Meet Caleb: A Man Who Followed God Wholeheartedly

Caleb’s faith and courage are models for us today

Moses talking to God after Israelites have rejected the Promised Land, only Joshua and Caleb are spared.
Moses talking to God after Israelites have rejected the Promised Land, only Joshua and Caleb are spared.

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Caleb was a man who lived as most of us would like to live—putting his faith in God to handle the dangers around him. The story of Caleb in the Bible appears in the book of Numbers after the Israelites had escaped Egypt and arrived at the border of the Promised Land

Questions for Reflection

The Bible says that God blessed Caleb because he had a different spirit or a different attitude than the rest of the people (Numbers 14:24). He remained wholeheartedly loyal to God. Caleb followed God when no one else did, and his uncompromising obedience earned him a lasting reward. Are you all in, like Caleb? Are you totally sold out in your commitment to follow God and stand for truth?

The Story of Caleb in the Bible

Moses sent spies, one from each of the twelve tribes of Israel, into Canaan to scout the territory. Among them were Joshua and Caleb. All the spies agreed on the richness of the land, but ten of them said Israel could not conquer it because its inhabitants were too powerful and their cities were like fortresses. Only Caleb and Joshua dared to contradict them.

Then Caleb silenced the people before Moses and said, “We should go up and take possession of the land, for we can certainly do it.” (Numbers 13:30, NIV)

God was so angry at the Israelites for their lack of faith in him that he forced them to wander in the desert 40 years until that entire generation had died--all except Joshua and Caleb.

After the Israelites returned and set about conquering the land, Joshua, the new leader, gave Caleb the territory around Hebron, belonging to the Anakites. These giants, descendants of the Nephilim, had terrified the original spies but proved no match for God's people.

Caleb's name means "raging with canine madness." Some Bible scholars think Caleb or his tribe came from a pagan people who were assimilated into the Jewish nation. He represented the tribe of Judah, from which came Jesus Christ, Savior of the world.

Caleb's Accomplishments

Caleb successfully spied out Canaan, on assignment from Moses. He survived 40 years of wandering in the desert, then on returning to the Promised Land, he conquered the territory around Hebron, defeating the giant sons of Anak: Ahiman, Sheshai, and Talmai.

Strengths

Caleb was physically strong, vigorous to old age, and ingenious in dealing with trouble. Most importantly, he followed God with his whole heart.

Life Lessons

Caleb knew that when God gave him a task to do, God would supply him with all he needed to complete that mission. Caleb spoke up for truth, even when he was in the minority. Often, to stand up for truth we must stand alone.

We can learn from Caleb that our own weakness brings an inpouring of God's strength. Caleb teaches us to be loyal to God and to expect him to be loyal to us in return.

Hometown

Caleb was born a slave in Goshen, in Egypt.

References to Caleb in the Bible

The story of Caleb is told in Numbers 13, 14; Joshua 14, 15; Judges 1:12-20; 1 Samuel 30:14; 1 Chronicles 2:9, 18, 24, 42, 50, 4:15, 6:56.

Occupation

Egyptian slave, spy, soldier, shepherd.

Family Tree

Father: Jephunneh, the Kenizzite
Sons: Iru, Elah, Naam
Brother: Kenaz
Nephew: Othniel
Daughter: Achsa

Key Verses

Numbers 14:6-9
Joshua son of Nun and Caleb son of Jephunneh, who were among those who had explored the land, tore their clothes and said to the entire Israelite assembly, "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 swallow them up. Their protection is gone, but the LORD is with us. Do not be afraid of them." (NIV)

Numbers 14:24
But my servant Caleb has a different attitude than the others have. He has remained loyal to me, so I will bring him into the land he explored. His descendants will possess their full share of that land. (NLT)