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Article Info:
published: 3/31/13
updated: 2/27/14


Who was Caleb?

In the Hebrew Bible or Christian Old Testament, Caleb was the son of Hezron, son of Pharez, son of Judah; father of Hur by Ephrath; grandfather of Caleb the son of Hur, the firstborn of Ephratah. In 1 Chr. 4:15 Caleb the spy is called "son of Jephunneh," and in 1 Chr. 2:49 the elder Caleb seemingly is father of the daughter Achsa. In Josh. 15:17 Caleb the spy is father of Achsah.

Possibly, after all, the Caleb of 1 Chr. 2 is the same as Caleb the spy; his adoption into Hezron's family accounting for his appearing in the public Israelite record as his son. In this case the different families assigned to him he must have had by different wives, having their lots in different localities. This genealogy (1 Chr. 2), drawn up in Hezekiah's reign, alone mentions the supposed elder Caleb.

Caleb, the illustrious spy, is also called" the Kenezite," or "son of Kenaz" (Num. 32:12). Caleb was "head" (Num. 13:3) of the Hezronite family in Judah; while Nahshon son of Amminadab was head or prince of the whole tribe (Num. 1:7).

He and Oshea or Joshua, alone of the twelve, on returning from Canaan to Kadesh Barnea, encouraged the people when dispirited by the other spies: "Let us go up at once, and possess the land (he does not for a moment doubt Israel's ability; not Let us try; success is certain, the Lord being on our side), for we are well able to overcome it" (Num. 13:30). His character answers to his name, all heart.

His reward was according to his faith (Num. 14:24). "My servant Caleb, because he had another spirit, and hath followed Me fully, him will I bring into the land where unto he went, and his seed shall possess it."

Forty-five years afterward Caleb reminded Moses of God's promise, adding that now at 85 he was as strong as then. "Hebron therefore (the land he had trodden upon in faith as a spy, Deut. 1:36) became the inheritance of Caleb, ... because that he wholly followed the Lord God of Israel" (Josh. 14:8,9,14).

He dislodged the three sons of ANAK (which see), Josh. 15:14, and gave ACHSAH (which see) his daughter to Othniel, son of Kenaz his brother, for taking DEBIR (which see).

In Josh. 15:13, "unto Caleb Joshua gave a part among the children of Judah, according to the commandment of the Lord, ... even the city of Arba, father of Anak-Hebron," it is implied that he was not by birth of Judah, but was given his portion in that tribe by the special command of the" God of Israel."

By marriage and submission to the bond of Jehovah's covenant with Israel he became a true Israelite by adoption; a specimen of God's mercy to the Gentiles even in Old Testament times, and a pledge of the opening of the door of faith to them widely in the New Testament So Jethro, Rahab, Ruth, Naaman. Kenaz his ancestor was a duke of Edom (Gen. 36:11,15). The names Shobal and Manahath are other Edomite (Gen. 36:20-23) names which appear among the sons of the Caleb in 1 Chr. 2:50,52.

Jephunneh, his father's name, is probably the same as Pinon (1 Chr. 1:52; Gen. 36:41). Termanites too are among the children of Ashur, Hezron's son (1 Chr. 4:6). This consideration helps to account for the large numbers of Israelites at the exodus; proselytes and marriage connections from other races swelled the number of Israelites of pure blood.

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IBSE, (in the public domain) with minor edits.

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