Upper and Lower Springs

“When she came, she urged him to ask for the field from her father as she dismounted her donkey. And Caleb said to her, ‘What is this to you?’ And she said to him, ‘Give me the a blessing. As it is arid ground where you have set me, also give to me the springs of water.’ And Caleb gave to her the upper springs and the lower springs.”

(Judges 1:14-15)

We again have an overlap of Joshua 15:18-19, an event that begins in Joshua and finds its completion here. Again, as this introduction is recapping events, we should not get too hung up on the overlap that is taking place.

The account is an interesting one in character. Ordinarily daughters did not get to lay claim to land in this fashion, so it speaks a great deal about the character and influence of Achsah, Caleb’s daughter. The implication is that Achsah had urged her new husband to ask her father for a favor but he was reluctant to do so. Thus, she did so on her own. She rides off, finds her father, dismounts her donkey and says, “Give me a blessing.” What follows is an explanation that since he has given her a land that is arid, he should also give her the highlands and lowlands on the boarders because there are springs present. This Caleb does.

On the surface, our initial response might be to say, “so what?” They are allocating territory. Yet, there is still a principle that can be gleaned, though we don’t much talk about dowries today. A dowry? Certainly. In the Jewish culture in years past, a dowry would often be provided by the potential suitor to the bride. For her, it was meant as a provision in case that the husband were killed or otherwise was simply a deadbeat. This dowry would be totally controlled by the bride and she was not to touch it except in the case of a family emergency. The principle is that the dowry then protected the family in case the husband was no longer able to provide. Here, it seems that having conquered Kiriath-Sepher, Othniel could have claimed the springs as well, but in his reluctance to do so, we find Achsah claiming it for herself…essentially as her own dowry.

While dowries are not the practice today in the western world, the principle of ensuring the safety of the wife and family in the case of tragedy is still a very real concern that Christian families should address. Whether this protection is achieved through life-insurance or through savings, provision should be made that if the husband (and primary provider) passes away or is suddenly unemployed due to an injury or such, the family can be reasonably provided for — perhaps not in luxury, but in a reasonable manner.

Too often people think only about themselves and even then, only about the moment. While none of us are guaranteed tomorrow, if the Lord will give us tomorrows, then we should plan for them as best as we are able. In turn, we should also work hard not only to provide for ourselves, but also to provide for our families and also to be able to be generous toward those in need. Achsah is clearly protecting her interests…but not just her own. She is also protecting the interests of her husband and future family — she can be said to be a woman of noble character, indeed.

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