Caleb (Sir 46:7-46:10)

“In the days of Moses,

Joshua proved his loyalty

With Caleb

Son of Jephunneh.

They opposed the congregation.

They restrained the people from sin.

They stilled their wicked grumbling.

These two alone were spared

Out of the six hundred thousand infantry.

They led the people into their inheritance,

The land flowing with milk and honey.

The Lord gave Caleb strength.

This remained with him in his old age.

He went up to the hill country.

His children obtained it

For an inheritance.

Thus all the Israelites might see

How good it is to follow the Lord.”

According to Numbers, chapter 14, Caleb son of Jephunneh and Joshua son of Nun were the only two people allowed to live long enough to see the Promise Land, because they were the only two that felt like going into the land of Canaan would not be that difficult. The rest of the 600,000 desert wanderers perished and died in the desert wilderness. Not even Moses and Aaron were allowed to make it into the land of milk and honey. The Israelite people had been grumbling, but only Joshua and Caleb convinced them to carry on. Thus Caleb and his family were given a special place in the high country in the new land that they had conquered. Caleb was the ideal warrior and follower of the Lord who lived to a ripe old age with all his strength intact.

Mattathias reminds his sons about their ancestors (1 Macc 2:51-2:60)

“Remember the deeds of the ancestors.

What they did in their generations.

Then you will receive great honor and an everlasting name.

Was not Abraham found faithful when tested?

It was reckoned to him as righteousness.

Joseph in the time of his distress kept the commandment.

He became lord of Egypt.

Phinehas our ancestor,

Because he was deeply zealous,

He received the covenant of everlasting priesthood.

Joshua, because he fulfilled the command,

He became a judge in Israel.

Caleb, because he testified in the assembly,

He received an inheritance in the land.

David, because he was merciful,

He inherited the throne of the kingdom forever.

Elijah, because of great zeal for the law

He was taken up into heaven.

Hananiah, Azariah, and Mishael believed.

They were saved from the flame.

Daniel, because of his innocence

He was delivered from the mouth of the lions.”

Much like Jacob at the end of Genesis, chapter 49, the dying Mattathias reminded his sons about their great ancestors, although there is no explicit mention of Jacob. It is interesting to note which ancestors he cited. Abraham and Joseph from Genesis were obvious examples. There is no mention of Moses, but there is a mention of Phinehas from Numbers, who was the grandson of Aaron. Then he mentioned Joshua and Caleb because of their fighting spirit. David, the great king, and Elijah, the great prophet, were obvious choices. Finally, there is the mention of Daniel and the 3 Judeans. This gives some idea of the people that Mattathias and this biblical author admired.

Caleb (1 Chr 4:15-4:15)

“The sons of Caleb son of Jephunneh were Iru, Elah, and Naam. The son of Elah was Kenaz.”

This Caleb is not the son of Hezron but the son of Jephunneh as in Numbers. There were 2 people with the name Jephunneh, but this Jephunneh seems to be part of the Kenizzites, thus the relationship to Kenaz. He is always mentioned as the father of Caleb in Numbers. 2 of the 3 sons of this Caleb, Iru and Naam are only mentioned here. Elah, on the other hand, was a fairly common name, with 6 people sharing 24 occurrences, with most of the citations about the Babylonian Captivity. This Kenaz was the grandson of Caleb, who might have had a brother with the same name.


The descendents of Hezron (1 Chr 2:9-2:9)

“The sons of Hezron, who were born to him, were Jerahmeel, Ram, and Chelubai.”

We are back at Hezron, one of the two sons of Perez, who was the son of Judah by Tamar. Apparently Hezron had 3 sons, Jerahmeel, Ram, and Chelubai. Interesting enough, this is the only mention of these 3 sons in the biblical literature. (1) Jerahmeel was the founder of the family of Jerahmeelites. However, Jerahmeel will also have a son called (2) Ram, the same name as his brother. This is the only mention in biblical literature of (3) Chelubai. However, the following sections seem to indicate that this is another name for Caleb.

Othniel (Judg 3:7-3:11)

“The Israelites did what was evil in the sight of Yahweh, forgetting Yahweh their God, and worshipping the Baals and the Asherahs. Therefore the anger of Yahweh was kindled against Israel. He sold them into the hand of King Cushan-rishathaim of Aramnaharaim. The Israelites served Cushan-rishathaim eight years. But when the Israelites cried out to Yahweh, Yahweh raised up a deliverer for Israelites, who delivered them, Othniel the son of Kenaz, Caleb’s younger brother. The Spirit of Yahweh came upon him, and he judged Israel. He went out to war. Then Yahweh gave King Cushan-rishatham of Aram into his hand. His hand prevailed over Cushan-rishathaim. So the land had rest forty years. Then Othniel the son of Kenaz died.”

