This reflection is part of the ongoing Forest Hills Haftorah Series. The rest of the content can be found here: .

I've often wondered - if I were to suggest a title to give to the whole of the TaNaKh, what might it be? What are those recurring themes that come up again and again, even across texts that were written at different times and in different places?

Does anything come readily to mind for you?

I've had many ideas over the years - for now I'll just share with you one: Promises.

There are promises abounding throughout the works in the TaNaKh!

Many of them are YHWH making promises to Israel, or to specific Israelites of significance. Of course, there are also people making promises to YHWH.

And then there are moments where someone is reminding someone else of a promise made, a promise broken. A promise being fulfilled.

It's hard to say exactly when the first promise occurs. Perhaps as early as, well, the very first creation narrative!

What do you think, does this count?

(כט) וַיֹּ֣אמֶר אֱלֹהִ֗ים הִנֵּה֩ נָתַ֨תִּי לָכֶ֜ם אֶת־כָּל־עֵ֣שֶׂב ׀ זֹרֵ֣עַ זֶ֗רַע אֲשֶׁר֙ עַל־פְּנֵ֣י כָל־הָאָ֔רֶץ וְאֶת־כָּל־הָעֵ֛ץ אֲשֶׁר־בּ֥וֹ פְרִי־עֵ֖ץ זֹרֵ֣עַ זָ֑רַע לָכֶ֥ם יִֽהְיֶ֖ה לְאָכְלָֽה׃ (ל) וּֽלְכָל־חַיַּ֣ת הָ֠אָרֶץ וּלְכָל־ע֨וֹף הַשָּׁמַ֜יִם וּלְכֹ֣ל ׀ רוֹמֵ֣שׂ עַל־הָאָ֗רֶץ אֲשֶׁר־בּוֹ֙ נֶ֣פֶשׁ חַיָּ֔ה אֶת־כָּל־יֶ֥רֶק עֵ֖שֶׂב לְאָכְלָ֑ה וַֽיְהִי־כֵֽן׃

(29) Elohim said [to the first man and woman],

“See, I give you every seed-bearing plant that is upon all the earth, and every tree that has seed-bearing fruit; they shall be yours for food!

(30) And to all the animals on land, to all the birds of the sky, and to everything that creeps on earth, in which there is the breath of life, [I give] all the green plants for food.”

If YHWH says to the first people that he is giving them plants for food, can it be said that YHWH is promising this to them? Or, is it just a state of fact, describing what YHWH happens to be doing at that moment?

And if it is merely a state of fact, then how about this one, in the next creation story?

(טז) וַיְצַו֙ יְהוָ֣ה אֱלֹהִ֔ים עַל־הָֽאָדָ֖ם לֵאמֹ֑ר מִכֹּ֥ל עֵֽץ־הַגָּ֖ן אָכֹ֥ל תֹּאכֵֽל׃ (יז) וּמֵעֵ֗ץ הַדַּ֙עַת֙ ט֣וֹב וָרָ֔ע לֹ֥א תֹאכַ֖ל מִמֶּ֑נּוּ כִּ֗י בְּי֛וֹם אֲכָלְךָ֥ מִמֶּ֖נּוּ מ֥וֹת תָּמֽוּת׃

(16) And YHWH-Elohim commanded the man, saying,

“Of every tree of the garden you are free to eat; (17) but as for the tree of knowledge of good and bad, you must not eat of it; for as soon as you eat of it, you shall die.

So how about this one?

It can no longer be said that YHWH is describing something happening now, for the first man had not yet eaten from the tree! So if what YHWH had said in the first chapter was not a promise but a mere statement of fact, can this be said to be the first promise in the works in the TaNaKh?

We're not going to keep going through, because in nearly every chapter, you can find a moment where someone could be understood to be making a promise of sorts.

But I do want to jump ahead to Genesis chapter 6, because there something important does happen:

(יז) וַאֲנִ֗י הִנְנִי֩ מֵבִ֨יא אֶת־הַמַּבּ֥וּל מַ֙יִם֙ עַל־הָאָ֔רֶץ לְשַׁחֵ֣ת כָּל־בָּשָׂ֗ר אֲשֶׁר־בּוֹ֙ ר֣וּחַ חַיִּ֔ים מִתַּ֖חַת הַשָּׁמָ֑יִם כֹּ֥ל אֲשֶׁר־בָּאָ֖רֶץ יִגְוָֽע׃ (יח) וַהֲקִמֹתִ֥י אֶת־בְּרִיתִ֖י אִתָּ֑ךְ וּבָאתָ֙ אֶל־הַתֵּבָ֔ה אַתָּ֕ה וּבָנֶ֛יךָ וְאִשְׁתְּךָ֥ וּנְשֵֽׁי־בָנֶ֖יךָ אִתָּֽךְ׃

(17) “For My part, I am about to bring the Flood—waters upon the earth—to destroy all flesh under the sky in which there is breath of life; everything on earth shall perish.

(18) But I will establish My covenant with you, and you shall enter the ark, with your sons, your wife, and your sons’ wives.

This is the first time in the works in the TaNaKh where we encounter one of its most important and recurring ideas - covenant. Or in Hebrew, brit.

A brit is a pact, or an agreement between two parties, where usually each one pledges to do something for the other.

This occurrence, however, is quite interesting, in that it is one-way. YHWH pledges something to Noah, without asking for anything in return.

This covenant then gets elaborated on three chapters later, once the flood has ceased and the waters subsided:

