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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{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Catherine January 13, 2016 at 12:52 am

I have read and heard many surmorn on Caleb…but not the way I read here. It was like I was reading it for the 1st time

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Quipu M Yuan August 5, 2016 at 1:21 am

I and my husband were asked to share about Caleb at our annual conference, being one of the older couples. Although I had read the spying out of the land of Canaan, I had never grasp the concept so clearly; Caleb’s zeal for obeying and serving God for 40 more years till he was given the land promised by God. We were asked to share based on the fact that we as older disciples had not given up in light of temptations, trials, and the everyday problems of the world around us, to share as an encouragement to the younger people among us at the convention.

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Kunbi October 26, 2016 at 4:16 am

Lovely write up about Caleb. I so much enjoyed the reading. May God bless you. Can I ask for the meaning of Caleb?

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Rachel December 4, 2017 at 9:47 pm

Caleb means dog

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Jack Wellman December 5, 2017 at 9:34 am

Hello Rachel. Actually, Caleb is of Hebrew origin, and the name means, “faith, devotion, whole hearted” and not “dog.”

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Rachel December 4, 2017 at 9:50 pm

Enjoyed and inspired by Caleb’s faith., courage and faithfulness to God to possess the promises of God. Real man of faith.

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Emily February 27, 2018 at 6:29 am

I am so inspired by this sermon, we need men and women of faith of Caleb’s character in our generation, who can wait upon God.

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Marchiel Cabanero March 23, 2018 at 1:40 am

Since our church is 2 years young, our young people’s sunday school teacher taught us the Bible from it’s first book Genesis. With so much studies and digging to the previous books, now on our 2 yrs and 5 months, we were able to reach the book of Joshua (3 sundays for chapter 1 only), but we were told to study in advance so thankyou for your articles Sir David Peach 🙂
BTW, I was so blessed with the life of Joshua and Caleb (40 yrs in the wilderness), their faith in God encourages us young people here not to get tired of serving the Lord, but always to follow His ways. “…be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord the God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.” Joshua 1:9

God bless everyone who faithfully followed God!
“…as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord!” ❤

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sam April 19, 2018 at 8:46 am

i loved it

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Nirmal August 26, 2018 at 12:55 pm

It was very nice study about Bible character Caleb. I like this character. Who put His faith completely on The LORD. Really..what a faithfulness and faith.

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