Story Of Caleb In The Bible

Caleb: Story of Caleb in the Bible IntroductionIt is said that there were two scouts of the Israelites named Joshua and Caleb who were sent to spy on Jericho, regarding an invasion with the people of the Israelite. As they are returning to camp after spying on Jericho, Joshua declares that God told him that they will conquer Jericho (1). Upon hearing this news, a debate arose among the nine spies of the Israelites on whether they should attack Jericho. Opinion was divided into two parts: five of them believed that it was better for them not to attack since it was impossible to defeat the city and five believed it as possible.

Thus, [the] Israelites did not get a unanimous decision about attacking Jericho (2). This story about Caleb being featured in the Old Testament book of Numbers. According to legend, a different side of Caleb’s character was revealed from his actions during this event. On one side, he was an adventurous hero who undertook challenges courageously; on another side, he did not give up so easily but after the failure in his first attempt at conquering Canaan’s land, he becomes less enthusiastic about fighting battles bravely. We can understand this by looking at how Joshua persuaded him in joining him on his mission.

The Bible is the holy book of Christians and Jews. It contains the history of our Christian/Jewish faith from creation to the very end. But when we consider the story of Caleb, we are simply tracing a small portion in the long history of our faith.

The Bible is full of many fantastic stories, and there are several passages in which God directly speaks with a prophet. On the other hand, however, there are also many great stories that come from those prophets’ own imagination. Perhaps due to fanciful speculation on the details of things they did not experience directly. For example, we don’t know exactly how and when Moses parted the Red Sea. We just have it described as an event that happened off-stage. And one of these mythical descriptions comes in Genesis Chapter 14 with the account of Caleb and Hebron (a city in the West Bank).

Story Of Caleb In The Bible

Caleb was an Israelite leader known for following God whole-heartedly. After leading the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt, God told Moses to send a leader from each tribe into Canaan to explore the Promised Land. Caleb, age forty at the time, was chosen as the leader from the tribe of Judah to go on this reconnaissance mission. Eleven other men, including Joshua, from the eleven other tribes joined him on this mission. They took forty days to traverse the land, assessing the soil, people groups, and city fortifications throughout the region before returning to the place where the Israelites were camped to give their report. The men reported that the land “flows with milk and honey” (Numbers 13:27). However, they also testified that “the people who dwell in the land are strong, and the cities are fortified and very large” (Numbers 13:28). Of the twelve men, only Caleb and Joshua believed God would give them victory if they entered the Promised Land. Caleb stepped up and “quieted the people before Moses and said, ‘Let us go up at once and occupy it, for we are well able to overcome it'” (Numbers 13:30).

However, the Israelites were too afraid and actually planned to return to Egypt, lamenting that they had ever left and wishing they had died in the wilderness. Moses, Aaron, Joshua, and Caleb, grieved by the people’s response, “tore their clothes and said to all the congregation of the people of Israel, ‘…If the LORD delights in us, he will bring us into this land and give it to us… Only do not rebel against the LORD. And do not fear the people of the land… Their protection is removed from them, and the LORD is with us; do not fear them'” (Numbers 14:6–9). Because these four leaders insisted on trusting the LORD, the people planned to stone them to death. God appeared at the tent of meeting to prevent their stoning and rebuke the people. Moses interceded on the people’s behalf, begging God to forgive their lack of faith and rebellion. God decided “what you have said in my hearing I will do to you: your dead bodies shall fall in this wilderness… from twenty years old and upward, who have grumbled against me, not one shall come into the land where I swore that I would make you dwell, except Caleb the son of Jephunneh and Joshua the son of Nun” (Numbers 14:28–30). God then had the Israelites wander in the wilderness shepherding their flocks for forty years, one year for each day the leaders had spent exploring the land. During these forty years, the entire generation of Israelites over the age of twenty passed away except for Caleb and Joshua.

Story Of Caleb In The Bible

The story of Caleb, a faithful man of God, begins in the book of Numbers. After being delivered from bondage in Egypt, the Israelites were led by God to the border of the land of Canaan, a land “flowing with milk and honey” that God had promised they would inherit (Exodus 3:8, 17). Moses had chosen twelve men, one from each tribe, to scout the land before entering. Among them was Caleb, representing the tribe of Judah. The twelve men spied out the land for forty days and then came back to Moses. They reported that the land was indeed fruitful but its inhabitants were the mighty descendants of Anak. Terrified by the size and strength of the Canaanites, ten of the spies warned Moses not to enter Canaan (Numbers 13:23–33).

Caleb silenced the murmuring, fearful men by saying, “We should go up and take possession of the land, for we can certainly do it” (Numbers 13:30). Caleb took his stand because he followed the Lord wholeheartedly (Joshua 14:8–9). Caleb knew of the promises of God to the Israelites, and, despite the evidence of his own eyes regarding the obstacles, he had faith that God would give them victory over the Canaanites.

Unfortunately, the people of Israel ignored Caleb and listened to the report of the other spies. They were so frightened that they wept all night and even wished they had died at the hands of their slave masters in Egypt (Numbers 14:1–4). They turned on Caleb and Joshua (the spy from Ephraim) and wanted to stone them on the spot (Numbers 14:6–10). God was exceedingly angry with the people and threatened to destroy them until Moses interceded for them. God relented, but He decreed that the people would wander in the wilderness until all of that faithless generation had died. But God said that “my servant Caleb has a different spirit and follows me wholeheartedly” and gave him the promise that he would own all the land he had seen as a spy (Numbers 14:11–24).

The Israelites wandered in the wilderness for forty years until all of that generation, except Joshua and Caleb, died (Numbers 14:29–30). After the forty years of wandering and five more years of war within Canaan, Caleb was 85 years old; yet he was as strong as ever and able to fight the same Anakites that had frightened his countrymen. His confidence was born out of his absolute faith in the promises of God (Joshua 15:13–14).

Caleb’s territory in Canaan included “Kiriath Arba, that is, Hebron. (Arba was the forefather of Anak.) From Hebron Caleb drove out the three Anakites—Sheshai, Ahiman and Talmai, the sons of Anak. From there he marched against the people living in Debir (formerly called Kiriath Sepher)” (Joshua 15:13–15). Othniel, a nephew of Caleb, captured Kiriath Sepher and was given Caleb’s daughter Aksah to wed (verses 16–17). Later, Aksah asked her father to include some springs of water as part of her inheritance (verses 18–19), and Caleb gave them to her. Later still, Othniel, Caleb’s son-in-law, became Israel’s first judge (Judges 3:7–11).

From the accounts of the life of Caleb, we see a faithful man who trusted God to fulfill His promises when others allowed their fears to override their small faith. Even into his later years, Caleb remained steadfast in his faith. God blessed Caleb for his faithfulness and patience, an encouragement to us to believe God. Like Caleb, we should be prepared to follow God in every circumstance, patiently waiting for Him to fulfill His promises and ready to take action when the time is right.

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