JOSHUA AND CALEB
When we quickly read over many of the Scriptures, we may miss the truth they really reveal. That equally applies to the Joshua and Caleb incident and the assumption they outlived everyone else, who died in the 40 years of wandering in the wilderness.
In this article we are going to look at those same Scriptures used for the assumed teaching that all the older generation died off in the wilderness, and examine them and others for some easily overlooked details that changes the whole picture. Get your Bible and follow along.
For example; many have gotten the impression that Joshua and Caleb were the only two survivors of all the older generation of the children of Israel who came out of Egypt, but is that really what the Scriptures reveal? Below are some examples of drawing attention to overlooked and key words (with bolding and /or underlining) that tend to reveal more of the truth.
29 'The carcasses of you who have complained against Me shall fall in this wilderness, all of you who were numbered, according to your entire number, from twenty years old and above.
30 'Except for Caleb the son of Jephunneh and Joshua the son of Nun, you shall by no means enter the land which I swore I would make you dwell in.
Num 26:65 “For the LORD had said of them, "They shall surely die in the wilderness." So there was not left a man of them, except Caleb the son of Jephunneh and Joshua the son of Nun.”
Upon this closer look, was this only talking about MEN?? If so, then could many of the older women have survived and lived to go into the land of Canaan? So now we can see there are questions about this that need answered, rather than just assuming that they all died, so let’s try to answer some of these questions, from other Scriptures, and not with mere assumptions.
Note Num. 34:1-2, 17-19; V.1 Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, 2 "Command the children of Israel, and say to them: 'When you come into the land of Canaan,(They were still in the wilderness) this is the land that shall fall to you as an inheritance-- the land of Canaan to its boundaries. --- 17 "These are the names of the men who shall divide the land among you as an inheritance: Eleazar the priest (He had to be over 30 to enter the priesthood—Num.4:16 & 23) and Joshua the son of Nun. 18 "And you shall take one leader of every tribe to divide the land for the inheritance. (Surely these leaders were all over 20 years old when they were chosen. See Deut.1:15) 19 "These are the names of the men: from the tribe of Judah, Caleb the son of Jephunneh; (These “leaders” were obviously close to the same age group as Joshua and Caleb, as we will see later.)
When reading the rest of this text, it is easy to determine that there were several men besides Joshua and Caleb, including Eleazar the Priest, who were to live over and to be a part of dividing the land!! Notice it again in verse 29. “These are the ones the LORD commanded to divide the inheritance among the children of Israel in the land of Canaan.”
So it is clear that there is a possibility that there were more men and even some of the older women that could have survived the death sentence! This indicates that they did not all die except Joshua and Caleb! So, we need to go back and re-examine many other Scriptures and get as much about this as is possible—even re-examining the previous ones, to determine if we have missed something there—before we come to a conclusion that may later prove to be a false one! So let us go back and review some passages and analyze them—applying what Christ has admonished us to do in Luke 4:4 "It is written, 'Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God.'"
From Num 14:22-24 "because all these men who have seen My glory and the signs which I did in Egypt and in the wilderness, and have put Me to the test now these ten times, and have not heeded My voice, 23 "they certainly shall not see the land of which I swore to their fathers, nor shall any of those who rejected Me see it. (Note these key words) 24 "But My servant Caleb, because he has a different spirit in him and has followed Me fully, I will bring into the land where he went, and his descendants shall inherit it.
Now let’s notice these were MEN OF WAR and were numbered! Read Deut.2:14-16
64 But among these there was not a man of those who were numbered by Moses and Aaron the priest when they numbered the children of Israel in the Wilderness of Sinai.
65 For the LORD had said of them, "They shall surely die in the wilderness." So there was not left a man of them, except Caleb the son of Jephunneh and Joshua the son of Nun.
So now, let’s go back and take another look at Num 26:2 "Take a census of all the congregation of the children of Israel from twenty years old and above, by their fathers' houses, all who are able to go to war in Israel.” Num 1:2-3 "Take a census of all the congregation of the children of Israel, by their families, by their fathers' houses, according to the number of names, every male individually, 3 "from twenty years old and above-- all who are able to go to war in Israel. You and Aaron shall number them by their armies.”
Num 1:20 “Now the children of Reuben, Israel's oldest son, their genealogies by their families, by their fathers' house, according to the number of names, every male individually, from twenty years old and above, all who were able to go to war:” (This phrase would not apply to every single male if for some reason they were not able to “go to war”.
