So this chapter confused me a lot – more specifically verses 16 to 19. Why did Othniel have to conquer Debir again? Hadn’t they done this already? And how did this little vignette about Acsah fit in? Doing my usual thing I googled around her name and discovered this interesting article: Caleb’s daughter: Achsah the pushy. It really helped me to understand the reconquering of the city and more about Acsah.
On Debir, the author reminded me that Israel had only destroyed 3 towns completely – a point I had noted about Joshua not destroying towns on mounds. Also the author reminded me that the Israelites had not always killed everyone in a town – their description about this is definitely worth reading. So it makes sense that since the last battle against the city under Joshua, Debir is again rebelling and seeking to push the invaders out of their land. What I had not thought about was that Caleb used this battle as a way to find a suitable husband for his daughter.
I guess I am so used to the fairytale rule that kings give their daughters to the man who slays the dragon/kills the witch etc. I never questioned why Caleb was doing this. In this case Caleb wants a man who kills giants, because then he will know he has found Acsah a husband who can definitely take care of her. (Maybe this story s the origin of those fairytales?)
The part I liked about Acsah was when she suddenly appeared at her father’s field demanding water for the land he had given as a dowry. There is a long description in the article which is worth reading, but to me it confirmed that Acsah was definitely her father’s daughter. There are not many women mentioned in the Bible but we do know that it is exceptional for women to inherit land, which means that Acsah probably had no legal rights to any land of her father’s. Yet when she discovered that he had given desert land as her dowry she was straight over to his place to demand land with access to water. Perhaps this was another little test of Caleb’s, he wanted to know that together Acsah and Othniel would fight for what they needed to survive – he knew that they could not live in this land without being demanding.
But finally Caleb reminds me of God the Father, who will always give us what we need with love – perhaps like Caleb, God sometimes just wants us to ask for it?