Claiming Your Legacy - The Story of Achsah

Ruth Davidar Paul   |   March 26, 2021 

**The following is a  fictional narrative based on the story of Achsah.**

Abel Shittim. Plains of Moab. 1406 BC

“This is it. We’re finally crossing over! Father, can you believe this day has finally come?”

The young girl stood excitedly on the banks of the river Jordan and watched the priests carry the Ark of the Covenant – the holiest of holy objects – into the flooded river. Even as she and the several thousand people around her – extended family members – stared in wonder, the swollen river gradually dwindled, leaving the dry ground for them to cross over into the Promised Land.

She looked up at her father – a weather-beaten warrior who seemed to be lost in his thoughts. Even as she tugged his hand, he glanced down at her and smiled.

“Well, Achsah. You did not doubt that Yahweh would bring us into the Promised Land, did you?”

“No Father. But did you see how the river dried up? Have you ever seen anything like that?”

He smiled, remembering his own bewilderment and awe as a young man when he saw the Red Sea part before Moses; the sense of excitement that slowly replaced the fear as he saw the power of El Shaddai in plain sight. The wonder and amazement still fired his bones, especially now as they were finally entering the land that had been denied to them for 40 years. No, this was not an insignificant moment by any means.

But he did not wear his heart on his sleeve as his young daughter did. Achsah. His only daughter. His most treasured possession.

Achsah interrupted his thoughts by asking him—Caleb—again, “Father, have you ever seen anything like that?”

He chuckled at her single-mindedness and narrated the tale of how he and his best friend Joshua had a ringside seat to one of the biggest oceanic adventures ever to be witnessed in human history. Achsah listened spellbound. She'd heard bits and pieces of the story but this was the first time her father had shared so many details. And seeing a version of it unfold before her very eyes, gave her a new perspective on all those almost legendary tales. They were no longer a figment of someone’s overactive imagination but rather a narrative to stoke the fires, to remind her that the God who her father worshipped was not made from human hands, but an almighty, powerful Being who could only be hallowed.

As she heard more and more, she began to understand why her father and Joshua had been bold and brave enough to take a stand even when threatened with death (Num 14:6 - 10). Achsah realized even as she walked across the dry bed of the Jordan, that she was walking beside a true legend – only one of two men from the original generation of slaves who were allowed to enter Canaan because he had a different spirit in him (Num 14:24). A spirit of absolute confidence in the character of Yahweh; his faith remained unshaken in the face of overwhelming odds and the abandonment of one’s closest family and friends. Despite all that he saw and heard with his physical eyes, he did not doubt but remained steadfast and loyal to the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

Achsah held her head high knowing that this was the legacy she was carrying into the Promised Land.

***

Kirjath Sepher. North of the Valley of Achor. 1400 BC.

Shame washed over Achsah even as she heard her father say the words she’d been dreading to hear – “He who attacks Kirjath Sepher and takes it, to him I will give Achsah my daughter as wife.” (Joshua 15:16)

She was to be booty. Bartered to the most blood-thirsty of warriors. Whoever won would have to be, if the previous battles were any indication. Her father had fought off three giants to claim Hebron (Joshua 15:14) and now he was issuing a rallying cry – calling all the fiercest of fighters to, well, fight over her! She wished the earth would open up and swallow her whole. She had never thought that her beloved father would be the one to inflict this shame on her; to proclaim to the entire world that she was only a possession to him.

A sense of deep betrayal washed over her even as she accepted the inevitable. But deeper than the sense of betrayal was a sense of sadness at what she had lost. Her legacy was no longer that of bold bravery and audacious confidence. Rather, she was to be a mere dowry for whoever wanted the land the most.

Achsah bowed her head in humiliation.

***

Debir (Formerly Kirjath Sepher). North of the Valley of Achor. 1399 BC.

Achsah smiled tentatively at the man she was marrying. She barely recognized her cousin—Othniel—in this warrior who had fought an entire city (Joshua 15:17). He seemed so aloof and removed from all that was happening around them, so unlike her childhood playmate. Suddenly, she caught his eye and he winked. Surprised into rigidity, she wondered if she had imagined it. But no, there it was again, accompanied by a grin. Slowly she relaxed. This marriage would not be so bad after all.