(יב) וַיֹּ֣אמֶר אֱלֹהִ֗ים זֹ֤את אֽוֹת־הַבְּרִית֙ אֲשֶׁר־אֲנִ֣י נֹתֵ֗ן בֵּינִי֙ וּבֵ֣ינֵיכֶ֔ם וּבֵ֛ין כָּל־נֶ֥פֶשׁ חַיָּ֖ה אֲשֶׁ֣ר אִתְּכֶ֑ם לְדֹרֹ֖ת עוֹלָֽם׃ (יג) אֶת־קַשְׁתִּ֕י נָתַ֖תִּי בֶּֽעָנָ֑ן וְהָֽיְתָה֙ לְא֣וֹת בְּרִ֔ית בֵּינִ֖י וּבֵ֥ין הָאָֽרֶץ׃ (יד) וְהָיָ֕ה בְּעַֽנְנִ֥י עָנָ֖ן עַל־הָאָ֑רֶץ וְנִרְאֲתָ֥ה הַקֶּ֖שֶׁת בֶּעָנָֽן׃ (טו) וְזָכַרְתִּ֣י אֶת־בְּרִיתִ֗י אֲשֶׁ֤ר בֵּינִי֙ וּבֵ֣ינֵיכֶ֔ם וּבֵ֛ין כָּל־נֶ֥פֶשׁ חַיָּ֖ה בְּכָל־בָּשָׂ֑ר וְלֹֽא־יִֽהְיֶ֨ה ע֤וֹד הַמַּ֙יִם֙ לְמַבּ֔וּל לְשַׁחֵ֖ת כָּל־בָּשָֽׂר׃ (טז) וְהָיְתָ֥ה הַקֶּ֖שֶׁת בֶּֽעָנָ֑ן וּרְאִיתִ֗יהָ לִזְכֹּר֙ בְּרִ֣ית עוֹלָ֔ם בֵּ֣ין אֱלֹהִ֔ים וּבֵין֙ כָּל־נֶ֣פֶשׁ חַיָּ֔ה בְּכָל־בָּשָׂ֖ר אֲשֶׁ֥ר עַל־הָאָֽרֶץ׃ (יז) וַיֹּ֥אמֶר אֱלֹהִ֖ים אֶל־נֹ֑חַ זֹ֤את אֽוֹת־הַבְּרִית֙ אֲשֶׁ֣ר הֲקִמֹ֔תִי בֵּינִ֕י וּבֵ֥ין כָּל־בָּשָׂ֖ר אֲשֶׁ֥ר עַל־הָאָֽרֶץ׃ (פ)

(12-17, RNKJV)

And Elohim said, This is the sign of the covenant which I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for perpetual generations: I do set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a sign of a covenant between me and the earth. And it shall come to pass, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the bow shall be seen in the cloud:

And I will remember my covenant, which is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and the waters shall no more become a flood to destroy all flesh. And the bow shall be in the cloud; and I will look upon it, that I may remember the everlasting covenant between Elohim and every living creature of all flesh that is upon the earth. And Elohim said unto Noah, This is the sign of the covenant, which I have established between me and all flesh that is upon the earth.

In the works in the TaNaKh, the authors and redactors had no way to make anything bold for emphasis, nor to place anything in italics, or highlight. If they wanted to get the point across that there was a word or concept that the readers or listeners were meant to pay particular attention to, they just repeated it a whole bunch of times!

And so by the time you get to the end of the above paragraph, your takeaway is most definitely that covenant matters.

As we said above when we first encountered brit in Genesis 6 above, this seems to be a one-way covenant, in which YHWH promises that he will never wreak havoc on the world as he did during this catastrophic flood.

But now we see something new; An oat, or a sign, in this case manifesting itself as a bow. Whenever a bow appears in the heavens, YHWH shall look at it and remember what he had promised to Noah all those years ago, and will therefore pull back on the rain.

Signs and covenants oftentimes go hand-in-hand.

I'll give you the two other examples that come readily to mind for me:

(ט) וַיֹּ֤אמֶר אֱלֹהִים֙ אֶל־אַבְרָהָ֔ם וְאַתָּ֖ה אֶת־בְּרִיתִ֣י תִשְׁמֹ֑ר אַתָּ֛ה וְזַרְעֲךָ֥ אַֽחֲרֶ֖יךָ לְדֹרֹתָֽם׃ (י) זֹ֣את בְּרִיתִ֞י אֲשֶׁ֣ר תִּשְׁמְר֗וּ בֵּינִי֙ וּבֵ֣ינֵיכֶ֔ם וּבֵ֥ין זַרְעֲךָ֖ אַחֲרֶ֑יךָ הִמּ֥וֹל לָכֶ֖ם כָּל־זָכָֽר׃ (יא) וּנְמַלְתֶּ֕ם אֵ֖ת בְּשַׂ֣ר עָרְלַתְכֶ֑ם וְהָיָה֙ לְא֣וֹת בְּרִ֔ית בֵּינִ֖י וּבֵינֵיכֶֽם׃

Gen 17:9-11 RNKJV

And Elohim said unto Abraham,

Thou shalt keep my covenant therefore, thou, and thy seed after thee in their generations. This is my covenant, which ye shall keep, between me and you and thy seed after thee; Every man child among you shall be circumcised. And ye shall circumcise the flesh of your foreskin; and it shall be a sign of the covenant betwixt me and you.

The brit milah, or quite literally, the covenant of the circumcision, is a pretty big deal.

It might not be readily clear why this is the case, but is certainly true that it is the case. So much so that during the 2nd century BCE, when Antiochus IV outlawed it, Judean mothers chose martyrdom rather than neglect to have their sons wear this eternal badge of Israelite Peoplehood - a moment of both horror and courage that would forever memorialized in the chronicles of the Wars of the Hasmoneans:

(מה) וישלח המלך ספרים ביד הרצים אל ירושלים ולכל ערי יהודה, ויצוום ללכת בדרכי גויי הארץ.


(מח) ויצווה לבלתי המול להם כל זכר, ולשקץ את נפשותם בכל דבר פיגול, להעבירם מחוקות אלוהים ולשנות את דרכם.

(מט) וכל איש אשר ימרה את פי המלך - מות יומת.


(נז) ובחמישה ועשרים יום לחודש זבחו את זבחיהם על הבמה אשר הקימו נוכח מזבח ה'.

(נח) והנשים אשר מלו את בניהן הומתו על פי המלך.

(נט) את העוללים תלו בצווארם, ואת המלים אותם הרגו בחרב ויבוזו את בתיהם.

(45) For the king had sent letters by messengers unto Jerusalem and the cities of Juda that they should follow the strange laws of the land


(48) That they should also leave their children uncircumcised, and make their souls abominable with all manner of uncleanness and profanation: To the end they might forget the law, and change all the ordinances.

(49) And whosoever would not do according to the commandment of the king, he said, he should die.


(57) Now the five and twentieth day of the month they did sacrifice upon the idol altar, which was upon the altar of God.

(58) At which time according to the commandment they put to death certain women, that had caused their children to be circumcised.

(59) And they hanged the infants about their necks, and rifled their houses, and slew them that had circumcised them.

Circumcision might be one of the most curious of customs we know of from the Israelites. Personally, it seems kind of... random, doesn't it?

For many years, whenever someone would have asked me why YHWH demanded such a thing, I would usually shrug and chalk it up to YHWH sometimes being a Divine Mystery, and this was just one of those secrets of the universe.

But I recently came across this really beautiful thought by Michael S. Heiser, PhD in Bible Studies and Semitic Languages.

Here is how he puts it:

When God told Abraham to be circumcised, he was past the age of bearing children and his wife, Sarah, was incapable of having children (Gen 18:11). Nevertheless, it would be through Sarah’s womb (Gen 17:21; 18:14) that God would fulfill His promise of innumerable offspring to Abraham (Gen 12:1–3). God’s covenant with Abraham could only be realized by miraculous intervention.

