Caleb was lifted up as one who had a different spirit and followed God fully. His name means “whole hearted.”
When the band of spies was sent from Israel’s wilderness encampment Caleb represents the tribe of Judah. The majority of the men bring back a bad report. Caleb with the support of Joshua advise the invasion of the Promised Land. This minority report was rejected by the people who were intimidated by the report of the other spies of fortified cities and powerful opponents.
This reaction by the people who was regarded as rebellion against God. Because of it the entire adult population with the exception of Caleb and Joshua, was excluded from entering the Promised Land.
Caleb received an inheritance around Hebron. The area was inhabited and Caleb must thwart the Anakim who were in possession of the city. Caleb’s younger brother Othniel conquered Dabir just southwest of Hebron. As a result Caleb’s brother received Acheah, Caleb’s daughter in marriage. Acheah is given a portion of land by her father, but she requests more fruitful piece of land with springs of water.
Outline of Caleb’s life
The spy mission in Cannan
- Caleb was chosen from the tribe of Judah (Num 1:6)
- Caleb and other spies complete the mission and bring back fruit (Num:13:26-33)
Outcome of the spy mission in Cannan
- Only Caleb and Joshua bring back a favorable report (Num. 13:26-33)
- The people receive the majority report and grumble against God (Num. 14:30-38)
- All the spies were struck with a plague except Caleb and Joshua (Num. 1430-38)
- Only Joshua and Caleb of the adults would enter the Promised Land (Num. 14:30-38)
- Only Caleb and Joshua remain from the wilderness group (Num. 26:65)
- The new group resisted crossing the Jordan and Caleb reminds the of what happened to their fathers (Num. 32:12)
- Caleb receives an inheritance of land in Cannan (Num. 34:19
Taking the land
- An now old Caleb states that he is still strong and ready for battle. (Josh. 14:6-14)
- Caleb marches out to take Hebron (Josh (15:13-14)
- Caleb’s relative Othniel makes a great accomplishment in battle Josh. 15:17)
- Othniel receives Caleb’s daughter in marriage (Josh 15:17)
- Caleb’s daughter asks for and receives a field with streams of water (Josh. 15:18-19)
Lessons from Caleb’s life
Caleb believed God would undertake on behalf of his children even when this went against the majority view. Caleb was not swayed by the majority view, but instead held to his convictions even when all the people accepted the majority view that to take the land of Cannon would be difficult.
Caleb served God with his whole heart. Because of his obedience Caleb was rewarded with a long life and with an inheritance of land. If we serve God with our whole heart and stand for God even when the majority does not, God will honor us with abundantly.
see also Caleb’s relative
Scriptures involving Caleb and observations
Numbers 13:6: from the tribe of Judah, Caleb son of JephunnehMoses send Caleb as a representative from the tribe of Judah to explore Cannan according to the Lord’s command.
Numbers 13:26-33: They came back to Moses and Aaron and the whole Israelite community at Kadesh in the Desert of Paran. There they reported to them and to the whole assembly and showed them the fruit of the land. 27 They gave Moses this account: “We went into the land to which you sent us, and it does flow with milk and honey! Here is its fruit. 28 But the people who live there are powerful, and the cities are fortified and very large. We even saw descendants of Anak there. 29 The Amalekites live in the Negev; the Hittites, Jebusites and Amorites live in the hill country; and the Canaanites live near the sea and along the Jordan.” 30 Then Caleb silenced the people before Moses and said, “We should go up and take possession of the land, for we can certainly do it.” 31 But the men who had gone up with him said, “We can’t attack those people; they are stronger than we are.” 32 And they spread among the Israelites a bad report about the land they had explored. They said, “The land we explored devours those living in it. All the people we saw there are of great size. 33 We saw the Nephilim there (the descendants of Anak come from the Nephilim). We seemed like grasshoppers in our own eyes, and we looked the same to them.”
