Caleb and his daughter
or “Prayer” (if you prefer)
Please read the following verse from Judges Chapter 1.
There are two different interpretations about this story.
A) The negative one presents Aksah, (other spellings are: Akhsah, Achsahr, Aksar, Ax.) as an unsatisfied or greedy daughter, a demanding and ungrateful woman towards her father Caleb;
B) and the second interpretation presents a positive side of Aksah and this is my position. Aksah may be little known in the Bible. Yet, she is mentioned 5 times in the Scriptures and this very verse is repeated twice in two different places (Judges 1:15 & Joshua 15:19). Thus, the importance of this Scripture. After all, if God puts such importance on this women, there is a good reason.
Aksah was Caleb’s only daughter. She had 3 brothers. Caleb (grandson of Judah), was also the closest friend of Joshua We can, therefore, consider Caleb as the General in Chief of Israel’s huge army. Thus, consider him as a most powerful and courageous soldier.
Caleb also had a strong faith in the Lord and he was known for his courage. Among the 12 spies sent to assess the promised land and its inhabitants (and to see the cemetery of the elders of Israel), 10 returned to give Moses bad news by saying that the people dwelling in the promised land were too powerful for Israel’s army. Certain dwellers there were also of the same race as Goliath, therefore the race of giants. (Descendants of the fallen angels who visited human women in Genesis – a race that is extinct today).
Unlike the other 10 spies, Joshua and Caleb declared to Moses that the country was propitious to take. According to Numbers 13; 14, Joshua and Caleb are the only two of the twelve spies who will enter into the promised land.
During this time, Caleb invites volunteers of his army to lead and destroy a certain enemy. As a reward, the victor would have his daughter, Aksah, in marriage. Joshua 15:16: Caleb said, “I will give my daughter Achsah as a wife to the one who beats Kirjath-Sepher …” (this is the city of Debir of the Canaanites).
Caleb’s half-brother, Kenaz, had a son named Othniel. Othniel was deeply in love with Aksah. Othniel took all his courage and directed the destruction of the enemy and was united with Aksah in marriage. (By the way, the ancient Jewish tradition claims that Aksah was unbelievably beautiful, so much so that most Jewish women were jealous of her).
Eventually, all the enemies of Israel will be destroyed or conquered and the country will, at last, be united in their original homeland as “Israel”. They are back home!
The wedding gifts.
Aksah asks Othniel to request from Caleb a wedding dowry and receives a large piece of land. Above and beyond a field already received, Aksah asks her husband Othniel, (who will become the very first Judge of Israel and recognized in the Bible as a faithful servant to God) for more than the land. But Othniel does not dare approach his Father in Law, Caleb. We don’t know exactly why Othniel is reluctant. Was it because Othniel was too timid? Or would it be because he feared Caleb? Scripture is silent on this issue. But know this. Caleb’s name may give us a hint. Caleb, by definition, meant in Hebrew, “the dog”. Can we therefore suppose that Caleb, being in such a position of authority in the Army, may have had a rather frightening personality? At any rate, Othniel refuses to ask more from Caleb.
So, on her own, Aksah breaks tradition and comes to visit her father, boldly but respectfully. It appears that Aksah loved her father and had confidence that her father loved her profoundly. After all, when Caleb’s wife gave birth to their only girl, Caleb was so joyful that he called his new born girl “Aksah”. This name, in Hebrew, means “jewel” or more specifically “anklet bracelet”. This denotes the love that Caleb had in the birth of a girl. So, Aksah dares to approach her father, thankful for receiving a piece of land. She came on a donkey… but she comes down from the donkey to approach her father. In the Old Testament, this is a sign of respect. (See also Rebecca coming down from her camel to approach her beloved Isaac).
Aksah was a virtuous woman and shared the same faith of her Father.
When conquering the Promised Land, Caleb asked Joshua for a land when Joshua divided the land between the tribes: Joshua 21: 9-12 “… and they gave the cities that were to be named by their name, and were for those who came down from Aaron among the clans of the Kohathites and the descendants of Levi. Indeed, fate had indicated them first. They gave them Kirjath-Arba, that is, Hebron in the mountainous region of Judah, with its surroundings, the territory that surrounds it. Arba was the ancestor of Anak. But the countryside and villages which depended on the city had been granted as possession to Caleb, the son of Jephunneh.“
Caleb gave his daughter much more than Aksah could expect. Jewish culture at that time gave a piece of land to a man but to a woman, gifts were exclusively either jewellery and / or money, never land or anything related to land. Judges 1: 15 “She said to him, “Give me a special gift. You have given me the land of the Negev. Give me the wells of water also.” So Caleb gave her the wells in the high land and in the valley.” According to the custom of the time, Caleb could have simply given her jewels or money. But he responds positively to her request by giving her far more than what she asked for.
Caleb gives her a multitude of water sources. All the sources from the north and all the sources from the south, “the upper and the lower springs“.
The symbolism of the story of Caleb and Aksah represents the goodness of God in our requests, our prayers, our petitions and our divine blessings. We receive from God heavenly blessings (upper springs) and earthly ones, the material for our human needs (lower springs).
Christians generally forget their “acquired rights“. That of “asking“. And God answers our requests faithfully and exceedingly.
We must believe in the words of the Lord, Jesus of Nazareth. “Ask and you shall receive“. This is a divine promise and it then becomes our “right” because of HIS love.
So, let us ask! It is up to us to “dare and insist”. That is what HE expects of us.