The miraculous nature of Isaac’s birth is the key to understanding circumcision as the sign of the covenant. After God made His promise to Abraham, every male member of Abraham’s household was required to be circumcised (Gen 17:15–27). Every male—and every woman, since the males were all incapacitated for a time—knew that circumcision was connected to God’s promise. It probably didn’t make any sense, though, until Sarah became pregnant.

Everyone in Abraham’s household witnessed the miracle of Isaac’s birth. From that point on, every male understood why they had been circumcised: Their entire race—their very existence—began with a miraculous act of God. Every woman was reminded of this when she had sexual relations with her Israelite husband, and when her sons were circumcised. Circumcision was a visible, continuous reminder that Israel owed its existence to Yahweh, who created them out of nothing.

---from Bible Study Magazine,

What an incredible idea!!! The existence of the offspring of Abraham, i.e., the People of Israel, is always one of the greatest of miracles, because it never should have happened to begin with.

Sarah had been barren for years. The two of them were already into, or past their 90s. YHWH is now basically asking of Abraham to mutilate the most important part of his body required for begetting children!

If the world went according only to natural law, there is no way that this couple would end up having children together!

And yet they did.

And as Dr. Heiser states, this sign would ever serve as a reminder that but for the grace and intervention of YHWH, "Israel" would only have ever been an idea.

What I love most of all about this is that, if Israel was important enough for YHWH to step in and get started by miraculous means, then anytime Israel should find herself in danger, she can depend on YHWH to step in and involve himself yet again; He wouldn't have gone through all of that trouble just to let Israel succumb to some worldly power, be it the Assyrians, Babylonians, or anything else.

So maybe the circumcision is not just a sign for us, as Dr. Heiser states, but like the bow in the heavens, is also a sign for YHWH, reminding him of how much work it took, on his behalf, to get us up-and-running.

And so when Israel calls for help, as did the mothers of the children described in the book of Maccabees above, as long as Israel still bears the sign of circumcision, YHWH will be there yet again.

Okay, I mentioned there were two signs I wanted to share with you. Here is the other one:

(טז) וְשָׁמְר֥וּ בְנֵֽי־יִשְׂרָאֵ֖ל אֶת־הַשַּׁבָּ֑ת לַעֲשׂ֧וֹת אֶת־הַשַּׁבָּ֛ת לְדֹרֹתָ֖ם בְּרִ֥ית עוֹלָֽם׃ (יז) בֵּינִ֗י וּבֵין֙ בְּנֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵ֔ל א֥וֹת הִ֖וא לְעֹלָ֑ם כִּי־שֵׁ֣שֶׁת יָמִ֗ים עָשָׂ֤ה יְהוָה֙ אֶת־הַשָּׁמַ֣יִם וְאֶת־הָאָ֔רֶץ וּבַיּוֹם֙ הַשְּׁבִיעִ֔י שָׁבַ֖ת וַיִּנָּפַֽשׁ׃ (ס)

Wherefore the children of Israel shall keep the Sabbath, to observe the Sabbath throughout their generations, for a perpetual covenant.

It is a sign between me and the children of Israel for ever: for in six days YHWH made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day he rested, and was refreshed.
(Exo 31:16-17 RNKJV)

Here we see that the Sabbath is a sign that YHWH made the earth and the heavens and rested on the seventh day.

When you do something you are proud of, it's natural to want to share it - and particularly, to want to share it with those you love. How natural, therefore, for YHWH to single out his precious people Israel with whom to celebrate his first, and probably one of his greatest ever of accomplishments!!!

The Sabbath, therefore, is at one-and-the-same-time both a sign AND a covenant. The sign points backwards to YHWH's role in creation, while the Covenant is perhaps that both parties, YHWH and Israel, are promising to keep the Sabbath together, celebrating weekly YHWH's six days of labor and accomplishment.

Okay, so far, all I really wanted to do was to demonstrate that promises, i.e., covenants are big deals throughout the TaNaKh right from the opening pages, and never ceases to be of importance.

Let's now jump WAY ahead, all the way to the second half of the book of the Conquests of Joshua, when the division of the land is under way.

Caleb, one of the Israelite VIPs approaches Joshua the Conqueror, successor to Moses the Liberator, with an IOU of sorts in hand:

Cashing in

(ו) וַיִּגְּשׁ֨וּ בְנֵֽי־יְהוּדָ֤ה אֶל־יְהוֹשֻׁ֙עַ֙ בַּגִּלְגָּ֔ל וַיֹּ֣אמֶר אֵלָ֔יו כָּלֵ֥ב בֶּן־יְפֻנֶּ֖ה הַקְּנִזִּ֑י אַתָּ֣ה יָדַ֡עְתָּ אֶֽת־הַדָּבָר֩ אֲשֶׁר־דִּבֶּ֨ר יְהוָ֜ה אֶל־מֹשֶׁ֣ה אִישׁ־הָאֱלֹהִ֗ים עַ֧ל אֹדוֹתַ֛י וְעַ֥ל אֹדוֹתֶ֖יךָ בְּקָדֵ֥שׁ בַּרְנֵֽעַ׃ (ז) בֶּן־אַרְבָּעִ֨ים שָׁנָ֜ה אָנֹכִ֗י בִּ֠שְׁלֹחַ מֹשֶׁ֨ה עֶֽבֶד־יְהוָ֥ה אֹתִ֛י מִקָּדֵ֥שׁ בַּרְנֵ֖עַ לְרַגֵּ֣ל אֶת־הָאָ֑רֶץ וָאָשֵׁ֤ב אֹתוֹ֙ דָּבָ֔ר כַּאֲשֶׁ֖ר עִם־לְבָבִֽי׃ (ח) וְאַחַי֙ אֲשֶׁ֣ר עָל֣וּ עִמִּ֔י הִמְסִ֖יו אֶת־לֵ֣ב הָעָ֑ם וְאָנֹכִ֣י מִלֵּ֔אתִי אַחֲרֵ֖י יְהוָ֥ה אֱלֹהָֽי׃ (ט) וַיִּשָּׁבַ֣ע מֹשֶׁ֗ה בַּיּ֣וֹם הַהוּא֮ לֵאמֹר֒ אִם־לֹ֗א הָאָ֙רֶץ֙ אֲשֶׁ֨ר דָּרְכָ֤ה רַגְלְךָ֙ בָּ֔הּ לְךָ֨ תִֽהְיֶ֧ה לְנַחֲלָ֛ה וּלְבָנֶ֖יךָ עַד־עוֹלָ֑ם כִּ֣י מִלֵּ֔אתָ אַחֲרֵ֖י יְהוָ֥ה אֱלֹהָֽי׃

(6) The Judites approached Joshua at Gilgal, and Caleb son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite said to him:

“You know what instructions YHWH gave at Kadesh-barnea to Moses, the man-of Elohim, concerning you and me. (7) I was forty years old when Moses the servant of YHWH sent me from Kadesh-barnea to spy out the land, and I brought back word according to my heart.

