•  7 min. read  •  grade level: 7
It is a joy to turn to Caleb, and his daughter Achsah. We all know the story of Caleb and how he went to spy out the land with Joshua and ten others. The ten brought an evil report of the land, but Caleb and Joshua brought up a good report, and urged that Israel go up to possess Canaan immediately “for we be well able.”
We know the rest of the story and how all Israel refused to hearken, and had to turn back into the wilderness for forty years. And Caleb had to turn back with them, but I believe that Caleb’s heart was in Canaan through all those years. And I think that many an evening through those forty years, when the camp was pitched in that great and terrible wilderness, with those vast mountain peaks, red and bare, towering up to the sky, then little Achsah would sit with her brothers (1 Chron. 4:1515And the sons of Caleb the son of Jephunneh; Iru, Elah, and Naam: and the sons of Elah, even Kenaz. (1 Chronicles 4:15)), close up to their father; I expect Achsah was on his knee, with his arms around her, and maybe they had a bit of camp fire, and then Caleb would tell them a story, and I can just see them listening with breathless interest. There were stories of giants: real, true giant stories, giants that her own father had seen with his own eyes, and then he would tell about their castles, and the cities with walls up to heaven; and he would tell of the fruit, one bunch of grapes that had to be carried on a staff by two men; and the best part of all, he would end up that story by telling the children that through their God they were well able to overcome them, and that these cities and castles would one day soon belong to Israel. But perhaps the favorite story would be the story of Hebron. I suppose the story would start away back in the days of Abraham when his nephew Lot had taken first choice of the land, and gone to live near Sodom; then it was Abraham went and pitched his tent at Hebron, and built an altar there. And it was there Abraham bought the Cave of Machpelah, to bury Sarah. In that same cave Isaac and Ishmael buried Abraham their father, and there Isaac and Rebekah were buried, and there Jacob buried Leah his wife, and to the same cave was Jacob’s body brought from Egypt.
And sure I am that Caleb would tell the story of how Jacob sent Joseph his beloved child out from the Vale of Hebron; and all the lovely story that you children loved so well when you were little ones, would be told again to Achsah and her brothers. And the father would end the story by saying, “And that is our inheritance. Hebron, the dearest spot in all the land of Canaan is for us! It is ours!” It belongs to you children and to me! And he would tell how Moses sware on that day, saying, “Surely the land whereon thy feet have trodden shall be thine inheritance, and thy children’s forever, because thou hast wholly followed the Lord my God.” Yes, he would say, “Hebron is for me and for my children! That land is yours.” And I can see little Achsah’s eyes glisten as she takes it all in, and makes it all her own. She would know all about that bunch of grapes that had to be borne of two and she had heard all about the fruits of the land of Canaan. Yes, very likely she had had a taste of some of them.
And so, long before ever her eyes had seen the land of Canaan, her heart had learned to love its hills and valleys, its fruits and its pastures; and she had learned to value it at its true worth. For we learn best to love our own country when we are children.
Ah, you dear young parents, how little we are apt to value those evenings, perhaps with the children on our knees, or at our feet, in front of the fire —or maybe after they are in bed, and they say, “Tell us a story!” That is a chance you would give all you possess, later on, to have it once more. Now it is yours. Now you may teach them to love that Heavenly Land towards which you are traveling. Now is your chance to teach them the true worth of the Heavenly Country. The hearts are young, and the love is fresh and warm, now is your chance; a chance you will never never have again. I know the day has been ever so full; I know you are tired, I know how much easier it is to sing “Jesus, Tender Shepherd hear me”, and kiss them goodnight, but it is a golden opportunity lost, worth more than all the gold in this world.
How often do we only discover the marvelous opportunities we have had, when those opportunities have fled, and the sweet stories of old have lost their charm from contact with the sordid stories of this world.
But it was not his own child alone whose heart was won by these stories; his nephew Othniel, who was but a boy in those days, was also won. Perhaps Othniel learned to love not only the fields of Canaan, but also his fair young cousin Achsah, in those weary wilderness days: for we find that when they reached the promised land, and the fight for it had come in earnest, his Uncle Caleb says: “He that smiteth Kirjathsepher, and taketh it, to him will I give Achsah my daughter to wife:” then Othniel the son of Kenaz, Caleb’s younger brother, took it: and he gave him Achsah his daughter to wife.
I think Othniel and Achsah were of one mind about the land of Canaan, and when she came to him, she moved him to ask of her father a field: but there was no need for Othniel to ask on her behalf, for the father himself loved her: and it was an unmixed joy to him that he had a daughter who loved the land that he loved.
Little wonder with such a father that Achsah wanted all she could get of that beloved inheritance. And I am sure it gladdened old Caleb’s heart to see his dear child get down off her ass, as she came up to him. He could see she wanted something, and so the question, “What wouldest thou?” Do you think he was vexed with the boldness of her request, “Give me a blessing; for thou hast given me a south land; give me also springs of water.” Did he reply, “I’ve given you a south land already; is that not enough? Why should I give you any more?” No, no; Achsah was a daughter after his own heart, she valued the land of Canaan, and she wanted some of the springs of Canaan, and he gave her double as much as she asked for! That is just like our own Lord! “I have also given thee that which thou hast not asked.” (1 Kings 3:1313And I have also given thee that which thou hast not asked, both riches, and honor: so that there shall not be any among the kings like unto thee all thy days. (1 Kings 3:13)).
What a joy to the old uncle’s heart must that nephew have been! He was a man after his own heart: one worthy of the daughter he loved so well. Nor was this all. As the years rolled by, and Israel departed from the Lord, so that His anger was hot against His people, and He sold them into the hands of their enemies, when they cried unto the Lord, the Lord raised up a deliverer to the children of Israel, even Othniel the son of Kenaz, Caleb’s younger brother. Yes, Othniel was the first of that line of Deliverers, those Judges, that God raised up for Israel in their distress. I like to think that Othniel and Achsah were prepared for these honorable mentions in the Word of God, through the stories they had heard in the wilderness of the Land that not having seen they loved.
Lord, help us so to win the hearts of our children!