Bible Reference: Joshua 15:13-19.
Heart of the Story: Caleb loved his daughter Acsah (Achsah) enough to give her a strong husband, land, and springs of water in the desert. Ascah was confident enough of her father’s love to ask for a “special favor.”
Story Line: Moses sent Caleb and 11 other spies into the Promised Land to learn its layout and the strength of its inhabitants. Caleb explored the hill country around Hebron which was inhabited by the Anakites. Although the Anakites were a strong people and their cities large and fortified, Caleb reported to Moses that the Israelites could defeat them. Unfortunately, most Israelites disagreed with Caleb. The Israelites didn’t enter the Promised Land for another 40 years.
When Joshua administered the division of the Promised Land in Canaan, Caleb asked for the land around Hebron; he reminded Joshua that Moses said that Caleb could have that land. Joshua granted the land to Caleb who immediately began to wrest it from the Anakites. At one point, Caleb promised his daughter, Acsah, to the man who captured Debir, a key Anakite town. When his nephew, Othniel, took the city, Caleb gave Acsah to Othniel in marriage. Caleb secured his beloved daughter a strong husband. Othniel was the first Israelite judge. He won military victories that brought peace to Israel for 40 years.
After they were married, Acsah urged Othniel to ask Caleb for a certain field. Caleb granted Othniel’s request for the land. Then, Acsah went to Caleb and asked a “special favor” from her father. Because Caleb gave Othniel land in the Negev Desert, would Caleb give her springs of water to go with the land? In response to her request, Caleb gave Acsah both an upper and lower spring to go with the land.
Analysis of the Relationships: The Bible doesn’t identify how many daughters Caleb had; however, he was 85 years old when he was assigned his land at Hebron. Probably, Caleb had several daughters. For some reason Acsah was special to him. Perhaps, she was his youngest child. The father and daughter had a close relationship; both respected and loved each other. Acsah didn’t protest when Caleb used her as the prize for capturing an Anakite town.
Acsah, not Othinel, initiated Othinel asking Caleb for land. Even though Othinel was a noted warrior, asking his father-in-law for land would have been difficult. Acsah was sure that Caleb would give the land to Othinel. When she urged Othinel to ask for it, her arguments were rational and persuasive.
A short time later, Ascah determined to ask her father for water to go with the land he gave her husband. She traveled from her home to Caleb’s land without Othinel. When Acsah arrived at Caleb’s location, Caleb was there to meet her before she was off her donkey. Caleb even asked Acsah what he could do for her!
Acsah was sure enough of Caleb’s love and partiality to ask him for water to go with the land he gave her husband. Land with year-around water, such as springs, were exceptionally valuable in the Negev Desert area. An upper and lower spring probably meant that one spring was located at a higher elevation and one at a lower elevation. Livestock in both locations would have ready access to water; even if one spring dried up, the other might continue to flow.
Undoubtedly, Othniel intended to dig wells on his land. Even today, wells are about the only source of water in the Negev Desert. The two springs gifted from Caleb allowed Othniel time to build structures and plant crops rather than immediately dig wells to secure water for his flocks. The springs added to the wealth of Othniel’s family and to Acsah’s value to her husband.
Reflection: How do fathers demonstrate their love to adult daughters, even newly married daughters, in the 21st century?
Today fathers can learn much about how to treat daughters by looking at Bible father-daughter relationships; however, know that not all Bible father-daughter relationships were optimal. Some were terrible to include incestuous. For an entire chapter devoted to lesser known Bible father-daughter relationships, get my book Lesser Known Bible Characters. See Carolyn Roth Ministry (http://www.CarolynRothMinistry.com/).
Copyright June 6, 2014. Carolyn A. Roth; all rights reserved.