(8) While my companions who went up with me took the heart out of the people, I was loyal to YHWH-my-elohim.

(9) On that day, Moses promised on oath,

‘The land on which your foot trod shall be a portion for you and your descendants forever, because you were loyal to the YHWH-my-elohim.’

Caleb here begins by reminding Joshua of something that occurred at a place called Kadesh-Barnea, where Moses had sent forth Israelite spies to scope out the land of Canaan, one of whom was himself.

Caleb's claim is that he, uniquely, brought back a "forthright" report, while the other spies spoke in a way that "took the heart" of the people, or demoralized.

And for doing so, Caleb was promised an eternal inheritance. And in his estimation, the time had arrived to collect.

Let's travel back in time to the very moment of which Caleb is recalling:

They have Anakites!

(כה) וַיָּשֻׁ֖בוּ מִתּ֣וּר הָאָ֑רֶץ מִקֵּ֖ץ אַרְבָּעִ֥ים יֽוֹם׃ (כו) וַיֵּלְכ֡וּ וַיָּבֹאוּ֩ אֶל־מֹשֶׁ֨ה וְאֶֽל־אַהֲרֹ֜ן וְאֶל־כָּל־עֲדַ֧ת בְּנֵֽי־יִשְׂרָאֵ֛ל אֶל־מִדְבַּ֥ר פָּארָ֖ן קָדֵ֑שָׁה וַיָּשִׁ֨יבוּ אוֹתָ֤ם דָּבָר֙ וְאֶת־כָּל־הָ֣עֵדָ֔ה וַיַּרְא֖וּם אֶת־פְּרִ֥י הָאָֽרֶץ׃ (כז) וַיְסַפְּרוּ־לוֹ֙ וַיֹּ֣אמְר֔וּ בָּ֕אנוּ אֶל־הָאָ֖רֶץ אֲשֶׁ֣ר שְׁלַחְתָּ֑נוּ וְ֠גַם זָבַ֨ת חָלָ֥ב וּדְבַ֛שׁ הִ֖וא וְזֶה־פִּרְיָֽהּ׃ (כח) אֶ֚פֶס כִּֽי־עַ֣ז הָעָ֔ם הַיֹּשֵׁ֖ב בָּאָ֑רֶץ וְהֶֽעָרִ֗ים בְּצֻר֤וֹת גְּדֹלֹת֙ מְאֹ֔ד וְגַם־יְלִדֵ֥י הָֽעֲנָ֖ק רָאִ֥ינוּ שָֽׁם׃ (כט) עֲמָלֵ֥ק יוֹשֵׁ֖ב בְּאֶ֣רֶץ הַנֶּ֑גֶב וְ֠הַֽחִתִּי וְהַיְבוּסִ֤י וְהָֽאֱמֹרִי֙ יוֹשֵׁ֣ב בָּהָ֔ר וְהַֽכְּנַעֲנִי֙ יֹשֵׁ֣ב עַל־הַיָּ֔ם וְעַ֖ל יַ֥ד הַיַּרְדֵּֽן׃ (ל) וַיַּ֧הַס כָּלֵ֛ב אֶת־הָעָ֖ם אֶל־מֹשֶׁ֑ה וַיֹּ֗אמֶר עָלֹ֤ה נַעֲלֶה֙ וְיָרַ֣שְׁנוּ אֹתָ֔הּ כִּֽי־יָכ֥וֹל נוּכַ֖ל לָֽהּ׃

(25) At the end of forty days [the spies] returned from scouting the land. (26) They went straight to Moses and Aaron and the whole Israelite community at Kadesh in the wilderness of Paran, and they brought back their word to them and to the whole community, as they showed them the fruit of the land.

(27) This is what they told him:

“We came to the land you sent us to; it does indeed flow with milk and honey, and this is its fruit. (28) However, the people who inhabit the country are powerful, and the cities are fortified and very large; moreover, we saw the Anakites there!


(30) Caleb hushed the people before Moses and said,

“Let us by all means go up, and we shall gain possession of it, for we shall surely overcome it.”

It can take a lot to speak your mind when everyone around you is determined to drown out your point of view. Even when you know, in your very bones that truth is on your side, the fear of ridicule, or ostracization, can be powerful indeed.

But Caleb teaches that when you do speak up, even if the world is bent on suppressing what you have to say, the few can silence the many!

And Caleb hushed the people!

It's in the next chapter where we see Caleb's forthcoming reward promised:

No good-deed goes unrewarded

(כ) וַיֹּ֣אמֶר יְהוָ֔ה סָלַ֖חְתִּי כִּדְבָרֶֽךָ׃ (כא) וְאוּלָ֖ם חַי־אָ֑נִי וְיִמָּלֵ֥א כְבוֹד־יְהוָ֖ה אֶת־כָּל־הָאָֽרֶץ׃ (כב) כִּ֣י כָל־הָאֲנָשִׁ֗ים הָרֹאִ֤ים אֶת־כְּבֹדִי֙ וְאֶת־אֹ֣תֹתַ֔י אֲשֶׁר־עָשִׂ֥יתִי בְמִצְרַ֖יִם וּבַמִּדְבָּ֑ר וַיְנַסּ֣וּ אֹתִ֗י זֶ֚ה עֶ֣שֶׂר פְּעָמִ֔ים וְלֹ֥א שָׁמְע֖וּ בְּקוֹלִֽי׃ (כג) אִם־יִרְאוּ֙ אֶת־הָאָ֔רֶץ אֲשֶׁ֥ר נִשְׁבַּ֖עְתִּי לַאֲבֹתָ֑ם וְכָל־מְנַאֲצַ֖י לֹ֥א יִרְאֽוּהָ׃ (כד) וְעַבְדִּ֣י כָלֵ֗ב עֵ֣קֶב הָֽיְתָ֞ה ר֤וּחַ אַחֶ֙רֶת֙ עִמּ֔וֹ וַיְמַלֵּ֖א אַחֲרָ֑י וַהֲבִֽיאֹתִ֗יו אֶל־הָאָ֙רֶץ֙ אֲשֶׁר־בָּ֣א שָׁ֔מָּה וְזַרְע֖וֹ יוֹרִשֶֽׁנָּה׃

(20) And YHWH said,

“I pardon, as you have asked. (21) Nevertheless, as I live and as YHWH's Presence fills the whole world, (22) none of the men who have seen My Presence and the signs that I have performed in Egypt and in the wilderness, and who have tried Me these many times and have disobeyed Me, (23) shall see the land that I promised on oath to their fathers; none of those who spurn Me shall see it.

