You have probably read that Caleb was a great warrior. Who was this man and what was the source of his greatness? What does his Hebrew name mean? What can we discover in the letters themselves that would tell us more about him? Will something in his name point to Messiah? You’re about to find out.
Caleb first appears in the Torah in the book of Numbers where he is one of the twelve warriors sent by Moses to spy out the land promised to the nation of Israel in their father Abraham. He returns after a forty day investigation and is one of only two spies to give a good report. In the book of Numbers Chapter 13 verse 30 he says:
And Caleb stilled the people before Moses, and said, Let us go up at once, and possess it; for we are well able to overcome it.
Ten of the spies disagreed because they had found giants, the children of Anak, dwelling there. What was it about Caleb that led him to trust in the promise of victory at the hand of Yahweh when others doubted?
The first clue is found in the conventional meaning of his name. Caleb is a compound word that is made up of two words. Kaf Lamed means “all” and Lamed Beyt means “heart.” Caleb was “all heart” or “whole-hearted” for Yahweh.
This is just what we find in the Ancient Prophetic Text in the Book of Joshua as Caleb finally gets a chance to claim his inheritance in the Promised Land forty five years later. In Chapter 14 verse 7 Caleb states:
Forty years old was I when Moses the servant of the LORD sent me from Kadeshbarnea to espy out the land; and I brought him word again as it was in mine heart.
There is that whole-heart for Yahweh that his name implies that led to his good report. This is just the person Yahweh is seeking. Ezra the scribe wrote in 2 Chronicles Chapter 16 verse 9:
For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to shew himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward him.
What do the letters in the name of Caleb, Kaf, Lamed, Beyt tell us that would give us more understanding?
Kaf is the picture of the hand and can mean to cover, to open or to allow.
Lamed is the picture of the shepherd’s staff and means to have authority or control.
Beyt is the picture of the tent and means the house, the family, or the dwelling place, and can refer to the Son of God.
So the first mystery in the name Caleb is that he is one who (Kaf) allows himself to come under the (Lamed) authority of (Beyt) the Son of God. He chooses to be in the tent, to be part of the family of Yahweh. How hard is that? Well, it’s not that hard if you have a heart wholly given to Yahweh. It’s no wonder that the blessing of Yahweh is on him and at 85 years of age Caleb is still a strong warrior. In Joshua Chapter 14 verses 10 and 11 Caleb says:
And now behold, the LORD hath kept me alive, as he said, these forty and five years. Even since the LORD spake this word unto Moses, while the children of Israel wandered in the wilderness: and now, Lo, I am this day fourscore and five years old. As yet I am as strong this day as I was in the day that Moses sent me: as my strength was then, even so is my strength now, for war, both to go out, and to come in.
What did Caleb receive for his portion of the inheritance promised to the Israelites in Canaan? Verse 14 of this same Chapter tells us:
Hebron therefore became the inheritance of Caleb the son of Jephunneh the Kenezite unto this day, because that he wholly followed the LORD God of Israel.
Who did Caleb wholly follow? He followed Yahweh Elohim, the LORD God who we think of as the self-existent one who is the strong one or the creator. But there is much more to the word Elohim than just being the strong one or the creator. The first three letters in Elohim, Aleph Lamed Hey, make the root verb ‘Ala' for this word which means literally to swear or curse. Elohim is the one who swears or makes oaths or covenants with His people.
Caleb was blessed because he wholeheartedly believed the oath or the promise from Elohim that they would possess the land no matter what the obstacles might be.
The numbers that are contained in the letters of the name Caleb tell us even more. Kaf is the number 20 which is the picture of redemption. Lamed is the number 30 which points to a blood sacrifice. Beyt is the number 2 and refers to God the Son or Yeshua. So here we conclude that Caleb, the man who is all heart for Yahweh will be rewarded in the blood sacrifice of Yeshua, God the Son, with the promise of redemption. By the work of Messiah, he will inherit more than just the land in Canaan.
But now we come to the final unexpected twist to this account. If we skip ahead to Chapter 21 verse 10 through 12 we see how the allotment of the land proceeds:
Which the children of Aaron, being of the families of the Kohathites, who were of the children of Levi had, for theirs was the first lot. And they gave them the city of Arba the father of Anak, which city is Hebron, in the hill country of Judea, with the suburbs thereof round about it. But the fields of the city, and the villages thereof, gave they to Caleb the son of Jephunneh for his possession.
Did you catch what happened here? Joshua, the leader of the nation of Israel, gave Hebron to Caleb who did battle for it and conquered it. No one could have taken it away from Caleb, so here we see that his heart was never in this Promised Land. He gave it back and it was given by lot to the Levites. Caleb was content to give up what he deserved, what he had faithfully earned and satisfied himself with what he would be given by Elohim.
As the letters in his name suggested, Caleb was willing to give the control of all in his grasp to the authority of the Son of God who we know as Yeshua Ha-Mashiach: Jesus the Messiah. Yeshua gave Himself as the blood sacrifice for our redemption and promises a future reward far beyond what we have here now for those whose hearts are completely turned towards Him.
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