I received the following question:

Why do you think God chose Joshua and not Caleb to proceed Moses?

I assume you are thinking because both Joshua and Caleb gave a faithful report from spying out the land, whereas the other ten spies gave a bad report and died for it.

Caleb was indeed faithful to God and to Moses, and gave a report full of faith, just like Joshua did. However, Joshua’s faithful report in this instance was not what won him the right to become Moses’ assistant, and to take over his place when Moses died. Rather, Joshua had already been Moses’ assistant and right-hand man long before this.

The first time we read of him is in Exodus 17:9. The Bible does not even bother to introduce him to us. Instead, we simply read of Moses instructing him to lead Israel in their battle with the nation of Amalek. Joshua does this, and Israel gets the victory. Apparently, God is pleased with the work of Joshua in this case. The LORD insists in Exodus 17:14 that Joshua be present to hear Moses rehearse the promise when the LORD declares that He will wipe the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven.

The next time we see Joshua, it is in Exodus 24:13, when he is called “Moses’ assistant.” It is hard to say whether this came about as a result of his faithful leadership in the battle against Amalek, or whether he was already Moses’ assistant before this, and that was why he was given charge over the battle of Amalek. The Bible simply does not tell us where Joshua came from, or how he came to be promoted to this position.

In Exodus 32:17, Joshua comes down from the mountain of the LORD with Moses, after having apparently spent the forty days on the mountain with the rest of the elders.

In Exodus 33:11, Joshua is in the tent of meeting while Moses meets with the LORD there. He remains behind in the tabernacle, however, while Moses goes out to speak with the people.

In Numbers 13:8 & 16, we learn that Joshua’s name was Hoshea the son of Nun, and it was Moses who gave him the name Joshua. We also learn that he was the chief man of the tribe of Ephraim, the greater of the two tribes of Joseph. Considering the position Joseph held among the Israelites in Egypt, it is no surprise to find one of his descendants in the favored ranks at this point.

Then, Numbers 14 is the chapter where the other spies give the evil report, and Joshua and Caleb the good report.

So you see that Joshua was already the favored assistant of Moses long before the incident with the twelve spies. Caleb, on the other hand, though he was head of the tribe of Judah, was never favored with being so close to Moses as Joshua was. Apparently the LORD had made choice of Joshua long before this, and that is no doubt why he was chosen in Numbers 27 to be Moses’ replacement.