(24) But My servant Caleb, because he was imbued with a different spirit and followed after Me—him will I bring into the land that he entered, and his offspring shall hold it as a possession.

It's quite interesting to compare Caleb's memory with how the narrator of Numbers describes the events. On one hand, in keeping with the theme that we've been focusing on, there is certainly a promise made that Caleb is trying to cash in on.

But what exactly is the promise in Numbers, and what is Caleb remembering the promise was in his own words in Joshua?

Let's compare them:

Numbers 14:24

(YHWH said to Moses)

But My servant Caleb, because he was imbued with a different spirit and remained loyal to Me—him will I bring into the land that he entered, and his offspring shall hold it as a possession

Joshua 14:9

(Caleb said to Joshua),

"On that day, Moses promised on oath,

‘The land on which your foot trod shall be a portion for you and your descendants forever, because you were loyal to the YHWH-my-elohim.’ "

What do you think - do they match? Maybe not exactly, but perhaps the sentiment is close enough.

But one thing I do notice though is that in Numbers, we are seeing YHWH make the promise to Moses about Caleb. While in the book detailing Joshua's conquests, we are getting a recollection from Caleb of Moses's promise to him, on behalf of YHWH.

So while the wording is different, it can certainly be the case that when Moses brought the news from YHWH to Caleb of his reward, that he did indeed use the same language with which Caleb is now remembering. But in the narrative in Numbers, we're just not getting every little moment of the story.

But there's still something else to look at; For there is another moment where this original episode is reflected on - and that's in Moses's last speech to Israel on the far side of the Jordan:

(לד) וַיִּשְׁמַ֥ע יְהוָ֖ה אֶת־ק֣וֹל דִּבְרֵיכֶ֑ם וַיִּקְצֹ֖ף וַיִּשָּׁבַ֥ע לֵאמֹֽר׃ (לה) אִם־יִרְאֶ֥ה אִישׁ֙ בָּאֲנָשִׁ֣ים הָאֵ֔לֶּה הַדּ֥וֹר הָרָ֖ע הַזֶּ֑ה אֵ֚ת הָאָ֣רֶץ הַטּוֹבָ֔ה אֲשֶׁ֣ר נִשְׁבַּ֔עְתִּי לָתֵ֖ת לַאֲבֹתֵיכֶֽם׃(לו) זֽוּלָתִ֞י כָּלֵ֤ב בֶּן־יְפֻנֶּה֙ ה֣וּא יִרְאֶ֔נָּה וְלֽוֹ־אֶתֵּ֧ן אֶת־הָאָ֛רֶץ אֲשֶׁ֥ר דָּֽרַךְ־בָּ֖הּ וּלְבָנָ֑יו יַ֕עַן אֲשֶׁ֥ר מִלֵּ֖א אַחֲרֵ֥י יְהוָֽה׃

(34) When YHWH heard your loud complaint, He was angry. He vowed:

(35) Not one of these men, this evil generation, shall see the good land that I swore to give to your fathers— (36) none except Caleb son of Jephunneh; he shall see it, and to him and his descendants will I give the land on which he set foot, because he remained loyal to YHWH!

Isn't this interesting?

There are so many moments throughout the works in the TaNaKh where a story is told in-real-time, and then we get further glimpses of it, either from those who actually saw it, or from later generations, for whom it has become an oral tradition.

It's also important to mention that even when we see these moments occurring "in-real-time", like Numbers 13-14, well it is never the case that someone was standing by, writing it all down as it is actually happening. These are works which were written centuries, maybe even a millenium (!) after-the-fact.

In the case of the spies, for example, it is part of the section in the Pentateuch which scholars refer to as "J". And most of J was probably written at some point during the era of two kingdoms, Northern Israel and Southern Judah, which would place it in the ball-park of between 922 and 722 BCE.

And even if we date it to 922, this is still upwards of around 500 years after the initial conquest-campaign of Canaan!!!

(You can read more about the dating of texts in the Pentateuch in Richard Elliot Friedman's Who Wrote the Bible. And for a neat site that calculates the dates of the various events in the works in the TaNaKh, I found this Sacred Calendar website: )

below: Could this be the great author of "J", chronicling the story of the spies?

So with all that, while I started out by saying that Promises would make a good name for the TaNaKh overall, I think Memories is yet another one. Memories are everywhere, as are memories of memories.

So here, in Deuteronomy, we see Moses, at the very end of the desert-wandering, reflecting on something that happened around 40-years previously. But go back up and take a look, and compare what Moses says in his memory, with what we saw described in Numbers and then how Caleb then replays it all to Joshua.

What do you notice?

What Moses says is nearly exactly as Caleb describes it!

So what do you think - In the book of Joshua's conquests, is Caleb recollecting a conversation between he and Moses that we, the reader, never saw? OR, is he recollecting this particular moment of Moses's speech?

I want to now turn back to Joshua's book and read a little further on.

We are still seeing Caleb's appeal to Joshua for territory:

I'm your guy!

(יא) עוֹדֶ֨נִּי הַיּ֜וֹם חָזָ֗ק כַּֽאֲשֶׁר֙ בְּי֨וֹם שְׁלֹ֤חַ אוֹתִי֙ מֹשֶׁ֔ה כְּכֹ֥חִי אָ֖ז וּכְכֹ֣חִי עָ֑תָּה לַמִּלְחָמָ֖ה וְלָצֵ֥את וְלָבֽוֹא׃ (יב) וְעַתָּ֗ה תְּנָה־לִּי֙ אֶת־הָהָ֣ר הַזֶּ֔ה אֲשֶׁר־דִּבֶּ֥ר יְהוָ֖ה בַּיּ֣וֹם הַה֑וּא כִּ֣י אַתָּֽה־שָׁמַעְתָּ֩ בַיּ֨וֹם הַה֜וּא כִּֽי־עֲנָקִ֣ים שָׁ֗ם וְעָרִים֙ גְּדֹל֣וֹת בְּצֻר֔וֹת אוּלַ֨י יְהוָ֤ה אוֹתִי֙ וְה֣וֹרַשְׁתִּ֔ים כַּאֲשֶׁ֖ר דִּבֶּ֥ר יְהוָֽה׃

(10) Now YHWH has preserved me, as He promised. It is forty-five years since YHWH made this promise to Moses, when Israel was journeying through the wilderness; and here I am today, eighty-five years old!

(11) I am still as strong today as on the day that Moses sent me; my strength is the same now as it was then, to sally forth and to even return.

(12) So assign to me this hill country as YHWH promised on that day!