A month later.

“But Achsah, we don’t need anything more. We already have the land your father gifted us at the wedding. What more do you need?” Othniel groaned and rubbed his forehead. His wife was at it again.

Achsah’s chin set stubbornly. “I know, Othniel. But please, let me ask my father for a field.” (Joshua 15:18)

“But why?” came the bewildered response.

“Trust me. I need to ask him. Will you let me do this?” Othniel recognized the single-minded look in her eyes and finally capitulated.

Achsah gave him a quick hug and ran out to the herdsmen, asking for her donkey to be saddled.

A few hours later, Caleb looked up to see a donkey trotting down the path with his only daughter on its back, a determined look on her face. Caleb knew that look. He smiled to himself and waited for her to reach him.

When she’d dismounted, he asked her amusedly, “Well Achsah. What do you want from me?” (Joshua 15:18)

Achsah looked up at this man who had given her such a wonderful legacy as a girl. She had hero-worshipped him and admired him and wanted so much to be like him. But it had seemed like he had snatched her legacy away when he’d bartered her like a piece of goods. Now she wasn’t so sure. Caleb son of Jephunneh was many things, but a fool and coward he was not.

Taking a deep breath, Achsah held out her hand to him and said boldly, “Father, give me a blessing. You gave me dry land in the South around the Negev. Give me also springs of water.” (Joshua 15:19)

She stopped. Her fingers trembled. She wondered if he would understand.

Caleb looked at his only daughter with tender affection, then grasped her hand firmly and pulled her in for a bear hug. Achsah heard the words rumble in his chest even as her father’s arms held her close. “I’ll give you a double blessing instead – the upper and lower springs are yours.”

Even as tears coursed down Achsah’s cheeks, she knew that her father had never for one moment betrayed her or seen her as a possession. She was his cherished treasure and he had given her to the only person he knew would be worthy of having her in the only way he knew how.

***

Canaan. 1397 - 1344 BC.

Achsah’s own legacy began with her audacious request for a blessing. It continued not merely with the physical springs of water, but when the time came for the Israelites to be led into battle again, God filled Othniel with His Spirit (Judges 3:10), the eternal spring. Othniel defeated the King of Mesopotamia and became Israel’s first judge, appointed by God. Under him, the land had peace for forty years (Judges 3:9 – 11).

Achsah’s legacy was not one of shame but of double honour.

When I see Achsah’s request, I don’t see a mere desire for acquisition of land. Rather, I believe she was asking for her father’s favour and blessing. And even though she asked for a single blessing, he gave her a double blessing gladly. She came boldly to her father and asked forthrightly. She did not mince words, nor was she mealy-mouthed.

Now please don't get me wrong, I'm not advocating any "naming and claiming" philosophy. But haven't you ever experienced a season in your life where you're almost desperate for something more? Something deeper spiritually and emotionally. Where your current status quo with God doesn't cut it anymore? Where you feel you're still merely scratching the surface in how much you know and experience Him?

I know I have and in those moments of desperate longing, I've found that coming to God forthrightly and asking in all vulnerability and honesty really is an invitation to open the floodgates! In a good way! Achsah is a reminder to us to come with a single-minded determination to our Heavenly Father and ask for what He longs to give us - His Spirit.

“So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.  For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.  If a son asks for bread from any father among you, will he give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent instead of a fish?  Or if he asks for an egg, will he offer him a scorpion?  If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!” (Luke 11:9 – 13)

May we claim our legacy today as we ask our Father for this blessing.

 

 

Photo by Marc-Olivier Jodoin on Unsplash

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Ruth Davidar Paul is a freelance copy editor and content developer, who loves rummaging through used books stores and collecting old books. Apart from filling her home with overflowing bookcases, she enjoys deep conversations, jigsaw puzzles, painting, and daydreaming. She currently lives in Chennai with her husband Abhishek and their children Abigail, Jordan, and Amy.

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