The Israelites were worshipping false gods. Baal was a common god among the ancient Mid-eastern people. Asherah was a popular female god. Aram or Aramnaharaim was an area northeast of Canaan, probably what we call Syria today. This would be an early Syrian occupation by Cushan that lasted 8 years. Which territory was involved is not clear. Othniel is both the nephew and son-in-law of Caleb, who is the brother of Kenaz, the father of Othniel. Othniel had married his first cousin, Achsah, the daughter of Caleb. Othniel got the springs and land because of his wife, Achsah, Caleb’s daughter. Thus this 1st judge would be fairly close to the time Joshua since Caleb was a contemporary of his. The spirit of Yahweh came upon Othniel so that he became a judge, like what is to later happen to the other judges and prophets. For 40 years the land was safe while Othniel was the first judge, judge #1.

Caleb, Judah, and Benjamin (Judg 1:11-1:21)

“From there they went against the inhabitants of Debir. The name of Debir was formerly Kiriath-sepher. Then Caleb said. ‘Whoever attacks Kiriath-sepher and takes it, I will give him my daughter Achsah as wife.’ Othniel son of Kenaz, Caleb’s younger brother, took it. Caleb gave him his daughter Achsah as wife. When she came to him, she urged him to ask her father for a field. As she dismounted from her donkey, Caleb said to her. ‘What do you wish?’ She said to him. ‘Give me a present. Since you have set me in the land of the Negeb, give me also Gulloth-mayim.’ So Caleb gave her the Upper Gulloth and Lower Gulloth.”

Here we take up the story of Caleb and his daughter that was in Joshua, chapter 15. He gives his daughter to his nephew to marry. However, the explanation is that the land is in the Negeb, the dry area, so that she requests the springs in the upper and lower area of Gulloth. In fact this section is almost a repeat of the stories in Joshua, chapters 10 and 11.

“The descendants of Hobab, the Kenite, Moses’ father-in-law, went up with the people of Judah from the city of palms into the wilderness of Judah, which lies in the Negeb near Arad. Then they went and settled with the Amalekites. Judah went with his brother Simeon. They defeated the Canaanites who inhabited Zephath, and utterly destroyed it. So the city was called Hormah.”

Hobab was the brother-in-law of Moses, but here he is called the father-in-law, when earlier the father-in-law was called Jethro. Arad and Zephath or Hormah were southern towns in the territory of Judah. The Amalekites were a nomadic tribe on the northern Sinai Peninsula, east of Egypt and south of the territory of Judah.

“Judah also took Gaza with its territory, Ashkelon with its territory, and Ekron with its territory. Yahweh was with Judah. He took possession of the hill country, but could not drive out the inhabitants of the plain, because they had chariots of iron.”

Judah then took the three coastal towns of Gaza, Ashkelon, and Ekron with their surrounding territories, which later become Philistine cities. Yahweh was with Judah in winning all these battles. However, despite Yahweh on their side, they could not conquer the lowland area because the enemy had iron chariots, which Judah did not seem to have.

“Hebron was given to Caleb, as Moses had said. Caleb drove out from it the three sons of Anak. But the Benjaminites did not drive out the Jebusites who lived in Jerusalem. The Jebusites have lived in Jerusalem among the Benjaminites to this day.”

There seems to be a contradiction about Jerusalem, which is on the boundary line between Judah and Benjamin. Here the Benjaminites settle it with the local inhabitants, but earlier on the Judahites had won this city completely.

Caleb occupies the territory of Hebron (Josh 15:13-15:19)

“According to the commandment of Yahweh to Joshua, he gave to Caleb son of Jephunneh a portion among the people of Judah, Kiriath-arba, that is, Hebron. Arba was the father of Anak. Caleb drove out from there the three sons of Anak, Sheshai, Ahiman, and Talmai, the descendants of Anak. From there, he went up against the inhabitants of Debir. Now the name of Debir formerly was Kiriath-sepher. Caleb said. ‘Whoever attacks Kiriath-sepher, and takes it, to him will I give my daughter Achsah as wife.’   Othniel son of Kenaz, the brother of Caleb, took it. He gave him his daughter Achsah as wife. When she came to him, she urged him to ask her father for a field. As she dismounted from her donkey, Caleb said to her. ‘What do you wish?’ She said to him. ‘Give me a present. Since you have set me in the land of the Negeb, give me springs of water as well.’ Thus, Caleb gave her the upper springs and the lower springs.”

Caleb always seems to have a special role. I thought that the land had been devastated, but apparently not. First he takes Hebron, but according to chapter 10 of this book, the King of Hebron, Hoham, was one of the five kings who had been destroyed at the cave of Makkedah. Then they attacked Hebron and Debir. Once again there is a strange marriage, when Caleb’s daughter Achsah marries his brother’s son Othniel, her first cousin, Caleb’s nephew. Othniel will become one of the first judges of Israel. Achsah wants some well water because she is getting the dry land of the Negeb.

Pardon and punishment (Num 14:20-14:38)

“Then Yahweh said, ‘I do forgive, just as you have asked.  Nevertheless as I live, and as all the earth shall be filled with the glory of Yahweh, none of the people who have seen my glory and the signs that I did in Egypt and in the wilderness, and yet have tested me these ten times and have not obeyed my voice, shall not see the land that I swore to give to their ancestors.  None of those who despised me shall see it.  But my servant Caleb, because he has a different spirit and has followed me wholeheartedly, I will bring him into the land into which he went.  His descendants shall possess it.  Now, since the Amalekites and the Canaanites live in the valleys turn tomorrow and set out for the wilderness by the way to the Red Sea.”