Though you too heard on that day that Anakites are there and great fortified cities, if only YHWH is with me, I will dispossess them, as YHWH promised.”

This is great - there are a few things worth thinking about here.

First of all, it's amazing how long Caleb has been treasuring this promise; nearly half a century! He was promised something by Moses, who was speaking on behalf of YHWH, and Caleb took it seriously and trusted. It might not come to pass in a day, or even a month - and here we are forty-five years later, and Caleb still has it at the forefront of his mind!

I also want to marvel for a moment at his claim that at eighty-five years old, he is still just as strong as he was during his days of espionage, as on that fateful day when he was pitted against the masses and stood his ground. (It must be the case that he was on a strictly vegan plant-based diet; I can think of no other explanation for such long-lasting vigor!)

below: Caleb jogging through a park. Given the style of his clothes, seem like for him, 85 years was nothing!!! 3 millenia later and he's still going strong!

But my favorite part about Caleb's appeal is that he is declaring his willingness to walk the walk, as well.

Remember what the whole dispute was about forty-five years ago; It was about fear of the Anakites. The other spies, as well as the Israelite camp at-large, were terrified of the Anakites.

Who were these people?

Well first of all, it's worth looking into the etymology of the term Anak. Which actually means something associated with the neck; A neck-chain, or a necklace. Or maybe even just a long neck- i.e., men of high stature.

Let's now look at a telling comment, said by the spies later on in their exchange with Caleb:

(לב) וַיּוֹצִ֜יאוּ דִּבַּ֤ת הָאָ֙רֶץ֙ אֲשֶׁ֣ר תָּר֣וּ אֹתָ֔הּ אֶל־בְּנֵ֥י יִשְׂרָאֵ֖ל לֵאמֹ֑ר הָאָ֡רֶץ אֲשֶׁר֩ עָבַ֨רְנוּ בָ֜הּ לָת֣וּר אֹתָ֗הּ אֶ֣רֶץ אֹכֶ֤לֶת יוֹשְׁבֶ֙יהָ֙ הִ֔וא וְכָל־הָעָ֛ם אֲשֶׁר־רָאִ֥ינוּ בְתוֹכָ֖הּ אַנְשֵׁ֥י מִדּֽוֹת׃ (לג) וְשָׁ֣ם רָאִ֗ינוּ אֶת־הַנְּפִילִ֛ים בְּנֵ֥י עֲנָ֖ק מִן־הַנְּפִלִ֑ים וַנְּהִ֤י בְעֵינֵ֙ינוּ֙ כַּֽחֲגָבִ֔ים וְכֵ֥ן הָיִ֖ינוּ בְּעֵינֵיהֶֽם׃

“The country that we traversed and scouted is one that devours its settlers. All the people that we saw in it are men of great size; (33) we saw the Nephilim there—the Anakites are part of the Nephilim—and we looked like grasshoppers to ourselves, and so we must have looked to them!”

We learn two interesting details here:

  • They are associated with the Nephilim;
  • The Israelites are akin to grasshoppers next to them.

The identity of the Nephilim is actually quite mysterious. Here is where we first get to meet them:

(א) וַֽיְהִי֙ כִּֽי־הֵחֵ֣ל הָֽאָדָ֔ם לָרֹ֖ב עַל־פְּנֵ֣י הָֽאֲדָמָ֑ה וּבָנ֖וֹת יֻלְּד֥וּ לָהֶֽם׃ (ב) וַיִּרְא֤וּ בְנֵי־הָֽאֱלֹהִים֙ אֶת־בְּנ֣וֹת הָֽאָדָ֔ם כִּ֥י טֹבֹ֖ת הֵ֑נָּה וַיִּקְח֤וּ לָהֶם֙ נָשִׁ֔ים מִכֹּ֖ל אֲשֶׁ֥ר בָּחָֽרוּ׃ (ג) וַיֹּ֣אמֶר יְהוָ֗ה לֹֽא־יָד֨וֹן רוּחִ֤י בָֽאָדָם֙ לְעֹלָ֔ם בְּשַׁגַּ֖ם ה֣וּא בָשָׂ֑ר וְהָי֣וּ יָמָ֔יו מֵאָ֥ה וְעֶשְׂרִ֖ים שָׁנָֽה׃ (ד) הַנְּפִלִ֞ים הָי֣וּ בָאָרֶץ֮ בַּיָּמִ֣ים הָהֵם֒ וְגַ֣ם אַֽחֲרֵי־כֵ֗ן אֲשֶׁ֨ר יָבֹ֜אוּ בְּנֵ֤י הָֽאֱלֹהִים֙ אֶל־בְּנ֣וֹת הָֽאָדָ֔ם וְיָלְד֖וּ לָהֶ֑ם הֵ֧מָּה הַגִּבֹּרִ֛ים אֲשֶׁ֥ר מֵעוֹלָ֖ם אַנְשֵׁ֥י הַשֵּֽׁם׃ (פ)

(1) When men began to increase on earth and daughters were born to them, (2) the sons-of-elohim saw how beautiful the daughters of men were and took wives from among those that pleased them.—

(3) YHWH said,

“My breath shall not abide in man forever, since he too is flesh; let the days allowed him be one hundred and twenty years.”— (4) It was then, and later too, that the Nephilim appeared on earth—when the sons-of-elohim cohabited with the daughters of men, who bore them offspring. They were the heroes of old, the men of renown.

Very strange. For the term Nephilim actually literally means "the fallen ones." Were these mythical beings who fell down onto the earth from a supernal Realm of Gods? And could they then have continued to exist all that time throughout the years, settling in different parts of Canaan?

If so, it would be understandable as to why the Israelites would shudder at the very thought of going to battle with these semi-divine beings.

In fact, the Anakites - a subset of these Nephilim, according to the Israelites in Numbers 13 - were so terrifying that there even existed a well-known proverb about them throughout the ancient near east, a proverb recited by Moses:

(א) שְׁמַ֣ע יִשְׂרָאֵ֗ל אַתָּ֨ה עֹבֵ֤ר הַיּוֹם֙ אֶת־הַיַּרְדֵּ֔ן לָבֹא֙ לָרֶ֣שֶׁת גּוֹיִ֔ם גְּדֹלִ֥ים וַעֲצֻמִ֖ים מִמֶּ֑ךָּ עָרִ֛ים גְּדֹלֹ֥ת וּבְצֻרֹ֖ת בַּשָּׁמָֽיִם׃ (ב) עַֽם־גָּד֥וֹל וָרָ֖ם בְּנֵ֣י עֲנָקִ֑ים אֲשֶׁ֨ר אַתָּ֤ה יָדַ֙עְתָּ֙ וְאַתָּ֣ה שָׁמַ֔עְתָּ מִ֣י יִתְיַצֵּ֔ב לִפְנֵ֖י בְּנֵ֥י עֲנָֽק׃

(1) Hear, O Israel!