The representatives explored the land as Moses commanded. They brought back fruit and made a report. The land flows with milk and honey, also the people who live there are powerful with fortified cities. Caleb advised to take possession of the land. Those who were with Caleb advised against it.
Numbers 14:6: Joshua son of Nun and Caleb son of Jephunneh, who were among those who had explored the land, tore their clothes 7 and said to the entire Israelite assembly, “The land we passed through and explored is exceedingly good. 8 If the Lord is pleased with us, he will lead us into that land, a land flowing with milk and honey, and will give it to us.
Joshua and Caleb plead with the people not to listen to the majority report.
Numbers 14: 24: But because my servant Caleb has a different spirit and follows me wholeheartedly, I will bring him into the land he went to, and his descendants will inherit it.Caleb had a different spirit than the majority. He reflects his name meaning wholehearted.
Numbers 14:30-38: Not one of you will enter the land I swore with uplifted hand to make your home, except Caleb son of Jephunneh and Joshua son of Nun. 31 As for your children that you said would be taken as plunder, I will bring them in to enjoy the land you have rejected. 32 But as for you, your bodies will fall in this wilderness. 33 Your children will be shepherds here for forty years, suffering for your unfaithfulness, until the last of your bodies lies in the wilderness. 34 For forty years—one year for each of the forty days you explored the land—you will suffer for your sins and know what it is like to have me against you.’ 35 I, the Lord, have spoken, and I will surely do these things to this whole wicked community, which has banded together against me. They will meet their end in this wilderness; here they will die.” 36 So the men Moses had sent to explore the land, who returned and made the whole community grumble against him by spreading a bad report about it— 37 these men who were responsible for spreading the bad report about the land were struck down and died of a plague before the Lord. 38 Of the men who went to explore the land, only Joshua son of Nun and Caleb son of Jephunneh survived.
The people grumbled against God because of the report from the pessimistic explorers. As a result none would enter the land to make their home except Caleb and Joshua. All those who explored the land were struck down with a plague, except Caleb and Joshua.
Numbers 26:65: For the Lord had told those Israelites they would surely die in the wilderness, and not one of them was left except Caleb son of Jephunneh and Joshua son of Nun.
When a census was taken across the Jordan near Jericho only Caleb and Joshua remained from those at the Desert of Sinai.
Numbers 32:12: not one except Caleb son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite and Joshua son of Nun, for they followed the Lord wholeheartedly.’
The new group resisted crossing the Jordan. They were reminded of what happened to their fathers and that only Caleb and Joshua remained. There is Caleb’s wholehearted quality coming out again.
Numbers 34:19: These are the names of the men: Of the tribe of Judah, Caleb the son of Jephunneh.
Caleb is chosen as one of the twelve men to assign the inheritance to the Israelites in the land of Canaan.
Deuteronomy 1:36: except Caleb son of Jephunneh. He will see it, and I will give him and his descendants the land he set his feet on, because he followed the Lord wholeheartedly.”
Another account is given of God’s anger with Israel and Caleb allowed to enter the Promised Land because he wholeheartedly follows the Lord.
Joshua 14:6-14: Now the people of Judah approached Joshua at Gilgal, and Caleb son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite said to him, “You know what the Lord said to Moses the man of God at Kadesh Barnea about you and me. 7 I was forty years old when Moses the servant of the Lord sent me from Kadesh Barnea to explore the land. And I brought him back a report according to my convictions, 8 but my fellow Israelites who went up with me made the hearts of the people melt in fear. I, however, followed the Lord my God wholeheartedly. 9 So on that day Moses swore to me, ‘The land on which your feet have walked will be your inheritance and that of your children forever, because you have followed the Lord my God wholeheartedly.’ Now the people of Judah approached Joshua at Gilgal, and Caleb son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite said to him, “You know what the Lord said to Moses the man of God at Kadesh Barnea about you and me. 7 I was forty years old when Moses the servant of the Lord sent me from Kadesh Barnea to explore the land. And I brought him back a report according to my convictions, 8 but my fellow Israelites who went up with me made the hearts of the people melt in fear. I, however, followed the Lord my God wholeheartedly. 9 So on that day Moses swore to me, ‘The land on which your feet have walked will be your inheritance and that of your children forever, because you have followed the Lord my God wholeheartedly.’ 10 “Now then, just as the Lord promised, he has kept me alive for forty-five years since the time he said this to Moses, while Israel moved about in the wilderness. So here I am today, eighty-five years old! 11 I am still as strong today as the day Moses sent me out; I’m just as vigorous to go out to battle now as I was then. 12 Now give me this hill country that the Lord promised me that day. You yourself heard then that the Anakites were there and their cities were large and fortified, but, the Lord helping me, I will drive them out just as he said.” 13 Then Joshua blessed Caleb son of Jephunneh and gave him Hebron as his inheritance. 14 So Hebron has belonged to Caleb son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite ever since, because he followed the Lord, the God of Israel, wholeheartedly.
