the Twelve Tribes," for it was now
Twelve Tribes of Israel