Moses is successful once again as he changed God’s mind. Yahweh is going to forgive them because Moses asked for it.  All seems well, but there is a caveat.  None of the people who tested and disobeyed Yahweh will see the Promised Land.   In fact, Yahweh is going to kill them.  The one exception is Caleb, because he followed Yahweh wholeheartedly.  He will go into the Promised Land with his descendants.

“Yahweh spoke to Moses and to Aaron.  ‘How long shall this wicked congregation complain against me?  I have heard the complaints of the Israelites, which they complain against me.’   Say to them, ‘As I live’ says Yahweh, ‘I will do to you the very things I heard you say.  Your dead bodies shall fall in this very wilderness.  Of all your number, included in the census from twenty years old and upward, who have complained against me, not one of you shall come into the land, where I swore to settle you, except Caleb son of Jephunneh and Joshua son of Nun.  But your little ones, who you said would become booty, I will bring in.  They shall know the land which you have despised.  But as for you, your dead bodies shall fall in this wilderness.  Your children shall be shepherds in the wilderness for forty years.  They shall suffer for your faithlessness, until the last of your dead bodies lies in the wilderness.  According to the number of the days in which you spied out the land, forty days, for every day a year.  You shall bear you iniquity forty years.  You shall know my displeasure.  I, Yahweh, have spoken.  Surely I will do thus to this entire wicked congregation gathered together against me.  In this wilderness they shall come to a full end.  There they shall die.’”

There is a recounting of this in the priestly tradition which has more detail. In this story, Yahweh asks how long they were going to complain against him.  He heard their complaints.  In a more vivid description, Yahweh said that their dead bodies would fall in the wilderness.  Anyone over 20 years old that was in the wilderness census will die.  All their children would not become booty, but shepherds in the wilderness for 40 years until the last of their dead bodies would lie in the wilderness.  However, there are 2 exceptions, Caleb and Joshua.    The 40 years is actually based on the 40 days that the spying expedition force spent in Canaan, not the other way around.  I am not sure about that.  Anyway, the 40 years in the desert is a punishment, not a reward.

“The men whom Moses sent to spy out the land, who returned and made all the congregation complain against him by bringing a bad report about the land,  the men who brought up an unfavorable report of the land, died by plague before Yahweh.   But Joshua son of Nun and Caleb son of Jephunneh remained alive.  They were the only two who lived of those men who went to spy out the land.”

The ten guys who gave the unfavorable report and made the whole congregation complain, died by the plague.  On the other hand, Joshua and Caleb lived.  The moral is don’t come back with bad news, or you the messenger will die.  Be aggressive and you will live.

The report of the envoys (Num 13:25-13:33)

“At the end of forty days they returned from spying out the land.   They came to Moses and Aaron and to all the congregation of the Israelites in the wilderness of Paran, at Kadesh.  They brought back word to them and to the entire congregation.  They showed them the fruit of the land.  They told him, ‘We came to the land to which you sent us.  It flows with milk and honey, and this is its fruit.   Yet the people who live in the land are strong.   The towns are fortified and very large.  Besides, we saw the descendants of Anak there.  The Amalekites live in the land of the Negeb.  The Hittites, the Jebusites, and the Amorites live in the hill country.  The Canaanites live by the sea, and along the Jordan.”

At the end of 40 days they returned from their spying expedition.  The number 40 is important.  They came to all the Israelites in the wilderness of Paran, at Kadesh, and gave their report along with the fruit that they took back. They said that it was a land flowing with milk and honey, but they never quite explained what that meant.  They showed the fruit from there.  However, they warned that the people were strong and the towns were fortified and large.  They also remarked that saw the very tall descendants of Anak there.  The setup as they saw it was that the Amalekites were in the lowland Negeb, while the Hittites, the Jebusites, and the Amorites were in the hill country.  The Canaanites, however, lived along the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River.

“But Caleb quieted the people before Moses, and said, ‘Let us go up at once, and occupy it.  We are well able to overcome it.’  Then the men who had gone up with him said, ‘We are not able to go up against the people.  They are stronger than we are.’ So they brought to the Israelites an unfavorable report of the land that they had spied out, saying, ‘The land, that we have gone through as spies is a land that devours its inhabitants.  All the people that we saw in it are men of great stature.   There we saw the Nephilim.  The Anakites come from the Nephilim.  We seemed like grasshoppers, and so we seemed to them.”

Caleb, the leader of the tribe of Judah wanted to attack right away.  However, the others who were on the same mission were more cautious.  They felt that the people there were stronger than them.  They brought a more unfavorable report.  The men there were very tall so that they seemed like grasshoppers.  The Anakites and Nephilim seem like very tall people.  However, it is difficult to tell whether these Israelites were small or whether these other groups were large.