Caleb recounts at the age of eighty-five the experience of his exploration in Canna at age forty. He states that he was spared to enter the land because he followed God wholeheartedly. Caleb was strong for battle to take his inheritance.
Joshua 15:13-19 Now he gave to Caleb the son of Jephunneh a portion among the sons of Judah, according to the command of the Lord to Joshua, namely, Kiriath-arba, Arba being the father of Anak (that is, Hebron). 14 Caleb drove out from there the three sons of Anak: Sheshai and Ahiman and Talmai, the children of Anak. 15 Then he went up from there against the inhabitants of Debir; now the name of Debir formerly was Kiriath-sepher. 16 And Caleb said, “The one who attacks Kiriath-sepher and captures it, I will give him Achsah my daughter as a wife.” 17 Othniel the son of Kenaz, the brother of Caleb, captured it; so he gave him Achsah his daughter as a wife. 18 It came about that when she came to him, she persuaded him to ask her father for a field. So she alighted from the donkey, and Caleb said to her, “What do you want?” 19 Then she said, “Give me a blessing; since you have given me the land of the Negev, give me also springs of water.” So he gave her the upper springs and the lower springs.
Caleb marches out to take Hebron. Caleb’s brother Othniel received Caleb’s daughter in marriage because of his accomplishments in the battle.
Joshua 21:12 But the fields and villages around the city they had given to Caleb son of Jephunneh as his possession.
Caleb is mentioned in regard to how his inheritance was situated with the Levites allotment.
Judges 1:12-20: And Caleb said, “I will give my daughter Aksah in marriage to the man who attacks and captures Kiriath Sepher.” 13 Othniel son of Kenaz, Caleb’s younger brother, took it; so Caleb gave his daughter Aksah to him in marriage.14 One day when she came to Othniel, she urged him to ask her father for a field. When she got off her donkey, Caleb asked her, “What can I do for you?” 15 She replied, “Do me a special favor. Since you have given me land in the Negev, give me also springs of water.” So Caleb gave her the upper and lower springs. 16 The descendants of Moses’ father-in-law, the Kenite, went up from the City of Palms with the people of Judah to live among the inhabitants of the Desert of Judah in the Negev near Arad. 17 Then the men of Judah went with the Simeonites their fellow Israelites and attacked the Canaanites living in Zephath, and they totally destroyed the city. Therefore it was called Hormah. 18 Judah also took Gaza, Ashkelon and Ekron—each city with its territory. 19 The Lord was with the men of Judah. They took possession of the hill country, but they were unable to drive the people from the plains, because they had chariots fitted with iron. 20 As Moses had promised, Hebron was given to Caleb, who drove from it the three sons of Anak.
Caleb’s daughter given to Othniel is retold in a slightly different context.
1 Samuel 25:3: His name was Nabal and his wife’s name was Abigail. She was an intelligent and beautiful woman, but her husband was surly and mean in his dealings—he was a Calebite.
Nabel was a descendant of Caleb (not a good one).