You are about to cross the Jordan to go in and dispossess nations greater and more populous than you: great cities with walls sky-high; (2) a people great and tall, the Anakites, of whom you have knowledge; for you have heard it said,

“Who can stand up to the children of Anak?”

And therefore, if you wanted to get the point across that someone was tall and fearsome, well, the natural thing to do would be to compare them to the Anakites - as Moses does, himself:

(כ) אֶֽרֶץ־רְפָאִ֥ים תֵּחָשֵׁ֖ב אַף־הִ֑וא רְפָאִ֤ים יָֽשְׁבוּ־בָהּ֙ לְפָנִ֔ים וְהָֽעַמֹּנִ֔ים יִקְרְא֥וּ לָהֶ֖ם זַמְזֻמִּֽים׃ (כא) עַ֣ם גָּד֥וֹל וְרַ֛ב וָרָ֖ם כָּעֲנָקִ֑ים וַיַּשְׁמִידֵ֤ם יְהוָה֙ מִפְּנֵיהֶ֔ם וַיִּירָשֻׁ֖ם וַיֵּשְׁב֥וּ תַחְתָּֽם׃

(20) It, too, is counted as Rephaim country. It was formerly inhabited by Rephaim, whom the Ammonites call Zamzummim, (21) a people great and numerous and as tall as the Anakites.

Standing up to them is futile, and everybody knew it!

Well, almost everyone. Caleb seemed to have missed the memo. An old man in his eighties, who for the last forty-five years, has been laughing at the prospect of anything in the world being able to triumph over Israel if YHWH is on her side.

As he said in Numbers when everyone else was quaking:

Let's go up and take possession of it, we are SURELY capable!!!

And when the long-awaited moment arrived, sure enough, he says to Joshua:

Though you too heard on that day that Anakites are there and great fortified cities, if only YHWH is with me, I will dispossess them, as YHWH promised.

Caleb recognized that, even if it is madness to take on these Anakite-giants, there is something which is even crazier; Doubting YHWH, when he says to not be afraid.

And Caleb's confidence is that much more inspiring once we truly understand how fearsome these Anakites really were.

Consider this line from Joshua 11:

(כב) לֹֽא־נוֹתַ֣ר עֲנָקִ֔ים בְּאֶ֖רֶץ בְּנֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵ֑ל רַ֗ק בְּעַזָּ֛ה בְּגַ֥ת וּבְאַשְׁדּ֖וֹד נִשְׁאָֽרוּ׃

(22) No Anakites remained in the land of the Israelites; but some remained in Gaza, Gath, and Ashdod.

Do you remember anything about any giants from any of these places?

Take a look at this:

(ד) וַיֵּצֵ֤א אִֽישׁ־הַבֵּנַ֙יִם֙ מִמַּחֲנ֣וֹת פְּלִשְׁתִּ֔ים גָּלְיָ֥ת שְׁמ֖וֹ מִגַּ֑ת גָּבְה֕וֹ שֵׁ֥שׁ אַמּ֖וֹת וָזָֽרֶת׃ (ה) וְכ֤וֹבַע נְחֹ֙שֶׁת֙ עַל־רֹאשׁ֔וֹ וְשִׁרְי֥וֹן קַשְׂקַשִּׂ֖ים ה֣וּא לָב֑וּשׁ וּמִשְׁקַל֙ הַשִּׁרְי֔וֹן חֲמֵשֶׁת־אֲלָפִ֥ים שְׁקָלִ֖ים נְחֹֽשֶֽׁת׃ (ו) וּמִצְחַ֥ת נְחֹ֖שֶׁת עַל־רַגְלָ֑יו וְכִיד֥וֹן נְחֹ֖שֶׁת בֵּ֥ין כְּתֵפָֽיו׃ (ז) וחץ [וְעֵ֣ץ] חֲנִית֗וֹ כִּמְנוֹר֙ אֹֽרְגִ֔ים וְלַהֶ֣בֶת חֲנִית֔וֹ שֵׁשׁ־מֵא֥וֹת שְׁקָלִ֖ים בַּרְזֶ֑ל וְנֹשֵׂ֥א הַצִּנָּ֖ה הֹלֵ֥ךְ לְפָנָֽיו׃

(4) A champion of the Philistine forces sallied forth; his name was Goliath of Gath, and he was six cubits and a span tall.

(5) He had a bronze helmet on his head, and wore a breastplate of scale armor, a bronze breastplate weighing five thousand shekels. (6) He had bronze greaves on his legs, and a bronze javelin [slung] from his shoulders. (7) The shaft of his spear was like a weaver’s bar, and the iron head of his spear weighed six hundred shekels; and the shield-bearer marched in front of him.

So, let's put the pieces together:

  • The Israelites were like grasshoppers next to the Anakites;
  • Some of the Anakites remained in Gath;
  • Goliath of Gath was a giant

So Goliath was an Anakite! And so if you really want to picture in your mind exatly what Israel was up against, think about this; During the time of the reign of Saul, Goliath of Gath, one giant amongst the Philistines, and he was more than enough to send every single Israelite warrior cowering.

While now, during the era of Joshua, we are speaking about whole civilizations of Goliaths!!!

But as Caleb recognized, when YHWH says something like the following:

Divine to-do list

(ו) לָכֵ֞ן אֱמֹ֥ר לִבְנֵֽי־יִשְׂרָאֵ֘ל אֲנִ֣י יְהוָה֒ וְהוֹצֵאתִ֣י אֶתְכֶ֗ם מִתַּ֙חַת֙ סִבְלֹ֣ת מִצְרַ֔יִם וְהִצַּלְתִּ֥י אֶתְכֶ֖ם מֵעֲבֹדָתָ֑ם וְגָאַלְתִּ֤י אֶתְכֶם֙ בִּזְר֣וֹעַ נְטוּיָ֔ה וּבִשְׁפָטִ֖ים גְּדֹלִֽים׃ (ז) וְלָקַחְתִּ֨י אֶתְכֶ֥ם לִי֙ לְעָ֔ם וְהָיִ֥יתִי לָכֶ֖ם לֵֽאלֹהִ֑ים וִֽידַעְתֶּ֗ם כִּ֣י אֲנִ֤י יְהוָה֙ אֱלֹ֣הֵיכֶ֔ם הַמּוֹצִ֣יא אֶתְכֶ֔ם מִתַּ֖חַת סִבְל֥וֹת מִצְרָֽיִם׃ (ח) וְהֵבֵאתִ֤י אֶתְכֶם֙ אֶל־הָאָ֔רֶץ אֲשֶׁ֤ר נָשָׂ֙אתִי֙ אֶת־יָדִ֔י לָתֵ֣ת אֹתָ֔הּ לְאַבְרָהָ֥ם לְיִצְחָ֖ק וּֽלְיַעֲקֹ֑ב וְנָתַתִּ֨י אֹתָ֥הּ לָכֶ֛ם מוֹרָשָׁ֖ה אֲנִ֥י יְהוָֽה׃

(6) I am YHWH!

