ChristianAnswers.Net WebBible Encyclopedia

Caleb

also known as: Calev, Kelev

Meaning: faithful; devoted; brave; bold; wholehearted; hearty; impetuous.

The name has the same spelling as the Hebrew word for dog (Ancient Hebrew: kelevכלב). However, it may have had a different pronunciation and may be a compound word—the word “all” or “whole” (כל) combined with the word “heart” (לב). Another possibility is that name is “dog.” “The name ‘dog’ is prevalent in all the ancient Semitic languages, as well as in Phoenician and Ugaritic, and may be abbreviated as the ‘dog of God,’ meaning the faithful and submissive servant of God.”

This was the name of 2 or 3 biblical men and a place.

  1. Caleb, one of the 3 sons of Hezron of the tribe of Judah

    He is also called Chelubai (1 Chronicles 2:9). His descendants are enumerated (18-20, 42-49).

  2. Caleb, a “son of Hur, the firstborn of Ephratah” (1 Chronicles 2:50)

    Some would read the whole passage thus: “These [i.e., the list in ver. 42-49] were the sons of Caleb. The sons of Hur, the firstborn of Ephratah, were Shobal, etc.” Thus, Hur would be the name of the son and not the father of Caleb (verse 19).

  3. Caleb, the son of Jephunneh (Numbers 13:6; 32:12; Joshua 14:6, 14)

    He was one of those whom Moses sent to search the land in the 2nd year after the Exodus. He was one of the family chiefs of the tribe of Judah. He and Joshua the son of Nun were the only 2 of the whole number who encouraged the people to go up and possess the land, and they alone were spared when a plague broke out in which the other 10 spies perished (Numbers 13; 14).

    All the people that had been numbered, from 20 years old and upward, perished in the wilderness, except these 2.

    The last mention we have of Caleb is when (being then 85 years of age) he came to Joshua at the camp at Gilgal, after the people had gained possession of the land, and reminded him of the promise Moses had made to him, by virtue of which he claimed a certain portion of the land of Kirjath-arba as his inheritance (Joshua 14:6-15; 15:13-15; 21:10-12; 1 Samuel 25:2,3; 30:14).

    He is called a “Kenezite” in Joshua 14:6, 14. This may simply mean “son of Kenez” (Numbers 32:12). Some, however, read “Jephunneh, the son of Kenez,” who was a descendant of Hezron, the son of Pharez, a grandson of Judah (1 Chronicles 2:5).

    This Caleb may possibly be identical with the 2nd Caleb listed above.

  4. Caleb, an area of Judah

    The above man Caleb gave his name, apparently, to a part of southern Judah (1 Samuel 30:14), the district between Hebron and Carmel, which had been assigned to him. When he gave up the city of Hebron to the priests as a city of refuge, he retained possession of the surrounding country (Joshua 21:11-12; compare 1 Samuel 25:3).