Who Was Caleb in the Bible? (2024)

There are some characters in the Bible that direct my mind instantly to the goodness and faithfulness of God. There are some who I find myself noticing that they are faithful to God, and then I find myself praying, Lord let my life be like that!

Caleb Is an Incredibly Bold and Faithful Character

For those of us who went to kid’s church or Sunday school in the 90s, I’m sure we all know the song about the “12 Men Went to Spy out Canaan,” as it was a popular favorite back then. This song was written about the story found in Numbers 13, the Old Testament of the Christian Bible, or the Torah.

This chapter retells the moment Moses follows the voice of God and sends 12 men from Kadesh in the Desert of Paran to carry out reconnaissance in the land of Canaan. The Land of Canaan was to be the land Israel took hold of as promised to both Abraham and Moses by God.

The 12 men sent were all leaders in Israel and included one man from each tribe. Their names are as follows: Shammua, son of Zakkur, Shaphat son of Hori, Caleb, son of Jephunneh, Igal, son of Joseph, Hoshea, son of Nun, Palti, son of Raphu, Gaddiel, son of Sodi, Gaddi, son of Susi, Ammiel, son of Gemalli, Sethur, son of Michael, Nahbi, son of Vophsi, Geuel, son of Maki. It is here we first read of the main man in our article, Caleb.

Caleb was the son of Jephunneh, from the tribe of Judah (Numbers 13:6), and was married to Azubah.

The purpose of his mission was to find out what the land was like, who occupied it, what fruit grew there, was there water, a well, houses and homes, animals? There were many things to take into consideration.

After 40 days, these 12 men returned, and they were there to give a report or account to Moses on whether they felt the Israelites could seize the land and if it was worth the risk.

Verse 26 of Numbers tells us the recount of the men, in their surprise as though God could be wrong, they say, “It does flow with milk and honey.” You can almost hear their surprise as you read the scriptural account.

But then the tone changes, and they talk of the fortified city, of the powerful people who reside there; they are descendants from Anak, giants as some translate this, and strong!

They give a full military account, being sure to put across who lives where and why this would be a bad idea when Caleb, our bold character, stands and silences the Israelites. It is here he says, “We should go up and take possession of the land, for we can certainly do it.”

Caleb sends the Israelites into a mass frenzy, but later that night, he and Joshua, son of Nun, stand and say the following words:

“The land we passed through and explored is exceedingly good.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. Only do not rebel against the Lord. And do not be afraid of the people of the land, because we will devour them. Their protection is gone, but the Lord is with us. Do not be afraid of them”(Numbers 14:7-9).

Friend, what a declaration of boldness. If the Lord is pleased, He will lead us. The Lord is with us!

Lots of things take place after this moment, God comes and meets with Moses, and they talk as though one man to another. God expresses His heart to Moses.

God declares that no one in the Israelite clan above the age of 20 would go to Canaan but would die in the wilderness, except Joshua and Caleb, who trusted God would be faithful to them.

God says that 40 years would pass, and the children of Israel would be shepherds in the wilderness, walking aimlessly. The men who went with Caleb all died of a plague except Joshua and, of course, Caleb; they were the only two to survive.

The next time we read of Caleb again, we are well into Numbers, opening in chapter 26 when he is named in the census following a plague. And then again in Numbers 32 and 34. We soon find Caleb’s name present among those who are named in the story of Jericho.

Lessons from Caleb

We can learn many lessons from the life of Caleb. Deuteronomy 1:36 reads in reference to Caleb: “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.”

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Are these not some of the loveliest words said about a human? An obituary that states, “They followed the Lord wholeheartedly,” would be incredible. Other words that could be used here are passionately or enthusiastically!

Oh, friend, this is a lesson we need to remember and take a leaf out of Caleb’s book, choosing to be a people who follow the Lord wholeheartedly. Who set our eyes fixed upon Him and choose to walk in His plan.

I imagine those 40 years in the wilderness were long for Caleb and Joshua, especially when they had trusted God but still had to wait. But Caleb’s eyes were set on the Lord, and He knew God’s plans would still come to pass!

Joshua 14:6 reads in reference to Caleb: “You know what the Lord said to Moses the man of God at Kadesh Barnea about you and me.

Caleb did not only have his eyes fixed on the Lord, but the second lesson we can learn is listening to the promise of God and storing it in our hearts. Ensuring it is written in our mind and calling it back when we start to lose our focus.

I love how Caleb is recounting this promise to Joshua as a reason for his next ask. Caleb stands on and in the promise of God and is not willing to lose out on all that God has for him, no matter what stands in his way.

Caleb was 85 years old when he recounted these words in Joshua 14 to Joshua, son of Nun. He goes on to say in verse 10 of the same chapter:

“So here I am today, eighty-five years old! 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. 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.”

Caleb was a man who didn’t let anything get in the way of what God had for him, and even at the age of 85, he was still working for the Lord and fighting the battles that God had put before Him knowing that the Lord was helping Him.

Caleb trusted God to help him at 20, 40, and 85! He never let go of God, and He knew God would never let go of Him.

What Did Caleb’s Life Mean?

Friend, I hope by looking again at Caleb’s life, you are able to see these lessons are vital ones no matter what age you are or in what season you find yourself.

God will never let you down, so choose faithfulness with God. Choose to stand on His promises and recall them daily, build your faith in God, and know He will always, I say again, always be with you and help you!

For further reading:

What Was God’s Continued Promise to Caleb?

How Did God Lead Joshua?

Book of Joshua Summary

Photo Credit: ©Unsplash/Aaron Owens

Who Was Caleb in the Bible? (2)Michelle Treacyis a Christian writer, a wife to Gerald, and a busy mother of three, Emily, Ava Rose, and Matthew. Finding time to write is not always easy. However, Michelle’s desire to write about Jesus, and passion to teach is what motivates her. Michelle writes on Instagram,Michelle_Treacy_, and WordPress at Thoughts From My Bible. If you meet her in person, you will likely find her with two things in hand, a good Christian book and a cup of tea!

Who Was Caleb in the Bible? (2024)
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