Caleb – One in a Million
Did you know that nearly 3 million people left Egypt to go to the Promised Land of Israel? Of those that left Egypt only 2 actually entered the Land of Eretz Israel! Early in their exodus, the Israelites sent 12 spies into the Promised Land to assess the potential. The spies returned with a majority report that was negative. God was angry with the lack of faith of the men and sent a plague on them. Ten died, only 2 were spared. Who were they? The two who brought the Minority report of Faith, saying we can conquer the land with God’s help. were the same two who entered the Promised Land. They were Joshua and Caleb.
Caleb was really ‘One in a Million’
Who was Caleb and what did he accomplish that made a difference in history.
He was a Prince in Israel, a family chief of the tribe of Judah (Num 13:2, 6).
Caleb has a name with meaning to it, as many people did in that time. While many carelessly take the name to mean “dog” the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia has this interesting comment. “kā´leb (כּלב, kālēbh; in the light of the cognate Syriac and Arabic words, the meaning is not “dog,” which is כּלב, kelebh, in Hebrew, but “raging with canine madness”; Χαλέβ, Chaléb)”
So he is characterized as an ‘Attack Dog’, we would call that a K-9 Police Dog today! Trained and fearless; ready to do what it took to win in a conflict.
After the return from the reconnaisance expedition, no mention of Caleb appears during the span of 45 years until Caleb petitions Joshua at Gilgal after 5 years of conquest in the Promised land and it’s division amongst the tribes. Now he reminds Joshua of the Promise of God to give Caleb the land his feet trod upon. (Jos 14:6 – 14)
The old man is 85 years of age, but the ‘Police Dog’ is not done yet!
He prepares to attack the city. He proceeds to take the city and drive out the three sons of Anak the Giant. (Jos 14:14) He immediately moves against another stronghold, Kirjath-sepher (Debir) The fierce opposition encountered leads Caleb to offer in marriage his beautiful and influential daughter, Achsah as a reward to the General who takes the city. (Jos 15:16) Caleb’s nephew Othniel takes the challenge and wins the hand of Achsah. With the Bride came an inheritance of good South facing land, ideal for agriculture, and at the instance of his daughter’s request, he grant exclusive water rights, a valuable commodity in that culture. (Jos 15:18-19)
We are told that the City of Hebron was given to the Levites, the ministering priests, but the land and fields around it were given to Caleb. (Jos 21:12) What is the significance of this? In these fields lay the field of cave of Machpelah. This was the double cave by meaning of the word Machpelah, bought from Ephron the Hittite by Abraham, the ancestor of Caleb. Here Sarai, or as most know her Sarah, was buried and later where Isaac and Ismael buried Abraham.
Caleb knew what he wanted when he went to conquer Hebron formerly called Kirjath-Arba, the city of the Giants.
He drove the giants out of his territory, killing many of them. A few escaped to the territory of the Philistines on the Mediterranean coast and four brothers of them later became a terror to Israel until David killed Goliath and David’s men finally killed the other three.
Caleb the first real Giant-Slayer, stands out as a fearless fighter, tough in his old age, not thinking of settling into retirement, he married Ephratah and their son Salma founded Bethlehem, the city of David where Jesus was born. (1 Chron 2:50-51)
The reason that Caleb was singled out was repeatedly stated to be that “He fully followed Jehovah” (Num 32:12) The man who had real trust and faith in God, was tough, a soldier, a man of vision and a Patriot who believed that God had sent Abraham to the Promised Land and 400 years later used him to fulfill the promise God made that the descendants of Abraham would inherit the land.
Hebrews 11:39-40 “And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, did not receive the promise, for God had provided some better thing for us, that they should not be made perfect without us.”