Bible Character Study on Caleb

by David Peach · Print Print · Email Email

One of the well-known heroes of the Old Testament is Joshua, the military leader who led Israel into taking possession of the Promised Land. However, right beside this great man is Caleb. While Caleb does not have as many verses dedicated to him in the Bible, what we are told in few words speaks volumes to who Caleb was as a dedicated servant of God.

Joshua 15:13-14 “And unto Caleb the son of Jephunneh he gave a part among the children of Judah, according to the commandment of the Lord to Joshua, even the city of Arba the father of Anak, which city is Hebron.  And Caleb drove thence the three sons of Anak, Sheshai, and Ahiman, and Talmai, the children of Anak.”

Numbers 13 and 14 – Faithful Spy

In Numbers 13 Moses chose 12 men who were leaders in their tribes. Caleb was the head of the tribe of Judah—the same tribe as David and the Lord Jesus Christ. Caleb and Joshua, along with 10 other men, were sent into Canaan to see if the land was good or bad and whether the land that God had promised them was even worth fighting for (Numbers 13:17-20). If there were any doubts in Moses’ mind about the worthiness of the land, the report brought back by the spies should have easily dispelled those fears.

After 40 days of spying out the land during the beginning of the grape harvest, these spies brought back an amazing report. One cluster of grapes was so heavy it took two men to carry it between them on a pole. These men also brought pomegranates and figs that were presumably as impressive. The spies told of an amazing abundance of fruit, milk and honey (Numbers 13:23-27)

As impressive as the food was, so were the people, but not in a good way. The spies were fearful of what they found concerning the men and the cities. Their report was that the cities were large and had strong walls around them. The children of Anak, who were known to be giants, along with many of the future enemies of Israel lived in Canaan (Numbers 13:28-33).

While there was much concern for the strength of the cities and the size of the people, Caleb stood up for the promises of God. Caleb—later we learn Joshua supported him—urged Moses and the people of Israel to trust God and possess the land (Numbers 13:30). The sorry report of the majority of the spies scared the people so much that they wept all night after their return and longed for the days in Egypt wishing to die at the hand of their slave masters (Numbers 14:1-4). Joshua and Caleb pleaded with the people to trust God for His promises. The people were so angry with these two faithful spies that they wanted to stone them on the spot (Numbers 14:6-10).

Sadly, the people turned away from the land of God’s promise and wandered around in the wilderness for 40 years until all the adults, except Joshua and Caleb, died (Numbers 14:30; 26:65; 32:12). In fact, it was a promise of God that Caleb would own all the land that he saw as a spy (Numbers 14:24).

Joshua 14 – “Give me this mountain!”

Caleb’s motivational speech is found in Joshua 14:6-12. He said that he was 40 years old when he went with the other spies to see the land of Canaan for the first time. He spent 40 years wandering in the wilderness with Israel patiently waiting for the time that the Lord would allow him to realize the promise of God concerning his possession of the land.

"Now therefore give me this mountain. whereof the Lord spake in that day ... "

“Now therefore give me this mountain, whereof the Lord spake in that day … “

After the 40 years of wandering and 5 years of war, Caleb was still ready to battle on for the Lord. When he gave his great speech he was 85 years old and claimed to be as strong then as he was the first day he saw those beautiful grapes in Canaan. There was still a war to fight and Caleb intended to be at the front of the battle taking possession of the land God had promised. His confidence was not as much in his own ability to fight as it was in absolute trust in the promises of God.

Joshua 15 – Caleb the Giant Slayer

God promised that Caleb would possess the land which he saw when he originally spied out Canaan. Yet in this portion of the Promised Land is where the giants lived. The 10 spies were so scared of the sons of Anak that they allowed that to keep them from taking ownership of the land God had given them. Caleb was so assured of the promises of God that he gladly accepted the challenge to fight the very men that so frightened his own countrymen (Joshua 15:13-14).

Caleb’s nephew Othniel helped to take the land and slay the giants. As a reward Caleb gave his daughter Achsah to be Othniel’s wife. Caleb granted to his daughter and son in law a couple of springs along with their portion of the inheritance of the land (Joshua 15:16-19). This same nephew/son in law Othniel became the first judge in the book of Judges (Judges 3:9-11).

Faithful Man

From these few chapters in the Bible we get a sense that Caleb was a faithful man of God. He trusted the promises of God even when others did not. I imagine the speech he delivered in Joshua 14 was very motivational. He was the oldest man in the whole country of Israel when he spoke those words. All of the people had heard stories about how Caleb stood against the nation. Consequently, every man who disagreed with Caleb died in the wilderness. What a powerful speech that must have been to those who were there that day.

God blessed Caleb for his faithfulness and his patience. Caleb was ready to fight the battles that were his to fight. That included taking possession of the land. However, it was not Caleb’s job to punish the people of Israel. He was silent those 40 years in the wilderness. He patiently allowed God to handle His own war. Caleb prepared himself for the battle God wanted him to fight.

What an encouragement to us to be faithful to the promises of God. We don’t have to make God’s promises happen—He is perfectly capable of that. But, like Caleb, we should be prepared to follow God and patiently anticipate the fruition of those promises.

Related reading: Joshua in the Bible

Resource – The Holy Bible, King James Version



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