Having conquered the land in Joshua 10-11, the division of the land among the tribes begins in chapter 13. More space is given to Judah’s inheritance than to the other tribes, and more space is given to the house of Caleb in Judah than any other house.
This latter fact is a bit amazing since Caleb was not an Israelite.
Caleb was the son of Jephunneh, who was a descendant of Kenaz, a son of Esau. I know that he is mentioned as being from the tribe of Judah in Numbers 13:6, but his ancestry is distinctly non-Israelite.
So what is he doing in Israel, and why is so much attention given to him in Joshua?
Of all who came out of the land of Egypt, the only ones who actually got to enter the Land of Promise were Joshua and Caleb – an Israelite, and a non-Israelite. Both entered the land on the same terms, because both were men of faith. They are described as following the Lord “wholeheartedly,” and that distinguishes them from the rest of Israel.
With all the extermination of the Canaanites, it would be tempting to think that their fate was because they simply weren’t “of Israel.” But that’s not true. Their fate is sealed because of their behavior.
Caleb and his family will not be the only ones absorbed into Israel because of faith. Rahab and her family have the same experience and interestingly, both Rahab and Caleb are absorbed into the tribe of Judah. Equally interesting, Jesus, also of the tribe of Judah, makes it possible for everyone, regardless of ethnic background, to be absorbed into the people of God; and it happens exactly the same way: by faith, evidenced by serving the Lord wholeheartedly.