To get the “whole picture” let’s start out by reading Joshua 14:6-9: “And Caleb…said to him (Joshua): ‘You know the word which the LORD said to Moses the man of God concerning you and me in Kadesh Barnea. I was forty years old when Moses the servant of the LORD sent me from Kadesh Barnea to spy out the land, and I brought back word to him as it was in my heart. Nevertheless my brethren who went up with me made the heart of the people melt, but I wholly followed the LORD my God. So Moses swore on that day, saying, Surely the land where your foot has trodden shall be your inheritance and your children’s forever, because you have wholly followed the LORD my God’” (NKJV).

This is one of the most refreshing portions in the Old Testament, for we see the great zeal and faith that characterized Caleb when he and Joshua went, along with ten other men, to spy out the land. When they returned to Moses he was able to bring “back word to him as it was in his heart.” What word was that? Before we listen to what Caleb said, let’s listen to the report by the ten spies, “We went to the land where you sent us. It truly flows with milk and honey, and this is its fruit. Nevertheless the people who dwell in the land are strong; the cities are fortified and very large; moreover we saw the descendants of Anak there…we saw giants…and we were like grasshoppers in our own sight, and so we were in their sight” (Numbers 13:27-28, 33). After their “evil report,” Caleb spoke these words from his heart, “Let us go up at once and take possession, for we are well able to overcome it” (verse 30). The people of Israel turned a deaf ear to Caleb’s words of encouragement and became frightened by the negative report of the majority. This led to Joshua and Caleb exhorting their brethren in Numbers 14:7-9, “The land we passed through to spy out is an exceeding good land. If the LORD delight in us, then HE WILL BRING US INTO THIS LAND AND GIVE IT TO US, ‘a land which flows with milk and honey.’ Only do not rebel against the LORD, nor fear the people of the land, for they are our bread; their protection has departed from them, and THE LORD IS WITH US.” Caleb and Joshua’s eyes were fixed on the Lord; the eyes of the ten spies were focused on the giants in the land. Moses was so impressed with Caleb’s faith and zeal that he promised him, “Surely the land where your foot has trodden shall be your inheritance and your children’s forever, because you have wholly followed the LORD my God” (Joshua 14:9).

Now let’s read Joshua 14:10-12, “And now, behold, the LORD has kept me alive, AS HE SAID, these forty five years, ever since the LORD SPOKE THIS WORD TO MOSES while Israel wandered in the wilderness; and now, here I am this day, eighty-five years old. As yet I am as strong this day as on the day that Moses sent me; just as my strength was then, so now is my strength for war…now therefore, GIVE ME THIS MOUNTAIN OF WHICH THE LORD SPOKE IN THAT DAY.”

Now for your question, “Why did Caleb have to wait and ask Joshua for his inheritance?” Caleb had to wait because of Israel’s failure to trust in the Lord to give them the victory over their enemies who occupied the Promised Land. As for Caleb “asking Joshua for his inheritance,” he refers over and over again to “what THE LORD HAD SAID”; in other words, to how God (through Moses) had promised him the land that he was asking for. So, he was simply “asking Joshua” for what was rightfully his and thus we read in verse 13, “And Joshua blessed him and gave Hebron to Caleb…as an inheritance.” Joshua could see that Caleb’s faith and zeal had not diminished one iota and that God, Who had made this promise to him, had also preserved him for 45 more years so he could indeed enter into his inheritance. Joshua was happy to honor God’s Word in this way and make good on His promise to faithful Caleb. (285.3) (DO)