It came about that when she (Achsah) came to him, she persuaded him to ask her father for a field. So she alighted from the donkey, and Caleb said to her, “What do you want?” Then she said, “Give me a blessing; since you have given me the land of the Negev, give me also springs of water.” So he (Caleb) gave her the upper springs and the lower springs. (Joshua 15:18,19).
Imagine what it must have been like to live your entire youth as a nomad. Your people wander through a wilderness area for many years. Every morning you wake up and get to look forward to manna for breakfast, manna for lunch, and manna for dinner. There are constant threats from hostile neighbors. What are your options here? You can just try and get by or you can wander around with a chip on your shoulder.
Or you can keep your faith in God. You know that at some point you and your family will find a permanent home because God promised it. You grew up with a man who lived his life in obedience to God and taught you to trust God also. This is the story of Achsah, brave and determined daughter of Caleb.
Many of the Israelites did not believe God. After they came out of Egypt their leader Moses sent twelve spies into the land promised by God. Ten of the spies would not trust in God’s strength to fight for them. Only Joshua and Caleb insisted that the people should not rebel against God “and do not fear the people of the land, for they will be our prey. Their protection has been removed from them, and the Lord is with us; do not fear them” (Numbers 14:9).
All of the then living adults, including the ten cowardly spies, died in the wilderness for their sin over a period of forty years. Achsah and the others who had been born since then would go into the Promised Land with only two of the original generation remaining alive – their new leader, Joshua, and Achsah’s father, Caleb.
By now these men were in their eighties, but God had blessed them with health and vitality. Caleb said, “I am still as strong today as I was in the day Moses sent me; as my strength was then, so my strength is now, for war and for going out and coming in” (Joshua 14:11).
Caleb still had enough strength to do battle against the giants in the land of Canaan. Joshua allowed Caleb to subdue the particular piece of land that would be his own eventually. It included the “hill country about which the Lord spoke on that day, for you heard on that day that Anakim were there, with great fortified cities; perhaps the Lord will be with me and I will drive them out as the Lord has spoken” (Joshua 14:12). This land was the area around Hebron.
Caleb drove out all of the inhabitants and was given the land. While doing battle he put forward an interesting proposition. He pledged his daughter to the brave man who would conquer Kiriath-sepher.
If we didn’t understand what was really going on we might be tempted to think that Caleb was just an opportunist using his daughter as a pawn. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Don’t forget, he was an old man. He was looking forward to retiring. He knew this land would go to his descendants. Caleb was concerned that he got a really worthy son-in-law and not just a mediocre husband for his daughter who would be a great heiress. This new son-in-law must be courageous, smart, uncompromising in faith, and as strong as himself. He wanted a man who would help his daughter raise his descendants to wholeheartedly worship Yahweh.
Othniel was such a man. He proved his love for God, his uncle Caleb, and Achsah by capturing Kiriath-sepher. He won his bride and they were ready to settle down and enjoy their blessings.
However, the land of the Negev that they were given was very dry and barren. It would have been difficult to grow crops there or water livestock.
And so, Achsah ventured forth to visit her father. This woman had inherited his courage and faith. She grew up with a man who had stayed the course. Achsah learned from her years in the wilderness that God wants to bless those who stay true to Him. She saw God’s promises come true and she dared to ask for what she needed.
When Achsah alighted from her donkey Caleb asked her what she wanted. She boldly requested, “Give me a blessing; since you have given me the land of the Negev, give me also springs of water.” So he gave her the upper springs and the lower springs” (Joshua 15:19).
Achsah had three brothers. No doubt Caleb provided for them too, but we don’t know much about them. We have only Achsah’s story given to us by the Holy Spirit.
Though Solomon would not write about the Proverbs 31 woman for hundreds of years in the future, Achsah would have fitted the image very well.
Note three of the many ways:
1. Achsah proved that she was a good businesswoman. She knew that the land would now be worth much more than before. She and Othniel would be able to take care of a very large household. Caravans would be able to stop and water their animals. Travelers would be able to bring trade. She would be like the “merchant ships; she brings her food from afar” (Proverbs 31:14).
2. “The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain” (Proverbs 31:11). Othniel let Achsah ask her father for the land with the springs. Her husband trusted her. Perhaps this was because he knew that his wife had learned courage, strength, and fortitude from her father. We don’t know how old Achsah was when the Israelites reached the Promised Land, but she must have watched her father all of her life be one of the bravest, strongest, and most faithful of men. She certainly learned her boldness at the knee of an expert! Perhaps she was the apple of her father’s eye as his fearless daughter.
3. “Her husband is known in the gates, when he sits among the elders of the land” (Proverbs 31:23). Here is an amazing thing. Truly this husband of Achsah was well known in the gates as the first judge of Israel. We have a continuation of the story of Caleb, Achsah, and Othniel later in the book of Judges. (See Judges 3:9-11.)
Othniel continued to prove that Caleb’s faith in him was correct. As part of his responsibility as judge he had to go to war against Cushan-rishathaim, king of Mesopotamia. God blessed Othniel with extra strength as He had his father-in-law. Othniel prevailed against Israel’s enemy and then the land had rest for forth years.
What can we learn from Achsah’s story?
Achsah was blessed with a godly father and husband. Caleb wanted her to be protected when he was gone. He wanted to be sure that she would be able to enjoy her inheritance and pass it on the their progeny. That is why he put forth a challenge that would bring forth the right man for her.
We can be like Achsah when we pray. She had strong faith and trust that God would keep His promises. Our heavenly Father wants to bless us. We should be bold as she was when we present our petitions. We should not be surprised if our Father gives us even more than we asked.
Achsah was a woman who boldly asked.
Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened…. how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” (Matthew 7: 7,8,11).