I will free you from the labors of the Egyptians and deliver you from their bondage. I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and through extraordinary chastisements. (7) And I will take you to be My people, and I will be your elohim.

And you shall know that I, YHWH, am your elohim who freed you from the labors of the Egyptians.

(8) I will bring you into the land which I swore to give to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and I will give it to you for a possession, I, YHWH.

.....It is as good as done.

It is unfortunate that we have to look back and laud Caleb for having such trust and standing up to his peers, when all of Israel was given every reason to see things just as he did; By the time the spies were sent to scout the land, Israel had already seen YHWH take on the Egyptian pantheon of gods on her behalf; And from the very beginning, it was never even a fair fight!

Why might you think, despite everything that they had seen, heard, and experienced together, that a figure like Caleb was the exception, rather than the norm???

I'm also wondering - if David is held in such high esteem for defeating Goliath of Gath, what does that say about Caleb? For here is what we are told one chapter later, after Caleb declares his willingness and ability to take on the Anakites:

I'll raise you 2

(יג) וּלְכָלֵ֣ב בֶּן־יְפֻנֶּ֗ה נָ֤תַן חֵ֙לֶק֙ בְּת֣וֹךְ בְּנֵֽי־יְהוּדָ֔ה אֶל־פִּ֥י יְהוָ֖ה לִֽיהוֹשֻׁ֑עַ אֶת־קִרְיַ֥ת אַרְבַּ֛ע אֲבִ֥י הָעֲנָ֖ק הִ֥יא חֶבְרֽוֹן׃ (יד) וַיֹּ֤רֶשׁ מִשָּׁם֙ כָּלֵ֔ב אֶת־שְׁלוֹשָׁ֖ה בְּנֵ֣י הָעֲנָ֑ק אֶת־שֵׁשַׁ֤י וְאֶת־אֲחִימַן֙ וְאֶת־תַּלְמַ֔י יְלִידֵ֖י הָעֲנָֽק׃

(13) In accordance with YHWH's command to Joshua, Caleb son of Jephunneh was given a portion among the Judites, namely, Kiriath-arba—that is, Hebron. ([Arba] was the father of Anak.)

(14) Caleb dislodged from there the three Anakites: Sheshai, Ahiman, and Talmai, descendants of Anak.

Caleb triumphed over THREE of these figures!!!!

Such is the power of well-placed trust, which is a theme we have had the privilege of speaking about many times.

The Anakites represented a seemingly insurmountable obstacle. Such that despite all that Israel had seen, Israelites would take one look at the Anakites and their hearts melted. They saw themselves as tiny; Bugs to be stepped on.

But Caleb remembered that strength comes not by the might of men, nor by the counting of horses and chariots - but from YHWH alone. YHWH, who wants to be on Israel's side, wants to be a friend and a reliable ally.

But it seems from this that YHWH, in order to play his part and be that support, needs us to be able to rely on him.

I find that as I read through some of the prayer-poems left to us by our Israelite ancestors, we see that many of them were truly able to channel that same faith of Caleb.

I'll leave you with one lovely example:

I shall never shake

(א) לַמְנַצֵּ֥חַ עַֽל־יְדוּת֗וּן מִזְמ֥וֹר לְדָוִֽד׃ (ב) אַ֣ךְ אֶל־אֱ֭לֹהִים דּֽוּמִיָּ֣ה נַפְשִׁ֑י מִ֝מֶּ֗נּוּ יְשׁוּעָתִֽי׃ (ג) אַךְ־ה֣וּא צ֭וּרִי וִֽישׁוּעָתִ֑י מִ֝שְׂגַּבִּ֗י לֹא־אֶמּ֥וֹט רַבָּֽה׃ (ד) עַד־אָ֤נָה ׀ תְּהֽוֹתְת֣וּ עַל אִישׁ֮ תְּרָצְּח֪וּ כֻ֫לְּכֶ֥ם כְּקִ֥יר נָט֑וּי גָּ֝דֵ֗ר הַדְּחוּיָֽה׃ (ה) אַ֤ךְ מִשְּׂאֵת֨וֹ ׀ יָעֲצ֣וּ לְהַדִּיחַ֮ יִרְצ֪וּ כָ֫זָ֥ב בְּפִ֥יו יְבָרֵ֑כוּ וּ֝בְקִרְבָּ֗ם יְקַלְלוּ־סֶֽלָה׃ (ו) אַ֣ךְ לֵ֭אלֹהִים דּ֣וֹמִּי נַפְשִׁ֑י כִּי־מִ֝מֶּ֗נּוּ תִּקְוָתִֽי׃ (ז) אַךְ־ה֣וּא צ֭וּרִי וִֽישׁוּעָתִ֑י מִ֝שְׂגַּבִּ֗י לֹ֣א אֶמּֽוֹט׃ (ח) עַל־אֱ֭לֹהִים יִשְׁעִ֣י וּכְבוֹדִ֑י צוּר־עֻזִּ֥י מַ֝חְסִ֗י בֵּֽאלֹהִֽים׃

(2) Truly my very spirit waits quietly for Elohim; my deliverance comes from Him.

(3) Truly He is my rock and deliverance, my haven; I shall never be shaken.


(6) Truly, wait quietly for elohim, O my spirit! For my hope comes from Him. (7) He is my rock and deliverance, my haven; I shall not be shaken.

(8) I rely on Elohim, my deliverance and glory, my rock of strength; in Elohim is my refuge. (9) Trust in Him at all times!

O people; pour out your hearts before Him; Elohim is our refuge. Selah.

What might our history have looked like if we had been a Nation of Calebs? (Or alternatively, what if we didn't even have one Caleb to reassure, to push back on the fear and panic?)

This faith, this trust, is available to each and every one of us. Where in our lives can we do a better job of tapping into it, just as Caleb did, drawing on its positive energy so as to enable us to be forces for good in the world, when otherwise the sentiment around us might be overwhelmed with negativity?

May YHWH touch our hearts as he did Caleb's, inspiring us to be able to place uncompromising trust in both him, as well as in ourselves; And may we recognize that just like Caleb, WE can choose to be YHWH's loyal agents in this world, each of us playing the most vital of roles in furthering his will and his vision.