As you read on through here you will find the number from every tribe—those numbered who were able to go to war—which does not include the women or men who are not able to go to war!
Num 1:44-49 These are the ones who were numbered, whom Moses and Aaron numbered, with the leaders of Israel, twelve men, each one representing his father's house. (These are the ones we saw earlier that would divide the land.) 45 So all who were numbered of the children of Israel, by their fathers' houses, from twenty years old and above, all who were able to go to war in Israel-- 46 all who were numbered were six hundred and three thousand five hundred and fifty. (Note this next verse) 47 But the Levites were not numbered among them by their fathers' tribe; 48 for the LORD had spoken to Moses, saying: 49 "Only the tribe of Levi you shall not number, nor take a census of them among the children of Israel;”--- (This does not mean that they were never to be numbered—but they were not to be numbered in THIS numbering for those able to go to war, as we will see later.)
Exod 6:16, 25 “These are the names of the sons of Levi according to their generations: Gershon, Kohath, and Merari. And the years of the life of Levi were one hundred and thirty-seven.
25 Eleazar, Aaron's son, took for himself one of the daughters of Putiel as wife; and she bore him Phinehas. These are the heads of the fathers' houses of the Levites according to their families.”
So now, as we can clearly see, there were not only just a few other people besides Joshua and Caleb that lived from the generation that came out of Egypt—but there could have been literally THOUSANDS of them, counting men who were not numbered for war—whatever the reason may be for that—and the women who may have outlived their men—also considering the elders/leaders chosen and then all of the Levites! (Num 3:39 “All who were numbered of the Levites, whom Moses and Aaron numbered at the commandment of the LORD, by their families, all the males from a month old and above, were twenty-two thousand.”)
Joshua had to go back and circumcise all of the men that grew up in the wilderness, and we see some more detail that fits with everything else we have seen. We also can see from the Scriptures below—the proof of the elders being from the generation that came out of Egypt, as well.
Josh 5:4, 7 “And this is the reason why Joshua circumcised them: All the people who came out of Egypt who were males, all the men of war, had died in the wilderness on the way, after they had come out of Egypt. -- 7 Then Joshua circumcised their sons whom He raised up in their place; for they were uncircumcised, because they had not been circumcised on the way.” (another rejection of God’s Commands)
Now, Josh 24:31-33
31 Israel served the LORD all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders who outlived Joshua, who had known all the works of the LORD which He had done for Israel.
32 The bones of Joseph, which the children of Israel had brought up out of Egypt, they buried at Shechem, in the plot of ground which Jacob had bought from the sons of Hamor the father of Shechem for one hundred pieces of silver, and which had become an inheritance of the children of Joseph.
33 And Eleazar the son of Aaron died. They buried him in a hill belonging to Phinehas his son, which was given to him in the mountains of Ephraim.
Deut 11:2-3 "Know today that I do not speak with your children, who have not known and who have not seen the chastening of the LORD your God, His greatness and His mighty hand and His outstretched arm-- 3 "His signs and His acts which He did in the midst of Egypt, to Pharaoh king of Egypt, and to all his land; V.7 "but your eyes have seen every great act of the LORD which He did.
Num 11:16-17 So the LORD said to Moses: "Gather to Me seventy men of the elders of Israel, whom you know to be the elders of the people and officers over them; bring them to the tabernacle of meeting, that they may stand there with you. 17 "Then I will come down and talk with you there. I will take of the Spirit that is upon you and will put the same upon them; and they shall bear the burden of the people with you, that you may not bear it yourself alone.
These seventy elder/leaders—possibly along with the ones named as the individual tribe heads, but not necessarily so—were most likely the ones that out lived Joshua and ruled Israel on their own for some years! Josh 24:31—given above.
Judges 1:1 “Now after the death of Joshua it came to pass that the children of Israel (Obviously through these leading elders) asked the LORD, saying, "Who shall be first to go up for us against the Canaanites to fight against them?"
As we can see it would be very improper to proclaim that Joshua and Caleb were the only ones of all the older generation that survived the 40 years in the wilderness! We certainly need to use diligence in our study and preaching, so as not to be found proclaiming falsehoods to the people of Spiritual Israel!! We must be very careful not to “read over” facts that may change the true picture into a deceptive and misleading one. (Editor for TCOGMSO)