We don’t know that they lived happily ever after, but we do know a bit more about Othniel than Acsah.
- He was Caleb’s nephew, the son of his brother Kenaz.
- He had a brother named Seraiah.
- He conquered Debir, which had been Kiriath-Sepher, inhabited by the Anakim.
- He became Israel’s first “judge,” the only one from Judah, and the only one about whom Scripture has nothing negative to say. (More on the judges next week.)
- He delivered Israel from Cushan-Rishathaim king of Aram Naharaim, to whom the Israelites were subject for eight years.
- He had two sons named Hathath and Meonothai.
- He was from the tribe of Judah.
There is some controversy about whether he was Acsah’s uncle or cousin, due to the wording, “Othniel, son of Kenaz, Caleb’s brother.” Does Caleb’s brother refer to Kenaz or Othniel? In English, it would be Kenaz but apparently, in Hebrew it’s harder to tell. Most scholars go with cousin.
Girls usually married in their early teens, as soon as they could bear children. So, how old was he? With a lot of math, we can figure out that he was in his early twenties when he conquered Debir. So, not that much of a feat, maybe. (The math is below, if you’re interested.)
But he was in his seventies for his next big battle. The Bible says, “the Spirit of the Lord came on him, [and] … the Lord gave Cushan-Rishathaim king of Aram into the hands of Othniel, who overpowered him.” I don’t think that means he could just walk up to old Cushy and knock him over with a feather. He still had to fight, and at over seventy that was no small task.
But then again, his uncle conquered Hebron at 85, so he came from good stock. Perhaps it ran in the family.
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- Caleb was 40 when he spied out the Promised land.
- He was 85 when he conquered Hebron, and Debir was shortly after. Debir was one of the last cities. That’s a difference of 45 years.
- So Othniel could be no older than 65, since everyone older than 20 died in the wilderness.
- Joshua died at 110.
- Cushan-Rishathaim’s 8 years of oppression could not have begun until Joshua died because “the people served the Lord throughout the lifetime of Joshua.”
- The land had peace for 40 years after that. So Othni lived 48 years after Joshua died.
- But how old was Joshua when he entered Canaan? Most people automatically put him the same age as Caleb, for no particular reason. You’ll notice in my books I have him much younger. For one reason, he was “Moses’s aide since youth.”
- Yet, since he was a spy and representing his entire tribe, I’d put him over 20, especially since God felt it necessary to point out that he would be exempt from the death penalty the rest of Israel would suffer in the wilderness for their unbelief.
- So if Joshua is 21 at Kadesh Barnea, then he is 66 at the battle of Debir. He dies 44 years later at 110.
- Now, to Othniel. Let’s make him 21 at Debir. We need to add the 44 years Joshua lives, plus the 8 years of oppression. He is 73 when he liberates Judah from Cushy. Now add 40 for the years of peace, and he is 113 when he dies. You could add a few years if you desired, since many of his contemporaries lived to about 120, but it’s close.