1 Samuel 30:13-14 : David asked him, “Who do you belong to? Where do you come from?” He said, “I am an Egyptian, the slave of an Amalekite. My master abandoned me when I became ill three days ago. 14 We raided the Negev of the Kerethites, some territory belonging to Judah and the Negev of Caleb. And we burned Ziklag.”
David inquires of an Egyptian about the raiding of the territory belonging to Caleb.
1 Chronicles 2:18-2:50 Caleb son of Hezron had children by his wife Azubah (and by Jerioth). These were her sons: Jesher, Shobab and Ardon. 19 When Azubah died, Caleb married Ephrath, who bore him Hur. 20 Hur was the father of Uri, and Uri the father of Bezalel. 21 Later, Hezron, when he was sixty years old, married the daughter of Makir the father of Gilead. He made love to her, and she bore him Segub. 22 Segub was the father of Jair, who controlled twenty-three towns in Gilead. 23 (But Geshur and Aram captured Havvoth Jair, as well as Kenath with its surrounding settlements—sixty towns.) All these were descendants of Makir the father of Gilead. 24 After Hezron died in Caleb Ephrathah, Abijah the wife of Hezron bore him Ashhur the father of Tekoa. 25 The sons of Jerahmeel the firstborn of Hezron: Ram his firstborn, Bunah, Oren, Ozem and Ahijah. 26 Jerahmeel had another wife, whose name was Atarah; she was the mother of Onam. 27 The sons of Ram the firstborn of Jerahmeel: Maaz, Jamin and Eker. 28 The sons of Onam: Shammai and Jada. The sons of Shammai: Nadab and Abishur. 29 Abishur’s wife was named Abihail, who bore him Ahban and Molid. 30 The sons of Nadab: Seled and Appaim. Seled died without children. 31 The son of Appaim: Ishi, who was the father of Sheshan. Sheshan was the father of Ahlai. 32 The sons of Jada, Shammai’s brother: Jether and Jonathan. Jether died without children. 33 The sons of Jonathan: Peleth and Zaza. These were the descendants of Jerahmeel. 34 Sheshan had no sons—only daughters. He had an Egyptian servant named Jarha. 35 Sheshan gave his daughter in marriage to his servant Jarha, and she bore him Attai. 36 Attai was the father of Nathan, Nathan the father of Zabad, 37 Zabad the father of Ephlal, Ephlal the father of Obed, 38 Obed the father of Jehu, Jehu the father of Azariah, 39 Azariah the father of Helez, Helez the father of Eleasah, 40 Eleasah the father of Sismai, Sismai the father of Shallum, 41 Shallum the father of Jekamiah, and Jekamiah the father of Elishama. The Clans of Caleb 42 The sons of Caleb the brother of Jerahmeel: Mesha his firstborn, who was the father of Ziph, and his son Mareshah, who was the father of Hebron. 43 The sons of Hebron: Korah, Tappuah, Rekem and Shema. 44 Shema was the father of Raham, and Raham the father of Jorkeam. Rekem was the father of Shammai. 45 The son of Shammai was Maon, and Maon was the father of Beth Zur. 46 Caleb’s concubine Ephah was the mother of Haran, Moza and Gazez. Haran was the father of Gazez. 47 The sons of Jahdai: Regem, Jotham, Geshan, Pelet, Ephah and Shaaph. 48 Caleb’s concubine Maakah was the mother of Sheber and Tirhanah. 49 She also gave birth to Shaaph the father of Madmannah and to Sheva the father of Makbenah and Gibea. Caleb’s daughter was Aksah. 50 These were the descendants of Caleb.
Caleb and his family are mentioned in the genealogy account from Adam to Abraham.
1 Chronicles 4:15 The sons of Caleb son of Jephunneh: Iru, Elah and Naam. The son of Elah: Kenaz.
Caleb is mentioned as a decedent of Judah.
1 Chronicles 6:56 But the fields and villages around the city were given to Caleb son of Jephunneh.
Caleb’s inheritance was mentioned in relation to Aaron’s inheritance.
see also Caleb’s relative